Jack pulled away in shock as Teal'c kept a firm hold on Daniel's struggling body. Carter stared at Daniel unbelievingly as he struggled, off balance, in Teal'c's grip.
Daniel had been sweating profusely. His hair was soaked, his unshaven face beaded with perspiration, his eyes bloodshot and puffy. None of them could believe it; Carter, who had been having trouble keeping her emotions under control since they'd entered the small cell, traded a look of helplessness with Jack.
For a moment, it looked like Daniel had calmed down in Teal'c's grasp. Maybe, just maybe, it was the physical contact that he'd needed. Contact that they'd all been warned not to initiate in order not to overly-excite the patient. So despite themselves, they had all remained near the door, as if staying far away from Daniel and close to their escape route would make them feel better, instead of Daniel. Wasn't that why they had come to visit him, after all? To see how he was doing and to hopefully cheer him up in the process?
Or rather, had it been merely to try and prove to themselves that consigning Daniel to this place had been the right thing to do, and that Daniel would be fine, and he'd be back on the team in no time at all. That they were the ones who had needed the cheering up and seeing Daniel would ease their fears.
Yeah, right. They hadn't even been able to come close to competing with his hallucinations.
Jack could hear footsteps outside and just before the aides and Doctor Mackenzie entered the small padded room, Daniel pulled free of Teal'c's hold. He backed up quickly and pointed at Teal'c, slightly out of breath from his exertions. "Something just went inside Teal'c."
"You're hallucinating, Daniel." Jack couldn't take seeing Daniel like this, and despite himself, his words came out more sharply than he'd like. Heck, everything he'd said to Daniel so far had been borderline cranky. Jack felt so off balance, he just didn't know how to act around his friend.
This was Daniel, for crying out loud. And the worst thing was, Daniel *knew* he was losing control. It wasn't like they could ignore the things that were coming out of his friend's mouth, since Daniel knew he was seeing and hearing things.
"Don't just stand there, get it out of him!" Daniel sounded desperate as the aides manhandled him. Jack had to turn away, unable to bear the sight of his friend being forced onto the ground.
Daniel's caring for his friends made it worse for Jack to see him like this. Like in the VIP room when Jack had thought Daniel was attacking him; now he realized Daniel had thought Jack was being attacked by a symbiote and had been trying to save him. The worst thing was Jack knowing now that even then Daniel had been hallucinating � but Daniel had kept quiet about it, and that was something Jack had trouble dealing with. That Daniel either hadn't wanted to alarm him, or was hoping to save face if a logical explanation had been found � but he'd given up the game when he'd thought Jack was in danger. That last straw had also broken Daniel's virtual back, landing him here in the loony bin.
He met Carter's gaze, but had to look away again from the distress she couldn't hide. He couldn't even come to terms with the emotions raging through him, there was no way he could try and make her feel better about all of this.
A nurse came in once Daniel was safely restrained and injected him with something.
Now that wasn't something Jack had expected to come out of Daniel's mouth. The old, dead scientist they'd encountered a few years ago had been the last thing Jack had been thinking of.
"Okay, let's raise the dose. Five mils at four hour intervals."
Mackenzie's voice was a relief to hear, and Jack expelled the air in his lungs, not realizing he'd been holding his breath. Relief, in a sense, that Daniel had been diagnosed, medicated, sedated, something that would hopefully help his friend. And knowing there was someone here who could take control, something that Jack was positive Daniel hadn't had since the moment they'd stepped inside the room. He thought his teammates felt exactly the same way.
Although to be honest, Daniel's condition was far worse now than he'd been back on base before he'd been transferred here.
Jack stood there, thumbs hooked into his fatigue's pockets, staring down at his friend. He was aware of Mackenzie's disapproving presence beside him. They'd fought tooth and nail to come visit Daniel; he'd argued that they'd upset his patient, and damnit to hell, the shrink had been right.
Daniel's eyes began to droop as the medication quickly took effect. He continued to stare at them until his eyes completely lost their focus. As Daniel sagged in their arms, Mackenzie's aides let Daniel go and left the room, followed by Carter and Teal'c.
Jack, on the other hand, hated himself for the coward he'd been. Instead of leaving, he took the few steps separating him from Daniel and knelt on the spongy floor. He put a hand to his friend's sweaty nape.
"I'm so sorry, Daniel," Jack whispered, wishing he'd been able to react differently from the moment he'd entered the padded room. Daniel stared at him with slitted eyes, and Jack was sure he wasn't even aware of him at the moment.
- - - - - -
"Well, since I don't have a Goa'uld, a side effect of this invention must make normal people act like they're..."
"Nuts?" Jack mouthed. What a difference a day makes, Jack thought to himself, feeling that joking with Daniel was actually appropriate, despite the circumstances. Or make that a couple of hours. Daniel was more Daniel, well, not quite himself yet, but he was getting there. He was jittery and off balance, and desperately needed a shower, but there was sanity staring back at Jack in the still bloodshot and puffy eyes.
"Schizophrenic," Daniel corrected, totally serious. Jack squirmed at the faux pas, but smiled inwardly. This *was* Daniel talking to him, none of that snivelling, cowering stranger from a few hours ago.
"Look, Teal'c is sick, right?"
Jack realized this was no laughing matter. Daniel's demeanour was wholly sober despite his obvious attempt at staying still, one arm crossed against his chest. He gesticulated with his other hand, something Jack suspected Daniel wasn't even aware of. The whole time he spoke to Jack, Daniel hardly shifted his gaze from Jack's face. Which showed how earnestly he was trying to get his theory across to Jack.
And everything Daniel was saying about Machello, Goa'uld killing inventions, and Teal'c's symbiote were actually making sense to Jack. "Right."
"Well, he does have a Goa'uld."
Seconds later Jack was yelling for Mackenzie and demanding Daniel's release papers. Apparently Daniel had also convinced the good doctor about his sudden turnabout, because the paperwork was already in the works. In the meantime, Daniel was escorted to a small private room where his personal belongings were returned to him.
Jack peeked into the small bathroom. There was a towel, face cloth and soap laid out beside the tiny sink. Jack turned the shower on and stuck a hand under the stream, adjusting the temperature until it was comfortable. He stepped out of the bathroom only to see Daniel standing in the room, looking lost.
"Come on, shower's ready," Jack said as he placed a hand on his friend's shoulder. Daniel turned to look at Jack, and his mouth twitched in a slight smile. He nodded, then shuffled slowly towards the bathroom, all his previous energy seeming to have abandoned him. Jack heard the snick of the shower curtain opening and closing as someone knocked on the door.
He answered, and an aide handed Jack an electric shaver. Jack nodded his thanks and went into the bathroom to place it near the sink.
"Don't take all day," Jack yelled over the sound of the water.
Jack returned into the room and sat on the edge of the bed, waiting nervously, wondering if he should have left Daniel alone in the bathroom. But he knew his friend probably needed this, needed the trust that he could be left alone and still know Jack was here should he need help.
True to his word, Daniel stepped out of the bathroom several minutes later, washed and shaved, the towel wrapped around his waist. He reached for his clothes, which Jack had laid out on the bed, and then stopped when he spied his glasses, folded on top of them.
Daniel glanced at Jack with an uncertain look.
Jack nodded, remembering that Daniel had told them they'd taken the glasses away in case he tried to use them to hurt himself.
With a shaking hand, Daniel picked his glasses up. He unfolded the arms and slowly placed them on his face. The motion seemed to strengthen Daniel and Jack figured it was a small token of getting control of his life back.
Jack recalled the uncaring way Daniel had been pushed down so that he could be medicated. The livid bruises on Daniel's arms and legs were testament of the pressure that had been repeatedly administered, not to mention the injection sites themselves.
Jack admitted that at the time it had been necessary, and he was ashamed to say that he had been, in part, happy to see Daniel sedated. Comparing the man of this morning with the man who was now getting dressed was strange. According to Mackenzie, Daniel was still feeling the effects of the drugs, and watching him for the past twenty five minutes, Jack knew the effort it had taken Daniel to try to clearly communicate his thoughts to Jack and prove he was better.
Daniel noticed where Jack was staring and he quickly finished dressing, hiding the evidence.
So within an hour of Jack having come to see Daniel for a second time that day, they were on their way to the mountain. They drove in silence, Jack not quite knowing what to say, worry about Teal'c gnawing at him. Daniel was still fidgety. Jack could see his knee bouncing nervously out of the corner of his eye. He turned to glance at Daniel and saw his friend's face was pale and sweaty.
Daniel nodded. "I'm fine."
But he didn't look fine. Mackenzie had told them that the cumulative effects of the drugs in Daniel's system would take a few days to wear off. In the meantime, he'd be either on edge or experiencing sedating effects. Jack could tell that Daniel was already fighting to stay awake. But there was something else. He looked a little paler than before.
"You need me to stop? I can stop if you're not feeling good."
"I told you I'm fine." Daniel's voice was edged in irritation, and Jack let it go. He understood the feeling � Daniel was fighting the pull of nausea and wanted to stay in control of his body. In the meantime, Jack became more attentive to his surroundings, ready to pull out of the traffic heading towards Cheyenne Mountain and let Daniel out of the truck if he needed to.
And Daniel needed to several minutes later.
"Jack, stop." Daniel's teeth were clenched tightly and Jack immediately flicked his turn signal and pulled onto the side of the road. Daniel had the door open and was heaving the second Jack brought the truck to a stop.
Jack leaned over the steering wheel and waited patiently. There was no use getting out, he didn't think Daniel would appreciate his concern right about now. And he was right. He heard Daniel spit a couple of times, then he climbed back in. He didn't shut the door, so Jack straightened and reached in back of his seat for a bottle of water.
"Sorry," Daniel mumbled.
"Why? Because you're pumped full of meds and should be sleeping them off instead of rushing towards SGC?" Jack unscrewed the cap and handed the bottle to Daniel. "It's not your fault, Daniel. None of what happened was your fault."
Daniel took the bottle with a shaking hand, but didn't drink from it. Instead he balanced it on his thigh. The nervous energy was back, and the bottle bounced. Water spilled from it, wetting Daniel's fatigues and darkening the material.
"I'd rather not talk about it, Jack. Can we go now?"
Jack indicated the open door. "Are you done puking or do you just want to air out the cab?"
Daniel turned to look at the open door with a start. He shut it and then reached for his seatbelt. In doing so, he let go the bottle of water and it tipped over.
"Shit!" He fumbled for it and in his haste, knocked it to the floor, leaving dark marks where it soaked Daniel's pants. He went to lean forward to pick it up but Jack simply placed a hand on Daniel's hand, staying the motion.
"Leave it. There's no harm done."
"I'm sorry, I just... I'm sorry." He lowered his head, his fingers working at the soaked material, trying to brush the wetness away.
Jack swallowed, then reached over and stilled Daniel's fingers. Daniel tugged his hand from beneath Jack, and wiped them on the side of his pants.
"Daniel..." Jack put his hand back on the steering wheel. "I'm the one who's sorry. If we'd listened to you earlier, maybe we could have prevented..."
"No, you wouldn't have. There was no way of knowing. I *was* acting weird..." Daniel smiled, that strange little depreciating smirk he often did when directing it towards himself. "Okay, weirder than usual."
Jack smiled back at the attempt to lighten the mood. "Can't argue with that one. Now, how about we get back to base and see if Fraiser can figure out what's wrong with Teal'c."
- - - - - -
Daniel slowly got out of the truck. His body was craving sleep, which made him irritable and fuzzy headed. He followed Jack into the base, a little embarrassed at having to meet anyone there. He was sure by now everyone knew where he'd been for the past day. Days. Hell, how much time had he been away? Everything was a huge, jumbled blur of pain, fear, visions and confusion.
But instead of shrinking back, he met the first person he saw head on.
The security guard at the desk greeted both Jack and Daniel in his normal way. As Daniel waited his turn to sign the logbook, he watched the guard for any sign of derision. But the man kept his usual cheerful face, wishing them a good day as they entered the elevator.
To Daniel's surprise, either people welcomed him back, or treated him the same as before. He raised a hand and rubbed the back of his neck as they walked towards the infirmary. He'd gone crazy, right; but it hadn't been his fault � he'd had plenty of time to think about it and he was positive his theory was right. Now, if only he could convince General Hammond and Janet.
- - - - - -
Fraiser was waiting for them at the front of the infirmary. Jack handed over the papers that Mackenzie had given him. She looked over them quickly, then folded them up.
"Doctor Mackenzie suggested you be given a sedative, Daniel."
"He did? Why? Don't I have enough stuff inside of me right now?"
"He didn't think you'd accept one from him. It's not totally necessary, but it will help with some of the symptoms you're experiencing."
"I'm not crazy." Daniel crossed his arms nervously and thrust his chin out. Gone was the embarrassed, cowed man. Daniel *was* better, and Jack thought he obviously planned to prove it by standing up to the doc.
"I didn't mean that," Fraiser said softly. "But a mild sedative might help you with the jitters, and maybe help make you cope with some of the side effects you're experiencing."
"What side effects?"
Fraiser pointedly stared at his nervously tapping fingers, and Daniel made a fist of both hands.
"It'll make me sleepy."
"Yes, it will. And there's nothing wrong with that."
He stared at her for a minute, then glanced over at Jack. "Not now," Daniel finally decided, relaxing slightly.
"Okay. We'll talk about it later. First I'd like to take some blood and do a few tests since you left the hospital in such a hurry." When she tried to steer Daniel to a bed, though, he dug in his heels.
"I want to see Teal'c first."
Daniel's edginess was escalating and he quickly crossed his arms again to keep them still. Fraiser looked at Daniel for a few seconds before nodding her agreement. She led them to the ICU, where Carter was sitting vigil.
"Daniel." Carter quickly slid off the infirmary bed and stood to greet Daniel as he approached. He smiled shyly at her and she touched his arm as he came up to her. Jack thought the events of the past days might place a barrier between them for a while, but Carter threw all cautions to the wind and enveloped Daniel in a hug. Daniel's stiff back relaxed as he hugged her back.
When she released him, Daniel turned to their friend, who was lying behind a plastic sheeting.
"Oh God," Daniel said softly as he saw the degree of Teal'c's illness.
Fraiser waited until Daniel finally turned away from the bed, then with a few soft words, led him back to the main infirmary area so she could run her tests and take a blood sample. When they returned, Jack left Teal'c's side and moved to sit beside Daniel. As Fraiser turned to leave, Daniel called out to her.
She turned back to look at him expectantly.
"I'll take that sedative now," he said softly. Fraiser simply nodded, a sympathetic look on her face. Jack sat beside Daniel on the bed, which was bouncing as Daniel jiggled his feet in agitation.
"I knew Teal'c was sick... I just didn't expect..."
"Yeah. I know. It hit him all of a sudden when we came back from our visit to the�"
Daniel closed his eyes, then began chewing on his thumbnail. Jack could hear his teeth snapping together as they nibbled away at the dry skin.
"Is there anything we can do?"
"Wait and see the results of your blood tests." Fraiser handed Daniel a small cup with a pill inside of it, and a glass of water. "If your dopamine levels are normal, then we'll probably have a positive lead as to what's affecting Teal'c."
Daniel swallowed the pill and the water, then put the glass and paper cup onto a nearby table. "I saw something go from me into Teal'c. I didn't imagine that."
Fraiser nodded. "Let's just wait for the blood tests, okay?"
Jack motioned to Daniel with his head and they both got up to keep Carter company, watching their friend slowly die before them.
- - - - - -
"There! Right there, back it up." Jack pointed to the screen, and Sam quickly keyed in the commands to page backwards.
Daniel was a little slow in recognizing the tablet and the page turning device. It was the one that had him stymied because he hadn't been able to find a way to turn the page. "I picked that up in the Linvris chamber."
Daniel suppressed a shiver when he realized that maybe that item he'd had in his hand had been the carrier for whatever it was that had infected him. Sam went on to the next page, and Janet asked, "Why did he make so many page turning devices?"
"Could be our land mine."
Daniel continued staring at the screen over Sam's shoulder while he heard Janet calling General Hammond, asking for him to requisition the page turning devices from Area 51. Daniel raised a hand and rubbed his forehead, cursing the drugs and his fuzzy brain. The sedative had helped a little, but it had made concentrating even harder.
He was relieved that something was finally being done. He had been afraid that Janet wouldn't believe that he'd seen something go from him, into Teal'c. Hell, they'd had all kinds of tests run on him before and during his stay at the hospital, and they'd never found a trace of that little slimy thing inside of him. Why were they surprised when there was no trace of whatever it was that was killing Teal'c's symbiote?
Daniel breathed out a small chuckle. Because they had thought he was crazy and had hallucinated the thing, that's why. Maybe if Doctor Mackenzie hadn't taken that moment to come into his room to medicate him, Daniel would have been able to convince Jack and the others that something had happened.
He exhaled noisily. Who was he kidding? He'd tried, and failed. His mind had been so clouded with drugs and the hallucinations that whatever it was had looked as real to him as the Linvris standing behind Teal'c's shoulder.
"What?" Jack was looking at him with a quizzical expression.
"What's so funny?"
Daniel sighed softly as he sat down on the nearest bed. "I was just thinking of what ifs. If I'd had more time to convince you guys that I'd seen something go into Teal'c, maybe he wouldn't be so sick now."
"I don't... you were a little out of it at the time, Daniel."
"Yeah, I know. I was there, remember?"
"Maybe if you hadn't attacked Carter, things might have gone a little�" "What? I didn't�" Daniel looked at Sam as she turned away from the computer monitor to face him. He swallowed at the expression on her face. "But I don't remember... when?"
"At the hospital. You got up and swung at�"
"No. Nononono." Daniel hopped off the bed, adrenaline fuelling his body as he paced up and down the small room. "It was the Linvris. It was standing between Sam and Teal'c and I was afraid it was going to hurt you."
He stopped, realizing why he'd made a run for the monster. "I wanted to grab it and prove to you that it was really there," he said in a soft voice. "Sam, honestly, I wouldn't hurt you. You know that, don't you?" That his friend might be afraid of him hurt him more than he could imagine. And, God, he'd gone after Jack in the VIP room.
He turned from their accusing eyes and returned to the bed. He sat on it and rested his back against the wall.
"Daniel." He looked up at Sam, who was standing beside him, tears filling her eyes. He nervously rubbed his fingers together, trying to ease an itch under his skin. "I didn't know. It looked like..." She reached and touched his knee. "I'm sorry."
Daniel squeezed his fingers tightly in a fist, then opened his hand and placed it over Sam's. "No, I'm the one who should apologize." He smiled weakly at her, then looked at Jack. "I guess I must have spooked you guys, huh?"
"Oh yeah," Jack admitted.
Daniel leaned his head back tiredly against the cement wall. This was a never-ending nightmare. How many other things might he have done that had been misconstrued? He tried to think of what else he had said and done at the hospital. Much of it was a blur, but other than apologizing to his friends for having gone crazy, there wasn't much that he could remember saying that didn't involve the Linvris. Okay, so maybe he hadn't said anything else to embarrass himself with.
Closing his eyes, he let himself relax for a moment.
- - - - - -
Jack grabbed a pillow and placed it beneath Daniel's shoulder as he slowly slid down the wall. Mackenzie had said the best thing was for Daniel to sleep off the effects of the medication; it looked like the meds were going to do the job for him, no matter how much Daniel tried fighting sleep.
By now Daniel was curled on his side on the bed. Jack also grabbed a blanket and spread it over Daniel's slumbering form. It would take four or five hours to get the goods from Area 51. Hopefully Daniel could at least sleep until then.
Fraiser walked quietly to Daniel's side and took his pulse. She smiled at Jack, and adjusted the blanket's edge. Then they both moved away from the bed so as not to disturb him.
"Sam and I are going to set up the Hazmat room. We won't be long. You'll watch over him?"
Jack nodded. Once they'd left, Jack took up a chair between Daniel and Teal'c
- - - - - -
"He'll never forgive us if we don't wake him up for this," Jack argued. He hated the fact that Fraiser was right, and that they should let Daniel sleep. But he'd been through so much over the past few days that he deserved the right to accompany them in order to prove his theory.
"Colonel, he's in no fit condition to be in this lab." Fraiser watched from the observation stand as the page turning devices were picked up from a metal storage box and transferred to the glass quarantine chamber with metal tongs. "I'll allow him to watch from up here, but I don't want him down there."
"Fine. I'll just go and wake him up. You guys ready to start?"
Carter made a small nervous gesture with her head. "Just about ready, sir. I just need to inform General Hammond that everything's set up."
"Great. I'll be right back."
Jack hurried to the ICU and went straight for where Daniel lay sleeping. He hated having to wake Daniel up, he was sleeping so peacefully. But this whole idea that the PTDs were Machello's Goa'uld killing devices was Daniel's, and he'd want to be there if and when Carter and Fraiser could prove it.
He reached over and shook Daniel's shoulder. Daniel snorted, then pulled away, burrowing into the pillow.
"Daniel, wake up. Don't make me regret doing this." He shook Daniel harder, calling Daniel's name again. Finally Daniel opened his eyes and looked at Jack blearily.
"They're ready to start. You wanna come with, or you gonna get some more sleep?"
"Start... oh, we haven't gotten the devices from Area 51 yet, have we?" Daniel squinted at his watch, and his eyes widened in shock.
"Yeah, you've been a little out of it. Shipment arrived about twenty minutes ago. Carter and Fraiser are waiting for us before they begin."
Daniel sat up and rubbed his face with his palms. Jack handed him his glasses and waited till he stood up and got his balance. Daniel took a couple of stiff, wobbly steps before working out the kinks.
"Fraiser wants you in the observation room, she's got the computer set up so you can keep trying to research the translation. I kinda have to agree with her. The view's better up there."
Daniel nodded, apparently not quite awake yet.
As they walked down the corridor leading to their destination, Daniel stopped before the men's room. "I just gotta..." He pointed over his shoulder with his thumb. Jack nodded.
"I'll see ya in a few." He watched as Daniel entered the washroom, then continued on towards the laboratory.
- - - - - -
Daniel got up unsteadily from the chair once General Hammond, Doctor Warner and his aide left the observation platform. He leaned on the table and watched as the security protocols were lifted and the door to the Hazmat room was opened. Jack and Janet, after having gone through what had appeared to be a horrific experience, strolled out of the room as if nothing had happened.
And Daniel, who had been infested with only one of those organisms compared to the three or four each of his friends had had, was still feeling shaky, disoriented and dizzy. He made his way carefully out of the room, only to find Doctor Warner waiting for him in the hallway.
"How are you feeling?" The man's concerned gaze flickered over him and Daniel blushed.
"The meds are still making me feel a little off," Daniel admitted truthfully, shoving his trembling hands into his pockets. There was no reason to hide it, the doctor had noticed Daniel's pallor earlier when he'd offered the only chair in the room. Both Doctor Warner and General Hammond had refused the seat, and Daniel had gratefully remained sitting. "And I'm feeling really tired."
And his thought processes hadn't been all that quick, either. Daniel realized belatedly that he'd called General Hammond to an unsecured site when Machello's organisms had breached the quarantine chamber. He should have called the security breach itself, not called the SGC's commander there.
"You've been under quite a bit of stress. That isn't helping your situation any." Warner walked alongside Daniel as they made their way to the infirmary. "I can prescribe a sedative; it should help a little. And sleep is probably the best thing for you right now."
"I can't sleep," Daniel whispered. "Not right now." Thoughts of Teal'c lying close to death haunted him. It was his fault, in a sense. Teal'c had touched Daniel, and the organism inside Daniel had homed in on Junior. In one sense, Daniel had been the carrier of the Goa'uld killing device, and had struck Teal'c a death sentence due to his impulsive action at the hospital.
In any case, he could probably sleep without the help of a sedative. But the drug had helped him cope earlier; had helped ease the jitters, and had slowed things down for him, preventing him from reacting too quickly.
"I understand." Doctor Warner took hold of Daniel's elbow as he swayed as they waited for the elevator. "But should Major Carter's theory work out and you want some relief, don't hesitate to come and see me."
"Thank you." Daniel smiled at Doctor Warner, then entered the elevator as the doors popped open. "But I changed my mind. I think I will take you up on the offer."
- - - - - -
Daniel stood near General Hammond by the foot of Teal'c's bed, his hands thrust into his pockets. It had seemed to take forever for Janet to get more serum made, but maybe it was just his own skewed sense of perception that was acting up again.
Jack glanced at Daniel as they waited, then he turned his attention back to Teal'c. Daniel observed his friends as they watched Janet enter the infirmary and inject something into Teal'c's IV. If this didn't work... Daniel forced his mind away from those morbid thoughts. This *would* work.
He felt disassociated from everything. Mind you, he was worried to death about Teal'c. But he was fine with standing back and watching, whereas both Sam and Jack had moved closer to the head of the bed, making sure Teal'c would see them should he wake.
It didn't take long. Teal'c groaned and tensed in pain. His eyes opened and he muttered Machello's name. Everyone sighed in relief � it looked like Sam's protein marker had worked. Then the organism came out, dying, its job supposedly done.
Teal'c looked around in confusion, and Sam moved closer, touching Teal'c's hand when he looked at her, as did Janet. A moment later, Teal'c's eyes shut as exhaustion overtook him. Everyone looked to Janet, but she smiled at them.
"We'll know more in a short while. I'm hopeful that his fever will come down as soon as his symbiote begins to recover."
So the waiting game wasn't quite over yet. General Hammond placed a hand on Daniel's shoulder, then quietly left the infirmary. Daniel dazedly watched the man as he walked out. A few seconds later, someone else caught at his arm.
"Come on, sit down. This might take a while." Daniel let Jack lead him to a chair and he sat gratefully. He sighed softly. He just wanted this to be over with. He just wanted to go home and try and put all of this behind him.
Daniel felt himself nodding off and he stood up, not wanting to risk falling asleep and not learning whether Teal'c was going to be okay. He paced slowly up and down the infirmary, averting his eyes from the beds, which were beginning to look more and more inviting.
Time slowed to a crawl, but still, he kept glancing at the clock. But the numbers weren't registering in his mind � he couldn't tell if he'd been pacing for all of five minutes, or ten, or thirty. He just knew he looked at that clock way too many times.
Suddenly Janet was there and they all crowded around Teal'c once again. She took Teal'c's vitals, and smiled broadly at them all.
"His temperature has come down considerably and his vitals are much stronger."
Daniel sagged in relief, catching himself on the bed's railing as his knees threatened to buckle. He took several deep breaths, then raised his head, and caught Jack staring at him.
He straightened as best he could, trying to show he was fine. Unfortunately, he also caught Janet's attention.
"It's been a long day. Daniel, I'll have a bed set up for you in a minute." She brushed past him with a gentle touch to his arm.
"I'd rather go home, Janet."
She stopped to look at him. "It's been a hard few hours on all of us. You'd probably be better off here overnight."
"Look, doc," Jack said as he came to stand beside Daniel. "He's not sick. That's why those meds are affecting him."
"I know that, Colonel."
"So let me take Daniel home with me. We'll come back here tomorrow and check on Teal'c, and you can give Daniel another examination if you feel you need to." Jack turned to Daniel. "That sound good to you?"
Daniel nodded, relieved. Anywhere, please, but here. He just wanted to be able to relax out of the view of the infirmary's fishbowl environment. No aides checking on him through wire-enforced windows. No nurses coming and going at all hours of the day or night. No hospital smell, no hospital noises.
Just a quiet, safe place, so he could try and come to terms with being *human* again.
He must have missed Janet's answer, because Jack was pulling his arm and was leading him out of the infirmary. He turned to look at Janet, but her attention was still on Teal'c.
Daniel fought the pull of sleep during the drive to Jack's, his eyesight blurring often as his brain attempted to lure him into closing his eyes. He stumbled when he stepped out of the truck but managed to make it to the front door with embarrassing himself further. Jack unlocked and opened the front door and without a word, Daniel headed straight for the spare bedroom.
Jack followed, and as Daniel sat on the foot of the bed, unlacing his boots, Jack turned the bed down, drew the curtains, and actually tucked Daniel in once he'd crawled beneath the sheets. Daniel mumbled a g'nite, turned onto his side, and knew no more.
- - - - - -
It had been early evening when Jack put Daniel to bed. Jack had made himself a light supper, then spent the rest of the night watching TV. When his own exhaustion had him nodding off before the end of the baseball game, Jack decided to haul himself off to bed. He locked up, and then on his way to his bedroom, stopped to check in on Daniel.
His friend had kicked the blankets off, evidence of his restless sleep. Jack entered the bedroom and untangled the covers, then pulled them up over Daniel. He stood there looking down at the slumbering man, and it suddenly hit him at how close they had come to losing him. Had Teal'c not touched Daniel in the hospital, they might never have realized that it had been an alien organism that was causing Daniel's schizophrenia. Daniel could have been locked up in that padded room for the rest of his life.
Jack shivered; there were things worse than death.
- - - - - -
Clinking, metallic sounds echoed in Jack's head, taking several seconds before his sleepy brain realized it was someone rummaging through his cutlery drawer. He raised his head from his pillow and heard the distinctive squeak of the refrigerator door opening, then closing. For a moment he tried to think who might be in his house until he remembered. Daniel.
He sat up and glanced at the clock. It was just after two. He got out of bed and padded in stocking feet, into the kitchen.
Daniel was leaning against the kitchen counter, eating a bowl of cereal. The only lighting was from the light over the stove. He looked up at Jack in surprise, a drop of milk trickling down his chin.
He hurriedly chewed and swallowed the mouthful of cereal, wiping at his chin with the back of his hand. "What are you doing up? Did I wake you?"
Jack took a bowl from the cupboard and poured some cereal from the box sitting on his the counter. "Not really. I just wanted to make sure you were okay." He poured a bit of milk into it and grabbed a spoon from the drawer. "Are you?"
"Yeah. Had to go pee and realized I was hungry. I hope you don't mind."
"Course not," Jack said around a mouthful of soggy flakes. They ate in silence for a few more minutes. "Couldn't sleep?"
"No, I just had to go--"
"Pee, yeah, I know." Jack scraped up the last of his snack and then placed the bowl into the sink. "You want more?" Jack waved at the box of cereal, and Daniel shook his head. Jack took the now-empty bowl from Daniel and placed it on top of his own. "Bad dreams?"
Daniel looked down at his feet. "Kinda."
Jack hated seeing Daniel looking so vulnerable. "It's not surprising. Your subconscious has to try and make sense out of what happened to you."
"That's not what's worrying me." Daniel looked up at Jack, his eyes dark and wide in the dim light. "Is it me?"
"Is what you?"
"Is it because it was me who began hearing and seeing things, that everyone thought I'd gone..."
"Nuts." Despite the serious discussion, Daniel's mouth crinkled at the corners for a second. "What if it had happened to Sam? Or to you?"
Jack opened his mouth to answer, but Daniel quickly continued. "Okay, maybe not you. But Ferretti? Or Makepeace? Or even Siler? Would they have been so quick to be diagnosed without checking for alien intervention?"
"Daniel, remember that once you got better, Fraiser wasn't able to find any trace of that little bugger inside of Teal'c. The same tests were performed on you and�"
"Would they have locked Sam up? Janet? Hammond?"
"Yes, they would have. Anyone who was seeing snakes and wormholes in their closets would have been suspect. Except for me - I'm probably already certifiable."
"I won't argue with that one." Daniel smiled. The first true, heartfelt smile Jack had seen since this whole nightmare began.
"Look, Daniel, I..." Jack stepped closer to his friend. Daniel was staring at him intently and it made Jack uncomfortable.
"No, it's okay."
"I feel like..." Jack swallowed, "...like I let you down."
"How? You stayed with me on base through it all. You guys came to visit at the hospital - *that* I remember. You came when I asked. How could you even think you let me down?"
"Because I let them... take you away." Jack felt like a heel, he should be the one comforting Daniel. But he was too far gone into his own guilt trip and all the worry of the past days, compiled with his own short time of impending madness, were suddenly overwhelming him.
"You just said..." Daniel cleared his throat. Apparently he was also pretty close to teetering on the emotional stepladder of life. "They had no way of knowing..."
"It still makes me feel like crap, and I can't even begin to imagine how you feel about it."
"I'm okay with it, Jack." Daniel smiled again, a little wobbly this time, and with tears pooling in his eyes.
Needing the contact desperately and suspecting Daniel did also, Jack pulled Daniel into a hug. Daniel's hand immediately went around Jack's back, and he clutched Jack as tightly as he was squeezing Daniel. He felt Daniel's chest hitch a time or two and his own wasn't all that steady as he tried to swallow the lump in his throat.
After many long seconds, Daniel loosened his hold slightly and Jack pulled back, ruffling Daniel's hair. He then gently placed his hand behind Daniel's nape, staring at his friend and hoping to see that everything really was okay between them. He wasn't disappointed; there was no trace of anger or accusation in Daniel's expression. Only trust, and hopefully now, peace.
Daniel unselfconsciously swiped a finger beneath his eyes. "Thanks, Jack. I... really don't know what I'd have done without you."
"You know," Jack said as he watched Daniel remove his glasses and clean them on his rumbled shirt tails, "there's a lot to be said about someone who can convince his shrink that he's been cured of his Schizophrenia in such a short time."
Daniel looked up at Jack, wide-eyed, eyelashes spiky and wet, making his eyes look even bluer. "I think that must have been one of the hardest things I've ever done."
"Harder than trying to communicate with those nomads who wanted to trade Carter for a bunch of camels?"
"Hey, we were getting a great price for her." Daniel's mouth curved into a smile, then immediately morphed into a yawn. "Sorry," he mumbled, swallowing a second yawn.
"How about trying to get some more sleep?"
"I think I'd like to read for a while." Daniel grabbed a magazine from the table that had come in with the day's mail. He waved it at Jack. "You mind?"
"Nah. But give me a sec and I can probably find you something a little more interesting that Astronomy."
Daniel headed for the bedroom while Jack went into the den where he knew Daniel had left a few magazines from previous visits. He rummaged through the pile and came up with a couple.
"Here, these might be more�"
Jack stopped in the doorway and smiled at the sight before him. It had only been five minutes, but Daniel had already dozed off, his head slightly tilted to the side. The Astronomy magazine lay open on his chest, his hands lying lax on either side of him.
Jack picked up the Astronomy magazine and added it to the ones in his hands. He put them down on the bedside table. Gently, he removed Daniel's glasses, and turned the light off.
"Sweet dreams," Jack whispered to his friend, hoping the small benediction would help keep the memory of the last days at bay. He headed for bed, his heart and mind lighter, secure in the knowledge that his friend was going to be all right.
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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.