The weather on P2X-136 was miserable. The temperature hovered
around fifty degrees but the humid chill made it feel much colder. Both
of Jack's knees were lodging formal complaints. The air was so thick it
was difficult to tell if it was actually raining. Misting maybe.
An expressionless, wet Teal'c stoically paced the perimeter.
Even Carter had lost her initial enthusiasm. Jack watched her sifting
through the mud, picking out tiny rock samples and dipping them into
some type of testing solution. Testing for... whatever the hell it was
she tested for. Her occasional curses letting him know she was okay.
Not happy, but okay.
Jack was standing guard over his archaeologist, linguist,
friend and lover. Daniel was kneeling on a poncho in the mud with so
much unbridled enthusiasm Jack was tempted to smack him upside the
head. The fact that the ground beneath him was soft and waterlogged and
he was slowly sinking did not seem to deter Daniel in the least. Jack
watched with interest, caught up in his favorite past time... Danny
watching. Not only were his archaeologist's clothes damp and clingy,
but every two minutes or so he would remove his glasses to wipe away
the droplets. Jack thought that must be annoying but Daniel seemed
unaware and unperturbed by it all. The thought of Daniel having an
opportunity to play in the mud brought a smile to Jack's face. He
probably never had much of a chance to do that as a kid.
“Hey, Daniel, what do you say we make a few mud pies for
Carter and Teal'c?”
Jack's boyish grin was wasted on Daniel who was doing his
detail-orientated, oblivious to the world thing. Right now that
consisted of getting some rubbings off the base of the giant stone
pillar and then trying to keep them dry. The ancient monument appeared
to be some sort of shrine erected to an obscure, primeval God known
only to Daniel and possibly a handful of geeks scattered throughout the
galaxy. The inscriptions had been colorfully described in excruciating
detail, complete with hand motions, ad nauseum by his favorite geek.
“Daniel?” Jack tried again to interrupt. The archaeologist's
hands and face were streaked with mud and a ghost of a smile passed
Jack's lips as he decided he enjoyed a mud covered Daniel.
A look of confusion crossed Daniel's face as he completely
ignored the mud remark. The confusion was quickly replaced with a
dazzling, triumphant smile. “Want to go inside the temple, Jack?”
“I thought you said we couldn't get in?” A more honest
response would have been, ‘no, not especially'. Jack had been hoping to
wrap it up early and get the hell out of here, maybe help a certain
archaeologist clean off some of that mud. The humidity was wreaking
havoc on his joints and he'd been waiting all day for Daniel's
allergies to explode. So far, Janet's miracle drugs appeared to be
“I think we can, if I follow these instructions.” Daniel
pointed to the base of the monument.
“Okey dokey,” Jack agreed, making an effort to hide his lack
of enthusiasm for Daniel's sake. The idea of spending hours and hours
traipsing through the huge abandoned structure, poring over every
minute detail was so unappealing. He had been on the verge of calling
the mission quits before wonder boy cracked the code. Jack was a simple
man. His idea of the perfect evening consisted of a hot shower, a hot
meal and a hot linguist, in that order.
The hot linguist in question manipulated the symbols on the
temple door for all of five minutes before it slowly swung open. “Wow,”
he said, sounding surprised at how easy it had been.
“Hey, hold on,” Jack ordered, breaking out of his sizzling
fantasy in time to stop Daniel from wandering inside without him.
“Big wow,” Sam said as she joined them.
Jack clicked on the radio and requested Teal'c to meet them at
the entrance, then peeked inside the temple door. It was too dark to
Daniel was itching to get inside and take a look around. “No
one's here. How dangerous can it be?” He grimaced as soon as the words
were out of his mouth. Jack didn't bother commenting since Daniel had
the grace to flush at the silliness of his own question.
“Here's the big guy now.” Jack nodded in Teal'c's direction.
Teal'c raised an eyebrow at the open door before he and Jack
flicked on their flashlights and stepped inside, waving for Daniel and
Carter to follow.
“Nothing too exciting, huh, Daniel,” Jack cheerfully pointed
out as they passed through yet another dark, lifeless chamber. There
were no writings or drawings of any kind. If the entire temple were
this boring they'd be out of here in no time. The dim lighting revealed
that each room appeared exactly the same as the room before, nothing
but blank, empty walls. Jack was starting to feel optimistic about his
chances of dining on something other than field rations when they hit
the mother lode.
This room was much larger than the outer chambers. The walls
were at least fifteen feet high and covered from top to bottom in what
looked like a mixture of gold and copper, inlayed with symbols and
glyphs combined with pictographs and possibly numbers as well. The high
ceiling appeared to contain more of the text and pictures. It was
nearly as impressive as the Abydos cartouche. The four of them gaped in
As soon as Daniel broke out of his trance he chattered
non-stop, giving suggestions and directions on how to best record what
they were seeing. Sam dutifully panned the massive walls with the video
camera while Daniel knelt on the floor and tried to take a few sample
rubbings. The text was everywhere; it was impossible to know where to
“And look at this. This looks like...” Daniel seemed to be
talking more to himself than anyone else as he pointed out words and
symbols, transfixed by the sheer enormity of what it would take to
translate all of this.
Jack's worries about his joints and Daniel's allergies
disappeared in the wake of the excitement. Daniel's exhilaration was
contagious, he couldn't take his eyes off the temple walls and Jack
couldn't take his eyes off of Daniel. The archaeologist/linguist
positively glowed when caught up in the thrill of discovery. All the
painful experiences of the past few years disappeared in those bright
blue eyes and were replaced with the wide-eyed wonder of the Daniel
Jackson of old. It was rare, and Jack was thrilled that Daniel was
still capable of such innocent awe at some of the universe's unsolved
mysteries, even if it meant his own visions of dinner and a hot evening
at home were shot to hell.
Jack knew exactly what was coming when Daniel finally did tear
himself away from the text and walked towards him. The determined
expression made Jack want to laugh. The man was so unaware of the power
he possessed it was almost frightening. Daniel wanted to stay. That
much was obvious.
“Jack, maybe you could, could, you know, contact General
Hammond. See if he could give us few more days here.”
The raised eyebrows over the glasses and the little stutter
were completely unnecessary. The smiling baby blues were enough to
convince Jack to move into the temple and take up residence if that's
what Daniel desired. The man has such an unfair advantage, Jack sighed.
Pausing momentarily, Jack pretended to mull over the decision.
No need for Daniel to know what a pushover he was. He was feeling
magnanimous. Seeing Daniel this enthralled about something caused his
own heart to beat a little faster. What the hell, they would be
sheltered from the constant drizzle and the air in here wasn't nearly
as moist as it was outside. Not to mention he would have Daniel's
undying debt of gratitude, which he'd try to collect on as soon as they
“I'll see what I can do.” Jack was rewarded with a genuine
smile before the wall reclaimed all of Daniel's attention.
To emphasize his next point, Daniel reached out and touched a
symbol. “Jack, be sure to tell General Hammond that this language...”
The words were cut off mid sentence as a blazing beam of light
flashed down from the ceiling, completely surrounding the bewildered
archaeologist. In the next instant, Daniel was gone.
“What the hell was that?” Jack yelled, spinning around to face
Carter and Teal'c. They both looked as baffled as he did.
“Daniel Jackson appears to have disappeared in the light.”
“Well, I KNOW that, Teal'c.” Jack snapped irritably.
I-I have no idea, sir,” Sam stuttered. “He was here one second
and gone the next.”
“That's helpful,” Jack said sarcastically. He decided to take
matters into his own hands. “Hey, who's there?” Jack pointed his P90 up
at the immense ceiling. “Hey,” he yelled again. “Where did you take
A smaller beam of light filtered down, accompanied by a voice.
I am the Protector of all that is written. The temple has
been defiled. The one who defiled it will be punished .
“Oh, for cryin' out loud,” Jack bellowed in disgust, angry at
how this was going to spoil Daniel's fun. “We didn't know about the
defilement thing. Send our friend back and we'll all get out of here
and leave you and your damn temple alone.”
“You will be transported to the exterior. You are free to
“WAIT! Just wait a damn minute. We're not going anywhere
without our friend!”
“He must be punished.”
“Punished how?” Jack hissed through clenched teeth.
“The punishment for defilement is death.”
“Oh, how did I just know you were going to say that?” Jack
fought back the temptation to riddle the temple ceiling with bullets.
Now that would be defilement.
“Alright, look, take me. I'm his commanding officer. I'm in
charge of him. I decide where we go and what we defile .
It's my fault. Take me.”
Do you claim to be the facilitator?
“The what?” Jack yelled desperately. “If it means you taking
me where you took Daniel, then yes, that's what I'm claiming.”
Very well, you shall be punished as the facilitator. He
who is responsible.
Jack heard Carter yell, ‘sir', before the light surrounded
him, rendering him unconscious.
As soon as Jack's awareness level skirted the edges of
consciousness, he remembered exactly what had happened. He didn't want
to open his eyes to the reality of this prison. He had been in many
prisons, both on and off world, and none of them were ever easy. At
least no one was poking and prodding at him and he couldn't SMELL any
other prisoners. That was always a plus. As a matter of fact, this
didn't smell like a prison at all. And what the hell was he sleeping
on? It felt soft and padded, more comfortable than his own bed. As the
haze of sleepiness lifted he realized he was forgetting something.
“Daniel!” Jack forced himself awake and sat up abruptly. There
was no answer to his call; he was alone. He glanced around the room to
make an initial assessment.
The cell was large, if you could call it a cell. The decor was
quite beautiful, not gaudy like Goa'uld accommodations. It looked more
like a swanky room at the Ritz. The walls were a rich beige color with
actual photographs of landscapes and bodies of water hanging smartly.
The floor was carpeted in a thick, plush burgundy with so much padding
underneath that Jack could feel it give when he stood up. The bed he
had been lying on was king size and as comfortable as his Sealy at
home. There were two fluffy pillows and a few blankets strewn across it
for good measure.
The rest of the room was even more puzzling. In addition to
the bed, the furnishings included a table and two chairs, a sink with
running water and a contraption that Jack assumed was toilet
facilities. A long rectangular table ran along the back wall. Jack
thought he'd seen it all, but he had to admit, he'd never seen a prison
like this one. Upon closer inspection, he found that the back table was
filled with food. A basket of what appeared to be fresh bread and rolls
looked most appealing. He picked one up and sniffed it, checking to see
if it was real. It smelled delicious.
There was also a huge bowl of various fruits along with a
platter of cheese. Jack lifted the lid of another platter to reveal
what looked and smelled like a roast. He eyed the two pitchers at the
far end and found they were filled with cold water. After a tentative
sip, he threw caution to the wind and guzzled down a few greedy gulps.
Hunger and thirst overrode his sensibilities as he broke off a piece of
the bread and popped it into his mouth, savoring the taste and taking
another sip of water to wash it down.
After sampling the chow, Jack walked the perimeter of the room
and was disappointed to find there were no windows. There was something
else though, something disconcerting. It took a second to realize what
it was. Escape would be pretty near impossible, the room had no door.
The transporting light device must be the only way in or out.
A wave of anxiety swept over Jack at the sight of Daniel's
pack leaning up against his own at the foot of the bed. Did that mean
anything? The punishment was death. Surely they hadn't already carried
out the sentence. Speaking of that, he'd never asked what the
punishment was for facilitating . Jack pushed the thought of
Daniel's sentence out of his mind. A society that treated its lowest
members, its prisoners, this well had to be civilized and somewhat
reasonable, he told himself.
When Jack checked his watch he was shocked to find that he had
been sleeping in that soft comfortable bed for over ten hours. He
offered a silent prayer that Daniel was fairing as well.
“Think, damn it,” he muttered out loud, running a hand through
his hair. Jack O'Neill had little patience for waiting around. He
willed something to happen and was shocked a few minutes later when
something actually did.
A section of the wall disappeared. Jack ran to the back of the
room where a third of the side wall seemed to have vanished. He was so
relieved to see Daniel sitting in the adjoining room that he abandoned
all sense of caution and protocol and hurried towards him.
“Jack!” Daniel yelled as Jack was forcefully thrown back by
the invisible force field that separated the two rooms. Jack howled in
pain from the impact.
“Are you okay?” Daniel asked, jumping up in alarm, his voice
near panic with concern.
“Goddamnit that hurts!” Jack yelled. “I'm fine,” he added
irritably, angry with himself for his stupidity. It felt like his skin
had been burned where his body had touched the shield but the pain was
already subsiding and the skin remained unblemished.
Daniel appeared to relax at the sound of Jack's yelling. He
approached the opening and peered into the Colonel's cell. “Gee, Jack,
“Not bad, huh?” Jack acknowledged, rapidly recovering from his
ill-advised confrontation with the barrier.
Jack cautiously took a few steps closer to get a peek into
Daniel's cell. He sighed heavily at the sight. Daniel's cell was a true
prison. It was about a quarter of the size of Jack's room and looked
like something out of the middle ages. The walls and floor were made
out of stone with no furnishings whatsoever aside from a bowl filled
with some disgusting looking gruel and a bucket, which Jack assumed was
to care for all of his personal needs. The only comfort was a pitcher
of water set beside the bowl. There was one positive note to Daniel's
cell; it had a door. A heavy, solid-looking, locked door, but if they
could figure out a way to knock out the energy field, they could
combine their efforts to work on the door.
“I must have gotten the officer's quarters,” Jack quipped.
“Well, at least I didn't wake up naked,” Daniel responded with
“Yes, there's that,” Jack agreed, pleased that Daniel was in
such high spirits. “Any ideas on where we are exactly?”
“In relation to the temple, no, but at least we're on the same
planet. It will give Sam and Teal'c a better chance to track us.”
“How do you know?” Jack hadn't even thought of being on
another planet but still wondered how Daniel could be so certain.
“Well, the dampness and the temperature for one thing.”
Jack's sheepish silence must have clicked on a light in
Daniel's brain. “Jack, what's the temperature in the officer's
“I don't know, seventy, seventy-two maybe.” Despite the guilt
there was no point in lying. Jack was in shirt sleeves while Daniel had
his jacket zipped up and was occasionally hugging himself for warmth.
He hoped they wouldn't be here too long.
“So, what exactly are YOU in for... vacation?”
Before Jack could think of a witty comeback the stream of
bright light was back. The beam was narrow and went from ceiling to
floor accompanied by the annoying voice. Jack stuck his hand through
the beam and swiped at it to no affect.
The Guardian is in place. The sentence shall be carried
out. Justice is served.
“Justice?” Jack shouted with all the attitude he could muster.
“This isn't justice!”
Daniel interrupted. “We meant no disrespect. We were unaware
of your customs and laws.”
It is as it has always been. It cannot be changed. We will
not speak again.
“WAIT!” Jack yelled. “I'm the, the facilitator, remember? The
one responsible. Punish me. Let him go.”
The ordinances have stood for a thousand of your years.
They cannot be changed.
Jack's mind raced. “Well, at least let us switch places. This
is my fault. My punishment should be greater.”
When the heart of the defiler stops beating, the guardian
will shut down, the door will open and you will be free to go and live
out the rest of your appointed time. His death will be on your hands.
Is this not the greater punishment?
“You fucking bastards!” Jack yelled in frustration, punching
the air. He lived with Charlie's death every day of his life, and just
incase that wasn't enough, he had every dead airman, marine and
civilian killed in the service of the SGC since the inception of the
program on his conscience. The last thing he needed was a lesson in
The light disappeared. Daniel raised an eyebrow at Jack.
“Well, that went well.”
The Protector's implied carelessness was still
eating away at Jack. “I hate these fucking temples. I've had it.”
Jack watched Daniel fold his arms across his chest, worry his
lower lip and try not to smirk. “I'm not kidding, Daniel. Do you hear
me? I mean it. That's it. NO MORE!”
“Calm down.” Daniel's soft tone proved to Jack that the genius
hadn't missed the massive mound of guilt the Protector had
just heaped upon him. “Sit down. Talk to me.”
Jack almost refused. He didn't want to relax; he needed to be
doing something. It wouldn't be long before Daniel's allergies kicked
in and who knew what would happen in the cool dampness. Of course,
Daniel could successfully argue that patrolling the perimeter of a room
with no doors wasn't exactly doing something.
The aroma from the food was tempting, making Jack's stomach
growl and for a brief second he almost grabbed a roll before mentally
kicking himself. He wasn't about to munch on rolls and cheese while
Daniel forced down his slop.
“So, whatcha wanna talk about?” Settling down with a sigh,
Jack leaned against the back wall, his knees drawn up mimicking
Daniel's pose. They sat side by side, within arms length, the invisible
Guardian between them prohibiting them from touching.
“Is that real food you have in there, Jack?”
When Jack was positive Daniel was asleep he left his customary
spot on the floor and snuck over to the food table. A full week had
passed, and although he knew he had to eat some time, he couldn't bring
himself to eat in front of Daniel. He picked out what looked like a
banana and quickly wolfed it down while restlessly pacing the perimeter
of the room. The pacing usually drove Daniel crazy but Jack felt it
helped clear his head.
Daniel began coughing in earnest today. It had started the
first night of their imprisonment and progressed to the hoarse, raspy
voice that Daniel sported this morning. He had tried to cover it with
curt answers and good humor. That might have worked if not for the
hollow wheeze of the chest that was impossible to ignore. Jack inwardly
cringed at the implications.
They both agreed that the Protector was no longer around.
Their needs were being met by the Guardian. The bright light would
flash and in Jack's case, the previous day's food would disappear and
be replaced by a fresh supply. The water pitchers were refilled twice
daily. Every twelve hours the lighting would dim for precisely eight
hours, marking time. In Daniel's room the Guardian was far less active.
The bowl of food and the pitcher of water were replenished and the
bucket emptied. Daniel's cell would be in total darkness if not for the
light filtering in from Jack's accommodations.
As sophisticated as the Guardian was, they both agreed the
system was automated. It was frustrating knowing there was no hope of
reasoning with it, or evoking any sympathy. They had both gone over
their cells in excruciating detail, searching in vain for a means of
escape. Daniel was wearing down and they were no closer to finding a
way out of this mess than the day they arrived.
“Jack?” Daniel called out sleepily.
Daniel's voice was rough, the slight rattling in his chest
audible, he was obviously congested.
Jack flinched at the sound of his name. “I'm right here,
Daniel. You okay?” Jack stopped pacing and returned to the invisible
wall. He was tired of lying down. Much of the day was spent sitting
side by side against the wall. For the eight hours of semi darkness
they both stretched out on the floor, on their sides facing each other.
Close enough to reach out and touch if not for the invisible barrier.
All this inactivity was driving Jack insane. He could only imagine the
affect it must be having on a sick Daniel.
“Yeah, I'm okay,” Daniel mumbled, pulling himself up against
the wall. “I thought I was alone for a minute.”
“Nope, didn't leave without ya. Go back to sleep, Daniel, I'll
be right here. Doesn't look like I'm going anywhere.”
“No, it's easier to breathe when I sit up.”
Jack nodded. What he wouldn't give to lie Daniel down in that
big, comfy bed, feed him some of the soup provided today and cover him
up with that thick blanket. He was going to kick someone's ass when
they got out of here.
“Why don't you stop pacing and come talk to me.” Daniel
coughed at the effort.
The pacing stopped as Jack sat down a few feet from his
cellmate. “How about I tell you what I'm going to do with those light
guys when we get out of here.”
A groan escaped Daniel's lips as he shot Jack an annoyed
“I think we've already covered that subject. Several times.”
“Ah.” Maybe he had hashed out his plans of revenge in detail
over the past several nights. “Okay. What do you want to talk about?”
“Anything. Preferably something that doesn't involve
vengeance.” Daniel turned his head towards Jack and gave him a stern
“I don't know... anything. How about you tell me what you were
like as a kid.”
Jack rolled his eyes. “Hey, this isn't going to turn into you
asking questions and me sharing intimate secrets because we're giving
up, is it? Don't even go there.”
Daniel's laugh was interrupted by a cough. “I'm not, honest.
I'm just bored and I want you to talk to me. So what were you like? Did
you play sports?”
“Were you wild?”
The gray head tilted back in thought. “Not really. I could
have been if my parents hadn't kept such a tight rein. Although, I was
kicked off the baseball team in my senior year for drinking beer. I got
my ass in big trouble for that little stunt.” Jack shook his head at
the memory. “The Air Force smoothed out all the rough edges.”
“Yep, real smooth,” Daniel murmured.
“How about you? Did you do anything wild?” Somehow, Jack
Daniel sighed in thought. “I got suspended for swearing at the
French teacher once... in French.”
Jack laughed out loud. “That was dumb. Should have used a
“I was ten.”
Jack cupped his hands behind his head and relaxed. “When I was
ten I liked to build forts.”
Daniel smiled brightly, making Jack smile back.
“I'd bribe my best friend's little sister to sit in the fort
and I'd have the neighborhood kids guard her. Then I'd sneak in and
rescue her. I was patient, I always won.”
“Practicing, Jack?” Daniel chuckled in amusement.
“Always the hero.”
Jack turned away, a sudden burst of acid shooting up the old
esophagus. Apparently he hadn't practiced enough. All he wanted to do
was rescue Daniel.
With a yawn, followed up by a short coughing bout, Daniel lay
back down on the stone floor while Jack guiltily stretched out on his
thickly padded carpet. The bed was out of the question. Every evening
was pretty much the same. The lights would dim and the two men would
lie down, their faces only a few feet apart as they rehashed the day's
events and attempted to get some rest.
“I didn't tell you this before because I wasn't sure, but
today... I'm sure. Daniel paused to sneeze a few times before
continuing. “The past few days my food has been... less.”
“Less? Less than... tasty?”
Daniel made a face. “No, less in quantity. I wasn't positive
at first but I marked the bowl and every day it's... less. Today it's
about half as much as it was the first day.”
“What about the water?” Jack inwardly sighed, waiting for what
he knew would not be good news.
“It's less too. Same, about half of what it was initially.”
“Carter and Teal'c will find us long before you run out of
water,” Jack said with more confidence than he felt. His fists clenched
in rage at the unfairness of the situation. Why couldn't he be the one
in the REAL prison? “Anything else you haven't been telling me?”
Jack froze at Daniel's hesitation. He wasn't expecting
anything else. What could be worse than a dwindling food and water
“I'm cold.” Jack relaxed at Daniel playfully stating the
“I know. Just hang in there. Teal'c and Sam won't give up.”
That much was true, but whether the rescue would be before Daniel ran
out of water was a huge nagging worry.
“Jack, if we get out of this, will you keep me warm?” Daniel
was hugging himself in his jacket and for the first time Jack forced
himself to acknowledge how dire their situation was. Not only did
Daniel have very little food and water that would apparently be gone
soon, but he was also sick. His chest and lungs seemed to be filling up
with fluid and getting worse by the hour. He could barely talk without
“Yes. WHEN we get out of this, I will.” Jack promised.
“Will you let me crank the heat up even when you're hot?”
Desert boy was always cold. Jack remembered the times he had admonished
his partner for turning up the thermostat to what Jack considered
“I will.” He meant it too.
Daniel scrunched his face in thought. “If I'm freezing and
you're already in bed will you let me warm my hands and feet anywhere I
want to on your body?”
Daniel's laugh turned into a coughing jag before he managed to
sputter, “You won't. You hate that!”
“I will.” Jack answered solemnly. He didn't feel like
laughing. He'd remember his own comfort while Daniel suffered through
the cold dampness of the cell and he'd warm Daniel's hands and feet. If
only he'd get the chance, he'd let Daniel do anything he damn well
Two nights later their situation remained unchanged except for
the fact that Daniel's condition had worsened and his food and water
supply had dwindled to a point where it barely sustained life. The only
thing keeping Jack sane was Daniel. Despite the coldness, the chills,
the low-grade fever and the incessant coughing, Daniel's spirits
remained high. Jack cursed himself for the times Daniel had pulled him
out of despair with his careful questions and thoughtful observations.
Jack was well aware it was a prison game desperate men played to keep
themselves from focusing on the graveness of their situation, but he
didn't care it. He played anyway. Tonight was no different.
“Jack, when was your best Christmas ever?” As soon as the
lights would dim and he and Daniel were settled on the floor, face to
face in their customary positions, Daniel would come up with a subject
he wanted to discuss and Jack would go along to keep from going crazy.
“The last one before Charlie died. Charlie's last Christmas.”
Jack closed his eyes and thought for a moment.
“Tell me about it,” Daniel coaxed.
“I don't think I want to do this.” Jack stood up abruptly. He
needed to get some water, his throat suddenly dry. He hoped Daniel
would respect his wishes and think up another topic by the time he got
back. You will be punished as the facilitator .He who is
responsible. In the case of Charlie, Jack decided he definitely
had been the facilitator. With a shaking hand, Jack poured out a glass
of water and took a sip. He quickly discarded the cup before returning
to lie back down and face his thirsty cellmate.
Daniel waited until Jack was re-situated. The intense eyes
told Jack Daniel wasn't willing to let this conversation go just yet.
His voice was gentle and comforting. “It's not fair to Charlie that his
memory only evokes overwhelming sadness.” Daniel spoke quietly and Jack
had to concentrate to hear him. If he spoke any louder it would bring
on the coughing fits.
“I can't help it,” Jack answered just as softly.
“Sure you can. Tell me about that Christmas.”
The concern behind Daniel's soft command helped Jack ignore
the other voice pounding in his head... accusing him. The
facilitator. The one responsible .
“Jack,” Daniel tried again. “It's okay to remember the good
Maybe. It was just so damn hard. He took a deep breath and
tried to concentrate on what Daniel was saying. Maybe it wasn't fair to
Charlie. “That last Christmas,” he started. “I was home, for a change.
The three of us went out in the woods together to cut down a tree.
Charlie and I took turns with the ax. He was just getting old enough to
do things like that with me.”
Daniel's encouraging smile gave him the courage to continue.
“Sara and I got him the bike he'd been begging for. We hid it and
brought it out after he'd opened all his other presents. He was trying
so hard not to be disappointed.” Jack's features lit up at the memory.
“The look on Charlie's face when I rolled out that bike was priceless.
I'll never forget that.”
“I don't think you've ever shared such a good memory of
Charlie with me,” Daniel said thoughtfully.
Jack's confidence rose. “We'd usually go over to Sara's
parents in the afternoon, but that Christmas we were snowed in. Charlie
and I spent the entire day together, playing with his new games and
toys. It was one of the best times I spent with him. Just... you know,
hanging out, being his Dad.”
For the first time Jack let himself feel the joy Charlie had
been without experiencing the searing pain.
“He had a light, Danny. A spark.”
“He loved you, Jack.”
“Yeah, he did,” Jack acknowledged, scrubbing a fist across his
eyes to ward off a few tears that threatened to fall. Tears that for
once, had nothing to do with guilt, self-loathing and sorrow. It felt
so damn good. Jack looked over at Daniel in awe and closed his eyes,
wondering if it was right to love a person as much as he did Danny.
Maybe that's why he was being punished... he didn't deserve such
Jack hesitated before asking the same question. He knew Daniel
hadn't exactly seen the best of what the holidays had to offer, but he
must have had a few good years somewhere along the line. And what the
heck, if Jack was brave enough to spill his guts at least Daniel could
do the same. “So, when was your best Christmas?”
Daniel grinned at Jack and then shyly looked away. “The last
one,” he said without hesitation.
Jack smiled broadly. He had meant the best Christmas in the
past, but Daniel's response pleased him no end. “Yeah, that was a great
one!” he agreed. Jack watched Daniel close his eyes and relive the
Last year had been their first Christmas together. When Jack
discovered Daniel was somewhat of a scrooge he immediately decided to
single handedly turn Daniel's view of the holidays around. While Daniel
had bought Jack a present, the gifts Jack purchased had overflowed from
beneath the tree to fill up a quarter of the room.
Jack closed his eyes and remembered the look of shock and
delight on Daniel's face when he realized that all the packages had
'Danny' written on them. “For me, Jack? All of them?” Daniel had asked
in stunned amazement. Maybe Jack couldn't make up for all the lonely
Christmas's Daniel had suffered through, but he could give it one hell
of a try. They'd spent the entire Christmas morning opening presents
and drinking coffee. Jack had been thrilled to see Daniel slowly and
carefully unwrapping and savoring each precious gift.
No one knew Daniel Jackson like Jack O'Neill and every gift
was a unique treasure picked out especially for him. Books, clothes,
CD's, gourmet coffee beans, chocolate and a wide variety of toys and
games that Jack was sure Daniel had missed out on as a kid. That
assumption had proved correct as Jack found himself happily explaining
the joys of bouncing a Super Ball and the million and one uses of Silly
Putty. Jack had spared no expense and it was worth every penny to see
the wonder shine in his lover's eyes.
“Wait until next Christmas,” Jack promised boldly as Daniel's
coughing fit jolted both of them back to reality.
Jack couldn't stand sleeping in the bed or eating food when
Daniel was wheezing and freezing and starving on the floor a few feet
away from him.
“Don't be ridiculous, Jack,” Daniel said irritably. “What good
does it do me if you're to stiff too move because you're too stubborn
to use that bed?”
Jack shrugged helplessly. He didn't care what Daniel said. He
couldn't bring himself to do it.
“And eat whenever you want to. Just eat. I know you must eat
some time. You're not the one starving to death.”
Daniel was right, he did eat, but only when Danny was
sleeping. Jack hated every mouthful. And then Daniel instituted the
food game, and he hated that even more.
Jack stretched out on the floor. His face no more than a few
feet away from the face he loved.
“If you insist on sleeping on the floor with me, at least get
a pillow. I would.”
As weak and tired and sick as Daniel was, Jack took pride in
the fact that his stubborn linguist still managed to sound bossy.
To appease Daniel, Jack grabbed a pillow off the bed and
lowered himself to the floor, the invisible Guardian making the short
distance between them seem like miles. Guilt was Jack's constant
companion of late and it overwhelmed him now, lying on the plush carpet
with the pillow under his head while Daniel shivered on the stone floor
inches from his grasp.
"I'd trade places with you,” Jack whispered.
“I wouldn't let you. Your back and knees wouldn't be
comfortable in my accommodations,” Daniel weakly pointed out.
Jack didn't even smile at the attempt at humor. He didn't give
a damn about his back or his knees. This was his fault; he was in
charge... the facilitator. Jack thought back to all the deaths and
disasters he had knowingly or unknowingly facilitated . He
couldn't do it any more. Even if Daniel survived, he was done. And if
“Right here, buddy.”
“Tell me what you have to eat in there today.” Daniel's voice
was thick and hoarse as he made the request.
“Danny,” Jack pleaded. He hated this food game. For some
reason, Daniel seemed to enjoy it.
“Please, Jack. Tell me.”
Reluctantly, Jack rose to his feet. If he were going to do it,
he'd do it right. After clearing his throat and suppressing a sigh, he
eyed up what was on the far table. “On today's menu we have an
assortment of muffins, a selection of perhaps three or four.”
“Blueberry, Jack?” Daniel squeaked out between coughs.
“Yes, I believe there is a blueberry muffin. And for the
entrée,” Jack lifted the lid that was covering the dish. “We
have some type of stew with a mixture of vegetables. Definitely carrots
and something else that's... green.”
The stew didn't seem to elicit much interest. “Dessert?”
Daniel asked eagerly. Dessert was Danny's favorite part.
Jack cringed when he checked the desserts. “Chocolate.” He
felt as if he were torturing Daniel, mindful that the reality was the
reverse. He was the one being tortured.
“Bring over the muffin and the chocolate.” Jack halfheartedly
obeyed Daniel's order.
Stretching back out on the rug, he faced Daniel, no more than
a few feet between them. “Now eat it, Jack. First the muffin.”
Looking at the shining blue eyes and pale starving face, Jack
felt nauseous. Daniel's clothes were already beginning to hang on him
and even though he tried to hide it, Jack noticed how Daniel's hands
shook with weakness. The last thing Jack felt like doing was eating.
“Not today, Danny, please.”
“Yes, Jack, eat it. For me.” The pleading in Daniel's voice
was all it took and Jack dutifully choked down the muffin. Daniel
watched, absorbed in the process.
“Now the chocolate. Nice and slow. And let me see it before
you eat it.”
Jack held up the hunk of chocolate. Daniel's smile appeared
genuine. “How's it smell?” he asked.
“Like chocolate.” Jack wasn't sure if Daniel truly enjoyed
this daily food torture or if it was a subterfuge to get him to eat. If
it was the latter, Jack was going to kill Daniel when they got home. He
smiled at the thought and silently prayed for the chance.
“Okay, Jack, nice and slow.” Daniel rolled his head back,
closed his eyes and smiled. His mouth mimicking Jack's, chew for chew.
“How was it?” Jack asked, as he swallowed the last morsel,
relieved that the game was over for another day.
“Delicious. What do you think, Belgian or Swiss?”
“Maybe Belgian,” Jack said absently, thinking of all the
things he was going to indulge Daniel with if they ever got out of
here. Chocolate and muffins moving to the top of the list.
Daniel's coughing fit jolted Jack awake. “Danny, Danny you
okay?” It was a stupid question and Jack was tired of asking it.
This time was bad. Daniel was panting and couldn't seem catch
his breath. With great effort he pulled himself up on all fours and
forcefully tried to clear his lungs. Jack cringed at the attempt,
realizing Daniel was choking on his own phlegm, his lungs drowning in
One, good, long look at Daniel and Jack had to acknowledge
what he'd been denying for the past three days. Daniel was dying. He
was rapidly deteriorating before Jack's eyes. His food supply was no
more than a few spoonfuls, and in another day or two that would dwindle
down to nothing. His water supply had lessened considerably. Once
Daniel ran out of water, Jack knew it wouldn't take long for the
unfathomable to become a reality.
Daniel was drenched in sweat, causing him to shiver almost
nonstop. Even his jacket was soaked through. His fever must be spiking.
How could he, the team leader, the Colonel, the great Jack O'Neill,
savior of the Earth and a handful of other planets, just sit here and
watch this happen? Tears sprung to Jack's eyes as he spied the useless
backpacks. Daniel's filled with antibiotics, Tylenol and allergy
His lover was dying before his eyes, while he lived with every
conceivable comfort. Is this not the greater punishment? He
gritted his teeth. “Hang on, Danny. Please, hang on,” he pleaded.
“I'm fine, Jack. I'm just... c-c-cold,” Daniel stuttered
through chattering teeth.
I'm fine? The extent of Daniel's love crashed into Jack with
overwhelming force. The ‘I'm fine' was for HIM, to keep HIM calm, to
ensure HIS survival. All the talks and the fucking food game, it was
all for him. Oh, God, Danny, don't leave me.
Jack's head throbbed and his heart pounded as he paced his
luxury cell like a caged animal. He couldn't bear another second in his
temperature controlled seventy-two degree environment watching Daniel
freeze to death. The pent up rage rose to the surface and burst within
In a moment of total frustration and blind fury, Jack flung
himself at the force field that separated the two of them and screamed
from the pain of the impact. When he was finished, he hurled himself
into it again.
“Stop, Jack! Please, stop!” The effort of shouting threw
Daniel into another wave of uncontrolled choking and sputtering.
The fear and alarm in Daniel's voice snapped Jack back to
reality. He sat down on the rug as close to Daniel as possible, his
body shaking at the stinging pain the Guardian had inflicted. The
burning was already subsiding and all Jack wanted to do was to hurl
himself into it once more, to hurt himself again and again, to suffer
like Daniel was suffering.
Jack drew up his knees and folded his arms over the over top
of them. “I'm sorry.” His voice was hollow and weak even though Daniel
was the one dying. Regret and remorse washed over him for everything he
had ever said or done, for everything he had ever facilitated .
Jack rested his head in his arms and broke down and cried soundlessly
at his helplessness.
“Jack,” Daniel said, barely above a whisper to avoid another
“I'm sorry,” Jack whispered again. He kept his head lowered in
his hands, his shoulders still shaking with occasional sobs, too
ashamed at his loss of control to look Daniel in the eye.
“Don't do that again, Jack.”
The authority Daniel managed to put into the whispered order
shocked him. “I won't,” he promised softly.
“I want to tell you something.”
The sobs lessened but Jack didn't raise his head from his
knees. He was military, the Colonel, trained to be strong and under
control. He was supposed to know what to do, but he had let Daniel
down. The reasons behind the regulations that strictly prohibited
fraternization with team members seemed painfully obvious.
“Jack, look at me,” Daniel whispered, his throat hoarse and
raw from the relentless coughing. Jack laid down mirroring Daniel's
pose, positioning his elbow on the rug. He lifted his head and rested
it on his closed fist, locking his puffy red-rimmed eyes to meet
Daniel's unflinching gaze.
“Guess when I fell in love with you?” As weak as Daniel was,
Jack could still catch the tenderness in his voice. He recognized that
Daniel was doing it again, calming and distracting him with soothing
“Guess,” Daniel insisted in a quiet tone that made Jack strain
to hear him. Incredibly, Daniel flashed one of his patented Daniel
Jackson smiles. Jack was humbled by his lover's fortitude, knowing how
taxing this conversation must be for him.
“I-I don't know,” Jack answered hesitantly. Sometimes, it was
hard to understand why Daniel loved him at all.
“When you were gone for three months on Edora,” Daniel smiled.
Jack could only nod.
“Sam worked day and night to figure out how to get you back.
There was nothing I could do. I felt so helpless.” Daniel paused to
clear his throat and ward off another fit. “Like you do now, Jack. I
couldn't sleep or eat. I rarely went home. My feelings went way beyond
friendship and natural worry. One night I was lying in bed looking at a
picture of the four of us and it just hit me that I loved you. That I
was IN love with you. Just like that.”
Daniel paid the price for the admission with a coughing fit so
intense Jack feared he was going to choke to death right in front of
him. When it eventually subsided Daniel whispered, “I never expected
you to love me back.”
Jack didn't take his eyes off of Daniel's as he blinked back
“Now your turn. When did you fall in love with me?”
Daniel's revelation was made it difficult for Jack to respond.
How could he lose Daniel now? Cold fear crept its way into Jack's heart
“I always thought it was right after Sha're died. You were
always there for me.” Daniel whispered encouragement.
The pounding in Jack's head intensified. How could he have
Daniel this close and not be able to touch or comfort him? He wondered
if this is what hell was like.
“It's okay if you don't remember.”
Jack tried to focus for Daniel's sake. It was hard for him to
remember a time when he didn't love Daniel. It had been so long. But
loving someone and being IN love with them are two different things. He
thought back to Earnest's planet, when a young Dr. Daniel Jackson
declared his intentions of staying behind. Back then, he loved Daniel's
enthusiasm and passion, but he wasn't IN love with him. Jack remembered
the times they had given Daniel up for dead, on Nem's planet and then
again on Klorel's ship... those were excruciating memories. Back then
he had grieved for Daniel as his teammate and friend.
But there was a moment when he knew. He'd never planned on
telling Daniel because it was long before Sha're died and he wasn't
sure if Daniel would want to hear that. “It wasn't then,” Jack stated.
“No?” Daniel sounded slightly disappointed.
“Remember when we held Apophis prisoner in the SGC?”
Daniel nodded, slightly confused at the relevance.
“That's when I fell in love with you.” Jack thought back to
the young and hurting Dr. Daniel Jackson. How painful it must have been
to have Apophis right there in the infirmary, reminding him of his
“But, Jack, that was before Sha're.”
“Yes,” Jack admitted.
“Why?” Jack could see Daniel's fevered brain working on the
answer. “Why then?”
Jack wasn't sure he could explain it properly but he decided
to give it a try. “The way you looked past Apophis and saw the host. I
couldn't have done that. I was in awe of your compassion.”
“It wasn't the host's fault,” Daniel said firmly.
“No, but he was wearing Apophis's face. When you spoke to him
in Ancient Egyptian it was so beautiful. Hell, I didn't have a clue
what you were saying but I was riveted. I still remember some of it.
You told him he'd be buried with honor, pass through seven gates and
see his wife and children again. I couldn't take my eyes off of you.”
Daniel smiled weakly.
“When you left the infirmary and said you'd come back, I
thought it was too much for you. But you did come back, just like you
promised. You came back with a statue and told the poor bastard the
statue would take his last breath and carry his soul back to Egypt .”
Jack paused at the powerful memory. “That's when I knew I loved you,
Danny,” he confirmed.
“Wow.” Daniel answered. “Um... Jack, just so you don't think
TOO highly of me, you probably don't know that I did threaten to kill
Apophis in his bed if he didn't tell me where Sha're was.”
Leave it to Daniel to try and diminish his actions. “I bet
that was before we met the host. Besides, it doesn't change anything.”
“And then you kept your love hidden all that time?” Daniel
“Yeah,” Jack nodded. “For your sake. For Sha're. And I was
scared of it," he admitted. "I didn't know what to do with it.”
“Lucky I made the first move, huh?” Every word was an effort
for Daniel, yet miraculously, he carried his end of the conversation.
“YOU made the first move? Wrong, my wayward archaeologist. I
made the first move.” Jack knew Daniel was hoping for an argument and
didn't want to disappoint him.
I think it was mutual,” Jack finally conceded so Daniel could
save his strength. “I was so worried about it,” he reminisced. “And
then it just happened. It wasn't as awkward as I thought it would be. I
love touching you.” Jack's voice hitched on the last words. He'd give
anything to be able to touch Daniel now.
“I like touching you too.” Daniel tried to chuckle. “And yeah,
it was easier than I thought it would be. Well, except for the actual
sex... that took us a little longer to get the hang of.”
Jack laughed at the memories of their first awkward attempts
at actual penetrating sex. Even Daniel managed a ghost of a smile, no
doubt remembering Jack's impatient yelling and Daniel's calm
suggestions based on a not so helpful book he had purchased. Neither of
them had much experience and Jack had insisted on Daniel taking him
first. That way Jack figured he could learn what NOT to do. Plus, he
knew Daniel would be more patient and controlled. Thinking back to
their first time made Jack glad he had stuck to his guns. It hadn't
been all that pleasant. It struck Jack that even then he had trusted
Daniel more than he trusted himself.
“We got it down pretty good now though, don't we, lover boy?”
Jack's grin faded when he remembered their circumstances. Daniel had
outwitted him again. He had all but forgotten his ill fated run in with
Guardian. How the hell did he do that?
“Could you do something for me?” Daniel asked, suddenly
sounding very serious.
Jack's eyes narrowed. If this was going to be some kind of
dying request he wouldn't have it. He couldn't. Not now, not ever.
Jack maneuvered as close to the Guardian as possible in order
to hear Daniel. “I wanted to take the statue back to Egypt and place it
in the ruins of the temple at Karnak , the temple where the host was a
scribe. Jack, promise you'll take it if I... if I can't.
“You'll take it yourself.” Jack whispered hoarsely.
“Please, promise, Jack. I told him I would and it's even more
important in light of what you told me.” Sweat beaded on Daniel's face
at his effort to breathe with fluid-congested lungs. Jack stared as one
drop slowly made its way down Daniel's fever-flushed face. His lover
was too weak to wipe it away; he simply scrunched up his heated face at
“I promise.” Jack found he didn't have the strength or desire
to argue. He said the words but felt like a traitor for making the vow,
afraid that the fates would interpret it as a deathbed promise, a sign
of weakness, an indication he was giving up. The slight contentment on
Daniel's face made it worth the risk.
Jack began to doze. It was quiet, too quiet. Too quiet...
Daniel's breathing... Jack suddenly sat bolt upright, “Daniel!”
Daniel simply looked back at Jack, raising a hand at him,
signaling not to worry. His noisy, rasping breath sounded after a
moment, a little faster than before. The sound was music to Jack's
“Sorry,” Daniel panted. “Tired,” he whispered. “So tired,
never knew... breathing is such... hard work.”
The moment Jack was sure Daniel was asleep he sat up and
positioned himself against the back wall and took up watch. It was
quiet except for the constant, comforting hissing of air fighting its
way in and out of Daniel's wet lungs, interspersed with weak bouts of
coughing. Jack found himself terrified to sleep... afraid that in the
morning he'd wake up to silence. It was irrational, but somehow he felt
that if he kept his eyes on Daniel, somehow Danny would be okay.
What the hell? He must have dozed for a second or two. Jack
forced himself awake and then calmed at the sound of Daniel's loud,
painful struggle for air. He must have been dreaming, he could have
swore he heard...
“Carter? Carter, in here!”
Jack could hear them working on the door. “They're here,
Daniel,” he said comfortingly. “Just a little longer, buddy.” Daniel
was unresponsive and didn't seem to hear him.
“Carter, just blow the fucking thing up! Daniel's sick. Really
“Are you both away from the door, sir?”
“Yes! Blow the damn thing!”
With the help of little C-4 the door opened in a matter of
seconds. SG-3 and a medic had accompanied Teal'c and Carter. While the
medic worked on getting an IV and some antibiotics into Daniel, Sam
worked on shutting down the force field. Teal'c took Jack's rather loud
suggestion, against Carter's better judgment, and fired, first a zat,
and then his staff weapon at the guardian. Neither had any effect.
“If I could find a control panel, I'd have more luck, sir. Do
you see anything like that in there, Colonel?
“Carter, I don't think they'd be stupid enough to put the
control panel in here, do you?” Between his worry for Daniel and his
own state of exhaustion, Jack's sarcasm was reaching new heights. He
was also slightly embarrassed at his accommodations as he caught his
teammates and SG-3 looking in astonishment at the contrasting cells.
“Sorry, sir,” Sam mumbled.
“Just get Daniel to the gate. Come back for me after he's in
the infirmary,” Jack said as civilly as he could.
“I will stay, O'Neill,” Teal'c offered generously.
“I can stay too, sir. SG -3 will be carrying Daniel back on a
stretcher. It's not that far to the gate, Colonel. They won't have any
problem. Teal'c and I can stay behind and concentrate on getting you
out of here.”
“NO!” Jack worked on maintaining a steady voice. “I want you
two to go with them to, to keep an eye on Daniel.” The look in Carter's
eyes proved to Jack that his theory was ridiculous. He wasn't going to
take his eyes off of Daniel. Not now. They were so close. If he
couldn't be there, then Sam and Teal'c were the next best thing. They
were family too. They'd keep Danny safe.
“Please,” Jack added weakly.
“Very well, O'Neill, we shall accompany Daniel Jackson to the
“Yes, sir. As soon as he's in Janet's care we'll turn around
and come right back for you.”
“Thank you,” Jack whispered, suddenly aware of how tired he
was as he watched their final preparations. Teal'c and Carter
positioned themselves at Daniel's side. Jack hoped the nightmare was
almost over. Fraiser would fix Daniel up. She always did.
“Ready?” Sam asked the medic. Jack watched the marines easily
lift Daniel's stretcher and move toward the opened door.
“We'll be back for you, sir,” Carter promised.
Jack waved them off.
A few minutes after Daniel was out the door the force field
lit up and then dissipated. Jack took a quick glance around as the food
and furniture disappeared in a flashing beam of light, leaving his room
as sparse and cold as Daniel's. He threw on his jacket, grabbed the
backpacks and crossed into the cell that had been mocking him for
weeks. After glancing around for a few seconds he jogged down the
corridor, yelling for Carter and Teal'c to wait up.
“I'm fine and I am NOT going to take that.” The gruffness in
Jack's voice brought an exasperated Doctor Fraiser scurrying into the
room. The nurse who had been trying to administer the meds looked a
little rattled at the Colonel's abruptness.
“Colonel O'Neill!” Doc Fraiser admonished, entering the room.
“Look, Doc, I let you do your examination. I don't want the
sedative. There's nothing wrong with me.”
“Colonel, you're exhausted.” She took the pills from the
relieved nurse who hightailed it out of there.
“I want to be here when Daniel wakes up,” Jack mumbled in lieu
of an apology.
Fraiser took pity on him. “Daniel is heavily sedated. This is
a mild dose, Colonel. You can sleep right here on the adjoining bed and
I can guarantee you'll wake up before he does.”
Jack finally agreed. They had also offered him a ride home if
he wanted to sleep in his own bed. Fraiser had informed Hammond that
Jack had nothing wrong with him that a good night's sleep wouldn't
cure. But going home was not an option. Only Daniel and the Protector
would have understood the irony. Jack envisioned himself curled up in
the comfort of his own temperature-controlled house, sleeping in his
own bed, maybe watching a little TV, grabbing a midnight snack, while
Daniel lay unconscious in the infirmary, burning up with fever and
unable to breathe without the help of a ventilator. That was just not
going to happen. He could have stayed on the planet if he wanted to
relive that nightmare.
Janet was right. Six hours later the sedative had worn off and
Jack was sitting in a chair at Daniel's bedside, guarding, watching,
and protecting. Carter and Teal'c were under doctor's orders to get
some rest after weeks of nonstop, exhaustive searching. It was 0300 and
aside from a young nurse periodically monitoring Daniel's vitals, the
two of them were finally alone.
Fraiser's assessment ran through Jack's mind. Pneumonia,
bronchitis only one lung functioning properly... she hesitantly
revealed that Daniel's high fever could also have caused some brain
damage and they'd have to wait until he woke up to properly assess
Jack never entertained the possibility. He pulled his chair up
close to the bed and held Daniel's hand under the covers. “Hey, Danny,”
he whispered. “I know you're in there and I know you're fine, but you
have to wake up and show everyone else. Carter and Teal'c are worried
about you. Carter gets all teary-eyed looking at you. I know how much
you hate that.”
Jack rested his head beside Daniel's. It reminded him of lying
in the cell only now he could touch the beloved face. He stroked the
back of his hand gently down Daniel's pale, hot cheek before repeating,
“I know you're okay, but you need to show them.” Jack started to doze
in that awkward position for a minute or two before his neck began
protesting and he retreated to the adjoining bed.
Daniel never stirred. He hadn't been conscious since before
they'd been rescued. Jack shuddered to think of what would have
happened if another day had passed in that cell.
The next afternoon, under duress, Jack agreed to a shower and
a meal in the commissary, reluctantly leaving Teal'c and Carter to
stand watch over Daniel. He was back in less than an hour.
“No change, sir.” Carter looked strained.
“Relax, Carter. I've known Daniel to sleep for fifteen hours
after a mission and that's with no drugs, right?”
“Yes, sir,” she said quietly.
Jack could see she wasn't convinced. “Hey, he's tough. He's
gonna be fine.” He nudged her shoulder with his own to get a quick
smile out of his 2IC.
“Carter, I never properly thanked you and Teal'c for rescuing
us. Although, I'm sure you could tell how grateful I was from all the
bellowing and swearing that took place on the planet.” Jack was pleased
to get a chuckle out of her at his unique brand of gratitude.
“And, Teal'c, you too. Thanks, buddy.”
Teal'c bowed his head slightly. “It was nothing, O'Neill,” he
said to Jack's amusement.
The three of them spent the afternoon in the infirmary,
talking softly and laughing but mostly just being together, keeping
Daniel safe. Jack felt more relaxed than he had since stepping foot on
P2X-136, comforted by the four of them being together. All they needed
now was for Daniel to wake up.
Jack flatly refused to go home. Carter finally left for the
evening and Teal'c retreated to his room on the base, promising to
check in on his friends in a few hours.
Fraiser was the last one to leave. She wanted to talk to him
in private. From the look on her face Jack could see it wasn't going to
be good news and he tried to brace himself.
“Colonel, if Daniel's not awake in the next twelve hours,
we're going to have to assume there's been some brain damage and do
further testing. You might want to prepare yourself for that
possibility.” The glare in Jack's eyes belied his verbal agreement.
When he was finally alone with Daniel he quietly got out of
his bed and pulled up an uncomfortable chair. He gently pushed Daniel's
hair off his forehead and then continued stroking through the fine
strands. “Hey, Danny. Me again. It's time to wake up now. I know how
much you like to sleep but we have a lot of stuff to do.” Jack silently
pleaded for the chance to gaze into those wondrous blue eyes one more
time. “I have to buy you that dinner I owe you. I'll spring for
somewhere nice. Maybe one of those fancy Eastern restaurants you like
so well. Hey, I promise I won't even complain about it.”
“Pretty soon it'll be Christmas, Danny. I know it seems far
away, but it's just around the corner and I have a ton of shopping to
get done for you. I can't get anything done sitting around here, can
I?” Jack continued his gentle massage of Daniel's scalp while he spoke.
"Come on, Daniel." This was not going to happen. He wouldn't
let it. He positioned both elbows on the bed and then rested his weary
head in his hands. After a few minutes of silence he sat back up and
slipped a hand under the blankets to find Daniel's hand.
“Time to wake up, Danny,” he tried again, giving the hand a
hard squeeze. “We have to go on our trip... our trip to Egypt . We have
to place the statue in the ruins of that temple you were talking about,
remember? Just like you promised. You always keep your promises. Maybe
you could show me some of the dig sites you played in when you were a
kid. I'd really like that.”
Jack was just nodding off when he felt Daniel squeeze his hand
and struggle to open his eyes. The linguist couldn't speak because of
the breathing tube. “Nod if you're okay?” Jack ordered, wiping a few
stray tears. Daniel nodded and Jack ran to get the nurse on duty who
promptly called Doctor Fraiser.
Jack watched closely as Daniel ate pizza and joked with Sam
and Teal'c. His alert system had been running at defcon three since
they'd escaped the planet. His finely tuned 'Danny' radar was tracking
as he searched his weary lover for signs of fatigue. Only Jack on high
alert would have picked up on Daniel's excessive blinking and his
inability to fully concentrate on the words being spoken. It wouldn't
be much longer before Jack would have to, not so subtly, kick his
friends out and get his archaeologist to bed.
Jack loved when the four of them were together like this...
safe at home. No bad ass systems lords, no lurking Jaffa , no billion
and one techno bugs, not even one crazy Unas wandering the streets of
Colorado Springs . Besides, none of those enemies worried Jack. He was
confident fighting off earth's foes and protecting his team against
tangible danger. It was those fucking temples and ancient ruins that
rendered him helpless and kept him up nights. Daniel was an
archaeologist, climbing around in the unknown was what he did. Jack
couldn't change that any more than he could stop a section of a wall
from crumbling, or keep a ceiling from collapsing... or a stream of
light from transporting them against their will.
He had organized this little get together for Daniel. The
self-proclaimed workaholic had been getting bored at home and it was
getting harder and harder to keep him resting as per Fraiser's orders.
Jack absently wondered if his efforts could be considered
'facilitating'. Maybe facilitating could be a good thing. He'd have to
ask his personal genius about it when they were alone.
“Jack, what's the temperature in here?” Daniel's voice broke
him out of his thoughts.
Jack looked at the sweat threatening to drip down Carter's
forehead and the few beads sitting precariously on the top of Teal'c's
bald head. He noted Daniel was dry. “Why?” he asked casually.
“Well, for one thing, Sam and Teal'c are sweating.” Daniel
sighed at having to point out the obvious.
“Carter, you hot?” His 2IC tried not to laugh at the obvious,
“Uh, no, sir, quite comfortable,” she agreed lightly.
“I am fine as well, O'Neill. My symbiote keeps me cool even in
Daniel smirked and even Jack had to choke down a laugh.
“Turn it down,” Daniel ordered, rolling his eyes as he made
“Everyone's fine,” Jack said innocently.
“Well, I'm hot, okay? So turn it down.”
“Okay, okay,” Jack grumbled.
“He's been a little... crazy.” Jack heard Daniel whisper
“Hey, I heard that, Daniel. I have not been crazy.” Jack
returned and was standing in the doorway, covertly observing Daniel for
any more indications of tiredness.
Jack watched Daniel purse his lips in exasperation, before
deciding to change the subject. “I was wondering, guys, just how
exactly did we escape from 136?”
Jack raised his hand. “You don't remember anything?”
“No, nothing. I must have been pretty out of it.”
“Well,” Jack started, rubbing his hands together
enthusiastically. “I melted down the silver in the utensils and
combined it with the chemicals used in the, a... waste facilities. Then
I took the batteries and a few wires out of the radio and with that I
built an energy disrupter, once I deactivated the force field...”
“Sam and Teal'c?” Daniel interrupted wearily.
“Yeah,” Jack shrugged.
“That is correct, Daniel Jackson,” Teal'c confirmed.
“Well, thanks, guys.” Daniel smiled contently at his friends
and attempted to stifle a yawn.
The almost yawn wasn't lost on Carter or Teal'c, neither
wasted any time in saying their goodbyes. It would be foolhardy to hang
around any longer and wait for the Colonel to bodily throw them out.
“Don't feel bad, sir.” Carter said, patting her CO's shoulder
on the way out. “It could have worked.”
As soon as Carter and Teal'c were out the door, Daniel let out
the huge yawn that had been threatening. “I'm going upstairs to take a
“I'll be right up,” Jack said, giving himself a few minutes to
tidy up the kitchen and load the dish washer before heading up for a
shower of his own.
By the time Jack was ready for bed he was surprised to find
Daniel sitting up, leaning against the headboard waiting for him. He
expected his recovering partner to be zonked out liked he'd been every
night since they'd been home.
“I brought you something.” Jack set the little bag on the
nightstand. He'd been bringing food and water to set beside the bed in
case Daniel woke up hungry or thirsty during the night. The fact Daniel
was awake now meant he must be feeling better. Now would be a good time
to spring the surprise on him. He reached into the nightstand and
pulled out an envelope before slipping under the covers to sit beside
“Jack...” Daniel always protested Jack's nighttime provisions.
“Sh... wait. I have a surprise for you.” Jack couldn't keep
the silly grin off of his face as he handed over the envelope. Daniel's
eyebrows rose as he bit down on his lower lip with anticipation.
Despite his protests, Daniel loved surprises. Especially Jack's
“Open it,” Jack encouraged.
Jack was lost in the smile that lit up Daniel's face as he
took out the plane tickets. “Fraiser said we could leave next week. Ten
days, Danny, me and you alone in Egypt .” Jack's mind conjured up
images of cool sunsets, warm sand and hot archaeologists.
“You always said Egypt wasn't your thing.” The brief,
brilliant smile turned into a frown.
“Did I? Well, I changed my mind. Egypt is SO my thing.” Jack
decided he would do or say just about anything to get back that blessed
radiance. He leaned over and kissed Daniel's forehead.
Daniel wasn't convinced. “Jack, I don't want to seem
ungrateful, but you have to stop this.”
Jack put on his best disappointed pout. “You don't want to go
to Egypt with me?”
“Yes,” Daniel said immediately. “Yes, Jack, I do want to go to
Egypt with you. I've wanted to take you there since we met. It's just
that this whole guilt trip you seem to be wallowing in is driving me
insane. You have to admit, your hovering is out of control, even by
“I just want to take care of you,” Jack whispered. “Can't you
let me take care of you?”
“I did. I did let you. But I'm not sick any more.” Jack felt
Daniel's arms wrap around his neck as he was pulled in for a hug. “I'm
not sick any more and you have nothing to be sorry for,” Daniel said
softly into Jack's ear. “You came with me. You saved me. I wouldn't
have made it in there by myself. I would have given up.”
Jack snuggled his head in the warmth of Daniel's shoulder. It
had been a while since he'd been able to let go of his responsibilities
and accept some comfort. It felt so good. Daniel held onto him for a
“Why do you take that 'facilitating' stuff so seriously?”
Daniel asked, finally releasing Jack from the embrace.
Jack pulled away from Daniel and studied his hands. “Because
there's a ring of truth to it. That temple light thingy was right about
some things... I am the CO... the 'facilitator' of a lot of things,
some of which has gotten people killed.”
“No, Jack. It doesn't have any truth to it at all. It's a
bunch of crap,” he said determinedly as he reached out and touched
Jack's face to get his full attention.
“They were pretty technologically advanced. They must know
something we don't. When I left it all disappeared.”
Daniel sighed heavily before making his argument. “The Goa'uld
are technologically advanced. Do you accept their moral standards?”
“No, of course not.” Jack smirked and looked up at Daniel
Placing his palms on Jack's cheeks, Daniel lifted his lover's
face to meet his gaze. “Listen to me, the Protector was a sham. Can you
imagine the Asgard or the Nox doing something like that?”
“No. It had no moral value or implications at all. It was a
cruel and meaningless punishment with no other purpose than to inflict
suffering. You need to stop making it into anything more than that.”
“No moral implications at all?” Jack tried to get his head
around to that idea.
“None.” Daniel sounded so confident and Jack reminded himself
that Daniel was the expert at this kind of stuff.
“I'll think about it,” Jack nodded, relieved at Daniel's
assessment of the validity of the Protector's judgment of him.
“Good, you think about it.” Jack was still sitting up, his
pillow propped against the headboard and this time it was Daniel who
snuggled in against his chest. “Wait until you see Egypt , Jack," he
mumbled. "I'm going to show you amazing things.” Jack's hand cupped the
back of Daniel's head. He had something pretty amazing right here in
Daniel's quiet voice was filled with enthusiasm at the thought
of sharing his passion with his lover. “We'll go into the temple ruins
of Karnak at Luxor . I have a pretty good idea of where we can leave
Jack gave Daniel a squeeze and nodded his agreement.
“Did you know that the temple at Karnak is the world's largest
religious structure? Just think, Jack, Apophis's host was a scribe
there. It really is incredible, isn't it?”
“It really is,” Jack agreed, moving his hand to rub Daniel's
shoulder that was snuggled up against him. For the first time since
P2X-136, Jack heard the hint of excitement creeping back into his
“I'll show you the old dig site where the Stargate was
discovered at Giza .” For a second, Daniel attempted to sit up but Jack
held him in place, unwilling to let go. Daniel relaxed again and
continued rattling off their itinerary.
“It's a little more remote, but I'll take you to the site
where my parents discovered most of their artifacts, including the
cover stone.” Jack continued rubbing Daniel's shoulder, absently
speculating on how remote the site was... wondering if they could make
“Even though we've been off world and have seen unbelievable
wonders, Egypt will still wow you, Jack. I promise.” Jack was feeling
pretty wowed already.
“We could take a boat ride down the Nile . The delta of the
Nile ...” Daniel stopped himself abruptly and this time, succeeded in
pulling away from Jack's grasp. His face had a slight blush to it as if
he suddenly realized Jack was more than likely bored to tears by his
rambling. He stammered out an apology. “S-sorry, Jack. Listen to me
going on and on boring you to death. You probably...”
Jack planted a light kiss on his archaeologist's lips to quiet
him. “I was listening, Danny. I was. Every word. Tell me more.”
“Tomorrow, Jack,” Daniel promised happily, letting out a big
yawn. “I'll tell you more tomorrow.” With that, Daniel leaned over to
turn off the lamp on the nightstand and almost knocked over the bag of
nightly provisions Jack had set there.
“So,” he asked with a hint of sarcasm. “What's in the bag?”
“A blueberry muffin,” Jack mumbled, kissing Daniel's hair as
he stretched out and settled in for the night.
Daniel shook his head at his lover. “Um, Jack, I don't really
like blueberry muffins.”
“But, on 136... why did you ask for it?”
“Because you do.”
A smile crossed Jack's face. He had known it all along. “I can't wait
until you're a hundred percent, Jackson,” he said sweetly. “I am so
going to kick your ass.”
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