Chapter 11 - A tempo e poi ritenuto
S.G.-7 entered the Stargate chamber on P7Y-304, intent on a quick look around to check up on Dr. Jackson's theories. 'Go far away' the writing had begun. If he were correct, the real exit from the chamber should be directly opposite the false door which S.G. -1 had blasted...
"Vandals," Daniel thought sourly.
Dr. Leo Wells was looking for traces of living organisms and Dr. Alli Kahanamoku was examining some small fresco panels on the long walls. They appeared to illustrate the written records surrounding them. Daniel allowed himself to be side-tracked by the writing for a while, on the pretext of seeking background information about the function of the chamber. Major Dr. Sanchez was nominally acting as look-out, though with no obvious source of any threat, he was left with little to do.
"Making any progress there, Daniel?" he prompted after a while.
The stocky Major was keen to be off outside, doing his stuff on the geology of the planet.
"Oh? Ah... Ye-eah...," Daniel replied vaguely, clearly divorced from the present reality in his own time dimension.
"I mean, we don't want Colonel O'Neill leading a search and rescue mission in here, now do we...?"
"Ah, no... Wh-what?!"
Daniel did an abrupt temporal shift as the mention of his arch-nemesis percolated through to his conscious mind.
"He wouldn't... Would he?"
"Well, Mother Hen was watching from the control room when we left..." Major Sanchez remarked with a meaningful grin.
"You're kidding?" Daniel said uncertainly.
Sanchez shook his head slowly and portentously, his eyes twinkling.
Daniel swore roundly in Aramaic, set his teeth and headed for the stretch of wall in question.
Snapping on latex gloves, he conducted a fingertip search.
Neither did tapping produce any variation in sound - no hollow echoes...
Daniel had been so sure.
He was not going to return empty handed.
Not, not, not, not, not!
It had to be here somewhere...
Maybe The Plan would work anyway? He had nothing to lose by trying it. Nothing to lose except face... And Hell, he should be used to that by now, he thought wryly. He set up a little P.A. system facing the centre of the wall in question and slotted in an audio cassette.
"Ah, Leo, could you dial up home, please. If I spring any booby-traps, we may need to make a quick getaway. Oh, and hold the 'door' open for me, would you?"
"Okay, Daniel," Leo replied, heading for the D.H.D.
When the wormhole was established, Daniel insisted they all wait by it.
"This should only take a minute," he said.
Standing well back near the steps up to the Stargate, he pressed the button on the remote control. His voice came from the mini-loudspeaker.
He'd recorded the word a dozen or more times, trying out different tones and inflections in the hope that one of them would be right.
The first one
"Get the Hell out of here!" he yelled as a faintly pinkish fog materialized throughout the chamber as if from nowhere.
His colleagues had already fled through the wormhole as Daniel's increasingly leaden legs fought to ascend the few steps up to the Stargate platform. Darkness was closing in around his vision as he reached for the event horizon...
And fell through it.
Chapter 12 - Danza delle Ore
Daniel was already fast asleep when he hit the ramp.
Leo had called for medical aid the instant he'd set foot in the 'Gate Room. First up the ramp, however, and at the double, was Colonel Jack O'Neill. As Major Sanchez had said, he'd been watching from the Control Room... waiting for the Trouble Magnet to need his butt hauling out of the fire again... rehearsing his 'I-told-you-so' speeches... kind of hoping they wouldn't be necessary - but being prepared just the same.
At first, Jack thought Daniel was dead, so deeply unconscious was he. His respiration rate had dropped to one or two a minute and his heartbeat, though strong, was extremely slow. Relief flooded through O'Neill when he found the pulse. He looked up then, and glared at Sanchez, as if accusing him of dereliction of duty.
"What happened, Major?" He barked.
"Some kind of gas - erm - a pink vapour," Sanchez managed, looking pretty sleepy himself.
By then, the medics had arrived. The orderlies felt the familiar sense of déjà-vu as they loaded Daniel on to a gurney and wheeled him off to the infirmary. The rest followed on foot. Predictably, O'Neill had to be threatened with the mother of all physical examinations to get him out from under Dr. Fraiser's feet.
And Daniel slept on.
Like the dead.
For thirty-six hours...
He didn't even twitch during the slight altercation between Major Sanchez and Colonel O'Neill over who was to keep vigil at his bedside. The former announced his intention of relieving Colonel O'Neill who stated that he didn't need relieving thank you very much. Major Sanchez pointed out that Colonel O'Neill had already been there for over twelve hours. O'Neill, still on a guilt trip, informed him that he intended to stay with Daniel until he showed signs of rousing. Major Sanchez pointed out that Dr. Jackson was no longer a member of his team. Colonel O'Neill pulled rank.
Major Doctor Sanchez then strode out with exclamations of "Madre de Dios!" and "El coronel loco!" and "La gallina materna!" and went in search of reinforcements. El coronel loco then found himself looking up into the soft but intimidating brown eyes of Major Doctor Fraiser...
"I sha'n't sleep anyway, so I might as well stay here," O'Neill protested.
"That's no problem, Colonel," Dr. Fraiser said, smiling with spurious sympathy, "I can prescribe a sedative for you..."
Realizing that he was beaten on that front he stood up, implying surrender, and tried another direction.
"So how is Daniel? Really? I mean, what knocked him out and... and when's he going to pull out of it? He is going to wake up - isn't he?"
Janet frowned slightly, causing a constriction in Jack's throat.
"Well, we haven't been able to isolate the cause yet, but whatever it is appears to act like a very strong narcotic."
"That doesn't sound too good," O'Neill observed gravely, looking down at Dr. Fraiser now.
"No, but Daniel's young and strong, and his life signs are good. There's no sign of any system dysfunction. I guess we're just going to have to wait it out..."
O'Neill nodded thoughtfully and sat down again. Janet smiled inwardly.
"...Which you will be doing in your own bed, Colonel," she added uncompromisingly.
Daniel was not short of people to keep an eye on him. Every member of both S.G. teams, and several others besides, spent some time sitting with him during the following day. When Major Sanchez felt that O'Neill had outstayed his time by Daniel's bed, he adopted what the colonel regarded as very low tactics. He sent in Frankie Czapiewski to relieve him. It was a short but decisive skirmish and the honours went to the lady.
O'Neill was back at his post in the late evening when Daniel showed signs of returning awareness. With rare tact, he withdrew from the infirmary after summoning Dr. Fraiser...
Didn't feel that his presence would be welcome to his - had to admit it - ex-team member.
Didn't want to be the cause of any set-backs.
Thought he should feel glad that Daniel was coming round.
Instead, he just felt kind of - empty. He'd driven Daniel away. Now he'd have to deal...
Daniel awoke abruptly. He sat up sharply, sending wires and electrodes flying. He looked around in panic, clearly disorientated. Janet was beside him in a moment, grasping his hands.
"It's O.K., Daniel," she said softly, looking into his bewildered blue eyes.
"Wh-where am I?" he gasped, staring blankly at his surroundings with no flicker of recognition.
"You're in the infirmary, Daniel."
Still the confused look.
"I - I have to go back!" he exclaimed, frenziedly trying to get out of the bed.
"Shh-shhh... Take it easy," she soothed, as if talking Cassie down from a nightmare. "You just have to wait a little while, then you can go back..."
"Wha-what...?" he said, suddenly focussing on her for the first time. "Janet?"
"That's right, Daniel," she answered, gently squeezing his hands. "You're quite safe now."
"Ye-es," he replied slowly, relaxing back on to the bed. "I guess I am."
He thought for a while, screwing up his face with the effort.
"Janet, where was I before I was here?"
"You were in the Stargate chamber on P7Y-304."
"No, I mean... after that...?"
"You were brought straight here after you came back through the gate."
"Nnno - I was definitely somewhere else."
"I think you've been dreaming, Daniel," Janet said with a fond smile.
Daniel considered the dream that Shifu sent him. It had been frighteningly real, but this had been different - different in a way that he couldn't quite put his finger on.
"No, I don't think so," he responded, " besides there were the others."
"Major Sanchez and"
"No, not S.G.-7.... I meant Zohar and Raziel."
Chapter 13 - Duet: ben marcato.
Daniel recovered rapidly once he awoke and was given the all-clear the following afternoon. He went straightaway to his office. There was a new intensity in his expression, a sense of purpose that had been missing for some time, O'Neill thought when he went to check up on him - and have a few words.
"So, Daniel, how've you been?"
"Fine," Daniel replied curtly without looking away from his computer.
"You had us worried for a while there. You should've let us come with you."
"We were fine. No harm done."
"Well, not this time, but if you're planning on going back there, I'll have a word with Hammond and we'll come and back you up."
Daniel looked him in the face then, a slightly manic look in his eye as if he'd o/d-ed on java, though O'Neill knew for a fact he hadn't.
"I am going back and I don't need back-up," he declared.
"Yes, you do."
"No. I don't. I know how to get out of the chamber now. I know what's out there and I know what it'll look like."
"You can't know that, Daniel."
"Yes. I can. I've been there."
"I don't know how, but I've been there. It's beautiful, Jack, like Paradise. The chamber is actually underground and the stairs come down right out of the wall when you say the right words. I know this."
"No you don't - you just think you do. You were dreaming, Daniel. Or else you've been listening to way too much Led Zeppelin," O'Neill grinned.
"Oh, here we go," Daniel exclaimed bitterly. "You never trust my judgement, do you?"
"Well, not when you've been under the influence of some alien substance. Doc said it acted like a narcotic..."
But Daniel had already tuned him out, fingers clattering over the keyboard with a ferocity that spoke volumes. This was not going the way O'Neill had intended.
"What I really came in for was to say I'm - sorry. Sorry for last week... Sorry for hitting you."
"Really?" Daniel said sceptically. "You know, I actually didn't care all that much about that. It was just a more concrete form of what you've been doing to me over the past few months. No. Make that years."
"Daniel?" O'Neill said, aghast.
"Look, Jack, you may be fed up to the back teeth of hearing about it, but I do have a couple of slips of paper that entitle me to be addressed as 'Doctor'. Now I know that doesn't mean much to you, but I had to work hard for them. I didn't just pick them off the certificate tree. I also know that they don't mean much outside the Mountain now, after... But if it was public knowledge, what I've done... If everyone outside - my peers in the academic world - knew the truth, do you realize that I'd be up there with Evans and Schliemann and Leakey and Carter"
"Ah. King Tut, huh?"
"Yes," Daniel responded, surprised. "I'd be internationally respected, Jack. As it is, all I get around here is 'Shut up, Daniel!' 'It's just a machine, Daniel,' 'Shut up, Daniel!' 'Too subtle for you, Daniel?'... "
"...Hey, I apologized for that one!" Jack protested but Daniel just ploughed on, casting up every disparaging remark Jack had ever uttered, or so it seemed.
He inwardly cringed as the litany went on. He truly hadn't realized how much Daniel had taken to heart the things he'd said and the good Doctor had a very retentive memory. Sure, a lot of the things Daniel threw back at him had been said in the heat of the moment or while they were suffering the effects of some alien thing or other, but it was borne in upon him that his behaviour had dropped well below the level of professionalism to be expected of a leader of men on too many occasions. The offspring of familiarity as Teal'c had it?
" '...plant boy!' "
O'Neill winced at that one. It had to be last. Surely. Daniel must have run out of steam by now...?
"I'm sure you take my point, Jack?" he finished, breathing heavily.
"Yeah," O'Neill agreed, chastened, "and I'm sorry, Daniel, really, really sorry."
"No, Jack, you just think you are... "
"Ouch! Couldn't we start again. I'll try harder next time, I promise."
Daniel looked unconvinced.
"If you want to regain my trust, you're going to have to try a whole lot harder. In particular, you'll have to start showing some trust in me. Beginning with our next mission. That's S.G.-7's next mission. Which will be done my way. Without your back-up."
He looked challengingly at O'Neill, who conceded defeat. It took even more will power not to make any of his usual snarky remarks about the likelihood of Daniel's needing to be rescued, but he managed to keep his lip zipped, and was rewarded by a look of approval for his restraint. Silence filled the room for a few moments. O'Neill broke it.
"So, are we good?"
"That depends entirely on you, Jack. Now if you don't mind, I have a report to write and some research to do, and I'd appreciate it if you'd let me get on with my work. In peace."
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