On My Own

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Pre-Slash, Smarm, Drama, Missing Scene/Epilogue
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  1 - March 26, 1997
Spoilers:  The Broca Divide
Size:  57kb
Written:  March 28-30, April 4-7,9,14,19,24-26, 2007  Revised: February 25-28, March 9,17,23, 2011
Summary:  Daniel ponders the reality of his existence after two key events, Jack attacking him in the control room and his first dubious meeting with Janet Fraiser.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
2) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s), “The Colonel and the Scientist” and “My Limping Linguist”
3) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Melissa, Pam, Linda, Jodi, Sara, Claudia, Classic, Ali, Navi!

On My Own
by Orrymain

~Why do I feel like this?  It wasn't Jack, not really, but I can't help it.  He hit me, and it was only because I wanted to check on Sam and make sure she was okay.~

Confused, angry, and hurt, Daniel increased his speed as he walked through the cold gray corridors of Stargate Command.  He didn't want to see Doctor Janet Fraiser, the base's newly appointed Chief Medical Officer, but he'd been given an order to do so.

~So what?  I'm not military; orders for me are more like suggestions,~ the young man rationalized, changing his direction and heading to his office located on Level 18 of the Cheyenne Mountain facility.

--

Daniel closed the doors of his corner office, locking them.  He didn't want anyone disturbing him.  He just wanted to be left alone; to take a moment to collect himself.  Of course, he knew he couldn't stay hidden for long, not on this base and certainly not with all that was happening.

~Just a few minutes; please give me that,~ the angst-ridden man begged silently. ~Okay, I know something was wrong with Jack, but still, I ... I trusted him.  I never thought he'd physically attack me.~

The archaeologist's anxiety and self-doubt had begun shortly after the debriefing of SG-1's latest mission.  Of course, he'd been worried about other things earlier, such as the need for having SG-3 tag along on the mission in the first place, not to mention he hadn't been thrilled about the Marine team going through the Stargate after SG-1 instead of ahead of them.

~If I were superstitious, I'd have taken that as a bad omen,~ Daniel thought as he leaned back against the door, looking up at his office ceiling.  ~I still don't know how everything went so wrong,~ he sighed, sliding down the door and leaning his head on his knees as he continued to reflect on the recent past.

//Flashback//
“When we completed interviews of all the refugees you brought back from Chulak, ten of them identified the final four symbols the Goa'ulds used to escape through the Chulak Stargate.  When we disregard the last one as point of origin that leaves three to work with,” General George Hammond stated as he led the latest briefing that had begun bright and early at 0800 hours.  He then displayed the glyphs on a computer screen so that everyone present could see them.  “Captain Carter's computer model has thus far extrapolated only one set of symbols from the Abydos Cartouche that contains these three glyphs.”

“Let me guess,” Jack interjected, raising his right hand for a second.  “That's where we're going.”

“Very good, Colonel,” the general replied dryly.

“Thank you, Sir.  I pride myself on my deductive reasoning skills,” Jack quipped lightheartedly as he doodled on his clipboard.

The major general continued, “In one hour, you will go through the Gate to the planet represented by these symbols.  It has been designated P3X-797.”

“Couldn't we call this planet something that's a little easier to remember?” Daniel asked.

“Ah, it's based on a binary code the computer uses for extrapolation,” Sam explained.

“Which makes it *much* easier to remember,” the colonel teased.

====

Because of the potential for unknown danger on the planet, SG-3, a Marine unit, was set to follow SG-1 through the Stargate, though they had been ordered to wait a full 'ten-count' before stepping through the event horizon.

Members of both teams wore thermal night vision goggles so they'd be able to see, since it was so dark on the planet, which was one of the reasons SG-3 had been assigned to go along.

Having gone just yards from the Stargate, SG-1 was attacked by a group of natives.  Fortunately, SG-3's timing proved to be perfect.  Upon arriving on the planet, they saw the ongoing attack and opened fire, scaring off the attackers before they could harm any of the SG-1 team.

~Well, that was fun,~ Jack thought as the teams pushed forward.

Not long thereafter, the units came across more natives.  Observing from the bushes, the SG units attempted to identify the people.

“Daniel, what are they?” Jack questioned quietly.

The anthropologist answered, “Well, they don't look completely Homo sapiens.  Ah, the larger brow ridge would imply Homo erectus, but then again, they'd have canine teeth.  Ah, could be Australopithecus, but the brow ridge would be less prominent.”

“You don't know, do you?” Jack surmised.

“No,” Daniel admitted.

The natives were holding a woman, who appeared to be human, captive, and it looked as though she was about to be raped.  As Sam argued for SG-1 to intervene, rocks began to be thrown, scaring off the would-be rapists.  Cautiously, the SG teams approached the rock throwers, surrounding them.  Soon, they discovered that they were another group of the planet's inhabitants, also human in appearance.

Headed by High Councilor Tuplo, the group invited their visitors to come with them to their meeting place in The Land of Light.

====

Soon, the Tau'ri teams realized the strange dichotomy of where they were.  The name Tuplo had mentioned, The Land of Light, equaled the brightness of the locale where the town existed.

“Welcome.  Please, come, sit,” Tuplo invited graciously when the group reached the designated place.

With SG-3 outside guarding the perimeter, SG-1 and Tuplo's people sat down at a long, rectangular table.

“Is she all right?” Sam asked about the young woman that had been rescued and brought to the meeting place with them.

The woman was currently lying down on a platform at the head of the room, which the locals called the isolation circle.

“I do hope.  She is my daughter,” Tuplo revealed.

“What's her name?” Sam asked.

“She is called Melosha.  I can only hope we rescued her in time from the hands of the Touched.  We must now wait to see if she has been cursed by them.”

“The creatures that took her, what were they exactly?” Jack questioned.

“They are the Touched.  They were unfortunate enough to be cursed by the Heelksha,” Tuplo explained.

“Heelksha,” Daniel repeated thoughtfully.  “There's a word like that on Abydos.  Is that gods of the Earth?”

“Gods of the underworld; evil gods,” Teal'c clarified.

Tuplo's fellow council member, Leedora, responded, “The Heelksha needed only to touch the unfortunate among us, and they would become possessed, pure evil, like wild animals.”

“So these ... Touched people used to live here, with you?” Jack inquired.

“They were us, until they changed.  They became too dangerous, and we were forced to banish them to The Land of the Dark,” Tuplo answered.

“And where are these evil gods now?” Jack questioned.

“Oh, they do not show themselves.  We know only of their presence because of their actions,” Leedora answered.

Though Daniel and Sam had wanted to stay longer on the planet, once it had been ascertained that the Goa'uld had not been there in a long time, Jack ordered a quick return to Earth.
//End of Flashback//

~It's intriguing, the sharp contrast between the two lands,~ the archaeologist pondered in his office, remembering the team's surprise when they had stepped out of the line of trees from the dark and gloomy The Land of the Dark into the bright and sunny The Land of the Light.

~Geez, Jack.  Maybe if you'd let us stay and learn more about their culture, we would know what was going on with you.  At least the President agreed with me, sort of.~

During the post-mission review, Daniel, with some support from Sam, had argued with Jack about the merits of the mission and how they should have stayed to be able to study the Minoan culture and the Broca Divide.  Ultimately, he had been pleasantly surprised to learn that the President of the United States had already ordered that all future missions would take into consideration the cultural impact or significance of the planet.

~Score one for the geek, as Jack would say.~  Daniel smiled, though.  All of a sudden, sitting alone and feeling a bit sorry for himself, he recalled what he'd overheard Jack and Hammond talking about, a conversation that revealed the truth, at least in part, about how the colonel really felt about the culture question.  ~You have a loud growl, O'Neill, but it's just a growl and not a ... a bite.~

Drawn back to thinking about the debriefing, the archaeologist realized that had been the point when his current nightmare had actually begun.  During the briefing, a member of SG-3 had become antagonistic towards Teal'c, attacking him without cause.  A short time later, two other SGC workers had begun fighting violently, both of them crashing through a Level 27 window and falling to their deaths on the gate room floor.  Not long after that, wearing a tank top, Sam had attacked Jack, aggressively kissing him, as he was changing in the locker room.  As a result, Janet had her hands full in the infirmary.

~Why, Jack?  I never thought you'd do something like that to me.  I thought you had more control over your actions than most people.  That's what you're always talking about: Special Forces training, covert operations, mind control techniques. I know I shouldn't take this personally; it shouldn't hurt this much.  Just ... go along, Daniel.  Gawd, I hate going along.  But why, Jack?~

Standing, the archaeologist wandered around his office for a minute before sitting down on his office chair.  He removed his glasses, placing them on the desktop.  Then he leaned over the edge, resting his head on his arms.  He closed his eyes and recalled the event that had just occurred a few minutes earlier in the control room.

//Flashback//
Entering the control room, Daniel put his coffee mug down and called out, “Jack!”

Jack was standing at the front of the control room, looking down at a computer, lost in his thoughts.  Sergeant Walter Davis was standing nearby, attending to his duties.

~Danny, that you?  I love the sound of your voice.  Okay, you're a geek, but you're my geek, I mean, SG-1's geek.  Where did that come from?  Anyway, I suppose there are worse things on this planet than being a geek, like being attacked by your second,~ Jack opined as he remained focused on his private thoughts.

“There you are,” Daniel continued, as some papers he was carrying flopped in his hands.  “Got on the internet to do a little research on Australopithecus and ... Wow!”  Noticing the scratches on the colonel’s shoulder and mussed appearance, he questioned, “What happened to you?”

“Oh, I got in a little wrestling match with Carter,” Jack answered, finally looking up as he continued to rub his aching shoulder.  ~Wish she hadn't done that.  Hormones, maybe.  She's big on the hormones thing.~

“Why?” Daniel answered curiously, unable to imagine his two friends wrestling or fighting.

“I guess she's got whatever Johnson got.  I had to drag her off to the infirmary,” the colonel told his teammate.  ~That was not fun.  Don't want you to end up like that, Danny.~

“What?  Did she start a fight with you like Johnson did with Teal'c?” the stunned archaeologist inquired.

“No, she, uh, she ... tried to seduce me,” Jack explained.  ~But it was odd; she was almost violent.  I’ll be feeling that bruising encounter for a while.. Ouch!~

“Oh,” Daniel expressed with wide eyes and raised eyebrows; completely taken aback by Jack’s story.  Knowing how much the men on base hankered after the beautiful captain, Jack probably included, he wasn't sure whether his friend was pleased or upset by the attempted seduction.  “You poor man,” he stated in a mixture of sympathy and mockery.  ~A beautiful woman kisses him, and he acts like he's offended?  Okay, I'm not exactly a Romeo, but Jack is ... I mean, uh, he's a good looking man, and he's military.~

“No, it wasn't like that.  She was like a wild animal, she was nuts,” Jack clarified.  ~Gotta make sure you understand.  I didn't start it; didn't want it.  I love Sara.  Remember Sara -- my wife.~

“Well, is she all right?  I should go see her,” Daniel stated, making a slight move to leave the area.  ~Wonder if Sam really does like Jack?  He is still married, though.~

“Why?” Jack questioned in a surprised tone.  ~You stay right here, next to me, where you belong.  We're teammates.  Yeah, that's it.~

“What do you mean 'why'?  Because I care about her,” Daniel responded emphatically.  ~I don't get it.  He wants us to be a team; keeps harping on that, so why is he so upset?~

“You care about her?  What does that mean?” Jack challenged angrily as he grabbed a hold of the other man abruptly.  ~You're married, and you shouldn't care about anyone else, other than ... just, no.~

“It means I care about her; she's my friend.”  Daniel let out a little snort and then demanded, “Now let ... go!”

As the younger man tried to pull away from his surprise attacker, Jack snapped him closer, his hands clenching Daniel's jacket.

“She's not yours to care about,” the colonel argued.  ~I don't like you caring about her.~

“What are you talking about?” Daniel questioned.  ~Whoa, Jack, what is going on? You’re talking in circles.~

“I'm talking about Samantha.  You just stay away from her, okay?” Jack threatened.  ~Stay away from her and everyone else.~

“Okay.  Okay, Jack.  I think you should come with me to the infirmary, okay?  Just ... let go of me, and ... let go of my arm!” the archaeologist demanded, feeling the colonel's grip tighten.  ~What's happening?  Jack?  That hurts!~

As Daniel struggled to pull his arm free, Jack suddenly punched him.  The younger man felt himself falling backwards into a shelf as he crashed to the floor. Seeing this, a startled technician called for security.  It was too late, though, as Jack charged forward, jumping on top of the scientist and getting in three more solid blows before two security guards and Sergeant Walter Davis were able to pry him off and take him away.

A female technician helped Daniel up, asking him if he was okay.  Standing, Daniel nodded to her in thanks and then put on his glasses that had been knocked off during the attack.  Unnerved somewhat, he stared off in the direction that his friend had been forcibly led away.
//End of Flashback//

“Ouch!” Daniel exclaimed when he accidentally touched his mouth.  His head shot up as he pulled his hand away, staring at the drop of blood that was there.  He felt silly, but he'd been scared for a while there.  He couldn't help but wonder how far Jack would have gone if there hadn't been people in the control room to stop him.  ~I don't have a lot of friends here on Earth; maybe one less now in my already empty circle,~ he lamented.  ~I had plenty of friends on Abydos.~

As he reflected back to his year-plus on the hot and arid Abydos, Daniel let out a sneer and threw his head back against his chair.

~Who am I kidding?  They thought I was a savior or something.  It's only because I was from Earth that they were my friends, or pretended to be.  Otherwise, I would've just been some ... guy.~

The young man felt more alone than ever.  For a brief moment, he had believed that someone cared.  With the advent of a few hard punches, that feeling had fled almost completely.  Intellectually, he knew that Jack was probably affected by whatever it was that had caused Johnson, Sam, and the others to act in a violent manner.

~But he ... he hit me -- hard,~ Daniel cried inwardly.  “Okay, you've been here before,” he said aloud as he began to will himself to get over his disappointment.  ~Just go along.  Tighten the reins.  I'm here to get Sha're back, not make friends, as if I could.~

At that moment, the phone in Daniel's office rang.  He wasn't sure who it was, but he didn't care.  He knew that he needed to get to the infirmary, as ordered, or someone would send orderlies to come and get him forcibly.  He could imagine the gossip now: Doctor Jackson, wayward five-year-old who'd locked himself in his office en route to the nurse's room.  Still, Daniel remained sitting.  He felt lost.  He'd let himself hope that he would be able to build a lasting friendship with Jack O'Neill.

~What was I thinking?~

The longer he sat without being disturbed, the more Daniel felt like the proverbial nothing.  No one was missing him.

~Maybe I'll just sit here like Rip Van Winkle.  They can find me when I'm a hundred-years old.~

Time passed as Daniel languished in his lonely world, replaying some of his most painful experiences in his life.  He'd put his head back down, symbolically trying to bury himself.  He just wanted to fall into a hole and never come up to the surface again.

~Why is this so hard?  Jack hitting me isn't the worst thing that's happened to me.  Gawd, it's nothing in comparison to ... to other things.  It's just that ... it was Jack, and ... and I ... I ... *stop*,~ Daniel ordered himself, closing his eyes as he focused on his breathing.  ~Enough already.  It's a freakin' illness or something; has to be.  You know that.~

After several more minutes passed, the archaeologist's phone rang again.  He swore in Abydonian, not yet ready to socialize with anyone.  After all, he knew it wasn't Jack calling.  Who else would be looking for him?

~Maybe Doctor Fraiser,~ Daniel pondered.  ~No, she's only been here two days.  She doesn't even know me and most likely doesn't want to.~  He recalled his first meeting with the physician and bemoaned, ~Klutz.~

//Flashback//
Walking full steam down the corridor, Daniel was concentrating on a report he'd just read from SG-2's last mission the previous Friday.  From the sounds of it, the society could have its roots in the Hittites culture.  Considered to be barbarians by the Egyptians, the Hittites were credited with bringing Mesopotamian ideas into Asia Minor.  He had a lot of research to do in his attempts to prove his theory that somehow the statues seen by SG-2 were associated with Sheger, the god of cattle.

~Not that it matters.  General Hammond won't let us go there.  The military only cares about one thing, weapons.  Okay, two things, weapons and war.~  Daniel thought for a minute.  ~They're the same thing.~

Daniel had given himself a headache and was en route to the infirmary to get some aspirin.  For a reason he couldn't explain, he carried several papers (printouts of the four team reports) with him in his left hand.

~Some nurse will probably want to examine me; I need my own supply at this point.~

His head bowed with his right hand rubbing on his temple, Daniel made a hasty right turn into the corridor off of which the infirmary could be found a few feet ahead.  Unfortunately, his swift pace and inattentive focus of what was in front of him meant that he didn't see who was walking towards him and about to round the corner in the other direction.

“*Ow!” the woman exclaimed, falling back and landing on her rear end.  “What ... my tubes!” she exclaimed, getting on all fours to try and retrieve her property.

Daniel was stunned.  Not only were his papers all over the cold floor, but so was the strange woman's medical tubes.

“I'm, uh ... I'm sorry,” Daniel apologized in a daze, kneeling down to help pick up the tubes for the frantic petite woman.

“I just spent a half hour sorting and organizing these results.  Now they're ruined,” the redhead bemoaned.

“I'm sorry,” Daniel apologized again, sighing as he stood up.  “I was going to the infirmary.”

“You might belong there,” the woman mumbled to herself.

~Probably,~ the archaeologist agreed, having heard the muttering.  “I'm ... Daniel Jackson.”

The woman looked up and stated, “Archaeologist: SG-1.”

“Yes,” Daniel responded, totally surprised.

“You have the biggest file of all SGC personnel.”

“I do?” Daniel echoed.  He shrugged.  “I guess I do.  I'm sorry,” he expressed sadly.  ~I'm always bothering people.~

Standing, the tubes back in their places on the carrier, the woman introduced, “Doctor Janet Fraiser.”  She paused and added, “Major, United States Air Force.”

“Doctor Major,” Daniel greeted with a tiny grin.  It reminded him of when he'd first met Sam.  He still sometimes teased his teammate by utilizing both her educational and military titles together.  “Hello.”

“Hello,” Janet responded, finally cracking a smile as the two shook hands.

“I really am sorry about ...”  The archaeologist pointed down to the floor and sighed.  “I was just ... thinking.”

“Colonel O'Neill told me you do that a lot.”

“Colonel ... Jack?  You've met Jack,” Daniel spoke.  “Well, of course.  That makes sense.  He's second-in-command to General Hammond, so he'd ... he'd know.  He just didn't tell me.  Well, he doesn't have to ... I'm ... rambling.”

“It was nice to meet you, Doctor Jackson.  Just tell any of my staff what you need and they can help you.”

“It was nice to ...” Daniel blinked, noting that the doctor was already around the corner, “meet you, too.”  He shook his head and lamented, “Klutz.”
//End of Flashback//

That was two days ago, and it had been the only time Daniel had seen the spirited redheaded doctor.  Part of him was not looking forward to meeting up with her again under these circumstances.  He let out a groan and then his mind floated back to the reason why he'd been ordered to the infirmary in the first place.

“Jack.  He beat the tar out of me.”

Daniel raised his head, blinking as the light of the room began to penetrate his mind.  Why was it so hard for his emotional side to accept the reality that his intellectual side knew was the truth.  Jack wasn't responsible for his actions; yet, the pain was punching on Daniel's heart even as he sat in seclusion in his office.

“Okay.”

After a cleansing sigh, the archaeologist stood up and made a new resolution to survive on his own, as he had done from the moment his parents died when he was only eight.

~Just go along,~ Daniel told himself as he finally headed for the infirmary, almost an hour after the incident in the control room had occurred.

====

“Uh, Doctor Fraiser,” the scientist called out a bit hesitantly.  ~I should have stayed in my office.~

“Doctor Jackson, what happened to you?” Janet responded upon seeing the  archaeologist and noting his paleness along with the physical evidence of his encounter with Jack.

“Colonel O'Neill confused me with a punching bag,” Daniel advised the physician as he crossed his arms over his chest.  ~Should have cleaned up the worst of it in my office.~

“He's been affected by ... whatever it is that everyone else has,” Janet responded, glancing over at the hospital bed where Jack had been earlier.  He'd been too violent to examine; we had to sedate him.”  She shook her head in amazement.  “He has a strong constitution.  It took three of my strongest orderlies to stop him from destroying this place and get him to an isolation room.”

“How is he?”

“We don't know what we're dealing with,” Janet told the mild mannered questioner.  “He should be out cold with all the medication we gave him.”  She looked more closely at the guarded archaeologist and stated, “I heard he'd attacked someone, but I didn't know it was you.  What happened exactly?”

Janet motioned for the young man to hop up on the examination table.

After situating himself on the table as requested, Daniel answered, “I was telling him about my research concerning the natives on P3X-797, and he just hit me.”

“For no reason?” Janet questioned in confusion, pulling back her pen light to look at Daniel for a moment.

“I ... I don't know.  I noticed he'd been hurt, and he told me about Sam.  Uh, how is she?” Daniel asked.

“She's the same as everyone else in the long line of people affected by this contagion, and it's growing by the minute, whatever it is.  Answer my question,” Janet insisted as she continued her examination, cleaning the dried blood from his mouth.

“Uh, well, I ... said I should check on Sam, and he didn't want me to,” Daniel stated.  “Then he grabbed me and ... started hitting me,” he stated quietly, looking away from the doctor.

“Doctor Jackson, this is ...” Janet began.

“Doctor Fraiser, report,” Hammond ordered as he walked in, standing near the hospital cot that Daniel was sitting on.

Teal'c had accompanied the major general and walked over to stand near his teammate.

“I'm glad you're here,” Janet told the Jaffa.  “I want to take a sample of your blood,” she explained.  Realizing Daniel was about to jump off the cot, she held up her hand to stop him.  “Not so fast, Doctor Jackson.  I need your blood, too.”

Janet motioned to her medical team to take the samples, just as Hammond again called out, “Doctor?”

“I'm sorry, Sir,” Janet apologized, crossing the floor to meet him.

“I understand you're busy, Doctor.  Status?”

Grateful for the general's understanding, Janet led him back towards the area where the two SG-1 teammates were and reported, “We've managed to isolate an organism in the victims' bloodstreams.”

“Organism?  Like a parasite or something?” the general queried.

“More like a, a parasitical virus,” Janet began.

Janet felt that the parasite released a hormone that stimulated the normally dormant primitive regions of the brain.

Getting off the table, Daniel opined that it must be related to The Touched, the caveman like residents who lived in the darkened region of P3X-797.  He speculated the disease was contagious and SG-1 brought it back with them when they returned to Earth through the Stargate.

~I feel bad for them; I'd like to help them; but I *really* don't need this in my life right now,~ Daniel sighed inwardly.

“So, the question is, why haven't you and Mister Teal'c come down with the symptoms?” Janet inquired.

“Um, Mister Teal'c's -- *Teal'c's* symbiote probably protects him,” Daniel answered.  ~I don't think she likes me very much, which ... would be nothing knew, but that's neither here nor there at the moment, considering that ...~  His internal woes went faster than his often rapid fire speech did.  Finally, he shut down his lonely thoughts.  ~Focus, Jackson.~

“That would be likely,” the Jaffa concurred.

“Well what about you, Doctor Jackson?” Janet asked curiously.

“Well, that beats me.  You're the doctor, Doctor,” Daniel retorted, though his snarky attitude suddenly shifted and he gave the doctor a very brief smile.  “Uh, maybe I have a natural immunity.”

“Perhaps you will develop symptoms later,” Teal'c stated.

“Thank you for the moral support,” Daniel replied sarcastically.  ~First Jack beats the crap out of me and now Teal'c is betting on me getting sick as if he were betting on a freakin' horse race or something.  I thought they cared.  Gawd, how could I be that wrong ... again?~

“I am checking both of your blood for the organism, and I would bet that you both have it.  This appears to be highly contagious,” Janet noted.

Frustrated and hurt, Daniel determined silently, ~Remember, Jackson, just go along.  Sha're is the important thing here.  You have to stay strong for her.~

Just as Hammond ordered the Mountain sealed off due to the contagion, a sudden, strangled yell drew the group's attention.

~That's Jack,~ Daniel realized, a feeling of horror flooding through him as he turned in the direction of the shrieking noise.

Hurriedly, Daniel, Teal'c, and Janet ran down the corridor to IS-19, the room Jack had been placed in earlier.  Enraged, the colonel was screaming and slamming his body against the door.

“He is going to damage himself,” Teal'c observed.

“I've been pumping him with sedatives to control him, but they wear off fast.  Help me give him some more.  Let's go, go!” Janet ordered.

The two teammates, along with a Marine and a medical technician, rushed into the room, holding Jack back while Janet injected him with yet another sedative.  Slowly, he collapsed down onto the floor.

“That should keep him out for a little while,” Janet noted.

“Perhaps you should increase the amount of what you are giving him, DoctorFraiser,” Teal'c suggested.

“He's already getting twice that of everyone else, Teal'c,” the doctor negated.  Looking down at her patient, she added, “I'm afraid to give him anymore so soon.”

“Do you need anymore assistance, Doctor Fraiser?” the Marine asked.

“No, thank you,” Janet assured.  “Okay, let's go; everyone out,” she ordered the personnel.

Janet, Teal'c, and the Marine quickly went on their way, while the medical attendant remained in the hallway, waiting to secure the door.

“Uh, just one moment,” Daniel told the attendant as he lagged behind.  He walked over to his friend and pulled him up onto the bunk.  ~Not sure why I did that.  With you acting all animalistic and everything, you'll probably be back on the floor as soon as you wake up, but ... I just can't leave you on the floor like a bag of garbage, even if it has all been a lie.~  He continued to stare down at his unconscious friend.  ~I believed in you, Jack.  I guess I was wrong.  My fault.  It's always my fault.~

The young man blinked before finally exiting the isolation room.

====

Daniel looked up from the book he'd been reading and glanced at his watch.  He needed to report back to the infirmary in a few minutes to find out the results of Janet's last batch of tests.  He sighed.

~Jackson, listen.  It wasn't Jack.  It was the virus.  Don't blame him for your miserable past.  He didn't have control over himself.  You heard Doctor Fraiser earlier.  Listen to her.~  The young man sighed, unable to control his emotional response to having been beaten by his good friend.  ~Come on, Jackson, get real.  Jack's not some ... superhero, even if ... he's just not.  Cut him some slack.~

Nodding to spur himself on, Daniel closed his book, took a last sip of his coffee, and then walked slowly to the infirmary.

====

A while later, Janet confirmed to Hammond that neither Daniel nor Teal'c had the organism in their system.  What she needed now was a blood sample from someone on the planet to analyze and perhaps utilize in coming up with a cure.

To Daniel's horror, the major general then ordered the doctor to show the two teammates how to draw blood.  Thirty minutes from the order, Daniel and Teal'c would walk through the Stargate to The Land of Light in an attempt to obtain the needed sample of blood.

~Me and Teal'c?  You're sending me through the Gate without ... without Jack?  Great.  Okay, not so great.  I don't like this.~

“Gentlemen, this way,” Janet requested.

~What about SG-3?  Oh, yeah.  They're all in isolation rooms.  Just about everyone is now.  I guess we don't have a choice, but I still don't like it.~

====

Their medical lesson concluded, Teal'c headed for the corridor, stopping when Daniel had not followed.

“I'll meet you in the gear-up room,” Daniel stated.  With the Jaffa gone, he turned to face the physician, who was cleaning up the area she'd just used in instructing the SG-1 members on how to draw blood.  “Uh, Doctor Fraiser ...”

“You did it perfect for a first time, Doctor Jackson,” Janet stated, sensing Daniel's nervousness.

“No, I mean, thank you,” Daniel stammered slightly.  “I just ... uh, please call me Daniel.”  He saw Janet staring at him, though she didn't say anything in reply.  “About the other day, I wasn't paying attention to where I was going, and I am sorry for running into you.”

“Actually, Doct...Daniel, I wasn't paying attention, either.  I was in too much of a hurry.”

“Me, too,” Daniel acknowledged, giving the redhead the same brief smile he had earlier.  “Um, welcome to the SGC.”  He chortled a bit, “I know it's a crazy around here.”

“I only just learned about the Stargate last week; need to know,” Janet revealed with a bit of a grin.  “I thought it would be a good challenge.”

“Fights, an alien disease, most of the base acting like cavemen ...” Daniel listed.

“Yes, it's a challenge,” Janet chuckled lightly.  After a moment, she added, “Thank you for the welcome.  Pointing over to the far left, she teased, “I've told my staff that we'll save that bed for you, whenever you need it.”

~Good one.~  Daniel's head dropped, but he smiled.  Then he nodded.  As he began to back away, he stated, “I'll try not to use it too much, it that's okay.”

“Oh, that's fine with me, Doc...Daniel.”

With a final nod, the archaeologist took another step back and then turned around to prepare for his upcoming mission.

====

Entering the gate room roughly twenty minutes later, Daniel sneezed.

“Do not worry, DanielJackson.  The Touched are frightened by your loud, Earth weapons.  We can easily subdue them,” Teal'c told his teammate confidently.

“That's easy for you to say,” Daniel replied.  ~I don't like those loud, Earth weapons, either, and let's just say we're not in the same boxing weight division.~

Together, the teammates stepped through the Stargate.

Soon thereafter, Daniel and Teal'c came upon an unconscious body on the side of the path.  It was Melosha, and she was now definitely affected by the virus.  As he knelt down to check on her condition, Daniel was incredulous that her people had just dumped her on the dark side of the planet.

“We dump them in a small room,” Teal'c pointed out in response to the archaeologist's comments.

“To protect them,” Daniel explained.

“To protect everyone else.  There is little difference,” Teal'c refuted.

“You know, you're right.  They're like lepers.  The dark side is a leper colony,” Daniel replied thoughtfully.  He pulled out a blanket from his pack, intent on helping the young woman.  Much to his chagrin, though, he noted that Teal'c had walked onward.  “We have to help her.  Are you planning on helping me?” he implored a bit desperately.  ~Gawd, you're stronger.  A little help, Teal'c, would be nice.~

“It is a long journey.  We should leave her,” the Jaffa put forth, opting not to assist his slender teammate.

“No,” Daniel responded as he picked up the woman.  “Now, let's ... go.”  Suddenly, he realized they were surrounded by the Touched.  ~Not good,~ he noted as his pulse began to race.  “Teal'c!”

Keeping his eyes on the Touched in front of him, Teal'c instructed, “Fire your weapon.  It will frighten them off.”

~How can I fire my weapon if I'm holding Melosha?  Come on, Teal'c.  Where's your comp...~

Before Daniel could give voice to his thought, the Touched attacked.  As Teal'c fired his weapon, warding off those in front of him, Daniel was taken captive, his world going dark as he and Melosha were dragged away.

Turning around, the Jaffa was surprised to see no sign of his teammate.  He called out for the archaeologist, not getting a response.  Scanning the ground for any clues as to where Daniel may have been taken, Teal'c spotted Daniel's glasses that were lying on the ground.  He bent down, picking up the glasses and putting them into his pocket.

~This was not my intention.  I have allowed harm to come to O’Neill's archaeologist.  He will not be pleased.~

====

At Cheyenne Mountain, Jack was able to communicate with Janet, which surprised her, considering the amount of sedatives he'd been given.

“... This is interesting.  Enough sedative must knock back the primitive mind. Colonel, listen to me.  I am not going to be able to keep you at this level for very long; it is too dangerous.  It could cause permanent brain damage,” Janet stated.

Regardless of the potential harm, Jack convinced the doctor to experiment on him, anyway.

====

On the planet, Teal'c attempted to get a blood sample from Tuplo and Leedora, after insisting to them that Melosha was alive.  Believing that the Touched were as good as dead and angry at their visitor's insistence that they were wrong, Tuplo ordered him to leave.

Having no choice, the Jaffa knocked out two natives who were guarding the entrance to the meeting hall and drew a vial of blood from one of them before returning to the Stargate.

====

Meanwhile, Daniel, his clothes torn from being dragged through the woods, was still aware of what was happening.

~Gawd, this is a freakin' nightmare.  I have to get away from here.~

Daniel tried to crawl away, but was immediately jumped on by one of the Touched, who began to hit him repeatedly.

~Jack?  *Jack, stop!*~

====

After some time, Janet was able to make some headway with the blood sample that Teal'c had given her.  She immediately went to IS-19, where Teal'c was with Jack, both waiting for the results of the doctor's analysis.

Sitting down on a chair in front of Jack, Janet began, “I was examining the blood sample that Mister Teal'c brought me; then it hit me. There was very little histamine in it.  If the people on that planet are human, as you say, they have to have a histamine in their blood.”

“How does this help us?” Teal'c questioned.

“Well, as I said before, this microbe is a histaminolytic; it feeds on histamine.  The Untouched have no histamine in their bodies so the organism couldn't survive in them.”

“I do not understand,” Teal'c admitted.  “It is the Untouched that become the Touched.  If they have none of this substance of which you speak, why then do some of them change?”

“Because only some of them have this low histamine level which means there is probably a ... a naturally occurring antihistamine in their diets.  The ones who don't eat it eventually contract the organism.  Which is what gave me an idea.  I checked the files; both Doctor Jackson and I have acute rhinitis caused by severe allergies.”

“Explain,” Teal'c requested.

“I take strong antihistamines every day; so did Doctor Jackson.  I have no histamine for the microbe to feed on.  Just like the Untouched, the organism starves in my body.”

Janet then administered mega doses of chloropheniramine maleate to Jack.  Teal’c gently lowered his friend down on the bed and waited outside the door to see if the doctor's theory was correct.

====

Jack's eyelids fluttered as he slowly began to regain consciousness.  Lying on his cot, he looked around the room, the memory of his primitive self coming back.  He sat up, trying to get his bearings.

~Gawd, Daniel, what did I do?~ Jack lamented, recalling his primitive self landing punch after punch on his friend, the one person he couldn't bear to see get hurt.  ~Wait, Teal'c was here ... he said ... crap, he lost Daniel!  I keep telling him not to let Danny go off on his own.  We're going to have to have another chat.~  Quickly, he jumped up and banged on the door until he captured Teal'c's attention.  He went for a humorous return, calling out, “Lucy, I'm ho...ome!”

The Jaffa, however, was clueless about the classic television reference to Lucille Ball and her “I Love Lucy” TV series.  Jack began to explain, but realized it would be a pointless endeavor.

~I'm wasting time.  Daniel is out there, and I have to find him.~  Finally, Jack sternly told Teal'c to let him out.  As the Jaffa unlocked the room, the fully-recovered colonel walked out, stating, “This stuff works.  Let's find Doc.”

====

“Sir, maybe you should ...” Janet began, uncertain that SG-1 should be undertaking their current mission.

“Doc, Daniel is out there.  I'm fine.  Everyone is fine.  Look around,” Jack instructed.

Once Janet had examined Jack and found him healthy, she had begun administering the mega dose to the others.  Slowly, everyone was returning to their old selves.

“Besides,” Jack continued.  “According to you, two-thirds of the base came down with this.  So, if we don't go, who will?  Daniel's out there, Doc.  He's counting on us.”

“Go,” Janet urged, nodding her head towards the door.

“I'm going, too,” Sam announced, having walked over to her CO to join the very end of the conversation.  “I'm feeling fine now, Sir.”

Nodding, Jack agreed, “Okay, let's go.  Teal'c!”

====

In the gate room, SG-1 and SG-3 prepared to go through the Stargate once again, this time armed with tranquilizer darts that were filled with chloropheniramine.

“So, we're going to try and tranq all the Touched?” Sam asked.

“Just the ones that get in the way of us finding Daniel.  Leave the rest for the Untouched,” Jack returned.  ~The goal is Daniel.~

“You think he's still alive?”

For a moment, Jack just stared at his second-in-command.  The question was absurd to him.  He hadn't even considered the possibility.  Then he was hit by a flash of panic, which he hid by quickly turning to face the Gate.

~What kind of question is that?  Of course, he's alive.  Stupid question.~  The colonel continued to stare at the Stargate.  ~Chill, O'Neill.  You don't need an incident to get Hammond riled up and stop you from going on the rescue.~  Willing himself to focus on the mission ahead, his verbal response was simple.  “Let's find out.”

====

“This is where I lost DanielJackson,” Teal'c stated after having led the SG teams to the appropriate location.

“Yes, well, don't do that again, Teal'c,” Jack ordered seriously.  ~Danny's not, well, let's face it, he's not the survivalist type.  Ya gotta watch his six.  No, I'll watch his six, you watch his ... huh?  I'm giving myself a headache.  What was I thinking about?  Never mind.~

“He did not act in a logical manner,” the Jaffa pointed out as the teams pushed onward.

“Teal'c, we're talking about Daniel here.  He thinks with his heart,” Jack acknowledged.  ~Geez, how you frustrate me with that trait.  One on these days Danny ...~

“I understand.  I am sorry, O'Neill,” Teal'c spoke contritely.  ~I have let you down, O’Neill.  A warrior should not treat his brother that way.  It shall not happen again~

“Just remember, Daniel doesn't act like a soldier, and you have to act accordingly.”

“With all due respect, Sir, don't you think talking about Daniel like he's a child is inappropriate?” Sam questioned.

“He's *not* a child, Captain.  If we'd been out there, we'd have shot first and rescued the girl second.  Daniel doesn't have the training to know that,” Jack refuted.  ~He will, though.~

“Yes, Sir.”

“All I'm saying, Carter, is that until he's been out here long enough to know better, we just need to watch out for him a little, and, Teal'c, that means not turning your back on him, especially when he's got a ... damsel in distress within his grasp,” Jack quipped.

“Sir, I hear something,” Sam advised as she stopped walking to hone in on the sound.

Jack listened for a moment and then motioned at the direction of the noise.  The group went silent as they approached a clearing and kneeled down.  Just yards beyond the bushes, they observed the Touched and Daniel, now acting in a primitive state, as he sat possessively by Melosha.

“Guess the antihistamine wore off,” Sam surmised.

~He's alive; that's the important thing.  Daniel, I'm here, buddy.~

Jack gestured instructions for the teams, which then opened fire, intentionally hitting everyone except Daniel and Melosha.  The intent was to inject their colleague with the substance Janet had developed rather than firing a dart violently into his body.  

As he loaded another dart, the colonel quipped, “Daniel, you dog.  Keep this up, you'll have a girl on every planet.”

“Just let me give him an injection,” Sam stated a bit agitatedly.  ~There's a time and a place, Colonel, and this is clearly not the time.  I don't like seeing him like this.  This is so un-Daniel like.~

Slowly, the captain moved forward, hoping Daniel would let her inject him with the substance peacefully.  All of sudden, her plans went south as the archaeologist lunged forward.

~Sorry, Danny,~ Jack thought as he fired a dart at his friend.  Teal'c did the same, hitting Melosha.  ~Had to do it the hard way,~ he sighed as he walked over to check on the archaeologist.  He kneeled down and, while putting his hand supportively against Daniel's shoulder, said quietly, “It'll be okay, Daniel.  It won't be long now and you'll be prattling away, just like normal.”

“I will carry DanielJackson,” Teal'c advised as he stood behind the leader of SG-1.

“Uh, okay,” Jack replied a little hesitantly.  He'd been planning to carry Daniel himself and felt somewhat possessive of the vulnerable scientist.  ~Maybe there's something left over from this virus.  Yeah, that must be it.~  Shaking his head at his reluctance to move away from the younger man, he stood quickly and stated, “Let's head for The Land of Light; surprise Tuplo and his buddies.”

“What about Melosha?” Sam questioned.

“Carter, we tried that once.  This time, we're taking care of Daniel first.  Let's go,” the colonel ordered, walking away from the stunned Touched.

====

“What do you think of the new Doc?” Jack asked Sam as the teams walked towards the main city.

“She seems nice,” Sam stated about Janet.  “I really haven't had a chance to talk to her.”  She glanced at the colonel, who hadn't said anything in reply, and asked, “What do you think of the new doc...tor?”

“Tough cookie,” Jack responded.  “She'll do.”

====

Though reluctant, Tuplo and Leedora finally agreed to allow Daniel to be placed in the isolation circle while they listened to Jack and Sam had to tell them about the disease.

--

“If you are not gods, then how did you destroy the curse?” Tuplo asked several minutes later.

“As we've been saying, Tuplo, it's not a curse.  It's a disease,” Jack clarified from his seated position opposite the planetary leaders.

“A sickness,” Sam added.

Just then, Daniel roused and automatically called out, “Jack?”

~All right!~  Looking over towards the isolation circle, Jack smiled and remarked, “There's our boy.”

Jack and Sam stood and walked over to the platform where Daniel began to sit up.

“Where are we?” Daniel questioned.  ~Everything is blurry, and I have the worst headache.~

“The light side of P3X-797,” Teal'c answered as he pulled out Daniel's glasses from his vest pocket and handed them to him.

“I thought we were going to give it a better name,” the archaeologist commented.  ~My head's all fuzzy.  Oh, yeah, I ... I remember now.~

Smiling, Jack observed, “He's back.  He's normal.”

“Explain,” Leedora requested.

“We know how to lift the curse,” Sam stated, using the natives' own terminology.

“How, if you are not gods?” Tuplo inquired anxiously.

“Come out there with us.  We'll show you,” the colonel implored.

As the others began to walk out of the meeting area, Jack reached out, extending his hand to help his friend up.

Daniel blinked, looking at the outstretched hand.  Then, with a tiny smile, he took it, allowing himself to be pulled up.

“Are you okay?” Jack inquired.

Daniel looked into his friend's eyes, seeing concern and caring.  He had trusted that look just this morning.  Could he trust it again?

~It wasn't Jack this morning; it was the virus.~  Knowing he still needed time to process the events of the day, especially the beating in the control room, Daniel answered truthfully, “No, but, uh, I think I will be.”

Jack nodded, patted Daniel supportively on the shoulder a couple of times, and then headed out of the meeting room.  He knew he needed to talk to his friend some more, but this wasn't the time or the place for that to happen.

~I'll tease him a little on the way back, assess his attitude, and then get him blotto tonight.  A few dozen apologies, some common sense, and lots of beer.  Yep, after that, life will be good.  Crap, I really need to apologize, big time.~

====

Late that evening, Jack and Daniel sat on the roof deck, their shoulders touching as they leaned back against the wall of the house.  They had their jackets on to combat the crisp, cool air, but it was a clear night and, aside from the chill, quite pleasant out.

The friends had eaten dinner, Chinese, much to Daniel's delight, since all the way back from the planet Jack had talked about nothing but pizza.  They had watched a videotape of a hockey game which hadn't really been the archaeologist's idea of fun, especially since Jack had hollered and moaned all the way through the Colorado Avalanche's loss in overtime to the Detroit Red Wings.

To calm down, the friends had followed up hockey by stargazing, only mentioning The Land of Light briefly as they'd done so.  Neither had yet brought up the incident in the control room.

“Fraiser's good,” Jack opined.

“She's a fast thinker.”

“Short.”

“Not everyone is six-feet, Jack,” Daniel returned dryly.

“Doc Warner's good, but I think Hammond made the right call here,” the colonel put forth.

“She, uh, has allergies.”

“Ah, you bonded,” the colonel teased.

Daniel shrugged, a smile appearing on his face.  He'd had doubts about Janet at the beginning, but their conversation before he'd returned to the planet had lightened that load somewhat.  During his post-mission examination, they'd had a nice conversation, both learning a bit about the other.

Then Jack opened the cooler, revealing several bottles of cold beer and a couple of bottles of scotch.

~Just in case the beer doesn't work fast enough.~

The light banter was over.  It was time to man up and get down to the serious stuff.  That is, after they were properly warmed up with their brew courage.

====

Two hours and several beers and scotch drinks later, both men were well inebriated.

“What about Sulosha?”

“Who?” Daniel inquired with a confused look.  “Oh!  You mean Melosha.”

“Huh?” Jack returned blankly.  ~What was my question?~  Jutting his head back slightly, he suddenly recalled his point.  “Yeah.  Whaz'bout her?”

“Uh, I don't know.  Whaz...what about her?”

“Daniel.  You, caveman, she, cave woman.”

“'Cuse,” Daniel let out a burp, “me.”

Jack was amused and proud of himself as he elaborated, “Did you ...”

“Did I ...”

“You and the girl.”

“The ... gawd, Jack, no.  Of course not.”

“Just asking.  You were pretty protective with your meat bone and all.”

“Look, things were all ... messed up in my mind, but I remembered her.  I just wanted to ... keep her tafes.”  Daniel blinked and corrected, “Safe: that's it; wanted to keep her safe.”

“Good man,” Jack complimented, patting his friend's shoulder.  ~More beer.~

Taking a few more sips, Jack knew it was time to apologize.  He just had such a hard time with this type of emotional conversation.  Still, it was easier with Daniel than with anyone else.

~I don't get that; it's even easier to talk to Daniel than it is to Sara, which is why we're separated.  Dang it, Sara.  I can't say what you want to hear, even if I feel it.  I know that.  I'm sorry.  Oh, crap!  I can say it in my mind, but not to your face.~

His thoughts on Sara, Jack let more minutes, and one more beer, tick off the clock before he finally bit the apology bullet.

“Dannyboy, I s'eally didn't mean to lobber you,” Jack spoke with sincerity, slurring his words slightly.

“Clubber,” Daniel corrected, frowning at the un-word he'd just used.  “No, that's wrong.  It's, uh ... clobber; yeah, that's it.”  Nodding his head, he repeated, “Clobber, meaning to strike violently and repeatedly, or, uh, deat, I mean, beat, thoroughly in a competition or fight, not that it was a ... a fight.”  Taking another drink from his bottle, his head bobbed up and down a few times as he said again, “Clobber: that's the word.”

“Whatever,” Jack replied drably.  ~He's not gonna let me forget this.~  Wanting to negate his actions, he attempted to explain, “I was af...affl... I was ...”

“... sick,” Daniel offered.

“Yeah, that,” the older man confirmed.

“I know.”

“You're my friend, Danny.  I ...”

“It's okay,” Daniel interrupted quickly.  ~I'm just going along; I'm good at that, sometimes.~

“No, it's not,” Jack insisted, banging his head lightly against the wall.  He sighed, “I didn't want you involved with Carter.”

“Jack, if you're interested in Sam ...”

“*What*?” Jack asked, dropping his bottle of beer from his jerky reaction to his friend's remark.  “Daniel, I'm married, and I love my wife.  My only interest in Carter is as my second.”

Daniel smiled, scrunching his nose as he questioned, “Then, uh, why did you beat me up?  I mean, you said you didn't want me with Sam.”

~I did say that.  Why did I say that?  Funny thing to say.~  Jack took a swig of his latest beer and answered, “Well, you're married, too.”  He liked that rationalization.  It made sense to the practical colonel.  ~Yeah, that's why.~

“Good pug,” Daniel praised, bursting into laughter as he played back his spoken words.  ~Meant to say, 'good point'.~

“Good pug?” Jack echoed, chuckling with his friend.  “Where's a pug?” he asked, standing and wobbling to the middle of the small wooden deck.  “Here, Pug!  Pug!  Ooooooh Pug, where for art thou?  Ooooink!”

Jack turned in a complete circle, stumbled to regain his balance and made a strange sound that was a combination of a bark and an oink.

Daniel was holding his abdomen, his laughter loud and hearty.  He was laughing so much that it hurt, partly because of Jack's humor and partly because the beer was making everything seem funny at this point.

“'ack, stop before you fall out, I mean, down,” Daniel requested, concerned for his unsteady friend.

“Ack?  Who's Ack?”

“Jack,” Daniel laughed.

The two stared at each other as their chuckles subsided.  Jack returned to his spot, nudging the younger man's shoulder as he sat back down.

“I am sorry.”

“I know,” Daniel acknowledged.  “Me, too.”

“What do you have to be sorry about?” Jack asked, baffled by the archaeologist.

Daniel bowed his head, shaking it.  He didn't want to answer.

With a sigh, Jack looked out into space at the host of stars that continued to fascinate him.

For five minutes, silence was all both men heard.  When they spoke next, the seriousness of their words overtook the intoxication of their bodies.

“It takes a long time to grow an old friend,” Jack put forth as he gazed upward, his quote having come from John Leonard.

Staring at Jack, Daniel quoted Isabel Norton: “In my friend, I find a second self.”

Jack nodded, waiting a moment before he responded with the Turkish proverb, “No road is long with good company.”

“Even if he's a scientist?”

“Not if he's the *right* scientist,” Jack answered, smiling and sobered, at least for the moment.  “Danny, we both have a lot to learn.  You don't need to tell me what you were thinking, but I can guess.  The important thing to remember is that we have a very real, long and spacey road to travel, and I hope we can travel it together.”

“I knew you didn't mean it, Jack, but sometimes ...”  The younger man trailed off, not wanting to think about his past that was difficult to forget.  “I only want to think about now.”

“Now is here,” Jack replied.  ~I’ve had to remind myself that many times over the years,~ he sighed inwardly.  “Another beer?”

“Yes!” Daniel exclaimed eagerly.  “Have I told you I hate beer?”

“Every time we get drunk, Danny,” Jack answered as he pulled out another beer from the cooler and handed it to his friend, while getting another one for himself.  After opening them, he held out his bottle and said, “To friendship.”

“To friendship,” Daniel agreed, smiling as he clinked his bottle against his friend's.  “Thanks, Jack.”

“For what?”

“For making a very Cro-Magnon day not so bad,” Daniel replied.

“That's what friends are for.”

“And, uh, for paybacks.”

Jack looked at Daniel, cocking his head slightly.  As Daniel's smirk turned into a bright smile, the colonel nodded.

“Do your best, Danny.”

“Is that a challenge, Colonel?”

“Bring it on!” the older man dared.  ~Someday I'll get you to tell me what you were thinking; more importantly, you'll tell me the story behind it.  Now, though, let's just drink and be merry.  Geez, I hate clichés.~

“Deal!” Daniel agreed.  ~I'm not on my own.  I have a friend, and his name is Jack O'Neill.  He's here, hopefully to stay.~  He smiled, looking over at the man in question.  ~I am *not* on my own.~

The two chuckled and settled back into moments of silence combined with guy talk.  It was almost midnight now, and the friends were both exhausted.  Neither cared about their fatigue, though.  For their own reasons, each felt in this moment that it was good to have friends, especially ones who could laugh, cry, and talk revenge together, all in five minutes.

For Jack and Daniel, that meant each other.  As they looked up at the stars in the clear night sky of Colorado Springs, each looked forward to traveling that long journey together on the road of friendship.

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