The Lotus-Eaters By Biblio

Slash Two men exploring and building a romantic relationship, usually involving sex.
Rating NC-17
Category Angst.  Drama.  First Time.  Friendship.  Hurt/Comfort.
Season/Spoilers Set late Season 3.
Synopsis His mind overwhelmed by a mysterious alien influence, Jack takes irrevocable action which will change his relationship with Daniel forever.
Notes This story originally appeared in my 2004 Biblio Phile zine.
Warnings Violence.  Non-consensual sexual situation.
Posted 20 October 2005
Length 744 KB Download printer-friendly PDF Download 1024x768 desktop

Part One

To Sam Carter, one minute Daniel was a pair of dreaming blue eyes above a towering, precariously balanced pile of books, the next he was pinned very gently against the elevator wall by Colonel O'Neill.

"Sir?" Sam queried, startled by the unexpectedness of it and straightening up in response.

The colonel was crowding into Daniel's space, a move she automatically catalogued as textbook aggression, but he wasn't in the least confrontational, and at her side, Teal'c wasn't reacting at all. He was simply watching, a precise eyebrow soaring quizzically as their smiling C.O. engulfed their distracted archaeologist in a disturbing bear hug.

Sam didn't have time to put her finger on what it was she found so disturbing about this intimacy.

The colonel's hand slipped around to warmly cup Daniel's head and then he kissed him like he'd waited his whole life to do it.

Daniel's books scattered and fell.

Arms closed tight around him and he was borne back against the elevator wall, cradled close against the colonel's body.

Kissed.

Sam's mouth fell open. She made a noise, but couldn't speak, gaping at the two men, who were sinuously entwined in a world of their own. It was a soft-focus fantasy of a kiss, the kind which had slipped into her dreams from time to time, perhaps the dreams of any woman attracted to men. Tall, beautiful men who touched and kissed one another sensually and with specific tenderness.

But not these two men!

There was tenderness, this Sam could see, but there was also a direct, masculine passion which had always been masked, contained somewhat, in her experience of sex. It suggested strength meeting strength. Daniel's eloquent hands were flexed in the air, uncertain whether to hold Colonel O'Neill or push him away and that alone was enough to stun Sam. There shouldn't have been any question.

Only...they looked good together, so good and right her heart was thumping, her mouth dried. So beautiful, so erotic she could hardly bear to look at their faces. The colonel was rapt and their throats were arched. Sam could see, she couldn't help but see the colonel's tongue was deep in Daniel's mouth, he wanted him so badly Sam could taste it and her breathing was harsh and fitful.

They kissed forever, the moments stretching to breaking as the elevator glided to a halt and finally the colonel stepped away, turned away, walked away, leaving Daniel gasping and pale, slumped helpless and mortified against the wall.

Teal'c was the first to move and Sam started violently, freed from the intoxicating spell. They met at Daniel's side, they held him up and he hung stupefied from their hands.

"Wha?" Daniel stuttered and swallowed painfully. He could say no more than this. To Sam, he looked shattered.

"I do not know, DanielJackson." Teal'c was looking thoughtfully at their insouciantly departing C.O., who hollered back for them to get moving, for cryin' out loud. The general might have a briefing, but he had a game!

"A game?" Sam abruptly found her voice. How could he? "Like nothing happened!" She was spitting with shock and indignation.

"Should we inform General Hammond of this occurrence?" Teal'c gravely asked Daniel.

It took Sam a moment to realise Teal'c was none-too-subtly stating this particular decision was not up to her. She grasped he meant it wasn't a matter for the team, the Air Force, to rule on and then her face flamed. She wasn't normally stupid, not even about these personal things. Teal'c wasn't appealing to her to respond as a friend of the two instead of as an officer. He was implying it was none of her business, that Daniel and the colonel were in a – a relationship.

Her racing thoughts balked at this. She could hardly conceive it to be true.

"No," Daniel insisted, looking around him blankly, then dropping like a stone to gather up his books. His hands were shaking and for a moment, Sam felt almost sick with relief.

"This has never happened before," she asserted firmly, a tad more sure of her ground.

"No," Daniel said softly, not meeting their eyes as Teal'c knelt kindly and helped him with his books.

"We need to be careful," Sam suggested cautiously, with a hasty look out into the bustling hallway. "The repercussions." She shouldn't need to explain there were those around who would make Daniel's life hell over an incident like this. The colonel's too, though that was less likely. Few people would dare, at least not to his face.

"You're forgetting something," Daniel said woodenly, straightening up. He was frighteningly pale and shocked. Worry creased his face. He glanced up, over Sam's shoulder, and her heart sank as she followed him from the elevator and into the thankfully quiet hallway.

"The camera," she sighed. That was too much. She couldn’t contain that, protect her friends from that. Behind the cameras were the security teams, inconvenient witnesses. "We get Janet involved," she advised tersely. "There has to be some explanation."

Janet would be discreet, she was obligated to be, but more than that, she was their friend and was fierce in defence of her patients' welfare. Janet had been burned before where SG-1 was concerned; she'd make no assumptions, and she'd look until she found an explanation for this extraordinary lapse of the colonel's.

"A medical reason," Sam emphasised unnecessarily. "He – the colonel - wouldn't just do this." She could hardly explain why it was so important to her this be true, except that in all the time he was missing on Edora, she had...missed him. It wasn't a problem, though. It was not permitted to be a problem.

"No," Daniel said dazedly.

"We'll work out what to do when we get there," Sam promised as reassuringly as she could when she had no idea where to start. "Let's just watch the colonel for now." They had a briefing. It was important. All missions were.

Teal'c stopped the elevator doors from closing and this galvanised the three of them into hurrying after the colonel, piling into the briefing room to find him sitting very much at his ease, jovially chatting with the general.

Sam muttered a disjointed apology and slid into a seat, far more certain that whatever had caused this, it was something medical, something logical. The colonel was not this good an actor and he couldn't kiss the shit out of Daniel, couldn't take his time, make those delicate murmurs of appreciation, touch and taste and hold…Her face flamed.

"Coffee?" Colonel O'Neill casually asked Daniel.

"Er." Daniel was stupefied for a second time, his mouth falling open at this nonchalance.

Sam saw that his lips were swollen and for the first time wondered how he felt. She tried to smile, but it took effort, it didn't quite gel and she was glad she couldn't catch his eye.

General Hammond was talking but they were all watching the colonel, blithely fixing coffee, taking his time, getting it just the way it should be. Daniel loved his coffee and they all cared enough to get it exactly right for him. Satisfied at last on Daniel's behalf, the colonel ambled back to the briefing table, taking a drink, his attention only partly on the general and the latest dry Pentagon party line he was dutifully imparting to them before getting down to the real business of the briefing.

Sam realised she was holding her breath as the colonel set his own mug down on the table. She was so rattled, she was only now picking up on the fact Teal'c was standing watchfully by the window, within easy reach of the two men. Daniel looked up, not focusing on the colonel, not really on anything at all, reaching out with unsteady hands to take his coffee.

"Thank you," he said carefully.

"Sure," the colonel replied easily, stooping unthinkingly to kiss his brow.

"Colonel O'Neill?" Hammond barked at once, jarred right out of his monologue and frowning darkly over what he'd just seen.

The colonel looked up enquiringly as he dropped into his seat. "General?"

Hammond looked at Daniel, who was paler even than before, then at Sam and Teal'c, their faces like stone. Colonel O'Neill looked too. He couldn't seem to see anything in his own behaviour but suddenly he was frowning too; he certainly saw his effect on them.

"What's up?" he demanded, his blasé good humour evaporating.

Sam's mouth was open and she couldn't find a word to say.

"You embraced DanielJackson, O'Neill," Teal'c, never embarrassed, observed clinically.

The colonel looked round at Daniel, his eyes quizzical and a little amused. "No, I didn't."

"Sir," Sam interjected uncomfortably, "You did."

"You kissed me," Daniel informed him, his soft voice almost steady.

"No, I didn't."

"You did."

"Didn’t."

"Did."

"Why would I possibly?"

"Colonel O'Neill!" Hammond snapped.

"This is the second such occurrence," Teal'c announced, moving over to take the seat next to Daniel.

"Explain," Hammond ordered, his frown abruptly deepening.

"The first incident took place in the elevator a few minutes ago."

The colonel thought this was a joke. He made some crack about it being April Fools.

They weren't laughing.

"Perhaps we should send for Dr. Fraiser?" Teal'c suggested imperturbably.

"You're acting like there's something wrong with me," the colonel retorted, nonplussed.

"You kissed me!" Daniel snapped, getting a little of his colour back.

Whatever the colonel was about to say, he swallowed, because he saw how strained Daniel looked and then he took his hand.

"I rest my case!" Daniel said angrily, trying to tug free.

"Sir, I don't think you understand," Sam tried to explain desperately. "The kiss - it wasn't a - a peck." Hammond was staring and she couldn't say any more, not about that. "It wasn't normal." She was struggling to make sense. "It was wrong," she said more certainly. "Something is wrong."

"I kissed you?" the colonel asked Daniel, looking punch-drunk and confused. "Kissed?" he repeated blankly as if he couldn't take it in.

"You tried to give me a tonsillectomy with your tongue," Daniel said flatly.

"It was indeed a most passionate embrace," Teal'c agreed with due consideration of the facts.

Hammond blinked at Teal'c, then immediately ordered the colonel to the Infirmary for tests. He went himself to make the call to Dr. Fraiser and Sam didn't blame him. She wanted to bolt herself. This was too weird, she could barely look at Daniel's bewildered face and as for the colonel, it was wrong.

There was no way Colonel Jack O'Neill should be kissing Daniel Jackson. No matter what the circumstances were. However right it might look, and Sam was going to be struggling with those images for quite some time to come, it was wrong. It should never have happened.

"I've been hammered, forked, poked, prodded, needled, blinded, deafened and scanned. Repeatedly. There's nothing wrong with me," Jack pronounced flatly.

"You have abnormally high dopamine levels," Dr. Fraiser corrected him calmly, mostly for the benefit of her audience rather than her patient. "Dopamine affects brain processes which control movement, emotional response, and ability to experience pleasure and pain. While the other tests were normal, the MRI and particularly the PET scan show that the limbic system of your brain is wildly overactive."

"Limbic system?" Daniel queried.

Leaning past Fraiser, Jack made a point of scowling at his so-called friend. Whatever Jack was supposed to have done to him, Daniel blatantly hiding out behind Teal'c and hugging the crap out of himself was, quite frankly, overkill as responses went.

"The limbic system links the brain stem with the higher reasoning elements of the cerebral cortex," Fraiser responded. "It affects a wide range of behaviours including emotions, motivation and memory."

"Ooo-kaaay," Daniel drawled thoughtfully. "That almost makes sense. The, um, way Jack's been behaving?" Wincing in embarrassment, he kept his gaze fixed firmly on the floor.

Jack was starting to feel like a dog which understood it had just humped someone's leg. In company. Frankly, it was pissing him off.

"Actually, it doesn't make sense," Fraiser countered briskly. "Hyperactivity in the limbic system is more typically associated with violent and aggressive behaviour." She glanced broodingly from Jack to the many and varied scans she'd insisted on taking of his brain. "The fact the colonel has no memories of these affective states suggests his hippocampus is also affected. The hippocampus," she began to lecture automatically, before anyone else could ask dumb questions, "is considered the area of the brain where short-term memories are converted to long-term memories for storage in other areas of the brain. It also forms part of the limbic system."

"If I can get a word in edgeways," Jack snapped, "I have to say that I feel pretty good for a man with weird-assed, alleged brain damage."

"That would be the dopamine," Daniel retorted, refusing to look at him. "It's like a drug."

"In a sense," Fraiser said slowly. "Dopamine is a neurotransmitter. As a chemical messenger, dopamine is similar to adrenaline. If I can use a simple analogy?"

Shifting his numb ass uncomfortably on the hard Infirmary bed, Jack patted her shoulder encouragingly. "Please!" he begged.

"In simplest terms, dopamine is like the steering in a car, 'where are we, the body, going to go?' Norepinephrine is the gas."

"So Colonel O'Neill's brakes are shot?" General Hammond summarised carefully.

Jack was starting to take this stuff personally. They were way past surreal and headed at speed towards completely whacked.

"Why is he steering for Dr. Jackson?" Hammond asked, even more carefully than before.

Everyone looked at Jack. He glared back at them. Like he had any answers, here!

"The limbic system is also where the sense of smell is located. The scent which Colonel O'Neill associates with Dr. Jackson could be what is triggering these episodes," Fraiser suggested a trifle dubiously, eyeing Daniel.

Episodes? Jack wondered if he'd just been upgraded. He'd never wasted much time thinking about this particular issue, it had never actually come up, but he was pretty sure it had never occurred to him Daniel Jackson smelled all that good.

Fraiser nodded at some thought she wasn't choosing to share and looked brightly up at Teal'c. "Kiss him," she ordered authoritatively, nodding at Daniel.

Teal'c inclined his head in acknowledgement, turned smoothly and obediently took a startled, objecting Daniel into his arms.

Jack didn't remember moving. One minute he was telling Teal'c to get his hands the hell off and the next, his face was being ground into the floor, a terrific weight lodged between his shoulder-blades.

"I do not wish to hurt you, O'Neill," Teal'c's voice warned him sternly. "There is no danger to DanielJackson. Hear me and be still."

"Ugh," Jack choked into the concrete.

"You tried to kill Teal'c," Daniel told him shakily.

"Kill?" Jack grunted disbelievingly.

"Kill," Hammond reiterated grimly.

"Okay, we learned something here," Fraiser announced, her voice taut with excitement. "The amygdala is an important component of the limbic system. It appears to specialize in modulating reactions to objects and events of special biological significance, specifically those that warn of pain or danger, or signify the presence of food or water, potential mates or rivals, or infants in need of support."

"These are powerful motivations for all living creatures," Teal'c soberly observed, easing his weight off Jack a tad.

"The amygdala, in relation with other regions of the cerebrum," Fraiser went on, "provides the basis for modulating aggressive, defensive and reproductive behaviour."

"I think Jack just successfully demonstrated all three," Daniel said dryly.

"Indeed."

"Forgetting something?" Jack asked sarcastically, holding his face a scant inch from the Infirmary floor.

"Yes, thank you!" Fraiser responded outrageously. "The amygdala is involved in mediating the effects of pheromones on reproductive physiology and behaviour while the basolateral amygdala appears to stimulate defensive attack."

"Pheromones?" Hammond asked. "Is that where Dr. Jackson's scent comes in?"

"Possibly," Fraiser shrugged. "There has been a great deal of research, but the findings of these studies are controversial at best. No one can explain why we would be affected by chemicals we can't actually smell."

"We're beginning to get an idea of what the problem is," Hammond responded almost impatiently. "But what I need to know is how, or should I say why, Colonel O'Neill has been affected this way and why it's only him."

"Get. Off. Me!" Jack's voice rose to window-rattling volume.

As Teal'c helped Jack to his feet, Fraiser moved nimbly out of the way, still yakking to the general. "There is no doubt the colonel's affective behaviour is fixated on Dr. Jackson," she confirmed unnecessarily.

Once he was on his feet, Jack irritably shrugged off Teal'c's helping hand and immediately oriented himself on Daniel, who almost surprised him by not having budged an inch during the fracas. Daniel stared right back at him, his chin tilting stubbornly.

"How bad?" Jack snapped, knowing Daniel at least would tell him straight.

Daniel's gaze flickered to the impassive Teal'c as he again took up his defensive position firmly between Daniel and Jack. It cheered Jack a little, knowing it hadn't exactly been Daniel's choice to hide.

"Bad," Daniel answered quietly.

"I don't remember," Jack went on brusquely, as close to an apology as he could get.

"It is of no consequence," Teal'c replied. "No harm was done."

Jack was not talking to him.

"This might help," Carter responded from the doorway. She marched in, waving a video tape. "The footage from the camera in the elevator."

Hammond lowered his head and said something quietly to Fraiser, who promptly ordered her nurses out of the room.

Jack hesitated, then defiantly walked over to stand where he normally would beside Daniel as Carter cued up the tape. Teal'c weighed him up for a long moment, then simply stepped out of his way. Daniel shifted awkwardly foot to foot but made no other move. He couldn't even look at Jack, he was so desperately embarrassed.

The video footage was rolling and there was nothing to see. Everyone was standing around in the elevator like they'd done a thousand times. Then Jack watched himself straighten up from the wall and turn around, take hold of Daniel and smile before he kissed him.

"Oh my god," he whispered.

He knew that smile. He'd seen it a time or two before, on home videos, where he'd be filming Sara and then the camera would drop, he'd go over, get close, get serious with her. Like he was getting serious here with Daniel, all over him.

The Jack on the film was getting heavy, going at it, going at Daniel, wanting sex right there, right then. Jack knew what he was seeing, he just couldn't seem to take it in. There were times, not Daniel's fault, he never did anything, just times Jack would more than see Daniel was attractive, times he would be aware, when he would feel it. There was nothing that would lead him to this. He'd been sure.

"Jack!" Daniel protested, tugging at Jack's arm, the arm he'd clamped around his shoulders.

"Step away from Dr. Jackson, Colonel," Hammond ordered, firm but not cold. Not quite.

Jack opened his mouth and could say nothing. He couldn't remember doing these things, he had no idea why he was, but he was starting to feel all the gaps. He looked at Daniel and then he looked away. He had to make himself let go and when he stepped back, his legs shook. Daniel didn't look much better than he felt, and now he knew why.

Hammond looked worried. "He doesn't seem able to control himself at all," he confided to Fraiser.

Jack realised with a shock that this was it. They'd stopped talking to him. Now, it was about him. He was officially out of the loop, reduced to a cipher, a nasty little problem that needed to be solved.

"What about Psych?" the general asked without much optimism.

"I'm not nuts!" Jack fired at him, his rage sudden and explosive. Guilty conscience. He kept seeing himself, touching Daniel that way. If he hadn't been snapped out of it when he was, what would he have done? How far would he have gone?

"Colonel?" Carter's voice intruded, thinner and more strident than it should be.

Jack saw Daniel's wavering smile and put his head in his hands, roughly scrubbing at his face with suddenly sweating palms, trying to snap himself out of this.

They looked hot, Jack thought, going at it, and felt sick. He couldn't remember this, he couldn't feel this, but he knew Daniel about as well as he knew himself and he could see, the frame frozen accusingly on screen, how badly he wanted Daniel and how hard he was pushing him. He felt frighteningly out of control and he hated it. He wasn't rational. He wasn't safe.

Jack straightened up. "How do we fix this?"

Fraiser looked around at her scans. "There's no indication of physical trauma, of lesions, ablations or implants, no neurological condition or chronic brain disorder I'm aware of that fits these symptoms."

"Perhaps some alien technology?" Teal'c suggested, generously buying the 'not nuts' line.

"Or a drug," Fraiser said briskly. "An unknown agonist which binds to the dopamine receptors and directly stimulates them, resulting in this euphoric, altered state the colonel is periodically experiencing. What about your recent missions? Have you experienced anything...unusual?"

"Every time we go through the gate!" Jack snapped.

"Anything that might explain this," Fraiser elaborated with rigid patience. "A plant, a chemical, some piece of alien technology?"

Jack gave this his careful consideration for maybe two seconds. "Nothing comes to the mind I'm apparently going out of. If we had run into anything like that, wouldn't we all be sick?"

Fraiser looked at Carter and Daniel, who both gave a brief negative shake of the head in response.

"Is it going to get worse?" Carter asked worriedly.

"I have no way to determine that."

"I don't care. I want it stopped," Jack said flatly. It flashed into his mind again, how hot Daniel was, how good they looked together. He swallowed hard and decided maybe he'd even try Psych. "Now. Whatever it takes."

"I am not concerned for DanielJackson's physical well-being," Teal'c observed serenely.

"You should be," Jack snapped, unreasonably angered by this cosy assumption.

"I agree." Fraiser crossed her arms over her chest. "This is not a rational state of mind we're dealing with. Whatever is affecting the colonel is tapping into intense, instinctive behaviours, particularly his sexuality. He isn't even aware of his actions during the episodes, let alone capable of controlling these powerful, aggressive drives."

"Jack won't hurt me."

Daniel's soft, stubborn voice silenced them.

"I'm more worried about him."

Jack's hand was there, on Daniel's skin, curled warm around the nape of his neck. Around him, everyone tensed. Daniel's gaze was still fixed on the floor, but he gently smiled.

"Can we start by finding out what effect my proximity has?" Daniel suggested to Dr. Fraiser. "Am I harming Jack by being close? Would it help him if I stayed away?"

"Colonel?" Fraiser looked up at him questioningly.

"I wouldn't want him to go on a good day," Jack said impatiently. Then he cringed, totally unable to believe he'd just said that.

"You could try letting go of him," Carter retorted sharply.

"It would be a good start," Fraiser added dryly, taking everyone's aggravation in her stride.

"Colonel?" Hammond hinted heavily, still doing his damndest to give Jack the benefit of the doubt.

Jack took away his hand, his relief undisguised that he could actually do it. It lasted until Daniel took a slow step away and he found he'd snatched him back. Not hurting, just holding, and mostly uniform, not Daniel. "Shit." He scowled at Teal'c. "Get over here!"

"I do not think that would be wise, O'Neill."

Carter moved, though. If looks could kill.

"Sam!" Daniel said warningly.

"Why don't I just keep you both under observation?" Fraiser interjected in a tone which pulled rank. "I'll need to schedule an evaluation with the duty psychiatrist," she informed Hammond.

"I thought you said-" Jack began to object.

"I'm not sure," Fraiser retorted, unequivocally silencing him.

"I'll stay with you," Carter told Daniel.

"As will I," Teal'c seconded her.

"No, thank you," Daniel countered immediately. "That won't be necessary."

"I disagree," Carter insisted.

"I'd like some privacy."

"Understandable, son," Hammond said warmly, ending the argument.

Carter pulled a face but could say nothing more.

"Major Carter and Teal'c, I'd like the two of you to begin reviewing recent mission reports, see if you can’t identify any possible window of opportunity for Colonel O'Neill to have been exposed, however briefly, to an alien organism or drug of some kind," Hammond instructed his flummoxed flagship team with constructive kindness. "As for you," he turned to Jack. "I'm confining you to your quarters here on base to rest under Dr. Jackson's supervision, while Dr. Fraiser arranges for a Psych evaluation and any other physiological tests she feels are necessary." He smiled at Daniel. "There'll be a security detail right outside the door at all times, son. Let's get on this, people."

"Give me an hour," Fraiser confided quietly to Daniel, gently touching his hand. She smiled and Jack felt as if he'd passed some unspoken test when he didn't knock her teeth down her throat. He shoved his clenched fists deep in his pockets and hoped Fraiser couldn't see him sweat.

The SFs were waiting right outside to escort them, making Jack smile every time they called Daniel 'sir', looking through Jack like he wasn't even there. It wasn't the first time this had happened and he was sure it wouldn't be the last, not for SG-1. They were known around base as SG-911, sometimes for good reason.

He wanted to tell Daniel something silly, like 'be gentle with me', but he sensed nothing would lighten the mood.

Of all the frickin' things.

His luxury on-base pad was awaiting and Jack did great until the door was eased shut behind them. Then he took hold of Daniel's shoulders. "I'm sorry," he promised, low-voiced and without his regulation bullshit. He meant it. "I would never!" He couldn't go on. He just couldn't say it. He hoped Daniel knew.

Daniel looked up then, his eyes strained. "There's something we need to do. A logical step in the process of elimination. A control in the experiment." He was rattling the words out at a hundred miles an hour. "A placebo, if you will."

"You're babbling!"

"I want you to kiss me," Daniel explained earnestly.

Jack's jaw dropped.

"It's the logical thing to do."

"I don't want to!"

"Yes, you do," Daniel argued patiently, stepping closer. Jack moved away. "That's the problem. You fixated on me, Jack. You kissed," he tapped his chest for emphasis, "me."

"Do you have to keep saying that?" Jack snapped irritably. "I didn’t know what I was doing!"

"Exactly!"

"What's that supposed to mean?" Jack looked as if he were reeling.

"It means there must be a – well - an underlying attraction to me or you would've grabbed Sam."

Jack needed to sit down. The chair was a lucky accident. It met his behind before the floor did.

"Dr. Fraiser explained that you're acting on intense feelings and biological drives, which alone would not make your sexuality reverse itself," Daniel explained kindly, hunkering down before him. "The opposite, in fact. I think that was why she was buying a little time before exposing you to a Psych evaluation. Dr. MacKenzie isn't exactly sympathetic," he said darkly, then Jack's hand touched his cheek.

Jack slid from the chair to his knees, took hold of Daniel's face in both his hands and kissed him, leaning heavily into him as he took him down to the floor and held him there.

Jack knew how to kiss Daniel, he knew how to touch. He kissed like he couldn't stop, like he couldn't get enough, all heat and passion but with enough disarming warmth Daniel felt helpless.

He couldn’t fight Jack and because it was Jack, he couldn't turn off. He tried hard not to return the ecstatic, gorgeous pressure deep in his mouth but then he did, stroking tongues with Jack. He tried to be still, and lost that too, trembling violently as Jack touched and explored him through the fabric of his uniform with urgent, shaking hands.

Jack was losing it and Daniel was lost too, groaning out a shuddering protest as Jack rolled on top of him. He struggled then, frightened for Jack, for them both, how they would be when Jack came back to his senses. Jack liked this and read it wrong, letting Daniel push him away only to laugh out loud and wrestle him down again, knees forcing his thighs apart.

Jack's body was pounding, as giving as a concrete slab. Heat was between Daniel's sprawled legs and Jack was moving, triumphantly pinning his hands, driving into him with a deep moan of satisfaction as hips and rough fabric rubbed.

No, Jack! No.

Daniel couldn't speak, couldn't make a sound through this passion, Jack reaching between them to tug at his zipper, not even bothering to bare skin, just going to do him like this.

Daniel was beginning to panic in earnest when abruptly Jack went still. Brown eyes bored into him, filling with the dark shock of recognition. Then Jack's weight shifted fast and he sat back on his haunches, his hands held out in conciliation as Daniel used his elbows to scramble out from under, backing up until his shoulders hit the door.

Daniel lifted his arm, pressed his bruised mouth against the back of his wrist.

"Get those SFs in here," Jack ordered in a tone Daniel hadn't heard since the earliest days he'd known him.

Daniel shook his head, no. No.

"I'm losing it," Jack hissed, his face and his voice stark and scared. He sank down too, until he was sitting on the floor with his back braced against the foot of the bed.

There was no sound then but their quick, panting breaths and no place for them to look. They sat and stared.

Although it hurt Jack to look at Daniel, he wouldn't look away.

"I tried to rape you."

"No," Daniel argued, finding his voice. "Not you." Jack was more than what was happening to him. That wouldn't change, not for Daniel. He refused to stop seeing his friend in all this, no matter how overwhelming or confusing the symptoms of whatever had struck Jack.

"I snapped out of it barely in time. I know!" Jack retorted fiercely, crudely squeezing his crotch. "I know."

"Brain chemistry," Daniel gasped out. His heart was hammering and he had to admit he was scared. He'd badly underestimated how little control Jack had. Or how little he had. His body was reacting, aroused despite his confusion. He felt horribly guilty for getting them into this mess. Making everything so much worse for Jack. "Chemicals, not you." Not Jack. He had to keep seeing Jack, his friend, at the heart of all this. For both their sakes. For when they fixed this.

"Some of it." Jack closed his eyes in pain. "I guess you were right about that too."

"Jack," Daniel said gently, uncertain whether it would help at all to admit he hadn't been prepared for this. His recognition of Jack's innate attraction to him had been an intuitive step in this puzzle he was unravelling. An academic construct, a hypothesis of his. In his rush to help, he hadn't thought about the consequences. He hadn't thought clearly at all. "Jack, please."

Jack threw up a hand. "I want you. Despite what just -" He dropped his head. "All I want is to get you into this bed and finish what we - I - started," he confessed bitingly.

"Just let me talk," Daniel pleaded.

"Don't you get it? I want you!" Jack spat, rigid with self-loathing. "This isn't going to go away."

"We don't know that!" Daniel felt numb and shivery, realising dimly he was in shock. He had to use the door for balance, but eventually he made it to his feet. Jack looked torn but made no move to help him as he wove drunkenly over to the bed and sat heavily on the floor beside him. He was thinking about getting warm and then he could think of nothing but Jack. He didn't want him to be on his own.

"Are you out of your frickin' mind?" Jack stormed, infuriated, as Daniel dropped down beside him. "You've got no sense at all!" He jerkily moved away but was stopped in his tracks by Daniel's hesitant grip on his wrist. Glancing back at him, Jack grimaced but instead of pulling away, he reached up behind him to yank at the blankets on the bed until they tumbled onto the floor, then pulled them over Daniel. Jack put his arm around him. "You kill me," he said roughly, smoothing out Daniel's rumpled collar.

"Do you love me?"

Jack's other arm came around Daniel and hugged him, blankets and all.

"I don't know."

"But you're attracted." Daniel was having as much difficulty as Jack taking this in. The whole experience was eerily unreal.

"Apparently." Jack looked terrible. "It's as if something knocked down all those walls hiding you from me. In here." He tapped the side of Daniel's head. "And now I know how much I've been lying to myself."

Distressed by Jack's desolation, Daniel turned to him, leaving them nose to nose. Looking like he was putting his hand into a fire, Jack touched his face, leaned in almost blindly and then stopped, thwarted and needing, as Daniel instinctively jerked away.

"I'm sorry," Jack bit out with killing anger. "I look at you and all I see is skin and sweat. It's all I want, all I can think about. I'm barely in control."

"I don't know what to do to help," Daniel complained impotently.

"Sleep with me," Jack demanded through clenched teeth. "Give me sex."

"No."

"Then get the hell out."

Daniel said no again but it didn't matter. Jack couldn't let go, and he knew it.

"How do you feel?"

The question, fired at him, made Daniel jump.

"In any movie of the week," Jack said sleekly, "this would be the part where you tell me 'I want you too, Jack, but not like this!'"

"I want my friend."

"In the biblical sense?"

"Jack," Daniel sighed. "I was not prepared for this, okay? I don't have any pat answers. I'm sorry to inconvenience you, but I don't have any answers at all."

"Do you have much experience with men?"

"That's none of your business!"

"Oh, come on, Daniel, spill. Did you disappoint all the guys circling you, wanting a piece of your perfect ass? You ever let another man have you or am I the first?" Jack's voice was low and tight, his eyes glittering.

It was the aggression talking, not Jack. His sexuality was predatory right now, his control slipping as his physical frustration grew. It was a neat intellectualisation but reality could eat Daniel alive. Or tear them both apart. Fear was making it harder and harder for him to think, fear so strong now he could taste it, bitter metal in his throat.

"It's good to be the first," Jack said thickly, restlessly rubbing his face in Daniel's hair. "I have to be the one who fucks you first. The only one." He lifted some of the strands and buried his nose in them, breathing the scent of Daniel in. "You need the guards now," he said, his tone strange. "Daniel, please. " His arms were tightening. "You need the guards!"

Jack needed help, he needed Fraiser, and so Daniel called out. This was enough that Jack freaked, hooking his elbow tight around Daniel's throat and holding him hard. Not hurting, holding, but getting closer to that edge.

"It's okay, Jack," Daniel promised, breathing shallow and just this side of choking. "We're okay."

"Why can't I stop this?" Jack pleaded. "It's too fast." He dug the heel of his free hand into his eye. "God! What is wrong with me!" he burst out passionately.

"I don't know, Jack, but whatever it is, I'll help."

"Don't leave me."

"I won't."

"Need the guards!"

"You won't hurt me," Daniel whispered shakily because he didn't know. He was far beyond the point of being sure. He'd got everything wrong, buying time Jack didn't have. His intentions had been the best, but what did that matter now? He was wrong and Jack was suffering for it. Daniel was appalled at his own arrogance.

"I'm losing you."

"No, Jack, no!"

The sergeant that Hammond had assigned to the security detail was smart and it was Janet Fraiser who came in, smiling and gentle-voiced, getting down on her knees before the two of them, a syringe in her hands.

Jack looked at her and shook his head. "Daniel," he said thickly, slurring his words. His elbow tightened cruelly and despite himself, Daniel began to fight, his hips arching from the ground as he clawed at Jack's arm. "Daniel," Jack said again, reaching around to kiss Daniel fiercely on the mouth. It was all brutal pressure and the fight for breath and then Jack's face slackened, his feverish eyes dulled and he slumped forward, knocking Daniel to the ground.

He lay there, coughing and choking, holding Jack's weight.

"Let's get him to the Infirmary!" Fraiser hollered and her med techs barrelled in. She reached for Daniel as Jack was lifted clear, her hands deft as she checked his throat. "Daniel?"

"He didn't mean to hurt me, he's just afraid," Daniel said hoarsely, anxiously straining past her to watch Jack as he was lifted onto the gurney.

"We made a lot of assumptions," Fraiser responded grimly as she and the SF sergeant helped Daniel to his feet.

"Myself, most of all," Daniel said regretfully, pushing away from them both on rubber legs to be at Jack's side as he was strapped down.

Fraiser moved past him to perform some rapid checks on Jack. Pulse, respiration, pupils. Satisfied, she nodded sharply and led the med team out, she and Daniel walking either side of Jack.

"Do you have any idea what's happening?" Daniel asked her.

"I already explained," she began.

"I'll take that as a no," Daniel interrupted curtly. "What about our allies? The Tollan? The Tok'ra?" Who had the best medical technology? Who could he get to help?

"You're overreacting, Daniel," Fraiser snapped. "I still have some tests and observations to make."

"Well, you didn't see this coming!" Daniel lashed out. "That Jack would deteriorate so fast."

"I'm dealing with a completely new pathology, Daniel," Fraiser explained in frustration. "I don't have anything to map this against, I don't have any treatment for it. All I can do is alleviate Colonel O'Neill's symptoms."

"I'm sorry," Daniel gasped contritely, realising he couldn’t shift the blame. He was the one who was responsible. "We were both concerned about the same thing, I think." Jack's sexuality, the truth of his feelings, the end of his career and all things even if this crisis were to be medically resolved.

"Yes," Fraiser agreed. "We were. And no," she added, biting her lip. "I had no indication the colonel's condition would deteriorate. If he was exposed to a drug or toxic substance, then maybe he's reached the stage of withdrawal and his erratic behaviour is his body's way of battling to adjust. For now, I want to re-check his dopamine levels and monitor his condition."

There was a certain finality to her tone. "So we just sit here and wait?" Daniel demanded with sarcastic incredulity.

"Yes. We wait." Fraiser glanced across at him, her face calm. "I don’t know what gate travel would do to the colonel at this point. Do you?"

Daniel opened his mouth but there was no answer he could give and she knew it.

"Now, do I need to review the security footage, or are you going to tell me what happened between the two of you in there?"

The question effectively silenced him and Fraiser knew that too.

As they stepped onto the waiting elevator, Fraiser's face softened and she smiled. "I'll do the best I can."

Hard to believe anything could make Daniel feel guiltier than he already did. "I know. You always do."

Jack arched up, his fingers flexing like claws. "Daniel!"

"Oh, my god!" Fraiser was so startled, it took her a moment to react, then she pounced, calling to her team to help hold Jack down as he struggled.

Daniel darted around to the head of the gurney and bent over, running agitated hands through Jack's hair. "It's okay, Jack, I've got you, I'm here."

"Hurt," Jack croaked.

"Where?" Fraiser demanded urgently.

"No," Daniel cut her off and bent lower, understanding Jack's fear. "I'm fine," he promised gently. "We're fine."

When the elevator doors opened, Sam and Teal'c were waiting, crowding in either side of Daniel as they dashed into the Infirmary.

"What happened?" Sam demanded, fuming, as they were impolitely held back out of the way.

"Jack's condition is deteriorating," Daniel explained rapidly, craning to see Jack through the personnel clustered tightly around him. "Janet isn't sure why. It could be cold-turkey withdrawal from whatever is affecting him or it could just be the start of a worsening infection. It won't be clear until we know what Jack's dopamine level is."

"Daniel!" Fraiser called imperatively and he went at once, rudely shoving through when her team didn't scatter fast enough.

"What?" he asked tensely.

"Talk to him," she ordered, busy with some readout on a monitor.

Daniel did what he'd done before, leaning down so Jack could see him if he woke, stroking his hair and talking about nothing as soothingly as possible, the soft, empty words tumbling out. He was choked and furious and hurting. He was scared to death.

"He's burning up!"

"Not now, Daniel. Just keep talking."

All he was good for was keeping Jack calm. His presence was needed, but for what sense he was making, he might as well not be here at all. The medical-speak was going over his head but he could see the results. An inhalator was placed over Jack's face as Fraiser's fast-moving team stripped him, cutting his uniform from his body to allow wrapped cold packs to be slipped beneath his arm pits, at his neck and groin, then a nurse came running with a saturated sheet to wrap him in.

Daniel kept talking, saying anything, touching Jack always as Fraiser took bloods and ran a thousand tests. She was talking rapidly, explaining, to Hammond, he guessed. He knew the voices of his friends, a buzz in his ears, but the only sound he heard clearly was Jack's harsh breathing, assisted by the nurse. The frenetic activity seemed to pound on and on and then it was over, people were stepping back, Fraiser was tired and smiling, Sam, Teal'c and Hammond solemnly gathering around, staring up at him from their place at Jack's feet.

"How are you, son?" the general asked him kindly, as if that mattered at all.

Daniel blinked hard. "I have no idea."

He'd maybe know when Jack was awake.

This face was not the one Jack needed to see. He greeted Teal'c's gracious presence with an unenthusiastic grunt which didn't bother his stoic friend one bit.

"DanielJackson is not here," Teal'c reported, looking a trifle smug. "Do you still desire to kill me, O'Neill?"

"I'll take a rain-check."

"Do you remember the events which transpired in the..."

"Yes," Jack cut him off curtly.

"DanielJackson took little harm."

"Little harm?" Jack spat venomously, raw and ashamed.

"He bears you no ill-will," Teal'c assured him.

"He's losing it." Jack vented some of his fury on his hapless pillows, hating the world and himself.

"You were not yourself, O'Neill. Do not fault DanielJackson for his generosity."

"And you?" Jack asked keenly, staring up at the stony face.

"I am not so forgiving." Teal'c watched Jack enigmatically. "But there is no vengeance to be gained from an illness of the mind now cured."

"Cured?"

"It passed with a great fever. For a short time, we were concerned."

"How kind."

Teal'c bowed his head gracefully, refusing to acknowledge Jack's withering tone.

"Where is he?"

"General Hammond has returned to his home."

"Do you see me laughing?" Jack demanded dangerously. "Then don't try to be funny."

"DanielJackson is resting. You have been unconscious for several days. He would not leave your side until Dr. Fraiser took steps."

"What kind of steps?"

"She forced him to imbibe a substance called 'Michael'."

"Slipped him a Mickey, eh?" Jack had no difficulty reading between Jaffa lines even if the Jaffa in question had a whacked sense of humour. He swung his legs out of bed and experimented rashly with gravity. When he didn't fall over or faint, he decided to roll with it, bundling up the fabric of his gown over his bare ass. "Show me," he ordered.

A sceptical eyebrow was raised.

"I need to see if he's okay." And he was not about to explain.

Teal'c considered this, then stepped back with an almost courtly gesture to let Jack past him.

It wasn't the fact Jack had tried to rape Daniel. It was why. Not the - whatever it was that made him sick in the head, but all the other stuff, that stuff he'd said. He remembered enough to know Daniel wouldn't shake that off. It would be eating him up and there was only one way he could help. The one way he couldn't. They'd both worked their asses off for a friendship Jack needed to end up in the sack.

"Solid foundation, huh?"

"So it would seem," Teal'c responded quietly, surprising Jack with quiet approval.

He didn't understand and Jack didn't correct him. It was nothing, really, but Jack needed to see Daniel's face when he said he was sorry and that he understood - it was okay they couldn't be friends. They were past that now and Jack couldn't take it back.

They didn't have far to walk. Daniel was tucked away in a room right down the hall, sleeping like the ungrateful dead, face down in his pillow, one hand outstretched, palm up, his fingers curled, the other under his cheek.

Teal'c stood at Jack's side and watched him watching Daniel. They stood there a while, then Jack told Teal'c it would keep.

He was tired.

Jack was stronger when he woke. Clear of confusion, he was finally focused. He slid out of bed and slipped out of the room, keeping to the shadows, his bare feet noiseless. There was no activity in the dimmed hallways of the Infirmary, the few patients were sleeping soundly. Jack didn't need the clock to tell him these were the dead hours before dawn. The lowest ebb.

The nurse at the duty desk had her back to him and was easily subdued, passing out within seconds. A textbook chokehold. He used her keys to open the drug cabinet, efficiently administered a sedative and tucked her neatly out of sight. There was a note sitting on the desk, handwritten. Back In Five. He thanked her for it.

Only a fool would saunter through the hallways of the SGC with his butt hanging out for the cameras. Jack smiled and went to wake Daniel. He sat on the bed and put his hand on Daniel's shoulder, admiring the long, clean curve of his spine through the thin black fabric of his T-shirt. It wouldn't be long now, and he'd have Daniel safe. Home, where he could make love to him and give him everything he'd been deprived of.

Daniel jerked beneath his hand, shocked awake.

Jack removed his hand at once and smiled. "Hey," he said softly. "Hate me?"

Daniel shook his head dumbly, tentative joy on his face at seeing Jack whole and healthy.

"I'm sorry," Jack said soberly. He was sincere in his sorrow. "You know I would never hurt you."

Daniel's smile lit his eyes, shy and enchanting and he accepted Jack's help to his feet.

Jack wanted to kiss him so badly but he had to wait, just a little longer. Until they were safe.

"Everyone can see my butt in this thing," Jack complained, jerking an irritable thumb towards his rear echelon. "Grab me some BDUs and spring me, please?" He clasped his hands together as if in prayer. "Must eat pie."

"With coffee."

It was all Daniel said but it was all that was needed. He picked up his glasses by one arm and wandered out, pinching the bridge of his nose and blinking to wake himself up.

Jack sat neatly on the bed and waited, confident the nurse would not be seen. His only concern was a medical emergency on the base. She would be missed then for sure, but he could use the distraction if necessary. He idled away the time thinking about Daniel, about what would be good for him in bed. He wouldn't push him into fucking, that much was certain. They would start slow and gentle and Daniel would lead. Jack could pleasure him with his hand or his mouth, and when he was comfortable…

"Got it."

It was late but Daniel wasn't particularly quiet. He wasn't inconsiderate, merely oblivious. Daniel being Daniel would get Jack all the way to the gateroom if he played it right.

He took the uniform Daniel proffered, touched and a little amused when his nakedness led to a blushing, confused retreat. Maybe they could start with some kissing. Or something. There was no rush and right now he had a lot to make up for.

Jack dressed swiftly and joined Daniel outside, walking beside him right out of the Infirmary. The need for authorisation didn't even occur to Daniel, who was exhausted and so pleased to see him, making every effort to show they were A-OK, no problems here, even if he did flinch if Jack moved too fast and he didn't see it coming. Jack apologised again, feeling useless, and Daniel briskly told him he was an ass. Smiling, telegraphing the move, Jack ruffled Daniel's hair and they made it onto the elevator.

He looked around, rolled his eyes theatrically and made a joke about Daniel being cute when he was molested. Daniel was never going to be so in love with him he would laugh at his jokes, but he made with the energetic eyebrows and the face pulling just like everyone was used to, which got them off the elevator on Level 22 without challenge.

"I need to pee," Jack confided, stopping Daniel before he could set off in the direction of the base mess.

"For cryin' out loud," Daniel sighed, planting himself outside the elevator with a scowl which didn't fool Jack for a second.

He apologised meekly and strolled off down the hallway, hoping he didn't have to kill some poor schmuck drawing nightshift near the base Secondary Armoury. He was hoping that with the speed of his sudden collapse, it hadn't occurred to Hammond to relieve him of command. His security pass should still work and he should be able to swipe himself in and out. Rank did have its privileges.

When he reached the next bank of elevators, his pass, praise the lord, gave him access and he rode up to Level 19, confidently taking an oblique route to the less secure Secondary Armoury. No guards to deal with, only the weapons vault. He was inside within seconds, loading for bear. The place was designed for rapid access to weapons and defensive deployment when the base was under threat. Jack had everything he needed to hand, right down to cable ties for securing prisoners taken on the run. It was too risky for him to try for the larger assault weapons, but he took a sidearm and as much ammunition as he could carry, as well as the other essentials.

A Zat went into his pocket, accessible for when he needed it. There was no point in using lethal force. He owed something to these people, even if he and Daniel were leaving them behind. A blast would fry the dialling computer in the control room so Carter couldn't retrieve their destination. It was quickly and easily replaced, though.

Jack's luck held and he was glad. The hard part was going to be getting Daniel to the Stargate after he'd zatted the techs in the control room. He felt Daniel would fight, and it was this he regretted most of all. It was tough love, though, and Jack was feeling strong. They were going to have plenty of time to rebuild trust after he had him safe.

His friend was waiting, not patiently, but still there, and he got very voluble when Jack said he wanted to check out the gateroom before he ate. Daniel wanted Jack to go let Janet check him out. He'd been gone too long, Daniel was wide-awake and wary. Jack covered. Daniel got very quiet, in fact he shut right up, when Jack hinted that the sooner he found out if it was all over the base he was an attempted rapist, the better, and from the fewest people possible. If the nightshift in the control room knew, Jack was dead meat. That was all she wrote. There was a look on Daniel's face which suggested this was in fact the case.

What little conversation there was between the technicians died when Jack bounded up the stairs and gave the graveyard shift a big hi there and hello. There was a few seconds delay between them all seeing Jack take out the security cameras and reaction. Fatally slow. Jack neutralised Harriman and smoothly turned on the other technician, standing poleaxed at one of the rear computer banks. Then he went for Daniel, who didn't know what the hell to do except try to get help. Jack caught his hand an inch from the red alert button and yanked Daniel away, turning him fast and crowding him into the console.

"Easy, Daniel," Jack whispered as he snapped on a cable tie around Daniel's wrists.

"Jack!"

The unbelieving protest cut at Jack and he took a moment to hug Daniel to his chest.

"Jack, stop, please. Stop. Oh, god. You don't know what you're doing!" Daniel pleaded. He shuddered as Jack kissed his throat. "You've been affected by an alien substance," he argued as Jack reached around him and began to lock down the security doors which surrounded the gateroom, then accessed the dialling computer.

"Where do you think you can go?" Daniel demanded, bewildered, gaping down at Harriman's limp body, sprawled at their feet.

But Jack was dialling, the symbols flowing. "We," he corrected Daniel. "We're going home."

"Jack, we are home."

"No. You're not safe here," Jack explained patiently. "I have to have you safe."

He had to drag Daniel away from the console, practically a dead weight in his arms. Passive-resistance and quite effective as a delaying tactic with the little time Jack had left. Teal'c would get in here. Nothing would stop him for long. "Sorry, big guy," he said grimly, firing his Zat at the console, blue light arcing and hissing as circuitry fried. No way Carter could get his keystrokes or read their destination from the gate telemetry. Jack was pretty good at what he did.

Then he spun Daniel around and grabbed him by the shoulders. "You have a choice here. You can let me walk out of here alone and wonder for the rest of your life what happened to another person you love, or you can come with."

"You sonovabitch," Daniel whispered, deathly-pale.

Jack moved him then and he was too shocked, too hurt to resist, stumbling numbly down the stairs and around to the gateroom. He balked when the Stargate activated, struggling in earnest as Jack dragged him onto the ramp and the base red alert sounded. Too late, too late.

"Took them long enough," Jack commented grimly. He didn't have time to fight and he couldn't hurt Daniel so he did the only thing he could and lifted him off his feet, practically carrying him as he backed up the ramp.

"Jack! Don't do this!" Daniel said desperately, his feet scrabbling for purchase.

There were things Jack would've done in his position, but for Daniel there were none. He could not hurt Jack, would not, and so he was forced to move when Jack did, and then they were gone.

| Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 |

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