Hands hold my head up and I feel the cold chill of a ceramic basin against my chin as I heave stuff I don't even remember eating. You'd think I'd be done by now, this is the third, or is it the fourth time, I've literally lost my supper.
My shoulders and neck are burning as muscles I can't control strain and contract, even when there's nothing left to expel. I'm shivering and shaking, my body aches and I don't have the strength to turn away from the foul mess I just made on my bedclothes.
But the hands are back, and somehow the dirty linen is removed, as is my shirt. The chill, damp air sends goose bumps across my sweat-dampened skin and the shivering escalates.
"Hold on, I'll get you covered back up in a second. I just need to clean you up first."
The voice is back and even though I open my eyes to try and glimpse this patient soul, everything around me is blurry and sends my stomach roiling once again. I quickly slam my eyes shut and bear my misery in silence.
The voice is soft and gentle, although I feel there could be steel behind it if he so wished. I hear water trickle nearby, and then a cold, wet cloth is wiped over my chin, then down my chest. He repeats the motions once more before moving away.
I can hear his footsteps as he moves around the room. They scrape the ground in a way that tells me it's stone. There's a slight echo in the room which indicates we're surrounded by rocks, and a dank smell that probably means we're underground. So all in all, we're either in a cellar, or in a cave. I think a castle is out of the question. Well, we could be in a dungeon but I think I'd be hearing screams of pain and misery. Unless I'm the one who's supposed to be doing all the wretched moaning and groaning sound effects.
At least this time around, I'm a little more aware of where I am. I've got a god-awful taste in my mouth, my throat is raw and I'm desperately thirsty. Although I know I'll probably puke it up seconds after it hits my stomach, I still end up asking him for some.
The cup is at my mouth even before I breathe out the last syllable. I raise my head and my migraine escalates, but still I force a few sips of the cold liquid down. It hits my stomach, which cramps in protest. I gasp in discomfort and turn my head away from the cup, which relentlessly follows me.
"You need to drink. You're dehydrated."
I want to push his hand away but my arm just flops uselessly. He puts his fingers beneath my head and raises it up a few inches, balancing the back of my head in his palm. Then the cup is back at my mouth, but by now my stomach's sorta settled down and I let him tip some more water into me. I swallow, wait, and the water goes down, and stays down. When I realize this, I start to gulp what's left in the cup.
"Hey, take it easy."
There's exasperation in his voice and he moves the cup away. I try to follow, raise my head blindly until the effort strains my neck and sends more shafts of agony through my brain.
"You're just gonna bring it all up if you�"
Too late. Without warning, the water makes a return appearance. I cough, and shamefully hear myself follow with a moan as I'm turned onto my side. I lie there, embarrassed and miserable, listening through the drumbeat of my pulse pounding through my ears. He moves around some more. From the noises he's making, he's cleaning the stone floor around me.
Amazingly he doesn't make any sounds of disgust or anger. I can smell the sickness on me despite my quick bath. It's bad enough knowing it's my mess; it has to be worse for him since he's cleaning it up.
He replaces the blanket around me and this one is dry and smells of cotton and the outdoors. A pillow is tucked beneath my head and I lay there, my body a little more comfortable but in as much pain as before.
"It'd be nice if they'd have left us our packs. That way I'd'a been able to give you something for your headache."
"Packs?" I ask in confusion.
"There's a first aid kit in yours. But no, they said that the pain was all part and parcel of the punishment."
"Punishment?" I'm being punished for something? I don't remember being punished. I don't remember doing anything wrong. I don't even know why I'm here, in this room, alone with a stranger. I don't even know who I am. I furrow my forehead and regret the action. Even the skin on my face hurts.
Maybe conversation wasn't such a great idea after all.
"We'll talk about it later, when you're feeling a little better. Want to try again with the water?"
The cup is back at my mouth and this time I very cautiously sip it. I'm still extremely thirsty, and the position of him holding my head up must be tiring. His arm begins to shake after a while so he shifts and tucks his leg beneath my shoulders, allowing me to relax against his thigh and torso. He patiently allows me to drink my fill one small sip at a time, until the cup is finally empty.
"Let's see if it stays down. I'll give you more if it does."
Thirst partly satisfied, stomach not quite happy but behaving for the moment, I simply lie there and suffer. It feels like I've been here with him for an eternity. The other times I've woken up are hazy, almost like a dream, although I know I wasn't dreaming only because his voice and hands have been the only familiar constant throughout.
Again I open my eyes and try to see my savior. This time I get a glimpse of green and silver, and steely brown eyes stare down at me before my vision swims. I'm forced to shut my eyes again.
He places a hand against my cheek. It's cool, and it feels really good against my hot skin. He begins to rub my face, and I can't help but liken it to petting a dog. I feel weird about this, until I realize that what he's doing is massaging the small muscles around my temples and eyes. I relax into his ministrations and the migraine goes down a slight notch.
I go back to the idea of conversation. I feel like I need answers, but I don't know what the questions should be. Maybe I should start with the most basic.
"Who are you?"
Neither name rings a bell. I have no memory except for this room, and this man. Still, some things I know instinctively. I know I'm speaking English, I know that I'm a man, I know I'm pretty sick, and I know that I'm totally at Jack's mercy.
"Are we prisoners?"
"Sort of, for the time being. Until you're better."
"Oh. Then in that case, I'm fine." I don't know why I need to move, what I need to prove, but I have to do something. So I try to sit up. I say try, because all I manage to do is raise my head a few inches off his leg before bright lights explode behind my eyeballs.
I hear Jack curse as I lie there gasping in pain. His hands are on my face again, this time to wipe the sweat with the wet cloth. He lays it over my forehead and eyes after a few swipes, thick and cold and wet, and the feel of it helps me manage some of the pain.
I'm still feeling weird about using a stranger's leg as my pillow, but I'm so exhausted fighting the migraine that I feel myself relaxing again as his fingers resume their massage.
I must have fallen asleep, because I suddenly jerk awake. He's put me back down onto the bed. Scary thought, that I didn't wake up being moved around like that.
My head is still pounding, but at least I can put two thoughts together and make a bit of sense out of them. I crack open one eye, and to my delight, I find I can see. Everything is a little fuzzy, but I can tell the room would be dark if it weren't for the three lamps burning in little niches in the wall.
At first I think I'm alone, and that doesn't bother me. Until I remember what the stranger, Jack, had told me earlier.
I'm being punished.
Then I hear a slight sound beside me. I realize, then, that I'm not alone after all. I pray it's my savior who's here and not my unknown assailants.
I turn my head and watch as reaches for a green shirt spread out on the ground next to him. He fingers the material, then straightens out the creases he's made. I realize it matches the one he's wearing. And which matches his green pants.
I'm relieved he's still here, until I wonder why he's here with me. Something he said before is bothering me, and I can't quite grasp it.
I think back again to what he said earlier. I don't think I'd have worried about being so helpless if he hadn't mentioned punishment. Had he been part of the whole scheme, or was he part of the problem to begin with? Was he stuck here with me for retribution? But again, if he'd meant to harm me, would he have taken the trouble to be so solicitous with my care?
"For what?" He turns his head to look at me, surprise on his face.
"You're here because of me, aren't you?"
"Kind of." He flattens his palms together, his elbows balanced on bent knees. "If it'll make you feel any better, I volunteered to stay with you."
"Why do you sound so surprised?" He grimaces. "Oh, right. Sorry. The memory thing." He waves a hand around his temple.
For a moment I wonder what he's talking about, and I realize he means because I don't know him.
"How's the head?" He waves a hand in my direction.
"Is it still attached to my body?"
"Yeah. Sorta. The neck's kinda useful that way."
"Damn. I was hoping you could have exchanged it for a model that doesn't come with a migraine."
He winces a little, his look compassionate. I wonder then if he's ever experienced this kind of pain.
"So, who are you anyway?"
He smiles. "You asked me that already."
"Jack," I reply.
"Colonel Jack O'Neill, of SG-1."
"Should I know you?"
He makes a strange face. "You will. They said your memory would return once the headache goes away."
He gets up and walks to the back of the room where the lamplight doesn't quite reach. I notice he's wearing an empty holster strapped to his leg, and there's a knifeless sheath attached to his belt. I'm surprised for a moment, until I remember his introduction. 'Colonel' Jack... somebody of... something-1.
He bends over what looks like a bucket and I hear water sloshing. And then he's coming back towards me with a small container that's dripping onto the stone floor.
"You want to try some more water?"
This is the second time he's mentioned *them*. I ignore the proffered cup and raise a hand to pinch the edge of my nose, trying to think past the pain.
"What?" He squats beside me with the cup held out between our bodies.
"Who did this? Why am I being punished? What did I do?"
"You didn't do anything serious. Well, okay, to them it was, but it's not like you killed someone, ya know?"
"No, I don't know. What did I do?" Okay, I'm glad I'm not a murderer, and even happier to realize I'd be appalled to hear that I might have killed someone. But still, I must have done something pretty bad to have been punished like this, and I'd like to know what it was. I let go of my nose and rub at the ache between my eyes.
"It was your friendly neighbourhood clergy. You know the kind - the ones who look like they bit into a lemon when you so much as look at their sacred relics. Don't like people reading their texts, either. 'Specially the ones that make mention about big, dark secrets in their past."
I have no idea what he's talking about, but he seems to think I should as he doesn't elaborate. Maybe it'll make more sense later, when I can think a little easier if this damn headache should ever go away.
"Look, let's wait a little while before we go into this. You probably don't remember anything about the Goa'uld either."
"About what?" I look up at him and I scrunch my eyes to try and focus on his face. My skin feels extra-sensitive and I end up trying to massage my forehead.
Okay, maybe he does realize how I'm just not getting any of this. Priests and ghouls and secrets. Sounds like something out of a horror story. Next he'll probably be talking about monsters that pop out of people's stomachs.
He puts a hand behind my head and places the cup at my mouth before I can answer him. I drop my hand from my face and cup it around his. His hand and the cup are cold and wet. The water is just as sweet as before, and I remember to take small sips.
My stomach seems to have settled and I drink the whole cupful, and half of another before I'm satisfied.
I slump back onto the bed and when Jack gets up to replace the cup, I take a good look at our prison. Well, my prison, since Jack's here with me for some reason I haven't yet figured out. I'm lying on a low stone slab with what I think is a thin straw mattress beneath me. The place is bare except for a wooden ankh hanging on the wall above the *bed*. Opposite the bed is a wooden door. It's closed. I imagine it's locked to keep me inside. Unless Jack actually volunteered to be my jailer.
Unfortunately I don't see what I'm looking for.
He turns around and looks at me.
"Is there a bathroom anywhere here?"
He looks towards the corner and I see a small hole in the ground that I'd missed earlier. Okay, the facilities here are crude, but when ya gotta go, ya gotta go. I push the blanket away from me and I'm surprised to see that I'm bare-chested and wearing the same type of pants as Jack. I vaguely remember being stripped of my shirt after I'd thrown up on myself � I guess the one drying on the floor must be mine. As is the black tee shirt lying beside it.
"You're in no shape to get up. How about you use this?" Jack holds up the ceramic basin and I frown. Somehow giving in to this really enforces the idea that I'm sick and I feel I need to try and do this on my own.
"I think I'll pass." I make it to a sitting position. The bed is so low that I may as well be lying on the floor. I have no leverage to make it the rest of the way up and unless Jack helps me, I'll either have to crawl to the toilet, or pee in my pants.
"Oh for crying out loud. Some things never change."
I sit there, surprised, since this is really the first time I've seen or heard Jack make any kind of complaint towards my illness, and for a second I don't move when he lowers a hand down towards me. Then I clasp his hand and he grabs me under the armpit with the other and manages to pull me onto my feet.
My head explodes and I feel Jack suddenly clasp me tightly against him. It takes me several seconds to realize he's holding me up and I try to lock my knees in order to take my weight. But my legs are like wet noodles, and Jack, who's still grumbling underneath his breath, literally drags me to the hole and then holds me up as I fumble awkwardly to undo the buttons on my pants.
Buttons. Somehow that doesn't seem right. It seems to me there should be an easier and faster way to relieve oneself than having to fight with buttons and buttonholes, especially when fingers are shaking so badly they can't force the damned things through the buttonholes.
Finally, face burning in embarrassment, I manage to relieve myself and Jack hauls me back to bed. I'm exhausted and my feet are cold; despite the socks on my feet, the cold stone has chilled me and now I can't seem to get warm. I turn onto my side, drag the blankets up to my chin and pull my knees to my chest.
Jack sits at the foot of the bed in the space I've created. I realize that there really is nowhere else for him to sit except on the ground. I move my legs over some more to give him a bit more room and in the process, the blanket slips from my feet. I hadn't realized it before, but he looks tired.
He reaches and covers my feet up with the blanket. I push them against the side of his thigh and immediately feel his body heat against my chilled toes. He pulls my feet closer, then keeps his hand wrapped around my toes, trapping the heat, which feels wonderful.
Sleep would be welcome, but my head's doing that pounding thing which will either make me puke or keep me from sleeping. I sort of wish Jack had sat at this end of the bed and done whatever it was he'd done to make me sleep earlier.
Fine, if I can't sleep, maybe I can try and get a few more answers.
"What is this place? It looks like a cell."
"Bedroom, actually. The priests here kinda go for the spartan look."
I can't imagine anyone living here on a daily basis. Although I have no idea what my bedroom might look like, I'm pretty sure I like creature comforts. A quick image of a large, soft bed enveloping my body flits through my mind. Memory, or yearning?
"How long have we been here?"
"Almost two days. You were really out of it for a while, but you're looking a little better now."
"Really? I thought mummies looked better than I feel."
His mouth quirks in a small lopsided grin. "Believe me, I've seen mummies. You look much better than they do. It must be the wrapped-in-linen thing."
My stomach does a slow roil and I swallow quickly. Vaguely I wonder how far away he's put that basin. "I can't imagine feeling any worse than this."
"Headache getting worse?"
"Stomach." Suddenly talking is out of the question as I begin a struggle of mind over matter to keep the water I've drunk in my stomach. I'm aware of Jack moving, and then he takes my hand and places something cold and hard in it. I open eyes I don't remember closing and see the basin. I nudge it closer, a bit of the fear receding as I know I have something to puke into.
And that thought is enough to help me compel the nausea back to a less immediate threat. I relax, although I keep my hand on the edge of the basin. Just in case.
I must have dozed, because the sound of voices pulls me back into the dank reality of my prison. Jack's standing at the partly opened door, talking to someone outside. I realize they've been talking for a while, and there's annoyance and a touch of that steel I pictured earlier in Jack's voice.
"I don't care what Elcart says. He hasn't eaten anything and can barely keep water down. I need my pack so I can give him some medicine."
The answer is muffled, and Jack seems to stiffen.
"Your people wanted him to forget, not kill him. If he doesn't get some decent amounts of liquids soon, he's going to be in serious trouble."
The other person replies and shuts the door in Jack's face. I hear a soft "crap" and Jack walks back to the bed and resumes his place near my feet. He's holding a small package, which he unwraps. It looks like a sandwich and as Jack bites into it, I find I have to turn away. The sight of food at the moment is something I truly can't appreciate.
I'm finding it strange that my loss of memory isn't upsetting me. Maybe the pain in my head is keeping me from pondering too much on it. Or maybe it's part and parcel of whatever *they* did to me.
The paper wrapping rustles a little and I can hear Jack chewing. I try not to listen, even the sounds of eating seem to make me feel worse. I fidget a little, then check the placement of the basin. It's still close enough for me to grab should I need it, but at least the need isn't pressing. Yet.
I refrain from nodding and simply answer a curt yes.
"I'm sorry. I guess I woke you up."
"Yeah. It's lunch time." He holds his sandwich up. "I asked to speak to Carter or Teal'c and get some meds for you, but I don't know if the head honcho will go for it."
Jack stiffens and leans towards me. I turn my head and squint up at him. "You remember?"
"No, I heard you talking to..." I wave towards the door. "... the guard."
"Right." Jack relaxes against the wall again and stuffs the last of his sandwich into his mouth. I'm relieved he's done, I'm also grateful I didn't get sick. I wouldn't have wanted to ruin his meal.
"How much longer...?"
"My memory. You said before when my headache went away, I'd remember."
"Do you remember me?"
"Then it'll be a while longer."
He smiles at the way I say his name, but his pleasure is short lived, and he sighs. "I don't know, Daniel. Part of what you went through was to erase a certain portion of your memory, while making sure you suffered for your transgression."
"What's the use of punishing me when I don't remember what I did wrong?"
"Good point. I'll make sure I ask Elcart when I see him."
"What did I do? You never really explained."
"You read something you shouldn't have. Centuries ago these people were under the rule of a sadistic alien god called Ra. Now, you have to understand, religion is very important to these folks and they wiped out all records about that unholy portion of their past and rewrote their history. Except there was one small scroll written in the god's native language that nobody today can read.
"Except you could. And of course, you had to come across the damned thing. And you questioned Elcart about it and that's when he realized their secret was out."
"But if I know about it, why did they punish only me? Why not you and, um, the others you mentioned?"
"Because they didn't realize Teal'c can read the language, too. He got a glimpse of the thing when Elcart was ranting and raving after they took you away."
Jack looks both upset and sad, but there's fire burning in his eyes.
"We tried to stop them from taking you but who knew that Kung Fu was part of the priests' curriculum."
I frown at the strange words. I'm tired and concentrating is becoming hard to do. They sound oriental, but at the moment nothing comes to mind.
"The TV show," Jack explains.
Then I remember. "Isn't Kung Fu a martial art?"
"Yeah." Jack begins to fiddle with the wrapper, meticulously folding it over and over into some kind of pattern. "They overpowered us really fast. Used moves we never saw coming. Hell, they even caught Teal'c by surprise."
"Teal'c? And... you mentioned someone else before."
"Carter. The rest of our team."
"Yeah, didn't I say? SG-1. Four-man first contact team."
I palm my eyes in exasperation. The man is talking, but he's really not saying anything I can understand. Then I sigh. Maybe it's just me. I try again. "Contact team?"
He takes pity on me and pats my leg. "Don't push it. I know it's all confusing and with your brains all scrambled, it can't be easy to make sense of what I'm saying. Look, just try and concentrate on getting better."
He pitches the small piece of wrapping in his hand and it soars halfway across the room before it flops onto the ground. It looks streamlined and has small stubby wings.
I half expect him to get up and play with the toy but he stays seated. He places his hand on my leg. "Why don't you try and get some sleep?"
I don't answer. I close my eyes, thinking about alien gods and teams and figure if I can eventually get the story straight, I just might have myself a bestseller novel on my hands. I mention my idea to Jack, and I'm surprised when he laughs.
"Believe me. You haven't even touched the good parts yet."
The next few hours drag on painfully slow. The water Jack keeps plying me with makes a re-appearance as my migraine escalates, and the vomiting continues to up the level of the pain. So all in all, I'm pretty miserable while I lie there on a hard bed, wishing I'd catch a break. There's nothing much Jack can do for me when the vomiting turns to dry heaves. The cold cloth on my face doesn't help except to send me into a bout of shivering.
Jack's resumed the spot at the foot of my bed. I'm curled up into a ball, the ceramic basin clutched in my arms. It's heated up to my body temperature since the only times I've let go of it is so Jack can rinse it out.
Jack shifts and the sound of his boot heel scuffing on the stone floor is like a needle through my head. I clench my teeth as he moves around again, a small whimper escaping despite my efforts to remain silent.
"Sorry." The word is whispered, but it still manages to do a tap dance with spiked heels behind my eyes.
"I thought this was supposed to get better." Talking is hard. My throat's inflamed and my neck and jaw feels frozen.
"Yeah, I thought so, too. But you're dehydrated and it's aggravating whatever they did to you."
"It might have been better if they'd just executed me." At this point I'm willing for just about anything to stop the pain.
"Don't say that!" The panic in Jack's voice surprises me, enough that I open my eyes to look at him through the strange aura that surrounds everything. "Never wish that�" He whispers the words this time as he rubs a hand over his face and I hear the rasp of his two-day old whiskers. "I'm sorry. I just don't know what more to do for you."
"It's okay. Just your being here is a help." And it is. Knowing that someone cared enough to stay with me means a lot. Except I wish he'd be quiet and let me suffer in peace.
The next thing I know, there's a commotion by the door and a woman is shouting, her voice coming through the wooden barrier loud and clear. I raise my hands to cover my ears, pressing down hard on my temples as Jack gets up and opens the door.
From what I can see from my increasingly blurry sight, she's tall, slim, and blond. She's got something in her hand, a box of some kind. There's respect in her voice, and she quiets down as Jack softly asks what's going on. He calls her Carter, so I guess she's the other member of his team. In any case, her matching uniform gives away that little fact.
"Elcart said it was okay. See, I have his permission to bring Colonel O'Neill some food."
There's a sharp rustle of paper and I watch as the guard takes it and reads it. She peers over the guard's shoulder towards me.
"How is he?" I guess she doesn't like what she sees because she's lowered her voice to a near whisper.
"Not too good. He's got a killer migraine and he can't keep anything down."
"Elcart wouldn't allow me to give you any medicine but he did say it was alright to bring you some of our own food."
"MREs. Gee, thanks, Carter. Just what I've been dreaming of for the past two days. Wouldn't be any Chinese take out in there?"
The guard takes the box from her and begins to rifle through it.
"Brought you your favourite - Macaroni and Cheese that tastes like chicken." She smiles at him, then looks in my direction again. Her smile disappears.
"Yes. I thought you'd like a taste of home. And�" She reaches into the box and procures two small envelopes. "Chicken and beef broth. For Daniel. Elcart said it was okay." She waves at the paper still clutched in the guard's hand. "Elcart approved it. He tried it and said it tasted horrible enough to make anyone sick." She cants her head slightly to the side. "Can't account for taste."
The guard closes the lid and hands the box to Jack.
"Thanks, Carter. Look, try and speak to Elcart. Tell him Daniel's not doing good and�"
"Enough." The guard pushes Jack back into the room, and shuts the door in his face. Jack turns around, looks at me, then hurries to take his seat again at my feet. He begins to rifle through the items in the box when the door opens again. The guard stands there watching, and Jack continues to inventory his goodies. When he's done, he gets up and returns with a cup of water. He pours a little water into a pouch and drops a smaller bag into it. The pouch is folded over and put aside.
"Aint technology grand?" he asks ten minutes later when he fishes out the steaming bag. He tears a corner of it open with his teeth. He begins to eat with a plastic fork, straight out of the bag.
The smell makes me gag and I pull the blanket over my face so I don't have to endure it. I hear the door close, and Jack puts his meal down onto the floor. I pull the blanket down and watch, confused. He's rifling through the items once more, this time with what I feel is urgency.
"Nothing, I think. Carter hinted at something and I'm sure she... aha." He's pulled open a napkin that had enveloped the plastic fork and a spoon, and removes four small pebbles from it. He peers at them as they lay in his palm, drops two into a pocket in his shirt, and then leans closer to me.
"Look." He holds two tablets between thumb and forefinger. "These pills are medicine that can help your stomach and your headache. But you have to make sure you keep them down, otherwise it won't get into your system."
"I don't know if I can."
"I know," he replies softly. "Try swallowing them with the least amount of liquid possible."
He holds a pill to my mouth and brings the cup close. It's nearly empty, and he allows barely enough water to wet my mouth, and I swallow the pill down eagerly. I do the same with the second pill, anxious for his medicine to make me better.
While I lie back, Jack picks up his meal and continues to eat. I try to ignore the sounds of chewing and swallowing, but both the idea of food and the noise itself make me miserable. It's with great relief that he finishes and puts the dirty container back into the box.
"It's not working."
"What?" He puts the box aside and leans forward to look at me.
"The pills aren't working. I still feel awful."
He smiles. "It'll take a bit more time." He looks at his watch. "Let's give it thirty more minutes."
I groan. I want the pain in my head to stop now.
Jack resumes eating something from the box and I continue suffering. My stomach cramps a little, reminding me there's something in it that it'd be more than happy to expel if I let it. I try to distract myself by going over everything Jack's told me, wondering why I'm still not upset at the fact that I don't know who I am. Maybe it's a side effect of the migraine; maybe if and when that goes away, I'll be able to worry more about something I don't think I can handle right now.
I'm not sure how long I lay there, but suddenly my stomach gurgles. Loudly. Jack places a hand on my ankle and squeezes through the blanket.
"So, how're you feeling?"
I lift my head to look at him and realize my headache is better. It's not gone, mind you, but it's reached a point where I can actually move my eyes without feeling like they're going to pop out from the internal pressure. My neck and back muscles aren't as stiff as they were earlier, and my joints don't ache as much.
"I think the pills are working."
My stomach gurgles again and I realize I'm actually a little hungry. Jack grins, and throws me my tee shirt from the floor as he goes and gets me some water. I shrug the shirt on with his help, then sip the water. I listen to my innards gurgle for more, and finally take a chance and swallow a few deep swallows. I feel like my stomach is sore and swollen, but it's pretty happy to have something in it and I get the feeling that for the time being, it'll play nice.
I drink two more cupfuls before I, and Jack, are satisfied.
"Here, try this." He holds a small container with something mushy inside. He dips the spoon into the mush and offers it to me. I rise onto my elbows, take the spoon and taste it. It's sweet. Apples, I think.
"Applesauce. I added some sugar; it's sweeter than what you normally like, but you need the energy."
He's rinsed the bag his supper was in and carefully inserts it into the heater thing he used earlier. I eat the applesauce, then lay back and watch, feeling better than I have in a long time. When the water's hot, he pours it into the cup and adds powder from one of the bags the woman said was for me. I smell something... familiar. Soup. Chicken soup.
I actually drool as he hands me the cup, and I take a cautious sip. It tastes wonderful. The steam is full of flavour, the cup itself warm from the heat of the water and I manage to wrap both hands around it, enjoying the heated ceramic. I continue sipping until it cools off enough that I can take larger swallows. I finish the last of it regretfully, and look at the box with renewed interest.
"Nuh huh. I think you've had enough to eat for the time being. Let's not shock your system with too much at a time. There's more water, if you want."
I nod, and wait as he rinses out the cup and gives me the liquid. Throughout my meal, my stomach's continued to make loud noises. It's a relief just for the nausea to be gone. The bit of headache that's left, I can deal with.
I drink the water and then settle down onto the bed. I'm warm, I'm comfortable � well, as comfortable as one can be on a stone bed � and I'm starting to get sleepy. I close my eyes, but open them quickly when Jack says my name.
"If anyone comes in here... the guard, or Elcart, or any of the other priests, it might be best if you pretend you're still sick. If they know Carter sneaked some drugs here�"
"I understand. I wouldn't want anyone to get into trouble. I..." I smile at him, not knowing exactly how to thank him. I'm sure I can't even come close to understanding what's been going on, but any persons who would do what these priests did to me would surely not hesitate to punish anyone who tried to help me. "I appreciate what you're doing for me. You and Carter."
I raise my eyebrows in question. Oh what a great feeling that is. My face doesn't hurt anymore.
"You call her Sam. Not Carter."
"Oh. Okay. Sam." I stumble with words, and go for the easiest. "Thanks."
"Hey, it's nothing you wouldn't do for us."
Eyebrows again. Love that feeling of no pain.
"Trust me. Now see if you can't get some sleep while the sleeping's good."
I take a deep breath, close my eyes, and do exactly as he says.
- - - - - -
"Ah c'mon! Let the guy sleep." Jack's voice has a whiney tone to his anger, and for some reason, it sounds strange to my ears without my name following the complaint. Despite new newly awakened pain, I wonder if that was an actual memory.
"He appears to still be in some pain."
"Appears to be? He can't even raise his head off the pillow."
The man who woke me up from a deep sleep pulls away and stands back, and Jack takes the opportunity to hold a cup of water to my mouth.
"Come on, just a little."
I turn my face away; the room is spinning and I don't think I can stand to eat or drink anything at the moment. I groan softly for effect, acutely conscious of the man watching me with an eagle eye.
"How much longer is this going to go on?" Jack demands as he plunks the cup on the floor. He stands and wipes his hands on his pants. "He hasn't eaten anything in days, he can't even drink water without puking it up. He's dehydrated and he certainly isn't showing any signs of getting better. We trusted you, Elcart. You said whatever it was you did to him wouldn't seriously harm him. Well, our time here is almost up and if you don't let us go in the next four hours, our people are going to come here looking for us. And you might have managed to catch us off guard, but you'll be hard pressed to keep an army from searching through your monastery."
I wish Jack would stop yelling. My head's pounding and I can't believe I woke up again feeling so sick. I'm sorry I slept; I should have remained awake and enjoyed the time I had when I was feeling halfway human.
I move restlessly, trying to find a comfortable angle to rest my head while Jack continues to harangue Elcart. The blood is pounding fiercely behind my right eye, and even as I try to turn onto my side, the pain continues on to move behind my right ear.
I rub ineffectively at the area. This stabbing pain is different from the earlier agony. It's more centralized and I wonder if I'm maybe experiencing a stroke. In either case, I'm sure I never felt anything as excruciating as this.
// The pain paralyzes me. I can't pull his hand away, all I can do is hold onto his arm. But worse than the agony of the device that's slowly killing me is the sneer on the face of the young man who had become part of my family.
"Skaaara. Skaara, don't!"
There's fear in Jack's voice as the agony from the hand device burns deeply into my brain. I can't breathe and my eyesight begins to darken... //
I gasp with pain, both remembered and physical. But even before I can analyze the words, the emotions, I'm hit with yet a different, but similar, agony.
// I would rather die than live with the knowledge that I would never see my wife, or my friends again."
There's conviction behind my words. I'm ready to die, and I'm willing to help someone who's hurting inside, almost as much as I am.
"Omoroca... And in that place there was Omoroca... A women who came forth from the Heavenly egg... Ow, Oh... I can't!" //
I moan softly again. But this time it's not due to my headache. What's unbearable is the thought of the horror and sadness I know Jack, Sam and Teal'c have gone through because of what happened to me both those times.
Elcart mumbles something and it's too difficult to try and listen. I do eventually hear the door close, and then Jack's footsteps as they come closer to me. He crouches beside me and I feel his hand on my neck.
"Please. Can I have more pills?"
"Your headache's back?"
"Oh yeah. Like a needle going through my eye." The words are hard to articulate, and I do so slowly despite the feeling I need to gasp them out as fast as I can.
He fishes into his pocket and removes the pills, blowing on them to get rid of lint. He brings up the cup of water but I force myself to take the smallest of sips once more as I swallow them down. Although I'm not quite nauseated yet, I'm pretty sure the moment something hits my stomach, that lovely problem will pop right back up.
"Is it true?"
"Your people will attack in four hours?"
"*Our* people will know something's wrong by then when we don't report in. They'll probably send another team looking for us several hours later. Not an army," he adds when I wince at him. "It was a bluff. I was trying to force his hand into letting us go."
"Will he?" I ask hopefully. I fervently wish to be released and brought to a world where they have more of those pills. Anything to stop the headache.
Jack looks me in the eye. "I don't know." He sits on the floor near my head and starts that gentle massage on my temples. I forcibly relax my body, but within seconds, my hands are clenched again and my shoulders strain with tension.
"He told us the procedure to take away memory isn't something that's been done very often. He's gone to check the records; to make sure there's not something they missed."
"It hurts different."
His fingers stop a moment before taking up the circular rubbing. "How different?"
"It's more in a specific spot?" I raise my hand and point to my eye and ear. "It was all over before. Now it's just here."
"But just as intense?"
"I'm not a doctor, I don't know for sure. But I suspect part of the problem was, or is, dehydration. If I could just get you to a hospital and..."
"No, it's not okay. You're under my command and I shouldn't have let this happen. I should have tried to fight to stop them from taking you away. *We* should have put up a struggle."
"You said they took you by surprise. There's no reason for blaming yourself for that."
I look up at the man and see him staring off into space as he continues to try and ease my pain. His eyes are slightly bloodshot, and there are dark circles beneath them.
"Have you slept?"
He looks at me in surprise. "Cat naps." He speaks quickly before I can complain at his lack of sleep. "I'm a soldier, I can sleep pretty much where and when I need to. Don't worry about me."
"Okay." And I believe him. Although he must be exhausted, I sense a will of iron in him.
The massage and medication begin to work as the knife stabbing at my brain eases. I actually doze on and off, waking only when he moves his fingers from one spot to another. Before long the pain is gone. Totally gone.
"The headache's gone. So why can't I remember?" I don't tell Jack about the few small flashes I had - I'm not quite sure if they were memories. And I'm sort of afraid to ask, because if Jack confirms that I really did remember something, I'm afraid I might be better off not remembering those tough times.
Jack stops rubbing and sighs. "I dunno. Maybe because your brain hasn't truly healed from whatever damage they did?"
"Oh great." All this time I was focusing on my memory coming back when the pain went away, like some esoteric sort of cure, and now he's talking about brain damage?
"I told you, I'm not a�"
// I'm an archaeologist."
"I know, but you're also a doctor." This helmeted man, who I feel is associated with danger and frustration on my part, is bleeding.
"Of archaeology." //
I drink the several cups of water that he brings me and then ask him to help me back to the hole in the floor. I'm still very wobbly and dizzy, and the change in position sends little flames of pain cascading through my eyeball. But by the time I'm lying down again, those have disappeared. Oh I so do like these pills.
I wonder back to something Jack mentioned when I was having trouble concentrating. The reason I got into trouble was because I read something that only myself and one other could actually understand. I try to think of all the languages I know exist. Arabic and Roman script, Cyrillic letters, even Chinese pop into my head. And the oddest thing is, I can understand the words in the various languages as I envisage them written. I rub my face in frustration. I can remember various alphabets and languages, and I can't remember my own bedroom. Hell, I don't even know what I look like.
"You said earlier I'd read something... an old text?"
"Was it in Egyptian?" For some reason, hieroglyphs *feel* important.
Jack perks up. "No. It was in the Goa'uld written language."
"Of course it was."
Well, that doesn't seem to ring any bells. I wonder if it's some obscure dialect that I never heard of when I remember Jack's mentioning aliens earlier. For a moment I wonder worriedly if he might actually be some kind of escapee from a mental institution, but then I remember Carter... Sam.
It's all so damned complicated.
"Are you remembering stuff?"
I shrug. "Maybe. I'm not sure. Just small flashes. Emotions." I shake my head quickly. "Words."
"Words? Like what."
Jack grins. "Oh you are SO remembering." He moves a little closer to me. "Do you remember me yet?"
I'm almost ashamed when I see the delight fade from his face. Quickly I add, "But I'm sure I will soon."
He nods and stares morosely at the closed door.
"There is something I think I remembered."
He looks at me questioningly.
"Tell me about my wife?"
"You remember Shau'ri?"
"I'm not sure." I see dark, flashing eyes, dark curly hair and a smile meant only for me. "Just a feeling." At the same time I feel incredible sorrow and loss. "Is she dead?"
Jack hesitates, playing with a loose string on his cuff. "No. No, she's not. But she's not exactly in a good place at the moment." He looks at me sideways, as if he's gauging my reaction.
I'm not exactly sure what I feel, except I know losing her hurts.
"That's the scary part about amnesia, isn't it? You don't have the whole picture in your head to help put the pain of the memories in perspective. But hey, it's a start. Do you remember anything else?"
I smile back shyly. "Yeah. Bits and pieces. I�"
Then suddenly I'm overwhelmed with images, sounds, feelings, tastes. A birthday party for someone working in the infirmary; the sounds and smells of a firefight; agony as my shoulder and chest are seared through from a staff blast; worry over Jack and Sam who are stranded in Antarctica.
The memories come fast and furious and I can't stop myself from feeling, hearing, remembering, experiencing. Each one leads to another and I'm caught in the backlash, sinking in a vortex of my life's accumulation of stored synapses.
And over and through all of this, I hear Jack's voice calling my name, feel his hands on my back and shoulders as he turns me onto my side.
The door crashes open and Sam walks in, followed by Teal'c and Elcart. I can see them, I can hear them, just as clearly as the face of my parents, my wife, my reunion with SG-1 when they thought me dead on Skaara's ship.
"Take him." Elcart points at Teal'c, who moves to kneel by my side.
"What's going on?" Jack's voice is curt.
"Elcart is releasing us, sir."
"Go from here. Do not return. We will not be as welcoming if we ever see your kind again."
Teal'c apologizes for the pain he's about to inflict on me and sits me up. I'm limp as a rag doll despite the activity going on inside my head. Then the world tilts and I see the floor moving. It takes a few seconds before I realize I've been laid across Teal'c's shoulders and we're heading out of the monastery.
We're being escorted. Two of Elcart's guards, priests... whatever, the Kung Fu guys that got the upper hand over us days ago, are making sure we head for the 'gate.
The Stargate. Now *that* I remember. The challenge of deciphering the symbols, the frustration, the long nights, the euphoria when everything clicked into place. The wonder of it all as I stood before it, feeling the energy of the active wormhole.
I've lost track of time, lost in my memories. I've seen the ground change from stone to a grassy footpath. Teal'c's shoulders are damp. I'm guessing it's from the exertion of walking while carrying me like a sack of potatoes.
Jack's walking near my head, occasionally placing a hand on my neck. I'm thinking he's doing that to check to see that I'm still breathing. Once in a while I get to see his face, and it's not pretty. It's set, and he looks like he's ready to shoot these people at the first given opportunity. Except when he looks at me. The worry in his eyes is unmistakable if you know the guy. And obviously I know him well since he's very, very worried.
My friends haven't said much to one another except to verify health and position. Jack can't tell them anything, not with the big-eared escort dogging their every step. I try to tell Jack I'm okay, but I can't get my mouth to work. Instead I hear myself crying in denial when I see my parents die, for the second time, before my eyes.
We've reached the Stargate and Sam's dialing us home. But we don't go through, and I wonder if I might have forgotten some small detail. I thought we just entered a code in and... oh wait, the MALP. Jack goes straight to it and turns it on. A red light comes on, indicating that the camera is working.
"Colonel O'Neill. What's your situation?"
"We're ready to come home, sir, but we've been deprived of our equipment. No GDO's."
"We also need a medical team waiting. Daniel's been hurt."
While we wait, Jack turns to look at someone to his right, I guess it's Sam. His gaze turns towards me and then he turns back to the MALP. His fingers drum out an impatient tattoo before General Hammond gives us the go-ahead to come on through. All the while I'm revisiting my repeated sojourns in a sarcophagus.
I'm not surprised at the small army of armed men waiting for us as we enter the Gateroom. Teal'c immediately heads for a gurney near the door and eases me down on it.
That's Janet's voice. I feel her hands on my throat and then she shines a penlight into my eyes.
"Damned priests tried to erase his memory. He's been suffering from a severe migraine. He's probably dehydrated, couldn't keep anything down. I gave him some Vicodin, and he said it was helping. It looked like he was just starting to get his memory back when he had some kind of seizure."
"Did he wake up after the seizure?"
The gurney moves and we're heading down the corridor. My memories lead me to a small, tranquil village who inhabitants immediately arrest Teal'c as a murderer.
"No. He's been like this the whole time."
The lighting changes as we enter an elevator, Sam, Teal'c and Jack crowding in beside me. Sam's puts her hand on my arm and I feel her fingers tremble. I hate knowing I'm scaring them, and I try to force myself out of my memories and tell them I'm fine.
Then one thing pops out at me. Words I shouldn't have read. Words that brought me to where I am now. Words that I should have forgotten. I whisper them as I revisit the small room where ancient relics were kept, and read the old text.
"And all were made to bow down before their God Ra. And all swore their undying faithfulness, and cast aside their love for their one true God in deference to Ra."
"What did he say?" Jack's voice is loud in the quiet of the elevator.
"It is Goa'uld. Those are the words DanielJackson read, and was punished for."
I manage to turn towards Jack even as the gurney is pushed out into the corridor. "I remember," I whisper.
"Hey. Welcome back." Jack grins and I smile back wearily as we enter the infirmary.
- - - - - -
"Without knowing exactly what these people did to Daniel, I can only state that it was definitely directed at the portion of his brain that affects memory."
I sit quietly in my wheelchair and look to where Janet points at one of the many pictures of my brain. There's a red dot in there which I'm having trouble associating is actually somewhere *inside* my head.
"In only twenty four hours, the swelling has decreased considerably." She smiles at me. "Which is why your headache has already gone down in intensity, and it'll most likely disappear once the swelling is completely gone. A couple more days and you'll be good as new."
"So there's no permanent damage?" General Hammond continues to stare at the many pictures.
"None. Other than the residual headache and weakness due to the dehydration, he should recover in a few days. Even Daniel's memory seems to have completely returned."
"So..." Jack draws the word out. "Maybe now you remember where you put my cordless screwdriver?" He's leaning against the far wall, hands shoved deep into his pockets, looking like he's bored with the whole routine. But I didn't miss how his body relaxed only after Janet confirmed there was nothing truly wrong with me.
I roll my eyes in Jack's direction. "I told you before, I didn't borrow it."
"Oh." Sam straightens and looks sheepishly at Jack. "That was me, sir. Remember you lent it to me so I could fix the door on my front gate? It's here, somewhere in my lab. I was going to give it back to you and I got caught up with a project and�"
"It's fine, Carter." Jack winks at me as Janet begins to shut the machinery off. "I'll come see you later and pick it up."
Jack walks over and grabs the handles of my chair and pushes me down the corridor. General Hammond and my teammates accompany us until we reach the elevators. I wave goodbye as Jack and I continue to the infirmary and my bed.
"So..." Jack watches as I carefully maneuver from chair to bed with a nurse's help. I'm still pretty weak but the IV and food Janet's been plying me with have already helped a lot.
"So," I answer back, sinking gratefully into the mattress and pillow.
He slaps his palm against his leg. "I guess I'll let you get some rest." He points towards the exit with his chin. "I've got some work I need to finish up and..."
"It's a little weird not having you take care of me anymore." I smile shyly, needing to let him know I'm truly grateful for everything he did for me back on the planet.
"What, you'd rather look at my ugly mug than this angelic face?" Jack grins at my nurse, who's finishing adjusting the IV bag. She mimes blowing him a kiss and he laughs as she walks away.
"It's just, even when I couldn't remember anything, it meant a lot." I lower my head for a moment, feeling awkward, then I look up at him. "It was nice to know someone cared, even if it was someone I thought was a stranger."
"It was a team effort. Carter sneaked those pills in, after all. And it was Teal'c's idea, apparently."
"For which I'm truly grateful." He's staring at me intently, waiting for me to go on. "But I think if I'd been left alone in that room with that kind of pain..."
"Hey, you'd have survived." Now he's looking pretty uncomfortable, shifting from foot to foot. But unfortunately for him, I'm not quite finished.
"I'm not so sure... it was your presence that helped me get through everything. One of the first things I remembered every time I woke up was the sound of your voice. And every time I was so sick, as embarrassing as it was..." I laugh a small, nervous laugh. "It wasn't quite as scary knowing that your voice was there. That someone cared enough to clean me up after I... So it wasn't just the pills. You were my savior." It's not enough, it'll never be enough, but I have to say it. "Thank you."
I hope he can understand that this simple thank you is far from simple. He might be embarrassed that I called him a savior; in truth there is no other word I can use to describe what he did for me.
But right here and now, as he ducks his head and averts his face from my scrutiny, I realize there is one more word to describe Jack, one that's just as important to me. And that would be - friend.
He turns to look at me.
And I see it in his eyes. He understands.
|My thanks to everyone who voted for me!|
Author's Comments: To Devra - hugs and kisses for helping me end this stupid thing
to contact me
DISCLAIMER:The characters mentioned in this story are the property of Showtime and Gekko Film Corp. The Stargate, SG-I, the Goa'uld and all other characters who have appeared in the series STARGATE SG-1 together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MGM-UA Worldwide Television, Gekko Film Corp, Glassner/Wright Double Secret Productions and Stargate SG-I Prod. Ltd. Partnership. This fanfic is not intended as an infringement upon those rights and solely meant for entertainment. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author.