The next day, the Tok'ra arrived. Jacob was one of the three who came. He was now with SG-1 and General Hammond while the other two Tok'ra interrogated Baal.
"When we got word of Daniel's rather . . . imaginative treatment of Baal, I just had to be among the ones who came here," Sam's father said with a smile. He turned his gaze upon the archeologist. "Most of the Tok'ra don't have what I'd call a sense of humor, but I have to tell you, Danny. You had more than one of them smiling. Me and Selmak just about split a gut, my gut, of course. Whatever possessed you to do something like that?"
"Well, I could say that the devil made me do it, but I think it's more likely the influence of a certain colonel we all know."
Everyone there looked at Jack, who raised his hands.
"Hey, don't look at me," he said. "That was pure Daniel all the way. I'd have shot the guy."
"Well, regardless of what made you do it, Daniel, you have caused quite a stir," Jacob informed him. "And not just among the Tok'ra. The rebel Jaffa have done an excellent job of spreading the news among all the other Jaffa, and it's having quite an impact. The fact that you did that to a being that is supposed to be a god has even more Jaffa questioning the godhood of the Goa'uld. There's been another dramatic increase in the number who have joined the rebellion. As for the Goa'uld, they are hopping mad. Baal may have been an enemy to many of them, but the fact that you dared to humiliate a System Lord like that has seriously pissed them off, especially since it's made it necessary for them to do some major damage control among both their Jaffa and their human slaves."
"Is this something we have to worry about, Dad?" Sam asked.
"Other than the fact that the System Lords are even more determined to find out who and where this Dan'yar is, no, I don't think so. Frankly, we're just all tickled pink that the Goa'uld have been given such a big black eye. This single act did more to damage their image than the death of half a dozen System Lords combined could have. It's one thing to manage to kill a god, it's something else to turn one into a source of mockery and amusement. That's not supposed to be able to happen to a god."
"Well, I'm glad that I could help out in the embarrass the System Lords department," Daniel said.
"Yeah, the next time we're in a position to capture a Goa'uld, we'll do our best to embarrass the System Lords some more," Jack said with a grin. "I think that good old Yu would look great in a pink tutu, don't you?"
As everyone had expected, the Tok'ra did not succeed in getting anything useful from Baal. They were now preparing to remove the symbiote from the host, though none of them believed that the host's mind would be intact afterwards, not after so many thousands of years of being a host to a Goa'uld.
Both Jack and Daniel decided to say goodbye to Baal and went to the brig.
"Colonel O'Neill and Doctor Jackson," the Goa'uld said in an arrogant tone of voice. His gaze focused on Daniel. "Or should I call you Dan'yar?"
"Doctor Jackson will be fine," the archeologist replied.
"I have to admit that it surprised me to learn that you are this Dan'yar. Tell me. How is it that you came to have these amazing powers? I would almost guess that Nirrti managed to succeed with her plans before she met her end."
"Nirrti had nothing to do with it," Daniel told him.
Baal smiled haughtily. "Regardless of the source of your power, you are still nothing compared to the power of the Goa'uld."
"Well, that's real funny coming from a guy who was stripped naked, paraded around for all to see, and couldn't do a damn thing about it," Jack responded. "Face it, Baal. Daniel beat the pants off of you . . . literally, and he could do the same to any other Goa'uld he came up against. Osiris found that out, too. The System Lords are going down. You know, it's almost a shame that you're not going to live to see it. I'd love to see your face as you watch the Goa'uld empire go down in flames."
Baal glared at him. "You may think you have won, but the Goa'uld will destroy you and your world," his eyes landed on Daniel, "and no power possessed by a weak, mortal Tau'ri will stop it."
Jack looked at the Goa'uld in disgust, amazed that Baal could still be so blindly arrogant. "Come on, Daniel. Let's get out of here before I have to go get a shovel."
As the two men turned away, Baal suddenly collapsed. Surprised, Daniel and Jack stepped forward a pace. Without warning, the Goa'uld's mouth opened, and the symbiote leapt from it, heading straight toward Daniel. With a cry, the archeologist stumbled back, psychically striking out at it. The symbiote burst into flames and fell, squealing, to the floor. By the time the guards came rushing in, it was dead.
Daniel stared at it, wide-eyed. "God, it tried to. . . ."
"Yeah," Jack said, shaken by the near-miss. "He knew that the Tok'ra were going to kill him, and I guess he decided that he had nothing to lose and possibly everything to gain by trying to take you as a host."
Daniel gave a little shudder. "That was way too close, Jack. If he'd gotten inside me. . . ."
Jack put his hand on Daniel's shoulder. "Don't think about it."
A small sound from the cell drew their attention to the person inside.
"He's alive!" Daniel exclaimed. "Open the door!"
One of the guards hurried forward and unlocked the cell door, turning off the laser beams. Daniel was inside in a flash, kneeling by Baal's former host. The man's eyes fluttered opened and looked up at him, eyes that, for the first time in thousands of years, held the thoughts and feelings of the person to whom they rightfully belonged. The man's hand grasped Daniel's weakly, and he whispered something that Jack couldn't understand. Then the life went out of his eyes, and he grew still.
Very gently, Daniel closed the man's eyelids.
"What did he say?" Jack asked.
Daniel looked up at him with an expression of deep sorrow. "'I'm free'."
The archeologist got up and left the brig. After giving orders to the guards about the bodies, Jack followed him. Daniel only went down the corridor a few paces before stopping.
"Thousands of years, Jack," he said sadly. "That man lived as a prisoner in his own body for thousands of years. And he was aware that whole time. I saw it in his eyes. God. I can't imagine living that kind of nightmare."
"It's over for him now, Daniel. He's at peace. And he had you to thank for it."
Just then, Sam, Teal'c and Jacob came running up.
"We heard the alarm," the Tok'ra said.
"Baal's dead," Jack explained. "He tried to take Daniel as a host, jumped right out of his old host's body. Daniel killed him."
"And the host?" Sam asked, inwardly shuddering at the thought of how close they just came to having Daniel taken over by a Goa'uld.
"He died a few minutes later," Daniel replied. "I'd, um, really like to get out of here now."
All five of them left and went to Daniel's office. From there, Jack called Hammond and filled him in on what happened.
"Are you okay, Daniel?" Sam asked, looking at the archeologist with a concerned gaze.
"I'm just a little shaken. Having it come so close to happening really makes me think about what would happen if I was taken over by a Goa'uld. This isn't the first time it's almost happened. I was nearly infested by one on P3X-888 when I tried to get away from Chaka by swimming across that lake. But, if it had happened back then, I'd have just been one more victim of the Goa'uld. If it happened now, with the abilities I have. . . ." His voice halted, not needing to say any more.
"Well, it didn't happen, Daniel," Jack said, "and what you did to Baal when he tried shows that it wouldn't be easy for any snake to get you."
Since Baal was dead, there was nothing more for the Tok'ra to do, so they left a short while later, Jacob promising that he'd come visit again as soon as he could.
It was the next day that Daniel went to speak to General Hammond.
"Sir, I've given a lot of thought to the offer of a command of my own, and I have to refuse, at least for the present," he said.
"May I ask why, Doctor Jackson?"
"I'm not ready to leave SG-1, sir. I still feel that it's the right place for me to be. We're a good team."
"Yes, you are, the best I've ever commanded, but I have confidence that a team with you as its leader would be a damn fine team as well."
Daniel ducked his head a moment. "Thank you for saying that, sir. Your confidence in me means a lot. I . . . don't know what the future will bring. Things may change that will make me reconsider the offer, but, right now, I have to respectfully refuse."
Hammond studied the younger man's face. "I admire your commitment to SG-1, Doctor Jackson, and I respect the fact that you believe it's not the right time for you to move on to a team of your own. I know that there are those among my superiors who will not be happy with your decision, but I promise you that you will not be pressured to change your mind. The offer will remain open to you for as long as it needs to be. Three months from now, six months, a year from now, if you change your mind, all you have to do is tell me, and a team will be yours."
"Thank you, sir."
"I assume that you want to give Colonel O'Neill the news?"
Daniel smiled. "Yes, sir."
"Then you go on and do that, Son. I have a feeling that you're going to make his day."
Daniel left the general's office and went in search of Jack. Much to his surprise, he found the colonel in his seldom used office.
"Wow, you're actually here," the archeologist said.
"I do occasionally spend time in here, Daniel. So, why are you here?"
Daniel sat in one of the vacant chairs. "I just talked to General Hammond about the offer of my own team."
The slight stiffening of Jack's body wouldn't have been noticeable if Daniel hadn't been watching him so closely. "And?" the colonel inquired.
"And I really hope you meant it when you said that you wanted me to stay on SG-1, because you're still stuck with me."
About two seconds passed before a smile began to form on Jack's lips. The smile was quickly cut off, however. "Are you sure? We're talking about your own command."
"I'm sure, Jack. I told you before that I didn't want to leave SG-1, and that is still true."
This time, the smile wasn't halted. It just about spread ear to ear. "That's great news, Daniel."
"You're sure? This would be the perfect opportunity to get rid of that pain in the ass that you've always called me." There was a teasing note in Daniel's voice.
"Hey, like I told Edwards, you may be a pain in the ass, but you are damn well worth it. Besides, you're my pain in the ass, and I want to keep it that way. Now, come on. Let's go tell Carter and Teal'c the good news."
Sam was absolutely delighted that Daniel had chosen to stay on SG-1 and rewarded him with a big hug. Teal'c, too, was happy about the archeologist's decision, but refrained from hugging him.
That weekend, SG-1 had their first barbeque at Daniel's new house, despite the fact that there was eight inches of snow on the ground. While Daniel, Sam and Teal'c stayed inside where it was warm, Jack was outside cooking, or, more accurately, charring meat on the grill. In spite of the somewhat overly done steaks, everyone had a great time.
"To SG-1," Jack toasted.
"To SG-1," the others repeated.
The next few days passed uneventfully, giving everyone a nice break. Unfortunately, it didn't last long. Daniel was called to General Hammond's office, where he was given some news that really didn't make him happy.
"Doctor MacKenzie will be arriving tomorrow," the general informed him. "He has been authorized to perform a psychological evaluation on you."
"Because he feels that the strain of your newfound psychic abilities and all of the things that have happened over the past few months may make it necessary for you to undergo counseling. He has been trying to get permission for this for the past two months, but no one would give it. I guess they didn't want to rock the boat since you are considered a very valuable asset. These events of the past couple of weeks, however, finally gave him enough ammunition to succeed."
"Oh, let me guess. He thinks that what I did to Baal on that planet is a sure sign that I'm mentally disturbed."
"I know it's absurd, Doctor Jackson, but, short of complaining directly to the president, there's nothing I can do. I know that you have no reason to like or trust the man, but my advice is to just cooperate with him and get through it with as much patience as you can muster. Rest assured that his findings will be submitted to another psychiatrist for a second opinion."
"So, why is MacKenzie doing the evaluation himself? I know that he's still connected to the program, but he hasn't done the psych evaluations for the base personnel since he wrongfully committed me to Mental Health. Everyone here formally requested that another doctor replace him since they no longer trusted his judgment."
"He was adamant that he do it himself, stating that he has more experience with this kind of case."
"This kind of case? How many other people who can blow up Al'Kesh and lift Stargates has he treated?"
"None, obviously. Nevertheless, the person who signed off on his request agreed that he was the best person to do the evaluation."
Daniel went quiet for a moment. "Okay, but I have a request."
"I want Eliza White to be here during the evaluations. She has a degree in psychology, and she already knows about the Stargate Program and my abilities. She will have to be told about the Goa'uld, but that shouldn't be a big deal. I trust her, and I know that she won't let MacKenzie get away with anything."
Hammond thought about the request, then nodded. "All right, Doctor Jackson, I'll see that she's brought in on this."
Doctor Eliza White arrived at seven o'clock the following morning. She greeted Daniel with a big smile and a hug.
"How are you doing?" she asked.
"Oh, pretty good. Lots of things have happened since I saw you last."
"Yes, I know. I received copies of all the reports on the things you've been up to these past few months." Eliza smiled. "You've been a busy guy."
"Tell me about it. I've always been busy, but ever since I gained these abilities, it seems like my life is a nonstop adventure. I assume that you were also filled in about the . . . other stuff."
"You mean the Goa'uld? Yes, I've been fully briefed. To say the least, it was quite a surprise to find out that we've been in a galactic war against a race of parasites for the past seven years."
"I can imagine so."
"Come on. Let's sit down." The two of them took a seat at Daniel's desk.
"Okay, so tell me about this Doctor MacKenzie."
"Well, he and I have quite a history, and it's not a good one."
Daniel went on to tell Eliza about the time that he was infested with Machello's Goa'uld killing parasites, mistakenly diagnosed as schizophrenic, and thrown into a padded room.
"And he never even considered that there might be an alien source for your illness?" the therapist asked, appalled by the story of what Daniel was put through.
"Nope. He was positive that it was caused by traveling through the Stargate. It was his pet theory, and he was eager to have something that proved it, so he didn't look any farther than that. Now, there is the fact that Janet didn't find anything in the scans she ran except for the high levels of dopamine, but. . . ."
"But other possibilities should still have been considered," Eliza finished. "It was utterly irresponsible of Doctor MacKenzie to ignore every other possibility in favor of an unproven theory. Just how much evidence did he have to support this theory of his?"
"Not much, which none of us knew at the time. He made it sound as if he had plenty of evidence, but what he did have really wouldn't have held up if he'd presented it to other psychiatrists."
Eliza shook her head in disgust. "Daniel, what he did was a clear case of malfeasance, perhaps even malpractice. I'm surprised that he wasn't removed from his position as the program's head of psychiatry."
"Another psychiatrist was brought in to do the psych evaluations from that point on since no one here trusted MacKenzie anymore, but he retained his title as head of psychiatry," Daniel explained.
"Yet he's the one who's going to be doing this evaluation rather than the other person?"
"Yes. I'm not looking forward to it."
"Well, don't worry, Daniel. I'll be right there in the room with you."
Doctor MacKenzie arrived a couple of hours later. He set up a temporary office in one of the empty rooms on Level 17. When Daniel was asked to report to the office, the doctor frowned when he saw that the archeologist was not alone.
"This evaluation must be conducted in private, Doctor Jackson," he said.
"This is Doctor Eliza White," Daniel introduced. "She is a trained psychologist, as well as an expert in biofeedback therapy. It was through her biofeedback training that I gained the ability to tap into my paranormal skills. She is here at my request and will remain with me throughout the evaluation."
MacKenzie's frown deepened. "I was not told about this. It is highly irregular."
"Well, if you don't like it, you can always leave," Daniel told him with a closed-mouth smile that held no humor in it.
"Very well. Let's get started."
All three of them sat down, MacKenzie on one side of the table, Daniel and Eliza on the other. The therapist pulled out an audio tape recorder.
"Do you mind if I record this as well?" she asked, pointing at MacKenzie's recorder.
"No, go ahead," the psychiatrist replied. He turned to Daniel. "First of all, Doctor Jackson, I'd like you to tell me what your personal feelings are about these psychic abilities of yours. Do you enjoy having them?"
"Not really," Daniel answered. "Until fairly recently, I considered them to be more of a curse than a gift."
"Oh? Why is that?"
"Because they completely changed my life, turned it upside down. Before this happened, I was just another guy. Then, all of a sudden, lots of people were looking at me like some kind of comic book superhero, while others thought of me as a fascinating test subject that they wanted to dissect. I was forced to leave SG-1 because I was deemed too valuable a commodity to risk on off-world missions, and several people tried to have me put in a secured facility where they could figure out what made me tick and use my abilities for their own purposes."
"Yes, according to your file, you ran away through the Stargate because you didn't like the fact that you had been taken off SG-1."
"You make it sound like I was a spoiled child who ran away from home because a favorite toy was taken away from me. I left because I felt that my abilities would better serve Earth and the rest of humanity out there than they would if I was stuck behind a desk."
"So, you saw yourself as some kind of savior of humanity?"
Daniel's eyes narrowed. "No, I saw myself as a man who had the ability to do some good out there."
MacKenzie jotted something down. "You said that, up until fairly recently, you viewed your abilities as a curse. What changed things?"
"My precognitive abilities saved the life of someone I care about."
"Ah, yes. Doctor Fraiser. You saved her life while on the mission to rescue Airman Wells."
"Yes. Because of my ability to see the future, I'd already prevented Major Carter from being killed and managed to save some lives at the Alpha Site when it was attacked, but what happened with Janet really drove home how that ability could, literally, be a lifesaver. It very recently saved my life."
"Yes, the murder attempts on your life. The assassin was killed, wasn't he?"
"Yes, by the vortex of an opening wormhole."
The psychiatrist stared at Daniel. "Did you drive him into it?"
Daniel's mouth fell open, unable to believe that the man had actually asked that. "E-excuse me?"
"Doctor MacKenzie, if you read the report, you know very well that Doctor Jackson tried to get the man off the ramp," Eliza said angrily.
"Because he was holding a hostage that would have been killed as well," MacKenzie said.
"Now look," Daniel said, his temper rising. "I didn't lead him to the gate room, and I certainly didn't tell him to walk up that ramp. I tried everything I could to get him off that ramp short of psychically lifting him off it."
"And why didn't you do that?"
"Because he had his hand around Sheila's throat. He could have easily snapped her neck. I was afraid that, if I tried to move him, he'd panic and kill her. In the end, the best that I could do was save just her. If it hadn't been for the iris failing, there wouldn't have been any danger to them." Daniel's eyes shot daggers at the man. "And if you even hint that I had something to do with that or that I knew ahead of time that it was going to happen, I am going to walk right out that door, and you'll have one hell of a time getting me back."
"And I will immediately report to General Hammond that you are falsely accusing Daniel of murdering that man," Eliza added.
"I am making no accusations," MacKenzie said coolly. "I am merely trying to establish the facts and determine a pattern of behavior."
"Well, I can assure you, Doctor, that my pattern of behavior does not include deliberately leading people to their deaths," Daniel told him darkly.
"All right, let's move on. What are your present feelings about your abilities?"
"I recognize that they are a valuable asset to the Stargate Program. They can save lives, and they can help defeat the Goa'uld."
"So, you do enjoy having them."
"No, I didn't say that. I don't get a thrill out of using them. It doesn't give me any kind of high. In fact, when I use them extensively, it makes me physically ill, as I'm sure you know."
It was Eliza who answered. "Headaches, sensitivity to light, nausea and other migraine-like symptom," she said. "You have experienced some intracerebral hemorrhaging as well. According to Doctor Fraiser's medical report, she is concerned that you could suffer brain damage if you use your abilities too much."
"Yes, that's right. She's reminding me of that fact constantly." Daniel turned back to the psychiatrist. "Since I don't enjoy pain, Doctor, that should tell you that I don't use these abilities for the fun of it."
"Yet the fact remains that, since you first developed them, you have used them repeatedly, and not every occasion was while saving a life or fighting the Goa'uld. For instance, you put on demonstrations for the rebel Jaffa twice."
"I didn't really have much of a choice. The first time, the Jaffa suspected me of being in league with the Goa'uld and wanted proof that my abilities weren't a trick. The second time, I was also proving that they weren't a trick."
"That second time, you proceeded to fight in hand-to-hand combat with a Jaffa, using your abilities to give you an advantage, and, according to Colonel O'Neill's report, you," he started reading his notes, "'got the Jaffa into a stranglehold and choked him into near unconsciousness.'"
"Yes, and then I let him go. I'm not going to bother telling you why I fought Har'tec since that report would have already told you why. And before you ask if there was any way that I could have avoided the fight, I'll say, yes, I could have refused to fight him. Of course, then, we'd no longer have the rebel Jaffa as allies. I'd say I made the right decision. But then, that's just my opinion. Feel free to form your own. You're good at that, even if your opinions aren't always based on facts."
Amused by the sarcastically spoken comment, Eliza tried not to smile.
Clearly not appreciating Daniel's remark, MacKenzie frowned severely. "You've been under a lot of stress since all this began. I should imagine that the responsibility that comes with possessing that kind of power is not easy to bear."
"No, it's not," Daniel admitted.
"How do you deal with it?"
"The weight of responsibility or the stress?"
"I deal with the responsibility by choosing to accept it and by telling myself that I'm strong enough to handle it. I had my doubts in the beginning, but, since then, I've learned that I can handle it." There was a slight pause. "As for the stress, I go out and murder psychiatrists in their sleep."
MacKenzie looked up sharply from his notes and saw the little smirk on Daniel's face. "I don't appreciate your humor, Doctor Jackson."
"Really? I thought it was very funny," Eliza said, smiling broadly.
"Being the member of an SG team is already a very stressful job," Daniel said, completely serious now. "This just added a different layer to that stress. Yet, at the same time, it relieved a lot of the other stress."
"How so?" MacKenzie asked.
"Because I know that, with these abilities, I am better able to protect my teammates and myself and that I am more capable of fighting the Goa'uld and winning. That is a great relief to my mind."
"It's given you more confidence."
"In some regards. I feel more confident that we'll all make it back from a mission alive, and I have more confidence that, if we go up against the Goa'uld, we'll come out on top."
"So, it's given you a feeling of invincibility."
Daniel sighed loudly. "Why do you keep insisting on putting words in my mouth? No, Doctor, it does not make me feel invincible, far from it. I'm not omnipotent nor omniscient, and I am very aware of that fact. It was demonstrated to me yet again quite clearly when I failed to sense the danger to Sam and Teal'c on our last mission until it was too late. A greater sense of self-confidence does not mean that I have delusions of godhood. You're confusing me with the Goa'uld. It's too bad that Baal is dead, otherwise I'd arrange to have you talk to him. You'd have all kinds of fun psychoanalyzing a Goa'uld. Unlike me, they could use some psychiatric treatment."
"While we're on that subject, on the mission to rescue Major Carter and Teal'c, you chose to go after Baal on your own. Once you captured him, you proceeded to strip him of his clothing, tie a sash around his waist in the form of a bow, and force him to walk outside for everyone to see and laugh at. Would you like to tell me why you did that?"
"No, I wouldn't like to tell you, but since that's the incident that allowed you to weasel your way in here, I will anyway. I did it because Baal brutally and repeatedly tortured Jack, and I saw it happen."
"So, it was an act of revenge."
"Yes," Daniel confirmed bluntly.
"No, MacKenzie, I really don't think you do. Think about what I can do. Think about what I could have done to Baal, how I could have made him scream in torment the way that Jack screamed. Then ask yourself why I didn't do that."
"I'd rather ask you."
"Because I'm not that kind of person. Because I could never be that kind of person, regardless of how much power I have. To do something like that would make me no better than the Goa'uld."
"So, why didn't you simply capture Baal? Why humiliate him in that way?"
"Because, as someone recently pointed out to me, I'm human, and I wanted Baal to pay for what he did to Jack. Since I'd chosen not to put him through physical torment, I decided on a different kind of torment: striping him of his dignity and exposing him as a false god to his Jaffa."
"Did that give you a sense of satisfaction, causing that kind of humiliation to him?"
"Yes, it did. I enjoyed every minute of seeing him squirm. You can't tell me that he didn't deserve it."
"That is not for me to say, Doctor Jackson." MacKenzie closed his notebook. "I believe that we are finished for now. I will submit my report to General Hammond tomorrow morning."
Daniel stared at him narrowly, not trusting the man one bit. He got to his feet and left the room, Eliza right behind him.
"That man is a quack," the woman said as soon as they were far enough away.
"So, you noticed."
"My God, Daniel. I've encountered psychiatrists I didn't like before, but MacKenzie takes the cake. He was accusatory, extremely unpleasant, and, as you said, kept twisting things around and putting words in your mouth."
"Yeah, he didn't used to be that bad. He was just short-sighted and allowed his ambition and over-inflated opinion of himself and his theories affect his judgment and his ethics. In the end, he actually did the right thing by calling the base when I asked him to and not giving me more drugs. Some of what just went on in that psych evaluation kind of surprised me."
Eliza shook her head. "What just happened in there wasn't a psychological evaluation, Daniel, it was an inquisition, and that's what I intend to tell General Hammond and anyone else who needs to be told."