JD-DIVAS: STARGATE SG-1 JACK & DANIEL SLASH FICTION
BY PHOENIX E

COVENANT  BY PHOENIX E

Part One


Slash:  Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.
Rating: NC-17.
Category: Established Relationship.  Angst.  Hurt/Comfort.  Drama
Season/Spoilers: Season 4 Set after 'The Light'.  No Spoilers.
Synopsis: Peril, salvation, uncertainty, conflict, life, love and a pact.
Warnings: Some Language, naughty bits.  Intense in some places
Length:   176  Kb   Completed and posted to the net  24 Oct 01.

Notes:  Phew!  So much for the last two months of my life!  Thanks to Biblio for beta reading and Mathew Reilly for writing.  I swear I did not make him up, he is an actual, real writer and the Temple is an actual book, or so Biblio assures me.  I wish to thank Mr Reilly for the brief exerpts from his book and my apologies for Daniel's reaction.  Unlike him, or Biblio I have not read it, but I'm sure it's a very fine book, even though  Daniel obviously has a few issues with it.  Jack however, thinks it's great.


 

"Jack? JACK!  Come on, Jack, you have to stay awake.  You have to stay with me!"

What?  What?  Why is Danny bawling in my ear like that?  It's - it's not time to get up yet…

"JACK!  Please, Jack, wake up!  Don't do this to me!"

Wake up?  Omigawd, what the hell - not home - I'm in this STUFF!  I have to wake up - can't - can't fall asleep.  Can't….

Snap out of it, Jack, you can't give in to this. It's hard, damn, it's hard, I feel so…I just want to let go, go to sleep, but I can't.   Can't jam out on Danny, can't leave him in the lurch.  He's giving his all, trying to hold it together, to not let me go under, not let me know how scared…  Danny's scared, he's scared, sounds like he's almost out of his mind, have to…have to…

"Okay, Okay, quit yelling.  Up - I'm…I'm up."

"Jack!"  Daniel sobs against my neck as he tightens his shaking, straining arms around me.  He's holding me hard and fast, his hands clamped together under my chin like they've been super-glued, his arms a band of steel encircling me just under my armpits, but as tight as he's squeezing and hauling back on me I can barely feel it.  Somehow he's managing to keep my head and shoulders and him out of this stuff -  just barely - but all the rest of me is being slowly squished by this godforsaken crap trying just as hard to suck me under as he is to not let it.  It's getting harder and harder to talk.  To - to breathe.

Looks like I'm really in it this time. Up to here and then some.  If it wasn't for Daniel hanging on long past the time any sane person would have given up and let go of me I'd be dead already.  I'm not saying I'm not grateful to be still breathing - sort of - but it's not looking good, here.  I don't know how he's managed to hold on to me as long as he has, but all he's doing is postponing the inevitable. No way he can pull me free - though it's sure not been for lack of trying - and no way he's going to be able to keep this up much longer.  No getting away from it. I'm not walking away from this one.  

Not this time.

"Oh no you don't, Colonel!"  Daniel hisses into my ear as he wriggles closer and tries to angle a little more leverage against the relentless downward suction. He's lying flat on his stomach on the ground behind me, as close to the edge as he can be to keep my head clear of this alien goo without actually being in it with me.  I can't do a damned thing to help him.  My arms are as mired as the rest of me.  I can't move them, can barely even feel them now. Along with all the rest of me I can barely feel, and with this creepy lethargy making it harder and harder to stay awake - I'm pretty sure I crapped my drawers ten minutes ago but with the way things are right now it's hard to tell.

"Don't you go throwing in the towel on me!" he scolds me angrily in a voice ragged with exhaustion and desperation.  "You hang on, Jack, you hear me! Sam and Teal'c will be back any second now and we're getting you out of this!"

"Better - better be soon," I wheeze, barely able to force the words out against the relentless force compressing me.  "Whatever this stuff is, it's - it's nasty."

"Oh, oh yeah," he gasps, his near hysterical laughter exploding against my neck.  "You can say that again."

"No I can't."

"Okay, okay," Daniel laughs again, sounding more like he really means it and less like he's about to go off the deep end. "Never mind, don't try. Don't try to talk.  Just - it's okay. It's - it's…okay. Just stay still.  I've got you.  I'm not letting go."

That's what I'm afraid of.

I'm going down; that's pretty much a given. It's only because of Daniel hanging onto me with everything he's got I'm not sucking sludge already, but if he relaxes the traction he's maintaining against the downward pull for even a second I'll slide on down the rest of the way under as quickly as I got pulled into this mess in the first place.  He's bought me some time, but it's only a reprieve, not a stay of execution, and even he can't maintain this killer status quo forever.  His will is more than up to the task, but the rest of him - he's only human.  I'm definitely going down.  It won't be long now.

Daniel's so close to me, latched on to me so tight, trying so damned hard.  I can't see what's going on directly behind me but I can feel how desperately he's been struggling and what it's costing him to keep on doing it, and right now it feels like he's going to shake apart. He's been busting a gut in this heat boiling both our brains out ever since this deadly tug of war started and it's killing him. His body is quaking, heaving, rasping and gasping with each breath he forces out. His face is jammed into the hollow of my shoulder, tufts of his drenched, spiking hair tickling the side of my face and marking it with his sweat. My back and shoulder are wringing wet.  Although the sludge itself is disgustingly cool I don't even want to think about how hot the ground must be he's lying on. He's just about prostrate with the heat and exhaustion, but he's not slacking off one iota. He doesn't dare.  We both know what will happen if he does.

 I can't believe how long he's kept this up, but he's just about spent.  I know it, and so does he, but he's not giving in to it, not letting himself accept the possibility everything he has isn't going to be enough. Again.  I'm going, all right; I can face that, even if he isn't ready to yet.  But I'll be damned if I'm taking him along for the ride.  I have to - have to make him me let go.

I'm not taking you with me, Daniel.  I'm not. I love you too much.

"Well, this…sucks," I force out.  "I guess we shoulda taken that left turn at Albuquerque."

Daniel's hysterical giggle is smothered in the fabric of my jacket.  "Don't make me laugh!" he snorts.

"Well, I don't know any card tricks and trust me, you don't want to hear me sing."

"I'm NOT losing you!" he spits savagely into my shoulder.

So much for humour. Oh shit, oh shit. My eyes are going funny.  I have to get this elephant off my chest but it isn't easy.  Deep breath, oh yeah, that's a hot one…breathe…try again…

"Daniel, you can't - "

"SHUT UP!" he bellows into my ear, his fear and frustration shocking him into seriously upping the ante.  He shouldn't be able to do this, not being as played out as he is already, but evidently my Daniel has reserves of stubbornness he hasn't tapped into yet.  I don't know where he's getting the strength but he is - the ornery little SOB is doing it - he's actually pulling even harder on me now.

Bless his pissy, contentious, contrary, irritating ' don't you damned well tell me I can't I'll show you,' soul.

"Just shut up!" he rages, throwing his head back and gritting his teeth as he grunts and strains madly against the downward pull.  If I crane my neck I can catch him out of the corner of my eye and what I'm seeing is making me scared for him. His glasses are long gone; they must have gone flying when he threw himself at me. His eyes are tightly closed; his face is turning purple and streaming.  Literally.  Sweat is shooting out of him, huge drops racing down his forehead, dripping off his nose and chin splashing wetly into my hair and smacking against my ear. It's running into his eyes; he shakes his head savagely, impatiently to clear it away.

"Don't even say it!"  He snarls at me again as he shakes his head, slower this time, like doing so will somehow make everything different.  "Don't you DARE say it!"

He groans as this brief bout of desperate strength leaves him and lets his head flop back down to my shoulder again. I can feel him panting brokenly as he tries to force his exhausted body to continue doing the impossible.  The sound of his laboured breathing is rapidly notching up into the 'lungs about to burst' zone.

He can't possibly keep this up. He has to break soon.  If he doesn't give himself a stroke first.  Fuck, Danny, give it up. You haven't got a prayer.  I'm not worth it.  Not worth you dying for too.

"I'm NOT giving up on you!" he grunts fiercely as he bangs his head roughly into me.  "And you're NOT leaving me! Not today! Not ever! They're coming.  They are.  You'll see.  I just need to hold on - hold on just a little longer…"

It would be different if it was true - if I did have a prayer.  If Carter and Teal'c really were on their way back.  But we both know they're not.  They're probably not even to the other site yet, and they weren't due to check in until they got there.  It's hard to gauge exactly how long I've been in this sludge but I figure Daniel and I weren't on the road here more than ten minutes before I - Teal'c figured it would take them about two hours to get to the other site and it must be close to that now, but even if they checked in this minute - not that either Daniel or I can get to our comms to clue them in there's a problem - supposing they turned around and double-timed it right back, within the next minute even…

Hey, I can do the math.  And I don't even need to carry the four.

"You're not going anywhere without me," Daniel mutters, still panting like a dog, straining and dripping all over me.  I don't know what I like less about what I just heard - what was said or the way he said it.

Crap, for a day that started out so fine this one sure went south awfully damned fast.  You think I'd be used to this sort of thing by now; one minute you're on top of the world, and the next you're well, being eaten by it, but it all seems so fucking tragic, and not simply because of the honking cosmic irony of the Great Jack O'Neill, intergalactic space bum and Goa'uld killer extraordinaire, saviour of the Earth and Tau'ri mascot of Team Asgard ending his days as a cork in some alien peat bog. I could live with that.  That's not what's really pissing me off.

Yeah, while what's going down - namely me - is definitely a damned shame and all and sure as shit is going to ruin my day what makes this situation really, really suck is the timing.

Two weeks with Daniel finally in my arms and my bed is not nearly enough time.  And I wouldn't have minded knowing for absolutely sure, before I kicked off, how he really felt about me.  I mean - if he feels about me the same way I feel about him.

We've crossed the line, become lovers, and yet even though he's let me in farther than he's let anyone for a long time there's still that part he won't let me touch. He's given me his body and his company freely, without hesitation or reservation but he won't - he's still holding out on me.  Holding himself back - what he feels inside. I don't blame him, he has his reasons and they're damned good ones, but still, I can't help but wish, just once, he'd let me know for sure.

I'm not ready to check out - not yet - but like usual I don't get to vote on it.  Still, if this is finally IT, if it is my time and it sure as shit is looking that way, all I can say is thank God for a loose bootlace.  If Daniel hadn't had to stop and retie his bootlace he'd have been right at my side when I strolled into this shit and we'd both be already dead.  I'm glad he wasn't.  Damned glad he was far enough behind me so when I set off whatever it was suddenly turning what looked like solid ground beneath my feet into this colonel-eating crap I was the only one it got.  Got it but good.

Freaking stuff is unbelievable.  Sand to scum sucking sludge in a nanosecond.  I went down so fast I barely had time to scream 'Crap' and Daniel only just managed to fling himself at me and get me in this chest-hold before I was pulled completely under.  I doubt Daniel is doing much analyzing of the current situation - he's kinda busy at the moment - but I've had time to mull a few things over. I'm thinking this is some kind of weird-ass alien booby trap.  Who put it here and why - anyone's guess. All I know for sure is it's definitely a trap and I'm the booby.

Oh well, at least I'm consistent.

"O-Okay, Jack?" Daniel's exhausted whisper dribbles out between gasps.  "I just need - need to rest - rest for a bit.  Yeah, that's it.  Rest.  Don't worry, we're doing okay.  I can do this.  Don't - don't move, okay, Jack?  It's not so bad, as long as you don't move."

Yeah, I noticed that. This stuff definitely reacts to movement.  The more you struggle the worse it gets; not just the whole 'downward motion' thing, but whatever else is in this soup slowly paralyzing me and sucking the life right out of me.  Not fighting it has slowed down the effect, but not stopped it. Whatever it was whoever set this trap was hoping to catch, they wanted to make damned sure it couldn't get away.

But about that 'not moving' part.  No problem.  Bit of a moot point, actually.  Right now I'm finding quirking an eyebrow a challenge.

I can't hide from Danny how hard it's getting to breathe and stay awake - he's already stopped me from drifting off a couple of times, but he doesn't know about the rest of it.  All his efforts to keep my head above this stuff pretty soon aren't going to count for squat.  As long as I'm still in the soup I'm toast.

There are so many things I should be telling him, and I would, if I had the time, but I haven't and I have to know - I have to make sure he doesn't die here in this stinking cess pit with me.

Daniel's head is lolling heavily against mine, his rapid, hot, sobbing breath exploding over me in panicked, anguished gusts.  "Jack," he croaks, the despair in his voice shredding my soul.  "Jack, I'm - I'm sorry.  I tried but I can't - I can't - I - "

I know, Danny.  I know.  It's not your fault, love.  I can't believe how hard you've tried to save me, but you've done everything you can. No one could have done more.  Even Teal'c couldn't have pulled me free of this stuff.  Don't blame yourself, don't -  it's time to say good-bye, Danny.

I can barely get the words out. But I have to, and it has to be now.  I'm not going to get another chance. Time - we're out of time.  In another couple of minutes it won't matter if he's still holding on to me or not, I'll be gone.  This stuff is going to get me either way.

"Let me go."

"No!" he sobs, turning his head toward me, covering the side of my face and neck with frantic, panicked kisses. I feel a new, hot wetness splashing over me, soaking my hair, scalding my skin. "No I won't!  I'm not letting you go!  Never!  Never!"

Dammit to hell, I feel like shit. I can't believe I'm doing this to him when I made myself swear…before going in, I mean, before…  This just isn't fair. He doesn't deserve to have to go through this kind of pain and loss again.

"I - I…oh God, this isn't happening," he cries.  "Not this - not again.  Couldn't save them, couldn't - couldn't save her.  I'm not going to let this take you away from me.  I - I can't…not again…"

You have to, Danny. There's nothing else you can do.  I'm sorry.  Please, don't blame yourself.  It's not your fault.  Don't remember me as another one who hurt you more in leaving you than we were worth the chance you took loving us.

He takes things really seriously, you know, kinda gets in a little deeper than is good for him. Never gives himself a thought and never, ever puts himself first.  We've talked about it, how he should maybe try to develop a little detachment, work on that 'looking out for number one' thing, but he just shrugs and says stuff like 'only way I know how to be'.

Makes me crazy.  What can you say to that?  Thank God?  Yeah.  That works.

I knew this about him, that's why - that's why when I realised he was 'interested', well, at first I was over the moon, really happy because I was, too - 'interested' in him - have been almost from the first moment I laid eyes on him, although it took me a while to figure it out.  Yeah, I was pretty happy, but then I started thinking, which usually with me only leads to trouble, but for Daniel I was willing to risk it.

So, like I said, I got to thinking, which took me to some pretty sobering places, and when I was all done thinking and realised what my 'interest' could mean for, and do to Daniel, I sat me down and had a serious chat with me, myself and I.

I've got few illusions about who and what I am.  I'm no prize, for starters.  I'm painfully aware of my lousy track record in the 'I'll be there for you no matter what' department.  I sure wouldn't be my first choice for the Mr Sensitive of this or any other year award and I have no idea what someone like Danny sees in someone like me but for once, I'm not arguing with him.

And this is Danny we're talking about.  Someone like him you just can't -  you don't - you don't mess around with his heart, you don't… not if you don't really mean it.  I've watched him go through so much shit, seen him hurt so bad, crap, done more than my share of it to him myself, so I made me promise myself I wouldn't so much as touch him if I couldn't swear to both him and me I'd never, ever hurt him.  I mean, like not in a big 'too huge to put him back together after' kind of way.  It's pretty much a given I'm going to be a schmuck to him from time to time.  That whole asshole thing I've got going for me's pretty much bred into the bone.

Correction - would have - would have been an occasional schmuck. If I'd gotten the chance.

Crap.

"I'm not losing you, I'm NOT!" he cries again as he gasps and struggles to stop his sweat-slicked grip from slipping. "Jack!  Don't leave me!"

Sonofabitch, I think dying right under his nose with him powerless to prevent it qualifies as big-time hurting him.  My worst nightmare, and his, all wrapped up in one big sucking package.  So much for good intentions.

This really is the worst thing I could do to him.  If I had to pick a way to check out on him guaranteed to hurt him the most - this is it.  Everyone he's ever loved has been taken from him and there was nothing - nothing he could do to prevent it.  What's  even worse - he had to watch knowing he was absolutely powerless to save them.  Way to go, O'Neill, now you've managed to do it to him too.

A tremendous shudder rips through him and his grip slips again, just a little bit, but just enough.  I feel myself settle deeper.

"Jack! Oh GOD!" he shrieks as something in him snaps.

He's frantic, cursing, futilely scrabbling around on the ground behind me, as he sobs and rants and tugs desperately at me.  I can only make one word out of ten out of the crazed babble gushing from him.  It's like he's gone insane now he knows there's no hope and he's got everything to lose and no reason to hide and it's all flooding out, everything he's been holding back, never letting me see or truly know.  It's out there, laid bare, every secret he's kept tucked safely inside, as naked, stark and bleeding as his soul is right now. It stuns me, what I'm hearing, just how much, how deep - oh God, it's true I'd hoped but I never - never really knew.  It's almost too much. It makes my heart sink deeper than the blackest bottom of this stinking crap to know - now. I know, I know, but I can't have it.  Not now.  He's giving me what I've most wanted and now I'd give anything if it wasn't so.

Now I know how much he loves me I wish to God he didn't.

"Dammit, dammit, DAMMIT!"  he rages.  "This is not happening again!  It's not!  I'm not going to let it!  I'm NOT going to lose you!"

I know he means it.  He's going to save me or die trying.  Or…

No, Danny, please - not this…

"I won't live without you," he whispers as his struggles die down and he slumps back against me again, almost completely done in by this final, futile effort. "Won't - I won't…"

He's hyperventilating and shaking so bad I'm wondering how he's still conscious.  I can't talk, can barely move but I try to register my protest, try to give him a head butt, move something to make him listen.  He can't do this.  I won't let him.

"You've got nothing to say about it," he pants as he nuzzles his cheek against the shoulder I barely managed to shrug.  "My choice. You're not leaving me behind.  Wherever you go, I go.  That's the way I want it.  End of story."

It's not the way I want it, but there's nothing I can do about it.  It's almost completely dark now.  I can feel myself slipping again and this time Daniel just sighs and turns his head, kisses my cheek, so tenderly.  It feels good, comforting.

All right, I admit it, bravado aside, it was worrying me a little, dying and all.  It's one thing to get taken out by a bolt from the blue, to never see it coming, but when you have time - time to think about it, when you know it's coming and all you can do is wait…measure what's left in seconds…

"It's okay," he croons as he lays his head back down on my shoulder and hugs me fiercely close.  "I'm here. You don't have face this alone. I promise.  I'm not going to leave you.  You and me, Jack.  Together.  All the way."

Maybe that's not so bad after all.  I shouldn't be, I know, but suddenly I'm glad.  I didn't want to leave him alone and now I won't.  He won't be hurting, grieving.  Missing me.  Maybe he's right.  This is better.

I promised myself I'd never let him down - never hurt him the way he's been hurt before.  Not going to happen now.   It'll be - how did he put it - him and me together?  All the way?

Okay, Danny, whatever you say.

Slipping - slipping again.  Going down. The stuff is almost up to my shoulders now. Danny's arms are still around me that means - that means they're covered.  He's caught now too.  I guess this is it for both of us.

"I love you," he whispers as he starts to shift about to join me.

I….love…

"DANIELJACKSON!"

"Daniel!  Colonel!  Hold onto him Daniel, we're coming!"

Carter?  Teal'c?  No fucking way!  This is just like the movies!  Nice they came charging over the hill and all, but…

"Teal'c?  Sam!"  Daniel croaks, from far, far away.

He sounds so wiped, so scared. Get your asses over here!  Help him, for Christsake!  He's just about had it!

"Thank God!  You have to help me.  Can't - I can't pull him out."

Oh boy, I'm not liking this.  I can't see a thing, hearing starting to fuzz now too.   Ow! Felt that!  Only one person I know has a grip like that.  Teal'c, old buddy, good to see you.  Well, metaphorically speaking anyway.

Jack!  Jack, Sam and Teal'c are here.  Wake up!  Oh God, he's not breathing.  Teal'c we HAVE to get him out!  NOW!

Do not worry, DanielJackson, I have encountered this before. I know how to proceed.  Major Carter, when I give the word discharge a single zat blast into the furthermost section of the field.  That will temporarily counteract the force restraining the colonel and DanielJackson and I will be able to extract him.

Extracting sounds good.  Hey guys, wanna snap it up a bit?  Colonel rapidly fading to black, here.

NOW, Major!

Wow!  Ow!  Felt that too!  Crap, what do you know, the stuff is letting go!  They're doing it. Hey Danny, we're MOVING!

Jack!   Jack!  It's okay, we got you out!  You're going to be fine. He's still not breathing. We have to - oh God, Jack - come on, Jack, BREATHE!

Sorry Danny, I know I promised I wouldn't but it looks like I'm going without you after all…

 


 

I'm fine.

Danny?

I beg to differ, Daniel, you've had a terrible shock, been exposed to an unknown alien substance and are suffering from exhaustion and heat prostration.   Don’t argue with your doctor now, you need to rest and  -

Doc?  Yeah, that's the Doc's voice, all right.  I can hear Danny and the Doc.  Can't see them, but I can hear them. I guess that means I'm not dead. Not dead.  That's good.  Not dead is definitely good.

I told you I'm FINE.  I don't need to lie down.  I'm not planning to do back-flips in the gateroom, all I'm going to be doing is sitting.  Quietly.  Right here.

Give it up, Doc, you haven't got a prayer.  I know that tone of voice.

Doctor Jackson, Doctor Fraiser is merely concerned -

With all due respect, General, the world isn't going to grind to a screeching halt if I don't lie down for five minutes.  I can rest just fine sitting here.

Hey George!  George is here too!  There's one face I thought I'd never see again.  Speaking of seeing, can't help noticing I can't.  See anything.  Why can't I see anything?  Oh yeah, I've got my eyes closed.

Daniel…

Janet - please.  I really can't…  I need to be here when he wakes up.

He's awake NOW!  Dammit!  What's going on here?  I can't move a muscle - can't even open my frigging eyes!  CRAP!

Daniel, he could wake up in the next five minutes.  Or….

Or?   Whaddya mean or?  No 'OR' - I'm in here, I'm up - get me MOVING!  Do SOMETHING!

Or never.  I know.  You said that.

Daniel, he spent over an hour immersed in an alien substance.  Although you don't seem to have suffered any harmful effects from your brief exposure the colonel was in contact with it significantly longer.  I don't know what that means - what it did to him. What it might still be doing to him. I don't know why he's in a coma or - if indeed it IS a coma…  It's a good sign he started breathing on his own again, but whether that means - Daniel, I just don't know what to tell you.  I've run every test I know and there's no reason I can discover for his current condition.

Which is mighty HONKED OFF!   Uhhhhhhhh!  CRAP!  I can't even wiggle my toes!  Goddamnedfuckingcrappystinkingstupidalien GOO!

FUCK!

Teal'c?  You've dealt with this stuff before. Perhaps you can shed some light…

Et tu, Carter?  Nice to hear you, you'll forgive me if I don't get up.

Unfortunately, I cannot.  As part of my training Master Bra'tac alerted me to the existence of the phenomena and instructed me as to how to proceed if I or one of my men became trapped. I have personally encountered it on three separate occasions on three different worlds while I was in the service of Apophis.  In two of the incidents I was able to render assistance immediately, the Jaffa experienced minimal contact with the substance and exhibited no ill effects as a result.  On the third occasion we were unsuccessful.  One of my Jaffa became completely engulfed before we were able to attempt a rescue.  We were unable to locate him once he disappeared beneath the surface and therefore were not able to extract him.

Nothing to grab onto to pull him out?

Ewwww…CARTER!

Indeed.  I am not aware of any survivor who was exposed to the substance for the length of time Colonel O'Neill has been.  Therefore I have no knowledge of the reason for his present state, its cause or what if anything can be done to assist him.  I do know, however, he is most fortunate to be alive at all.   I am confident had it not been for DanielJackson's persistence he would not be.

You're not the only one 'confident' of that fact.  Owe you a big one, Danny.  Love to be able to give it to you in person but I have this slight problem. Nothing seems to be working? Possibly you've noticed?

So you've got no idea what's happening to him and what we can do to snap him out of it.

Or if, in fact, there is anything that can be done for him at all.

Thanks, Carter.  Comforting to know just in case we hadn't thought of the worst possible option you're be there for us to bring it up!

Thanks anyway, Teal'c. Believe me, that you knew what to do to get him out was a big help.  Really big.  So, you're saying as far as you know no one has ever been through what Jack has.  So what?  Just because you don't know why this is happening or what to do about it that's no reason to automatically assume Jack won't come out of it on his own.  Or because you've never known it to happen, it doesn't mean it can't.

You tell 'em, Dannyboy!  I don't know what's going on either, but I gotta tell you I have no intention of spending the rest of my life as a throw rug.  Alien goo or no alien goo.  I'm just gonna rest up a bit here…catch my breath…then I'm getting up and walking…………..
 

……………. Daniel, it's been three days with no change.

DAYS?

Thank you, Sam, I know what day it is.  I also know in all that time Jack hasn't so much as twitched.

Days?  I've been out of it for three DAYS?

Daniel, I know you're upset.  We ALL are. We're all worried sick about the colonel -

Three - three…DAYS? DAYS?

- but not getting any rest yourself - wearing yourself out for no reason -

God! Three fucking days!  Jesus, Jesus, I still can't - I CAN'T MOVE!

It's not for no reason!  Jack might not be able to move, but he's conscious. He's still with us and he's still Jack!  I'm not going to leave him alone like this.

Shit - shit, oh God! What if she's right?  What if I never - no - no - oh no. No, no, not going to happen. Not…

You don't KNOW that Daniel. You've got no proof -

I can't move.  Can't - I can't move. Oh God…

I don't need PROOF!  As long as he's breathing the possibility exists, and if there's even the slightest chance…Jack?  Jack?

Daniel - what is it - what's wrong?

I don't know - all of a sudden, his pulse, it's racing. Sam - I think he can hear us, I think he knows what we're saying.  He knows, Sam, he IS in there, conscious, aware of everything we're saying he just can't - can't give us a sign.

Okay, okay, I'll get Janet. I'll be right back.

Jack? It's okay, Jack, I'm right here. You're scared.  I understand, but don't worry, I'm here. I know, this looks pretty bad, but you're not alone.  I'm with you. All the way. I've got you right by the hand and I'm not letting go. Here.  Can you feel it?  Not letting go.  I promise.

DannyDannyDannyohGod. Don't let go.  Don't leave me like this.  Danny…………..
 
 

…………DANNY!

It's all right, Jack, I'm right here.  I've got you.

Danny?  It's so dark - can't see - what the hell!  What's going on? Danny's here, but those sounds - smells like -

Oh.

Oh yeah.   Now I remember.

Must have nodded off again.  How long?  Danny?  Yeah, that's Danny.   I'd know that scent anywhere and no one else feels so good, so close…

Holding me.  Danny's holding me tight.  Trying to hug - hug him back, hoping I was dreaming all this….can't…

Oh God, not a dream. This really is happening.  I can feel your arms around me but nothing's changed. I still can't move.

Don't be scared, Jack.  It's going to be all right.  You're going to come out of this.  No one else believes me, but I know you're in there and I know you can hear me.  Janet says the incident yesterday was 'inconclusive' No further 'occurrences' to support the premise there was any conscious reaction to stimuli.  What I observed was probably an unconscious autonomic response.  Geez, you know, when we all get on our scientific high-horses I wonder if we even listen to ourselves half the time. I know that was you, Jack, not some 'unconscious response'. I know you can hear me.  I know how you have to be feeling about all of this, but I don't want you to worry.  You're going to come out of this, Jack.  You are.

That's my boy, always keeping the faith.  Never give up, never say die. That's my Danny. Do you know how much I love you for that, buddy?  Sounds real good and I know you want to believe it.  Hey, me too, but what if I don't, Danny?  What then?

You just rest, Jack, get well. I'm going to be right here. I'll look after you.   We'll get through this, we will.

I hear ya.  But who are you trying to convince?  You or me?  I caught what you said, by the way. Another day has gone by. Another day, and I'm still…still can't…

Don’t.  Don't go there.  Just - don't.  It looks bad, but Danny's not giving up. He's sure I'll pull through and you know Daniel.  He's always right.  Daniel is always right. Don't let go of that. Always right, always……………
 

…………Oh God, I winked out again!  What's up with that?  One minute I'm wide-awake and then I go off and then on again like a light switch. Click, click.  Hello, Jack's gone and then he's back.  I feel like a frigging yo-yo.

How long have I been out this time?  How many days?  Hope it's only been days.  Not - not weeks, or…..

Still so fucking dark.  I HATE this.  Not being able to move is bad enough, but I can't see squat. The insides of my eyelids are not interesting.  What's going on?  Quiet.  It's so quiet.  Can't hear anything but those stupid, stinking machines..  Wait a minute. Someone's holding my hand.  Has to be Daniel.  Daniel's here, he's still here but he's not moving, not -

Hold the phone, what's that?  Snoring? Oh yeah, that's one sound I'd know anywhere.  If Daniel's sawing logs like that, he's out cold.  Passed out in the chair, probably. I wish I could see him. Touch…

Goddamit. What's he doing here? Why isn't he in bed, resting? I'll bet he hasn't budged since they laid me out here.  Crap, he shouldn't do this to himself. What's the point?  He's going to kill himself hanging on to - to what?  Jack the Lump? I might as well be a speed bump for all the good I'll be to him.  I might as well - might as well be dead. We'd both be better off.

I know what you said, Daniel, promising to stick with me and all, and I appreciate the thought, but I don't know if I can do this.   I wasn't as freaked by the thought of smothering in that sludge as I am of going on - for God knows how long - years, maybe decades, maybe forever - like this.  Not kidding now, this sucks.  This is top of the list of all time things that really suck. We're talking completely unacceptable, here.  Wouldn't wish this on - on  - well, it shouldn't happen to anyone and it sure as SHIT shouldn't be happening to me!  This is like being buried alive.  Worse.  Worse.

Sure I'm still breathing but so what?  What kind of life is this?  I can't see you, can't touch you - fuck, can't even scratch my ass.  Or scream.  Or fuck.  FUCK!

I'm scared………………
 
 

………………Danny? That's Danny's voice.  What? Danny?  Oh crap, it happened again!  What's he saying?

 - although it works a lot better if you rub it hard rather than stroke it.

Excuse me?

But that's enough of that.

Um - No?  It was just starting to sound interesting!  Daniel, you want to run it back and hit play again?  I was out of the room for a bit.

I know, I know, I talk too much.  I was thinking you were probably getting sick of the sound of my voice so I sent Teal'c in search of something you'd find more interesting.  Somehow I don't think you'd be too enthralled by excerpts from 'World Archaeology' or 'Antiquity'.

Got that right.  Though you're wrong about me being sick of listening to you talk.  I'll bet you never thought you'd hear me say THAT! The sound of your voice - it's the only thing keeping me sane right now, Daniel.  Not that anyone would notice if I went round the bend - but knowing you're here - it's helping. It is.  Wish I could tell you that. Wish I could do a whole lot of other things as well, but right now, what I want more than anything is to be able to let you know - somehow - what you're doing - I'm sorry for what I said before about you wasting your time, I didn't mean it. I'm not really myself right now. Thanks.  Just - thanks.

Here we go.  Okay, technically it'll still be the sound of my voice, but hopefully you'll find the content a little more interesting than me burbling on not saying anything particularly - well, you know how I get.  I'll try not to bore you too much.

Never going to happen.

Teal'c found this in your office.  The Temple, by Matthew Reilly. So, this is what you're getting up to in there when General Hammond thinks you're doing paperwork.  Don't worry, I won't snitch and Teal'c has already been sworn to secrecy.

Hate to break it to you, kid, but George wants to borrow it when I'm done.

What the - what kind of trash are you reading here, Jack?

Hey!  No dissing my reading material.  Mathew Reilly is a fine writer!

Deep in the jungles of Peru the contest of the century is underway.

Huh. Typical flyleaf cliché-ridden hyperbole.

Whoa, boy, I can hear that head of sneer you've already got going after one sentence.  Lighten up, it's a great book.  You'll love it!  Actually, I'll love it.   You'll get to suffer.

It's a race to locate a legendary Incan idol - one carved out of a strange kind of stone.  But a stone, which, in the present age, could be used as the basis for a terrifying weapon.

Oh dear.  I'm getting a bad feeling about this.  I hope the writing on the inside is better than the writing on the outside.

The US Army wants this prize at any cost.  But they are not alone...

Oh my, the plot sickens.

Can we can the comments and just read the book?  Geez!  I want to know what happens next. I got interrupted in a really good spot.

The only clue to the idol's final resting place is to be found in a 400-year-old manuscript.  Which introduces Professor William Race, a mild-mannered but brilliant young linguist,

Whaaaa?

Oh yeah!  That's the best part!

who is unwillingly recruited to interpret the document that could lead the US team to the idol itself.

Oh yeah, like THIS would ever happen!  Mild-mannered, brilliant young linguists recruited by the ARMY to unlock the secret of some mouldering old archaeological puzzle that is the key to some improbable technological wonder.  Who in their right mind is going to believe THIS scenario?  Army indeed!  And while we're at it, what kind of an obviously macho and unlikely name is RACE for a supposedly mild-mannered academic?  It's even stupider than Indiana.  Oh, wait a minute, wait a minute - 'Professor William Race'?  'Professor Will Race'?  Oh, for crying out loud, that's not a NAME, that's a sentence!  Geez!

Hey, the archaeologist is the hero.  What more do you want?  And you're just mad because 'Doctor Daniel Jackson' doesn’t mean anything but trouble. That's the long and the short of that one!

So begins the mission that will lead Race and his armed companions to a mysterious stone temple hidden in the foothills of the Andes.  This is a carefully contrived

Not unlike the plot, I'll bet.

READ!

sanctuary seething with menace and unexpected dangers.  But it is not until the temple is breached that Race and his team discover they have broken a golden rule...

SOME DOORS ARE MEANT TO REMAIN UNOPENED...

I could say the same thing about some books.  Oh well, chin up, Daniel, how bad can it be?  Let's just crack the cover, find your page and see, shall we?

Huh. About time.

The conveyor belt stopped.

Race stopped, too, the nape of his neck jolting to a halt an inch from the speeding blur of the helicopter's rotating blades.

Ah, nothing like getting right into the action.

READ THE BOOK!  We're just getting to the good part!

Anistaze's face went blank in surprise.  What the fuck-?

Race took the opportunity and kneed the Nazi

Nazi?  Where'd he come from?  Nobody said anything about Nazis in the cover blurb.

Yeah they did.  The 'they are not alone' part.  You just gotta know how to read these things.

Uh, anyway, where were we?  Race took the opportunity and kneed the Nazi hard in the crotch.

Anistaze roared.

Well, he would, wouldn't he?

Are you gonna read, or bitch?  Geez, can't get good help these days.

Just as Race grabbed him by the lapels.

"Smile, motherfucker," Race said.

Huh, can't say I'm too impressed with 'Race's' linguistic ability so far.

What?  You can manage to be quite the potty mouth when you put your mouth to it!   Mind!  I meant mind!

And then he dropped down onto the conveyor belt and rolled quickly backwards, underneath the chopper's blurring blades, using his new-found  leverage to yank Anistaze, neck-first, right into the buzzsaw-like blades of the helicopter.

The rotor blades sliced through Anistaze's neck like a chainsaw through butter, removing his head from his body in a smooth, frictionless cut.

Ewww!  Jack!   How can you READ this crap?  Chainsaw through butter?  I don't know what's more improbable, the scenario or the prose.  Has this guy ever been anywhere NEAR a helicopter? Or a chainsaw, for that matter?

An explosion of blood spattered all over Race's face as he lay on the conveyor belt, still holding onto Anistaze's lapels.

What, he missed going for the obvious cliché of having Race watch the severed head slowly spinning through the air, pin-wheeling off disgustingly to land somewhere close by with a nasty wet and squishy  'thwack'?

Hey - that was good!  I'm impressed!  Hey Danny, you ever think of writing action adventure thrillers?  You're a natural!

Race quickly discarded the body - yecch! - and rolled himself off the conveyor belt.

He shook his head.  He couldn't quite believe what he had just done.  He had just decapitated a Nazi.

Whoa...

With a helicopter.  Actually, after reading that passage I'm beginning to understand why this book appeals to you.

I sense we have left off dissing the book and have moved onto dissing the colonel's taste in literature.

It's just going to get worse, isn't it?   Oh well, I've done more distasteful things in my time, and it's for a good cause, after all.

Hey, if you really love me I've got a couple other titles stashed in the filing cabinet…

DanielJackson.

Aw crap, saved by the Jaffa.  Does this mean we're not going to finish the chapter? I'm never going to find out how this damned book ends.

Hey, Teal'c!  Great timing!  I don't know how much more Matthew Reilly I could have… um…what's that?

Hey, you got me what it looks like but it smells like…soup.  Cream of broccoli, if my nose does not deceive me.  One of your favourites. And if there's a ham and cheese sandwich along with it you might just be trading me in for a livelier model.

I have brought you sustenance. Doctor Fraiser is becoming concerned you are not devoting sufficient time to satisfying your own nutritional requirements.  As am I.

Let me guess.  It's this or…

Trust me, DanielJackson, you do not wish to experience the alternative.

Do as he says, Daniel. One of us getting our goodies through a tube is enough.

Okay, well, um…thanks.  Just leave it there and I'll get to it -

You will get to it, NOW, DanielJackson.

Yikes!  I know THAT tone, too.

And…you're not leaving 'til I do.

As usual, your perspicacity -

Is matched only by YOUR pertinacity.

Oh, per crying out loud!  Eat, dammit!

Soup.  And a sandwich. Ham and cheese. Oh…wow, that's - that's really… Well, it does smell good.  Looks…thanks.  I guess I am a little hungry at that. I just - I forget.  Got other things on my mind.

I will observe Colonel O'Neill while you eat.

Knock yourself out, Teal'c.  Not much to see.  I'll see if I can manage a fart for ya.  That might be entertaining.  Jesus.

Colonel O'Neill, you do not need to be concerned for DanielJackson's well-being. I will look out for him, as long as you cannot.

Thank you, my friend.  I know you will.  I'll know you'll take damned good care of him.

Teal'c, you're the first person who's spoken to him like - like you know he's still in there.  Like you believe he can hear you.

Do you believe this, DanielJackson?

Yes, I do. Absolutely.

Your certainty  is all the evidence I require it is indeed so.

Thank you, Teal'c that - that means a lot. It really does.  I  -  I - ohhhh….

What?  What the hell was that?  Sounded like something breaking.  Daniel?  Daniel, are you all right?  Someone SAY something - what the FUCK is going on!

DanielJackson!

Shit!  Sorry, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to…damned bowl slipped right out of my hand.  It's okay, just…I'm just a little tired.  Oh nuts, there's a mess.

Who cares.  That's what they pay the help for.  I'm just glad you're okay.

Do not be concerned, Daniel.  I would be happy to get more soup for you, if you wish.

Is everything all right in here?

George!  Popping by to rotate my tires? Couple more people and we can have ourselves a party.  I'd make a good centrepiece.  Or a piñata.

General Hammond!  Everything is - it's fine.  I'm a little clumsy today, is all.  Sorry.  Sorry about the - the mess.

That's not important right now, son.  Teal'c if you wouldn't mind excusing us, I'd like to have a private word with Doctor Jackson.

Oh oh.  This doesn't sound good.  Conversations that start with sentences like that usually…suck.

As you wish, General Hammond.  I will return with more soup, DanielJackson.

Um - Teal'c, it's okay, you don't have to - ah, he's gone.

Bye Teal'c.  Stop by again soon. Bring more books.

Doctor Jackson, this isn't going to be a pleasant conversation for either of us.

Make that all three of us.

But we're going to have it anyway, right?

Doctor, I'm neither unsympathetic to your concern or unfeeling about the colonel's condition but I am also the commanding officer of this facility and as such am responsible the well-being of all of the people under my command.

Even the ones in comas?

Daaaniel - don't get pissy with the general.  He's just trying to do his job.  You're giving him attitude isn't going to change things.  Not going to change a damned thing.

Daniel, I know you've tried to remain optimistic about the colonel's recovery, and I commend you for your efforts on his behalf, but I think it's time we faced certain facts.

Daniel.  George is calling him Daniel.  Crap, this is going to be so, so bad.

It's been over a week now - almost two, as a matter of fact - since the incident on P8Y-204 and there has been no discernible change in the colonel's condition.  Or any indication we have reason to hope there will be a change.

Janet says the fact she hasn't had to put him on a respirator is a good sign.  His vitals are remaining steady. There's been no deterioration in his condition.

Yay for me!  I might be a lump but I'm a healthy lump.  Oh - oh joy.

No improvement, either.

No, Sir.  No improvement. That's true, I'm not denying that either.   But that still doesn't mean -

No, Daniel, it doesn't.  But I feel I must remind you this is a front-line medical facility.  We have neither the spare personnel nor the resources to give the colonel the kind of full-time specialised care and attention he will require if his current condition - persists - much longer.  I'm sorry, Daniel, but this isn't the place for him if he's going to be -

A full time carrot?

I'm still officially listed as Jack's next of kin - right?

Crap, that's right.  I'd forgotten.  We did that ages ago - long before - seemed like the right thing to do.  He asked me first - him not having anyone else to make decisions for him and all, if something happened out there.  Made me realise I needed someone more - on the spot - than Sara.  In case something happened to me.  Couldn't think of anyone whose judgment I trusted more.  Still applies.

I'm in your hands, Daniel.  What's left of me, that is.

You are.  That's why we're having this conversation. Any decisions and arrangements are contingent upon your agreement and approval.

I trust you, Daniel.

Okay. That's fine.  I understand.  How much time does he have?  Before he has to….

It should be soon. I'm terribly sorry, son, this is a damned distasteful task, and it's not easy to say this to you, but this situation can't continue much longer.  As long as it looks as if the colonel is going to remain in a coma  - this is in Jack's best interests as well, son. I hope you can see that.  The kind of care he's going to require - we just can't give it to him here.

I understand. I do. I know you're only thinking of what's best. The way it looks - you don't have any other choice.  It's okay.  Don't worry.  I'll take care of it.  I'll - I'll -  if it's still necessary, we'll be going.

We?  Daniel?

I'm truly sorry, son.  I wish it didn't have to be this way.

I - I  - me too.  Thank you for being so frank with me, General. It's been an honour knowing you.  I know if Jack could - he'd say the same thing.  Now, if you wouldn't mind - I'd - I'd like - I've got some thinking to do…

God, I thought he'd never leave.  Well, I'm officially bummed RIGHT OUT.  How's it with you?

I'm sorry you had to hear that, Jack.  God…

Daniel, listen, about this 'we' stuff. Listen to me.  Listen!  How's he supposed to hear a damned thing when I can't - goddamit, I fucking HATE this!  Danny, don't be stupid! You're going to throw it all away, the gate, your work - your life.  For what? For me? Colonel Carrot?  You want to do something for me?  Do me some real good? Do me a favour.  Put a bullet in my brain!

Jack, listen to me.  It's not going to come to this, but if - I'm not going to let them pack you off somewhere and forget about you.  Or let a bunch of strangers - you'd hate that, I know how much you'd hate that.  It's not going to happen.

Oh, and you think I'd like having you throwing your life away babysitting my flabby, useless ass twenty four seven any better?  Saddling you with changing my diapers and feeding tubes?  Hosing me down?  Wiping my ass?  Flipping me over once a week so I don't go bad? Waiting for me to die? Oh yeah, that's much better than having a bunch of people I don't know and don't give a shit about giving me a regular lube and shave and topping off my tank.

I know what you're thinking and I don't care if I have to spend the next twenty years scraping barnacles off your hull where you go, I go.

I can't let you do this - it's not fair to you.

Don't argue with me!  This is the way it's going to be.  I can't leave you - I won't.  I meant it back there on 402, and I mean it now.  What, I'm going to just walk away - abandon you?  Carry on skipping happily through the universe and leave you behind, alone - like THIS - conscious, aware,  trapped in your own body and helpless - what kind of a friend would I be, what kind of -   You're still YOU, Jack.  You're still… This doesn't change anything. You hear me?  Not a damned thing.  Not the way I feel about you, not the way I need…love….

Aww, Danny, I'm sorry.  Don't - please, don't -

Shit!  Sorry, Jack, sorry, sorry, I shouldn't be - I could kick myself, acting like this.  You don't need to listen to this.  Don't pay any attention to this.  I'm okay.

No you're not.

All right, maybe I'm not. But I will be.  We BOTH will be. I know I'm right, Jack, I know it, you have to believe me.  Trust me.  You probably think I'm some kind of fool  grasping at straws and living on false hope, and you wouldn't be the only one, but I want you to listen to me, for just a minute.

Hey, I'm not going anywhere.  Hah hah.  That's a joke.

I've been thinking, about the stuff we almost lost you in on 204.  Teal'c says the Goa'uld have never been able to discover the identity of the race putting down those traps, if that is, in fact, what they are, but they've encountered them all over the galaxy, apparently.  They have no idea what they're for, all they know about them is getting stuck in one is NOT a good idea, but given how wide-spread they are and what happened to you  - I'm thinking they're biological containment units.  Holding pens for specimen collection and long term preservation.

Say what?

No seriously, stay with me. Hear me out.  I've had time to think this through.  It makes sense. Say you're an alien biologist who wants to make a random, galaxy-wide sampling of life forms, And you want live specimens. You put out your traps, a lot of them - but you're not sure how often you're going to be able to pop by and collect them. Which means you have a potential preservation problem. Not only do you want your specimens to stay put, but you want them to still be alive when you come and get them. Even if they're going to be in there for years before you can collect them. Therefore, you build the trap/containment unit with that in mind.  Make sure it incorporates certain elements that solve both your problems for you.

Okay?  So?

So whatever it was in the goo putting you to sleep, it wasn't trying to kill you, it was paralyzing you so you'd be easier to collect.  And the 'goo' itself is multipurpose - it's also the specimen jar.  The containment vessel.  Once the specimen goes 'under' it probably acts on it like some kind of stasis field, keeping it alive and protected from any attempts to remove it so once something is in the  'jar' no one can find it and pull it out again.  What do you think?

Can I have an easier question?

Okay, I know it's only a theory, but it fits the facts.  We don't know you would have died if you'd gone all the way under - that's just an assumption. But what Teal'c said, about not being able to 'find' the man who went down before they could get to him…  He doesn't know for sure his man was killed either, only that he wasn't able to get him OUT, once he was all the way in.  That's all we really know for sure.  About what happened to him, I mean.

Keep talking, Daniel.

I'm thinking going under wouldn't have killed you at all, it would have placed you in a state of suspended animation - preserved you until you were collected and this paralysis you're experiencing right now  - it's a temporary side effect of being exposed to the paralyzing agent in the sludge that is part one of the process - subduing the subject quickly not only so it can't escape, but can't injure itself struggling.  The feeling of going to sleep, it got worse when you fought it, right?  What you're going through now didn't happen to the other men - or me for that matter - but we weren't exposed to it as long as you were.  We were pulled right out again almost as soon as we went in.  You - weren't. You were stuck - literally - in the 'capture' stage for a long time, a lot longer then you were supposed to be, half in and half out of the goo trying to put you out while it was pulling you under, so you got an overdose of the paralysing agent.  That's why it's taking such a long time for the effects to wear off.  But they will - they have to. Don't you see - the agent was never intended to have a permanent paralyzing effect, once you went under the goo itself -

That's an assumption, Daniel.  An interesting theory, but -

Sam!  I didn't hear you come in.

Wow!  Me either.

Daniel, I think we should talk.

Sure, Carter, come on in.  Pull up a chair.  Take a load off.  While you're at it, see if you can get Daniel to take five, lie down and crash for a day or two.

You're too late, Sam, the general beat you to it.  We've already had the 'it's time to face facts, Doctor Jackson' chat, but thanks for thinking about me.

Awww Danny, take it easy.  It's going to be okay.  Cut him some slack, okay, Carter?  He didn't mean it. He's not mad at you.  It's just not a good time right now.

Daniel…

Oh God, Sam, I - I'm sorry.  I didn't mean that.  I'm just…it's not a good time right now, General - General Hammond, he just -

Dammit - he's bleeding all over you, Carter!  DO something!  Fuck - FUCK why can't I get out of this FUCKING BED?

I know, Daniel.  He told me. That's why I'm here.

Sam - I -

Shut up and get over here.

THANK you!  It's about time!

I'm sorry.  I shouldn't be doing this - you don't need this right now.

Hey, I wasn't a Boy-Scout but I've come prepared.  Brought lots and lots of Kleenex.  If you can't cry with your friends, who can you cry with?  Here. Have some.

Thanks.  Well, this should just about do me, what are you going to use?

Oh shit, Daniel…

That's it kids, get it out.  Enough of this 'carrying on like a brave soldier' crap.  I'd join ya, but I'm working on my inanimate object impression.  Just about got it down pat.

Look at me!  I'm supposed to be comforting you!  Pretty funny, huh?

I'm not laughing, Sam.  Here.  Blow your nose.

'kay.  I told myself I wasn't going to do this, but I can't help it.  I just can't believe he's gone, Daniel.

Sam, don't say that - please don't say that.  He can hear you.

No, Daniel, he can't - Daniel?  Daniel, please, don't walk away from me.  Listen to me, please, just - just listen.  I know you don't want to hear this, but - Daniel, try to understand.  I'm only thinking about you.  I'm worried - I hate to see you -

Yes, I know, I know.  I know you mean well.  I know you're just thinking about what's best for me, and you're worried about me and last thing you want to do is hurt me.  I know all of that.  I do. That's fine.  Now you listen to me.  Don't worry.  Okay? I know what I'm doing.

Daniel, I just want to help -

Sam, if you really want to help try having a little faith -

Kids, how about you have another hug and drop the subject before someone gets hurt.

Faith?  Oh Daniel, it's a wonderful thought and I really wish it was that easy, but all the faith in the world won't change reality. Believe me, I know.  You've convinced yourself the colonel is going to wake up, because you don't want to face the alternative, but Daniel, it's just not going to happen.  Running away from it - or me  - isn't going to change things.  Yelling at me to have FAITH isn't going to bring the colonel back.

You're wrong, Sam.

I for one certainly hope so.  That faith thing, Daniel?  You keep right on doing it.

Daniel, look at you. I hate to see you DOING this to yourself.  You're so dead on your feet you can hardly stand.  You haven't left this room in nearly two weeks.  You're killing yourself - and for what? I'm telling you, I know, the longer you do this to yourself  -

Carter, give it up, he's not listening, you're just making him mad.

Sam, I mean it - stop right now, or please go.

Back off, Carter. He's been through the wringer enough already.  He doesn't need 'Mom' setting him straight.  For his own good.  Just give him a little time, okay? He'll face facts when he's got no other choice.  Besides, what he just said - he damned well could be right.  It does, it does make a lot of sense.  And he's halfway righter already than any of you for realising my lights are turned on even though it looks like no one's home, so why can't he be right about the rest of it?

And if it's all the same to you, Carter, I'm backing Daniel's horse.  No offence, but in this particular instance I'd much rather he be right than you.  Works out a lot better for me in the long run, you understand.

Hell of a lot better.

Daniel, I'm sorry, I really don't want to hurt you, but SOMEONE has to say this to you.  I know how much you want to believe in this - this fantasy about the colonel -

I'm not crazy, Sam. And I'm not in denial or delusional.  I'm right. Jack IS going to come out of this.  And can we please NOT talk about this any more?  Especially in front of Jack?

No he's NOT Daniel. Why won't you see that? If there was any chance what you want to believe is true we'd have seen SOME indication by now -

Hey, I've been trying to throw Daniel a bone for days but so far, no luck.  Which is a tad depressing, as you can well imagine.

Or then again, maybe not.

Now who's making assumptions?  How can you say that? How can you make an definitive declaration on what is and isn't possible about something you know absolutely NOTHING about!  We have no idea how this thing did what it's done to Jack.  If we don't know what's causing it or how  it's doing it, what's to say it won't just stop doing it - any time?

Kids, kids, calm down. You both sound like you're ready to blow a gasket.  Having a go at each other isn't going to change the fact I can't scratch my nose and I really NEED to. I'll admit on one of my stranger days I had fantasies about the two of you fighting over me but I'll tell ya, it didn't go anything like this.

Daniel, I've been talking to Janet.  She's not as optimistic about the colonel's prognosis as you are.

That's NOT true, she hasn't said ANYTHING like that to me and I'll thank you to not say it in front of Jack as well.

Daniel - it's okay.  I'm a big boy. Carter doesn't mean - she's only trying to help.  She thinks she's doing the right thing. Just like you.

What's she supposed to say, Daniel?  What can ANYONE say to you -

You don't seem to be having any problems!  Okay - okay, sorry.  I'm getting a little…  All right, you want me to face facts, let's have it then.  Did Janet tell you there is absolutely no chance Jack is going to get better?

God, I hope not!

Well, not exactly.

EXACTLY!  Because she doesn't KNOW! And neither do you!

Do you think I like saying this, Daniel?  Do you think I like having to FACE this with you?  I can't help the colonel but -

Don't talk about him like he isn't here!

No kidding.

He isn't, Daniel, he's gone. He's gone - and I think it's long past time you -

You're wrong, Carter. I know you mean well, but the colonel has NOT left the building!

Stop it, Sam, just - stop it!

Daniel, I've been through this before, I know - I want to help you, please, let me help.

Help me?  How is trying to convince me to turn my back on Jack HELPING me?

Dammit! You're not the only one who's lost someone they CARE about, you know!  You're not the only one who's shocked, and grieved, and - and hurting!  You're not the only one who loves him.

Oh boy, this is really getting out of hand.  Daniel, come on, buddy, hear what she's saying.  I know you've been through a lot already, but this is not a good time to throw the empathy thing out the window.

I never said I was.

Oh yeah, well you're sure ACTING that way.

Ouch!  Carter, that was a bit of a low blow.  Now I know you're upset but -

What's THAT supposed to mean?

Oh crap.  The gloves are off. I gotta break this up. Like, NOW. They're gonna be cleaning blood off the walls for days if I don't.

Only it would be a lot easier to - to accept what has happened if you weren't - oh, never mind, forget I even -

No, no, let's NOT forget it.  You obviously have something to say.  Enlighten me.  Please.

Shit!  How hard can it be to wiggle a finger?  Ohhhh GOD!

I can't bear to see you hurting yourself like this.

Hurting myself?  I'm TELLING you…I've TOLD you OVER and OVER he's ALIVE, he's HERE.  GOD!  He's…he's LISTENING to this!  To YOU!  How can you give up on him like this?  Why won't you TRUST me?

Of course I trust you, but you're not thinking RATIONALLY right now, Daniel.

Oh yeah, I was wondering when you were going to get around to THAT!  Here he goes again, being his usual flaky self. Crazy, wacky, illogical, emotional, IRRATIONAL Daniel.

Can't you let him go?  Please.  Just let him go.   HE wouldn't want you to be doing this to yourself for his sake, you know he wouldn't.

Isn't it a little early to be holding the wake, Sam?

Yeah!  What HE said!

All right, get angry with me if it makes you feel better but you ARE going to have to let him go.  I'm sorry for being so blunt but I'm telling you the sooner you accept this, the easier it will be for everyone.

Come on, Jack. You can do it.  Ohhhhh GOD!  Wait a minute, wait a minute….

What the hell are you talking about, Sam?

You've been so - absorbed - you've possibly forgotten you're not the only one being affected by this. And what you do gets noticed.  People respect you here, Daniel. Your opinion carries a lot of weight.  What you're doing right now, it's making it very hard for people to - to -  It would be a lot easier to come to terms with the colonel's loss if you weren't -

Carrying on with my pointless vigil and filling the mountain with my 'fantasy'?  I should just shut up and get with the program so you can all bury him and get on with your lives?  Only one little flaw with your plan - he's not DEAD yet!  And he's not going to die!  He's going to wake up and walk out of here and I WON'T leave him until he does. I'm not going to toss Jack into the trash so YOU can get a little closure!

Omigawd!  I think I actually -  I BLINKED!  DANIEL!

WHAT!

You HEARD me!

This isn't about me!

The HELL it isn't!  You want to give up on Jack and you can't because I keep  being my usual, obstinate, uncooperative self, refusing to see things your way.  Messing up your orderly, explainable universe with all my half-baked notions and unsubstantiated hunches and opinions.  You've been trying to shove your 'it doesn't fit in my little box of facts so it doesn't exist' blinders on me for years.  Well, you know what, not only can you keep them, I'll be more than happy to tell you what you can DO with them!

DANIEL!  For crying out loud, you haven't let go of me for a week and now when I really NEED you to - crap - LOOK at me.  Grab my hand!  SOMETHING!

Maybe - maybe you should just leave now, Sam.  Before I say something I'm really going to regret.

It's a little late for that.  But don't worry, me and my 'blinders' -

"UHHHHHHHHHH!"

"Jack?"

"Colonel?"

"Jack?  Jack!  Can you hear me? Sam, his eyelids are moving, he's trying to - Jack, can you squeeze my hand?  Even a little bit?  Try - just try."

"Omigod!  His finger twitched.  I saw it.  You were right, Daniel, you were right. All this time - I'm so sorry.  Colonel - Colonel can you hear us?"

"Unnnnn HMMMMM!"

"He's squeezing my hand.  I can feel it."

"I'll - I'll get Janet!"

"Oh Jack, Jack, I KNEW you'd beat this."

Yeah, you did, Daniel.  You sure did.  Now if only I can get my eyes open and keep them -

"Hey."

"Hey yourself, Colonel. Good to see you."

Ditto.

 


 

"Okay Jack, here we go.  Open up."

Woo hoo, look mom, I'm sitting up. No hands.  Call the media.  I'd do it myself but the dialling the phone thing?  Could be a problem. I'm coming out of lumpsville, but getting all of me back online isn't proving to be quite as rapid a process being veggified.  Oh well, at least I'm not drooling and falling over onto my face if Daniel lets go of me. I can sit up on my own, move everything okay, just not very well.  I'm not even close to co-ordinated enough to feed myself yet, hence my current requirement for a little hand to mouth assistance.

Which isn't quite as much fun as mouth to mouth, but given where we are at the moment, that's not something Daniel can do for me.  So I guess I'm going to have to settle for his spoon-wielding services.

And there he is, my hero - and trust me, I mean that - Daniel, red-eyed, wrung out and in serious need of sleep, not to mention a shave.  He's a sight, and you know what, he's never looked better.  He hasn't budged since I opened my eyes yesterday, been with me every second.  As good as his word and then some.

I know I'll probably hate myself for this but he looks like he needs to lighten up a bit.  I'm being considerate.  Really.  Never mind: it'll be fun.

Hey, you try lying around in a bed listening to your hair grow. BOR-RING!

I peer at the spoon headed my way and flip Daniel a disapproving look. "Wait a minute - wait a minute.  What the hell is that?  I'm not eating that!"

"Why not?" he returns, looking genuinely surprised at my reticence. And not nearly annoyed enough.   "It's plain, old ordinary stew.  You've eaten it hundreds of times.  Stop being such a baby - "

"Hey!  Nice thing to say to a guy getting spoon-fed!" I complain as Daniel heaves a weary sigh.

I'm SORRY," he grates.  "I didn't mean - "

"Eww - what are those orange things?"  I sniff.

"I believe they're carrots, Jack," Daniel replies, squinting at me with marked dislike.  I'm getting a warm, happy glow inside.   "You know, long orange things, grow under ground?  Bugs Bunny is very fond of them."

"I don't like the looks of them.   Get them out."

Daniel stiffens up with indignation and the disdain on his face is a joy to behold. I can't help it; I just LOVE it when he gets pissy with me.  I can't do anything else I want to him right now, but I sure can wind him up.

Yeah, I still got it.

"Jack, I'm not picking all the carrots out of your stew," he informs me sternly.  " I'm not picking ANYTHING out of your stew.  As a matter of fact if you don't cut the crap and start eating you're going to be WEARING your stew."

Oh YEAH!  Promise?

"Geez!  Grum-PY!" I gloat.  " I don't think I like your attitude.   Threatening the patients.  I'll be reporting you to the staff."

"Good LUCK getting one to come near you!" he snorts. "Ever since you opened your eyes you've done nothing but complain.  They've washed their hands of you."

His mouth is still telling me off but his eyes are softly glowing with that special light only I get to see.  He gets the game.  Has just as much fun playing.

"I notice you're still here," I say quietly.  What I don't say - and I don't know where I'd be if you weren't - loudly implicit between us.  Perfectly understood.

"I have a congenital heart defect," he mutters sourly.

"What?"

"Soft spot in it," he tells me with a crooked grin.  " For you.  Goes with the one in my head."

"I wasn't going to say anything," I grin back at him.

"Thank you.  Now, can we get back to - "

"Yeah, yeah, whatever," I wave away the rest of his sentence. Can't do much else with the hand but I can flap it around. I've lived down to his expectations enough.  Beside, I'm starting to get hungry.  " Gimme."

We're halfway through the bowl, carrots and all when Ferretti pokes his head through the curtain.  "Knock, knock!"  he says with a grin.  "Hey Colonel!  We just got back and heard the good news.  Thought I'd check it out for myself."

"Yep," I reply around the mouthful I'm still working on.  "The rumours of my resemblance to a head of lettuce are greatly exaggerated."

"Oh, I don't know about that," Daniel smirks.   I ignore him. For the moment.

Ferretti stifles a snort and shakes his head.  "Anyway, I just wanted to stop by and see how you were.  Can't stay - gotta - " he fingers his mud-spattered BDUs " - you know."

"Thanks for thinking about me." I manage a little wave.  "Stop in again some time and do me a favour.  Tell the rest of my fan club they're more than welcome to darken my door.  I could use a change of pace.  The company here - " I pause and make a face at Daniel " - is presently leaving a lot to be desired."

Ferretti flashes Daniel a sympathetic look.  "Handful, is he, Doc?"

"Ferretti, you have NO idea," Daniel replies with a perfectly straight face.

 

On to Part Two

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Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate Productions, Sci Fi Channel, Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. These stories are for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. These stories may not be posted elsewhere without the consent of the author. Copyright on images remains with the above named rightsholders.
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