As Teal’c’s weak voice quietly uttered the single word, his friends gave a collective sigh of relief. Teal’c would recover.
Daniel could feel the tension and adrenaline leaving his body in a rush and he suddenly felt very weak. He made his way to a nearby desk and sat at the chair before his unsteady legs buckled beneath him. With his head resting in his hands, Daniel closed his eyes as a sudden wave of dizziness struck him.
‘Pull your self together, Jackson,’ he told himself. ’Everything’s going to be fine…just fine…fine…fine.’
Colonel Jack O’Neill could feel the smile beginning to spread across his face. His team had done well today. They had faced the danger and not only found the solution, but identified a weapon that had been proven effective against the Goa’uld. This had not been accomplished without a price, though. The smile faded from Jack’s face as his eyes sought out his youngest team member. ‘What the…?’
"Daniel?" He covered the distance between himself and the archaeologist in an instant. Kneeling at his friend’s side, it appeared to Jack that Daniel was asleep. "Danny?" Jack reached out and lightly shook Daniel’s shoulder but still received no response.
He sensed rather than saw Dr. Janet Fraiser come up behind him. She went to Daniel’s other side and, being careful not to disturb his precarious position on the chair or his head resting in his hands, she felt below his jaw for a pulse. Finding it to be slow but steady, his breathing deep and regular, and no obvious sign of fever, she decided he was in no immediate danger. She had a very good idea what was causing Daniel’s current unresponsive condition.
"Doc?" Jack questioned as he cast worried eyes at the petite doctor.
"He’s okay, Colonel. Help me get him into a bed."
Between Colonel O’Neill and General Hammond, they made quick work of getting the young man into the bed to Teal’c’s right.
Janet tried to usher the group out of the infirmary so she could have a moment to thoroughly examine her patient, but Colonel O’Neill grabbed her hand as they reached the door.
"What’s going on, Janet?" His hushed voice conveyed every ounce of worry stirring within him. The Doctor raised moist eyes to him and he was surprised to see very little of his own anxiety mirrored in the soft brown depths. What he saw, however, was a combination of sadness and guilt.
"It’s okay, Colonel. Just give me some time to check him out." She was unable to hide the crack in her voice as she spoke.
An hour later, the two remaining members of SG-1 and General Hammond were finally allowed to return to the infirmary. Sam immediately went to the far side of Daniel’s bed and Jack went to the other, between his bed and Teal’c’s.
Daniel was still asleep, but he was now dressed in the standard issue blue infirmary scrubs and was safely tucked into the bed with the sheets pulled up to his chest. Everyone was relieved to note the absence of all the extra tubes and wires that usually accompanied any visit to the infirmary.
"Doctor Fraiser, report." Thank God for the General. Straight to the bottom line as usual, Jack mused.
Dr. Fraiser paused a few moments to collect her thoughts. While the news she had to deliver to the assembled team and General wasn’t bad, it wasn’t exactly good either. The people standing before her, all wearing identical anxious expressions, were as close as any family she’d ever known. How was she supposed to tell these people that the actions taken due to her ‘superior medical knowledge’ were having a negative physical impact on their friend? While this would only be temporary, probably lasting (with a little luck) only a few days, the mental and emotional trauma would probably last much, much longer. And it was all her fault.
She should have listened to Colonel O’Neill. Well, maybe not listened to what he had said exactly; after all, Daniel’s condition had been a lot more complicated than simple stress. She should have listened to the general idea behind the theory. It hadn’t been a proven fact that Daniel was suffering from Stargate induced Schizophrenia. They’d been dealing with so many unknown factors…they had just returned from a planet that housed the bodies of nine dead Goa’uld, for Heaven’s sake. The symbiotes had all died before the hosts due to an, at the time, unknown cause. She hadn’t stopped to think that there was even a remote chance that it could have been linked to Daniel’s deteriorating mental health. In fact, once the problems began to surface with him, she had completely ceased working with the Goa’uld corpses. Of course, she hadn’t worked too hard with Daniel either, had she? She’d simply placed a label on him and handed him over to Mental Health. But all the symptoms, the blood work, had clearly pointed to a textbook example…
Sam’s quiet inquiry brought her out of her musings and into the present to find that a considerable amount of time had passed and the group gathered around her patient’s bed side was in a near panic. Even Teal’c was stubbornly clinging to awareness, even though he desperately needed to perform Kel’no’reem to allow his symbiote time to heal itself.
Janet took a deep breath to steel herself and decided it would be best to dive in with the facts, no ten-dollar words to bury the truth and no sugar coating.
"As you know," she began, "Dr. Jackson was incorrectly diagnosed with Stargate induced Schizophrenia. He was having vivid auditory and visual hallucinations, tests showed altered brain chemistry, and he was very agitated. While still on base, he was given injections of a drug to help combat the hallucinations and sedatives to calm him. When his condition seemed to deteriorate, he was turned over to Dr. Mackenzie in Mental Health."
Janet looked to her audience and found them nodding to show they understood what she had presented so far, so she continued. "I spoke to Dr. Mackenzie a few moments ago and learned that since Daniel’s condition didn’t seem to be improving and, in fact, was getting rapidly worse, the doctor tried a number of different medications for both the altered brain chemistry and hallucinations. Some of those medications were pretty potent and had side effects for which more medication was administered."
The doctor’s gaze fell on Colonel O’Neill. She could see the anger boiling in his eyes and the way he was clenching his jaw told her that he understood where she was leading them.
"As the hallucinations became worse, Dr. Jackson became more agitated and even violent towards the aides. Dr. Mackenzie was forced to increase both the dose and frequency of the sedatives. He felt it was the only way to ensure the safety of his staff. Now that Ma’chello’s Goa’uld killing invention is out of him, Daniel’s brain chemistry is trying to return to normal, but the medications are still in his system. His dopamine levels were in the normal range earlier, but I’m guessing they were just in the process of coming down. His brain chemistry is probably on the opposite extreme of the scale from where it was only a few hours ago. Add to that the fact that he probably has enough sedatives in his system to keep us all out for quite some time…"
"Wait just a minute here," the Colonel interrupted, "I just heard two great big ‘probablys’ come out of your mouth. Don’t you know?"
Janet folded her arms across her chest and stared at a particularly interesting spot on the floor in front of her as she responded in a pained voice, "I didn’t want to draw a blood sample just yet to find out."
A chorus of ‘what’ and ‘why not’ was hurled at her by Jack, Sam, and Teal’c, then they all began asking questions at once.
The General simply raised a hand to effectively end all speech. "Doctor, would you please explain?" he gently asked, seeing how upset she was.
Janet didn’t say a word; she simply looked to where Daniel’s arms rested crossed over his abdomen.
Jack followed her gaze. "Dammit," he muttered as her meaning finally dawned on him. He gently took Daniel’s left arm, since it was nearest him, extended it, and turned it over. While he may have understood what Fraiser was ‘not’ telling them, he wasn’t prepared for what he saw.
Jack had seen habitual drug users with fewer needle marks and less bruising on their arms. He closed his eyes and cursed again. A soft gasp from across the bed caused him to open them again to see that Carter had extended Daniel’s right arm to expose the marks on it as well. It didn’t look any better. If anything, it actually looked worse than the left. The dark red/black bruising and needle marks extended from the wrist area all the way up until they disappeared under the sleeve of his scrub top. Jack suspected that they didn’t end there. Damn, damn, damn!!!
"As I said," the doctor continued in a shaky voice, "he became violent with the aides. It was difficult to give him the injections without causing the bruising from damaged blood vessels. It actually looks worse than it probably feels. His vital signs are stable and he appears to be resting peacefully at the moment, so, for now, I don’t want to draw blood or start an IV unless something changes and I have to."
Sam became oblivious to Janet and the rest of her surroundings as soon as she saw the ugly marks covering Daniel’s arms. One part of her subconscious mind began calculating, ‘Three days in Mental Health and one day at the SGC, sedatives every six hours for the first two days, anti-hallucinogens every…’ while another part of her mind was counting the visible marks, checking to see if the numbers matched.
She didn’t hear the General excuse himself with an order to keep him informed of any changes. She didn’t see Janet pull the curtain around Teal’c’s bed as he placed himself in the deepest form of Kel’no’reem to allow his Goa’uld larva to heal him as well as itself. All sounds were drowned by her mind’s own accusatory voice. She had broken a promise she made to herself over two years before when she first joined SG-1, when these men became more than just a team, when they became her family. She had promised herself that she would do everything she could to protect her new family. She had dismissed both the Colonel’s and Daniel’s own theories that the bodies of the dead Linvris had something to do with Daniel’s condition. If she had only listened, maybe she could have spared Daniel at least some of this, but she had been too wrapped up in her own world of pity. Pity for Daniel and pity for herself.
Her vision tunneled more until the only thing that existed to her was the physical proof of her crimes; those bruises. With this close inspection, she noticed that the darkest bruises on the underside of Daniel’s right arm seemed to follow the irregular line of a particularly large blood vessel. It must have been a favorite for the doctors in Mental Health because it was so easy to access. Sam reached out a hand to gently trace the path with her index finger.
Even if Sam had heard the urgent warning it would have been too late.
"No!" The strangled cry escaped Daniel’s lips the instant her finger touched the abused flesh. He bolted upright in the bed and threw his arm out to the side in an attempt to fight off the perceived threat, catching Sam squarely on the jaw. Caught off guard, she fell backwards, landing flat on her back on the floor, a hand cupping her throbbing jaw. She was too stunned to move.
Janet was quickly by her side. "I’m sorry, Sam. I should have warned you sooner. The same thing happened to Nurse Clark when she tried to take his blood pressure. She’ll be sporting a black eye for a while. Are you okay?" A nod from Sam and a quick examination answered the question. Both women stood to find the Colonel trying to calm the distraught archaeologist.
Jack wasn’t sure what surprised him more, the fact that his drugged friend reacted at all to Carter’s touch or the fact that he actually laid her out with one well-placed punch, however accidental it was.
He was quick to throw his arms around Daniel’s chest, effectively pinning the younger man’s arms to his sides, preventing him from harming himself or others. He spared a moment to glance in his 2IC’s direction to ensure she was okay. Seeing that she was and the Doctor was at her side, he turned his full attention to the man struggling in his grip. It was only then that he noticed, while his eyes were open and his body active, Daniel was nowhere near awake. Glassy eyes darted all over the room, unable to focus on any one thing. He was mumbling something between quick gasps for air. Jack had to strain his ears to understand. What few words he was finally able to hear sent an icy chill straight to his heart.
"Got to listen…no crazy…Linvris…Ma’chello…no…no more drugs…listen."
‘God!’ Jack berated himself. ‘I didn’t listen to my own instincts. I just let them take him away and pump him full of drugs.’
The colonel’s thoughts of self-recrimination were cut drastically short as he noticed the struggling of the man in his arms begin to weaken. Feeling it was safe to loosen his grip a bit, he slid his arms to Daniel’s shoulders and gently pushed him back down on the bed.
"Daniel? Danny, can you hear me? You’re fine. You’re back at the SGC. You figured out what was happening, remember? It was one of Ma’chello’s inventions." Jack spoke softly to his friend, trying to calm him. He wasn’t sure if Daniel actually heard anything he said, let alone understood it, but he knew Daniel needed a familiar voice to help ground him.
"Jack?" The voice was barely above a whisper.
"Yeah, Danny, I’m here. Everything’s okay."
"He’s fine, thanks to you."
"I’m not crazy. It was Ma’chello." The voice was getting weaker by the second and Daniel’s eyes were already shut as he gave in once again to the drugs in his system.
"I know, buddy, I know." Jack reached up to brush the now sweat dampened hair off Daniel’s forehead before resting his hand on top of the younger man’s head. The Colonel stayed like that, unmoving, just staring at his friend, his mind devoid of all thoughts, for a few moments before silently signaling Janet and Sam, with a jerk of his chin, to join him across the room.
Once they had gathered across the room, out of ear-shot of their sleeping friend, Jack turned to the Doctor, "Okay, Doc, let me guess. He’s probably going to sleep for a long, long time. When he does wake up, he’s going to suffer the physical effects of all the drugs, possibly even withdrawal, not to mention the emotional effects of everything. I’m guessing depression, anger, mood swings...all our favorites. Am I close?"
Both women were dumbfounded. They were so shocked to hear all that information tumbling from the normally…uh…dense…colonel that they could only stare at him with their jaws hanging open.
Janet finally found her voice. "Uh, yes, Colonel, you’re exactly right. Best guess would be that he won’t wake fully until late tomorrow afternoon at the earliest. Once that happens, I’ll see if he’ll let me draw some blood and present him with his treatment options. As you saw, it’s not a good idea to try to do anything until then."
"What do you mean ‘present him with his treatment options’?" Sam questioned.
"Sam, for the past four days Daniel has been forcibly given medical treatment and drugs without having the right to say no. His best treatment option will probably be more drugs to counter those already in his system and their side effects, but right now, I think that will be the last thing he’ll want. He’ll probably be able to recover fine without them; it just won’t be as pleasant for him. I want the decision to be his."
Both Jack and Sam nodded in understanding and agreement.
"You were also right about the emotional fall-out," she continued. "There is no medical treatment for that. We’ll just have to find a way to deal with things as they come up."
Two more nods.
The doctor glanced at her watch. Midnight. She hadn’t been aware it was that late and she suddenly realized how tired she was. She decided it was time to let her patients have some privacy to sleep. It wasn’t going to be easy to get the two remaining team members out of the infirmary, but she was prepared to dig her heels in against any and all protests. They both needed sleep as well, and they wouldn’t be able to get it in the uncomfortable infirmary chairs.
"Colonel, Sam, I want both of you to go to your quarters and get at least eight hours sleep. I also want to confine you to base for a few days just to be safe." She wasn’t prepared for the response.
Colonel O’Neill let out a long sigh and shoved his fists deep into his pickets. "Okay, Doc. Call us if there’s any change." With that, both he and Major Carter left the infirmary, heads ducked down, eyes on the floor, and guilty expressions on their faces.
‘Apparently, Daniel isn’t going to be the only one with emotional issues to deal with,’ Janet thought to herself.
Even though Dr. Warner was now on duty, Janet couldn’t bring herself to leave. With one last look at her patients to ensure everything was all right, she retired to the couch in her office.
Dr. Fraiser finally woke the next morning just after 10 o’clock. Dr. Warner, having been briefed on the situation and seeing how exhausted she was, had graciously stayed over the extra four hours so she could sleep. He also informed her that he had released Teal’c to his quarters a short time ago, since his symbiote had already helped him make a complete recovery.
Janet thanked the other doctor and sent him on his way home with a promise to return the kindness when the opportunity arose. She then made her way to her only remaining patient.
She wasn’t at all surprised to see that both the Colonel and Sam had returned to resume their vigil. Nor was she surprised to note that neither of them looked at all rested.
A quick visual exam revealed that Daniel appeared to be doing well, so after failing to convince Jack and Sam to get some real sleep, Janet returned to her office to begin a preliminary report for the General.
It was nearly 1600 hours before Daniel was conscious enough to put together a coherent sentence. It was no surprise that the sentence was used to ask about his friends. After receiving a satisfactory answer, he seemed to withdrawal into himself, giving only minimal ‘yes’, ‘no’, or ‘I’m fine’ answers to Dr. Fraiser’s questions.
After some consideration, he allowed the doctor to draw blood to check the levels of the drugs in his system. Fortunately, she was able to avoid his bruised arms by drawing the sample from the back of his hand. She was disconcerted to see a slight tremor in his hands.
Following nearly an hour of awkward silence, broken only by a few failed attempts from Jack and Sam at small talk, Janet returned with the test results. Daniel’s brain chemistry was still slightly off, but ought to return to normal with 12 hours or so, and while he still had traces of the drugs in his system, they would be gone soon as well. The withdrawal from these drugs, however, would take several days to get over without the benefit of further drugs, which he quickly refused.
"Well Daniel," the doctor concluded, "everything is looking good. I want you to stay in the infirmary until tomorrow morning just to be safe." She looked to his teammates. "If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to report to the General." She moved to give Daniel what was meant as a reassuring pat on his arm but stopped short as she saw him flinch away. She forced a small smile on her lips, but it never reached her sad brown eyes.
Abruptly, the doctor turned and left the room in order to hide her tears. She wasn’t supposed to get so involved with her patients, but somehow this team, especially Daniel, had wormed their way into her heart. Wiping her eyes, she began to reign in her emotions before she reached the General’s office.
Daniel saw how much Janet was hurt by his involuntary flinch, he could see the disapproval in Jack and Sam’s eyes as well, but that was the least of his worries at the moment.
He needed time alone to sort through his jumbled thoughts. He needed to think about everything that had happened. Each time he had awakened earlier, he had been confused, unsure of where he was. By the time he was able to figure it out, he would find himself surrounded by Janet and the rest of his team, all talking to him at once. Then he would quickly be drawn again into his drug-induced sleep.
Daniel knew why they were all surrounding him even now. They needed to hear something from him, but he found himself unable to even go through the motions. After everything that had been done, everything that was said and unsaid, how could apologies even be offered, let alone forgiveness granted.
He needed time alone to think. "Guys, I’m really tired so, if you don’t mind…" Daniel lay back in the bed and closed his eyes.
"Daniel, you’ve been sleeping for nearly 17 hours straight, for crying out loud! How can you possibly still be tired?" Jack winced at the unintended harshness of his own words. Guilt and a sense of helplessness were making him irritable.
"I don’t know, Jack, it must be the drugs." It was a low blow and Daniel knew it, but it had the desired effect.
Jack’s stomach clenched at the words. "Okay Daniel, we’ll let you get back to sleep," he said in a soft voice.
"The Colonel and I are staying on base for a couple of days…Janet’s orders…send for us if you need anything." With that they left, Sam throwing a concerned glance over her shoulder as she made her way out of the door.
‘Finally,’ Daniel thought to himself as he feigned sleep. ‘Now if I could just find a way out of here…’
At 2100 hours Colonel Jack O’Neill found himself wandering the halls of the SGC. He had a ton of paperwork to do, an upcoming mission to prepare for, personnel reviews to conduct, and he didn’t even want to think about the stack of filing waiting for him on his desk, but he couldn’t concentrate on any of it. Five hours ago Daniel – probably his best friend – had dropped some not-so-subtle hints about the anger burning inside of him. The young man had refused to even look at them, and of course there was the comment about the drugs. The most disturbing thing, though, was the silence. Jack could remember at least once during every mission and briefing when he had wanted to tell an enthusiastic Daniel to shut up and a few times he had actually said the words. Now, however, the silence way anything but golden.
They needed to talk. He had to get Daniel to open up and release some of his anger if there was any hope of keeping the team functioning. Jack knew Daniel would never intentionally do anything to jeopardize the team. In fact, he would probably just tuck this experience into the farthest corner of his mind; the space neatly labeled with a large neon sign reading ‘Bad Shit: Do Not Enter’. It was a space especially reserved for things like witnessing his parents being crushed to death before his eyes as a child, losing Sha’re, dying, sarcophagus withdrawl, and now this. Like the other memories, he would probably never speak of it again, but those who knew him would be able to tell that the neon sign was flashing a little brighter just by looking in his eyes. They seemed to be the power source for the damned sign. The brighter it got, the more dull and lifeless Daniel’s eyes became. How much more ‘Bad Shit’ could be filed away before there was no light left in his eyes at all? How much longer before the dam broke and he was forced to confront everything at once? What would happen then? Could Daniel deal with it or would he end up back in Mental Health with a nervous break down?
‘Hell No! Not if I can help it!’ Jack screamed to himself. ‘I may not be able to help Daniel with those other things, but I can sure as hell help him with this.’
The colonel stopped walking to take note of his surroundings. He wasn’t at all surprised to see that his so-called aimless wandering had taken him straight to the infirmary door. Deciding there was no time like the present, he stepped through the door and into a mass of organized chaos.
SG-9 and 11 had returned through the ‘gate a short time earlier after a run-in with some of Apophis’ Jaffa. None of the eight team members escaped without injury and three were in pretty bad shape with staff blast injuries. Jack saw Drs Fraiser and Warner each with patients, shouting out orders to the staff, he saw the nurses running back and forth gathering supplies and assisting the docs, he saw x-ray and lab techs passing from bed to bed, he saw…absolutely no sign of his archaeologist.
Dr. Fraiser was just finishing with her patient so Jack quickly went to her side.
The confused look on her face as she looked to the bed Daniel had earlier occupied told Jack all he needed to know.
"Don’t worry, Doc, I’ll find him."
Janet gave a grateful nod and continued on to her next patient.
Jack didn’t find Daniel in either his office or his sleeping quarters. The younger man obviously wanted to be alone and he knew they would be the first places searched. A quick call to the front gate assured him that Daniel was still on base and a trip to the locker room revealed that he was now in a uniform. It would be a little less obvious than the blue infirmary scrubs.
A stop at the labs revealed Carter still studying Ma’chello’s inventions.
"Oh, hi Sir. What’s going on?" Sam didn’t even look up from her microscope.
"Not much." The Colonel tried to keep his tone casual. "Hey, um, have you seen Daniel around?"
This time, the blonde Major did turn from her work. "Isn’t he still in the infirmary?"
"Well, it seems he got tired of Doc Fraiser’s hospitality and decided to take his leave."
"I’ll help you look for him," Carter said and immediately began to put her things away. A hand on her arm stilled her movements.
"No, no Sam. You stay here and play with your toys. He’s still on base and the front gate will call me if he tries to leave. He probably just needs some time to himself. Besides, I want to talk with him alone."
"Okay, Sir," Sam lowered her eyes to the table and continued in a soft voice, "We really screwed this one up, didn’t we?"
Jack placed a comforting hand on her shoulder, turned her to face him, and lowered his head to catch her eyes. "Yeah, we did, but I believe it can be fixed and I’ll do everything I can to see that it is." Having said that, he squared his shoulders and left.
Sam knew that if anyone could help this situation, it was the Colonel. He and Daniel had a friendship she could never hope to understand. She said a silent prayer of luck for the Colonel to any God that might be listening and reluctantly returned to her work.
Jack’s next stop was Teal’c’s quarters. Daniel sometimes liked to meditate with the Jaffa to clear his mind, especially after a particularly rough mission. This certainly qualified. He knocked lightly on the door.
"Enter," came Teal’c’s booming voice.
Jack entered the dim room to find Teal’c sitting cross-legged on the floor, bathed in the soft glow of the candles surrounding him.
"Colonel O’Neill, it is good to see you. How may I be of assistance?"
"Hi, Teal’c, um, actually I’m looking for Daniel. Have you seen him?"
"Indeed I have, O’Neill. Daniel Jackson was here approximately one hour ago. He wished to assure himself of my good health. He declined my offer to allow him to join me in my meditation. I believe recent events are troubling our young friend, O’Neill, though he refused to speak of it."
"Yeah, I know. Do you know where he went?"
"I do not."
"That’s okay, Teal’c. I still have a couple of places to check. I’ll see you later."
After searching everywhere inside Cheyenne Mountain, Jack decided to search on top of it. Everyone escaped to the top of the mountain from time to time. Even the Tollans had made their way to the small clearing while they were stranded on Earth after their own planet was destroyed.
He found Daniel sitting on a log in the clearing, staring out over the valley with his arms wrapped around himself. Jack noticed the occasional tremors coursing through his friend’s body, but couldn’t tell if it was from the cold or the withdrawal from those damn drugs.
He was pulled from his thoughts by Daniel’s voice.
"Hi Jack. I knew you’d come up here sooner or later. I guess this means Janet knows I’ve made my escape."
Despite the intended humor, Daniel’s voice was emotionless; nevertheless, Jack found a small smile forming on his lips. He seated himself on the log beside the other man. "Yup, Houdini’s got nothing on you, Danny Boy." The smile vanished when he saw Daniel cringe at the nickname.
An uncomfortable silence settled on the two men and lasted several minutes until both started speaking at once.
"Daniel, we need to…"
"Sorry, go ahead," they said in unison. This brought a small chuckle from both.
"Age before beauty," Jack quipped, then he became serious, all traces of a smile fading from his face. "Listen, Daniel, we need to talk."
Daniel was silent, but nodded, his own smile having long since vanished.
"I’m sorry. We’re all so sorry."
Daniel remained silent. This apology wasn’t at all unexpected, he just wished Jack could have waited a while longer before delivering it. He hadn’t thought things through fully yet. He needed more time to find a way to tell his friends what was weighing so heavily on his mind. Now that Jack had started down this path, he knew he would have no choice but to tell him and hope there would be something left of their friendship worth salvaging afterwards.
Jack interpreted the other man’s silence as reluctance to even give the apology consideration.
"Daniel," he said, grabbing the younger man by the shoulders and turning him to face him. His tone took on a pleading note as he continued. "I know you’re mad at us, you have every right to be, but please, please look at me!" He lowered his head to catch Daniel’s eyes. "Yell at me, curse at me, throw things, hell, hit me if it will make you feel better, just let it out. I can’t stand you being this mad at us. I’m sorry. I wish there was more I could say or do."
"I’m not mad at you!" Daniel abruptly broke away from O’Neill to rise and move to the other side of the clearing. He folded his arms across his chest in his typical defensive pose. "I’m mad at myself," he finished so quietly that Jack almost didn’t hear him.
"What?! You’re mad at yourself? You mean you feel guilty? What on earth could YOU possibly feel guilty about? YOU were the one that got locked up in Mental Health by your friends; YOU were the one who figured out what was going on, which resulted in us being able to save Teal’c’s life. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, Daniel, YOU were the victim here. You shouldn’t be feeling guilty here, you should be mad as hell at US!"
"I’m mad at myself, Jack, because when I saw Ma’chello’s inventions go into you, Sam, and Janet, I was glad. I thought ‘Now you see. Now you’ll know exactly what I went through.’ I thought you’d be falling all over yourselves apologizing for how I was treated," Daniel finally locked eyes with Jack, the icy blue orbs filled with self loathing. "I thought it served you right. I thought it was my revenge."
Jack was dumbfounded. This was a startling confession, something he would never have expected to hear from Daniel. This man would probably forgive Apophis himself if he were asked. "Revenge?"
"Yes, revenge," Daniel lowered his eyes to the ground and began moving a pinecone around with his foot. "It was easy to blame you all at first, but watching you and Janet fighting the effects of those things, listening as Janet tried to tell Sam how to separate the red blood cells even as her mind was being affected tore me apart. I know what you two saw. I know how hard it was for her to even think straight. I realized then how badly I had misplaced my anger. I shouldn’t have blamed you. Hell, I can’t even blame Mackenzie."
"Mackenzie is an ass!" Jack blurted.
"He did the best he could with the knowledge he had at the time. There was no evidence of the Goa’uld killing device. The only thing that could have possibly been blamed was the ‘gate. No one knows the effects it may have on us in the long run."
Jack had to laugh at the memory that statement brought forth, earning him a questioning look from Daniel.
"When we were told the stargate was the cause of this, Hammond was going to recall the teams and shut down the program. My solution was to put a sign at the base of the ramp," Jack held his hands in the air as if envisioning the type, "’Gate Travel May Be Hazardous To Your Health’. What do you think?"
"Yeah, great Jack. I also loved your superior methods of combating hallucinations." Doing a great imitation of the older man’s voice and actions he continued, "’Daniel! There are no footsteps! Stay with us!’" Daniel rejoined Jack sitting on the log. "You’ve got some Grade-A medical knowledge in your head, don’t you?"
"Hey! Don’t knock it Daniel," Jack countered. "I may be the only one willing to come anywhere near you in the infirmary after what you did to Nurse Clark yesterday."
All the color drained from Daniel’s face. "Nurse Clark? Yesterday? I don’t remember anything. What happened?"
Nurse Clark was one of the best nurses the SGC had and the only one willing to put up with his bad moods every time he was unfortunate enough to be confined to the infirmary. Her only problem was the fact that she always found a reason for Daniel to need to remove his shirt…or pants…or everything. It was amazing what that woman required him to remove for an allergy shot.
Jack hadn’t realized that Daniel hadn’t been told about it yet. Now that the cat was out of the bag, he saw no reason to lie. "Well, it seems you didn’t like her taking your blood pressure after you passed out from the drugs in your system. You belted her one and gave her a black eye when she touched the needle marks on your arm." He decided not to mention anything about Carter and made a mental note to tell the others to do the same. No sense in piling on more guilt.
Daniel ran a hand through his short sandy hair. "Damn, I’m going to have to find her and apologize. I’d hate to have her mad at me, considering how much I end up in the infirmary after missions. She’s the only one who’s willing to put up with me in there."
"Find her a nice arrangement of flowers and some expensive chocolate. I’m sure she’ll understand you didn’t mean to cause any harm. How are your arms, by the way? Do they hurt?"
Daniel waved off his friend’s concern. "Oh, they’re fine. Not a problem and no, they don’t hurt. The bruising is actually starting to fade a bit." To prove his point, he raised his sleeve and extended his left arm for inspection.
Sure enough, the bruises were already starting to change from the ugly red/black to lighter yellow/green colors around the edges. Jack couldn’t help but think that Daniel had showed him his left arm because he knew it looked much better than the right, but decided not to make an issue of it.
"Mackenzie was in to see me a few hours ago," Daniel continued. "He explained that the bruises were because I wasn’t exactly cooperative with the aides. He just wanted to make sure I knew it wasn’t due to some sort of abuse. I told him not to worry, I may not have been in full control at the time, but I do remember everything that happened."
The two men sat in silence for a few moments until Daniel spoke again. "Mackenzie also told me that the boys at the pentagon ordered him to keep an eye out for something like this. He never really agreed with the whole idea of looking for trouble from the ‘gate, so he was pretty glad when his theories were proven wrong this time."
"Well, I’ll be…maybe he’s not such a bad guy after all," Jack mused.
"He also said that after he received those orders from the pentagon, he did a profile on all the active team members."
"And?" Jack didn’t like where he thought this was going.
"And…out of the 50 or so men and women who regularly travel the ‘gate, I was deemed most likely to suffer from any mental or emotional side effects it may have."
Jack was furious. "I take it back. Mackenzie IS an ass! How dare he…"
Daniel raised a finger to quiet his friend. "Just relax, Jack. Mackenzie is actually a very good doctor and his theories are pretty reasonable considering what he’s dealing with. I, uh, wasn’t exactly in the mood to hear them at the time, though, and I told him exactly where he could put them." A sheepish smile began to tug at the corners of his mouth.
"Way to go Danny!" Jack clasped a hand on his friend’s shoulder and was gratified to see that he didn’t shy away from either the touch or the name.
Now it was Jack’s turn to break the silence that once again settled over the men. "Seriously, Danny, you have every right to be angry with us. As for your thoughts of revenge, I think it’s only natural. I don’t harbor any bad feelings towards you for it and I’m pretty sure Janet and Sam won’t either. If we punished people for their thoughts, hell, 99% of Earth’s population would be on death row."
Daniel looked into Jack’s eyes and saw nothing but sincerity. "Thanks Jack."
"So, are we okay here?" Jack waved a finger between the two of them.
"Yeah, we are." Daniel let out a loud sigh. "At least after all this we have now found a weapon to use against the Goa’uld that kills the symbiote while allowing the host to live."
"Um, about that. We contacted the Tok’ra. They tell us that the Goa’uld ran across those things a while ago and have learned about using the protein marker to defeat them."
Daniel dropped his head into his hands and groaned. "Why does that not surprise me at all?"
Jack stood and offered a hand to help the younger man to his feet. Placing an arm across his shoulders, Jack began to lead Daniel back inside. "Come on, Big Guy, Ole Doc Fraiser’s going to have a fit if I don’t get you back soon." At Daniel’s less than enthusiastic response he added, "She’s pretty busy with SG-9 & 11, maybe we can get her to let you stay in your own quarters."
"That would be great. Thanks Jack."
Two weeks had passed since SG-1 first encountered Ma’chello’s Goa’uld killing inventions. Daniel had been cleared for duty a couple of days ago and the team was getting ready to head out for PCX1100. The MALP and UAV showed the planet had been uninhabited for quite some time. There were some runes about five miles from the ‘gate with what appeared to be Goa’uld markings, and preliminary tests showed evidence of naquadah deposits. It looked like a perfect relaxing trip for SG-1.
Jack, Sam, and Teal’c were on their way to the ‘gate room.
"Where’s Daniel?" Sam asked.
"He said he had something to take care of but he’d meet us here," the Colonel answered.
The door to the ‘gate room opened, the team entered, and stopped dead in their tracks. No one moved for a moment, they just stood there with their jaws hanging open. Suddenly all three burst out laughing.
General Hammond was talking with Sgt. Walter Davis in the control room when they heard the laughter. They gave each other a confused glance then looked out the window towards the source. They were shocked by what they saw.
Dr. Daniel Jackson was at the base of the ramp standing proudly by a large hand-painted sign that read ‘Gate Travel May Be Hazardous To Your Health’.
The General couldn’t quite suppress the chuckle in his voice as the wormhole engaged and he announced over the intercom, "SG-1, you have a go."
As they watched SG-1 step into the event horizon, the General placed a hand on Sgt. Davis’ shoulder and said, "You know Sergeant, I think our team is going to be alright."
"Yes Sir, I agree. They’re going to be just fine."