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

HIDE AND SEEK  BY PHOENIX E

Part Three


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 ened up in it's 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 assustance on the slash version, the suggestions, catching my boo-boos and ceaselessly nagging me to get Daniel naked ASAP.


 

Oh boy, here we go.  Careful, Jack, we are officially in the deep end of the shit pool.

“Daniel, Sha’uri is dead.  No one knows that better than you.”

Daniel nodded his head vigorously in agreement.  “I know, I know, I know.  That’s what we all thought.  That’s the way it looked.  Well, she did change, but she didn’t leave me.  "She’s been here all along. Here." Daniel tapped his chest. "Talking to me.  I just didn’t understand it was her I was hearing.  I thought I was hearing things.  Like I was before, when you all thought I was - was going…"

"Nuts," Jack finished grimly.

Daniel flashed him a crooked grin.  “Yeah.  That. I’ve been a little confused.  Worried. I know I'm not crazy but I didn’t know what was happening to me. I couldn't find any logical explanation for - for everything I was experiencing.  I knew there had to be one, but I couldn't - couldn't find it. I tried so hard, Jack.  I really did.  But I was right.  There was a reason. I'm not - not crazy. There's nothing wrong with me; it was HER the whole time.

"She was causing all of it. The dreams, the feelings, sometimes – thoughts, thoughts in my head - didn’t make sense. Weren't my thoughts. Sometimes I'd want to – to do things.  Strange things. I - I didn't understand any of it.  And sometimes I'd look around, find myself somewhere - I didn't know how I got there. I remembered what happened with Kawalsky, but we're always checked for Goa'ulds, so I knew that couldn't be it.  I wasn't seeing things; it didn't feel the same as - as when you locked me up. But the voices, the thoughts - missing time - scared me.

No shit, kid, that'd scare the crap out of me, too!  Jesus, Danny, you've been dealing with this - alone?  Why? Why didn't you say something, why didn't you come to me?

"I didn’t know what to do. There was no one to talk to.  No one I could tell.  No one I could trust.  To believe me - just - just LISTEN to me and help me figure it out.”  Daniel shrugged and opened his hands in a ‘well, do you blame me’ gesture at Jack's loud grunt of protest.  “Don't even say it!" he admonished Jack sternly.  " I could have come to you? Oh yeah," Daniel flushed angrily, "that worked SO well the last time. After all, I'm 'flaky', even on a good, day, right,  Jack?  I'd started telling you any of this, what would your first  reaction have been?"

Don't, Danny, don't say it.

'He's nuts!'  That's what you would have thought!  You wouldn't have listened - none of you would have listened, you would have just locked me up again.  I couldn't let you do that to me, I couldn't go back to that place.  No way I was letting anyone put me back in that place.  That's what you did the last time I heard things and it wasn’t my fault. I wasn’t crazy then either, but you didn’t believe me.  Why would you have believed me about this?”  Daniel's face abruptly brightened and he beamed brilliant satisfaction and relief at the shamed man watching him.  “But, it’s okay now.  I know what’s going on.  I don’t need to worry about it anymore.”

Oh.  That's why.

You locked me up.  You didn't believe me. You did that to me.  Daniel's pained words hit Jack like thunderous accusations.  True. All of it true. Every single damning word. He'd ignored his gut and bowed to 'medical wisdom'.  He'd let them tell him his friend was insane and lock him away like an animal.  He'd turned his back on Daniel and walked away.  Left him alone in that terrible place with Ma'chello's demons tormenting him, abandoned him to fight his way back to sanity on his own.

Through that whole, sordid episode Jack had never once questioned his implicit faith in those who 'knew better' and really didn't.  He'd never given one particle of that same trust to the one who always knew best and was never believed. No matter how many times Daniel proved himself, no matter how often he showed he was almost always 'righter' than everyone else always telling him he was wrong, Jack hadn't believed in him. He'd even made Daniel beg for his trust in that cold, white room, right up to the bitter end when he finally, grudgingly, bestowed it.

Jesus, after the way he'd treated him it was a wonder Daniel could even bear to look at him now, never mind still trusted him.  That was the real hell of it.  Even after everything he'd not said to him and done for him, something in Daniel was still reaching out to him, still trusting him.

Trusting him with his life.  His life.

His life!

Suddenly Jack knew what Boogie had been wanting him to do. What was really at stake here, what Daniel needed from him, and needed him to do for him.   Daniel's life was literally in his hands. His hands, no one else's. Maybe he'd let Daniel down before, but that was then.  And this was now.  Major 'make it all up to him' opportunity, his for the taking.  No frigging way he was dropping THIS ball.

Daniel was counting on him.

You wanna fight me for him, bitch?  Bring it on!

Daniel started to stand up.  “I’m sorry, Jack.  It’s been nice talking to you, but I have to go now.  She’s waiting for me to keep my promise.”

Oh no, you don't!

"Danny, wait!"  Jack called out sharply, bringing a slight edge of the 'Colonel' into his voice.  "What are you talking about - what promise?  What does Sha'uri want you to do?"

Tell me what's going on.  You owe me an explanation.  Whatever you think you have to do for her, you're part of us as well.  You can't just leave me, leave the team like this without telling me why.

Jack didn't say the words, but he could see Daniel was getting it. You've got ties.  Ties to the living. A new life now that needs you more than the old one.  It has to count for something. We should count for something. You can't just turn your back on us and walk away. No matter who's in there lying to you, telling you to.

Daniel was hovering, hesitating, what Jack was telling him without saying a word obviously making him stop and consider.  Question whatever he was hearing in his head. The utter anguish of indecision grew in his eyes, as did his agitation.

"Confusing me," he muttered unhappily, shaking his head, his entire body twanging with tension.  "You're confusing me.  I can't do it.  I can't please both of you.  You can't both be right."  Daniel made a tentative move toward him and then stopped and stood shaking and staring helplessly at him.  "I don't know what to do, Jack!"  he cried, his voice and body shuddering with distress.

"Come over to me, Daniel," Jack said quietly, opening his arms to him.  "Come on and sit down, and we'll talk about it."

"No!"  Daniel cried out, leaping hastily backwards.  "You're lying!  You don't want to help me, don't want to listen to me!  You're just trying to trick me!"

"Why would I want to do that, Daniel?"  Jack asked him, trying to keep his voice calm and to not react to the rising feeling of foreboding swelling within him as he realised what lay behind Daniel in the direction he was retreating.

The edge of the cliff.

"You don't want to help me, you want to take me back,"   Daniel retorted with an accusing glare. "You're not going to listen, you're just going to lock me up!  I don't need your 'help', Jack.  She's telling me what I have to do."

Daniel sighed, waved a distracted hand at him and wavered slightly, as if he was meaning to turn and walk away.  Only one place he was going to end up if he walked in that direction and the first step was the last one he would ever take if he got there.  Not good.

Careful, careful, be careful what you say.  He's still too far away. You don't want him heading in that direction but if you spook him, if he panics and runs he's likely to run blindly right over the edge.

"Daniel, give me a chance!" Jack said quickly.  "You think I won't listen?  I don't want to help? Is that what Sha'uri is telling you?  If it is, she's….mistaken.  I do want to help you, Daniel.  I want to help both of you.  But you have to help me understand, so I'll know how I can. Tell me what she wants you to do."

Daniel swayed slightly, his eyes narrowing as he tried to decide whether or not to respond. "She wants me to make it right," Daniel said finally.  "She's been with me, but now she's fading.  She tried - she wanted - wanted to live again, but she wasn't strong enough. Tried, but couldn't - couldn't change places with me. She can't live again like she wanted to, and she can't stay much longer."

What the FUCK is he talking about?  This - whatever it is in Daniel wanted to take him over somehow - like - like a Goa'uld?

"She'll have to go soon. She hasn't got the strength to stay with me much longer," Daniel continued sorrowfully. "Then she'll be alone.  She doesn't want to be alone.  Doesn't want to be without me.  Doesn't want me to live - without her."

Oh crap, here it comes!

"She wants me to go with her, Jack," Daniel looked at Jack imploringly, begging him to understand.  "I have to.  I - I - it's my - it's my fault she's this way.  I owe her a life to replace the one she lost because of me.  It's only fair. What I want - well, I can't have what I want, so I might as well… What does it matter what happens to me?"  Daniel's voice fell to almost a whisper as he looked away, his blue eyes bleak with grief.  "I might as well go with her. Not like there's anything else.  Anyone…"

Say something, you moron!  Tell him!

Tell him?  Tell him what?  That his best friend was waiting here with open arms to take him home?  That he had nothing to fear, he'd be listened to, believed, taken seriously? Cared about.  Cared - for.  Yeah, all of that.  Why should Daniel believe a single word he said?  After all, he had such a stellar track record of being someone Daniel could turn to and trust.  Why shouldn't Daniel think some weird voice in his head saying it was his dead wife telling him he was loved and wanted was more credible to him than his 'laugh at him and leave him', so-called best friend, Jack O'Neill.

And what was up with this 'Sha'uri' anyway?  Exactly who or what had Daniel been listening to?  A little 'know thy enemy' might go a long way to helping Jack figure out how to talk Daniel out of trusting - whatever it was - over him.  'Cause he didn't care who it said it was, all this talk of 'going away', 'changing places' and 'owing her a life' didn't add up to anything sounding like it had Daniel's best interests or continued good health at heart.  Which meant, whatever it was, it wasn't anything good.

Which was probably why the Boogie Man had gone after it in the first place.

“Daniel," Jack prodded gently, "I really want to help you make the right choice.  Do your believe that?"

It took a moment, but eventually Daniel faintly nodded.  As much as Jack wished he would, Daniel didn't make eye contact so Jack couldn't tell if he was listening. But he couldn't afford to stop, had to keep trying, had to keep talking, hoping what he was saying was sinking through somehow.

"All right then, help me out.  I don't understand how this has happened.  We all saw Sha'uri die.  We know she's dead.  But you're saying she didn’t die, she changed?  And she came to you?  What does that mean?  I don't understand how that could be possible.  Do you know, can you explain it to me?”

Daniel looked calmer.  He'd stopped shaking and his stance was less wary.  His expression was profoundly contemplative, brow furrowed with concentration as he searched his thoughts for his answer.  “I’m not sure how it happened.  Maybe it was the ribbon device. We were connected. She was communicating with me, sending her thoughts to me through it.  Maybe somehow she was able to do more, able to - come into me - at the same time. Through the device.  Send more than her thoughts.  I don't know."  He frowned, obviously deeply considering what he had just said.  "I haven't had too much time to think about it."

Daniel’s translation of Boogie’s words flashed through Jack’s mind.  Vengeful spirits.  One who feeds and needs release.  And one who must chose between the worlds.  Given what Daniel had just told him, those words were making a lot more sense.  Way too much sense.

The ribbon device.  Could it have caused all this? Was what Daniel was saying actually possible? Jack knew what Carter's answer would be, she'd be having trouble with the basic concept there'd be anything to 'transfer', but could the device somehow have allowed Sha’uri's - consciousness, soul, spirit, life energy, whatever you wanted to call it  - to attach itself to Daniel, enabling something of her to survive the death of her body?

The idea wasn't as far-fetched as it sounded. Ma'chello had managed to arrange for a few 'transfers' with that damned machine of his.  Jack shuddered. He had fond memories of that particular experience.  Not!  After hanging out in Teal'c and having to live with feeling Junior squirming around inside him Jack still had moments when a gas bubble gave him the creeps.  But that little inter-body bait and switch had involved bodies all still warm and breathing before and after. Still, consciousness was consciousness, what was the difference? Ma'chello had proven it was possible, and had found a way to do it.  If one piece of alien technology could do it, why not another?

So, what was he really saying here?  The 'she' inside Daniel, it really WAS Sha'uri?  She'd used the ribbon device to send part of herself into Daniel moments before Teal'c shot her and she'd been lurking inside Daniel ever since? Feeding on him, using his life essence to stay alive, trying to take over his body, but hadn't been able to, and now that she was about to - go poof - or whatever - she wanted to take him out with her?  If she couldn't continue to exist, than neither could he?

Crap. That didn't sound like Sha'uri! Granted he hadn't had much time to get to know her, but from what he did know, from what he'd seen, this whole scenario just didn't track.  Sha'uri wouldn't want to hurt Daniel.  No way! Sha’uri had loved Daniel. Crazy, nutso, bonzo about the kid.  Hell, who could blame her, who wasn't? She would never want to hurt him.  Not like that Goa'uld bitch who would have melted his brain if Teal'c hadn't -

Oh crap!

How could he have been so STUPID! Sha'uri wasn't the only one in her body, she'd had a passenger, a very slimy, nasty passenger, one who'd want nothing better than to see Daniel dead if she couldn't continue to prey on him to maintain her slimy non-existence.  The she-snake hadn't had the most winning personality when she was alive, no reason to believe she'd be any more loving or considerate now that she was dead.  Or - whatever.  Oh God, it hadn't been Sha'uri whispering in Daniel's ear all this time, it was Amonet!

The same time the full truth hit Jack Daniel's head snapped around and he was smiling, his eyes blazing with a terrible light of serene determination.  He'd made up his mind.

"She's right.  There's no reason to stay. Talking is pointless; I'm just wasting time. She doesn't have much left.  I have to keep my promise.  I have to go with her.  Now." Daniel smiled and pointed behind him, at the yawning void beyond the outer rim of the cliff.  “I have to go, now, Jack. Out there.  She’s telling me it's time.  I hope you understand.  I hope you forgive me.  I - I…never mind."  A mist of regret shimmered in Daniel's longing eyes.  "It doesn’t matter now.  Good-bye, Jack.”

“Daniel – wait!” Jack cried desperately. "You don't have to do this! Don't listen to her.  You don't understand!  She's not - " Jack's voice faltered.  Crap! What could he say?  Daniel was convinced he'd been listening to Sha'uri all this time, trying to tell him his little voice was really Amonet - Daniel was so paranoid, so utterly confused by everything the snake had been whispering in his ear, why would Daniel believe him? What else could he say?  What else could he say to Daniel to try and reach him?

"This isn't the way," Jack stammered.  You don't have to - you're not - don’t - don't go yet. You can’t go.  I – I don’t want you to go.”

Don't want you to go, can't lose you, not now, I know what it all means, what I haven't been able to say to you, admit to myself, now I'm so close to losing you I know I can't.  I - I know…

Daniel tilted his head and peered at him, eyes narrowing with suspicion.

“Why?”

Tell him you fricking YUTZ don't choke, just open your goddamn mouth and SAY it.

“What do you mean – why?  I just…don’t.”

Well, that was courageous!

Daniel smirked and took a step back.  “I knew it,” he snorted derisively.  “I knew you couldn’t say it.  Good-bye Jack.”  His lips twisting with a bitter smile, Daniel dismissed him with a disgusted wave, turned and began to walk toward the edge.

“What do you want me to say?” Jack blurted out desperately.

You KNOW what he wants to hear, you fricking, gutless wonder.  I can't believe you're standing here watching him walk away - walk to his death and you still - still won't say it. Guess when you said you'd fight her for him you meant only as long as it didn't mean you had to tell him the truth.

Jack's plea stopped Daniel cold.  He swung back around, his eyes flashing with indignation and ire.

“Oh hell, Jack,” he shouted.  “I don’t know!  After three years of putting up with your stupid nicknames and your jokes – usually at my expense, - your condescending pats on the head and your constant denigration of my judgement, my abilities, my SANITY even, maybe an ‘I’m sorry?’  Possibly an  ‘oh by the way, good job, Daniel.’  And since I’m shooting for the moon here, dare I hope for a  ‘by the way, I give a shit about you?’  What do you say, Jack?  Could you manage one of those?  Don’t bother answering, I wouldn’t want to make you strain something thinking about it.”

Daniel started to back away again. His words had been angry, but his eyes were anything but.  Daniel didn't want to go, he didn't want to leave him.  The plea in those huge, desperate eyes cried out to him, their message unmistakable.

Tell me she's wrong.  This isn't all there is.

If he didn't say something now, Daniel was lost to him.  Forever.  No matter which way it went from this moment on. Even if he saved Daniel, if he stayed silent, he'd still lose him.  'Moment of truth' wasn't just a cliché.  This was fricking IT.  The Moment, with a capital 'M'.  He choked now, he might as well follow Daniel over the side 'cause it was well and truly - over.

"I love you," Jack said quietly. "It might not seem like much, but it's all I've got to give you.  I hope it's a good enough reason for you to stay."

Omigawd.  He'd said it.  He'd actually said it.  I love you.  He did.  He really, really did.  He loved Danny.  Not just, 'best buds, best pals, friends for life' love, but - Love. With a capital 'L' Love.  As in 'there's no one else for me but you, babe, 'til the day I die', kind of Love.  Hadn't just said it - meant it.

What do you know about that?

Jack gaped at Daniel.  Who was doing a fair imitation of a stunned mullet himself.  Daniel's mouth hung open, his eyes got wider; he stared speechless at Jack looking for the world like a guy who'd just heard his best friend tell him he loved him.

What Jack couldn't tell from Daniel's white, blank face was whether or not this was good news or bad.  Hoping for the former but getting more and more apprehensive about the latter the longer Daniel stood there, gulping and staring.

A bleat of explosive laughter brayed out of Daniel's mouth.  "You?"  he choked, wagging a hand at him.  "You?  Love me?  You? YOU?"  He snorted again, his face working desperately as if he was struggling to hold something back.  And losing.  "God, Jack, you're too much!" he gasped, his body beginning to shake with the effort of containing his outburst.  "You're so funny.  This is the best.  The best!  You'll say ANYTHING to try and fool me!  I can't stand it - you're just so FUNNY!"

Daniel clamped a hand to his mouth, hung on for a few more valiant seconds, but it was like trying to hold back a tidal wave.  He continued to wave his other hand weakly at the stunned man before him while he giggled and chortled in near hysterical abandon.  "You LOVE me?"  he howled, hugging his sides while spasms of uncontrollable mirth continued to rock him.  "Oh - oh - oh - God - this is too much - too much - Jack, you're KILLING me!"

Lousy, chortling, ungrateful - LAUGHING?  You sniggering little SHIT!

"You think I'm playing games with you?"  Jack roared at him, hurt, affronted anger igniting dangerously within him.  "You think I'd mess with you about something like this?  Especially now?  I tell you I love you and you think it's funny?  Well, fuck you, too!"

Jack was dimly aware Daniel's laughter was swiftly trailing away and his expression was growing confused and distressed again, but he wasn't thinking much past the force of his frustrated fury.  "I don't care whether you believe me or not!" he raged at Daniel, anger becoming sorrow and grief and threatening to further transmute into something he wasn't going to be able to hold back any more than Danny'd been able to can the laughter.  "I love you, you stubborn son of a bitch.  I said it.  I meant it.  And what's more, you can just SHOVE it for all I care! !  No - you know what?"  Jack growled, jumping up to his feet.  "Fuck this talking. It never gets me anywhere except into more fucking shit. You don't think I love you? Telling you doesn't do it for you?  Don't move, I'm coming over there and I'll SHOW you!"

Daniel actually let Jack get several feet closer to him before something within him abruptly roused.  The last failing wisps of laughter were strangled; cold, implacable warning flashed in Daniel's eyes as he savagely hissed and took several quick steps back, his arm whipping up in a warning, defensive movement, straight out, palm stiffly extended.  A very familiar gesture, one Jack had seen many times.  Employed by the Goa'uld of the week about to use a ribbon device on him.

Jack froze.
.
“Don't!" Daniel spat at him.  "Don’t come any closer.  I'm sorry," he gulped, blinking furiously.  "I didn't mean to laugh at you.  I really didn't know.  You've never - and then when I - and you…wouldn't… I thought I knew for sure you didn't, and now you're saying you do and I believe you.  You do," he finished softly, his eyes gentle with wonder.  "You really do.  You do.  Oh, Jack…"

Daniel hung his head and wrapped his arms consolingly around his body as a sudden, harsh stream of words spewed out of him.  "It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. It's too late.  Promised her, promised her, can't break my promise -  Dammit, Jack!" Daniel scolded angrily, jerking his head up and glaring accusingly at the man he was berating.  "Why are you doing this to me, why are you telling me this, NOW?  Maybe if I'd known sooner, before - before I promised -  NO!" Daniel cried out, his voice wringing with anguish.  "I can't listen to you any more.  You’re trying to trick me, trying to confuse me, make me forget I promised her I was going with her. I have to go, you have to understand, it's the only way to make it up to her.  Please, Jack!"

Daniel's eyes were huge and overflowing with bitter regret, his retreating steps slow and shambling as he began to back away.  Toward the edge.  Jack took a step forward, his mind working furiously.  Seeing where he was.  Seeing where Daniel was.  Running the odds.  Coming to an inescapable conclusion.

He hadn't a hope in hell of stopping Daniel if he started to run. No way he could reach him before Daniel got to the edge.   The only way to save Daniel was to persuade him to come to him.  No other way.

"What about me?"  Jack asked him plaintively.

Gotta work, this has to work, please let me get through to him!

"What?"  Daniel asked him blankly, pausing in mid-shamble.

"You're going with her because she loves you and she doesn't want to be alone, but what about me?  I love you too.  If you go with her, I'll be alone.  Is that fair?"

Forgive me, Daniel, fighting dirty now.  I'll make it up to you later, I promise but right now, anything goes.

Daniel didn't answer him for a minute.  His face was an agony of indecision.  "Nooo…but, I- I have to go."

"All right then," Jack said quietly.  "You have to go. Okay, fair enough.  You made a promise.  I can respect that.  I wouldn't want you to break a promise.  You're going.  That's settled.  Well, then, I'll go with you.  We'll die together. Problem solved."

"D- die?"  Daniel said weakly, licking his lips.

"Yes, Daniel," Jack returned, a little louder.  "Die.  That's what she's asking you to do for her.  Die.  If you walk off that edge like she's telling you to, you'll die.  We'll both die, 'cause I'm going to walk off it with you. I don't want to live without you either, so I'm going to die with you.  That's how much I love you."

Come on, Daniel, hear what I just told you. Somewhere in there you know it's not right, what I just said. You KNOW!  Work it out!

"You - you'd die - for me?"  Daniel whispered, the notion clearly disturbing him.  "No.  No.  That's not right.  I don't want you to.  I don't want - don’t want you to do that.  I don't want you to die, Jack."

"Why?"  Jack pressed gently.

That's my boy, that's my Danny. Stay with me, Danny, stay with me.  Just a little longer.  You're close, so close; you're almost there.

Daniel lip was starting to tremble, the distress in his eyes growing as they pooled and shimmered.  "I - I don't want - I don't want you to be hurt, don't want anything bad to happen to you.  I - I love you."

"You don't want me to die because you love me?"

"No!"  Daniel cried.  "Don't want you to die!"

"SHE wants you to die, Daniel."  Jack continued, starting to take a few, experimental steps toward the trembling man shaking even harder as he watched Jack's careful advance, but allowing the approach and not retreating.  "She wants you to hurt yourself - kill yourself - for her.  Because she says she loves you and doesn't want you to live without her.  Is that love, Daniel?  Is it?"

"Nooooo…"  Daniel moaned.  "Sha'uri…"

"Daniel, think!"  Jack urged, taking another step.  "This voice talking to you, telling you to do these things, do you really think Sha'uri - would Sha'uri want you to kill yourself for her?  Would she?"

Blue eyes, locked with his, widening, not in confusion, indecision.

Understanding.

Contact!

"No!"  Daniel shook his head.  "She'd die first, she did die, trying to help me, protect me - oh my God, Jack, what have I been thinking - listening to - OH GOD!"

Daniel screamed, clutched his head and doubled over, screaming again.

“Ah – God!  Not Sha’uri, not Sha'uri - it’s – HER!  Amonet! She’s in my head, Jack!  Hurting me! Ahhh!  She's trying to - trying to make me - I can't stop her!  Watch out, Jack - JACK!”

“Fight it, Danny!”  Jack yelled as he broke into a run. “ I’m coming!”

Daniel’s head flew up.  Something behind Daniel's eyes snarled at Jack, twisting his friend’s gentle face into a grotesque mask of hate. “You're too late.  He's mine!”  it taunted as it jerked Daniel’s body around and hurtled him toward the edge of the cliff.

"Danny!"  Jack cried out to him as he tried to force his aching legs to move faster.  God, Daniel was so fast.  Streaking straight for the edge of the cliff.  Not stopping.  He wasn't going to stop.

…twenty feet….

Must go faster, faster!  MOVE! The thing's gonna make him run right over the side!

….ten feet…..

Can't let this happen, can't let him go over.  RUN, dammit - REACH!  Closing the gap, I can do it, I can make it, I can get to him before he hits the edge.  Just a few more feet - NO!

……five feet…..

Not gonna make it.  Oh God, oh GOD he's on the edge, why didn't I move sooner, just a little faster, so close, not enough time.

"DANNY!"

The shriek tore from lungs already bursting, shattering the air as if Jack could use the very sound of his loss to pull Daniel back to safety.  Daniel's teetering body, balanced on the knife-edge danced dizzily before Jack's streaming eyes, an ephemeral, momentary phantom teasing him with one last, precious glimpse of what he would never see again and had no chance of saving.

Daniel was on the edge.  Still on the brink.  Still - still there.  Not a trick, not a phantom, he was there, waiting, holding, somehow.  Not for long, just an instant, his life hanging, hovering over the abyss.  Buying him time, those few precious seconds.  Time, just a little time.  All he needed.  He'd get there in time.

Desperate burst of speed, swiftly spanning the last, small gap, arm straining outward fingers clawing through the air frantic to grasp, hold, save.

Good boy!  Hang on, kid, I've got you!

Daniel was just starting to finally topple forward into the yawning emptiness as Jack reached him.  In the last possible second his aching, frantic fingers closed triumphantly on Daniel's belt and he yanked him back, hard, snatching him out of death's embrace and bringing Daniel shuddering and reeling firmly into his.

Got you!  Never letting go!  Never.

Daniel instantly started to struggle against Jack's efforts to continue to haul him away from the edge.  He snarled and swung around, his right fist flying toward Jack's head as he charged him.  Jack narrowly avoided the blow as Daniel crashed into him, knocking him off balance.  Jack barely had time to lock his arms firmly around Daniel and clutch him, howling and writhing to his chest as the pair of them reeled over and hit the ground with a force sending shards of pain screaming through Jack's back and shoulders.

He wasn't going to be able to move tomorrow, but right now he had to ignore every ache, moan and protest of his bashed and battered body and concentrate only on holding onto the man in his arms and not letting him go.

"Release me, HA'TAKA!" a twisted, inhuman voice swarmed out of Daniel's throat as the thing in Daniel's body struggled bitterly against Jack's restraint.

"Aw - hup yours!"  Jack grunted and grimly locked his wrists across Daniel's chest.  "Bite me," he sneered and then had immediate cause to regret his choice of words as the thing whipped Daniel's head down and buried his teeth in the hands desperately clenched together on his chest. "OW!  JE-SUS!  Biting!  No biting!"

Frantic to disrupt the dental attack threatening his grip Jack yowled and heaved Daniel over onto his stomach.  Slamming the full weight of his own body into Daniel's back he momentarily crushed the wind out of him, making the thing inside Daniel grunt and let go.  Before it had a chance to recover Jack fumbled to renew his former hold and hugging Daniel with all the stubborn strength he could muster Jack began to rapidly roll them across the rocky surface beneath them, moving them farther away from the edge of the cliff.  Daniel's passenger cursed and fought against him every agonizing inch he managed to shift them, but Jack kept them moving, ignoring the unforgiving surface beneath him as he continued to doggedly roll, tussle, and drag Daniel bodily further and further away from the cliff.

Jack yowled again, cursing as a jagged protrusion bit into his side and he felt a resultant sharp, searing pain so intense it almost made him lose his hold.  He was bleeding.  Just a scratch.  He'd had worse.  He'd worry about it later.  He had a hell of a fight on his hands at the moment.  The thing possessing Daniel was not happy with him for keeping it from making Danny take a swan dive off the cliff.  It could suffer. So, apparently, could he. Crap! Now it was clawing him!

God, the thing was strong! Jack grimly wrapped his legs around Daniel's thighs and squeezed desperately, barely managing to thwart a particularly vicious lunge against his aching, over-taxed arms. His hands were so tightly clenched on his own wrists he was bruising them and still it was all he could do to hold onto the raging, howling, cursing body he was barely managing to contain.

A flying wad of spittle struck his eyes, momentarily blinding him.  Expectorating immediately followed by a torrent of coarse, incomprehensible words Jack had a feeling were not meant to be complimentary.   "You curse your mother with that mouth?"  Jack panted mockingly.  An answering elbow to his stomach made him respond with a few choice words of his own.

Jack knew he had to face the hard truth he wasn't going to be able to take much more of this.  It wasn't helping Daniel was not only younger, but he'd gone into this little tussle fresh and no way near as banged up and worked over. Add those obvious advantages to the fact the thing inside him was ruthless and determined to escape, and it didn't have any problems with bashing either him or Daniel about any way it could in order to get the man holding onto it to let go.  Daniel might not hurt him, but this thing would cheerfully kill him if he gave it half a chance.  Jack didn't want to hurt Daniel, but it was looking more and more as if he didn't have a choice.  He'd just about had it, where Cruella, here, seemed to be getting her second wind.   As much as he hated the thought, he was going to have to knock Daniel out to keep him from killing BOTH of them.

The struggles of the man in his arms were getting more frenzied, desperate.  Jack lay on his side, his arms and legs still implacable wound around Daniel while he tried to fight past the pain shooting through him from practically every cell in his body.  He couldn't give into it.  Couldn't let go.  Daniel's body was starting to shake, as if something was happening, as if somewhere inside him another battle was raging, one as bitter as the one being waged on the outside.  Jack hoped the desperate trembling of Daniel's thrashing body was an indication he was fighting against what was controlling him.  He hoped Daniel was winning, because even though he knew he didn't dare let go, Jack wasn't sure how much longer he could hold on.

The thing bit him again, making Jack howl.  The new, unexpected sharpness of the pain distracted him for just an instant and the thing in Daniel's body surged abruptly against his arms, breaking his grip.  A savage, stinging kick to Jack's kneecap brought tears to his eyes while the thing rolled free.  It clawed away rapidly from Jack, scrambling along the rock face, springing up getting ready to run again.  Roaring, Jack leapt up and tackled Daniel from behind, locking his arms around Daniel's chest and pulling him back into him before it had a chance to bolt.

Spitting and snarling the thing strained against Jack's hold, snapping Daniel's head back, crashing it into Jack's forehead.  Jack reeled drunkenly backward with the force of the blow, feeling his vision swim alarmingly.  That wasn't good, had to get past it, couldn't break, couldn't let go.

"Come on, Danny" he hissed desperately into his struggling friend's ear.  "Fight her.  You've got to help me.  Can't - can't hold on much longer.  DANNY!  FIGHT!"

Daniel's wildly thrashing body abruptly spasmed in his arms.  "Jack!"  Daniel cried as he suddenly fell back limply against the man struggling to support the burden of his unexpected weight.  "Something - something's happening," Daniel gasped, his head lolling into the hollow of Jack's neck as his legs folded.  "It's working.  It's working. What Kosha gave me…killing…ahhhh…"

Daniel's breath gurgled in his throat, his eyes fluttered closed and he slumped, inert, lifeless.

Not breathing.

Not breathing!

"Goddammit!  Dammit!  Daniel!"  Jack raged, terror ripping through him as he quickly threw Daniel on his back on the ground. Breathing, had to get him breathing again.  Worry about why he'd gone out like this later, just get him breathing -

Jack's heart nearly seized up with shock as the eyes of the man he was leaning over suddenly snapped open.  They were feral and blazing.  Evil, soulless. Laughing at him.

"Fool!"  Amonet sneered at him as Daniel's hands whipped up, faster than he could think to react to block them, fastening around his neck, inhumanly strong, tightening.  "You may have saved his life, but I will not die alone."

Crap.  Suckered again.  This really wasn't his day.  And as last ones went, he'd rather be fishing.

Jack grabbed Daniel's wrists in a futile attempt to break the death-grip and save himself.  He knew it was pointless, knew he'd never shake off those impossibly strong hands before the snake used them - used Daniel - to choke the life out of him.  He was utterly screwed, check, checkmate and about to check out, but he'd be damned he was leaving this life whining or looking like a loser.  He'd die first. Ah, that was droll.

 He glared defiance down at the cold, triumphant alien eyes staring back at him.

Do your worst, bitch, you won't see me go out screaming or begging.  And when we're both in hell together you'd better find a good place to hide because I'm coming for you.

The hands around his neck were holding, but not tightening.  Trembling with the urgent need to kill, but not squeezing.  Holding, holding.  Being held back.

Sonofabitch, somewhere inside there Daniel was still fighting.  Holding her back.  Not letting her use him to complete her last, desperate act of evil.  Way to go, Dannyboy!.

And it was her last act.  Jack could see fear shrieking in the eyes beneath him.  The utter, consuming terror of impending extinction.  Time running out, nowhere left to run, no more tricks up the sleeve, can't finesse your way out of this one, nowhere to hide from unavoidable oblivion.

Eviction notice, end of the line.  Pack your bags, bitch, you've been served.

Daniel's hands jerked open, releasing him.  Jack gripped Daniel's limp wrists to stop his hands from flopping to the ground as the thing within him keened wildly, throwing one last, hideous scream of denial into the witnessing twilight.

Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Daniel groaned, abruptly rolled over and struggled to push himself up to his hands and knees.  His body was bucking with great, retching spasms as if he was trying to spew his guts out, or cough something up.  It was one hell of a hairball, the way his body was working to get rid of it.

"Easy, Danny, easy," Jack soothed as he wrapped his arms around Daniel's convulsing body.  "I've got you.  Lean on me."

Daniel gave his hanging head one short nod and then groaned as another convulsive wave ripped through him.  Oh, here we go, here it comes.  Jack tightened his supporting grip and grimaced, looking away as what looked like steaming, black sludge suddenly started oozing out of Daniel's mouth in a thick, disgusting viscous ribbon. Goo.  Ooh.  Gross.

After he'd painfully disgorged a rather alarming quantity Daniel gave a final, emphatic heave and went limp and still in his arms.  Jack quickly dragged him a short distance away from the mass of whatever he'd hacked up and then swiftly, gently laid his unmoving friend on his back on the ground.

Daniel's face was so slack and pale it looked like he was dead, but a quick check of his pulse, faint, but there, breathing, but barely, eased Jack's anxiety quotient down a notch.  Now he was only slightly out of him mind with worry, not completely.  Much better!  Daniel was still with him.  Barely, barely, but still hanging on.  But now what?  Now what should he do? Freaking was not an option but it was starting to sound like more fun than sanity.

"Daniel?"  Jack said urgently, leaning over Daniel and taking his face in his hands.  "Geez, Danny, come on.  Don't do this to me, buddy."  He slapped Daniel's face gently.  "Wake up now, Danny.  It's all over.  She's gone.  You've won."

It was over.  That last dying scream had more than convinced him Amonet had given up the ghost.  Jack bit back the hysterical burst of laughter the absurd analogy evoked.  She was gone.  It should be over.  But Daniel wasn't moving.  Still breathing, but not moving. He'd won, but what had having her in him and fighting her out of him done to him?  It wasn't a victory if somehow she'd still managed, in the end, to take him with her after all.

Jack started violently as he felt a large, firm hand falling heavily on his shoulder. "Boogie!"  he crowed, nearly sick with relief as the witch doctor's craggy, concerned face moved into view.  He'd never been happier to see such an ugly mug in his life.  Here was the guy who'd started this whole thing.  He'd seen the problem, he'd tried to help, Jack could only hope desperately Boogie knew what to do to help Daniel come back.  He had to know, he had to be able to help.  Fix it, fix it. Fix Daniel.  Make it all better.

"What's wrong with him?"  Jack asked helplessly.  He wasn't going to panic.  Was not going to panic.  They were safe now, it was over.  Daniel was going to be fine.  He just had to calm down, stop his head from spinning, oh, eyes going funny now, this wasn't good. Boogie looked weird, Daniel was creeping him out he was so pale and still, his own voice was sounding whacked out and far away.  It was all starting to catch up with him, the pain, the worry, the weirdness, danger, the fear, all starting to crowd in on him ready to take him away somewhere where he didn't need to worry about it for a while, but Jack fought it.  He couldn't let reaction get him. Not yet.  He couldn't let go, not while Danny was like this, not while he still needed him.

Jack screwed his eye shut, then opened them again.  Trying to clear his head, get his thoughts together so he could say something to make Boogie help Daniel, but when he was able to focus again he saw the witch doctor was way ahead of him, already kneeling beside Daniel, bending over him, his large, gnarled, ochre-coloured hand on Daniel's forehead.  Okay.  That was okay.  Boogie was getting to it.  He'd make Daniel wake up.

Boogie looked a little longer, frowned, started chanting and made a few passes in front of Daniel's face with his hands.

Jack continued to kneel at Daniel's side and watch, feeling strangely disconnected, as of all of a sudden he was looking at things through the wrong end of a set of binoculars.  Everything was so far away and moving far too slowly.  He looked down at Daniel lying unmoving beside him, knew there was something wrong about him being that way, knew he should be concerned, but somehow couldn't rouse the necessary effort.  He didn't need to; it was okay, Boogie was there, he was handling it.  Jack didn't need to be concerned.  Boogie knew what to do.  He'd look after Daniel.  He wouldn't let anything bad happen to him.

Boogie's lulling, sonorous voice continued, rising and falling in a soothing sing-song as he moved his hands in the air over Daniel's unmoving body.  He was making large sweeping motions, long, steady, rhythmic, starting at Daniel's head, and moving along the entire length of his body.  Jack squinted, sure he was seeing things.  There was something wrong with the air all around Daniel.  It looked cloudy, blurry, kinda mucky.  Nasty.  Ew. Didn't like it.  Boogie didn't either, from the way he was frowning and maybe that's what he was doing with the waving and the singing.  Clearing the air.  It seemed to be working.  Daniel was looking better. Not quite as pale.  Breathing was a little stronger.  But he wasn't moving.  Still wasn't moving.  Why wasn't he moving?

Boogie stopped with the waving and the singing and was using the x-ray vision on Daniel again.  Frowning.  Big, big frown.  Not a happy face. Not what Jack wanted to be seeing.  He wanted smiling, lots and lots of smiling, not just from the guy with the feathers but from the man lying so quietly between them.  Jack wanted to see Daniel smiling. Up, awake, looking at him, smiling. Himself again.  Okay.  As soon as he could see Daniel smiling then he'd know it was okay to lie down and rest for a while.  He really wanted to see Daniel smiling again.  Almost as much as he wanted to lie down.

Boogie turned dark, questioning eyes on Jack, making him wince beneath the scrutiny.  Oh no, now it was his turn for the radar eyes.  Not again.  He'd had just about enough of being turned inside out.  The witch doctor pointed at Daniel, and then grabbed Jack's hand.  Jack watched him through a wondering haze as Boogie opened his hand and placed it, palm flat, on Jack's chest.  Jack looked down at his own hand on his heart and then up at the man holding it there. Boogie's wise eyes were heavy with meaning.  Asking him something - Boogie was asking him something.  Boogie didn't lose the eye contact between them and was still asking his question as he moved Jack's hand and made him reach across until it was pressed firmly to Daniel's chest.

Daniel's skin was cool, but he was warm.  So warm beneath Jack's hand.  Chest slightly rising and falling, his heart beating slowly, sluggishly, as if it was fighting.  Fighting for every precious stroke.  The feel of its tenacious, struggling rhythm seemed to move up his arm, resonating inside him, calling, needing him.  Daniel, Daniel needed him.  Needed his help.  A bit of strength, a bit of help.  He could do that.  After everything they'd been through to get this far, he could give a little more of himself if Daniel needed it.  No problem

Questioning eyes boring into him. Boogie was waiting.  Whatever he had to do for Daniel, he needed Jack's help to do it.  He had to give him the word, let him know whatever would help Daniel, he was in.

"Whatever Danny needs," he said fervently.  "Whatever it takes.  Do it."

Boogie nodded slowly and - oh, smile.  He was smiling.  Big, big smile.  That was good, right?  He'd said the right thing?  Daniel was going to be okay?

Jack felt his eyes irresistibly drawn to the man beneath him. Daniel looked serene.  Quiet, still, but his pale, grimy face had a peaceful expression on it.  That was good, nice to see. Daniel could use a little peace after the day he'd had today.  Daniel needed a bath, though.  He looked like someone who'd spent the afternoon crawling through a jungle.  He was quite a sight. Not just filthy, but cut up and scratched.  Oh, that wasn't good.  All banged up like that and sweaty, dirty, not with open cuts and abrasions.  Not good at all.

Where was his head?  He needed to get Daniel home, get all those cuts seen too.  Daniel had some bad scrapes, bad cuts, some of them bleeding, some from his stroll through the jungle but the bleeding ones probably from the tussle they'd just taken on the rocks.  Bad cuts and scrapes; they shouldn't be open, dirty like that.  They might get infected. He had to get Daniel home, had to get him looked after.  Had to get his head to stop pounding, make the world stop spinning so he could focus.

Jack wavered dizzily as he stared stupidly around him.  Boogie was chanting, Headache.  Bad headache.  What - what was going on?  Boogie was still holding his hand.  Jack tried to make a joke about being taken, but his mouth wouldn't work.  Boogie turned his hand over, exposing the palm, then before Jack had a chance to protest the witch doctor brought his knife up and cut the palm of his hand, just a small slit, just enough to draw blood.  Jack watched bemused as Boogie did the same thing to one of Daniel's hands, then took a bit of blood from each of them on his finger and drew a squiggly mark on Daniel’s forehead and on his chest over his heart.

Weird, but why not?

Oh, wait a minute, they were back to holding hands again.  Only this time, not him and Boogie, but him and Daniel.  Jack didn't mind holding hands with Daniel.  Boogie placed their palms together, the ones that he'd cut, interlacing their fingers, locking them in place.  Jack's other hand got pressed down on Daniel's chest overtop of the mark Boogie had made there. Then the witch doctor made a sandwich of the hands still joined together, enveloping them firmly with his in an emphatic clasp.

Boogie closed his eyes.  Jack looked down at Daniel.  Daniel still looked pretty out of it.  Just as he was starting to wonder what all the hand-holding was about Boogie gave a loud cry jolting through Jack like he'd just been goosed by a cattle prod.

Boogie's hands were searing, like burning coals they were so hot.  Jack cried out as enervating fire shot up his arm, seeming to fill his chest with a wild, rejuvenating vitality before arcing on through him and racing down his other arm, through his hand and into the chest of the man lying on the ground.  Daniel's body arched off the ground as if someone had just used a defib unit on him .  He gasped and gulped in a huge draught of air, then fell back to the ground, breathing deeply and steadily, his eyelids flickering as a precursor to returning awareness.  Jack felt Daniel’s hand clench around his with triumphant acknowledgement. Daniel's hand was hot, alive, returning what had been given to bring him back.  The burning had come full circle.

Boogie removed his hands.  The fire was gone.  Jack’s head was clear again; he was back.  Daniel opened his eyes and looked up at him.

“I’m free,” Daniel said softly as he smiled up at him.  Beautiful smile.  Wonderful smile.  So good to be able to see it.  So good to see Daniel, alive and smiling at him.

“You’re alive,” Jack returned fervently.

“You look like shit,” Daniel bit his lip, trying not to laugh.  At least, that was what Jack thought he was trying to hold back, but he could have been wrong.

“No thanks to you, Plant Boy,” Jack chided him, roughly rubbing his knuckles across Daniel's cheek in an awkward caress.

Jack didn’t know if he was going to laugh or cry, but he was definitely going to break down in one of those directions if somebody didn’t do something.  Daniel looked as if he was experiencing a similar inclination to succumb to hysterics.

Somehow it worked out they met in the middle.  As Jack reached down for him Daniel came up to meet him.  As he tightened his arms around Daniel and buried his head in Daniel’s shoulder, Jack could feel his friend’s arms lock resolutely about him in the same urgent need for firm, physical reassurance of his reality.

Yeah, they were both here.  Both in one piece.  Sort of.  God only knew how.  Thanking heaven for more than small favours. No wait, no small favour, this.  Not this. He owed somebody somewhere out there big time for this one.  He wouldn’t breathe a word of complaint when pay-back time came.

Somebody was shaking.  Was it him? Was it the man in his arms?  Jack didn’t know and he didn’t care.  He just grabbed on tighter to the only thing he was really sure of as he started to feel his head filling up with cotton balls again.  Daniel was saying something to him, but he couldn’t make it out.  It seemed as if there were a lot of people around them now.  Was that Carter’s voice?  Jack wondered where she'd come from so fast.  He could have sworn - oh she'd brought Teal’c with her. That was good, handy, saved him having to go out looking for them which was just as well 'cause he really didn’t think he had the energy, just now, to go after them.  His head was really, really hurting…

Danny’s voice – close to his ear and yet a million miles away… “I’ve got you, Jack…”

So you do, Danny, so you do...

  Back to Part Two  /  On to Part Four

FEEDBACK IS GRATEFULLY APPRECIATED: PLEASE CONTACT PHOENIX WITH YOUR COMMENTS ON THIS STORY.  THANK YOU.
PHOENIX E HOME  JD-DIVAS HOME

copyright
PhoenixE, 2000-9.
disclaimer
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.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]