The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Rating:  PG13
Category:  POV, Drama, Smarm, Missing Scene.
Summary:  Multiple POV piece set during the weeks Jack, Daniel and Sam are stuck in the palace from ‘The Light’.
Spoilers:  Tag for season four episode, ‘The Light’.  Anything up till there is given.
Warnings: Some bad language.

Authors’ notes:   I chose to do this as a POV piece originally because I didn’t want to deal with Loren.  The kid just annoyed the hell out of me for no apparent reason, which, is why you’ll not find much of him in here.  Despite this being one of my earliest SG1 stories when I started it, I think this has to be the one I’m most proud of.  I’m hoping I caught the characters voices.  Daniel was, believe it or not, the hardest one.  I have great respect for those authors that can catch Daniel’s voice accurately.  The guy is so unpredictable I have a hard time getting a good balance of wit, and strength with the cute insecurities that I find absolutely adorable.  Beta'd for the most part by my great friend Lauretta, I'm posting this now especially for her:-)  Finished 12th Nov ’05.

 

Teal’c approached the palace Stargate with mixed feelings.  At first the idea of not being addicted like his friends was extremely pleasing, but his elation soon faded after numerous failed attempts to engage Daniel Jackson in conversation.  They walked side by side towards the DHD, and for the first time Teal’c could remember, Daniel had nothing to say.

“I will endeavour to return.”

Daniel barely reacted to Teal’c’s words, keeping his face a masked of indifference while he concentrated on dialling a ‘gate he wouldn’t be allowed to step through. 

The Stargate engaged emitting its usual wave and Teal’c bided his final farewell to the whole group, including Major Carter, O’Neill and the boy who had joined him on the steps.  O'Neill and Major Carter had a brief conversation with Dr Fraiser over the MALP.  Apparently she was anxious to hear about the status of Daniel Jackson.  Teal’c stood before the blue shimmer and glanced over his shoulder with an unscrupulous frown.  He was not happy leaving his teammates behind like this, even if returning to the SGC was the best way to help them.

“Take care, Teal’c, tell Hammond not to be a stranger.”  O’Neill lacked his usual enthusiasm, managing no more than a brief wave before shoving his hands back firmly into his jacket pockets.

Teal’c bowed his acknowledgement and took one final step forward, disappearing into the open Stargate.

 

Loren ran off immediately, not even waiting for the wormhole to disengage before announcing his plans to pack.  Jack didn’t feel like explaining the whole detox plan again.  He sighed and flung his arms out in mock irritation, turning to Carter to make a comment, in jest, regarding fishing poles and the making of. 

Daniel scoffed, but kept his amusement well hidden for the most part.  Jack’s joke didn’t go over too well with Sam.  They had a little tête-à-tête that Daniel was barely aware of before the pair finally walked away.

Daniel remained, standing at the base of the gate, looking longingly at the empty space where a wormhole once was, wishing he could have left with Teal'c.  There was something nagging at him in the back of his mind, something he couldn’t quite grasp the reason for.  He couldn’t explain why he felt the way he did, but Daniel certainly recognised WHAT he was feeling.  He and it went way back, and Daniel had learnt through past experience not to make such a big deal about it.  Fear was something to be dealt with when he was alone, in the dark, when no one but him would see.

Looking around at the empty room Daniel could feel the overwhelming sense of fear consume him, and giving the 'gate one last longing look he fled into the next room to find his friends’.

"Daniel, you okay?"  Sam asked as he approached her side.

Aware his stride had become less of a confident march, and more a staggered dawdle, when he noticed the person he had come to depend on most in the world was currently nowhere in sight, Daniel tried to recompose himself.  He nodded in reply to Sam’s question, adding a quick smile for her benefit and asked, “Where’s Jack?”

Walking back through the archway towards his two remaining team mates, Jack clapped both hands together enthusiastically.  "Well campers, since we appear to be staying awhile we might as well make ourselves comfy, what d'ya say?"

Both scientists, stood side by side, met that remark with blank expressions.

 

Day One

Jack

Arh fer cryin' out loud, I'm trying here.  Being stranded for three weeks with these two is gonna be a barrel of laughs, I can tell. Keeping Daniel stationary is hard on a good day, how the hell am I going to keep him in the same spot for three whole weeks?  And as for Carter?  Well I won't even get started on her.  At least Danny boy's got something to be doing.  Translating the scribbles that had him so fascinated about this place to begin with should keep him occupied for at least a day or so, before he starts bugging me to go outside to check out the temples and statues I - oh so foolishly - happened to mention in a casual, helpful, 'you see I do listen to you sometimes' sort of way.  Think I'll ask General Hammond to send some work through for both of them.

Good ole Doc Fraiser has already made sure I'll have plenty to do during our stay.  We only had time for a brief chat, but the upshot of it is Daniel's going to need watching for the majority of our time here - medically speaking of course.

I kept trying to tell her everything's fine, but she wasn't having any of it.  After explaining our plan to turn down the light thing day by day Janet rose concerns about what kind of effect that would have on us, and on Daniel in particular.  I fetched Carter and the two of them batted it out for several minutes.  They finally came to the conclusion that it was likely we could all suffer some mild withdrawal symptoms.

Peachy.

Fraiser then brought up another concern, involving Daniel surprise, surprise.  Along with the withdrawal there are, apparently, more mundane conditions to watch out for.  That was when the babbling started and I put a swift end to the conversation.  She'll now be sending “written instructions” along with the various medications I'm expected to force feed him on a daily basis, and a list of symptoms to look out for, 'just in case' she says.  Well, if Daniel's track record is anything to go by it'll happen whether it's medically possible or not.  Definitely got my work cut out for me there.

I stand a while longer, taking in their expressions of utter horror and despair at the thought of being trapped on the god forsaken junkie planet together, or probably more accurately - with me.

Keeping the plastic smile firmly fixed to my face I break the silence.  "Carter!"

"Yes Sir!"  She responds on autopilot.

"No doubt General Hammond will be sending supplies through pretty quickly.  Be ready for them, and get Loren to help you set things up."  I add as an afterthought, might as well try and include the kid.

"We'll take a room each for a bit of privacy, but not too far from the gate.  Base camp will be next to the DHD."  I wanted to add 'and by no means let Daniel go near any balcony's', but knew that was silly and I was being neurotic.

"Yes Sir."  Carter nods and walks off, rounding up Loren to explain what they’re going to do.

I watch her leave, noting how she strides from the room with an assured confidence I don’t ever remember possessing myself.  She’s not worried.  Of course what reason did she have to be?  Me, on the other hand, I have plenty to worry about and the reason for most of it is hovering a little to my left.  "Daniel!"

Daniel jumps a mile.  My yell caught him off guard.  I noticed he had kind of zoned out once I'd started giving orders to Carter.  That's probably one of the symptoms that will be on that dreaded list of Fraiser's.

Catching himself in the action of knuckling his tired eyes Daniel covertly mumbles into his palm, “Jack, don’t yell.  I have a headache.”

Oh great!  Not even an hour into our stay here and I've already got something to report.  I give him a stern look that hopefully communicates I’ve got something important to discuss with him and I want no distractions on his part.

"What?"  Daniel asks, suspicious after a minute of me not responding to his obvious plight.

"Sit."  I command gently, pointing to the steps that descend into the light room.

"What? Why?"  He says rather suspiciously.

"There is no 'why?' Daniel, just do it."  I have to work to keep the playful tone to my voice.   I need him to stay calm because I need him to talk to me, but he can be extremely aggravating when he’s being petulant.

I watch various expressions cross Daniel's face before he finally decides to submit and do as I ask.

My God… one simple thing and he has to analyse the shit out of it.  Why in hell can't things be simple when Daniel Jackson's involved?

He doesn't take his eyes off me as we sit down together on the steps leading out of the light room.  I wanted to be as far away from the DHD as possible so Carter won’t hear.  The last thing I need right now is Carter, 'big sis' extraordinaire, breathing down my neck while I ask this question.

Okay.  Deep breathe Jack.

I turn to the side slightly so I’m facing him and get the show on the road…  "So, how you feeling?"

"Fine."

Humph.  Should have seen that one coming…

"Do you, by chance, remember… anything?  You know, before waking up here."  I spread my arms wide and give him a crooked smile.  He looks at me, in that way he has, that suggests he’s already picked out my retirement home.

Whoa, it's got hot in here all of a sudden.  Why am I getting so damn flustered over this?  Removing my jacket slowly I see Daniel rolling his eyes.  Buying time to think of an answer that won't provoke any more questions I bet.

Just as I'm about to toss my jacket to one side a thought occurs to me.  "Aren't you cold?"

"Freezing actually."  He agrees readily, and as nonchalant as ever.

"Damn it Daniel."  I grumble, leaning forward to drape my two sizes too big jacket over his shoulders.  I can't believe he didn't say anything!  Granted I should have thought about it the minute he came around in the 'gate room, but he was so busy trying to get as far away from me as possible that all thoughts of reaction shock went out the window.

"Thanks,” he shrugs the jacket on, pulling it closed and holding it there with folded arms.  “And no, not really"

"Huh?" 

He ignores me, carrying on talking in soft tones regardless of whether I’m listening or not.  He’s looking tired, sat next to me on the same step, his legs are drawn up tight enough he could rest his head on his knees.  I swear to God he’s going to lull himself to sleep any minute.  

"I don't really remember anything.  My head feels all fuzzy like I’ve been smoking something I shouldn’t.”

“That’ll be the drugs.  Infirmary drugs,” I hastily add when I get another ‘well duh’ look.  “Doc’s potions always got a kick to them.”

“Last thing I remember is yelling at you and then the General.”  Daniel lowers his gaze and suddenly finds his feet to be extremely interesting.  “I did apologise you know."

"Good, he was worried about you.  We all were."  I emphasize that last part.  I want Daniel to know I'm not mad at him, even though I know I should be.  Teal’c will no doubt say my anger is ‘illogical since Daniel Jackson was not aware of the lights addictive quality prior to visiting P4x-347  O’Neill.’  Since when has anger, generated from worry, been logical?

"I guess I was a bit of an ass to you too."  He adds a little shyly, just as I’m fighting back the demon that wants to yell and scream at him for getting himself into this mess in the first place.

"No more than usual."  The off-hand remark draws a small smile. "It's okay.  Anyway, wasn't your fault, this time at any rate."

"I guess not." Daniel agrees, although he sounds less than convinced.

"Are you sure you don't remember anything?"  I'm still worried about him, and I can tell he's hiding something, don’t ask me how, but I know.

"Positive.  Why?"  Daniel asks, now concerned that something bad has happened. 

It has.  But I'm not ready to tell him about any of it just yet.

"No reason, it's not important."  I say lightly, patting Daniel's knee as I stand.  Daniel remains on the ground a few moments longer, probably trying to make sense of my rather odd behaviour.  "You coming?"  He blinks twice before taking my proffered hand and hoisting himself up.

Daniel

I think I'm going crazy.  Jack gives me a hint something awful may have happened and then won't tell me what!  It's only been a few hours and he's already getting on my nerves.  General Hammond has sent lots of supplies, cots, blankets, MRE's – the whole nine yards.  Even sent me some work to complete while I'm here.  There's plenty to do already, but, to be honest I'm not that keen on translating any of the writings here anymore; this place gives me the creeps.  Now I know what this palace was used for, having nearly died because of it makes it less than enthralling.  I can't seem to concentrate on much at the moment anyway.  Tried to write in my journal, but found myself just scribbling nonsense in the margins.  There's some good stuff just outside, but Jack's being a grouch and him and Sam have ganged up on me.  They told me in no uncertain terms that I am not to leave the building, hell I'm not even allowed out of the room without informing them first let alone venture outside!  Damn it!  This is crazy.  What could have possibly happened to make them this jumpy?

"Daniel!"

The loud, grating noise stops me dead in my tracks.  With a gradual slump to my shoulders I turn around to face my current nemesis.

"Jack?"  I do my best to keep the irritation out of my voice, but there is only so much 'mother henning' a guy can take in one day.

"Where’re you going?"  He barks out without pause.

I sigh melodramatically, hoping he gets the hint.  "To the bathroom."

A strange expression crosses his face.  It’s almost as if he's having an internal argument with himself on whether to let me go alone or not.

"Okay, be quick"

Nodding in understanding I make my way to the Gould version of a toilet.  Obviously the saner side of Jack O'Neill won this time, or more accurately the slightly less insane side.

I take the long route back to what we’ve recently dubbed our living room. I theorised due to the extensive amount of open space and arrangement of ugly gold decorated benches around the perimeter that it was probably used as the palace welcome room.  Where the Gould would all hangout showing off who got the biggest ring before proceeding to get high together under their toxic lava lamp.

While I’m weaving in and out of several pillars on my way back I run my last conversation with Jack through my head over and over.  There is definitely something he isn't telling me, and Sam's acting strange too.  They're always a little over-protective of me and, okay, I get the picture - I DIED.  Not just another close call either - I actually died.  Flat-lined just before Jack carried me through the gate apparently.  I may not remember any of it, but I can understand how Jack might feel a little edgy since I seem to die on him a lot.   Problem is I get the feeling there is more to it this time.   Jack's had this plastic smile stuck to his face all day.  He's even being nice to me, the bastard, and every time I turn around he's staring at me.  I'll find out what he's hiding, just give me a couple of days…

Sam

Well it's been two hours since the General sent through our supplies.  Loren and I have managed to set up rooms for the three of us to one side of the gate room.  I've put the Colonel next to Daniel figuring he's going to want to do a lot of hovering over the next few days, if not weeks.  From the quick debrief he gave me, as we walked the beach the first time, Daniel flat-lined just before coming through the 'gate.  I feel bad because Teal’c and I weren't there when they came through, I'm sure the Colonel could have done with some moral support while he tried to coax Daniel to breath again.

He hasn't mentioned yet what happened before hand, at Daniel's apartment.  All I do know is that Colonel O’Neill brought Daniel into the infirmary unconscious and suffering the same effects as the rest of SG5.  He hasn't told Daniel what happened to SG5, most likely waiting for the right opportunity, if there is such a thing.  And since the Colonel's not talking I figure its best I keep mum for a while.

My current problem is the Colonel's already bored and, strangely, so is Daniel.  He’s been wandering around aimlessly for the past half hour.  I started to suspect something wasn’t right when, after Colonel O’Neill ordered me to find out where he’d gotten to, I found him spinning around a gold pillar in the corridor.  He's irritable, restless and despite me giving him various different tasks to help out he can't seem to keep his mind on anything for longer than a few minutes.  Now I may not have as much first hand experience as Daniel when it comes to surviving withdrawal, but I know the symptoms when I see them.  I have to admit I'm worried, I'm pretty sure the Colonel's and my limited time away from the building did no serious harm; we should be able to survive three weeks here with little more than conversation starters to worry about.  Unfortunately, it looks as if Daniel isn't going to be so lucky.

Jack

If Daniel asks me once more why he can't go outside 'even just for a little while' as he puts it I swear I'll explode.  He really is driving me nuts.   Looking over to where he's finally managed to settle himself for longer than a minute I can't believe what I'm seeing.

"Daniel for cryin' out loud put that damn coat back on!"  I bellow across the room.  I can see his hands shaking a mile a minute, yet Daniel doesn't even appear to be aware of it.

"Jack, I'm fine, stop fussing."

"I'm not fussing Daniel.  Dr Fraiser has threatened me with serious bodily harm if I don't look after you.  If you catch pneumonia she'll have my ass in a sling.  Hell she'd be through that wormhole herself if the General would allow it!"  I yell as I pull the jacket out from under him and force it back on his person.  He stands limp; glaring at me over the top of his glasses, the jackets so big on him I can't see his shaky hands anymore.

"Jack I'm okay I don't need looking after and I'm really not cold anymore."

I sigh and slowly all the anger drains away.  It isn't his fault.  I haven't told Daniel anything about what happened to him, it was hard enough telling him he died, going into the details of how that came about would have been pure torture.  Now however I’m getting the feeling not telling him will cause more pain in the long run.  The withdrawal is going to be hard enough on all of us without adding emotional trauma into the mix.  I don't want to think about it to be honest, but I figure he needs to know why I'm behaving the way I am and probably why he's behaving the way he is as well, I bet he's confused.

"Look Daniel, you may feel fine, but trust me when I say this, you're still very ill."  He stares at me as if I've grown another head, by the way he's chewing on his lower lip and shifting from one foot to the other I get the feeling I'm making very little sense.

I can physical see his concentration wavering so I hastily try to clarify further.  "Fraiser's filled me in on some symptoms she wants me to watch for...”

Come on Daniel you know the drill, we've done this before remember?  I have to admit I've tried my best over the years to forget about that bitch Princess and her Sarcophagus, but one thing I know I'll never be able to forget is what she did to Daniel.  I so hoped he'd never have to go through anything like that again.  After seeing Daniel out on that ledge though, and now knowing the cause, I don't think my wish has been granted.

"Jack?  What are you talking about?"  He asks sounding very unsure of himself.  Oh god I've got him worried.

I hesitate for a second, ready to chicken out, but feel Carter's eye's boring into the back of my head and I'm perpetually aware I have no way out of this one.  For cryin' out loud Jack - you better know what you're doing.

"Carter you might as well hear this too."  I yell without taking my eyes off Daniel looking confused in front of me.

"Sir?"

Yeah, good one Carter.

"Don't pretend you're not eavesdropping, get over here."  She gives me an evil stare as she walks over, like protocol and respect for rank is the only thing stopping her from tearing me a new one.  "Let's consider this a little debrief," I indicate we should all sit before saying anything further.  "I realise things have moved rather quickly, but I think it's important the two of you are brought up to speed."

"Jack-"

"Daniel," I hold one finger up to hush him.  This was going to be difficult.

Sam

Well we finally filled Daniel in on what happened to SG5, he didn't take it too well.  Daniel always was one for guilt trips.  Constantly beating the odds when everyone around you is dropping like flies can do that to a person.  As for myself, our little group chat didn't really tell me anything I didn't already know.  The blanks that still remain I intend to quiz the Colonel on right now.  I just can't take it anymore.  I'm going to find out what happened between him leaving the base and returning with an unconscious Daniel, even if it means insubordination charges.

"Sir, I need you to check this."  Calling out to him I point at a random panel on the light device, hoping my rouse isn't too obvious, luckily with Daniel only half with us I don't think it should be a problem.

"Coming Carter."  I watch as the Colonel gets up slowly from the floor.  He's always reminding us his knees aren't what they used to be; its times like this that I notice.

"What's up?"  He asks, casting a less than subtle glance over his shoulder back at where he just left Daniel.

"Colonel I need to know what happened to Daniel – before you brought him to the infirmary."

Jack

"Where's Loren?"  I desperately try to change the subject.

"Sir please, I need to know."

"You know what happened, Carter."  I say, trying to stay on the offensive.

"No Sir, you've told me everything but."  Uh oh, she sounds real pissed.

God, I don't know if I can do this.  I look between Carter's determined face and Daniel still sitting crossed legged on the floor trying to hide from us under one of the benches.  Every time I look at him I flash back to the moment I first caught sight of him on the balcony at his apartment.  I see myself, clear as day, approach the ledge.  Daniel turns, that single tear running down his cheek as he says my name.  The only thing that goes through my mind, over and over, is that it's my fault he's out there.  That tear is because I missed something, failed in my job as his friend and self-appointed guardian.  When I turn back to Carter she's got that look in her eye again.  I'm in shit.

"Sir, I'm just concerned."  She sighs and all traces of anger leave her face.

"I know.  So am I."  I admit.

Hell she's going to find out sooner or later, I might feel better about dealing with this if someone else knows anyway.  Misery sure does love company.

I hate clichés. 

Daniel

They're discussing something over there.  Sam asked Jack a question about The Light that should have taken him all of ten seconds to answer with ‘I haven’t a clue what you’re talking about Carter’.  It’s been over ten minutes and they’re still talking.  Actually it’s Jack doing most of the talking with Sam adding a word in here or there accompanied by an understanding nod.  She has her listening face on, the one that lets everyone know Major Carter has gone home for the day.

I know it's me they're talking about because Sam keeps staring at me when she thinks I'm not looking.  They think I’m in withdrawal because I’m sulking under a Gould bench.  I think I have good reason to be sat under here.  What Jack just told me about SG5 has knocked me for six.  I spent the last week with those guys!  It was bad enough knowing Barber killed himself, but to find out the whole team is now dead makes me feel…you know I'm not sure how that makes me feel.  But nether less, just because Jack saved my life for the umpteenth time doesn't mean he and Sam can go off and discuss me behind my back.  There’s absolutely nothing I can do about it though, so I’m not going to waste the energy trying.

Most of what Jack said in our little debrief does explain his slightly neurotic behaviour of late however.  According to the med report I'm at high risk of suffering from low blood pressure, which can cause me to be light headed and dizzy apparently - kind of explains why I feel like I haven't had coffee in a week.  Plus the usual suspects when combating drug addiction; difficulty concentrating, increased irritability, restlessness etc, etc.  Been there, done that and bought the t-shirt.

I tried to be a smart ass and point out that we were all in the same boat, and Jack was just obsessing over me because he thought I was incapable of looking after myself.  He shot me down with the very annoying, and logical, argument that he and Sam only had limited exposure and, although still just as addicted, they never went into full withdrawal like I did.  It was at this point Jack fell silent; it took a nudge from Sam and a rather drawn out 'Jaack' from me before he came back to us.  Something to ask about later I think.

I want to get up and walk off my frustration, but can't seem to gather enough energy to stand at the moment, so I settle for just banging my head against the wall.

The end result of all this is that Jack and Sam should be fine to spend the next three weeks as they please, their addiction lessening with each day as we turn down the machine.  I on the other hand have already started experiencing some minor difficulties, and will no doubt suffer a number of other annoying symptoms until my body adjusts completely to the sudden reintroduction of whatever it is that we're addicted to.

I swear a higher power has it in for me.

Sam

"Well?"

"Sir, I don't know what to say."  I answer honestly.  I truly am speechless.

"Yeah, I know what you mean."  He sighs quietly.

We both glance in Daniel's direction and stare for a while in mutual silence.

"Sir?”

“Yeah?”

“Are you going to be okay?"  I ask as he turns to leave.  I have to admit if it were me who had found Daniel on the wrong side of his balcony railing I wouldn't be handling it too well.

He gives me a look that's pretty hard to interpret, curves the corner of his mouth and walks away.   He’s really upset and clearly blames himself, there's going to be no way he'll let this go anytime soon.

I continue to watch him cross the room, stealing another sly look at Daniel when he passes him on the floor.  I almost call out, but bite down on the urge.  I can see where he's headed, out into the corridor where there’s nothing to remind him of our reason for being here, he needs to be alone for a while.

 

Day 2

Jack

"Morning Campers, sleep well did we?"  No one answers, great, just great.  Why do I bother?  In retrospect I'm probably being a little hard on them, after all not everybody's a morning person like me.

So I'm up and ready for another fun filled day of Daniel watching.  Yesterday didn't go too badly; I did my best to tame my 'mother henning' as Daniel calls it.  After I came clean about what Janet said he became a little more subdued and easier to handle.  I think I scared him, reminded him of the last time he went through withdrawal.  I did my best to reassure him that this is a different situation and it would be nowhere near as bad.  Hope I'm right for both our sakes.

"Thanks, Carter."  I say as she hands me a steaming cup of coffee.  I need the stimulant if I'm going to survive the rest of day.

"Daniel, you okay?"  When I don't get an answer I question whether I should push it or let sleeping dogs lie for the moment.  I know for a fact Daniel slept as well as I did last night.

Just as I decide it best to leave him for the time being Carter decides otherwise.

"Daniel?  You want coffee?"

When Carter doesn't get an answer I can't help but turn to look at him.  Even a little off kilter I couldn't imagine Daniel turning down coffee.

"Daniel!  Coffee!"  I snap, clicking my fingers in front of his face as if I were a hypnotist waking him from a trance.

He answers calmly, like nothing is out of the ordinary.  "What?"

"Coffee Daniel?"  She repeats.

"Err, no…"

I couldn't help it I had to check.  "Well there's no fever" I jest.  Daniel smacks my hand away from his forehead.

"I'm fine Jack, just tired, you know?"  Yeah kid, I know all too well.  The walls are by no means thick around this place.

I was about to make a reply everyone could hear when Loren joined us for breakfast and started talking enthusiastically about leaving.  Carter's managing to answer most of his Earth related questions, so I divide my attention between their rather animated conversation and Daniel, who seems to have zoned out on us once again.  Today could be a long day.

Daniel

Today is going to be a long day, I can tell.  I really hate this.  Why me?  Why the hell is it always me?  I suppose I'm being a little over dramatic, I guess I should be asking ‘why not me?’  What the hell makes me so special and different from everyone else anyway?   I should be grateful, SG5 are dead, and I’m alive.  I've got no right to whine about it.

Breakfast finished over an hour ago, I excused myself and haven’t seen anyone since.  I was just so tired after last night that I thought I might actually be able rest better during the day, but not so much luck.  Sitting here at the entrance – or exit depending on how you see it – staring out at the sand I’m not allowed to make contact with was probably one of my more stupid ideas.  The fresh air that wafts in occasionally is doing nothing but taunt me further.

"Daniel you ready?" Jack seems to have materialised out of nowhere and I just know I've got this dumb look on my face.

"Ready?"  I repeat sounding extremely dim.  Jack has a look on HIS face right now.  It's like he's mentally counting to three before he answers.  I must really be trying his patience.

"I need a blood sample to send back to Fraiser, remember?"  His tone goes up at the end and I get confirmation, I'm driving him nuts.

"Oh, yeah, right."  I haven't a clue what he's talking about, I must have drifted off when he told me, doing that a lot lately.  I roll my sleeve up anyway, I know Jack wouldn't jab me with sharp needles for no good reason.  Of course it could be revenge for pissing him off, which would be a good enough reason as far as Jack's concerned.

"This shouldn't hurt…much."  He says with a wince.  I'm full of confidence.

Once he finally settles on a vein the needle goes in more smoothly than I expected.  I guess I shouldn't be too surprised that Jack knows how to draw blood, he is an Air Force Colonel after all, and he must have had some medical training.  I admit I'm curious as to why Jack is doing this instead of Sam.  She's normally the one to administer any medical treatment.  I just can't be bothered to ask, he'll only avoid the question anyway so I don't see the point.  I watch in silence as the tube fills, I'm not sure why but I can't tear my eyes away.  I know the small amount he's taking won't harm me, still I can't help but think I'm losing a part of me, a part that I'll never get back.  Been feeling like that a lot lately.

"You okay?"  Jack asks as he rolls my sleeve down now that he's done, going so far as to refasten the cuff.

I'm not sure how he expects me to answer.  Is he asking because he honestly wants to know or is he just asking out of politeness?  If it's politeness I should probably just lie and say 'fine, thanks for asking'.  If he really wants to know then, well that could take awhile…

"Ow!"  Okay, Jack just pinched me.  "Why'd you do that?"

"Because I asked if you were okay ten minutes ago and you still haven't answered me."  Crap, took too long and now he's mad at me again, best say something quick before he labels me completely cracked.  I wouldn't be surprised if Fraiser's already reserved the rubber room for me.

"Sorry."  Well probably could have said something more, but to be honest I'm really not in the mood.  It feels like it's taking every effort to follow a conversation, let alone participate in one.

"Look, I'm going to report in, you gonna be okay for a few minutes?"  Jack's now standing, towering over me, how the hell does he move so fast at his age?

"Jack, stop fretting.  I'll be fine on my own."  I reply to his kneecap.

He's obviously misread the lack of enthusiasm in my voice as something more than sheer exhaustion because Jack is now bent down on one knee, hand cupping the back of my neck.  "Daniel, just humour me okay?  Please?  I know you don't like it and believe me I like it even less, but you need someone watching out for you right now."

I close my eyes, now it's my turn to count to three.  Okay, that answers my question as to why it's him doing the medical stuff instead of Sam - he's feeling guilty.  I don't know about what yet, since I don't remember much from my stint under the influence, but I'm sure whatever it is really isn't his fault.  It's like the Hathor thing all over again – guilt because he couldn't protect me, you'd think after four years he'd realise I'm actually responsible for myself.  It was obviously the wrong memory to resurrect because I feel my body involuntarily shiver at the very thought of the vile creature, and concentrate on pushing any memories of her out of my head.

I take a few deep breaths and finally open my eyes once I'm sure I'm not going to flip out at Jack.  "I don't need looking after."  He just glares at me.  "Fine, yeah, okay, humour you."

"That's all I ask."

Jack

Okay, one blood test down, god knows how many more to go.  I've made my report to the SGC as arranged and given Fraiser a report on Daniel's progress.  She was, as predicted, less than impressed with what I had to say.  I'll get her results during check in tonight, I can hardly wait to hear how bad off he is.  I'm sure she'll try to reassure me with the 'you're doing your best' speech.  If I were doing my best he wouldn't be in this situation in the first place.

I make my way back to where I left Daniel; he hasn't budged an inch, sat with legs out straight staring at his hands lying idle in his lap.  I guess I better think of something good we can do with our day.

Later…much later;

It's now nearly mid afternoon on what is turning out to be a really crappy second day… and apparently it can only get worse.  The fact that I hardly slept a wink last night, combined with my having to report Daniel is experiencing every symptom on that stupid list, doesn't even compare to what I have to endure right now.  The sudden shift in Daniel's mood from this morning is disturbing to say the least.  A silent and detached Daniel is much easier to deal with than the current incarnation.

"Danny, for cryin' out loud!  Sit still!"  I'm at breaking point.  I don't know how much more of this I can take!  He's been extremely irritable and restless since lunch, after I gave him his meds.  I'm starting to think his downing them with coffee was a bad idea.

It's taken all my energy to get him settled for what I hope is going to last longer than two minutes.  We're currently sitting side by side on the floor looking through old mission reports and photos to find connections to some language Daniel's been asked to translate for SG11.  I say 'we' because, in my infinite wisdom, I decided the best way to stop Daniel's jitters was to get him started on some work.  I had originally thought this would be perfect.  It's something simple Daniel could normally do with his eyes closed, but the minute I sat him down and laid the books out in front of him he was totally over-whelmed with the task.  Daniel took one look at what it was I was asking him to do and just stared blankly back at me, his big blue eyes as wide as saucers.

I'd obviously misjudged the situation, but instead of admitting defeat and finding something a little less taxing, I offered to help.  He seemed unsure at first, but eventually conceded.  Now I'm thinking it was a big mistake, I feel like I'm working with a pre-schooler.  It reminds me of those flash cards kids use to learn to read.  Where you match pictures with the words? I think Charlie had a set.  This is the same sort of thing, only with weird alien languages.

"God damn it!"  He curses, sending his pen flying across the room.

"What now?"  I ask as calmly as possible.

It’s not easy.  I know it's not his fault and I know not being able to do this must be incredibly irritating for him, but I'm finding it extremely difficult to see him like this.  If I were a completely selfish bastard I'd have walked away hours ago.

"I can't write anything down."  He huffs, folding his arms firmly across his chest.

I sigh.  I have no clue what he's talking about now, I thought we were still playing the matching game.  "Why?"

"My hands are shaking too much."  The words are spoken into his chest so come out slightly muffled, but I catch them all the same.

"It's okay Daniel."  My own voice sounds drawn; I'm too tired to put any feeling into it.  To make up for the lack of enthusiasm my hand grips his shoulder in what's meant to be a sympathetic one-armed hug.

"No Jack, it isn't.  I hate this."  It doesn't offer the support intended.

Refusing to release my hold I try again to reassure him this isn't the end of the world.  "Fraiser thinks these symptoms should only last a few days, until your body adjusts again."  I left the 'if we're lucky' line off figuring it wouldn't help his mood any.

He doesn't answer me.  Instead he slams the book in front of him shut and throws it to one side, hanging his head in defeat once again.  I sigh again.  Daniel's making my life hell and I can't help contemplating what the dreaded next nineteen days are going to be like.

Sam

"Carter, where are Daniel's meds?"  The Colonel yells from the other side of the room.  Why he's asking me I don't know, he had them last.

"I don't know sir."  I shout back.  The agitated look I receive from him tells me he actually knows where the meds are and was using the line as a subterfuge.  Taking the hint I casually make my way over.

Once I'm a bit closer I notice Daniel sitting on the floor surrounded by books, he looks fine, I think the Colonel's just over reacting again.

"Damn it!" Daniel curses as he throws one of his books against the far wall.  It lands with a loud bang that echoes around the barren room.  Okay, so maybe not so fine after all.

The Colonel doesn't even bat an eyelid at Daniel's outburst as he stands up, stretching overly tired limbs.  I cringe in sympathy when he catches my eye and starts in my direction. Daniel's probably been like this all afternoon.

"Watch him for a second will ya?  I need a break."  He whispers tersely, knocking my shoulder as he passes me by.

I wait 'till I'm sure the Colonel's out of earshot before shoving my hands into my pockets and asking as casually as possible, "You need some help Daniel?"

Daniel doesn't answer me, I'm not even sure if he heard.  From the way he's sitting, arms resting on bent knees, eyes closed, I'd say he's got a killer headache, possibly a migraine.  Feeling more than a little useless, I decide the best thing to do would be to let him know I'm here if he needs me.  Taking careful steps around the jumble of books, papers and photos on the floor - some I recognize as past mission reports - I settle down next to him, mimicking his cross-legged position.

I'm not sure what my next move should be, Daniel's obviously not in the best of moods and the last thing I want to do is upset him more than he already is.

"Please leave me alone."  Daniel says in a monotone.

Deciding that telling him 'I can't Colonel's orders' would definitely push him over the edge I try and change the subject.  "What are you working on?"

"Nothing important."  He mutters into thin air.  His eyes are still shut and now that I'm closer I can see the minute tremors running through each hand.

"Well, maybe I can help."

Daniel suddenly turns and glares at me and I'm suddenly struck with the realisation that I may have said the wrong thing.  He quickly scrambles to his feet and walks away, kicking uncaringly at anything in his path.

"I don't need any help from you or anybody else!  And I most definitely don't need a babysitter!"

He's looking at me daring me to say something, anything so he can complete his tantrum and storm off.  I want to yell back at him, scream even, but I can't.  Instead I choose to repeat over and over that this isn't his fault, that he doesn't mean it.

"Hey, what the hell's going on?"  Daniel spins around at the Colonel's terse call when he re-enters the room.

"Why can't you both just leave me alone?"  He snaps angrily, looking at us both in turn.

Oh boy is Daniel going to get it now.  Jack O'Neill has never been famous for his patience, and if I'm right, by the look on his face, Daniel has just pushed him past his limit.

Jack

Okay Jack.  One…two…three, deep breath.

"I'll ask again, what's going on?"  This time I keep my tone level, in a feeble attempt to control the situation.  What he just said, or rather yelled at Carter, was way out of line and at this point I'm not averse to putting him in a time out.  If he's going to act like a five year old I might as well treat him like one.

Just as he looks about ready to make an obnoxious reply Daniel whimpers, swaying slightly on his feet he quickly draws a hand up to pinch the bridge of his nose and subsequently sends his glasses crashing to the floor.  I'm thinking the headache he mentioned earlier has taken a turn for the worse.

Taking pity on him I put my annoyance to one side for the moment and make my way over.  Taking his sleeve I pull Daniel’s hand away from his face and guide him out of the room we currently inhabit, back through the light room and towards the DHD where all our medical supplies are.  I turn to signal Carter to pick up his glasses and follow but she's already by my side, glasses in hand.  I really couldn't ask for a better second-in-command, could I?

Daniel doesn't make a sound as I take him by the shoulders and push him down to sit leaning against the wall while I gather his medicine.  I offer him one pill at a time, which he takes without argument.  Daniel hasn't said a word to me but I know he's in a lot of pain and, by the look of him, probably feeling more than a little embarrassed about his most recent behaviour.   He's a smart guy, he knows what's happening, he knows what he's feeling isn't real, which is probably worse come to think about it, because he also knows he can't do much except ride it out.

Daniel swallows the last pill with one final gulp of water.  Looking completely wiped out and in a total daze I can't help but feel sorry for him.  After how he's behaved today I'd have expected him to bitch and give me attitude about the pills, the indignity of not being trusted to take the meds himself.  Instead I can see he really is putting every effort toward dealing with this, and I can't help a feeling of pride overwhelm me at how hard he's fighting.

Carter bends down and hands him his glasses that he shyly accepts, offering a small but apologetic smile, which she duly returns, before excusing herself to go finish whatever it is I interrupted.

After clearing up the pill bottles and foil packets I lean over and take the canteen from Daniel.  In the split second where my head passes his I plant a quick kiss on his forehead before standing.  He looks up at me rather perplexed and teary-eyed.  I just shrug as if it's no big deal, like I've done it hundreds of times.  I haven't of course; I don't exactly make a habit of kissing my friends.  Just something on Daniel's face at that moment made me act.  He looked ready to burst into tears, probably berating himself for acting out and completely fed up with the whole stupid situation.  I wanted him to know I didn't think any less of him for his behaviour today that I was actually proud of him for how well he's dealing with it all.   Since I knew I’d never be able to express my thoughts in actual words it seemed like the best course of action.

Now I come to think about it, I can't remember a time when I haven't been proud of him.

 

Day 3

Jack

Weighing up the general mood in the room I think I can safely say things have improved somewhat.  Carter's finally managed to relax a little, and has stopped panicking about what technological disasters have befallen the SGC.  Daniel has been a complete pain in the ass, as per usual. As for me - I'm adjusting quite nicely.

"Okay kids time for bed!"  I call cheerfully, sauntering across the room like I own the joint.  Hey, it’s hard not to feel like the King of the castle when you have said castle all to yourself.

"Jack-"

"Ah, ah Daniel, you're still sick and need to rest.  I'm not suffering Fraiser's wrath if you get rundown."  For cryin' out loud Daniel I care about you.  Will you just do as I say without argument for once?

"But-"

"Daniel!"  I do the raised finger thing that tends to shut him up.  I get the feeling it must have been something his father used to do ‘cause I can't think of another reason why one finger in the air would work so effectively otherwise.

"Fine" Daniel sighs melodramatically, picking himself up off the floor and heading towards his room.  "You want to tuck me in too?"

That little shit, I just glare at his retreating back before turning it on the giggling Major to my left.

"Sorry Sir."

Yeah I bet.

Daniel disappears into his room and I watch Carter expertly school her features; she's going to ask me something.  Three guesses what that might be.

"You think he's going to be okay?"

The grin slips from my lips and I drop down beside her.  "I don't know Carter, I really don't."

After today I'd say it could go either way.  I thought yesterday was bad, all moody and subdued one minute then fidgety and irritable the next.  Today he's been bounding around faster than the energiser bunny and, quite frankly, worn me out.

"He doesn't know anything about what you told me, about how you found him out on his balcony, does he?"

"What was your first clue?"  She gives me a knowing smile and I answer her seriously.   "No, he doesn't remember anything after arguing with the general… and I haven't told him."

"Sir-"

"Carter I know what you're going to say, but to be honest I think he's better off not knowing."  Not knowing how he scared me shitless.  Not knowing how I nearly didn't get to him in time.  Not knowing how badly I failed him.  Take your pick.

"He is going to remember eventually, it's only a matter of time."  I look up and see her eyes are full of concern, whether it's for Daniel or me is unclear.  "Goodnight Sir."

I idly wave goodnight as she retreats to her room.

Who am I kidding?  I know damn well it's only a matter of time before Daniel starts to remember, he's already started having nightmares.  I want nothing more than to go to him and offer the comfort he deserves, the comfort I need to give him right now.  If nothing else it would certainly make me feel a lot better.

Despite the medication Fraiser's given him, Daniel's still suffering with bad headaches and mood swings.  I'm starting to question if his remaining on the planet is such a hot idea.  Carter and I seem okay, but aside from the fact that Daniel is obviously still alive this place isn't really doing much for him.  Mood swings aside, I think he’s having a difficult time reconciling with himself over making the same mistake twice, doesn’t matter how many times Carter attempts to reassure him know one could have known.  He remembers clear as day what happened the last time he got addicted to alien technology - it’s engraved in my brain too, and I can see how terrified he is that this time he won’t make it through in one piece.

Rolling the random thoughts around my head a little longer before deciding I best try and get some sleep, I pack up our mini camp and take one last tour of the building before returning to my room.  Daniel is still far from okay physically and mentally.  I'm going to need my wits about me if I'm going to be able to keep track of him tomorrow.  Normally when we're off world there would be someone on watch, but with only Carter and me able to do so, it seemed pointless.  The planet was abandoned years ago, Loren’s been here god knows how long and never seen anyone until SG5 and Daniel showed up.  We’ve placed perimeter alarms at all the entrances, including one to alert us to any Stargate activity.  It's the best we can do under the circumstances.

 

Day 4

Sam

"Sam!"

"Sam, wake up!" I open my eyes the minute I realise who it is calling my name.

"Daniel?  What's wrong?"  I question, feeling a hand grab mine and pull me up out of bed.   "Hey hold on, what's going on?"

I maybe Air force, but I still need a minute to gain my senses before dashing out of bed in the morning.  He waits in the doorway shifting nervously from one foot to the other.

"I need your help with something."  He say's excitedly once I join him.  I look him up and down as we make our way out of my room.  He's already fully dressed and appears extremely hyper, which is unusual because he's never really been a morning person.

"Daniel, are you alright?  It's really early."  I comment, casting a glance out of a passing window.  The sun has only just started to rise.

Damn, I probably only fell asleep an hour ago.

He moves at a jog over towards a spiral stairway concealed in the corner of one of the smaller rooms leading off the main hallway.

Stairway?

"Daniel," I say patiently to gain his attention, "where did those stairs come from?"

"I found them - look here there is this uneven stone iin tthe wall I was reading through some of the notes I made - before with SG5 - I don't know how I missed it the first time must have forgot I guess I don't know - anyway it's been here all the time might be interesting we should take a look - didn't want to go alone Jack would freak so-"

"Daniel!"  I yell so loudly it shocks him into silence.  For a minute he looks as if he's going to burst into tears and immediately I regret my outburst.  "You need to slow down okay?"  I say much more gently.

"Okay." He says quietly, resuming his restless shifting from one foot to the other, watery eyes observing the floor.

"Okay." I repeat, trying to come to grips with the strangeness of Daniel's behaviour.  He's acting like an excitable little kid who just tied his shoes for the first time.  "Now from the beginning, how-"

"Carter what the HELL is going on out here?"  The Colonel bellows as he makes his way toward us, clothes still rumpled from sleep.  I guess he heard me yell.

On any other day I dread moments like this, but today I'm actually thankful for the company, then my brain slowly wakes up and smells the coffee- literally.

"Jack!"  Daniel yells enthusiastically before I can open my mouth.

The Colonel pauses a second, sensing something isn't quite right, and then looks at me to explain what's going on.  I don't say anything but give him a look that hopefully says I'll explain in a second, I've just got something I need to do first.

"Daniel?"  It takes a second for him to answer since his focus has shifted away from us back to his discovery.  "Why don't you get your notebook while I fill the Colonel in on what you've found, then I'll help you okay."  I hated my tone, it sounded so god damn condescending.  Daniel was smart, correction; Daniel is smart, I hate what this place is doing to him.

"Yeah, err good idea!"  Once Daniel's out of earshot I turn toward the Colonel, I'm not too sure how I'm going to word this without adding to his stress.

"Carter so help me if you don't tell me what's going on!"

"Sir," I interrupt before he can go off on a tangent, "I think Daniel may have had a little too much coffee this morning."

"Carter, what the hell are you talking about?!"  He looks really tired; I doubt he slept much last night.

I know it's not just Daniel's current medical condition that's worrying him - it's Daniel in general.  I just wish there was something more I could do, but I try to put those thoughts out of my mind for now and concentrate on the situation at hand.

"Sir I think Daniel's been up most of the night.  He woke me up about ten minutes ago because of this."  I point at the staircase behind me.

"Where'd they come from?" He asks as if only just registering their existence.

"That's not important right now," he looks at me sceptically, but lets me finish.  "I'm sure Daniel will be able to explain later but for now we need to check him out and get him to take his medication."

The Colonel continues to look at me as if everything I’ve just said was in Swahili.  "I think Daniel is suffering from a caffeine overdose.  He's currently hyperactive, restless and having difficulty concentrating.  His hands are freezing yet he's sweating."   I watch as he processes the information; it doesn't take long before comprehension dawns.

"Okay, okay I get the picture." He concedes, wiping a hand over his face to cover up whatever emotions he's trying to suppress right now.  "You get his meds.  I need to contact the SGC…"

I got the impression he had more to say but couldn't give voice to his thoughts at the moment.  So I saved him the trouble and followed his order without comment.

Jack

Okay, so it's the beginning of day four and we're off to a most fantastic start, Janet is going to have my head for this when the General passes on my report.  The good news is, however, Daniel's resting at the moment.  Once I'd managed to track him down after contacting home Carter and I did our best to explain what had happened, but he didn't really follow.  In the end I used some of the emergency tranquillisers Doc had sent to knock him out and let him sleep it off.  It seems Daniel, after having another nightmare no doubt, woke up before the rest of us and decided to make some coffee.  He's not supposed to be drinking coffee at all with the meds he's taking, but Carter and I both decided Daniel would probably be worse off if he wasn't allowed at least one cup in the morning.  Of course Daniel being Daniel didn't know when enough was enough and ingested more caffeine than his body could handle.  The end product was an extremely hyper, annoyingly insistent, wired Daniel Jackson.  I would have found it cute if not for the very seriousness of the situation.

From now on the coffee is going to be locked up in Carter's room, where doped up archaeologists can't get at it.

One thing I am puzzled about is the secret staircase he found.  When I asked him about it he babbled something about his notebook, before moving onto a completely different subject.  Unfortunately neither Carter nor I can find said book, Daniel's forgotten where he put it and we've had no luck in locating it.  I guess that'll be something to talk about later when Daniel's a bit more like himself again.  I just know he's going to be bugging me to investigate.  There shouldn't be any problem, it's still in the building after all, and Carter's assured me there would be no danger.  No way is he going alone though, call me crazy, but I go into a panic every time Daniel's out of my sight for more than a minute at a time.

"Jack?"

The quiet voice is sudden and unexpected, have I really been sitting here that long?

"Daniel?  You okay?"  I get up from the chair I parked next to the door and sit on the edge of his bed.  Watching quietly as he rubs the sleep out of his eyes and examines the room.

"What happened?" Huh, what happened he asks, well what do I tell him?  I decide to take the coward's way out and put him off until I've got Carter as back up, she can explain things like this much better than I can.

"You had a little accident, nothing to worry about.  Wanna get up?"  He looks at me quizzically for a minute.  I think he sees through my white lie but wisely chooses not to make an issue out of it at the moment.  Instead he swings his legs around and attempts to stand, I see him struggle and wrap my right arm round his waist to help.

"Whoa!"  He stumbles slightly, my grip immediately tightens and I support him with both arms.  I try to lower him back down onto the cot but he shakes his head against my chest, eyes still closed.  "I'm fine, just a little dizzy."

"Daniel you should take it slow." I insist when he doesn't release his hold on the back of my shirt.

"No, I said I was fine, see."  He's careful as he let’s go and slowly makes his way out of the dark room with me trailing after him.  Stubborn little shit.

Daniel

I'm fine.  I'm fine.  I AM FINE.

I figure if I keep telling myself that then I might actually believe it, or convince the others at the very least.

Jack has told me to sit and not move from this position until he comes back.  So here I sit, waiting by the DHD where we've built our mini camp.  My notebook doesn't seem to be anywhere in sight which is extremely frustrating, I've got a lot of stuff skittering around my head at the moment and it would be really handy if I could vent some of it.  I've got images and sounds all mixed together, most I recognise from a few nightmares I've had recently, then there's things I feel like I should know but don't.  God I'm so confused, my brain feels like it’s been on the merry go round far too long.

As much as it loathes me to admit, I feel slightly afraid.  It’s silly because I know they're just bits of dreams, but what I see feels like more than that - it feels real – and that scares me more than anything.  I hate being afraid, well I guess everyone does, but I REALLY hate being afraid.   What makes it worse is I've no idea why I'm so scared.  I want to tell Jack, but don't want to cause him any more concern.  I'm pretty sure he's had enough of my crap over the last three days.  If I could find my note book and write it all down, put everything into context, things might start to make sense.

I scan the room but neither Sam nor Loren is in sight.  It’s not night time.  The Sun is still up, so they can't be asleep.  I contemplate getting up to search for my notebook myself.   Jack surely didn't mean I literally had to stay in this exact spot, just not leave the immediate area, right?

I've made my decision and brace both hands behind my back ready to stand when I realise I can't remember where I had it last.  I don't even know what I was doing sleeping during the day.  Jack said I'd had an accident.  That would explain why he was in my room watching me sleep, but not how I ended up there in the first place.  My head begins to swim with all the new questions and, recalling my earlier dizzy spell, I lower myself back down again.  Feeling decidedly queasy as I drawn my knees up and lean back against the wall, closing my eyes’ seems like a good idea.

Think I'll wait for Jack.

Jack

Oh god, look at him.  He looks so lost sitting there, alone, knees drawn up to his chin.  He's got his arms wrapped full around his body as if he's cold, but since this palace is holding at a comfortable twenty-five degrees I get the feeling it might be more of a comfort thing at the moment.

The only good thing I notice as I approach Daniel's position on the floor is that his hands have stopped shaking.  They still appear to have a slight twitch to them, but it's hardly noticeable.  Doc will be pleased. I hope this is a sign that Daniel's over the worst.   We won't know until I take a blood sample and send it back, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

He doesn't hear me approach so I clear my throat to get his attention.

"Hey."  I offer with a lame smile.

"Hey." He smiles back.  I hold up the needle to indicate my intentions before proceeding.  I want Daniel to feel like he has some choice in the matter, even if it would be just an illusion.

"Yeah, okay" he agrees reluctantly.

"Good boy."

I crouch down and make myself comfortable next to him while he rolls up his sleeve.  We've had to do this so many times in the last few days I don't need to explain anymore.  I take his left wrist in my hand, find a good vein and draw the required amount of blood while Daniel sits there watching as the tube fills.  It's disgusting - I don't know how he can.  I'm an Air Force Colonel and even I can't watch someone prod me with sharp objects.  It's just another amazing Daniel fact I suppose.  Anyone who'd look twice at him would assume that such a cute kid would be scared of his own shadow.  Not our Daniel - no way, has no fear apparently.  I think the only thing that does scare him, and me on occasion, is himself.

There's a lot that goes on in that brilliant mind of his, more than I think he’s able to handle at times.  But then that's why I'm here isn't it?  I take care of things like that when they become too much for him...or at least I used to.  I don't think he noticed what I was doing at first, still so naïve, had this whole independent, trust everyone philosophy going on.

Recently though….  Well I think I can safely say things haven’t been running quite as smoothly.  Daniel’s become wise to ours ways for one thing.  Our circumstances have gotten a lot more taxing as well.  Last year was one big kick in the teeth after another for Daniel.  I think his confidence took a good bashing.  First blow had to have been when we all thought he had Stargate induced schizophrenia and tossed him to mental health.

NOT a moment I’m proud of.

It was practically the first time in three years Daniel truly needed my help, and I blew it!  I’m so used to his strong independent streak that I didn’t see how completely helpless he was.  What makes me feel so goddamn bad is that he rested his entire future on my believing his theory about the Machello bug. 

Needless to say I didn’t fuck up a second time, but by then I think the damage had been done.  It was a ‘time to face facts’ moment in our friendship.  The obvious truth was Daniel trusts me implicitly with his life and I apparently don’t trust Daniel enough to believe he knows what’s best for him. 

It’s a sad truth, I make no qualms about that, and it’s not something I’m able to change over night, but I am trying.

From then onward everything got rather shaky, though Daniel didn’t outwardly appear affected there was a distinct difference in his behaviour.  He kept saying he was fine, but I knew better. 

The situation didn’t really get a chance to improve much either.  Roughly a month later Teal'c kills Shau’re, the love of his life, in an attempt to save Daniel.  We get through that and a nasty case of being on the rebound when, after some arduous searching, Daniel finds’ the Harcesis child, only to have him taken away again.  Add our little trip to hell and powwow with Apophis in-between those events and it makes a right crappy ole time.  Now I think about it I don't know why I'm so shocked Daniel climbed onto the wrong side of his balcony, he had plenty of reasons to be depressed without the aid of a Gould ecstasy pad.

I mentally slap myself when I realise where my mind was going.  Daniel gives me an odd look, like he wants to ask if I’m okay but too scared of the answer I’ll give.  I'm not sure of the answer myself to be truthful.  I get the feeling I'm missing some important piece of the puzzle here and if I could only get it to fit, everything would be okay. 

Looking at him now I want to tell him how afraid I am, how much it’s killing me not knowing what’s going on with him.  I’m sat on the floor shoulder to shoulder with the guy I’d give my life to protect and unable to utter one word about how much he’s freaking worrying me right now.  This must be what Carter and Fraiser refer to as male bravado.  According to the women, if men just talked to each other about how they felt it would save a lot of time and heartache.  So we aren't good with feelings - sue us.  Daniel and I are no exception.  I love him, he's my best friend and I suppose, if I'm honest, I act like a Dad to him on occasion.  I guess I've just always hoped Daniel understood what he means to me and left it at that.  I'm starting to think now however, after all the crap he's been through that just knowing may not be enough.

Maybe a little positive reinforcement is all he needs to get him back to the naïve, often clueless Daniel that never lets anything get him down, that despite constant failure always bounces back.  Granted, the ability to bounce back from just about everything could be thanks to the before mentioned clueless-ness.  Everyone has to grow up eventually I guess. 

Still, I want the carefree, unafraid Daniel back – the one that no matter how many times I’d yell at him he’d do the same thing again in a heart beat.  The Daniel that walks into dangerous situations because he’s confident that if he falls I’d always be there to catch him.  The Daniel Jackson that has faith in me to make everything right again.

"Jack?"

"Yeah Daniel?"  I answer absently.

"We done?"  I turn to face him and notice he's already rolled down his shirtsleeve and is looking at me with mild concern

I ponder for a moment, wondering if this would be a good time to have a heart to heart.  Unfortunately before I get a chance to answer him Carter comes bounding into the room.

"Sir I've got that report for you I…" Her sentence trails off when that keen female intuition every woman brags about kicks in and she realises she may have interrupted something.  "Sorry." Carter mutters, quickly turning and leaving the room in the same manner in which she entered.

Both Daniel and I exchange a funny look before carrying on, business as usual.

"We're done!"  I announce with enthusiasm, eyebrows raised to the hilt.  "Now how about you tell me where those stairs came from ay?"

Daniel

"Stairs?"  What the hell have I missed now?

"Yeah, don't you remember?"

Jack's using his gentle patronising tone again.  I ignore it the best I can, I know he's only being cautious because he thinks I'm a basket case.  The way I've been feeling and acting recently, that description isn't far off the mark.  "Um guess not, what are you talking about?"

"According to Carter, before your… accident… you apparently discovered a secret staircase this morning."

"Cool."

"You could say that."  He nods.  I can tell he's just humouring me by the glint in his eye.

We spend another minute or two just looking at one another in various different ways.  Then Jack does this thing where his lips thin and eyes narrow into a frown, all of a sudden an image from my dream flashes through my mind and I’m reminded of what I wanted to look for earlier.   "Jack, do you know where my notebook is?"

"No afraid not.  We were kind of hoping you'd remember where you left it."

That's odd, why would Jack, or Sam for that matter, want my personal notebook?  "Oh.  Why?"

"Because you told Carter you found the trigger for the stairs from the notes you made on the first trip."  His tone is less gentle now, has a little more edge to it.  I think I'm trying his patience again.

"I did?"  I reply innocently.

"Yes."  He says crisply.  Definitely winding him up.

"Cool."

"You already said that.  Look Daniel are you sure your feeling okay?  You seem a bit…" Jack wafts his hands in the air around his head.  I think the gestures meant to suggest I don't appear to be completely with it.

"You could say that."  I know this is slightly evil of me.  Jack's doing his best to make sure I'm going to be okay, but winding him up just seems so normal.  I need normal right now.

"Okay.  How about I show you the stairs then hopefully we'll get your brain going again and you'll remember something?"

I nod and Jack smiles.  The fog in my head is starting to lift and I can feel my mind working clearly for the first time in what seems like forever.  The images from my dreams are beginning to fade.  I might actually be able to make it through today without any more major incidences.

Sam

"Sir everything okay?"  I ask as both the Colonel and Daniel walk toward me.  I feel like such an idiot barging in on them, I should know better by now.

"Everything's fine Carter, just going to show Danny the staircase."

Oops, guess my instincts were right, I interrupted one of those Jack/Daniel moments.  You can always tell.  No one ever calls Daniel 'Danny', except the Colonel, and that's not often.  It's usually just a slip of the tongue on those occasions when he's feeling slightly more paternal than normal.   Daniel doesn't appear to mind either way.

"Want some company?"  I ask getting up off the floor and brushing myself off.

"Love some."

We wander together over to the staircase.  When I look over I notice Daniel seems to have improved from yesterday, he looks more alert, more like Daniel.  Things are looking up.

Daniel

"Stairs!"  Jack announces as though he's a magician who's just pulled off his big finale.

"Yes I can see."  Interesting, I wonder how I found them.

"Did you find your book Daniel?"  Sam asks me.

"No, he doesn't remember."  Jack answers for me.  Huh.

Usually that would annoy me, but today I couldn’t care less.  The short walk from one end of the palace to the other has provoked what I believe to be the start of a killer headache, and I'm in no mood to talk.

"Jack!"

"Loren, where'd you come from?"  Jack asks suspiciously.

Loran's an okay kid, I haven't seen much of him.  He's been here a long time on his own and I guess it takes awhile to get used to being with people again.

"Around."  He replies cryptically, before wandering off again.

"Uh huh."  Jack doesn't like the thought that there are hiding places in here that he isn't aware of.  Creep’s him out.  Jack's real paranoid sometimes, but I guess that's the whole special ops thing coming out.

"Jack can we take a look?"  Jack suddenly turns toward me with a curious look on his face, since I haven't spoken in the last ten minutes he must have forgot I was standing here.

"Carter, what do you think?"

That's it Jack, lets double check with Auntie Sammy to see if it's safe enough for poor fragile Daniel, why the hell not?  I'd love to yell at him right now but my heart isn't in it, so I settle for a scowl instead.

"I don't see any harm sir; we'll still be in rather close proximity of the light device."

Thank you Sam!  Now let's go before my headache escalates and I end up collapsing in a heap on the floor.  I take no more than one step forward when Jack pulls me back by the cuff of my jacket.  What now?

"Hold your horses Danny, Carter you first and you-" Jack wafts his index finger in my face so there's no mistaking who he's talking to, "-stay where I can see you."

There's no polite way I can answer that so I settle for a curt nod of the head and give Jack my best 'I'm hurt you don't trust me' expression.

Jack

Okay things are going well so far.  The stairs opened up to, what appears to be, a rather large private room complete with furnishings.  We've since exited said room and are now checking out the long hallway just outside.  Daniel's doing as he's told for a change and not straying more than a few feet from where I am, always within sight.  I know he probably feels a little resentful towards me for treating him like a brat, but at the moment it really is necessary, if only for my own peace of mind.

"Find anything interesting Daniel?"  Carter asks him as they stroll into and straight out of another room.  This second floor seems to be nothing more than a selection of private bedrooms.  No need to guess what they might have been used for.

"Not really, the script is all very similar to what's downstairs as far as I can tell.  This palace truly was nothing more than a recreational facility."

"A Gould Holiday Inn?"  I'm surprised.  That little comment actually made them both smile.

"I guess."  Daniel answers rather half-heartedly, slumping against the nearest wall.  Oh dear, if I'm guessing right he was probably hoping to find something of great significance up here to keep his mind off what ever it's currently stuck on.  Poor kid, it seems he can't catch a break.

"Hey this is different."  Carter perks up from inside another doorway.

Daniel turns to look at me, and the minute I nod my approval he quickly follows her inside.  I stand stunned in the hallway for a moment and shake my head at the peculiarity of Daniel actually asking my permission before doing something, before following myself.

"This room was probably for more high ranking guests."  Daniel states, scanning the vast area.  The room's at least twice the size of all the others, twice as nice too.

"Sir I'm getting some strange energy readings."

"What kind Carter?"

"I think I'm detecting Naquada." She sounds surprised for some reason.

"Well this place is Gould, Major, is that so surprising?"

"Yes, well no not in that respect, but sir I've done several scans of the area and haven't found any evidence of the element except a trace amount in the light room, and the 'Gate of course.  Now I'm detecting at least five times that amount."

"Where's it coming from?"  Okay that's peaked my interest; maybe something good can come out of this mess after all.

"I'm not positive exactly, but my best guess would be outside, that way."  She points to what would be West, if this were Earth.

"We'll include it in our report to Hammond, someone else can come back and investigate once we confirm that thing down stairs has been switched off."  As interested as I am, I've got other things on my mind at the moment.  We can't leave anyway so getting her hopes up would just be cruel.

"Yes sir.  I'm guessing I didn't detect it before because something in or around the palace is interfering.  The readings must be clearer the higher you are."

"Yes, there is that I suppose."  I drawl.  Carter knows I'm not interested, but I try to humour her all the same.

"Wow, you can see for miles out here!"  Those words freeze the blood running through my veins.  It's Daniel's voice, but as I look around the room I can't see him.  My heart skips a beat.

"Daniel?"  I call out tentatively quelling the panic building inside.  There's no way he could be…?  Is there?  He said 'out here' and that would mean he's outside, but we're on the second floor.  How could he be outside if we're on the second floor?  The only way that could happen is if there's…Oh God.  No.

I've run off in the direction of Daniel's voice before Carter has a chance to say 'Sir!'  It's deja vu.  Daniel is currently standing not two feet in front of me, leaning slightly to look down over a balcony railing.  I've lost all the feeling in my body.

"Daniel?"  I say, just like I did before back at his apartment.

"Jack, come out here, there's a great view."  He answers, oblivious to the strain in my voice.

"Daniel, come inside please."  He doesn't hear me, just leans further over the ledge, his feet no longer touching the floor.

I can't stand it, the feeling comes rushing back into my legs and before I know it I've stepped out onto the ledge with him.  My hands tightly gripping the rail to stop me from yanking him back inside.

"You okay Jack?"  He turns to me, setting himself back on both feet.

I must be looking pretty freaked-out right now.  I know Daniel's not suicidal and is currently standing on the correct side of the railing, but that doesn't stop the images from flashing through my mind.  I remember pulling him back over the ledge, shaking like a leaf.  He was talking a mile a minute, wanting to know why I was in his apartment, and oddly enough, where his socks were.  At the time I took no notice, concentrated all my effort on hugging the shit out of him while demanding to know exactly what he thought he was playing at.  I never got an answer because it was at that point Daniel chose to pass out in my arms.

Pulling myself out of my memories I answer him.  I try to sound as casual as possible while, at the same time, I’m thinking of a suitable excuse to get him back inside without making a scene.

"Yeah, fine.  I thought you were scared of heights?"  I can handle this.

"I'm not scared of heights, just don't like them.  Balcony's are fine, they're safe."  And just to prove it he jumps up and down a few times.

Not being able to control myself any longer I grab him, a hand round each wrist halfway through the second jump.  "Daniel I get it."  With that I spin him around and nudge Daniel back into the room.  I've still got one hand holding onto the underside of his left sleeve and I'm not letting go anytime soon.  He's looking at me, eyebrows raised questioningly.

"What's wrong?"  Daniel asks innocently.

"Nothing."  I say while moving us both out of the room and into the hallway at breakneck speed.  I want to be as far away from that balcony as possible.  Carter follows in our wake and, by the look on her face, completely understanding my reaction.

As soon as we're finished our investigation the second floor is off limits, Daniel's not going to like it but I don't care.  I doubt I'll ever be able to see Daniel with more than one foot off the ground ever again.  He's definitely going to have to move apartments.

Sam

Well another day is done, since our little trip up the mystery staircase I've managed to fill Daniel in on his earlier episode and explained why he's banned from making coffee for the remainder of our stay here.

Despite his reaction to Daniel's impromptu trip onto the upstairs balcony, which he handled marvellously considering, the Colonel's been a little happier today.  Our report to the SGC probably has a lot to do with it.  Janet's convinced Daniel's over the worst, she'll still need to check his blood work everyday, but his improvement is encouraging.  That, at least, means we'll have our Daniel back.  Hopefully, if there aren't too many emotional repercussions to his being addicted, our time here shouldn't be too strenuous after all.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed, but he still doesn't seem to have remembered his suicide attempt so I'm not holding my breath.  Instead I'm going to join the Colonel and enjoy the time we have together, Teal'c's been given permission to visit for a couple of days next week which should be fun.  If Daniel does remember anything while we're still confined at least the whole team will be here for him.

 

Day 6

Jack

It's now late on our sixth day trapped in this hell hole.  Carter cooked dinner, which could be considered a miracle in itself.  I trust Carter with explosives, I trust her watching my six, but if there's one thing scarier than a Gould's fashion sense, its Carter's cooking.

It's now been two nights in a row that Daniel has been extremely restless and then woken up screaming.  I haven't said anything, but I know Carter's heard him too.  I can't sleep because I know Daniel's not and I'm pretty sure Carter doesn't normally have those bags under her eyes.  It's time to have that talk.

"Daniel?" Daniel looks up at me suspiciously from his notebook.

He's being pissy again about not being allowed to go outside to check out those statues.  It's tough!  I could kill Carter for mentioning we might be okay to leave the building for limited amounts of time without feeling too many side effects.  He knows damn well why he especially can't risk leaving the building.  I don't care that his blood work appears to have stabilized!  He may not be suffering from any major withdrawal symptoms anymore, but that does not change the fact that he is still very weak from his near death experience and if anything were to happen the odds of him pulling through a second time are stacked against him.

"Daniel I think we need to talk."

"About?"  Oh no, don't try that innocent act with me kiddo, you know damn well what about.

I watch as he stiffens under my scrutiny.  Loren has gone to bed and I see Carter move out of the corner of my eye.  I wish it was just Daniel and me for this conversation, he's going to see it as two against one, but I have no other choice.  Daniel's been avoiding being alone with either one of us for the past two days and the beginning of his nightmare scream-a-thon.  I get the feeling the upstairs balcony might have triggered some of his memories.  I'd bet my reaction didn't help any either.

"How 'you been sleeping?"  I see the flush rise in his cheeks; he has this sort of dopey look about him when he gets embarrassed.

"Why?"

"Look Daniel-"

"Jack I'm fine, I don't want to talk about it."   Daniel spits out nervously, darting looks from me to Carter then back to me again.

"Don't want to talk about what?"  I ask as gently as possible.

"What?"  He replies, obviously going for the dumb act tonight.

"What don't you want to talk about?"  I ask again, still using the voice I tend to reserve for children and furry animals.

"Jack I said I was fine.  Please just drop it."  He manages to yell and whine at the same time.

"Daniel we're just worried about you."  Carter injects just as I’m about to lose it.  Too little sleep over the last few days is making my short fuse even shorter.

"Fine."  I hear Daniel grind out between his teeth.

"For cryin' out Daniel we just want to help!"  Carter throws a chastising look in my direction.  I couldn't help it.

Daniel stands and gathers his notes together.  "Yeah, okay I'm going to bed.  Night."  He turns and disappears into his room.

"Well that went well."

Daniel

Who the hell do they think they are?  We're worried about you Daniel, we care about you Daniel, goddamn it!  Who do they think they're talking too?  It's not like I'm six years old or anything!

I pause mid rant fumbling with my sleeping bag, I realise the reason I'm not getting anywhere with it is because I'm shaking so hard I can't hold on to the zipper.   I don't know what's going on.   I'm assuming it has something to do with this place and NOT the withdrawal symptoms.  They, thankfully, have died down. I'm still a little on edge but no worse off than the others.

I had a feeling Jack and Sam had heard me wake up screaming every night.  If I'm honest, I'm lucky Jack's let it go this long.  The nightmares are nothing like I've experienced before.  I can't rationalise the fear I'm feeling right now, I'm scared shitless to go to sleep in case I dream again.  I remember having similar feelings a few times when I was younger.  Back then my solution was to run into my parents' room and climb into bed with them.  I let out a chuckle that borders on hysteria, thinking it's a shame they aren't here now.  An idea occurs to me and for a split second I lose all self-control and contemplate going to Jack's room.

Not having the confidence right now to admit to Jack I may need his help, I sink to the floor instead and let the tears burning at the back of my eyes fall.  I don't know what to do.

Jack

I figure before I turn in for another night of tossing and turning I might as well check in on Daniel.  See if he's all right, see if he's still mad at me - that sort of thing.  Carter left for her room not long after Daniel's mini hissy fit.  I don't know what to do for the best.  You don't have to be a genius to work out what's keeping him up at night.  Janet warned me there would be some major fallout once Daniel remembers what he nearly did.  Problem is, how the hell am I going to help him when I'VE not come to terms with it yet?  What work's in my favour though is he must have been pretty much out of it to climb out onto his balcony in the first place.  It proves he definitely wasn't in his right mind, Daniel isn't fond of heights and if he really wanted to kill himself I'm sure he could have found an easier way to do it.

Having found nothing out of place I finish my tour of the building and approach Daniel's room quietly, none of the rooms have doors and I don't want to wake him up if he's already asleep.

Daniel is most definitely not asleep.  In fact he's nowhere in sight.

Crap.

This is so not what I need right now.  If Daniel is trying to piss me off for losing my temper with him he's doing a good job.   I run over the various scenarios in my head as I check and re check the inside perimeter, none of them are good.  I check Carter and Loren's room just to see if he went to either of them, but no such luck.  The only place I haven't checked now is outside.  As much as I would hope that Daniel isn't stupid enough to pull a stunt like that I'm afraid he is stubborn enough to try.

Deciding that I may require back up on this one I head back to Carter's room.  If Daniel is outside then he could be in bad shape and may need immediate medical attention.  If he doesn't then I can guarantee he's gonna need it anyway once I'm done with him, I bet Carter's going to want a piece of him too.

Just as I'm about to shout for Carter a sound distracts me.  Out of instinct I spin around to find its source, it only takes a minute for me to seek out its origin.  As I approach silently the soft noise is more audible, and recognisable.

"That little…" The curse dies on my lips as I let the fear and worry just drain away.  Suddenly I feel very tired and very, very old.  I was wrong when I thought I had checked everywhere.  It never even crossed my mind that Daniel would have gone to my room.

Now the crisis is over I lower myself to sit on the cushion-clad floor, next to where Daniel's sprawled, passed out, snoring softly.  Letting out a sigh of relief while I take the weight off my feet I can't help but wonder what he wanted.  I guess it doesn't really matter now, he seems peaceful enough where he is, and since that's been a rarity the pass few nights I'm not going to disturb him.

PART 2

Day 7

Sam
I'm mildly concerned at the moment.  Its almost mid morning and I've seen nothing of the Colonel or Daniel.  Now Daniel not being up yet isn't so strange really, especially since he's avoiding us, plus I didn't hear him last night so I'm assuming he slept okay.  Either that or he never went to sleep.
The Colonel though is always up, like clockwork, bright and early.  It is possible since Daniel looks to have gotten some rest that the Colonel may have finally managed to sleep also.  Still I think I better check, just in case.
I approach Daniel's room first, the Colonel is capable of looking after himself after all.  It’s possible Daniel's still sulking after we tried to talk to him last night about his nightmares.  I walk in prepared to give him space if he wants it and my eyes are drawn straight to the empty bed.  Uh oh, that's not good.  I've been up a few hours now and I would know if there was anyone else but Loren around.  By the looks of the bed Daniel hasn't been here all night.
Feeling the anxiety swell in my chest I march over to wake up Colonel O'Neill, he is going to be so pissed off.  If Daniel decided to wander off in the middle of the night god knows where he could be now.  Just as I'm mentally making a list of medical supplies in my head I walk smack into the Colonel.
"Sir!"
"Carter?  Going somewhere are we?"
It takes me a minute but I finally comprehend.  He wants to know why I'm in such a rush.  "No sir, err I mean yes sir…" Oh for god sake woman get a grip.  "Sir Daniel's missing."
"Ah."  He looks thoughtful for a moment.
Okay I knew the Colonel was under a lot of pressure right now, but I had expected a bit more of a reaction. Instead he smiles and indicates with his index finger to follow him.  He's taking me to his room, weird, but I'm sure there's an explanation.  I round the corner about to ask the Colonel if he heard what I just said when I spot it, or more accurately I spot him – Daniel - lying on the bed, fast asleep.  I turn questionably towards the man beside me who is now grinning like a Cheshire cat.
"Don't ask, I don't know."  He can obviously read minds now, just great.  "I found him in here last night after I checked the perimeter.  He was already asleep and I didn't want to disturb him."
"So…?"  I raise an eyebrow and he sees where my mind's going.
"I slept on the floor Carter."  He groans, oops probably not a good time for a joke.  "I figured he wanted something and didn't want him to wake up alone, especially if he had another nightmare."  Okay yeah, that's reasonable.
"He didn't though, did he?"  I state, walking over and sitting down next to where Daniel is currently curled up on his side.
"No, he didn't.  Thank god.  Even I managed to get some well deserved sleep last night."  He shoves his hands in his pockets and rocks back on his heels.
"He needs to take his meds, we should wake him."  I say half-heartedly.
"Yeah, guess we should."  The Colonel returns with even less enthusiasm.
We both exchange glances, neither one of us want to do it.  Daniel hasn't slept like this in days.  I haven't the heart to disturb him.
"We could leave him, just for a bit."  I suggest cunningly.
"Cool."  The Colonel wastes no time in leaving, trying to disguise the fact he was probably thinking the same thing, it's too late though, I already know he's a big softy.  I laugh softly at that thought, turning slightly before standing up and following him out.
Jack
"Okay, Teal'c you do remember how to play this game don't cha?"
"I do O'Neill."
Teal’c came through the ‘gate an hour after Carter chickened out of waking Daniel - and he came bearing gifts!
"Good."
"Loren you can be on my Team."  I beckoned the kid over.  He’s been far too absent these last few days, and if he’s going to leave with us we’ll have to work on his socialising skills.  I personally don’t know how he’s survived out here all alone.  Kids need constant support and attention if they’re going to have a hope in hell’s chance to function as adults.  Luckily for him we found him, though I’m worried he’s been neglected for far too long, much like another young soul I know.
"I don't understand."
"It's simple all you have to do is get this puck past Teal'c into that net thing there, okay?"  I say waving around my hockey stick.  This may be a bad idea, Hockey isn't exactly the safest game we could have chosen and I can see several, no doubt fascinating, artefacts being destroyed in the process of teaching Loren the game.  It took me weeks to teach Teal'c the finer points, I guess I've got time though, you never know I may even get Danny to learn some of the rules too.
"Okay."  He seems a little pensive but I guess that's to be expected, I don't even know if they had anything close to hockey on his world.  Even if there were I'd bet ten bucks he still wouldn't know how to play.
Loren's how I would have imagined Daniel to be as a kid, a little unsure and pensive, and a lot curious.  The fact that both Loren’s and Daniel’s parents died on the job, leaving behind their respective children has not escaped my notice either.  They have a lot in common, which worries me for some reason. 
I don't tend to want to think about what Daniel's childhood was like, but it does cross my mind on occasion, usually when Daniel's been hurt.  Majority of the time Daniel’s this capable, independent - if sometimes aggravating - individual that lets nothing faze him.  But then there are the moments that knock me for six, like when I find Daniel sat alone, curled up on his bedroom floor completely miserable and desperately needing to know someone cares about him.  Half the time I’ve got no idea what happens to break his resolve, but I always try to build it back up again and make him feel better.  I like to do my best to provide that parental support he no longer has, but can't help wonder who was there to take care of him before me.
"Carter is Daniel awake yet?"
"I don't know Jack, I'm not his mother."  Both Teal'c and I give her quizzical looks.
When Daniel smarts off it’s an average day, but Carter even calls me ‘Sir’ in our off hours.  Warning bells are ringing in my head, but I ignore them for now, it’s probably just the left over effects from the light, nothing to worry about.
"If Daniel Jackson is well enough maybe he would like to partake in our game."  Teal'c smiles evilly; he knows damn well Daniel would rather gouge his eyes out with a plastic spoon.
I smile sweetly at Carter who huffs a great sigh but nevertheless heads off in the direction of my room where we left Daniel a few hours ago.
She's gone no more than a minute when I hear her yell.  "Sir!  Teal'c!"
I was in the middle of tackling Loren so when I heard the shout my swing faltered and sent the puck crashing into the wall not two feet from Teal'c's head.  "Sorry big guy."
Teal'c just nods, more interested in the reason behind Carters call.  "Major Carter?"
She's practically running back toward us now.  "Carter what the hell's going on?  I nearly took Teal'c's head off!"
"Sir, he's gone."  Oh no, please tell me I didn't hear that.  "Daniel is gone sir.  We need to find him."
I hang my head in defeat; I knew it was too good to be true.  Just as things seemed to be looking up, reality has to bite me in the ass.  Unfortunately there is no hope that Daniel is simply just sitting in a quiet corner somewhere reading, this is Daniel, trouble seems to travel the galaxy looking for him.
"I think I saw him."
"What?"  I spin around to face the child that just spoke.
"It was when you and Teal'c where talking about off siding, he was headed outside."
"Outside?!"  Carter beats me to it.
"Carter med kit, Teal'c with me."  I drop the hockey stick where I stand and bend to grasp the gun I’ve got strapped to my ankle.  Yeah I know it's an uninhabited world, but at the moment I couldn't give a rat's ass.  We have no real idea what's out there and I'm not taking any chances.
"Daniel Jackson is aware that leaving the immediate area is harmful to his health, is he not?"  Teal'c questions as we make our way, at a jog, outside the large palace.
"That he is Teal'c."
"Then why would he do such a thing?"  Teal’c follows my lead out from the cool shade of the palace entrance into the blazing sunshine.

We both stand on the hot sand and scan the immediate area.  "I don't know, but when I catch up with him his ass is mine."
Teal'c doesn't say anything in reply, he knows better than to continue a conversation with me when I'm in a bad mood.  Instead we continue to walk the perimeter until we spot some sign that Daniel's been out here.
Just as I'm about to concede that maybe I was wrong and Daniel really is trying to pilfer coffee from Carter's room on the sly, Teal'c calls me over.  As I make my way toward his position I chant silently 'I will not shoot Daniel' over and over hoping it will prevent me from doing just that when I find him.
"There are tracks leading toward the waters edge.  It is likely they belong to Daniel Jackson."
"Sir, have you found him?"  Carter asks suddenly appearing at my side.
"Teal'c thinks he went toward the water."  We all share concerned glances, we know the risks of being out here for too long.  Add to that the possibility of dehydration and without speaking we move out as one, in search of our missing friend.
Daniel
The air is cold in here.  It's always cold in here actually.  I'd put the heating on but it doesn't seem to matter that much.  Guess I should get up.  Got to go to the mountain.  Got work to do.  Going back to the planet today.  Strange. That doesn't matter anymore either.
It's still cold.  Think I'll warm some water.  It's not helping.  Noise?  What's that noise? Huh, Just the phone.  It'll stop in a minute, always does.  Getting stuffy in here.
I can't breath.
I'll open the balcony doors.   Huh, fresh air not that nice.   Shouldn't have bothered.  Phone again.  Not stopping this time.  I'll stop it, just need to pick up and put it down.  There, no noise.

Can't breathe in here.

It's nice outside.  Better than in there.  In there people expect things of me.  I lose things.  None of that matters out here.

"Daniel?  What are you doing out here?"

"None of it means anything."

"Err…Daniel, Why don't you come inside here."

"I tried… it just goes away."

"Okay, well we'll err we'll get it back."

"You can't get it back."

"Whatever's wrong - we'll fix it."

"You don't even know what I'm talking about."

"No, no I don't…but come inside."

"Jack?"

What's going on, why am I here? I'm cold.  Its cold out here, I can't breathe…  "Help!"

Jack

I collapse on the waters edge arms still tight around Daniel's middle.  He's coughing and spluttering but at least he's still breathing, if you can call it that.  I pull him in closer to me, feeling his breathe on my neck, his heart beating against my chest and I'm assured he's still alive.  Daniel's shaking uncontrollably, but damn that water was cold.

I'm not sure what happened exactly.  One minute we're following Teal'c towards the bay area looking for the little shit, the next I'm jumping in ice water all the way up to my neck. I have no idea how Daniel managed to get out so far, but he did.  He's damn lucky, if we'd have been a few minutes later I doubt I would have heard him cry out.  Seems that's the story of my life doesn't it?

"Jack?"

"I'm here.  You're going to be fine."  You damn well better be fine.

"Cold."  He splutters out, as if I don't already know.

He squirms a little in my arms, and then blinks at me, an obvious question in his eye.

"It all goes away."  He mumbles, making it sound like some great revelation.

I'm momentarily stunned.  Those were the words he used back at his apartment, out on the balcony.  Has he remembered?  Was that what he was doing out here, trying to finish the job?

Teal’c kneels down on my right and puts one hand on Daniel’s shoulder.  “Daniel Jackson.”  He whispers softly, going totally against his whole Jaffa warrior image.

Daniel’s only response is to mutter some more, I can’t make heads or tails of it and I doubt Teal’c has any clue either.

I hear noises from behind and instinctively turn to reach for my weapon, which isn't there, damn it!  Lucky for me it's only Carter returning with blankets.

"Here you go sir."  She hands one to me, which I place round Daniel's shoulders and back, the other two she uses to put over his legs and one around me, because lets face it, I'm freezing my ass off now too.  I can see her looking Daniel up and down with a note of perplexity on her face.   She's worried.

Sam

"Sir?"

"I'm not sure Carter."

He's not sure.  Great, just great!  I suppose he wants me to tell him why Daniel is rocking back and forth muttering to his feet.  I don't always know the answer to everything!  However, looking at Daniel, the action is so reminiscent of the last time he went crazy I can't help but think we've lost him forever this time.

This is unbelievable!  Sometimes I wish that just once…

Oh damn.

"Err, Sir?  I think we should get back inside."

Jack

"Daniel asleep?"  Carter asks me the minute I leave his room.

"Yeah, finally.  I think he just cried himself out."  I say feigning casualness.

I sit my self down beside her on the floor.  Neither one of us speaks for a while.  What more can you say?  None of us have ever seen Daniel react that way before.  Loren hasn't been seen since Teal’c carried Daniel back inside, still not entirely with it and mumbling about being cold despite the dozen blankets wrapped around his person.  Loren probably thinks we're all nuts by now anyway and is probably debating whether or not to take his chances alone.  Right now, given the evidence, I don't blame him.

"What do you think happened, sir?"  Ohh I don't like how that sounded.  Carter does that a lot, asks what I or Teal'c or Daniel think first then launches into her own theory.  It always seems to be the most depressing and horrible theory ever and worst of all, she tends to be right.  I don't think there's an optimistic bone in her body.

"I'm not sure Carter.  What do you think?"  I decide to let her get straight to depressing the hell out of me part.  It's been a long day and can't really get any worse… can it?

Teal'c left to report to Fraiser and Hammond after we managed to get Daniel settled.  I ordered him to leave off the part about Daniel nearly drowning.  I know that was probably stupid and the look Teal'c gave me promised retribution if anything happened.  There isn't anything Fraiser can do anyway.  Hopefully Daniel won't come down with a cold, or worse, so she'll never have to find out.  This will be SG-1's little secret.

"I'm not sure."  Carter's quietly spoken confession throws me out of my inner monologue.

"Excuse me?"

"I really have no way of explaining it, Sir.  Why would he even leave the building, let alone go for a swim in an alien ocean?"

"I don't know, isn't that what Loren said happened to his parents?  Maybe he's still sick."

"I don't think so sir."

"Yeah, he's probably still mad at me and decided going for a swim would push all of my buttons."  Actually, if it was that I would be fine with it.  A spiteful prank gone wrong I can deal with, even punish him for it and not feel guilty.  Unfortunately my life is never that simple.

Carter continues as if I hadn't spoken.  "I guess I should have kept a closer eye on him, I just figured since he seemed to be sleeping, well, he would be okay…"

"Carter this is not you're fault.  Daniel knew he wasn't allowed outside."

"I guess you're right sir."

"I tell him to stay where I can see him, but no, Daniel sees that as a challenge to see how far he can get without me noticing.  Next mission I'm buying a leash, one of those bungee things that toddlers wear, then let's see how far he gets…"

"Sir?"

I stop, realising I was raising my voice.

"It isn't you're fault either."

I know.  Daniel's always going to be Daniel and get himself in shit at every opportunity.  I'm always going to be Jack, and it's my job to protect him and pick up the pieces when I can't.  Some may say that's not how a friendship works, but those people have never met Daniel Jackson.

"He's going to be fine.  Goodnight sir."

I smile as she stands.  We both know that's a lie at the moment.  Daniel is as far from fine as he's ever been, but whatever helps us sleep.

Daniel

"Daniel?  What are you doing out here?"

"None of it means anything."

"Err…Daniel, Why don't you come inside here."

"I tried… it just goes away."

"Okay, well we'll err we'll get it back."

"You can't get it back."

"Whatever's wrong - we'll fix it."

"You don't even know what I'm talking about."

"No, no I don't…but come inside."

"Jack?"

Its cold - can't breathe.

"Daniel!"

Someone's shouting me.  Can't see anybody.  Everything's dark, wet, cold.  Water everywhere - can't breathe.

"Daniel!"

I'm falling, why am I falling?

Jack

Will someone please turn off the TV?  I'm trying to sleep.

"JACK!"

"Huh?  What?  Ow!"  My head comes into contact with something extremely hard and for a minute I'm seeing stars.  Once the parade clears I shuffle my way out of bed and into the main room.

Someone's screaming.  Oh god, that's Daniel.  I immediately run into his room to find Carter's already there, kneeling by his bed.

Daniel is thrashing his head back and fourth on the pillow, arms outstretched trying to ward off an invisible foe, legs kicking frantically beneath what's left of the blankets.

"Sir, I could use some help."  She says without releasing her hold on Daniel's arm.

I don't need to be asked twice, I'm on Daniel's bed within seconds, holding him down to prevent any accidental damage, to him or us.  Suddenly all sound and movement stops and Daniel goes limp underneath my grasp.  A panicked look crosses over Carter's face.

"What?"  My heart's beating so fast I can hardly hear myself think.

"I think he stopped breathing."  Carter states already prepping Daniel for her next step.

I move aside and she immediately springs into action by checking his airway and looking for a pulse.  As if nearly drowning today wasn't enough, he just has to go for an encore. 

After only at matter of seconds Daniel starts coughing and Carter moves back to collapse on the floor.   I take her place and try to coax Daniel to look at me, to do something except lye there.  Before I realise it I'm shaking Daniel so hard my finger prints will be like tattoos on his arm, but I don’t care.  I just need him to wake up.

Daniel’s eyelids flutter and slowly begin to open.  I literary slide off the bed to sit on the floor next to Carter, completely spent.

“Jack?”

I don’t get a long reprieve before Daniel calls out to me.  With shaky legs I manage to pull myself up and sit on the edge of Daniel’s cot.

"Daniel, its okay you're safe, you're okay - it was just a nightmare."  I run a hand through his hair a few times before settling it on his right shoulder.

“Sam?”  He asks with a frown.

Carter joins me on the cot and smiling with undue relief wraps her arms around Daniel, coaxing him to sit up.  He looks at us both with wide bright blue eyes that have no idea what's going on, his breath continuing to catch in his throat as he steadily calms down.  Unfortunately it doesn’t take long for his fear to take over him completely.

Daniel, please don't cry, I beg internally, but don't have the heart to say as my friend collapses against me.  I rock him back and forth wrapping my arms tight around him instinctively and whispering comforting sounds into his hair.  Carter doesn't know where to look, not because she's embarrassed, but because if she sees Daniel like this any more she's going to burst into tears any second herself.

"Carter?"  I free a hand from around Daniel to give her a tiny shove.  "Sam!"  At that she looks towards me.  "Can you get his pills and a needle? We should take a blood sample."

"Yes sir."  She replies with a shaky voice.

Hopefully the errand will buy her enough time to compose herself and me enough time to get Daniel to tell me what's going on.  I watch her silently leave the room and offer what I hope is a reassuring smile.

"Jack?"  My name, said in a hesitant whisper, draws my complete attention.

"The one and only."  I reply lightly, confirming it really is me holding him, and no, I'm not going anywhere.

THIS is one of those times I think of Daniel's childhood.  Sat here, my arms loosely holding him, I hate to think Daniel had moments similar to this in his life when no one was there for him.

"You wanna tell me what’s going on?"  I ask without looking directly at him.

"No."  Daniel lets out a hysterical laugh into my shoulder as he speaks.  He’s still clinging to me but I can tell just by the way he's stiffened he's definitely awake.  "It was just a stupid nightmare, I'll be fine."

"Sure you will."  I humour him while patting his back.

Daniel moves back to sit on the bed unaided, wiping a sleeve covered hand over his face to dry the tears.  The look on his face makes it clear to me just how embarrassed he is right now.  I clear my throat, but don't know what to say, so I desperately try to focus on something else in the room.

"Hey Daniel, feeling better?"  Thank you Carter!  She's pulled herself together and here just in time to help with the uncomfortable part.

Daniel doesn’t answer her right away.  A few seconds pass then he nods, keeping his gaze on the floor and chewing intently on his right thumb.  Carter looks to me, I know what she’s asking and I shake my head in return.  No he hasn’t said anything to me, the balls in her court now.

“Do you remember what happened?”  She asks gently while handing him his first few pills and a canteen of water.

“No.  Just a stupid nightmare.  Nothing to worry about, I’ll be fine.  I’m sorry I woke you both.”  He looks up and offers us both shy smiles before downing the pills and quickly diverting his eyes back to the floor and his thumb.

Before I can stop myself I reach out and bat his hand away.  I’ve never seen him chew his thumb before, and for some reason it’s annoying me. 

“Sorry.”  I shrug at Carter’s now annoyed glare.

“No, Daniel, I meant from earlier - you know, outside?  The water?”

“I’m not allowed outside.”  He says like a little kid.

“We know.  That’s why we’re asking.  What the hell did you think you were doing?”  I inject, letting some of my anger show from earlier.

He has a deer in the headlights expression about him.  “I…I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Okay, I don’t know what game he’s playing, but I’m in no mood.  Yes I’m pleased he’s okay, but I’m still beyond pissed at him for leaving the palace.

“Daniel, you almost drowned.  Are you saying you don’t remember?  The Colonel had to rescue you.”  Carter sounds a little ticked off as well, she’s obviously managing to see past his boyish charms.  About time, it’s only taken her four years!

“What?  Guys I’m sorry I really don’t know what you’re talking about.”  Daniel’s volume escalates, on his way to a full-blown panic attack.

“Hey calm down!”  I say squeezing his hand while brushing away a rogue tear that’s managed to escape.  Daniel doesn’t flinch, but the glare I’m getting is telling me to back off or suffer the consequences.  I sit back. “Carter’s going to take a blood sample, then give you a sedative to help you sleep.”  It’s an order not a request.  Luckily Daniel recognises that and nods his assent.

“Then will you tell me what’s going on?”  Shit, knew there would be a catch to his obedience.

“Yes, Daniel, we’ll tell you in the morning, after we all get some sleep, I promise.”  I glance at Carter and she agrees, he’s probably still a little out of it, he’ll remember in the morning.

Daniel doesn’t say anything else after that.  He just shuffles back to lie on the bed, holding out one arm for Carter to poke him with the needle, his other arm flung over his eyes.  I’m not sure if Daniel’s subdued behaviour is a good or bad thing to be honest, but it’s helpful right now so I’m not going to press the issue.

It takes no more than five minutes for Daniel to go back to sleep, I’m still sitting on the bed and Carter has to push me out the way to lay the blanket over him.

“Sir, you coming?”  She asks on her way to the door when she notices I haven’t budged an inch.

“Yeah…um, no, probably not.”

She gives me a patronising smile.

I look over at her, silhouetted in the doorway.  “I just think I should stay here in case he wakes up, you know.”  No big deal.

“I know sir, good night.”  I see her smile on her way out, she thinks I’ve gone soft.  I look back at Daniel sleeping soundly.  She’s probably right.

 

Day 8

Sam

This is too intense.  If someone doesn’t speak soon I am going to scream.

Teal’c came back to visit this morning as planned.  He did as the Colonel requested and reported nothing about Daniel’s mishap - for lack of a better word.  The minute Teal’c stepped through the gate he took one look at the Colonel and me and demanded to know what had transpired.  Colonel answered with is usual finesse, and I basically acted as his translator. 

We told him about how Daniel had had a nightmare last night and at one point had stopped breathing.  That last night, and when he talked to the Colonel again sometime this morning, he claimed to have no knowledge of the whole drowning incident. Teal’c requested to see Daniel immediately so we all trudged into his room, but, most likely due to the sleeping pill I gave him, he was still out like a light.  Since then we’ve taken a time out for coffee and caught up on what was going on back home.  It’s now mid afternoon and we’re sitting in the back room under the large picture window, discussing the one topic we’ve been trying to avoid all day.

“Maybe Daniel Jackson does not remember O’Neill.”  Teal’c actually sounds fed up.

“I don’t buy it Teal’c.  How could he not remember?”  The Colonel’s convinced Daniel’s hiding something from us.  I have an idea, but nobody’s going to like it.

“He was extremely upset. Maybe he simply does not want to remember.”

The Colonel thinks over what Teal’c has just suggested.  It’s actually a reasonable explanation, but incorrect.  I think it’s time I lived up to my reputation as the team pessimist - they think I don’t know what they say about me in the locker room, please!

“Sir, I believe I have an answer.”  All eyes turn to me, but before I can continue Daniel appears.

“Hey.”  He waves shyly as if unsure of his welcome.

“Hey.”  The Colonel waves back.

Oh, for goodness sake, men.  “Daniel why don’t you sit down, I have a theory to discuss with you.”

He blinks a few times and then looks to the Colonel for confirmation that it’s okay.  He’s obviously aware we’re talking about him and would probably rather go hide in his room rather than face us.  I glare at the Colonel, prompting him to say something.

“Daniel, sit.”  He says gruffly.

Daniel sits.

It really is amazing.

“Okay so, Daniel, you still don’t remember what happened yesterday?”  He shakes his head silently.  “Sir, I think, now that I’ve put all of the evidence together, I’ve come to the conclusion Daniel was… sleepwalking.”  No one says anything.  The Colonel screws his face up like he’s trying to get food out of the crack in his teeth, Teal’c looks thoughtful and Daniel is giving me a funny sideways glance.

“Explain, Major Carter.”

“Well, I’ve checked with Janet and this wouldn’t be the first time.  Daniel’s got a history of sleepwalking.”

“He has?”  “I have?” They say together.

“Yes, Daniel you may not remember, but the last recorded incident was when you were ten.”

“How’d you know that when I didn’t?”  Daniel asks me, looking more than a little confused.

“It’s in your medical file Daniel.  The SGC has all your medical and personal history.”  I say it quickly hoping Daniel won’t probe further, he probably never realised the Air Force had that sort of information.

“Oh.”  He looks suspiciously over at Colonel O’Neill, obviously catching on that his commanding officer would have access to those files, thus meaning the Colonel has probably known a hell of a lot more about him than he’s ever let on.

“Okay, so moving on, what does this have to do with Daniel drowning yesterday?”  The Colonel’s not so very subtle way of changing the subject makes Daniel flinch.

“Well Sir, in Daniel’s case his past sleepwalking incidents were attributed to intense nightmares after suffering a very traumatic experience.”  I clear my throat, we all know what traumatic experience Daniel suffered as a child and we DON’T need to dwell on it.

I feel Daniel squirming next to me.  I can understand how uncomfortable he must be having us discuss him like this, so I quickly move on.  “My point is, Daniel suffered a fairly traumatic experience recently…” The Colonel’s eyes flash and he gives Daniel the once over to gage his reaction “…and is suffering from nightmares.” 

Daniel’s avoiding eye contact with everyone and I can see he’s getting ready to bolt any second.  The Colonel sees it too and stealthily places his hand on Daniel’s crossed leg.

Janet’s already informed Teal’c, at the Colonel’s request, about Daniel and the balcony.   As far as I’m aware Daniel’s the only one who doesn’t know, at least for the moment.  I think the nightmares will probably reveal the truth to him soon enough.

“So Daniel doesn’t remember anything ‘cause he was asleep?”  Colonel O’Neill asks without moving his hand.  It seems to have done the trick, Daniel’s stopped fidgeting, I’d go as far to say he’s even relaxed a little.

“It makes sense sir.  The last time either of us saw him he was sleeping in your room.”

“Wait a minute - what was I doing sleeping in your room?”  Daniel perks up, sounding more confused than ever.

“We’ll talk later.”  The Colonel dismisses the question easily.  “At the moment I want to know what we’re going to do about this sleepwalking.  We can’t have him wandering around asleep.  God knows what trouble he’ll get into.”

Daniel gives him a hurt glare that doesn’t even faze the Colonel.  “It’s not like I did it on purpose, Jack.”

Oh here we go, Daniel sounds a little more like himself.  Before we know it they’ll be doing their pre school routine.  “Look, the basics are simple, at least one of us needs to be watching Daniel when he sleeps, that way we can prevent him from doing anything harmful.”

Daniel scoffs, making it perfectly clear what he thinks of that idea.

“Carter, in case you haven’t notice there is only two of us here.  It’s just not possible.”

“Well, we could try tying him to the bed.”  I say dryly.

“I could do that,” the Colonel responds with interest.

“Hey!” Daniel doesn’t sound so keen however.

“O’Neill, I can request to be assigned to protect Daniel Jackson.”  Teal’c offers.

“That’ll mean telling General Hammond what happened.”

Daniel frowns at that comment.  He is no doubt mentally listing reasons why the Colonel would not tell the General, I doubt any of them are good.

“It will.”  Teal’c knows he’s right and is looking smug in true Jaffa fashion.

“Sir, with the three of us we should be able to keep a watch going.  It’s the best way to ensure Daniel’s safety while we’re stuck here.”  It was a cheap shot but I had to do it, I’m afraid he might actually attempt to tie Daniel to the bed if I didn’t back Teal’c up.

“Fine.”  He grates, giving me a look promising retribution.  “Teal’c why don’t you ‘gate back, fill Hammond and Fraiser in - see what they say. Daniel you go with him and say hi to Fraiser over the MALP, it’ll help smooth things over if she can see I haven’t physically harmed you in anyway.”

Another frown, but Daniel does as he’s told.

“As you wish, O’Neill.”  Teal’c stands and waits for Daniel to join him before walking away.

The Colonel is now looking over at me with a quirky lopsided smile and raised eyebrow.  “Tie him to the bed, Carter?”

Daniel

I practically have to jog next to Teal’c to keep up with him while he casually strides out of the room.  “Teal’c, why doesn’t Jack want the General to know about…you know?”

“I do not.”  He states plainly, never faltering in his steps towards the Stargate.

“About me, what happened… yesterday.”  I force out, feeling extremely uncomfortable.

It’s hard to believe what Sam is suggesting, though the fact is I really don’t remember any of what they’ve told me.  My last clear memory is of two nights ago, collapsing in tears on the floor of my room.

“I believe it is Dr Fraiser O’Neill is more concerned about.”

“Ah,” that makes sense actually.  I know Janet has a soft spot for me.  It comes in handy since I seem to grace her infirmary more than any other SGC employee, I think I even out rank Siler in the ‘injuries requiring surgery’ stakes.

“Colonel O’Neill is under the impression Doctor Fraiser will cause him harm if she learns of what he allowed to happen to you.”

I watch Teal’c dial the ‘gate, letting those words float through my mind.

I will not rise to the bait.  I will not rise to the bait.  I will not rise to the bait.

My friends have three VERY defined methods of trying to get me to open up and discuss my problems.  Teal’c’s is usually the least subtle, yet he almost always succeeds in getting a rise out of me.  Not this time though, I am in no mood to hash out the old ‘we are responsible for your every move Daniel Jackson’ argument.

The wormhole engages and I prepare myself to sound bright and chirpy for when I talk to Janet.  I’ve got enough people worrying about me on this side of the Stargate, I don’t want the same grief coming from home as well.  Teal’c hasn’t said anything further, but I can tell he’s noted my lack of response to his last statement and will no doubt report it to Jack later.  I guess I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t.  Why do I even bother?

Jack

I see Daniel moseying back toward us, head’s down but his arms are hanging limp by his sides and not hugging himself to death, so that’s got to be a good sign.  He looks pretty relaxed, I’m hoping this means Janet had the foresight to recognise now was not the best time to bawl Daniel out.

“How’d it go?”

“Teal’c’s gone back through to explain in person.  I didn’t say anything incriminating to Janet, but by the questions she was asking I think she knows something’s up.”

“Oh no.”

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure she’s going to want to talk to you once Teal’c’s done.”

“Thanks.”

Daniel sends a cheeky smile my way, which transforms my mood considerably.  If he can see the funny side of all this I’m not going to complain, even if it is at my expense – I sense many tests involving needles in my future.

 

Day 9

Daniel

I’m on my second night of being watched and so far I’m coping fairly well.  It’s Jack’s turn to tuck me in tonight.   They each take it in shifts, just like we’d do a normal watch on any alien planet we visit.  I had a few nightmares as usual last night but no sleepwalking, thank god.  I’m hoping to improve on that tonight.

Walking into my room I slowly lower myself on to the bed and pick up the replacement notebook Teal’c brought back for me.   Idly turning it over in my hands I can’t help but dwell on the recent turn of events.  My plan of trying not to be so dependant on Jack throughout all of this is backfiring immensely.  I’m hoping all is not lost however and that I still have plenty of time, not to mention opportunity, to prove just how self reliant I can be.

I open the book, exposing the crisp white page, deciding to make the most of my time while I wait for Jack to finish his last perimeter check.  I only manage a short paragraph before he strolls into the room.

“So you want a bed time story.”   I just glare, I’m not in the mood for any jokes right now, this situation’s humiliating enough.

Throwing the book to one side I studiously avoid his gaze, I know the look currently gracing his features by heart and it never fails to break me.

“Look Daniel-“

“Jack, I’m glad you’re here.”  I say in a rush before I can talk myself out of it.

It may be the truth, but I really wish I’d kept it to myself, so much for trying not to be too needy.

“Go to sleep, Daniel.”  Jack says gently, letting me know its time to shut up.

As I settle down and after closing my eyes I feel the blanket being pulled over me.  He really is tucking me in!  The last thing I’m aware of before I fall asleep is Jack’s hand resting on my forehead.

 

Day 11

Sam

Well it’s nice to see things have improved somewhat.  Since Daniel-watch started three nights ago we’ve had no major incidences, a few rather disorientating nightmares, nothing that couldn’t be handled.  He IS being extremely quiet, which is concerning, but not unexpected.  It must be incredibly difficult for him to be the centre of attention like this.  He’s usually such a private guy when it comes to personal stuff.  Though I’m confident there’s not much about Daniel that the three of us don’t already know it doesn’t make the situation any less awkward.

Daniel and I talk a lot.  I’ve told him things I’ve never told anyone before.  I never would have foreseen this friendship between us in a million years.  Oh, I knew the moment we met that I’d like him, his mind, and his way of thinking.  It’s the emotional connection we’ve made that has surprised me.  We share more common ground than I’d have thought possible.

It was our second year as a team together that I found out something about Daniel that made me question everything I previously knew about him.  There was this one particular mission, where we saw the demise of Daniel’s parents play over, and over, and over again.  Once we finally made it home I couldn’t get what had happen out of my mind.   I kept wondering why he’d never told me he was an orphan.  Then it occurred to me he’d never once mentioned his mom or dad, suddenly I understood Daniel a hell of a lot better.  All his little quirks and mannerisms fell into place, just from knowing a little bit of personal background on him.  I discovered I wanted to know more.  That evening I got in my car, went to his apartment and together we drowned our sorrows in a bottle of chardonnay.  That was when he told me the details, what happened after.  He told me about being eight and knowing you were all alone in the world.  I told him about my Mom.

We both cried that night, but we also made a connection.

I guess I’m hoping that connection is strong enough to get us through this.  We are now officially half way through our imprisonment here and I can’t deny that I’m relieved.  I can’t wait to get back to the SGC.  I may love these guys to bits, but not having my own space and free time to work on my projects is driving me mad.  Okay, so I don’t have much free time normally anyway, and doubt very much I’ll get much of it when we return home either.  Come to think of it I’m probably more annoyed that I’ve got free time now but can do absolutely nothing with it.

I feel myself getting more irritated by the second, but it isn’t until I turn the device in my hand too hard and the Light control panel flies off toward the wall, missing Teal’c’s head by mere inches, that I realise I’m behaving irrationally.  After what Daniel has had to endure over the past ten days I’m being incredibly selfish.

“Is everything all right Major Carter?”  Teal’c asks when I offer him an apologetic smile for nearly decapitating him.

“Its fine Teal’c, just a little frustrated is all.  It’s been a long two weeks.”  And it’s not over yet.

“I understand.”  He doesn’t say anymore but I get the message.

Jack

Okay, another day down just nine more to go!  The last few days haven’t been that bad - they could have been worse.  Daniel’s been extremely quiet today and conspicuously absent throughout most of it.  He’s been avoiding everyone, which is quite a feat because, since Daniel’s swimming stint, I’ve ordered no one leaves the immediate vicinity.  Daniel being Daniel though, has managed to find a way to go as far away from any of us as possible, without actually leaving the room.  I hate to think of him all alone and moping, with god knows what going through his head, but he has been dealing rather well with the fact that we watch him sleep every night, and hug him better after a nightmare, when he would rather die than let anyone see him like that.  So I figure if he wants a bit of space during the day I can’t deny him.

That understanding only stretches so far however.  Its dinnertime and Daniel is not missing a meal.  I’m off to go drag him out of whatever hole he has holed himself up in brooking no argument, he can’t possibly not speak to us for the remainder of our stay here.

Daniel

“Daniel!”

Oh god, I’m having one of those days where even the sound of my own name fills me with dread.

“Daniel, where are you?”

“Right here, Jack,” I say dejectedly.  There’s no point in trying to avoid it so I stand up and reveal my whereabouts before he starts a search party.

“Why are you hiding?”

Because I’m fed up with receiving the pity look from everyone and would like to keep what’s left of my dignity in tact.  The only conceivable way I can accomplish this is by living in quiet solitude.

This is what I want to say, but I don’t.

“I’m not hiding,” I protest weakly instead.

Jack’s giving me that look he uses to make me squirm, it’s the one where he narrows his eyes and refuses to break the contact.  I hate staring contests with Jack, I always lose, it seems Jack O’Neill has all the patience in the world when it comes to being intimidating.

When I am unable to take it any longer I turn away, admitting defeat.  Jack’s grinning, the bastard, he’s such a gracious winner.

“Dinner’s ready.”  He says simply before turning and walking back to the others.

I’m left alone again and suddenly all I want to do is cry.  Honest to god I’m completely sick of all this, I just want to feel normal again, to be treated normally again.  I doubt that’s going to happen until I get this addiction thing licked, if it is the addiction that’s causing this.  I’m starting to have my doubts.

When I first started with the nightmares I couldn’t understand them, I just knew I was afraid.  Since my supposed sleepwalking incident however, the dream has taken on a narrative.  I’m in my apartment and I’m cold.  I feel weird, sad even, detached like I’m drifting outside of my body, watching.  The phone’s ringing off the hook, but I ignore it, next I see myself walk out onto my balcony, then – nothing – but I’m so terrified I wake up screaming.

“Daniel!”  Jack’s call travels across both rooms, it’s so loud the echo actually bounces off the walls.

Deciding I’ve stalled long enough, I haul myself up, brush the dust off my pants and make my way over to where dinner is waiting for me.

Jack

It’s Carter’s turn to start Daniel watch tonight I’m taking second sitting, that’s usually when he has a nightmare, so I’m trying to rest.  On the up side Daniel does tend to calm down a lot quicker when it’s me sat with him.  I’m honestly trying not to be smug about this – trying and failing.  What can I say?  I like to be needed.  In fact, I need to be needed.  It’s that simple.

My problem now is I’m bored.  I could try and sleep for a bit, but I know I’m not tired enough yet.  Plus Daniel has me concerned again.  Today, for the short times I’ve seen him, he’s seemed lost, like he’s given up.  Hit the preverbal iceberg and ready to go down with the ship.

We need to get to the bottom of this, it’s alright treating the symptoms, but unless you know the cause all you’re doing is buying time till the inevitable breakdown. I’ve got to know what’s wrong before I can fix it and I’ve never seen Daniel give up without a fight. 

It can’t be the balcony thing because I’d know if he had remembered, there’s no way he could possibly hide it from me.  This problem has some deeper connection that I’m just not seeing.  To be honest if we were back on base I probably wouldn’t be making such an issue out of it, hell Daniel wouldn’t give me the chance.

Thinking about it, he might have been this way before the whole Light incident.  This, whatever it is, might be what drove him out there in the first place.  Oh sure, Janet’s assured us all Daniel was completely under the influence, the withdrawal causing the depression, convincing him to take his own life.   I’m not convinced though, there had to have been a focal point there, and whatever it is won’t go away as easily as the addiction.

I’m sitting alone contemplating these rather depressing thoughts when my gaze is drawn to a small object tucked just underneath a pile of Carter’s reports.

Not being able to determined what it is I get up to investigate, upon pulling it out I realise I’m holding Daniel’s diary.  An evil thought crosses my mind.  I couldn’t, could I?  No of course I can’t.  Shaking the idea out of my head I place the book back where I found it and reclaim my seat.

A minute passes and still I can’t take my eyes of the object that could very well help me find out exactly what might be bugging Daniel and possibly the means to fix it.  Knowing very well I could be making an extremely stupid mistake that really could break our friendship, I reach over quickly and open the book before I change my mind.  I want to help him, even if he ends up hating me for it, at least I’d know I tried.

Deciding that if I’m going to do this I might as well do it right and work from his most recent entries back, I don’t know how long I’ve got, and don’t want to pry too much, so sticking to the current situation sounds like a good idea.

Jack is being reasonable about my detachment, surprisingly enough and I don’t want to push it.  He gives me space during the day and only bugs me at meal times.

Well it’s nice to know he appreciates the little things I do for him.  I’m obviously doing something right.

The weird thing is I almost find myself wishing he’d refuse to let me out of his sight.  As ashamed as I am to admit it, I don’t feel so scared when Jack’s around, I guess he’s like a security blanket, I know I’m safe because Jack won’t knowingly let anything bad happen to me.  That makes me sound so pathetic.  I want to die right now.

Oh my, I’m glad nobody’s watching right now because I can feel my chest getting tight and I’d hate for anyone to see Colonel Jack O’Neill cry.  I didn’t expect that, I knew he depended on me, I just never realised he knew it too.  He still trusts me, after everything I’ve done to him he still wants me around.  After the ‘shut up’ comment on Euronda I thought he’d never look at me in the same way again.  God I really don’t deserve you as a friend Daniel.

Hold up, if he feels better when I’m around and doesn’t hate me then why he is being so not like Daniel?  This has only brought up more questions - I need to read more…

For the past year I’ve been trying to prove I’m not some clueless naïve kid who blindly runs into trouble at every opportunity and needs someone to pull his ass out of the flames when they get too hot. Unfortunately I’m not succeeding in my goal.  I really need to stop running to Jack whenever I find myself in a mini crisis.  My whole life is one crisis after another!  What am I going to do if Jack’s not there, if he leaves the SGC or worse?

Daniel I really don’t like you writing this stuff.  I debate whether or not to put the book down now in case there’s anything else in here that I probably won’t like.  I decide not, my need to help Daniel overrides my self-preservation.

I used to be independent, living from one moment to the next.  Getting thrown out of my apartment and losing my scholarship five years ago was not a new situation for me.  Catherine just caught me at an opportune moment.  I saw the Stargate project as my next challenge, my next source of income.  My next adventure…

Yeah okay what he should have written here is:  ‘I have about as much common sense and the same ‘need to know’ qualities as a five year old.  If I had fully matured over the natural course of my life then I wouldn’t have undertaken a journey to an unknown planet in the first place and saved one Colonel Jack O’Neill – with two l’s – a whole heap of stress and grey hair.’

Of course if he hadn’t been on that first Abydos mission there probably wouldn’t have been an Abydos mission, or a Colonel O’Neill for that matter.  Huh, that’s something to think about.  Damn it Daniel!  I hate it when you make me think!

Only thing is I never ever imagined where it would lead me.  I met Jack and then eventually Sam, Teal’c, General Hammond and Dr Fraiser.  All these people care about me for reasons beyond my comprehension.  No one has cared that much about me before.  I guess I never expected anyone really would, so risking my life on a daily basis for the greater good didn’t seem that big a deal.

Oh here we go - Daniel the martyr.

I’m not suicidal or anything I just didn’t see myself as any more important than those I was trying to save.  The thing is I’ve come to realise my reckless actions have consequences that before would have never of occurred to me.  I have a family and they worry about me, and I feel the same way about them.  I did lose them not so long ago.  I should have been with them, but the small matter of a burst appendix prevented me from even knowing what happened to them.  Then after nine days of waiting for the new ‘gate to be activated they finally returned.  I was ecstatic, but I didn’t let it show how scared I was they were never coming back.  I played it cool.  Those few weeks were the worst since my parent’s death.  I felt so alone then and I hoped never to feel like that again.  When am I going to learn that getting attached means eventually I’ll have to deal with loss again?  This was the third time I’d lost Jack in as little as a year.  I just know I can’t go for a fourth.

Oh for cryin’ out loud Daniel, this is the type of thing we need to know about!  How the hell am I supposed to know you’re hurting if you’re too scared to tell me?  For a linguist you have some major communication issues.

It wasn’t long after that it started all over again.  My worst nightmare was coming true.  My best friend was going to die and I was going to have to watch it happen.

You know I never realised how much that mission affected him.  To be honest I was quite content knowing at least Daniel wasn’t with us, knowing that he was safe.  I remember lunging for the camera on that sub.  I knew Daniel wouldn’t be able to turn away which is why I tried to turn the damn thing off.

I’ve consciously become too dependent on them.  I expect too much from them, from Jack especially, if anything happened I’d have to learn to live alone again and I just don’t think I’d be able to do it a second time.  With my parents I was too young to even realise what I’d lost.  Spending time with Jack has taught me exactly what I missed out on.

So, here I am, stuck trying to prove something to myself and to my friends and yet unwilling to accept the consequences of that proof.  Complete isolation.  I really am a basket case.

No, you’re not a basket case Danny.  I slam the book shut and lean back closing my eyes with a sigh.  Just a little confused is all.

I don’t know how I could have been so short-sighted.  I’ve had my suspicions, but the diary has been a real eye opener.   My best friend has been hurting all this time, wanting my help, but too afraid to ask because he thinks depending on me will only hurt him more in the long run.  I tell ya Jack, if you get any dumber, it’ll be scary.  I should’ve known months ago, hell Carter even spelt it out for me once!

It’s wasn’t long after the run in with Apophis and his groovy potions that Daniel confided in me one night, over a beer or three, that the person Apophis had impersonated was me.  He used my image to try and get Daniel to tell him the whereabouts of the Harcesis child.  At the time I hadn’t understood what Daniel was so hung up about, then I spoke to Carter, she did the woman thing and broke it down into small words I could understand.

“Sir isn’t obvious?  Daniel looks up to you and has become dependent on you.  Lying to someone you love is a very hard thing to do.”

I remember fidgeting at this point and Carter muttering something about stupid masculine egos.

And what did I do with this information?

Nothing.  Nadda.  Zip!  Carried on as usual not realising what a big deal this was for Daniel.  Admitting out loud that he wasn’t as strong as he’d always liked to believe.  Admitting having someone to look out for you did come in handy now and again.

I’ve screwed up, no doubt about it.  Luckily for me Daniel is a very forgiving guy, unfortunately he is also a very stubborn guy, which means I’m going to have a hard time convincing him he’s wrong, that it’s perfectly okay to want to depend on someone else, even if that person is me.  It’ll be difficult, but he’s worth the effort.

 

Day 12

Jack

“Jack I’m not tired.” He protests, but the half closed lids and slight swaying tells me otherwise.

“Okay Daniel.”  I just humour him, guiding him slowly into his room and sitting him on his cot.

There’s a loud crack of thunder swiftly followed by a strike of lighting that encases the entire room in stark whiteness.  Daniel practically jumps right off the bed.

“I’m a little edgy tonight.”  He says noticing my less than discreet glance in his direction.

“I can see.”  I reply, my tone flat allowing the sarcasm to shine through.

He pouts and I can hear the whine even before he starts talking.  “Jack, I haven’t been sleepwalking since this watch thing started.  Isn’t it possible Sam was wrong?”

“Treading a thin line there Daniel, don’t let Carter hear you.” I jest.  “Besides, have you any other theories about how you ended up in the water the other day?”

Silence.  No, didn’t think so.

My back to him, I make my way out the room to find a chair when Daniel calls out to me, the tone nervous and hasty, I get the impression he doesn’t want me to leave. 

“Maybe it was just an isolated incident.”

I half turn and look at him over my shoulder.  All he can see is my profile, occasionally lit by the flashes of lightning from the storm raging outside.

My tone of voice does a good job of relaying the worry I feel right now.  “And what if it’s not?”

Daniel

What if it’s not he asks?  Huh well I’d have thought the answer was obvious.

“Jack-” I barely get the name out before he all but explodes.

What the hell have I done now?  One minute he’s being so unbelievably nice to me I want to strangle him with his own bootlaces, the next he’s chewing me out for doing something that normally wouldn’t make him bat an eyelid.

“Daniel it’s an order!  That’s it.  No discussion required.”  He’s pacing now, up and down my room looking for something to kill.

“Vai-te foder,” I mutter under my breath.  “Tu m’emmerdes!”

“What did you say?”  He spins around and pins me with a glare.

Oh I just told you to ‘fuck off’ in Portuguese, because you’re ‘pissing me off’!   “Nothing.”

“Daniel you know we’re doing this for your own good, why can’t you just suck it up and not complain for a change?”

Ooooh I have the perfect reply for this one.  “Vorrei rompere qualcosa.”  I would like to break something.  “Mi presti il tuo naso?”  Can I borrow your nose?

Italian is such a beautiful language, don’t you think?

“English, Daniel.  Please?”  Jack says all business like.

My God he sounds just like my Dad.  I used to con money out of the big dig investors when they came to visit by pretending I was just one of the poor local children– of course the fact that I shared anything I got with the REAL local children scored me nil pòint with my Dad.
         
“Look, I may not be a genius, but I know what you’re trying to do Daniel, I’m not stupid.”

Oh yeah?  Well I beg to differ, “Hai il cervello di un panino al formaggio.”

“What exactly did you just say?”  He snaps.  Spinning around a full 180 and pointing his index finger right at me.

That one was rather cruel, and I immediately feel guilty, I just told Jack he has the brain of a cheese sandwich. 

“I said you seem a little tense.”  I reply innocently, looking him direct in the eye daring him to question my lie.  He looks seething and does not believe me for a second.

“Are you kidding me with this shit?  What do you think I am?”

I shrug and try to look sorry.  Something feels off.  I’m acting childishly and I can’t figure why, I don’t even know how all this started.  One minute I’m freaking out that Jack’s going to leave me alone and the next I’m literary pushing him out the door.  To be honest neither emotion feels like mine at the moment.

He relaxes slightly after a short pause and turns his back on me once more. 

Before I can stop myself I’m answering his question with a cunning grin on my lips.  This time I try my hand at Spanish, and lacking the words arrogant prick I settle for…“Estupido.” 

Jack glares at me.

Ha, with my previous misgivings forgotten, I think I found a way to vent my frustrations.  I can moan and whine as much as I like about the injustices being committed against me – I just have to do it in another language.  That’ll not only help me, but is sure to piss off Jack.

“Daniel, are you trying to piss me off?” 

Yeah, actually I think I am.

Jack

“Vai a buttarti da una scogliera!”  Daniel answers in what I believe is Italian, if my translation is right he just told me to go jump off a cliff.

Hey, even he should know just because I can’t read every damn scratch on an alien brick wall doesn’t mean I have no language skills!  He’s sitting there, batting his eyelashes at me, acting like he’s doing nothing wrong!  I’ve no idea what’s gotten into him.

“Okay, fine I’ll leave, and when you wake screaming you can deal with it on your own, how does that sound?”

“I can cope just fine on my own.  I don’t need any of you.”  He spits back, and I lose it completely.

“The hell you don’t Daniel, you’d never survive without us and you know it!”  Why?  Why did I just say that?  For cryin’ out loud!  I’m supposed to be working on showing him being dependant isn’t a bad thing, what the hell has gotten into me?

“Je vous deteste!  Halts maul!”

I cut him off before this goes any further.  Daniel has said all manner of things to me before, but never has he said he hates me – until now.  It’s about time I stood my ground and made my position clear.

“Daniel if you’re trying to get me to leave you alone just so you can feel vindicated you might as well stop now, because there is no way I’m leaving this room.”

Uh oh, I’ve hit a cord there.

He loses the smug look and nods silently before curling up under the blankets.  Not one minute has passed before I drop on to his bed with a sigh, he’s got his back to me still so instead of risking more hurtful words I run my hand through his hair and massage his tense neck.  

It’s been exactly ten minutes since Daniel claimed he wasn’t tired and he’s fast asleep.

Daniel

“None of it means anything.”

“… It just goes away.”

“You can’t get it back.”

“Jack?”

Jack

Daniel has been tossing and turning in his sleep for the past two hours.   Never go to bed on an argument was always Sara’s philosophy, shame I never listened to her.  Part of me wants to wake him up and clear the air verbally.  The curious thing is I have no idea why I got so upset with him in the first place.  He was being no more a pain in the ass than usual, and I’ve never had such a strong urge to slap him one before, not when I’ve been in my right mind at any rate.

“Damn it!!!”  The loud cuss issues from somewhere outside of Daniel’s room.

Getting up slowly and moving toward the door I can hear further expletives originating from the same source as the imprecation.  Taking a peek back at Daniel to make sure the noise didn’t wake him, I leave to investigate.

What I find is my second-in-command, muttering to her self on the floor next to that damn light thingy.  “Carter, what is going on out here?”

Sam

“Sir?”  Where did he come from?  I thought he was watching Daniel.

“The swearing Major, you seem a little stressed out.”

Uh oh, he sounds ticked.  “Sorry sir.  Is Daniel alight?  I didn’t wake him did I?”

“No, he’s still sleeping, if you can call it that.”

“O’Neill, Major Carter?  Is there a problem?” Oh god, was I that loud?

“Sorry Teal’c just me trying to fix a few things.”  I do not know what’s gotten into me lately.

“Major Carter you appear to be extremely agitated.”

Thanks Teal’c.  Just the news I wanted to hear right now.

The Colonel pauses for a second, a look of concentration on his face.  “Carter you sure you’re not turning that thing down too much, maybe we should take it slower.”

“Any slower and we’ll still be here next Christmas!  I want out of here now for Christ’s sake!”

Crap!

The Colonel stands there, eyebrows raised about a meter above his head.   Okay, he may have a point.  In my eagerness to go home it’s possible I’m rushing a bit and bringing the settings down too far.

“You may have a point sir.”  I concede, feeling like a complete fool.

“It is possible different people adjust to the effect at different rates.”  Teal’c states very logically.

“Janet didn’t pick up any anomalies in our last blood tests, we should send another.  Just to be on the safe side.  There’s the chance we all might be affected.”  I look over at the Colonel, both eyes closed facing the ceiling, and know immediately who he’s thinking about.  I feel awful.  I could have made a mistake that’s putting Daniel through a worse hell than necessary.  “I’m sorry sir.  I thought I had covered all the possibilities, but I guess if I’ve started going through a mild withdrawal then my calculations could be a little off.”

“Don’t panic Major.  I get the feeling you’re not the only one going through a mild withdrawal.”  He says cryptically, sounds like he may have been feeling a little more on edge than usual too.  Strangely he actually looks relieved at the news.  “It’s not your fault, there’s no way to know the right dose without experimenting right?”

“Right.”  I sigh dejectedly, it still doesn’t change anything.

“Carter why don’t you grab the stuff and meet me in Daniel’s room, we’ll do him first.”

“Yes Sir.”

Daniel

Falling!

“NO!!!!!”

Jack?  Jack, where the hell are you?  I’m scanning the dark room and realise its empty.

I’m alone.

Lightning flashes at that very moment to confirm it for me, followed closely by a clap of thunder.  Oh god, I can’t breathe.  Jack, why the hell did you leave me?

Oh calm down Daniel, he probably needed to get you out of his sight for a while.  After all you did call him an idiot and said you hated him.

That can’t be right though, he said - no he promised - he wouldn’t leave.  Jack wouldn’t lie to me, even if he were as mad as hell.  Would he?  I’ve got to calm down, everything’s okay it was just a dream, no big deal.  Jack probably hasn’t gone far.  I’ll just go find him.  Tell him I’m sorry.  Don’t be such a cry baby Daniel!  Oh great now I’m hearing things again. 

I slowly peel back the sleeping bag, my breath still coming in sharp gasps and step barefooted onto the cold stone floor.  My heart’s beating staccato in my chest; I can hear its echo in my head.

Upon reaching the door another bolt of lightening illuminates the entire ‘gate room.  Casting eerie golden shadows all over, but giving enough light for me to see I am very much alone here.  I’m drenched in sweat from the nightmare, which is making me shiver in the cold air as it runs down my back.  I don’t care anymore if Jack does think I’m an annoying dependant pain in the ass, I need him here!

Taking a few steady steps at a time, I begin to feel dizzy and close my eyes for a second hoping it will quell the nausea.  Thunder rumbles from outside and I feel the room tip to the left.  Wait, I think I hear Sam’s voice…

Daniel opens his eyes once the spinning stops, nothing hurt so he must have managed to stay on his own two feet for a change.  Instead of the image of a Stargate sitting on marble steps Daniel sees his apartment.  Feeling his breath even out gradually he remains still for the next couple of minutes staring intently at the object in his hand.

Once adjusted to the sudden shift in circumstance Daniel places the telephone receiver back down on the counter ignoring the noise issuing out of it.  He scans the room and the objects contained within, all his things, his furniture – his life.  None of it seems important anymore.  Watching his breath hang in the cold air as he exhales Daniel makes his way through the rest of the apartment in a daze, looking at the clock belatedly realising he is late for something but not caring what anymore.  He didn’t want to care anymore.  Caring about things only caused him pain and never brought him the happiness he longed for.  So what was the point?  Another noise interrupts his thoughts, a whistle coming from the kitchen.  He doesn’t care about that either so just ignores it.

Out of the corner of his eye he catches sight of the balcony door, for some reason it is wide open.  Daniel doesn’t remember opening the door.  He doesn’t remember doing a lot of things.  He doesn’t remember Jack telling him he didn’t want him around anymore, but he avoided troubling him so he must have.  He doesn’t remember not wanting Sam to talk to when he was feeling low, but he never talked to her anymore so he must have.  He doesn’t remember no longer enjoying spending time with Teal’c, but he’d stopped meditating with him so he must have.  So of course Daniel must have opened that balcony door.

He shuffles over towards the balcony slowly.  It’s raining outside, dark black clouds hanging overhead.  Ironic he thought, considering how aptly it mirrored his life at the moment.  He was doing that a lot lately, thinking to himself, too scared, just too damn scared to say anything knowing the reaction he’d receive.  He didn’t want humouring, or platitudes or chastisement.  So what does he want?  Daniel doesn’t know and no longer cares.  So what’s the point?

What is the point?  That’s the real question.  Daniel thinks on that as he steps out onto his balcony feeling the slight drizzle of rain falling on his skin.  He should feel cold, but doesn’t.  He was already cold and empty before coming outside.  The rain lands in his hair, on his face and neck but he doesn’t notice, too busy thinking of other things.  He’s still thinking as he lifts one foot off the ground and swings it over the balcony rail.  Daniel doesn’t care about being safe anymore.  In the end all that love and protection goes away.  So what was the point in even bothering in the first place?  Daniel considers this a valid point as he brings the other leg over, ready to stop caring forever.

Jack

Daniel, shit!  I run at full speed the rest of the way back to Sam and Teal’c.  I wasn’t gone more than a few minutes.  Trust Daniel to decide to have a nightmare.

“What’s wrong?” Carter asks gauging by my frantic approach that something must be wrong.

“Daniel’s not in his room!”  How stupid could I have been?  What was I thinking leaving him alone?

Teal’c doesn’t say a word.  He heads in the direction I’ve just come from to begin the search for Daniel.

“Sir you’ve only been out here a matter of minutes, he couldn’t have gone far.”

Appreciate what she’s trying to do, but my instinct’s telling me those few minutes are going to cost me a whole lot more.

“I hope so, Carter.”  I sink down to sit on the top step of the doorway.

“I bet he woke up, you weren’t there so he’s gone looking for us.”  Carter says, in an overly positive chirpy tone that grates through my already abused brain.

I lift my head from my hands to give her a tainted look.  “Thanks Carter, that makes me feel so much better.”

“I didn’t mean it that way, Sir.”

“I know, sorry.  It’s just…well before he fell asleep he kind of…erm…”  Oh god, this is probably entirely my fault.  I should have known something was up when I couldn’t prevent the hurtful words from leaving my own mouth.

“Sir?”

“We had a fight Major!  That damn machine was probably affecting us and we said a few things we shouldn’t I have.”  I stand up and storm across the room.

Once I’m done tearing out my hair while watching the rain fall outside I turn and face Carter.  Oh crap, I’ve just made her feel ten times worse than she already was about this stupid thing!

“Carter, I’m not saying it again, it wasn’t your fault – we couldn’t have known.”

That seems to pacify her for now so I get back on to the subject at hand and admit my most heinous of crimes.   “I told Daniel there was no way I’d leave him alone.  Now what’s the first thing I do?”

“Sir, you didn’t abandon him, you where just outside his room, you’re reading too much into it.”  She stands, leaving all he equipment on the floor and walks over to me.

“O’Neill!”  Teal’c shouts.

I go running, with Carter following in my wake.

“Teal’c you found him?”  Please say you found him.

He doesn’t reply just points my attention to the open stairway in the corner of the room.

“Oh shit!  Carter?” I yell fingers crossed that she’ll tell me what I want to hear.  “Did you open that door?”

“No sir.”

Double shit.

“Teal’c, check the outside perimeter, Carter check all the lower level rooms.  Go!”  I order, taking off at a run across the room and up the stairs.

“Daniel!”  I shout once I reach the top and make a frantic entrance into the dark corridor.

Lightening flashes making the whole place seem like some cheep horror movie set.  The noise of thunder outside drowns out my next cry.  I walk down the corridor checking each room with a glance as I pass, berating myself for leaving him alone.  I reach the end of the narrow corridor with a sense of loss flowing steadily through me.  Just as I’m about to turn back I see it, the room with the balcony.  The room I forbade him from going into again.  I made Carter lie and make some lame excuse about unstable supports.

Quickly making my way inside I’m hoping against hope I won’t find what I think I will.  Of course that is too much to ask I realise when I catch sight of Daniel.  I edge my way outside very slowly, coming to a stop almost directly behind him.

“Daniel?  What are you doing out here?”  Not again Daniel, I so didn’t want to believe you were this bad off.  I thought it was just the effects of that damn machine.

“Go away.”

Daniel this is NUTS!  I brace myself with one hand against the wall inside and consider bashing my head against the gold colour bricks to shake lose an idea that wouldn’t end up with Daniel lying crumpled in the wet sand.

“Daniel, I know what you’re feeling right now.  I even feel it too – but it’s not real!”  He’s not listening to me.  “We’ve been turning the juice down too fast!  Daniel you have to trust me.”  I let my hand slip from the wall and edge closer to him.

“None of it means anything.”

“What?”

“I’m cold.”  His tone remains flat and emotionless; it could be anyone standing here.  “None of it means anything.”

I realise there’s something familiar here.  He said that the first time, back at his apartment.  I get far enough out to get a good look at Daniel’s face and realise his eyes are still closed.  He’s sleepwalking!  This idea makes me feel marginally better, in a demented sort of way.  It means Daniel isn’t consciously trying to kill himself… his subconscious is.  Well if that doesn’t beat all.  Daniel even needs protecting from his own subconscious!

“Err…Daniel, why don’t you come inside here.”  You got him back once Jack you can do it again, just keep to what he knows and it’ll work out the same.  He’ll wake up - and I won’t let go.

“I tried… it just goes away.”

“We’ll get it back.”  I’m more forceful this time.  The rain’s coming down heavy, the handrail must be slippery.  One false move and it’s all over.

“You can’t get it back.”

“We can fix it Daniel.  I can fix it.  Please wake up.  You don’t want to do this.”

“You don’t even know what I’m talking about.”

“Yes I do Daniel.  Listen to me.  Do you know who I am?”  Daniel, say my name, say it!  I’m here for you.

“Jack?”

Oh, thank god!  “Daniel, stay still.”  I move out fully onto the balcony and reach for him.

Daniel

“Jack why am I out here?”  The panic I hear in my own voice is nothing compared to how I feel right now.

Looking down there’s only darkness.  The wind is blowing against me, rain pouring down my face.  Oh Christ what the hell am I doing out here?

I was at my apartment - I climbed out onto my balcony.  I was ready to let go?  I was going to let go!

All of a sudden my breath catches in my throat and I struggle for air.  Lightening flashes, temporarily blinding me, and I feel my foot sliding on the wet stone.  Thunder claps directly above me and a scream escapes my throat before I even realise what’s happening.

I’m going to fall.

“Daniel, for Christ’s sake!  When I say don’t move, I mean it!”  Someone grabs me tight around the waist so hard I can feel the bruises already forming.

I’m hanging mid air in a thunderstorm and for some reason all I can think about is how stupid I’ve been.  I don’t even know why.  None of this makes sense, maybe I’ve gone mad, maybe this is a hallucination, and maybe… I just tried to kill myself?

“Daniel, stop struggling and take some deep breaths.  This is not a good time to have a panic attack, okay?”

Sure, Jack, whatever you say.  I feel the strong arms around me pulling me up and over.  Within minutes I hit the floor in a sodden heap.

“Jack?”

“Daniel you okay?”  He’s patting my cheek, wants me to acknowledge him.

“I don’t know.”  My voice cracks and I can’t hold back any of the fear I’m feeling right now.

Jack’s leans over to pull me up into a sitting position.  The minute I’m upright I take advantage of his close proximity by wrapping both arms tight around his neck.

“It’s okay Daniel.  Everything’s going to be okay.  You’re safe.”  He tells me.

He’s told me that before…

**“Jack, what am I doing out here?”  Daniel asks after a brief moment.

Jack ignores the question, focusing instead on the 60ft drop his friend is teetering on and subconsciously tightens his grip.  He moves his left arm from Daniel’s sleeve to wrap around his friends slim waist instead.

“Put your arms around my neck.”  Jack orders without looking at him.

“Jack?”

“I’m going to pull you over, let go of the railing and hold onto me.”

Daniel lets out a shaky breath before doing just that, in an instant Daniel has turned to the side and Jack is the only thing keeping his precarious balance.

A moment passes while both men take a breather.  Daniel looks at Jack for the first time.  “I don’t know…”

“It’s alright, we’ll sort it.”  Jack cuts him off sternly, needing to keep his concentration.  Jack looks down, again gauging the drop.  “Now slide back onto the railing, I’ll do the rest.”

Jack’s prepared to pull Daniel onto the correct side of the balcony but Daniel’s not budging.  With both his arms now fixed securely around his friends’ waist Jack gives Daniel a quick squeeze.  Daniel nods in reply and gradually lifts himself, pushing back to perch on the railing.  The minute Daniel’s feet lose contact with the balcony ledge Jack quickly pulls back, releasing his right arm to hook underneath Daniel’s knees, carrying the surprisingly limp figure inside.

Dumping Daniel unceremoniously down in the middle of the room Jack runs back and slams the balcony doors shut, locking them with a loud click.  Jack falls back against the closed doors and takes several deep breathes.  Not wasting a second more Jack quickly makes his way back over to Daniel, still sitting where he left him, sprawled out on the floor.  Settling himself down on his knees Jack hugs his friend to him, letting out a shaky breath of his own while digesting the events of the last few minutes.

“It’s okay Daniel.  Everything’s going to be okay.  You’re safe.”**

Jack

Oh, shit, Daniel I’m so sorry.  So sorry we did this to you.  I wrap my arms around him tight.

“O’Neill!”

Daniel pulls away and scuffles back toward the balcony wall, a look of complete fear and utter astonishment on his face when he hears Teal’c call my name.

Crap.

“In here Teal’c.” I call, still kneeling on the floor, soaking wet.  The rain is coming down hard, but I don’t take my eyes off of Daniel.

“I saw Daniel Jackson-” he starts but I don’t let him finish.

“He’s okay Teal’c I got him back.”  I make my tone softer to address the shaking Daniel before me.  “Daniel, give me your hand.”  I extend my hand as far as possible without moving forward.

“You knew.”  Daniel sounds surprised.

“What?”  Lightening accompanies my words, illuminating the entire room.

“You all did.”  The words are almost lost in the rumble of thunder.

While I’m trying to work through that cryptic statement Daniel uses the opportunity to clumsily stand up, and make a dash inside.  I follow in his wake.  Teal’c is set ready to grab him, but I make a silent gesture to let him be.

“Daniel what’s going on?”  I don’t know why I’m bothering to ask.  He’s worked it out.  He remembers what happened.

Back flat against the wall Daniel slowly makes his way to the exit, not taking his eyes off Teal’c or me.  Before I can say anything further he’s out of the room, making a run for it down the stairs.  Teal’c and I chase after him.

“Daniel!  Daniel, stop!”  I shout.

He finally stops as we re-enter the ‘gate room.

“Daniel!  It doesn’t mean anything!  It wasn’t you!”  Daniel you have to listen to me.  For once will you just listen to me?

“Well, what the hell does it mean Jack?”  Daniel asks sounding hysterical.

The storm is still raging outside and without turning his back on us Daniel walks over toward the DHD.  Sam emerges from somewhere behind me and I shush her with a wave of my hand.  Then indicate for both her and Teal’c to hang back.

“It means nothing Daniel, you were sick.”  I try to convince him calmly.

“Jack I just tried to kill myself.  You can’t say that doesn’t mean anything!”  Daniel retorts.  He’s sopping wet from head to toe so I can’t tell if he’s crying or not.

“Yes, I can, because it’s the truth!”  I yell back.  The others stay silent.  This is between Daniel and me now, he’s hurt and I’m the only one who is going to be able to fix this. I promised him we would fix this.

The look Daniel’s giving me now is reminiscent of the way he looked at me in the mines two years ago when he was addicted to the sarcophagus.   “Look-”

“You know, none of you seem surprised.”

I know I should be afraid now because Daniel’s tone has gone all casual.  He’s no longer yelling, more talking to himself and pacing.

“You were expecting something like this from me weren’t you?”  He asks while playing with the symbols on the DHD.  “What happened to me before I came back here, Jack?”

“Daniel, leave it alone.”  This is not how I wanted him to find out.

“Jack I want to know!”  And we’re back to the shouting.

“Daniel…” I warn, fighting to stay calm.

“Tell me!”

I completely explode.  “I stopped you from throwing yourself off your own balcony!”

“Wha-what?”  Daniel stutters, voice wavering in disbelief.

I walk forward, slowly, making no sudden moves.  Daniel’s frozen to the spot.

“The morning we were to return, you didn’t show up.  I went to your apartment and found you on the wrong side of the railing.  You were going to jump.”

“No.”  He whispers, shaking his head.

“Yes, Daniel!” I say as sternly as possible.  He has got to accept it.

“That’s just a dream.”  He sounds like he’s trying to convince himself.

“It was real Daniel, but it wasn’t your fault.  It was this place, but we didn’t know that it was addictive then.  Dr Fraiser figured it out just in time.  I brought you back here to save your life.”

“Daniel, please believe us.  What you dreamt?  You were reliving the memories of what happened.  That isn’t you.  You don’t really feel that way.”  Sam cajoles, unable to stay silent any longer.

Daniel neglects to answer her, choosing to pace around in a circle instead.  Now he’s reminding me of the time he spent in the psyche ward.  I take another step closer to him in the hope that I can get close enough to hold him still, but he sees me coming and abruptly makes a dash for his room.  I stay where I am, watching him go, and duck my head in failure.  I can sense my other teammates looking at me, expecting me to do something.  Lifting my hand graciously I indicate they should remain here.

I walk carefully up to his bedroom door and peek inside.  Daniel’s pacing again on the far side of the room.  He’s still dripping wet, leaving a trail of water on the floor as he walks.  I move out of the shadows and enter, he sniffs then looks over at me, pinning me with his intensely needy eyes.  What I see is not what I expected at all.

I felt for sure Daniel would be mad at me, that he’d hate me for keeping this from him and, at the same time, for not sparing him any of this.  Instead he looks grateful for my presence.  There’s a shy smile playing on his lips, but his arms are wrapped tight across his chest.

He’s still unwilling to let me in so I stand, slightly stunned, just inside the doorway twitching nervously and awaiting his next move.

Only seconds pass before real tears start to fall, slowly at first like he’s trying to hold them back.  The battle is eventually lost and he covers his face with both hands, pushing them against his closed eyes preventing me from seeing him sob his heart out.  Leaning back against the wall Daniel slides down, his legs no longer having the strength to hold him up.

Now, what the hell are you supposed to do in a situation like that?

There really is only one thing you can do - so I do it.  I walk straight over and hug the shit out of him.  Daniel responds in kind and we both sort of drop down onto the floor.  Major deja vu feeling here.

Daniel may not be a naïve boy anymore, but I’ve never stopped wanting to protect him.  At this moment I don’t care if he sees himself as dependant or incapable, that’s all just in his mind.  Deep down Daniel is definitely an ‘actions speak louder than words’ kind of guy when it comes to personal stuff, which is quite amusing considering that he normally prefers to talk his way out of a bad situation.  My point is, hugging Daniel and offering my comfort is probably the best thing I have ever and will ever do for him.

“I’m sorry.”  I barely hear him speak since he’s muffled against my shoulder.

“You’ve got nothing to be sorry for.” I state plainly.

Daniel manages to lift his head and rests against the wall without moving out of my grasp.  “I’ve been trying not to go running to you every time something bad happens.”  He says sullenly staring at some far off spot on the opposite wall.

I ponder on that for a moment, while we sit, listening to the storm outside.  It seems to have abated a little, only the faint sound of rain hitting the walls and random flashes of lightening casting odd shadows around the room.

“What made you think I don’t want you coming to me when you’re in trouble?   It’s nice to be needed that way sometimes, makes an old guy like me feel useful.”

“I think I’ve become too dependent on you.”  He says seriously, his voice level and in control once again.

I let go, allowing me to join him in leaning back against the wall.  We end up sitting shoulder to shoulder, gaze fixed dead ahead once again.  “Don’t you think that maybe it’s nice to be able to depend on someone?”

Daniel looks up considering the comment.  “I guess.”  He agrees after a long pause.

I clear my throat, which suddenly feels like I’ve swallowed of a bucket of sand.  “Well, where’s the problem?”

Daniel looks puzzled, so I clarify it for him.  If this isn’t a major roll reversal I don’t know what is.

“Daniel if you actually like being able to depend on me, and I actually like being someone you can depend on, there is no problem.”

“I guess not.”  He sighs.  I think he believes me.

Silence falls between us.  We may have gotten through this little set back without too may scars, but there is still a larger issue at hand and now might be an excellent time for him to address it.

“Do you even know what I went through after finding you on your balcony?”  This is a dangerous road I’m travelling on now.  What I say could make or break our whole friendship.  I look pensively over at Daniel and, to my relief, he’s looking right back.  Intrigue written all over his face.  “I was terrified that I’d lost you.”

Daniel just looks stunned.  It’s obviously not something he’d expect me to say.  I figure since I know how badly he needs to hear this, I should take the plunge now, no backing out.

“We didn’t know anything about the Light’s addictive properties until much later.  After I got you off the balcony and safely into my car, I cursed myself for not seeing the signs.  I thought it was my fault you were out there.”

“Why?”  Daniel asks confused.  He was all set to blame himself, to berate himself for expecting too much from himself or from us, or something equally stupid.

“Because I haven’t been there for you when you needed me.”  Huge confession, but he needs to know that I care about him.  That it doesn’t matter how annoying he can be or how many times I yell at him, I’ll never stop caring.

I sneak a look at Daniel to gauge his reaction.  He looks a little dazed, but not uncomfortable, if I look close enough I think I can almost see a smile.  Score one for Jack!

“I shouldn’t need you to be there.  THAT’S my problem.”  His voice is quiet and withdrawn, full of self-recrimination.  I’ve not broken through yet, but I’m close.

“A lot has happened to you over the past two years and I haven’t been around for it, what with the NID on our case and getting stranded on Endora.  I know how upset you were when we went to rescue Thor and you didn’t know what had happened to us.  I’m sorry for how I treated you on Euronda and as for your behaviour regarding the Encarans… well, let’s just say I never want you to feel the need to prove anything to us, like that, ever again.”  I finish my itinerary of apologies with a deep breath.

Daniel is just looking at me.  I can’t read his expression, if I had to guess it’s a cross between confusion and irritation.

“The point is, Daniel, I care about you and I’ll never willingly leave you.”  I say seriously, although I don’t know how much weight that will hold since the last time I said it I broke the promise within minutes.  Maybe he won’t remember, one can only hope.

“What if something happens again?”  He asks openly.  I admit I’m a little taken aback, I didn’t think he’d be willing to do any of the talking on such a delicate, personal subject.

I turn away to contemplate my next words, when I turn back I find I’m not looking at the Daniel I’ve known for the last five years.  I’m looking into the eyes of a scared eight year old boy who just lost his entire family in a freak accident he had the pleasure of being witness too.

“You mean what if I die or get trapped off-world or something and leave you alone again just like your parents did?”

Daniel nods reluctantly.  I saw him wince at the comparison I made to his parents, but he has to have already seen that connection.  It’s basically where most of his fears spring from after all.  Daniel may be brilliant, but as far as emotional maturity is concerned, he’s way behind.

“I don’t know, but if something does happen, wouldn’t it be nicer to remember how much I cared about you instead of remembering how you did your best to prove you didn’t need me?”

“How did you get to be so smart all of a sudden?”  He shifts a little uncomfortably then smiles shyly before turning away. 

“I’m old and I’ve had plenty of practice.”  I answer jovially.  I’m glad he sees I’m right, I think I’ve actually made a breakthrough.

Daniel falters slightly after a few minutes’ silence and immediately I know what he’s thinking.

“Daniel you are not suicidal or crazy or anything remotely like that.”   I turn to face him this time.  “You were just under the influence of some alien technology - which is nothing new.”  I add, basically because it’s the truth.  I very rarely get that, more physical injures for me, broken bones, sprains, burns that sort of thing.  It goes better with my macho image.  I shake the thoughts out of my head and get back on track with my spiel “…and if you weren’t so obsessed about being a burden on your friends, who by the way are there to help with this kind of thing, then we wouldn’t have had to go through all this.”  My voice is slightly raised, but hopefully my tone should suggests I’m only teasing.

“Easily addicted to alien technology. Huh, don’t think that’ll look too good on my résumé.”

I laugh.  He smiles. 

We’re good.

“I really do cause trouble, don’t I?”  He looks up at me with a frown.

“Yeah, but we love you anyway.”  I wrap my arm around him, squeezing tight.  To my astonishment Daniel moves to the side and returns my hug full force.  Inserting himself into the nook of my shoulder.

I had thought that was it, job done.  I’ve told him what I believed he needed to hear and he appeared to understand.  I didn’t think I could possibly feel any better for it.

I was wrong.

It’s one thing to offer support to someone who is obviously distressed.  It’s something else entirely to have someone show you how much they appreciate you.  Having Daniel reach out to me so readily is a joy I never expected to feel again.   Gradually, as my shock wears off, I settle my other arm around him to join the first, and feel him relax against me.

“Thanks Jack.”  He whispers in my ear.

Daniel’s lids start to head south, and without forethought he smoothly drop’s his head in my lap, lying down.  I occupy my hands by absently stroke his unruly hair.

So I’m sitting on the floor, Daniel fast asleep in my lap content for the moment, when movement at the door catches my eye.   “Carter, that you?”

“Sir, I’m sorry, I’ll come back.”  Her voice is full of emotion, bet she was eavesdropping and now she’s trying to hide her tears.

“Don’t wuss out Carter, get in here.  That’s an order.”  I call before she turns away.

Poking her head back into the room, Carter catches my eye indicating the sedative she’s holding in her hands.

“Where’s Teal’c?”  I ask as she approaches.

“Well, he was with me, but he said he needed to finish his Kel-no-reem.”  Sam answers with a smile, making her eyes water slightly.

She looks about to say something else, but instead looks down toward the lump currently fast asleep on top of me.  “He’s had a long day.”

“So…” She starts while I try and untangle myself from Daniel.

“So… How much did you hear?”  I’m only asking ‘cause I’m polite.  I know damn well she and Teal’c were probably listening the whole time and Teal’c really could have thought of a better excuse.

“Enough.”  She halts, she wants to ask a question, but something’s stopping her.

“Spit it out Carter, please, I’ve had a long day too.”  I finally free myself and begin to lift Daniel up so we can put him into bed, where I can watch over him without causing my knees any more damage or getting a numb backside.

“How did you know?”  Her voice sounds curious, yet cunning, she must have a theory.

“Know what?”  I play dumb, maybe she’ll drop it.

“About Daniel.  How did you know what was really bothering him?”  I lay Daniel down as gently as I can, unfortunately for him that means I drop him in the middle of the bed.

“Lucky guess.”  I shrug, she’s not buying it, giving me another evil stare as she bends down to assist me in moving Daniel into a comfortable sleeping position.  “Okay…I-” Double-checking Daniel’s definitely asleep before I continue in a whisper, “I read his journal.”

“You did what!”  She yells at the top of her lungs.  If looks could kill I would be dead in ten different ways and cremated by now.

“Oh, come on Carter, you saw how he was, this whole situation made me see a different side to him.  Something we’d been missing.  I had to know what was wrong to fix it.”

“Sir, you read his diary.”  She sounds incredulous.

“You’ve read his diary.”  I accuse.

“That’s when we all thought he was dead.  I’d never do it otherwise.”

“Doesn’t matter.  I never told Daniel about that and I think you should afford me the same courtesy.  The hell with it, I order you not to say anything.” I command.  Ha!  There are some advantages to being the Colonel.

“Sir, I’m not going to say anything.  It would only undo all the good you just did.”  She chastises me and I’m immediately put in my place.  I think all women must have a knack for it or something.  Janet does it exceptionally well.

“Thank you.”  I say sarcastically.

While Carter gets the meds ready I undo Daniel’s belt and pull his pants down just enough for her to deliver a shot of Valium.

“Sir, his clothes are soaking wet, we should get him changed.”

I contemplate whether that’s worth the risk of waking him, and then I imagine Fraiser’s face when I bring Daniel back with pneumonia and all of a sudden my mind’s made up.

It only takes a second for Carter to gather some clean clothes.  She’s already pulling the wet t-shirt off and putting the dry one on before I’ve even gotten started on his pants.  You’d swear she was a natural at undressing unconscious men – I am so not pursuing that thought.

Once finished, we both roll him back over and Sam pulls a blanket over him.

“You know it’s a good thing he’s asleep, he’d be so embarrassed if he knew what we were doing right now.”  Carter giggles.  I’m concerned my team’s combined mental age may not reach above twelve, and I include myself in that assessment.

“Carter I think Daniel has more on his mind at the moment than whether or not you’ve seen his ass.”

“Think he’ll be okay?”  She asks.

“I don’t know, guess we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Epilogue

10 Days later: SGC

“Hey, you okay?  We’ve been looking for you, you disappeared after the briefing.”  Jack O’Neill asks approaching Daniel Jackson who is standing looking through the blast window at the Stargate.

“Guess I’m not in the mood for company right now.”

“Daniel, we’ve been through this…”

Daniel fidgets slightly, his reply barely above a whisper.  “I know, feel weird is all, always knew I was a little unbalanced, but didn’t realise how truly screwed up I AM.”

“Well believe it.”  Jack smirks, then continues on a serious note, “You’re going to have to face those commitment fears of yours one day.”

“You going to let me out on my balcony any time soon?”  Daniel refutes, not even bothering to correct Jack on his assessment.

“Hell no.”  When that gem doesn’t get even a quirked lip Jack tries a different approach.  “Oh, come on Daniel, what could possibly be troubling you after the three weeks we’ve just had?”  Jack’s expression changes from one of mild confusion to utter disbelief.  “…That’s it isn’t it?”

“What?”

“We’re back, everything’s back to business as usual and you’re in denial.”

Daniel ducks his head.   A sure indication Jack has it in one.

“Daniel I’m talking to you, look at me.  How do you feel?”

Daniel looks and smiles.  Jack interprets this as a positive answer.

“Good.  So where’s the problem?”

“I don’t think I have one.”  The wonder in his voice suggests that’s something Daniel’s not been sure about for a long time.

“Good, now, you ready?  Teal’c’s waiting.”

“Ready?  Oh right, yeah, I forgot.  One sec, I left something in the control room.”

“I’ll wait.”  Jack drawls as he watches the young man disappear down the stairs.  Once Daniel’s out of sight Jack redirects his focus to the Stargate.

“That’s a nice thing you did there Jack.”

I finally make my presence known.  Jack starts slightly at my entrance.  It’s a great feeling knowing I can still take someone by surprise at my age.

“General?  Didn’t see you there.”

“I have a feeling there’s going to be a few pieces missing from the mission reports?”

“Well, General, for the most part-” Jack looks uncomfortable for a second, realising I over-heard their conversation.

I put him out of his misery quickly since I hate to see him squirm.  “Jack, its okay, Teal’c already filled me in on most of your escapades as they occurred.”

“That little snitch.” 

I’m going to ignore that comment.

“I’ve heard enough to know what happened is personal.  It has no place in an official report.”

“Thank you, Sir.”

“You’re welcome.”  Now I expected Jack to be out of the room in a flash as per usual after a conversation like this, instead he turns back to continue staring out at the Stargate, a smile on his lips.  “Is there something else on your mind, Colonel?”

“No, Sir.”  I’m about to return to my office when he starts talking again.  “It’s just, he’s grown up a lot in the last four years, started to think he didn’t need me anymore.”

“We all need someone Jack, no matter how old we get.”

“Yes, Sir.”

It wasn’t a subordinate’s reply - it was said in understanding.

Daniel

“Jack I got it, we can go now.”  I stumble on the top step when I see the General, oops hope I haven’t interrupted anything important.  I still feel weird about yelling at him and throwing a tantrum in his office.  “Sorry, Sir.”

“Night, Sir.”  The General and Jack exchange odd grins, I don’t think I want to know what that’s about.

“Night, General.” I say walking up beside Jack.

“Goodnight son.”  The General says to me before he turns and heads into his office, Jack hurries me along back down the stairs.

We make our way fairly quickly through the corridors of the SGC.  Things are, as Jack stated, very much back to normal.  So far nobody’s treated me like fragile china, and I think the three weeks we’ve been gone was enough time for everyone to get the ‘Dr Jackson’s gone wacko again’ gossip out of their systems.  The main topics of discussion have reverted back to the more mundane and recurring, like the latest stories surrounding Siler and his absurdly large wrench.

Neither Jack nor I have discussed what was said between us after I tried to chuck myself off a balcony for a second time.  I’m embarrassed enough about the whole break down thing, but it’s nothing Jack hasn’t seen before so I’m going to do as he tells me for once and not obsess about it. The nightmares I’d been experiencing while off world stopped the same night.  That didn’t stop Jack from fretting however and even though ‘Daniel watch’ was officially called off, he resigned himself to spending the remaining seven nights sleeping in my room with me.  I put up the expected protest of course, but as usual, Jack took no notice.  I’m not complaining.

“Where do you think Teal’c’s going to take us tonight?”  Jack asks, pressing the elevator call button.

I dread to think actually.  Teal’c has some strange ideas about what constitutes entertainment.  Hammond should never have agreed to let him have cable.

“I don’t know,” I wince, my imagination running wild.   “Let’s just hope it won’t involve any gelatine substances.”

I entered the elevator with Jack trailing close behind.

“Amen to that.  You really should try to broaden his horizon’s more.”

I choke.  “Me?  You’re the one exposing him to the delights of National enquirer and Sports Illustrated.”

“Hey, those are excellent resources!”

Jack presses the button for level 26 where we are due to meet Teal’c.  As the door closes Jack deftly changes the subject.

Teal’c

“O’Neill, Daniel Jackson.”  I greet my friends by the elevator doors.  They appear to be engaged in conversation.

“Teal’c, tell Jack I am not ‘cute’.”  I look first at Daniel Jackson’s very serious expression, then turn to see O’Neill’s grin.

“I’m afraid I cannot lie Daniel Jackson.”

“Give it up Danny-boy, even Teal’c agrees with me.” O’Neill claps Daniel Jackson on the shoulder before walking on ahead.

“He didn’t actually answer.”  Daniel Jackson calls after him.

“Ah sorry, yes he did.”

“Didn’t.”

“Did.”

“Didn’t.”

“Did.”

I walk beside them, letting their inane words fade into mere background noise.  By nature I am a silent individual, only speaking when I feel it to be appropriate and worthwhile to do so.  O’Neill and Daniel Jackson do not share this philosophy.  A room is rarely silent when both are present.

Fin.

 

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Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. This is a parody for entertainment purposes only. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. This story may not be posted anywhere without the consent of the author.