|Slash:||Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.|
|Category:||First Time. Hurt/Comfort. Missing Scene.|
|Season/Spoilers:||Season 4. The Light.|
|Synopsis:||What Daniel really saw in that damn Light.|
|Warnings:||None, nada, zlich.|
Daniel stood a few feet from the Stargate and watched Jack and Sam as they spoke quietly, Loran next to Jack, his fingers entangled in Jack's shirt.
Twenty minutes ago Daniel had received word from Janet that both Sam, Jack and the boy were clear to leave, to return through the Stargate but that he was still infected. Figuring that Sam would refuse to go home if she knew he'd have to remain, he'd spent over ten minutes trying to convince Janet to help him with a small deception. It had been tough going, but when he'd pulled his trump card, telling her how he didn't mind a few days alone, that it would give him more time to study the building and the writings, well, she'd started to soften. And when he'd added slyly that hey, they were already at each other's throats and if Jack and Sam remained behind, well, he'd simply refuse to be responsible for the outcome, well, Janet had caved.
Of course, that still left General Hammond, but judging from the conversation Jack and Hammond had just completed, Janet had succeeded in winning the General over as well. And now - Jack and Sam were getting ready to go home.
He could hear Jack telling Loran about hockey and how he'd take him to a game the minute they got back and at Sam's laughter, and while Daniel pretended to scrutinize more wall writings, Jack said, "Hey, you're invited too, Carter."
Sam shook her head, saying, "No, thanks, sir. You can count me out of that one."
Jack rolled his eyes, glanced down at Loran and quipped, "Son, you'll soon discover that women simply do not know how to appreciate the sport of hockey."
Daniel closed his notebook then and joined the three and in an attempt to look and sound normal, he smiled and said, "Hey, I'm a guy and *I* don't appreciate the game." Then looking at Loran and winking, he added, "Now, an afternoon spent in a good museum, *that's* exciting."
Jack gave him an exaggerated roll of his eyes as he said, "Oh, pu-leeze, Daniel. And I wasn't going to invite you anyway. Been there, done that. Besides, you obviously prefer all this--" he waved his arm expansively, "to museums *or* hockey."
"But we'll wait for Daniel, won't we, Jack?" Loran pleaded.
Before Jack could answer, Daniel rolled *his* eyes and said, "Oh, yeah, you wait for me, Jack. You wait for me."
Missing the strange look Jack shot his way, Daniel let Sam give him a hug, then she stepped over to the DHD and started dialing up. Moments later the gate came alive and hefting up the few supplies that they hadn't already sent through and that Daniel wouldn't need, Jack gave Daniel a mock salute.
"See you in a few days, you glutton for punishment. And no, I don't think we *will* wait for you. Hockey is seriously calling me. Have fun and play nice."
With that, he, Sam and Loran stepped through the gate and Daniel was--alone.
Daniel stared at the gate for a few moments, then walked over to his cot and sat down. There had once been a time when Jack wouldn't have accepted the line about Daniel wanting to remain, and even if he had, he'd have tried to talk Daniel out of it. But this time--he never even questioned it. Typical behavior of late.
He rested his head in his hands and thought about the last four weeks--four weeks of pure torture while he watched Jack and Sam with Loran, behaving for all intents and purposes like a family. He'd covertly observed Jack and Sam at night, heads together as they talked quietly or during the day, playing cards with Loran; exploring their gilded prison or joking around; indulging in food fights or sharing Earth with Loran. And at times, the pain had been worse than anything he'd previously experienced.
The last four weeks had been so much like his life before joining the SGC that when they'd remembered to include him, he'd felt too much like an outsider, so he'd smile, shake his head, and pretend to write something of earth shattering importance in his journal.
And it hadn't skipped his notice that Jack and Sam were in love.
He truly understood that now and all the disclaimers in the world couldn't undo that fact. They might not be able to act on it, but it was there, shimmering between them and dousing any hopes *he'd* had that his friendship with Jack could go deeper.
Daniel stared at the room that held the pleasure device and the real reason he'd needed everyone to leave him alone.
The Light--the blessed Light. And all that it contained.
He had three days and he prayed it would be long enough to ensure that he'd never have to leave here again.
It felt good to be home even if right now, home was the SGC and not his house. His report was finished, he and Sam had been debriefed and arrangements for Loran had successfully been made. He'd be staying with Captain Willis and his wife for awhile which was very good, but Jack still planned on taking him to that hockey game.
Whistling happily off-key, Jack strolled down the corridor to Sam's office. When he arrived, he knocked and without waiting for an answer, strolled in to find Carter hunched over her computer. At his entrance, she glanced up and smiled.
"Sir? I figured you'd be on your way home by now."
"Nah. Not quite yet." He started toying with some artifact that would have looked at home in Daniel's office but was definitely out of place in Sam's. As he fiddled, he said, "I still can't believe Daniel stayed behind. Like four weeks wasn't enough?"
Sam swiveled around in her chair and nodded her agreement. "I know, I can't believe it either. Even for Daniel, that was--weird, you know?"
Chuckling, Jack said, "Yeah, *even* for Daniel."
For a few minutes they were silent, but the quiet was by no means companionable. Finally, Sam asked, "Sir? You wanted something?"
"Um? Oh, yeah. Well, we did a lot of talking about food back there, you know? Thought maybe--you and I could go get that dinner of our dreams. Whaddya say?"
Sam searched Jack's face and with a sigh, she made a decision. A decision she'd been toying with for weeks--hell, months--ever since Anise and her stupid machine disclosed feelings that Sam would have preferred be kept closely under wraps.
"Sir, we need to talk."
"Yes, Colonel. Talk, as in stringing a few sentences together?"
She glanced away for a moment, then added softly, "About what happened--about us. Our feelings."
Jack started to say something, but Sam held up a hand.
"No, let me. I've got to say this and I hope you understand."
Puzzled, Jack said dryly, "Why do I think I should be sitting down for this one, Major?"
Relaxing a bit, Sam allowed herself a small chuckle then quickly rolled out the chair next to her and patted the seat. "Maybe you're right, you'd better sit down. Before you fall--"
"Ha, ha. Very funny--" But he sat - and waited.
"Sir, I know that we found ourselves disclosing certain--feelings, but, well, haven't you been the least bit puzzled by what we experienced?"
He watched her face, animated now and looking as she so often did when tearing into a mystery. Not as excited as Daniel, but--
Jack thudded back to earth at a slight cough from Sam and belatedly asked, "Puzzled? What do you mean?"
Sam rubbed the back of her neck and wondered where the words were that she'd been rehearsing for weeks. Taking a deep breath, she plunged ahead.
"Sir, I'm not saying those feelings weren't, well, *real*, but can you honestly say that you're comfortable with them? That--God, I don't know how to say this--"
"That they're *complete*, Major?" Jack finished for her, his brown eyes darkening as he put his own feelings into words--finally.
Carter's head shot up and she found herself staring at him and nodding her head excitedly. "Exactly, Colonel, exactly. Complete. It's as if a small emotion had been--"
"Enlarged? Exaggerated?" Jack offered again, his own ideas having been given an outlet.
"Is it possible that we're making excuses here, Carter?"
"Do you think we are? Do you think we're trying to hide from something?"
Jack felt very uncomfortable suddenly. This was territory he'd been trying very hard to ignore--but damn it, Samantha Carter was a beautiful woman and since those feelings or emotions that Anise's machine had forced out into the open, he'd been very aware of her. But damn, it *hadn't* been in any *real* way. And certainly not in a deep, sexual way. Wasn't that what he'd been saying to himself for weeks now? Hell, he could watch her walk away from him and sigh in total appreciation, but not in lust or need--not the way he sighed when, say, Daniel walked away from him--
Umm, so what were they saying? Oh, yeah, emotions. His and Carter's. Okay, so if those feelings *weren't* real, what the hell had been going on between them for weeks? And where had all his anger come from, huh? Jack swiped a hand over his face and shook his head in disgust. He was, thanks to Sam, even more confused than before.
"Sir?" Sam put out her hand and rested it lightly on his. "Sir, I've been going with these feelings because they, well, they *did* seem to be *there* and it's not as if there hasn't been a kind of attraction--but I always thought the attraction was well within the limits of--you know, *normal*. But then Anise and to be honest, it hasn't--it hasn't *felt* right. Does that make any sense?"
"I'm following. Go on."
"I think, sir, that this is where you say that you feel the same way?"
"Oh? I must have missed that part in the script."
"Very funny, sir."
Jack stood and slid the chair back under the table, then stuffed both hands in his pockets. "So what's the answer? What were--*are*--we feeling?"
"Well, I just happen to have a theory on that very question, if you'd like to hear it?"
"I would have been seriously disappointed in you if you *hadn't* had at least *one* theory, Major. Shoot."
"I think--that if Daniel or Teal'c had been on the other side of that force field? We would have had the same feelings."
With an impish grin, Jack said, "What, are you saying I'm in love with Teal'c, Major Carter? 'Cause if you are, I gotta tell you, you're barking up the wrong tree. Trust me on that."
"I won't dignify that with an answer, sir. And I think you know *exactly* what I'm saying. SG-1 is very close, sir. We've been through a great deal together, or as you'd say, 'a whole lot of shit'. I don't think any of us would have been able to leave--another."
Jack thought about that and turned it over in his mind, thought back to Kowalski on their fateul mission to Chulak, thought back to Kowalski's simple refusal to leave Jack and the rest of the team behind--compared that to what he felt staring at Carter on the other side of that damn forcefield--
"So you're saying that if it had been, say, Daniel and Teal'c – that Anise's machine would have disclosed the same - feelings?"
"In a way, yes. I think Teal'c would have refused to leave Daniel – and vice versa."
Grinning slyly, he joked, "I just *knew* that under that cool Jaffa exterior there beat the heart of a sexual beast hot for Daniel and itching to get out."
"Sir, I don't think--"
"Carter? Chill. I get it."
"We could still have dinner ... with you buying, of course."
Daniel walked over to the machine, squatted down and opened it up. A moment later, the Light beckoned.
Daniel tore his gaze away long enough to glance back at the gate. He'd taped himself working and studying, then plugged it into the M.A.L.P. to play at appropriate intervals. He wasn't scheduled to give blood for 48 hours and he hoped that would be enough time. Daniel gave a brief thought to the idea that his plan wouldn't hold water, that maybe he wasn't thinking straight--but what awaited him in the Light, well, he *had* to believe in what he was doing because the alternative--well, hadn't he already stood on his balcony, ready to take that step?
Nodding, Daniel turned away from the gate and all it represented, fixed his eyes on the beautiful, welcoming Light and felt his body being pulled in--
There it was, that quiet buzzing and whoosh, softer than anything he'd experienced going through the gate--and in the blink of an eye--he was in the garden.
Sighing with relief, he pivoted and drank in the beauty of the paradise that had been delivered to him within the Light.
Swaying trees that sparkled in the bright sun, the strange and wonderful birds in rainbow colors winging from branch to branch, their song soothing and musical, and just ahead of him, the pathway of marble flagstones that would lead to the large bubbling fountain. But something - no - *someone* was missing--
"You came back."
Daniel whirled around at the sound of the familiar voice and smiled.
"I said I would. Never leaving again."
The man opposite held out his arms and Daniel Jackson moved into Jack O'Neill's warm embrace.
How could arms feel this good? Or soft warm lips against his temple? Daniel closed his eyes and drifted, content that for now this embrace was enough. "Gone too long--too long." Jack's gentle words, whispered in his ear, broke Daniel from the cradle of warmth he found in the older man's arms and he turned to meet needy lips. The embrace tightened as they kissed deeply, each taking turns with loving tongues and mouths.
Hearing Jack's small whimpers thrumming against the inside of his mouth followed by the feeling of Jack's hands as they traveled up his back, digging under his shirt, skimming lightly over his flesh gave Daniel a sense of belonging that he'd rarely experienced in his life.
This was breathing. This was living.
Daniel shivered with barely contained excitement as he attacked Jack's mouth again and he felt truly free. He was buried so deeply in Jack's mouth that he wouldn't have minded climbing in after his tongue, closing the door after him and staying forever, safe for all time.
"Don't leave, don't go away again, Danny--"
"Never Jack. I'm here to stay this time. I promise."
Jack took him down to the soft thick grass and with low laughter, they tumbled back to lie on their sides facing each other. Both stilled as eyes moved hungrily over the face opposite, lingering on moist lips, slightly parted.
"Clothes," Jack said with his version of a humorous leer.
"Yes," Daniel answered, his expression one of feigned innocence. "I do wear clothes. So do you, Jack."
"Off, Danny--take them *off*," Jack growled.
"Better you should do it," Daniel teased.
"Don't think I won't--" Jack immediately tore at Daniel's shirt and the buttons flew up to land with a light *kerplunk* on the flagstones and with an almost noiseless plop on the grass. He brushed the material back from Daniel's shoulders and as the shirt trapped strong arms, a predatory gleam entered Jack's devious brown eyes--
"Oh, no you don't, Jack. I need to touch you--"
"All in good time, Danny-boy, all in good time."
Daniel felt himself pushed back and then Jack was straddling him and he was laughing as he struggled against his prison of cotton while Jack flew small bombing raids on his mouth. Daniel teased by shaking his head back and forth and more often than not catching sloppy wet kisses on a cheek bone, ear, jaw or his nose. Fortunately Jack's hands were busy rubbing skin and exploring so Daniel could continue to try to avoid the kiss. Then he realized how stupid *that* was and lifted his head to capture Jack's mouth as it flew by. Their lips met again and to a breathy moan, Jack dived in.
As their passion spiraled out of control, Daniel thanked God for the miracle of the Light.
Jack unlocked his front door and pushed his way inside. He eschewed the lights and made his way to the kitchen where the only illumination was from the refrigerator as he opened it and took out a beer. He twisted off the cap, tossed the small metal top over his shoulder and after taking one long swig, he headed out into the living room.
Stretching out on his couch, Jack thought back to his conversation with Sam, a conversation that had continued over dinner--in the mess hall. Okay, not the meal he'd planned, but after admitting that they were both tired, among other things, it had seemed appropriate. And chipped beef on toast? Oh yeah, a great first meal after four weeks of rations. But he was letting his mind skirt the real issues by allowing his thoughts of food to hide where he really needed to go--mentally speaking.
And speaking of food--
Didn't he have some Mallomars in the kitchen? Yes, he was positive that he did. Jack got up, tore through a couple of cupboards and sure enough, found a package. Holding them up triumphantly, he gave out with a loud, 'OH, YEAH!' then headed back to the security of his sofa. Nothing beat Mallomars when a man had to think.
He settled back on the couch and dug in. Okay, so he was missing milk. He had beer, didn't he? Beer and Mallomars. Unbeatable. Not usually together, but hey.
Jack munched and thought, thought and munched. He thought he remembered Mallomars being--munchier. Oh well.
After downing four of the marshmallow treats, he contemplated his ceiling. A full moon was working artistic wonders on the damn thing and wouldn't you know it, Jack O'Neill was watching his ceiling to avoid real thought.
Daniel wouldn't have been surprised. Daniel would have...
Daniel. Didn't he like Mallomars too? Oh, wait, come to think of it, these were *his* Mallomars--Jack ate another one.
//Take that, Daniel Jackson. By the time you get back, I'll have eaten every God damned one of them. So there. //
Jack would have to replace this box at the PX. Daniel'd kill him otherwise, especially since you couldn't *get* Mallomars in town and Jack didn't doubt for a second that the PX stocked Mallomars specifically for a certain archeologist.
As he licked his fingers, Jack decided to run a small mental experiment based on everything he and Carter had discussed. First step in the O'Neill experiment: Trying to visualize Teal'c on the otherside of that force field.
Didn't work. Teal'c was a warrior and Jack would have been loathe to leave his friend, but...
Okay, so it *would* have been different for him if it had been Teal'c instead of Sam. A bit. Anise's little machine wouldn't have been able to trip him up so easily which meant, maybe, that Sam was wrong?
//You're not finished with the experiment yet, Jack me boyo.//
Oh shut up.
Okay, so he'd try again. Um, let's see--how 'bout good old George? Yeah, General Hammond. Lets put him on the other side.
Okay, definitely not the same as with Sam. Duh. But the idea of leaving his commanding officer *was* horrible.
So close--but no cigar. Jack ate another Mallomar.
All right, how about Doc Frasier? Yeah, let's put the Doc on the other side.
Oh, now this was *much* better. Almost the same feeling. Uh, oh. Hold up a minute.
//Jack, you are coming perilously close to being very politically incorrect.//
The vision of Janet Frasier on the other side of the force field popped apart and left Jack alone and with only one option left--Daniel.
The moment of truth. Blue eyes wide with worry--but for Jack, not himself.
"Get out, Jack, NOW. Go."
And Jack? Rooted to the spot. Unable to budge. A fear so great that it paralyzed him. Can't leave him. Can't. Leave. Him.
//You already did, my friend.//
Not the same, not the same.
//The same. Choices have to be made, Colonel.//
"And I can make them. *Have* made them."
With a start, Jack realized he'd spoken out loud. And he *had* made choices. So many choices. Leaving Daniel on Apophis' ship so long ago--
//He was dying, Jackie. And the choice wasn't *leaving* him. If he'd been on the other side of that force field, the choice would have been to *stay* and--die--with him.//
Because he, Jack O'Neill, had feelings for Daniel Jackson. Major feelings. Huge feelings. Gigantic feelings.
Oh, man, Anise would have *loved* that.
Jack looked down at the box of Mallomars in his hand. Four cookies left. Just four. Daniel would want them when he came back. Slowly Jack folded up the package, stood, then carried them back into the kitchen and put them away.
"Does it ever get dark here?"
Jack nuzzled behind Daniel's ear and murmured, "No. Eternal sun. Cool breeze, clouds that sometimes drift across the sky, but always--sun."
"I like that."
They were on their backs in the grass, legs and arms entwined and extremely sticky. Neither man could have cared less. With lips pressed against Daniel's neck, Jack murmured, "You know, there's a lake a few yards from here. Care to join me for a dip?"
"I could go for that, yeah."
Quickly disengaging himself from Daniel, Jack rose easily and reached a hand down. Daniel took it and as he stood, Jack bolted, yelling over his shoulder, "LAST ONE IN'S A ROTTEN EGG!"
What could Daniel do? He took off on a run.
As Daniel followed Jack, he was more than content to bring up the rear--so to speak--and he had absolutely no intention of catching up. The view was too spectacular.
They ran across the grass and as they broke through a stand of ash trees, Daniel caught his first glimpse of the lake, sparkling in the sun, pristine, cool and inviting. He watched delightedly as Jack dove in, surfaced, then began to swim strongly. When Daniel arrived at the shore, he stopped, happy to allow the water to lap gently at his toes while he observed Jack swim and cavort like a seal. When Jack was out about ten yards, he turned and waved, then yelled, "WHATCHA WAITING FOR, CHRISTMAS?"
Daniel shook his head and grinning, yelled back, "I'M HAPPY RIGHT WHERE I AM!"
Proving that the water wasn't too deep, even ten yards out, Jack stood and with hands on slick hips, yelled, "YOU GET THAT CUTE BUTT IN THIS WATER NOW, OR SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES!"
Undaunted, Daniel yelled back, "COME AND GET ME!"
Even from his spot on the shore, Daniel could see Jack's eyes narrow--he was in for it now. Oh yeah. Jack started back and Daniel waited until the older man stood, his knees visible--and *then* Daniel started running--and laughing. Jack stumbled out of the water and took off after him, muttering dire threats that involved tying Daniel to a bed so Jack could have his wicked way with him. Daniel would have to let him catch him. But in the meantime--Daniel ran laughing over soft grass, the breeze ruffling through his hair, the sun warm on his skin and he prayed for--forever.
The roof. Maybe some answers up there.
Jack got up and headed to his favorite spot and once settled, hand on his telescope, he stared out over the land. Eventually that wasn't enough and he looked to the sky, to the stars.
As he stared up, one question and only one--came to mind: Why had Daniel stayed behind on that planet? He had his recordings of everything, his notes, so why?
Daniel's action was especially puzzling since he hadn't been a loner for quite some time. Over the years, he'd begun to crave company, to enjoy the camaraderie of the team, of the SGC. He enjoyed his nights with Jack, flaked out on the sofa, watching some God-awful Jack-flick or hockey; he loved the times with Teal'c, on Chulac; the weekly poker game; he even enjoyed the few attempts Jack had made to teach him to fish. So why had he *chosen* to stay behind--alone--for no good, discernible reason?
Although, come to think of it--there'd been a whole lot more *aloneness* on Daniel's part lately, but still--there *had* to be a reason and Jack was betting that Doc Frasier would have the answer. Leaving the stars behind, Jack headed back down and to his phone. Two minutes later he was dialing Doctor Janet Frasier and ten seconds later, he was quizzing her.
"I want to know why he stayed, Doc."
The pause on the other end of the phone was too long.
<Colonel O'Neill, why should I know this?>
"He *had* to stay, didn't he?"
<You seem to have all the answers, Colonel>
"All right, but why would you allow him to stay *alone*?"
<He wanted to, Jack>
The slip into his first name told him he'd not asked the right questions--yet.
"He wanted to be alone?"
<So he said. Doctor Jackson stated that he wanted to have some quiet time, that you were getting on each others nerves.>
"Is it safe, Doc?" He'd obviously asked a question that was not only right, but based on the hesitancy in her voice, one she'd hadn't thought of herself.
<Why wouldn't it be?>
"He's still addicted, right? That's why he *had* to stay. So how can you know--"
<Would you have turned it back on if it were you?>
He thought about that and realized the answer was most definitely no. Why would he? But then he wasn't Daniel. And Daniel had almost killed himself.
"Check on him, Doc. Check on him now."
He didn't try to explain because evidently enough of his concern and fear transmitted itself to Janet and she agreed and with some degree of relief, he hung up.
Twenty minutes later, when she called back, his relief died.
A few feet from the edge of the lake, Daniel let Jack catch him. He allowed the soft tackle and Jack's body on his. Lips were touched to the back of his sweaty neck, but just as he closed his eyes in anticipation, he was being hoisted up over Jack's shoulder--fireman style and seconds later, to a truly wicked laugh from Jack, he was hurtling through space to land in the lake.
Sputtering and wiping water from his eyes, he stood to find Jack nearly bent over with laughter while at the same time trying to point with glee. He finally straightened and managed to say around his chuckles, "Told you: *consequences*." Daniel narrowed his eyes. Consequences, eh? Oh, he'd show him consequences all right. With a shrug of nonchalance, Daniel turned and dove--allowing his butt to aim for the stars. He wasn't the least bit surprised when Jack dove in and greedy hands grabbed at his ankles. But no, he wasn't going to let it be that easy, no sir. Daniel dropped his head and started swimming with purpose.
They raced, they dove, they grappled, they wrestled, they laughed, and eventually--Jack won, which meant that the real winner was Daniel--as planned.
As they treaded water, legs wrapped around each other, they kissed again, then went under, exchanged air and came back up, eyes locked and crinkled with mirth.
"Love you, Daniel Jackson."
"Love you, Jack O'Neill."
Jack panicked. It was as simple as that. At Janet's words that Daniel was not responding to their hails, in spite of the M.A.L.P. showing him seated on his cot and writing, Jack had felt the first real edge of fear. Unadulterated, undiluted fear. He'd shot a terse, "I'm on my way" into the phone, then had grabbed his jacket and headed out.
As he drove like a maniac, he tried to figure out how to handle the situation and--Daniel.
"Not too, I hope?"
Daniel turned his head to find himself staring into the pure liquid heat that radiated out from Jack's eyes. He felt himself shiver with the promise of those eyes as he answered softly, "Never too tired. Never."
Kisses rained down on him as Jack covered every square inch of his face before moving further down.
Daniel placed his hands on the side of Jack's face, his fingers moving through the short bristles. Jack suckled at his right nipple before moving to his navel and dipping in his tongue, titillating Daniel and causing him to arch up--
"Whoa, Danny boy, whoa. All in good time."
Then Jack's hands were pushing him back down again and that talented tongue resumed playing. Daniel relaxed, closed his eyes and let Jack have his way. It wasn't a hardship. At all.
"It's a tape," Sam observed in what was for her, a shocked voice.
"Major Carter, are you saying that Doctor Jackson taped this in a deliberate attempt to fool us?"
"I believe so, General." At his arched eyebrow, she hastened to add, "I don't know *why* he did it, but that *is* a tape. Maybe he just wanted privacy..." Sam's voice trailed off as the absurdity of her words hit home. "He's turned on that damn light, General. *That's* why the tape." Hammond turned to face Jack, his frown conveying his concern better than any words.
"Don't ask me how I know, Sir, I just do. Whatever drove him to climb out on his balcony, to even consider suicide--well, a serious underestimation on my part, sir. But it drove him to this."
Hammond gazed past Jack to Doctor Frasier. "Doctor?"
"It's possible, General. Barber may not have been trying to commit suicide when he dove into the gate. He may simply have needed to return so badly that he didn't think through the consequences of his actions. And it's true that Daniel experienced a greater exposure so his reaction could very well be more--pronounced."
Jack, his eyes fixed on the gate, said quietly, "General, I'd like to go back."
Hammond didn't bother to look at O'Neill as he answered. "Go. But take Doctor Frasier with you."
As Jack, Sam and Janet headed down the stairs, General Hammond added, "And this time, smash that damn thing, Colonel."
There was no surprise in going through the gate and finding no Daniel where the M.A.L.P. showed him to be. Nor was there any surprise at finding him sitting cross-legged in front of the light--and completely out of it.
Jack's anger was so intense that he strode over before anyone could react or stop him, opened the hidden drawer, took out his gun and fired five bullets into the thing.
The Light died.
Daniel was certain that he was about to explode. Jack's lips on his dick, the way the man's tongue was lavishing attention on said dick and damn, the soft noises of contentment Jack was making--oh, yeah, Daniel was going to explode and the world would never be the same.
"Jack, God, please..."
Jack lifted his head and grinned, then went back to his devilish task. Daniel began to squirm with the intensity of it, his hips bucking up and into Jack's mouth as the older man's hands skimmed up and down his thighs, Jack's thumbs rubbing deliciously and Daniel could feel his impending orgasm but--but--he *needed* to see Jack's face, needed--
A heart-wrenching jerk, a pull of his body, the feeling of takeoff from the highest peak of a roller-coaster ride and his entire body plummeted down into darkness... "NO!"
The cry was torn from Daniel's very soul and the three people standing over him cringed in pain at the terrible sound. Sam actually took two steps back, her hand flying to her mouth. Jack's legs went weak and he doubted that he'd ever heard such torment in a voice.
Daniel's litany went on and on as he shook his head back and forth. Janet dropped down into a squat before the archeologist, then reached out tentatively and placed her hand on his arm.
"Daniel? Can you hear me?"
Blue eyes stared back at her with a vacancy that sent chills racing up and down her spine. He was still saying "no", repeating it in the same deadly monotone so Janet tried again, raising her voice a bit more. "Daniel? It's Janet. Look at me, Daniel. Can you hear me?"
Daniel stopped in mid-"no", blinked, then blinked again. He shook his head in a motion similar to a dog with fleas, then in the blink of an eye, he was up and immediately falling back down, or at least he would have fallen if Jack hadn't caught him.
"Easy, Daniel, easy does it."
Jack slipped his arm around Daniel's waist and was about to help him down again when Daniel pushed away, stumbled back and with eyes ablaze, shouted, "WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?"
Sam, keeping her voice soft, said, "Daniel, you were--you turned back on the device. We had to stop you before it could--you could--" Daniel whirled around and as his face flushed red and his eyes narrowed, he yelled even more loudly, "DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'VE DONE? HE'S WAITING FOR ME! FOR *ME*. I SWORE I'D NEVER LEAVE HIM AGAIN!"
Sam took another involuntary step back.This angry, yelling Daniel was so unbelievable that she found herself actually fearing her friend. Janet, ever the physician, took a tentative step forward and once again reached out to the anguished man. "Daniel, who are you talking about? There's no one else here but us. Just Major Carter, Colonel O'Neill and myself. And we're trying to help you--"
"HELP ME? *HELP* ME? DON'T MAKE ME LAUGH!"
With that he shoved past the doctor, almost knocking her into Sam and fell in front of the damaged controls, fingers reaching out.
This time the yell came from Jack as he jumped in front of Daniel mere seconds before the younger man would have burned his fingers on the still smoking device. As Daniel tumbled back, catching himself by bracing his palms on the ground behind him, his angry glare locked with Jack's.
"Get the fuck away from me and the Light. Now." Daniel's voice was suddenly icy cold, the words clipped out with deadly venom.
"I destroyed it, Daniel. Do you understand? It's destroyed. Gone. No more light. No. More. Fucking. Light."
Daniel shot up and was instantly in Jack's face, his finger poking at Jack's chest.
"You just couldn't stand it, could you? That I'd be happy too? You *had* to destroy that, right? YOU BASTARD!"
With each word, Daniel's finger jabbed, but Jack held his ground. He had absolutely no idea what the fuck Daniel was talking about. But he understood on some level that he mustn't give in to the impulse to take him in his arms and hold so tight that Daniel would *have* to, somehow, come back. Jack *knew that such a move now would serve only to further enrage his friend.
Keeping his voice low and calm, Jack said, "I don't know what you're talking about, Daniel. We're here to help you, not take anything away or keep you from some--something. The light would have killed you, Daniel. Do you understand?"
Daniel's laughter was eerie and chilling.
"Oh, yeah, right. Help me. Sure. How did I miss that? Isn't that what you always do, Jack? Stupid me. And killed me? Don't make me laugh. Oh, wait, you already did."
Jack bit back an angry retort, knowing that this wasn't Daniel speaking but an aberration caused by his addiction. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted Janet preparing a hypodermic and he gave an inward sigh of relief.
Confident that Janet would soon have things well in hand, namely a sedated Daniel Jackson, Jack took Daniel's arm and tried to lead him away from the device. That was a big mistake. Really big.
Daniel, in a move that would have normally done Jack proud, took him down with a remarkably strong right cross to the jaw. Jack wheeled away, the back of his legs hitting the pedestal which then threw him forward, down and finally to his knees.
Janet moved quickly then, and as Daniel stood over a wobbly Jack, she plunged the hypo into his neck. Daniel stiffened and as she withdrew the needle, he turned, hand clasped to the spot on his neck.
"Why--" he stumbled and reached out, his face contorted into a terrible expression of pain and loss. He then fell forward and it took both Janet and Sam to catch him before he hit the ground.
"What are we looking at here, Doc?"
"Keep that ice pack in place, Colonel."
Jack deliberately pulled the item away from his jaw and dropped the pack to the ground, then repeated his question.
"What are we looking at?"
Janet's expression told Jack exactly what she thought of his childish move, but didn't stop her from answering.
"I'll know more when I get the results from the blood test. The few hours he spent with the device turned back on will probably mean at least another two weeks or so to now complete the withdrawal, but that's an educated guess. His dopamine levels will tell me more." She was seated beside Daniel's cot, her hand on his arm. She'd just finished taking his vitals and was relieved that they weren't much different from a few days earlier. That was a good sign. She glanced back up at Jack and added wryly, "Of course, the real educated guess is how we're going to deal with his withdrawal now that the device has been destroyed. Good move, Colonel."
"Janet, the colonel only shot and killed the power source to the light matrix. The device itself is alive and well."
Jack gave a little huffing sound as he rolled his eyes at his second and Sam couldn't resist adding, "And to think, it only took five bullets too."
"May I remind you that I'm your commanding officer?"
Looking not in the least chagrined, Carter said smartly, "Yes, sir!"
The lights had been dimmed and both Janet and Sam were finally asleep. Daniel was still out and Jack had pulled his cot next to his friend's and now sat, hand resting on Daniel's shoulder. The quiet of the pleasure palace worked on Jack like a salve as he regarded the sleeping man.
Daniel had slipped into a deep sleep about four hours earlier without ever regaining consciousness. As Jack watched the younger man sleep, he tried to understand what the hell had happened. Damn it, Daniel had seemed so normal while they'd all been stuck in this place and certainly no different from he or Sam. And yet, he must have been planning this--no, scratch that. He couldn't have known that his withdrawal would take longer, that he'd have to stay another couple of days. But he must have wanted to turn the device up, to power the matrix. He must have wanted it from the beginning. Even as he'd been weaned from the addiction, he'd wanted it.
No matter how hard Jack tried, he couldn't wrap his mind around that fact. He'd never wanted to turn it up or get the hologram going again. So why had it been different for Daniel? Could it somehow be tied in with the sarcophagus effect Daniel had dealt with on P3R-636, thanks to that bitch, Princess Shyla?
//Oh, ho, Jack. A little jealousy there?//
No. A *lot* of jealousy there. A Grand Canyon amount of jealously, thank you very much. Back to business. So, could that be what was happening here? Similar addictions, double the reactions? Like a drug addict who'd been clean and suddenly uses again, then quits?
God, he was getting a headache.
Jack rubbed his eyes with his left hand, too afraid to remove his right from Daniel. And why was that, could someone tell him? But he knew why. An unreasonable fear that if he lifted his hand--Daniel would disappear. Would--leave him.
It was time to start over. Daniel and the light matrix. A nice hologram, but nothing more. So what did Daniel see when he looked? Come to think of it, what had he seen when *he'd* gazed on the hologram? Um, like--nothing. Nothing specific anyway. Just nice lights and color, soothing, kinda like gazing into Daniel's eyes, in a way. Of course, there'd been a big difference, namely that when Jack gazed into the light (or more appropriately, Daniel's eyes) he'd received warmth and--and--love, in return. But damn it, the light hadn't *been* Daniel. Only Daniel could be Daniel. And even if those blue eyes of his couldn't gaze out at Jack with that same warmth and love, well, the real thing was better than some dumb old hologram any day of the week.
Which brought Jack right back to square one. What *did* Daniel see in the hologram? And who the hell was waiting for him? And why was it a *he*? And did Janet have any aspirin?
Jack glanced over at Sam and debated waking her up and asking her what *she* had seen in the light, and what the hell? Why not. But that meant removing his hand from Daniel, unless-- He reached into his pocket and pulled out a couple of coins, then tossed one at the sleeping woman. It hit her in the chin. She batted a mythical bug away, then groaned. He tossed the other coin, which hit her cheek. She brushed at it, then opened her eyes.
"Oh, you awake?" Jack asked, as if he hadn't just thrown money at her.
Sam sat up and with a puzzled frown, picked up the two coins: one quarter and a nickel. She stared at them as they rested innocently in her palm, then she gazed about her, eyes finally landing on Jack.
"You seem to have found some money, Major. Lucky you. And as long as you're up, maybe you could tell me something?"
Smirking, Sam pocketed the money, then said, "What, sir?"
"Carter, it was thirty cents, okay?"
She waited, her expression patient.
"Right. Well, What did you see when you looked at the hologram?"
"You woke me for *that*?"
"Me? Wake you? Please. And just answer the question, Major."
Sam rubbed at her face, then gave the question some thought. "I don't think I saw anything, exactly. It was more of--a feeling the lights gave me."
"Just--nice, you know?"
"Major, you're a genius and the best you can come up with is *nice*?"
"Well, in a word--yes." Then she cocked her head and asked, "What about you, Sir? What did *you* see?"
Trying to attain a level of nonchalance, Jack shrugged and said, "Oh, nothing much. Nothing at all really."
"Colonel?" Sam was using her bossy voice and Jack found himself bristling, and answering.
"All right, the light reminds me of--eyes. Looking into someone's eyes."
"Anyone in particular, Sir?"
His nonchalant attitude at near perfection, Jack shook his head and smiled wryly. And like a good soldier, he knew when he'd failed. Sam's gaze traveled from Jack, down to Jack's hand on Daniel's shoulder, then back up to Jack.
"Right, Sir. No one in particular. Understood. May I go back to sleep now?"
"You may, Major."
"You won't be throwing me any more money?"
Jack huffed and Sam dropped back down, rolled over on her side, facing *away* from Jack and just when he thought she was asleep, he heard her say, "Next time, throw the big bucks, Sir."
Daniel opened his eyes and knew exactly where he was--and where he wasn't. The ache in his gut burned, but as he blinked up at the ceiling, he acknowledged the truth; he would not be going back--ever.
For a moment, the totality of his loss threatened to overwhelm him, but then a voice, *the* voice, staved off the insanity.
Daniel turned and found himself staring at Jack. The here and now Jack, not *his* Jack. But--Jack.
"Like it? Had it for over 45 years. A little worn around the edges, but overall, holding up well."
"I mean," Daniel pointed at the bruise on Jack's jaw, "that, you asshole."
"Ooh, you are cranky in the morning, aren't you? And what, you don't like my new jaw?"
"Yes, you devil, you did. And where *have* you been hiding that move, huh?"
Daniel turned his face away from his friend's and muttered, "Sorry, Jack."
"Hey, no problemo, buddy."
Slowly, and somewhat groggily, Daniel got up, swung his legs over the edge of the cot and swiped a hand over his face, then rubbed at his burning eyes. God, his mouth felt like cotton.
"Doc Frasier had to sedate you, Daniel."
"That explains my tongue and the furry green things growing on it."
"Ooh, let me see, let me see."
"You are so weird, Jack."
"Excuse me? I am a colonel in the United States Air Force, I am *not* weird."
"Speaking as a civilian, yes you are."
"A civilian under my command, Danny boy."
"And you're still weird."
"I get no respect."
Daniel decided to end the conversation by trying to stand. He rose shakily to his feet, swayed, but remained standing. He turned and spied the two other cots.
"Still here," he said in a shocked tone.
Jack looked over his shoulder and nodded. "Yep, still here and still asleep."
"Jack, neither one of them are still asleep. Some colonel you are."
At Daniel's surprising words, Janet opened her eyes as did Sam, who spoke first. "Sorry, Daniel. I guess, I mean--" she quickly sat up and ran a hand through her short hair as she gazed up at him. "I guess we just wanted to give you some--"
"Privacy," Janet finished for her.
Indicating Jack, Daniel asked, "Then how do you explain *him*?"
Smiling at her teammate's attempt at humor, given all that he'd experienced, Sam replied, "I never try, Daniel. You know that."
Janet rose and just before slipping into her doctor-knows-best mode, she added, "No one can explain Colonel O'Neill, Daniel. No one."
"Oh, man, see what I mean? I get no respect."
gave the appearance that everything was normal, but no one was fooled.
The haunted look was front and center, swimming in the blue depths of Daniel's
eyes. But at least they were hitting a semblance of normality. Straightening
her shoulders, Janet said crisply, "All right, Doctor Jackson, let me take
a look at you this morning."
"Okay, so how is he?"
Janet rubbed the back of her neck and glanced back at Daniel, who was sitting on the floor, back against a wall, head in hands. Beside him, Sam sat, her hand on his knee.
"I'm worried about his blood pressure, Colonel. In the last few months, Daniel's had quite a few borderline--"
"Whoa, Doc. Borderline? Explain."
"Okay, basically, as a physician, if one of you has a reading of 140 over 90, I start getting concerned. But a reading of 160 over 90 and you don't jump."
"Daniel had several readings that came perilously close to getting him grounded. Now normally, in the mornings, an individual's pressure will be at its lowest and that's what I expected to find today, especially having been sedated. But what I got was a reading of 177 over 100. Not good, Colonel, not good at all."
"But, is it dangerous?"
"It certainly could be, yes. And again, when you consider that I took the reading almost immediately after he awoke *and* that he'd been sedated, yes, it's dangerous."
Jack stared at the floor and tried to get his mind around this new piece of information regarding his friend. But he needed--perspective.
"All right. So what were his readings during the last two weeks? And compared to Major Carter and myself?"
"For him, of late, about normal. Yours, Colonel, went from one-fifty over eighty to one-thirty over fifty-five. For a man your age and in your physical condition, one-thirty over fifty is fine. Sam's readings, on the other hand, rarely varied. She's almost always a fairly regular one twenty-five over forty-five."
"Gee, why am I not surprised? And am I understanding correctly that you don't think the addiction is responsible? That his few hours in front of that damn machine isn't the cause?"
"I'm sure it contributed, but no, that's only a small part of the problem here."
"Okay, so how much longer is he gonna have to stay? And what do we *do* about the pressure problem?"
"As I said before, as soon as I have his dopamine levels, I can answer question one, and as to the BP problem, I'm going to take more readings over the next forty-eight hours and based on what happens, I'll make adecision."
Jack gave a little wiggle of his head and arched his eyebrows.
"Medication, Jack. If the readings remain high, I'll place him on medication for immediacy. But then we'll have to find out *why*."
"And everything else? How is he, otherwise?"
"Underweight, exhausted, embarrassed, a bit angry--shall I go on?"
"No, thanks. I get it. So what can we do *now*, to help?"
"I don't know, Colonel. I just don't know."
Daniel lifted his head from his hands and the first thing he spotted was Jack, conferring with Janet. He groaned and put his head back down.
"Daniel? Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, Sam. Just dandy." Then a terrible thought struck him and he lifted his head again and stared at Carter.
"Tell me you, Jack and now Janet are okay? You didn't--I mean, because of me--"
"We're fine, Danny."
"You're lying. You're stuck now, right?"
"No, Doctor Jackson, we're not. Not the way you mean."
Daniel glanced up to find that he and Sam had been joined by Jack and Janet. Weren't they just the perfect foursome? He stomped down on his sick humor and asked, "So the device being back on isn't going to cause--isn't going to harm--"
"We'll be fine in a couple of days at the most," Janet responded, her voice holding as much conviction as possible.
Daniel dropped his head down and focusing on his hands, said, more to himself than to anyone else, "Well, that's something anyway."
This was not fun. Jack gazed around him and shook his head. Not fun at all. He was used to a studious Danny, mind puzzling over some strange writings on walls and how was it that *only* Daniel could read them anyway? So what if he spoke twenty-three languages? Jack spoke--three, if you counted pig Latin. And he counted it. And where was bustling Sam? The woman who would spend hours over some device, just before accidentally setting it off because it would turn out to be "the most destructive weapon known to man" and therefore Jack *couldn't* be allowed to bring it home to papa?
And how 'bout Teal'c? He should be standing guard over Daniel, one eyebrow raised theatrically after hearing one of Jack's lame jokes.
Okay, he did *have* Daniel and Sam. But Daniel was still seated on the floor, head in hands, and Sam was on her cot pretending to read when what she was really doing was peeking at Daniel over the rim of her book.
Jack looked up and found himself staring into the eyes of Doctor Frasier. Oh, yeah, he also had her in the Goaul'd pleasure palace. His own mama Hitler. He sighed and quickly rose to his feet.
"I have the results on Daniel's blood test, Colonel. He's going to need another week."
"Maybe two days, tops. And I've already brought General Hammond up to speed and took the liberty of requesting certain--items."
"Some of his," Janet shot a look at Daniel, "favorite foods, Colonel. And several cans of a dietary supplement that will help increase his appetite and provide the vitamins and minerals his body currently requires."
"I don't suppose you thought of pizza and beer for me?"
"I must have forgotten that, Colonel."
"Right." Then he really *looked* at Janet and suddenly, he not only knew that there was more, but that he would, most certainly, not like it.
"Okay, give it up, Doc."
"I suggested to General Hammond that Doctor MacKenzie should join us, Colonel." "Tell me good old George said no? Just tell me that, Doc."
"He's taking it under advisement."
"Well, let me just go help him decide and advise--*against* sending that shrink." He started to turn away, but Janet grabbed his arm.
"Colonel, Daniel needs help and Doctor Mackenzie--"
"Wouldn't know how to help Daniel if--" he stopped and took several deep breaths. No point in losing it now. Much better to save losing it for later.
"Janet, do we both agree that something is going on with our favorite archeologist?"
Nodding suspiciously, Janet said, "Yes."
"And do we both agree that our previous run-ins with Doctor Mackenzie haven't been exactly stellar? That in fact, he proved to be *no* help whatsoever in the whole Hathor thing? Let alone the Machello fun and games?"
"Jack, you're being--"
"Unfair? Untruthful? Janet, we both know what he thinks of the Gate, of what it can do to us, and this is the man *you* want helping Daniel? And may I remind you of how long it took Daniel to trust *you* again?"
Janet's face flushed, but she squared her shoulders and asked, "Do you have a better suggestion, *Colonel*?"
"Yes, I do, now that you ask. When you and Sam are free of," he waved his hand aimlessly about, "this whole thing, you two go home and *I* stay. *I* help Daniel."
"You're hardly trained--"
"Who knows him better?"
"I'm getting a crick in my neck talking to you, Colonel. I'll--take it under advisement."
"Cancel MacKenzie, Janet. Now."
She'd turned away but at Jack's words, she paused, nodded slowly, then walked over, picked up the BP cuff and headed over to Daniel.
"So how ya feeling?"
Daniel lifted his head and as Jack slid down beside him, he gave him a fairly bleak look.
"Well, not great, Jack. Not great at all."
"Yeah, well, that makes sense. But Doc Frasier will fix you up and pretty soon, everything will be back to normal."
"They're gonna be sending some of your favorite foods through shortly, that should cheer you up. You get lots of good stuff while Sam, Janet and I eat rations."
"Now *that* really makes me feel better. Thanks for the pep talk."
"My pleasure. I live to serve."
Daniel rested his head back and closed his eyes. "I suppose you think I'm a complete idiot now--oh, wait, been there, done that. I *am* a complete idiot."
"Don't be so hard on yourself, Daniel. You're not a *complete* idiot."
"Jack, do me a favor? Go away."
"Daniel? There's no where to go, you know?"
"It's a big place."
"Yeah and a place I now know from top to bottom. There. Is. No. Place.To. Go."
"Go away from *here* then."
"But I *like* here and I *like* cheering you up. I'm so good at it."
Jack mentally high-fived himself as Daniel's lips twitched.
"Yeah, cheering me up has always been your strong suit, Jack. Not."
The smile was almost there.
"Hey, I'm a great cheerer-upper. The best. They didn't make me a colonel for nothing, you know."
The smile was realized.
"Yes, they did."
"Oh, yeah, sure, you say that now, but just wait a week when my cheering up abilities have you rolling on the floor."
As quickly as it had come, the smile vanished and blue eyes shot open to stare at Jack.
"Janet said two days for you, her and Sam. Not a week."
"And they're going home in two days--but I'm staying with you, Danny-boy."
In one fluid motion, Daniel was on his feet, eyes blazing. "Oh no you're not, Jack. If someone has to stay and baby-sit, fine, send a medic or--or--*somebody*, but not you. NOT YOU."
Holding in his concern, Jack peered up at Daniel and just smiled.
In a much more calm tone, Daniel said, "No way, Jack. No way. This is not your job. Go home, take Loran to that hockey game, go fishing, but do *not* stay here."
"I'm staying, Daniel, and it *is* my job."
Eyes going steely blue, Daniel threw back, "Oh, yeah? So why wasn't it your job the first time around, huh? I can't turn the damn thing back on, you took care of that--permanently. So why the big need to stay *this* time, Jack? Tell me that."
"I made a mistake first go 'round, but not this time, okay? I should have stayed."
Jack was acutely aware of both Sam and Janet and he knew Janet was watching carefully. If he blew it, Daniel would be dealing with MacKenzie or someone else of his ilk. He *had* to get Daniel to accept him.
"Wrong. You shouldn't have stayed then and you don't need to stay now."
"Yes, I do, Daniel. Yes, I do." Then he rose slowly and looked Daniel square in the eye. "I'm staying because--I want to. Need to. You're my friend, Daniel and I'm going to be with you this time--all the way."
Something flickered in the depths of Daniel's eyes, then it was gone, but left in its stead was, acceptance. Jack breathed a sigh of relief and started to motion to Daniel to sit back down but Daniel shook his head.
"No, no, I'm--I need--a walk. I'm going to take a short walk."
"All right. And when you get back, Janet will take your blood pressure again which I just *know* thrills you no end. Damn kinky if you ask me."
"I didn't, Jack." Daniel turned away and started walking toward the hall that led to some of the bedrooms, but he paused and Jack just caught his faint, "Thank you, Jack."
"You're welcome, Daniel."
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