A hand, my hand, holds Jack by the hair, pulling his head back slightly to expose his throat. The other hand brings Jack's own knife to press against his neck.
"Daniel, stop! Fight it!"
Sam's agonized shout demands a response. But I don't have control. I can't stop and I can't fight. The Goa'uld forces me to watch, to look Jack in the eye as the hand--my hand--forces the point of the knife, puncturing the skin of his neck. A strange look crosses Jack's face just before he gives the tiniest shake of his head.
"Don't blame yourself, Daniel."
The Goa'uld laughs with my voice and slashes viciously, parting skin and tendon and artery without resistance. Oh, God, no--
"Damn it, Daniel!"
My eyes snap open. Jack is sitting up in his sleeping bag, rubbing his nose. He turns an angry glare on me. The tension starts to seep out of his shoulders as soon as he realizes what happened.
"Apparently," I croak, looking away, unable to look him in the eye. Not after looking him in the eye while I slit his throat.
"Nightmare...Goa'uld memory...flashback...something," I mumble.
"Ah. A Goa'uld symbiote--the gift that keeps on giving," Jack says dryly.
"Do you ever get them?"
"From the Goa'uld?" Jack asks. I nod. I mean--I know he gets them because of his past. Hell, I do, too. But these are different.
"Nah, little bastard wasn't in my head long enough for that. Sorry," Jack adds, seeing the disappointment on my face.
"Don't be. I wouldn't wish this on anyone," I tell him honestly.
I do wish there was someone who understood what I'm going through but no, I wouldn't wish the 'snake in the head' experience on anyone.
"Except maybe Kinsey."
"One can always hope," Jack says, his smile barely visible in the dim firelight diffusing around the open tent flaps. We both sit quietly for a moment, staring at our hands, contemplating the sadistic nature of fate. And, in Jack's case, probably wondering why he's losing sleep when I'm the one who got snaked.
"Maybe you should talk to Carter," Jack suggests softly.
"It's not the same."
Sam was host to a benevolent--for the most part--creature. One who left Sam her memories as a gift, not as a punishment. I know that some of those memories are painful, but they're not intentionally cruel.
Before he died, Tharis--or whatever the hell his name really was--dumped his bloody, twisted memories in my head. And more. He also left me with his sick fantasy--namely killing my teammates in front of my very eyes.
"Maybe you should talk to MacKenzie," Jack says even more quietly.
"I thought you wanted get rid of the nightmares," I say. "Not give me new ones."
Jack just shrugs an acknowledgment.
"They're happening a lot?"
"They come and go," I tell him. Yeah. They come when I'm asleep and go when I'm awake.
"Think you can sleep now?"
"Think I'll just get up and relieve Teal'c," I say, checking my watch.
"Jack, don't worry about it. It always takes me a while to settle back down and by then it'll be my turn on watch anyway," I explain. Jack sits for a moment, lips pressed tightly together as he thinks. "I'll catch a couple more hours of sleep after my watch."
"I'm sure." I am. These dreams or visions or whatever they are generally kill my desire to sleep for the rest of the night. Sometimes for several nights. I might as well go do something useful.
I watch and wait for Sam to respond. She's basking in the sun, lying on top of a weathered boulder. It's a while before she stirs lazily.
I toss her a canteen and jump up on top of the boulder to join her. It was my turn to make the water run. A duty I was more than happy to take on given that Jack and Teal'c were engaged in a belligerent discussion of the relative pros and cons of their respective fitness regimens. I mean--it was only a matter of time before they started beating their chests and grunting at each other.
"Daniel, are you getting anything from this place?" Sam asks after taking a sip from the canteen.
"You mean like advancing a theory, adding to a particular body of knowledge, or discovering the meaning of life?" I ask. She nods, her eyes sparkling with amusement.
"Not in the slightest," I confess.
"Me neither," she says, smothering a giggle. We sit quietly for a moment, just enjoying the sun's warmth and each other's company.
"So, we should probably tell the colonel?"
This is the second of four scheduled days on P7Z-288. P7Z is like many of the worlds we've visited before. Carbon based life. Oxygen rich atmosphere. Trees. There's a real "spring" feel to the place. The air is mild. The plant life is lush and blooming everywhere you look. It's beautiful. Peaceful.
"Not for all the fish in Minnesota," I say firmly. Sam doesn't bother suppressing the giggle this time. She casually nudges me in the shoulder.
"I'm fine," I say quickly.
"You look tired."
"Haven't been sleeping all that well," I admit. But Sam already knows that. Canvas is not the greatest sound-proofing material. I'm sure she and Teal'c are both aware of my nightmares.
"Do Jolinar's memories ever sneak up on you?" I ask abruptly. I know. I told Jack it wouldn't do any good to talk to Sam. But just on the off chance I'm wrong....
"Sort of," Sam says thoughtfully. "I mean, they usually aren't something I can recall at will. Normally there has to be something that triggers them. But they're just sort of there. I'm aware of them but I know it's Jolinar's memory, not mine. And I don't think I've ever had nightmares because of them."
"Oh." That's pretty much what I thought.
"Of course, her memories aren't as awful as the Goa'uld's," Sam says. "Not for the most part."
"Not to mention that her reactions would have been different," I say. "Honestly, one of the most disturbing aspects of these memories is how much the Goa'uld enjoyed committing atrocities."
"Yeah, that would be hard to stomach," Sam agrees. "But in my experience the images fade with time. The first time I 'see' one of Jolinar's memories it's pretty strong but it subsides fairly rapidly. Right?"
"Oh, sure," I say quickly. Well, it's partially true. The real memories the Goa'uld left me have been fading steadily into the background. They're unpleasant but I can usually deal with them. Sometimes even ignore them completely. Unfortunately, these other images, the ones that aren't--can't be--real, they aren't fading. If anything, they're becoming more intense.
"Daniel?" Sam says skeptically.
"They are," I insist. "Just maybe not as fast as I'd like."
"Well, maybe a couple more days on a nice peaceful planet like this will help," Sam suggests.
"Probably," I agree. "And that would be a very good excuse for us to stay here."
"So there wouldn't be any reason to tell the colonel we've finished our assigned tasks."
"No. We definitely have a valid excuse for staying. It's not like we'd be deceiving Jack."
"Absolutely not," Sam nods firmly.
"So," Sam nods. "You know, there's another really nice boulder just on the other side of this valley. Overlooks a little pond."
"Are there any fish in the pond?"
"Last one there is a symbiote!"
We've finished our four days on P7Z and we're now dutifully trudging back to the stargate. Teal'c is on point and Sam's just a short distance ahead of me. I can feel Jack's eyes on the back of my neck. I've got to find some way to deflect his concern before he hauls me into MacKenzie. Because he will, no matter how reluctant he may be to do it.
I dig some M&Ms out of my pocket and start flicking them at Sam. Hey--when you're running short on sleep you need something to keep you going. Coffee and chocolate have always been the magic combo for me.
"What the...?" Sam brushes at the side of her neck and turns to look at Jack and me suspiciously.
"Something wrong, Carter?" Jack asks casually. He knows what I did but he's got that little boy sense of honor. No way is he going to rat me out.
Sam stares a moment longer then gives an exasperated little shake of her head before turning forward again. I bounce another candy off of her head. Sam flinches but refuses to turn around. So I do it again, watching the tension growing in her shoulders. This is completely juvenile. Apparently so am I. The truth is I'm having fun. And I can sense Jack's grin at my back.
My next toss hits Sam in the neck. Her hand slaps against her skin lightning fast, catching the M&M before it falls. She looks at her prize and immediately turns her accusing eyes on me. Well, yeah--I'm the only one who brings M&M's on a mission.
I just smile innocently. The second her eyes drop I toss another and she whirls on me in mock anger.
"Damn it, Daniel--stop!"
Sam is kneeling in front of me. My hand, encased by a ribbon device, is pressed firmly against her forehead.
"Daniel, please don't do this."
I realize my hand is stained with blood. Jack's body is lying on the ground just to Sam's right. The pool of blood under his head is still growing. It can't have been long since I...the Goa'uld...we slit his throat. Jack's blood is on my hands--literally as well as figuratively.
My stomach starts to churn just as the ribbon device pulses with corrupt power. Sam's eyelids flutter as the energy burns into her brain. She manages to choke out my name one last time.
"Daniel!" For a moment there's an overlap between reality and illusion, the mundane and the grotesque, but Sam's sharp cry brings me fully back to the here and now. The sense of disorientation has me stumbling to my knees, gritting my teeth against the bile rising in my throat.
"Flashback?" Jack asks from somewhere above my right shoulder.
"Or something," I mutter.
"All right, everyone take ten," Jack orders. I flinch away instinctively when he touches my shoulder. "Okay," he says, backing off a couple of steps. "Take it easy. Same one?"
"Yes. No. Sort of," I finally manage to stammer out. I don't want to have to explain what it is I saw.
"Daniel?" Sam says softly as she crouches down in front of me.
"I'm fine," I say, looking up at her. "I am."
"You going to be able to make it back to the gate?" Jack asks.
"Yes. I just...I just need a minute, okay?"
"If you require assistance, Daniel Jackson...."
"No!" I say a little more sharply than I had intended. I push myself up to my feet. "No. Thank you, Teal'c, but I can manage."
"Let's move it out then," Jack says. His tone is casual but his eyes are fixed on me and he's got that look. I suppose I might as well start penciling those weekly sessions with MacKenzie in on my calendar.
Teal'c motions silently ahead of us. Not twenty yards away there's a man dressed in the hallmark tacky attire of a Goa'uld. Damn it. Five more minutes and we would've been back to the gate. We would've been safe.
"Isn't this planet supposed to be deserted?" Jack hisses angrily.
Like that means anything. Look what happened last time we went to an uninhabited planet. Moon. Whatever.
"He most likely arrived through the stargate just recently," Teal'c theorizes.
"I don't care when he got here," Jack says. "I want to know if there's anymore with...."
I'm on my feet and moving before I even realize I'm going to do it.
"Daniel? Damn it, Daniel!" Jack's fingertips brush my pant leg as he lunges for me. I evade him easily and move toward the Goa'uld, anger surging.
"I've had it," I spit, grabbing my boonie and throwing it violently at the ground as I advance on the startled Goa'uld. "I am sick to death of you sick little parasites showing up everywhere we go."
I hear voices behind me but I can't make out what they're saying. Or maybe I just don't want to. The Goa'uld is staring at me, his eyes nearly bugging out in astonishment at the crazy Tau'ri bearing down on him.
"You want a piece of me?" I shout. "Well, guess what. You're too late."
I'm on him, kicking and punching and lost in a black fog of anger. I'm sure the Goa'uld's shock is the only reason he didn't ribbon me to a crisp before I could get within five feet of him. Before I know it, Jack's pulling me up off the snake but I'm still swinging my arms, looking for just one more shot. Teal'c takes control of the Goa'uld, putting a heavy, booted foot across its neck while Sam relieves it of its weapons.
"Daniel! God damn it, Daniel, stop!" Jack shouts in my ear. I finally give up, sagging back against Jack as the blood lust drains away. Jack pulls me upright, turns me around and grabs me by the shoulders. "What the hell did you think you were doing?!?"
"I don't...I don't know," I admit.
Jack stares intently into my eyes. I don't know what he sees there because I sure as hell don't know what's going on in my head. I just gape at Jack, stunned by my own stupidity, my overwhelming rage...and yet, strangely, feeling no regret.
"Right." Jack's voice grates on my ears. "As of five minutes ago, Jackson, you're suspended from duty."
"Wha...? No," I protest.
"Yes," Jack says angrily. "I damn well will not be responsible for you getting yourself killed. Or the rest of us. Until you check out 100% A-OK you are not going off world again."
Right. So that would be daily sessions with MacKenzie then.
"Feeling better?" Jack asks as he ambles slowly into the infirmary.
"Peachy," I answer, banging my heel aggressively against the frame of the gurney I'm sitting on. While the rest of SG-1 has been debriefing and dealing with our captive, I've been subjected to Janet Fraiser's own personal brand of sado-medicine. I'm absolutely certain that some of the tests she ran on me aren't sanctioned by the AMA.
"What's up with the Goa'uld?" I ask.
"Turns out it's a good witch, not a bad witch."
"I've heard that before."
"Apparently this time it's true," Jack says, a slight lift of his shoulders indicating his own reluctance to accept the news. "The Tok'ra vouch for him."
"Oh. Er...did I hurt him?" Now I do feel bad. Not only did I go off half cocked, putting my team at risk, but I attacked someone who isn't even an enemy.
"Nothing the symbiote can't fix." Jack taps his fingers against the metal cover of my chart. "So. What were you thinking?"
"I don't know," I confess. "It was just...too soon. I saw a Goa'uld and I got angry. Maybe a little scared. I just reacted."
"That's not like you, Daniel," Jack says quietly.
"I'm a little stressed out," I admit reluctantly. Jack just nods his agreement. "Fraiser is putting me on restricted duty."
Great. Another "crazy Daniel" story is probably already shooting along the wires of the SGC grapevine. It's really tough to shake that 'flaky' description when every time I turn around some alien machine/entity/drug is making me act a little...nuts.
"Colonel, would you excuse us?"
Uh oh. Fraiser's back and she's acting all stiff and formal. This is not good news for me.
"Later," Jack tells me. Much later if the look on Janet's face is anything to go by.
"Daniel...." Janet begins as soon as Jack's gone.
"I don't need MacKenzie," I tell Janet firmly.
Oh, boy. "Dr. Jackson." I'm definitely in trouble here.
"Look, MacKenzie may--I emphasize may--be competent in normal human psychiatric care," I argue. "But he's proven that he doesn't have the first clue when it comes to dealing with alien interference."
"Dr. MacKenzie has a lot of experience in treating PTSD," Janet says calmly.
"That's my point," I snap. "PTSD is the result of a bad experience. An experience a person has actually lived through. I don't have a problem with my memories. Granted, I don't get a warm fuzzy feeling when I think about having a snake in my head, but that's not what's bothering me. The so called memories that are keeping me up at night are artificial. Alien."
"I realize that they're actually the Goa'uld's memories, but in a sense, they're your memories now," Janet persists.
"No, that's not it. The Goa'uld left images in my mind," I try to explain. "Some of them are his memories. But some of them aren't. Some of them...they're not real."
"How can you be sure?"
"Is Jack still alive? And Sam and Teal'c?"
"Yes, of course. What does that...oh. Oh, I see," Janet says thoughtfully. "Still...."
"Can you tell me that the therapy that treats PTSD will work the same on an implanted false memory?" I challenge. "Can you tell me that psychobabbling to a shrink will lessen or eliminate the feelings I have about events that never even happened?"
"Daniel," Janet sighs. "You know there are no guarantees, but the nightmares and the flashback Colonel O'Neill told me about sound like classic PTSD. It's worth trying psychiatric intervention. Bottom line--we have to do something and this is the logical place to start."
"I don't have any choice, do I?" I ask, realization dawning. Fraiser drops her eyes, unable to look me in the face. That's all the confirmation I need. God bless America: Land of the Free...unless the military owns your ass. "Why won't you give me a chance to work it out myself first?"
"Because it's been a month since the Goa'uld was removed. You've had time."
"I need a little more," I plead.
"It's not getting any better, is it?" Janet prods. I don't bother answering. The fact that I had one of these nightmares while awake proves it's not getting better.
"This isn't just about protecting the Stargate program, either," Janet says, preempting my next argument. "We're worried about you."
"You were worried about me before, too, and I still ended up in a padded room!" Not to mention drugged to the gills.
"That won't happen again," Janet says tersely. Her face flushes with a mix of anger and guilt.
"No guarantees--that's what you said, right?" I remind her sharply.
"Not about the efficacy of the treatment," Janet agrees. "I promise you won't end up in a psych ward again."
"You can't make that promise," I say bitterly. "I'll do something...crazy that will make you change your mind. Or someone higher up in the military food chain will take it out of your hands. You'll be doing what you think is best, I know that, but I'll still end up locked up, hidden away."
I hurry along C corridor. I am so late. I was supposed to have this report to SG-10 an hour ago. The fact that I'm on restricted duty doesn't mean that I can afford to slack off. Quite the contrary. If I don't get my shit together soon Hammond will have my butt back in the infirmary before I can say....
"Daniel! Hey, Daniel, wait up."
A hand clamps onto my shoulder and I whip around.
"I said kneel before your God."
The Goa'uld grabs Jack's arm, twisting it, and forces him to his knees. The Goa'uld is so powerful. It requires so little of his true strength to subdue Jack.
"Ah!" Jack winces. "Hey, I've got a little cartilage problem in the knees, you know. And I know you know 'cause Daniel knows."
"You will not suffer pain in your knees for much longer," the Goa'uld promises.
"Yeah," Jack says slowly. "Normally I'd be happy to hear that...but I've got the feeling that something else is going to be hurting."
"Not for long, O'Neill." The Goa'uld leans forward and spits the words right into Jack's face. "Soon, you will feel no pain at all. Soon you will feel nothing at all. Ever again."
I struggle a moment longer before I realize that I'm wrestling with a couple of bewildered airmen. I stop abruptly, not wanting to hurt anyone. Including myself. As soon as I stop struggling one of the men releases his hold on my arm. The other keeps a firm grip on my shirt, eyeing me with both surprise and suspicion.
"I'm sorry." It's a general apology since I'm not quite sure what I did. Or to whom.
"It's all right, Sergeant."
My head whips around at the sound of Jack's voice. He's down on the floor, flat on his butt. He shifts his legs under him and crouches, resting on one knee.
"I said stand down," Jack says more firmly. The airman releases me cautiously. "Appreciate the help but we're fine now. You can go." The sergeant still hesitates. "I can make that an order."
The two airmen finally walk away, throwing suspicious looks back over their shoulders. I turn back to Jack and lean over to offer him a hand up. He instinctively flinches away from me before giving himself a shake and grasping my hand.
"Well, that was embarrassing," Jack says as he climbs slowly to his feet.
"Um...did I...did I do that?"
"Oh, yeah." Jack looks at me and sighs. "Come on."
"To see Fraiser."
"No, I can't."
Jack reaches out to grab my arm and stops at the last second. He holds his hands up, palms forward, presumably to show me that he's not a threat.
"Yes, you can."
"No, I can't. I have to get this report to SG-10." I crouch down to gather up the scattered papers.
"I'll take the report," Jack says, yanking the folder from my hand and scooping up the rest of the pages. "You--infirmary. Now." He shakes a warning finger at me and heads down the hall.
"Fine. Going now," I mutter to myself. "But it won't help."
"Daniel...." Sam begins reluctantly.
"This is all MacKenzie's fault," I interrupt, plopping down in my chair. I was right. The infirmary was no help.
"How so?" Jack asks sharply, rubbing at his butt. He stops immediately when he realizes that we're all watching him.
"Because he wants me to tell him everything but he doesn't listen to a word I say," I complain. "He wants me to tell him, in detail, how...." My voice trails off. I haven't told Sam, Jack or Teal'c exactly what my visions are about. I don't want to. "He wants me relive it so we can 'dig deeper and uncover the cause' of my...flashbacks."
Jack shuffles his feet. I'm sure he's torn between his genuine distrust of MacKenzie and wanting to tell me to get with the program already.
"Sometimes you have to get down and dirty to find the important stuff," Jack finally says.
"Oh, please. MacKenzie couldn't find his id with both hands and a flashlight!" I snap. Jack ducks his head quickly but not before I see the grin.
"There's no need to dig around my subconscious. This has nothing to do with my past or my relationships with...with anyone. The Goa'uld put this in my head." I snort in derision. "And MacKenzie just keeps asking me why the Goa'uld would do that."
"Because it's a Goa'uld," Jack says.
"Exactly!" I say, waving a hand at Jack.
"The Goa'uld need no further reason than the opportunity to cause suffering," Teal'c agrees. And he should know.
"And I'm on medical leave, effective immediately," I grumble.
"You confined to base?" Jack asks.
"No." I suppose I should be thankful for small mercies. "I'm supposed to go home, rest, and follow up with MacKenzie."
"Maybe that's not such a bad idea, Daniel," Sam says. "You're not getting any rest if you're hanging around here, burying your nose in work."
I give Sam a dirty look. Like she's got any room to talk. I'm not the one Jack is always telling to get a life.
"Yeah, yeah," I mumble as I gather up some notes. All three of them watch silently as I start packing my briefcase.
"Daniel Jackson, did you not just say that Dr. Fraiser ordered you to rest?" Teal'c asks, staring at my briefcase pointedly.
"You know me. If I don't have something to do, I really will go crazy."
"Yeah, okay...just try to keep a limit on it, okay?" Jack says.
"I will. I am tired and I'll be more than happy to get some sleep." Even more happy if I could get some uninterrupted sleep. I close my briefcase. "This is just to keep me out of trouble."
"Ha!" Jack says sarcastically. "Famous last words."
My hand holds a symbiote.
It squirms and hisses, trying to escape my grasp. Teal'c stands before me, a fine sheen of sweat covering his skin.
It's his symbiote.
I don't know how long the symbiote has been away from the protection of Teal'c's pouch, but Teal'c is obviously suffering, and Junior's struggling is weak. My hands suddenly grasp the immature Goa'uld, hold it up in front of Teal'c's face, and twist sharply. The symbiote dies with one last squeal of pain and outrage. Teal'c's face remains nearly impassive.
"I shall enjoy watching your slow and excruciatingly painful death," my voice taunts. "But even more appealing... you will live long enough to watch your Tau'ri friends die."
God, there couldn't be anything worse for Teal'c. Death is something he's faced before and he's made his own kind of peace with it. But forcing him to stand by helplessly as Sam and Jack are murdered...I suspect he will welcome death after that.
I'm so sorry, Teal'c. I'd stop him if I could. You know that, don't you?
"Tell me, sholva, how does it feel to know that Daniel Jackson will be the instrument of your demise?"
"Daniel Jackson would never do such a thing," Teal'c says, his voice rough but firm.
"No? Perhaps he would not initiate such an action," the Goa'uld agrees. "He is weak that way. But he will not be sorry to see it happen."
Teal'c's eyes narrow as he tries to read the Goa'uld's face. My stolen face.
"You took his wife, gave her to us, and then murdered her before his eyes." The Goa'uld laughs harshly. "No, he would not kill you himself, but as long as he can blame another for the act, he will not be sorry to see it."
God, that's not true! Yes, I've distrusted, even hated Teal'c at times. I'm only human. But I have never, would never, wish for let alone enjoy his death.
"If that were the case," Teal'c says calmly, "then I would not blame Daniel Jackson. Revenge is his right and I would not deny him that."
What? No! Damn it, Teal'c. There's no revenge, no 'right'. I struggle to break through the Goa'uld's control. I can't let Teal'c die thinking that I wanted it. God damn it! Let me....
I put my hand to the sharp pain in my forehead and look around me, dazed. I'm on my knees on my bedroom floor. The room is dark and quiet, just as it was when I finally went to bed. Something runs into my eye, blurring my vision. I take my hand away from my forehead to wipe my eyes and stare at my bloody palm. Stunned, I look around for the responsible assailant. My eyes come to rest on the bedside table just inches away. Great. I must have fallen or run into it during my dream. Nightmare. Whatever.
I stumble into the bathroom, leaving a trail of blood drops behind me. I turn on the light, blinking painfully at the harsh assault on my fatigued eyes. Almost blindly I fumble for a towel or washcloth to hold against my forehead. I've been knocked on the head enough times to know that even minor scalp wounds can bleed like crazy. I just need to put some pressure on it to stop the flow of blood.
I close the toilet lid and sit down, holding the towel to my forehead and trying to forget the latest installment of "This is Your Life: Goa'uld version." Once I estimate that five minutes have passed, I force myself to my feet. I remove the towel and look in the mirror. Damn. The gash is deep...and still bleeding briskly.
"So what exactly happened?" Jack's voice is both sharp and weary.
Don't look at me. I'm not the one who dragged him out of bed at four in the morning. And I certainly didn't ask Janet to do it either. As if reading my mind, Fraiser tugs sharply at the stitch she's putting in my forehead. Sadist.
"Nothing," I mumble. "I fell."
"Getting out of bed?" Jack asks sarcastically.
"It was dark. I didn't have my glasses on."
"Even you aren't that big a klutz, Daniel."
"Well, apparently I am."
"You were having a nightmare," Janet says.
"You need to stay in the infirmary until we can get this under control," she says.
"There's absolutely no reason why I should have to be in the infirmary," I argue.
"Daniel, look at you," Jack says in exasperation. "You're covered in blood."
Yeah, okay, so I'm not looking my best right now. That's hardly grounds for committal.
"Scalp wounds bleed heavily," Janet says.
"Yes, I know. They look bad."
"No, Daniel," Janet says in clipped tones. "I mean head wounds bleed heavily. A significant laceration can cause enough blood loss to require a transfusion."
"Okay, but...this one isn't that bad," I argue.
"I think she's just trying to point out that it could have been," Jack interjects. "Hell, Daniel, if you weren't so damn thick-headed you would've cracked your skull open."
"You really want to get into a discussion about thick-headedness with me?" I just glare at Jack. He scowls but doesn't pursue the matter. "There's no need for me to go to the infirmary. It was dark, I was half-asleep, I got disoriented and bumped into the table. It happens to people all the time."
"Daniel...." Janet begins.
"Are you going to force me? Because that's the only way I'm going."
"No," Janet says with a weary sigh. "Not yet."
"Please eat, Daniel Jackson."
I look up from the magazine in my hands, the one that appears to have been written in one of the languages I don't speak. I certainly don't seem capable of comprehending it. It might help if the lines of print would quit wiggling around.
"You must eat," Teal'c repeats kindly but firmly. "Then rest."
On a good day, it's a barely equal battle of wills when Teal'c and I butt heads. Today is not a good day. I rub my eyes and accept the plate warily. I relax a little when I see that he hasn't prepared Jaffa size portions. I've quietly worked my way through half the turkey sandwich before I realize that Teal'c doesn't have a plate of his own.
"Aren't you eating?" I ask.
"I do not need nourishment at this time."
"Um...okay." I chew at another bite of sandwich. "You can make yourself at home, you know?"
"I am quite comfortable in your home, Daniel Jackson."
"Okay. Good." I set my plate down on the end table, suddenly full. "You don't have to do this. I mean--I appreciate the concern but I can take care of myself."
Apparently Jack, with all his usual subtlety, has decided I can't be left to my own devices. Over the last few days there have been a lot of 'just in the neighborhood, thought I'd drop by' visits by my teammates. Except for the fact that Teal'c is never in the neighborhood without a specific reason, I might actually buy it. Not.
"Jack's just a worry wart," I tell Teal'c. "And I'm fine."
Teal'c's answering look is less than convinced which just irritates the hell out of me.
"You don't have to take care of me. I don't need it and you shouldn't have to waste your time."
"On the contrary, I agree with O'Neill. And I consider it a privilege, not a duty, to assist you. I owe you a great deal, my friend."
"I owe Daniel Jackson much. Perhaps even my life." Teal'c's voice shakes a little, the loss of his symbiote taking its toll.
"Look at the once proud First Prime," the Goa'uld taunts. "Reduced to 'owing' a lowly Tau'ri scum."
"There is much that I have taken from Daniel Jackson. There is even more that he has given me freely. My life is not too great a price to pay" Teal'c looks into my eyes.
"We are now even, Daniel Jackson."
I stumble as I shoot up from the couch, shaking and sweaty. I have to get out of here. I have to get away from it...me...whoever. I turn blindly, only to run smack into Teal'c. I take one look at his face before turning the other direction to run for the bathroom.
After losing what little I'd just eaten, I sort of puddle on the bathroom floor, laying my head on the cool tiles. I'm not sure how much time passes before I hear someone try the doorknob.
"Daniel, open up before I have to force the issue."
The doorknob rattles vigorously as Jack's voice calls through the locked door. I stumble to my feet and unlock the door. Jack pushes it open slowly.
"You look like crap."
"Where's Teal'c?" I ask, ignoring Jack's assessment of my current state of presentability.
"He called me, then left as soon as I got here," Jack explains. "He was under the impression that you found his presence disturbing."
"Damn," I mutter, trying push by Jack. "I've got to call him."
"Later," Jack says. I'm so wiped out that he barely has to exert any effort at all to push me back into the bathroom.
"Jack, I have to explain. It wasn't Teal'c. Not really. I was...it was...."
"He knows, Daniel," Jack says firmly. "You were having a flashback. Don't worry about it. He understands."
I need to have a talk with Teal'c. I have to be sure.... Teal'c has always taken full responsibility for his actions while First Prime of Apophis. And I know he regrets having to kill Sha're, even though he did it to save my life. But he's not a quitter. I really don't think Teal'c would just sit there and allow me to kill him. Not like the Teal'c in the vision. I'm sure.... Pretty sure....
I need to have a little talk with Teal'c.
"You can talk to him later," Jack promises. "Now--get back in there, take a shower, put on some clean clothes and I'll find something for you to eat."
"Fruit," I call after Jack.
"Fruit?" Jack asks indignantly. "I said food, Daniel."
"Fruit is food, Jack. And that's what I want."
Feeling marginally better after a hot shower, I join Jack in the living room. He passes me a plate. I settle myself on the couch with a sense of deja vu and take a look. Apple slices...and cheese.
"I said fruit," I say, waving an accusatory cheese slice at Jack.
"Think of it as cow fruit."
"Cow...?" I shake my head to rid it of a very strange image. Jack has the oddest way of looking at things.
"You need protein," Jack says, waving a hand at my plate.
"How long are you going to do this babysitting thing?" I ask as I start in on the apple slices.
"Long as it takes," Jack says blandly. "Until Fraiser clears you for duty again."
"You'll drive me crazy."
"Paybacks are hell," Jack agrees, leaning over to grab some cheese from my plate.
I do not drive Jack crazy. He just needs to learn to be a little more...flexible.
"In the meantime, Teal'c is harassing the new recruits and Carter is doing something very scary with unstable elements. They're having fun."
"And you?" I ask pointedly.
"According to Doc Fraiser--given my current assignment--it's a toss up as to which of us will end up in the infirmary first," Jack says with an evil grin. "I got twenty bucks says it's you. And you know how I hate to lose."
"Go fish," Jack says. I reach for a card unthinkingly. Then Jack's words finally penetrate my brain and the cards are startled from my hand.
"I thought we were playing gin," I say, staring at my cards which are now scattered across the coffee table.
"We were," Jack says, casually gathering all of the cards in. "But I don't think your mind is on the game."
I get up and pace the living room, just to get some blood flowing. I've reached the stage of exhaustion where I feel fuzzy headed. Not surprising, given that it's the wee hours of the morning. And given that I haven't had more than two or three hours of sleep at a stretch in way too many days.
I tried to sleep earlier, I really did. But even after a hot shower and some food I just couldn't settle down. It's like my mind panics every time I even think about sleep and skitters away from the idea as fast as it can. And it's not like I don't have these flashbacks occasionally when I'm awake, too. But the ones that come in my sleep are always stronger...and scarier.
"Why don't you go to bed?" Jack suggests quietly as I open the balcony doors to let in some fresh air. I just shake my head. He gives a resigned sigh and goes to the kitchen to get himself a beer.
"Well, there's nothing on TV. You're too tired to play chess," he continues when he returns to the living room. "Guess we'll just have to talk."
"About what?" I ask apprehensively. Jack--me--talk: what's wrong with this picture?
"What do you want to talk about?" Jack asks.
"Not the flashbacks. It's bad enough they've taken over my sleep. I don't want to spend the rest of my time thinking about them."
"I know what it's like," Jack says seriously. "I know what it's like when a part of your brain takes over and you lose control of your own actions. And--as much as I hate to admit it--talking about it is something you have to do."
"I hate shrinks."
"They have a purpose, though," Jack says reluctantly.
"Did you talk to a shrink?"
"Sort of. He played his head games," Jack says with a vicious grin. "And I played mine."
"So what did you do?"
"I'd schmooze the shrink, get drunk, go home and scare the bejeezus out of Sara," Jack says bluntly.
"You should've talked to someone," I insist. Jack hates what he did to his family, and himself, after he got back from Iraq. It still sneaks up on him from time to time even now.
"Of course, but talk to someone else. You should never have had to deal with all that alone. You shouldn't have to keep dealing with it." I hesitate. "You know you can talk to me, don't you?"
"Your plate's a little full right now, Daniel. Why don't you try unloading some of your own crap before taking on any of mine?"
"I can't talk to MacKenzie."
"Okay, then you can just talk to me," Jack says.
"Hoist on my own petard," I respond bitterly. I should've seen that coming.
"Touché," Jack says, taking a swig of his beer.
"You sure you want to hear this?" I ask.
"How bad can it be?" Jack says flippantly. He looks at me and his expression sobers. "Okay, that was.... Go ahead."
"I take Teal'c's symbiote and kill it," I say bluntly. The only way I can say this is to just do it. "But I leave him alive so he can watch you and Sam die. Teal'c doesn't care about himself. He tells me it's okay because we're even now."
"Fuck," Jack says vehemently before belting back half the bottle.
"And Sam--I use the ribbon device on her. Cook her brains right in her skull," I confess. "She just keeps trying to talk to me. Trying to get through to me." I swallow hard. "Her body keeps twitching even after she's dead."
Jack grimaces and I close my eyes. I can't look at him and tell him the rest.
"You.... I slit your throat," I whisper. "Use your knife to do it."
I open my eyes again and look over apprehensively. Jack sits as if frozen. I think he's afraid that if he so much as blinks I'll stop. Or maybe he's afraid I'll go on.
"Before I...before I do it you look at me and tell me not to blame myself."
"How very gallant of me," Jack jokes feebly. I'm not fooled. His hands are shaking almost as badly as mine.
"Jesus, Daniel," he mutters, wiping his hand across his face.
"Tell me about it."
"Bottom line--it didn't happen," Jack finally says. Jack raises his chin and pats his throat. "Still unblemished. Well, a little wrinkled maybe, but no scars. Teal'c and Junior are both fine. And Carter's brains are still in working order. Trust me on this."
His vehemence on this last topic takes me by surprise. I give him a questioning look.
"You know that new assistant of hers?"
"Lewis," Jack agrees. "She's driving him fucking nuts," he continues in a "better him than me" tone.
"I doubt it," I say. "Lewis is a geek, too."
"Yeah, sure he's a geek. But Carter's an uber-geek."
"Don't laugh," Jack says, pointing the beer bottle at me. "You're the reason I had to create subdivisions within geekdom."
"Yeah. I always thought there were two basic kinds of geeks: science geeks and the other ordinary all-around geeks," Jack explains. "You acted kind of like a science geek but you weren't a normal science geek."
"You didn't have a pocket protector."
"That is such a stereotype," I complain.
"Once I got called into the stargate program and had to spend lots of time with science geeks, I realized there were whole subsets in geekdom," Jack continues, ignoring my protest. "You and Carter, though, you two had taken geekiness to a whole other level. You went beyond geekiness. You're uber-geeks."
"The way your mind works is really very frightening at times."
"Back atcha," Jack says amiably.
"This is not helping."
"You can't beat yourself up over these nightmares, Daniel."
"I know but...."
"It's what the Goa'uld wanted, Daniel. Not you."
"I know. I'm working on it."
"I'm hungry," Jack says abruptly, grabbing the empty beer bottle and striding toward the kitchen. "You got anything to eat in here? Besides fruit?"
"It's 3:30 a.m.," I tell him.
"What's your point?" he asks, pausing in the doorway to give me a bewildered stare.
"I have no idea," I tell the now empty room.
"You know what's frustrating?"
"Aside from the obvious?" Jack asks dryly.
I'm making a flying visit after one of my mandatory sessions with MacKenzie. The other three members of SG-1 have spontaneously congregated in my office. At least I think it was spontaneous. You can never be sure about these things when Jack's gone into mother hen mode.
"Yeah, aside from that. I think there's a way to stop these visions, or whatever they are, but I just can't put my finger on it." I pace around the office, exhausted and running on nothing more than fumes. "It's like when you're trying to remember the name of a song or an actor and you know you know it but you can't recall it consciously."
"On the tip of your tongue?" Jack asks.
"In a manner of speaking." I clench my hands in frustration. "It's there. I know it is."
"Maybe we should try asking the Tok'ra for help again," Sam suggests. Jack makes a disgusted snort.
"The Tok'ra have already indicated that they have no knowledge of this type of mind control," Teal'c points out.
Yeah. The Tok'ra we'd 'captured'--the one I'd assaulted--responded to the question very indignantly. He said that implanting destructive images into a host was something they had never and would never do.
"Right," Jack says with blatant skepticism. "Either they already know or they can't find a way to use it."
"What's that supposed to mean, sir?" Sam asks sharply.
"I'm just saying that if these 'memories' or the method of sticking them in Daniel's head were of any value to the Tok'ra, they'd be all over it."
"Look, it doesn't matter," I interrupt before Jack and Sam can renew their long running debate over Tok'ra motives. "For whatever reason, the Tok'ra aren't going to be any help. I just need to figure out how to get rid of the flashbacks myself."
"How?" Jack asks.
"I'm not sure but I think maybe I have to stop fighting them."
"Whoa, Daniel. I'm not sure that's such a good idea," Sam says, throwing a concerned look at Jack.
"You have already suffered physical injury while resisting the Goa'uld's thoughts," Teal'c points out, staring blatantly at my bruised and stitched forehead.
"Maybe that's the problem," I suggest. "Maybe resisting the memories is counter productive. Look, I know this may sound a little 'out there'." Jack rolls his eyes but manages to keep his mouth shut. "But I think I may have, somehow, gotten more from the Goa'uld's mind than he knew. I think there's a way to eliminate or at least block the artificial memories. It's there in my mind. I just have to find a way to consciously remember it."
"We'll take turns spending the night," Jack announces after a moment of thought.
"What? Wait--I told you. I have to let the nightmares play out," I insist.
"Fine. So we'll let them play out," Jack says curtly. "But one of us will be there in case you get attacked by a homicidal end table again."
I stare at Jack's knife, turn it slowly in my hand and watch the light glint off of the polished steel still visible between the blood stains.
"Do you truly wish to stop this?" the Goa'uld asks.
Wha...what? Then there is a way. There is. I know it. I can stop this if I just...just....
I shudder to abrupt awareness. Blinking, I see Sam in front of me, her hands held up in a defensive position as she stares intently at me.
"You awake now?" she asks, relaxing her stance a fraction.
"Okay, then why don't you put the knife away?"
Knife? What knife? Even as I ask myself the question, I realize I'm holding a steak knife in my hand. Shocked, I drop it to the floor. Sam quickly bends to retrieve the knife while I look around and realize that we're in my kitchen. I have no idea how I got here.
"Maybe you should sit down," Sam suggests.
"Yeah," I mumble, plopping down on the chilly linoleum.
"Okay, I didn't mean here exactly," she says with mild exasperation, but she sits down next to me anyway.
"What happened?" I ask apprehensively.
"You were talking in your sleep. I couldn't make out exactly what you were saying but I got the feeling it was one of the Goa'uld dreams," she tells me. "You were wandering around. I just followed you at first, but when you got the knife out of the drawer.... I had to stop it."
"This is why it's a bad idea for any of you to stay here," I insist. I had asked--demanded--that if they were going to stay with me they had to let the nightmares play out. "I could have hurt you!"
"We're more concerned about you hurting yourself," Sam says firmly. "Daniel, we're all trained soldiers. No offense but we can handle you."
"Hey, I can fight," I say, indignant despite the fact that I'm well aware that Sam could whoop my ass if she really wanted to.
"Yes, you can and I'd trust you fighting beside me any day," Sam says sincerely. "But you haven't had the kind of intensive combat training we've had." I shrug an agreement. "Honestly, Daniel, you're in more danger than I am. Walking around in your sleep--in a nightmare--with a weapon in your hand? That scares me."
Scares me, too.
"Any more sharp weapons in here?" Jack asks curtly. Once again he's sounding both tired and angry. And once again, it wasn't my idea to call him.
"My wit?" I shoot back in a surly tone.
Sam lets loose with a sigh we can hear clear across the room. I don't know what she's got to sigh about. It was her idea to call Jack.
"It's for your own good," Jack says. Isn't it always? He walks over to my wall safe with his hands full of my kitchen cutlery. "Daniel? Combination?"
"Don't tell me," he cuts me off. "Come over here and do it."
I march--well, it's really more of an exhausted stagger--over to the safe and dial. As soon as he hears the click of the tumblers falling into place, Jack nudges me away. I slump down onto the couch while Jack rifles through the contents of the safe. I don't know what he thinks he'll find. It's just a few personal documents, some classified work from the SGC....
"Daniel." Jack turns to look at me. "You keep chocolate in your safe?"
Oh. That's where it went.
"No, of course not. I keep coffee in the safe," I say sarcastically. "The chocolate was an accident."
Jack tosses the chocolate bar at me with a disgusted look. I quickly test it. A little dusty maybe, but still edible.
"I found a small flaw in your plan," I say around a mouthful of melting chocolate.
"I know the combination to the safe. What's going to stop me from just opening it if I want to get a knife?"
"Well, for starters--my ass planted on that couch," Jack says. "If you want to get to the safe you'll have to go through me. I'm going to know where you are and what you're doing every minute. I'll be on you like white on rice, Daniel."
"Christ, Jack, why don't you just tie me to the bed and be done with it?"
"Because I'm not allowed to," Jack says sullenly.
"Janet's the only one who gets to tie Daniel to the bed," Sam adds. Spots of bright color appear on her cheeks as Jack and I both turn to stare at her. "That...that didn't come out quite right."
"You didn't tell me you had something kinky going with Doc," Jack says.
"I didn't know," I say. "I was probably drugged or unconscious at the time."
"Aren't you always?" Jack asks.
"My point exactly."
"Is it any wonder that you drive me absolutely nuts?" Jack says. I'm pretty sure I hear Sam mutter "short trip" but I'm probably mistaken since Jack doesn't immediately shoot her.
"All part of my Dr. Evil plan to get my hands on your yo-yo," I tell him.
"Don't toy with me, Daniel," Jack chides.
"Sir," Sam says with another exasperated sigh. "Permission to make my escape?"
"Yeah, clear out, Carter," Jack says with a wave of his hand. Sam walks over and gives me a quick hug.
"Night, Sam. And thanks."
"You're welcome. But I'd rather not do it again, you know?" she says.
"I'll second that."
"Do you truly wish to stop this?" the Goa'uld asks.
What kind of stupid question is that?
"You have the means...."
Jack is still kneeling in front of me, his head pulled back by my hand. I'm still holding his knife. The exquisitely sharp, lethal blade that I...it will use to cut Jack's throat. Use unless I....
I turn the blade in my hand, staring at it, willing it to give me the answer. I reverse my grip on the blade and the Goa'uld laughs.
"Hurry," it says, directing my eyes to Jack's grim features.
"Hurry," Jack says.
I tighten my grip and thrust. Pain flares in my hand.
"Daniel! Judas fucking...goddamnit, Daniel!"
Jack is swearing loudly and creatively. This is nothing I haven't heard before, but it usually isn't directed at me. Usually. What I really don't understand is why I'm on the floor, crouched over on my knees with Jack wrapped around me from behind.
I slowly come to the realization that I'm fighting Jack. He's got me nearly immobilized, his arms pinning mine, his fingers biting into my wrist. One of my fingers throbs dully until Jack shifts his grip. The increased pressure drives the throb to an intense flare of pain.
"Ow! Shit.... What the hell are you doing?" I yell at Jack.
"Daniel?" he gasps, breathing heavily into the back of my neck.
What the.... Oh, hell. I've got a knife in my hand again. A knife that Jack is desperately trying to push away from me. My brain sluggishly recognizes another source of pain, a small puncture on my chest. It's not bad, barely bleeding, but....
I did that.
I tried to kill myself?
Jack's voice is urgent as I go slack in his grasp. The knife drops, forgotten, to the floor. Jack shifts around so that he's facing me.
"Come on, Daniel. Stay with me here," he urges, slapping me hard when I don't respond. I barely feel the blow. Jack grunts and cusses as he maneuvers me into a more stable position, pushing my head down between my knees.
"Don't move," he says threateningly.
No worries there. I seem to have lost control of my body, not to mention having absolutely none of the mental capacity necessary for initiating activity of any kind.
I'm not sure how long it is before I'm dimly aware of Jack's presence again. His hands grasp the sides of my head and pull it to an upright position.
"Talk to me, Daniel," he says quietly as he pats my cheek firmly.
His thumb moves to tug at my eyelid, staring intently into my eyes. Swear to God, if he shines a damn light in my eyes I'm going to hurt him. I will.
Then again, maybe I'll just go...somewhere quiet...and dark...rest....
"Ow!" I swing angrily at the light shining in my eye. "Stop it."
"I believe Daniel Jackson is awake now."
"Shut up," I mumble, trying to bury my pounding head in my pillow.
Crap. I know that voice.
"Go away," I tell Janet.
"Daniel," she says with professional patience. "Do you need a little something for pain?"
"Need a big something." And not just for the head. I've got a finger that seems to be throbbing in counter point to the pounding of my brain. "Gonna be sick."
"No, you're not," Janet says authoritatively.
"How would you know?" I ask with supreme annoyance, finally opening my eyes so I can glare at her. And thank you to whoever thought to turn the infirmary lights down. That really would've been the last straw.
"I'm a doctor. I'm trained to know these things."
"Uh...Daniel," Jack calls from where he's standing just behind Janet. He nods meaningfully at Fraiser. "You might want to be careful who you're dissing right now."
"Why?" I ask stubbornly.
"Oh, no reason. Just needles. And catheters."
"I don't need a catheter!"
"Doesn't mean you won't get one," Janet says curtly.
"That's a violation of my Constitutional Rights."
"Yeah, yeah. Write a letter to your congressman," she says, completely unmoved. So much for the Hippocratic Oath.
"Why do you wind him up when you know he's in pain?" Jack asks Janet. Then he turns to me. "And why do you wind her up ever?"
Um...I like living dangerously?
"Because as soon as he stops acting like you, sir, I know the pain meds are working," Janet tells Jack matter-of-factly. She ignores his insulted glare and rechecks my IV. "Feeling any better now?"
"No," I growl, rubbing fretfully at my head. "Yes. A little better. What happened?"
"You had a little episode," Jack says, exchanging worried looks with Sam and Teal'c.
"Episode? You mean another Goa'uld flash.... Oh, shit." All of a sudden the memory of my "little" episode comes crashing back. "I, uh...I tried to...didn't I?"
"You broke my finger." Don't ask me why that particular detail is first and foremost in my brain at the moment.
"I did," Jack admits. "Sorry about that. Didn't mean to."
"No, under the circumstances.... I can hardly hold it against you, can I?"
"Jury's still out on that one," Jack says. "You can be a vindictive little bastard when you get hold of a grudge."
Yeah? Right back atcha.
"And I'm telling you right now--no more with the 'allowing the nightmares to play out' crap," Jack says belligerently. "One close call was enough."
"Oh. That's it."
"What is?" Sam asks.
"That's what I was trying to figure out. I told you I had the feeling that there was a way to stop the nightmares and flashbacks. Well, that was it."
"Suicide?" Jack says angrily. "That's the great idea you've been trying to remember?"
"No! I mean--I didn't know that's what it was. Remember? I thought I had some information that I'd unknowingly taken from the Goa'uld." I slap myself on the forehead in disgust...right on the stitched cut. Yeah, that hurts. "But I didn't take it. The Goa'uld had deliberately left it in my mind."
"Sort of like a post-hypnotic suggestion," Janet says, catching on to my reasoning.
"Fearing that we would be able to find a way to destroy him while still saving you, the Goa'uld found a way to force you to destroy yourself," Teal'c says.
"The Goa'uld probably planted the suggestion while he was showing you his memories," Sam theorizes. "Your mind was being subjected to such a huge download of information, it's doubtful you would've been aware of what he was doing."
"He must have realized that you would be so disturbed by the false images that you would accept any possible solution, not realizing until it was too late that it would be a truly final solution," Teal'c concludes.
"Not to mention that after weeks of fighting off the nightmares, Daniel was suffering from sleep deprivation. He wasn't thinking clearly," Fraiser adds.
"Yes," I agree, sickened by the knowledge of what my own weakness and desperation had nearly led to.
"Well, thank God the colonel was there," Sam says. I glance over at Jack just as he grimaces.
"Damn near wasn't enough," he says, obviously disgusted with himself. "And I'd really like to know where that knife came from."
"Um...." The morphine is starting to really kick in now, making it even more difficult to concentrate. "The knife?"
"Yes, Daniel, the knife," Jack says sharply. "You know--those sharp things we supposedly had all locked up in the safe?"
"Oh!" Recognition dawns finally. Jack is not going to be happy. Not at all. "Uh oh."
"Uh oh?" Sam prompts.
"That knife is one I used to use on digs," I explain. I chance a look at Jack...who's this close to blowing a gasket. "I'm sorry. I completely forgot about it. I've got some of my old gear packed away at the back of my closet and I...I just forgot."
"Damn it, Daniel," Jack says in frustration. I can't blame him. Sometimes it really does seem like I just ask for trouble.
"Sorry," I mumble, closing my eyes. God, I'm tired.
"All right, that's enough for now," Janet orders. "Daniel needs to rest and I'm sure the three of you have other things you could be doing."
I force my eyes open just long enough to see Sam give me a quick smile. Jack and Teal'c shake their heads at me. Well, Teal'c doesn't actually shake his head. It's just that look he gets that lets you know that he's shaking his head on the inside.
The room is quiet and dim when I wake. The only light comes from a desk at the other end of the room. My bed is surrounded by shadows. One shadow, however, is impressively solid.
"It is I, Daniel Jackson." Teal'c shifts forward a bit in his chair. "Do you require anything?"
"No," I say waving him back. "It's just...I've developed this bad habit lately of waking up in places I never intended to be. Doing things I never intended to do. I just needed to make sure it really was you there. And that I'm actually in the infirmary."
"It is and you are," Teal'c confirms.
"Yeah...by the way--how did I get here?"
"After O'Neill halted your attempt to harm yourself he called Dr. Fraiser," Teal'c explains. "The two of them brought you to the SGC."
"I think I scared the crap out of Jack," I confess.
"O'Neill did indeed profess the need for fresh undergarments."
Teal'c's deadpan delivery has my mouth flapping in a mixture of both shock and amusement. He has to be the galaxy's best straight man.
"I think he was exaggerating, Teal'c."
"Perhaps," Teal'c says cryptically.
"What time is it?" I ask. Not that I'm trying to change the subject or anything.
"Almost 4 a.m. Your sleep appeared to be undisturbed so I thought it best to allow you to rest."
"Thank God for narcotics," I mutter. And speaking of which, my finger's throbbing like a rotten tooth.
"We have received word that Jacob Carter will make a brief visit later this morning."
"You are not pleased to see him?"
"I'm always pleased to see Jacob, but the Tok'ra were pretty insistent that they couldn't help."
"Jacob is not like the rest of Tok'ra," Teal'c observes.
He's got a valid point. I just don't know that it's going to make any difference.
"Sounds awful Zatarc-y to me," Jack says, slouching back in his chair.
"Different methods, similar results," Selmac agrees from across the briefing room table. SG-1, General Hammond and Dr. Fraiser are all in our usual seats, listening intently to Selmac.
"Then there may be a self destruct connected with the suggestion," Teal'c says.
Oh, that's a nice thought.
"I do not think so," Selmac says. "In the case of the Zatarcs, the aim of the mind control was to force the subjects to carry out a pre-programmed mission. The suicide trigger was the completion of the mission--successfully or not. In Dr. Jackson's case, the suggestion itself is the self destruct."
"And that helps us how?" Jack asks sarcastically.
"Dr. Jackson, do you feel any compulsion to kill yourself?" Selmac asks bluntly.
"No!" I say hastily, glancing to Jack at my side. "God, no."
"In fact, when Daniel consciously realized what he'd almost done, he went into a state of psychological shock," Janet adds.
"I suspect that the suggestion could only work as long as you were unaware of it," Jacob explains. "I think that's why the Goa'uld buried it not just in your subconscious, but within a false memory. I don't think it'll be able to compel you to act against your own nature now that you know about it."
"You think?" Jack asks pointedly.
"It's my best guess," Jacob admits with a shrug.
Um...excuse me? Life or death here. My life or death. Could we try to be a little more definite?
"Hey, it didn't take me long to realize that Daniel is one of the most stubborn people I've ever met," Jacob adds dryly. Jack smirks his agreement. "This Goa'uld--whoever he was--must have recognized that, too. He was in Daniel's head, after all. He had to know that Daniel would fight any compulsion he was aware of."
"Do the Tok'ra have any method of removing this programming?" Hammond asks.
"Not really. Not without knowing exactly how the suggestion was implanted," Jacob says firmly. "Not without a high risk of causing Daniel more harm."
"More harm than dead?" Jack asks pointedly.
"So what do we do now?" Sam asks, frustration evident in her voice. Just imagine how I feel.
"Well, my best guess is--nothing."
"Excuse me?" I blurt out.
"I'm sorry I don't have more definite answers but honestly, I think the danger is past."
"How do we know if you're right?" Sam asks.
"Isn't it obvious? We wait a few days and, if I haven't killed myself, then I'm okay," I say sarcastically.
"How very anti-climatic," Jack observes.
"You know, all things considered, I think I'd settle for anti-climatic."
Jack just tilts his head in a sort of offhand agreement.
"But how long before we can be sure Dr. Jackson is safe from further destructive tendencies?" You have to hand it to the general. He always finds a more delicate way to phrase things.
"I would suggest confining Daniel to the infirmary for at least three days," Janet says.
"Is that really necessary?" I whine. God, I'm so sick of that place. I'm liable to kill myself out of sheer boredom.
"Couldn't we just make sure someone stays with him at home?" Jack asks, sympathetic to my plight.
"Someone was with him last time and he still nearly succeeded," Janet says bluntly. Jack's expression darkens. Oh boy. Jack already feels guilty. He's going to be beyond pissed at Fraiser for reminding him of his near failure.
"Nearly being the operative word," I say quickly. Jack and Janet actually like each other...they just have this talent for pissing each other off. Like Jack and me. And Jack and Hammond.
I'm sensing a trend here.
"Jack was there and I'm fine," I conclude.
"Still, I tend to agree with Dr. Fraiser," Hammond says. "I think it would be best if you stayed on base, Dr. Jackson." I drop my head with a groan.
"It'll only be a few days, Daniel," Sam says in an attempt to console me.
"That's probably what Custer told the 7th Cavalry at Little Big Horn," I grumble.
"Daniel," Jack sighs in exasperation. He elbows me and nods at Janet. She's glaring at me.
"You okay?" Jack asks, pausing at the top of the ramp.
"Yes, Jack. For the 263rd time, I'm fine."
To be perfectly honest, I find it a little difficult myself to accept that it's all over. But it's been a week since Jacob's visit and I haven't had any more flashbacks or nightmares. I'm aware of those images, but they no longer have any power over me. At this point I just have to accept that Jacob was right and move on.
"Yeah, okay.... So anyway, like I was saying," Jack continues, his gaze still a little suspicious. "There's less than a minute in the third period, we've got a power play, and...."
I step into the event horizon with Jack's replay still droning in my ears. It's my first time through the gate since Jack dragged me back from P7Z. There's still nothing like it in the world. That brief moment of total disorientation and then opening your eyes to an alien landscape.
"And a killer body check took him out right...." Jack steps out of the gate without having paused in his commentary. However, the scene that greets him cuts his monologue short.
"Damn it," Jack complains loudly. "Tell me--does the SGC have a different definition of 'uninhabited' from the rest of the English speaking world?"
"Well, we don't normally refer to the indigenous wildlife as 'inhabitants', sir," Sam explains. "These are just...they're...."
"Space monkeys?" Jack asks.
"Actually, I was thinking more in terms of rodents," Sam says.
"Space rats?" Jack shoots back. He stares at the creatures. "Big, honking space rats."
No, Sam's right, they aren't primates. But I'm not getting a rat vibe either. The creatures, all seven of them, are fair sized, probably around forty or fifty pounds, and covered in a creamy mocha colored fur. They're all squatting on their haunches, watching us intently. They remind me of something. I just can't put my finger on....
"What?" I turn to Jack.
"I said get your butt back through the gate," Jack repeats.
"Because we just got you off of sick leave and I really don't want you back in the infirmary because you tangled with a bunch of space rats," Jack snipes.
"It's your turn to tangle with the aliens," I point out.
"Nah, can't be," Jack argues. "Carter?"
"No, sir. I got smacked around a couple of missions before Daniel," Sam says with just a hint of smugness. "It's definitely your turn."
Jack turns to stare at Teal'c, but doesn't risk suggesting that he take this turn.
"Damn it, people. You're supposed to remind me when it's my turn," Jack says with exasperation. "I would've taken some aspirin before I left home. Packed an extra clip," he adds, tightening his grip on his gun.
One of the creatures suddenly bounces--high--off its powerfully built hind legs. It snatches the cap off of Jack's head with its mouth before any of us can react. All the animals turn and bound away across the open plain, following the bouncing cap.
Yes! That's it.
"Rabbits!" I exclaim. Big honking rabbits.
"Rabbits?" Sam asks skeptically. Jack just stares at me, his hand clamped onto his now hatless head.
"That's what those animals remind me of. Rabbits."
"Space bunnies?" Jack says incredulously. I just shrug. Like that's any worse than space monkeys? Although I am getting a vaguely disturbing image of Thor in a Playboy bunny outfit.
Jack takes off, striding briskly after the creatures and muttering angrily.
"O'Neill," Teal'c calls sharply.
"No damn space bunny is getting away with my hat," Jack tosses back over his shoulder.
"It's just a hat!" I shout after him.
"It's my hat."
"I suppose we have to go after him," I sigh as I turn to Sam and Teal'c. "Don't we?"
"We've only got an hour and we're also supposed to be getting samples," Sam reminds us.
Teal'c holds out his fist. Sam and I copy the movement. Teal'c gives us a three count. I show scissors. And Sam and Teal'c show rock. Damn.
"Have fun, Daniel," Sam says sweetly as I adjust the straps of my pack more comfortably and set out after Jack.
"Don't I always?" I mutter. "Don't I just always."
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