"Colonel!" That was Sam's voice. Well, that would explain Andrews. Talk about your nick of time. Seems as if he owed the Major big time. But all of that could wait for later. Now things were working again, time to try and get up and figure out what to do next.
As he started to try to rise he found his efforts greatly assisted on either side by his two remaining teammates. Sam and Teal'c each had an arm, and very quickly they both had him on his feet.
"Are you all right, sir?" Sam said to him, her face deeply marked with concern. "We saw what was happening on the monitor – got here as quickly as we could." She paused, looked around, and then looked back at him, her eyes wide with sorrow. "We didn't make it, did we, sir? Chronos took Daniel, didn't he?"
Jack nodded, not trusting his voice for a moment. He pushed away from his teammates and walked up to the brace of marines SG-1 had brought with them. Ferretti at the head of the cavalry brigade which had arrived in time to save him, but not in time to help Daniel…
Jack reached Ferretti's side, struggling to keep his emotions in check. He couldn't give in to this. Not here. Not in front of all these people. There was still a job to be done.
"Ferretti", he said in a strong, even voice. Sounded normal. Good, good. "Take the zats and your men and secure this post. Zat anybody you see. Just once. Don't know how many people Chronos Nisht'a-ed, but let's not take any chances. One zat blast will snap them out of it. Have everyone report back here when you've found them all. And sweep the place - make sure there are no other unpleasant surprises waiting for us here."
He turned to see Teal'c helping a very bewildered Andrews to his feet.
"Colonel O'Neill," the man said to him as he shook his head, "I'm sorry, sir, but I don't know what is going on here. Or what I was doing lying on the floor."
"It's all right, Captain, don't worry about it right now," Jack replied. "Long story. Listen, did Kasuf give you a message to relay to Earth on his behalf? Has something happened to Skaara?"
"Skaara? Kasuf?" Andrews' face was even more bewildered. "No – no sir. Skaara was here for his shift earlier, but he went home several hours ago. Haven't heard anything from Kasuf – why, has something happened – is that why you're here?"
"Never mind," Jack dismissed him with a wave of his hand. "Carter, get on the comm and contact the village. Just to be sure. Think it's a pretty safe bet Chronos is long gone and took everybody he brought with him, but it never hurts to be sure."
Carter nodded and crossed to the console while Andrews continued to stand, staring helplessly, still completely confused about what was happening. Jack turned his back on him, rubbing his right shoulder. Bastard thing hurt like a bitch. Finally got the sling off and he went and landed on it again. Typical.
He knew what he really wanted to do was wrap his hands around Andrews' throat, but he killed the thought instantly. Wasn't Andrews' fault. He'd been under the influence of that stuff. He wasn't to blame for what happened to Daniel. Had to keep telling himself that…
Carter's brow knit in confusion as she looked down at the controls before her.
"Wait a minute – we're getting an incoming message." She looked up at Jack, a shocked look on her face. "It's Chronos, sir."
"Well by all means, let's hear what Snake Eyes has to say," Jack growled.
Carter nodded curtly, toggled a couple of switches. "Recording," she announced tersely. "Coming through now, sir."
"People of the Tau'ri," Chronos' unearthly voice boomed through the vast inner chamber of the pyramid. "I have a message for your world leader. You were warned use of the Stargate would subject you to immediate capture and forfeiture to the pleasure of the System Lords. I have exercised my right to discipline you for failing to obey us. Daniel Jackson is forfeit as per our warning. He has paid the price for disobedience. Any attempt to rescue him will be considered a violation of the conditions upon which the System Lords agreed to grant Earth Protected Planet status. Defy me in this and the System Lords will immediately be informed the planet of the Tau'ri is once again available for their immediate subjugation. As a demonstration of my sincerity, as was my right to do so I have killed Colonel O'Neill. He too has paid the price for his disobedience, and his death will serve as a reminder to the Tau'ri they defy the System Lords at their peril…"
The second Chronos mentioned his name Jack was moving, rounding the console, hitting transmit, grabbing the microphone.
"Here's hoping I completely ruin your day with this bucko," he snarled into the mike, "But reports of my death are – too optimistic by half! Still alive and kicking – and I wanna give YOU a warning ASSHOLE – treaty or no goddamn treaty – you TOUCH Daniel and I will personally kick your sorry ass – "
"Colonel O'Neill!" Teal'c said sharply, grabbing him by the arm and pulling him away from the console. "This is not wise!"
Right. Teal'c was right. Dammit. Couldn't let his anger get the best of him. Wasn't exactly smart to try and antagonize the man who held Daniel's life in his hands.
"Uh – don't worry sir," Carter said to him. "I'll edit that last bit out of the tape…"
Hearty metallic laughed issued forth from the speakers. "O'Neill –you live!" Chronos jeered. "Surprisingly, I am pleased to hear this. Very pleased indeed. It will give me great pleasure to kill you myself. I invite you to give me the opportunity to do so at your earliest convenience."
"In yer dreams," Jack snarled under his breath.
"Deliver my message to your world leader and heed it well," Chronos continued. "I hardly think the complete destruction of your planet is worth the life of one man. Even a man as delightful as Daniel Jackson. You will excuse me, but I have much more pleasurable matters to attend to now. I will think of you, O'Neill, as I take what is mine."
"GODDAM SONOFABITCH!" Jack yelled as he fumbled with his holster, trying to draw his pistol. Teal'c grabbed his arm, squeezing it hard, the pain cutting through his grief-driven rage.
"O'Neill – what do you wish with your gun?"
Jack froze as he realized just how absurd what he had been intending to do really was.
"Uh, actually I was going to use it to shoot the radio…" he admitted in a shamed voice.
"And what would that have accomplished?" Teal'c scolded him sternly.
Jack sighed, allowing his shoulders to slump in defeat. "Okay, okay, you're right. I'm not going to do anything – stupid. You can let go of me."
"This is sensible," Teal'c said in a firm, but not unkind voice. "We must use all our means and cunning if we are to come to the aid of DanielJackson. I believe we have some hope of success. Chronos must believe it as well. Otherwise, why would he have taken the time to try to persuade us such against such action? From the effort he made to dissuade us I can only conclude he fears us."
Jack shot a piercing look at the man at his side. "Good call, Teal'c," he nodded approvingly. "I think you might have something here. You don't warn off someone you don't consider to be a threat. On the contrary, you don't even bother with them. So – what exactly is the all-powerful Chronos afraid of – ahhh – god!"
Jack broke off in mid-sentence, one hand flying to his throat, the other flailing impotently in the air for help and support as he suddenly, terrifyingly, seemingly lost his ability to breathe. His chest working futilely to supply lungs that would not draw air, Jack tumbled over backwards, to find himself caught and propped up by the Jaffa beside him while he continued to struggle ineffectually against the force impeding his breathing. He could hear both Carter and Teal'c yelling at him, could feel himself starting to black out no air no air goddammit, where's the air….
Then he was able to draw a great, desperate draught into his searing lungs. Whatever it was, it was gone; he could breathe again Jesus Christ what the hell was that…
"Colonel – what's the matter, what happened?" Sam. That was Sam. Couldn't – couldn't speak yet. Could breathe, but couldn't speak. All he could manage was a vigourous shake of his head. He could hear the sound of the chevrons on the DHD being quickly activated. Still fuzzy. Teal'c was holding him up. Still breathing. Sweet…
"Get him to the infirmary immediately, Teal'c" Sam was talking again. "I'll make sure that everything is secure here and join you as soon as I can. Here – give the tape to the General. He'll need to know about this."
Teal'c was hustling him toward the gate. Going home. Going home. A home that wasn't a home anymore. Not without Daniel. Daniel… God – what's happening to you now…?
Movement which resolved itself into a series of figures bustling about on the edges of his vision roused Daniel from his misery. He was no longer alone in the room. Several men and women dressed in simple white robes were moving about, placing trays of food and drink on a low table which had been placed by the side of the bed.
He hadn't seen the table being placed there, but then, that hardly made a difference. The sight of the edibles arriving was alarming enough. That could only mean one thing. The entertainment portion of the evening was about to commence, and he was the main attraction.
Despair washed over him again as he let his head fall back onto the bed, feeling tears slip from his eyes once more. Couldn't seem to stop it was just so – horrifying. All of it – not real. Too horrible to be real. This couldn't be happening. Couldn't be about to happen. Just make it all go away… Or let me die…
Suddenly there were hands upon him, lifting his upper body from the bed. Startled, Daniel emitted an involuntary cry of terror as he struggled to pull away.
"Daniel, you must stop this now. You must. Chronos is about to arrive. He will not be pleased to see you like this."
Nah'tak. That was Nah'tak's voice. Daniel's eyes flew open at the only sound he trusted. He found himself nestled in the crook of the Jaffa's large arm, while the massive man was using a soft cloth to wipe his eyes, face and nose as tenderly as if he was a child.
"Nah'tak" he blurted out desperately, "Please – you have to help me. Please get me away from here."
Nah'tak frowned indulgently at him as he brushed his fingers through his hair, carefully arranging it, no doubt making him more 'presentable' through the action.
"Daniel do not be afraid. You must accept your destiny. You are the chosen, the favoured of the God. You are truly blessed."
"Blessed?" Daniel could hear his voice break beneath the weight of his near hysteria. "Blessed? You and I are obviously reading from very different books."
"Shhhhh," Nah'tak soothed. "Drink this. It will help. It will calm you." The Jaffa pressed a small vial to his lips. Trusting him, Daniel allowed him to pour the contents into his mouth. A small stream of a sweet liquid slid down his throat, suffusing his limbs and mind with a comforting warmth almost immediately after he swallowed. Nah'tak was right. He felt better. Not so scared now.
Nah'tak looked down at him, then nodded approvingly as Daniel smiled weakly back up at him. "Better," Daniel said to him. "Thank you."
Nah'tak reached behind them, pulled up several large pillows, then laid Daniel down upon them so that he was propped up on the bed by them.
"I must go now, Daniel," Nah'tak smiled at him as he patted Daniel's cheek kindly. "Rejoice in your good fortune and you will be the most fortunate among us. I promise you." Then he got quickly to his feet and left him again.
Everyone else was gone now too. He was alone in the room he really hadn't had much of an opportunity to appreciate before. Here was the opulence and extravagance he had expected and not seen in the outer chamber.
This room was definitely an a-one make-out pad if ever he had seen one. It was two tiered, an upper level that connected the rest of the suite and a lower level where the huge bed, a richly furnished seating area and he were. There were mirrors everywhere, thick white carpeting from wall to wall to wall, curtains, tapestries, pictures, statues – the place screamed hedonism. While somehow, for all its obvious excess, managing to be tastefully beautiful as well. Under different circumstances it could almost be – comfortable…
Nah'tak genuflected deeply as Chronos strode into the outer chamber. The God greeted his First Prime with an eager smile.
"My Lord," Nah'tak began in deeply reverent tones. "All is as it should be. Your favoured awaits his blessing."
"I am more than anxious to bestow it," Chronos replied. "Daniel is alone?"
"He is, my lord," the Jaffa answered. "I allowed Delios and his attendants to retire and saw to Daniel's preparation myself. I wished all to be perfect for your Greatness."
"Indeed," Chronos favoured him with a deeply assessing look. "Have I reason to be concerned about Delios?" Chronos asked him, expecting and receiving the truth.
"If I may presume, unworthy as I am, to advise my lord, I believe you would be wise to have him watched. You may discover his interests are not the same as your own, when it comes to the welfare of your Most Favoured."
"Arrange it," Chronos finished curtly. "As always, you serve me well, Nah'tak. You may go. Or you may stay, as you wish."
Nah'tak inclined his head to acknowledge the compliment. "If it please my lord, I would stay. You might yet have need of me."
"As you wish," Chronos murmured dismissingly as he passed through the door to the room where Daniel lay waiting.
"I pray you will not need me, but I fear you will," the Jaffa said softly to the empty room, fervently hoping he would not be called upon to deal with the results of his God's anger, as he'd had to, many times before. "Be brave, Daniel – obey…"
Chronos had made a great show of preening himself in front of Daniel, deliberately shedding his robes before him in advance of going into his little wardrobe and returning in a roomy, rather flimsy diaphanous robe which certainly had not been designed with modesty in mind. Nor was it any assistance in concealing the fact the 'god' was obviously 'moved' by his company.
Well, he was definitely the only one…
Daniel tried not to flinch as Chronos draped himself over the cushions beside him. He turned his head away, only to have the System Lord grab his chin, and turn it back. He frowned when he saw Daniel's swollen, red-rimmed eyes.
"What is this?" the Goa'uld began in a strangely quiet voice. "You spoil yourself with this foolishness. Why are you distressed? You are not pleased to be my guest?"
"I was not aware my opinion was an issue," Daniel returned dryly, emboldened by Chronos' unexpected tolerance. Not that he was falling for any tricks – he knew he was less than an insect to this man. Still, if there was any way to talk his way out of this, however remote, he was going to go for it.
"I am deeply concerned with your pleasure," Chronos replied, drawing closer, moving his hand down Daniel's throat, caressing it in a strangely tender gesture which only served to remind Daniel of the more recent way in which the Goa'uld had handled his throat in a far less considerate fashion.
"That's nice," Daniel said, trying to keep his voice steady, trying not to shudder uncontrollably with the revulsion Chronos' touch evoked in him. The System Lord was smiling fondly, almost indulgently at him, his considerable presence blanketing him in a suffocating, mind numbing cloud of power mocking his own vunerability. "Can I go home now?"
"You are home, Daniel," Chronos breathed throatily, moving his hand down until it was splayed possessively on his chest at the base of his neck. His eyes were black with desire; his breath was hot and fast as he leaned closer.
Daniel jerked his head back, and tried to pull away from Chronos' hand. The System Lord merely smiled knowingly, backing off a bit, removing the hand from his chest.
"You are shy," he said in an almost conversational tone. "This is strange to you. Very well, we shall talk, eat. You will feel better." Chronos reached across to the table and picked up something from one of the trays of food. "You must be hungry, Daniel. You have not eaten for many hours."
Daniel shook his head, not wanting to take anything from Chronos. He had no idea what the man planned on feeding to him – and with his hands still tied, that's what would have to happen – but he had no intention of playing this little seduction game. Which was exactly what it was. Chronos could keep his cream puff or whatever the hell that thing was he was waving under his nose.
Chronos smiled knowingly at him again, brought the dainty to Daniel's mouth, and then before he realized his intention smeared a liberal dollop of the creamy substance on his lower lip. Daniel froze. He couldn't just – leave it there. Especially as it looked as if Chronos was closing in to – shit! Glaring defiance at him, Daniel knew he had no choice but to lick it off. Or it was going to get licked off for him…
Triumph gleamed in the System Lord's eyes as he watched Daniel's reaction to the substance he had been forced to taste. It was – so – good. Like nothing he had ever tasted before. Suddenly, he knew just how hungry he was. Suddenly maybe accepting the morsel Chronos was offering to him again – wasn't so bad.
"You will take some food now?" Chronos said softly. Somehow, his Goa'uld voice had grown softer, less terrifying. Daniel could detect nuances, modulations, differences in it he couldn't hear before.
He nodded, and opened his mouth slightly. Chronos slowly slid the morsel into it, smearing the corner slightly as he did so. He deliberately swiped the substance from Daniel's mouth with his finger, which he then raised to his own mouth and sucked clean, the whole time holding Daniel's eyes.
He fed Daniel a number of different offerings from the platters before them, interspersing the dainties with sips of something that tasted like very sweet wine. Disposing meticulously of any stray drops, crumbs or toppings in the same fashion: cleaning them from his mouth with his fingers, which he then licked or sucked.
All the while his eyes roamed restlessly over Daniel's face, their dark depths sparkling with a strange, excited light. Daniel knew he was being toyed with, played with as surely and with as much calculation as a cat plays with some terrified thing it has captured and is about to kill. Be that as may, at least while he was 'playing' he wasn't touching him. At least, not much…
At last Daniel shook his head. The exotic food and wine were starting to make him feel a little nauseated and lightheaded.
"No more, please," he mumbled. He was feeling hot, flushed. Definitely confused and more than a bit disoriented.
Chronos smiled widely, delight evident in his eyes. "You are refreshed?" he asked in an almost considerate tone. "We will pleasure each other now." Statement of fact. Not a question. Oh shit.
Chronos did not bother waiting for a response. He began to roam his hand possessively across Daniel's chest, moving closer again, desire burning in his eyes. Weakly Daniel shook his head.
"Don't," he gasped. "Please don't touch me."
Chronos stopped moving his hand but did not take it away. He looked at Daniel's face searchingly, as if trying to understand what he saw there.
"You are still afraid? This is foolishness. You will know love from the hands of a God. There are many who would gladly take your place."
Well, now he knew where Nah'tak had gotten it from…
"Then why don't you go out and find one of them and leave me alone." Daniel blurted out before he could stop himself.
Stupid Daniel, really stupid. Piss the guy off. Way to go…
Chronos drew back from him – and then started to laugh. "Such spirit!" he chuckled. "Such fire! I have not had one such as you in a very long time. You are well worth the wait, and the trouble you put me to to fetch you."
Daniel could feel a reckless resentment beginning to grow within him. He'd had just about enough of this game. He wasn't afraid any more, but he knew the state of mind he was rapidly approaching would probably be a lot more hazardous to his health and continued existence.
If it was fire Chronos wanted, fire he was damned well going to get…
"You'll forgive me if I don't say 'thank you'," Daniel grumbled, narrowing his eyes and glaring sullenly at the man beside him. "Sexual plaything for a maniac was not high up on my list of lifetime goals."
He was expecting his remark to anger the System Lord; the searching look Chronos leveled at him was completely surprising.
"You still do not understand what I am offering you, do you, Daniel?"
That was all he said, nothing more. No gloating, no threats, nothing else. Just that cryptic remark, and an equally cryptic look. What – what was going on here…
Then, as quickly as it had come over him, the look was gone. Like a door closing, a shutter being drawn in place. Chronos smiled lustfully at him once more, just as he was expecting. What he had seen before, must have been his imagination. A trick of the light, nothing more.
Knowing there was nothing Daniel could do to stop him Chronos suddenly reached down into his lap and flung back the little there was between him and the cold light of day. And there he was, hanging out in plain sight, completely exposed to the devouring eye of the man who drew in a sharp, hissing draught of air as his eyes drank in Daniel's nakedness.
"I knew you would be beautiful," Chronos purred. "I did not imagine – how beautiful."
"Nice line," Daniel replied coolly. "Do you use it on all your victims, or just the 'favoured' ones?" No way Chronos was going to see him sweat or beg. He might think he was in control of this situation – but no matter what, there were some things he was never, ever going to have. No matter what he did to him.
Chronos growled angrily and wrapped an arm around his shoulders, drawing him into his chest. With his other hand he began to roughly handle Daniel's completely unaroused manhood. He continued to pull, stroke, tease, fondle, his frustration with Daniel's uncooperative anatomy growing noticeably with each passing moment. As noticeably as the something else which was refusing to grow no matter what he did to it.
"Guess there are some things a god's touch can't do after all," Daniel jeered at him.
"I tire of your ingratitude!" Chronos snarled at him. "You WILL accept the pleasure I choose to bless you with!"
Daniel barely had time to wonder at the strangeness of Chronos' remark when the Goa'uld grabbed another goblet which had been sitting on the table all the while. Turning on Daniel, he forced it between his lips, spilling most of it down the front of his body but still managing to make a great deal of it go down his throat. Swallowing unwillingly but having no choice, Daniel gasped as the fiery liquid seared his throat, exploding within him with a violent, inflaming fury.
Vicious, artificial arousal shot through him, his mind screamed with pain as the perversion of desire wrenched unwanted responses from his entire body. He lay twitching in helpless spasms of unnatural ecstasy as Chronos groaned in triumph and began licking his chest and stomach, lapping up the vile liquid that had spilled all over him. Daniel moaned, struggled against the cords restraining his arms, trying to free his hands so he could push Chronos away, keep his hands off his painfully hard erection, ward off the jerking strokes which causes wave after wave of agony to course through him.
He felt himself beginning to shake and shudder with pre-orgasmic tremours. No – not this! Chronos couldn't have this! Not even this way, forced from him by a drug. Chronos' hot mouth closed over his, thick tongue pushed inside him – invading gagging, sickening.
Had to stop it – had to fight back. Only one way he could.
Chronos howled with pain and rage, pulling away from Daniel as he bit his tongue. Released from his grip Daniel fell back on the cushions, released from his stimulation the rising tide which had very nearly betrayed him receded. He was still aflame, still racked with the ravages of false desire, and still in its clutches he turned to the only solace left to him.
"Jack!" Daniel cried as he tried to burn the memory of his lost lover's face in his mind, using his beloved memory as a safe haven in the swirling madness. "Jack!"
His head exploded with agony as it snapped back with the force of Chronos' blow.
"You DARE!" the Goa'uld screamed, striking him again. "You dare reject me – dare speak another's name in my presence! I will teach you the folly of defying the will of God!"
The blows rained on. Daniel teetered on the brink of unconsciousness, waiting for the one that would send him over, releasing him. It didn't come.
As if Chronos knew exactly when to stop the blows abruptly ceased. Daniel barely had time to realize the Goa'uld had stopped slapping him about before he was flipped onto his stomach, his arms wrenched roughly to one side. Cruel fingers bit deeply into the flesh of his buttocks, spreading them apart. Daniel only had time to take one deep breath, before he let it out again in a scream.
Screamed, screamed and kept on screaming as he was split asunder, cleaved and stabbed, over and over, the pain unbelievable, seemingly never ending. He could hear Chronos grunting over him, feel him pushing, ripping, tearing him apart as the agony went on and on and on. White hot, terrible, his mind almost unable to hold what little of him remained against the enormity of his suffering.
Even as it seemed it would never end Chronos suddenly groaned and fell on top of him. Daniel lay unmoving beneath him, barely able to even breathe as pain occupied every corner of his mind. Still conscious – why was he still conscious…?
The System Lord pushed himself up and out of him, causing another scream to rip from him as the rough movements ripped him yet again. Daniel tried to curl up into a ball, seeking some position that would give him some relief. None came. He realized he was shaking, his throat raw with screaming, tears streaming down his cheek.
Chronos laughed at him, slapped his face again and tossed him from the bed. He crashed to the floor, crying out as fresh agony claimed him. How was it possible to feel so much pain and still live? Maybe it wasn't, maybe he was finally dying after all - at last he could finally feel welcome red-soaked darkness coming up to meet him, clutching at him, claiming him, just let me go take the pain, take me, take me away from here, take me back to Jack……
Samantha Carter cast another worried look at the man slumped in the chair beside her. The colonel was quiet. Too quiet. Since Janet had turned him loose, unable to find anything wrong with him and he had joined them in the briefing room he had been sitting pretty much the way he was now; slouched in his chair, head bowed over the hands tightly clasped together and resting on the table.
However, she had known him and worked with him too long to be fooled by his outward appearance of composure. The man beside her was screaming inside.
Sam looked away, quelling the urge to utter a few screams herself. This was all her fault. If only she had come back five minutes earlier - if only the message had come sooner, if only she had put it together faster. She could have stopped Daniel and the colonel from going to Abydos. Daniel would still be here. If only, if only..
She knew the colonel didn't blame her. He wasn't that kind of man. He didn't have to, though; she was more than ready to do the job herself. They 'd had only suspicions, based on the sketchy regular report of the operative on Chronos' flagship. The Tok'ra already knew Chronos was using the personal stealth technology he and Yu had obtained from Nirrti.
When the operative reported Chronos had unexpectedly diverted to Abydos Sam realised, given the prior piece of information, what a potentially vulnerable position the personnel on the base could consequently be in. She had only a suspicion of his intentions, no confirmation from the operative, no way of ascertaining if her suppositions were in fact accurate, no way of knowing how quickly Chronos executed his plan. So, given all of that, you could argue she had no cause for laying the blame for what had happened on her doorstep. Didn't matter. All of that didn't change the fact if she had gotten there five minutes earlier..
Chronos! Dammit. And to think - she was the one who had healed him! Her fault again, he was even alive! Even though not saving him had never been an option for the sake of Earth, still if she had known it would've led to this..
Dammit, why did it always seem every time they saved the world Daniel was the one who paid the price?
Had to stop thinking like this, had to pull herself together. The colonel was finding a way - she couldn't imagine how - and she couldn't even begin to imagine what he must be going through. It was bad enough Daniel was gone - don't even think about what might be happening to him right now. As terrible as she and Teal'c felt, the colonel must be going through forty different kinds of hell. What would it feel like, to know someone you loved that much was in the hands of a maniac, and there was nothing you could do to help them or protect them?
She jerked her attention back to what was going on in the briefing room. Her father and Martouf had arrived a few minutes ago, bringing with them the deliberations of the Tok'ra council. They were awaiting the return of the general from yet another one of the phone calls he had taken from the Pentagon and/or the White House. All of them, 'the powers that be' from two different spheres of influence all debating their next move and the fate of one man. One very special man, but only one man, all the same.
Everything Daniel was, everything he had done, would any of it matter weighed against expediency, the potential risk he posed because of what he knew, or his relative value in the scheme of things versus what could be lost if he remained alive..
Face facts, Sam - when it comes right down to it, every single one of us is expendable. You know that. So does the man sitting beside you. Just hope he is going to be able to survive hearing it. If that's what it comes down to...
No one gets left behind? How does that apply when one of us is - taken? Guess they were all going to find that out soon enough.
Martouf had seated himself across the table from her, and was trying to catch her eye.
"We are deeply grieved to hear of Daniel's loss," he said sincerely.
She looked at him, looked at her father. Couldn't read either of them. If this was Martouf's way of softening her up for bad news or trying to tell her they were behind them - she couldn't tell.
"Yeah well, I hope you mean that," she said in a slightly defensive voice. "Sorry. Everybody's - sorry. Not what I want to hear right now. What I want to hear is what we are going to do to get him back." She looked across the table at both men, her eyes hard and deeply serious. "And unless you've come here to tell us you're willing to help, we have nothing to talk about."
She had barely finished speaking when the man beside her gave a small grunt of approval, reached over and patted her briefly on the shoulder while nodding his head and then returned his hand to its white-knuckled clutching of its fellow.
"What he said," she finished, never altering her steely-eyed glare at the two men in front of her.
Any further pleasantries were halted by the return of the general to the room. He didn't look happy. He seated himself at the head of the table before turning to address the men who had newly joined them.
"Jacob, Martouf, good to see you again. I just wish it could have been under better circumstances."
"I hear you, George," Jacob Carter replied. 'What's the word from upstairs?"
"I've been instructed by the President to discover the Tok'ra's position on this situation," Hammond continued in grim, formal tones. "He and the joint chiefs will reserve making a final decision about Doctor Jackson's disposition based upon the information you can provide us."
"Disposition," Jack snorted, not lifting his head. "Talking about him like he was a - handi-wipe. Use him up, throw him away." His voice trailed away; he continued to silently glare at his folded hands.
Hammond cast a worried glance at him before continuing. "Our primary concern, is of course, the potential security risk Doctor Jackson presents. If Chronos implants him, the Goa'uld will have access to information which could prove compromising to all our interests."
Jacob glanced at Martouf before replying. "I think I can put the President's mind at ease on that score," he continued, dividing his attention between the man he was addressing and the man across the table from him as he watched the effect his words were having on Jack. "Our operative has managed to get very close to Daniel. Should there be even the slightest indication Chronos is intending to implant him, our operative has instructions to immediately terminate - but -" he hastened to add as he saw the way Jack was starting to hunch up, tensing as if he meant to launch himself over the table at him, "- I don't think there is any immediate danger of that happening. Chronos' interests in procuring him do not seem to be for the purposes of making him a host."
There was a painful, deadly silence in the room as the implications of that remark hung balefully over everyone who heard it.
"Kinda one of those good news/bad news deals, huh Jacob?" Jack grunted suddenly, his voice loud and explosive in the strained silence.
Jacob Carter folded his hands on the table in front of him, took a deep breath and looked at each person in the room with an expression of deep, empathetic regret.
"This won't be easy for any of you to hear," he began in a slow, quiet voice. "Believe me, I don't like it any more than you will, but there are larger issues at stake here.
"Chronos is well known for his - predilection - for human paramours. Occasionally women, mostly men. He prefers his 'Favoureds' to be human and he prefers them in their original state. Unimplanted. Those he tires of quickly, he kills. Those who last a little longer, and of whom he is particularly fond he eventually turns into hosts after he becomes bored with them, giving them a place in his household.
"However, most of them don't live long enough to have to worry about it. That is why we say it is fairly safe to assume Daniel is not in any immediate danger of being turned into a host. Assuming he - ah - survives the next couple of days Chronos will prefer him as he is for the time being."
Sam looked nervously at the man beside her. The colonel said nothing, but he began to slowly shake his head, as if he could not believe what he was hearing. Or didn't want to hear any more.
She knew how he felt...
"Damn - there's no easy way to say this." Jacob lowered his head, and when he raised it again, his eyes shone with the golden light of Selmac's presence. "You have to understand," Selmac continued, "Chronos adopts an extremely indulgent attitude towards the 'Favoured' who please him. Consequently they enjoy a proximity to him which gives them unequalled access to potential sources of intelligence unavailable to anyone else. For starters, Daniel would be in a position to obtain information about the personal stealth devices - maybe one of the actual devices themselves. I don't have to tell you what an asset that technology would be to all of our interests.
"That is why the Tok'ra council has instructed our operative to try and persuade him to stay as close to Chronos as he can - to cooperate with him - for as long as it is safe for him to do so. This is the break we have been looking for for a long time. Because of the intense security Chronos surrounds him with, the fanatical loyalty of his followers, and the constant presence of the Ashrak assassins who are everywhere - watching - operatives don't tend to last very long. We've never managed to get one as close as to Chronos as Daniel is. Even the one who has volunteered to stay near Daniel is doing so at great personal risk. She is jeopardising over four years of work to watch over him, but like all of us she'll do whatever she has to.
"We intend to ask him to do this for the good of your Earth and our movement. He is in a position to be invaluable to both of us. We wish to ask your government to support our decision and table any attempts to rescue him for the moment, if that is their intention. We will give him our assurance we will do everything we can to get him out when it's time. We will also provide him with the same means our operatives use to destroy himself should he become compromised before we can come to his aid. The decision will of course be up to him, but we believe he will understand the importance of what we are asking of him and agree to help us."
"Jesus." Jack was still shaking his lowered head, his voice low and deeply dangerous. "I knew you guys were cold-blooded bastards, but - Jesus.." His voice got louder, more unrestrained as he continued. "Do you have any idea what you are saying - any CLUE what you are asking Daniel to do? Do you - do you have ANY kind of clue? Take your hands off me!" This in response to Teal'c's placement of a slightly restraining hand upon his shoulder.
Jack suddenly shot to his feet, sending the chair he was sitting on skidding madly away out from under him. His face was almost purple with anger, his eyes wild with pain and disbelief.
"I can't listen to any more of this CRAP!" he yelled. "General - you're not seriously listening to this - you're not going to tell the President to go along with this? This is Daniel we're talking about - Jesus - has everyone here lost their MINDS - why are we even listening to this?"
Jack broke off suddenly, his eyes going wide with sudden confusion. He gripped the side of the table as if for support, had time to look at Sam for one brief, panicked second before he suddenly crumpled to the floor clutching his groin and screaming as if he was being flayed alive.
It seemed as if a long time had passed since the screams stopped. Nah'tak knew he should go in and begin seeing to the removal of all the - unpleasantness. That he had not been immediately summoned told him Chronos had likely fallen asleep. This was not uncommon, especially if he had partaken of the ecstasy potion. He was either asleep - or bathing.
Whichever it was, Nah'tak knew there was work ahead for him. His God would wish the mess cleaned up immediately. Would not wish to see it upon emerging from the bath - or awakening. Chronos intensely disliked disorder, uncleanness, chaos. All must be made right again. That would be his God's wish.
Nah'tak sighed deeply, torn between his need to fulfill his duty and his unwillingness to walk through the door and see what lay beyond it. The screams had told him what he had most feared had come to pass. Daniel had angered Chronos, forcing him to discipline him. He must have deeply offended the god; Nah'tak could not remember a time when he had heard Chronos cry out in such rage, or heard the evidence of his displeasure containing such severity and lasting for so long. He would not allow Daniel to live after committing such grievous offenses against him.
If Daniel was not already dead, he soon would be. Either way, his fate was sealed. It now fell to him to dispose of the unfortunate man - either way. Grieving silently for the man he had known for so short a time and yet had already become so fond of, Nah'tak drew himself up and entered the chamber, preparing to serve his God.
Nah'tak stopped at the head of the small flight of stairs which led to the lower level, confused by what he saw. Much of it was as he expected; there was blood everywhere. Liberally staining the pristine whiteness of the bed, trailing to the floor, soaking the carpet beneath the still, broken man who lay there. What the First Prime had not expected to see was Chronos, still clad in the rumpled, gory gown which yet bore the evidence of his activities, sitting on the floor beside Daniel, bowed low over the head in his lap. It was evident Chronos did not realise he was there; his full attention was focussed on the man he was holding.
His God was gently stroking Daniel's battered face, murmuring softly to him. "I'm sorry, Daniel," he said quietly. "You were disobedient - it was my right to punish you, but I did not mean to become this angry with you. That was never my intention. I took no joy in this - I did not mean for it to happen."
The sight of Chronos' contrition and obvious compassion for Daniel caused hope to flare brightly in Nah'tak's breast. Perhaps his duties of this evening would not be as sorrowful as he had originally anticipated..
"My Lord," he said quietly. "How may I serve you?"
Chronos' head came up, bleak eyes meeting the ones of his First Prime.
"Nah'tak!" he said strongly, his tone a mixture of relief and thankfulness. "Your faithfulness continues to earn my eternal gratitude. Quickly, fetch me the healing device. Daniel has suffered enough." He paused for a moment, lowering his head again, trailing tender fingers across Daniel's forehead. "As it is the prerogative of God to punish, so may He also be merciful."
Chronos was releasing the cords binding Daniel's wrists and ankles as Nah' tak returned from the wardrobe with the requested device. As his God directed he swept the despoiled covering from the bed; Chronos gently lifted Daniel and placed him on it. The slight movements, as careful as they were caused the man to react. As Daniel began to moan softly and twist in pain Chronos sat beside him, swiftly took the healing device from his First Prime and trained its soft light on the suffering man. Daniel quieted almost immediately.
Nah'tak watched his master minister to Daniel with quiet satisfaction. Chronos was extremely skilled in the use of the device. Daniel's pain would soon pass away, all his wounds would be healed. He was indeed a fortunate man. He had suffered most grievously - received a doubtless well-deserved punishment, and yet he had been spared a fate others who preceded him and who had not offended half as much as he evidently had - had not been able to avoid.
The very first time he had seen him Nah'tak had sensed Daniel's uniqueness - known he was not like the others; here now, was his proof. This man had truly touched Chronos - had moved the God to unheard of compassion and mercy. One had only to behold the way he looked at him as he tended to him with his own hands - also very rare and extraordinary. Dare he hope, for his master's sake, Chronos had finally found what he had been seeking? At last, could Daniel truly be - the one?
Nah'tak knew Chronos as no one else did. His years of unswerving devotion to the System Lord and the uncompromising loyalty he gave to him had earned him the trust of his God. It also had made him the frequent recipient of his most candid confidences. From his very mouth Nah'tak alone had the truth of what really lay within the divine heart. In his ruthless rotation of 'Favoureds' what others saw as an insatiable appetite for variety Nah'tak knew instead as a tireless quest.
Chronos sought something in each one he had selected to be favoured. Sought it - and had not found it. Some had pleased him more than others - none had every pleased him enough. So he had continued to search, while at the same time freely confessing to his First Prime he was not sure what it was he sought. Except to observe with some sadness there were limits to the consolations of power. While knowing he was feared was satisfying - it still was not enough.
Nah'tak did not envy Chronos the loneliness of his exalted station. Who among them could hope to understand the mind of God..
Chronos deactivated the healing device and handed it back to his First Prime. Daniel would sleep now, and for most of the next few days. While the healing device yielded faster immediate results than the sarcophagus, it was not as thorough. Still, whenever possible, Chronos preferred to use the device, on his favoureds, on himself. He did not like the isolation and forced dormancy of the sarcophagus; consequently he employed it very infrequently - virtually never to heal himself, only when the burgeoning regenerative demands of his host body left him no other choice.
Chronos carefully gathered Daniel into his arms, then turned to Nah'tak and indicated the grisly remnants of his displeasure with a curt toss of his head.
"Have them take this away immediately, he snapped tersely. "Then come to me." With a small look down at the man he lifted as effortlessly as if he was weightless, Chronos bore him quickly toward the bathing chamber.
Nah'tak was surprised to see Delios himself at the head of the attendants who entered the suite in response to his summons. As his underlings swiftly worked to replace the soiled bedding, cart away the strewn remainders of the feast and eradicate the stain on the carpet the First Maintainer stood beside the First Prime, a smug, deeply satisfied smile on his face. He folded his arms across his chest, cast an archly curious glance about the room and finally said to Nah'tak, "So, already out the airlock, is he? That was fast."
"Sorry to disappoint you," Nah'tak replied, with an equally satisfied smile on his own face. "Daniel is still alive. Very much alive. Even now our God tends to him in the other room. Finish up here swiftly. Chronos will not wish to see any of you still here when he returns." Nah'tak bowed respectfully to his colleague, then left him to rejoin Chronos. He deeply relished the angry look of consternation distorting Delios' face in response to his parting comment.
Healed, clean, and newly tucked beneath the fresh bedding, Daniel stirred restively on the bed as the two men who had placed him there stood over him, momentarily watching him. Chronos, himself freshly scrubbed and clad in a new dressing gown continued to study the man beneath him as he tossed and murmured, as it trying to fight the restorative sleep the healing device had placed him in. Chronos said nothing for a long time then frowned absently and motioned for his First Prime to follow him to the seating area just beyond the bed on the lower level. After installing himself on the wide, comfortable couch he motioned for Nah'tak to join him.
"Nah'tak," Chronos began in a careful, contemplative tone. "Do you know why you serve me?"
Nah'tak bowed his head, considering his reply. "I can only assume it is because I please you."
"You assume correctly," Chronos returned quickly. "Do you know why?"
Nah'tak shook his head. "I do not presume to know the mind of God, I simply rejoice in the good fortune which has allowed me to continue to find favour in your eyes."
Chronos smiled at him. "Ah, you see - there. There it is. You please me because I know - without fail - if I ask you a question - you will tell me the truth. That is why you continue to serve me, why I have forgiven you failures which earned your predecessors my wrath. That is why you will continue to serve me, for you are unique among all the others who surround me. You are an honest man. That single quality is worth more to me than anything else I possess."
Nah'tak listened to the praise of his God, his head still bowed, stunned by the verbal evidence of his pleasure. He remained silent as Chronos continued.
"Because I know you will answer truly, I ask you this. "I punished Daniel because he refused to accept my blessing. His sacrilege warranted death, and yet, I choose to let him live - because he defied me. Do you know, if he had been as all the others, if he had meekly submitted to my wishes - I do believe I would have killed him? His submission would have been empty possession, knowing I could have him as easily as I can have - anything - would have made him meaningless to me. Tonight I took him - as was my right. That act was equally meaningless. It brought me no pleasure.
"Why? Everything I have - everything I am - why is it not enough? What more is there? Why do I feel so strongly he knows? What do I want? What do I want - from him?"
Sorrow suffused him as Nah'tak considered his answer, and then delivered it in respectful, regretful tones. "My humblest apologies for being so unworthy. I - I do not know how to answer you, my lord."
Chronos smiled kindly at him, nodding slightly. "It is as much as I expected. How could I have thought you would know what a god does not?"
Nah'tak thought he meant to say more, but suddenly they became aware that Daniel's murmurings were becoming louder, more distinct. There was urgency in the utterances spilling from him in sleep, desperation and deep longing. Chronos strained forward, seeking to catch the sounds, as if he suddenly felt what he sought was to be found there.
"Where are you?" Daniel cried. "Can't see you, so far away.. need you. Jack."
Chronos eyes blazed; there was an eager, hungry look on his face as he listened while Daniel continued to call out to Jack. He turned to Nah'tak, and it seemed to the First Prime his God's face resembled the aspect of one who suddenly had received his answer.
"That is what I want," Chronos growled triumphantly. "I want him to say MY name - like that.."
Chronos leapt up from the couch, crossed swiftly to the bed and started to remove his robe. Suddenly he remembered himself, remembered there was someone else in the room.
"Leave me now," he said curtly, dismissively. "I will not need you again tonight."
As the First Prime swiftly withdrew at his God's behest the divinity in question dropped his robe to the floor, slipped into the bed beside Daniel and took him in his arms. As Daniel trembled and called another man's name Chronos kissed him, caressed him and said softly, "It's all right, Daniel, I'm here. Jack is here.."
Burning, searing agony coursed through him; nightmarish arousal racked him as the stabbing, lancing thrusts of white-hot torment sundered him unceasingly. The pain was intense, terrible, made all the more horrific by the fact it came to Jack with the certain knowledge every agony he experienced was not his own. Danny. This was Danny's pain. This is what was happening to Danny. Right now.
Killing him - he's killing him! Jack's mind shrieked the words; he heard them outside, shrilling through the air, carried by a chorus of screams. Danny - had to get to him, had to help him - had to make this stop!
Jack knew he was still screaming, could barely think past the pain, but tried to make his body move just the same. As he struggled to get out of the bed he felt hands upon him, pushing him back. Voices floated about him, barely audible above the sounds issuing from his throat.
"Hold him down, I'll get a sedative, what is it Doctor, what's wrong with him, what is he saying, he's talking about Daniel, killing him, killing who, what does he mean, Colonel, can you hear me, can you try to calm down I just want to give you something for the pain.."
Jack raged, fought, screamed through the agony, howled at the hands holding him to release him.
...don't don't don't give me anything to put me out have to get up let me go, don't you get it you ASSHOLES have to get to Danny get your goddamned hands OFF me....
Another voice, softer, gentler. "Wait - stop. Don't give him that needle. He doesn't need it, it will prevent him from helping."
He knew that voice. Luena. That was Luena's voice. She was saying something else couldn't quite make it out. Hands were still holding him down but there was another one on his forehead, Luena's voice again, close to him soft, soothing, its cadence gently rising and falling in a hypnotically lulling chant. He didn't understand the words but he felt their meaning inside him. The pain began to recede, fade away. Still there somewhere, but it didn't grip him anymore. He didn't seem to mind it as the only thing that mattered was the sound of her voice and doing what it was telling him to do.
"Hear me Jack," she said firmly. "Do not let the pain take you. Use it to find him. Follow it to him. You can find him. Follow it. Follow it. Go to him in the dreaming. You can reach him there. Can comfort him there. He calls to you, go to him and give him your strength."
She was right. The pain was still there, but he didn't feel it anymore. Was still aware of it, but now not as something which sucked him down into insensate madness, but as a beacon drawing him up and out, a silvered cord his senses raced along, an unerring link to the man whose suffering had called out to him and had given him the means through it to finding him.
Found him, found him, could feel him, small, terrified, such pain, fear, so alone. The sorrow, terrible sorrow, sorrow for him, crushing grief. Of course, thought he was dead, didn't know have to let him know. Not dead, not dead, right here Danny.
In his arms and yet not Jack held him, enfolded him, letting his love pour from him as he tried to help, support, drive away the pain and fear. Here, I'm here, maybe not in body, but as much as I can be, not alone, not abandoned, we care, I care, here, take what you need, take it all, be brave, be strong, won't let you down, do whatever it takes. I 'll hold you Danny, try and hold it all back, long as I can..
Janet Frasier and General Hammond exchanged worried, perplexed looks as the tall Telshar woman finally moved away from the man who now lay quietly asleep on the bed. She turned and surveyed the stunned circle of faces looking at her all carrying the same question on them.
"Can someone tell me what is going on?"
They had no sooner gotten Jack into a bed and were trying to calm him down when she had - appeared. As if from nowhere. Presenting a very different appearance from her usual style of dress which Jack had once affectionately called 'Pocahontas Modern,' Luena had eschewed her usual colourful fringed, short tunic with its accompanying beads and bangles for a plain, long cotton robe dyed a blood red. Freed from the restraint of its usual topknot her long white hair hung down about her face in a somewhat dishevelled fashion. Broad ochre stripes were painted across her cheeks and forehead.
Grimfaced and determined, she had pushed her way through the press of people crowded around Jack's bed attempting to calm and restrain him, beating them all away with a fierce, certain audacity no one dared challenge. She leaned over him, began to talk to him and chant softly to him in her native tongue; within minutes he had calmed down. She stayed with him for a short time afterward, until she was at last sure he had fallen safely asleep, then left him and turned back to the onlookers who watched and waited with impatient curiosity.
"He will be fine," she stated blandly, answering the obvious questions before they were asked. He has suffered no actual physical harm, nor will he. He feels the suffering of another - that is where the pain comes from. I will teach him how to control this - so he will know if there is pain but will not have to actually experience it."
"Ma'am," General Hammond began, in a more than slightly suspicious voice. He knew what he had seen and heard, but.. "Would you mind very much explaining what just happened here?"
"Daniel has been taken, has he not?" she asked suddenly, unexpectedly.
"W-why yes," Sam stammered. "But, you must have only just gotten here, no one's been told yet, no announcement has been made - how do you know this?"
"Matarei saw it in the dreaming months before I was returned to her. Saw it again today. That is why I have returned. To free Daniel, as I promised him. And to help Jack understand how to use the link Matarei dreamed for them to comfort Daniel until we can find him, with its assistance."
"I don't understand," Janet posed the next question. "What are we seeing here - what is going on? Are you saying your Mother did something to the Colonel and Daniel when they were on Londalan?"
"She wished to thank the men who had returned her daughter to her," Luena answered. "She went into the dreaming to see what they most needed, and made it so. They needed to have a way to know of each other, to be able to find each other. They have it. Distance and time are no longer an obstacle to either. Each will know the feelings of the other through the dreamlink, and can use it to reach out to the other. I can teach Jack how to know what Daniel feels without actually experiencing - the full effect. So this will not have to happen again."
"By - this," Sam began softly, "what you mean is - what you are telling us is - the pain the colonel is feeling - it's - from Daniel? He's feeling something that is happening - to Daniel."
Luena nodded solemnly in response and for a moment there was a terrible silence in the room as all within it contemplated the awful implications of what they had just heard.
The general silently studied the woman before him as he attempted to absorb what he had just learned before forming his response. Finally he turned to the doctor at his side.
"Dr Frasier - is what she just said - possible?"
"It's not very scientific, sir," Janet returned with a slightly unhappy frown on her face. "In my opinion, I would have to say no. Still, we cannot deny twice the colonel has experienced some sort of - effect - which appears to have no physiological cause. The first time the - phenomenon - occurred I ran the whole series on him, and I couldn't find anything wrong with him - no cause for the physical reaction he experienced on Abydos. I'll run the tests again, but I don't think I'll find anything this time either. Luena, what did your Mother do to them?"
Luena shrugged. "I don't know. Matarei was the one who did the dreaming. She is the only one who could tell you."
"Well young woman, we certainly will talk about this later," Hammond said to her in a slightly stern tone. "However, at the moment we are in the middle of a situation which is going to have to take precedence. Thank you for your help with the colonel, but rest assured, we will talk. Doctor Frasier," he said, turning to the petite woman at his side, "I have to return to our guests. I want you to run those tests again and find out everything you can from Luena. I want some answers. I am beginning to feel as if someone else is pulling all the strings and frankly, Ma'am, I don't like it one single bit. Carry on. Major Carter, Teal'c?"
After pausing briefly to flash Luena grateful looks the two people addressed followed General Hammond from the infirmary.
Gone, the pain was gone. Thank god. Quiet now, at peace, safe in Jack's arms. Jack had found him, Jack had come, somehow with him, holding him tight, somehow still alive, don't know how, but what does it matter, he's here, here, that's all that matters.
Jack was in his mind, in his heart, filling him with love and comfort, banishing the fear, chasing the terrible memories away. Gone, over gone, not alone, not alone, no matter what happens, be brave, we're coming for you.
Daniel didn't hear it as words, rather felt with unshakeable certainty everything Jack was trying to communicate to him. Flying on the wings of a dream, but no dream was ever this real, this comforting, it was like nothing Daniel had ever known. With Jack's reality singing within him Daniel felt strong, comforting arms enfold him, hands move upon him. His body thrilled with the touch, the ardent caresses, the lips which pressed hotly to his skin and slid over him, making him shiver. Jack. Jack touching him, holding him, kissing him.
Daniel sighed his name aloud, over and over as he felt Jack's weight upon him, felt his hands roam, touch, fondle, his touch, - rougher, groping, faltering, as if they were strange hands, hands which did not know him with the certainty of those of his beloved. The mouth - he didn't know it, pressing hard upon his own, forcing his lips apart, thick tongue thrusting roughly with a frightening, cruel hunger.
Wrong - something's wrong. He was awash with the desire summoned by the determined application of Jack's ardour, and yet loud warnings stabbed through his brain. Wake up, had to wake up. The dream was going wrong. Something was wrong. The hands upon him - not Jack. They were the hands of stranger, hands he did not know, touching him, a stranger kissing him, making him respond unknowing and grunting in triumph as he clutched the rigid evidence of his success.
Still fighting to wake up Daniel struggled to escape the heaving, heavy body pressing down on him. Tried to push away the hands touching him, bringing him rapidly to an unwanted release. Tried to pull away from the hot, mauling mouth smothering him. Waking up, waking up to the same nightmare he had fainted away from. Him - god - it's him. Touching him - his hands making him feel these things, not Jack, not Jack's hands, not Jack's touch, not Jack's kisses him - him - have to make him stop god not again stop touching me stop it stop it stop it stop it...
Daniel realised he was fully awake, screaming, thrashing wildly, trying desperately to escape from the arms of Chronos. The thick tongue raking the back of his mouth sickened, him, gagged him, he felt his stomach heaving with violent, terrified nausea.
Chronos pulled back from Daniel almost immediately at the first sign of his fully awake and aware hysteria. He leaned over him, not touching him as the man beneath him rolled into a panicked ball in order to attempt to shield the most vulnerable parts of himself from any further molestation.
"Don't touch me!" he cried brokenly between rapid, panicked breaths of air.
"Don't be afraid," Chronos said softly. "I will not hurt you. You are afraid. You do not need to be. This I promise you, Daniel."
Daniel's only response was sharp, harsh burst of bitter laugh and a reiteration of his stubborn, insistent request he not be touched.
"I mean you no harm," Chronos persisted. "Let me pleasure you to completion. You are in need - it must be painful."
"I much prefer the pain to the alternative, thanks," Daniel forced the words out between clenched teeth. "Don't - don't touch me."
Chronos sighed deeply. "I can see earning your trust will not be an easy thing. Very well," he said matter-of-factly as he lay down behind Daniel and wrapped his arms around his chest, drawing the trembling, weakly struggling man into him in a crushing embrace he did not have the strength to break. "We shall sleep. Be still now, cease being foolish. I have said I will not hurt you - it will be so. You have the word of a god you are safe here with me." Chronos lightly kissed his cheek, making Daniel shake with renewed terror and revulsion. "Sleep now, Daniel. Be at peace."
Daniel lay awake in the iron grip of his captor, motionless, barely daring to breathe, as he listened to the respiration of the man behind him gradually slow and deepen. Even though Chronos was asleep, the arms about him did not slacken or relent. Trapped. Unable to get away - from the arms around him, from the body touching him. Unable to escape the confines of the embrace as false as the promises which flowed freely from the lips of the man who had already showed him how 'safe' he could expect to be with him.
Daniel closed his eyes against the pain, trying not to make a sound as he felt tears beginning to pool behind his eyelids. Dream. Just a dream. All of it. The feeling of Jack - the love, the comfort - just a foolish, foolish dream. An ephemeral fantasy born of his need to believe Jack was still alive and still coming for him. Wasn't real. None of it was real. Not his touch, his arms, his promise. No hope for the future, no hope he would ever see Jack again.
No hope to know any other arms around him save the ones confining him now which would never let him go. Daniel fought to stop the tears from falling, consoling himself in knowing at least he had made Chronos stop in time. Even though he had tricked him, it hadn't gotten him anywhere. Hadn't made him give anything he had no wish to, hadn't made him betray Jack. Might have his body, but there were still things Chronos could not make him do. Would never make him do.
Promise Jack. For you, in your memory. Won't give in, won't let him break me. I'll hang on till I beat him. I'll make it out of here Jack, you'll see. Make you proud of me..
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