The night-black clouds loomed menacingly overhead as Daniel slipped on the slick grass. He panted heavily as the hill he climbed brought him closer and closer to the foreboding storm clouds. As he topped the rise, a bright bolt of lightening split the sky before him, nearly blinding him. He saw the Stargate beckoning to him from across the vast flatland, and gathering speed, he rushed down the other side of the hill, towards sanctuary. Thunder crashed seconds later, the vibrations of which could be felt in the ground beneath him.
Running as fast as he could, Daniel began to traverse the barren land separating him from the Stargate, and his friends. After a minute, Daniel knew he had to try to pace himself. He was already winded and feeling horribly exposed in the open area. Another flash of lightening off to his right had him blinking with the after exposure, and he tensed as he waited for the ensuing thunder. It crashed sooner than he expected, and he dared to look away from his goal and glance up at the sky.
It was grayish black now, and so low he had the impression that if he jumped high enough, his hand would pass through the liquid-heavy tufts. He heard the approach of the rain before he saw its silvery sheen, saw the line as it traversed the flatland, approaching faster and faster as he ran at an angle to it.
He glanced at the �gate, realized he wasn�t even halfway there. No way would he arrive to safety before the storm hit. Still, he picked up the pace, lungs gasping for air, muscles burning as they pulled his cumbersome body along. What he wouldn�t give to be a horse, with four legs instead of two to speed him on.
The Stargate now shone brightly before him, the unmistakeable blue liquid light floating in its midst. As he ran towards it, he saw three figures approach and pass through the pseudo-liquid, none of which even turned back to check on his progress. The light winked out seconds after the last disappeared, leaving Daniel alone on an alien world. Companionless. Abandoned. About to brave the storm by himself.
The hiss of the rain got closer and closer, and still he kept running. White round objects bounced on the ground before the approaching hazy curtain, and it was only when it was a few feet away did Daniel realize that the white objects were baseball-sized hail. The first two painfully hit his shoulder and chest, the next his leg, his arm, then the back of his head.
The ground grew full of the slippery objects and it was impossible to dodge them. He managed to run no more than fifteen feet inside the storm when he slid and landed hard on his shoulder. Immediately he curled into a ball, arms raised to protect his head.
Rain and hail poured down on him, the frigidity of the rain would have taken his breath away had he been able to breathe. The hail pounded his vulnerable body at speeds faster than the star pitcher of the Major League Baseball. Mother Nature wound up for the pitch, and sent her best fastballs speeding down to the ground. That a mere human was there to intercept the catch was as meaningful as a gnat flying before a batter.
Daniel�s battered body withstood for as long as it could,
until a solid hit to his temple mercifully took away the pain.
- - - - - -
Jack watched worriedly as Daniel�s body twitched under the harsh alien lights. It appeared that he was dreaming, but from the way he was gasping and sweating, it could be classified more as a nightmare. It had been going on for several minutes, and Jack could see the strain Daniel�s body was undergoing.
�Hasn�t he had enough of this?� Jack yelled at the aliens standing across the room from him. They weren�t quite human, and although not as weird looking as the Asgard, their expressionless faces tended to make Jack more uncomfortable than those of their allies. These faces had an almost metallic sheen to them, emphasizing their veins and arteries. It took all of Jack�s concentration to look them in the eye when they approached and not trace those vast networks of tubing beneath their skin.
SG1 had been captured, knocked out somehow without even realizing that they�d been attacked. They had woken up here, with Daniel lying on some sort of 10 feet by 10 feet brightly lit white ceramic flooring, and Jack and his team securely tethered to the wall. Three of their capturers were fiddling with some sort of computer system built into the wall, studiously ignoring the suffering man on the floor or the three irate ones facing them.
His eyes tearing from the effects of the strong lights, Jack pulled irritably at his bindings; the thin plastic wires leading from the wall to his wrists were long enough to allow him to sit or stand, but not enough to go to his friend�s aid.
In response, Daniel suddenly curled up on the floor, bringing his arms up over his head in a protective stance. He moaned, flinching in obvious pain. When his body went limp a few seconds later, Jack yelled out his frustration.
�You sons of bitches! What the hell are you doing to him?�
He could feel Teal�c struggling wildly to free himself on his left, and Carter was leaning forward, calling Daniel�s name.
The blinding light emanating from the ceramics winked out, the room becoming at once dim and gloomy. The only illumination now came from the computer panel where the aliens worked. One of them broke off and approached Daniel. He knelt beside the unconscious man and passed some kind of Star Trek like scanner over him, the lights on the small wand blinking in different patterns as it traversed Daniel�s length. He studied the lights a moment and then got up and placed the wand inside the computer-like contraption. He left the room, the other two following in his wake.
�Daniel!� Jack shouted, adding his calls to Carter�s. Their friend remained unmoving except for small tremors which shook him occasionally.
�Shit,� Jack complained as he pulled once more on the plastic wires around his wrists. He could feel something warm and wet sliding towards his palm and knew without looking that he�d rubbed his wrists raw in his efforts to get free. None of them had any weapons on them, but Jack had noticed that Daniel�s knife was still strapped to his waist. If they could only rouse him and get him to come to them�
�Daniel!� Jack yelled, hearing Daniel�s moan. He called out once more, this time more softly. Daniel straightened his legs and brought his arms down from over his head. He rolled onto his back, and Jack could see that his eyes were still closed.
Carter called his name once more, and this time Daniel�s eyes opened. Yes!
�Danny, over here,� Jack said softly, not wishing to alert the aliens that their friend was awake and might be able to free them. Daniel turned his head and looked at them, frowning.
�Daniel, can you move? We need you to cut us free,� Carter said, just as softly.
�Quickly, DanielJackson. Our captors may return any moment,� Teal�c added.
Daniel continued to stare at them, obviously confused. He pushed off with his arms and managed to get himself into a seated position. While still leaning on one hand, he brought the other up to rub his face.
�Daniel, your knife,� Jack prompted. �We need you to come cut the damn ropes.� Daniel looked at Jack and then waved his hand at him.
�You left me,� he said in a hurt voice.
�What?� Jack exclaimed.
�When?� Carter asked.
�The storm was coming and you guys went home. You didn�t wait.�
�Daniel, what are you talking�� Realization set in and Jack knew he was going to have to waste time explaining what was happening. �You�ve been dreaming. These aliens captured us and did something to you. You have to get over here and��
�The Colonel�s right,� Carter interrupted at the look of disbelief on their friend�s face. �It looked like you were having a nightmare. But it�s over, Daniel. We need to get out of here before they come back and hurt you some more.� When Daniel still didn�t appear to believe them, she pleaded, �Please Daniel.�
�Ohfercryingoutloud!� Jack exclaimed, his voice rising in irritation. Since reasoning with their friend obviously wasn�t working, Jack decided on another tactic. �Daniel, will you just get the hell over here and cut these things off of us.�
Daniel lowered his head the way he did when someone hurt him and he didn�t want to show it. Then resignedly, he got to his knees and stood up, swaying slightly. He took three shaky steps towards them and as he left the edge of the ceramic square, a bright light blinded them all. Blinking, black spots dancing before his eyes, Jack saw Daniel�s crumpled body lying in the center of the square.
�They must have encircled the area with a force field,� Teal�c explained.
�Ya think?� Jack groused. �Oh great,� he said as the aliens filed back into the room.
- - - - - -
Daniel slid down the large boulder, his sock clad feet first sinking an inch or so into the clay-like soil of the lake, the cool water soaking him halfway up to his knees. He took two cautious steps down the slippery, steep embankment, the water quickly rising from his knees to his thighs. He pushed off into the water and began following his team mates, swimming strongly towards the Stargate, situated in the middle of the wide lake.
He swam easily, the water numbing his skin and the coldness of it not quite as uncomfortable after a minute. He glanced up, making sure he was heading in the right direction. He saw Sam arrive at the floating wooden pier surrounding the Stargate, Jack putting a hand out and helping her up onto the platform. She turned back to look at him, her hand shielding her eyes from the sun behind him. She stared a moment, then made her way to the DHD, which Teal�c was already examining.
Daniel had made good progress and was nearing the halfway mark. The water felt heavier here, darker, murkier� thicker. Every time his hands made their downward motions in his stroke, the water felt colder, warming up again the closer they got to the surface. He thought he must be tiring; his boots, tied to his belt behind his back, were now filled with water and dragging him down.
He was a little out of breath, his legs and arms beginning to tire. He was beginning to feel the chilliness of the water now, as if he was dredging it from the very bottom of the lake every time he disturbed its surface.
With effort, he kicked harder, propelled his arms deeper, wishing to get to the security of the floating platform. He felt as if he wasn�t moving forward, but was held in place by the consistency of the water itself. He glanced up, and realized that he hadn�t advanced by much. He was beginning to worry a little, forcing his burning muscles on, ignoring the cold which now permeated every inch of his body.
Suddenly he found that he was no longer horizontal, but was in a vertical position in the water. Too tired to kick himself forward, he tread water for a few seconds, then pushed himself onto his back. He floated there for a minute, trying to catch his breath. He felt the heaviness of his boots pulling him down and reluctantly reached a hand and untied the laces, letting them float down to the murky depths of the lake.
He turned onto his stomach and began swimming again, the only sounds being the harshness of his breaths and the soft splashes his hands made as they entered the water, and an occasional whir of an insect curiously coming to see what huge floundering creature attempted to cross the lake.
The distinct hum of the Stargate began to resound over the water and Daniel looked up, glad to see that he was nearing the pier. He saw Teal�c squatting by the edge, waiting to give him a hand up.
The current here was strong, and Daniel had to fight the undertow to make some headway. Tired now, he moved slowly, and was surprised when he suddenly found himself under the water. Kicking wildly, arms trying to propel him upwards, Daniel breached the water�s surface, coughing harshly as his body tried to expel the water he�d accidentally breathed in.
He�d been pulled a distance away from the Stargate and he began swimming towards it once more. The blue of the open wormhole illuminated the water before him, turning it to a strange, silvery sheen. He saw plants growing in the water below him, their thin stalks looking like veins running along a translucent surface. It made him uneasy, made him wish he was on solid ground.
Lungs burning from fatigue and irritated from the water he�d inhaled, Daniel gasped and coughed as he began swimming for his life. He knew that he was exhausted and it would take every ounce of his waning strength to get him to the small quay.
He saw Jack standing behind Teal�c, his hand resting on the
He reached the place where the current ran strong, and with the last of his might, began to cross the undercurrent. Mouth wide open, gasping for breath, trying to breathe and spit out water simultaneously, arms and legs feeling like leaden weights were attached to them, Daniel doggedly swam on. He was nearing the pier, five feet, four feet, three� when suddenly he began losing ground. He saw Teal�c stand up, regret in his eyes. He turned and in three steps, entered the wormhole. Sam followed two seconds later. A small whirlpool encircled Daniel, pulling him under. His last sight was that of Jack, a sloppy salute and a slow shake of his head, and he was gone.
Water enfolded him, blue and shimmery and suddenly warm and comforting. His lungs were burning, and he no longer had the strength to fight the water. As the blue winked out, leaving him in the dark, Daniel�s lungs demanded, and he was forced to breathe the liquid.
- - - - - -
�Oh god, he�s not breathing,� Carter whispered as Daniel lay before them, unmoving. This time it had been bad, Daniel had moaned and coughed and fought for breath. The lights had just been turned off, and Daniel lay there like a dead man.
Jack stared at Daniel�s chest, willing to see it rise. His friend�s eyes were staring, his mouth wide open as if gasping for non-existent air.
�Daniel� breathe. Damnit, Daniel, breathe,� Jack urged. Teal�c and Carter both began calling out, and Jack could see Daniel�s lips begin to turn blue.
�Let me go to him, please, I can help him,� Jack yelled as the alien approached Daniel with the Light-Bright wand. He passed the twinkling rod over their friend, and walked away, leaving him there. As before, the aliens left the room, their spectacle or experiment or whatever the hell they were doing with Daniel, over for the time being.
�Daniel� Danny, please�� Jack whispered knowing time was running out. Daniel�s back arched suddenly, and he emitted a sudden deep gasp. Then he was coughing, breathing, wheezing.
Jack�s legs gave out and he slipped down the wall, shaking with relief. He saw his friend�s chest heave as he forced air in and out of his lungs. The bluish twinge was leaving him, leaving his face pale and drawn.
After a few minutes, Daniel rolled onto his side and looked at them through blood shot eyes.
�Water,� he croaked.
�Sorry, Daniel,� Jack said with regret, �I don�t have any water.�
�No�� he coughed. �Drowning. No water.� His hand waved vaguely at the large room they were in.
�It was a dream, Daniel,� Carter tried to explain once more.
�We have been captured by aliens, DanielJackson. They are attempting some kind of mind control over you.�
�Was drowning,� he repeated, pushing himself onto his knees, his hand rubbing his chest in obvious discomfort.
�Daniel, listen to me,� Jack ordered. Daniel�s glassy gaze met Jack�s. �You�ve got a knife; we need you to try to throw it to us. There�s a shield of some kind separating us.�
Daniel nodded, and got to his feet. He stepped to the edge and didn�t stop. Carter�s cries joined Jack�s as they warned him to not come any closer.
When their eyes stopped tearing and the light faded away, Daniel was lying unconscious once more.
�Damnit,� Jack exclaimed, hearing the aliens coming their way.
- - - - - -
Daniel opened his eyes in shock as he felt soft lips on his. He opened his mouth to express his surprise when a tongue was thrust into it. All he could see was pale skin and blond hair. Hands were stroking his chest, coming into contact with painful bruises, and were slowly making their way towards his groin.
�Mmmmph,� he tried to say with his mouth full.
Pushing the insistent person away from him, Daniel rolled his aching body away and stood up, having to catch himself on the wall in order not to fall. Sam was looking up at him, eyes dark with lust, mouth open, breathing heavily.
�Daniel,� she breathed as she came towards him on hands and knees, looking like a feline predator coming after its prey.
�Sam?� he yelped, moving back from her, every part of his body aching horribly. �What�s gotten into you?�
�I want you, I need you,� she breathed, looking up at him from under her bangs. He had never seen her act this way, and he recalled belatedly that Jack had told him years ago that Sam had come after him once like a wild woman. Of course they�d both been infected with a virus that had stimulated the primitive parts of their brains at the time, and hadn�t been responsible for their actions. Could something similar have just happened to her?
�Sam, wait, this isn�t you,� Daniel tried to reason as he slowly backed up, keeping away from her relentless prowl. Sam was his friend, he didn�t want to hurt her but he knew that with her training, if she got her hands on him, she could probably hurt him more.
�Jack!� Daniel yelled, hoping that his friend was nearby. This was certainly going to prove embarrassing, but he had to stop Sam before she did something she�d regret later.
He came up against something hard and metallic, and moving along its edge, he saw that it was a sarcophagus. A part of his brain wondered if he had been brought to it for healing, he felt as if he�d been beaten and punched, his lungs were burning and he could barely stand.
He almost fell as he reached the head of the sarcophagus, losing his support and having to reach for the far wall. As Sam reached the foot of the large coffin-like apparatus, she stood up and walked slowly towards him, her finger teasingly following the ornate edge.
�Sam, please, stop,� Daniel pleaded. He was getting desperate. Sam wasn�t stopping and he knew he was in no condition to try and run.
�Daniel!� Jack�s voice sounded in the doorway behind him.
�Jack, there�s something wrong with Sam,� Daniel cried with relief as she finally reached him. Her hand came up to stroke Daniel�s face, starting at his temple and slowly gliding to his chin.
�Carter!� Jack ordered, as he moved towards them.
�Yes, sir?� she replied in a breathless voice. Her other hand was on Daniel�s hip and he took a step away, trying to keep his distance.
�Jack, do something,� Daniel urged.
Jack grabbed Carter by the arm and pulled her away from Daniel. The change that overcame her was so sudden it caught both men by surprise. Her knife was in her hand and before they could react, she plunged it into Jack�s abdomen.
Jack fell backwards, clutching at the weapon sticking out below his ribs. Sam turned her back on their fallen friend and smiled wickedly at Daniel. Daniel was frozen, unable to move, shocked at what she had done. She then turned towards him, ignoring Jack�s gasps of pain. Her movement incited Daniel to move, and he skirted around her, kneeling at Jack�s side. He didn�t know what to do, if he pulled the knife out, Jack would probably bleed to death. But he couldn�t leave him like this.
He remembered the sarcophagus behind him, and quickly turned to it. He sidled carefully past Sam, pushing her away irritably when she reached for him. She stopped to watch him. He pressed the �on� bottom, relieved to see the doors open, and the light inside glowing softly, indicating the machine was ready to be activated.
�Daniel,� Sam said in a bored voice, her hand on his shoulder, making him jump.
�Sam, we have to help Jack,� he said, realizing he�d need her help in placing Jack inside the Goa�uld device, his injured body not having the strength for him to do so by himself.
�It�s too late, Daniel,� Jack gasped. Daniel turned back to his friend and stopped when he saw the gun in his hand. It was pointed at Sam.
�Jack, no, please. It�s okay. I can do this by myself.� He went to take the gun from Jack�s hand when suddenly it went off. Daniel flinched and turned, seeing Sam fall back against the wall, the life draining from her eyes as she settled in a heap.
�No!� Daniel cried, two seconds too late but grabbing Jack�s gun from his shaking hand.
Footsteps rushed into the room and Teal�c stopped at the entrance, taking everything in at a glance.
�Why did you not stop them, DanielJackson?� he asked as he rushed over to check on Sam. Daniel could see she�d been shot through the heart. She was dead, and Jack was dying.
�I couldn�t, it just� it happened so fast. Jack shot her� and Sam� she was� damn! What�s going on?� Jack was still alive, should he put him in the sarcophagus first? Or should he put Sam in first. But if he placed Sam inside Jack was going to suffer horribly for the next hour, and he could still die right before Daniel.
�You could have prevented this,� Teal�c said, looking up at Daniel accusingly.
�Teal�c, it�s not too late. We have to put them in the� the�� He couldn�t say the word, damn it, his brain was so muddled. He decided he�d put Jack in first, he couldn�t bear to see him in such pain. He grabbed him under the shoulders and began dragging him towards the machine.
Teal�c remained kneeling by Sam, and when Daniel reached them, he placed Jack beside her and stood up, panting.
�Give me a hand,� he asked, motioning towards Jack. Teal�c stood up and with a gentle touch to Daniel�s arm, pulled him back. He tightened his grip at the same moment that Daniel heard the sound of a zat activating. He threw himself at Teal�c but it was useless. Once, twice, three times, and his friends disappeared.
Daniel�s knees gave out and he felt himself sliding to the floor in slow motion. Teal�c let go of his arm and he let it drop lifelessly to the ground. They were gone, they had all killed one another and Daniel had been helpless to stop them. He saw the zat come up, pointing at him. He tore his eyes away from the weapon and looked at Teal�c.
�I am sorry, my friend,� Teal�c said as the first shot overwhelmed Daniel, causing his muscles to contract painfully. Still conscious, he tensed, knowing that the second blast was forthcoming. He heard the sound of the zat milliseconds before the darkness overwhelmed him.
- - - - - -
Jack saw Daniel�s body writhe in pain, his back arching off the floor before collapsing limply. He averted his eyes and glared at the aliens. He could hear Daniel�s pained gasps, and he knew whatever it was they were putting him through; his body was suffering terribly for it.
Daniel looked terrible, his hair and clothes drenched with sweat, his face pale and his eyes sunken. This was the sixth time they had put him through whatever it was they were doing to him. Twice they�d convince Daniel to try and free them, and both times he�d walked into that damned force field. The third time they�d tried warning him but he�d been too dazed and hadn�t been able to get up. The last time he woke up, they couldn�t get him to even look at them.
Whatever dreams or nightmares they were forcing him to live through, it was causing Daniel to either be afraid of them or had him believing they�d hurt him badly.
It was over for the time being. Daniel lay still, and the bastards were checking him out before leaving the room. Jack�s wrists were killing him where he�d attempted to free himself. It was useless, if Teal�c couldn�t break his bonds, there was no way Jack was going to either.
Jack lowered his head in defeat. He wasn�t even going to try and get Daniel to come to them this time. He was hurting enough and didn�t want to chance Daniel being zapped by the force field another time.
�DanielJackson,� Teal�c�s soft voice called out.
�Don�t,� Jack began, but realized that Daniel was awake. He was trying to turn onto his side, his limbs obviously not obeying him.
�Daniel, don�t move,� Carter warned him. �Stay away from the edge,� she said as he rolled near the last of the ceramics.
They watched helplessly as Daniel lay huddled on his side, his back to them, in obvious pain. Knowing that he didn�t trust them in his confused state, they all remained quiet.
After several minutes, Jack heard Daniel call his name.
�I�m here, Danny,� he said softly.
Daniel rolled partway onto his back, his head turning to look at him.
�Hurts,� Daniel complained.
�I know,� Jack commiserated. �A bunch of aliens are doing this, Daniel. Don�t move from where you are. There�s a force field.�
�I remember,� Daniel said, turning to look at the wall with the built-in computer console. He dragged himself painfully onto his knees, looking at the edge of his prison. He made his slow way around the cell on his hands and knees, examining it carefully.
Daniel pushed himself onto his feet, swaying dangerously, his back to Jack. He took a step towards the far end of the square marking his prison.
�Don�t!� Jack yelled, while both Carter and Teal�c echoed his warning. Daniel took another step and stopped right at the edge delineating the floor and the ceramics.
�It�s okay,� he said in a weak voice, before taking that final step off the square. Jack squeezed his eyes shut, anticipating the flash, then after a moment, opened them when nothing happened.
�The shield doesn�t go all the way around,� he explained as
he shuffled toward them. He reached for his knife and fell against Teal�c as he
lost his balance. He leaned against the
Freeing Jack took mere seconds and he quickly knelt beside his friend. His eyes were closed and Jack quickly reached for his throat, putting his fingers to his pulse. His skin was clammy and cold, his pulse rapid and thready and weak.
�How is he?� Carter asked as she joined them.
�Not good,� he replied, his hand on Daniel�s shoulder. �We need to get him out of here.�
Jack took Daniel�s knife from Teal�c and handed it to Carter. He helped Teal�c lift Daniel up and into a fireman�s hold and went to the only exit to see if the way was clear. Checking both directions, he chose one and began to lead their team towards freedom.
- - - - - -
It was surprisingly easy to escape from the facilities where they�d been held. Jack looked around, trying to get his bearings.
�Carter, Teal�c, anything look familiar?� he asked, noting the lime green colored clouds contrasting with the bright blue sky.
�No, Sir,� his 2IC answered, as she moved past him to take point position, following the blood red stones which lead away from the building they�d just left and into a large cultivated garden. The tip of the Stargate peeked over the flowering trees, the shades of which were so garish and contrasted with one another that they hurt the eyes. Jack waited for Teal�c to follow with his burden before he took the rear, feeling oddly exposed with only a knife for defence.
�Wonder if these guys are color blind,� Jack groused as he passed beside two flowering shrubs, the odd purple shade of one definitely not complimenting the coppery red of its neighbour.
They reached the Stargate after several minutes. Carter immediately went to the DHD, which was totally covered with delicate, flowering vines. Before she could start punching in Earth�s code, Jack suggested they choose another planet designation other than Earth. He couldn�t help but feel like he was being watched. Their escape had seemed just a little too easy for comfort. After a bit of discussion, they decided on the Tuplo�s planet.
Carter tried punching in the first glyph, but the vines prevented it from making contact. It refused to light up, so she began pulling on the vines, swearing after discovering said vines were covered with fine thorns.
�They�re stronger than they look,� she complained, trying to dig the thorns out of her palm with her teeth.
�Allow me,� Teal�c said, bending his knees and letting Daniel to slide from his shoulders. Jack was there immediately to help, lowering Daniel to the ground. His friend�s breathing was raspy, and he coughed from the change in position.
Teal�c tore some large leaves from a tree and holding them
against his palms for protection, began pulling on the vines. Jack could see the
Daniel moaned softly, and Jack stopped to check on him. He wasn�t quite awake yet, but turned his head towards Jack when he called Daniel�s name. He looked exhausted to Jack�s eyes, like he needed two days� worth of sleep after a hearty, rib-sticking meal.
�Sir, we got it,� Carter said breathlessly. He turned around and saw they�d managed to remove the layer of plant life from the DHD. Teal�c began punching in the coordinates, and the Stargate began turning, the few vines which had managed to grow over the immense artefact snapping as it spun.
The wormhole kawooshed noisily in the peaceful garden. Jack and Teal�c lifted Daniel and dragged him the few feet into the waiting vortex. They stumbled out of the �gate, fully expecting to be in total darkness on their destination planet, but found themselves in the same garish gardens. The discarded vines still lay in a heap at the foot of the DHD.
�Okay, what just happened?� Jack asked, confused, as he and Teal�c put Daniel down on his side at the base of the �gate. He looked back to make sure that they hadn�t gone through one end of the �gate and out the other in case it had disengaged too soon. But he had definitely felt the disorienting effects of the wormhole, and he was now facing the DHD.
�That�s not possible,� Carter exclaimed, �we dialled the correct �gate address.�
�Perhaps if we attempted another location,� Teal�c suggested. Carter nodded, and began punching in another series of glyphs.
�Maybe only one of us should go through, to see if we actually come back here,� she said. �If I go through and don�t come back, then follow me through.�
�I�m supposed to understand what you just said?� Jack asked, stepping away from Daniel. As she opened her mouth to reword her statement, Jack said, �Never mind, I�ll pretend I understood. You go ahead,� he agreed, nodding at the now active �gate. �Where did you dial to?� he asked, glancing at the glowing symbols on the DHD.
�To Nem�s planet,� she answered. Jack nodded, memorizing the vaguely familiar symbols. He watched her step through the �gate, and step back out.
�Damn,� she swore as the gate winked out behind her.
�Just great, that�s just great!� Jack exclaimed, holding his temper in check. He wanted to hit something, and opted instead in pacing the front of the Stargate. He�d known that it had been too easy to get away.
�Teal�c,� he said, turning to the
�I have not,� Teal�c answered, going to the DHD and opening the access panel.
�They must have rigged it so it automatically returns to this planet, no matter where we dial to,� Carter supposed. She joined Teal�c to examine the innards of the controlling device.
Jack seated himself beside his friend and placed a hand on his shoulder. He felt Daniel move and he squeezed the flesh beneath his hand gently, while calling his name.
�Jack?� Daniel�s said in a hoarse voice.
�I�m here,� he answered, helping Daniel up as he tried to sit. His friend went paler than before and he suddenly began sliding sideways. Jack caught him and pulled Daniel towards him, letting him lean against his chest.
�You okay?� he asked with concern.
�Dizzy,� Daniel admitted.
�Okay, rest a minute.� He held him securely and he felt Daniel relax a bit. His forehead was leaning against Jack�s shoulder, and Jack placed a hand around his nape, his forefinger coming around to take his pulse. It was beating rapidly.
�Tired,� Daniel said.
�I know. It looked like they put you through hell.� He recalled the way Daniel had looked under the lights and couldn�t begin to imagine what they�d done to him.
�Trying to get home� dreams� Stargate� I couldn�t� you all left.� The disjointed words didn�t quite make sense, but painted a picture of Daniel�s despair as he attempted to get to the Stargate and found his friends leaving him behind. He rubbed his hand on Daniel�s back, hoping to comfort him.
�We�re not gonna leave you, Daniel,� Jack assured him. �We�re stuck on this planet for a little while until Carter and Teal�c can fix the DHD. But we�re all together, see?�
He saw Daniel lift his head and look around, spotting their team mates a few feet away. He nodded, and put his head back wearily against Jack�s shoulder.
�Wanna sleep?� Jack asked.
�No,� Daniel said. �Head hurts too much.�
�I�m sorry I don�t have any supplies, I don�t have anything to give you.�
�S�okay. I�ll be fine.�
He felt Daniel sag against him after a few minutes, knowing he�d fallen asleep. He shifted to make himself more comfortable, realizing that they might be here for a while.
He heard a buzzing sound from afar, wondering if it was some kind of insect. He hoped it wasn�t the aliens, he was feeling sleepy. He thought he might close his eyes for a nap while waiting for Carter to get the DHD fixed�
- - - - - -
A loud uproar woke Jack up and he wearily turned his head towards the noise. The cold ceramic tiles beneath his body were hard and uncomfortable. He turned onto his side, and was surprised to see Teal�c sitting to his right on a similar square set of tiles. He turned his head and saw Carter to his left, and Daniel to the left of her. Both had their own private tiles also.
�You okay?� he asked Teal�c as he forced himself into a seated position, and then regretted his action when his stomach churned and the room spun dizzily.
�I believe I am uninjured,� he answered as he stood up easily.
Carter moaned softly as she sat up more slowly. �What happened?� she asked, looking around.
The noise in the hallway appeared to be closer, and Jack noted the unmistakable sounds of machine gun fire and zats being fired.
�Cavalry�s here,� he said as he forced himself to stand. Teal�c was already up and moving, kneeling at Daniel�s side. Their friend was still unconscious and Jack realized that everything that had just happened had been a dream. Daniel�s torture, their escape, the boomerang effects of the Stargate. All a frigging dream.
��God,� Carter complained as she stood up. Jack noticed she was pale and shaky. He himself felt lousy and probably didn�t look any better either. �Check the door,� he told Carter as he forced himself over to Daniel on weak legs. Daniel looked worse than all three of them combined.
Maybe Daniel�s torture had actually happened. Daniel looked as bad as he had in Jack�s dreams. He wasn�t responding to Teal�c�s efforts to wake him.
�Did you guys have the same weird dreams as me?� he asked vaguely.
Carter had moved to the door, testing the handle. It was locked, and she began searching for a way to get them out.
�The Stargate wouldn�t dial anywhere but here?� she supplied distractedly.
�We were unable to leave this planet,� Teal�c said over his shoulder.
�That�s the one,� he replied.
�DanielJackson is not well, O�Neill,� Teal�c said. Jack could see that for himself. Daniel was barely breathing and his pulse was rapid and weak. More machine gun fire echoed down the hallway, getting closer every moment.
�Go see if you can help Carter get that door open,� Jack ordered, while dragging Daniel off the ceramic tiles and closer to the door. No way was he chancing that thing coming back on with Daniel still on it.
They ended up banging on the door to catch the attention of whoever was out there. Jack heard Ferretti�s voice call out, and he ordered them clear of the door. Moments later it disappeared in a glow of light, thanks to the triple effects of a zat. Ferretti and Jacob Carter stuck their heads in, assessing their conditions.
�We�re fine, but Daniel�s out of it,� Jack said before either man could voice their questions. Without being asked, Teal�c picked Daniel up, reminiscent of their last dream. Jacob went to the computer console and examined it intently. Carter joined him there, interested in what part it had played in their capture.
�Jacob?� Jack asked the older man, wondering if it was prudent to stay here.
�Just a minute,� he replied as his fingers danced over the console. He pressed a button and the glowy baton came out of the machine. �Got it,� Jacob said as he grabbed and pocketed the small device before making for the door.
They quickly followed their rescue team out of the building�s maze. Jack was disoriented within seconds, but Ferretti had marked his team�s progress and Jack could see his chalk marks etched on the walls as he followed them way back outside. Two SG teams and several Tok�ra joined them as Jack stepped over the bodies of dead or injured aliens.
The Stargate was several feet outside the door, in a large courtyard. The �gate had already been activated and as Jack followed Teal�c�s broad back into its depth, he hoped he�d find himself at the SGC on the other side.
- - - - - -
Quiet voices murmured around him, teasingly familiar. He was warm and dry, and relatively comfortable. His body felt leaden, though, even the thought of opening his eyes appeared too difficult a feat.
He knew he needed to get home; the Stargate was nearby, he�d just rest a few more minutes and then go join his team. They were waiting for him, gone up ahead, leaving him to take the rear. He had to hurry and get up, he didn�t want keep them waiting.
He thought he dozed, his brain skimming over the words that were still floating around him. He could individualize them now� Jack, Sam, Janet, General Hammond. Oh, there was Teal�c, and� was that Jacob? Why were General Hammond and Sam�s dad here? He thought maybe they were talking over the radio through the gate, although the reception was really great because it sounded like they were standing close to him.
�No, Jack,� Jacob argued. �These people don�t understand the concept of emotions. The Tok�ra have had dealings with them previously. They force their �guinea pigs�, so to speak, to undergo a variety of stressful situations, and then study the physical reactions they invoke.�
�So, JacobCarter, we were forced to believe that DanielJackson was being tortured because they wished to see that particular reaction upon our bodies?�
�I think so. Except that Daniel *was* tortured. They forced him to undergo more extensive and disturbing dreams. It�s their modus operandi, to test one subject onto the brink of death while watching the reactions of the others. And that�s why I took out their data disk, I�ll be damned if I left them something to study,� he spat vehemently.
�But if these were dreams, why is Daniel so sick?� Jack�s voice asked.
Daniel locked onto that thought� he�d been dreaming? But the pain, the drowning, oh God, Teal�c had killed Jack and Sam and then him� but no, he could hear Jack and Sam talking around him. He focused his attention on the conversation, and forced the one word from his mouth.
�Daniel!� Sam exclaimed. A cool hand was on his cheek, and he opened his eyes to see her clear blue ones peering down at him. He forced his body to turn and he saw all of his friends approach his bed.
�You�re alive!� he whispered as his eyes found Jack�s. They were alive, both Sam and Jack. So it had been a dream. Relief coursed through him when he saw Teal�c standing by the foot of his bed. He hadn�t killed him or his friends, it hadn�t been real!
�Yeah, in the flesh,� Jack answered in a soft voice. Sam picked up one of his hands and was holding on tightly. He squeezed back, the physical contact made him feel good. Alive.
�Didn�t drown? You saved me?� he asked, needing to find out exactly what was going on. He could still feel his lungs burning as he�d slipped into the cold depths of the lake, his bruised body aching as the giant hailstones had pounded it mercilessly. His emotions and body had forced through the wringer and left to dry, all the previous experiences blending into one big hurt.
�It never happened, Daniel,� Sam said, stroking his hand. �You were fed a bunch of lies, a bunch of nightmares. We all were.�
�They were so real,� he whispered, closing his eyes. He felt he mattress sink down on the other side, and a hand touched his shoulder.
�I know.� Jack�s voice was soft, understanding, comforting. �But it�s over, you�re home.�
�They made me doubt you.� And those bastard aliens had. He knew his friends would never leave him when he was in danger. They�d risk their own lives for one another, had done so many times before and he assumed they all would in the future. So why did he feel so disappointed in himself?
�I think Daniel�s had enough excitement,� Janet said, pushing her way past Jack. She smiled kindly at Daniel, and Sam let go of his hand as she stood up. He was tired, and before he could express his objection, she was gone. His hand felt cold, and the well being he�d begun to experience with her touch and his friends� companionship quickly disappeared as they left him.
He shivered, feeling tired and cold, and a moment later he felt a heavier blanket spread over his body. He clutched at its edge, searching for the lost comfort in its inanimate threads.
- - - - - -
Jack stopped himself from slamming the coffee cup on the kitchen counter, the childish boings and beeps coming from the living room grating on his nerves. He ran a hand over his face, taking a deep breath, before deciding to go and confront Daniel once and for all.
The computer game Daniel was currently playing on Jack�s laptop was one Jack had found on the internet few weeks ago. He�d abandoned it not because the game wasn�t fun, but because the noise alone drove him batty. Of course he could have turned the volume off, but half the fun of playing those games were their sound effects.
Daniel�s fingers flew over his laptop�s touchpad as he single-mindedly tried to bounce the multi-coloured balls into patterns. Jack gritted his teeth and came to stand beside his friend. He watched the clock tick down and the �game over� sign appear as Daniel lost the battle.
�Hey,� he said, as Daniel began yet another bout with the computer.
Daniel simply nodded, his attention fixed on the monitor.
�Just thought I�d come and see if you finished your mission
report,� Jack prodded. Actually, it was a day overdue, and although at first
Daniel had become withdrawn once he�d woken up. Fraiser had kept him in the infirmary for two days, and then sent him home to rest for another six, with the stipulation that he had supervision for at least the first two. Jack had offered to put Daniel up, and Daniel had reluctantly accepted.
�You know, there is a volume control on that thing,� Jack finally suggested. Daniel glanced at Jack in irritation, and then turned back to his game. Jack glanced at the clock on the VCR, noting that Daniel had been playing this stupid game for over ninety minutes.
Jack watched the bouncing balls, seeing many opportunities of play which for some reason, Daniel was missing. This wasn�t like Daniel; he usually excelled at discovering patterns and tactics. Jack pointed a pattern out, which Daniel ignored. He huffed in irritation when the game ran out of time again.
�Look, maybe we can talk about it and you can tell me what��
�There�s never enough time,� Daniel interrupted, head bent over the laptop, but fingers finally stilled over the keyboard. �They set the game up and you think you�re gonna find all the patterns before the damned timer goes off, but you can�t and you don�t and you end up starting all over again.�
�Daniel,� Jack started, realizing that maybe Daniel wasn�t talking about the game.
�But in real life you don�t start over again. You try, you miss, and you run out of time, you die.�
�But you didn�t die.� Thank God, no, he didn�t die. The physical observations the team had been privy to when seeing Daniel experience those nightmares had hinted at the horrors that Daniel had been undergoing.
�But it damned well felt like I did. Twice I remember seeing you guys leave me and go through the gate.� His voice had fallen to a whisper, his fingers gripping the edge of the computer with white-knuckled strength. �Once I saw you shoot Sam dead after Sam stabbed you� and there was a sarcophagus, I could have saved the two of you but Teal�c zatted you and your bodies were gone. Then he zatted me.�
�Zatted? Hey, I know I owe Teal�c twenty bucks, but that�s carrying it a bit over the top, don�t you think?� At Daniel�s pained look, Jack turned serious. �Daniel, you know that we wouldn�t leave you��
�I *know* that, Jack. But the feelings, the emotions, are still there. They feel real to me, the feeling of abandonment, and the sense that I failed you guys��
�You failed us? You�re saying that we left you or killed one another in front of your eyes and you think *you* failed us?� Jack sat down beside Daniel and pried the laptop out of his hand, almost throwing it onto the coffee table in his haste to comfort his friend. Daniel never looked up and continued to stare at his now empty hands. Jack grabbed them, noting how cold Daniel�s fingers were between his own.
�Jesus, Daniel. You were bombarded with false images that felt so real to you that at one point you stopped breathing. You probably were dreaming about drowning, but you nearly died from the intensity of the dream. You were turning blue and we were dreaming that we were tied up and we couldn�t go and help you. How do you think *we* felt? We were failing you. You were lying there barely three feet from us and dying.� The memories flowed over Jack as if they had happened this morning, and he shivered. He had thought he was over them, and realized that he hadn�t pushed them aside any more than Daniel had.
Daniel was staring at him, eyes wide behind his glasses.
�You saw me?� he asked. Jack realized that they had hardly spoken with Daniel about their experiences. He�d been so withdrawn at first, and whenever the subject had been brought up afterwards, he�d pleaded exhaustion.
�That was our punishment, seeing you go through every bit of torture they put you through and keeping us away from you. Oh, they toyed with us. They�d let us think we were alone and we�d get you to wake up and come and try to cut us free. And every damn time you�d walk into a frigging force shield and you�d get knocked out. We tried, damn it, we tried to get to you but those bastards had us fooled also.�
�I remember that,� Daniel said, looking down at his hands engulfed in Jack�s. �I remember waking up and seeing you tied to a wall. I tried to go around the edge of my prison� I remember thinking you�d left me and then you�d been captured and all I could think of was freeing you� you never left me, it was all a lie! And they forced those damn feelings into me. God, I hate myself for feeling like this!� he exclaimed, pulling away from Jack. He got up and began pacing the room in short, anxious steps.
As much as Jack wanted Daniel to talk about his feelings and about what happened, he knew Fraiser had ordered Daniel to rest and to try to stay quiet. Jack could see he was angry; he was breathing fast and was going to tire himself out in a very short amount of time.
�You can�t help those feelings; they�re still fresh in your memory.� As fresh as Jack�s own emotions, he guessed. And Daniel�s had been more vivid, more stressful.
�And what are you suggesting? That I give it time? If these had been normal dreams, wouldn�t they begin to fade by now?� Daniel took his glasses off and rubbed his eyes, stopping by the far end of the couch.
�But they weren�t normal. They were fed into us to make us believe they were real. Those aliens wanted to measure our emotional reactions. If Jacob hadn�t shown up at the SGC when he did after we�d gone missing and recognized the gate address, we�d probably still be there, caught up in a shared dream of pain and betrayal. But we�re not there anymore. We�re safe at home. We both need to get over those memories and get on with our lives.�
�But what if it�s not over?� Daniel asked, staring at Jack intently. �What if this is more of the same, and we�re still on that planet and only dreaming of safety?�
�Damn it, don�t even joke about that!� Jack exclaimed, straightening up in shock. The possibility hadn�t occurred to him, and the thought sent shivers coursing up his back, making the hair on his neck stand out.
Daniel flopped onto the couch beside Jack, clearly tired and drained. �No, that wouldn�t be right, because this doesn�t feel the same. I don�t feel anything *off* with you or Sam or Teal�c, the way I did in the other dreams. I just feel, I don�t know� disconnected?�
Daniel laid his head on the back of the sofa, closing his eyes.
�It hurt seeing you lying there, and feeling helpless. And I can�t imagine what you�re going through, Daniel. But you have to keep telling yourself that those dreams weren�t us� me. You can�t keep blaming me for something I didn�t do.�
�Blaming you?� Daniel twisted on the sofa to look at Jack. �I didn�t blame�� He stopped, his mouth open as realization sunk in. �Yeah, I did, didn�t I? I�ve been wallowing in self pity and pulling away from you guys.�
�You can wallow anytime, just don�t push us out. You know we�re family, we want to help. Both Carter and Teal�c went through the same process as I did, they both felt the same things I did. We�re glad you�re okay, but we were scared for you out there.�
Daniel nodded, accepting Jack�s words.
�We�re still scared for you now,� Jack admitted, putting a hand on Daniel�s shoulder.
�I�m fine,� Daniel said. �No, wait� I�m not. But I think I might be,� he said with a smile. He leaned forward and picked up the discarded laptop. He turned the game off, muttering �I hate the noise that game makes�.
Turning on the appropriate software, Daniel began typing. Jack got up and went into the kitchen. Putting on some fresh coffee to brew, he washed and dried their lunch dishes. He could still hear Daniel typing, bursts of clicking interspersed with bouts of quiet. When the coffee was ready, he poured them each a cup and carried it out to the living room.
Daniel was hunched over the laptop which was sitting on the coffee table, his arms wrapped around his torso. Jack handed Daniel a mug and he sat back to look at Jack. Jack grinned at the raised eyebrows. �Don�t tell Fraiser,� Jack said in a conspiratory tone.
Daniel accepted the coffee with a smile, sniffing the brew appreciatively before taking a sip. He put the mug down and waved to the laptop.
�I don�t know if I can do this,� he admitted. Jack sat down beside Daniel and leaning against his shoulder, began to read what Daniel had written. He had put down his words with a clinical indifference, which belied the emotions coursing through him at the moment. Daniel had gotten through one third of his report,
�You�re doing good,� Jack praised. �Why not just take a break?� Jack said, pulling away and handing Daniel his coffee to try and distract him.
Daniel wrapped his hands around the mug, slowly sipping it as he reread his text once more. After a few minutes, he said in surprise, �Oh, headache�s gone.�
�You had a headache?� Jack asked, irritated that Daniel hadn�t mentioned it, but then realizing that he hadn�t been permitted coffee in three days. His friend took another sip and laid his head back on the sofa. Jack leaned over and saved the document he�d been working on. He watched as the cup of coffee resting on Daniel�s thigh began to tilt as his hands loosened their grip as he relaxed into sleep, rescuing it before it spilled.
�Don�t see why Fraiser doesn�t want you drinking coffee,� Jack muttered under his breath as he returned their cups to the kitchen. �It�s not like it keeps you awake or anything.�
Leaving Daniel to sleep, Jack went out to do wash his Avalanche. Two hours later, truck gleaming brightly in the sun, garage put to rights once more; he began thinking of what to plan for supper. He heard the front door close and soon footsteps came down the walk towards the garage. He turned where he was coiling up the rubber hose and saw Daniel leaning against the front of his truck.
�I finished the report,� Daniel said. �Would you� would you read it?� he asked hesitantly.
�Sure,� Jack said, wiping his hands on the back of his jeans. As he walked into the house, he saw Daniel hesitate for a moment before following him in. Jack sat down and pulled the laptop towards him. Daniel didn�t sit, but remained standing, looking out the large picture windows. Jack read through Daniel�s report, his anger at the aliens mounting as details Daniel had glossed over earlier made clear to Jack why his friend was hurting so much.
He powered the laptop down, and went over to stand beside Daniel, looking out at his back yard.
�It helped,� Daniel said in a soft voice. �Writing it out, putting it all down on paper. It�s like� it�s there now for everybody to see. Everyone knows you guys wouldn�t do these kinds of things, so I feel I�ve absolved you in some way.� He turned to look at Jack, the glare reflecting off his glasses hiding his eyes. �Does that make any sense?�
Jack shook his head. �It�s like you exorcised your demons. It�s not absolution; it�s coming to terms with it.�
�Why me?� Daniel asked suddenly.
�Why did they choose you to pick on?�
He nodded, hunching his shoulders slightly.
Jack put a hand out and squeezed the back of Daniel�s neck, feeling the still too tight muscles beneath his fingers. He massaged gently, and Daniel shrugged his shoulders again, this time to try and loosen the tension he was carrying.
�Because you feel more than we do,� Jack tried to explain. �You approach everything and everyone with wonder and compassion, whereas the rest of us were taught caution and suspicion. The way they played with your fears of abandonment and rejection tells me how much we mean to you, Danny. And you do know that you mean just as much to all three of us?�
Daniel nodded, and Jack felt some of the physical stress disappear from his friend. He slapped him lightly on the shoulder.
�Hungry?� he asked, expecting Daniel to say no, as he had done the past two days.
�Actually, yeah,� Daniel smiled back at him. �Do you have anything planned, or could we have pizza? I�m kind of in the mood for something to sink my teeth into.�
�Pizza�s good,� Jack conceded, heading for the phone, encouraged by the change in his friend. It looked like he had worked through some problems, and the old Daniel was coming back to them from wherever he�d been hiding.
�Do you think we could invite Sam and Teal�c?� Daniel asked shyly. Jack grinned. Oh yeah, Daniel was back.
Thanks to Xim and Kat for the speedy betas and of course my alphas, devra, babs, debA and Darcy, you guys kept me on my toes with our 9 pm chats!
to contact me
DISCLAIMER:The characters mentioned in this story are the property of Showtime and Gekko Film Corp. The Stargate, SG-I, the Goa'uld and all other characters who have appeared in the series STARGATE SG-1 together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MGM-UA Worldwide Television, Gekko Film Corp, Glassner/Wright Double Secret Productions and Stargate SG-I Prod. Ltd. Partnership. This fanfic is not intended as an infringement upon those rights and solely meant for entertainment. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author.