Watching his Six

by JoaG and DebA


Present Day

Maneuvering his truck into a spot in front of Daniel's apartment building, Jack got out and ran inside, almost frantic to get to his friend. Punching the elevator button repeatedly, his hand shook as he recalled the phone call he had gotten a little earlier that night.

He had been sleeping soundly, dead to the world, when the phone rang. Rousing, he remembered wishing whoever it was would just hang up and go away. He was exhausted from a long week of training recruits and meetings with General Hammond, and had wanted nothing more than to sleep for twelve hours. But knowing he couldn't ignore the insistent ringing, Jack had eventually rolled over and picked up the phone

"This had better be good," Jack had practically growled to the caller. When there'd been no response, he had almost drifted back to sleep.

Silence greeted his curt greeting. Lifting his head up, he'd glanced at the clock. For crying out loud, it was the middle of the night!

"Who is this?" Jack had demanded from the receiver.

"J'ck?" the older man had heard a whispered voice call his name. "Jack, h � h � help me."

"Daniel?" Jack's alarm systems had gone off inside his head. "Daniel, is that you? Where are you?" He'd sat up on the side of the bed, and flipping on the light, had glanced at his caller id. It had showed Daniel's home phone number.

"Daniel, answer me. What's wrong?" Jack had gotten up by this point, pulling clothes out of his closet and struggling into them. He had heard the plea in his friend's voice and with all that had been happening during the past couple of weeks, he'd known that the archaeologist was in trouble.

"Jack, help me please. I can't stop it from happening. Why? Why can't I stop? Jack, you gotta help me." Daniel's voice had been soft and pleading, slightly slurred and scaring Jack.

"I'm on my way, Daniel. Hold on! I'm on my way!" Dropping his phone, Jack had grabbed his keys and had hurried over to the apartment.

Now here he stood, impatiently waiting. Giving up on the elevator, Jack raced around the corner and headed up the stairs, running as fast as his bad knees would take him.

Reaching Daniel's floor, Jack sprinted down the hall to his door, breathing hard from the exertion. Pounding on the door, not caring if the neighbors heard, Jack called to his friend.

"Daniel, open up! It's Jack! Come on. Open up! Daniel, can you hear me? Come on, open the door!" Not getting any response, Jack pulled out the key his friend had given him in case of an emergency. He had used it often enough, if for no other reason then feeding Daniel's fish when he was laid up in the infirmary.

Opening the door, Jack noted the apartment was dark except for a light coming from the direction of Daniel's bedroom. Calling to his friend and secretly hoping this was all a misunderstanding, Jack ventured into the apartment, looking for any hidden threats.

As he reached the living room he could hear harsh breathing and a moan, coming from the bedroom. Rushing over to the door, Jack again checked for unseen threats, although knowing if anyone but Daniel was in the apartment, they most likely already knew he was here.

Glancing inside, he saw Daniel seated on the floor, leaning against his bed, head rolling back and forth slowly, letting out an occasional moan. Jack rushed to his friend's aid, kneeling beside him, calling to him. He noted the motley assortment of bruises and scrapes over his body, evidence of his friend's rough couple of weeks.

"Daniel! Open your eyes. Come on, Daniel! What happened?" Checking his friend for injuries, Jack could see that Daniel's face was pale and sweaty, his breathing harsh. Feeling for the archaeologist's pulse at his throat, Jack noted that it was rapid and thready.

"Danny?" Jack called again as he began to check for other injuries, not finding any new bumps or bruises. Jack patted his friend's cheek, trying to get him to respond. Even though he didn't see any obvious injuries he didn't discount that there was something seriously wrong.

Pulling Daniel forward, Jack grabbed him under the arms and manhandled him up and into his bed. As he covered his friend, Jack could see that the bed sheets looked as if Daniel had had a nightmare. The sheets were torn away from the corners and balled up. Propping his friend up on two pillows, Jack brushed Daniel's hair back out of his eyes, and sighing, pulled out his cell phone.

As he was deciding who to call, Jack glanced at the floor next to the bed and that was when he saw them. Pill bottles, three of them, and only a few pills left, spilled out on the floor. An intense fear again gripped him. Picking up the bottles, he could see that one was Valium and the other two were painkillers that Janet had prescribed for Daniel. The bottles were dated a few days ago but were now essentially empty.

"Come on, Daniel, sit up. Wake up! Why'd you do this? What happened?" In an attempt to wake him, Jack pulled the unresponsive man to a seated position. As he did so, Jack noted that one of Daniel's hands was fisted as if holding on to something. With the archaeologist's head and chest leaning against him for support, Jack pried open Daniel's hand. What he saw there drew the knot in his chest tighter. Daniel was clasping a pill, partially melted from the moisture of the younger man's palm. Jack was again shocked to see proof that his best friend had taken these pills.

Jack laid the archaeologist back down, removed the pill and placed it in the bottle. Shoving the bottles and their remains into his jacket pocket, Jack picked up his cell phone and called Fraiser.

The doctor's sleepy voice answered immediately, her professionalism coming through the phone. "Colonel, what is it?"

Jack quickly explained the situation and asked for her help.

"Roll him to his side and keep an eye on him. If he's awake enough, get him into the bathroom and see if you can get him to vomit. I don't suppose he has any Ipecac in his medicine cabinet? No, probably not, no kids." Fraiser was breathless and Jack guessed that she was getting dressed while talking. "I'm sending an ambulance, Colonel. Hold on, okay? Just hold on." With that, she hung up.

Watching Daniel's slow respiration, Jack felt the intense fear that had pulled back for a few minutes, again invade his chest. Rolling Daniel to his side, he noticed that the young man moaned from the movement but didn't respond to anything else. Jack knew this wasn't good. Daniel had still been somewhat uncomfortable from the injuries he had received the last couple of weeks. Now, he was barely responsive.

Jack was worried. "Ah Daniel, what happened? Daniel, wake up. Can you hear me?" His friend moaned and shifted his position, rolling onto his back. Jack again pulled the archaeologist back up onto his side. "Danny, wake up! Come on. Don't do this!" Jack watched his friend, scared that he might stop breathing before help arrived.

Getting up, Jack hurried into the bathroom and retrieved a wet cloth. Returning to the bed, he wiped Daniel's face and neck with it, trying to wake him, but receiving only grunts of discomfort from his friend.

Realizing it was futile, Jack sat beside his friend, holding him on his side. Jack felt totally helpless; there was nothing he could do but watch and wait. He was used to being there for his friend, watching his six, so to speak. But how could this have happened? His mind wandered back to the phone call he had received earlier. What had Daniel said? That he couldn't stop it? What had he been talking about? Stop what? Taking the pills?

Frustrated, Jack dropped his head into his hand, scared and worried. Daniel had been through so much these last few years and he had finally been able to put some closure to it all. "I thought you were over the hump, Daniel. Damn, I was positive. How could I be so wrong?" The whispered words brought no reaction.

Stroking Daniel's hair from his forehead, Jack had a sense of sadness and pain. He loved this man who was his best friend and he wanted him to have a full and happy life. The fates seemed to have been working against him lately.

Watching, he could see that Daniel's respirations were slower. He was afraid Daniel might stop breathing before the medics arrived.

Hurry, Doc. He doesn't have much time. As this thought crossed his mind, Jack heard the distant wail of sirens.

"Help's on the way, Daniel. Just hold on. Please, just hold on," Jack whispered this to his friend as he gently rubbed his back and waited, remembering this same fear from so long ago when he had waited then, crying, with a small boy in his arms, for another ambulance.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Jack paced the waiting room of the Air Force Academy Hospital ER. The medics had quickly intubated Daniel at his apartment, placed him on a cardiac monitor and started an IV. Once completed, they'd moved him to a gurney and had transported him here at Jack's request. Jack had followed closely behind in his truck for the short trip to the hospital.

Pulling in behind the ambulance, Jack had jumped out of the Avalanche and raced to accompany Daniel into the ER, seeing Fraiser there already, waiting for them. Taking over, she had ordered him to the waiting room, reassuring him that she would be out to talk to him as soon as possible.

He'd moved to the designated area and had begun making the phone calls he knew were needed. Contacting Carter and Teal'c had been hard. He could hear the tears and anxiety in his Second's voice and Teal'c's brusque "Acknowledged" had spoken volumes. Both had a close relationship with their archaeologist and both were scared for him. SG-1 was a family and Daniel had had a lot to do with fostering their relationships. Next he called General Hammond, who had been just as shocked as the rest of SG-1. All were on their way, so he knew he would soon have company.

As Daniel's "family" arrived one by one, he greeted them with the same shake of his head and "No word yet." As they began to fill the ER waiting area, Jack continued to pace, praying that Daniel would be all right.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Janet looked at her patient and, dragging a hand through her hair, turned and headed out to talk to the colonel and, no doubt, the rest of SG-1. It had been close but she was fairly certain Daniel would recover. But then what? Well, that was a question for another day.

Walking into the waiting room, Janet wasn't surprised to see not only SG-1 but General Hammond in attendance. Soon the whole of the SGC would know Daniel was hospitalized and it would take an act of God to keep the reason for it private.

Colonel O'Neill spotted her right away and headed over to get an update on Daniel's condition. Seeing him move, everyone else stood, anxious to hear about their friend and colleague.

Janet didn't keep them waiting. "He's stable. I still have him intubated to protect his airway. We've pumped his stomach and given him charcoal to help absorb any remaining pill fragments. He's still unconscious, but I think it's only a matter of waiting for the medications he absorbed to wear off. He's being moved to the ICU and once he's there, you can each see him for a few minutes. We need to watch his vital signs closely, as the meds can cause problems with his blood pressure. It will be at least twelve hours before Daniel begins to wake up, maybe longer. After you've seen him, you might as well head on home and get some sleep." Janet knew this last suggestion would be lost on SG-1.

Colonel O'Neill nodded and sat down for the first time since arriving, leaning forward and putting his head in his hands. Janet could see the relief that washed over him as he relaxed slightly. He looked so tired; SG-1 had had a hard couple of weeks. There was still a long wait ahead of them but Daniel would survive. Then what?

Two Weeks Earlier

Nyan walked down the hall towards Daniel's office, intent on his mission. He needed to borrow one of his mentor's books for the material he was working on. The translation needed to be completed by noon for Daniel's review, prior to SG-9's mission tomorrow. The team was due to go off-world to negotiate a treaty with the Onderons, but they needed to have the requisite protocols firmly entrenched in their minds. The Onderons were a highly intelligent race who valued procedure and ceremony. So much so, that one error by SG-9 could mean the loss of the treaty. So it was imperative he finish the translation and soon.

As he approached Dr. Jackson's office, he heard a sound he couldn't identify, then a thud, followed by a groan. Concerned, he picked up speed, trotting into the office, looking for the archaeologist.

"Daniel?" Nyan called, not seeing his friend as he entered. Thinking he may have been hearing things, the young assistant moved farther into the office. Rounding the corner of the large central work station, Nyan spotted Daniel, lying in a heap on the floor next to his desk, his bookcase ladder on its side next to him.

"Daniel!" Rushing over, he knelt and gently touched the man's shoulder, calling his name. Not moving him, Nyan quickly checked Daniel for injuries. As he felt the back of his friend's neck, there was a warm, wet feeling. Drawing his hand back, Nyan found blood, Daniel's blood, covering it. He could see that his mentor's face was drenched in perspiration and he could feel a cool clamminess to his pale complexion.

"Daniel?" The young man shook the archaeologist's shoulder again, trying to awaken his friend. When Daniel didn't respond, he pulled the phone off the desk and started making calls.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Daniel could hear soft murmurs as he started to wake up. He also heard the familiar beeps and hums of the infirmary. As he slowly regained awareness, he wondered how he had ended up here again.

"I was headed for his office when I thought I heard a noise. I found him on the floor next to his desk. It looked like the ladder collapsed. Is he going to be all right?" Daniel recognized Nyan speaking and could hear the worry in his voice.

"Yes, Doctor, what is your assessment?" Oh, General Hammond was here too?

Daniel's head was throbbing and he heard a buzzing in his ears. He felt himself losing his battle to stay awake. As he realized this, Daniel heard the pounding of running feet as if the sound was coming from a long distance away.

"What the hell happened? Is Daniel all right?" Hearing Jack's voice, Daniel relaxed and let the blackness pull him in. He knew his friend would take care of things.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Jack stood bouncing on his heels, waiting for an answer from the doc, wanting to go to Daniel. He had received a phone call from security while he was out training new recruits. As soon as he'd heard the reason for the call, he'd immediately turned the squad over to a lieutenant and had raced back to the base.

"Well, Daniel hit his head when he fell and has a concussion. There's some swelling on the MRI, consistent with a blow to the head and he's still unconscious. His blood pressure was low and he was shocky on admission to the infirmary. It's a good thing Nyan found him when he did. If he had lain there for too long, it could have been much worse. As it stands, I was able to treat the shock and head injury immediately and I think he'll make a full recovery. However, I'll know more when he wakes up." Janet looked at her audience knowing the effect her words were having on them.

Jack was watching Daniel as he stood listening to Janet. His friend lay against the pillows, his skin tone very close to the color of the sheets. As he watched, he could see the heart monitor beating steadily, giving every indication his friend was alive and if not well, at least alive.

He and Daniel had parted company after breakfast that morning, He was heading to the warehouse the SGC used as a combat readiness training center, and Daniel was off to do whatever he did so well with his rocks and his books. In the hall outside the commissary, Daniel had warned Jack that it was National Geographic night and not hockey night. Jack had smiled to himself knowing he would be watching hockey before the evening was over.

Although heartened by Janet's assessment of his friend's condition, Jack was scared. He watched as one of the nurses recorded Daniel's vital signs and adjusted his IV rate. From his vantage point, he could see the perspiration dotting the archaeologist's pale face. The monitor next to his bed beeped loudly as it picked up his heart rate. Everything Jack observed only made him more worried.

There was the clumping noise of boots as Carter and Teal'c arrived. Hammond turned, observing the entrance of the other half of SG-1.

"Thank you, Doctor. Keep me informed. Colonel, you and Doctor Fraiser bring the major and Teal'c up to speed. And then, why don't you all get some coffee and keep Dr. Jackson company." Hammond knew Jack wouldn't be going anywhere until Daniel woke up.

As Jack moved to Daniel's bedside, he let Fraiser explain the situation to Teal'c and Carter. While the doctor was busy talking to his team, Jack reached for a damp cloth sitting next to the bedside table and wiped his friend's face. As he stood there willing Daniel to wake up, he reached for his hand and began stroking the younger man's thumb. Jack was scared. He didn't want to lose his best friend. He had spent years losing the people he loved and cared about, from his wife and son to friends he had fought beside in various wars. It had been a long time since he had let someone inside his boundaries, and here he was, with three people whom he cherished as family. He wasn't prepared to lose any one of them. Daniel had to get better.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Janet walked over to Daniel's bed when she returned from the lab. She had gone to check on the archaeologist's blood count, wanting to make sure it was stable. She'd made the trip herself to give the members of SG-1 some time with their friend to assure themselves he was indeed alive.

Approaching the bed, Janet could see Sam standing next to Daniel, whispering to the archaeologist and gently brushing his hair back repeatedly, a worried look on her face. Teal'c was at the foot of the bed, at attention, almost as if he could will Daniel to wake up. The colonel, well, he was seated next to his friend, looking as if he were bored to tears. Janet knew better; Jack was worried sick and she didn't need a crystal ball to know it.

"Colonel, Major, Teal'c. Have you noticed any changes?"

"No. He's so quiet, Janet." Sam was the first to speak up.

"I know, but everything looks good. I'll feel better, however, when he does finally open his eyes." Janet proceeded to her patient's bedside and did a quick recheck of Daniel's neurological status.

Tuning to the others, she smiled. "His reflexes are good and his pupil response is within normal limits, so we'll just have to wait. Now if you three don't mind I need to suture the laceration on the back on his head and I might as well get it done while he's still out of it."

"We don't mind at all, Doc. But I don't think any of us are going anywhere. Why don't you let us help hold Daniel on his side while you work?" The calm demeanor belied the look of steel in the colonel's eyes. He wasn't budging and he wasn't going to let Janet throw him out.

Janet knew it was pointless to argue�short of getting the MPs or the general, it would be an uphill battle. And at least this way Daniel's friends could feel like they were helping. She knew what it was like to be helpless, unable to help someone close when they were ill. "That sounds like an idea, Colonel. I'll be right back with some supplies."

Janet laughed to herself at the look of surprise on the colonel's face. She loved keeping him a little off-balance once in a while. Sobering some, she also realized she didn't want it to be at Daniel's expense.

When she returned, the three team members of SG-1 helped to prop Daniel over on his side. Colonel O'Neill sat behind him on the bed, rubbing his friend's back, Sam stood on the opposite side stroking his hair, continuing to whisper encouragingly to Daniel. Janet could hear snatches of what she was saying.

"You have to wake up, Daniel. We have a lot of work to do. I need help with that translation on the machine we found three days ago. You don't want me to blow the mountain up now, do you? Come on, wake up. We miss you."

Teal'c stood again at the bottom of the bed ready to offer more assistance if needed.

Janet worked from the top of the bed, quickly suturing six stitches into the back of Daniel's head. She'd had to shave a small area of hair around the cut and she had injected Lidocaine into the wound to numb it, in case Daniel woke up during the procedure.

As she finished, Daniel's friends returned him to his back. Colonel O'Neill turned to his team. "Carter, Teal'c. Why don't you go and get something to eat and bring me something back. I'm sure that Doc here will let us use that bed over there to get some sleep. We can take turns sitting with him." As he looked at Janet beseechingly, she sighed and nodded her head, knowing it was the best compromise she would be able to come to with these three.

When a member of SG-1 was in the infirmary, the rest of them moved in quite literally. All she could do was to make sure they rested and ate and let them stay as long as they weren't needed elsewhere. Even when ordered to, they wouldn't leave the mountain, let alone the infirmary. It was a factor unique to SG-1. The other teams were close but not as close as the premier team and it was a well known fact.

Other friends would come calling soon; she could already see Nyan and Dr. Bartlett standing by the entrance to the infirmary, waiting for news.

As Sam and Teal'c left for the commissary, Janet saw Jack settle into the hard backed chair next to Daniel's bed. He was stroking Daniel's forearm, quietly talking to his friend, much the way Sam had been earlier. Going to talk to the two waiting archaeologists, Janet knew Daniel would be fine. SG-1 wouldn't let him be anything else.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Pain.

Oh man, my head hurts. Daniel came awake slowly to the sounds of the infirmary. It was quiet, but yet there was the familiar hum of machinery and the comforting beep of a heart monitor, familiar to the linguist.

As he lay there, he could hear a quiet voice talking to him. Sam? No � Jack. Oh, they were both talking, to each other. Just then, Daniel heard the soft rumble of Teal'c's voice joining in the conversation. He couldn't get his brain to focus on what was being said, the more he tried, the more his head began to hurt.

"Owww!"

He wondered who'd said that.

"Dannyboy?" Daniel?" "Daniel Jackson?"

Ahh, must have been me. He smiled a bit, the movement making his head ache more.

"Come on Daniel, open your eyes. Carter, get Fraiser. Daniel, listen to me for once, open your eyes."

That did it. "I always listen to you, Jack. I just don't necessarily agree with what you say." Opening his eyes, Daniel felt a sharp pain brought on by the light above the bed.

"Arrgghh, somebody get that light, please." Daniel saw the light go out and a softer bedside lamp snap on, one that was out of his direct line of vision.

"Thank you." His voice came out as a whisper.

"You are welcome, Daniel Jackson." Again trying his eyes, Daniel could see it was evening or night in the infirmary. Jack and Teal'c were at his side and he could see Sam with Janet in tow, heading back to his bed.

"Well, Dr. Jackson, it's about time you woke up. You've had a few people worried around here." Janet proceeded to check Daniel's vital signs and reflexes.

"What happened?"

"You don't remember, Daniel?"

"If I remembered Janet, I wouldn't be asking." Seeing the look in Janet's eyes, he sighed. "Sorry. No, I don't remember."

"What is the last thing you do remember?"

Daniel thought back for a moment. "Working in my office, trying to get a book from the top shelf of the bookcase. I heard a noise, turned and then � and then � I don't know. That's all I remember."

"Daniel, the ladder you were standing on collapsed. You know the one I told you needed fixing last week?" Jack sounded exasperated, raising his eyebrows as he spoke.

"Jack, that's not possible, I had Siler look at it after you complained about it." Daniel saw Jack didn't believe him. "I swear, ask Siler, he did the repair."

"Well, he obviously didn't do a very good job. I'll speak to him about it later. How you feeling?" Jack's last question was asked gently, his concern showing through.

"I'm fine. When can I get out of here, Janet?" Daniel struggled to sit up and then fell back as his head was again assaulted by sharp daggers, causing him to see a darkness around the edge of his vision.

"Does that answer your question? Daniel, do you hurt anywhere beside your head, and don't lie to me." Janet was in her Napoleonic mode.

"My ribs on my right side kinda hurt, but it's mostly my head." Daniel conceded that he wasn't in any shape to escape her clutches tonight.

"You have some bruising there, but luckily no fractures. You've also got a concussion and that seems to be your major injury. You've been out for ten hours, so don't plan on going anywhere for a while. It could've been worse, but you need to be watched closely for a couple of days and you need meds that can't be taken orally. So bear with me, and I'll have you out of here in forty-eight hours. Fight me on it and I'll keep you a week."

Closing his eyes, conceding to her orders, Daniel asked, "Janet, can I have something for my headache?"

"Of course." Janet headed off, satisfied she hadn't received any argument from her patient.

As he lay there in bed, Daniel heard Jack whisper to him, "That's it, Daniel, play nice. Remember, she's in charge of your next physical."

Smiling, he began to drift, falling asleep before Janet returned.

Present Day

The soft tread of a nurse changing the IV beside Daniel's bed interrupted Jack's musings. He rubbed the back of his neck with one hand, willing his sore and tired muscles to stop aching. His other hand still held Daniel's lax and clammy one. He knew that his friend wasn't aware that he was here with him, but the physical contact helped Jack, although still riddled with guilt, feel better about the situation.

Why hadn't he checked on Daniel last night? He'd done so most of the nights since Daniel had lost Sha'uri a few months back; if not dropping by Daniel's place, he'd given Daniel a call. But last night he'd been so tired, and he'd been so sure that Daniel had gone home and straight to bed. Why, oh, why had he been compelled to take those pills?

And the plague of accidents that had befallen Daniel in the past two weeks � his body bore the scrapes and bruises of his continued bad luck. Daniel just wasn't that clumsy. Could Jack have been mistaken all those times and Daniel actually had been attempting to take his life even then?

No, he refused to believe that. Daniel was a fighter; he'd been through hell more than once in his life and he'd gotten through it each time. Alone. Now he had a family and they'd all been there for Daniel in these trying times. And Daniel had accepted Sha'uri's death; Daniel had gotten through it, of that Jack was certain. So what was going on in that stubborn and complicated mind of his?

Jack reached over and picked up a damp cloth, wiping the newly formed sweat from his friend's face and neck, blotting around the ventilator tubing. He was also careful of the nearly healed bruise on his friend's cheekbone.

He heard a sound at the door and looked up. Teal'c entered the room and spoke quietly. "Major Carter is resting. I shall sit with Daniel Jackson while you go and take sustenance." As Jack opened his mouth to protest, the Jaffa continued, "It would do our friend no good were you to compromise your own health, O'Neill. He will require your strength when he recovers; this will be difficult for him � for us all."

"No, Teal'c," Jack said as he stood up and reluctantly placed Daniel's hand on the bed. "He didn't do this willingly. I know Daniel, and I'll get to the bottom of this even if it's the last thing I do!" The passion and conviction in his voice was evidence of his faith in his friend.

"I am inclined to agree, O'Neill. I, also, believe this was not by Daniel Jackson's own hand. But � our friend will need us at full strength if we are to help him."

Jack nodded his head, and reluctantly relinquished his chair, moving quietly into the hallway. As he passed the waiting room he saw Carter curled up on an empty sofa. He envied her, her ability to sleep, but he knew that she was just as exhausted as he was.

Twelve hours or so, that's what the doc had said. Daniel should be waking soon.

He made his way to the cafeteria, intent on having some breakfast and returning to Daniel's room.

Eleven Days Ago

Lance Bartlett went running down the hallway, a piece of paper tightly clutched in his hand. He skirted the airmen in the corridor, yelling loudly as they got in his way. Nyan was following closely, his ragged footsteps echoed by an oomph when he bumped into a hard, unyielding body. The footsteps picked up again as Lance turned a corner and went careening into a wall.

Rubbing his shoulder, he continued on, hoping to make it to Doctor Jackson's office before it was too late. Nyan had made a horrible discovery, and the phones just had to be down now, today, this moment!

Panting, he sprinted through the open door of his colleague's office, looking around wildly as he slid to a stop. Nyan came in seconds later, bumping into Lance and pushing him painfully into Daniel's large work table.

"He's not here, and neither is the artifact," Nyan said breathlessly as they both searched the room in a panic. The fear in the younger man's eyes was evident that he was worried for the safety of their friend.

Lance went to the desk and began searching through the open books and papers scattered on it. He saw that the last thing Daniel had been looking at and realized that he'd gone down to the storerooms.

"Go get Colonel O'Neill and bring him down to Level 24. I think that's where he went," Lance ordered. Nyan nodded, obviously glad to have someone telling him what to do. Lance Bartlett was perhaps new to the SGC, but he was no stranger to giving orders. He was an archaeologist and linguist, and had been in charge of several major digs in his career of twenty years. Barely in his forties, his long dark hair, blazing gray eyes and winning smile quickly charmed both men and women.

Lance made his way to the elevator, punching in the appropriate button when the car appeared. The paper he clutched in his hand showed that an error had been made. One of the artifacts which had been brought from a planet a few days ago had not been put through decontamination. Somehow the error had been overlooked and the piece had been one that Daniel had been anxious to work with. When Nyan had discovered the error, they both had rushed to warn their colleague not to touch it.

The small statue had been laced with a poison, as had several other pieces. It was quickly absorbed through the skin and the only thing that had saved the SG team that had brought the artifacts back to Earth was that the team members had been wearing gloves because of the cold weather. Preliminary tests had shown that the poison was fast acting and could be deadly if not treated immediately.

Level 24 was full of storage rooms. Lance glanced down the hallway, trying to figure out where Daniel had gone. There were no lights beneath any of the doors to indicate where he was. They might have to start searching each and every room individually.

Lance turned to the right and began opening doors, calling out to Daniel. Within a minute the elevator door opened and Nyan and O'Neill stepped out, joining in the search.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Jack found Daniel lying unconscious in a corner. He'd obviously tried to drag himself away from where he'd vomited by the door. The damned statue that had caused this problem lay on the floor near the entrance. A box of artifacts lay scattered and broken where it had obviously fallen from the storage shelf, probably when Daniel had started feeling ill.

Jack knelt beside his friend and felt for a pulse. It was fast and weak and thready. His skin was wet and clammy, his t-shirt nearly soaked. He was breathing, but in short, loud gasps. Jack ran for the nearest phone, yelling for Nyan and Bartlett, and swore when there was no dial tone.

Running back to Daniel, he hefted him into a seated position. The two men came running into the room and with Nyan's help, carried him back to the elevator which Bartlett had called for and was now holding open.

Bartlett ran for Fraiser the second the doors opened and a gurney met them when they were halfway to the infirmary. By the time they rushed Daniel into the medical wing, a nurse was waiting for them with the antitoxin.

Incredibly, Daniel's breathing returned close to normal within a few minutes.

Daniel woke up shortly thereafter with nothing worse than a killer headache. Twenty four hours later he'd been dismissed and given another day's down time. He returned to work the next day with no indication that he'd been minutes from death's door.

Present Day

A hand on his shoulder caused Jack to look up from the near empty cup of coffee that he'd been nursing. He saw Fraiser's concerned brown eyes staring at him, then take in the half empty plate of food still sitting before him that he hadn't been able to finish.

"Doc," Jack acknowledged as she sat opposite him.

"Colonel. It shouldn't be long now," she said kindly. "Daniel should wake up in a few more hours. We'll know for sure whether there's been any permanent damage."

"And then what?" he asked, wanting her to bring up the subject.

"Well, if he hasn't suffered any kind of brain damage from the overdose, then we call in a psychiatrist."

Jack had to hand it to her, she barely flinched when he glared at her. She knew how both he and Daniel felt about shrinks, and as far as Jack could tell, there was no way for Daniel to avoid talking to one now. He wished he'd known what had happened with Daniel, why had he felt compelled to take those pills, why he had said he couldn't stop himself?

Damn.

Brain damage. This was the second time in two weeks; Daniel's run-in with weird accidents had caused Fraiser to become concerned and she'd first suspected a brain tumor or damage from his earlier concussion when he'd fallen off the ladder. All neurological tests had turned out negative, thank God.

All those accidents and blackouts. At one point it had gotten so bad, Jack had joked and told Daniel if he didn't know better, he'd have thought someone was out to kill him.

Eight Days Ago

They were all sitting around the briefing room table, impatiently waiting for Daniel to arrive. When General Hammond walked in and Daniel hadn't shown up, he commenced the meeting without him. After forty minutes Jack was ready to haul Daniel out on his ass the second he walked in; but from the look the general kept giving Daniel's empty seat, Jack figured he'd have to stand in line first.

When an airman came in and gave Hammond a message, Jack suddenly knew that something had happened. Hammond looked at SG-1 and confirmed Jack's suspicions.

"There's been an accident. Doctor Jackson's car has gone off the road. Doctor Bartlett spotted the accident on his way up the mountain and called for help."

"Is Daniel all right?" Carter asked, nearly interrupting the general as she stood up in alarm.

"He's being transported here to the infirmary, so I'm assuming that his injuries are not life threatening." Hammond looked down at his papers, and suddenly gathered them together, tapping the edges on the desk to compile them neatly. "I think we can wrap this meeting up for now. Dismissed."

As Jack stood up while General Hammond returned to his office, both Teal'c and Carter rushed past him in their hurry to get to the infirmary. He quickly caught up to them and joined them as they sped down the corridor to see their friend.

Jack heard Daniel's voice as he made his way into the infirmary, and the knot that had been squeezing his chest quickly released its bindings. His friend was even sitting up on the side of the infirmary bed, which had to be a good sign. Seeing Jack, he raised his hand and waved it sheepishly.

Jack and the others quickly surrounded the bed, each taking in the livid bruise on Daniel's cheek and the assortment of bruises on his shoulder and ribs.

"Hey guys," Daniel said when they stopped near the bed.

"Heard you were trying to play Evil Kneivel," Jack quipped, very relieved to see that Daniel hadn't sustained serious injuries.

"What happened, Daniel?" Carter asked.

"I don't remember," Daniel replied, casting his eyes down towards his hands. He glanced sideways at Jack, and then said, "I think I must have fallen asleep at the wheel."

Jack raised an eyebrow, not saying anything as Daniel glanced back at his commanding officer.

"Well, maybe you'll spend a little more time sleeping in your bed rather than staying up working with your rocks and translations," Jack finally said, knowing the man's tendencies to overwork, but also knowing that Daniel had done nothing but sleep after his bout of poisoning. Maybe he hadn't been ready to come back to work. He glanced at Fraiser, but her face wasn't showing any of those concerns as she continued to check their friend out.

"Okay, Daniel," Fraiser finally said. "I'm going to send you for an MRI. If everything checks out and if you feel up to it, I'm going to release you to light duties. But you're not to go off-world for another forty-eight hours. I also don't want you driving, at least until I'm sure that you simply fell asleep. And if that is the case, then I want to make sure that you're rested enough before you go on another mission. I'll also arrange for a staff car to provide transportation."

"Yeah, Daniel, wouldn't want you to fall asleep while translating your rocks," Jack said with a smile as he clapped the man on the shoulder. "Don't worry, Doc. I'll make sure he gets home safe and sound." Glad to see that his friend was okay, Jack turned to go back to the load of paperwork waiting for him in his office. He knew that Daniel would come searching him out later.

Present Day

Jack returned to Daniel's room in ICU and to his chair beside his friend, relieving Teal'c from his vigil. Teal'c retired to a corner and quietly began restoring himself in kel-no-reem. Jack knew the Jaffa had one ear open, in the event Daniel started to regain consciousness.

As Jack sat there surveying the various pieces of equipment attached to the archaeologist, he could see from the many times he had sat with a team member in the infirmary, that all appeared to be well. God, how many times had they done this in the past few weeks? Months? Years?

The ventilator still hissed with regularity, supporting Daniel's breathing. Fraiser had assured him that she would remove the tube as soon as Daniel's drug levels had dropped and he started to show signs of waking up. She had been concerned that if taken out too soon, Daniel would be at risk for � what had she called it � oh yeah, aspiration pneumonia.

As Jack sat there, he became more and more convinced that this wasn't an attempt at suicide on Daniel's part. He kept remembering Daniel saying he couldn't stop it, and he had called him for help. If Daniel was truly attempting suicide, he would never have picked up the phone. Then again, weren't attempts at suicide really a call for help?

Damn, he was so confused!

And what was with all the accidents of late? Daniel had seemed genuinely puzzled and confused as to why all this was happening to him. That incident with the Stargate stood out now that Jack was remembering the last two weeks. Something was up, and as he sat there thinking, Jack became more and more convinced of it.

Five Days Ago

Teal'c stood beside O'Neill in the control room with General Hammond. Sergeant Davis was dialing the Alpha site to contact Master Bra'tac and Major Griff. It was their bi-weekly check-in at the site. The SGC continued to send supplies to assist with the construction of the base being set up there.

The Jaffa and SGC personnel had made great strides in utilizing the native environment. A water purification system had been set up quickly. Solar power panels had also been erected to help with providing much needed energy for heating and cooling at the site. In addition, a paddle wheel had been built on the nearby river to help provide additional electrical power, thereby saving the naquadah generator for emergencies only. The naquadah could power the whole site and often did but if history had taught them anything, it was that redundant systems were good.

A medical facility had been set up which could handle most emergencies. Any injuries that would be too critical to handle there were to be sent back to the SGC and the infirmary. Thankfully, so far nothing requiring Doctor Fraiser's expertise had occurred. Only a few sprains, cuts and bruises. The Jaffas' symbiotes easily dealt with these minor injuries.

The Jaffa had planted crops which were beginning to show the promise of a good harvest. The men had been hunting in the surrounding areas and had brought in game, helping to supplement their diets.

While out scouting, unusual fruit trees had been found and determined to be safe. A cross between an apple and a pear, the taste was a welcome addition to the MREs which continued to sustain most of the camp. Teal'c had taken a liking to the fruit and looked forward to this visit to acquire some more.

There was still a lot to do and the Alpha site, although a military base, was quickly becoming a home for the Jaffa refugees. The men continued to train, Jaffa and Tauri alike, teaching and learning from one another at the same time.

It was a slow process setting up a permanent off-world base but Master Bra'tac and Major Griff seemed to work well together and together kept the peace.

As the gate began to turn with computer assist, Teal'c could see the boxes of supplies ready to be sent through lining the walls and floor of the gateroom. A standing list of supplies was sent every two weeks, along with exchanges of necessary personnel. If there were any special requests, they were duly noted and then the supplies were sent with the next shipment.

Teal'c headed down the stairs for the gateroom; he was accompanying the supplies for a visit with Bra'tac and to check on Rya'c. He hadn't seen his son for over three months and was looking forward to spending some time with him. O'Neill had come by to see Teal'c off.

As he entered the busy room, Teal'c could see Daniel Jackson standing at the base of the ramp, staring at the dialing gate. Strange, they had said their farewells earlier. Observing him as he drew near, Teal'c was disturbed by the vacant look he saw on his friend's face.

"Daniel Jackson?" Teal'c called to the archaeologist.

Daniel turned his head a little towards the Jaffa as if he might have heard him calling his name, but his eyes never left the Stargate. Teal'c could see Daniel's forehead crinkle as it often did when he was concentrating on an artifact, trying to pull up some piece of information he had read long ago. He had seen this look on his friend's face many times in the past as he worked through some alien text or puzzle.

As he approached, Teal'c could see Daniel's face more clearly. He was perspiring and as he watched, he saw a drop roll down the bridge of his nose and fall to dampen his shirt. Daniel's breathing was harsh and Teal'c could see him trembling, eyes wide open, gazing at the ring almost as if he was seeing something else.

The archaeologist took a slow step, then another, and then placed one foot onto the main ramp platform. The other military personnel in the room were preoccupied with their duties and did not see the man's actions.

Chevron six had just engaged and seven was beginning to dial. Daniel continued to walk slowly towards the gate, stumbling and catching himself on the railing. Teal'c heard a moan from his friend and the small wave of anxiety he had experienced when first observing the archaeologist came crashing through him, blossoming into full blown fear. Daniel Jackson had no intention of stopping or removing himself to a safe distance from the powerful burst of energy which was very imminent.

The Jaffa took off at a run yelling "O'Neill" as he did so. He heard a "Daniel, get back!" screamed over the intercom as he bolted up the ramp. Reaching Daniel, he wrapped his arm around his waist and dived over the railing, taking his friend with him, barely escaping getting caught in the flux as the gate sprang to life.

Landing hard on the concrete floor below the ramp, Teal'c tried to cushion the archaeologist's fall, but not failing to hear a crack as some part of Daniel's body came in contact with the unforgiving surface. Laying there for a second stunned, he could hear O'Neill yelling their names as he entered the gateroom at a run.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Jack was scared and breathing hard as he reached his two friends lying beside the ramp. He'd turned from his discussion with the general when Teal'c had bellowed his name at the same time as Davis had questioned what Daniel was doing. Seeing what had disturbed the two men, he had screamed at Daniel to move out of the way. And as he turned to run towards the staircase, hoping but knowing he wouldn't reach his friend in time, he saw Teal'c take a dive at Daniel and pull him over the railing just in the nick of time. The gate blossomed to life before Davis could shut down the dialing sequence.

Now looking at Daniel in the reflected light from the event horizon, he could see that his eyes were closed and that he was saturated with sweat, the black tee plastered to his chest as if the man has just run five miles. His respirations were shallow and rapid as if he was unable to catch his breath and he was visibly shaking.

"Teal'c, you okay?" Jack glanced at his friend to see him nod. He could see that the Jaffa was shaken up a little but no injuries were obvious.

Pulling Daniel into his arms so Teal'c could get up, Jack called for a medic and sat there holding his friend, calling his name.

As he waited, Jack could feel the trembling in Daniel's body begin to slow along with the younger man's respiration. Adjusting his hold on his friend, Jack heard a moan.

Seeing Daniel's eyes open, Jack tightened his hold on his friend and called his name again.

"Daniel?"

"Jack?" Daniel looked at him, eyes half lidded and looking scared and confused.

Seeing his friend, his eyes closed again, Daniel's body suddenly and completely relaxed as if he were unconscious.

God, what is this? What happened? Where the hell are those medics? Bellowing for help once again, Jack sat there rocking his friend, Teal'c stroking the younger man's hair and looking on.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Daniel woke once more to the familiar beeps and hums of the infirmary. As he lay there he realized his head and elbow hurt, and yet another time he was waking up with no knowledge of how he had landed in Janet's domain again. He could feel a familiar stinging sensation in his left arm where an IV catheter had been placed. There was also an oxygen cannula gracing his face.

As he lay there, he heard papers being jostled nearby, but other than that all seemed quiet. He had the sense that it was nighttime in the infirmary�there was a peacefulness that pervaded this place once the hustle and bustle of the day shift was gone. And although he hated the fact, he had been here often enough to be very familiar with the rhythms of this small medical community within the mountain.

What the hell happened to me this time? God, I'm tired of this place. A numbness had set itself up in his nether regions and he had to move. Lifting his knee, he adjusted his position and reluctantly opened his eyes.

"Daniel! You're awake. How are you feeling?" Sam was the source of the paper noise he had heard waking up and now stood next to him, stroking his arm and reaching for the call light with her other hand.

He could see the lines of worry on her face and was sorry he had put them there.

"Okay, I think." Daniel was surprised to hear the hoarseness in his voice. "What time is it?"

"It's just past midnight."

Jack and Teal'c walked in, coffee and water in hand, just as he asked the question. "How're you doing there?"

"Jack, what happened? How in the hell did I end up in here again?" Daniel was tired and exasperated. He had spent far too much time under Janet's thumb lately and he was getting tired of it.

"What's the last thing you remember, Daniel?" Janet had walked as he had voiced his questions.

"Umm, I was working in my office, trying to figure out the writings on the side of an artifact brought back from P8X-992."

"Isn't that the planet that poisonous artifact came from, the one you had a run-in with a few days ago?" Jack's frustration shone through in his question.

"Yes, but the artifact's been neutralized and I was wearing gloves as a precaution. What happened this time?" Daniel looked from one to another, noting the worried looks on their faces.

"Well, you decided to play tag with the gate." At the archaeologist's look of confusion, Jack explained what had happened in the gateroom.

As he listened, Daniel started feeling more and more scared. He didn't make a habit of blacking out, yet he had no memory of the events the older man was describing.

Closing his eyes, he couldn't control the tremors that seemed to wash through him. He could hear his own breathing becoming more and more rapid. Even though he knew he was beginning to hyperventilate, he couldn't seem to do anything to stop it. His heart was pounding as if it would explode from his chest and he felt like he couldn't catch his breath.

And then he felt someone stroking his head, and just as quickly there was a hand on his foot and another hand squeezed his fingers. The soft murmurs of his teammates started to filter through, calming him, reassuring him as they worked to help him through what was obviously a panic attack.

"I don't remember any of that, I just don't remember." Daniel kept murmuring over and over as a tear escaped his eye. Feeling the soft pad of a thumb wipe the errant drop away, Daniel opened his eyes to his friends, seeing the faith they had in him and knowing they believed him.

"Sam thinks it was the artifact, Daniel. It and the others from the planet have been packed away and put into storage until we can figure out a safe way of studying them." He could feel Jack stroking his arm as he explained.

"Thank you," Daniel said, glad that they were here and glad that they seemed to understand.

"Just watching your six," Sam said, smiling at him.

Closing his eyes again, he began to drift, and, realizing Janet must have given him something to help calm him, he fell asleep.

Present Day

Jack sat up straight as he saw Daniel begin to show signs of waking up. A twitch of his fingers, a flicker behind his eyelids. By the time Daniel's eyes began to flutter, Jack had already alerted the nurses and Fraiser was standing beside him, waiting for their friend to come back to them.

He smiled as Daniel's bleary eyes finally opened and focused on him, tracking Jack's voice as he coaxed Daniel to wake up. Fraiser did her usual tests and finally took out the tube that had been helping Daniel breathe. An oxygen mask soon replaced the contraption, which to Jack was definitely a step in the right direction.

Daniel had managed to mutter a simple "what happened" before he succumbed to his body's demand for more sleep. He and Fraiser looked at each other in bewilderment; they'd hoped that Daniel would be the one to fill them in on the mystery.

"He's going to be fine," Fraiser assured Jack as he sat back down in the hard-backed chair. "As to his mental health," she said slowly. "I'm sorry, sir," she quickly interjected when Jack opened his mouth to protest. "It's out of my hands. This isn't simply a blackout. Daniel was found with a lethal amount of drugs in his system. This appears to be an unequivocal attempt to kill himself. I know you're finding it as hard to believe, as am I. But facts are facts. The next step, once he's recovered, is for him to talk to a psychiatrist. It's medical procedure, sir. I'm sorry, but it's out of my hands now."

Jack turned to look at Daniel's peacefully sleeping visage. He wasn't going to waste his breath arguing. Something was fishy, and he was going to get to the bottom of it as soon as his friend was able to talk. Too many strange things had been happening to Daniel and Jack refused to believe that his friend had been in such a depressed frame of mind that he'd wanted to do away with himself. Daniel had worked through his demons; of that Jack was sure.

Three Weeks Earlier

Jack woke to the sounds of Daniel in the throes of a frightening nightmare. The sounds emanating from the spare room were gut wrenching, pulling at Jack's heart.

"No, no! Take me. Don't touch her. No! Leave her be!" And then, "Sha'uri, please don't leave me. Stay! Stay. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, Good Father, I couldn't save her."

As Jack hurried to Daniel's bed, he could hear him pleading to Kasuf in his dream to believe him, that he'd wanted to save Sha'uri but hadn't been able to. Jack could see the tears on his friend's cheeks, knowing the pain he must be experiencing.

Sitting on the bed, he shook Daniel, trying to wake him. After a couple of tries, Jack saw his friend's eyes open and a wave of realization wash over the archaeologist's face. Just as quickly Jack saw the look of embarrassment surface.

Rolling to his left side away from him, Jack heard the quiet, "I'm fine. Go back to bed, Jack." Remaining where he was, the older man placed a hand on Daniel's shoulder and rolled him back.

"No, you're not. But you will be. Just give it time." With that, Jack sat back against the headboard and gathered his friend into his arms and held him. Daniel began to sob, giving way to the grief he had been holding back since his wife's death a few months back. Jack sat there and rocked him, waiting out the storm, offering comfort with tears in his own eyes, as the pain and anguish came pouring out.

They had returned earlier that evening from a visit to Abydos after accompanying Skaara back there following the successful triad on Tollana. There had been undeniable joy on Kasuf's face when he realized his son had been returned to him, whole, free of his demon.

The celebration had lasted three days, SG-1 joining in with General Hammond's permission. There had been three days of feasting, dancing, storytelling and speeches. All had flowed freely in the joy of the return of the leader's sons, for Skaara and Daniel. SG-1 had been honored in a ceremony, receiving the thanks of the community and especially that of Kasuf, who had thought that his family had been lost to him forever.

During their stay on Abydos, Daniel had participated in the festivities but Jack had caught him several times watching from the edge of the crowd, a sad smile on his face. The older man had known what was going through his friend's mind and he knew the pain stemmed from knowledge that Sha'uri was now well and truly lost to him.

He had invited Daniel over tonight because he didn't want him to be alone. Jack knew that the abundance of Daniel's grief still lay just below the surface and would erupt soon and he hadn't wanted him to be alone when it did. So he had invited Daniel over, hoping to persuade him to stay in his spare room for the night.

Now here he sat, grateful he'd had the foresight to anticipate this happening. He had watched as, on the evening of the third night, Kasuf, Skaara and Daniel had made their way to Sha'uri's grave. They had spent some time there talking and reminiscing about their daughter, sister and wife, offering each other support and comfort.

Later, Kasuf and Skaara had left Daniel there to allow him to spend some time alone; remembering, grieving and saying goodbye. They had known it would be a while until Daniel would be able to return to Abydos, and to his late wife's grave.

Jack had sat on the sand dune, above and away from his friend, allowing him privacy, watching over him, keeping him safe. Watching his six. Although he couldn't hear what Daniel said, Jack was still close enough to see that his friend was crying and talking to Sha'uri.

Much later, Daniel had risen and made his way to the dune where Jack sat and joined him.

"Thank you."

"For what?"

"For allowing me this, and for being close in case I needed you."

"Hey, no problem."

Daniel had just nodded at that and rising, started back to the town. Jack had taken one last look at the grave and, nodding to no one in particular, got up and caught up with his friend for the walk back. They would be going home tomorrow. That night he had hoped that Daniel would sleep.

Now here he was with Daniel, the agony of his loss apparent. As the tears subsided, Jack could hear the hiccup in his friend's breathing as he regained control of his emotions.

"I loved her so much, and now I'll never see her again."

"I know you did, Daniel. No one could have loved her more or better then you."

And that began a long night of quiet conversation and gentle tears as Jack helped his friend finally begin to lay his wife to rest. He had plans for Daniel, ones he hoped would help with this final step.

Two Days Ago

"Jack, isn't this Charlie's grave?" Daniel asked quietly as Jack helped him walk up to a small quiet gravesite beneath an ancient oak tree.

Daniel had stayed overnight with Jack as Fraiser didn't trust Daniel to take care of his abused body anymore. Just the day before, Daniel had fallen backwards down a flight of stairs at the SGC. It was a miracle that he hadn't broken his neck, or even given himself a concussion. Bruised ribs, hip and shoulder and a slight bump on the head were the aftermath of his tumble; the preceding blackout the main cause for worry. He'd lain there for a good five minutes, stunned and unable to move. Thankfully an airman had gone into the little used stairway and had discovered Daniel there.

Fraiser had refused to let Daniel stay by himself until this affliction was identified. It had taken all of Jack's wheeling and cajoling to allow him to bring Daniel home as it was. His friend had tumbled into bed upon arrival, the painkillers he'd taken working quickly. The stress his body had undergone in the past two weeks was taking a toll.

This morning he'd received a phone call from the managers of the cemetery informing him that his request had been carried through. After lunch he'd bundled Daniel into the car and he had driven him here, hoping that Daniel would be pleased with his gift. He'd cleared it with Sara before going through with it. She'd agreed with it, no problem.

Herding Daniel up the small hill, a hand on the man's back to make sure he didn't lose his footing, he brought him to where a newly laid plaque lay beside his son's gravestone. A fresh bouquet of flowers lay before Charlie's grave; Sara had obviously been here this morning, inspecting the plaque for herself.

It read simply: In memory of Sha'uri Jackson, beloved wife of Daniel.

"Jack?" Daniel asked as he stared in shock at the memorial of his wife.

Sha'uri had been killed four months earlier. It had taken Daniel a while to come to terms with his grief. He'd been laid up in the infirmary for four days, recuperating from concussion-like symptoms acquired from Amonet's ribbon device. Then, once released from the infirmary, he'd worked himself nearly to exhaustion as he tried to forget his pain and searched for Sha'uri's son.

He'd even tried flirting with Kira, an amnesiac young woman, trying to bury his hurt by getting involved with someone else. And in the process had gotten carried away when his emotions took over and they'd endangered the world and the universe, by unleashing a known killer.

Finally, one day, five weeks after Sha'uri's death, exhausted, discouraged and at his wit's ends, Jack had held his friend in his arms while he sobbed his pain and loss. He'd begun mourning his wife at that point and had started the slow steps towards recovery.

The pain had come flowing back three weeks ago when they had separated Klorel from Skaara's body. Knowing then that there had been a method of freeing Sha'uri from the Goa'uld but were months too late had brought all the hurt and memories crashing back. The idea for the plaque had hit Jack when he'd waited for Daniel to say his farewells to Sha'uri that last day on Abydos.

That was when Jack had decided Daniel needed a place to come to when he needed to talk to her. He'd ordered this small plaque immediately upon their return to Earth, and had hoped that he had done the right thing.

"I thought you'd like to come here whenever you need to talk to Sha'uri. I remember you saying that getting permission to go to Abydos was a little difficult," Jack said with a gentle smile.

Daniel continued to stand stiffly, staring down at the small piece of engraved metal.

"Oh, I forgot," Jack said, stuffing his hand in his jacket pocket. "Here," he said, handing Daniel a plastic container filled with sand.

"What is it," Daniel asked, finally tearing his eyes from the grave and gingerly taking the container from Jack's hand.

"Sand. I filled it up when we were on Abydos." Daniel's eyes grew wide at Jack's pronouncement. "Don't ask me why, I just felt it was the right thing to do. I was planning to give it to you earlier, but I thought I'd just wait until I could show you this," he said, motioning at the plaque with his hand.

"Sand," Daniel repeated, seeming bewildered.

"I thought we could put it under the plaque, like a part of Sha'uri would always be there." When Daniel still didn't seem to react, Jack began thinking he'd made a mistake. "Okay, I'm sorry, it was a stupid idea," he grumbled, reaching for the container of sand still held loosely in Daniel's hand.

"No," Daniel said quickly, stepping away from Jack before he could touch the container. He knelt and carefully dug a hole, placing the container in it. He patted the soil and sat back on his ankles.

Jack leaned over and took a daisy from the bouquet Sara had left for their son. He knew that Charlie wouldn't mind. He'd have liked Sha'uri.

"Here," he said, handing Daniel the flower and placing a hand on his shoulder. He saw tears in Daniel's eyes as he accepted the blossom, laying it across the memorial.

Jack turned to leave his friend in privacy for a few minutes when he heard him sob. Going quickly to Daniel, he knelt beside him, knowing that he was feeling vulnerable with the pain medication he was taking. Daniel leaned over into Jack, his shoulders shaking as he held back his tears. Jack took him into his arms and hugged him, knowing that four months wasn't enough to get over the loss of a loved one, even if she'd been out of his life for three years. Damn the Goa'uld!

Present Day

The colonel had retreated to the sofa in the waiting room a few feet down the hall after Sam and Janet had finally convinced him to go take a nap. Although she thought maybe it was Janet's threats that had finally made the difference. Now Sam was alone with Daniel, holding his hand, stroking his hair from his face, and going over the events of the last couple of weeks, and the accidents that had plagued her friend.

She could see the pale appearance of the archaeologist's face, now only marred by the nasal cannula. There was still evidence that his body had taken a beating with fading bruises and healing lacerations, but at least they were healing, none of them having been life threatening.

"Sam?"

"Hi," she said as Daniel looked up at her through barely opened eyelids.

"Where �" he asked, obviously fighting to stay awake.

"You're in the hospital," she said as she leaned closer to him.

"Hurt?"

"Yeah," she answered vaguely, knowing that going into details was beyond Daniel's ability to understand at the moment.

Daniel was still sleepy from the leftover drugs in his system. He'd wake periodically for a minute or two, each time asking what had happened or where was he. All the more reason for her to believe that he wasn't responsible for this event.

His eyes closed again and she knew he'd fallen asleep once more.

Accidents? Were they accidents or had Daniel been secretly trying to end his life? She was becoming more and more certain that something or someone was hurting Daniel without his knowledge, but how did she prove it? Or was she deluding herself?

No! She didn't believe that. First of all, Daniel's recent sadness about Sha'uri's death had been normal healthy grieving. And he had been slowly making his way back to them. She still remembered the look on her friend's face as he watched Skaara's reunion with the rest of SG-1, and in particular with Colonel O'Neill. She had seen the sad resignation, put there by the knowledge that the Tok'ra separating procedure would never be used on his wife. But he had been happy, too. Happy for Skaara and for the others the procedure would help in the future.

Thinking back, Sam remembered when Daniel had stopped by her house one night last week before his last "accident," to drop off a file she had purposely forgotten. He had been spending too much time alone, so she had pretended to be forgetful, using the file as a pretense to coerce Daniel into some dinner and conversation, if he wanted. She had seen him steadily working himself till he was ready to drop, despite recent events, and she had wanted to get him off the base and out of his apartment for awhile.

She and the rest of SG-1 had made it their goal to help their friend through this difficult time. Once Daniel had arrived, she'd convinced him that she had made more than enough pasta and salad for both of them. Although he had hesitated, Daniel had finally relented and they had spent a nice evening eating, talking and listening to her latest jazz CD and enjoying each other's company.

She remembered their conversation towards the end of the evening when Daniel had retrieved his fourth cup of coffee from the kitchen.

"Thanks, Sam."

"You're welcome. You know dinner for two is as easy as dinner for one. You're always welcome to drop in and share."

"No. I mean, thank you. For more than dinner. For caring. For loving me. For being my friend."

At Sam's gentle smile, he had continued. "I know what you're trying to do." Daniel sighed. "I still miss her and I loved her so much. But I'm not ready to talk about her yet." As she felt the prickle of tears starting to appear in her own eyes, Sam saw that Daniel was crying, too.

Moving closer to her friend, she had taken him in her arms and the gentle tears had begun to flow freely. As she sat there rocking him she knew that with time he would be all right.

Whispering softly in his ear, she had reassured him, "Daniel, I'll always be here whenever you need me. And sometimes even when you don't." That statement had brought wet chuckles from her friend.

Now thinking back on that night, Sam was confident he'd been on the road to healing. She was certain of it. Something else was happening. The longer she sat there, the more convinced she was that Daniel didn't try to kill himself. Daniel was a lot of things. But the one thing he was not, was a coward. He never ran from anything.

With that conviction bolstering her, Sam picked up the telephone and called General Hammond. Even if she couldn't prove it, she was sure her friend needed someone to guard him when SG-1 couldn't be around. Although that was unlikely to happen, she wasn't taking any chances.

Setting the handset in its cradle after talking to the general, she was relieved that Hammond had agreed to take precautions, even if he wasn't completely convinced. Now she would have to convince the colonel, Teal'c and Janet. Somehow, she didn't think it would be much of a chore.

As she sat there waiting for the Marines to show, Sam's anger began to boil beneath the surface. Who would want to harm Daniel, one of the gentlest people she knew? How dare they?

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Lance Bartlett stood at the foot of Dr. Daniel Jackson's bed, watching him sleep. He had been hiding in the supply closet down the hall, waiting for an opening, for a moment when Jackson would be alone. He had tried a couple of times before, but there had always been someone here with him, a member of his team or one of the medical staff.

But finally luck was with him. Fraiser had sent Major Carter to the waiting room while she checked on her patient. After completing her check, she had made her way to the waiting room also, he supposed to give SG-1 an update on the archaeologist's condition.

He had slipped into the room the minute Fraiser had left. He had to get to Daniel before he could tell anyone that Lance had come to his apartment last night. Oh, he could deny it, but SG-1 would believe him eventually and he might never get another chance to finish this.

Now, making note of the bruises on the archaeologist's face and arms, he again berated himself for not waiting around last night to make sure the man had been completely out. He had walked quietly out of the good doctor's apartment, confident he had made the final stroke in this little drama he had set up.

When he had called Jackson last night, he had made up a story about a critical translation. Could he take a look at it? Would he take a look at it? It was needed as soon as possible for a team going off-world in the morning.

When Jackson had agreed and said he would call for a staff car to drive him to the mountain, Lance had quickly stated he would just run it by for him to look at and then if he needed to access any research materials he, Lance, would drive him to the SGC.

Laughing to himself, Lance realized it had been so easy, with Jackson never suspecting a thing. He had opened his door right up to the man who would be replacing him on SG-1.

Once inside the apartment, he had pulled out the artifact from P8X-992. He had still not completely translated the writings on the bottom of the object, but he had discovered one of its properties.

He had been working with Nyan in the office they both shared. Picking the octagonal ball up, he had accidentally depressed the top panel with his thumb. Suddenly, the object had begun to glow, shooting a soft light out the side which had enveloped Nyan. Nyan had stood rigid in the light, not moving, a glassy look in his eyes.

Seeing what had happened, Lance had lifted his thumb and the light had retreated into the sphere. Walking over, Lance had called to Nyan, but hadn't gotten any response. The young man had continued to stare, apparently not hearing his lab partner.

Hurrying over to the phone, intent on calling the infirmary and Jackson, their boss, Lance had tripped over a stack of books lying on the floor, catching himself from falling by grabbing the edge of his desk.

"Damn it, Nyan, I wish you would pick up your books when you're through with them."

Regaining his balance, he reached for the phone, intent on calling the infirmary. As he did so, he saw Nyan turn, walk over and start picking up the books Lance had just tripped over.

As he held the handset of the phone, Lance was relieved. Nyan was fine and wouldn't need the infirmary after all. But as he stood there, he saw the young archaeologist place the books on the counter and then retreat to the same spot he had started from.

Walking over, Lance noted that Nyan still had that vacant look in his eyes. Puzzled, he had tried something else.

"Nyan, lock the door." Nyan had turned, walked over and locked the door, again returning to his place by the counter. His interest piqued, Lance had requested several more tasks, all of which Nyan performed without question and seemingly without awareness.

An idea began to form at that time. "Nyan, climb the ladder and jump off." As Lance watched, the young man had walked to the bookcase ladder, climbed to the highest rung, and had jumped off, landing with a crash against the filing cabinet.

Running over, Lance could see that there weren't any injuries and that Nyan still had the glassy look. Ordering the young man to stand, he'd had Nyan sit in the small easy chair they kept in their office and had told him to sleep. Amazed that he would do something that could potentially harm him, Lance had watched curiously as the archaeologist had gone to sleep.

When he had awakened a few minutes later, Nyan was back to being himself and had no memory of what had happened. That had sealed Lance's plan. The next morning, he had started his campaign to kill and/or discredit Dr. Daniel Jackson.

He had to admit, Jackson was brilliant, but he didn't deserve all the recognition he received. Hell, the man was just lucky most of the time. Lance had heard O'Neill saying something to General Hammond about Daniel's ability to think outside the box. He had just laughed at that. Outside the box? Nope. Jackson was just incredibly fortunate to have survived.

His ability to bounce back from everything that Lance had put him through these last weeks was a testament to that luck. Each time, someone had found him in the nick of time. Damn him.

He had walked into Jackson's office two weeks ago, and finding him on the ladder had been a stroke of his own luck. Checking the hall and the security camera, which he knew was off most of the time in his boss's lab, he had quietly approached Daniel from behind. He must have made some noise, though, because Daniel had started to turn. Bringing the sphere up, he had depressed the panel, enveloping the archaeologist in the light. As it did, Jackson had lost his grip and had fallen to the floor, cracking his head and moaning.

Amazed at his luck, Lance had almost been discovered. Hearing footsteps, he ducked behind a file cabinet by the door just has Nyan had walked in, calling for Jackson. Slipping into the worried crowd that had gathered when Fraiser and her minions had arrived had been surprisingly easy.

As Lance stood there now, observing his victim, he noticed Jackson's eyes fluttering and him moving about a little in bed. Walking over, he sat down and watched to see if the prey would be awake to see the final blow from his predator.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Daniel came awake slowly. His head hurt, again. But not like before. It felt like a "been in bed too long, had a little too much sleep" kind of headache. But at the same time he felt so tired, almost like he couldn't open his eyes.

As he lay there, he became aware of the fact he was not at home or in his office. The medicinal odor gave away the fact that he was in the infirmary again. No wait, not the infirmary. It was too bright, but he could hear the sounds of the cardiac monitor he was so familiar with and felt the plastic oxygen tubing on his face. Yep, something had happened and he had no idea what or where he was, again.

Trying to turn to his side, he felt like he could barely move his muscles. Giving up, he wondered where the rest of SG-1 was. They were usually right next to him when he woke. Probably off on a mission or something.

Opening his eyes, he recognized the surroundings of a hospital, most likely the Academy, if he were to guess. And next to his bed was Dr. Bartlett. What?

"Dr. Bartlett." He licked his lips, his mouth feeling thick and dry.

"Jackson." His name came out almost as a curse. What the hell was going on? He tried to move again without much success.

"Wh't happened?" Daniel felt uneasy, almost threatened by the presence of his fellow archaeologist. But that didn't make any sense. Why should he feel threatened by one of his co-workers?

Lance Bartlett had only been at the SGC for a few months, and Daniel hadn't had much time to get acquainted with him. Though he wasn't particularly fond of him, Nyan spoke highly of his skills, and he had an impressive r�sum� of work. Daniel had been meaning to spend more time with the newcomer and become familiar with his archaeological background and his linguistics base.

Right now though, he couldn't figure out why the man was seated at his bedside. Oh wait. That's right, he had called last night asking for help with a translation. He had come to the apartment and Daniel had let him in. Then � then � what? That was all he could remember.

Looking at Lance now, Daniel sensed something sinister lying beneath the calm fa�ade gracing the man's face. What was going on?

As if reading his mind, Lance stood and walked around to the foot of Daniel's bed.

"Dr. Jackson, the good Dr. Daniel Jackson." Lance was speaking softly. "The eminent Dr. Jackson. How did you ever get involved with the SGC? How did someone so inept, get to be a member of the premier team?" Bartlett sneered. "You know, it was probably just luck that you figured out the Stargate system. If they had called me to come and take a look, I would have figured it out and I would have been part of SG-1. Now look at me, relegated to cleaning up after you, picking at your leavings."

Lance was starting to pace, all the while keeping his voice soft, as if knowing that if he made a scene, someone would come running. As Lance continued, Daniel noticed that the door to his room was closed. Becoming more worried, he started to feel around for the nurse call bell without success. He could barely move; it was as if he had been drugged. His eyes widened at this thought. The accidents! Lance?

Lance had stopped his pacing and was watching Daniel carefully.

"Yes, Daniel." Lance spit the linguist's name out as if it gave him a bad taste in his mouth. "It was me. All of it. The falls, the poison, the car accident, even your brush with the gate. All me. How? Easily enough! I discovered an amazing property to this little artifact."

Pulling out the sphere, he twirled it in his hand. "Yes, it's one of the artifacts from 992. It has no poisonous properties, just an amazing ability to make someone do whatever you want them to and totally without their knowledge.

"Don't you see, that's how I did it. The fall from the ladder was an accident but the rest weren't. I just turned this on you and boom you did whatever I told you.

"You picked up that poisonous artifact thanks to me. I deliberately kept it away from decontamination, and fixed the paperwork. But that damn nosy Nyan began triple checking everything and realized what had happened. If he had just minded his own business that day it would have all been over, the rest of the events would not have needed to happen. But we saved you."

Lance laughed at the irony. "Yes, isn't it amazing? I helped save you from certain death, only to kill you later." The laughter coming from the man was starting to worry Daniel. God, he wished he could move.

"As you can see, I didn't quite pull this one off, either, which means � I'm going to have to kill you again. And this time, my dear Dr. Jackson, you will stay dead. No one will be able to bring you back. Then I will take your place on SG-1, cozy up to that Sam Carter, go fishing with the colonel and pal around with Teal'c, all the while laughing at them. They will become my friends. No one will be the wiser. You see, this time it will look like a heart attack."

Daniel's eyes grew wide at this thought. Keep him talking, he had to keep him talking, at least until he could move or until someone came to check on him. How long had it been, God it seemed like hours, but in actuality, if Daniel was honest with himself, he had only been awake for a few minutes.

"How?"

"What?"

"How did you do it? I mean each time it looked like an accident. I seem to have the why, how did you do it?"

"Oh, you think if you keep me talking, someone will rescue you. Well, that is not going to happen this time, Dr. Jackson!"

"Then you won't mind telling me, now will you?" Daniel watched as Bartlett again came to sit beside him and panic surged through him as he saw him start to play with his IV line.

Pulling out two syringes, Lance took the first one and slowly injected the contents into Daniel's IV. "Don't worry, this is only a muscle relaxant, to make sure you can't try anything. Now this one is another story all together." Daniel watched as the madman started to wave a large, filled syringe around. He didn't know what it was but he was sure it was lethal.

The archaeologist could feel the sedative effect of the medication as it began to wash over him. Unable to stop it, he tried to fight it, without success. He heard his heart monitor continue to bleep with regularity, not even accelerating as he felt a surge of panic. The nurses monitoring this equipment at the desk wouldn't even know there was something wrong.

Daniel felt a sense of anger wash over him. I don't want to die. I want to live, and love, and continue my work. How dare this nutcase do this to me? Oh God, send Jack or Sam or Teal'c in here. Please, help me! Daniel prayed, closing his eyes as he continued to try and feel around for the call light.

"Looking for this?" Opening his eyes, Daniel could see Lance waving the cord of the call light around and placing it well out of his reach. As a sense of inevitability washed over him, he heard Lance again start to talk.

"How'd you do it? I mean e'ch time," Daniel coughed as he tried to clear his throat. "E'ch time � accident. Told m�m�me why � how?" God, why did his tongue feel so thick?

"It was really quite simple. On the day of the car accident, I made sure I was in front of you on the way up the mountain and faked car trouble. You stopped, I hit you with the light and then ordered you to drive off the road." Lance laughed at his audience of one. "You did so without blinking an eye."

Becoming more agitated, the scientist stood and began to pace again. "But I stayed too long. And I was still standing there gloating when Siler came around the corner in his jeep, and saw me staring at your car halfway down the hill. I knew if I didn't do something, someone would catch on. I waved the sergeant down and reported seeing your �accident.' Siler contacted the base and you never remembered me being there at all. As I said, quite simple." Lance laughed.

"I slipped into your office after seeing Teal'c and Colonel O'Neill leave the day of the gate incident. You never even saw me. I again turned the light on you and sent you to the gateroom. If that damn Jaffa hadn't walked in at that time, it would have worked. I was watching. I could see you fighting it, but you weren't succeeding. Teal'c had to go and rescue you. If only he had left well enough alone!

"Oh, oh, and when you fell in the stairwell, me again. You just stood there as I pushed you down that flight of metal stairs. It all worked really well except you bloody well refused to die. What is this with you? But at the same time, this suicide attempt works so well because of all the accidents. Makes it look like you were trying all along. I have to admit, I sometimes amaze even myself." Lance started laughing with childlike glee.

Suicide attempt? Is that why I'm in here? Oh God, Jack and Sam and Teal'c thought I attempted suicide? Daniel thought that if his situation hadn't been so serious, it almost might have been funny.

"Damn, you have all the luck, Jackson. But I do have to thank you. If you hadn't sent those photos for me to analyze and translate, I wouldn't have found this magic little ball. Isn't the irony profound?" Lance was mocking him. The derision in his voice was so apparent. "You gave me the means to replace you.

"And this time, I will succeed, and everyone will think you did it to yourself. You see, only your fingerprints will be on the syringe. I'm leaving several more bottles of the potassium over here in the box for everyone to find right next to your bed. It'll look like you got into the nurses' supplies. Even if they don't believe you could do this to yourself, how will it matter? You will be dead and no one will be the wiser. And I will become a member of the premier team!"

Lance had begun to cackle with joy at his supposed good fortune and Daniel could hear the mania. The man was crazy. But he would succeed. God, he could only pray that he didn't hurt Jack, Sam or Teal'c if he did succeed in his goal of becoming a member of SG-1.

Daniel could barely keep his eyes open but his brain registered that Lance Bartlett was wearing latex gloves. Yes, he would get away with it. As he watched, Daniel saw his nemesis take his left hand and press the syringe into it. With that, he felt the darkness overtake him as he succumbed to the drugs.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Colonel O'Neill sat up on the sofa as Janet entered the waiting room. He gave her a tentative smile, the first she'd seen from him since Daniel had been brought in. Walking over, she proceeded to give them an update on Daniel's condition. He would live, and there appeared to be no permanent damage.

As she began explaining the need for Daniel to see a psychiatrist, the colonel interrupted and laid out SG-1's theories regarding Daniel's condition and their reasons for them. He had started with Daniel's wife's death and had concluded with the episode after Abydos and the visit to the graveyard three days ago. Sam and Teal'c were both in agreement that this wasn't of Daniel's doing. The three of them had made a pact to get to the bottom of this and soon. Their friend was in danger.

Janet was surprised when Sam relayed that the general was sending over Marines to act as bodyguards until there was conclusive evidence one way or another. She had to admit that their arguments were logical, and she was more than prepared to meet them halfway.

"Well, here is what I can do. I'll make arrangement to have six of my most trusted RNs to do private duty. These are people Daniel trusts and people he likes. They've all taken care of him at one time or another. This way between the Marines, the nurses and you three, he won't be left in a vulnerable position. Whatever it is that's going on, he has no knowledge of it. That makes it hard to fight. And I'll be honest. I've known Daniel almost as long as you three and I've been having trouble believing he was trying to kill himself. Between the bunch of us, we'll watch his six."

Shaking her head, she sat next to Teal'c, who took her hand in his and gave it a small squeeze. She smiled. Teal'c had come to her last night, insisting that their friend was not suicidal. He had told her of Daniel's sessions with him in kel-no-reem. Daniel had quietly participated, always feeling calm and rested at the conclusion. The archaeologist had explained how it helped him stay focused and helped him work through the grief, and he had been grateful for Teal'c's help and support.

Daniel was still participating on a regular basis. Teal'c had explained to her that Daniel would never have been able to reach such a level of meditation and peace had he been in turmoil over his very existence.

No, Teal'c had also been sure that Daniel was under attack by unseen forces. Well, if that were so, she would help protect Daniel in any way she could.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Sam stood and looked at her teammates. "I'm heading back to the room. You guys coming?"

"I'm gonna get something to drink. You guys want something?" Colonel O'Neill offered.

"I shall accompany you," Teal'c answered.

They both looked at Sam expectantly. She realized that they'd left Daniel alone for several minutes and she was eager to get back to him in case he woke up. "Maybe a diet Coke, if there are any. Otherwise, just a bottle of water. Thanks."

As her two teammates went towards the elevator, Sam headed out to see Daniel. As she came out of the waiting room, she saw someone exiting her friend's room. He had on a lab coat, so she thought at first it must be one of the medical staff.

But as he turned a little towards her she saw that it was one of the archaeologists in Daniel's department. What was his name? Damn, she couldn't remember.

Hurrying towards Daniel's room, she was pondering this strange occurrence. How did he know Daniel was here? Janet had agreed to keep this under wraps until they knew what was happening. So the only people who were supposed to know where Daniel was were here at the hospital, with the exception of General Hammond, and she knew he would never say anything.

Running now, she felt a sense of dread sweep through her. Daniel! Oh my God, Daniel! Bolting into the room, she immediately saw that her friend was in trouble. There was a syringe on the floor next to the bed. And in the bed she could see Daniel, unconscious, barely breathing, lips blue, skin white as the sheet he was laying on and diaphoretic.

Rushing over she could see that the heart monitor was registering something that didn't look good to her. As Sam reached for the emergency button above the bed, she saw her friend's breathing stop and heard the heart monitor alarm as his heart stopped.

Feeling for a pulse and finding none, Sam immediately began CPR, breathing for Daniel and then pumping on his chest. Two breaths, fifteen compressions. Two breaths, fifteen compressions. Two breaths, fifteen compressions. It seemed to go on forever, and then suddenly, she was being pulled away and replaced by someone in scrubs.

She fought to get back. "No! I won't let him die, he can't die. Let me help him!" Someone was holding her, keeping her back from the activity going on around the bed.

Colonel O'Neill's familiar voice sounded insistently in her ear. "It's okay, it's okay. Doc is taking care of him." She could feel that it was his and Teal'c's hands holding her. Calming, she held onto his arm and allowed him to move her back farther away from the activity surrounding the bed.

The Code team of the ICU was there. Sam watched in horror as Daniel's chest was bared and pads were placed. They shocked him once, twice, three times without success. Her fear escalated as Daniel was reintubated and CPR was continued.

Blood was drawn, medications ordered and administered, all the while CPR was continued. Daniel was shocked again and Sam felt a small bubble of hope when a rhythm and a pulse started up. And that hope was crushed as the rhythm disappeared and CPR was started once again.

Janet looked at the lab results and then gave more orders. "D50, Insulin, Normal Saline, Lasix"; the medical personnel efficiently carried out her orders without hesitation, a sure testament to their professionalism and experience. Sam felt the hope return when Janet's small fist pumped in triumph when they shocked Daniel again and finally had a cardiac rhythm that she was satisfied with; one that didn't disappear after a few seconds.

There were more orders; "Amiodarone, fluid bolus, Magnesium, more D50, more Insulin, an EKG and Echocardiagram, more blood." The medspeak flowed over Sam, the controlled chaos of the room something with which her friend Janet was very familiar. And Sam had all her trust in her friend at that moment.

All the while Sam stood gripping the colonel's arm, staring across the room, watching and praying the medical team would be successful. And suddenly the tension in the room began to ease. Sam could see what she thought was a normal rhythm on the heart monitor. The ventilator was hooked up and was now breathing for her friend. The nurses were starting to clean up the mess the team had made while working to save Daniel, still monitoring him closely.

Janet turned to them and nodded. Sam was openly crying in relief. Janet, the nurses and the medical staff at the Academy Hospital had saved Daniel again. She let go of the colonel's arm and realized that her fingers were cramped. She apologized as she massaged her hand, realizing that she'd probably left bruises on his arm.

Janet walked over and filled them in. "His potassium level was through the roof. We'll continue to monitor it but it doesn't get that high by itself. There are several bottles of potassium on the table next to the bed but I know for a fact that they're not kept in patient rooms, and they weren't here earlier. Someone had to have put them there. Daniel was too weak to do anything with them even if he'd known they were there and what they were for. It looks more and more like you were right about someone wanting to kill him." She smiled, trying to ease the look of tension in their faces. "Sam, you did good," Janet said, placing a hand on Sam's arm and squeezing. "Those few seconds might have made the difference.

"He's critical and we'll have to test for cardiac damage. We'll be drawing blood every two hours throughout the night, checking his potassium level, among other things. There's also the issue of brain damage � but since Sam was here when he arrested and started CPR right away, I doubt that there will be any, but there are no guarantees. We'll just have to wait for Daniel to wake up.

"I'll contact the nurses I'd mentioned earlier. All are trained in critical care so they'll know what to look for and they'll watch Daniel carefully. So don't get in their way, huh, guys?

"We'll see if he's awake in the morning. If he is, and he's breathing well on his own, I'll pull the tube out. Right now his heart and his body need to rest. He'll be getting some sedation, but not enough to keep him out. Only enough to keep him calm. Talk to him. Reassure him that you're here and that he won't be left alone. And most of all try and get some rest yourselves."

Smiling at them, Janet returned to her patient. "Oh, and I'll be here all night in case he has another crisis," she informed them, looking over at them from Daniel's bed, and as she did, Sam could see the unshed tears in her eyes.

Sam slid to the floor against the wall and put her head in her hands. She would kill that son-of-a- bitch with her bare hands just as soon as she had recovered from this latest terror. Right now all she wanted to see Daniel's baby blues and have him smile at her.

Feeling Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c slide to the floor next to her, she told them what she had seen and what she suspected. And as they sat there guarding their friend, they began to plan.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

The heart monitor was always the first indication that Daniel was awake. It would begin to speed up as their friend fought the sedation and after-effects of the overdose.

Jack leaned over the bed and cupped Daniel's cheek in his hand, careful of the ventilator tubing, making sure that his friend could physically feel his presence.

"Daniel," he called softly, not wanting to startle the younger man as he jerked awake. Jack gently turned his face towards him and said his name again. Although partially open, his eyes were searching the room for imagined or remembered danger.

"Shhhh, it's okay. You're safe now," Jack soothed, his thumb gently stroking the damp skin. Daniel's glazed blue eyes finally focused on him and Jack smiled reassuringly.

"You're safe, nobody's gonna hurt you. Try to relax and go back to sleep, okay?"

Daniel reached up and brought his hand to his face. Jack moved quickly and caught the errant hand before Daniel could grab the ventilator tubing.

"Fraiser said you needed the ventilator for a while longer," Jack explained as he placed Daniel's hand back on the bed. He was surprised when Daniel clutched at his fingers when he let go so he kept a gentle grasp on his hand. "I know it's uncomfortable but she might be taking it out in the morning. So hang in there, okay?"

Daniel nodded weakly, his eyes closing slowly.

Jack moved back onto the chair, trying to get comfortable. At the slight sound, Daniel jerked and opened his eyes, his eyes wide and frightened.

"Sorry," Jack said, realizing he'd startled his friend. Pressure against his fingers indicated that it was okay. Daniel's eyes remained on Jack, and with sudden certainty, Jack knew that his friend was terrified.

"Hey, it's okay. We know what happened. We know what Bartlett tried to do. We won't leave you alone, Danny. He won't get another chance to get to you, �cause we're gonna wring that little weasel's neck. I promise you, you're not alone."

Daniel's eyes slid shut as his fingers squeezed Jack's once more. In a moment he was asleep again. Jack continued to talk softly to his friend, reassuring himself at this point rather than Daniel.

Jack looked at his watch. Carter would be coming to relieve him in about twenty minutes. It had been a long night, each of them taking turns sitting with Daniel, but hopefully now things would start looking up. Actually he decided things were good. Daniel was alive, that was all that mattered. And maybe once he woke up and Fraiser took that contraption out of him, he'd be able to tell them exactly what had happened. He took the limp hand and placed it gently back onto the bed and adjusted the blanket over his friend.

They would get that bastard. It was just a matter of time.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Lance Bartlett jauntily sauntered down the hallway and up the stairs, nodding at the airmen standing outside the general's door as he knocked on it. The older man looked up and gave him a tight smile before offering him a seat.

"Thank you for coming, Doctor Bartlett," General Hammond said as he put down his pen and closed the folder he'd been working on.

"What can I do for you, sir?" Lance asked, biting his cheek to keep the giggles from coming out. He had a pretty good idea� rumor at the SGC had it that General Hammond was very upset about something and nobody quite knew what it was yet.

"I know that this is coming to you at short notice, but I'm in desperate need of your services. A tragedy has befallen Doctor Jackson and we need an archaeologist to replace him off-world in several hours, and at the moment you're the best man for the job."

Lance allowed his grin to spread on his face. Yes! This had been what he was working towards all this time � and he knew it to be SG-1 who was going off-world, he'd kept a schedule of all of the departing teams, praying that one day he'd be called to accompany the premiere team and replace that bumbling idiot.

"Sir, I don't know what to say. I'm honored that you feel I'm ready to go through the Stargate."

"Please report to Doctor Fraiser for a medical checkup," Hammond said curtly.

Lance's grin faded slightly, but then he realized that the man must be upset at Jackson's death. He would soon make him forget the doctor. Lance intended to be twice as productive in half the time.

"I've been cleared medically," Lance said, remembering the grueling medical he'd gone through when he had first joined the SGC.

"Yes, but that was on base. I'm afraid we need to make sure that there are no hidden medical problems before you're cleared to go off-world. It should only take a few hours. Doctor Fraiser has been advised to make the process as speedy as possible."

General Hammond opened the folder in front of him, and returned to his work. Realizing he'd been dismissed, Lance stood up and turned to leave.

"Oh, one more thing," Hammond said as he walked through the door. Lance turned to look at him. "I'll be making an announcement about SG-1 at 16:00 hours, it's imperative that you be there."

Choking down the giggles once more, Lance smiled and nodded. He kept his mouth shut because he knew he'd start laughing hysterically if he were to say something. He quickly made his way towards the medical section, anxious to get the tests over with so that he could bask in the glory of his fellow teammates when Hammond announced him as SG-1's new fourth.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Jack quietly let himself into Daniel's room after nodding to the SF outside the door, his eyes taking in everything at a glance. Daniel had been moved to another floor for security reasons as soon as the Doc had deemed it safe. He was off the ventilator now, the oxygen feed having been replaced by a nasal cannula. His body had been so weakened by the events of the past few days, though, that he'd been sleeping most of the day.

Thankfully he'd woken up earlier this morning so Fraiser had disconnected the damned ventilator. Daniel had managed to tell them what had happened, confirming their suspicions.

Letting the door fall silently closed behind him, Jack noted that Carter had fallen asleep on the chair, her head lying on the pillow beside Daniel where earlier she'd been whispering quietly to him every time he stirred. Her hand lay limply by his head where she'd been carding it through his hair.

He knew that finding Daniel in arrest had been difficult on her, and her quick action might have been what saved their friend's life. It was also a miracle that she'd spotted that bastard coming out of Daniel's room. They had an eyewitness now on top of Daniel's testimony.

Seeing Teal'c sitting there quietly holding Daniel's hand was a little unsettling to Jack. The Jaffa was usually very unexpressive in showing his feelings; that simple action spoke volumes of his affection towards Daniel.

Jack handed Teal'c a soft drink and two sandwiches, putting Carter's meal aside for the time being. He took up the third chair beside Teal'c, slowly sipping his coffee and unwrapping his own lunch.

"I spoke to Hammond," Jack said quietly. "He said everything's ready. He's going to make the announcement at 16:00 hours. Fraiser's getting her hands on Bartlett as we speak."

"I am looking forward to seeing General Hammond's performance," Teal'c said quietly.

Jack looked at his half eaten sandwich before giving the Jaffa the bad news.

"Well, there's a little favor I'd like to ask you," Jack started. "About that announcement �" Jack cleared his throat, before continuing. "I know that we've figured out who's behind all of this and that Daniel's safe now. But I'd feel better if Daniel wasn't left alone, and I think you're probably the best person to keep him company."

"O'Neill, I am perfectly capable of keeping my temper," Teal'c said, slightly affronted.

"I know. But Carter needs this and I have to be there with Hammond � hey, I'll bring you a copy of the security tapes and we can sit back and have a party when Daniel's up to it." He quickly ducked his eyes, taking another bite.

Jack snatched a look at the big man, seeing him staring straight ahead. "It's not that I don't trust you, you know I do. But Daniel does, too, and I really don't want him to be alone, especially not until Fraiser's done all the tests and we know that there hasn't been any damage done to his heart."

Daniel stirred on the bed and Jack saw that he was watching them.

"Stay, Teal'c," Daniel said softly, before his eyes closed once more.

"I will stay," Teal'c stated.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Lance sat on the edge of the hospital bed, bare legs swinging to the tune of "Pop Goes the Weasel" he was quietly humming to himself. He was in a fantastic mood, and the song was more than appropriate. He'd popped that weasel, all right.

He stilled his movements when he heard Doctor Fraiser's swift footsteps coming down the hallway towards him. She offered him a tight smile of apology before putting down the tray she'd been carrying and pulling the privacy curtains shut.

"I'm sorry to have kept you waiting," she said, as she turned to the contents in the tray.

"No problemo," he answered flippantly. "I guess I'm gonna have to start getting used to being here a lot, hmmm?" he said conversationally.

At the wide-eyed look she gave him, he realized belatedly that he shouldn't be so cheerful. After all, Doctor Jackson had supposedly been a friend of hers.

"I'm sorry," he apologized. "I didn't mean � it's just that the general informed me this morning that I was supposed to take Doctor Jackson's place."

Her hands stilled their movements, indicating that she was probably upset.

"I'm truly sorry about Doctor Jackson," he said, deciding he'd best try and make nice with her. "When the general told me about his death, I was totally shocked. I never ever imagined that he was undergoing such a hard time in his life. I wish I'd known, we weren't very close, you know, but I could have approached him. Sometimes it's so much easier to talk to a stranger than �"

He realized that he was rambling, and looked up at her in embarrassment. She had one fisted hand held tightly to her mouth and her face was red. Oh shit, he'd made her cry.

"Excuse me," she said in a strangled voice as she rushed out of the curtained area. Lance hopped off the bed to go after her, but realized that he really didn't want to parade through the infirmary in a hospital gown that seemed to be missing a good chunk of material as it wasn't quite covering his butt.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Janet didn't know whether to laugh or cry as she rushed out of the infirmary and into the medical lab at the far end of the corridor.

"That goddamned, slimy, shit stinking little bastard," Janet swore as she stomped her way to where Sam and Hammond were examining the piece of alien technology one of her nurses had lifted from the same son-of-a-bitch's clothes. Sam looked up, exhaustion lining her face. Janet felt a moment of compassion for her friend, knowing that she'd had very little sleep in the past few days, and the emotional upheaval of having found Daniel in crisis. She stopped and leaned her fists on the desk, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath to try and compose herself.

"He just admitted that he knew Daniel was dead," she said quietly, looking at General Hammond. "He offered me his sympathies and said you'd informed him of his death, sir."

Hammond smiled. "Good," he stated. "Everything's going according to plan. I think I'm quite going to enjoy our little production. Major, you'll keep me apprised of what you've discovered here?" At her nod and quiet "Yes, sir," he turned and left.

"Janet, are you okay?" Sam asked as she left her work and walked over to her. She placed an arm around Janet and gave her a gentle hug.

"Thanks, yeah, I'm fine. I mean, I know that Daniel told us that this guy was behind the murder attempts and you said you'd seen him leaving Daniel's room, but to actually hear him say �" She took another deep breath and straightened. "I'm fine. I just have to go and prepare a few more injections." At Sam's understanding grin, she added, "I think maybe a dozen or so wouldn't be over the top?"

Feeling a bit better, Janet returned to the infirmary, intending to find the largest needles she could get away with.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

"God, how many more are you going to give me?" Lance complained as Doctor Fraiser pulled the needle out of his butt. He felt like his body was a pincushion and he never remembered injections hurting so much before. He eyed the second tray she'd brought in; there still seemed to be quite a few syringes sitting there untouched.

"Doctor Bartlett, if you're going off-world, we need to be certain you've been inoculated against all types of diseases."

"But don't inoculations take time to build up a resistance to the disease?"

He frowned at her noncommittal response, and winced as she took up yet another syringe. Feeling his body tense involuntarily, he closed his eyes and ground his teeth together as she slowly pierced his skin and injected the contents into yet another part of his body. He looked at his watch, thinking that he still had another hour of agony to endure before General Hammond made the public announcement of Jackson's death. That thought ended up making the pain more than bearable.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Jack stood outside the gateroom, listening intently as General Hammond asked Lance to come and stand beside him. The room was jam packed with personnel standing at attention, reminding him of the time that he'd been the one standing inside, emotions conflicting with elation and sadness with both having saved the world and having lost his friend. Hammond had surprised them all with the words "someone would like see you." Daniel had nearly died that time, too. Jack shivered when he thought of how close he'd come to losing his friend these past few days.

"I've gathered you all here to inform you of a tragedy that has befallen one of our own. It is with great sadness that I must do this. The thought that someone who we have brought into our midst would turn and commit this awful act tears at my soul. There were no signs of warning, no suspicious comments, nothing but hindsight to help us figure out what happened."

"Gentlemen, it is with deep regret that our own, Doctor Daniel Jackson �"

This was Jack's cue. Keying the device on his chest, he stepped through the door and sauntered into the room, grinning wildly at the looks of confusion the personnel gave him as he maneuvered his way toward the general. He was looking for only one face, and one face only. Having made his way through the crowd, he finally looked up and waved at Lance, who was standing beside Hammond and Carter.

Eyes bulging, mouth gaping, the man looked like he'd been struck by lightning.

"Miss me?" Jack asked teasingly.

"You're d�d�d�dead!" Lance finally exclaimed. "What did you do?" he demanded of Hammond. "Did you stick him in a sarcophagus? Use a healing device?" He took several angry steps towards Jack. "It's not fair! You're supposed to be dead! Damn the luck, you sonnavabitch!"

As he stuck his hands into his pants pocket, Carter stepped forward and said, "Looking for this?" She had a shiny object held in her palm and quickly snatched it away as he made to grab for it.

"Sorry, Bartlett," Jack said. "Playtime's over." At his words, the man turned towards Jack and swung clumsily. Jack easily countered the blow. He threw his own punch, feeling the rush of satisfaction as his fist hit the man's face. As Lance went flying, Jack took three steps to where he lay on his stomach and bending over, grabbed the man's arm and forced it behind his back. He easily subdued him and handed him over to the two waiting SFs.

"I'll get you yet!" Lance screamed as he was escorted out of the room.

Jack fingered the device and switched it off, his own body and face appearing and replacing the false image that it had projected of Daniel. Still grinning, he looked at Hammond and saw him laughing. He stepped up and stood beside Carter, whose smile matched that of the general's.

"Gentlemen, as I was saying, a great tragedy has befallen our friend Doctor Daniel Jackson. Several attempts were made on his life, and I am pleased to say that he is recovering and will be joining us in several weeks.

"I will require witnesses as to what has just occurred. Anyone willing to testify please step �"

The room echoed loudly as every single man stepped forward. Smiling at them, he said, "Thank you all."

~*~*~*~*~*~*

The infirmary rang with the sound of Daniel's laughter. Jack sat back and watched his friend wipe the tears from his face while he enjoyed the security tape that Jack had procured for him, happy to see him recovering from Lance's campaign of terror.

Daniel had been moved back to the infirmary after two weeks in the ICU at Academy Hospital. During his time there, Fraiser's hand-picked nurses had kept constant watch on their favorite patient, all the while dodging SG-1 as they continued their vigil.

Although now safe, Jack, Carter and Teal'c had remained at Daniel's side as he slowly began to regain his strength. Despite Fraiser's protests that Daniel was going to completely recover, the team had remained, not only to help and encourage their friend, but to reassure themselves that they had indeed not lost him.

Now back in the infirmary, where he would be spending at least another week, Daniel was finally beginning to lose the dark circles and gain some of the weight he had lost during the two weeks of hell that Lance had put him through. All those many "accidents" had already left him weak.

Daniel had been slow to wake up after arresting and had since been suffering from night terrors. He remembered Lance's last attack and Jack had been witness to several nightmares, as had both Teal'c and Carter. These were yet another reason why the team was loathe to leave Daniel alone. But Daniel was getting stronger every day, and every day there had seemed to be less equipment monitoring his friend.

Fraiser had warned them all that it would be a slow recovery. Daniel's body had been put through the wringer and needed time to rest and recover. She had promised him only one more week in the infirmary but had insisted on another two weeks' downtime. And even then he'd only be allowed back for light duty. The fact that Daniel hadn't complained at these restrictions proved to Jack how ill his friend really was.

All of this added to the relaxed atmosphere that Jack's team was enjoying right now.

"Oh God, that's so funny," Daniel said when he was able to draw a breath. "Where's the remote? I want to see it again."

"You've seen it five times already," Carter said from where she was sitting cross-legged at the foot of Daniel's bed. She aimed the remote at the VCR and rewound the tape for him indulgently.

"But the look on Bartlett's face is just priceless, Sam," Daniel complained, still chuckling. "He just stood there and stared. And Jack, your grin, you looked like the cat coming to catch the canary."

"No," Jack said. "It was your face that looked like the cat going after the canary."

"Yeah, but I don't smile in that predatory way � that was purely you behind my face."

"God, that almost makes sense," Jack said with an exaggerated shiver.

"Hey, you never told me how you managed to convince Area 51 to give you that device that we took off the aliens from P3X-118?"

"How do you do that?" Jack asked in frustration.

"Do what?"

"Remember the code for a planet we went to almost two years ago? Or are you just making the numbers up?" Jack turned to look at Carter and Teal'c. "He made them up, didn't he?"

"I did not!" Daniel argued, affronted.

"They are indeed the correct coordinates," Teal'c confirmed.

"You too?" Jack whined. He turned to Carter and she nodded. "Geez, you guys keep that up and there'll be no more room in your brains for the important stuff."

"So how did you get Area 51 to give up their little toy?" Daniel asked, steering the conversation back to the original topic. The tape was playing once more and Jack could hear General Hammond begin setting up Lance.

"We bribed them with a new doodad to play with if they'd let us have that old one for a little while," Jack said with a grin.

"They were very eager to get their hands on what Bartlett had," Carter added. "They didn't give General Hammond much of an argument when he asked for the shape shifting device."

They all quieted as Daniel pulled his attention back to the TV screen. Jack watched his friend again, this time Daniel simply smiled through the video rather than bursting out into laughter. Jack could see that he was tiring, and he planned to get his friend settled and under the covers before Fraiser came and ordered them out.

When Carter turned off the VCR and TV, Daniel didn't complain. He readjusted his position until he was lying down in bed. He punched the pillows a few times before laying his head on them.

"Hey, I don't think I ever thanked you guys," Daniel said sleepily.

"There's no need to thank us," Carter said as she fussed with his blankets.

"Yes, there is. I don't mean just for saving my life and for proving that I wasn't suicidal. I mean � for all of this, for being here for me �"

Jack could see that Daniel was getting a little embarrassed.

"It's just that with everything that happened, first Sha'uri and then this, it means a lot to me."

"Yeah, well, we've kinda gotten attached to you," Jack said. "And just think of the trouble we'd have to go through to train another archaeologist. Hell, we got you so well trained you go to bed now without our asking twice."

Daniel grinned, then yawned.

"Go to sleep, Daniel. Don't try and make a liar out of me," Jack said softly as the rest of his team bid quiet goodnights to their sleepy friend.

Jack watched as Daniel slept. He'd be leaving soon also. With the infirmary being familiar territory, and with Daniel not having had a nightmare in the past three days, they felt it safe to leave him alone now at night.

The last four weeks had been hard on Daniel and the team. Jack was amazed he hadn't seen it sooner. His family had been under attack and he hadn't even known it or been able to stop it until it was almost too late.

Stroking the sleeping man's hair, Jack marveled at how this stubborn man, who sometimes managed to get on everyone's nerves, had once again beaten the odds. He knew that he was going to be inclined to be a little over-protective of his friend for a while. And he knew that Daniel would put up with him.

Watching Daniel's six was a part of being Daniel's friend. And he would be watching along with Carter and Teal'c.

Reaching over to the bedside table, Jack turned off the lamp, throwing Daniel's corner of the infirmary into semi-darkness. Jack looked at his friend and started making a list in his head of things he needed to do before Daniel came home with him while he recovered.

Smiling once more before he left for the night, Jack reached over and stroked Daniel's head one last time. As he headed home, Jack whispered to no one in particular, "Oh yeah, Daniel, we've got your six, and always will."

 

FINIS!


Author's Comments: For our Heartsisters
This story was first released in the zine Redemption 5. Thank you, Annie, for having trusted in us

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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.