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

HIDE AND SEEK BY PHOENIX E

Part Two


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

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 in the first place.  And then some.  Woo.  True love will out.  What can I tell you.  Thanks to Biblio for her assistance on the slash version, the suggestions, catching my boo-boos and ceaselessly nagging me to get Daniel naked ASAP.


 

During the time Jack had been mulling things over Daniel appeared to have been happily doing a little 'mulling' of his own.  An uncomfortably warm and tingling sensation in his chest rapidly spreading to more problematic areas of his body brought Jack rather jolting back to the realisation Daniel was quite thoroughly and intimately stroking his chest.  If the soft, contented sounds he was making were any indication, Daniel was getting as much out of doing it as Jack was, being, er, done.  Jack knew he had a problem on his hands. Well, a couple of problems. All having to do with the out-to-lunch and way too touchable bundle of trouble currently touching him in a way making him feel far too good.  Jack couldn't decide what was more worrisome; the fact Daniel was definitely behaving in an - inappropriate - fashion, or that Jack, well, he LIKED it.  A lot.

This REALLY wasn't the time for this!

"Daniel," he said a little gruffly, swallowing his grumbling libido and giving Daniel a little pat on the cheek to get his attention.  Daniel's head came up slowly in response; his up-turned face was glowing with utter contentment as he gently swayed, stroked and completely failed to focus on the man trying desperately not to think about how amazingly radiant he looked and how much he liked where Daniel's hand was and what it was doing and oh my God, those eyes…

"Jack?"  Daniel smiled dreamily.

"Hmmmm?"  God, he was beautiful…

"Shouldn't we be - shouldn't we be doing something?"

"What? Oh crap!"  Jack shook his head angrily.  What the hell was the matter with him?  What was he thinking, going off like a goon like that, mooning over Daniel - DANIEL, for crying out loud, like some love-struck, randy adolescent?  Where were his brains?

Daniel was peering at him expectantly, intently, as much someone in his condition could form any sort of intent as all.  "We've got to find Carter and Teal'c," Jack said to him slowly.

"CarterandTeal'c," Daniel parroted, nodding seriously, still trying to focus furiously even though his head was starting to waver a little.  "Okey doke!"

So far so good. Some brain cells still on line inside that gorgeous, addled head.  Making progress here.

"We're going to have to walk all the way over there and talk to your pal, there.  See if he will tell us where they are and let them go.  You're going to have to do most of the talking, though.  Think you can do that for me, Danny?"  Jack asked hopefully.  "Walk over there and talk to witchie poo with me?"

"Daniel smiled blazingly at him.  "For you, Jack?"  he enthused heroically.  "Yasureyoubetcha!"

"God help me," Jack groaned under his breath as he started them walking toward the Boogie Man.

Daniel took a couple of extremely uncertain steps, then fell heavily against Jack as his legs buckled.  He started to giggle as if his incapacity was just the funniest thing in the world.

“Ooops!  I don’t think so.  Legs don’t want to go.  Howcum?”

“You’re shit-faced, Daniel.”

“Oh.  Whadarewegonnadonow?”

“Okay Daniel,” Jack sighed.  “Up you go. Let’s try it again.  I’ll carry you if I have to, but you’re a big boy and I’d just as soon not.”

That comment started Daniel giggling and patting again, but to give the kid his due, he was also really trying to get his legs to cooperate.  After a few false starts and a lot more giggling Daniel finally seemed to be getting the hang of walking again.  They set out across the sand, moving not so much forward as away from where they had been, maybe not gracefully or efficiently, but at least they were moving.   They slowly stumbled, reeled and staggered like a pair of tipsy tee-totalers, hips bumping and clashing against each other, Daniel's laughter dancing in the air as they lurched along the silent line of villagers standing impassively, watching their every move.   With disturbing focus and interest.  Staring.  Dozens of pairs of big, black bug eyes, staring at them. Jack scowled at them.  Take a damned picture, it lasts longer!

Of all the eyes boring into them none pricked at Jack as much as the dark, piercing ones belonging to the Boogie Man.  It wasn't that they were menacing or dangerous: nothing like that.  Jack no longer feared the man in the sense he was afraid any of them were going to come to harm.  If that was the case he'd hardly be trying to steer Danny over to him in order to have a little pow wow.

The Boogster was bothering Jack because he was looking at him like he could see right through him.  Jack was being checked out, looked up and down, sized up - judged - every inch of the way on over.  And he wasn't the only one getting the visual once over.  Boogie was checking Daniel out as well. But with Daniel it was different.  Daniel he was watching, waiting for something to happen.  Him - it was as if Boogie was expecting him to DO something.

 Boogie was after something from both of them.  Something different, but still something.  But just what - Jack hadn't a clue.

Jack found it less unsettling to look at the witch doctor than he did the silent sea of broad, expressionless faces they were weaving past. With everything happening so fast before Jack hadn't had a chance to register the witch doctor as anything more than a conflicting impression of noise, sharp movement and menace.  As well as a lot of feathers, beads and paint.

Now, everything was calm and with Boogie merely standing there quietly looking at them, he didn't strike Jack as being nearly as intimidating. Imposing, yes, maybe regal, even, but not intimidating.  He was still full-out native, the guy in charge and the most decked-out dude of the bunch, but Jack could tell just by looking at him the way he'd been acting wasn't the way he was. All the yelling and bad-ass, strong-arm stuff had been about getting a job done.  It wasn't the way Boogie normally did business.  This man was definitely not the bully he had been pretending to be.

Old and wise was the first thing that came to Jack's mind as he took in the impressive, solid figure towering over everyone else.  The witch doctor was at least a head taller than the rest of the crowd, also not built along the short, more compact lines of most of the other folks. He was tall, taut and lean, as opposed to short, stocky and more across than up. He also looked a lot older than most of them, his craggy, serene face speaking of an 'age' earned not simply from being here the longest, but from what he'd done during the time he'd been breathing. This guy had been around some, and he'd made good use of his time.

Boogie was also a man who understood sometimes you had to do what you had to do.  The end justified the means if the end was important enough.  The wise, dark eyes locked sorrowfully with his and suddenly Jack felt a renewed taste of fear in his mouth.  Boogie hadn't done any of this on a whim. Nor had he meant to be arbitrary or deliberately cruel to any of them.  He believed what he'd had to do to Danny was for a very good reason.  What was more, it wasn't over yet.  It was far from over, far from decided, and the guy was still worried.  Worried about Danny.  Worried for both of them, but mostly for Danny.

Oh joy.  That made two of them.

It seemed to be taking an eternity to negotiate the distance between where they were and where they were still trying to get to. It wasn't helping they weren't exactly travelling in a straight line.  More like taking the scenic route. Daniel was giggling and stumbling into him again, sending them gracefully listing off to port this time.  Jack sighed and nudged Daniel with his hip to steer them back on course. Being with Daniel like this, having him so close was - well it was nice, in a weird sort of way.  He was even getting used to the touches, although he was trying very hard not to listen to some of the things Daniel was murmuring.  Not anything he wanted to hear.  Not if he had any hope of putting things back into their proper - perspective - once this was all over and Daniel sobered up again.

Don't think about that right now, let's just get there and get the job done!

Jack was just starting to feel as if they finally were settling into a rhythm when Daniel abruptly twisted around in his arms and grabbed a fistful of Jack's shirt.  Jack stumbled with surprise as Daniel yanked them nearly nose to nose. Daniel's face was excited but serious and so close to his their lips were almost touching. Jack froze, alarmed by his disturbing proximity and the warm feeling of Daniel's moist breath gusting rapidly across his lips.

“Jack!”  Daniel exclaimed dramatically.  "I have to tell you something.  It's really important!  You gotta LISTEN to me!"

All Jack knew he was he had to get Daniel away from him.  Fast.  He grabbed the hand entangled in his shirt, tried to pry it lose.  "Daniel, let go of me!"  he grated.

"Jack, please!"  Daniel insisted, not letting go and not backing off.

"Daniel," Jack warned.  He'd pretty much had it. With Daniel, with sand, with sunshine, with frigging ocean breezes, but mostly with Daniel.  This was taking too long; Daniel was still standing way too close and Boogie's disconcerting looks were starting to make him feel jumpy and apprehensive again.  Jack just wanted to get to the feathered one and get him to give up Carter and Teal'c so they could all go home. And Daniel was being difficult and holding the whole lot of them up with this latest dumb-ass observation floating through his fogged up head he just HAD to share this minute or he'd die.  What was it this time?  His nose was cute?  Yippee!  Call the media, they could share it with the world! Why couldn't Daniel just shut up and BEHAVE!  For once! He knew it wasn’t Daniel’s fault, he was looped out of his skull, after all, but with all the giggling and stumbling and squirming and snuggling and now Daniel was standing so close, close enough to -

“Not NOW, Daniel!"  Jack snapped, finally managing to get Daniel's hand free and swinging him back around so he was hanging off his hip again. Instead of hanging off his neck. "Move it, Daniel. We're going over there, remember?  Off to see the wizard?  Carter and Teal'c?"

“Jack, this is SERIOUS!” Daniel persisted.  "I have to tell you this - NOW!  You gotta listen!"

That was it.  That was when he'd blown it, but good.  Daniel wasn't in a mood to be messed with; he'd had his back up and then some.  It was there, the warning sign, plain in his voice; Jack would have heard it.  That is, if he'd been listening.  He should have been listening, should have paid attention. It would have saved both of them a lot of grief, seeing what happened later as a result of one little lapse.

But that was pretty much par for the course where he and Daniel were concerned. This time wasn't any different from any of the other times he should have listened to Daniel, should have paid a little attention, and hadn't.  It was turning out just as badly as all the other times as well. You'd think he'd have learned his lesson by now.

Fat chance, fathead.

He'd been doing this to Daniel for as long as they'd known each other.  Blowing him off, shutting him down, patting him on the head.  Ignorant and condescending, Daniel had said that him once.  How to call it, Dannyboy. He should have listened.  He never listened. Never listened to Daniel, never paid attention to him, never took him seriously, never gave him his due. He was always underestimating Daniel.  It usually ended up the same way.  Lots of hurt feelings, misunderstanding and plenty of regret with the benefit of hindsight.  A mountain of regret.

“Jack, please! You don't understand!” Daniel persisted, pleading, a deeply pained look on his face.  Which Jack didn't see because he was too busy being annoyed with him for holding them up.

It wasn’t Daniel’s fault.  He shouldn’t have snapped at him.  Really shouldn’t have.  Always leading with his mouth.  Always saying the wrong thing.  Always pushing him away.

“Get off my back, Daniel!  We haven't got time for this crap!  Now, can it and WALK!”

Daniel huffed with affronted ferocity, planted his feet and straightened up with such unexpected swiftness he broke free of Jack’s grasp.  Before Jack had time to react Daniel shoved him away with so much force he was thrust staggering backward for several stumbling steps.

Jack could only gape at him, completely stunned as Daniel took a deep breath, puffed out his chest and announced with all the pomposity of the truly pissed: “You are such a POOP!  Bossy, big-mouthed POOP! Sick of you treating me like I'm a little kid! I don’t wanna TALK to you no more!  Those people look nice. They're not poops!  They'll listen. They won't be mean to me.  Not like you!  Poop!  Going over there. Talk to them. Go – play with - play in traffic.”

Making an expansive, dismissing gesture with his hand, Daniel executed a shaky turn and started to weave away.  Jack actually let him get several feet away before he recovered enough from the shock to try and regain control of the situation.

“Daniel, I’m sorry.  Don’t be like that.  Come on back here.”

Daniel kept on walking back the way they had come, waving Jack away over his shoulder, his back still firmly set against him. “No.”

“I said I was sorry.”

Daniel stopped walking as if considering what the man behind him had just said. “I heard you," he finally said, quietly. " I don’t believe you. You always say that.  It doesn’t mean anything. You never mean it.  You never listen.  I don't know why I thought you would this time.  Stupid, I guess. That's me.  Stupid.  Stupid because I - never, never mind.  You don't care.  I know that now.”

A quotation flashed through Jack’s mind.  ‘In vino, veritas.’  Hell, he even knew what it meant.  Jack wasn't sure where he had picked it up, but there it was.  And there was Daniel, still standing there, not going forward, not going back, not turning around, wavering dizzily, but still there.  Waiting. What?  What was he waiting for?

Jack looked over to Boogie, not sure why he suddenly thought the guy could or would, but hoping he would throw him some sort of clue.  The dark, old eyes were saying something, but Jack didn't know what he was seeing.

Didn't know - or didn't want to know?  Daniel was waiting. Boogie was waiting.  Waiting for something from him?  What?  What was he supposed to do, what was he supposed to say?  Daniel was right?  So, what if he was, what if his good friend Jack had been acting like a horse's ass, this wasn't anything they were going to be able to settle now.  Especially given the state Daniel was in at the moment.  Jack made a flamboyant gesture of annoyance at Daniel’s sullen back.  They just didn’t have TIME for this right now.  Honest to God, sometimes Daniel could be as frustrating as…  Oh my, O’Neill, don’t go there.

Sunstroke.  It definitely had to be sunstroke.  Screw it! This wasn't the time or the place for any of this touch-feely emotional crap.  Maybe he had hurt Daniel's feelings, but he'd sort it out with him later.  Presuming Daniel even remembered any of this once he sobered up - or came down - from whatever he was presently floating around on.  A process they could hopefully expedite if Daniel would just cooperate so they could get him home and into Doc Fraiser's tender medical clutches.  Jack didn't want to be fighting with a pissy, pissed Daniel.  He could march over there and force Daniel to come with him, but better, easier if he could persuade him to play nice.

Appeal to his better nature.  Trick him. One thing Jack knew for sure, if Daniel wouldn’t come quietly on his account, he’d come back for the sake of someone else.  Two someone elses – to be precise.

“Listen, Daniel," Jack called to him,  "stay mad at me if you want to, but don’t you think we should try and find out what's happened to Carter and Teal’c?  I could really use your help to find them.  What do you say?”

The shoulders of the man behind him rapidly rose and fell in a visible shrug.  “Okay,” he said in an agreeable voice as he turned around and began to stumble back toward Jack.

Jack smugly watched him approach, trying very hard not to be too pleased with himself.  Yup, it really was that easy.  Who said he didn’t know his archaeologist?

Daniel continued to waft towards him, a slightly wavering, open smile upon his face.  Daniel was almost to his side before Jack saw his eyes.  It was just sinking in there was something very, very wrong with them when the punch came of nowhere, taking him completely by surprise.

The swift, deadly right cross caught him just under the chin, lifting him off his feet with its violent power.  Jack felt his brains fly out simultaneously in assorted different directions as his body hurtled to the ground. Ow!

 He was lying flat on his back with his head scattered in several large pieces all around him.  What the hell – who knew Daniel could throw a punch like that? Jack didn’t know whether to be proud of him or scared shitless.

Then Jack opened his eyes and saw the cruel contempt on the face of the man standing over him and decided definitely in favour of the latter.  Jack blinked, trying to clear his head, convinced the shock of the blow was making him see things, and looked again.

“Sucker,” Daniel laughed down at him in a way making Jack's blood curdle with sudden, irrational fear.

SOMETHING sneered at him through Daniel’s eyes.  That scary, creepy something he'd seen before when Daniel had come at him like a wild beast.  He wasn't imagining it.  Not then, not now.

“How stupid do you think I am?” it laughed at him contemptuously.

Oh crap.  This DEFINITELY wasn't good.

Flat on his back on the sand and half stunned from the punch Jack was no more in the frame than he had been from the first moment he'd set foot on this god-forsaken paradise, but one thing he did know for sure, even though he was looking at Daniel standing there and laughing at him, what was sneering and leering at him and using Daniel to do it - wasn't Daniel.  It wasn't Daniel who'd clocked him, wasn't Daniel saying those things and no way those eyes - God - those EYES - the glacial hatred in them freezing his blood in his veins - not Daniel's eyes.  Moe, Larry and Curly, what the hell was he looking at?  More to the point, what the hell was looking back at HIM, making a suddenly menacing, utterly terrifying stranger out of the one person Jack thought he knew and trusted more than any other.

"Fool," the thing with Daniel's face scoffed at him, and then shuddered.  Daniel wavered dangerously, for an appalling instant Jack though he was going to crumple to the ground, and then Daniel shook his head and stopped shaking and, oh yeah, there he was, Daniel, his Daniel again, looking down at him, his huge, blue eyes soft with delighted confusion.  From the way he was starting to giggle, what he was seeing had to be pretty funny.

“Whatcha doing down there, Jack?” Daniel asked with honest curiosity.  He squinted a Jack for a moment, then looked around, gnawing on his lower lip, his expression worried and distraught.  "Oh, oh boy," he murmured.  " I was over there and now I'm here. How'd I get over here?  It's happening again.  Oh boy."  Daniel aimed his distressed gaze back down at the man still sprawled at his feet.  "What's going on. Jack?" he implored, his desperate need for an explanation tearing at Jack as much as his inability provide Daniel with one.

"That's a damned good question, Daniel," Jack tried to reassure him.  "And as soon as I have an answer, you'll be the first to know."

Saying he had a huge problem on his hands was like saying the sky was blue.  So stating the obvious.  So why waste time even talking about it?  Or trying to pretend it wasn't so?  Face facts.  Whatever was going on - for whatever reason he'd done it - Daniel - or whatever - had just taken a swing at him.  A damned good one too.  This was the second time Daniel had gone bonzo and tried to come at him.  The only reason Daniel hadn't ripped his heart out the first time was because the guys holding onto him hadn't let him.

There was nobody stopping Daniel from taking another crack at him if psycho boy decided to go unexpectedly darkside on him again.  Jack had more than enough to worry about already without getting taken out by someone he was trying to protect.

So, as much as he hated to admit it, in the here and now, Daniel was dangerous. Which meant before either one of them could take another step Jack was going to have to take drastic steps to secure the situation.  Or more to the point, secure Daniel.  Hell of a thing to contemplate hog-tying your best friend, but even more inconvenient to have him trying to kill you while you were trying to help him.

But he had to get his hands on Daniel first.

He held out a hand to the man who stood over him.  “Hey Daniel, be a pal.  Help me up, will ya?”

Daniel considered this for a moment before smiling.

“Oh, I don't think so, Jack," he grinned craftily at the man lying supine on the ground before him silently, fervently cursing him and every infuriating, intractable, uncooperative cell in his body.  "I know what you're doing.  You can't fool me!"  he sing-songed, waggling an admonishing finger at Jack. "Naughty, naughty! You're trying to trick me.  I know you! It's not going to be that easy, Colonel. You’ll have to catch me first!  Bye!”  Daniel giggled, whirled and sprinted across the sand.  Making a beeline for the jungle. The thick, dark, wild, untamed, hot, sweltering, probably-full-of-all-sorts-of-things-dying-to-eat-both-of-them-and-him-without-a-gun jungle. THAT jungle!

Oh fucking CRAP!

Jack surged to his feet, swearing a blue streak and nursing his aching head.  Shit, look at that, will you, scarfing down the witch doctor's sludge had apparently made Daniel incapable of walking a straight line but it didn't seem to be at all impacting on his ability to run like stink.   Daniel wasn't having any trouble making tracks.  No weaving or stumbling now, he was sprinting flat out, streaking across the sand like a freaking gazelle, and by the time Jack stumbled to his own feet 'runs like the wind' boy had already disappeared into the fringes of the jungle behind the outer edge of the village.  Crap.

Jack was going to have to go in there after him.  But not by himself, that was for damned sure.  No FRICKING way!   The shape he was in?  Might as well just put a gun to his head.  Carter and Teal’c and the GDOs had to be in one of those huts so he would just carry on with the original plan, try and get through to Boogie, get him to give up the rest of his team, and then they'd all go after Daniel.  Send through for a couple more teams, they'd have the jungle combed and the doped-up delinquent extracted in no time flat.  Sounded like a plan.

Jack turned back, took one look at the witchdoctor's face and knew there was no point in taking another step. Why, oh why had he bothered to get out of bed this morning?

Boogie pointed his rattle at the huts and shook his head.  Well, that was plain enough.  He shook it again, first at Jack and then at the jungle Daniel had disappeared into.  Even plainer. So much for the language barrier. Boogie meant for him to go after 'pain in the ass' boy all by himself.  And nobody was going anywhere until he brought him back.  God, but he loved these no-win situations.  "Thanks for nothing, 'pal'!" he scowled at the witch doctor.   "I hope all your freaking feathers fall off!  Have a nice day!"

Jack flipped Boogie the bird and ran into the jungle after Daniel.

 


Jack stomped through the claustrophobic greenery, inwardly as torrid and seething as the steaming, humid air he was battling.  He grumbled and cursed silently as he followed the clearly delineated trail Daniel had blazed through the vegetation during his hasty, unheeding transit.  Obviously Daniel wasn't taking any great pains to hide his tracks. Good.  All the easier to find to find the dear boy and get the hell out of this frigging green nightmare. Like yesterday.  Good thing Daniel wasn’t thinking clearly enough to be more careful.  Mind you, if Daniel was thinking clearly, they wouldn’t have to be doing this in the first place.

The pain behind his eyes had receded to a dull thud.  The swelling on his jaw was going to take a little longer.  Jack continued to thread his way through the tropical profusion, realizing once he caught up with Daniel he'd best be prepared for anything.  Finding Daniel might be the easy part.  Holding onto him after he found him, that could be something else entirely.

Holding onto Daniel.  Nice.  It had been really, really nice.  Holding him, so close, feeling him, so warm and happy, Daniel smiling at him, looking at him with such trust, such…

Then there was the other way Daniel had looked at him.  Lunging at him, punching him, staring down at him with that weird, hateful look in his eyes.  No - not Daniel.  It looked like Daniel, but it wasn't Daniel.  Daniel hadn't done any of those things to him.  Not Daniel.

Jack didn’t know exactly what was in Daniel, but one thing he did know for sure, it wasn’t a Goa’uld.  There had been no glowing eyes or funny voice, and although he wasn't ‘Goa’uld sensitive’ like Carter, Jack still knew Daniel's problem wasn't snake-related.  Couldn't be.  Even though he couldn't smell the damned things, Carter and Teal'c could, and they'd both been close enough to Daniel today to have sensed - they would have picked up on it.  Whatever he'd seen in him, whatever the Boogie Man had been trying to 'cleanse' Daniel of, it wasn't a Goa'uld.

Danny hadn’t picked up a snake in his travels, but there definitely was a little something ‘extra’ to his personality all the same. Defining exactly what that something was, that was the scary part.  Of course, the simplest explanation for Daniel's aberrant behaviour was the obvious psychological one. He could be just plain nuts. You could make a case for it. A very plausible one.  Much more plausible than - well, the other explanation he was trying very hard not to think about.

Daniel had to be carrying a shit-load of deeply hidden and buried hurts and resentments against a certain colonel in his subconscious. They'd had three years to accumulate, fester and simmer.  Something in the potion Daniel had been forced to drink had turned up the heat and the whole sordid mess had come to a boil, all over the object of his ire.  Now here it all was, every bad thing he'd ever made Daniel feel, out in the open and itching to kick his Air Force ass into the middle of the next century.  As an explanation for Daniel's Mr. Hyde routine, it could fly.

He was sure that's the way Carter would call it.  Probably all the head doctors as well.  Jack knew it was the most logical and acceptable explanation, most probably the ‘right’ one.  However, it didn’t quite do it as far as he was concerned, and certainly didn't explain everything he had personally observed. It didn't allow for the Boogie Man's reaction to Daniel, for what he'd done to him and why, and  it certainly didn't explain the strange, palpable feeling of ‘presence’ Jack had so jarringly experienced during those moments when Daniel hadn't been - Daniel.  It couldn't account for the very, very real sense of malevolence oozing out of him.  Hatred so tangible and consuming he'd been repelled and horrified almost to the point of wanting to flee. During those moments when 'it' had looked at him he'd felt primal, instinctive terror, the kind that turned your bones to water, worse than your worst childhood fears of the things lurking in the darkness.  He'd felt it, and he'd also sensed something else, something weighing so heavily on the scales of the improbable it was tipping them well and truly over to that which shouldn't be, but couldn't be anything else. What had been all around Daniel, covering him like some noxious cloud, the FEELING  of - of -

Gowan, Jack – say it.

Evil.

Whatever had looked at him through Daniel’s eyes, it was Evil.  With a capital 'E'.   One thing Jack knew with as much certainty as he knew the sun was going to rise in the morning, however pissed off he had ever made Daniel or would ever make him for the next thousand years, no way in hell he would ever, EVER believe Daniel’s darkest thought or desire would even come close to being that.  Not possible.  Ever.

Jack didn’t believe in hocus pocus, oogie boogie shit. Things that went 'bump' in the night was what happened when you fell out of bed. All that supernatural crap was for suckers.  That was how he felt about it, until now, that is.  Now he was seriously having to revise his views about what could and couldn't be possible.   If he was unwilling to accept the rational explanations for what was happening to Daniel, he had no other choice but to go with the only other possible explanation.  Daniel didn't have a Goa'uld, he wasn't homicidal, he was - possessed.

Oooh yeah, that just made him feel SO much better!

‘Something’ was in his friend.  Something evil.  Something the Boogie Man had picked up on and had tried to get out of Daniel with the rattles and the smoke and the screaming and all that other crap. Tried and failed.  That Something was STILL in Daniel, and now the pair of them were out there, loose, somewhere ahead of him.  And lest he forget, this Something apparently didn’t care for him any more than he was overly fond of it. Not a particularly comforting thought.

Jack’s radar tapped him on the shoulder.  He stopped abruptly as he realized what it was telling him.

The jungle noises had stopped.  It was quiet.  Too quiet.  Oh my, this wasn’t good.

Jack barely had time to complete the thought when a body came hurtling at him from out of the thick undergrowth behind him.  Damn!  Daniel had circled – behind him?  How in the hell had he managed to do that?

Daniel’s shoulder slammed into the middle of his back, thrusting him violently forward.  Right into a tree.  Face met bark in such a manner as to make Jack rather the loser for the encounter and once again, Jack found himself becoming distressingly disconnected from his gray matter.  Daniel kept charging, mashing him into the tree, dashing the wind from him and making his ribs shriek alarmingly under the strain.  Daniel leapt away from him  and Jack dropped like a stone, crashing to the ground where he lay dazed and dumbly gasping, mad sparks flashing in his head, his chest a searing mass of pain as it heaved futilely and wildly for air.

He was down, he was out, a beached whale had a better chance right now than he did. He was going to have to give the kid points for this one.  If he lived.  Either he was slipping or Daniel was improving. Whichever it was, the first round definitely went to Dannyboy.  That is, Jack was hoping it was Daniel who'd gotten the drop on him, and had subsequently dropped him.  'Cause if it wasn't he wasn't in much of a position to stop - whatever - from finishing the job.

The sound of giggling came down to meet Jack as he slowly drifted back up from the twilight edges of unconsciousness.  This had not helped his headache one damned bit.  He warily opened his eyes.  A blurred figure was swimming around right beside him.  He couldn't really make out the face yet, but he certainly knew the laugh.  What's more, the little shit was standing within grabbing range. Good.

Jack shot out a hand and tried to snag his quarry.  His hand closed on empty air as Daniel nimbly evaded his clumsy attempt.

“Oh, you’re going to have to do better than that, Jack,” Daniel taunted him, snickering.

That laugh was really starting to get to him.

“That’s one for me!" Daniel crowed.  "Catch me if you can, Colonel.  Wheeee!  This is FUN!”

Jack rolled over, turning the air more than slightly blue in his frustration as he made another frantic but futile grab at Daniel.  “Danny – WAIT!” he bellowed after him.

Too late, Daniel had slipped through his fingers once more and was already on the move again, making like a giggling gazelle through the green.

“Come on, Jack. Let’s play!” he laughed back at the swearing man struggling to get up.

“Sure, Danny!”  Jack yelled after him.  “Got a deck of CARDS?”  Groaning, he hauled his aching bones the rest of the way to his feet and doggedly trudged deeper into the jungle.

That had been two hours ago.  Two lousy, stinking hours of slogging through this lousy, stinking jungle.  Sweltering along in a sauna bath, sweating his ass off as he pushed his way past more green stuff than he ever wanted to see for the rest of his life, steadily developing an irrational hatred of rain forests and every thing in them approaching epic proportions.   Struggling over terrain becoming increasingly steep and treacherous, being a walking smorgasbord for an astonishing variety of flying, biting, stinging insects and generally just not having a good time at all.  And now here he was, two hours after Daniel had first clocked him, standing at the base of this damned thousand-feet-tall-if-it-was-an-inch tree, trying to catch a glimpse of the man who'd managed, more than once, to make a monkey of this rather abused and abashed Special Ops colonel.

Jack hated fucking trees.  He hated the fucking jungle.  But most of all he hated getting his ass kicked.  Repeatedly. Boy oh boy, had he been whumped.

Daniel had jumped him and thumped him twice, and had followed this up by becoming one with the jungle and thumping him some more.  In his new persona of Nature Boy he'd swung by him on a vine, shirtless and yodeling and had almost kicked his head in.  And that was just for starters.

Not content with achieving aerial superiority, Daniel had launched an impressive and very effective ground assault. Daniel had pushed him down a ravine, tumbled him into a stream and whipped a rock at him, catching him above the right eye so bad it was still bleeding.  All the time giggling and dancing around him like Danny was freaking invincible.

The kid had some moves, and he was driving Jack absolutely insane.  He couldn't seem to lay a finger on Daniel, and it wasn't for lack of trying.  Jack wasn't sure if it was because Daniel had suddenly become much more physically confident and capable than he'd ever seen him - and he didn't even want to THINK about why that was - or if it was because Nature Boy's current whipping boy was slowing down from having been so effectively, repeatedly TROUNCED, but whatever the reason, Daniel was dancing rings around him.  Laughing all the way.

The fact Daniel was continuing to get the better of him, it had NOTHING to do with him being distracted. By the memories of seeing that lithe, sleekly muscled, sweat-gleaming body flying at him, making disturbing thoughts flash through his aching head. Followed by more thoughts, and even more disturbing images…desires… thoughts about wanting to see even more of that body, shiny and sweating, wanting to slide his fingers over the glistening skin, touching it, smelling it, wondering what it would feel like to have Daniel panting and wild eyed beneath him, imagining what sort of sounds would he make, what would he taste like, thinking how much he would like to run his tongue across that wide, firm chest…

Wow!  Jack shook his head to banish such terrifying, exciting notions.  He had to stop his mind from going where it kept wanting to go.  Not only was this not the place or the time, it just wasn't supposed to go there.  Ever.  Daniel had a certain place in his life, his own, nice comfortable little mental niche, just like everyone else who was important to him, and that's where Dannyboy was staying.   Safe in the best friend box where he belonged.  All the other stuff he'd been thinking and feeling about Daniel since this whole nightmare had started, it was stress and worry. Getting his brains rattled one too many times. That's all it was.  That's all he was going to let be.  Period.

All this crap stopped here and it stopped now!  He wasn't himself at the moment, plain and simple.  Small wonder, his head was three sizes bigger than normal, he'd been thoroughly used and abused, he was angry, hurt, tired, sweaty, itchy in places he didn’t even know he had, hungry, thirsty and all in all, one really cranky colonel. Add confused and more than slightly horny - okay, REALLY horny -  to the mix and you're talking a full day of thrills and adventure.  More than enough for Mother O'Neill's baby boy.    He’d had his fill of fun and games for one afternoon. Not to mention giggling.  Please, God, no more giggling!  And if Daniel made him climb this fricking tree to get him the hell out of it…

“Wooo hooo – Jaaaackkk!  Are you down there?  Look at me!”

Speak of the devil. Smile Jack. Be nice.  Make him come down.  Then kill him.

“Ah, Daniel?”  Jack ventured in what he hoped was a friendly. persuasive tone.  “I’ve been having a lot of fun, but it’s getting late.  Can we go home now?  Please?”

A mocking burst of laughter answered him. “Jack, you are such a LIAR.  I come down there, you’re gonna wring my neck!  God, you’re funny!” Daniel chortled.

“Yeah, well so are you!”  Jack howled back up at him, the remaining shreds of his control abruptly snapping.  “Daniel, cut the crap already. Don't make me come up there!  I mean it! Enough is enough. already.  This is NOT funny anymore!   I’m hurt and you’re – you're crazy. Get your ass down here RIGHT NOW!”

Silence.

Crap!  Way to go, DICKHEAD!  There goes your 'Mister Sensitive of the Year' award! Even though the guy has been making you crazy it's not his fault.  He's still looped and/or ah, inhabited,  and you've just gone and yelled at him and probably scared the shit out of him.  Like he's gonna come down if he thinks you're waiting here to thump him as soon as his feet hit the ground.

Still nothing happening up there. No sounds, no movement.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zip. Jack moved in closer to the tree, anxiously peering up the length of the massive trunk, trying to catch a glimpse of Daniel through the concealing foliage high overhead.

"Daniel?" Jack called up to him in a much kinder voice.  Genuinely contrite.  "Danny? Listen, buddy, I'm - I'm sorry I yelled at you.  I'm having a bad day.  Come on down, now, Daniel, I'm not mad at you. I promise I won't give you a hard time.  Daniel?"

“Fire in the hole!”  Daniel shrieked.

Too late Jack realized he'd been suckered.  Again.  Something small and round, probably a nut but feeling like a cannon ball hitting him right between the eyes.   Somewhere on the periphery of his awareness he heard Daniel whoop exultantly and yell.

 “Yes!  The Revenge of Plant Boy!”

 That was when the lights finally went – out.

 


 

Cool breeze across his face.  Nice.  It felt really nice.  Just what he needed, something nice and cool. Nice after all that frigging heat. The breeze smelled great, too.  Like the ocean.  Wow, he couldn't just smell it, he could hear it, the sound of waves crashing, roaring.  The sounds were faint, distant, but he could hear them.  Ocean sounds.  By the sea…sweet.  He could use a nice seaside vacation right about now.  Hold the frigging sand, though.

Wait a minute, that wasn't quite right, was it?  Hadn't he been - wasn't he - he'd been standing under this really big tree and then…Ow!  Crap!  What the hell was that, sticking into his back?  It hurt like a bitch.  What was he lying on - rocks?  Rocks?  Ocean?

Jack sat up with a start, felt a stab of pain in his skull shooting through him right down to his toes, groaned and fell back again. Ow - Ow - OW!

Son of a bitch, was there a single spot on his body that didn’t hurt?  He was a giant mass of pain.  What a day.  Join the Stargate Program, they said, see the universe, they said, get the crap beat out of you, all part of the job description. When he got home he was going to have to give some serious thought to considering a less dangerous line of work.  Like landmine locator.  Or TV talk show host.  He was definitely getting too old for this crap.

Jack winced and groaned again.  The sound of his own breathing was making his head throb.  He didn’t even want to think how much it would hurt if he tried to open his eyes.

“Bet your head really hurts.  Sorry about that.”

Daniel’s voice!  Daniel!  Off to his right, about twenty feet away. God, where was his head at, so busy moaning about a few minor bumps and bruises when he should have been thinking about Daniel.  Daniel was okay, but he still sounded a bit spaced, though.  But that was okay, high or stone cold sober, at least he was here.   Daniel was here, he was close at hand, he was here.  Wherever 'here' was.  He'd get to that in just a minute, as soon as he could open his eyes without having his head explode.  What mattered was they were both here.  They were together. Thank God

Jack lay still, breathing deeply, trying to get his head to stop spinning, his senses straining and alert for the slightest sound of movement from the man with him indicating Daniel was about to up and scamper off again. So far so good.  Jack knew approximately where Daniel was, but he was still no closer to getting his hands on him then he'd been since the merry chase had started.  And he had to get his hands on Daniel.  Had to get him under control.  Although Daniel evidently hadn't abandoned him while he'd been out, it was no guarantee he still wouldn't up and bolt in the next second.  Start the whole, damn 'Whee, Jack let's play' deal up again.  Not going to happen. There was just no way Jack was going to allow himself to get suckered into chasing the wing nut over one more square foot of this stupid, stinking island.  He’d lie here till doomsday first.

Jack knew he was in no shape to either chase Daniel any more or deal with any Mr. Hyde stuff.  Right now it was looking like he wouldn't have to.  Daniel was being nice and quiet, sitting where he was, kinda - humming - or something, from the sounds of things, but that didn't mean either one of them were out of the woods yet for all it seemed they were no longer in the jungle.

His head was actually starting to feel a little better, but no reason to let Daniel know that. In fact, it was probably smarter to let Daniel think he was feeling pretty darned terrible.  Yeah, play possum and pull Dannyboy into grabbing range that way.  Shamelessly appeal to his better nature.  Being he was Daniel, even though he was still doped up and whatevered, Jack was banking he still had one. Not only counting on it, he was planning to use it to turn the tables on Nature Boy.  This colonel had been played for a sucker long enough.  Daniel's turn.

Yep. That sounded like a plan.

 Jack let out an experimental groan and lay perfectly still, confident his vocalized distress would be all it would take to bring Danny running. Make Daniel come to him.  And he would. Daniel's kind heart was both his greatest strength and his biggest weakness.  Jack intended to take full advantage of it.

He lay still and waited. Waited. Waited some more.

Nothing.

Come on, Daniel; take the damned bait, already.  Ah geez, there he goes with the damned laughing again!

“Jack, Jack, Jack, you just never quit, do you?” Daniel chuckled.

Jack's heart jumped at the warmth in Daniel's voice.  He heard real fondness in the words and the way they were spoken.  Maybe he was imagining things, but Daniel sounded different now, more like Daniel in his right mind.  Relatively speaking, of course.  Was Daniel coming back to him?  Was the drug finally wearing off?

“Jack, you might as well give it up and get up," Daniel continued in a fondly scolding voice.  "You’re wasting your time.  I’m not going to go over there.  I’m only still here because I wanted to say good-bye to you before I go.”

Good-bye?  GO? Wait a minute - what was Daniel talking about?  Going?  Where did Daniel think he was going without him?

Jack immediately sat up, his alarm outweighing any concerns he might have had for what getting up so quickly might do to him.  The sight of his new surroundings set him back a bit.  But only for a split second.

They definitely weren't in the jungle any more. Or in Kansas, for that matter.  Jack was sitting on the more or less flat, but still very rough and rocky surface of a cliff top.  Probably one of those cliffs along the shoreline of the island, if the ocean sounds were anything to go by.  Jack shot a look over his left shoulder.  Nothing but more rock and cliffs behind them, a whole lot of wide open space in front.  Complete with one hell of a first step, he was guessing, to whatever lay beneath.  No jungle.  Not a tree in sight.  Hallelujah!

Hell, where was his head, who cared about the scenery - Daniel - where was Daniel?  Daniel?  His voice had come from the right, look over to the right -

Daniel was about twenty-five feet away from him, roughly in the middle of the rocky shelf, sitting cross-legged, staring at him, a strange, bemused expression on his face.  Playing Nature Boy had messed him up some, but even like this, sitting serenely before him in all his grimy glory, God help him, but Daniel was a sight. A positive…vision.

Daniel was sublime, sweaty, small cuts and scratches tattooing his naked torso, his bare chest and arms shimmering with a thin covering of perspiration and smeared with dark, dirty patches, looking like some mussed up, slightly smudged, wild-eyed angel. Jack's breath stilled in his chest at the dangerous beauty of the man beaming tenuous but utterly compelling benevolence at him. To hell with the face that launched a thousand ships, this was a face he'd cheerfully kill for.  Oh, and not just the face…  Have mercy!

Daniel's head was tilted slightly to one side, spiking tufts of his short, sweat-drenched hair framing his high, placid brow like a dark halo.  Teasing fire danced in his wide, cerulean eyes as he stroked his naked chest with a wondering, grubby hand, his long, sensitive fingers gliding with agonizing sensuality across his moist, glowing skin, lightly caressing the slippery, dirt-streaked surface they were exploring.

Feeling.

Jack gaped at him, confused and captivated.  His throat was dry, his mouth a wasteland which seemed to have developed strange adhesive properties.  The only reason his tongue wasn't hanging out was because it was stuck to the roof of it.

Daniel's lush, full lips curved in a small, surprised smile and then parted.  Jack stared longingly at them through a rising, sweltering cloud of desire, his entire awareness contracting and focussed upon the sweet, inviting ripeness before him, opening slightly, the tip of a pink, moist tongue darting out of inviting depths, slowly, languorously tasting the fullness, soft moaning following. Daniel, his mouth quivering, sighing, his eyes closing, smiling dreamily as his fingers reached, touched, delicately teased and danced over a puckering nipple.

"Do you like what you see, Jack?" he murmured in silky, lust-laden voice, caressing, asking, offering…

Jack couldn't give him a coherent answer if his life depended on it, even though the answer was most emphatically, YES.  YES, YES, YES, OH GOD, YES.

There'd been one or two times in the past, okay, several times, okay, LOTS more times lately, when looking at Daniel had evoked a certain - response. Which he'd ignored.  Stomped on, strangled, kicked to pieces, killed to death, shoved down deep and then ignored.  But now, but this, Daniel, what he was doing to himself, the way he looked, touching himself, like that, breathing harder, that mouth panting, lips quivering, shining, rosy and flushed, hand stroking, playing, muscles working sinuously beneath his sleek skin as his chest rose and fell, harder, faster, deeper.  Hot, so hot, Daniel was so hot, he was so hot, who needed a jungle with all the wildness, the fire, the heat looking right at him, burning for him, right before his eyes. A private conflagration, hotter and brighter than the centre of the sun.

Oh God, Daniel burning and writhing, unashamed and unbridled before him was the most intensely honest, nakedly passionate, most erotic thing he'd ever seen.  Daniel opened eyes wide with the wonder of his own excitement, groaning deeply, hungrily and arching his back into the hand loving his chest.   Pressing harder, moving it in widening circles, his smoking eyes devouring the man drinking him in as avidly.  Daniel's was luminous, passion incarnate, shining with a love so vast and vehement it nearly yanked Jack's heart right out of his chest.

Him. Daniel was looking at him. That light - that love was for him. All for him, only him. Oh my god.

Daniel smiled languorously at him, shuddering with rising bliss, the hand resting in his lap beginning to move slowly, rhythmically, purposefully massaging the blatant bulge beneath. Touching himself, pleasuring himself, showing Jack what Daniel wanted, how he could be, what Jack - what he could have.  Daniel moving like that, looking like that, burning, begging, wanting, needing, molten, shivering desire.  Oh God, how he wanted everything Daniel wanted to give him.

Jack's fingers clenched.  His palms were sweating, his hands aching to reach across, to touch, answering need making him harder than he'd ever been in his life.  What Daniel was doing - for him, the look in his eyes, the pure desire on his face. Offering, asking, pleading…

Daniel wasn't teasing him, making some sick show of himself.   Daniel was offering himself up, showing him how much - coming, coming  - for him.  It was exciting, it was beautiful, it was enough to make him come right along with him just watching Daniel's flushed, shining face, his dewy, gleaming eyes, hear the sounds, smell the arousal, feel what he was showing him as Daniel brought himself closer and closer to…

"Touch me, Jack," Daniel trembled and groaned, his eyes mere slits of passion, his hand pushing harder into his groin, rubbing faster as his pelvis rocked insistently, vehemently thrusting forward, increasing its urgent rhythm.

It was too much. It was so honest, so intense, so incredible, and it was - so, so wrong.  Wrong Daniel was acting this way, so wrong for him to be seeing it.  This was worse than hiding in the closet and taking pictures of the guy on his wedding night.  Daniel wasn't in his right mind, didn't know what he was doing. He wouldn't be behaving like this if he wasn't full of the Boogie Man's happy juice. Jack felt disgusted with himself, like some sick voyeur, drooling over Daniel acting this way when he couldn't help himself, taking advantage of him because of a drug which had ripped away his inhibitions, stripped him of his dignity and left him naked and exposed, a secret part of his soul showing.  He was salivating over something Daniel had never meant for him to know.  His innermost feelings - feelings for him, they were private, a secret, something Daniel had never let him see, wouldn't be letting him see now if he wasn't - wasn't as whacked as he was.  Daniel would die if he knew Jack had seen him behaving like this.   Daniel would never - never do this to himself in front of him. Not if he was able to know what he was doing.

He couldn't take what Daniel was offering him.  Not like this.  He couldn't have this gift he wanted so bad it was killing keeping his hands to himself, but Daniel didn't know what he was doing. It just wasn't right.  And what was more, once they were out of this mess and both back to normal again, he couldn't let on about any of it.  He'd seen nothing, knew nothing about how Daniel felt about him.  Nothing to see here, nothing to tell.  It never happened.

Never going to happen. Because, when Daniel was in his right mind again, he wouldn't want him to know.  Again.  Ah…Daniel…

Jack took a deep, resolute breath and grimly shoved away all thoughts of what could have been.  "Daniel!"  he barked harshly at him, not able to look at him as he started to get up.  "Stop fooling around and let's go home."

Daniel hissed with alarm, instantly on the defensive as soon as Jack said the words.  Daniel sprang up into a low crouch with the disconcerting, rapid agility of a tense jungle cat preparing to pounce on its unsuspecting prey.  His large, blue eyes were wide and wringing with hurt and suspicion.  And a strange, hostile fire reminding Jack far too much of that scary something he'd seen lurking behind those eyes earlier.

"Too late!"  Daniel snarled at him, coiling his long legs beneath him as if he meant to leap right over Jack's head and take off back down the mountain again.  "You're too late!"

"Whoa! Danny, easy.  Take it easy.  I'm staying put." Jack held up his hands in surrender. Crap, but he was an absolute MORON! He'd just gone and blown it again.  Daniel had been begging - begging him to - perfect, he'd had a perfect chance to get a hold of him and like the stupid dumb FUCK he was, he'd blown it. Scruples be damned, Jack wanted to kick his stupid, principled butt around the block.  Stupid, stupid, STUPID!  Thirty seconds ago Danny was so happy, horny and adoring he'd have done anything for him.  It would have been a piece of cake to handle him.  Hell, he'd been begging for it!  Schmuck!  What an ass he was!  They could be halfway to the gate by now, but no, he had go all freaking noble and screw things up and now all he'd done was to piss Daniel off and make him all paranoid and skittish again.

Could he get any more retarded and could things get any worse?

Daniel was still crouching warily in loose cannon land, his narrowed, aroused eyes sparking suspicious fire, skittish, muscles tensing and twitching, his body coiled and taut like an apprehensive, randy spring.  Half of him still desperate to jump the bones of the man he was smouldering at while the other half was looking more and more like he wouldn't mind killing him.

Jack wanted work past these other guys and get to the part that was his friend.  He'd calm Danny down, get him back in the driver's seat, and then walk them both back down to the village.  As soon as he could figure out where it was. All of this hopefully before his poor, aching head imploded and all the other aching parts of him gave up the ghost as well.

"It's not too late, Daniel," Jack soothed.  "Whatever it is, we'll work on it.  Talk about it.  But not here.  We're both a little banged up and we need some rest. Let's just calm down, now, take a little walk, you and me, go find Teal'c and Carter and go home.  It's time to go home, now, Danny.  What do you say? You can have a little nap, rest up, tell me all about it after."

Daniel was shaking his head mournfully, looking right at him but not seeing him.  "No," he sighed, a restive, regretful sound.  "It's too late to go back.  No point now.  She told me so.  She told me, but I wouldn't listen.  Didn't want to believe her.  She was right.  Wasting my time waiting, trying. H - hoping…  I should have listened to her and gone while you were sleeping.  Shouldn't have waited. She told me you wouldn't…wouldn't want… "  Daniel's voice wavered, his eyes filling with aching pain and loss.  "I had to try. I hoped… Stupid," he sighed sadly.  "She told me so. She was right."

She?  She who?  What was Daniel talking about?  Hoping? Jack suddenly felt colder as Daniel's recent, previous actions began taking on a terrifying, deeper significance.  By shutting Daniel down, rejecting him, had he made his final, truly fatal mistake?

No!  Don't think like that!  Don't think about anything but keeping Daniel talking, getting through to him.

'She' was wrong.  Whoever the fuck SHE was!

 "Carter?"  Jack asked carefully.  The only 'she' he could think of having any possible relevance to the situation even though he wasn't exactly sure how.

"No," Daniel smiled ruefully at him, the tension in is body marginally easing as his voice grew calmer and more confidential in tone.  "Not Sam. I'll miss Sam. Teal'c too.  You'll say good-bye to them for me, won't you Jack?"  Daniel's eyes suddenly softened with fondness, becoming overtaken with the earnestness of his request.  "Tell them I'm sorry I couldn't wait for them and say good-bye myself.  You'll do that for me, won't you, Jack?"

"You're scaring me, Daniel."  Crap, that was out before he could stop it.  He hadn't meant to say it.  But it was true. He was shit-scared, and getting even more so with each passing second.  He was in over his head, the water so deep he might never be able to claw to the surface and see his way clear, but he sure wasn't going to go down for the last time without a damned good fight.  Danny was counting on him.  He was it and he was all Daniel had.  God help both of them. He'd have a time-out to crap his drawers later, right now he needed to hold onto his sanity and not let go of Daniel no matter what happened.

No matter what.

"She was angry with me for bringing you here," Daniel's distant eyes were filling with tears.  "Very angry.  She wanted me to leave you behind in the jungle, but I couldn't do that. Actually,” he paused and leaned forward, lowering his voice to a conspiratorial whisper, “What she REALLY wanted - I think she wanted me to kill you, but I couldn’t do that either.”

“Glad to hear it,” Jack smiled weakly, only barely managing to keep the fear out of his voice. "Killing your CO is definitely against the regs.  I'd have to bring you up on charges for sure."  He tried to laugh, but only managed a weak croak. So much for humorous icebreakers.

"Killing your friends isn't very nice either," Daniel's expression was as unfathomable as his emotionless voice.  "Are you my friend, Jack?"  Daniel continued after a slight pause, in a quiet, cunning tone making Jack's skin crawl.

"What kind of a question is that, Daniel, you know I am!"  Jack replied quickly, horrified Daniel would think he'd even need to ask such a thing.

"I know that's what you say, what you want me to think."  Daniel's brow was deeply knit with consternation.  "But she's been telling me it's not true.  She says I shouldn't trust you.  You're lying to me.  All of you have been lying to me.  Fooling me.  Telling me you care about me when you really don't.  You don't and you never have.  She's the only one who ever loved me, ever really cared about me.  That's why - that's why you killed her."

WOW!  Shut up, Jack, shut up, he's not finished, he's still talking, keep him talking, let him talk. Talk to me, Danny.

The tears were falling freely now, raining twin rivulets coursing unheeded down Daniel's openly grieving face.  "I failed her. I was so lost when she left me the first time.  Then it got better -  I stopped trying as hard to find her - hoping as hard I would.  Stopped wanting - wanting her as much as I used to.  Wanted someone else. My - my fault she died.  I let her go - should have, should have tried harder - " Daniel's voice broke and his head fell as his shoulders shook with a huge, despairing sob.  "I'm sorry!"  he cried suddenly, vehemently.  "I'm sorry!  I have to do this.  I have to do what she wants.  It's my fault she's all alone now!"

"Danny…aw,,,don't - "

"Don't come any closer!"  Daniel snarled warningly, his head snapping up and his eyes flaring dangerously in response to Jack's unthinking, overwhelming need to bridge the distance between them to take Daniel into his arms.  He wasn't even aware he'd started to move toward him until Daniel's angry challenge brought him up short and back to the fact he was on his hands and knees and crawling toward him.  Jesus.  That was stupid.  But he couldn't help it.  He couldn't stand to see Daniel like that, see him in so much pain and not DO something.

"Okay, okay," Jack said quickly, settling himself as rapidly back down on the uneven, rocky surface beneath him.  His butt was not going to be thanking him for this later.  "Sorry.  I'll stay put.  Not going to budge from this spot.  Honest.  Keep talking. Tell me more, okay?  What does she want you to do?" Jack entreated.  "Who knows, maybe I can help."

Daniel smiled at that, and shook his head.  "Oh, I don't think she'd like that, Jack.  She doesn't like you very much.  Likes you least of all."  Daniel licked his lips and wiped his face with an absent, uncaring hand.  "I feel really bad about doing all that stuff to you back there.  It was her idea. She told me you wanted to play.  I think maybe that wasn’t true." Daniel paused, peering at Jack anxiously.  Jack could almost see the wheels turning, feel the fierce need in Daniel to push through his manifest mental confusion, to understand what was happening to him.  Jack held his breath and silently rooted for Daniel's common sense to bring him on through it and back to him.

"But that would mean she lied to me," Daniel said slowly, carefully, as if the concept was so completely foreign to him he was almost unable to grasp it.  "All along she's been saying she's the only one who's ever told me the truth.  But if she was lying to me back there - about you, how - how can that be? That can't be right, can it, Jack?"

"Do you think I've been lying to you, Daniel?"  Jack ventured slowly.  He didn't know if it was the right thing to say, didn't know if saying anything at all was the right thing to do, but Daniel looked so confused, so desperate, he had to say something.

"I don't know what to think anymore," Daniel replied distractedly, the distress in his voice and expression appreciably escalating. "I don't know who to trust.  You can't both be telling the truth because you're both saying…  I’ve been so confused.  I’ve been hearing her for such a long time.  But you see – I didn’t KNOW it was her."  Daniel made a bitter, wincing face.  "I didn't know what was happening to me.  Until today.”

“Okay, Daniel,” Jack continued, trying to sound calm, fear making his heart pound against his ribs.  “Can we back this up just a little?  Who have you been hearing.  Since when?  Can you tell me?”

A wary look sparked in Daniel's eyes. “She doesn’t want me to. She says this is all a trick. She says there's no point telling you because you won't listen to me.  Like always.  You won't understand.  You're just trying to trick me.  You just want to stop me.  I can't let you stop me.  I'm not supposed to listen to you anymore -   No!"  Daniel suddenly cried.  "I don't want to DO that!  I WON'T!  Stop SAYING that!"

"Daniel?"  Jack asked hesitantly.  "Who are you talking to?"  He was so not going to like this, but he had to ask, he had to know.

“Please believe me, Jack, I NEVER meant to hurt you," Daniel continued, as if he hadn't heard the question.  His voice was so desperately pleading, aching with the need for understanding and forgiveness Jack felt a huge lump of sorrow clogging his throat. "You have to believe me. That – wasn’t me.  I'd never - never want to hurt you!”

"I believe you, Danny," Jack was so overwhelmed by the need to reassure Daniel he almost couldn't get the words out. "I know you wouldn't.  But if it wasn't you, then who?  Who wanted to hurt me?  Who made you do it?"

Daniel looked at him like he was surprised he needed to ask.  Like it should have been immediately obvious to him.

“Sha’uri.”

Back to Part One  /  On to Part Three

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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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