HushJack smiled indulgently as Daniel's excited voice followed him up the ramp towards the Stargate.
"And so you see, the statues of the bulls in and around the temple are definite signs that these people are �"
The animated voice cut off for a moment as Jack stepped into the wormhole's event horizon, and he had only a few seconds to enjoy the silence as he stepped into the bright sunshine before it started up again. He quickly evaluated the people standing around inside the temple, having turned to watch when the Stargate came to life. A woman stood among them, half naked, flowers in her hands. They all wore smiles; it was obvious that they were used to people coming through to visit them. The woman smiled at him, and she inclined her head in what he took to be a welcoming sign.
When the MALP had gone through a few hours earlier, it had shown signs that the temple where the Stargate was housed was frequently occupied; fresh flowers and offerings of food were in evidence everywhere. Obviously SG-1 had showed up in the midst of some sort of ceremony. He smiled as he noted the MALP sporting bouquets of flowers.
"� descendants of the Minoan culture. It's an incredible find if we can prove that these people have the same roots as those of Tuplos' people �"
Two huge statues of bulls, rearing up to twenty feet in the air, suddenly cast twin beams of light from their eyes, engulfing Daniel. Before anyone could react, the lights blinked off and Daniel collapsed like a rock.
"Daniel!" Carter exclaimed as she rushed to his side. As she knelt by their fallen comrade, Jack raised his weapon, looking for a threat.
"Damn," Jack swore as the dozen or so persons began milling around. Their faces and body postures all expressed their displeasure. Eerily, Jack realized that none had yet uttered a word.
"O'Neill," Teal'c warned. From the corner of his eye, Jack could see that the Jaffa was staring at the statues and had his staff weapon raised and charged. A feeling of intense heat and light surrounded Jack and he knew no more.
Daniel's head was killing him. His neck, shoulders and upper back weren't doing that great, either. He couldn't see. His vision was blurred, much more so than the inconvenient slight myopia he suffered from usually caused. His eyes teared involuntarily as he blinked them open, trying to focus on something, anything. He moaned as he raised his heavy head on muscles that began to burn the instant he tried to use them.
A sharp crack and pain engulfed the back of his right thigh. He yelped from the hurt and the shock, and another line of fire snaked over his left rib and lower back. He attempted to move away from the agony and realized that his legs were unresponsive.
He heard a gong ringing in the distance and the sound of a crowd thrumming through the air. He raised his head once more, squinting as finally things began to come into focus. He was standing in a room overlooking a large balcony. Fancy hangings framed the elaborately etched glass doors, held open by gold door stoppers. He could see three figures shackled to large pieces of timber in the center of what appeared to be an enormous arena. The noise he was hearing came from people seated all around. From his vantage point, the place appeared packed. Four large bulls were tethered around the arena, each with their own handler.
His heart plummeted when his vision suddenly cleared and he could make out the splotched green color of the three prisoners' clothing. Sam's hair shone brightly in the sunshine, and Teal'c's burly form was unmistakable. Jack's anger was evident in his stiffly held body.
With a start, Daniel realized that he was chained to the ceiling, and was hanging by his wrists. His legs weren't obeying him because he wasn't standing on them. With effort, he dragged his right leg beneath him and tried to straighten up. Trembling muscles took his weight as he stood, and overbalanced. The rattle of chains echoed in the room, his shoulders and wrists jarring him painfully as he stumbled to right himself once more.
He grasped the surplus of chains, swinging slightly on them. He pulled up on his arms this time as well as his feet. Once more standing, this time a little more steadily, he swayed as he tried to look around and see who had flogged him.
A burly man wearing nothing but a loincloth stood holding a whip a few feet behind him. Two other men wearing fancy blue ceremonial sarongs stood off to the side beside a lacy covered table.
His memory was foggy, and he tried to remember what planet they were on. The bulls outside seemed to be familiar, for some reason.
"Hello," Daniel began, wondering how he'd gotten here and why he'd been separated from his team mates. Before he could get another word out, the whip snaked out and caught him on the upper right shoulder.
"Don't!" he yelled, and shut his eyes, tensing his body in anticipation of the next painful blow as the man raised his whip again. Once more the back of his thigh erupted in agony.
A gong rang out again, and he heard yells coming from the arena. He pulled his attention back there and his heart leapt into his throat when he realized that his team mates were undergoing the same mistreatment.
"Please, what's going on?" he asked, turning from the sight of Sam arching in pain and back towards the men, which he assumed were priests. He saw one of the priests make a motion with his hand and the whip flicked again.
"Shit!" he swore when his lower back and ribs erupted in fire.
A punch to his midsection ultimately shut him up for a few minutes as he hung from his now bleeding wrists, gasping for breath and fighting to keep the contents of his stomach where they belonged.
A rough hand grabbed his face and lifted it, pointing it in the direction of the open doorway. Daniel could see two more priests walking towards his team mates, these dressed in red decorative sarongs. The audience cheered as these men approached a table which had been carried out and placed to the right of his team mates. The bulls were untethered and lead to a large opening in the wall behind his friends.
Daniel swallowed back the bile rising into his throat and glanced back at the priests in the room with him. They were busy lighting candles and essentially setting up for some kind of ceremony. Licking his lips, he decided to try again.
"I'm sorry, I don't know what we did to�argh!" he cried when a heavy fist landed against his lower back, and he tried to fold into himself as his ribs were bruised by a second blow.
"Please, won't you tell me why�" A second blow to his stomach had him heaving and gagging as he vomited over the floor. The sound of splashing water finally roused him and he saw the burly man throwing buckets of water onto the stone floor, clearing the mess as the water ran out of the room and over the balcony. Trying to hold back a nervous giggle, Daniel hoped that there was nobody seated below.
He looked towards his team mates and saw Jack hanging limply from the post he was tied to. Daniel turned around to glare at the priests, who were busily ignoring him as they continued to rearrange their ceremonial implements on the table.
"Why are you doing this?" Daniel whispered. He cringed as the bully grabbed his hair and pulled his head back. Two consecutive blows to his ribs had Daniel crying out in pain. A kick to his injured thigh knocked his legs from beneath him and his shoulders screamed in agony as the shackles jerked him to a stop.
He could hear the gongs sounding outside and the voice of the crowd seemed to quiet in anticipation. He hadn't realized it but the acoustics were incredible; he could hear Sam's grunt of pain now and actually made out the words as Jack swore. He was relieved to hear Jack's voice but at the moment he didn't have the energy to raise his aching head to look for his friends. He hung there in pain, trying to control his breathing, bewildered as to why this was happening to them.
A hand ruthlessly grabbed his short hair and pulled up. He had no choice but to try and stand on shaky legs. Again grabbing the chains in his sweaty and bloody palms, he looked out the doors.
The bulls were pulling an enormous statue portraying the head of a bull; he could see the muscles straining in the animals' efforts. It ground to a halt behind his friends, the eyes of the bull coming almost to the height of the room he was in.
He could smell incense, the smoke at first faint and then quickly becoming overpowering. Stifling a cough, he flicked his eyes back towards the table; he could see clouds of smoke rising from a brazier. The two priests were down on bent knee, facing the large statue.
He heard music outside, the sound of a lyre and pipes intertwined. The crowd immediately went silent and Daniel could see his friends staring off to their right. He began coughing as the smoke enveloped him, and a hard jab in the ribs warned him that his reaction wasn't appreciated.
He tried taking shallow breaths and succeeded in stopping the cough. He was going to open his mouth again when movement outside caught his eye. A woman came into view, long hair tied up in elaborate knots, a flounced skirt made of colored blue strings hanging from waist to bare feet. Her skirt shimmied around her legs as she danced around the ring, bare breasts swaying heavily as she raised her hands in the air to the music. Ropes hung from her hands, twisting around her palms and arms as she danced. Several more women followed, naked with gilt chains wrapped around their bodies glinting in the sunlight. They pranced and swayed and made their way around the giant bull's head.
Suddenly Daniel realized that this was the Minoan snake goddess. The women were all holding live snakes in their hands as they twirled around in dance. He hadn't realized he'd uttered the words until he felt the impact of the bully's fists against his ribs again. He groaned and was rewarded with a blow to his left thigh again. He heard the gongs ring out over the music and heard a snap as the whip outside caressed flesh. He looked up just in time to see Teal'c standing stoically as the whip descended on his back a second time.
"Please stop it!" Daniel cried. "They didn't do anything, I didn't do�"
He screamed as burning pain spread through his spine when something was held to his lower back. His body jerked helplessly as his muscles contracted violently. He could hear his own gasping breaths and the jangling of the chains as he lost control of his body. The pain went on and on, and as he began to black out he could hear the gongs reverberating in the air.
Jack jerked awake, aware of his abused body as he raised his head to take in his surroundings. He wasn't in the arena any longer; his last memory was of that priestess or goddess coming up to him and smearing a paste of some kind underneath his nose. Its pungent aroma had made him dizzy and combined with the dratted strong incense they'd been breathing, must have made him pass out. He raised his hand and wiped his nose, feeling the flecks of the dried stuff come off.
Slowly he recognized the temple where they'd first come through the Stargate. He turned his head and yep, there was the gate. He pushed himself to a sitting position, looking for his team mates. He had wondered throughout their ordeal where Daniel was. When he'd collapsed shortly after their arrival, Jack had feared he was dead. Carter had told him that Daniel had had a pulse, so he'd been alive at that point.
He opened his mouth to call out to his team, but no sound came out. He raised a hand to his throat, clearing it. He tried again, but his vocal chords just wouldn't comply. He shook his head and looked around, hoping to spot them. A glimpse of mottled green to his left had him scrambling up and rushing towards his fallen comrade, his own injuries forgotten.
Daniel lay on his stomach, one arm beneath him and the other up near his face. With trembling hands, Jack felt for a pulse, feeling the hot, sweaty skin beneath his fingers. Daniel's pulse was weak and rapid, his breath coming in short gasps. Jack could see the blood on his clothes, the material torn where lashes had broken skin and fabric. He eased Daniel onto his back and gasped as he saw the bloody knife wound in Daniel's right side. Swearing at the sight, wishing he could hear himself ranting, he raised the shredded tee shirt and noted the masses of bruises spotting Daniel's chest and ribs.
Jack pulled off his jacket and quickly folded it, pressing it against the bleeding wound. Both had lost their vests, he had no medical supplies but, even worse, no GDO. Carter had had one strapped to her arm, but he and Daniel had definitely lost theirs. He thought quickly of their options and glancing around once more for his missing team mates, he left Daniel and rushed to the DHD.
Punching in the glyphs from memory, he activated the gate and began dragging Daniel towards its beckoning safety.
He tumbled onto his ass as he came through the other end, his strength failing him. He grabbed at Daniel on his way down. He held him close to his chest, pressing down once more on the injury. The man's breathing was now almost non-existent, small gentle puffs the only indication that he was still alive.
Several Jaffa ran to them, staff weapons raised in defiance. Jack raised his hand and whispered, "Bra'tac." Thankfully that came out loud enough that the Jaffa understood. One went running back through the camp of the Alpha Site, the other kneeling to see if he could give aid.
Master Bra'tac came running up to them moments later. He took one look at the two and motioned the younger Jaffa away. The elderly Jaffa put a hand to Daniel's neck, and looked up at Jack with a bleak look.
"I need your GDO," Jack whispered, his voice sounding a little stronger. "I have to get him to Earth."
Bra'tac barked an order and within minutes, the gate was being reactivated, the signal being sent through. Grabbing Daniel, Bra'tac easily hefted the unconscious man in his arms as Jack struggled to stand. He staggered beside Teal'c's friend and stepped into the wormhole, towards home.
It took a second for his eyes to adjust to the dimmer lighting of the SGC, coming from a planet that's sun was shining brightly at midday. He was surprised to see a phalanx of Marines standing by the ramp, geared up and ready to head out. To his relief, Teal'c stood beside the men, staring up at them in shock.
"O'Neill, Master Bra'tac," Teal'c exclaimed. His voice was a mere ghost of his usual melodic rumble, he had obviously been treated to the same stuff as Jack. "We were attempting to form a rescue party �"
"We need a medic," Jack tried to yell, knowing that his voice wasn't carrying. Bra'tac laid Daniel down on the ramp and as Jack let himself fall to his knees beside his friend, he realized that Daniel wasn't breathing. He placed an ear to Daniel's mouth and nose. Nothing!
A hand to his carotid proved there was a slight pulse. Lifting Daniel's chin, Jack ensured that his airway was clear and covering his nose, he began giving him mouth-to-mouth. He heard the call go through for a medical team, but he ignored everything until a gloved hand pushed him away. He staggered back, out of breath and exhausted, losing his balance in his rush to provide room for Fraiser. Teal'c grasped his shoulder, providing support as he watched with a grimace while a tube was placed down Daniel's throat and an Ambu bag used to inflate his lungs.
As Daniel was carted away, Jack noticed Hammond standing by the bottom of the ramp. Needing to get to the infirmary to see what was happening with Daniel, Jack stood up with Teal'c's help. He also needed to know about his remaining team member. He inquired softly, "Carter?"
"She is recovering, O'Neill," Teal'c assured Jack, keeping a hand around Jack's bicep as he limped towards the general. He stopped at the bottom of the ramp and looked at his commanding officer with weary eyes.
"Report to the infirmary, Colonel," the general said in a gentle voice. Jack nodded, but turned to speak to Bra'tac before leaving. "Thank you," he whispered simply.
Bra'tac raised a hand to his chest and inclined his head. "Doctor Jackson is a strong man. He may yet survive his injuries," the graying man offered.
The trip to the infirmary was a nightmare, with the walls seeming to lose their shape and the floor moving from under Jack's feet. He'd have fallen flat on his face on several occasions had Teal'c not been there to help him along.
Doctor Warner was quickly at his side as Teal'c aided Jack onto an empty bed. He could see a still form two beds away from him, Carter's blond hair spread out on the pillow beneath her head. She appeared to be sleeping; he hoped that she wasn't badly hurt.
"She'll be fine," Warner said as Jack continued to gaze at her still form. "Bruising and a few welts, nothing serious. We're analyzing whatever was given to her to give her laryngitis." As he said this, he took Jack's head between his hands and carefully looked at his nose. He took a swab and carefully wiped the area in and around his nostrils. "Looks like you got the same treatment," he said as he placed the sample in a sealed container.
"Ya think," Jack said sarcastically, the whispered words losing the effect he'd wanted to convey.
Jack lifted his head to look around the infirmary, hissing when Warner caught at a tender spot in his examination. He saw the closed-off section where they were working on Daniel. He looked up at Teal'c standing by the foot of his bed. Teal'c's eyes were gazing in the same direction.
"Teal'c," he whispered. The Jaffa turned his head to look at Jack. He simply motioned towards the area was with his head, and Teal'c nodded and went to see if he could get any information about their wounded friend.
An IV was stuck in his hand as his wounds were disinfected and sterilized. Time dragged on and he kept glancing at his watch but Fraiser never came out. Teal'c returned once to say that Daniel was holding his own, but that his injuries were much more extensive.
It wasn't until he'd noticed that Warner had injected something into his IV that Jack realized he was being sedated. He swore, wanting to go and sit near Daniel. The doctor kept his hand on Jack's shoulder until the medication kicked in. His eyelids closed; his last vision was that of the curtain blocking his view of his best friend.
Jack felt a soft hand on his forehead and he smiled. Sara. He turned his head to look at his wife and for a moment gazed into the brown eyes of a stranger. Then the familiar smile of Doctor Janet Fraiser brought his memories crashing back.
"Daniel!" he exclaimed as he tried to sit up. Bruised and torn flesh protested and he was only able to raise his torso partway off the bed before he had to give up. The hand that had been giving comfort now was on his shoulder, restraining him.
"Daniel's stable for the time being, Colonel," Fraiser informed him. "He's lost a lot of blood and seems to have gone through a worse beating than the three of you put together, but you got him back to us just in time. He's still intubated, he was given a drug that's suppressing his major organs, and he needs help breathing. His heartbeat is a little weak and erratic and we're keeping an eye on that. He's developed a slight infection from his wounds; we need to pray that it doesn't get worse because at the moment, he's very weak."
Jack nodded his understanding, grateful that she wasn't pulling any punches but wishing that the news had been better.
"Carter? Teal'c?" he asked, his voice a bit louder than before, but not quite back to normal.
"Sam's been released; she's recuperating at home. Teal'c, well, let's just say that his symbiote has performed its usual magic." She gave a wry smile. "He's sitting with Daniel," explaining why the Jaffa wasn't anywhere in sight. Jack glanced over at the privacy curtains, which still continued to be pulled tight.
"Now, I'm going to get you something to eat. Then I'll take this out," she said, tapping the IV gently, "and allow you to go sit with Daniel for a couple of hours." Jack nodded enthusiastically, or as ardently as possible with a threatening headache.
"Here," Fraiser said, offering Jack two tablets and a glass of water. "You have a headache, don't you?" she asked at his raised eyebrows. Not even bothering to argue, he accepted the painkillers and swallowed them. The water felt good going down.
He ate the supper that was brought to him, realizing after two bites that he was famished. His body was stiff and sore, but the pills had taken the edge off. Stuffing the last mouthful into his mouth impatiently, he signaled a nurse to show that he was finished. He fretted as she took her time disengaging him from his tether and allowing him to leave the bed without dragging the IV behind him. Glad to be wearing scrubs rather than a hospital gown, he gathered his dignity and left his bed.
He made his way towards where his friend lay, afraid to go look and yet needing to see that Daniel was still alive. He could hear the equipment behind the curtain humming and beeping, letting him know that there was a live body behind there. He pushed the curtain aside and slid behind them, concentrating first on Teal'c, who stood up at his entry, then on the nurse who had been taking Daniel's blood pressure.
Walking hesitantly to the bed, he looked down at Daniel's still form. The Ambu bag had been replaced with a respirator. Daniel's eyes were half open, but Jack could tell that he wasn't conscious. As he made for the chair that Teal'c offered him, the nurse first checked the readings on the monitors, then checked the equipment. She smiled at Jack as she replaced one of the IVs that had emptied.
Jack took Daniel's limp hand in his, careful of the IV cannula in his hand. He could feel the heat emanating from the damp skin as he clasped it in his hand. Feeling helpless, he wondered what had happened to Daniel to put him in this state. Why had he been separated from the group? Why had he been drugged? Stabbed? What part had Daniel played in the elaborate ritual these people had put them through?
Jack sighed, lowering his head until his forehead touched the warm skin he held cradled in his hand. "Why, Danny?" he asked the unconscious man.
The headache that Fraiser's pills had put on hold came back with a raging fury. Jack had been sitting vigil beside Daniel's bedside for the past four hours and he was beginning to feel really lousy. He hated to leave Daniel, but he was having trouble sitting up and his bed was beckoning.
As he got up he realized how his wounds had stiffened up, barely allowing him to straighten. He shuffled his way past the bed and pulled the curtain back, the effort of walking bringing a fine sheen of sweat onto his face. As he stepped past the curtains, he came face to face with Fraiser. She took one look at him and pointed to the bed behind her.
He had trouble lifting his legs onto the bed, the pain of his back and ribs stabbing at him as he rolled over. Fraiser helped him and covered him with a blanket. A hand to his forehead was warning that a thermometer would soon be forthcoming. Blood pressure, blood sample, urine sample. Jack sighed, knowing that he wasn't going home soon. He contented himself with the fact that at least he was near Daniel.
He swallowed the handful of pills she gave him, recognizing them as being for pain and fever. She had left the privacy curtain pulled open on this side and he was happy that he'd at least be able to keep an eye on his friend, albeit from a different vantage point.
He lay there quietly, watching as the nurses continued to check on Daniel every fifteen minutes. Every once in awhile one would come to him and take his pulse, pressure and temperature. God, he hated being sick.
When he woke later he realized that the sounds of the infirmary were different. He could still hear the heart monitor but the respirator wasn't working. Lifting his head and groaning at the pain the movement inflicted, he saw that Daniel was now breathing through an oxygen mask. They'd disconnected him from the respirator, which had to mean that he was getting better, right?
Teal'c appeared next to him, almost startling Jack.
"O'Neill," he stated, his voice a controlled whisper.
"Teal'c," Jack replied, glad to hear his own voice sounding normal now.
"You are in obvious discomfort. I will inform Doctor Fraiser."
"Yeah, I don't feel so good," Jack whined, aware that he still had a fever by the aches and pains of his joints and muscles.
A short few minutes later, Fraiser appeared by Jack's bed. "Looks like you've got yourself a nice little infection," she said as she asked Jack to turn onto his stomach. She changed the dressings on his back and ribs, and he could tell which injuries were the infected ones as she worked on him. Sweating by the time she'd finished, he gratefully turned onto his side.
He looked at his friend lying still in the bed next to him and Fraiser turned to look at Daniel also. "He's getting stronger," she assured him. "The drug is wearing off and his breathing and heart rate have returned close to normal ranges. He's suffering from the same infection as you are; strange that Sam isn't afflicted. Although I will admit that she seemed to have been spared the whipping, and it's the welts that are giving me the most problems."
"What happened?" Jack asked Teal'c. "How did you get back home?"
"Major Carter and I regained consciousness near the Stargate. There was no sign of either you or Daniel Jackson and so we made the decision to return to Earth for a search party. We were surprised to see you come through the Stargate so soon, and from the Alpha Site, no less."
"Guess Daniel and I got the slow bus home," Jack said with a sigh.
"Try to get some rest," Fraiser advised as she gently patted his arm before walking away.
Jack waited till she was out of sight and pushed the covers aside. Sitting up, he felt the air chill his overheated skin. He grabbed the blanket from atop his bed and wrapping it around his shoulders, he walked the two steps to the hard backed chair beside Daniel's bed.
Taking up his friend's hand in his once again, he noted that Daniel's skin felt warmer than his own. His fever must be higher than Jack's. Nothing had changed from the previous time he'd sat with his friend except for the fact that Daniel's eyes were now closed and he'd been upgraded to an oxygen mask.
"Hey, Daniel," Jack said to his slumbering friend, gently caressing the dry skin with his thumb. Not expecting a response, he was surprised when Daniel's eyes slitted open.
"Daniel?" Jack asked, not sure if his friend had truly woken up. At the sound of his voice, Daniel's eyes tracked to Jack's face. His breaths started coming out in small gasps, and Jack could see that Daniel's eyes weren't focusing properly, so he gently squeezed the fingers held between his own.
His other hand patted the bed blindly for the call button. Simultaneously talking, he wanted to make sure that Daniel stayed awake and calm until Fraiser could get here.
"Hey big guy, welcome back." His questing fingers found the button and he pressed hard, several times. He knew that the nurses hated when he did that, but hey, he needed them here and now. "It's me, it's Jack. Just try to relax, you're safe now."
He felt Daniel's fingers squeeze his hand, and he smiled. Jack heard the heart monitor speed up as Daniel's heart beat faster, but Jack guessed that that was normal, given the circumstances. Daniel's eyes were glancing from side to side, not seeming to be able to fix on anything. Jack gently took his chin and brought it towards his own face.
"Danny, it's okay, you're safe," he repeated in a soft voice. He heard Fraiser's hurried footsteps and felt her presence beside him.
Daniel's unfocused blue eyes finally appeared to look at Jack. Jack could see how his pupils were dilated; possibly the reason why he couldn't seem to focus.
As Fraiser did a quick examination, Daniel's strength began to wane and his eyes closed involuntarily. The grasp he had on Jack's hand slowly relaxed and his heartbeat returned to the earlier cadence Jack had grown accustomed to before Daniel awoke.
He looked up at the doctor who was busily checking numbers, comparing them on the chart before her. She caught his look and smiled encouragingly.
"He's sleeping now," she said as she clipped the chart back onto the foot of the bed. "The drug's nearly gone from his system and as soon as we clear that infection, he should start feeling a lot better." She looked at him critically. "Now you, Colonel, don't look so good." She pointed to his bed and to his disgust, proceeded to give him a once over.
The next time Jack woke up, he found he was soaked with sweat. He was feeling better, though, just uncomfortable. His first thought was of Daniel and he turned and rose onto his elbows, peeking at his friend. Daniel was curled up on his side facing Jack, and now the oxygen mask was replaced with a nasal cannula. His friend had more color in his face, his skin tone no longer matching the color of the pillows below his cheek.
Hating the feel of wet clothes and damp linen beneath him, Jack sat up, holding the clinging cotton away from his chest. A nurse came and checked his vitals and then handed him a clean pair of scrubs after removing his bandages, offering him the use of the infirmary showers. He gladly made his way there, feeling more steady on his feet than he'd been during the past few days.
Freshly washed and changed, he made his way back to his bed. It had been changed and a tray was waiting by the bedside. Sitting down gingerly, his still sensitive scabs rubbing against the cotton of his scrubs, he ate his meal with appetite.
As he was finishing, he was surprised to see Carter show up in the infirmary. She was wearing civilian clothes, which meant she was still off-duty. She'd probably come in for a check-up.
She walked slowly and cautiously, obviously still in some discomfort. Her eyes were clear and alert, her smile quick to appear as soon as she spotted him. Making her way over, she suddenly noticed Daniel and her delight in seeing Jack melted away when she realized that their friend was still not recovered.
"Colonel," she greeted him as she walked down the space between the two beds. She placed a hand on the mattress near Daniel's hand, looking like she wanted to touch but was afraid to disturb him.
"Doc says he's doing better," Jack assured her. "He woke up earlier, recognized me." She smiled down at Jack at his words, her attention going back to the slumbering man before them.
"What about you, how are you doing?" he asked.
"A little stiff and sore, but improving every day," she said as she sat down on Jack's bed. She removed her leather jacket and folded it across her lap. "I'm sorry I wasn't here when you woke up," she said, looking down at her hands.
"Hey, Doc told me she'd sent you home to rest. Can't blame you for trying to get some sleep away from this place."
"I should have stayed; I never realized that Daniel was so sick. Janet never told me. I didn't know until a few minutes ago when Ferretti �"
"Carter, it's okay. I for one was glad you were well enough to go home. It meant I had one less person to worry about."
She nodded, then rubbed her forehead with the heel of her hand. "Did you ever find out why they beat us?"
Jack shook his head. He hadn't really thought about it since most of his time had been spent either sleeping or worrying about Daniel.
"I'm hoping that Daniel can tell us when he's up to talking to us," Jack admitted.
Carter stood up with a sigh as Fraiser approached them. "Guess I better get this over with," she said stoically as she headed for her check-up.
By the time Carter returned, Teal'c had joined Jack. They had been talking softly together about the mission, trying to come up with answers when Daniel started getting restless. Seeing his eyelids moving in REM sleep, Jack realized that his friend was dreaming.
Carter sat by Daniel's side and placed a hand on his shoulder, trying to ease what was quickly looking to become a nightmare. He jerked suddenly from beneath her touch, and yelled, "Skasmos!" His movement almost had him falling backwards off the bed and all three of them were grabbing at him, holding onto him while he regained his bearings. Jack climbed onto Daniel's bed, trying to pull his shoulders away from the edge of the mattress.
His gasps resounded loudly in the infirmary, and his sweat-soaked skin was slippery underneath Jack's hands. He fought them all wildly for a moment, not recognizing them. Suddenly he collapsed limply, his body falling halfway onto Jack's lap. Jack pulled him off the bed and held him close, feeling Daniel's body shaking in reaction.
"It's all right, it was just a nightmare," Jack crooned, his hand coming up to squeeze the dampened neck. He felt Daniel nod and he brought his hand to stroke Daniel's arm, which was held tightly against his bandaged side. He stayed away from Daniel's back, aware of the multitude of lacerations and bruises that decorated it.
He felt Daniel's breathing begin to ease as his friend relaxed. Fraiser came running and quickly began untangling the various lines. She deftly reinserted the IV which had been torn from Daniel's hand during his struggles and put pressure on the bleeding wound.
"Daniel?" she asked as she helped Jack roll his friend back onto the mattress when Daniel calmed down. Daniel had his eyes closed, his forehead creased into a frown. "Are you in pain?"
Daniel opened his eyes and looked at her, then shook his head slowly. She took a quick look at the monitors and spoke to a nurse.
When the nurse left, Daniel's eyes wandered over his friends, coming finally to gaze at Jack.
"How you feeling?" Jack asked. When Daniel continued to stare without answering, Jack quickly glanced at Carter and Teal'c.
"We were worried, Daniel," Carter said, as she resumed her seat on the mattress. She wiped the blood from Daniel's hand with a tissue and then gently swept the hair from his forehead.
The nurse arrived with a bowl of ice chips and Jack took it from her, digging into the bowl with a spoon and offering Daniel some with a raised eyebrow.
Daniel nodded and eagerly took the frozen liquid, letting the ice melt in his mouth. He swallowed the refreshment, wincing slightly. Jack knew his throat had to be sore.
"Want some more?" At the slight nod Jack fed him another spoonful. Daniel closed his eyes, slowly crunching the ice. Jack reached over and, with his thumb, wiped a drop of water that made its way down Daniel's chin as the errant sliver of ice melted against his skin.
Daniel raised his hand and rubbed weakly at the same spot.
"Your throat's sore 'cause Fraiser had to put in a tube to help you breathe," Jack explained. Daniel opened his eyes, staring at Jack. The intensity of his gaze began making Jack nervous.
"Daniel, what happened back on that planet?" Carter asked before Jack could gather the courage to do so. In response, Daniel simply sighed and closed his eyes.
"Okay, people, I think Daniel's had enough excitement for the moment," Fraiser said in her doctor's voice. Carter leaned over and kissed Daniel's forehead, saying she'd be back soon. Daniel simply nodded, keeping his eyes shut.
Teal'c stepped forward and placed a hand on Daniel's arm. He spoke softly to Daniel in his native tongue, eliciting a small smile from Daniel. With a nod towards Jack, the Jaffa followed the major out of the infirmary.
"That goes for you too, Colonel," Fraiser advised Jack. Realizing that Daniel was half asleep already, Jack got up off the chair and climbed back into his own bed. He didn't realize how tired and weak he still was until he was lying down. His fever was back, and he still had a bit of healing to do.
Jack woke up late that evening, soaked in sweat. He'd taken another quick shower and changed his scrubs, and was thankful to see that his bed linens had been changed while he'd been in the bathroom. He was anxious for the fever to leave him for good; the short time he'd stayed up had tired him out.
Settling himself on the bed, he realized that Daniel was awake and watching him.
"Did I wake you up?" he asked.
Daniel shook his head, turning slowly and carefully onto his side, facing Jack. He didn't miss Daniel's wince as his friend settled.
"Do you need something for the pain? Do you want me to call the nurse?" Jack offered, concerned that his friend was hurting. Daniel slowly shook his head but Jack continued to watch him for signs of more than discomfort.
"So, what happened over there? Why'd they separate you from us?" Jack asked, figuring that Daniel wanted to talk. At the questions, though, Daniel averted his eyes, staring at the IV taped to the back of his hand. He picked at the corner of the tape with a fingernail.
"Daniel," Jack urged after a moment of silence. Suddenly Jack realized that Daniel hadn't uttered a sound since he'd woken up except during the nightmare. Usually the first thing out of his friend's mouth was Jack's name; Daniel always seemed to look for Jack as a lifeline.
Daniel glanced over at Jack and then continued to fiddle with the tape.
"Daniel, what does 'skasmos' mean?"
The shock on Daniel's face surprised Jack. He raised his head slightly and stared wide-eyed at Jack for several seconds, then pushed himself over onto his back. He continued to turn, presenting his back to Jack.
"Damn it, Daniel, what's going on?" Jack said as he swung his legs off the bed and stood leaning over his friend. "Why did those goons keep yelling that word at us? Why did they beat us up? Why did they beat you up? Why did they take you away from us? Come on, I know that you know. Now spill!"
Jack's raised voice had caught the attention of the medical staff and Doctor Warner made his way over to see what was going on. Upon seeing the doctor, Jack muttered, "He hasn't spoken since he woke up. I think something's wrong."
The graying doctor walked over to the side of the bed facing Daniel and asked him gently if he'd allow him to have a look at Daniel's throat. Jack caught the minute shake of his head so he sat back on his own bed and watched as Warner urged Daniel onto his back and shone a light to look into his throat.
Daniel's hand curled into a tight fist as the doctor leaned over him, peering intently into Daniel's mouth. Jack reached over and took the rigid fingers in one hand, stroking gently with his thumb, letting Daniel know he was there. He felt the tight muscles relax minutely, then Daniel pulled his hand away from Jack's when Warner stood up.
"I don't see any damage," Warner said as he patted Daniel gently on the shoulder. "I'll schedule a bronchoscopy so I can have a better look. Does it hurt when you speak?"
"That's just it, he's not speaking," Jack snapped. The look that Warner gave him told Jack that he didn't appreciate being interrupted. He bit his tongue and continued to watch.
Daniel didn't react to the question, and Jack began having a sneaking suspicion about what was going on. He reached over and unhooked his medical chart and pen from the foot of the bed. Taking the top sheet, he unclipped it and turned it over. He handed the paper and pen to Daniel and asked once more, "What does 'skasmos' mean?"
Daniel took the proffered items with a shaking hand and wrote "shut up," dropping the pen back onto the clipboard.
"You want me to shut up or 'skasmos' means shut up?" Jack asked, confused.
Daniel tapped the piece of paper with his index finger, glaring at Jack.
"It means shut up?"
"Well, that's a surprise. Those goons kept yelling that word at me. Might have helped if I'd known what it meant at the time. They had their fun with Teal'c and me, they were a little more lenient with Carter. Maybe if you'd been around �" Jack shifted his weight, then decided to sit down.
Daniel simply shrugged, and turned to look at Warner.
"Is there anything I can get you, Doctor Jackson?" Warner asked, as he made a notation on Daniel's chart.
Daniel wrote something on the paper and showed it to the doctor.
"Certainly," he said before leaving the room. Jack craned his head and saw that he'd written "water, pen and paper."
"What did they do to you, Danny?" Jack nearly whispered.
Jack looked around the living room once more, making sure all was neat and tidy. Fraiser and Carter would be arriving anytime now, with Daniel in tow. Jack was still on medical downtime and he'd offered to take Daniel in until his friend was certified fit enough to remain alone.
Jack had been ordered home to rest and recuperate. He'd hated leaving Daniel alone in the infirmary for the past two days but Fraiser had been adamant. Teal'c had assured Jack that he'd keep their friend company. Carter was back on light duty, so she'd been there for him, too. She'd bounced back much more quickly from her injuries than either he or Daniel had.
Daniel. He hadn't spoken a word since yelling "shut up" in Greek while in the throes of that nightmare. The doctors were sure it was due to some sort of trauma, but Daniel wasn't talking. Literally and figuratively. He was communicating by writing, but whenever it came down to questions about what had happened back at that planet, he'd clam up, withdrawing into himself. Jack was pretty certain that his friend had some therapy scheduled in the near future.
When the doorbell rang, Jack walked to answer the bell with a bit of trepidation but was also eager to see how his friend was doing. Jack was still very stiff and sore, and was experiencing a little residual weakness from his infection and fever. At least the fever was gone and he was definitely feeling better since he'd been home.
He opened the door and let his friends in. Jack barely had time to note Daniel's pale face as Fraiser deftly guided him directly to the couch. Daniel eased himself down onto the cushions, a hand held to his side where he'd been stabbed. By the time Jack had hurried and gotten a pillow and blanket, Daniel was curled up on his side. It was very evident that he was still very weak and that the car ride from the mountain had tired him out.
Carter stood beside Jack while Fraiser removed Daniel's glasses and made sure that he was settled comfortably. His eyes were closed and Jack was pretty sure he'd be asleep within minutes.
"Mackenzie came to see him just before we left," Carter whispered in a conspiratorial tone to Jack. "Daniel wasn't too happy about it and he never told Janet how much the visit had exhausted him."
As they all moved into the kitchen where they'd be able to both keep an eye on Daniel through the half wall and give him a chance to rest, Fraiser handed Jack two bottles of pills.
"Antibiotics and painkillers," she explained. "Here's his schedule," she added, unfolding a piece of paper before handing it over to Jack. While he perused the timesheet, Fraiser gave him the final instruction. "And he's to do nothing but sleep, rest and eat." She looked at Jack with a critical eye. "And you're not to do anything taxing, either. If you need something done, you call Teal'c or Sam. Understood?"
"Yes, ma'am," Jack said meekly. He'd cleaned the house a bit and he was now feeling the results. Carter had been over the night before and had brought more groceries and a few precooked meals that would easily be heated up, so he was more or less all set for the next few days.
He walked the two women to the door, checked on Daniel, who was sleeping heavily, poured himself a large glass of ice tea and headed for the deck. He leaned back on the deck chair, tired and in need of a nap. He finished off the cool drink and enjoyed the warm summer afternoon.
He hoped that Daniel would eventually open up to Jack once he felt a little less pressured and vulnerable. Something had happened to Daniel that hadn't happened to the rest of SG-1.
The sound of the screen door closing behind him woke Jack up. Daniel joined Jack on the deck and gingerly seated himself in the chair next to Jack's. His hair was mussed up on one side and his shirt was rumpled. He took his glasses off and rubbed at his eyes. Jack checked his watch and noted that they'd been sleeping for almost three hours.
"Feel better?" Jack asked. Daniel put his glasses back on before looking at Jack and nodding.
"Sandwiches okay?" Nod. Jack got up, ignoring the stiffness in his sore body as he headed for the kitchen. He'd made the sandwiches earlier; it would only take a minute to bring them out.
"You're gonna get a stiff neck from all that nodding if you don't start using your mouth, Daniel," Jack murmured under his breath as he walked through the door. By the way Daniel hung his head when Jack looked back through the screen door, Jack realized he'd heard him. Damn.
He gathered plates, more ice tea, the sandwiches, chips, pickles, napkins, and a pad of paper and a pen. He checked Daniel's timesheet and realized that his pill schedule matched his own, so he grabbed their dosages of antibiotics and went out to feed his ailing archaeologist.
He threw the paper and pen onto the chair beside Daniel, and quickly loaded their plates with food. He watched as Daniel ate silently, not meeting Jack's eyes. Jack sighed, knowing that he was going to have a hard time getting Daniel to talk.
"Let me tell you what happened to me, okay?" Jack said, after he swallowed the last bite of his ham and cheese sandwich and seeing that Daniel had begun tearing the bread apart instead of eating it.
Daniel grabbed the paper and scribbled something, handing it to Jack blindly.
I know what happened to you.
Jack crumpled the paper and threw it into the yard. "You could see us?"
"Well, we couldn't see you. You went down like a ton of bricks when you got zapped by some kind of ray just as you stepped through the gate. We must have been next 'cause next thing we knew, we woke up hanging by our wrists in some kind of arena."
He swallowed some ice tea, wiping the condensation from the glass on his pant legs. Daniel looked down at his half eaten sandwich, not meeting Jack's gaze.
"Let me tell you that waking up to that kind of an audience isn't exactly on my list of fun things to do. Then came those goddamned bells. Every time they rang, we'd get whipped, punched, slapped �" Daniel's shoulders appeared to slump even more and Jack could see his hands were shaking. "And the guys doing the punching and whipping were yelling at us to shut up. But of course at the time we didn't know what the hell they were saying. 'Cause you weren't there to tell us.
"And here we were, not knowing what we'd done wrong and why we were being punished. But you know what the worst thing was? We had no idea where you were, or if you were even alive."
Daniel glanced up at Jack, his eyes shiny as if with unshed tears. His breathing was a little ragged, but he still appeared to be in control so Jack continued when Daniel turned his gaze away from Jack, staring at the tree before him.
"Then those half-naked women came out and started their snaky dance around that honking huge statue. Eventually those bells stopped, as did the beatings. But we kept thinking that they'd start up any minute, 'cause we didn't know what was causing them in the first place.
"Then the woman in charge of the dance, the one who was wearing at least a bit of clothing, left the arena and didn't come back. The others continued to dance until they were collapsing in exhaustion. Then some guys dressed in fancy bath towels came out with some kind of incense and we all got dizzy. They shoved some kind of paste up our noses and we all passed out."
Daniel's hands clenched into fists and Jack took the plate off his lap as his friend began to shake.
"I woke up back at the Stargate, alone. I called out and couldn't speak. Carter and Teal'c had been released earlier, although I didn't know it at the time. Then I found you."
Daniel looked at Jack again, but still couldn't meet his eyes.
"You were almost dead. We had no GDO so I dialed us to the Alpha Site and Bra'tac got us home. You'd stopped breathing, I couldn't talk and was barely able to move."
Jack swallowed the last of his drink, forcing it down his tightening throat.
"They hurt you, Daniel. They tried to kill you and almost succeeded. A few more minutes and you'd have been dead. And I want to know why those fucking bastards did that to my best friend!"
Jack's voice had risen as he spoke, the last words almost coming out in a yell. Daniel simply got up and went inside, nearly tripping over the sill in his rush to leave. Jack put his glass down on the deck and rushed after Daniel. Jack heard the spare bedroom door slam as he walked inside and he rushed in, not bothering to knock.
Daniel was sitting on the side of the bed, bent over. His hand was cradling his wound and he seemed to be having trouble breathing. Jack went over and sat down beside Daniel, not touching him.
"Tell me why, Danny," Jack said in a soft voice.
Tentatively he put a hand on Daniel's shaking shoulder and the man leaned into Jack for support. He placed his arm around Daniel's shoulder, pulling him against him. He could feel him shaking, his breath coming in short, loud gasps. The shirt beneath his fingers was damp with sweat and Jack suddenly feared he might have pushed his friend too far.
When Daniel had calmed and had pushed himself back up, Jack asked him if he wanted to come back outside. Daniel shook his head and lay down on the bed. Jack decided to leave him alone and let him think over what he had said. He went and picked up their dirty dishes from the deck, placing them in the dishwasher.
He spent the next couple of hours in front of the TV, not really watching as he kept his ears peeled for some kind of noise from the bedroom.
When he finally went to bed, he checked on Daniel and saw that he'd fallen asleep on top of the covers. He removed his glasses and slipped his shoes off, then covered him with a spare blanket. Feeling slightly guilty, he made his way to bed.
"Please stop it! They didn't do anything, I didn't do anything! Why are you doing this?"
Jack was running towards Daniel's bedroom even before he'd realized he was awake. Daniel was thrashing in the bed, fighting off unknown assailants in his sleep.
"Daniel, wake up," Jack said as he rushed towards the bed. He grabbed a flailing arm and pushed Daniel flat onto the mattress with the other, his knee coming up to hold Daniel's legs still as he leaned onto his friend.
"Why won't you tell me why you're doing this," Daniel yelled, his eyes snapping open and staring at Jack in confusion.
"Hey, you awake?" Jack asked softly as Daniel continued to look at him. Daniel took a deep breath and relaxed onto the mattress. Jack gingerly removed his leg, his muscles reminding him that they were still bruised and sore.
He sat down beside Daniel, picking the blanket up off the floor where it had fallen.
"So, you could see us getting beaten up?" Jack asked after a minute, remembering the words Daniel had screamed. "They were hitting you at the same time?"
"My fault," Daniel whispered.
Those two words spoken voluntarily flooded Jack with relief.
"Why was it your fault?"
"I wouldn't shut up."
"What?" Jack exclaimed.
"I must have desecrated their shrine when I came through the Stargate. They demand total silence in certain holy places. I spoke. I was punished. Every time I made a sound, they beat you."
"Daniel �" Jack started.
"I'm the linguist, I should have realized that they wanted me to shut up. I was too stupid to know what they wanted of me. Nobody there spoke a word. I should have known well enough to keep quiet. But I just kept on talking, asking questions, defying them. I should have known better.
"At first I was confused. Then I was in too much pain to understand what they wanted from me. I just knew that they were hurting you guys, hurting me � and I couldn't stop it and I knew somehow I was to blame." The words were coming faster and faster now, spilling out of his mouth.
"Every time I made a noise one of the priests would ring the gong. They'd hit me and then they'd hit you. I'd protest, they'd hurt us some more. I pleaded with them, they hit me again, then they hurt you guys. I couldn't get them to stop. Then finally I passed out and when I woke up, the priestess was there. She must have taken pity on me because she whispered 'siopi,' and that was when I realized I was supposed to keep quiet. God, I'm such an idiot. I should have known. I should have been able to figure it out. I could have saved you all that pain �"
Jack finally placed a finger to Daniel's mouth, silencing him. Tears were pouring down his face, pent up emotions released by illness, stress and guilt.
"Siopi?" Jack asked.
"It means 'hush,' " Daniel said in a small voice.
"Did they tell you to shut up at any time before that?" Jack said gently. Daniel shook his head.
"Did they give any indication that they wanted you to be quiet?" Jack questioned.
Daniel shook his head again.
"Did you see anything in writing that said you needed to stay quiet?"
"So, how were you expected to know to keep quiet? Why didn't they tell you this before? And why did they have us strung up in the middle of a crowded arena? Because that's how they get their kicks, Daniel. The crowd loved watching us get beaten. They applauded and cheered the guys on. Did you know that? Couldn't you hear that?"
Daniel looked up at Jack with wide eyes, and Jack realized that that small part of the ceremony had gone unnoticed by his friend.
"It wasn't your fault. They wanted to see some suffering and that priestess probably didn't take pity on you. She wanted you to shut up so she could do her hocus pocus in silence. Is that when they stabbed you?"
Daniel nodded, his eyes still gazing into Jack's. He licked his lips, then said, "She did a few rituals, then came with the knife and just plunged it into my side. It must have been for retribution. There was incense; it was making me sick and dizzy but they added something else and I couldn't breathe. I must have passed out because the next thing I remember was waking up in the infirmary."
"They tried to murder you. They made sure that the rest of us couldn't talk, doped us up, dragged us to the Stargate and hoped we'd get the hell out of Dodge."
"They hurt you because of me," Daniel said in a small voice, his hand wiping at his tears. Jack pulled his friend against him and rubbed his shoulder.
"They hurt us all because they like to see pain. Danny, if it hadn't been you, it would have been any one of us who'd have spoken first. I guess that's what set them off, huh? Separating you from us because you were the first one who spoke?"
Daniel shrugged. They'd probably never really know because Jack was going to insist that nobody return to that planet.
Could Jack be right? Could this have been because the priests and priestesses had wanted to put on a show and had enjoyed hurting his friends? The priests could have told Daniel to be quiet at any time; explained that they had wanted him silent. Oh God, maybe he hadn't been quite to blame after all.
He'd been so afraid to speak when he'd woken up. He could still hear the sounds of the whip hitting his friends' flesh, the thuds of the blows they'd endured, their grunts of pain, their curses. He'd woken in pain, dazed, disoriented. He'd heard their voices and had wanted to tell them to be quiet, all would be well if they'd just keep quiet, but he'd been too afraid to voice the words. And maybe he was also just a tiny bit afraid that he'd get hurt again. Okay, make that a lot afraid.
He leaned against Jack as his friend rubbed his shoulder and arm. He wouldn't be able to stay in this position for long because it pulled at the healing hole in his side, but the physical touch felt wonderful. He had felt alone in the infirmary, even surrounded by his friends.
He felt another tear drip down his face and he rubbed at it in irritation. He hadn't cried from the pain when tortured; he felt like a total fool now for being unable to hold them back. He pulled back when his side began to burn and Jack let go of him at the movement. He missed the contact, and that just made him want to cry more.
The priestess had told him to hush, to be quiet. Even then he hadn't quite gotten it; he had opened his mouth and questioned her, this time in Greek. He'd never seen the knife coming, the pain had surprised him and he remembered now her sly grin when she pulled the ceremonial knife out of his side. They'd gathered some of his blood. He remembered that now. She'd used it in the ritual, anointing the priests with it.
Jack was right. Those people enjoyed hurting others. He'd simply been a scapegoat; a reason to entertain the masses and possibly help along some arcane ritual that he would never know the reason behind.
He was tired and he hurt. But he felt more clear-minded now than since he'd woken up five days ago in the infirmary. He lay down on the bed and Jack covered him up again with the blanket. It felt good; felt like someone cared. Someone who wouldn't hurt him because he'd opened his mouth.
He hadn't been to blame after all. The more he thought about it, the more he was sure of it. They'd picked him because he was the first one to speak. But had it been Jack or Sam or even Teal'c who'd spoken first, they'd have been separated from the rest of the team, not him. And they would never have understood that last command to be quiet.
Daniel remembered the pain from the stabbing, hanging from the chains and holding back all sounds of pain. He'd gritted his teeth as he'd waited out the ceremony, his legs unable to hold him up. Had it been Jack in his place, he wouldn't have known to keep silent. He'd have cursed them all out; hell, he'd been doing that outside. Daniel had heard Jack's curses and insults the whole time. He smiled a little at that.
So maybe Daniel had saved their lives, in the long run. He felt a weight lift off his shoulders suddenly and turned his head to look at Jack, who was leaning against the wall, watching him.
"Hush," his friend said. "I know. Get some sleep."
Daniel smiled and sighed, closing his eyes. He was going to be fine.
Author's Comments: This fic was originally published in Redemption 4. Many many thanks to Annie for giving me a chance and hosting my story in her wonderful zine.
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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.