Jmas Fan Fiction

TITLE: In Time of Need
AUTHOR: Jmas and PHO
EMAIL: jmasg1@bellsouth.net
CATEGORY: Drama, angst, h/c
SPOILERS: Need
SEASON / SEQUEL:
RATING: PG
CONTENT WARNINGS:
SUMMARY: Our take on the events that must have transpired between Daniel's breakdown in the store room and his return to duty....
STATUS: Complete
ARCHIVE: Stargate Fan, Heliopolis, Belle, Place of Our Legacy
DISCLAIMER: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. We have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the authors. Not to be archived without permission of the authors.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: <Jmas> This starter had been lurking around on my hard drive for a month until one day PHO asked, "What did you think of Need?...or words to that effect...We talked about doing two separate stories on the nature of addiction and how the team's friendship got Daniel through those dark days. Then one night I sent her my start...and I found a willing victim for my longtime desire to collaborate on a fic. And here it is....Thanks, PHO!
<PHO> We know, it's been done before...but those voices are rather insistently urging us to take a shot at it.... and Round Robin seemed to work the best.

Part One: Jack
<Jmas>

"Jack?"

Daniel's voice is barely there in the darkness, but I know where to find him. This is the third night we've gone through this; the third night of shakes and night sweats, the third night of dreams that bring him awake screaming my name...screaming for me to help him...

He's actually managed to sleep for three hours this time...a record for this particular vigil....
I still can't fully comprehend how a machine could have screwed him up so badly. That damnable Goa'uld machine is just as insidious as any so-called recreational drug I have ever known.

"What is it, buddy?"

"W-what day...?"

He's been asking that a lot lately. I guess it's easy to understand how he could lose track of the time so easily in this dark hole of an isolation room that I talked Janet into letting us commandeer to allow Daniel a little privacy and dignity as he fought his way back from this addiction. It's bad enough to see Daniel this way as his friend...it's worse than bad...but a ward full of doctors, nurses and well-meaning...but totally clueless...friends is not what Daniel needs right now. He needs someone who knows what it's like to fight to regain your very 'self' after coming so close to the edge....

And Daniel came closer to that edge than I even want to think about....

I knew, well...mostly knew, that he wasn't going to shoot me back there in that supply closet. It's just not in Daniel to shoot someone in cold blood...but there was just enough 'if' in that situation to scare a few months off my life.

Part of me wants to blame Daniel for letting that machine change him into someone I didn't recognize...and definitely didn't like. Another...bigger...part of me is just so damn glad to see him getting back to the irritating guy I've come to know...and respect, despite what he said back in that naquadah mine.

I turn on the small nightlight and bring him a cup of water. His hand shakes so badly that I have to help him hold the cup, but it's not as bad as it has been. He doesn't look at me...actually he's been avoiding my glance for days; the one sure sign that tells me he's coming back. He's remembering what he's done and finding himself at fault...

And some of it was his fault...I can't lie and tell him otherwise. But there's plenty of blame to go around. I should have made sure he was with us when we tried to escape; Shyla should never have put in him in that damn machine after it healed him...She knew what her father had become because of that thing. She knew what she was doing to Daniel even as she did it...

"Jack?" The voice is low, questioning.

"Yeah, Daniel?"

He looks right at me for a moment, then quickly away.

"Nothing, it's not important..."

He never could lie very well, especially not to me.

"Daniel?"

Part Two: Daniel

<PHO>
"Nothing, it's not important..."

He's looking at me ... again. I can feel his eyes. He knows I'm lying. He always knows.

"Daniel?"

Quick. Think of something. Anything. What am I holding? Oh. I've drained the cup dry. I am, was so thirsty. "Uh, more water?"

"Sure." I hear the disappointment in his voice. Are his hands shaking as they take the cup? No. Those are my hands. Trembling, unable to grip ... anything. Jack's back. He holds out the cup ... again. Maybe I can hold it without his help. Okay. I can do this. He doesn't have to help me. Oh shit! I dropped it. It's cold, so very, very cold.

"Jeez, Daniel, what were you thinking?"

Jack runs away from me. Well, why shouldn't he run? After what I did. God, they almost died. I almost killed them. What was I thinking? Why, why did I listen to *her*? Why did I climb back into that *thing*, again, and again? I know why. It felt so, so good, so safe. Warm, inviting, relaxing, loving. Loving?

How could *it* be loving? It's not alive.

He's back? With towels? Oh, to clean up the water.

"Daniel, let's get you out of that wet top."

I'm not a baby. He doesn't have to help me. I push his hands away, and try not to see the hurt in his eyes. I've hurt him, them, so very, very badly. I feel the tears in my eyes. I can't work the buttons. My hands are shaking too badly. "Jack? H..Help?"

"Sure thing, buddy."

I stare at the wall behind him as he undoes the buttons, and takes the initiative to remove my shirt. He hands me a small towel, and a dry top. Okay. I can do the towel. Get dry. I can put on the shirt. Not sure about the buttons though. "Jack?"

"I got'em, Daniel."

Why does he even bother? I'm not gonna say anything else. What *can* I say? I'm sorry? It wouldn't be enough, even if he believed me. And why should he believe anything *I* say?

"How about trying to get some more sleep, Daniel?"

Does that need an answer? Stupid. Of course it does. "Okay." Simple. To the point. Can't be anything wrong with 'okay', can there? I'm so tired. He's moved closer ... to help me lie down. Why can't I do this alone? I forget. I'm so tired. The pillow feels so soft, so soft. I can't hold my eyes open any longer. The darkness returns, but ... I can feel his eyes.

Part Three: Sam
<Jmas>

The colonel looks like he wants to slug something...or someone.

I'm just glad it's not me.

Daniel still looks like a ghost, especially lying on those starched white sheets...the pale gauntness is even more pronounced. At least he's looking less like the stranger who spoke so cruelly to me in the lab three days ago; I didn't like that man...I'm glad he's gone. I just wonder if, at the end of all this, we'll get 'our' Daniel back.

We all know Daniel well enough to know that he's going to be affected by what he'll perceive as his betrayal of us. He won't take into account the fact that Shyla put him in that thing deliberately; he won't care that the sarcophagus changed him on a molecular level...that his actions were not within the control of whatever part of him still remained aware of what was going on. All Daniel will see, and I know it's going to happen, is that he left us in that mine...

Daniel has always been so understanding of our forms of craziness, working so hard to see things from our perspective...a perspective so intrinsically different from his own. He's such a gentle person; giving and passionate...so entirely open sometimes that it scares me for his sake, I'm afraid someday that he'll open up too far, or to the wrong person. The colonel sees it, too...I think that while he recognizes...maybe even envies Daniel's ability and desire to see the good in people...he knows that it sets Daniel up for a mountain of hurt. The funny thing is I think it's one of the things Daniel sees as a risk necessary to life...to 'living' life on that level that most of us just seem to miss.

But look what it's done to him this time...

As I watch through the doorway, the colonel tucks the blankets in around Daniel's shivering form. The colonel has been surprisingly...or maybe not so surprisingly..supportive of our friend through all of this. I know the colonel understands that Daniel wasn't responsible for his actions...and I *think* Teal'c does, too. But General Hammond is another matter entirely...he's angry at what he perceives as Daniel's 'civilian weakness' and is once again questioning the wisdom of allowing non-military SG team members; seemingly disregarding the fact that Daniel has proven himself repeatedly. Maybe I'm misreading the General...I hope I am, but even the colonel may not be able to talk our way out of this one...

Part Four: Teal'c
<PHO>

Samantha Carter tells me that Daniel Jackson is recovering. I am pleased, though I fear my teammates are not aware of this. They do not realize that Jaffa training requires much discipline, of body and of mind. To survive as a Jaffa, particularly a First Prime, emotional release is virtually non-existent. To the Goa'uld, any form of emotional display is a weakness. And weakness, of any sort, is not tolerated. I spent many more years as a slave to the false gods than I have as a free man, fighting beside teammates of equal stature. As much as I might desire to mimic the barely restrained excitement of Captain Carter, I cannot yet do so. The need to conceal my thoughts and feelings is too firmly imbedded.

I hold Daniel Jackson in much esteem. His training has been that of a scholar, not a warrior, yet he functions well within our circle. Indeed, I am unable to imagine SG-1 without him. His loss would be a tragedy of the greatest proportions.

As I watch Colonel O'Neill's reactions, I recognize my own frustration in situations over which I have no control. The bond between Colonel O'Neill and Daniel Jackson is beyond my understanding. The two men are opposites in almost every aspect of their personalities, except loyalty and honor. Never have I seen two more honorable men. They personify much that is good in the people of this planet.

One displays is strength, and reticence, and the other intellect, and openness.

Colonel O'Neill has stayed with our damaged friend for three days now, and has taken it upon himself to endure the worst of Daniel Jackson's suffering. I fear he has not yet come to terms with his own anger at what was done to our friend, to the rest of his team, and ... to him. Captain Carter appears to have released her anger, though there are shadows in her eyes which surface when she thinks that no one sees. Our imprisonment in the naquada mine was exceedingly difficult, though their thoughts, and my own, were primarily for Daniel Jackson's safety, despite his cruel and thoughtless *words* in that place.

I have meditated much since our return, and can find no forgiveness in my heart for this woman, this Shyla. I have no doubt that she knew what the sarcophagus would do to our friend, yet she professed to care deeply for him. This I do not understand. From the little I have heard, this *person* persuaded Daniel Jackson to reenter the sarcophagus with promises of our release. At this point, the damage was done, and each subsequent session only served to exacerbate the problem. When at last we were released, I found that I was unable to recognize my young friend. Indeed, there was not much to like in the person he had become. I hope soon to see the Daniel Jackson whom I admire.

Part Five: Janet
<Jmas>

Daniel's vitals are improving steadily, though not as steadily as I would like.The mental changes are fading, but the physical craving...? It may be quite some time before that fades to the point that Daniel doesn't feel it so overwhelmingly. This is just such an unknown. I'm going on the assumption...I pray that I'm right...that the sarcophagus affects the body much as any addictive drug that we know of. It's those cellular changes that have me so concerned. The withdrawal so far has been extremely difficult and the pain is far greater than I'd expected. If it hadn't been for Colonel O'Neill staying with Daniel, helping to soothe him through the aching waves of pain...I don't know if our young friend would have made it.

I remember the screams that first night...

Daniel's voice, so strange and distorted, finally tapering off into hoarse sobs...then silence. I ran to see why the sounds had stopped so suddenly and found Colonel O'Neill huddled in the corner with Daniel held close to him. The red scrape along Daniel's jaw told it's own story. I don't blame Colonel O'Neill for knocking Daniel out. Unconsciousness was the only relief either of us could give him. I'd already tried tranquilizers; they'd had little effect and I feared that continuing to use them would only trade one dependency for another...but Colonel O'Neill couldn't keep punching Daniel out either....

Daniel still hasn't been able to keep anything on his stomach, not that Colonel O'Neill has been able to coax him into trying to eat much. At first I tried to keep an IV in, but Daniel was just too restless and the Colonel absolutely forbade me from putting the restraints back on. I still don't know what that was about.

In the end, I think it's a function of that immense tenacity that is such a key to the personalities of both men that has brought them this far....I just hope it can bring them out at the other end of this. As bad as things have been, I don't think it's over yet...

Part Six: Jack
<PHO>

He's sleeping again, but he still doesn't look good. Even in sleep, the lines of pain are obvious to anyone who'll bother to look.

God, this is what? The fourth day, or is it night? A quick glance into the hall proves it to be daytime; the halls are too busy for a night watch.

A soft moan from behind me warns me that the bad stuff is starting once more. His brow is creased with pain, and he's starting to thrash around on the bed as I rush to get back to his side. Is this nightmare or withdrawal? Jesus, Jack, what the hell's the difference when it causes ... this.

I'm on my knees beside him now, washing his face down with the warm water that's seemed to provide some comfort over the past few days. His face contorts suddenly, and his eyes shoot open, wide with panic ... and pain.

"Easy, Daniel. I'm here." I wish I could tell him that it's all right, but I can't. I know what's to follow.
His hands fist in the bedclothes as he arches soundlessly off the bed. He's lucid enough this time to fight the screams, to try to maintain at least some dignity in this, this mess.

"Let it out, Daniel. It's just you and me. Just let it go." Blue eyes, filled to overflowing with tears, meet mine, begging for a moment of release. But there's nothing I can do, except cradle his too-thin body in my arms again. When was the last time he really ate? I can't remember. Gotta ask Janet ... but no needles. No way in hell is he gonna add needles to *this*.

His body seizes violently and I find myself struggling to maintain my grip. I'm gonna kill that little bitch. She knew. You can't tell me she didn't.

Whoa! Only three seizures this time. That's one for the books. He collapses wearily against my chest, and I find myself automatically pushing his too-long hair out of his eyes. Really gotta talk to him about a more appropriate haircut.

I ease him back on the bed, stroking his hair as I position his head on the pillow. His eyes meet mine once more, this time in silent gratitude. He looks exhausted. Well, why the hell not. He hasn't had more than a few hours rest in the last week. And those rest periods have been broken by a pain so intense that, for a time, I was afraid he'd go truly mad, or die.
I'm smiling at him now, hoping that I'm being reassuring. That's a laugh. Me, Colonel Mom. Jeez. But it's working. His eyes are still open, but his body is starting to relax, just a bit.

He's sleeping again, more peacefully this time. A slight noise from the doorway tells me that I'm not alone, and I turn to see ... General Hammond. I don't like the look on his face. Is that regret, mixed with contempt? Surely not. Hammond wouldn't condemn... Yes, yes he would. He's never dealt with this sort of thing before, at least not personally. He can't possibly understand. Maybe if I ignore him...

"Colonel O'Neill?"

Oh shit! "Yes, sir?"

"I'd like to see you privately for a moment." Hammond frowns as Daniel moves restlessly on the bed.

"If you can leave..."

Part Seven: Hammond
<Jmas>

Looking at the pitifully changed form of young Jackson on the bed. I'm more convinced than ever that civilian's have no place on SG field teams. They simply don't have the training and discipline required to deal with the things that are 'out there' on the other side of the Stargate.

Colonel O'Neill is looking at me like I've suddenly become the enemy in this situation, now I just have to convince him that he's wrong. I'm just trying to protect Jackson...just like he is. With a sigh that he doesn't bother trying to conceal, O'Neill steps into the hallway with me and slouches against the wall, making it clear in that insolent gesture that he doesn't intend to go any further from his young charge.

I take a deep breath before speaking; I'm not looking forward to this...

"Colonel O'Neill, as of now, Daniel Jackson is off SG1."

O'Neill straightens up in a hurry at that, an argument forming on his lips even as he completes the move. "Sir...."

I hold up a hand to cut him off. "No arguments, Colonel. That's an order. He can remain with the SGC if..." Even I don't have the heart to finish that statement, but I continue quickly, "But all civilians are hereby removed from active field duty."

O'Neill looks at me in poorly concealed derision, shooting a glance back into Jackson's room. "Sir, this isn't Daniel's fault...."

I find my own anger growing at that, "Then whose fault is it, Colonel? Would any of *you* have fallen for this? I can understand the first time...it saved his life. After that, he chose...."

"No, sir...he didn't choose. That *woman* manipulated..."

"A civilian." I say it in my best 'no arguments' voice. "The subject is closed, Colonel. The SG teams will no longer have civilian members." I soften my voice a bit, I know what Jackson has come to mean to SG1. "Colonel, it really is for the best..."

"He's right, Jack..." It's Jackson's voice.

We both spin around to see the disheveled young man clinging to the doorway with trembling hands. He looks at me with eyes dim from pain, hollow with exhaustion and other things I can only guess at. Somewhere in those eyes, that I've never quite been able to read like O'Neill can, I see a mountainous guilt that is just as quickly hidden.

"I don't belong on the team, anymore...." The boy's, and he really is little more than a boy...too damn young, too damn trusting, voice fades on the last word.

We both see it coming, but O'Neill reacts more quickly and reaches Jackson's side just in time to catch him as he falls.

Part Eight: Sam
<PHO>

Uh oh. This is *not* good. The General's talking to the Colonel, and the Colonel, well, the something he wanted to hit earlier has turned into the General. Don't, please don't.

Oh. Good. Ja...the Colonel's relaxed just a bit. I don't believe General Hammond even noticed the tightening of his fists, just the anger on his face, in his voice. But that was enough. Hammond's talking again, and there's anger in *his* tones now. Damn! Too far away to hear the words, and too near to slip away unnoticed. I'm well and truly stuck. What *is* wrong?

Holy Hannah. Daniel. What the heck does he think he's doing? He can barely stand, and he's walking, well, I wouldn't call it walking, exactly, more like vertical crawling. At any rate, he's trying to reach the Colonel. Obviously he can hear what they're saying. He's saying something. Good, their attention is focused on him. Maybe now I can slip aw... Who am I kidding? I've got to get closer. Maybe they won't notice.

Daniel looks so weak, so frail, so ... guilty. What'd he just say? What does he mean he doesn't belong on the team? What kind of rubbish is that? Of course he belongs. He just made a mistake. But he won't do it again, will he? What was it Janet said? That the physical symptoms are fading, but she's not sure about the changes at the cellular level. Could they cause him ... no, Samantha, that *person* in my lab is gone forever. I'm sure of it.

Oh, look out! Catch him; don't let him get hurt. The cry dies in my throat as the Colonel lifts the too thin form into his arms. Daniel looks much too young as his head lolls against the Colonel's shoulder.

Colonel O'Neill shifts Daniel's weight in his arms, and turns to say something, I'm afraid to find out what, to the General.

His words never come as he spots me. I find myself gulping under his intense stare. "General, Colonel. I...I, uh, came to visit Daniel." Thank God it's true.

"Captain." Both of my superiors are watching me suspiciously, probably wondering how long I've been there, what I might have heard. Wish I could tell them ... too much and not enough. Damn! If I'm gonna hang, I'd at least like to know for what.

The Colonel *looks* at the General. When did Hammond become the enemy? "If that's all, sir, I need to get Daniel back to bed."

The General *looks* at the Colonel. I do not like this at all. A low moan from Daniel, pulls all of our eyes in his direction. "Yes, Colonel. That's all ... for now. But we *will* talk later."

The Colonel puts on his best neutral officer face, the one I *don't* like because it's so unreadable.

"Yes, General. I look forward to *that*."

Part Nine: Daniel
<Jmas>

That's it, then.

I'm off the team.

Before...all of this...I would have fought the General's decision, but now...

I really don't belong out there anymore, if I ever did. Too many times I've put my friends in danger, too many times I've rushed into places that Jack and the others never would...I'm going to get them killed if I stay with them. That's why I can't....

Jack's been looking at me strangely since I woke up. He doesn't understand. For some reason, he's trying to make excuses for me, for what I did...but he's wrong. I have to leave SG1, now, before....
I have to choke back a moan at the thought and receive another in a long line of concerned looks from Jack. He looks terrible, lines of exhaustion and worry etched plainly on his face. My fault there, too. He shouldn't be here. He shouldn't have to be. I don't deserve his concern.

God, it hurts. I've never experienced this kind of pain before. But it's the thoughts, the memories of what I did *and* said that hurt even more. It seems like every time I close my eyes there's more to remember...more to regret...more to hate myself for....

// Trust me. And I will trust you. I promise. // Shyla's voice, sweetly entreating...

//How many times have you used that thing?// Sam's voice, concerned even in its exhaustion.

//All you guys have to do is hang in there...// My own voice...saying that and so many other stupid things....sounding so...foreign to that other part of myself that seemed to be watching from far away, recognizing that this was all wrong....

God, I *left* them there.

I couldn't focus on reality enough to realize that my friends were *dying*. ....and there's nothing I can say or do that will ever make that right again...

I wish I could get out of here. I know Jack's trying to help, he *is* helping, but want...I *need*...to be alone...

Part Ten: Jack
<PHO>

Carter's smart in more ways than one. Her eyes grew impossibly wide as Hammond reiterated that Daniel was off the team, but, unlike me, she chose not to address the subject with him. Instead, she stammered nervously for a moment, then excused herself. Never saw anyone disappear around a corner as fast as that. It would've been funny if I hadn't been so pissed at Hammond. Of all the uncaring, ill-considered, badly timed, just plain *stupid* things to have happen. Daniel should have been asleep, rather than having his heart and soul crushed ... again.

Hammond's gone now. We exchanged glares for a moment, then he followed Carter down the hall ... at a much slower pace. Guess he didn't want me to think he was running away from the *situation*. Well ... he was, and still is. The very idea that we should drop Daniel from the team. He needs us now, more than he's needed us since Sha'uri was taken.

Shit! Daniel's conscious again, and struggling to get down. I really wanted to get him back in bed and settled first. I could still force the issue; he's far to weak too pose much of a challenge, but...

"Easy does it, Daniel. You don't have your sea legs, yet."

His wan smile is almost heartbreaking. "Th..thought you were Air Force, J'ck."

A joke. Dammit Jackson. I know what you're doing. You're trying to hide, to withdraw into yourself. To run away, just like the General. Well, ain't gonna happen. I'm not gonna let ya. "Ya think?"

He nods and chews on his lip, even as he tries to stand by himself. I recognize that look; he's trying to hide his pain. Look at him, wobbling, trying not to clutch at my arm. Okay, fine. I'll hold onto his. His blue eyes are so, so intense as he stares at me. What? There's ... something.

Oh, no, no, no, no, no. He wants to be alone. He wants me to leave him ... alone. I can see it in his eyes, and I'll bet, knowing the kid the way I do, that he thinks he *deserves* everything that's happening to him. Shit, I'm betting he believes he deserves *worse* than he's getting, if that's even possible.

He thinks he *hurt* us. Well, okay, maybe a little. No, better be honest with myself. He hurt us a lot. But we're over it. Well, mostly over it. And, yeah, we're a little, maybe a lot angry. But not enough to throw him to the wolves. Not enough to let him be thrown off the team. Not without a fight.

Part Eleven: Teal'c
<Jmas>

I am hoping to persuade O'Neill to take a few hours rest and allow me to sit with Daniel Jackson. Captain Carter has informed me of General Hammond's decision, and I do not agree. Daniel Jackson made a mistake and, from what Captain Carter tells me, he fully recognizes that error and accepts responsibility for it. Even among the Jaffa, that fact alone holds great weight. What is done cannot be undone, but as long as the lesson is learned...the subject is no longer relevant.

Colonel O'Neill is dozing in his chair beside Daniel Jackson's bed. Daniel Jackson himself looks far from peaceful in his rest. The lines of worry crease his young brow and fatigue is still etched there when all should be peaceful stillness.
O'Neill awakens at my footsteps and motions for me to join him in the corridor. I ask of Daniel Jackson's progress.

O'Neill looks back toward the room he has just exited. "Better, but a long way from good..."

I am not entirely sure I understand, but nod. I have grown accustomed to O'Neill's strange ways of speaking and his expression reveals much more than his words ever could. I inform him of my intent in coming here and he starts to refuse...

I pull him away from the doorway and speak to him earnestly. "O'Neill, you cannot help Daniel Jackson if you do not help yourself."

He looks somewhat surprised by my words, and perhaps a little touched. "You're right, Teal'c...I know that. But Daniel and I started this thing together, we're going to finish it together...."

I cannot seem to find an argument for that, so I nod to him in understanding. It is one of the many things that I find admirable about my Tau'ri friends, they feel things so deeply, and their honor surpasses that of even the Jaffa. As O'Neill turns back to the room, I follow him. If he will not leave his vigil, the least I can do is keep him company for a time. We re-enter the room and O'Neill stops suddenly. I move around him to see what has happened.

Daniel Jackson is gone.


Part Twelve: Daniel
<PHO>

Teal'c's timing has never been better. I couldn't have feigned sleep much longer, but neither Jack nor

Teal'c noticed that I was awake. Jack must be more tired than I'd thought. I'd never have fooled him otherwise.

As I peer around the door, I know that I don't have much time. Teal'c wants to spell Jack for a while ... let him, Jack, you're too tired ... but Jack's having nothing to do with it. Good, they're focusing only on each other. Now's my chance.

*Yesss*, the elevator's at this level, and no one's around. For once, luck is on my side. Now if I can just ... Close, dammit! Easy, Daniel, punching the button repeatedly isn't gonna close the door any faster. But it *sure* ... *feels* ... *good*.

Finally. The elevator door's closed, but where do I want to go? Where *can* I go? Off base? Not a snowball's chance in hell. My lab? No, first place they'll look. Well, after the storage closet, that is.

Where? Gotta press a button soon or the damn buzzer will go off. Topside? No, Sam'll think of that.

Shit! Okay, go down a couple of floors. That'll at least get me away.

Think, Daniel, think. Where? Storage levels. No one's ever there, or at least hardly ever. Which one?

All of them, dammit, just press all the storage level buttons. That'll tie the elevator up for a while.

My luck's holding, fifteen floors, and the elevator hasn't stopped, yet. Now if it'll just hold a few floors longer.

I made it! Even going past the first few levels, my luck still held. ... Oh. It must be night. That's why no one needed the elevator. Stupid, Daniel, real stupid. Just like back *there*, in the mines.
It's cold down here. I've only just arrived, and I'm starting to shiver. It's not right. It oughta be hot ... and dirty. With no food, and no water. ... At least that part's right. How could I have left them? Why didn't I see that they were suffering? Sam looked so, so tiny in that mine. I shouldn't have let Shyla talk me into getting into that *thing*. Stupid! Stupid! *Stupid!*

Ouch. That hurt. I wiggle my fingers. They all move, maybe nothing's broken. Nothing except the team. I broke it. Into two pieces, them and me. I don't fit anymore, if I ever did. At least they'll be safe without me. I've almost killed them too many times. General Hammond's right. I'm nothing more than a liability. I should resign. That's it. I can't get anyone killed if I don't work here.

I try to push myself up off the floor, but nothing works, hands, feet, nothing. What?

Oh, God, the pain's coming back. "J'ck?"

Part Thirteen: Jack
<Jmas>

Dammit, Daniel....

Why did...? Well, you know *why*, O'Neill...the real question is 'where'? We know he couldn't have gotten out of the front gate. Teal'c's checking the service areas, Carter's going to look in Daniel's lab, even Hammond got into the act...he really isn't such a total....

And I...I'm trying to put myself in Daniel's head. A long time ago, at a point in my life I try not to think about...I remember feeling like this...

Where the hell are you, Daniel? Didn't you think we could take care of this..together? We're a team now, kid....

And that's part of the problem, isn't it? You just can't get it through that thick, over-educated skull of yours that a team works its problems out together. Whatever happens, we can handle it.
Just got to find you first....

Makepeace took his team to comb the first three levels, they won't leave an inch unsearched. I can count on Connors and his team to make a thorough job of the next three. Feretti's so worried, I thought he was going to have a coronary...but his team is taking the storage levels with me. I just figure Daniel's trying to get lost for awhile; at this time of night the storage levels are a perfect place to go if you want to get away from it all. Cold down here, though. That's the government for you, they don't waste money heating up a bunch of storage containers.....

Daniel didn't have much on when he disappeared; he'll be lucky if he doesn't wind up sicker than he already is...

Coming around a stack of those same storage containers and heading for the door, I stop suddenly...I think I hear...

"J'ck..."

There. Behind the containers, almost hidden in the shadows...

"Daniel!"

God, he's cold. He's not moving though...not even shivering. What the...? I pull him up against me trying to rub some warmth into his icy limbs. Too bright eyes look up, for the first time since just before he disappeared under that rock slide, *Daniel* looks at me. And he looks...so sad.

"J'ck? 'm sorry...so sorry..."

His voice is barely there, I have to strain to hear it.

"I know, Daniel...It's gonna be...."

He shakes his head. "No...n't 'kay...nev'r okay..."

It sounds like he's just giving up, he *looks* like he's already given up. I can't allow that....

"Daniel, listen to me. We'll take care of it, okay? You screwed up, *I* screwed up, Shyla screwed up. It's a screwed up world..um..universe, but we'll get through it..."

Daniel shakes his head." Too late, Jack...Can't...make it okay...."

A wave of pain rushes through his already frail body, nearly pulling him out of my arms in its intensity, and he collapses against me. I reach for a pulse and find....

"Feretti!!"

Part Fourteen: Feretti
<PHO>

Damn it's cold down here.

This whole thing is just so damned unfair. Daniel is the kindest, most gentle human being I've ever met. He'd give the shirt off his back to his worst enemy. ... Okay, maybe not quite *that* saintly, but damned close. I've seen the reports, the number of times he's not only figured out *why* the bad stuff was happening, but *what* the real reason behind it was. How many times have his theories saved SG-1, hell, all of the SG teams at some point? He's the last person I'd ever have thought would get addicted to anything, except maybe Kleenex.

Damn bitch. It's her fault. Daniel wouldn't be in this mess, if not for *her*. I'd like to get my hands around her scrawny little.... Whoa! Easy Feretti. Now is *not* the time. Gotta find Daniel. I agree with Colonel O'Neill. He's gotta be down here somewhere. Alone in this, this dungeon.

Okay. Nothing yet. I'll let the Colonel know there's nothing over here and head down one le...

"Feretti!"

Oh God! Where? There. Oh Shit! O'Neill's doing compressions. Shit, shit, shit! Why won't the damned button ... There! "Medical Emergency, sub-level seven, north quarter."

One, two, three, four, relax. O'Neill breathes for him. One, two, three, four, relax. Another breath.

Where the hell is the emergency team?

"Dammit Daniel! Breathe!"

God, O'Neill's really freaking here. If Daniel doesn't wake up ... shut up, Feretti. Jackson's got at least 6 more lives, before we have to worry. One, two, three, four, relax. Come on, Daniel, this is getting monotonous. What?

"Hold it, Feretti."

I don't know who's more pale, Daniel or the Colonel, but... is that? ... Yes! He's breathing. Thank you,

God. Damn he's cold! Oh, no, Colonel. You're not looking too good yourself. We'll wrap him in *my* jacket, thank you very much.

Are those tears in O'Neill's eyes? Okay, you knew he was human, but he's usually better at ... Get real, Feretti, he's exhausted, and let's face facts, scared to death. We all are. Truth be told, I'd say most of the base is worried about losing Doctor Jackson. Except for the assholes, and they don't count for shit. And, I'm betting the good Doctor doesn't even realize how important he is to this command. He's just so damn modest.

"I'll take him now, gentlemen."

Dr. Frasier's here now, kneeling beside Daniel, trying to pry Jack's hands away. Uh Oh. The Colonel looks like he's gonna put up a fight. I put a hand on his shoulder, and his head jerks up, looking straight at me, uh, through me.

"Colonel, let the medical team do their job. You've done yours."

He glances from me, to Dr. Frasier, to Daniel, then back to me. Nods, stands up, moves away, and slams a fist into a storage unit. Better it than me. Shit, what a mess.

Damn it's cold down here.

Part Fifteen: Janet
<Jmas>

This is the crisis I've been afraid of. Of course, wandering around down there in the cold for hours didn't help Daniel's condition any. We've got him stable, but it was closer than I like to get.
Colonel O'Neill looks like he's at the end of his endurance, but I'm not going to waste words trying to make him leave. The rest of this crowd, though...

Feretti, Makepeace and both their assembled teams. Connor was here, but I think he had to leave for a mission. Sam, Teal'c, even General Hammond...The gang's all here, waiting for me to tell them if their friend is going to live or die. I wonder if Daniel begins to realize how many lives have become intertwined with his own, how many people *care* about him? I doubt it.

I make my announcement and tell them all to go in my best I'm-the-Doctor-and-I-said-so voice. It works. Except for Colonel O'Neill and General Hammond. Uh oh. Even Hammond ought to know better than to mess with Colonel O'Neill now....Feretti and Makepeace are lingering at the door, they know the colonel even better than I do...and both of them are obviously upset at the General....

Surprisingly enough the General smiles tightly. "Colonel, I'm glad Dr. Jackson is improving. I "still* think there's a lot of reasons civilians don't belong on field teams, but after due consideration," He glances pointedly at Feretti and Makepeace, who look back unwaveringly, "I've decided that we'll keep things as they are...for now. Dr. Jackson is back on SG1...if you want him."

Colonel O'Neill seems to be in shock, staring from the General to Makepeace to Feretti and to me.

The General smiles that little Texas gentleman smile and leaves, Feretti and Makepeace right behind him.

As soon as they leave Colonel O'Neill sinks down in his chair, scrubbing his short sandy-gray hair with his hands. I move over to him to see if anything's wrong and he looks up at me with tired eyes.

"That was *too* close, Doc," he says tiredly.

I'm not sure which close he's talking about, Daniel's life or Daniel's life with SG1...or maybe both. I just nod agreement and motion him into Daniel's room.

Part Sixteen: Hammond
<PHO>

One thing's for certain. Dr. Jackson has many friends at this facility. Friends that would put their careers on the line for him. Or at the very least, risk a written reprimand for insubordination.
Feretti I can understand. He's been a good friend of Dr. Jackson's since the beginning, but Makepeace? The man has depths I never knew were there. Amazing, but indicative of how our archaeologist / anthropologist / linguist can get under even the toughest skin.

Major Feretti's impassioned plea not to *destroy* SG-1 ended with my promising to *think* about the impact that the loss of Daniel Jackson would have on both the team as well as the SGC. By the time he left my office, we'd both calmed down, he'd apologized for 'conduct unbecoming an officer' - didn't even know he used such language - and I'd decided to end our, uh, conversation with a verbal reprimand, off the record. Can't let junior officers get away with too much, I do have a command to run.

Colonel Makepeace took me entirely by surprise, arriving as he did shortly after the Major left. The knock on the door should have clued me in; anger always translates into pounding.

>>>

"Come."

"General. Rumor mill has it that Jackson's been kicked off SG-1, sir."

"Rumor mill is correct, for once, Colonel."

"May I ask why?"

"Not that I have to explain my decisions, Colonel, but I should think his conduct speaks for itself. *You* of all people should understand the need to maintain discipline at all times. This is just the latest incident in a string of mishaps, and fortunately that's all they were, that have led me to remove him from active duty."

"What did O'Neill say, sir?"

"He protested, but my decision stands. Daniel Jackson is off SG-1. From now on, he will undertake nothing more dangerous than translation or artifact analysis."

"With all due respect, General, you're making a mistake. ... Hear me out, sir. Jackson has proven his worth time and time again. Hell, it's so obvious even Ray Charles can see it."

"Colonel, you're pushing..."

"I'm not through, sir. How many times has this *civilian* died, or almost died to save his team, this facility, or this world? How many times have his theories saved our lives as opposed to putting them in jeopardy? He made a mistake. Fine. Proves the man's human. Reprimand him, on the record, if you think it's necessary. That's hurtful, but not fatal. But don't destroy everything the man's done under the guise of trying to *protect* him. It's just, dammit, not right. ... Sir."

"Are you quite finished?"

"Yes, sir, I am."

"Excellent timing, Colonel, because I will not stand for any more interference with *my* decisions. Is that *understood*?"

"Yes, Sir!"

"Fine. I will take your recommendation under advisement, but my final decision will *not* be argued,

by you, or any one else. Am I clear?"

"Crystal. Sir."

"As long as we understand each other. Dismissed."
<<<

In the end, I decided to leave Dr. Jackson on SG-1, provided the team still wants him. I hope I haven't made a mistake.

Part Seventeen: Sam
<Jmas>

Well, I'll be....

I was on my way to speak to General Hammond about Daniel, when I heard Makepeace....Makepeace, of all people...defending the civilian he'd always complained about. Feretti was hanging out just outside the door, something was definitely fishy about that...

When the colonel told me about General Hammond's decision, I knew I'd been right...Who'd've guessed those two would ever agree on anything, much less the value of a civilian *and* a scientist to this facility. I had to let the cat out of the proverbial bag then and the colonel laughed so hard I thought he might wake Daniel.

Daniel...

Janet says it seems like everything's settling back into some semblance of normalcy, that his body is remembering how it's supposed to operate instead of acting the way the sarcophagus told it that it should. He's been unconscious since the store room and he really looks like he's getting some color back. Knowing Daniel the way I do, though...this thing is far from over.

It's going to take a long time before Daniel lets himself off the hook for this, no matter what we say. Daniel's always been his own worst critic, he can forgive just about anybody but himself.

I remember when he first realized Teal'c had to have been the one to choose Sha're for Apophis. It had taken Daniel some time, but he *had* understood...and forgiven. Perhaps because Daniel had spent so much time with the former slaves on Abydos? It had to have given him a unique insight. But I think it would have happened anyway, that's just how Daniel is.

The colonel asked me how I felt about Daniel returning to the team. I think I must've looked at him like he was crazy. Was there ever any question that he would? They didn't give up on me when all that stuff with Jolinar happened, they stuck by me. Whatever's happened, we're a team...we're going to stay a team.

When Teal'c came by the colonel put the same question to him. Teal'c looked long and hard at Daniel, and just as searchingly at the colonel. "Is he not still our friend, O'Neill?"

The colonel had looked away at Daniel's still form, at the tubes and wires that were slowly bringing life back into the tortured body.

The colonel's voice...almost...broke as he replied, "Yeah, Teal'c...he is."

Part Eighteen: Jack
<PHO>

Well, Danny, we're alone, again. Just you and me. Sort of. If I ignore the nurses that come every hour, on the hour, to take your vitals, and do other, nursey stuff that I don't really want to understand. Janet Frasier shows up too, every so often. Don't know who she's really watching, you, or me. Probably both, considering how bad you look and how bad I feel.

Oh, God, Danny. What do I do? What do I do? Everything was so simple when Hammond wanted you off the team. Fight him all the way. ... See, simple. Right. Now, I'm not so sure. Gotta face it. The old man didn't do me any favors by leaving the decision to me.

Teal'c and Carter both want you back. Back, Hell, the idea of 'off' never even occurred to them until the General pushed the issue. They're both good people, talented people, loyal people. And even Junior has his *moments*, just don't ask me to wax poetic about a snake. It's clear they want you on the team. That to them, you're an integral part of SG-1.

You're important to me, too, Danny. But... As much as I want to keep you on the team, am I being fair to you by allowing it? Oh, I know. You've faced death more than most military types. From what Sam tells me, Makepeace made that perfectly clear to Hammond. Never knew he even noticed. Hard-nosed prick that he can be.

I'm scared, Daniel. Scared of losing you out there. Not to death, that I could handle, eventually. But I'm terrified of losing you to something worse. We're bound to run into those *things*, sarcophaguses, again. Hell, no self-respecting Goa'uld would be caught dead without one. We almost lost you to that thing, Daniel. When *she* finally released us from the mine, I didn't even recognize you, bouncing around like Tigger in those robes, eyes wide but for once really blind. And then you kissed her, I mean really kissed her. The Daniel Jackson I know and respect would never have considered such. That's what I mean, Danny, your body was there, but you weren't. And I really didn't like the Daniel that was there.

I once heard a story, probably from you now that I think about it, of a man who found this jewel of some sort - what the heck was it, oh yeah, a pearl - a pearl of great price, that's it. Anyway, when he found it, he sold everything he owned just to buy it.

But what it all boils down to is that you're our 'pearl of great price', Danny. You're worth more to us, to me, than you'll ever know. Do I dare risk all that you are just to keep the team intact? And if, no, when we do find another sarcophagus, will we lose *you* again? Perhaps forever?

God, I'm tired.

 

Part 19: Daniel

*Jmas*

I feel...almost...human, again. Who knew that a shower could wash away more than just the sweat and grime? I caught Jack staring at me as I tried to dress on my own for the first time in... I don't even know how long it's been since we came back to Earth, much less how long it's taken to...withdraw...from the sarcophagus' effects. I don't think I really want to know. Not yet. I know I've lost weight, Jack had to cut a new notch in my belt for me. I feel...not exactly better...but more me than I have in a long time. I've still got a slight tremor in my hands and my energy level is way down near the bottom of the barrel, I barely got through the shower without having to ask for help; but I actually wanted the so-called food they brought to me this morning...so that's got to be good.

Jack says it's normal to feel this way; somehow, I'm sure he knows what he's talking about. What worries me is the looks I keep getting from him. Sam said that Hammond changed his mind about civilians on SG teams, and I'm glad...for the others. I just don't know if I have it in me yet to ask to come back...even if Jack would let me. I'm guessing that's what all the looks are about. He's not sure if he can trust me; I don't blame him, I don't know if I trust myself anymore. And right now I can't seem to come up with a single good reason for him to try.

Jack hands me off to Tealc at my lab with orders to do nothing more strenuous than read. I wonder how long they're going to keep up the baby-sitter routine. It's not necessary anymore, Janet told them that the physical effects are all but gone. I know the last episode down in storage must've been pretty hairy, but...

A knock at he door interrupts those thoughts and Feretti sticks his head in the door with that same goofy smile that always makes me laugh. "Hey, Doc!"

I try to return the smile, but I know I don't quite make it. I wave him in and he comes to sit beside me on the sofa. Feretti looks up at Teal'c like he's trying to decide something, then he tells Teal'c that he's needed in the briefing room and promises to stay with me. Teal'c gives Feretti a long, almost threatening, look then leaves.

"Guess he told me," Feretti grins, then his expression grows serious. "How's it going, Daniel?"

Feretti's...Feretti. He's seen me in the best and worst of times, from the very beginning, and I've found I can tell him a lot of things I can't discuss with my...team...things I know would upset them, or make them think less of me. Now is no different.

"I don't know, Feretti. I should probably just quit before I...." I can't finish that thought, but he nods as if I had. "But then there's Sha're. And the team. I don't want to leave SG1, but I'm afraid if I don't I'll just screw up bigger next time and get one of them killed...or worse..."

Feretti looks at me for a long moment, then looks around my office. "So what are you gonna do? Hole up down here and translate whatever they bring to you?"

I shrug my shoulders, I hadn't given it much thought beyond the obvious. I want to continue that part of the work, that much I do know.

"Daniel, you just going to let those people out there, all those people like the ones on Abydos down?"

I know I look confused. What's he getting at?

Feretti looks at me directly now, his eyes piercing into me. "Us military types, we just don't get it. The people out there on the other side of the gate, they're slaves, most of them. You think the brass cares about them? If they send troops back to that planet to get the naquadah, you think they're going to stop and think about all those people that crazy king's got chained up in there. You think they're going to care if some of them die in the cross-fire."

I didn't even know they were planning to go back, much less... They can't go in there in force and... Stop it. Not your problem anymore, Daniel. But...

Feretti smiles at me, like he knows what I'm thinking. "They need you, Daniel. This place needs you. SG1 needs you, too...they're just scared right now because they almost lost you. "

I can't listen to this. Nobody needs me. I jump to my feet and start pacing... wobbly pacing, but pacing.

"Feretti, I almost let them die in that mine. I said things that can't be forgiven. I almost killed Jack and that guard for God's sake!"

Feretti jumps up and looks me in the eye. "That's just it Daniel. Almost. Somewhere under all that voodoo that thing put you under, you knew. You did get them out of there. You didn't shoot O'Neill. You *didn't kill the guard, he's not real happy about it, but he understands.The words...that you might have to do some talking about. But nobody...and I mean nobody...around here blames you for falling under that voodoo...It could have happened to any one of us."

That cuts into me in a totally unexpected way and I turn my back on him so he can't see the tears that spring into my eyes. "But it didn't..."

I pull myself together as I realize that I need to do something, something I should have done already.

"Feretti, can you take me somewhere?"

 

Part 20: Jack

*PHO*

Feretti did his job, delivered his message. Teal'c arrived a few minutes ago. The next mission location's about to be selected, and the gang's all here ..., except ... Don't go there, O'Neill. What is Carter saying?

"Probe's data indicates that P3H826 is a viable next mission for SG-1, sir."

Soft, almost hesitant footsteps on the stairs attract my attention. What...

"I have another suggestion."

How the hell! Feretti! I told him to stay with Daniel, not walk him around the complex. So help me, I'm gonna throttle ... God, Daniel looks so, so timid, so ... scared. Scared of what? Don't be stupid, O'Neill. You. Only you. He knows Hammond has backed down on his 'no civilian' shit, and that Carter and Teal'c are just waiting for him to get well. They don't doubt for one minute his right to return to my team, and it is my team. My decision. So I'm the only obstacle left. What is Daniel saying?

"I think we should go back to P3R636. Before you say anything, just hear me out. There are thousands of innocent human beings there who we can free from slavery."

"Shyla cannot free her people, without putting her world at great risk."

That's right Teal'c, point out the obvious, make us all feel sooo much better. That wasn't nice, O'Neill.

"Then we have to offer her alternatives. New ways to mine the naquadah. I mean, we don't even know if the Goa'uld will notice if the shipments stop."

Carter's saying something now, but I don't really hear her. Probably a mistake that, but he looks so, so lost. Hmmm, did the General say something? Listen, O'Neill, Daniel's talking again. He needs a haircut.

"...I'm offering you a shot at a diplomatic solution. Please, Jack, I need to take the chance."

For the first time since Shyla took him, he can meet my eyes without flinching. There's still pain there, but not the physical kind. There's fear, too. Fear of being abandoned, again. In a brief instant, those expressive eyes speak volumes. I can see the unconditional apology in them; the absolute need - God, I hate that word - to know for sure. To be completely certain he can face the temptation of the sarcophagus without failing himself, and us. But I'm betting he's only thinking of failing us. For a moment I hold his eyes captive with my own, hoping against hope he'll read the forgiveness, and unqualified support, in mine. See, Jack, the decision's not that hard. "We can back him up, sir. I'd like Daniel back on the team." Just like that. I can only pray he'll be strong enough.

 

Part 21--Epilog: Janet

*Jmas*

SG1 is standing at the gate almost like a group of strangers. Everything's still pretty raw and it's going to take some time for that to change. But as Colonel O'Neill reaches over to adjust Daniel's pack strap and receives a tentative smile in gratitude, I can't help feeling that they're going to be okay.

The team takes a visible collective sigh as the wormhole stabilizes and moves forward as a group, unconsciously moving to surround Daniel. It's an instinct with them, established long before any of this ever happened. There was never any real possibility that Daniel wouldn't return to SG1, at least not in my mind...it was only a matter of when. Daniel Jackson is as integral a part of that team as any of them, in some ways even more so. He's the drive, the heart...as Colonel O'Neill once said....the conscience. That team wouldn't survive without him, at least not as a team; I know that to be a fact.

Just before they disappear into the event horizon, I see Colonel O'Neill give his team a thumb's up. The gesture is returned by a nod from Teal'c, a smile from Sam, and a hesitant nod from Daniel. Daniel knows how close he came, how close they all came to losing everything that they had become...together.

I know the colonel is worried about what may happen when Daniel gets near that sarcophagus again, but I'm not...not anymore. Colonel O'Neill didn't see the look on Daniel's face when he woke up after that last scare; I'd been able to talk the colonel into taking a break for the first time in days and so he was gone when Daniel finally regained full consciousness. As I came through the door on my way to check his condition, I saw a look on his face that I hope never to witness again. He was lost...totally, completely bereft. He thought the colonel had abandoned him and it scared him to death. I know a little about Daniel's background, enough to know he got a raw deal as a kid, and things didn't get much better from there...Thinking that his team had given up on him must have felt like losing his family all over again.

And that's what SG1 is...family, more than family really. A family doesn't usually get to choose it's members. I don't know if they even realize themselves how unique they are. Feretti does, even Makepeace does...Sam filled me in on what those two did. Even Hammond knows it, in his own way. Hell, everybody on this base who's spent more than two hours with them knows that SG1 is something out of the ordinary in a business that by its very nature is extraordinary.

As they disappear into the shimmering Stargate, I realize that, to them, they just are: a team, in every sense of that word...a family, in a way that many blood relatives can only aspire to...friends, in that soul-deep, always there in ways that few people ever find in one friend much less three. They don't have to talk about, they feel it. This experience may have tested those bonds, but I don't think there's a power in the universe that's going to break it. fin


 

 

 

 

 

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