Reflecting Dark

 

He clenched his hands into tight fists and felt his shoulders hunch protectively.  He could feel it, as if they still stood too close; if he turned his head – just a little – they’d be there, hot breath gusting over his face.  He shivered and wrapped his arms around his sore ribs.  Why did they have to walk behind him?  He tucked his hands against his body, unwilling to reach up to finger the mark on the side of his neck, the imprint of clutching fingers on his hips, the deep bruise where a boot had caught him along his hip-bone.  With all of his other injuries, why did those blaze with pain so fiercely, as if they were radioactive, glowing, visible through his clothes?  Maybe they were – the glares from two sets of eyes seemed to pick them out quite easily.

The solid bulk of Teal’c moved closer and Daniel ducked his head, letting his dirty, matted hair fall forward towards his face.  This man – this alien – the one he should hate the most – how had he become Daniel’s protector?  God, he hated irony.  Daniel snorted to himself, fighting to make his tired legs take him, one step at a time, towards home.

He barely noticed Jack’s teasing banter with Sam until the words finally registered.  'Liar!' he wanted to scream, but tightened his lips before the word could escape.  Every moment of the past 36 hours flashed painfully across the screen of Daniel’s mind.  You remember, Jack.  We all remember.  We just wish we didn’t.

“Do you need assistance, Daniel Jackson?”

He tried to control it, but his body flinched sideways at the murmured question, away from the looming presence on his left and right into the path of one lying colonel.  Daniel held himself still under Jack’s hands, knowing that any attempt to pull away would just make things worse.

“Hey, you okay?”

Great.  Couldn’t be better, obviously.  Daniel kept his head down as he felt the strong hands steady him until he could regain his balance.  “Fine.  I’m fine,” he finally whispered.  “Just tired.”

The fingers tightened for an instant before both hands smoothed up towards Daniel’s shoulders, turning him to face one of the two men Daniel wanted to avoid at all costs.  He felt one hand move to the side of his neck and he shivered again as it brushed across the tender skin there.  A thumb under his chin forced his head up and Daniel gritted his teeth and forced his eyes to meet the dark ones in front of him.

“Just a little farther to the Stargate, and then we’ll let that feisty little doctor take care of you.”  Daniel had no idea what Jack saw in his eyes, but Jack’s were filled with worry and regret, the lines creasing their edges just a little deeper, a little broader, than they were even a few days ago. 

Daniel nodded, forcing a deep breath into his lungs, ignoring the pain.

Jack smiled tightly and released him.  “Good.”

He stumbled backwards as Jack turned away, the colonel’s orders flying back to the men who had accompanied them.  He righted himself and moved off, Jack’s words drifting unheeded around him until an answering voice at his back cut through the haze and he stumbled again.  This time he allowed the warm bulk of the Jaffa to help shore up his physical and emotional defenses, the large hand against his shoulder somehow forming a conduit channeling security and compassion.  Jack was back to normal, so was Sam and… the others.  He could trust them again, he repeated to himself, those dark places he’d glimpsed inside them were buried deep, forgotten, no more an indication of their true natures than Daniel’s own behavior had been.  Nothing had changed.

The tree-line came up quickly and Daniel stopped and turned, blinking up into the bright sun of the light side for a moment before he allowed Teal’c to urge him into the darkness that veiled the Stargate.  As his boot broke the shadowy plane he sensed the blackness ooze around him, dimming the light, drawing him back into the easy concealment that hid all those inner demons that the ‘Touched’ virus had revealed.  He slowed and watched the rigid figures pass by, and felt the tension in his chest ease as they were each swallowed by the silent forest.

~o~

The infirmary was a haven of quiet within the frenzied activity of the base and Daniel closed his eyes, reveling in his solitude as he rested against the edge of the bed.  Taking one step from the dark side of another world and walking into the frenetic activity and noise of the base had left him startled and unfocused – hurrying soldiers, messages broadcast from hallway speakers, shouted orders and replies – the constant battering of touch and sound during the journey from the embarkation room to this bed with had been nearly unbearable.  The rest of the team had been called to the briefing room just after their arrival, and now, with the curtain pulled around the bed, Daniel could finally loosen his hold on his reactions.

The curtain flew back.  “Okay, Doctor Jackson, let’s take a look.”

Well, maybe not quite yet.  He frowned at the small-statured woman who stood before him.  She must be brilliant to have figured out the cure to the Touched disease so quickly.  When he and Teal’c had left for the planet the infirmary, the holding cells, the bunkrooms – they’d all been full of shouting, aggressive men and women, promising violence to everyone in their paths, drooling and panting, and now only a few bandaged bodies remained here as reminders of the ordeal.  Doctor Janet Frasier had taken the few clues that she had and engineered a way to save the lives and sanity of everyone on the base - how was he going to…  Daniel felt his headache throb heavy and thick, dulling his mind and tightening his stomach.

Her dark gaze roamed over him, clinically taking in his shredded pants, his pale and bloody skin visible between the gaps, his ripped and filthy shirt, every bruise and cut scattered over arms and face.  He attempted a smile and felt the scab on his lip pull against the movement.

“You’re a mess,” she announced, a hint of warmth taking away the smart of her blunt assessment.

“Yeah,” he agreed.

She chuckled at his tired sigh and patted him on one knee.  “Well, we’re clearly not going to be able to save this uniform, so why don’t I put it out of its misery so I can get to your injuries with the least amount of moaning and groaning?”  She grabbed a pair of Lister scissors and flashed them playfully in front of him.

“Um, you can’t see enough of my skin like this?”  Daniel plucked at the ragged edge of his black t-shirt.  Don’t.  Looking deeper would bring too much into the light.

The doctor raised her eyebrows and Daniel saw a flicker of concern in her eyes.  “Well I’m certainly not going to try to examine you through your clothes, Doctor Jackson.”

“Daniel.”

A smile at the easy gesture of friendship brightened her tired face.  “Daniel.  Let me guess – you’ve never had a female doctor before.”

Daniel sat up straighter, quickly realizing how difficult it might be for this small woman among a base full of alpha males.  “No- I didn’t mean-”  Panic shook him.  He hadn’t thought, hadn’t – how could he keep her from seeing without –   

“Hey.”

Her tiny hand felt cool against his cheek.  Daniel surfaced from his twisted thoughts and struggled to focus on her face.

“Daniel.  What’s going on?”

 

Chapter 2

 

Teal’c looked tense – the thought brought a smile to Jack’s face.  The large Jaffa always looked tense: stoic, controlled, wary, yes, the guy seemed to always hold himself ready for action.  He swiped one hand wearily over his face as he let the buzz of Carter’s explanations wash over him.  On his left, at the head of the table, Hammond seemed to be nodding politely, just as ready to come to the end of this fiasco as Jack was.  Carter – next to Jack on the right – was winding down.  Funny – after only a few missions Jack was learning her tells; the little phrases and tics that meant Carter was gearing up for a fight, working a hard problem out loud, or putting the finishing touches on a report.  Thank God it sounded like she was wrapping it up.

Across the table, Teal’c was stiff, sitting shifted in his chair so that he could keep the rest of the table in sight.  Maybe that was what rang Jack’s alarm bells.  The Jaffa understood about rank and decorum – hell, it had been easier for Jack to get an alien to appreciate the respect expected a Major General than it had been Daniel, the original individualist.  Teal’c knew to face the general during a briefing, unless there was something on the screen, or the general himself directed attention to another speaker.  Jack tried to blink the exhaustion from his eyes.  So why was Teal’c focusing more on the two silent members of SG-3 seated next to him than Hammond?

Makepeace and Johnson were the only two members of SG-3 not consigned to the infirmary; the other two Marines were pretty busted up - crashing through the briefing room window down to the base of the ramp two floors below would kinda do that.  Colonel Robert Makepeace, USMC, back straight and posture stiff, just like always, looked a little pale, and Jack noticed that the Marine Corps poster-boy kept his own gaze resolutely on the table before him.  Frankly, Johnson – who’d gone apeshit during the first briefing, and probably should have been nervous and fidgety after his wacko behavior - was the only guy on that side of the table that seemed like he didn’t have a care in the world.  Jack cocked his head.  Weird.

Weird.  That was the word all right.  Who in his right mind would believe that there was something out there that could turn every single soldier on this base into a club-thumping Neanderthal?  Jack rubbed at the back of his neck.  Iris or no iris, there were apparently things that could come through the Stargate that no one anticipated and had nothing to do with snaky symbiotes or muscle-bound guys carrying staff weapons.  He winced, imagining the lengthy strategy meetings he’d be attending for the next several weeks.  How the hell were they supposed to guard against Twilight Zone crap like this?  Crap that could turn friend into enemy, intelligent women into growling sexual aggressors, and life-long veterans into crazed animals?  No wonder Makepeace was acting squeamish.

He had to talk to Daniel.  Jack shifted his eyes towards Carter.  Apparently the captain/doctor had been able to rationalize the whole mess – took his off-hand absolution and snarky crack back on P3X-797 and filed her behavior under 'not going there' inside that smarts-filled skull of hers.  But Daniel – yeah, Jack obviously needed to deal with some serious damage there, and not just the physical damage he’d inflicted with his fists and his feet.  The kid had been beaten up by the one guy he’d begun to rely on, the one guy he trusted, depended on, looked to for hope amidst the shattered remains of his life.  And although Jack knew that the genius mind of 'two-PhD Doctor Jackson' probably understood more about primitive behavior on an intellectual level than anyone else on the base, that look of fear he’d glimpsed in those weary blue eyes on the long walk back to the Stargate told him that had the pain of his injuries was nothing compared to the hits he’d taken to his heart.

“Very well.”

Hammond’s words cut into Jack’s thoughts and he straightened, hoping he’d be able to get out of there and down to the infirmary before the tiny little doctor sent Daniel on his merry way.  He watched expectantly as the general gathered his papers into a folder and set it neatly to one side, but his CO didn’t rise and dismiss the group, instead folded his hands carefully and leaned forward.

“You all deserve a few days off after this… well, I can hardly call it a mission, can I?  But, frankly, I just can’t afford to let my most experienced officers go right now.”  Hammond turned his head to make eye contact with each person and Jack saw that even Teal’c now faced the earnest man.  “The men and women of this command have just gone through what I’m sure is the strangest experience of their lives,” he touched one finger to the table in front of him, “and some of them are going to have to face the fact that they’ve done some things that are pretty damned repugnant.”

Jack struggled to keep his face impassive as he felt the knife of guilt slip between his ribs.  You’re not kidding there, George.

“Now, Doctor Fraiser has advised me that she believes the universality of this disease will actually work in our favor – there are few who weren’t affected one way or the other leaving everyone here in the same boat.  What I need you to do,” he nodded to Jack and Makepeace, “is to meet with your teams, discuss this with other team leaders and heads of departments, and do what you can to work out any lingering bad feelings.”  Hammond hesitated.  “I don’t want to have repercussions from this situation surface months from now, gentlemen, nor do I want to have to reassign team members because of behavior everyone regrets.”

The silence fell heavily and Jack floundered for a moment – he had his own fences to mend.  Bridges to rebuild.  Raveled trust to patch.  “Yes, sir,” he finally answered, trying to catch Makepeace’s eye to solicit his agreement.  The Marine continued to stare straight at Hammond, back rigid, and Jack frowned, momentarily distracted.  Something there, something the colonel was trying to bury beneath the good soldier act.  “Ah, right,” Jack recovered, “general apologies all around, team work-outs, the works, sir.”

“I trust you to handle it, Colonels.”  Steel underlay the general’s words – he clearly didn’t want any more fall-out from this mess and was holding Jack and Makepeace accountable.  Jack scrambled to his feet as Hammond stood, the others following suit.  “The base remains on lock-down until Doctor Fraiser has assured me that no further trace of this disease exists.  I expect reports on team performance in 24 hours.  Dismissed.”

The general closed the door to his office and Jack blew out his breath noisily.  “Well, no pressure there Makepeace, huh?” he commented wryly.

Still not meeting Jack’s eyes, Makepeace grunted.  “Yeah.”

“Well said,” Jack sneered after a moment.  “Carter – sweep the female personnel – I want to hear if anyone’s having a problem.  Use your own discretion about reporting anything else.”

“Yes, sir.”

Yeah.  She understood.  He watched Carter hurry from the briefing room.  It might suck to be the highest ranking woman on base sometimes, but, damn, he needed her to embrace that softer side right now.  No need to embarrass anyone with his nosy presence unless it was warranted.  He turned back towards Teal’c.

“Listen, big guy, I’m going down to check on Daniel…”  He moved towards the door.

“I shall accompany you, O’Neill.”  The Jaffa’s quiet footsteps followed him.

Okay, not too surprising, but Teal’c’s immediate response seemed a bit… what… desperate?  Jack hoped the Jaffa wasn’t still blaming himself for losing Daniel on the dark side – he’d hoped to get a few minutes alone with the archaeologist, but if Teal’c needed the reassurance, he couldn’t exactly blame him for hovering.  Jack considered himself a champion at it, after all.

“Hey, I’d like to check on Doctor Jackson, too.”

Makepeace?  Jack hesitated in the doorway and turned, frowning, wondering why the Marine was all of a sudden so concerned about SG-1’s civilian.  The sight that greeted him slammed him to a halt.

The dour-faced colonel had apparently just rounded the end of the table, but the Jaffa had swiftly closed the small distance between them and stood snarling into Makepeace’s face, one large hand wrapped tightly around the Marine’s neck.  Jack saw the trembling in Teal’c’s shoulders, the muscle in his jaw jumping in and out with suppressed rage, and he watched helplessly as the fingers of Teal’c’s free hand clenched into a fist.

“You will not,” he heard Teal’c growl.  “If you come near Daniel Jackson, I will kill you.”

 

Chapter 3

 

Janet tried to ignore the shivering, tried to keep the impassive, clinical expression that doctors had hidden behind for centuries secure on her face as she noted each injury, as her gloved hands slid gently over pale skin, bruises and blood standing out starkly.  Another flinch caught her off guard as her fingers touched the anterior ridge of the pelvic bone and the strained silence of her patient combining with her own exhaustion tore at her control.

“I’m sorry,” she felt her gaze soften in sympathy as she looked into the shadowed eyes.  “Almost done.”  She understood now and regretted her immediate assumption that his reticence had been about her gender instead of the deep shame and humiliation that came with this kind of assault.  Lightly urging him up onto his side she steeled herself to keep her touch objective, holding back her natural desire to comfort so that he could hold onto the brittle shards of his dignity.  Any tenderness would be about her, and this just - wasn’t.

She managed to stifle the sigh of relief that nearly swept from her as she finished her exam, hoping she hadn’t communicated the feeling through her hands.  Peeling off her gloves, Janet reached down for the blanket neatly folded at the end of the bed and drew it up to Daniel’s waist before she took his chart in her hands.  A choked laugh drew her gaze to his face.

“Yeah, I know,” Daniel murmured bitterly, “at least that didn’t happen.”

Small mercies.  Very small.  Janet shook her head.  “Daniel.”

“It’s okay.  Believe me, as an anthropologist I understand the behavior better than any of the soldiers around here.  Or most of the other scientists, for that matter.”

Janet frowned.  There was something inherently wrong in a patient trying to reassure his doctor.  She flipped his chart open and began making notations.  “The ribs and pelvic bone are definitely bruised, I’m going to order some x-rays just to be safe but I don’t think anything’s broken.  I’ve already closed the largest cut,” she glanced at the bloody gauze and needle she’d left in a pan on the metal bed tray, “the others just need a thorough cleaning and bandaging.  I’ll take care of the dehydration and pain when you’ve gotten cleaned up.  I’m afraid you’re going to be sore for quite a while, Daniel.”  She hid behind the diagnosis, drawing her clinical distance around her like a shield against his pain.

“Uh-huh.”  The blue eyes were closed now, one arm folded beneath his head, the other hand clutching the covers against his chest.

“Daniel.”  It was the vulnerability that drew the name from her lips.  Lying there, even with his eyes tightly shut against her, against reality, she saw it in the wounded slump of his shoulders, the angle of his abused neck, the white-knuckled grip on the thin fabric that was his only defense against her prying.  Damn it.  The one class she’d never excelled in was 'professional detachment.'  She reached out with one hand to touch his shoulder.

His eyelashes fluttered against his skin, finally lifting to reveal wary blue eyes under raised eyebrows.  A moment passed.  “Anything else I should know?”

She could hear the exhaustion in his voice, the utter inability to deal with even one more thing.  Janet straightened her shoulders and smiled, offering her own strength for the injured young man to lean against.  “The deep tissue bruises – we’ll treat those with ice, for now - you’ll need to let me know if you feel any sense of extreme pressure in those areas.”  Compartment syndrome wasn’t likely, but she didn’t want to take anything for granted.

“Okay.”

Janet took a deep breath and plunged on.  “I am concerned about the bite marks.  We don’t know what kinds of infections humans on alien worlds might be carrying, so we’re going to take some blood, swab the affected areas for bacteria, and keep an eye on you for a while.”

“But…” he started and just as suddenly cut himself off and closed his lips.  He shook his head and she watched a small smile come and go across his face.

“Daniel?”

She felt the sudden focus directed towards her like a blow.  All sense of fatigue or vagueness had left her patient’s eyes and his hand closed firmly around hers where it still rested against his skin.  “How does this work, Doctor Fraiser?”

“I- I don’t understand,” Janet stammered, frowning.

Daniel raised himself up on one elbow.  “You’re my doctor now, but you report to General Hammond, right?”  She watched a tremor pass through him and a grimace of pain flash behind his steady gaze.  “What are the rules here?  What do you have to tell him?”

She gripped his hand tightly.  “I will not lie to you, Daniel.  Normally, there is no confidentiality within a military command – none.  Officers know this.  That right to privacy is a part of what they give up when they sign on.”

He closed his eyes and seemed to collapse in on himself, letting his head and shoulders fall back, dry tongue rasping against even dryer lips.  “That’s what I was afraid of.”

Keeping her hold on his escaping fingers, Janet wished it could be otherwise, wished she could steal the defeat back from him and replace it with compassion.  “I’m sorry.”  It was all she could offer.

“It’s okay.”  Daniel shivered again.  “Run your tests.”  He dragged his hand from hers and grabbed at the blanket, pulling it up to his shoulder as he rolled away from her.

Janet got the message.

~o~

“Uh, Teal’c?”  Jack heard the general’s door slam open and booted feet hurry towards the confrontation.  He stepped forward where Teal’c could see him and held out both hands, trying to get the Jaffa to glance away from Makepeace’s blood-suffused face for just a second.  “Buddy?  You think maybe Colonel Makepeace here has gotten the message?”

“I do not.”  Lips curled back from the Jaffa’s clenched white teeth in a parody of a grin.

Jack placed one hand carefully on Makepeace’s shoulder.  He knew the SFs were just a few steps away, sidearms aimed at the large target in front of them.  They’d all been relieved that the formidable warrior hadn’t succumbed to the alien virus – the guy was ridiculously strong on a good day, let alone when he was pumped up on caveman testosterone.  And apparently he’d fixated on Daniel, probably because of the deep well of guilt the former First Prime already carried regarding the young man.  Now Jack had to either try to talk him down or they’d all see just what kind of healing power 'slimy junior' really had.

“Colonel O’Neill!”  Hammond.  Jack didn’t take his eyes off of the intense figure before him and held up one hand in a clear request for silence.

“Teal’c.  Colonel Makepeace won’t go anywhere near Daniel, I promise.  No one will, not unless you say it’s okay,” Jack soothed.  “Now, I want you to let him go and then you can go straight down to the infirmary.”   Where, hopefully, a fully advised Fraiser would have a big, honking needle full of sleepy waiting for him.

The fingers digging into the Marine colonel’s neck seemed to loosen and the Jaffa’s dark gaze darted towards Jack.  “You swear to this, O’Neill?”

Well thank God and pass the buttermilk, at least Teal’c seemed to still trust him a little bit.  “Yeah, big guy.”  He reached out and clapped his teammate on the shoulder.  “I swear.  Now let him go.”  A little more 'order' and little less 'please' went into Jack’s voice that time.

Next to him, Makepeace suddenly drew in a huge gulp of air and stumbled backwards and Jack watched Teal’c’s arms fall to his sides.  Keeping one hand on the Jaffa’s arm, Jack moved closer, figuring Hammond and Johnson would take care of the colonel.  The hooded eyes were filled with emotion – rage, despair, Jack couldn’t decide which, but they were still fixed on the Marine over Jack’s shoulder.

“So, mind if I come with?” he asked, knowing Teal’c would have an armed escort to the infirmary whether he wanted one or not.

Teal’c slowly bent his head.  “I do not, O’Neill.”  He calmly clasped his hands behind his back and raised one eyebrow as if waiting patiently for Jack’s next move.

Well, that seemed almost normal, Jack frowned.  “General?  I think Teal’c and I will head on down to see Doc Fraiser.”  He steered Teal’c towards the exit and felt the SFs fall into step behind them.

“Understood, Colonel.”

Yeah?  I’m glad you understand, General, Jack thought, because I’m out of ammo.

 

Chapter 4

Fraiser and a couple of line-backer-type orderlies were waiting for them when Jack led Teal’c across the infirmary’s threshold.  Their journey from the briefing room had been remarkably… unremarkable.  Walk down the cleared corridors, wait for the elevator, tap his fingers during the interminably long ride up six stinking levels with two twitchy SFs and an oblivious Jaffa, all the time waiting for said Jaffa to either knock his head off or start chewing on the controls.  Jack lifted one hand to warn the doctor to move back when Teal’c came to a sudden and complete halt just inside the doorway, his face a mask of indifference.

Before any of the armed help could overreact, Jack turned, effectively shielding Fraiser with his body.  “Teal’c?”  The guy was the original immovable object.

“O’Neill.”  The large man eyed the burly orderlies with obvious disdain before shifting his attention to Jack’s face.  “Did we not come here to ensure Daniel Jackson’s health?”

Like they were gonna let him anywhere near Daniel in his condition.  “Uh, you see, we thought it might be a good idea for the good doc here to check you out first.”  Especially since you nearly squeezed Makepeace’s head off just a couple of minutes ago.  He narrowed his eyes at his teammate’s stoic immobility and reached out to grasp his shoulder.  “You with me?”

One eyebrow jolted towards the sky and Teal’c deliberately tilted his head to stare at Jack’s intruding hand.  “Do you not see me here, O’Neill?”

“Figure of speech, big guy,” Jack replied.  “It means,” he leaned closer, “do you understand, and are you going to cooperate?”

“Why is this medical examination necessary?”

Jack felt movement at his back and gritted his teeth as the petite doctor sidestepped him into Teal’c’s line of sight.  No sense of her own mortality – she sure reminded him of someone.

“Mister – ah – Teal’c,” she corrected herself.  “I’d like to determine if your symbiote has completely cleared your blood of the alien virus after your recent prolonged exposure.”

While it sounded good, Jack wasn’t sure if logical reasoning was going to cut it under the circumstances.  Daniel’s harmless suggestion of visiting Carter in the infirmary had been met with a right cross to the jaw, and Makepeace’s similar comment had earned him a Jaffa choker.  If Teal’c decided to make a target of Fraiser he could probably break her in half before any one of them could react.

“Very well.”

Yeah, that might have been the sigh of relief that was heard 'round the world there.  Jack smiled and began to turn towards the indicated bed when he noticed that the stubborn Jaffa still hadn’t moved.

“But first I require that you take me to Daniel Jackson.”

The SFs reached for their sidearms and Jack’s focus tightened down; steady gaze flicking to take in positioning, cover, lines of fire, and potential escape routes.  He took hold of the doctor’s arm and dragged her with him as he took three steps to his left, angling his body to provide the best protection for her if Teal’c targeted her.

Teal’c stood placidly, eyes front, but Jack knew the former First Prime hadn’t missed any of the strategic positioning that had gone on in the last few minutes.  Fraiser had stopped fighting him and stood quietly between two empty beds, so he released her.  Jack waited, crooking one finger towards himself as he kept his eyes on Teal’c, not wanting any mistakes here.  This was his responsibility, and nobody was going to shoot his teammate if he could do anything about it.

“Colonel, I don’t think this behavior is being caused by the virus – he’s too calm, reasoning too clearly.”  The doctor’s voice was loud enough to reach past Jack and into the hallway.

“No offense, Doc, but we’ve never seen a Jaffa under the influence of this Touched thing.”  He held out one arm in case she had the crazy idea to try to get around him again.  “Teal’c,” Jack raised his voice, “let the doc run her tests.”

The large man finally turned to face him.  “I am not under the influence of the Touched disease, O’Neill.”

“That’s what they all say,” Jack retorted grimly.  “Listen, I’m ordering you-”

“Jack?”

The slap of bare feet against the concrete floor and the swish of air at his back telling him that Fraiser was on the move almost distracted him, but it was the look in Teal’c’s eyes that had Jack taking an unintended step forward.  He’d turned, and catching sight of Daniel’s limping form as he stepped out from a curtained space beyond the two hulking orderlies, all of the previous tension shot back into the Jaffa’s large frame.

“Daniel Jackson.”

“Daniel!  Stay where you are!” Jack shouted.  Dammit, dammit, dammit.

Fraiser’s voice was quiet but insistent.  “Daniel.  Let’s get you back to bed…”

“Jack.  Let Teal’c through.  It’s okay.”

God, the kid did not know when to quit.  “Daniel – shut up and do what the Doc tells you.  Teal’c’s not quite himself, if you know what I mean.”  Hopefully the familiar phrase would get through to him.

The tired sigh from the archaeologist sent Jack’s blood pressure into the red.  “Jack, you don’t understand.”

“What I understand, Daniel,” Jack enunciated sharply while watching Teal’c’s fists clench and unclench repeatedly, “is that we have a situation here, and you’re not making it any better.”

“Oh, for crying…”  He could almost hear Daniel’s eyes rolling like a teenager.  “Teal’c.  I’m fine.  Really.”

The muscles in Teal’c’s shoulders began to relax.  Huh.

“You are sure you are well, Daniel Jackson?”

“Yeah, just a little sore.  But Janet says I just need some rest which I can start getting when you all stop shouting.”  Indignant.  Daniel did indignant damned well.

Teal’c turned back to face Jack.  “Very well.  I will submit to your tests, O’Neill.”

“You will?”  Jack jerked his head back.  “Well… good.  That’s good.”  He watched as Teal’c strode towards the infirmary bed that the doctor had indicated before and sat down heavily, prompting the bedsprings to squeal in alarm. The orderlies stepped closer and Jack sent the SFs to sentry positions just inside the door with a gesture.  “So, you’ll stay here and let the doc take some of your blood?”

The dark gaze locked with his for a moment.  “Indeed.”

Positioning himself nearby, Jack shoved his hands into his pockets and watched Janet Fraiser bustle around with syringes, sample tubes, and paperwork while Teal’c sat quietly under her ministrations.  She finally excused herself with a nod in his direction to take the blood samples to the lab and Jack let out a deep breath.

“Will you allow me to see Daniel Jackson now, O’Neill?”

The Jaffa’s voice was even, low, with no trace of anger or desperation and Jack found himself considering the request.  Nothing that Teal’c had done since they’d left the briefing room jived with the caveman behavior of the base personnel when they were sick – he hadn’t so much as touched anyone.  All of his violence had been reserved for Makepeace.

“O’Neill.”

“Yeah, okay.”  He waved a hand to release the orderlies back to their duties and led his teammate towards the last infirmary bed.

Daniel was awake, frowning fiercely as if he’d been observing everything that had gone on, the bruises against his pale skin stood out along his jaw, and around both arms below the short sleeves of his white scrubs.  Damp hair fell across his forehead and almost obscured a butterfly bandage at his hairline, another, larger, white square of gauze peeked out from the back of his neck.  He moved restlessly against his pillows as if he couldn’t get comfortable, and Jack reached automatically for the bed controls to raise his head.

“Thanks.”  The blue gaze lighted on Jack for a second before focusing on Teal’c who’d taken up a position at the end of the bed, legs braced, hands behind his back, as if he was standing guard duty.  “You okay, Teal’c?”

“It is you who were injured, Daniel Jackson.”

Jack chewed his lip as he looked back and forth, considering what was not being said.  “Hey, weird thing, Danny.”  He jerked his thumb at the stoic figure.  “Teal’c here attacked Colonel Makepeace after the briefing.  Made us all figure maybe he wasn’t so immune to the Touched thing after all.”

Okay, that was fear.  Jack’s eyes narrowed at the beaten young man.  “Anything you might want to share?”

Daniel ignored him completely.  He leaned forward, every ounce of his energy intensely focused on the warrior that stood at the foot of his bed.  “Teal’c – nothing happened,” he breathed through clenched teeth, eyes flashing.

“Daniel Jackson-”

“No!  I’ve already explained this.”  His voice came out in a hiss, eyes narrowing in a mixture of pain and pleading.  Jack looked back at the Jaffa and saw the shutters close off over his obvious concern.

Jack exploded, startling them both out of their little staring contest.  “What the hell is going on?”

Daniel fell back and closed his eyes, even paler than his bandages, shivers coursing along his exposed skin.  “I need to talk to Teal’c alone.”

“Yeah, that’s likely,” Jack sneered, crossing his arms over his chest.

“And I need to talk to Colonel Makepeace.”

“You will not!”

The sound of the Jaffa’s cry rattled Jack’s teeth and he turned wide eyes towards the large, seething figure and suddenly knew he’d had it all wrong.  Daniel kept his eyes closed, stubbornly refusing to say another word, until Fraiser’s heels could be heard clicking across the floor.

“Gentlemen, you’ll be relieved to know that Teal’c’s blood work is completely clear of the alien virus.”  She looked up from her paperwork to take in the tension in all three men, and the tears standing in Daniel’s eyes.  “Now, please get out of my infirmary,” she stated firmly, “and take your bodyguards with you.”

That was fine with Jack – he had a Marine colonel to rip into small, bloody pieces.  And he was pretty sure he knew where he could get some help with that.

Chapter 5

 

Daniel lay impatiently, plucking agitated fingers at the medical tape that had caught in the hair at the back of his neck.  Jack and Teal’c had been gone for fifteen minutes and Teal’c… He swiped the hand that hadn’t been stuck with an IV needle over his eyes.  Teal’c knew.  And, at this point, Jack probably guessed.  He slammed his fist into the mattress and winced at the pain in his thigh.  Janet’s painkillers dulled the deeper bruises to constant, throbbing aches, but the stitches there where his skin had split after one too many kicks from the Touched pulled with every movement of his leg.  And the anger that coursed through him didn’t let him close his eyes and drift away in a drugged haze, but kept bringing him back to dwell on the sickening position he was in.  Caught, damn it.  He was caught. Between the military mind and the darkness of the human spirit.

It was almost funny - bile rose in Daniel’s throat at the idea.  He’d been arguing so hard that the mission of the newly formed Stargate Command had to include more than just the narrow-minded views of career soldiers that he hadn’t heard the general’s admission that cultural and scientific objectives would also be considered when evaluating missions.  Jack’s tired dismissal of this revelation had stuck in his throat, and, after the debriefing, after Lieutenant Johnson’s strange attack and trip to the infirmary, Daniel had hurried off to the showers while Jack had dealt with the clean-up.  It was his pride, his intention to avoid Jack’s presence, that had left him alone and vulnerable, again.

His stomach twisted.  Makepeace’s attack had been silent, swift, and suddenly Daniel found himself shoved hard against the sink, his hands automatically slapping against the wet porcelain to try to relieve the pressure on his groin.  But there was nowhere to go – the steely frame pressed against his back, legs holding him still, the fingers pressed into his hip, the arm across his bare chest – he could barely breathe let alone move.  The Marine had ground his hips into Daniel’s ass, the thick fatigues doing nothing to mask his rampant erection.

“Still worried about your 'frontside,' Jackson?”  Hot breath blew across his neck and Daniel remembered his panic as the mouth moved against his skin.  “Looks to me like you should have kept your mouth shut and listened to me, boy, your backside’s in some trouble here.”  One hand had ripped away Daniel’s towel and fingers had dug painfully into his butt, grabbing a handful of skin and muscle.  He’d grunted at the pain, but the fear had been worse, and the absolute certainty that, if the colonel was really intent on raping him, Daniel could do nothing to stop him.

“Nothing to say?” Makepeace’s voice had hissed in his ear.  “No smart remarks this time?  Cat got the civilian’s clever tongue in front of his betters?”  The laughter had vibrated through Daniel’s frame, leaving him shaking.  The sudden blaze of bright pain in his neck had stolen his plea for release, turning into a gasp.  When Makepeace’s teeth had finally released him, the trickle of blood down his back had turned to a roaring in his ears and he’d missed the distinct sound of the locker room door opening.  The colonel had just sunk his teeth into a spot on his shoulder when the pressure against Daniel’s back had abruptly disappeared and he’d fallen to his knees, panting, blinking away black spots that swam across his vision.

The sight of an enraged Jaffa with one arm clamped around Colonel Makepeace’s neck and the other holding his wrist high behind his back had eventually broken through his shock and Daniel had scrambled to his feet.  He’d stopped Teal’c from killing the Marine, assuring him over and over again that he was fine, that the now raving and growling officer must be ill, suffering from the same thing that had affected his teammate, while he’d clutched his towel around him, trying hard not to shake to pieces.  Talking fast, he’d convinced the Jaffa to escort the man to the infirmary, and Daniel had thrown himself back into the shower to wash away the blood and the shame.  Jack’s attack a few hours later had been a numb blur by comparison.

Military boot treads walking hesitantly across the concrete floor broke his memories into wisps of fleeting sensation and Daniel blinked his eyes open.  His heart beat sickeningly in his chest and his hands shook against a need to fight or flee.  He swallowed hard and forced his expression into neutrality as he slipped his hands beneath the sheet.

“Doctor Jackson.”

“Colonel Makepeace.”

~o~

Makepeace hadn’t been in his office, and Johnson claimed to have no idea where his CO had gone, so Jack and Teal’c made their way back towards the control room to initiate a search.

“You should have allowed me to kill him, O’Neill.”

Jack had been thinking the same thing when Teal’c had added, “A seasoned warrior who would seek out the weak, who would attack a scholar,” he spit the words out, “does not deserve to live.”  It had stopped him cold.

“Teal’c.”  Jack frowned, guilt spiking.  “You know I attacked Daniel, too.  Beat him up pretty good.”

The Jaffa turned to regard him.  He strode silently back to Jack’s side, his eyes troubled.  “Your attack was also undeserved, O’Neill, and dishonorable.”

“Yeah,” he rubbed at the back of his neck, “yeah, it was.”

Teal’c hesitated.  “Is this what General Hammond referred to in his debriefing as 'fall-out'?”

Jack snorted and shook his head.  “I guess so.”  He remembered the livid bruise along Daniel’s jaw and knew he’d put it there.  The wounds with Makepeace’s autograph may have been more… intimate… but Jack’s were put there by a friend.  How the hell could he rank them in terms of pain?  “Shit.”  He leaned down, bracing his hands against his knees as he struggled to control the bile that threatened to choke him.

When he raised his head, Teal’c was still there, watching.

“You are made ill by the memory of your deeds while under influence of the hilk’sha, O’Neill.”

“Huh.  You could say that.”  Makepeace’s anxiety in the briefing room, his desire to check on Daniel in the infirmary – the Marine had looked just like Jack felt.

“Does this give Colonel Makepeace the right to attack Daniel Jackson without consequence?”

Jack straightened.  “No.  No it doesn’t, Teal’c.”

~o~

By the time they’d figured it out, Jack’s internal alarms were deafening - he’d outpaced Teal’c in their headlong flight to reach Daniel’s side.  Racing into the infirmary, he’d made it to the bed next to Daniel’s before his mind registered what he was seeing.  He turned quickly and intercepted the heavily muscled Jaffa in his wake, grabbing two handfuls of Teal’c’s fatigue jacket to try to absorb some of his energy.

“Jack!”

The strain in Daniel’s voice seemed to help bring Teal’c back to Earth and Jack held on, keeping eye contact with his looming teammate as he settled, until he finally inclined his head in temporary acquiescence.  Jack smoothed the wrinkled fabric with a quick smile before he turned, girding himself to let Daniel take the lead in this.

“Daniel.  Makepeace.”

The Marine was standing beside Daniel’s bed, pitcher of water in one hand, cup in the other, the face he’d turned towards the avenging angels of SG-1 drawn and worn.  Daniel had been perched on one hip and elbow, his hand extended to receive the offered drink when he’d heard the commotion and turned horrified blue eyes on the interruption.  Makepeace recovered first and pushed the cup into Daniel’s hand before replacing the pitcher on the bedside table.  He faced Jack and Teal’c squarely, drawing himself up to his full height, the tendons standing out in his neck betraying his tension.

“O’Neill.  Teal’c.”  No resistance there, just acceptance of whatever judgment Daniel’s friends and teammates chose to impart.  But, Jack reminded himself, this wasn’t about their judgment, their need for vengeance.  This had to be about Daniel.

Daniel breathed a long, noisy sigh.  “I’m glad you’re here,” he managed steadily as he dropped back against the raised head of his bed, his skin momentarily flushed with his determination.  “I was just explaining the dynamic of the alpha male within the primitive society to Colonel Makepeace.  Extensive studies have been done by anthropologists and archaeologists about this particular set of behaviors,” he quickly added into the growing silence.

“Oh, yeah?  Fascinating stuff, is it, Makepeace?” Jack leaned one hip against the bed next to him.

Makepeace nodded warily.

Daniel swallowed a mouthful of water.  “The colonel was quite interested to learn that primitive alpha males went to great lengths to assure their dominance over other males within their tribal group or clan, using their larger and stronger physical size, and almost always through a show of force, of- of violence to some degree, until the weaker male capitulated.”

Jack locked eyes with the young archaeologist.  Daniel, he smiled to himself, listen to you.  You’re doing it, aren’t you?  You’re giving the bastard an out, handing him back his pride with both hands.

“Some alpha males,” Daniel continued, easily holding Jack’s stare with his own, “use basic brutality, beating their rivals into submission.”

Oh, crap, Jack thought.  Makepeace isn’t the only bastard you’re talking to, is he?

“Others,” the archaeologist continued, turning to the Marine, “acted out their aggression through sexual dominance of subordinate males.  Of course, this did not mean their sexuality was suspect, they still demanded the most fertile and desirable females, they simply used sexual aggression as a tactic to keep other males in their places.”

“Is that right?” Jack heard Makepeace whisper, a sliver of hope glittering behind the question.

“Yes,” Daniel nodded decisively, “it is right, Colonel.  It’s been widely documented.”

Hell, Daniel was determined that neither he nor Makepeace would fall on their proverbial swords or do something stupid like resign over their animalistic behavior while they’d been infected with the Touched virus.  And he was doing it while lying in a hospital bed, sweating, holding the pain at bay through sheer force of will.  Jack shook his head – Daniel was doing exactly what Hammond had ordered Jack to do, he was making sure that the soldiers, the aggressors, the alpha males, could put this behind them and move on.  Damn, his geek was amazing.

“Daniel Jackson.”  Teal’c moved in close, passing Jack and standing rigidly at Daniel’s side, mirroring Makepeace’s stance across the bed.  “Is there anything you require of these two men?”

Jack felt his chin come up and watched a similar reaction on Makepeace’s face.

“I don’t know, Teal’c,” Daniel groaned, easing his exhausted body further into the soft pillows, “how about a couple of 'get out of jail free cards' for when I do something equally brainless.”  Jack watched the blue eyes close in relief.  No, Danny, no bloodshed.  No revenge, not even self-inflicted.  If you forgive us we have to try to forgive ourselves.  Your job is done; go to sleep.

The Jaffa raised one eyebrow and focused on the wall over Daniel’s head.  “There is little chance of that ever happening, Daniel Jackson,” he whispered.

That’s good, Teal’c, Jack thought.  You watch over him.  He glanced at Makepeace and saw an answering darkness reflected in the Marine’s eyes.

“Time to do our jobs,” he stated as they walked out of the infirmary, side by side.

END

 

 

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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.