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

HIDE AND SEEK BY PHOENIX E

Part One


Slash:  Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.
Rating: NC-17.
Category: First Time.  Angst.  Hurt/Comfort.  Action/Adventure.  Drama.
Season/Spoilers: Season 3.  Enormous spoilers for FIAD, Legacy, Holiday.
Synopsis: A day in paradise suddenly turns into a nightmare as Jack struggles to save Daniel from an evil influence from his past.
Warnings: Violence, intense emotional situations.
Length:  510  Kb Gen version completed Spring 2000.  Slash version completed and posted to net 24 Mar 01

Notes:  Woo Hoo.  This story has an interesting history.  It's the last 'Gen' story I wrote before taking the slash fork in the road.  It was intended for and promised to Gateways 3 - where it ended up in its original incarnation, however during the course of writing it I realized it didn't want to BE a Gen story.  Most emphatically not.  I spent most of the story yelling at the boys to behave and basically forcing it to be something it didn't want to be.  I've never been happy with it as a result.  So I'm fixing it.  The Gen version will stay as it is, and I'm leaving it to Gateways.  You really want to read it you'll have to buy the zine.  This version is substantially rewritten, expanded and I've let the boys go to do what they wanted to do in the first place.  And then some.  Woo.  True love will out  What can I tell you.  Thanks to Biblio for her assitance on the slash version, the suggestions, catching my boo-boos and ceaselessly nagging me to get Daniel naked ASAP.


 

Jack swore up, down and sideways if it was the very last thing he ever did, he was going to get that giggling geek out of the tree, and then, he was going to kill him.

Very, very slowly.

Then he was going to find a sarcophagus.

Bring him back to life.

And kill him again.

Ah - it still wouldn’t be enough!

Jack found it hard to believe just a few short hours ago he'd been having such a wonderful time.  The Stargate had for once deposited them in a veritable paradise adrift in a languidly green, tropical sea.  A large, lush volcanic island lousy with a fantastic abundance of greenery, not unlike the kind one would find on a similar South Sea location back on ole Terra Cognita.  Which would have been pleasant enough all on its own, but what made everything even more agreeable were the serene and friendly little brown people frolicking all over the place.  They didn’t wear a lot apart from the tan, but they sure knew how to say hello!

It had been a hell of an afternoon.  SG-1 had sauntered through the Stargate and the second their feet hit the sand they were greeted by a mob of wide, smiling faces and a host of welcoming arms.  They were summarily hugged, flower bedecked, pinched, patted and enthusiastically hauled into the midst of a party already in progress showing no signs of letting up any time soon. Jack didn’t know what the hell the natives were celebrating, but they were having a high time of it and didn't seem to have any problems with making room for four more.  

Well, what the hell, when in Rome…

Jack found himself deposited on the ground in front of an array of rather appetzing-looking eatables seeming to stretch on forever.  He felt slightly bemused, definitely overwhelmed and very much as if he'd just been dropped onto the set of Blue Hawaii. Warm tropical sun beating down, lightly toasting without roasting; invigorating sea breeze filling his nostrils with a refreshing, salty, ocean tang.  Picturesque clearing with a suitable jungle backdrop, the collection of little grass shacks behind him, the food for the big luau scene in front of him and a bevy of smiling native extras all around him.  And all over him.  Whoa! If the luscious little thing plastered to his right side blew in his ear one more time he was going to have to soak his head.  Or something.

Mind you, the fact she looked young enough to be his daughter helped him put the whole thing in a little more realistic perspective.

Jack allowed himself to relax. Surrounded by so much obvious good will and with no immediate evidence of anything about cast a cloud over all the happy sharing, well, why the hell not just kick back and go with the flow?  What was the harm in a little good, clean fun?   He didn’t often have an opportunity to bask in the warm glow of paradise, and having learned long ago to take whatever he could get whenever it came around, he did his level best to get completely into the spirit of things.  An attitude apparently shared by some, but not all of his companions.

Jack cast his gaze across the sea of fruit and other eatables stretching between him and the two members of SG-1 camping on the opposite shore. Teal’c was sitting gravely sandwiched between two lovely ladies who had draped themselves around him on either side. An inscrutable Jaffa thorn between two luscious tropical roses. As his Jaffa brother sat solemnly, straight-backed and cross-armed, he alternately favoured each of young ladies flanking him and frankly fondling with deeply contemplative glances.  Jack allowed a wide grin to possess his face as he took in the sight, itching to know what was going on in Teal'c's head.

Wow!  Make it so, or what? Teal’c suddenly looked across at him, acknowledging Jack's inquisitive leer with his characteristic raised eyebrow.

“It would appear these are a very friendly people, O’Neill,” the Jaffa observed with solemn correctness.

“Ya think?”  Jack shot back at him.  “Got a problem with that?”

Teal’c considered his response for a minute.

“I am not accustomed to it,” he finally replied.  “However, it is not unpleasant.”

Teal’c old buddy, there’s hope for you yet!

Jack flashed him a grin clearly saying, Enjoy, and turned his attention to Carter.

Hmm, no going with the flow, here.  The major was clearly NOT having as good a time with being downright 'appreciated' as Teal'c. She was looking extremely unsettled by the attention being lavished upon her by some obviously adoring male members of the assemblage. Half-naked and well muscled to boot. Jack only barely managed to resist the impulse to flex a compensatory bicep. Not that he was suddenly feeling threatened or anything by all the young bucks clustering around Carter and obviously - displaying.  Leastwise not nearly as threatened as Carter was by all the enthusiastic attention.  She was smiling with decided strain at the young, bronze Adonis making a fascinated examination of several strands of her blonde hair, while grimly attempting to ignore the ardent admirer on her other side taking happy possession of her hand and looking very much as if he wouldn’t mind handling quite a bit more.  She realised her CO was smirking at her and hurled a not-too-subtle Help me! expression his way.

The warm sunshine and warm feelings were making Jack feel rather generous, so he opted against teasing the crap out of her and slightly tempered his response.  “Relax, Major,” he said in a reassuring tone.  “All this might seem a bit weird, but from what I can see, it's just their way. Naturally friendly. They don’t mean any harm.  Mind you, I might be careful about eating anything anybody offers you.  You don’t want to get accidentally married or anything.”

Sam made an ‘oh, that’s SO helpful’ face at him.

“Seems to me you would know more about that than anyone else here, Sir,” she replied with more than a gleam in her eye, shifting her gaze to the woman at his side.  “By the way, your cap looks very nice on her, Colonel.  Better hope THAT doesn’t mean anything.”

“Uh...” Jack replied hastily, as he reached over and quickly snatched his cap back.  So THAT’S where the darned thing had gotten to.  Had any other pieces of his kit gone missing?  He probably should go hunting for his brains, for starters.  

Hoo-Ha, time to start acting like he knew what he was doing.

“So, Daniel,” Jack quipped, being loudly cheerful as he elbowed the man at his side.  “Any strange cultural thingees we should know about?  Daniel?”

Jack had been dreading this moment.  The whole time they'd been here he'd deliberately avoided looking at the far too quiet and much too quiescent man beside him. Jack didn't want to look at Daniel because he didn't want to see him the way he knew he was going to be, still so sad, and still so far away, for all he was sitting right next to him.

Daniel hadn't heard him; he was in the place he now ran to every moment he was free to.  The dark, solitary inner sanctuary he hid in, keeping everyone else outside and very far away. Jack tried not to choke on the knot of concern welling up in his throat as he sorrowfully took in the man close to him and yet worlds away.  Not right, Danny looking like that in the middle of all of this.  So not right, and yet, there he was.  Oblivious.  Not seeing, not caring, unaware of anything going on around him.

So much for his hopes bringing Daniel here would make him feel better.

 Daniel's long legs were tucked tightly into his chest, arms hugging them fiercely, his chin resting heavily on his drawn up knees. His distant, empty eyes glowering darkly in his tight face, looking piercingly at something only he could see. Jack could feel the wall around Daniel as tangibly as if it was made of five-foot thick concrete. So, apparently, could the little brown guys and gals.  They milled around the rest of them with quite endearing and innocent curiosity, physically exploring the members of SG-1 with unconcerned and somewhat disconcerting abandon.  All of them except for Danny-with-the-thunderclouds-on-his-brow.  Daniel was getting as cold a shoulder from their hosts as he was giving them.

Crap.  What’s wrong with this picture?

Jack's heart tumbled down into his boots, his simple contentment in the warmth and happiness around him instantly soured by the sight of his friend’s obvious, continuing unhappiness.  He'd really been hoping the infectious, almost aggressive hospitality of the folks here would get through to Daniel and snap him out of this - funk - he was in. More than hoping, it was the reason Jack had asked for this mission in the first place.  This 'going native' stuff wasn't really his thing, but it was most definitely Daniel's. Of all of them, Daniel should be enjoying this the most.  This was the sort of thing he lived for. 

Correction.  Used to. Used to live for. When he used to be Daniel. Before he started changing.

Jack felt harsh, cold sorrow clutch him as he stared mournfully at the distant, glowering stranger at his side. God, but he missed Daniel. The Daniel he used to know before it happened and all the good in both their lives started going bad.  It would have been utterly impossible for the Daniel of happier days to be in the middle of this raucous native free-for-all without instantly jumping up and joining in.  No matter how wild or strange, whatever weird-ass dance or ritual going on; Daniel was your man.  The original 'try anything once' kid. He'd be right in there like your proverbial dirty shirt, just one of the guys in the war paint, the beads and the feathers or what the hell else the well-dressed native was barely wearing this week, whooping it up, dancing up a storm, running around in circles, getting roaring drunk on a thimble-full of the local version of moonshine, full of life, his eyes shining.  

A joy to behold.

Not sitting there like he was now, staring, a dead-eyed, emotionless shadow of his former self.  Becoming even more of a shadow with each passing day.  Starting with the day he'd stood and watched stone-faced while they put Sha'uri into the ground. Then he'd turned his back on her grave and started walking away from her, from everyone who loved him, and from himself.

Daniel had already traveled so far from what he once was, Jack was beginning to fear his friend would never be able to find his way back.

It had been a slow, insidious journey.  Terrible to watch, impossible to prevent.  Not that he hadn't tried.  Jack understood grief, only too well. He'd tried to reach out to Daniel, tried to lend a hand, only to have Daniel turn his back and walk away from every single offer. During the months since Sha'uri's death Jack had watched helplessly as Daniel slipped away.  Little by little, piece by piece, Daniel was disappearing, everything making him 'Daniel' seeming to slide from him and vanish into blackness. Daniel was leaving him in agonizing increments and what was worse, Daniel didn't seem to care.  Didn't care it was happening, didn't care he was vanishing, couldn't be bothered making the effort to stop the slow slide.  There was such a thing as willing yourself to die.  Jack was watching Daniel do it before his very eyes, and there didn’t seem to be a damned thing he could do to stop it.

Sha'uri was gone, and she was taking Daniel with her. He'd pinned all his hopes on finding her and now she was dead he had a big hole in the middle of his life where his hope for her used to be.  Daniel had never come out and said he was giving up - Daniel never talked to anyone about anything going on with him any more - but he certainly was acting like someone who'd decided they had nothing left to live for.  It wasn't true, but if that was the way Daniel felt - now Sha'uri was gone he was all alone because there was no one else around who cared about him - whose fault was that?

Whose fault, Jack?  Okay, maybe Daniel had turned his back and walked, but who had let him?  Who'd taken no for an answer, secretly relieved to be turned down because that meant he didn't have - have to - well he just didn't have to.  Who'd let Daniel walk away counting on the guy's demonstrated talent for coping with his own crap all by himself, waiting confidently for him to get over it on his own and get back to being Daniel.

It hadn't happened.  It wasn't happening.  Daniel was steadily drowning in a sea of his own grief, right before his eyes.  The proof was sitting beside him, not staring him right in the face.

Nothing left to live for, Danny? I've been there too, my friend.  Was going to take the same way out, as well.  Only I was going to do it the fast and easy way.  Bullet to the brain.  Not the way you've chosen.  Killing yourself by inches.  But it's the same thing, Danny, same damned thing.  And it's not right.  I know that now, and guess who taught me.  You did.  Time to repay the favour.  I've let this go on long enough. You've shut me out, and I've let you. What's even worse, I haven't given you what you've most needed from me.  You do have something to live for, Daniel.  Maybe I haven't had the guts to let you know, but I'll be damned if I'll let you leave me.  And I'll be damned if I let her take you away from me again.  Not without a fight.

Jack mustered his determination and nudged Daniel again. This time he was going to get an answer if he had to shake Daniel stupid until he acknowledged him “Danny!”  he began loudly.  “Throw me a clue, here.  What’s going on?  Do you know what these guys are saying?”

Daniel started guiltily and swiftly turned to look at Jack, veiling the embarrassment in his eyes as he began speaking.  “I’m sorry, Jack,” he mumbled.  “I was - was - I was thinking.  What did you say?”

Jack gave him an ‘it happens, no big deal’ shrug.  “We’ve been having a wonderful time, language barrier and all, but I was wondering if you could - “

“Do my job, perhaps?”  Daniel sighed resignedly.  “For a change?”

“Hey!”  Jack’s rejoinder was only mildly indignant.  He absolutely, positively did NOT want to start a fight with Daniel.  Not now, not again.  Too much of that.  Enough of that. He wanted Daniel to talk to him, not get his back up and get all defensive because he thought Colonel O'Neill was putting him down.  Again.

“Don’t put words in my mouth, Daniel.  I did NOT say that.  And I didn’t imply it, either.”

The blue eyes meeting his were tired, sad, and far too old.  They were also really open and searching, for the first time in a long time.  Contact?  Looking at him, seeing - Jack hoped - concern, not condemnation. Seeing a friend, someone who missed him, cared about him, someone who -

Daniel lowered his head and started speaking again.

“I know you didn’t say it, but maybe you should have.  Maybe you also should take me somewhere and spend several hours pounding some sense into me.”

"Well, okay, if that's what you really want," Jack teased lightly as he gently punched Daniel's arm.  "But I'd be just as happy settling for talking, how about you?"

Oh, he was liking the sound of this.  This was starting to sound like the Daniel he used to know. He was liking it even better when Daniel looked up at him again, grinned ruefully and said quietly, "Talking is good."

Oh yeah, Danny, talking is great.  Talk to me.  Keep talking to me.

Daniel's wide, blue eyes were clearer than Jack had seen them for longer than he could remember.  Alert, aware, looking deep into his, as if he was needing something.  Needing it bad.

“You were asking me if I could understand what they are saying," Daniel began slowly, a slight crease of concentration beginning to furrow his brow.   "Not a whole lot, I’m afraid.  I was always a little weak on my Polynesian studies.  Not one of my major areas of interest.”

Jack had a light quip ready on the tip of his tongue, but held it back as the evidence of Daniel's growing engagement not only with him but also with everything going on around them had Jack holding his breath in heady anticipation.  Jack hovered between hope and disappointment as Daniel looked intently first at him, and then carefully all around them.  As if he was finally waking up and joining them after a long sleep.

"Jack?"  Daniel asked softly, as he licked his lower lip before gnawing it worriedly between his teeth.  "Uh - where are we?"

"Excuse me?" Jack blurted out, totally bewildered by the question.  "What are you talking about, where are we?  Same damned place we've been all afternoon - where the hell have you been?"

"That's a good question, Jack," Daniel replied, real fear glinting briefly in his eyes as he turned to the man beside him seeking from him an explanation obviously desperately needed.  "I wish I knew."

Crap, Daniel MEANT it, he wasn't kidding.  He really didn't know, he was scared because he didn't know and Jack realised he was feeling a little spooked himself as a result.  This was getting creepy, but before anybody panicked and started making an already spooky situation worse  -

Too late.

Daniel's abrupt, harsh gasp cut through Jack, startling him.  Daniel sat frozen in shock, staring straight ahead, his mouth agape.  Wide, disbelieving eyes skimmed over the heads of the people seated on the other side of the spread, becoming riveted on something making Daniel go whiter than a sheet and causing him to completely forget to breathe. Jack hurriedly looked around, following along Daniel's line of sight, trying to see what it was making Daniel act like he'd just seen a ghost.

Oh.  Geez Louise.  Funny he should mention ghosts, 'cause unless he was very much mistaken the woman standing next to the that tall guy with all the feathers and beads and even taller head-dress definitely qualified as one.  A ghost, that is.  Holy crap, what the hell was this?  A couple of hours in the sun and he was seeing things?

He was looking at a ghost.  Funny, he'd always heard they were thin and wispy and floated around dragging chains and moaning and stuff, they didn't stand there looking as firm and solid as everyone else, like they were flesh and blood and breathing, and maybe he should just stop looking at her now, 'cause he was starting to get really freaked and he had to get his head back on straight and…logical, think logic. There had to be a logical explanation for what he was seeing.  No such thing as ghosts.  Dead.  She was dead.  He'd helped put her in the ground.  Then how come she was standing over there - looking right back at him? 

OW!  What was that? Pain, he was feeling pain, clutching fingers biting into the flesh of his forearm, someone had a grip on him, going to be drawing blood in a minute if they didn't ease off. God, he hoped he wasn't seeing what he thought he was seeing because if he was, that would mean…

“Sha’uri?”  Daniel sobbed almost inaudibly, his voice quavering with  horrible hope and disbelief.

So much for thinking this was all a trick of the light or a weird vision brought on by some local moonshine he hadn't even tried yet.  Sha'uri was standing over there, large as life - pardon the expression -  he was seeing her, and so was Daniel.  Sonofabitch!  Well, he'd been wanting to try and get back some more quality time with his friend, but joint hallucinations didn't make his wish-list of things he wanted to share with Daniel.  But there ya go.

Jack knew the precise moment Daniel was going to up and bolt toward her and already had his hand on Daniel's shoulder, pushing him back down before he'd barely started to move.  No matter who they both thought they were seeing, Sha’uri was dead.  Dead and buried.  No doubt about.  It didn't mean squat who she looked like, there was no way that gal over yonder COULD be Sha'uri, so until he found out what was going on here he was not about to let Daniel go running off half-cocked, flinging himself at who knows who or what she was. Jack didn't believe in ghosts, but he'd also seen enough in the time they'd been going through the gate to know there were any number of possible explanations for what they were seeing, none of them involving anything supernatural, but possibly involving stuff they wanted no part of all the same.

Jack didn't want to have anything to do with 'ghosts'; didn't want to see one, didn't want to have a chat with one and certainly didn't want anyone on his team becoming one.

"Let me go, Jack!"  Daniel bristled angrily, trying to twist out from under the hand clamped on his shoulder.  "Look - are you blind!  It's Sha'uri!  She's standing right there, Jack, I have to - LET ME GO!"

"No way, Dannyboy," Jack shook his head and hung on stubbornly.  "Just because she looks like Sha'uri doesn't mean she is.  She CAN'T be - you know that.  Calm down, now, buddy, stay with me.  Let's not rush into anything we both might not live to regret."

Warning bells were going off in Jack's head so loudly he could hear the strident clanging plainly over the rising level of noise and confusion suddenly erupting all around them as if cued by 'Sha'uri's' appearance.  He tried to catch Sam and Teal'c's attention, but all of a sudden the natives were clustering around them, drawing their focus.  Shielding them from his sight.  He couldn't see them and they couldn't see what was happening, didn't realise who was standing behind them.

The guy with the feathers had noticed them staring bug-eyed at the Shau'ri wannabe beside him and turned to have a look at her too.  He immediately started jumping around and howling - Jack couldn't help it, he had to say it -  like he'd just seen a ghost, waving this big horking rattle he was holding first at 'Sha'uri', who completely ignored him, and then at both of them.  No, that was wrong.  Not both of them. Mostly Danny.  He was yelling and waving the rattle at Danny.  Really yelling and developing an alarmingly major attitude problem.  The dude was getting extremely pissed.  Rapidly. At Daniel.  

Crap, here we go again, and for once it wasn't even anything Daniel had said.

The feathered dude stopped yelling and shaking the rattle and started staring.  He had eyes like lasers and he was using them to sear Daniel to the bone.  Daniel flinched as if he could feel the beams going right through him and shrunk up against Jack like he was suddenly in pain.  Or scared.  The Boogie Man made a strange, grunting sound then turned the evil eye on Jack. An eerie, tingling feeling raked over and through him.  Daniel was pressed up to him, tight, shuddering, clutching at him, touching, holding.  Jack felt weird, hot, his head was spinning in lazy circles, his clothes were irritating his skin, itchy, scratchy, he wanted to - Daniel was so close, almost close enough to…to…

What the hell was going on?  Jack shook his head vigorously to get rid of all the weirdness in it.  He was appalled to discover he had his arms around Daniel, was holding him tightly clasped to him, almost in his frigging lap!  His head was lowered, Daniel's head was resting in the crook of his arm, they were frigging close enough to - to -  

No WAY!

With a huge gulp Jack let Daniel go and pushed him clumsily, roughly away with the fierce force of his embarrassment. He hadn't actually meant the move to be that emphatic, but they'd both needed some distance pronto, and besides, Daniel knew it was nothing personal.  Daniel's cheeks were flaming; he was breathing heavy and wouldn't meet his eye.  Crap.  Daniel was just as freaked.  Jack didn't know what had come over the two of them, but he'd snapped them both out of it in time.  No problem.

The Boogie Man huffed at them again as if what he was seeing wasn't much to his liking, then he suddenly opened his mouth and howled like someone was slicing vital body parts off. Still shrieking he shook his fist at them and then snapped his wrist violently like he was flinging a handful of something right into their faces. Jack blinked reflexively at the unmistakable sensation of something gritty striking his face and eyes.  Daniel flinched and threw his arm up defensively across his face at the same time. Okay, this was way too much like twilight zone time for him.  Definitely not cool.

Jack swiped his fingers across his face to clear the phantom grit out of his eyes.  His danger meter had been screaming 'Will Robinson' for the past few minutes.  This had gone way past creepy and was rapidly heading into scary. Time to go now.  All the spooky special effects aside, the Boogie Man's behaviour was now well off the acceptable scale. Jack had no idea what the Feathered Wonder's problem was, but whatever he was on about, it was major, and it seemed to be mostly about Daniel. That was simply tragic, but Jack remembered he'd forgotten to pack his empathy before leaving the house this morning.  Boogie was just going to have to find a way to live with his issues, 'cause Jack had no intention of letting him explore them at Daniel's expense.

Whoops - man on the move, here! Boogie was coming right at them, stalking around the banquet on the ground, barking orders, shaking the rattle, jingling and jangling rapidly in their direction, never taking his eyes off Daniel.  The pool of brown inhabitants parted like the Red Sea before him. People scurried to get out of his way like shit-scared bunnies hot to be doing what he was yelling at them to be doing.  Wait - where was the woman who had been right beside him?  The one who looked like Sha’uri? Where did she go?  One second she had been right - there.  Then - poof.

He really hated it when that happened.

“Colonel?”

Carter.  He couldn't see her behind the bronze wall of writhing bodies suddenly forming around both her and Teal'c, but he could tell from the terse urgency in her voice she'd picked up on the new scent of danger wafting in on the formerly calming sea breeze.  She sounded like she was ready for action and waiting for his lead.  He didn’t need to see Teal'c to know he was likewise.

“Okay kids,” he called across to them in a calm, conversational tone.  Nothing to worry about, guys, go on with your dancing, just talking to my friends, asking them about the weather, no big deal, pay no attention.  “I think it's time to go, don't you?  Let’s see if we can get up nice and easy and make our way back to the Stargate without anybody getting hurt.  Especially us.”

Jack had his hand firmly wrapped around Daniel’s upper arm, meaning to pull the archaeologist up with him as he got to his feet. As it was, their hosts had other ideas about any of them getting to leave quietly.  Or at all.

Ah crap, this wasn’t part of the plan!  About the same time as Carter and Teal’c were being grabbed and hauled to their feet Jack felt very strong hands on his own arms being equally helpful. They held him helpless, unable to do a damned thing but watch his teammates being quickly and efficiently divested of their gear.  While they stripped him down to his T-shirt in turn he did a quick visual check to the left, knowing what he would see.  Yup, Danny in the bag as well.  Shit!  How had he let this happen?  Stone knives and bearskins, and they had gotten the drop on them all the same. Way to go, O’Neill.

Well, that was what he got for forgetting there was no such thing as paradise!

He was about to try to yell something across at Carter and Teal’c when both he and Daniel were roughly turned around and dragged away, apparently in order to be offered up to the Boogie Man still huffing and puffing and jingling his way toward them.  Who was not only the one with the worst taste in accessories but also seemed to be the guy in charge around here.

“Daniel?”  Jack called across to the man by his side, trying to project a little moral support.  Daniel was in the clutches of four burly guys who were being none-too-gentle with him.  They'd pinioned Daniel's arms roughly behind his back and were man-handling him over to Boogie, who was glaring fixedly and fiercely at Daniel in a way making Jack want to do a little glaring of his own.  Followed by severe pounding and very possibly killing. Make that definitely killing.  Boogie was glaring and screaming and waving the rattle at Daniel.  Jack was itching to make the creep eat it, but seeing as how he had problems of his own in the shape of several bozos holding on to him, thinking unkind thoughts was about all he could manage at the moment.

Christ, the bastards were strong!

“I’m guessing this is the shaman,” Daniel began uncertainly, blinking rapidly as if he was deeply confused. He wasn't the only one.  “Tribal…medicine man, kahuna - no that’s a Hawaiian term sorry, hard to concentrate, can’t think of the -“

“It’s okay, Daniel, I get it," Jack supplied quickly.  "Witch Doctor, right?”  No need for Daniel to waste time and energy on stuff that didn't matter right now.  Calling the guy 'Creep' worked fine for him; all he wanted to know was how to make these other creeps let go of them!

Daniel frowned unhappily.  “Well, that is a little more of a colloquial term than I was going for but -“

“Daniel, it’s okay.  I don’t care what we call him.  Let’s just focus on trying to find out what the hell is going on. Any clues what his problem is – shit! Ow!  Watch it!  I bruise easy!”

The feathered man was shaking the rattle at Daniel’s head. Jabbing the thing all around him, and then right into his face, making oogie boogie noises the whole time.  The closer Boogie got with the thing, the more freaked Daniel seemed to be getting. He started to struggle against the men holding him, trying to duck his head back and out of the way of the in-yer-face rattle attack.  But the Boogie Man was pretty good.  It didn't matter how hard Daniel tried to evade the jabs to his face, no matter which way he turned - wham!  There the creep was with the rattle. Watching the weird, menacing interaction between Daniel and the tormenting bauble on a stick was almost fascinating, There was even a strange rhythm to it; duck - thrust, bob- thrust, dip - parry, but this wasn't a game, certainly wasn't a joke. Boogie wasn't kidding and Daniel definitely wasn’t having a good time.  He was just about ready to jump out of his freaking skin and Boogied looked like he wasn't too far from giving him a helping hand.

"Hey!" Jack shouted at the witch doctor, trying to get his attention.  Anything to get it off Daniel, even for a second.  To give Daniel a chance to catch his breath, regain his composure, so he could do his stuff, talk to the guy and hopefully get them out of this mess.   This trying to make nice with the natives - communicating, finding common ground - this was Daniel's department.  The guy had as much of a gift for getting people to open up and talk to him as he did for pissing them off. Strange but true.  Right now they needed the former to be happening in place of the latter.  They needed to know what was going on and if they had any hope of fixing it before things went from bad to worse.

The problem was, Daniel didn't look like he was in any shape to be having any meaningful dialogues at the moment.  So even though communicating wasn't exactly Jack's forte…

"Hey!"  Jack yelled again, louder this time.  "I'm the leader!  You've got problems with us, I'm the one you should be talking to!"

Or not.  Crap!

The Boogie Man completely ignored him and grabbed Daniel's chin so hard his fingers started to turn white from the pressure, holding Daniel so he couldn’t move his head at all.  He started banging Daniel on the head with the damned rattle and shrieking right into his face.  The whole thing looked so absurd Jack almost burst out laughing, but Daniel's evident, growing terror was anything but funny.  Or anything like Daniel, even.  It didn't make sense.  Nothing that was happening made sense.  Jack had watched Daniel sneer at System Lords and not blink, the guy did NOT scare easy.  And yet some feathered clown beating him about the head with a kid's toy had Daniel so scared he was just this side shy of needing a change of underwear.

Panicking.  Daniel was panicking.  Daniel didn't panic.  He didn't.  He just - didn't.  That was like saying Daniel would turn tail in a crisis situation and run out on them. He wouldn't do that either.  Not in a million years.

What in the hell was going on here?

“JACK!”

Okay, he’d had just about enough of this. This was NOT fun, it wasn't making any sense, it was his fault it was happening, and they'd sort the whole thing out once they got home.   Daniel was scared, he was pissed - it was time to go. It was a long shot, but maybe with all the attention focused on the pair of them Carter and Teal'c were having better luck.

“Carter!  Teal’c!”  He hurled the call for help behind him, hoping they were in a better position than he was to come to Daniel’s aid.

“Here, Colonel.”  That was Carter's voice, behind him.  A fair distance behind him. “Are you okay?  We can’t see you.”

“Just peachy, Major!” he snarled, not at her, but at the dashing of his hopes.  “And you?”

“We’re okay, sir.  They’re not hurting us, just seem to be holding us.  Teal’c is tied up, but my hands are free.”

“I don’t suppose there is any chance you can get to a WEAPON?”

“No chance, sir, that I can see.  For the moment.”  Carter’s deliberate emphasis of the last phrase was not lost on him.

“Hold that thought, Major!” he bellowed back. “Stay frosty, and grab the first opening you can.  Your first priority is to get back to the gate and get back-up.  I don't want to start shooting these people, especially if this is a simple misunderstanding we can settle another way, but we're badly outnumbered, here."

"We'd noticed, sir," Carter shouted back, her voice getting farther away.  "We won't let you down, Colonel!"

Here's hoping, Carter.

“How ya holding up, Danny?”  Jack turned his attention back to his friend.  The witch doctor had stopped hitting him on the head while he and Carter had been chatting but he was still holding Daniel's chin so tightly it was starting to bruise.

Daniel slid his eyes toward him, unable to look at him any other way.  A sharp, harsh bark of laugher leapt from his chest.  “I feel strange.  I'm scared, I’m so scared - I don’t understand, Jack - I don’t know why this guy is making me feel so scared! What’s happening Jack?  Ahhhhh!”

An involuntary cry of pain escaped Daniel as the shaman violently wrenched his face away, breaking the eye contact between them.

“Hey!”  Jack roared.  “Cut that out!  What’s your damned problem?  Why don’t you pick on somebody in your own species, ya CREEP!”

Aha!  Finally!  THAT got his attention! Boogie suddenly let go of Daniel, then turned and looked Jack up and down, taking his time as he sized him up.  He looked back at Daniel and then at Jack again, as if making up his mind about something.  Then he nodded, gobbled at the bozo brigade and next thing Jack knew he and Daniel were stumbling off together, going for a walk in the wake of the wacko.

Whether they wanted to or not.  "Hey, Daniel!"  Jack called across to the man being similarly forced to follow the witch doctor.  Jack didn't bother trying to fight the hands holding him. There wasn't any point; the guys were way too strong.  He called out to Daniel again, trying to reach out to his friend with his voice even though there was no way he could actually touch him.

Daniel wouldn't look at him.  Jack couldn't tell if he was even hearing him.  Daniel seemed to be buried down deep in himself again, barely aware of or reacting to the rough, aggressive hands pushing him mercilessly onward.  He was dumbly submitting to what was happening, giving no outward indication he was aware of his situation, or if he even gave a damn.  About either himself, or his partner in peril.  Daniel looked like he'd given up.

Jack couldn't get over it.  Couldn't - wouldn't believe it.  Give up?  Daniel NEVER gave up.  Never.  This was so not Daniel.  He just was not seeing this.  Not, not - oh hello, end of the line?  What have we here now?

Boogie stopped the parade in front of a little mat on the ground with a bunch of stuff already on laid out on it.  Jack quickly scanned the collection.  What he saw didn't make him any the wiser for the effort.  An assortment of powders and dried grass and leaves in hollowed out gourds, some bundles of leaves tied together, a couple of crystals, wooden bowls with water in them.  So far, confusing, but nothing to get his shorts in a knot over.  Oh wait - spoke too soon!  Definite blip registering on the danger meter. Long, slender, obsidian shard jammed into a bone handle, the shard with obviously laboriously worked, shaped, very razor-sharp edges.  This was a knife.  Definitely a knife.

A knife.  Oh shit!

Now he was worried.  Definitely worried.  A quick glance at Daniel's vacant, staring face told him he seemed to be the only one.  Crap!  Get with it, Daniel!  Jack didn't want to get angry with Daniel, but they needed information and of the two of them Daniel was the only one who might have half a change of getting it.

"Daniel?"  Jack urged gently.  Nothing.  Not even a flicker of reaction.  "Daniel!"  Jack hissed, louder this time.  Still nothing. Guess it was still up to him to try talking their way out of this.  Whatever 'this' was.

“Ah, excuse me," Jack appealed to the feathered man standing on the other side of the mat with his eyes closed, muttering something in a low, guttural voice. "Can we talk about this?”

That got him his arm wrenched for his pains.

Ow.  Apparently not.

The men holding Daniel forced him down to his knees a few feet in front of the mat, and then let him go.  Jack was hoping for the same, but no such luck.  Daniel didn't even seem to notice he was no longer being restrained.  He just sat there, sunk back on his haunches, slumped over, head bowed.  Two men bearing torches moved in to flank him on either side.  He took no more notice of them than he was of anything else.

"Daniel!"  Jack called out to him again.  "Daniel, LOOK at me!  Please!"  he entreated.  "Are you still with me, buddy?"

Daniel's shoulders shook slightly, a faint ripple of movement, like a tenuous tremor of life.  Jack felt his heart hammering with anxious anticipation, hardly daring to breathe as he watched Daniel's head finally come up with what seemed to be deliberate, agonizing slowness.

The blue eyes beneath him were blank for a moment.  Then Daniel blinked, took a deep breath, focused. LOOKED at him.  "Yeah, Jack," he said slowly, uncertainty hanging in his voice as well as his expression.  "I- I'm here.  But where are we - what's - what's…"

Daniel's eyes went blank again, his voice faltered and trailed away.  He didn't say another word despite several frantic attempts to get him to respond.  Gone again, like he was in some sort of trance.  Jack spared him a final, worried glance and then turned his attention back to the Boogie Man.

The witch doctor had finished with the muttering and now was hunkering down in front of the mat.  He'd put the rattle down, picked up one of the bowls of water and was chanting in a sonorous, quiet monotone as he put a couple of pinches of a white, coarse, crystalline substance into the water. He swirled the water around in the bowl, peered at it, sang to it some more, then got up and started to advance on Daniel.  The angel of death would probably be wearing a kinder expression.

Showtime.  Oh, crap.

Boogie dipped his fingers in the bowl, still chanting monotonously, then flung a large quantity of the droplets into Daniel’s blank face. Whoa!  Definite reaction, here!  Daniel violently flinched as the water struck him.  Boogie continued chanting and flicking, peering at Daniel blinking and shrinking away from every liquid volley.  The witch doctor was clearly expecting something to happen, also clearly not seeing what he was looking for.  Which wasn't making him very happy. The dude looked definitely pissed.  That probably wasn’t good.

Boogie stopped chanting and huffed and glowered at Daniel, who'd stopped cowering now he wasn't getting water thrown in his face and had resumed his former 'out to lunch' slouch.  Daniel looked back at the witch doctor with uncaring eyes and a wooden expression.  Boogie heaved a sharp snort of disgust, whirled and stomped back to his goodies.  After putting down the bowl he retrieved another object from the mat.  Plan B appeared to be one of those bundles of tied up, dried leaves. Boogie stalked over to the torch to Daniel's right, and thrust the bundle into the flame.  It sharply ignited, scattering sparks, then settled down to copiously smoking. When it was fuming alarmingly he proceeded to wave it about Daniel’s head and body, smothering him in a dark cloud of thick, fetid smoke.

Ugh.  It smelled bad enough from here.  It couldn’t have been any fun where Daniel was.  Wasn’t going to do his allergies any good.

Sure enough, Jack could hear him after only a couple of seconds of being completely fogged in, coughing and choking and sneezing.

“Gah!”  Daniel croaked and weakly tried to wave the smoke away.  “This is awful!  I can barely breathe!”

Ah well, if the stuff could finally get him to wake up it couldn't be all bad!

As soon as Daniel spoke the witch doctor drew back with his free hand and viciously backhanded Daniel with so much force he nearly knocked him over. Pure, blind fury knifed through Jack, but he didn't move or let it show.  Jack knew well enough by now it wouldn’t do him any good to struggle so he didn’t.  Besides, he didn't want to give this painted bully anything more he could use against Daniel.  Jack was past reacting pointlessly or blindly now.  Matters had definitely progressed to the ‘things I need to do if it’s the last thing I ever do’ stage.  One thing he knew for certain.  If Boogie laid one more hand on Daniel he wasn't going to see the sun rise on another day.

Evidently done with the smoke and still not satisfied by the results, Boogie gave Daniel a disgusted look and tossed the smoking stinkweed.  He stood over Daniel a few seconds longer, watching him weakly coughing and struggling to recover from the blow he'd just received. The look on his craggy, painted face withering enough to kill.  He gave Daniel a snort of derision before turning his back on him and stalking off towards his stuff.

Jack anxiously divided his attention between Daniel and his tormentor. Daniel still looked pale and shaken, but he seemed to be recovering.  Jack tried to catch his eye, with no success.  Boogie was standing before the mat, eyes closed, muttering under his breath.  More praying?   Getting ready for Plan C?

Why did he have the feeling he really wasn’t going to like what was coming next?

Daniel was looking better now, all things considered, looking a lot more like himself than he had since this whole nightmare had started.  He was calm, deep concentration furrowing his brow.  Jack had seen that look on his friend’s face, many, many times. It was so familiar, so DANIEL, so good to finally see.  Welcome back, Dannyboy.  I've missed you.

"Daniel!"  Jack called to him.  "Are you all right?"

“I'm fine, Jack," Daniel murmured, the crease in his brow deepening. "I'm just trying to…give me a minute…"

"Love to, Daniel," Jack replied.  "Problem is, we might not HAVE one. You might not have one. The Boogie Man over there sees to have it in for you for some reason.  You got ANY clues why?  Anything?"

“Yeah, Jack," Daniel nodded emphatically.  "As a matter of fact, I think I do.  Sorry I didn't say sooner, I was - I was kinda out of it there for a bit, not sure why. It's been happening a lot lately, starting to worry me. These headaches I keep getting.  They're getting worse, sometimes I'm not sure where I am, how I - "

"Daniel!"  Jack interrupted gently, but firmly. What he was hearing was definitely concerning him, but it wasn't anything they could do anything about at the moment.  For sure top of his list of things to look into further once they got out of this pickle they were in.  Presuming they did.  But for now -

"Give it to me later, Daniel, okay?"  Jack smiled encouraging at the man kneeling beside him, and was happy to see Daniel smile back.  It wasn't a big one, but it was the best thing Jack had seen so far today. "I promise I'll listen when we're not inches away from God only knows what about to happen to us next, but right now - focus on the immediate problem, 'kay?  What's going on - now - and what we need do to get these guys to let us go?"

Daniel nodded, the look of intense concentration back.  "You're right, Jack, you're right.  Focus. I can do that. I know this. I think I know what he's doing. It looks pretty bad, but I don't think we've got anything to worry about. This - this is some kind of purification ritual.  Salt water, smudge stick, rattles, the yelling, the intimidation, token blows, He - he’s trying to - cleanse me of something.”

"Wouldn't soap and water be easier?"  Jack asked.

"It's not that kind of cleansing, Jack," Daniel smiled back at him.

"Well, WHAT then?"  Jack returned stubbornly.  "What exactly is he trying to 'cleanse' you of?  The guy's been roughing you up something fierce, and looking at you like he thinks you're pond scum.  Never mind he never bothered ASKING you whether you wanted him to slap you around, gas you and scare the shit out of both of us. All with the best of intentions, I'm sure.  That's rude enough for me all by itself, everything else he's done to you is definitely pushing the 'good intentions' envelope.  Maybe you think this free public service you're getting is nothing to be concerned about, but - call me crazy - from what I've been seeing, I'm plenty worried."

Daniel just looked at him with that – look he got when he just KNEW he was right, and couldn’t explain how. The one always driving Jack crazy because he just found it so hard to trust what he didn’t know himself without something more concrete to go on than “well, I just, KNOW, that’s all.”

They’d had more fights over just this very thing and yet here Daniel was, asking him to take it on faith yet again.  Jack just hoped this wasn’t finally the time when Daniel was at last proven wrong. This definitely was not the way he wanted to win the argument.

“I know what it looks like, Jack," Daniel explained in the same, tired, patient tone he assumed when he accepted the inevitable evil of justifying himself.  Again.  At length. "I can't explain it, but I don’t think he means me any real harm. He's not going to hurt us. I know it.  He’s trying to help.”

"Daniel," Jack groaned.

"Jack, TRUST me!"  Daniel cried out suddenly, his eyes flaring with an angry, hurt light.  "Just for once, can't you just - trust me?"

Daniel's earnest, entreating eyes, begging across the space between them, pleading with him to take a simple leap of faith.  So little he was asking, and yet so much, with so much at stake…

He had movement out of the corner of his eye.  Boogie was coming back.  With a knife in his hand.  Heading straight for Daniel.  So much for 'not meaning us any harm'.   Jesus, Daniel, this is what I'm always trying to tell you, sometimes 'faith' just isn't enough. Or even right.  I'll spare us both the 'I told you so's'.

He didn't the time to bask in his bitter victory; he was going to be much too busy praying.  Not a thing he'd ever done much in his life, certainly not since Charlie had died, but right here and now he'd sell his soul to whoever'd have it just so long as what it looked like was about to happen  - wouldn't.

Boogie reached Daniel and stood staring at him, while Daniel looked very calmly back up at him.  Much too calmly, way too calm, almost accepting.  Resigned.  Boogie was menacing, Jack was close to crapping himself, and Daniel was just calm.  So quiet and eerily serene it was scary.

Boogie poked the knife at his softly smiling intended victim and boomed a few phrases at him. Jack might not have been able to understand the words, but there was no mistaking the tone.  Judgment time.  End of the road.  Prepare to meet thy maker. Any last requests?

How about letting us go?  No?

The witch doctor finished making with the pronouncement of doom and then just stood there, silently glaring at the condemned man.  Daniel stared back up at him, not moving, not even blinking. Neither worried, nor scared.

“I got some of that,” Daniel announced suddenly, making Jack just about jump out of his skin at the unexpected sound of his voice.  “It was like he wasn’t talking to - to me, exactly.  He was saying something about vengeful spirits, and ties to the grave.  One who feeds and needs release.  One who needs to chose - between the worlds.”  He shook his head.  “It doesn’t make any sense - “

 But - it did, Jack realised with a jolt.  It so did.  "Daniel!"  he called out urgently.  "What you were saying before - what he's trying to do - Daniel! Find out how he knows - try talking to him - please!"

Not listening, Daniel wasn't listening to him. Dammit! Oh my God, they were out of time.  The witch doctor dropped to one knee, grabbed Daniel by the hair and pulled him back until his torso was bent and splayed over his thigh. He raised the dagger high over his head and with a scream that would have peeled paint off walls plunged it down towards the center of Daniel's chest.  Straight toward Daniel’s heart.

Happening so fast, it was all happening too fast.  He had to stop it - couldn't.  Nothing he could do to help him, nothing left for him to do but watch Daniel die.  Right before his eyes.

Knife descending. No.  This wasn't happening, this couldn't be it, couldn't be the way it ended.  He wasn't watching this, wasn't seeing this, after everything they'd lived through, been through together, over?  It was all over? Finished?  That's all she wrote?  Couldn't be, it was too soon, he needed more time. He wasn't ready for this, wasn't ready for it to be over, there was so much he hadn't done yet, so much he hadn't said.  Daniel couldn't leave him yet, couldn't, he didn't know, he'd never told him. Not like this.  Please don't let him die like this.  Please, don't do this, don't -

“DANIEL!”

Heard me, he heard me, he's looking at me, so sorry I can’t stop it.  Failed you, Daniel, failed.  Sorry, so sorry for every way I failed you.

Blue eyes, so deep, so full of affection, speaking to him so clearly.

It’s okay, I know. You did everything you could.

Jack drank in Daniel's eyes, taking everything he could of his final gift of forgiveness as long as that brave, dear light was allowed to shine.

Time was standing still.  It had to be.  What other reason could there be for what he was seeing?

Daniel, still bent backwards over the shaman’s knee, unmoving, unresisting, looking up at his executioner, the black blade frozen in abeyance, hovering just above his heart.

He didn’t do it, he didn’t kill Daniel.  Thankgodthankgodthankgod…

Relief washed over Jack, turning his legs to water.  If not for the bozos holding him up, he would have been a puddle on the ground.

Boogie drew the knife back, then reached down and put it on the ground. He wasn't going to kill Daniel. He really wasn't.  Jack didn't fully believe it, even after he watched the witch doctor dispense with the knife, but now, the way he was looking at Daniel, there wasn't any doubt in his mind.

Son of a bitch, Daniel was right.  The bastard wasn't going to hurt Daniel after all.  Had never intended to.  Wanted to scare the crap out of him, but not hurt him.  Jack felt an enormous weight lift off his soul as he realised even though he didn't understand why the guy felt he had to perform this service for Daniel, his intentions were good. Just like Daniel had told him they were.

They were all going to walk away from this in one piece.  Jack was sure of it.  Not a question of if, but when.

Jack watched as Boogie took Daniel’s face in his hands, gazing deeply at him as if he could see everything inside him.  Daniel wasn’t saying a word, but he was asking a question just the same.  Jack could read it across the space between them, and he didn’t like what he wasn’t hearing.

Why didn’t you do it?

The shaman sighed and sadly shook his head. He murmured a few soft phrases, almost as if pronouncing some kind of blessing upon Daniel, then leaned solemnly forward and kissed him gravely on the forehead. He placed a hand on the top of Daniel's head, stroked it once, set him back upright on his knees and then released him. As Daniel watched him mournfully he rose gracefully to his feet.

Was it over?  Could they go?  Oh please, let it be over.

Nope.  It wasn’t over yet.  If it was over, the bullyboys wouldn't still be feeling him up and he and Daniel would be going.  Which…wasn't happening.  He was still being held up and onto, and Daniel was still kneeling on the ground, looking as if he wasn't entirely happy with the fact he was still breathing. Well, that made ONE of them! He was downright over the moon Daniel was still breathing and what was more, he wanted to keep him that way.  Jack cast a hasty glance over in the direction of the Boogie Man.  Crap! Now what?

Boogie was hunched over his mat, chanting away, putting a pinch of this and a dash of that into a gourd filled with a very dark, nasty looking liquid.  Refreshments? Oh, let's not and say we did! Would it be considered rude to refuse this latest version of island hospitality? If so, Jack planned to be very insulting. Oh boy, just look at that crud.  They'd probably be better off swilling swamp water.  Jack didn't know what was going into the rather alarming looking concoction, but whatever it was, he was guessing drinking it wouldn't be high up on his list of smart things to do and probably wouldn’t make Doctor Fraiser very happy either.

Great.  If the potion didn't kill them then Janet would.  Ooh.  Some choice.

Jack glanced anxiously back at Daniel.  He was slouched over again, head hanging, arms wrapped around himself.  He began to slowly rock and mumble to himself, soft, broken phrases tumbling rapidly out of him.

"Sha'uri…saw her, saw, not just hearing things now, saw her.  Not going crazy, not - not like before, didn't - didn't, not real, it's not real she wasn't real  - "

Sha'uri?  The woman they'd both seen who looked like Sha'uri? Holy Hallucinations, with all the subsequent excitement he'd completely forgotten about seeing her.  Is THAT what was eating Daniel?  Why he was being so - so - strange?  Being all freaked out and weird?  He thought because he'd seen Sha'uri back there, he was seeing things, losing it - he was going nuts?  Is that why he'd been acting like he WAS going nuts?

"You're not seeing things, Daniel!" Jack called reassuringly to him.  "I saw her too, remember?"

"You did?"  Daniel's head shot up, his eyes flaring with fierce suspicion.  "You did?"  His face hardened.  "You're just saying that.  You're lying.  Trying to trick me."

The resentful, almost hateful look hurled at him hit Jack harder than then a runaway freight train.  Dark suspicion and even darker anger boiled in Daniel's eyes, cutting Jack to the core.  That Daniel could think Jack would - could do something like that to him, especially at a time like this -

DAMMIT! What the HELL was going on? Every time he thought he was getting a handle on the weirdness, reality took a turn for the worst. He needed more time to sort all of this out, calm Daniel down, TALK to him and find out what the problem was. He wasn't going to get it; Boogie was done with the mixing and the singing.  On his way back to them; they were running out of time.

Crap, crap, crap, he'd screwed up royally this time! The things Daniel had been saying, the tantalizing little clues he'd just dropped about what he'd been experiencing during the time he'd been pulling away from all of them added up to a frightening picture.  All these months he'd been assuming Daniel was withdrawn because he was grieving, and sure, there'd been some of that, a lot of what he'd gone through since her death had been grieving, but what if it wasn't that simple?  What if something else had been going on as well, all this time, something even more serious, more frightening?  Jack had just assumed he knew what the problem was and had done nothing strenuous to overcome Daniel's objections, had let him walk away and left him to it. Let Daniel get farther and farther away, leaving him alone to deal not with grief, but with fear.

Okay, maybe he had screwed up, but there was nothing he could do about it now.  Beating himself up over what he had or hadn't done for Daniel wasn't going to get them out of this mess.  He had to find the rest of his team, get them away, get them home safe, all of them, then there'd be time, plenty of time, he'd be with Daniel all the way, they'd find out what was going on, they'd work through it.  Together. He had to get Daniel to safety, and then he could deal with this.

"Jesus, Daniel, would you please just work with me here!"  Jack knew he was sounding absolutely desperate, which was pretty much the way he was feeling.  "Your pal is coming back here with the next phase of the 'treatment'.  You have to try and talk him out of this - I do NOT want you drinking any of that stuff - Daniel, are you reading me, buddy - we don't know what it is or what it could do to you - JE-SUS!"

Jack recoiled, almost knocking the men holding him over as Daniel suddenly snarled and sprang at him like he was meaning to rip his throat out.  He didn't get very far; the men with the torches dropped them and grabbed Daniel as soon as he started moving, grimly restraining him while he raged and fought bitterly against the hands on him.

Jack couldn't believe what he was seeing.  Daniel was struggling with almost insane ferocity, cursing, screaming, and spitting at the witch doctor as soon as he came within range.  Daniel's eyes were as feral and terrifying as his behaviour. They were scaring the hell out of Jack - Daniel was scaring the hell out of him.

Daniel glowered balefully at him, desperate rage spewing from him.  "Stop him!"  he howled at Jack.  "You say you're my friend? Do something!  Help me!"

This was too much.  He'd watched Daniel lay there and do nothing when he thought he was going to get his heart carved out and now when it looked like he was going to have to drink some kind of potion he was acting like a crazy man? Screaming for him to do something to stop it from happening?  What did Daniel think he could do to stop it now that he wouldn't have done to try and save him before?  Why was Daniel so afraid of some funky native cocktail when he hadn't even been fazed by the knife?

And why was seeing Daniel acting like this making the hairs on the back of his neck stand to attention?  Why did it seem what was glaring at him out of Daniel's eyes wasn't - Daniel? Why did Jack suddenly feel as if rather than running to help Daniel he wanted to book in the opposite direction instead?

The witch doctor thundered a short, harsh phrase into the face of the man raging at him and Daniel's head snapped back as if he had been physically struck.  He immediately slumped, going alarmingly limp in the hands of the men holding him.  Jack watched horrified, his heart hammering with confusion and fear as the men loosened their grip and allowed Daniel to gently slide down until he was back on his knees again.

Boogie hunkered down before Daniel, holding his potion cup in one hand while he gently grasped Daniel's chin and raised his head with the other.  Daniel looked at him with wide, deeply confused eyes.  The witch doctor started to speak to him in a soft voice.  Jack couldn't hear what he was saying and strained forward, listening fiercely before he caught himself.  No point in trying to hear what Boogie was saying, even if he could make it out he couldn't understand it anyway.

But Daniel could.  Seems like he did. More to the point, the wild man was gone and he was Daniel again. He was definitely dazed and wavering, but he seemed 'normal'.  Not ranting, not cursing, not looking like some blood-lusting berserker just escaped from the freak show and looking for some throats to rip out with his teeth.  Daniel was fully focused on what Boogie was saying to him, nodding as if he was understanding every word and agreeing to something.  Boogie smiled, patted the top of his head and then handed him the cup.

"Daniel - don't!"  Jack cried out with alarm as he realised what was about to happen.  "Don't drink that stuff!  You don't know what it is - he could be poisoning you!"

"It's okay, Jack," Daniel told him as he turned his head and smiled weakly at him.  "It will help me.  It will make the voices stop."

VOICES?

"Please don't leave me alone this time, Jack," Daniel's pleading voice nearly finished him as Jack watched him sigh, close his eyes and quickly drain the contents of the cup.

Almost instantly, Daniel violently shuddered and pitched forward, coughing and sputtering.  His arms were shaking with the effort of bracing his body against the heaving, retching spasms wracking it.  Boogie stepped back from Daniel and clapped his hands.  Relief surged through Jack as the men holding him immediately let him go and backed off as well.

Finally!  Dammit, Daniel why did you drink that crap?

Jack didn't spare his former tormenters a glance as he leapt to Daniel's side.  They could all go to hell as far as he was concerned, all he wanted to do was get to Daniel and get him away from here as quickly as he could.

"Danny!"  Jack said urgently as he fell to his knees beside Daniel. Who was still on all fours, coughing and retching. "Are you all right?"  A fresh bout of coughing was Daniel's only response.

Deep fear gripped Jack as he wrapped his arms around Daniel's torso, supporting his friend's shaking body until the violent spasms ceased.  "Th - thanks, Jack," Daniel weakly panted, his head still hanging as he slumped shaking against the man holding him up.  "That was pretty stupid.  I- I'm sorry.  Don't know why - don't know what made me do that."

"Don't worry about it," Jack returned gruffly, his voice rasping with mingling relief and concern.  He gave Daniel a reassuring squeeze.  "We'll sort it out later.  What do you say we leave the party early, huh, Daniel?  You feeling up to finding Carter and Teal'c and going home?"

"Yeah," Daniel nodded his head vigorously.  "I'm - I'm up."  He clumsily lifted an arm and flopped it against Jack's chest, his hand groping towards Jack's shoulder for support.  "I think you're gonna - think you're gonna have - have to help - help me up, Jack?"  he pleaded in a slightly slurred voice.

Daniel pushed down on Jack's shoulder, trying to heave himself up from all fours.  Before Jack could help him Daniel's supporting arm buckled and he lurched heavily against the man shoring him up. Jack had to quickly catch him and clasp him firmly to his chest to prevent both of them from tumbling over.

Daniel lay trembling and panting in Jack's arms, half draped across him, his head resting heavily against Jack's shoulder, hands fluttering weakly against his back.  Jack tightened his grip, hugging him closer as Daniel's warm, erratic exhalations teased and flushed the hollow of his throat.  A surge of protectiveness, almost possessiveness blazed through him. Daniel seemed so - he felt so - the emotions raging through Jack were so fierce, so confusing, jumbled and swirling around inside him, but they'd never been stronger; he'd never been so AWARE of them, never as aware of the cause, of the man in his arms, as he was at this very moment.

Alive, burning and wanting, wanting only to hold Daniel close like he was holding him now.  Hold him and hold him and never, ever let him go.

"Whooooooo!"  Daniel hiccupped and started giggling into Jack's neck, the small, warm gusts of laughter coming faster against his skin. “Ohhh, that was nasty.  Very, very nasty," Daniel sighed heavily and thumped his head against Jack's shoulder.  "Yuck.  Nash-ty."  He finally raised his head and peered blearily at the man holding him.  "Don't feel so good, Jack," he announced in a faltering, confused voice.

No kidding!  Daniel was green.  As in 'around the gills', definitely not his normal, glowing, golden complexion.  Unmistakable hint of an olive flush happening all over his face having nothing to do with the luck of the Irish.  What was just as scary, Daniel's pupils were so dilated they'd almost totally overcome the blue.

That couldn't be good.

“Ya don’t say," Jack tried to keep the panic out of his voice as he smiled back at the wavering, dazed but trusting grin.  Whatever this stuff was, it sure worked fast!  "You're not looking too shit-hot either, buddy.  Come on now, Dannyboy. Work with me here.  We’re gonna take a little walk and get you home.  How does that sound?”

"Sounds good, Jack," Daniel bobbed his head in dreamy acquiescence.  "Are we standing up yet?"

"Not yet," Jack replied as he reluctantly relaxed his firm, possessive hold on Daniel, grabbed him under the armpits and hauled him up to his feet.  The instant he was he was upright Daniel's knees folded and he would have dribbled happily back down to the ground again if Jack hadn't grabbed him quickly and tightly around the waist.

"Sorry, Jack," Daniel mumbled sheepishly, giving him a shy grin as Jack put Daniel's arm around his shoulders and hitched him in closely to his side for better support.  "Almost fell down."

"Don't worry about it, Danny," Jack patted the hand dangling close to his cheek as he took a careful, thorough look around.  No sign of Carter and Teal'c or their gear, but if he had to hazard a guess the other two members of his team were cooling their heels in one of those shacks. Along with all their stuff. The same shacks every damned soul on the island seemed to be standing in front of staring bug-eyed at the pair of them.  Not a blessed one of them making a sound or any menacing moves, but still creeping him out all the same.

Jack took a deep breath.  Peachy.  This was just perfect, just what he'd had in mind for how he wanted to spend the day when he got out of bed this morning.  Here he was, trapped in paradise, surrounded by the Stepford Samoans, Carter and Teal’c nowhere in sight, an extremely pie-eyed archaeologist on his hands. And rather distractingly all over him.  Daniel was so looped he was almost liquefying in his arms. It seemed Dannyboy couldn’t hold his alien potions any more than he could hold his liquor.  Well, at least he could thank his lucky stars Daniel appeared to be a happy drunk.  Or – whatever. Jack just wished his blitzed burden wasn't so damned cuddly in the bargain.  Daniel's blissful acquiescence, warm, willing proximity and sudden propensity for - patting him affectionately - was making it very hard for Jack to concentrate on trying to figure out their next move.

"Daniel, cut it out!" Jack grumbled lightly as he grabbed the hand playing with his ear and held it firmly so it couldn't. Crap.  Jack wished devoutly Daniel would quit DOING stuff like that.  Oh well, he shouldn't complain too much, at least Daniel wasn't -

"For crying out loud, Daniel, quit blowing in my ear!" Jack roared.

"But it's FUN, Jack!"  Daniel chortled.

"We're not here to have fun," Jack explained slowly, already beginning to feel the strain of trying to be patient with Daniel while he was also trying to plan their next move.  "We have to figure out how to get home first."

Daniel sighed and considered this for a moment.  "Then we can have fun?" he asked hopefully.

"Sure, whatever," Jack answered him quickly, absently as he restlessly scanned the area all about him.  Looking for any signs of his missing teammates and their equipment, trying to gauge the mood of their 'audience'.

"Promise?"  Daniel asked suspiciously.

"I promise, I promise!"  Jack snapped, patting Daniel on the cheek to shut him up.  "Quiet now, Daniel, be a good boy.  Jack is trying to think, here."

What to do? Jack was sure he'd find the rest of SG-1 in those huts, but did he dare try to run the gauntlet of the bug-eyed natives with Daniel in the shape he was in?  There was no way they could move fast if they had to.  And no way he was going to leave Daniel alone to make a solo assault on the shacks.  In his present, juiced condition who knows where Daniel would wander off to. Jack didn't have the faintest hope his willful and whacked-out archaeologist would stay where he'd try to stash him while he had a go at freeing Carter and Teal'c.

So, taking the direct approach was out.  That left temporarily abandoning the rest of SG-1 and making a run for the gate.  Even though he'd told Carter and Teal'c to leave THEM behind and get to the gate if they got the chance, running out on them was the last thing he wanted to do.  'Nobody gets left behind' warred with the rising, almost primal need to protect Daniel and get him to safety as soon as possible.  Anywhere that wasn't here.  Getting back to the SGC was not an option without a GDO, but if he could get to the gate he could at least make sure Daniel was safe.  But that would mean - Carter and Teal'c -

Jack's eyes found the dark, distant ones of the witch doctor. During the time he'd been busy dealing with Daniel Boogie had relocated.  All the way over on the other side of the sandy expanse where the fun had been happening, standing at the head of the crowd of his people barricading the huts.  Jack stared hard at the tall, feathered man staring back at him.  Boogie was the key to what happened next. All the other villagers, they weren't the issue.  THIS was the guy he had to worry about; everyone else would do what HE said.  If there was any further grief in SG-1's future, it was all down to the Boogster.

The two men studied each other across the gulf between them.  Jack tried to read the weathered face before him, still not knowing whether or not he could afford to trust the witch doctor.  Daniel did.  Daniel trusted him. That counted in the feathered man's favour.  Boogie could have killed Daniel - could have killed all of them.  But he hadn't. Still could, though.  But he'd already had the perfect chance and he hadn't.  Jesus. Hell of a choice, but what other option did he have? Jack shook his head, desperately hoping he wasn't making the biggest mistake of all their lives, and decided to take a chance.

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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