With Friends Like You, Who Needs Enemies

Written by JoaG
Comments? Write to us at joag_sg1@hotmail.com

With Friends Like You, Who Needs Enemies

Daniel Jackson had gotten up from the table to refill his coffee cup. Rubbing his eyes tiredly, he turned and made his way back to his friends, overflowing coffee cup and glasses in one hand. Ever since his doctor, Janet Fraiser, had changed his prescription for a new type of antihistamines two days ago, he felt like he was only half awake. Partway back to the table, someone bumped into him, causing the coffee in his cup to splash all over his hand and glasses. Quickly shifting the cup to the other hand, he shook the excess coffee from his wet hand. Thankfully the coffee hadn't been quite hot enough to burn him badly.

Turning to see who had bumped into him, Daniel saw the stranger stop at his table and exclaim, "Jon! Hey Jon!" He watched as his best friend and commanding officer, Jack O'Neill, looked up, a huge grin on his face. "Billy! Billy Samson! I don't believe it!" Jack stood up quickly and embraced the man in a back slapping hug. "What the hell are you doing here? How long has it been? Hey, I thought you were retired!"

Billy returned the hug just as enthusiastically. "Yeah, I was, but I got an offer I couldn't refuse. I've been assigned here. Hey, I heard you'd retired too."

"Yeah, ditto," Jack quipped.

"Guess we old timers just can't take the easy life, aye Jon?"

Daniel continued on to his seat, slapping his wet glasses against his pant legs, trying to get as much coffee off of the lenses as he could. As he arrived at his vacated seat, Jack's friend sat down in it and pushed Daniel's half eaten plate aside. His other two teammates, Sam and Teal'c, who were also sitting at the table, watched with curiosity as the two friends reacquainted themselves.

Daniel set his coffee cup on an adjacent table, and unobtrusively reached over and grabbed his discarded supper. Seating himself, he wiped his glasses on his shirttail, placed them onto his nose, and resumed eating. Finally recalling his manners, Jack introduced his friends.

"Carter, Teal'c, Daniel, I'd like you to meet an old friend of mine from way back. This is Major William Samson. We worked together in Special Ops." Knowing that introductions were forthcoming, Daniel put down his fork. "Billy, this is my second, Major Samantha Carter. The big guy here is Teal'c, and that's Daniel Jackson, our civilian consultant."

Billy smiled at Carter, nodded at Teal'c, and ignored Daniel, who had put his hand out to greet Jack's friend. Looking at his ignored hand, Daniel pulled it back, embarrassed. He stared at his plate.

"I bet you two have quite some stories you could tell us," Sam said conversationally.

"Yeah, we've sure got some doozies. But if I told you, I'd have to shoot you." Billy guffawed loudly at his joke. Jack chuckled at his friend.

"Don't worry, Carter, I'm sure there are a few things I can tell you about Billy here that won't endanger your life."

Billy said eagerly. "I gotta ask. You guys are SG1, aren't you?"

Teal'c answered, "Indeed we are."

Billy grinned happily at Jack. "I thought so, but I wasn't a hundred percent sure. Jack, I've got great news." He hit Jack on the shoulder excitedly. "I've been assigned to SG1 for orientation. I'll be going through the Stargate thingie with you guys for the next couple of missions.

"Billy, that's fantastic!" Jack was grinning like a madman. "This is gonna be like old times."

"Major Samson. How long have you and Jack known one another?" Daniel asked.

Ignoring Daniel, Billy continued, "Jon, is it as wild as what I've been hearing?"

"I dunno, what have you heard?"

"Oh, other planets, aliens, new technology. It sounds a lot like a Sci-Fi TV show."

"Well, if it's a TV show, then we aren't being paid enough," Jack said with a grin.

"Um, Major Samson? Have you been told where you'll be posted once you've gone through orientation?" Daniel asked.

"Aliens, Jon! I can't believe you're in the middle of all of this. On second hand, I'm not surprised. Leave it to you to be where the action is."

Daniel saw Sam give him a strange look. Maybe it wasn't just his imagination, Jack's friend didn't seem to like him.

"Speaking of aliens," Jack said, nodding his head at his teammate, "Teal'c's one."

"No kidding, really?" Billy leaned over and examined Teal'c carefully. Teal'c raised an eyebrow and politely allowed the scrutiny. "You're really not from Earth? Cool." Turning to Sam, he asked, "How long have you and Jon been working together?"

"Almost three years now. Time sure flies, doesn’t it, sir?" she said, looking at Jack. Jack grinned back.

Turning back to Teal'c, Billy asked, "You too? You been part of SG1 all this time?"

"Indeed, ColonelO'Neill, MajorCarter and DanielJackson have all been together from the inception, I became their fourth soon after."

Billy slapped the table and said excitedly to Jack, "You got anything to do right now? I thought it'd be fun to go out and catch up on old times."

"No, nothing important." Jack looked towards Daniel, trying to smile charmingly. "You don't mind, do you, Daniel?" Turning towards Billy, Jack said, "I know a great little place on the west side of town, reminds me of that place we went to in Bangkok…"

"You're kidding! You mean the time that you and Davis and those girls…" Jack cleared his throat to interrupt what was certainly going to be an embarrassing story. Billy laughed at Jack's discomfiture. They both stood up together, getting ready to leave.

"Um, Jack," Daniel interrupted. "Yeah, okay, we'll catch another game, right?"

"Thanks Daniel, I knew you'd understand," Jack said distractedly, walking away.

"Well, that was strange," Daniel said to no one in particular. Jack had been annoying Daniel for the past few days to go home with him and watch the hockey playoffs tonight. He didn't quite know what to think about being brushed off so easily.

"I believe that O'Neill's friend did not particularly like you, DanielJackson."

"Ya think?"

"Daniel, I think he was just overexcited seeing the colonel again. They must have had quite a bond if they served in Special Ops together."

"Oh yeah, politics, spies, intrigue, mayhem, murder, all things the outside world isn't supposed to know about. Nothing like what we're doing here, is it?" Daniel said sarcastically, eyeing his now empty coffee cup.

- - - - - -

Since his planned evening of entertainment with Jack had been cancelled, Daniel decided to stay on base and go over the footage that the UAV had taken recently of P2L 122. There were three temples in the photographs taken that had looked promising, especially since there was a good chance that '122 would be their next mission. He soon got caught up in the work and lost track of time.

The sound of a door closing woke Daniel up. Opening his eyes, he saw that he had fallen asleep at his desk with his head pillowed on his arms. Adjusting his glasses, he glanced at the clock on his desk and saw that it was nearly 2 a.m. As he turned around to see what had made the noise that had awakened him, he saw Jack's friend Billy standing near the closed door. Still half asleep, he smiled politely and asked, "So, did you two have a good time?"

William Samson looked at Daniel with an expressionless face. Daniel raised his eyebrows inquiringly. "Um, is there something I can do for you?" Daniel asked.

Major Samson leaned back against the door. Looking Daniel up and down, he said, "So you're the civilian. Leave it to Jon to pick up stray waifs."

"Excuse me?"

"Listen, little boy, let's get one thing straight. You do NOT talk to me. You do NOT spout inane pleasantries. You answer ONLY if I ask something of you. Is that clear?"

Daniel sat back in his chair. "Oh, and where does it say colonel on your uniform?" he asked sarcastically.

Major Samson grinned at Daniel, and looked up towards the security camera mounted on the wall. Following his line of sight, Daniel glanced up. Just as he noticed the absence of the signal light indicating that the camera was operational, the major had his arm wrapped around Daniel's neck, cutting off his air supply. His other hand cruelly grabbed Daniel's arm and wrenched it behind his back, forcing Daniel up off the chair. It was a move that Jack himself had taught Daniel, along with the appropriate counter move. The problem was that Daniel had never expected to be attacked by Jack's friend, in his own office, in the middle of the SGC, for heaven's sake.

"Did you not understand what I just said?" He squeezed Daniel's throat a little harder. "A yes or no will suffice."

Daniel nodded his head as there was no way he could get enough air to relay words through his mouth at that point.

"You do not go around attracting attention. You keep to yourself, you do your job, and I'll ignore you. And make sure you do your job quietly."

Daniel was desperate for air by now, very little was getting through to his straining lungs.

"One more thing: you mention any of this to anyone, especially Jon, and I'm going to deny what just happened. Then one day, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, maybe next year…that pretty blond Major will find herself minus a part. Could be a finger…could be an eye. Could even be her life. Do you understand?"

Daniel nodded once more. Spots had started dancing in front of his eyes.

"I dislike non-military people. I will suffer your company if I must, but you will do as I say. You're special, you're the colonel's little pet, so you deserve my attention. Now, little boy, tell me what you know about your new toys."

The next thing Daniel knew, he was being shoved forward, causing him to lose his balance and fall onto his desk. Reaching a hand to his aching throat, Daniel desperately dragged air into his oxygen-depleted lungs. He turned around quickly, expecting a blow, but the man had already left the office. He sat down shakily in his chair, alternately rubbing his aching arm and bruised throat. His eyes fell on his clock, and he saw that it read 4:10 a.m. He somehow felt that it was much later than it should be.

Daniel couldn't believe what had just happened. How could a man that Jack considered a friend come in here and manhandle him, and then threaten Sam? Daniel debated calling Jack immediately, but realized that Jack probably wouldn't be happy at being woken up. He'd better wait and talk to him in the morning.

- - - - - -

"Hey Billy," Jack called, spotting his friend ahead of him in the corridor. "How's the head?" he asked, thinking of all the beers his friend had downed the previous night.

"Jon, are you trying to tell me that I can't hold my booze?" Billy teased. "Nah, I'm okay. Takes more than a few beers to put me out of commission."

"I'm glad to hear it. Just make sure you don't do anything excessive tonight. We want you to be in top form for tomorrow's mission," Jack cautioned. He remembered the drinking binges they had gone on when they were younger.

"Geez, Jon. Who made you my father? I think I'm old enough to know better."

"That's right, you're younger than me by a few months. I'd forgotten that." He thought to himself that he'd also forgotten what a jerk this guy could be at times. But then again, Billy had saved Jack's life more times than he could remember…he owed the guy. And they did have great times together, at least the bits that Jack could remember of their drunken forays into exotic cities.

"Speaking of youngsters, that kid on your team, the translator…"

"Daniel? He's our linguist, actually."

"Whatever. Don'tcha think he's a little young to be going out there?"

Jack looked up at Billy in surprise. Daniel, young? Then again, he realized he'd thought the same thing of Daniel when he had first met him. "He's a lot older than he looks, Billy. He's just a few years younger than Carter. Nah, Daniel can hold his own."

"That's good to know. I ran into him last night, or rather, early this morning." Billy grinned. "We had quite a talk. The kid's pretty special."

"What did you talk about?" Jack asked suspiciously. Billy hadn't seemed to take to Daniel very well yesterday in the commissary. He didn't remember Billy being prejudiced, but then again, they had mostly hung around with their own crowd.

"Oh, the military, mostly. I can tell he's been hanging around you. He's got quite the attitude. Keep up the good work, Jon. Maybe together, we can convert all the geeks." He slapped Jack on the back before walking away.

- - - - - -

Daniel arrived at the general's meeting several minutes late. When he had finally fallen into bed, he hadn't been able to sleep, and he was really dragging today, which was why he was running late. Upon seeing Jack, he remembered that he had wanted to speak to him about something, but now he couldn't remember what it was. He was sure it was important, but the thought kept eluding him. Quickly taking his seat at the table while apologizing to General Hammond, he looked up and found himself staring straight into the face of the reason for his insomnia. Daniel looked away, fiddled with his notes, looked up again, and found that the man was glaring at him unceasingly.

General Hammond officially informed SG1 of Major Samson's temporary assignment with them. They proceeded to discuss the merits of planet P2L 122, whose three temples showed signs of recent use. There was a possibility of a village nearby, although the UAV hadn't been able to spot any clear signs of habitation. Readings had also shown vague signs of naquada and other trace minerals; the plan was to find both the minerals and meet with the inhabitants of the planet. The general gave them the go-ahead for the next morning.

As Daniel gathered his notes, he thought to himself that the meeting hadn't gone as planned. Daniel admitted that he tended to get carried away in his enthusiasm for imparting details about his work. Jack didn't usually have much patience listening to Daniel go on and on, but he never usually permitted others to be rude about it. Major Samson had kept interrupting Daniel, and Jack had never stepped in to defend him. After a while, Daniel decided it best to keep his comments to himself and permitted Sam to take over the discourse.

He left the meeting a little discouraged, he felt things weren't going well. First the damned antihistamines, and then Jack's friend. Could things get worse? Waiting for the elevator, he saw that Jack hadn't come out of the general's office. Daniel figured he had been asked to stay behind.

- - - - - -

Jack was puzzled as to the reason why the general had requested him to remain behind. For once, the meeting hadn't dragged on for hours, and he had a ton of work to get to.

"Colonel, do you think that there might be a problem between Major Samson and Doctor Jackson? They don't appear to be getting along very well." Jack wasn't surprised that Hammond had noticed the slight tension between the two men. He was anxious to allay the general's concerns.

"Daniel and Billy? No sir, there's no problem. They're getting along great. Billy told me that he and Daniel actually bonded last night. He said they had a heart to heart."

"Well, Jack, they may have bonded, but your friend seems to be lacking the concept of respect."

"I admit, sir, that he can be a little rough around the edges. But when you get to know him, he's a regular pussycat." Jack grinned at the general. He had noticed that Billy had been a little uncivil around Daniel today. But he had to admit he was relieved that at least it had spared them having to listen to Daniel's non-ending spiel on ancient temples.

"How well do you know Major Samson, Colonel?"

"He was a good friend, sir, and one of the best people I've ever worked with. I trust him with my life."

"I'm glad to hear that. I wouldn't want any animosity between any members of your team in an unknown and potentially hostile environment."

- - - - - -

Later that afternoon, Sam walked into her lab and was surprised to see Major Samson sitting at her desk. He looked up at her with a wide grin.

Passing her hand nervously through her hair, she asked, "Something I can do for you, major?"

"Actually, yes. I've been waiting here for you for the past while. I was hoping you'd go over some of the details we discussed at the briefing this morning with me. There were a few things I was a little unclear about."

"I'd be glad to, just let me finish up here."

"Unfortunately, I'm not free until later tonight. I was hoping maybe that I could maybe take you out for supper to make up for staying late. I hear there's a great steak place at the other end of town."

"O'Malley's?"

"Yeah, that's it. What'dya think? Care to be seen in public with an old scoundrel like me?"

Laughing, Sam replied, "It's a date, sir."

"Great, I'll see you later. Oh, and call me Billy."

It was only as she settled back down to work that Sam realized that she'd had plans to have supper with Daniel that evening. He'd been a little upset that the colonel had stood him up the previous night so she'd offered to take him out for supper.

Looks like he was going to get stood up again, she thought.

- - - - - -

As Billy Samson left Samantha Carter's lab, he took the diskette he'd been concealing beneath the stack of papers in his hands and placed it in his jacket pocket. He thought to himself that it had been a close call, she had nearly caught him looking through her disk drive. He smiled as he walked back to his room; he hadn't lost his touch. He mentally reminded himself to reset the video surveillance cameras. He hadn't had a job this interesting in years.

- - - - - -

"Daniel, is it okay if I take a rain check on supper tonight? Would you mind?"

Sam's voice suddenly startled Daniel from a light doze. He'd been poring over pictures of the Temples of P2L 122, and he must have nodded off without realizing it. Lifting his head from where he'd been resting it on his hand, he straightened and turned to look at Sam.

"Umm, yeah", he answered distractedly.

"Yeah, it's okay? Or yeah, you'd mind?"

"What? Oh sorry, my brain's a little fuzzy. Janet changed my antihistamines and they're making me kind of dopey." He rubbed his eyes tiredly.

"Yeah, you mentioned that the other day. You gonna be all right for tomorrow?"

Nodding, he answered, "She said that I should start getting used to the side effects soon, but the funny thing is, there shouldn't be any side effects." He laughed self-consciously. "At this point I feel like I should go sleep them off. Um, did you want something?"

"I asked whether you'd mind if I took a rain check on supper. I've kind of made different plans."

"You have a date?" He was surprised; he didn't know Sam was dating anyone at the moment.

"Not exactly. Major Samson just asked me out to dinner so we could discuss some of the details about tomorrow's mission."

"And you accepted?" Daniel asked, unable to believe his ears. The last thing he wanted was that madman alone with his friend.

"Why wouldn't I?" she responded. Daniel was surprised that she'd be so adamant in going out with the guy. She didn't usually go for the loud-mouthed, boisterous types.

"I don't know, he…he's Jack's friend," he exclaimed, somewhat at a loss for words.

"So the colonel should give me his seal of approval then, right?" she said sarcastically.

"Sam, I really don't like the idea of you going out with the guy." Daniel didn't know how to tell his friend that she might not be safe with him. He couldn't seem to think of a reason to tell Sam without admitting that the Major had threatened her. For some reason, he didn't think his logic made sense, but he couldn't figure out why. He thought that maybe the antihistamines were doping him more than he had previously thought.

"Are you jealous, Daniel?"

"Jealous? Hell no. It's just…I can't explain it, Sam." He turned away from Sam and started sorting through the pictures. "Never mind. Enjoy your supper." Daniel ignored Sam's frown, and tried to look busy until she finally left his office.

- - - - - -

Billy Samson had other things to do before enjoying his supper with the lovely major. Walking determinedly to Doctor Jackson's office, he entered quickly, shut and locked the door before the man inside the office had realized what had happened. This time the little idiot actually tried to put up a fight. Samson took care of that in no time. Quickly pinning the man down, he cruelly immobilized him by exerting pressure once again on very painful pressure points. He forced him down on his knees, and then started asking him questions. God, he loved his job.

- - - - - -

Daniel entered the embarkation room with trepidation. He was 'gating to another planet with a lunatic, and there was no way he could tell his teammates about him. He himself wasn't sure why he was so distrusting of Jack's friend. It wasn't like he had actually hurt Daniel other than putting a choke hold on him that first night. If he had only threatened Daniel, he could have lived with that, but he couldn't chance placing Sam in any kind of danger. The guy certainly hated civilians. Or maybe it was scientists in general that he hated. Sam was a scientist, there was no way he was taking a chance on the guy going crazy around Sam. He'd just have to be on his guard for the forty-eight hours and make sure he kept his distance.

He'd tried to stay away from Major Samson but he seemed to keep bumping into the man. He was tired of being either insulted or ignored. It annoyed him, because he thought he had outgrown the part where everyone thought he was a geek. Samson seemed to alternate between totally ignoring Daniel and glaring at him whenever Daniel spoke out. Uncharacteristically, Daniel started keeping his counsel for the most part.

Daniel had originally been enthusiastic about this mission, but after the incident two nights ago, he wished they would call it off. If it hadn't been such short notice to get a replacement for himself, he would have been tempted to call in sick. Actually he did feel sick, and his body seemed to have numerous aches and pains. In addition, he had developed several unexplained bruises. He hadn't been able to sleep much lately. By day he was extremely groggy and his thoughts were muddled, but when he would finally fall into bed, he'd toss and turn all night long. He was sure the antihistamines were the cause of this, and he'd even mentioned it to Janet, but she insisted he wait until his body adapted to them.

This was a new type that she was trying, which required him to take only one pill every 36 hours. She was eager to sanction them as they would be easier to take for anyone going offworld that needed them. He prayed that the next couple of days would pass swiftly and without incident. He wasn't sure, but he thought he had lost a few hours during the past two days. Could he have fallen asleep without realizing it? With a resigned sigh, he followed his team through the active wormhole.

- - - - - -

The quiet of the valley was broken by a loud whine as the Stargate began revolving, and a resounding kawhoop echoed off the mountains when the wormhole engaged. Had any of the indigenous wildlife not run off terrified, they would have seen the wormhole spit out five living beings, one of whom staggered slightly as he fought to keep his equilibrium.

Having gained his footing with a bit of difficulty, Daniel followed behind Jack, Teal'c and Major Samson, with Sam following Daniel. The Stargate was situated at one end of a beautiful and lush valley, and Daniel could make out the first temple far back at the other end. There was a rough dirt road leading towards it.

It was roughly a ninety minute trek to the first temple. Daniel tramped on in a daze, the warm sunlight making him a bit sleepy. As they had arrived through the 'gate in what was late afternoon on this world, Jack decided that they'd make camp near the temple. Daniel was given permission to go and explore once the perimeter had been checked.

The building was surrounded by a variety of wildflowers, ornamental bushes and assorted sculptures. The temple itself was empty, but in good repair. Daniel suspected that it might still be used occasionally by the inhabitants of this world, perhaps on holy days. It was too well maintained to have been completely abandoned. There was a plain stone altar in the center of the room, and hieroglyphs and pictograms were etched into the walls and ceiling. Daniel busied himself taking video footage of everything before he lost the light.

Jack came in before he knew it and told him that supper was ready. Daniel acknowledged Jack distractedly, told him he'd be out in a minute. He wouldn't be long because the sun was setting.

Having finished videotaping, Daniel began putting his equipment away. Bending down to retrieve his packsack, he brushed against the wall. Seeing a dim light out of the corner of his eye, he looked up and saw that some of the etchings on the wall were glowing. As he moved back, the glow faded. Experimenting for several minutes, he found that every time he touched certain glyphs, the wall would light up in various colors. Wanting to get this on tape, Daniel propped his video camera onto his backpack at the rear of the temple and filmed himself pressing the glyphs. He thought that the light display was really neat.

Hearing footsteps and realizing that he'd been in the temple far longer than he'd told Jack he'd be, he called out, "Jack, I just found the most fascinating thing. It's really incredible, I can't figure out why, but whenever I…" An arm around his throat abruptly cut off both his words and air supply abruptly. He was thrown off balance and flung viciously onto the stone altar. His ribs and hip jarred painfully against it. It had once again happened so quickly that he never had a chance to defend himself.

"Major Samson," he wheezed. The arm tightened around his throat. Another hand came up to his shoulder and a pressure point was squeezed. The pain caused his eyes to water.

"Doctor Jackson. Didn't I warn you not to speak to me?" The pressure increased, and Daniel cried out from the pain.

"I don't like having my supper kept waiting, and thanks to you, I'm very hungry. Now, I'm sure you're not going to do this again, are you?"

Daniel tried to shake his head no.

"Good." Samson was pressed up against Daniel's legs, with Daniel's body being forced forward onto the altar. "My, isn't this nice. Too bad we're short on time. Maybe next time we can have a little more fun." His arm left Daniel's throat, and moved down Daniel's sore hip. Feeling fingers sliding down his body towards where no one had any business touching made Daniel start to struggle. The pressure point in his shoulder increased, but Daniel managed to finally twist out of Samson's grasp. Falling down beside the altar, Daniel gulped air and scurried away from Samson.

Samson laughed, turned around, and strutted out of the temple.

Taking deep breaths, Daniel muttered, "Shit!"

He sat there for several minutes, trying to compose himself, and waiting for the ache in his shoulder and hip to reach a bearable level. God, how could he go back out there and face the man now? He couldn't let his friends know what had happened, because he didn't want to endanger Sam. Somehow keeping Sam safe became his first priority. The pain was confusing his thoughts, and he couldn't think straight.

- - - - - -

Samson reached the camp and sat down beside Jack. "I don't think Doctor Jackson likes me very much. He had quite a few things to say to me when I told him that we were waiting for him to eat."

"Sir, I told you I should have gone to get Daniel."

"Nah, Carter, let's just go ahead and start without him. If Daniel wants to eat a cold supper, well, it won't be the first time." Jack thought that maybe he should have let Sam go get Daniel, but Billy had insisted. At least Billy was making an effort to befriend Daniel. Jack figured he'd have to talk to Daniel. He hated seeing his two good friends at odds with one another.

- - - - - -

Painfully collecting his backpack and video camera from the back of the temple, Daniel returned to the campsite, trying not to limp from the ache in his hip. He accepted his share of supper from Sam, but wasn't able to eat much. He kept nervously glancing at Samson, who sat and joked with Jack for most of the evening.

Thankfully, Daniel was given first watch. He knew he wouldn't be able to fall asleep easily tonight. He had laid out his own sleeping bag near Teal'c, in effect sandwiching Sam between them. Jack had looked at this questioningly, because normally Daniel slept between Jack and Sam. Samson took the opportunity to slip his own bag beside Jack's, and they spent the next several hours quietly talking and laughing while the others slept.

- - - - - -

Daniel's ribs, hip and shoulder were very stiff and painful when he got up the next morning. He hadn't gotten much sleep, starting every time he heard the slightest rustle, half expecting it to be Samson sneaking up on him. He didn't have much of an appetite that morning either. He had managed to force down part of the MRE Jack had handed over to him, but it now sat heavily in his stomach, threatening to come back up.

Staring discouragingly towards the mouth of the valley, Daniel looked at the winding trail leading up the mountain towards the second and third temples. He could make out the second one nestled in the foothills of the mountain. The third temple was sitting to the right of the second one, up against a cliff.

Jack estimated the second temple was approximately two hours away. It didn't look like too much of a rough climb. After all, they had hiked through worse country.

Sam spotted some interesting mineral samples and she stopped to gather some to bring back to Earth for further testing. Major Samson walked up to her and crouched down to give her a hand. Daniel tried to lean nonchalantly on a nearby tree, trying to seem as if he wasn't watching over them. He was startled to hear Teal'c come up beside him.

"DanielJackson, you appear reluctant to let MajorCarter out of your sight, especially when she is accompanied by Major Samson," he said quietly, careful that the subjects of their discussion couldn't overhear.

"Oh, um, Teal'c. Whatever gave you that idea?" He was a little flustered at being caught. "You make it sound like I'm spying on Sam." He tried to grin at his attempt at humor.

"I have noticed that whenever Major Samson is near MajorCarter, you feel the need to be close by. Do you not trust the major?"

"Of course I trust Sam."

"I was not speaking of her."

"Oh." Damn those antihistamines. He was usually sharper than this. "Well, I guess something about him rubs me the wrong way." At least he could admit to this. "What do you think of him?" Daniel asked, as Sam finished with her samples and they all resumed walking along the trail. Major Samson had caught up to Jack and they were walking side by side, obviously reminiscing, as the laughter that occasionally rose from their conversation attested.

"ColonelO'Neill appears to be very happy to have his friend here," answered Teal'c.

"Yeah, I know," commented Daniel sadly. "But you didn't tell me what you thought of him."

"I do not know him."

"I know that, but first impressions and all. What's kind of person do you think he is?"

"He appears to be a capable warrior, in excellent physical health, and has a sense of humour." They heard Jack laughing at one of Samson's jokes. "What do you think of O'Neill's friend, DanielJackson?"

"I don't trust him," Daniel said softly.

Teal'c looked at Daniel carefully. "Is there a reason why you do not trust this man?"

Daniel simply shook his head, unable to confide in Teal'c. "If it will make you feel better, DanielJackson. I will keep both eyes on MajorCarter."

Daniel smiled. He thought that Teal'c had said that on purpose. "That's 'keeping an eye on her', Teal'c. And thanks."

- - - - - -

They arrived at the second temple in good time. It looked out towards the valley they had just come from. The interior of the second temple was very similar to the first, except that the walls didn't glow. Daniel spent a couple of nerve wracking hours videotaping the interior, constantly expecting Major Samson to sneak up on him. They had a late lunch, for which Daniel made sure he was on time. Sitting quietly, working on his notes, Daniel only managed to eat a few bites of his meal.

Daniel managed to sneak a couple of painkillers along with his prescribed dose of antihistamines. His body ached, the bruises on his hip and ribs were very sore to the touch. The next temple was at least another three hours away, and Daniel was already feeling tired. The few hours of sleep he'd had over the past couple of nights and his meager meals were starting to take their toll.

- - - - - -

Jack slowed down to walk with Carter, watching his team hiking ahead of him. Daniel wasn't acting himself lately, and if anyone had any idea what was going on, it would definitely be Sam. Those two were as close as brother and sister. "Carter, have you noticed something different about Daniel lately?"

"You mean the fact that he's so quiet, nervous and isn't eating?"

"You noticed too, huh?" Daniel didn't normally do quiet, but when he did, it meant that something was terribly wrong.

"Yes sir."

"Have any idea what's going on?" he asked, not being able to bring himself to meet her eyes.

"No sir, except maybe…"

"What?"

"Well, this may sound childish, but he might be jealous of Major Samson."

"Billy?"

"Well, you are spending a lot of time with him. I think maybe Daniel feels left out."

"That doesn't sound like Daniel." Jack knew that Daniel cherished their friendship, but he also knew that Daniel wasn't the type of person who would jealously try to keep Jack away from other friends.

"I don't know, sir. I think he might resent your ignoring him."

"I haven't been ignoring Daniel." He looked at Carter sideways. "Have I?" Yeah, that's what he was afraid of. He had stood Daniel up with the hockey game the other night, but hell, he hadn't seen Billy in years. Daniel understood. Didn't he?

"Well, you have spent quite a bit of time with your friend." Jack nodded, realizing that she was right. But he still didn't think that Daniel was jealous of his friendship with Billy. But Sam might be right, he may be resenting the fact that Jack had ignored him for the past two days. Damn.

He peered carefully at his teammate walking before them. "Carter, does Daniel appear to be limping to you?"

"I've noticed he's been limping on and off. I asked him about it earlier and he said it was just a cramp."

"I'll talk to him later." Jack moved up to join his friend Billy. He figured he'd approach Daniel when they had a bit more privacy. If Daniel was upset, it might be better for them to speak away from the others.

- - - - - -

They arrived at the third temple late in the afternoon. It sat by itself on a rocky ledge, with no trees, bushes or plants growing anywhere in its vicinity. The view from the temple was spectacular.

Clouds had covered the sun in the past thirty minutes, and so the light inside the temple wasn't good enough for Daniel to attempt to videotape. He'd have to wait for morning to do so, as the sun would be setting early on this side of the mountain. After a cursory investigation of the interior of the temple, Daniel took advantage of the opportunity to sit and write his thoughts and hypothesis about the temples in his notebook.

Jack came by and sat beside Daniel. "Hey," he said.

Daniel looked up, his pen poised to write. "Hey," he answered.

"You okay?"

"Yeah, why?" he asked, surprised.

"I thought I saw you limping today."

"It's just a bruise, I hit my hip against the altar in the temple yesterday. It's a little painful, is all." Oh great. Daniel had tried his utmost at not showing his pain, and both Jack and Sam had noticed. Who'd ask next, Teal'c's symbiote?

"That's not what you told Carter."

"It's not?" He remembered her bringing the subject up, he couldn't remember what excuse he had given her.

"You told her it was a cramp."

"Oh." He shrugged. So that's what he'd told her. He should know better than to lie, he always got caught at it.

Jack smiled. "I noticed that you're not eating."

"I am too."

"No, you're not."

"Yes, I am."

"Daniel, I saw you take two bites of your lunch today."

"I wasn't hungry." Actually it was three bites, but he had to spit out the third before the other two came flying out.

"Daniel."

"Jaack?"

"You've been quiet lately."

"You haven't." Daniel quickly glanced at his notebook. Great, make him think he was jealous of the time Jack spent with his lunatic friend. There you go, Jackson. Open mouth, insert foot.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Nothing." Daniel nervously tapped the pen on the side of his notebook.

"Daniel, is there something wrong?"

"Wrong? No, why would you ask?" God, yes! I can't tell Jack that his friend tried to… Damn, he couldn't even bring himself to say the word.

"Because like I said, you've been quiet, and it's not normal."

"Well, maybe you think I've been quiet because you've been busy talking with someone else, so I haven't had a chance to come up and bore you with my inanities," Daniel said with a smile. He looked up across the camp and suddenly caught Samson's eyes staring at him. "Jack, if there's nothing else, I really would like to finish writing this up while it's still fresh in my mind and before the sun goes down. I won't have much time to do that tomorrow while we're looking for the village." Daniel sighed in relief as Jack walked up and joined his friend.

- - - - - -

Daniel's favourite time was when he and his teammates sat around the campfire at night, after a day of exploration, where they would eat, relax, and discuss what they had discovered during the day. Tonight, Daniel sat slightly apart from the others, alone in his thoughts. He had taken his glasses off, and would occasionally rub at his tired eyes.

Watching his friend mope, Jack decided he'd had enough of a silent Daniel. Handing him his supper, he asked, "Daniel, what did you find in the temples? Were you able to translate any of the text?"

Looking up abruptly, Daniel glanced at Major Samson for a reaction. Seeing his face was void of expression, Daniel spoke tentatively as he accepted the meal from Jack. "Um, I think that the temples are parts of different stages of a religious or spiritual procession for some kind of quest, or a supplication to the Gods. The procession would begin here at this temple, which appears to be devoted towards various forms of relaxation." Daniel pointed at the temple with his fork. "At least I think it says relaxation, I could have read the text to mean rest. I'll know more when I can examine the interior more carefully tomorrow."

Stopping his lecture and glancing up, he noticed that all four sets of eyes were looking at him. Normally he'd be very happy to have his friends' attention, but the fourth pair of eyes was unsettling him. He rubbed at his bruised neck, remembered the warning to not look for any attention.

Jack prompted Daniel, "And from here they go on to the next temple?" Thinking that Samson couldn't fault Daniel for answering his commanding officer's question, he continued.

Daniel nodded. "To the second, and then on to the third, with the final stop at the Stargate. The second temple is devoted to prayers, or to petitioning of the Gods, and the last temple, is for meditation." He smiled slightly to himself as he remembered the glowing lights he'd seen in the first temple. "I saw the walls glowing in there, like a light show. They'd be a great aid for meditating. Of course, if these people are really into that kind of thing, they probably don't really need any visual aids and the lights could just be a sort of entertainment system." He grinned at the thought.

Sam asked, "What about the Stargate? If the temples all deal with spiritualism, then how does the Stargate come into play with this procession?"

"Well, see, I think one or more individuals are chosen to undergo a ritual, or ceremony, and at the end of the procession, which would be the Stargate, the chosen ones plead that the Gods not return. Of course if the Gods are Goa'uld, we understand why they don't want them to return."

"DanielJackson, it is possible that the individual selected to speak to the Gods is instead offered as a sacrifice to the Gods? That would be similar to your Tau'ri legends of virgins being thrown into volcanoes to appease their Gods. Could this person be given to the Goa'uld to become a host?"

"No handy volcanoes around, so let's just throw the victim into the wormhole? Works for me," Samson joked.

Ignoring his friend, Jack asked "Daniel, could Teal'c be right?"

"It's possible. I hadn't thought of that aspect but it actually makes sense. If they send sacrifices out on a regular basis, then the Goa'uld wouldn't need to come here and terrorize the people. The victims are already handed to them on a silver platter. Or in this case, a Stargate."

"But wouldn't the people who were chosen to be sacrificed try to fight back?" Sam asked.

"Not if they were drugged. Many societies would drug their victims, er sacrifices, so that they would be docile and manageable. Maybe I'll find something inside tomorrow to corroborate these theories."

"This world's version of date rape. Cool." Major Samson stated with a grin.

Daniel shuddered. "That's not funny," he said quietly, thinking of his wife Sha'ure.

"Can't take a joke? I swear, Jon, your people are so stiff!" Samson got up and moved away from the group. "Ya gotta learn to loosen up, kid," he mocked.

Jack touched Daniel on the shoulder in understanding, then got up and went after his friend. Sam and Teal'c remained sitting, talking quietly together.

Daniel sat staring at his barely touched supper. Whatever appetite he might have had had fled with the man's words. How could he be so callous? How could he think that offering people to the Goa'uld was a joke?

- - - - - -

The sky remained overcast the next morning. Daniel managed to eat no more than a few bites of breakfast, and then rose tiredly to go videotape the remaining temple. He had at least been able to sleep for a couple of hours, until a nightmare where Major Samson was choking him woke him up. He was anxious to return home, to get away from Jack's friend.

Once inside the temple, he noticed that this altar was slightly different. It had a small depression off on the side, which none of the other altars had. He poked at it and suddenly a half inch needle appeared out of a small hole. He looked at it carefully and could make out faint markings around the depression. Once Daniel had meticulously brushed the accumulated dust and sand away, he could see that it was writing. He videotaped the markings, the depression, and the exposed needle. When he finished taping, he put his camera away and returned to carefully study the needle. He was leaning over it when suddenly he was jostled and his hand knocked against the needle, producing a two inch scratch along the fleshy part of his thumb.

Yelping, he turned quickly and saw Major Samson grinning at him. "Sorry," he said sarcastically. "You really ought to be more careful, you know. Who knows what that thing has touched."

Daniel put the injured digit in his mouth and sucked at the scratch, glaring up at the major.

Samson continued. "Colonel says we're outta here. The weather's turned, and he wants us away from here, the place is too exposed."

Daniel was surprised that Samson had let him off so lightly. He figured that Jack must really be in a rush to leave. Gathering his pack and taking a last look to see if he wasn't forgetting anything, he touched the depression again and the needle disappeared. Daniel rushed out of the temple to join his teammates.

The sky was dark and threatening. He could hear thunder booming, echoing off the mountains. Samson was right, the temple was situated on the edge of a cliff, with no shelter around them. They'd be better off in the woods or in the valley, but Daniel didn't think they'd have time to make it to shelter before the storm hit. Maybe they could find shelter in the temple. Jack had broken camp and everyone was ready to leave. Attempting to strap on his pack, Daniel joined his commanding officer. His pack was feeling much heavier than usual.

"Jack, maybe we should stay here until this blows over," Daniel said worriedly, looking at the menacing sky.

"Afraid to get wet, Daniel?"

Daniel shrugged, and as he moved to take his position behind Teal'c, he started feeling lightheaded and dizzy. He thought that maybe he should have had more to eat at breakfast. Major Samson and Sam positioned themselves behind him, and Jack took up the rear. Daniel continued to suck on his injured thumb, which had begun to burn.

They'd gone only a few steps when the wind started to pick up. Daniel looked back towards the temple, and could see the dark storm clouds coming up from behind, streaks of lightening trying to ignite the sky. He turned back to face the path and was hit by a sudden wave of dizziness. Staggering slightly, he stopped for a moment to get his balance. He started walking again, and suddenly his knees gave out and he fell onto his side.

Carter ran up to Daniel, with Jack yelling for Teal'c to stop. Daniel was trying to sit up, but couldn't seem to manage it by himself. Samson stood back, keeping an eye out for hostiles. Carter was sitting beside Daniel, supporting his head.

"Danny, what's wrong," Jack asked, kneeling by his friend.

"Pins and needles, everything's numb," he slurred.

Jack looked back towards the storm, and made his decision. "Okay, let's get back to the temple. We'll take shelter there. Teal'c, can you take Daniel?"

Teal'c handed his staff weapon to Carter and his backpack to Samson. Jack and Teal'c lifted Daniel to his feet, and Teal'c bent down and put Daniel over his shoulder. It wasn't far to the temple. Teal'c could easily carry Daniel for longer distances.

Daniel could feel Jack and Teal'c lift his body up, but he wasn't able to help them. He had no control over his muscles. He felt himself lifted onto Teal'c's shoulder, felt his body jostled as Teal'c quickly strode back towards the temple. He was extremely nauseous, and the movement wasn't helping his stomach any.

They entered the temple just as the deluge hit. Walking to the far side, away from the windy entrance, Teal'c gently lowered Daniel to the ground behind the altar. He appeared to be unconscious, a slit of white showing in his slightly open eyes. Jack removed his jacket and tucked it beneath Daniel's head. He looked his friend over. His breathing was regular, if a little shallow, his pulse a little quick. Carter had been rummaging through her pack, and pulled out a sleeping bag to place beneath Daniel, to try and shelter him from the damp weather.

Movement from Daniel's chest caught Jack's attention. Realizing suddenly what was going to happen, he rolled Daniel over onto his side. As he started heaving, Jack reached over and pried his mouth open. Having eaten very little for breakfast, there wasn't much to come up. Jack was relieved, and also worried. Had Daniel been alone, he could have choked on his own vomit.

They kept him in the recovery position for the time being, making sure that his mouth remained slightly open as a precaution. Jack checked his pulse again and found it was racing.

"Teal'c, Carter, any idea what happened to Daniel?" he asked as he readjusted his jacket beneath Daniel's head. Sam was kneeling on Daniel's other side. "No sir, it seemed to have hit him very quickly." She sounded as worried as Jack felt.

"Could he have been bitten by a poisonous insect or animal, O'Neill?"

"Shit, I don't know". He and Carter started checking Daniel's exposed skin for any signs of bites or stings. Stopping at the scratch on Daniel's hand, Carter examined it closely. "Sir, this scratch seems to be very recent." She rummaged through her pack back and found the first aid kit. Removing a bottle of disinfectant, she poured it over the scratch, and then placed a light dressing over it.

Teal'c and Jack then maneuvered their friend into the sleeping bag. Jack sat beside Daniel, a hand on his shoulder. They settled down to wait out the storm.

Daniel couldn't move a muscle. He could feel the hard ground beneath him, feel Jack's hand on his shoulder through the sleeping bag. He could hear his friends talking beside him, heard the thunder crashing outside. If he concentrated enough, he could make out their words. He knew that they were worried about him. He couldn't see anything, he couldn't open his eyes. He could see the lightening flashing behind his closed eyelids, but couldn't get them to open.

He was completely immobilized. He had thought he would choke when he'd felt his stomach start to rebel. Thankfully Jack had managed to turn him over in time. He felt extremely vulnerable and totally helpless. He was completely dependent on his friends.

The storm outside raged. The thunder and lightening were unending. The wind howled, at times strong enough to spray the team members slightly through the open doorway, as they sheltered in the back of the temple. They were using the altar as a shelter, but the wind swept rain still managed to dampen their clothes and skin.

"Carter, how fresh was that scratch on his hand?" Jack asked, looking at Daniel's bandaged hand.

"Couldn't have happened more than a few minutes before. It was still bleeding slightly."

Jack thought that the wound on his hand looked more like a scratch than a bite. "Could he have scratched himself on something toxic? He spent most of his time in here this morning."

"Yes sir, it's possible."

"You and Teal'c see if you can't find anything he might have caught his hand on." As his teammates got up, added, "Be careful."

Billy Samson sat down beside Jack. He took out his canteen and handed it to Jack. Jack accepted with a smile, watching Sam and Teal'c search the room carefully. "Hey, this storm reminds me of the time when…"

"Billy, not now." Jack said quietly, handing the canteen back to Billy.

"Sorry Jon, just wanted to try and distract you. Guess it was a stupid idea." Jack missed the frown on Billy's face, as he was looking intently at Daniel.

Moving his hand onto Daniel's neck, he checked his pulse. It had slowed down considerably. He thought that Daniel felt cool to the touch.

Teal'c was the one who eventually discovered the needle. Carefully examining the area around the needle, they noticed it was full of a dark oily substance. Taking a sample of the greasy fluid, they put it into one of Carter's sample containers to give to Doctor Janet Fraiser on their return to the SGG. It could possibly contain whatever drug or poison that Daniel had been inflicted with.

Carter surmised that the needle was positioned on the altar to give the subject a quick jab. She was afraid that the scratch on Daniel's hand, if it was indeed from the needle, might have introduced too much of the stuff into Daniel's system. He could be suffering from an overdose of an alien narcotic.

Checking Daniel's pulse once again, Jack could feel that Daniel's body temperature had dropped further. They covered him up in more sleeping bags to try and maintain his body heat. Jack had also noticed that Daniel was drooling. Carter said the reason was probably because he wasn't able to swallow. She suspected that whatever he'd been exposed to, had caused paralysis.

- - - - - -

They had been cooped up in the temple for more than five hours, and the storm showed no sign of letting up. The temperature in the temple became uncomfortably cool, and everyone was damp from the effects of the rain spraying inside occasionally. Daniel's pulse and breathing remained constant. He still felt cold to the touch, but seemed no worse.

Needing to stretch his legs, Jack got up and walked to the wind swept entrance. The storm looked like it was going to last most of the day. Sam joined him and they both watched the lightning streak the sky. "We might be stuck here tonight. Let's hope this lets up so we can leave here at first light tomorrow. Carter, do you think Daniel will be okay till then?"

"It's hard to say, but so far he's stable."

"That's good, right?"

"It is if the poison or drug that was on that needle only causes muscle paralysis. If it begins to affect his autonomic system…"

O'Neill made a face, showing his bafflement.

"If it starts to affect his breathing or his heart, there's absolutely nothing we can do to help him. Right now it seems to be affecting his muscles, his eyes, his throat. He might even be conscious, just unable to move."

"You mean he can hear us?"

"It is possible, sir,"

O'Neill shook his head and returned to his friend's side. Taking his pulse again, he found it to be racing. Wiping the spittle from Daniel's mouth, Jack bent down low and spoke softly in Daniel's ear. "Danny, I don't know if you can hear me. Carter says you might be awake…it's going to be okay. I won't leave again. I'm right here. Can you feel my hand on your arm? We won't leave you alone, okay? Carter's sitting on your other side, and Teal'c is close by. We're here, so don't worry." He kept his hand on Daniel's pulse point, and as he spoke, he could feel it slowly returning close to normal.

Looking at Carter, Jack said softly, "I think you're right. He's aware of what's going on."

She laid her head back against the wall, mouthing "shit."

Daniel couldn't tell how much time had gone by. He could feel and hear his friends beside him, but sometimes it felt like everything was in slow motion. He felt as if he had been here for days on end. His hip ached horribly, he was lying on his injured side, and he couldn't even move to take the pressure off of it. He was freezing, even though he was covered, and the sleeping bags felt damp.

Night was approaching, and the storm didn't show any signs of abating. His friends had taken turns sitting next to Daniel all afternoon into the evening, making sure they stayed in physical contact with him so he knew he wasn't alone.

Daniel was immensely glad of the physical contact from his friends. It gave him a feeling of being looked after, less vulnerable. He could feel the saliva dripping out of the corner of his mouth. It would be wiped away solicitously by his friends, only to return a few moments later. At least it wasn't dripping down the back of his throat, threatening to choke him. More embarrassing, though, was the urine he could feel sliding down his legs. He had apparently had lost control of his bladder too. He thought it could be worse, and he was suddenly very happy that he hadn't eaten much in the past few days.

"Sir," Carter said to Jack, having checked the progress of the storm from the open doorway. "I'm a little worried about the conditions here. I think we need to make sure Daniel stays warm during the night. It's going to get colder, and we don't have any dry wood for a fire. I think maybe we should…"

"Do the buddy buddy thing?" Jack quickly caught on.

"Yes, sir, to preserve his body heat. The sleeping bags are damp, they're not going to keep him sufficiently protected. The conditions here are perfect for pneumonia, which makes it even more important for him to stay warm."

Berating himself for not having thought of doing this earlier, Jack said, "Carter, help me out here, willya?" He started unzipping Daniel's sleeping bag as Sam readied a second one. As she handed it over to Jack, he said softly, "Okay, Danny. Looks like you and I are going to share a bed tonight." Zipping the two sleeping bags together, he removed his boots, and slid himself in beside Daniel. As he tried to make himself comfortable, he could feel the chill of his Daniel's body through the material of his clothes. "Shit, he's freezing," he exclaimed. He gently maneuvered Daniel up against his chest, tucking his head up on his shoulder, trying to make sure all of Daniel's body was touching his own.

Although feeling somewhat embarrassed, Daniel was more comfortable lying in his friend's arms. Jack had shifted him so that his bruised hip wasn't grinding onto the floor any longer. He was feeling Jack's body heat slowly warm up the small space inside the bags, and which his body finally began to absorb. Sam had curled up against his back, and the bulk of her body had cut off the cold wind coming from that direction. He felt less vulnerable, more cared for. He thought it might be a latent childhood memory, lying in one of his parents' arms when he was ill. Neither slept that night, but Daniel was much more comfortable than he had been during the previous day.

The wind finally died down shortly before sunrise, although the rain didn't let up much. Carter and Samson went out to look for pieces of wood to use to make a stretcher. They made short work of those and the sleeping bags. As Jack maneuvered himself out of the sleeping bag, he ignored the puddle of liquid that had pooled beneath Daniel during the night. Didn't matter, he was gonna get wet during their long walk back to the Stargate anyway.

They needed to get him to the infirmary pronto because his body was being constantly chilled by the never ending rain. Although the sleeping bag offered protection, it had become soaked after a few hours. There wasn't anything they could do except move on, and hope that he didn't get sick from the exposure.

They had been carrying him for what felt like an eternity to Daniel. Had they gotten lost? They had to be almost there, didn't they? Daniel wanted to be out of the rain, out of the cold. Hell, he wanted Fraiser's infirmary, and he wanted it now!

The rain eventually tapered off, only to leave a fine mist in the air. Everyone was soaked to the skin, but Daniel was the only one who was suffering from the chill in the air, the hike kept the others warm.

- - - - - -

Carter, who had been walking point, suddenly signaled caution and had everybody leave the trail. A short while later, what appeared to be a hunting party came into view. Although SG1 had been prepared to meet with the local people, returning home with an injured teammate was certainly not the time to do so, especially when said teammate had been injured in a temple associated with possible Goa'uld worship. Jack ordered Teal'c and Carter to circle around and see if the way ahead was clear, while he followed the hunters down the trail to make sure they didn't double back. He left Billy with Daniel.

Knowing SG1 wouldn't return for several minutes, Billy decided someone needed a lesson.

"So Daniel, are you having fun yet?" he sneered. Bending over the unresponsive man, he took hold of his soaked hair and yanked. "Oh, could you feel that?" he mocked.

That hurt! Daniel couldn't pull away, couldn't beg him to stop.

He let go of Daniel's hair and caressed his cheek. "Didn't I tell you to not go around looking for attention? Didn't I tell you to keep to yourself? Seems to me like you've got a whole lot of people attending to your needs here. Let's see if we can do something about that."

He moved his hand from Daniel's cheek up to his nose, and pinching Daniel's nostrils together, he pressed Daniel's jaw closed with his thumb.

"I don't know why Jon keeps picking up strays like you. I tried to break him of the habit, but he's really tenacious. And then he had to go and get married. You know, his wife is the reason why Jon broke off our friendship. The bitch got pregnant! And then Jon had to spend all his time at home with his family. He ignored all his friends. Can you believe that? A family more important than what he and I went through together?"

Daniel couldn't breathe, he couldn't get any air in his lungs. His lungs were burning, and there was nothing he could do to help himself. He was sure he was going to die. He fought to raise a hand, to do something to defend himself. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. The man was truly mad. He was totally at this maniac's mercy, he couldn't even open his eyes to plead for his life.

Suddenly the hand pulled away from his nose and blessed air was drawn into his lungs. He felt sweat form on his forehead and drip down his face. His lungs drew in air, but Daniel wanted to take large gulps of air, but was unable to force his muscles to work hard enough to take in more.

Major Samson pushed a finger into his mouth and opened his jaw, allowing the accumulated saliva to fall out. "Remember, little boy, any word of this and the blond will suffer. If you think this was fun, imagine what I could do to her."

Stepping back away from Daniel, Billy looked up and saw Jack returning. Jack signaled the all clear and waited for Carter and Teal'c to return. Checking on Daniel while waiting, he was dismayed to see sweat beading on his face over the rain dew, and his pulse racing wildly. His teammates appeared a few moments later, also confirming that the way was clear. Wiping the sweat from Daniel's face with his sleeve, Jack told him, "Hold on, Danny, we're almost home. We'll be there soon."

- - - - - -

They were nearly to the gate when they were approached by another group of hunters. Telling Carter to go dial up the gate, Jack and Teal'c put down Daniel's litter and readied their weapons. Once Carter sent through the IDC code with the GDO, she returned and took Teal'c's staff weapon from him to allow him to pick Daniel up in his arms. They slowly moved towards the open wormhole, trying not to look menacing. The hunters were armed with what appeared to be lances and knives. Jack thought they were going to make it when the hunters suddenly moved forward in a rush.

As they ran for the gate, Jack felt a prick in his shoulder. He was aware of Billy plucking something out of his shoulder, saw him holding a dart in his hand. Jack thought it had been deflected by his backpack and had barely pricked his skin. Then he and Billy were through the wormhole and safely back at the mountain.

Teal'c continued through the embarkation room towards the infirmary, not waiting for the medical team. He encountered them halfway to the infirmary, and he placed Daniel down gently on the gurney. Janet took a quick look at Daniel and ordered them back to the infirmary.

Jack gave the general a terse report of what had occurred, and then followed Teal'c's path to the infirmary. Upon entering the room, he saw a flurry of activity around Daniel's bed. He started to approach when a nurse sidelined him and steered him to another bed. He wanted to go to Daniel, but suddenly lacked the energy to fight the nurse off. Sitting on the edge of the bed quietly, he watched the activity dispassionately.

Sam and Teal'c had seized beds that were situated as close to the action as they could get. They knew better than to try and get in the medical team's way, but from experience, knew that they could stay nearby if they remained quietly aside. Sam turned to look at the colonel questioningly.

Billy came into the infirmary and sat beside Jack. "You okay?" he asked Jack. He nodded tiredly. He was starting to feel disoriented and muddled. He watched the medical personnel working around Daniel, feeling detached from everything. At that moment, he thought that there might be something wrong with him. His friend was lying over there in the care of the medics, and he suddenly couldn't care less about what was happening to him.

He knew it would be a while before anyone had time to give them their post-mission exams. He pulled his legs up onto the bed and leaned back against the wall. "You want me to get someone?" Billy asked. Jack shook his head no. "Look, the bastards stuck you with a dart, and you're starting to act a little strange, Jack. You need medical attention."

"It's okay, let them take care of Daniel first," he said. He decided he wanted to sleep. Thinking of the poking and prodding that would come if Janet found out about his being jabbed with the barb, Jack said, "Anyway, it didn't go in fully. I just got struck with the tip." He closed his eyes, letting sleep take him.

Jack became aware of activity around him. There were bright lights, noise, and a lot of movement. He was having trouble breathing, his body was engulfed in pain, and then as suddenly as it had begun, it was gone. He found himself in the midst of a white fog, with no beginning and no end. He began walking aimlessly, and heard his name called.

Turning towards the sound, he saw a shadow before him. It slowly morphed into the shape of a man, and as he got closer, he saw that it was Daniel. He was leaning dejectedly against the stone altar in the center of the last temple they'd visited, arms clasped around his waist, head down. Jack hurried to him, ignoring the fog all around them.

//Daniel, you're okay!//

At his words, Daniel looked up, tears in his eyes. //Jack, don't leave me. You can't go, you have to stay.//

//What? Daniel, where are we? Look at you, you're okay! What's going on?//

//Jack, please, I'm scared. I can't move, I can't go anywhere. I can't even go with you…//

// Go with me where? Daniel, what are you talking about?//

- - - - - -

Daniel became aware of the sound of activity around Jack's bed. He hadn't been asleep, it felt more like a daydream. He had heard an alarm go off, and Janet saying that Jack's heart had stopped. He could hear them attempting to revive Jack, but it wasn't sounding good. He wanted to tell Jack to hold on, to come back. He wanted to scream his frustrations out, to raise his hands to his ears to block out the sounds of the attempted resuscitation. All that he could do was lie there helplessly, and listen to his friend die.

"It's no good, he's gone. Let's call it."

// Noooo!Jack! //

As Janet reached over to switch the machines off, the sudden beep from the heart monitor stilled her hand. As she looked on disbelievingly, she saw another beep. A third. She looked at Jack, saw him take a breath, then another.

The activity around Jack quickly resumed. Jack's vitals began returning to normal. As Janet was attending to Jack, she heard another alarm go off. This time it was Daniel, his heart was racing and his blood pressure was too high.

Jack opened his eyes and saw Janet. "Carter," he called in a croaking voice. Sam moved into his line of sight. "Danny, go to him. He's alone, he's scared."

She squeezed Jack's shoulder, and then moved off to sit with Daniel. Janet's nurses were attending to him, but there was nothing to be done for him. They couldn't medicate him without knowing what the effect of the drugs that were already in his system was. She sat on his bed and took his hand in hers. Placing her other hand on his forehead, she looked closely at his face, and frowned. Tears were running down the side of his face. Leaning over him, she whispered in his ear. "Daniel, Jack's okay. He came back. He's all right. Try to relax now, okay?"

Daniel felt Sam take his hand, heard her talking to him. He was desperately trying to listen to what was happening with Jack. He could hear Janet talking farther away, but couldn't make out the words, her voice was too soft. Was Jack really all right? Did he come back? Daniel had been so sure that Jack's heart had stopped, that Janet had said that there was nothing more to be done. Were they just humoring him?

He had heard the alarms going off nearby again, and he had thought that Jack was in trouble again. He heard Janet's heels clicking towards his bed, felt her hands taking his pulse.

"Daniel, I know you're worried, but it's okay. The colonel's all right now. You have to calm down, your heart's beating too fast. Daniel, do you understand? Everything is going to be all right, he's going to be fine."

He wanted to believe them so badly, but it wasn't until he heard Jack's hoarse voice saying, "Daniel, that's enough," that he realized Janet and Sam had been telling the truth. Jack was alive! His relief was so great, his ears suddenly filled with a great roaring sound, and for a moment, he thought he was going to pass out. As his hearing returned to normal, he became aware of Sam again, stroking his cheek, his hair. He could feel her shaking, and realized that she was crying. He wished he could comfort her; tell her he was okay now.

He could still feel something wet run down his cheeks, but this time, he knew they were tears of joy.

- - - - - -

Sam looked up at Janet, and she smiled back at Sam. "He's okay now, they both are."

"What happened to the Colonel?"

"I'm not sure. Major Samson alerted us that something was wrong. He said that the colonel had been struck by a dart of some kind, just before coming through the wormhole. The colonel never said anything about it. When I asked Major Samson where the dart was, he said that he hadn't thought to bring it back with him for analysis.

Sam shook her head, thinking of the stupidity of him not informing the medics that Jack had been injured, or of not returning with the dart. She had thought that the man was more experienced than that.

"The colonel's sleeping now. I've taken blood samples, so hopefully we'll know soon what he was infected with."

"It's not going to paralyze him too, is it?"

"I don't think so, as we'd have seen some kind of indication of it by now. I won't know exactly what was on that dart until the blood work for both men comes in." With a last look at Daniel, she returned to her office.

Remembering the Colonel's words, Sam took a shaky breath and leaned down and said softly to Daniel. "Daniel, you're not alone. Teal'c and I will stay with you and with Jack, okay?" A nurse came by with a wet cloth, and Sam took it and wiped Daniel's tear-streaked face with it.

- - - - - -

Jack woke up several hours later with a wicked headache and a general feeling of weakness. Sitting up in bed, Janet checked him over, and then permitted him to go and see Daniel. Making his way to Daniel's bed, he saw that there were tubes leading to all parts of Daniel's body. He was being fed oxygen, an IV line was connected to his forearm, a pulse meter was attached to his finger, and Jack could see the tube leading to a Foley catheter snaking under the blanket. Electrical leads were affixed his head and chest as well. He was relieved to see Sam sitting on the bed beside Daniel.

Janet joined Jack by Daniel's bedside. "It looks like whatever was on the dart that got you was a very powerful poison. It's a good thing you didn't get the full dose, because it would have been lethal. As it is, you nearly didn't make it."

"What about Daniel?" he asked, as he seated himself in the chair beside Daniel's bed.

"The agent he was infected with, by itself, is a potent muscle relaxant, and it seems to be a derivative of the poison that was on the dart. Somehow, it bonded with the antihistamines that Daniel was taking, and the result caused the drug to mutate into a paralyzing agent. Plus because he scratched himself with that needle, I think he overdosed. On top of this, the antihistamines should normally have worn off within 36 hours, but the drugs don't seem to be wearing off at all. So we thought that was strange and had an analysis done of the antihistamines. We discovered that they were laced with another drug, one that we haven't been able to identify yet."

"What? You mean someone tampered with his pills?"

"It looks that way. We're testing all the drugs in the infirmary, but so far it seems only the new pills that Daniel was taking that were tampered with."

"Doc, can he hear us?" Jack asked, thinking back to what Carter had mentioned on the planet.

"If you look at his EEG," she pointed towards the squiggly lines on one of the monitors, "you can see that he's producing mostly beta waves, with a few alpha, meaning that he's definitely conscious."

"So he can hear us?" Thinking back to his strange near-death experience earlier, Jack thought that maybe Daniel had heard what had been happening to him when the poison stopped Jack's heart. He hoped that Daniel hadn't been aware, it would have been pure torture for him to have to listen and not be able to do anything.

"He's definitely awake, but whether he's cognizant, I couldn't say."

"But if he's aware, he can hear us?"

"Yes, Colonel, he can hear you, but I can't be sure if he can understand you."

Jack nodded his understanding. "How long will he stay like this?" He couldn't bear to see Daniel lying helpless like this. He'd brought his friend home to Janet, now it was up to her to try and fix him.

"Until we find out what the other drug is, I can't tell. Hopefully it'll wear off soon. But Colonel, you know that there is a chance that this could be permanent."

"I don't want to hear it." Damn, she had just confirmed that Daniel was awake. Did she have to go and say that in front of him? If Daniel could understand them…he reached a shaking hand over to gently stroke Daniel's head.

"Colonel."

"Not now, Doctor." Jack snapped. Didn't she realize what she was doing?

Jack knew that Janet was staring at him, and he refused to acknowledge her any longer. This was his best friend lying there, and he felt helpless that he couldn't do anything to help him. There was no way in hell that Daniel was going to be permanently paralyzed. Jack decided that if Fraiser couldn't do anything for Daniel, then he'd go and find a damned sarcophagus and bring Daniel to it.

"Colonel, if Daniel can hear you, then it's probably comforting for him to know you're here. Sam was able to calm him down earlier, and he seemed to be aware that you were in trouble. Don't give up yet, it's still too soon to know anything for certain."

Jack nodded, realizing that Daniel had been aware of what had been happening to Jack. Thank goodness Sam had been there for Daniel. He tore his gaze away from Daniel and smiled his thanks at Carter.

"By the way, can you tell me how he got those bruises?"

"What bruises?"

Janet lifted the blanket and discreetly opened Daniel's hospital gown, exposing Daniel's hips and ribs. Jack heard Carter gasp in shock.

"Oh shit! He said he bumped into something, but he never said anything about it being that bad." Daniel's hip was starting to turn all shades of colors, the bruising extending up into his ribcage. No wonder he'd been limping, the bruise looked to be very painful. Why the hell had Daniel tried to pass this off as something insignificant?

"It would have to be a pretty hard bump. It's an extensive bruise, covering his hip and ribs. It looks more like he was slammed into something."

"I know he was limping around a bit, but he didn't complain about it, so I didn't think it could have been that serious. Anyway, he wasn't talking to me much." He looked abashed. "I guess I was kind of busy." Jack acknowledged to himself that he'd let Daniel down, not only as a friend, but as his commanding officer. He should have been aware that Daniel was hurting. He should also have been available for Daniel to come and talk to him privately about it, but no…instead he had to go and spend every spare minute reminiscing about old times with Billy.

"It's not really serious, but it would have been quite painful, Colonel." Jack sighed in relief, Daniel was having problems enough without having injuries added to them.

- - - - - -

Daniel had overheard the conversation between Jack and Janet. The word 'permanent' had suddenly become stuck in his mind. He had been certain that when Jack got him home, Janet would fix him up right away. He was so tired. He needed to sleep, but he was afraid to. Afraid that he'd wake up choking, that Major Samson would be standing next to him, that Jack would die. Afraid that Jack and his friends would leave him alone in his illness, alone with his thoughts, alone in his own little world. He wanted to scream, to cry out. He didn't want to be left like this.

Daniel hadn't realized how much he'd come to depend on Jack's support and physical touch until he heard Jack pull up a chair beside him and felt him take his hand. He knew that he was safe when Jack was there beside him. Jack wouldn't let anyone hurt him, he'd protect Daniel while he was there. Daniel wished he could let Jack know how much he appreciated him being there with him. He still wanted to scream his frustration, but Jack's presence comforted him. For the first time since he'd been stricken, Daniel managed to fall asleep.

- - - - - -

Jack knew Janet was pleased that Daniel was finally sleeping. Teal'c had mentioned to them that he hadn't thought Daniel had slept much during at least two of the nights they'd been offworld before his paralysis, so the man was obviously suffering from exhaustion on top of everything else. She told Jack that his EEG showed delta and beta waves, which meant diddley squat to Jack. He was happy that Janet was happy, because that meant that Daniel wasn't getting worse.

Jack was thinking about what Daniel must be going through at the moment, unable to move, unable to communicate. He was totally dependent on the medical staff for every little thing, his body was shifted every few hours, his mouth was kept clean of saliva, his airway was constantly checked to make sure that it was clear. The IV and the catheter were also constantly checked, along with every vital that the machines recorded from Daniel. The least Jack could do was make sure Daniel had someone who cared about him present at his bedside at all times. Daniel's family was here, and between himself, Carter and Teal'c, he was never left alone.

He realized slowly that the hand that he was holding between his own had become icy cold. Putting a hand on Daniel's face, he realized that it felt cold also. Leaning over Daniel, he said quietly, "I'll be right back, I'm gonna go and find you another blanket."

Daniel had been feeling colder and colder by the minute. Unable to move, he was unable to generate heat for his body. He was relieved when Jack had caught on and offered to get a blanket, but felt abandoned as soon as Jack had let go of his hand. He hadn't realized how much he depended on the small physical contact his friends had provided him. It kept him grounded and kept the hope alive in him that somehow this would soon be over.

When Jack stood up, the nurse on duty noticed, and came over quickly. After mentioning to her that he thought Daniel felt cold, she checked the readout on one of the monitors and agreed that his temperature had dropped slightly. She made a notation in Daniel's chart and went to get a blanket.

"Hey Jon, so this is where you've been hiding out," Billy exclaimed loudly.

Jack winced. He usually felt that quiet voices were sanctum in an infirmary, especially when you were standing beside your best friend's sick bed. "Looks like you found me," he answered quietly.

"I've been looking for you for the past three hours! Haven't you finished up here yet? The Doc said you'd been released."

"Yeah, they let me go a while back." The nurse returned and carefully tucked the blanket around Daniel's body.

"So whatcha still doin' here? You're not gonna tell me that you actually like the smell of antiseptic?" He laughed loudly at his joke. The nurse finished her task and frowned slightly at the major.

"Billy, what do you think I'm doing here? My friend's lying here helpless," Jack answered, short temperedly. He sat down again and picked up Daniel's lax hand.

One of the monitors caught the attention of the nurse as she was leaving. She stopped a moment to study it.

Upon hearing Major Samson's voice, Daniel began to relive the episode on the planet where Jack had left him alone in the care of the major. He was desperately afraid that Jack would do so again. He couldn't focus on the words being said anymore, because his fear was too great. All he could do was try to yell, try to move, try to escape. Try to tell Jack not to leave him alone, he was sure this time he'd be murdered. He forgot he was in the infirmary; at that point all that mattered was that Jack shouldn't leave him alone.

"And by sitting there holding his hand, you think you're gonna make him feel better? Geez, he's gonna be a vegetable case. Get over it!" Billy had approached Daniel's bed and was leaning against the edge of it.

Was Daniel's pulse faster than it was before? Jack hadn't realized how he'd come to be in tune with Daniel's body by just holding his hand.

"Damn it, Billy, if that were me lying there instead of him, I'd be bloody happy to know that at least one person cared enough to sit by my side and tell me that everything was going to be all right." An alarm on one of the monitors suddenly went off. Jack could feel now that Daniel's pulse was racing. Damn, what was the matter with this idiot? Couldn't Billy see that something was wrong? Why didn't he just leave?

"So, you gonna stay here much longer? I thought we might go out and hit a few bars, you know, take the edge off the mission. Too bad it got scrapped. Maybe next time we'll find something interesting to bring back, huh?"

Doctor Fraiser suddenly appeared by Daniel's side. "Sorry gentlemen, you're going to have to leave." She started checking Daniel's vitals, both via the monitors and then by touch.

"Billy, get out of here. Doc, I'm not going anywhere. I'm not leaving Daniel alone."

"Jon, come on. Look, you're in the way here. Let's just go out and get drunk and…"

"Billy, get the hell out of here," Jack barked. He kept out of Fraiser's way, but he kept his grip on Daniel's hand.

"Okay, okay, I'll come and see you when you've gotten fed up of playing Jack Nightingale." He walked out of the infirmary, but not before giving Daniel a dirty look.

"Colonel, what happened here?" Janet asked quietly.

"I dunno, Doc. He was quiet and suddenly his heart started racing."

"Did something happen to startle him? A loud noise perhaps?"

"No, nothing. He was cold, I got up to find a blanket, when I got back, this had started."

The nurse spoke up "Actually, sir, I believe it started when your friend arrived."

"Billy? Well, he is kind of loud," Jack admitted grudgingly.

"Colonel, I think you should try to get him to calm down. I can't give him any sedatives without knowing how they'd interact with the other drugs. I don't like to have his heart being stressed like that. Try talking to him."

Leaning over slightly so that his face was near Daniel's, Jack started speaking softly. "Hey Danny, it's Jack. I didn't go far, I just went get a blanket." He gently rubbed the cold fingers between his warmer ones. "You're in the infirmary, remember? You're safe here. It's just you and me and the Doc. Nobody's going to hurt you." Keeping Daniel's hand in his own, he placed his other hand on Daniel's cheek. "See, it's just me. I'm here. I'll make sure nobody bothers you. You can relax now. Shhhh."

Slowly, the gentle pressure on his fingers, the warm hand on his cold cheek, made him aware of the sound of Jack's voice. The words slowly started to sink in. He was safe, Jack was here, he wasn't alone. Jack would keep Major Samson away from him.

- - - - - -

Between Janet and Sam, they convinced the Colonel to go and get something to eat, and to try to sleep for a few hours. He'd been sitting in the hard plastic chair for several hours, so they knew he had to be stiff. He had always threatened to bring his own armchair from home to replace Janet's butt-numbing ones when one of the team got injured. It had been a running joke between them for years now.

Janet promised to let him know as soon as there was a change, so he finally relented. There was nothing he could do, it wasn't like Daniel was going to wake up soon, heck, according to the doc, he already was awake. He left Sam sitting by Daniel's side, stroking his face, and talking softly to him.

Sitting in the commissary, fiddling with his barely touched supper, he looked up with a sigh when he heard the jovial voice of his friend Billy hailing him. Somehow he didn't want to be around his old friend right now. He'd been happy to see him when he'd first arrived, but Jack soon realized that the man had never really changed. He was just as loud and coarse as he had been in his younger years. You'd think after a while the man would have matured, grown up. Sure, it had been fun reminiscing, but he had the odd feeling that the man continued to live the type of wild life they'd had in those earlier years.

Jack realized why he and Billy had slowly grown apart. Jack hadn't wanted Billy anywhere near his family, didn't want Sara and Charlie exposed to this man's coarseness. There was a hard core to the man that was sometimes essential to the work they had performed. Jack thought he had that hard core too, but he was able to push it back deep inside him when it wasn't needed.

"Hey Jon. So you decided to come back to the world of the living?" his friend asked, sliding into the seat opposite Jack. "Man, that mission was some kind of ride. You know, I'm really gonna enjoy goin' thru that Stargate. I can understand why you came out of retirement for this, Jon. Too bad the trip was such a bore, I was kind of hoping to get some action, you know what I mean?"

"Billy, my best friend is lying in the infirmary, and all you can think is that this mission was a waste of your time?" Jack realized his voice had risen, and he made an effort to bring it down to a normal tone.

"Well, hey, it's not like he's dead."

Jack couldn't believe his ears. How could the man be so unfeeling? "Billy, I'll pretend I didn't hear that. I'm going to assume you're in shock from your first trip through the Stargate. If I hear anything come out of your mouth about Daniel…"

"Oh, and what am I supposed to be now? We went through hell and back together, Jon. If that doesn't count for something…"

"Yeah, I thought it did, at one time. Looks like I might have been wrong. Since when did you become such an coldhearted moron?"

"What the hell are you talking about? Oh, I'm supposed to cry crocodile tears for some geeky archeologist who got hurt? Jon, it's not like he was important, there are others who can take his place. Anyway, he's not military."

Jack sat there flabbergasted. This was his friend he was talking to, someone whom he had trusted with his life, and who had saved his own life, more than once for that matter. Someone with whom, when in the Special Ops, he had performed acts for which he had trouble coming to terms with at times, and which resurfaced in his nightmares.

Someone whom he was sure he didn't want on his team, or on any other team in the SGC. He was going to probably have to talk to Hammond pretty soon about Billy.

Without saying a further word, Jack got up and walked out, without looking back.

- - - - - -

Deciding to at least try and get some rest, knowing he probably wouldn't sleep, Jack headed for his assigned room. Lying there in the dark, he kept going through what Janet had told him about the drug that was causing Daniel's paralysis. After an hour, he got up and went to find Teal'c.

"Teal'c, I was thinking about that needle Daniel scratched himself with in the temple. What would have been the purpose? Something religious?"

"I would assume that to be a logical assumption."

"Well, if this thing can paralyze, wouldn't it be logical that there might be a remedy for it? An antitoxin, something to undo what this stuff did."

"It may be possible, but we would need to return to the planet to ascertain this."

"Maybe there's something in Danny's notes."

"Do you wish me to look at DanielJackson's field notes?"

"Yeah, maybe there's something in there that he wrote, or something in the video tapes."

"I will attempt to do so immediately."

"Thanks Teal'c. I think his stuff was returned to his office, it's all in his backpack."

Teal'c inclined his head and walked off to Daniel's office.

- - - - - -

Jack wandered the halls of the SGC for a while, not wanting to return to his bed, and at the same time not wanting to return to the infirmary. He didn't want to see his friend lying in the bed, pale and motionless. But the thought that finally brought him back to Daniel's bedside was that if he were lying there in his place, he'd want his friend by his side.

Sam was still talking softly to Daniel. He couldn't figure how she could keep up a one-sided conversation for such a long time. He must have been gone for several hours; he wondered if she'd been talking the whole time.

Seeing the determined expression on her commanding officer's face, Sam gave up the chair and allowed the colonel to take up the vigil.

"Janet said he woke up soon after you left. He's still awake now."

"You can read those squiggles?" he asked, squinting at the EEG monitor.

"Yes sir. It's not difficult. If you look at this line here," she started, pointing to the monitor.

"Ah ah," interrupted Jack. "I'm too tired to look at those."

"Yes sir," she said, smiling. "I'll just go get some coffee. Can I get you some?"

Jack nodded tiredly, leaning back in the chair, his hand gripping his friend's limp one. He wasn't about to talk Daniel's ear off. He hoped that his presence itself was enough to comfort Daniel.

- - - - - -

After laboriously reading through Daniel's notes, Teal'c connected the video camera to a monitor and began watching Daniel's meticulously taped footage. It was during the second hour that he observed Daniel's antics in attempting to film himself and the glowing glyphs in the temple. Then as the tape showed Major Samson entering the temple, Teal'c was shocked to see the Major attempt to assault Daniel.

- - - - - -

Jack saw Teal'c walk stiffly towards him. There was a strange look on his face.

"O'Neill, there is something you must see."

"Right now?"

"It is probably best you see this immediately."

Excitement surged through Jack. "You found something that can help Danny?"

"Not exactly. But I have discovered something which is imperative, which may explain DanielJackson's behaviour."

"Okay, just lemme go call Sam so she can come stay with Daniel. I think she went to bed."

- - - - - -

Jack sat through the videotape stoically, the only hint of stress being the movement of his jaw grinding together. Upon coming to the end of the segment, he got up and phoned the general, demanding an immediate interview.

- - - - - -

The general's reaction was to immediately place Major Samson in custody and charge him with assault. Jack hadn't said a word through all of this. "I'm sorry, Jack, I know he was your friend."

"Was being the operative word," Jack said stiffly. "General, how could this have happened without my having a clue? Why didn't Daniel say something? All he did was mope, why didn't he talk to me?" Jack was angry, and he didn't know whom to blame.

"Jack, Teal'c admitted that he felt something was wrong. Doctor Jackson had hinted that he wanted Teal'c to keep an eye on Major Carter. It's possible that Major Samson threatened her if Doctor Jackson spoke up."

"Doesn't Daniel know that we would have protected one another? Shit, you'd think after all these years…"

"Son, have you thought about what Doctor Jackson might have been feeling? Major Samson was your friend. Doctor Jackson might have been afraid that you would blame him for bringing up the assault, that you might think he was trying to come between you two."

"No, Daniel doesn’t think that way."

"Then he was trying to protect Major Carter. He was possibly also in shock. You admitted that he was tired, he wasn't thinking clearly. Maybe he was waiting to arrive back here on Earth before bringing the subject up. A potentially hostile world is not the best place to accuse someone of assault. Or maybe it was the effect of the drug with which his pills were tampered with."

Jack nodded. "You're right, sir. I guess we'll just have to wait for Danny to get better and tell us."

"I pray that he will, Jack."

- - - - - -

Returning to Daniel's bedside, Jack decided that he had to tell Daniel how he felt. He looked up at the EEG monitor. Gads, was it showing that he was awake or asleep? He called a nurse over and asked. She confirmed that Daniel was awake.

"Daniel, we saw the videotape you took of the second temple. We saw what Billy…no, what Major Samson did to you." He squeezed Daniel's hand. "Shit, Danny, why didn't you come and tell me? Did you think I wouldn't believe you?" He stopped a moment to compose himself.

Staring across the room, he continued. "Did he threaten to hurt Sam? Is that why you didn't want to come to me? To protect her? Daniel, we would have protected one another. We're a family, remember? Nobody gets hurt without the others hurting."

Daniel could hear Jack's words, and realized that Jack was right. He should have told someone, and not kept everything to himself. Sam could have taken care of herself. Hell, she had faced Goa'uld and kicked their butts. Why had he thought that she couldn't handle some semi-demented ex-Special Ops, know-it-all jackass. He felt like a jackass himself at the moment, maybe if he had talked to Jack in the beginning, he wouldn't be lying here helpless. He couldn't understand why he hadn't gone to Jack. His brain had been so muddled at the time, he had been so positive that he had to protect Sam by keeping quiet.

Jack looked down at Daniel and was shocked to see a tear run down his friend's face. He wiped it gently with his thumb. Daniel wished he could tell Jack that he was sorry. He knew Jack was worried, he wished he could tell him everything was going to be all right.

"Danny?" Jack started to say, and stopped when he felt a slight pressure coming from the fingers he held, curled in his palm. Squeezing them lightly with his own, he waited, and was rewarded by another slight increase in pressure against his own fingers. "Janet!" he bellowed, startling several of the nurses. Fearing for the worst, the doctor arrived breathlessly.

"I felt his fingers move," he called excitedly, when she came around the side of the bed.

"Are you sure?" she asked, as she took Daniel's hand from Jack's shaking one.

"Yes! Yes! I'm sure."

Holding Daniel's hand gently in her palm, she asked Daniel to squeeze. She glanced at the Colonel's face, then back at the limp hand she was holding. "Sir, I don't feel anything."

"Shit, Janet, he moved his fingers. I felt him move his fingers!"

Placing Daniel's hand back down on the bed, she said, "It might have been a muscular twinge. I wouldn't make anything of it just yet."

- - - - - -

Jack remained with Daniel until Janet confirmed that Daniel was once again sleeping. Leaving Teal'c sitting vigil, Jack walked stiffly to the holding cell where the man whom he had once thought his friend was being detained. Asking the SF to open the door, Jack entered the small room.

"Jon, what the blazes is going on? These guys literally grabbed me out of my bed! I've been trying to convince them to come and get you. They sure as hell took their sweet time. I'm gonna have to put 'em on report. I've got my rights too."

"Billy," Jack started, somewhat curtly. "We know what you did to Daniel, major. You're being charged with assault."

"Assault? What did that imbecile tell you? Just because I bumped into him and he knocked his hand against the nail that was sticking outta the stone…he's gonna try and pin this on me? And you're gonna stand for that?"

"What?" Jack could barely get the word out, he was so flabbergasted by the guy's admission.

"Well, shit, he's the klutz, he's the one who pricked himself. I swear, Jon, with the wackos you guys are hiring here…I'm surprised that Earth hasn't been invaded by those snakeheads yet. We can't let them stay here in the SGC, we military have to take care of one another."

"What did you mean, you bumped Daniel?" Jack asked through clenched teeth, taking a step forward. "You mean you knew! You knew all along what Daniel had scratched himself on and you didn't say a word? You just let us waste our time looking for a needle in a haystack."

"What was there to tell? The guy collapsed, how was I to know that the scratch was the cause of it?"

"Oh, just the fact that Daniel scratches himself on a NEEDLE, in a religious temple, in the middle of an alien planet. What was your first clue?"

"Jon…"

"No Billy, I'm going to say this once, and only once. That 'wacko' you're referring to has, on more than one occasion, may I say, prevented those snakeheads from invading Earth. He's saved my life, my team's life, and my planet. You're probably alive now because of him, which at the moment I don't know why that's a good thing."

"Yeah, so?" he answered sarcastically.

"At the moment, you're being charged for assaulting Daniel in the temple, when we were offworld. And before you say anything, it's all on videotape. Irrefutable evidence. Second, as soon as I'm outta here, I'm making sure that you're brought up on attempted murder. By your own admission, you deliberately caused Daniel to be exposed to what could have been, could still be for that matter, a lethal poison. With friends like you, who needs enemies!"

Jack turned around and left the cell.

- - - - - - -

Returning to Daniel's bedside, he stood beside Teal'c, who was talking to Daniel in his own native tongue. Teal'c sat with his hand on Daniel's shoulder. Looking at Daniel, he noticed that something was different. It was then that he realized he could see a crescent of blue in Daniel's partly opened eyes. They were definitely more open, before they'd always remained nearly shut.

As Teal'c finished his story, he got up and offered Jack the chair. Jack picked up Daniel's hand, not wanting him to be without physical support. As Jack sat back, he suddenly felt Daniel squeeze his hand. "Daniel?" he asked. The movement was repeated. "Teal'c, go get Janet. Quick." Teal'c moved off in search of the Doctor. Leaning close, Jack said softly, "Danny, the doc's coming. You have to show her that you're getting better now, okay?"

Janet appeared after a moment. "Colonel, what's wrong?" "He squeezed my hand again, Janet. Here, see for yourself."

She took Daniel's hand in hers again, and after a moment she smiled. "You're right! Daniel, I'm going to take some blood now, we'll see if this drug concoction is beginning to wear off." She returned his limp hand to Jack, and quickly set off to draw some blood.

"Danny, it's going to be fine. You're going to be yourself in no time at all."

- - - - - -

A search of Major Samson's room revealed a variety of stolen artifacts, the dart which he had removed from O'Neill's shoulder, stolen copies of medical reports, including the ingredients found in the drug that Daniel had been stricken with. Also hidden in the room were several diskettes with top secret information in it, some of which had come from Sam's own computer files. All of the evidence led to one simple conclusion, Major William Samson worked for the NID.

- - - - - -

"Colonel, why don't you go and get some sleep now." Doctor Fraiser looked at the exhausted man sitting at her patient's bedside.

"Doc, are you sure?"

"That the drugs are wearing off? Yes, I'm positive. But the side effects to this are that they're acting like a sedative, so he's going to be sleeping for hours. You won't do him any good by making yourself sick. Look, why don't you just hop onto that bed beside him and go to sleep. I'll tell my nurses not to bother you, and if anything develops, we'll wake you."

"Promise?"

"Cross my heart." She smiled kindly. "Get some sleep, colonel."

Wearily, Jack placed Daniel's hand onto the bed, and leaning against his own for support, he bent down and removed his boots. Sitting up on the bed, he realized that this was the first time in several days that Daniel was actually lying there alone.

"He'll be okay like that?"

"Colonel, if he woke up right now, he'd be able to call for help. Like I told you earlier, the paralysis is wearing off, and he's just got lots of sleep to catch up on."

"Okay." He lay himself down and was sleeping within minutes.

- - - - - - -

Jack found himself walking aimlessly in a fog-ridden landscape once again. He called out, "Hello!"

//Jack!//

Turning towards the direction of the voice, he once again saw a dark shadow morph into Daniel. He found his friend leaning against the stone altar of the temple, surrounded by the fog which skirted the edges of the walls. This time Daniel didn't look quite as dejected as he had the previous time he'd seen him in this location. He was staring at Jack, smiling.

//Thanks, Jack.//

//For what?// Jack approached Daniel and stopped before him.

//You didn't leave me, Jack. I was so scared…you stayed! You have no idea how close you came to leaving.//

//You mean dying?// Daniel didn't answer. //Danny, where are we?//

//I don't know. Dreaming?//

//Doesn't feel like a dream.//

//I know.//

Jack woke up with a start, his heart racing. He opened his eyes, looked around, saw that he was in the infirmary. For a second he couldn't remember why he was there, then he remembered, he'd taken the bed, gotten some sleep…Daniel!

Sitting up, he saw his friend lying in the bed next to him, with Teal'c sitting on the chair between both beds, reading a book. Daniel was murmuring softly, obviously still dreaming. Jack got up and crossed the short space to Daniel's bed, and placed his hand on his friend's shoulder. At his touch, Daniel's eyes opened, and focused on Jack's face. "Jack?" he said, and grinned sleepily upon seeing his friend.

Jack felt overwhelming relief to finally see Daniel able to move, to look at him, to speak to him. "Yeah, hey Danny. Welcome back." His relief was so great, he felt like he was going to burst.

"Dreaming…you didn't leave me."

"What?" That was too close to what he'd just been dreaming about.

"Didn't feel like a dream," he mumbled sleepily.

"Daniel, were you dreaming of us…talking?"

Daniel's eyes closed, and then opened with apparent difficulty. He nodded. "Dreamed of you…fog…you stayed, didn't die."

"Damn, that wasn't a dream. We can't share the same dream, it's not possible."

Daniel's eyes closed, fluttered once, and then remained shut. He'd fallen asleep again. Jack took a deep breath. His friend was on his way to recovery. Jack closed his eyes in relief.

"O'Neill," he heard Teal'c say. He opened his eyes and looked at Teal'c. "Doctor Fraiser has discovered that the previously unknown drug that was added to Daniel's antihistamines is actually an agent that is used in interrogation."

"A truth serum?"

"Yes. It is triggered by intense pain. She believes that Major Samson attempted to interrogate DoctorJackson, which would attest to some of the bruises on his body. It also leaves the subject with no memory of the session. It does cause slight confusion as a secondary result, which would in effect explain why Daniel did not come to us with his concerns."

"Intense pain? You mean he tortured Daniel?"

"It is conceivable. There is also security footage showing Major Samson entering Doctor Jackson's lab on two separate occasions, and remaining there for a lengthy period of time. We believe that is when he questioned him. Unfortunately, the security camera in DanielJackson's lab has been disabled in such a manner that the technicians were never aware of the tampering."

"Damn the bastard," Jack spat. "That was his specialty." He looked at Daniel, watching him sleep. It was strange to see him lying there in basically the same position as when he'd been paralyzed, but knowing that he was simply asleep. Knew that he could rouse Daniel easily, and his friend would be able to move again.

"Did Janet say anything about the poison or drugs enhancing ESP?"

"ESP? I am unfamiliar with that term."

"Extra Sensory Perception. I just had the strangest dream, and Daniel just mentioned that he was dreaming the same thing."

"It is not unheard of for some to communicate in this manner when in dire need."

"He was afraid I was going to die, and leave him…it first happened when my heart stopped."

"I believe that could be construed as dire need." Jack turned to look at Teal'c, and saw a gentle smile on his face.

"Yeah, I guess it could." He turned towards his bed. "I think I'm gonna try and get a few more hours' sleep. You okay here?"

Teal'c inclined his head, and turned back to his book.

- - - - - - -

Daniel could hear the sound of footsteps slowly approaching from behind. Stones crunched one against the other as the individual knelt down on the gravel path beside him. He felt first a feathertouch on his cheek, the side of his nose. Then cruel pressure was applied against his face as it was turned to the side, a hand held over his nose and mouth, cutting off his air supply. He couldn't move, couldn't breath, couldn't struggle. He heard the stranger shift slightly on the gravel, and he felt jealous of the sound of the man's own breath. His lungs were starting to burn. He felt himself panicking as he forced non-responsive muscles to try to move. He could feel his heart racing, his pulse echoing in his ears.

Just when he thought he couldn't stand the pain anymore, he found himself sitting up, gasping for air. The relief was overwhelming, but the panic was still overpowering. Although he knew he could now move, he couldn't control the intensity of his breathing. Suddenly there were faces all around him, hands trying to force him to lie down. He could hear sounds, and he thought they were speaking to him, but he couldn't make out the individual words. He tried to bat the hands away; he wanted them to leave him alone. It was too much, all those sounds, the physical touch; it was way too distracting. He tried to concentrate solely on controlling his breathing. Then a face appeared before him…a dearly familiar face. Chocolate brown eyes, grey hair, rugged visage. He felt a hand on his cheek, gentle as opposed to the harshness of that in his memory. He saw Jack's mouth move, and the words registered several seconds later in his brain. "Relax, Danny…you're okay…it was just a dream."

Dream. He'd been dreaming…he wasn't paralyzed any longer. He raised his hand…and his muscles obeyed – what joy! Such a small thing, to lift a hand, something one does usually without conscious thought. He continued the movement till he managed to grasp Jack's arm. He kept his eyes on Jack's face, saw him smile at the contact. He realized his breathing was slowing, wasn't as forceful anymore.

Weak muscles began to give out, muscles that hadn't been exercised in several days. He felt himself begin to tilt to the side, unable to stay upright by himself. Jack's hand left his cheek, caught at his shoulders. He felt himself held securely, pulled forward into Jack's embrace. A second shaky arm came up and wound around Jack, weakly returning the hug. How he'd wanted to do this while lying helpless…like a child begging for comfort. His breathing was returning to normal; he inhaled shakily, and let his head fall forward onto Jack's shoulder.

"Better?" he heard Jack ask softly near his ear. He nodded, still too emotional to form words. He could feel Jack slowly rubbing his back, trying to comfort him.

"That seemed to be one hell of a nightmare. Want to talk about it?"

He took another shaky breath. "I couldn't move, Jack." Daniel murmured.

"Yeah, I know…I'm sorry, Daniel." Jack's breath tickled the hairs on Daniel's neck.

"He tried to kill me, he put his hand over my face and I couldn't breathe."Daniel felt Jack stiffen, and he was suddenly sorry he'd mentioned it. He tried to pull away, before Jack got mad at him, but Jack's arms tightened around him. His words shocked him. "Oh God, Danny! I'm so sorry. I left that bastard alone with you. I didn't know. Honest, I didn't know."

"Colonel, I need you to step aside so that I can examine Daniel," they both heard Janet say. Jack placed a hand underneath Daniel's head and helped guide him down back onto the bed. As he made to step away, Daniel tightened his hold on Jack's arm. "Don't go," he begged. He saw Jack turn to look at Janet, who nodded her agreement. Jack moved back towards the head of the bed, keeping out of her way. He gently removed Daniel's hold on his arm, clasping his hand instead. Daniel kept his eyes locked on Jack's while Janet poked and prodded.

Satisfied with her examination, she looked down on Daniel with affection. "You're doing good, Daniel. Try and get some rest now." Giving the colonel a warning look, she patted Daniel's arm before walking away.

"You're safe, Daniel," Jack said, as he sat down on Daniel's bed. "Samson's been moved to a more secure facility…he's up for attempted murder and assault. Once I speak to General Hammond, it'll be two counts of attempted murder. He won't be coming back to bother you." Personally, Jack was afraid that Samson would be declared mentally incompetent. Hammond had assured Jack that whatever the verdict, steps would be taken that the man never set foot near Daniel again.

Daniel nodded, trusting Jack to be telling him the truth. He still felt a little nervous, probably a residual feeling from the long days of being unable to defend himself from Major Samson.

"I'm sorry, Jack. I know he's your friend."

"Was, Danny, was my friend. I lost touch with him years ago, and it's only now that I remembered why. I never wanted him around my family, especially Charlie." He looked down in embarrassment. "I know that Charlie would have loved you, you'd have made a great uncle."

"Jack…" Daniel found himself blushing at the words. Trying to change the subject, he said, "Thank you for staying with me while I was…um…"

"Indisposed?"

"Yeah," he said with a sleepy smile.

"Not a problem." Jack looked away from Daniel for a moment, unable to meet his eyes. "I wish I had known what was going on a lot sooner, though. Technically, it's my fault. I was too involved in getting reacquainted with Billy, that I didn't keep my focus on the team. I should have noticed that something was wrong…"

"Jack, don't blame yourself." Daniel squeezed Jack's hand to emphasize his point. He fought to stay awake. "He's not sane, is he?" he asked.

Jack shook his head. "I don't think so. I think he enjoyed his job too much, and he finally got carried away. I'm sorry you're the one who got caught up in the middle."

Daniel nodded, his eyes closing as he lost his fight to remain awake.

- - - - - -

Three days later, as Daniel was carrying a cup of coffee to an empty table in the commissary, someone bumped into him, spilling warm coffee over his hand. He gasped at the memory, and quickly turned to see who had bumped him. One of Janet's nurses apologized profusely, grabbing his hand to make sure that he hadn't burned himself. Smiling his thanks, he made his way to the table, wiping his hand with a paper napkin.

Jack had asked Daniel to join him for lunch, and he was late. Sipping his coffee, Daniel watched the employees of the SGC go about their business. Janet had just released him from the infirmary that morning, with the admonition that he not overexert himself.

He had nearly finished his coffee when he spied Jack walking towards him. As Jack sat down, Daniel noticed that his friend looked a bit preoccupied. He had been dying to ask Jack this particular question, and he finally mustered the nerve to ask. He quickly blurted out the question before Jack could speak up. "Jack, Janet said that the drug Samson gave me was some kind of truth serum. Do you think that I…" Daniel looked down at Jack's shocked expression.

"Daniel, even if you did, it wasn't your fault. You were drugged…"

"But I might have said something…" He looked away in embarrassment, clearly aware that he had never had the same training that Jack had. He wouldn't be able to resist mind-altering drugs.

"Daniel, the point is moot anyway. I just heard…Samson was found dead in his cell this morning. He apparently committed suicide."

"Wha…what?" Daniel's mind was reeling. Samson wasn't the type to try and kill himself, he had to have been murdered. "Who would have done that to him?"

"NID most likely. But look on the bright side. You don't have to be afraid of his coming back after you."

"I'm not afraid of…" He looked at the empty cup in his hands, fiddling with it nervously. Thinking of the nightmares he'd been constantly having, he conceded, "Yeah, actually I was." He sneaked a glance at Jack. "You don't think someone killed Samson just to make sure I felt better, do you?" At Jack's silence, he raised his head and looked at Jack intently. "Do you?"

As Jack got up and walked towards the coffee machine, Daniel called out impatiently, "Jaaack!" Daniel thought to himself that Jack wouldn't do that. Not even for a friend. As he watched Jack walk back to the table, coffee up in hand, he thought again, would he?

FINIS




AUTHOR'S NOTE: Ynette...how to thank you? You patiently replied all of my non-ending questions, and then you actually offered to alpha/beta the story? I must honestly say, if it weren't for you, this story would still be sitting, unfinished, on my hard drive. Thanks.

FEBRUARY 22, 2003 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.


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