Summary of Legacy: After visiting a planet and finding nine dead Goa'uld corpses, Daniel begins to hallucinate and is diagnosed with schizophrenia. Later, he and SG1 discover that his symptoms were caused by the infection of a Goa'uld-killing invention that causes schizophrenic-like symptoms in persons without Goa'uld organisms inside them.
Warnings and categorizations: Some graphic material, but no explicit violence and no sexual situations. H/C and angst.
This is my first Stargate: SG1
story. I predominantly write in The Sentinel fandom where I like to do angsty
things to another puppy-eyed anthropologist. *grin* Thanks to Hephaistos for beta-reading.
No thanks to Hephaistos for forcing me to watch videos of Danny-whumping SG1 episodes
until my resistance wore down and I became enamored by the Dimpled One's charms and
penchant for trouble.
Jack hung up the phone and returned to Daniel, kneeling beside him. Daniel appeared unconscious, motionless on the floor, his eyes closed and breathing shallow. Jack placed two fingers on the side of the younger man's neck, alarmed to find his pulse racing even though he seemed to be barely breathing.
"Come on." He glanced anxiously at the door, willing the medical team to hurry.
A moan from the floor snapped his attention back to Daniel.
"Daniel?" He gave Jackson's shoulder a quick squeeze. "Come on, wake up."
Daniel opened his eyes slowly, squinting up at Jack, his brow creased with confusion. "Jack?"
O'Neill offered a smile, hoping the fear he felt in his gut wasn't evident on his face. "In the flesh. You just stay right there. Help's on the way."
"It's okay. There's no Goa'uld in me."
The crease in Daniel's forehead grew more pronounced. "I... I saw it." He closed his eyes. "I'm sorry. I scared you. I didn't mean to scare you."
"You didn't scare me. I'm fine. Just relax."
"I am relaxed." Daniel opened his eyes to look at Jack, a hint of shame in them. "I... I'm okay now, I think." He made a move to get up, but Jack placed a restraining hand on his chest and held him to the floor.
"Not now, Daniel. Just stay there. A minute ago you were barely breathing."
Muffled footsteps drummed in the hall outside, and Daniel whipped his head to the door.
"Medical team must be here." Jack eyed Daniel carefully. He didn't like the wide-eyed fear on the young man's face.
The door opened to admit Janet and Dr. McKenzie, along with two orderlies, a nurse, Teal'c, and Sam.
Jack stood to face them. Jesus, did the whole base show up? The last thing Daniel needed right now was an audience. He looked back down at the young man, and his throat seized up.
Oh no. A coldness settled in Jack's gut. Daniel's face was white, his body rigid. Don't go there, Daniel. Stay calm... You don't want to --
Daniel flung himself away from Jack and the approaching team, a terrified, hysterical glint in his eyes, his face tinged with disbelief. "No..." He shook his head, scooting back until he hit the wall. "This isn't real." He looked back at Jack, searching for something, his eyes almost pleading. "Jack... It's not real, right?"
Jack crouched to the floor but moved no closer. "Daniel, take it easy. It's just Dr. McKenzie and Janet and your friends here. No one's going to hurt you."
Daniel's eyes grew impossibly wider, and he flinched from Jack, pressing himself harder against the wall. "Oh God. Oh God, I'm sorry, Jack. I waited too long. I saw it..." Tears filled his eyes. "I saw it on your arm, but I... I didn't think it was real... I'm sorry... too late. I'm so sorry..."
"Daniel, I'm fine!" The words came out harshly, sounding angry, a product of the gut-wrenching fear that Jack was feeling as he listened to Daniel's broken pleas. He forced himself to meet that terrified gaze.
"Daniel." Janet stepped forward, her hands held out in a placating gesture. "It's okay. We just want to help you."
Daniel's eyes scanned the group, his face stark with fear and disbelief. Janet took a few slow steps toward him, and he scuttled away, sliding along the wall until he wedged himself in the small corner where the bookcase met the wall. "Stay back! Please..."
Janet stopped her advance. "Daniel, it's okay."
"Our concern is only for your welfare, Daniel Jackson." Teal'c stated, his voice uncharacteristically gentle.
Jack glanced back at his teammates, seeing a hint of tears in Carter's eyes. She seemed unaware of her display, her gaze focused on Daniel.
Doctor McKenzie stepped forward, flanked by the large orderly. "Doctor Jackson, please calm yourself. No one's going to--"
"No!" Daniel stood suddenly, his shoulders straight and his gaze intense as he faced off the group. "I'm not insane. I know it sounds crazy. I know I'm seeing and hearing things that no one else can, but something's going on here. The translation... I... It said something about entering by infiltration. Don't you see? Something's come back with us."
Jack stood and took a hesitant step forward, then stopped. "Daniel, you think the nine Goa'uld came back with you?"
Daniel flinched again, sliding away from the bookcase. "I'm sorry, Jack." His voice trembled. "God, I'm so sorry." His eyes darted to Janet, then McKenzie, then to Sam and Teal'c. "Don't you see him?" He flung a shaky hand at Jack. "Don't you hear his voice? The Goa'uld... I saw it go into him. I saw it..."
"There's no Goa'uld in me, Daniel."
McKenzie moved closer to Daniel, stopping when the young man took another sidelong step away.
"Dr. Jackson, please." The doctor gestured to the orderlies. "Don't make us have to use force."
Daniel shook his head. "I can't let you take me. I can't let you... Don't you understand? I'm the only one who can see them... the only one who knows. For some reason I can't explain, I can see them. They want you to lock me away so I won't be a threat."
"Daniel, there are no Goa'uld here," Jack snapped. "There's not one in me and there aren't any in your closet."
"Just come with us, Daniel." McKenzie moved forward, gesturing for the orderlies to follow him.
"No!" Daniel lunged to the side, moving around the table and bolting toward Sam.
"Daniel!" Jack reacted, dodging sideways into Daniel's path. The two men collided, sending Jack sprawling to the floor, but he wrapped his arms around Daniel and held on tight as the younger man struggled and screamed for help, bucking against the arms that restrained him.
Doctor McKenzie knelt in front of them, a syringe in his hand. "Please, try to hold him still."
"I'm trying!" Jack tightened his grip, anger flaring in his chest. What the hell does it look like I'm doing?
McKenzie glanced up at one of the orderlies who immediately crouched next to Jack and grabbed Daniel's legs, reducing the young man's movements. Quickly, the doctor plunged the needle through the fabric of Daniel's uniform and emptied the contents into his bloodstream.
Almost immediately, Daniel's struggles weakened, his cries fading. His eyelids fluttered, and he spasmed a few times in residual resistance before going limp in Jack's arms.
He opened his eyes to whiteness. At first, he wondered if he were dead and had found his way to heaven. Then his vision cleared a bit, and he could, by squinting, distinguish the outline of a door -- tilted on its side -- with a small, glass panel.
For a moment, he reeled with disorientation, then memory returned and he closed his eyes as he recalled the spectacle he'd made of himself in the VIP room. He'd lost it. He'd attacked Jack and started screaming like a raving lunatic.
Opening his eyes again, he realized he was lying on his side, his neck angled uncomfortably. Slowly, he pushed himself to a sitting position, reaching one hand to his face to feel for his glasses. They were gone. He blinked again, trying to clear the blurriness from his vision even though he knew the effort was futile. Bad eyesight wasn't something that he could blink away.
His gaze wandered around the small, stark room. The fuzzy whiteness was all around, pressing down on him, almost suffocating with its unrelenting presence. He didn't see a bed or even a toilet, and he wondered how long they intended to keep him there. Probably not too long if he didn't have a bed or a bathroom. Everybody had to go sometime, after all, and he doubted they intended him to mess his pants or go in a corner.
He looked down at himself and saw that he practically blended with the room. They'd taken his clothes and dressed him in thin, white pajamas.
Daniel tried to stand, but the room swayed and the floor rose up swiftly, slamming into him. "Oh man..." His stomach twisted, and he fought down the wave of nausea that threatened. His head felt big, but light and floaty like a balloon. Had they drugged him?
He rolled onto his back and stared at the whiteness above. The memory of what he'd done in the VIP room was vivid in some parts but fuzzy in others. He remembered struggling with Jack... He remembered Doctor McKenzie's face as the man leaned over him with a syringe in his hand....
Yeah. Drugged. Wonder what they gave me.
"Hello?" It came out as barely a croak. He swallowed, but his mouth was so dry it did little good. Taking a deep breath, he tried again. "Hello?" His voice sounded only marginally stronger that time.
He heard footsteps approaching from the other side of the door, and once again he pushed himself to a sitting position, not even attempting to stand. He waited, listening as the footsteps grew louder, then stopped. The door swung inward, and Daniel straightened, doing his best to put forth a calm, rational appearance.
Three corpses entered, dressed in dirty old rags, their cheeks hollow and their eye sockets empty and black.
"No." Daniel closed his eyes, turning his head away. "They're not real. They're not real."
"Join us!" Faint voices echoed against the white walls. "Come with us. Join us!"
"No!" Daniel scooted along the wall, keeping his eyelids clenched tight. "Go away!"
"We have the others... Join us!"
He bowed his head and held his hands over his ears. "You're not real! You can't hurt me!"
He felt warm breath on his face, and the stench of rotting flesh filled his nostrils. He gagged, bile rising in his throat, and flinched as he opened his eyes.
The corpse's face was inches from his own, and he found himself staring straight into a pair of black, empty sockets.
"No!" He brought his legs up and kicked the thing, propelling it backward.
It slammed against the wall and bounced off. The others came forward, their thin, decaying arms reaching for him. Empty eye sockets filled with black beetle-like bugs that scurried down the rotting faces and hurried along the floor, contrasting sharply with the white padding.
"No!" He got to his feet, swaying as the room spun, and careened toward the door. The bugs swarmed him, scurrying beneath his pants, their legs tickling his flesh.
"Help!" He pounded the door with one hand while he used the other to bat at his legs. The insects continued their journey, covering his torso and rising to his neck.
"God! Oh God!" He felt their mandibles digging into his flesh, feasting on him. He flung himself against the door, screaming as he pounded on the glass. "Help me! They're killing me! Help me! Jack! Somebody, help me!"
Doctor McKenzie's face appeared on the other side of the glass.
"Help me!" A few of the insects darted into Daniel's mouth. He flung himself away from the door and crumpled to the floor, writhing from the stings of the insects. "Oh God, please, please." They scurried down his throat, but still he screamed. "Help me. Jack! Oh God..."
He felt hands on him, followed by a faint prick in his right arm... Then his vision faded and the room grew quiet until, finally, he found blessed peace.
Dr. McKenzie opened the door and walked inside. "Don't expect much. If he becomes agitated, call the aides."
Daniel blinked. He saw three pairs of boots and looked up at the figures in front of him. "Jack?"
"It's us, Daniel."
He shifted his gaze to Sam.
"Can't you see us?" she asked.
"I was just making sure you weren't figments of my... mind." How? His chest tightened, and he resisted giving into a hollow, bitter laugh. Because they talk back?
But he didn't actually care whether they were real or not. They were here, and they weren't grotesque corpses or flesh-eating beetles or Goa'uld, so he welcomed the company. It was better than sitting alone in the silence, surrounded by whiteness and nothing else. He shifted his gaze to Jack, blinking against the blurriness. He hoped their fuzzy images meant they were real. Most of his hallucinations had been remarkably vivid. Because you don't actually see hallucinations with your eyes. God, he wanted to curl into a ball and sob until he had nothing left. I'm not crazy. I'm not. There's gotta be another explanation.
He swallowed hard and tried to keep his voice steady. "They took away my glasses in case I broke the lenses and tried to, uh... hurt myself."
Sam closed her eyes.
Jack jerked his chin. "They treatin' you okay?"
Could use a pillow. Don't see how I can hurt myself with a pillow... He wanted to ask for one, but he couldn't. They were looking at him with pity in their eyes, and the fact that they were keeping their distance didn't escape his notice. It was as though there were an invisible wall separating them from him, and they were staying safely behind that wall.
So maybe he was being stupid, but he was afraid to ask for a pillow because asking for one and not getting it would be worse than never asking at all.
Since he couldn't bring himself to ask for something as simple as a pillow, he just nodded. "Yeah." They're treating me okay. Leaving me in here alone with those things... Sticking needles in me. I scream, but no one hears me. No one but me... Is this it? For the rest of my life, will this be it? This white room? Locked away. Forgotten. Alone... God...
He felt the tears rise and tried to push them down, but he had no control anymore. The drugs had stripped him of even that, and God, now he was going to break down in front of his friends. Burying his face in his fists, his cheeks flushed hot. No. No! Stop it. I'm not going to do this. Not here. No! He took a deep breath and swallowed the sobs.
He raised his head, but avoided looking at his friends. If he saw the looks he knew were on their faces, he'd break down for sure. "I'm sorry."
"For what?" Jack's voice was so gentle, it almost pushed Daniel to tears again.
"For being such a headcase." The sob in his chest erupted as a laugh, and he quickly clamped down on it because if he didn't, it would take control, and he'd lose himself to the madness.
"It's not your fault, Daniel." Carter sounded near tears, but still he avoided looking directly at her. He just wasn't that strong at the moment.
Teal'c's calm, confident voice rang like a soothing melody through the tense silence. "Colonel O'Neill believes it has something to do with the Lindress."
"You remember in that chamber you said you felt something brush by you?" Jack asked.
"Yes." Daniel wondered if he'd ever get them to believe that those nine Goa'uld weren't really dead. "It was them. I know you don't believe me, but I felt them."
Something changed in the air, and his chest suddenly felt tight. He tried to focus, listening. Finally, he heard it. The footsteps. They were coming.
No! Please. Not again. No more. No more... "They heard me." The footsteps grew louder. They'd be there any minute, and the pain would start again. He scurried to the corner, away from the door. "They're coming." Please believe me Jack. "They're coming." Don't let them get me.
"Only your friends are here, Daniel Jackson."
Was that pity he heard in Teal'c's voice? He didn't need their pity. He needed their help, but they were just standing their looking at him.
"They're coming." They're coming. Believe me! They're coming. "I hear footsteps." Oh God, somebody help me. Please... Jack... "Footsteps."
"Daniel, there are no footsteps." Jack's voice was hard, and he punctuated his words by slashing an angry hand through the air. "Stay with us."
They weren't gonna help him. They didn't believe him.... Jack didn't believe him. And still the footsteps grew louder. He pressed the heels of his palms against his eyes and tried to block the tears, but the fear inside of him erupted with a sob.
The footsteps continued, heavy and even, never wavering. "Footsteps!" Make them stop! He covered his ears, but the sound continued, seeming to echo in his skull.
He heard a different sound and looked up. His breath caught. There it was. One of the Goa'uld host corpses, right beside Teal'c. Staring straight at him. It wanted him, and he couldn't fight it. He couldn't do anything because they were energy or something and no one believed him.
The terror bubbled out of him and he gave into the hysteria, his own maniacal laughter only fueling his fear. His friends just stood there, staring at him.
As the laughter died, he raised a shaking hand and pointed at the thing. "I told you. That's one of them. He's right there."
"There is no one at my side, Daniel Jackson."
He's right there! The laughter overcame him again. He thought he might just laugh himself over the edge, if he hadn't gone over it already. He stared at the garish figure standing next to Teal'c, and his laughter died. What did it want? Had it come for him, or was it after his friends?
Daniel had to make them believe. He lowered his arm and tried to make himself sound a bit more rational. "Yes, there is."
Jack looked away, turning toward Sam. "Wanna get the aides?"
Were those tears in Jack's eyes? Daniel's gaze shifted to Sam as she turned and knocked on the glass, almost frantic.
She was afraid of him. She wanted out. He couldn't blame her, but he had to do something before the aides came and pumped him full of drugs. He looked at the thing. It just stared back at him, mocking him. He couldn't let it hurt them. He wouldn't let it hurt them.
Daniel launched himself at the creature, reaching for it. He was almost successful, but the thing ducked behind Teal'c and disappeared, and he found himself immobilized in the Jaffa's strong arms.
Sam turned toward him, shock on her face and tears in her eyes. He hadn't been going for her, but they wouldn't believe him no matter what he said. No one would listen to him. He was alone. He had to fight whatever it was alone.
But he couldn't. He wasn't that strong. He was just one guy, not even a soldier. Just an archeologist. If only they would listen to him. Out of the periphery of his vision, he saw Jack take a step back, his face twisted with disgust.
Daniel knew it was over. He'd lost his friends. They'd written him off as crazy and...
He felt a pressure at the base of his skull that shifted suddenly to the left side of his head. Then something small and glowing scurried out of his ear and buried itself beneath the skin on Teal'c's hand.
What the hell?! He twisted out of Teal'c's grip and all but ran for the far wall. Had that thing been inside him this whole time? And now... "Something just went inside Teal'c."
"You're hallucinating, Daniel." Jack sounded pissed.
Two men in white rushed into the room and grabbed him. He struggled, but they had him pinned to the floor before he could do anything.
"Don't just stand there, get it out of him!" Listen to me! Somebody listen to me!
He felt a pinch in his right arm, then a familiar voice rang in his head.
"You have delivered me to the vile Goa'uld so that I may destroy it."
"Machello." He felt the drug descend on him like a blanket, muffling everything.
"Okay, let's raise the dose." Doctor McKenzie's flat voice penetrated the thickening fog that dampened his senses. "Five mils at four hour intervals."
That had to be the answer. "Machello." Jack... Machello...
The strong arms maintained their grip, and everyone just kept looking at him, waiting for the drug to take full effect. He stared at the figures of his three friends as the whiteness faded to black.
It was over.
Giving into a yawn, Jack closed his eyes and turned on his side on the bunk bed. He felt like he'd aged ten years in the past couple of days, but it was over now. Teal'c was fine, his symbiote recovering quickly after Machello's Goa'uld-killing invention had been destroyed, and Daniel was back to normal.
Well, at least mostly.
They'd pumped a lot of drugs into Daniel's system while he'd been at the Mental Health facility in an effort to control his delusions and "violent" behavior. According to the doctors, it would take twelve to forty-eight hours for these chemicals work their way out of his system, the disparity in time frames due to the varied number of drugs they'd used, each with different "half-lives."
The doctors had also said something about side effects. Wonderful. But none of it sounded too severe -- restlessness, drowsiness, muscle spasms, tremors, dry mouth, blurred vision. Dr. Fraiser had seemed a bit worried about the dopamine thing, though, but her explanation had been a bit over his head. Something about the meds combating Daniel's high dopamine levels. The levels went back down when that thing left his body, but the drugs were still doing their stuff.
Basically, it sounded like they'd screwed with Daniel's brain chemistry. Jack didn't need letters after his name to know that that probably wasn't a good thing. Dr. Fraiser had suggested more drugs to counter the ones already in his system. Not surprisingly, Daniel had refused -- rather adamantly.
As for the side effects, Daniel seemed to be coping. Hell, the guy had blurred vision without the aide of the drugs. Would he now have blurred vision even with the glasses?
Jack sighed heavily, imagining Daniel bumping into walls and chairs and generally being a menace to himself. He should have stayed safe and secure in the infirmary like Dr. Fraiser had strongly suggested, but after making sure Teal'c would be okay, Daniel couldn't seem to get out of that place fast enough.
Not that Jack could blame him. After being confined to a little padded cell for so long, Jack wouldn't be surprised if Daniel found his way off base, even if he wasn't cleared to drive yet. A little fresh air and blue sky was probably just what the kid needed.
Awww, hell. I've gone this long without sleep. What's a few more hours? Reaching a decision, Jack pushed himself out of bed and went off in search of Daniel Jackson.
He tried the obvious place first -- Daniel's work lab. The lights were on when he entered, and he immediately spotted Daniel curled up on the narrow bed against the wall, clutching the pillow beneath his head. His glasses lay on the floor next to the bed as though they'd fallen there, and even though his eyes were closed and he looked asleep, a small crease in his brow indicated he wasn't entirely at peace.
Jack studied his friend for a few seconds, just watching him sleep. The memory of Daniel cowered in the corner of the white room laughing maniacally sprung to mind, and he swallowed hard against the image, pushing it away. Daniel was okay now. He was resting, and as soon as those drugs got all the way out of his system, he'd be okay.
Leaving Daniel to his rest, Jack turned and approached the door, but a soft mumble stopped him.
Oops. Woke him up. Jack turned. "Yeah, Dan--" The name died on his lips when he saw that Daniel appeared to still be asleep.
Jack cocked his head. "You asleep, Daniel?" he asked softly.
Frowning, Jack moved toward the bed and dropped into one of the chairs. "If you're awake, open your eyes." He kept his voice a whisper, not wanting to wake Daniel if he were truly asleep.
"They took my glasses."
Aha. Asleep. Jack leaned back in the chair. He wasn't sure whether Daniel was subconsciously hearing him and responding to him even in sleep, or whether Daniel was just mumbling in his sleep with no clue that Jack was present.
"Daniel, can you hear me?" Again, a whisper.
"Yeah, J'ck, hear you."
"Go to sleep."
Jack sighed. "I hate to break the news to you buddy, but you aren't really."
Jack pursed his lips. "Okay. I'll stay if you want me to."
"Don't leave me here."
Oh. Jack closed his eyes. At least now he knew what was going on in Daniel's head. "You're in your lab, Daniel."
"I just want a pillow. Can you get me a pillow?"
"You have a pillow, Daniel."
"They won't give me a pillow... Can't hurt myself with a pillow."
"Daniel, you have a pillow. You're lying on it." He felt foolish trying to carry on a conversation with a guy who wasn't even conscious.
"Get me out of here, Jack."
"Daniel, listen to me." He leaned forward, his voice louder. "You're in your lab. Everything's okay."
"They keep poking me... drugs... I can't think.... Makes it worse.... No control.... I scream, but no one listens."
Jack closed his eyes briefly. "Daniel, come on. Wake up."
"It hurts. It hurts and no one comes."
God. Jack shot up from the chair and knelt next to Daniel. "Come on. Wake up!" He gave the young man's shoulder a firm shake, and Daniel flinched against the wall, one hand coming up to bat at Jack's arm.
"No!" Daniel pressed himself harder against the wall. "No more drugs. No more!"
"Okay, okay." Jack backed off, returning to his chair. "Daniel, listen to me. Will you wake up? You're not at Mental Health. You're not in that room. You're here with me in your lab."
Tears leaked from beneath Daniel's eyelids. "Why, Jack?" His voice trembled. "Why won't anyone help me? Why are you doing this?"
"Daniel, stop it. Listen --"
"I don't wanna stay here forever. It's not my fault... Please.... Jack."
"Daniel, wake up!" He rose from his chair again and decided to risk being belted by the kid. Anything to get Daniel out of that white room where his mind had returned him. He sat on the edge of the bed and shook Daniel's shoulder hard. "Wake up, Daniel. Wake up. Come on."
"No!" Daniel's arm swung up, but Jack ducked the fist. "Leave me alone."
Jack rose from the bed and went to the small, dorm-sized refrigerator Daniel kept filled with bottled water, among other things. He grabbed one of the smaller bottles and twisted off the cap. He almost hated to do this to the kid, but it sure as hell would wake him up.
Walking back to the bed, he nudged Daniel's glasses out of the way with his foot and held the bottle over Daniel's head. "Sorry to do this to you, buddy, but I'm sure you'll thank me for it when the shock wears off." A small smile touched his lips as he tilted the bottle and poured a generous amount of the cold liquid onto Daniel's head.
"Wh't, huh?!" Daniel bolted out of bed, on his feet instantly, his hair soaked, and blinked owlishly at Jack as he scrubbed a hand over his face. "What? What happened?"
Jack grinned and raised the bottle, taking a sip.
Daniel's face darkened. "What? You poured cold water on me? Why? You think it's funny? Is this your way of amusing yourself?"
Jack's grin faded. "You were having a nightmare, Daniel. I tried to wake you from it. You almost belted me. I figured this was the fastest and safest way for me to wake you up."
"Oh." The anger dropped from Daniel's face, and he shook his head. "'Sorry for snapping at you." He sank into one of the chairs at the work table and began to idly flip through pages of a book that lay open.
Daniel looked up at him. "Yeah?"
"Uh-huh." He stood suddenly, his hand going to the back of his neck and brushing nervously at his wet hair, but he held his arm stiffly. "Just tired. You want some coffee?" He hurried to the coffee pot and grabbed a mug, looking questioningly at Jack.
"Uh, sure." Jack sank into one of the empty chairs. "I could use coffee."
With a nod, Daniel grabbed the half-full pot. His hands began to tremble, jarring both the pot and the mug, but the rest of him went very still. He paused for a moment, letting the tremors run their course, and when they seemed to fade, he began to pour the dark liquid.
Jack frowned, stiffening. "Daniel?"
"Just a side effect." He kept his eyes on the mug as he carefully filled it with coffee, holding his arms a little too straight. The tremors increased suddenly, and some of the hot liquid toppled out of the mug and spilled onto his hand. He hissed and set both the mug and pot on the counter quickly, wiping his hand on his pant leg. After a moment, he raised his slightly burned hand and sucked on the injured area.
"For crying out loud, Daniel." Jack rose and hurried to the young man, placing a hand on his shoulder and steering him to the nearest chair. "Sit down. I'll get coffee for both of us."
Daniel nodded, looking slightly dazed, and lowered his hands to his lap as Jack pushed him into the chair. "Like Parkinson's, I guess."
"Huh?" Jack raised his eyebrows as he grabbed a second mug from the back of the small counter.
"My brain." He closed his eyes, slouching tiredly in the chair. "Machello's device made my dopamine levels go much higher than normal. I started whacking out. But I was controlling it at first. I mean, I would see and hear things, but I would know they weren't really real. Then McKenzie started giving me all these antipsychotic drugs to lower my dopamine levels, among other things. I think it just made it all worse. I couldn't think very well, didn't have any control. The hallucinations became more frequent, more vivid. I was in that room all by myself, and..." His words choked off, and he clenched his eyes tighter. "It doesn't matter, I guess. I finally got them to listen to me. Machello's bug went from me into Teal'c, and my dopamine levels returned to normal, but the dopamine antagonists they gave me are still in my system. Janet says I can expect these side effects for a couple of days."
Jack stared at Daniel, the mug forgotten in his hand. He had a feeling Daniel was on the verge of telling him something, and he didn't want to ruin the moment so he kept his silence. After several moments, however, he realized that Daniel wasn't going to continue. "What does this have to do with Parkinson's?" he prodded, "or did I miss something?"
Daniel opened his eyes to look at Jack, his gaze dull and his face slack with fatigue. "You know how people with Parkinson's have tremors?"
"Well, the very simple and short explanation is that it has to do with low dopamine levels in the brain. The drugs they gave me lowered my dopamine levels because they were too high. Then when the levels became normal again, the drugs were still there and still acting, so they pushed them to subnormal levels."
Jack nodded. "Okay, Janet explained that to me... but with a lot more jargon." He smiled gently. "So you've got these tremors for a couple of days, then you'll be good as new, right?"
Daniel's face darkened, and he looked away. "Yeah. Good as new."
Jack frowned and set the unfilled mug on the counter, then moved forward and took the chair next to Daniel. "Talk to me, Daniel. What is it?"
Daniel glanced only briefly at Jack, then his gaze fell to the open book on the table. "It's nothing, Jack. I'm fine. Just--"
"-- tired. I know. You said that already. That's probably true, but there's more." Jack dropped his voice a notch lower. "What is it?"
Daniel sighed and rubbed a hand over his face, then rose from the chair and retreated until his back hit one of the bookcases. Leaning against the shelf, he took a deep breath and met Jack's gaze. "There were a few times I thought I'd be locked away for the rest of my life. Schizophrenia, as the good doctor was kind enough to point out, isn't something you recover from overnight. There's no cure. Just treatment, and everything they were doing to me was only making things worse."
Jack nodded slowly. "I know. I'm sorry that happened."
Daniel raised his chin a fraction, his eyes pained. "And where were you?"
Jack's head snapped up. "What do you mean? I came to check on you..."
Daniel pushed himself off the bookcase, his body tense. "You guys came once! You kept your distance. Looked at me like I was someone else whom you pitied. You were all so quick to believe I was insane when I kept trying to tell you I felt something in that chamber. It all started the moment we got back. You --"
Jack was out of his chair. "We told you we were looking into that."
"How?" He glared at Jack. "How were you looking into that? You asked me what happened in my lab that first time. I told you. Next thing I know they're shooting me full of drugs and confining me to the VIP room."
"Where you jumped all over me!" Jack shot back.
"I didn't hurt you!" Daniel shook his head, looking dangerously close to tears. "Do you have any idea what it's like seeing horrible things you know can't really be there -- or at least, probably aren't there -- and trying to ignore them? And, if you remember, the first time I did anything like that was after they had me 'medicated.' I was handling it pretty damn well, I think, before the doctors got a hold of me."
Jack deflated, flopping back into the chair. "Okay. So maybe you're right. They made it worse. I'm sorry." He looked up at Daniel. "But what's done is done."
Daniel shook his head, his voice suddenly very low. "Yeah. It is. Now I know. I needed you back there, but you, Sam, and Teal'c..." He swallowed hard. "You just left me there. You let them pump me full of drugs. You wouldn't listen to me when I tried to tell you about the thing that went into Teal'c. Even when Teal'c got sick immediately after leaving me, you still didn't think that maybe I was right. I had to practically beg McKenzie to get you back to see me."
Jack rubbed at his eyes. "Daniel..." He shook his head. "What do you want me to say? I'm sorry. If you could've seen yourself, though..."
"I did." Daniel's tone was ice. "I saw myself. It was like there was still this calm, rational part of me, but the drugs and Machello's bug were making everything weird. I had no control. I was so afraid... Every emotion I had was amplified. The things I saw in that room..." He shivered and closed his eyes. "If I hadn't rushed at that thing I saw next to Teal'c, he never would have grabbed me and that bug would still be in me right now. I'd still be locked in that room."
Jack raised his eyebrows. So Daniel hadn't been trying to hurt Sam. For some reason, that little piece of knowledge made him feel better.
Daniel opened his eyes and looked at Jack. "How often would you guys have come to see me?"
Jack shifted uncomfortably in the chair. "We would've come."
Daniel shook his head. "At first, maybe. But I saw your faces. I may have not been completely with it at the time, but I remember how you all looked at me. Teal'c wasn't as bad, but then he's Teal'c. He does a good Mr. Spock impersonation. You and Sam, however... You looked at me as if I were something on the bottom of your shoe, while Sam..." He barked a hollow chuckle. "Hell, she looked almost as bad as I did."
Jack pushed himself to his feet, locking eyes with Daniel. "I wasn't looking at you like that. I never thought anything like that. You're my friend, Daniel. It was hard as hell for me to see you like that and not be able to do a damn thing to help. Can't you understand that?"
Daniel's gaze never wavered. "I can understand that. But if our positions were reversed, do you think I wouldn't have been all over a way to help you? I would've been there for you, Jack. You know that."
Jack swallowed and nodded. He couldn't argue with that. Daniel had proven himself in that regard over and over and over again. "I know."
"I was scared, Jack."
"I've never felt more alone, not even when my parents died."
Jack closed his eyes. "I'm sorry, Daniel." He forced himself to look back at his friend. "What more can I say?"
Daniel shrugged. "Nothing, I guess, but you brought this up. You asked."
"So what are you saying? You don't trust any of us anymore?"
Daniel cocked an eyebrow. "I trust you," he paused for a moment, "just not as much as I did before. The one time I really needed you to believe in me, Jack, and you didn't." He sighed and dropped his gaze. "No one did. And I was completely at their mercy for everything." He rubbed absently at his right arm. "Now Janet and everyone else keep watching me like a hawk, as if they're looking for me to break again."
"That's not true, Daniel. They're just watching out for your medical welfare. Side effects, remember?"
Daniel's eyes flashed up at him with anger. "Yeah, right, and their solution is to pump me full of more drugs." With jerking motions, he tore at his right sleeve, rolling it up past his elbow.
Jack clenched his jaw. Shit. They'd really done a number on the kid's arm.
"Bruises, needle marks, and my other arm looks pretty much the same. I probably won't be able to write comfortably for at least a week."
"Daniel..." He took a step closer to the other man, then stopped, realizing there was very little he could say. Maybe once Daniel had gotten some sleep and his brain chemistry had sorted itself out, the young man would be easier to talk to. "I guess I should leave you to get some rest."
Daniel stiffened. "Yeah, I guess so." He gestured to the door. "Goodbye, Jack."
Jack hesitated. Daniel had said goodbye as though he'd meant 'Get the hell out of my life.' Well, Jack wasn't going to return the sentiment. Later, he'd come back and try to work things out with the kid. "I'll see you later, okay?"
Daniel moved away from him, shuffling toward the bed. With a sigh, Jack turned and left.
He hadn't gotten two steps when he heard a loud thud come from inside the room. Frowning, he turned back and poked his head through the doorway. "Daniel, you okay?"
He heard weird shuffling noises and moved further into the room, his eyes going to the bed and finding it empty. "Daniel?" He turned toward the coffee pot and froze. "Oh God."
Overcoming his momentary stupor, Jack lunged forward, dropping next to the his friend. Daniel was on the floor, oblivious, his body jerking with violent tremors. Was he having some kind of seizure?
"Hang on, buddy." Giving Daniel's arm a quick pat, he shot to his feet and rushed to the phone.
"Is this a result of Machello's invention or the drugs McKenzie put him on in that place?"
Dr. Fraiser met Jack's hard gaze with steady eyes. "To be frank, I'm not sure, but I'd guess it has more to do with the cocktail of drugs. You and I were affected more acutely than Daniel by the buggers, but neither of us have had seizures."
"He was infected before us. Maybe it hasn't caught up to us yet."
She nodded. "Could be, but all my tests show you and I are back to normal. Daniel's dopamine levels are back to normal, but his brain chemistry isn't."
"Because of your drugs?" Accusation rang through his voice.
She sighed. "Yes. The antagonists we gave him are blocking the dopamine receptors. I've been trying to convince him to let me give him L-dopa and a drug to compete for the antagonists, but he's refused."
"Can you blame him? You folks used him for a pin cushion! Have you seen his arms?"
She dropped her gaze. "It was necessary..."
"Bullshit." He sliced a fist through the air. "We all screwed up here, and he's pissed off. He has a right to be. I think the one thing he really needs right now is to feel in control, like what he says matters. So if he says no drugs, then no drugs."
Janet shook her head, suddenly looking very weary. "It's not that simple, Colonel."
"Why the hell not?"
"Daniel's brain chemistry is still unbalanced. The seizure indicates that other stuff is going on, and we really do need to administer medication to help curb the side effects. Either that, or keep him here until it all blows over."
"Here's an idea." Sarcasm slid off his tongue. "Why don't you give us a couple days, let me take him home, and not keep him in a place that probably makes him feel like a bug under a microscope? Don't you think that might be better for him?"
"And if he has another seizure?"
"This one just died out. That's what seizures do, right? If he has another one, I'll ride it out with him, then call you."
"What if he doesn't want you hovering over him at his house?"
Jack almost looked away. Her question was even more valid considering the last conversation he'd had with Daniel, a conversation he hadn't told her about. "Well, why don't we ask him when he wakes up?"
Three hours later, Daniel woke up. Jack was drumming a beat with two pencils on a metallic tray next to the bed when he heard the young man groan. Immediately, he stopped his one-man band act and swiveled in his chair to face his friend.
Daniel opened his eyes, blinked a few times, then seemed to focus on Jack's face. "Wh'happ'ned?"
Jack leaned forward, his voice low. "You had a seizure right after I left. I hadn't gotten very far, so I heard you fall."
Daniel's brow furrowed. "A seizure?"
"Yep. Doc says it's probably because of the come-down from those cocktails they gave you."
"Great." He took a deep breath and sat up, swinging his legs carefully over the edge of the bed. He eyed the catheter inserted into the back of his hand and followed the line up to the IV. "What do they have me on?"
"Right now, just a glucose solution." Janet walked up to the bed, clipboard in hand. "How are you feeling?"
"I'm fine now." Daniel eyed her clipboard. "So what did you have me on before now?"
She smiled. "Just a mild anti-seizure medication."
Daniel sighed and squeezed the bridge of his nose. "Was it necessary?"
"Not absolutely-life-or-death, no, but it is in the 'strongly recommended' category."
He looked up at her. "Am I free to go now, or am I stuck here?"
Janet frowned, casting an anxious glance at Jack, who simply shrugged. He knew what she was thinking. Daniel was being uncharacteristically hostile, but who could really blame him?
"Daniel," Janet began softly, "we really should keep you here for observation. We don't know what exactly caused your seizure, and --"
"Will I have more?"
She shrugged. "I don't know. Probably not, but I really don't know."
His face hardened. "This is something you doctors did to me, right? Not Machello's alien device. You, Dr. McKenzie, and those goons. I kept telling you I didn't need anymore drugs in my system. You kept pumping me full of stuff. I couldn't think, couldn't control myself because of it, and so you kept pumping more into my system, and when the hallucinations got worse and I couldn't even tell what might be real and what wasn't, you pumped even more into me. Did it occur to you that I was pretty much okay before you doctors started treating me?"
Janet paled. "Daniel, you passed out in--"
"Yeah, I did, but I woke up fine. I knew it wasn't real... Well, I mostly knew." He shook his head. "The point is, I was able to be rational about it because I had a clear head, even if I was seeing and hearing things that weren't there. You took that away from me and locked me in a padded cell like I was some kind of animal." He dropped to his feet, swaying slightly. "So no offense, Doctor, but right now I just want to go home and get as far away from people in white coats as possible."
Jack remained seated silently in the chair, watching the exchange between the two as if he were a spectator at a tennis match.
Janet hit next. "Doctor Jackson...."
Jack smiled. Good try, Janet, but I don't think an appeal to his professionalism is going to work this time.
"... you're right. We did screw up, but to be fair, you had all the symptoms of schizophrenia. We measured your dopamine levels, and they were far too high. We had to treat that, so we gave you drugs to block the uptake of that neurotransmitter. We ran test after test and found no sign of an alien organism inside you. Hell, even when we were looking specifically for one inside Teal'c, we couldn't find it. What were we supposed to do?"
"You didn't need to medicate me the first time." He removed the IV line from his hand, wincing and covering the wound with his other hand to stop the bleeding.
Dr. Fraiser frowned disapprovingly. "Daniel..."
"I was fine when I woke up," Daniel continued. "Calm. Rational. But you labeled me as having some kind of psychotic break and pumped me full of drugs and confined me."
She sighed. "Okay, we rushed things. But now we know what caused your behavior, and now we know that the antipsychotic drugs are doing more harm than good. We can combat that. It's not like before because we were treating you for the wrong condition. Now we're treating your for the right condition, and because you're more rational now, I'm sure you can understand that at least some of your current mood and behavior is due to the imbalance in your brain chemistry."
Jack went still. Uh-oh. Wrong thing to say, Doc.
Daniel tensed, sliding away from Dr. Fraiser, his hands raised in front of him. "You're doing it again. You're saying my brain chemistry is out of whack and I'm not acting like I should according to your nice little standards, so I must be irrational. I must be out of control. A danger." He backed toward the doorway. "You're not sticking any more needles in me and you're not putting me back there."
An orderly walked through the doorway behind Daniel, stopped when he saw the scene, and eyed Dr. Fraiser questioningly. Daniel had obviously heard the man's footsteps and spun around, stumbling backward.
Jack realized the situation was about to go from not-good to really bad, and he shot out of his chair. "Okay, hold it everyone! Right now!"
Everyone froze. Daniel kept his eyes on the orderly and Janet kept hers on Daniel. With a sigh, Jack moved to the center of the group.
"Are we all crazy here?" He pointed to Janet. "We already discussed this. Daniel has the right to make his own decisions, and if his brain chemistry is out of whack, it's your guys' fault. If he wants to deal with it on his own, it's his damn brain chemistry. Okay?"
Janet's eyes narrowed angrily, but she nodded.
"Good." Jack turned to the orderly. "You. Out. Back in five minutes."
The orderly looked confused, glancing at Dr. Fraiser. She nodded permission, and he backed out and disappeared down the hall.
"Getting better." Jack faced Daniel. "You want to blow this joint?"
Daniel eyed him suspiciously, then gave a slow nod. "Yeeaaah." He glanced at Dr. Frasier, but she didn't object.
Jack stepped closer to him. "My place or yours?"
Daniel seemed to consider that for a moment. "Mine."
"Okay then. Stop for dinner on the way or order pizza?"
Daniel relaxed his shoulders. "Pizza's good. I'm not much in the mood for a crowd right now."
Jack smiled. "I don't blame you. Pizza it is. Video?"
A small smile touched Daniel's mouth. "Nothing with guns, chainsaws, axes, knives, high-speed car chases...."
"I'm not watching anything that has subtitles."
Daniel's smile burst into a grin. "Okay. A compromise?"
"We could rent One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."
Jack heard Janet gasp behind him, but he held his smile. He knew what he was doing. Right now Daniel just needed to be treated normal. No more kid gloves. He watched the initial surprise flicker over Daniel's face, then shift to uncertainty as the young man obviously tried to determine how to take that remark, then, finally, his grin returned, melting into a chuckle.
Daniel's whole body relaxed as he laughed. "You're an asshole, Jack. You know that?"
Jack nodded, swung an arm across Daniel's shoulder, and steered him out of the infirmary. "So I've been told once or twice, but it doesn't hold much water coming from someone whose brain chemistry is out of whack."
"At least my chemical imbalance is only temporary."
"Ouch. You wound me, Daniel. You deeply wound me."
"Oh hey, and I really appreciated your psychotherapy technique back there in the padded cell."
"What technique?" Jack stopped in front of the elevator and punched the button.
Daniel raised his eyebrows. "'There are no footsteps, Daniel.' I remember that. Stunning method there, and to think all this time they've been pouring research money into neuropharmacology and psychotherapy to find effective treatments. Who knew combating paranoid delusions was so simple?"
Jack threw a slightly embarrassed glance at his friend. "Hey, cut me some slack. It worked didn't it?" He grinned. "You're cured, aren't you?"
Daniel looked heavenward. "And they say I'm delusional."
~~~~~~ The End ~~~~~~
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