Major spoilers for NEED. Rated R. Violence. Angst. H/C. Takes place some time after Forever In a Day; minor spoilers for FIAD.

NOTE: Some parts have been written by Pho as "missing scenes."  These are indicated. Thanks, Pho!

When you're finished reading, there's a link at the end for Lyn's missing scene and tag for Menace of the Soul


Menace of the Soul


"Tell me how to penetrate the Tau'ri Stargate." Apophis loomed over Colonel Jack O'Neill.

"Ah," Jack looked upward, his eyes skimming over the chains binding his wrists to the wall as he sat casually on the dirty floor and appeared to think about the Goa'uld's request. Finally, he looked back at Apophis. "No can do." He kept his eyes away from Daniel, chained to the opposite wall, and especially away from the thing in the center of the prison dungeon.

Apophis straightened, his eyes going to Teal'c, who was chained next to O'Neill. "Sholva, I give you one chance to redeem your betrayal. Tell me how to penetrate the Stargate, and I shall make your death a quick one."

Teal'c remained silent, his face calm.

"Fools! You will tell me. It is only a matter of time." He turned, facing Daniel and Sam on the opposite wall. A small smile touched his lips as he moved to kneel in front of the archeologist. "You will tell me."

"No." Daniel's voice rang supremely calm, and he pulled his eyes away from the sarcophagus looming silently in the middle of the room. "I don't think so."

"You will tell me," Apophis slid to Carter, grabbing her chin in a tight grip, "or I shall kill the woman."

Daniel's eyes flickered with fear. Sam's eyes slid to his, her head held firm in Apophis' hand. "Don't, Daniel..."

"Quiet!" Apophis released her to deliver a hard backhanded slap.

Tears stung Sam's eyes, but she raised her chin defiantly. "It doesn't matter what you do to us," her eyes slid again to Daniel to emphasize her words. "We won't tell you anything."

"Yes, you will." Apophis stood, raising one hand toward her forehead. The jewel in the center of his hand device glowed red, and a beam arched from the gem to Sam's head.

Her eyes went wide and her mouth opened in a silent scream.

"Stop!" Daniel struggled against the chains holding him.

"Listen to me, you snakehead," Jack's angry shout overrode Daniel's protests. "Hey! You spineless coward..."

The beam faded, and Sam slumped against the wall, her arms held above her head by the chains.

Apophis turned slowly to face O'Neill. "How do I penetrate your Stargate?"

Jack's hands clenched into fists, and he tugged against the chains. "Just dial up and step through, buddy ol' pal."

Apophis' eyes glowed, and he turned back to Daniel.

Shit. Jack winced inwardly when he saw Daniel's eyes snap quickly away from the sarcophagus.

"You." Apophis again knelt in front of Daniel. "I will kill you painfully over and over again, and your friends, until one of you tells me what I want to know. With the sarcophagus, your torment will last for as long as I will it."

Daniel's eyes flickered to the sarcophagus, then shifted quickly to a point on the wall above Jack's head. Jack's chest tightened. He knew Daniel had just given away his weakness for sure with that last look.

Apophis rose to his feet, glancing back at the sarcophagus, then at Daniel. "Was that fear in your eyes?" He glided one hand over the sarcophagus' lid, a smile on his lips. "For this?" He patted the cover stone lovingly.

Daniel tensed, and his eyes widened and locked with Jack's, filled with apology and self-loathing, then he looked back to Apophis.

His face hardened as he glared up the system lord. "Kill me. Kill any one of us. It doesn't matter to us. You'll just bring us back with that thing anyway, right?" His chin jerked to the sarcophagus. "Not much of a threat. And, well, if we stay dead you don't get your information. All in all, a win-win situation for us."

Apophis leaned close to Daniel, inches from his face. "Ah, but the pain will be more than you can imagine. I promise."

Daniel's gaze remained solid. "I think not."

Jack suppressed a smile. It was a good recovery. Hell, even he almost believed Daniel.... If he hadn't been there to see first-hand what that sarcophagus had done to the kid.

Apophis pulled a long blade from a sheath hanging from his waistband and held the blade in front of Daniel's face. Daniel eyed the knife, but his face remained impassive.

"The pain you feel from this primitive weapon will be the most bearable of your torture."

Jack could only see Apophis' back as the system lord crouched in front of Daniel, and he stopped breathing when Apophis' body jerked with a sharp thrust. Daniel's eyes went wide, locking again with Jack's as they filled slowly with disbelief, then drifted low to look at his abdomen.

God! "Stop it, you son of a bitch!" Jack again tugged futilely at his chains. Beside him, Teal'c remained silent and unreactive.

Carter hung next to Daniel, tears budding in her eyes. She looked barely conscious, but was obviously aware of what was happening. Slowly, she turned her head away from Daniel and closed her eyes.

Another thrust, this time upward, and Daniel gasped. His mouth opened, and a gurgled sound that could barely qualify as a scream erupted.

Apophis withdrew the blade, and Daniel sagged from his chains, moaning pitifully. "Tell me what I want to know." The system lord held the knife in the air and turned to Jack, letting the blood drip from the blade and pool on the floor. "

Jack blinked back tears. "Go to hell."

Daniel's moans quieted, and for that, Jack was grateful, hoping it meant an end to the pain. Don't look. Just don't look. He knew Daniel was either dead or very close to it, but he dared not look at the young man. He could smell the blood, and it turned his stomach. He didn't think he could bare the sight of Daniel's torn, bloodied body. Odds were that Apophis would make good on his threat to use the sarcophagus. Part of Jack held to that thought desperately. Withdrawal was better than death. They could deal with whatever came as long as they were all alive.

But he didn't know what the sarcophagus would do to Daniel a second time. Could the kid live through another withdrawal? The last one had almost killed him. And...he hated to think it...but would Daniel hold on to enough of himself to resist divulging the crucial code to open the gate iris?

"You will regret this day." Teal'c's somber, calm voice rang through the dungeon. Jack looked over at his friend to see the Jaffa pull his eyes away from Daniel's limp figure and stare hard at Apophis. "I swear it."

A smile twisted Apophis' face. "We will see, Sholva." He strode quickly to the door and opened it. "Jaffa!"

Two large serpent guards appeared. Their helmets retracted, and Apophis gestured to Daniel. "Put him in the sarcophagus and remain on guard here. Inform me when he is revived."

~~~~~~~~

Jack estimated that less than fifteen minutes had elapsed before the cover to the sarcophagus slid open. The two guards tensed, and one of them spun on his heels and hurried out of the prison. The other guard moved forward and reached into the sarcophagus with both arms and yanked Daniel from the coffin.

Jack breathed a sigh of relief. Daniel was alive and whole again, though he looked far from okay. His eyes were wide, and he remained unresisting as the guard dragged him to the wall and refastened the chains around his wrists.

"Daniel, you okay?" Sam studied the young man, her eyes pained.

Daniel tilted his head back, his eyes closed, and the Jaffa stepped back.

"Hey." Jack leaned forward against his own bindings. "How are you?"

"I'm sorry." The apology was flat, emotionless. Daniel opened his eyes again and looked at Jack. "I'm sorry, Jack."

"It's okay. Not your fault. You did good. You didn't talk."

A hint of wetness touched Daniel's eyes. "I can't go through it again."

"Daniel..."

"I'll break, Jack."

"No! Listen to me, Daniel. You can get through it..."

He shook his head. "No, I..."

"Ah, you are awake." Apophis' interrupted. He smiled gently, almost kindly. "How do you feel?"

Daniel looked away.

"Are you ready to tell me how to penetrate the Stargate?"

Daniel remained silent.

"You want more pain, I see." He raised his hand. The jewel came to life, hovering a moment above Daniel's forehead, but Daniel never looked up.

"No." Apophis lowered his hand. "I believe you know this too well." He held out his hand, snapped a word in Goa'uld, and the Jaffa guard stepped forward.

Jack's hands clenched into fists when he saw his own handgun placed squarely in the Goa'uld's palm.

"This is a primitive weapon," Apophis' hand closed around the metal, "but I believe it will suit my needs." He aimed the barrel at Daniel's right kneecap and squeezed the trigger.

"NO!" Sam yelled, but the roar of the shot cut off her cry.

Daniel's knee exploded in a spray of red flesh. He screamed and arched away from the wall until the chains snapped taut, then sagged back, gasping, his eyelids clenched tight.

"Goddamn you." Jack's voice trembled as he stared at the back of Apophis' head. "You sick bastard. You won't get anything from him. Why don't you try me?"

Apophis didn't bother turning around. "I think he'll talk...eventually." He turned to the Jaffa guard. "Put him back in the sarcophagus."

Daniel's eyes sprang open, the blue strikingly bright against his suddenly pale face. "No!" He struggled against the chains, then cried out when he jarred his leg.

The Jaffa guard leaned over Daniel, unfastening the first chain. Daniel's left arm dropped to the floor, then, without warning, he erupted. His left leg came up, connecting solidly with the guard's armor.

The guard barely noticed, but he took a step back and raised his zat gun, looking to Apophis for approval.

The Goa'uld nodded. "Bind him and place him in the sarcophagus. When he wakes, make sure he remains in the sarcophagus for two more cycles."

The Jaffa bowed his head and turned back to Daniel. He fired, and the blue-white energy leapt from the zat gun and sizzled over Daniel's body. Daniel convulsed violently, then went limp when the energy dissipated. He hung one-handed from the chain, but Jack couldn't tell if he was still conscious.

~~~~~~~~

Another ten or so minutes later, the sarcophagus lid slid open and the Jaffa leaned over to look inside. Jack heard a small groan that barely sounded like it came from a human, then Daniel sat up, his hands bound behind him, and blinked, looking around. He glanced at Jack, then at Teal'c, and finally at Sam before the guard placed his palm on Daniel's chest and pushed him back down.

"No!" Daniel's plea filled the dungeon, and Jack could hear the hard thuds as Daniel kicked against the inside of the sarcophagus. "Please, don't! You don't have to do this. Apophis isn't a god. We can help set your people..."

The frantic please were shut out when the Jaffa yanked his arm back as the sarcophagus' lid slid closed again.

"Listen to him!" Carter begged, near tears.

Teal'c snapped at the chains binding him, but his voice remained calm. "He speaks the truth. Apophis uses Jaffa as slaves. He is no god."

The guard snapped something in Goa'uld at Teal'c as the sarcophagus hummed to life.

~~~~~~~~

This is hell, Jack thought, his eyes closed and his head resting against the cool brick wall. Hours had passed, during which time they'd had no choice but to watch helplessly as Apophis repeatedly tortured Daniel to death or near-death, then used the sarcophagus to revive him. The chains that had bound Daniel now dangled empty above a blood-soaked floor. Even the wall was dirtied with Daniel's blood, some of it still wet. The dungeon itself reeked of the stomach-churning odor.

Daniel had already gone a dozen rounds in that damn machine, and after each torture session, Apophis instructed the guard to let the sarcophagus cycle two or three times past the point of healing, ensuring a quick, solid addiction.

Daniel's hands had remained bound either above or behind him during all of it. Remarkably, he continued to struggle. Each time the guard unchained him to put him back into the machine, if he was conscious, he tried to resist.

Just watching it was torture enough, and every time he heard Daniel scream, Jack came to the edge of speaking out, the iris code on the tip of his tongue. He caught himself each time, though, damning himself and Apophis and the whole fucking universe.

At least Daniel was still there inside his own skull. He was still resisting, still holding on. Jack tried to take some comfort in that, but he knew Apophis wouldn't keep up the cycle much longer. Withdrawal never had a chance to set in because as soon as Daniel was yanked from the machine, he was tortured and then put back inside.

Would his resistance hold out when Apophis withheld the sarcophagus?

The familiar hum died, and the heavy scraping sound signaled the opening of the sarcophagus. Jack opened his eyes to see the Jaffa guard lift Daniel out and remove his bindings only to chain him again to the wall. The kid's SGC jacket had been yanked off during one of his struggles and now lay in a heap near the sarcophagus. The black military-issue T-shirt, torn and soiled with blotches of blood and flesh, was now Daniel's only protection against the chill of the dungeon.

The guard turned and marched stiffly out of the dungeon, locking the door behind him.

Jack's heart sank. He looked at Daniel and saw fear mixed with a painfully familiar wide-eyed euphoria in the younger man's eyes. It was an odd combination of emotions. Daniel's cheeks were flushed and his blue eyes bright. He looked several years younger and practically glowed with energy. It was obvious he felt good, but beneath the veneer of vitality induced by the sarcophagus, Jack could see the fear.

Daniel was still there. The machine hadn't stolen his soul...yet. Unlike his last experience with the sarcophagus, Daniel now knew what was to come, and the apprehension shone in his eyes, tinged with what Jack thought was a hint of shame.

"You can do this." Jack hoped he sounded reassuring. "You got through it last time."

Daniel shrugged. "I guess we'll see, won't we?" He burst into sudden laughter and yanked hard at the chains. "This time no royal robes. I'd love to see Apophis slaving away in the mines."

"Daniel, you have to hold on," Sam's soft, shaky voice broke through Daniel's laughter.

He turned his head to look at her, a smile hovering on his lips. "Hold on?" He chuckled again and yanked at the chains. "Looks like I don't have a choice, do I?"

"Daniel Jackson, you must not give the codes to Apophis. No matter what is to come, remember that."

"I know that!" Daniel yelled, his face twisting with rage. He snapped again at the chains. "You don't have to tell me that! I'm not stupid!"

"Daniel..." Jack swallowed hard. "Listen to yourself. It's changed you already, but I know you're still there. You're still holding on."

"Shut up!" Daniel tilted his head back and closed his eyes, laughter bubbling from his chest. "Just shut up! The torture is being stuck in here listening to all of you!"

"Daniel," Jack forced his voice calm, "I know you know what's coming. It's gonna be hell. But you can't give Apophis the codes. He'll promise you the sarcophagus, you know that, but as soon as he has those codes, we're all dead, anyway...and so is Earth."

Daniel opened his eyes. "You're stupid, Jack." He laughed again. "I'm sure Hammond's already locked out our codes. We're way overdue. Unless he's stupid, too. Then he gets what he deserves."

"And Earth?" Sam asked.

"Earth!" Daniel spat at her. "Our wonderful little planet. We can't even get along with ourselves! We should've blown ourselves up already." He looked back to Jack. "It stopped being my home a long time ago."

"Daniel, that's not you talking," Sam persisted.

"Oh, it is." He smiled viciously at her. "The sarcophagus doesn't steal your soul. It frees it." He leaned as close to her as the chains would allow. "No more useless guilt. No more pain. No more sorrow. We should be studying it, figuring out how it works. We've got one right here." He kicked a leg toward the sarcophagus. "The cure for every disease known to humanity. Immortality in a box." He laughed again. "And like stupid fools, you believe some Tok'ra garbage about how it steals the soul. Well, it didn't steal mine last time, did it? If it had, I wouldn't have 'recovered.'"

"It made you an addict," Jack interrupted. "It almost killed you."

"No, it didn't!" Daniel yelled at Jack. "Shyla made me an addict. What about morphine? Huh? Use too much of that and it becomes addictive. You blame the drug or the incompetent doctor who gives too much? Should we stop using morphine, huh? Or caffeine? It's not the sarcophagus that's bad, it's how people use it."

"Even if that's true," Jack forced his voice to remain calm, "you've gone several rounds in it already. It's affecting you..."

"And what the hell do you want me to do about it?" Daniel snapped back, tugging angrily at the chains. "It's not like I wanted to get into it. He made me! I tried..." His words caught in his throat, and he swallowed, his eyes dropping to the ground. "I tried," he said again, softly.

"I know." Jack's reply was barely above a whisper.

What else could he say? Unless a miracle happened, they'd all be forced to watch as Daniel went through the withdrawal. Without medical supervision, the strain on his body could prove fatal. Hell, even with Fraiser's skilled care, the strain could still kill him...just like it almost had the last time.

~~~~~~~~

Daniel was on fire. Every cell in his body screamed. His head throbbed. His heart pounded in his chest like a mad bird seeking to escape its cage. He was soaked from head to toe, drenched in sweat. Voices called to him, but they only made the pain in his head worse.

He had no idea how much time had passed. Too long. His throat hurt. Was he screaming?

"Daniel."

He was so hot. He was dying. God, why couldn't he just die quickly? It was all too much.

"Daniel, look at me."

Go away! He clenched his eyes against the pain.

He could hear sobbing. Someone was crying. More pain flared in his wrists, and hot liquid snaked down in his arms. He opened his eyes, blinking at the rectangular box only a few feet away. It would take away the pain. It would make him strong again.

~~~~~~~~

"God!" Jack banged his head back against the wall and closed his eyes.

Daniel was dying. The withdrawal was like nothing Jack could have imagined. The first time, after Shyla, Daniel had had the benefit of massive sedatives, but even those hadn't been enough to keep him under. This time, he had to go through the whole thing without an ounce of relief.

Daniel was in obvious agony. His screams had lasted four hours, until his throat had gone raw. Now, he still screamed, writhing against the chains and tearing into his wrists, but the sound that escaped his throat was a hoarse, low wail.

"Daniel." The name escaped from Jack's throat almost as a sob. He tugged against his own chains, frustration clawing at him.

Daniel flinched from the sound as though he'd been slapped.

"Daniel," Sam tried this time, leaning closer to Daniel until the chains stopped her, "look at me."

Daniel shook his head violently, tugging against the chains, practically convulsing. The metal bindings dug into his wrists, and fresh blood snaked down his arms. Tears streamed down his cheeks, and his screams alternated with heaving sobs.

"O'Neill, if Daniel Jackson is to survive, he may very well require additional time in the sarcophagus."

"No!" Sam yelled, her eyes snapping to Teal'c. "We can't do that."

"Without Doctor Fraiser's medical care, I fear he will not survive. It is better than losing him, is it not?"

"Teal'c, we'll cross that bridge if we come to it," Jack answered tiredly, trying to ignore Daniel's broken cries. There was nothing he could do to help, and listening to the sounds of his friend's torment was proving unbearable. "Right now, we're not in a great position to escape, anyway."

The door opened, and Jack turned to see Apophis enter, a Jaffa behind him. The Goa'uld's eyes immediately fell to Daniel, and a slow smile lifted his lips.

He strode casually over to the young man and knelt in front of him, his eyes dancing with delight as he observed Daniel's struggles.

"Are you ready to tell me the iris codes?"

Jack wasn't even sure whether Daniel was aware of Apophis' presence. He continued to struggle against the chains, crying as hoarse screams tore from his abused throat.

Apophis raised his hand, and a soft beam danced over Daniel's body. Immediately, the young man's struggles ended, and he sagged against the wall. His screams faded, and his eyelids closed peacefully.

The healing device. Jack clenched his jaw. Even though he was grateful for the minor reprieve, he knew Apophis' motivation was anything but laudable.

"The iris codes." The beam died as Apophis lowered his hand. "Tell me."

Daniel lay panting, hanging from the chains. He cracked his eyelids open, then blinked as though having difficulty focusing on Apophis' face.

"Tell me the iris codes and you may use the sarcophagus again...as much as you want. It will be my gift to you."

Daniel blinked again, and his face suddenly became hard. He pulled again against the chain, and fresh streams of blood slid down his arms. "No." The word was low and hoarse, but strong nonetheless. Rage darkened his face, then he laughed suddenly. "You stupid, pathetic fool." His strained words wavered as though his vocal chords would snap at any moment. "What makes you think I'll tell you anything? You're nothing. A weakling. Just like your queen. You're nothing but a parasite!" His laughter sounded almost maniacal. "She was a weak--"

"Shut up!" Apophis backhanded Daniel.

Daniel's head whipped to the side, but snapped right back, his eyes angry. "Ammonet couldn't even control a poor slave girl. Sha're was ten times stronger than your pathetic queen."

"You insolent--"

The chain holding Daniel's right arm snapped, and suddenly Daniel's hand was around Apophis' throat. The guard rushed forward just as the last chain tethering Daniel to the wall gave out, and Daniel threw Apophis over the Sarcophagus as though he were a rag doll, then, with a raspy cry of rage, he lunged forward and tackled the guard.

They both crashed to the ground, Daniel on top, his right fist pounding the Jaffa's face. The guard no longer moved, and finally, Daniel stopped his attack and rose to his feet. His eyes darted wildly around the room, barely skimming over Jack and Teal'c, then snapped to the sarcophagus.

"Daniel, don't." Jack yanked on his chains. "Get me out of these."

A moan drew Jack's attention to Apophis, who was now beginning to stir. Daniel sprang to action, leaping over the sarcophagus and grabbing Apophis' robes, pulling him up and then slamming him against the wall next to Jack.

"You're nothing," Daniel spat, nose-to-nose with the Goa'uld.

Jack twisted his head to look up at them. He had to get through to the archeologist. "Daniel. I need you to help me. I need you to find the key to these chains. You can kill Apophis later."

"Daniel," Sam tried, "hurry before more guards come."

Genuine fear touched Apophis' face as he struggled against Daniel and realized he was no match for the man. Withdrawal had given Daniel incredible strength, as it had the first time when he'd tossed Teal'c across the infirmary.

"No more." Daniel's hands closed around Apophis throat, squeezing. The chains dangled loosely from his wrists. "This is for Sha're."

"Daniel!" Desperation tinged Jack's voice. This was their one chance at escape and Daniel wasn't listening.

Apophis' eyes went wide, and he struggled futilely, his mouth opening as he tried to suck in air until, finally, he went limp.

"Daniel, come on!" Jack yelled. "Get us out of here!"

Daniel released Apophis, letting the Goa'uld slide to the floor. Jack wasn't sure whether Apophis was alive or dead, but he hoped for Daniel's sake that Apophis was still alive. If they ever got Daniel and themselves back home, assuming the kid survived and remembered, he'd very likely not deal well with knowing he'd killed an innocent host. Apophis' death, however, Jack was pretty sure, wouldn't keep Daniel up at night.

Daniel's gaze snapped to the sarcophagus, and he stood motionless, staring at the machine, hunger in his eyes.

"Daniel Jackson," Teal'c's strong voice resonated through the dungeon, "if you search the guard, you will very likely find the means to unbind us."

Daniel didn't appear to hear Teal'c. He stood frozen, like the classic deer caught in headlights, unmoving except for the heaving of his chest.

"Daniel," Jack's voice was tight with urgency, "don't. It'll just make it worse for you. Come on. Get us free and we'll take you home. We'll get you help."

"He's not listening, sir," Sam said. "If he goes in that thing--"

"I know, Carter!" Jack snapped. "Daniel, come on, now..."

Daniel jerked as though struck, then looked back at Jack. He was shaking now, his eyes wet with new tears. "I have to..."

"No! Daniel, you don't...."

"I'm sorry." He jerked forward, collapsing on top of the open sarcophagus, his arms dangling inside.

"Daniel, please!" Sam begged.

"Daniel, we don't have time for this." Jack kept his voice remarkably calm and steady. "That guard could come around any minute, or more Jaffa might be on their way. If either of those things happens, our one chance at escape will be over. You have to fight that thing...."

"Stop it!" Daniel sobbed, hanging over the side. "I'm going to die unless..."

"No! It just feels like it." Jack hoped to God he was right. "We'll get you to Doc Fraiser, and she'll dope you up so much you won't feel a thing until it's all over."

Daniel shook his head violently. "I have to," he choked. "It's the only way I'll get you all out of here." He lunged forward and rolled inside, landing with a thud. The lid closed, and the machine hummed to life.

~~~~~~~~

The soft hum was the only sound in the dungeon. The three teammates could do nothing but wait. Either the sarcophagus would end its cycle and Daniel would emerge strong, vibrant, and, of course, high, or the guard would wake up and call reinforcements.

Or Apophis, if he was still alive, might come around and put an end to their escape plans.

None of those possibilities delighted Jack, but since he had to pick, he desperately prayed for the first one, and while he was praying, he asked that Daniel, when he got out of that box, retained enough of himself to get them the hell out of there!

The hum died suddenly, taking Jack by surprise. It had only been about five minutes. Damn, that thing worked fast. But, then again, it didn't really have much to heal. All it had to do was give Daniel another fix.

The lid slid open, and Jack was aware that he, Sam, and Teal'c were staring at the sarcophagus as though it were a snake poised to strike.

He flinched when Daniel sat bolt upright.

"Jack?"

"Daniel."

Daniel's head whipped to him, his eyes wide and bright.

Jack took a breath and smiled tightly. "How about getting the keys and getting us out of here?" He spoke slowly, trying not to yell. Time, time, time... it was wasting away. "Now would be good."

"You okay, Daniel?" Sam asked.

Jack resisted the urge to snap at Carter. They didn't have time for stupid questions, and they couldn't risk provoking Daniel's anger. Right now, the kid needed to be treated like a cracked eggshell if they had any hope of getting home alive.

"I'm great." Daniel grinned, hopping out of the sarcophagus. "The key, the key." He crouched next to the guard and searched the armor, his hands disappearing beneath one of the plates. "Aha! Here we go." Daniel pulled out a set of standard metal keys. "Not very Goa'uldy, but oh well," he shrugged.

Jack kept his smile. "That's very good, Daniel. Now, how 'bout undoing our cuffs?"

"Ya really think I should?" He grinned mockingly. "Oh, don't look like that, Jack. I'm kidding!" Daniel bounced over to Carter first and slid one of the keys into the metal cuffs around Sam's hand. It didn't release the lock, and he tried key after key until he found the right one, seemingly unaware of the chains dangling from his own wrists.

Sam's arms dropped to her sides, and she rubbed at her wrists, eyeing Daniel skeptically as she rose slowly to her feet.

Daniel darted to Jack, springing like a jackrabbit, and removed the cuffs. Jack rubbed his own wrists and then opened and closed his hands as he stood on shaky legs.

"See! Told you!" Daniel grinned and slid to Teal'c, releasing the Jaffa's arms. "We can take it back now and study it."

"Yeah, sure." Jack held his tight smile. "Of course, we can't take it with us right now. It's too heavy." He knew he sounded dangerously patronizing, but it took all his effort to keep his voice steady and calm. "We'll send a team back to transport it. Right now, we need to move before guards show up."

Daniel's eyes narrowed. Teal'c rose to his feet behind Daniel, catching Jack's eyes, asking a silent question. Jack didn't react. He didn't want to risk a fight with Daniel. There was no telling how strong the kid was, and any scuffle could very well attract guards. On the other hand, they might be able to scream at the top of their lungs without any Jaffa coming to investigate. After all, Daniel had been screaming for hours under Apophis' torture.

"You're lying to me, Jack." Daniel took a step back and almost bumped into Teal'c, but the Jaffa slid silently away to avoid contact.

Jack breathed a sigh of relief at the near-miss. The unexpected contact could have very well sent Daniel over the edge of a fight-or-flight response.

"Daniel, we have to leave."

"Indeed," Teal'c's voice was low and soft. He walked slowly past the sarcophagus. "I believe you are correct, Daniel Jackson. The sarcophagus is only a tool. It can be used for good or--" Before finishing the sentence, he stooped and came up with a zat gun, firing immediately.

The bolt arched to Daniel, and he dropped hard, a scream catching in his throat as he convulsed on the ground.

"Damnit, Teal'c!" Jack dropped to his knees when the zat energy dissipated. He grabbed the keys from the floor and unlocked the cuffs around Daniel's wrists.

"There was no choice, O'Neill. We must hurry. Daniel Jackson will likely recover quickly from the zat's effects."

"I know." Jack scrubbed a hand over his face. "Good job, by the way. Sorry for snapping."

"It is a stressful situation." Teal'c hurried forward and handed the zat gun to Jack, then stooped and lifted Daniel over his shoulder. "No apology is necessary."

"Right." Jack nodded. "The GDO..."

"Got it!" Sam exclaimed, and Jack look past Teal'c to see Carter kneeling next to Apophis, the GDO held triumphantly in her hands.

"Great. Let's get the hell out of here and hope Hammond hasn't locked out our code."

~~~~~~~~

"Unscheduled gate activation." The mechanical voice blared through the halls of the SGC as the alarm klaxons screamed.

"Major?"

The technician looked up from the console as the monitor confirmed the signal. "It's SG-1, sir!"

"Open the iris!" Hammond spun on his heels and hurried down the stairs. Moments later, he came to a stop in front of the gate ramp.

He hoped to God he'd made the right decision. SG-1 was twenty hours overdue. He'd sent a MALP to investigate, as well as two search and rescue SG teams, but SG-1 was still missing. What the hell had happened to them?

Hopefully, he was about to find out.

The iris spun open, revealing the water-like surface of the wormhole. Two figures emerged, and Hammond breathed a sigh of relief.

"Colonel O'Neill, Major Carter." He hurried forward, his relief fading as his eyes scanned the event horizon behind them. "Where are Doctor Jackson and Teal'c?"

Jack spun around. "Damn!" Just as the curse left his mouth, two figures flew out of the wormhole and landed hard on the ramp. Jack and Carter scurried out of the way as Teal'c rolled violently to the deck with a screaming, struggling Daniel.

"Medics!" Jack lunged forward to help, grabbing Daniel's legs. He felt a stunning blow to his chest and found himself sailing through the air. He landed hard on the floor, his head swimming.

"What the hell's going on here?" Hammond's voice boomed, and Jack shook his head as he struggled to his feet.

Teal'c and a handful of uniformed guards were struggling to subdue Daniel, who was fighting with everything he had, kicking, screaming, and punching. Finally, Fraiser and a couple of white-clad medics stormed into the gateroom, nearly running Jack over.

"Teal'c! Goddamn you, Teal'c!" Daniel screamed. "You'll kill me! You'll all kill me!"

"What's wrong with him?" Janet yelled.

"Sarcophagus withdrawal." Carter informed her, her eyes wet but her voice admirably steady. "We were captured by Apophis. He tortured Daniel and got him hooked on the sarcophagus again."

"Damn."  Janet knelt, placing her bag on the floor. She rifled through it and picked out a syringe. "Hold him steady!"

"Easy for you to say!" a male voice yelled back, but Jack couldn't figure out which of the guards struggling with Daniel had spoken.

Janet rushed forward as Teal'c and the group of men forced Daniel flat onto the floor. Several hands grabbed one of Daniel's tight, bulging arms and held it as steady as they could.

Fraiser jabbed the needle into Daniel's bicep and pressed the plunger. "This'll take a bit longer than an intravenous injection, so keep him secured."

"We are trying," Teal'c stated, his voice strained as he tried to keep Daniel's shoulders on the floor.

"Please!" Daniel's voice was still hoarse, dampening his screams, but Jack heard him loud and clear, his gut twisting with each plea. "Jack, Teal'c... Please! I can't! Jack, I can't, please. God, please, I can't. It's not my fault. I tried."  His words began to slur. "It'sss nnnot my faullllt thhiss time."

"Oh, hell." Jack hurried forward, breaking through the cluster of men, who hesitantly loosened their holds.

"Daniel." Jack crouched next to the young man. Daniel now lay limp on the cool floor, his eyelids hovering at half-mast, sweat drenching his hair and shirt. "It's okay. Hang on."

Tears blossomed in Daniel's eyes, cascading down his cheeks, and he shook his head weakly as the drug worked its way further into his system. "Jack.... Please...."

"I'm here, Daniel." Jack grabbed Daniel's arm, squeezing firmly. "Easy. I'm right here. You're gonna be okay."

"No." Daniel's eyes drifted closed, and his voice faded to a raspy whisper. "Please...."

Jack's free hand curled into a tight fist, and he looked up at Fraiser. "Doc...?"

"I'll have to let you know, Colonel." She barely glanced at him before shouting at her medics. "Transport now!"

~~~~~~~~

"How is he, Janet?" Sam was on her feet when Fraiser stepped into the waiting area just outside the infirmary.

Jack and Teal'c rose simultaneously, gazing at her expectantly.

Fraiser sighed heavily. "Let's have this discussion in the briefing room. Hammond wants a report, too."

Jack took a deep breath, trying to clamp down on his impatience. "Can you at least give us the abbreviated version?" he asked, following her into the corridor, vaguely aware of Sam and Teal'c following close behind.

She threw him a tired glanced as she hurried down the hall. "His symptoms are even more severe this time around. He wasn't in withdrawal when you arrived, but he was obviously very heavily under the influence. By the time the first dose of sedative began to wear off, he'd entered withdrawal. His cellular function is deteriorating. His readings are all over the place. I can't get him stabilized."

Jack came to a sudden stop. "Should you be leaving him then?"

Fraiser continued walking. "Colonel, sir, come on!"

He glanced back at Teal'c and Sam, both standing behind him looking stunned, then hurried after Fraiser. When he caught up with her, she continued her explanation.

"I've got trained medical staff monitoring him every second with life support systems standing by. Right now, I couldn't do anything for him even if I were glued to the side of his bed. The only thing we can do is keep him pumped full of sedative and hope he doesn't arrest, and if he does arrest, try to bring him back."

Moments later, they arrived at the briefing room. Hammond was already seated at the head of the table, and Janet slid into the seat at his left. Jack took the chair to the general's right, while Sam and Teal'c took chairs opposite Janet.

"Report, Doctor." Hammond turned to Fraiser.

"Doctor Jackson is in full withdrawal from the effects of the sarcophagus. His heart rate is erratic, going anywhere from 40 to 190 beats per minute. His respiration is shallow and fast. His temperature is over a hundred-and-two and climbing. His electrolyte and blood glucose levels are alarming. Basically, he's dying, sir." Her eyes met Jack's briefly, offering a silent, pained apology before sliding back to Hammond. "I don't know if he'll pull through this time."

"Why the hell couldn't we have done this in the infirmary?" Jack shot out of his seat. "He's dying and you drag us here?"

"Sit down, Colonel." Hammond commanded wearily.

After a moment, Jack sullenly dropped back to his seat, staring at the tabletop.

"I suggested we have the briefing here, Colonel," Fraiser answered softly. "Right now, the area around Dr. Jackson is cluttered with life support machines on standby and nurses and technicians ready to spring into action. They're also monitoring his vitals over and above what the machines are doing. The sedative is unable to keep him completely knocked out, so yes he's conscious, and he's delirious and in pain. If you were there right now, you'd only be in the way, and I wanted to prepare you for what you'll find when you do see him. I'll let you three in one at a time. Okay?"

Jack nodded slowly. "Okay." He looked up at her finally. "Thank you."

"All right, Colonel, I got the abbreviated report from you earlier. Now, I need the expanded version. Tell me what the hell happened on P3X-594."

~~~~~~~~

Jack was the first visitor Fraiser allowed in to see Daniel. He followed her past a labyrinth of machines, dodging hurried nurses and technicians, to a bed with its head against the far wall, leaving either side surrounded by machines. Jack stopped at the edge of the mattress, a bulky machine beeping steadily to his left, and stared down at his friend.

Daniel's eyes were closed, but low moans rumbled from his throat. His head rocked from side-to-side, his hair and forehead damp with perspiration.

"Daniel." Jack's eyes drifted over the thick, padded restraints securing Daniel's arms and legs to the bed. Two sets for each limb. Apparently, Doctor Fraiser wasn't willing to risk Daniel breaking out of his restraints this time.

Daniel's eyelids drifted open, and he blinked at Jack. His breaths came quicker, and the heart monitor spiked. Jack glanced worriedly at the machine, and Janet appeared on the other side of the mattress instantly, her stethoscope ready. She listened to his heart, eyeing the monitor, then sighed and draped the stethoscope back over her shoulders.

"He's hanging on... barely, but he is hanging on."

"J-Jack?"

Jack's attention dropped to Daniel, and he managed a shaky smile. "Hey."

"Please..."

"What, Daniel?" he asked gently. There was nothing he could really do to help his friend, but he could at least stay by his side and listen.

"Please, Jack..." Daniel's eyes drifted closed again, and he tugged weakly at his restraints, writhing on the bed.

"Shhhh...." Jack placed his hand on Daniel's arm. "I know it's bad. You can get through it."

Daniel shook his head, clenching his eyelids. "I can't...." His words broke with a sob. "Please...Let me go... I can't. No more. Jack, please...."

"Damnit." Jack cursed low under his breath and looked up at Janet, his vision swimming. He pushed back the tears, hoping she hadn't seen them, and stood ramrod straight. "Can't you give him more sedative? Knock him out?"

"Not without killing him for sure, Colonel." She lowered her eyes to the bed. "I'm sorry." She studied Daniel a moment, her face solemn, then took a deep breath and looked back up. "The report you gave Hammond..." She swallowed hard.

"Yeah?" He closed his eyes briefly and lowered his head, squeezing the bridge of his nose. It had been hell relating their capture and Daniel's torture to the general.

"If he makes it through the withdrawal, he'll have the psychological trauma to deal with as well."

"I know." He opened his eyes to look at her. "I was there. I saw, heard, and smelled it all..." He closed his eyes again against the images playing in his mind. "Goddamnit!"

"Colonel."

"What?!" he yelled, his eyes springing open.

"I know this is hard for you. Talk to someone if you have to, but Daniel doesn't need to be exposed to your anger right now. He needs you to be calm and confident, no matter what. The worse it gets for him, the stronger you need to be, or you need to leave and let someone come in who can give him that."

"Sorry." He lowered his eyes to the bed, his gaze lingering on Daniel's pale, sweaty face. "I'll keep it together, Doc. I promise."

"I know you will, Colonel." She moved around the bed and placed a hand on his shoulder. "While you're here, talk to him. Even if he seems unconscious or delirious, keep talking to him in a calm voice. I think it helps... a little. I hope it does, anyway."

He nodded. "Thanks, Doc."

"Sam and Teal'c want in, too. So how 'bout alternating rotations between you three? If he stabilizes, I'll let you all in if you stay out of the way."

He nodded again, but his throat was suddenly tight, and he couldn't speak.

~~~~~~~~

"How is he, Doctor?" Hammond stood in the small waiting area outside the infirmary.

Jack and Teal'c sat in their seats, waiting while Carter finished her visit with Daniel.

Fraiser slumped against the wall. "I think he's over the worst of it." A tired smile lit her face as Jack shot excitedly to his feet. Teal'c remained seated stiffly in his chair. "He's still in bad shape, but at least his temperature is dropping and his heart rate is less erratic."

"That's great." Jack grinned broadly, turning to Teal'c and slapping the Jaffa on the shoulder. "See, told you Dannyboy'd pull through."

Teal'c's posture relaxed slightly, and his lips quirked infinitesimally upward. "Indeed, you did, O'Neill. Daniel Jackson is most resilient."

Hammond smiled. "That's good news, Doctor. You've done an excellent job."

"Well, I've got a tough patient."

"Damn straight." Jack's grin faded. "Too damn tough. He didn't cave."

"I know." Hammond nodded solemnly. "You made that clear in your report. I'll make sure Doctor Jackson receives appropriate honors for his bravery and resilience. And, of course, as long a leave as he needs to get back on his feet."

"He took everything that snakehead dished out." Anger darkened Jack's eyes, and he dropped back to his seat, burying his face in his hands. "Son of a bitch."

Teal'c returned to his seat next to Jack. "Daniel Jackson will recover, O'Neill."

"I sure as hell hope so," Jack muttered wearily, "but he shouldn't have to."


by Pho
 

He shouldn't have to. He shouldn't have to. The words repeated in his mind were coming from the tape player from hell. Jack stoically dipped the cloth in the bowl and gently wiped the sweat from Daniel's face. Jack didn't know how long he'd been doing this, nor was he sure how long he could continue to do this. Actually, that wasn't quite true - he'd go on as long as necessary, until Daniel's addiction faded or he di... - NO! Not going there, not going there at all. Daniel would survive this, in spite of everything Apophis had thrown at the younger man. Dammit to hell, Daniel shouldn't have to suffer this way. He shouldn't have had to suffer at all. Maybe another commander would have saved him. Or, Jack mused, maybe another commander would have allowed the scientist to be killed a long time ago.

A low moan combined with a distinct pressure on his hand pulled Jack's attention back to Daniel. The younger man seemed to have aged a lifetime in the past few hours. Gone was the youthful appearance exaggerated by the effects of the sarcophagus, replaced instead by creases of pain which crisscrossed his forehead like the devil's own brand. Blue eyes, filled with confusion and pain, blinked heavily as they tried to focus on something, anything. Another moan, which may or may not have been 'Jack', pushed the colonel into autopilot, again. "Easy, Daniel. You're not alone. Slow, deep breaths, Daniel, we don't want you to hyperventilate. That's better. Count with me ... one ... two ... three ... that's right, slow and easy."

Jack kept the stream of words flowing until the panic faded from the sick man's eyes and the hold on his hand loosened to bearable levels. As the painful grip slackened, the colonel took a quick moment to dampen the cloth again and continued the endless circles across Daniel's face and neck. Low shudders coming from the sick man's body brought a frown of concern to Jack's face. That usually indicated Daniel was starting to feel everything again - *not* something Jack would wish on anyone, save Apophis and his band of not-so-merry-men.

A noise to his left startled him and he snapped his attention toward the sound, ready to defend Daniel from whatever dangers lay in wait for him. 'Yeah, right, O'Neill. Like you were on P3X 594.'  To his chagrin as well as relief, it was the duty nurse changing a series of IV's weaving their way into Daniel's bloodstream, the tubes resembling an obscene spider's web rather than a medium for healing. "How..." Jack began, then let the question die. Janet's people always seemed to have a psychic connection to the injured, despite their tendency to credit the machines for their own empathetic actions.

The duty nurse smiled sadly at the Colonel. "How did I know? The monitors at the duty station gave him away. This will only take the edge off, though."

Jack smiled to himself. There she went, crediting some damn machine. A machine that was not so different from the sarcophagus that had caused Daniel's condition. "Thank you."

The young woman placed a gentle hand on Daniel's forehead while taking his pulse with the other. "He really is getting better, I just wish I could do more. Keep him cooled down, Colonel. It seems to help." She smiled as she saw Daniel's hand held fast in the older man's. "And the physical contact helps as well."

Jack found himself tightening his grip on the slack hand before nodding his agreement with her words. He hadn't been able to help Daniel on P3X 594, but he could help him now. He could be here for this, see the younger man through this.

As the nurse walked away, Jack glanced at the clock. Twenty-four hours. Janet'd said that they'd know in twenty-four hours just how much of Daniel they'd get back. Only twenty-two hours to go.

******

He couldn't do this anymore. Please, no more. He couldn't take it. Why didn't they just let him die? God, his nerve endings were on fire. Why didn't anyone come? Was he always to be alone?  Hot, so hot. Hell. That was it, they'd let him die, and he was in hell. He hurt so much and it wasn't getting better - only worse. Any minute now, the knife would slash into his belly - he could feel it. Had felt it, over and over for, God, how long? He couldn't, wouldn't give up the codes - why didn't anyone help him? Why didn't Jack help him? Was Jack dead? Was SG-1 dead? He really didn't think so, it was only him. He was the only one dead. He'd actually died. Over and over and over, please couldn't anyone help him? He could feel the scream rising in his throat as his hand sought purchase in something solid. Something to squeeze into submission, something to take his pain.

Oh, that was better, wasn't it?  The pain was lessening - still there, but not so bad. He could handle this. He could. And hell was growing cooler - how *did* that happen? Bearable, bearable - he wouldn't break now, the codes were safe, SG-1 was safe. Cooler, cooler, easier to breathe - was that Jack? I'm here, Jack, really here - won't give you away, won't give Earth away. Honest, I can do this, really I can. Just don't leave me alone.

******

Tears ran unnoticed down Sam's cheeks as she stroked Daniel's damp hair off his forehead. He was so very, very sick and in so much pain. Six hours after the colonel had begun his vigil, Janet had forced him from Daniel's bedside, demanding that the older man get some much-needed rest. His haunted eyes disturbed her soul almost as much as did the decimated form of her friend. If Daniel di... NO! *That* was not possible. Janet said so ... had Janet ever been wrong? Sam shuddered as she remembered a time when Janet had been wrong, so very wrong. And Daniel had been the victim of that misdiagnosis. But she wouldn't be wrong this time, she wouldn't dare.

The hand exchange had gone off without a hitch, more closely resembling the baton exchange in a race than the desperate bid for reassurance that it was. She doubted that Daniel even knew the hand holding his was different. Keeping up the routine begun by the colonel, Sam dampened the cloth and gently eased the cool material around his face and neck. Frowning she noticed that while he still looked flushed, he wasn't sweating very much - was that good or bad? Why couldn't she remember? She'd had first aid one, two and three along with half of the SGC, but her mind was blank. Wait! Janet hadn't seemed worried when the nurse changed the IV's. Okay, that was good she wouldn't concern herself with that.

"Ssss..am?"

The voice was so weak, she almost didn't hear it. Startled, she focused her attention solely on Daniel, casting her own concerns aside. Had he spoken? Or was her imagination working overtime?  His eyes were still tightly closed, but there was not rapid movement to indicate sleep. "Daniel? Can you hear me?"

Nothing.

Had she dreamed it? God, if only she'd dreamed *all* of it. Daniel's screams at the hands of Apophis, his pleas not to be forced back into the sarcophagus, his horrible high when they'd escaped and the terrible withdrawals they'd all witnessed these past few days were haunting her dreams, making sleep an elusive and unwelcome commodity. Stifling back a very unmilitary sob, she dampened the cloth and rang it out, twisting it dry in the process. The sob turned to a hysterical giggle as she realized what she'd done.

"Ssss..am?"

This time she was certain she'd heard him and the faint sliver of blue between shuttered eyelids proved her right. "Daniel?"

"Thi..." The desperately ill man had no strength for vocalizing his needs.

"Thirsty?" Sam broke her hold on his hand as she lunged for the pitcher and cup on the bedside table. She poured a small amount of water over the ice in the cup and placed a straw in it before turning back to Daniel. The sheer panic in his eyes startled her briefly before she realized that she'd let go of his hand. Cursing under her breath, she squeezed his too-thin hand tightly, holding on until the panic faded from his eyes. "Daniel, I need both hands to help you with the water. Okay?"

Sam took his sigh as consent and eased his hand back onto the bed, before gently supporting his head and holding the straw between his lips. Daniel managed only two short sips before exhaustion overwhelmed him, and Sam lowered his head gently to the pillow and watched as his body seemed to relax into sleep. Whatever Janet was infusing him with seemed to be winning the battle. Thank God. She waited a minute to allow her own hands to stop shaking before taking his hand in hers once more. She hadn't been able to help him on P3X 594, but she could help him now. Holding his hand tightly, she said a silent prayer before glancing at the clock.

Four hours? She'd been sitting like this for four hours? Only fourteen hours to go. Fourteen hours until they knew how much of Daniel they'd get back. Please, God, let it be all.

******

Don't let go, don't let go, don't let go! Daniel's silent screams deafened him to all other sensory input for a moment as he felt his anchor fall away. Then the anchor was back, as quickly as it'd been released. The grip was painfully tight, but it felt so good, so right. *This* pain was grounding him to the here and now, reminding him that Apophis was far away and couldn't hurt him in this place. Jack had promised him that, and Jack always kept his promises. But this was Sam who held him now - he'd know when they'd switched off. The small selfish part of Daniel wished Jack had stayed, but even his subconscious recognized the older man needed rest. And they hadn't left him alone; Sam was here, and talking?

"Daniel, I need both hands to help you with the water. Okay?"

Oh. Water. Right. He was thirsty. Of course, simple. He'd just lift his head and take the glass. No big deal.  A sigh escaped his lips as he failed to exert any control over his body. Maybe he couldn't do this. What? Sam? Oh, good, he wouldn't have to do this alone. Sam would help him. The water tasted so good. Say thank you, Daniel. His subconscious mind berated him for his lack of manners as the drugs in his system pulled him back into slumber. But it didn't matter. Jack had stayed. Sam would stay. He wouldn't be alone.

******

Daniel Jackson will recover.  Teal'c studied the almost fragile form of his teammate for a moment. Fragile was not a term he normally associated with the younger man. Daniel Jackson was a strong man under any circumstances, but right now he was suffering from effects of the withdrawal. His weight had dropped significantly, and Teal'c had no doubt that much muscle-tone would have been lost as well. But that was all right. Teal'c would spend as many hours as necessary in the gym with his young friend to recover the lost mass. Recovering the lost weight would be the job of O'Neill, even after four years among these people he had yet been able to succeed in reducing Daniel Jackson's consumption of chocolate and coffee - both considered poisons on Chulak - to a manageable level.

The Jaffa frowned suddenly. The cooling cloth no longer seemed to comfort Daniel Jackson, and the duty nurse had recommended not using it quite so frequently. This was a dilemma as it left Teal'c with virtually nothing to do - except hold Daniel Jackson's hand. While he had no objection to doing so, particularly since Major Carter had stated how much it meant to Daniel Jackson, it was a decidedly odd sensation. Nothing in his Jaffa training had prepared him for the tactile needs of his Tau'ri friends.

Using Kel-no-reem techniques to calm his troubled spirit, Teal'c concentrated on the advice given him by Major Carter when he relieved her thirty-five minutes ago - keep Daniel Jackson cooled down, hold his hand, and engage in conversation. The cooled down portion of the advice was pointless at this time, he was holding Daniel Jackson's hand, this left the conversation portion of the recommendation. From where Teal'c was sitting, it seemed conversation would be limited to his words, an action which did not seem very conversational. However, Major Carter had been insistent.

"Daniel Jackson. It is I, Teal'c. I have relieved Major Carter and will be with you for the next five hours and twenty-five minutes. I have been told that I should speak with you. Since you are unable to speak as of yet, I can only assume that I will be speaking at you instead.

There is much I would have you know. I must first of all apologize for being unable to be of assistance to you on P3X 594. It is my belief that I should have been aware of the ambush prior to be it being executed. I have already tendered my apologies to both Colonel O'Neill and Major Carter. They are both adamant that there was nothing I could have done to have prevented our capture and your subsequent mistreatment by...*him*. While I appreciate their words, and understand their reasoning, I fear I will remain uneasy of spirit until you are well enough to accept my apology."

Teal'c's eyebrow raced for the sky and he looked with undisguised surprise toward the bed. Daniel Jackson was exerting increased pressure on his hand. Indeed, the young scientist appeared to be struggling to open his eyes. His mouth was moving, but no words were coming forth. Remembering Major Carter's instructions on the water, Teal'c asked hesitantly. "May I release hold of your hand to provide you a drink of water?"

The pressure on his hand eased, and Teal'c wasted no time in getting the straw to Daniel's lips. Blue hazed covered eyes squinted up at him, and the Jaffa rewarded the effort with a smile. "Very good, Daniel Jackson. You are making satisfactory progress."

"Jack, Sam?"

The names were spoken so softly even Teal'c's excellent hearing barely caught them. "They are well, Daniel Jackson. Both are resting. They will be back soon."

A slight nod followed by a low groan caused Teal'c to take the younger man's hand again. Daniel's grip tightened as a shudder raced through his body. Teal'c glanced around the infirmary, and to his infinite relief, saw Janet Fraiser. "Dr. Fraiser!"

The words were barely out of his mouth when the petite doctor appeared at his side. Within moments, she'd adjusted Daniel's medication, and watched with satisfaction as the tremors eased. Placing a hand on his forehead, Janet spoke softly. "Rest, Daniel. Teal'c will keep you company for a while."

As the younger man drifted off, Teal'c turned serious eyes toward Janet. "Dr. Fraiser, he appears to still be in much pain."

She shook her head. "He's much better. There is some pain, but the meds we've got him on appear to be working. Has he been lucid at all?"

"He spoke the names of O'Neill and Major Carter. And, he has taken some small amount of water."

"Excellent. Keep up the good work, Teal'c." Janet smiled, patted him on the shoulder then headed for her office.

The Jaffa relaxed and settled back into his chair, his grip never lessening on Daniel's hand, and began to speak once more. "As I was saying, Daniel Jackson, you are making satisfactory progress, but do not take my word for it, the doctor has stated so as well."

******

Apology? Nothing to apologize for, Teal'c. If he could just make his mouth work he'd tell Teal'c so. Frustrated. So very frustrated, so many visitors, so many people concerned about his health and he was trapped in a body that wouldn't respond. Moving was not an option, except for a little on the fringes - he *thought* he'd moved his fingers but couldn't be sure. Worse, talking was not an option unless one counted that poor excuse for a mumble he'd managed a little while ago. At least Teal'c had recognized Jack and Sam in what he'd said. Of course, the additional words absolving the team of any responsibility for his injuries had apparently remained unspoken.

And the pain - it kept coming back, but now that he thought about it, this last round wasn't too bad, not bad at all. So either he was getting better or Janet's happy juice was working overtime. Maybe, if he was lucky, it was a little of both and soon, he'd be able to move. Or talk. Or both. Then again, maybe he shouldn't push his luck. But wait, Teal'c was talking again. Satisfactory progress? Well, *that* was a good thing.

******

Jack smiled broadly as Daniel swallowed a few times, then hoarsely asked, "Wh..Where's Sam and Teal'c?"

"Hovering outside." Janet responded for the colonel as she removed her stethoscope and checked Daniel's vitals. "Better, much better. Welcome back, Daniel. Looks like you'll make a complete recovery, in time." She smiled to herself, then called out, "Both of you can come in now, I've got to report to the general."

The pair was behind the curtain almost before the words left her mouth. Shaking her head, Janet added a firm, "Ten minutes, then two of you have to leave. And Daniel, keep the talking to a minimum."

"No problem, Janet."

"Ten minutes will be sufficient, Dr. Fraiser."

"They'll be gone in ten minutes, Doc." Jack looked at his team. "Hey, it is *my* watch ya know."

"It is good to see you awake, Daniel Jackson."

"You can say that again, Teal'c."

"It is good--"

"Oh, for crying out loud, Teal'c, it's just an expression." Jack ran his fingers through his hair in frustration as Sam tried to hide her laughter.

Daniel watched his friends tiredly, all too aware of the hours they'd spent at his bedside trying to drag him back from the edge. "Thanks."

Jack frowned in confusion. "What are you thanking us for?"

"Not leaving me. I wasn't alone. Never alone."

"Oh, well, that's what teams are for, Daniel." Sam smiled, her eyes bright with tears.

"But I owe you an apology, Daniel Jackson." Teal'c looked seriously at his young friend as he spoke.

Daniel shook his head, yawning as he replied. "No. No apologies. I'm fine. Really fine. Just tired. Really tired."

As Daniel's eyes slid closed, Teal'c placed a hand on the younger man's shoulder and squeezed gently while Sam planted a kiss on Daniel's cheek. Jack then motioned them to leave but couldn't resist a parting shot. "Told ya he'd wake up on *my* watch."

End Pho's missing scene


"Hey, there." Jack strolled up to Daniel's bed, his hands in his jacket pockets and a grin on his face.

"Hey." Daniel looked up from the magazine resting open on his lap. The head of his bed was angled upward to prop him into a sitting position. "Got any food with you?"

Jack's eyebrows rose. "Are you kidding? Fraiser catches me with contraband and I'm dead. You're on your own in the food department."

"I've been eating applesauce, rice, and cottage cheese for days." His eyes dropped back to the magazine. "I've started dreaming about Colonel Sanders coming to visit the SGC."

Jack snorted. "He's not a real Colonel, you know."

Daniel's mouth quirked upward. "Say it ain't so." He looked back up at Jack, a touch of embarrassment in his eyes. "Thank you again."

"For what?"

Daniel shrugged and looked back at his lap. "For staying with me -- you, Sam, and Teal'c. It helped. A lot."

"Oh that. Well, uh, you did all the hard stuff."

"I'm sorry."

"For what?" Jack asked again.

Daniel closed his eyes, his head sinking against the pillow propped behind his head. "I gave myself away. Then I climbed back into the sarcophagus... I remember most of it, I think... Did..." He took a deep breath and opened his eyes. "Did I kill Apophis?"

"No." Jack slid onto the edge of the mattress and placed a hand on the bed next to Daniel's arm. "He started to come around right after Carter swiped the GDO off of him. I zatted him once to keep him out long enough for us to make our escape."

"That's good, I guess." Daniel swallowed.

"Even if you had, the guards would've just put him back into the sarcophagus. And even if for some reason they didn't, you'd have only been doing the host a favor."

"I know."

"And about that other stuff you're feeling guilty for.... Don't." Jack patted Daniel's arm. "You did good. Yeah, maybe you gave yourself away, but you know what? You're human, Daniel, and you were just a few feet away from your worst nightmare. You were remarkable. You didn't let Apophis win. You held on and ended up taking out Apophis and the Jaffa. Hell, if it weren't for you, we wouldn't be here right now."

Daniel sighed and closed his eyes. "I did let him win."

"How the hell do you figure that?"

"I got back into the sarcophagus on my own."

"That wasn't you."

"Yes, it was. I remember."

"Daniel, stop." Jack squeezed his friend's arm. "You got back in so you could get us out. Do you remember saying that?"

"I think so, but..."

"And yes, you wanted the fix."

Daniel winced, but his eyes remained closed.

"It's okay." Jack's voice dropped to a whisper. "Human, Daniel. Remember that. You're only human." He leaned forward, closer to Daniel, and dropped his voice even lower. "That's a good thing."

Daniel opened his eyes. They brimmed with unshed tears. "It doesn't feel good right now."

"I know." Jack leaned back, giving Daniel more space. "It'll get better, though. I promise... and, uh..." He smiled gently and reached into his jacket pocket to pull out a small bag. "I lied about the food. Two chocolate donuts. Free of charge. If Doc Fraiser find out, I'll deny knowing anything about them."

"Thanks, Jack." Daniel smiled, blinking back the wetness in his eyes. He took the bag from Jack and opened it, peeking inside. "Uh..."

"Okay, one and a half chocolate donuts," Jack sighed. "Geez, talk about ungrateful. They were freshly baked. Smelled good. I got hungry. So sue me."

Daniel's smile blossomed into a grin. "I'll take a raincheck on the litigation, okay?" He reached into the bag and pulled out the half-eaten pastry, holding it in his fingertips and thrusting it toward Jack. "Though if you were to somehow destroy the evidence, I guess I'd have no case."

Jack grinned and snatched the donut from the Daniel's fingers. "You're right." He took a greedy bite and chewed happily. "Thannnks for thhhe tip."

"Anytime." He reached again into the bag and withdrew the second donut.

Jack swallowed his mouthful. "By the way, Hammond's giving you some kind of honor for your bravery," he waved a dismissive hand in the air, "and a vacation. So you wanna go fishing?"

"An honor?" Daniel raised his eyebrows. "Really? Even though I'm a civilian?"

"Yeah." Jack shrugged, his eyes crinkling. "I tried to talk him out of it. I know how you hate those kinds of things."

"Ah, right." Daniel nodded, a faint smile hovering on his lips. "I guess I'll just have to deal with it. Thanks for trying, though."

"Anytime, Danny-boy. Next time you do something heroic, I'll see if I can swing an actual reprimand for ya."

"You're a good friend, Jack."

Jack took another bite of his donut. "Donnn't I knnnow it."



by Pho

The water was crystal clear, and cold as ice. Daniel knew this because he'd stuck a tentative toe into the lake. Loons be damned, he wasn't going swimming, it was much too early in the year for *that*. Leaning back in his lounge chair he watched with much amusement as Jack endeavored to convince Teal'c that fishing was much better when the water was cold. A disgusted snort from the disabled powerboat told Daniel exactly what Sam thought of that theory. He leaned back and sighed, careful not to draw attention to himself. He'd had about all the lemonade he could stand in a twenty-four hour period, and really didn't need another blanket.

It had been six weeks since their return from P3X 594 and the nightmares were just now beginning to fade. Daniel knew that it would take at least that long for them to diminish altogether, his and everyone else's. He knew, without being told, that Jack had added their little adventure to his ready supply of night terrors, and that Sam's hovering probably resulted from the same nightmarish phenomena. He wasn't too certain about Teal'c, but strongly suspected that the Jaffa was still somewhat ill-at-ease with the whole torture/addiction scenario as evidenced by the number of times he'd gone into Kel-no-reem while watching Daniel sleep.

From the dock he heard Jack call out loudly. "Carter! That motor working yet?"

"Not yet, sir." She responded quickly, and a little irritably Daniel thought, "Are you sure this worked the last time you borrowed it?"

"Yep, used it to putter across the lake and fish in some mighty crappie grounds." Jack hoisted his line back into the water, then pulled it to shore.

Sam suddenly looked up from the motor, asking suspiciously. "When was that, sir?"

"About ten years ago." Jack wisely didn't look at his second-in-command as he spoke.

As Sam began to sputter indignantly, Daniel shook his head and grinned broadly. It was so good to be here, alive, healthy and with his frie...family. For all the pain inflicted, Apophis had lost - SG-1 was still intact as a team, working to resolve the Goa'uld threat to humanity as well as to themselves, and they would win. Of that, Daniel was sure. Now, if he could only get them to brew him a large pot of heavily caffeinated coffee.

End Pho's Epilogue


The End

Th-That's all folks. I'd like to thank PHO again for writing these bits. I had posted the story, and then wanted to add to it, but after a stressful week, really, really wanted to READ these nice "comfort" parts without having to write them. She volunteered! What a delight!

Please let me know what you think of this little bit!
Thank you! NawdC@yahoo.com
And you can email Pho at phopho@mindspring.com

Also be sure to check out Lyn's missing scenes
and tag for Menace of the Soul

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