by Maureen Thayer
Categories: Angst, Hurt/Comfort, Drama
Content Warning: Mild Profanity, Violence
Spoilers: The Enemy Within, The First Ones, Meridian, Lockdown
When Jack got out of bed this morning, the last thing he would have expected to see today was Daniel Jackson shooting up the gate room, yet that's what he had just witnessed. Daniel had just shot two men and was holding a third hostage. And, now, he was trying to escape, his pistol pressed to his hostage's ribs. They couldn't let him get out of the gate room, but the only way to stop him would be to shoot him, and Jack wasn't sure he could pull the trigger.
Just then, salvation appeared in the form of Teal'c with a zat gun, which he immediately fired. Both Daniel and his hostage went down.
'Way to go, T!' Jack silently shouted.
His relief lasted all of two seconds. Only temporarily stunned, Daniel was struggling to get up. He turned his head and looked straight at Jack. The expression in his eyes was not that of the man Jack knew so well.
'Dammit, Daniel, stay down! Don't reach for the gun. I don't want to shoot you, Danny. Please don't make me shoot you.'
Despite Jack's silent plea, Daniel rose to his hands and knees. It was all too clear that he wasn't going to stop.
"Daniel!" Jack yelled in warning.
Ignoring the warning, Daniel snatched up the gun and pointed it at Jack. Knowing he had no choice, Jack took aim at Daniel's left shoulder and fired. The sound of the gun's report sounded horrendously loud in Jack's ear, the sight of the bullet striking his friend's body making him feel physically ill.
Daniel collapsed onto the floor. For a long, breathless moment, he fought to remain conscious, and Jack prayed that he wouldn't try to take another shot. But, at last, Daniel grew still, the gun falling from his limp hand.
Jack and Teal'c shared a glance, the same questions on both of their faces. Then they knelt at Daniel's side.
What the hell was going on? What had made Daniel do this? It was like he'd been infested with a Goa'uld. But that was impossible. Jack didn't know what all this was about, but, whatever caused this, they'd fix it. Daniel was going to be just fi. . . .
Jack's thoughts came to a halt as he stared in growing horror at the blood that was far too quickly saturating Daniel's shirt.
Oh, shit! No, no, no, no, no!
"We need a medic!" Jack screamed as he frantically tore aside the clothing covering Daniel's wound to see blood welling out of the hole in the archeologist's shoulder. His panic growing, Jack pressed down on the wound with the heel of his hand. He could feel Daniel's life blood pumping out from beneath his hand, see it starting to pool in an ever widening puddle on the floor. 'God, no. This isn't happening. This is not happening! Please let me wake up from this nightmare NOW!'
The sound of running feet didn't register on Jack's consciousness. However, the command to move out of the way did. He looked up to see the SGC's new physician asking him to move so that she could attend to Daniel. For a moment, Jack wished that it was Janet Fraiser standing there, knowing that she would have moved heaven and earth to save Daniel, just as she had in the past. Then he shoved those thoughts aside and moved out of the way. The doctor instantly got to work on the archeologist. Some part of his consciousness told Jack that other medical personnel were attending to the two men Daniel shot, but his eyes were only on his friend.
Doctor Brightman called for a gurney in an urgent voice. One was quickly wheeled over, and Daniel was lifted up onto it and rushed out of the gate room.
For several seconds, Jack sat unmoving, staring at the blood that was all over the floor, blood that his bullet put there. No! Don't think about that now! Scrambling to his feet, he took off after the medical team, followed closely by Teal'c.
The trip to the infirmary was made with frantic haste. Once they got there, Doctor Brightman began shooting off commands. Jack could tell by her tone of voice and the expression on her normally calm face that she was very worried. And, God, there was so much blood.
"Pressure's dropping, Doctor!" cried one of the nurses. "Fifty-two over twenty-three."
"We need to get him into surgery, now!" the doctor shouted.
Seconds later, Daniel was being wheeled away toward the O.R. It wasn't until then that Jack realized that Sam had arrived. Her face was pale, eyes wide with shock and fear.
"My God! What happened?" she asked, her voice mirroring the fear in her eyes. "Who shot Daniel?"
Jack looked down at his hands, seeing there the crimson evidence of what he had done to his best friend. "I did," he replied in a hoarse whisper. "I shot Daniel."
Nausea welled up in Jack's stomach. He brushed past Sam and Teal'c and fled to the nearest restroom, which, thankfully, was not far away and was also blessedly empty. He barely managed to make it to a toilet before losing the contents of his stomach.
For long minutes after the vomiting had stopped, Jack sat bowed over the toilet, his body shuddering. His worst nightmare, the one that had plagued him since Kawalsky's death and became a hundred times worse after he had to shoot and kill Robert Rothman, was that he'd someday be forced to kill a member of his team because they'd been made a host to a Goa'uld. He had lost count of the times that he'd awakened in a cold sweat, a cry of denial on his lips, with the dream image still in his mind of Daniel's body being riddled with bullets from Jack's gun and falling lifelessly to the ground, his dead eyes staring accusingly at Jack. And, now, the nightmare was becoming a reality. Daniel was dying, and Jack was the one who shot him.
'God, Danny, please don't do this. Please don't make me the one who killed you,' Jack begged. 'I couldn't live with that.'
Jack rose shakily to his feet. He went to the sink and almost mechanically washed the blood from his hands. Then he splashed some cold water on his face and rinsed the foul taste out of his mouth the best that he could. Looking at himself in the mirror, Jack saw the torment and guilt in his eyes. On some level, he knew that he'd had no choice but to shoot Daniel, but that didn't change the fact that, if Daniel died, it will have been he who killed him.
Jack squeezed his eyes tightly shut and took several deep breaths, trying to gain some measure of control. When he was confident that he would appear outwardly calm, he left the men's room. Returning to the infirmary, he found Sam and Teal'c waiting beside the doors to the O.R. There were tears on Sam's face, and Teal'c was not even trying to hide the depth of his concern.
Sam rose to her feet when she saw her C.O. Her mind was still reeling from what Teal'c had told her. She couldn't believe that Daniel, sweet, gentle, compassionate Daniel, had done those things. There had to be an explanation. Could Daniel have been taken over by a Goa'uld? But how? He'd checked out fine after they returned from their last mission. How could he have been made a host here on Earth? Teal'c said that Daniel had spoken in his own voice in the gate room, not the deep, echoing voice of a Goa'uld. He'd seemed perfectly fine when she saw him last, great, in fact, being in good spirits. Daniel had been smiling a lot more often lately, far more than he did in years past, and today had been no exception. Now, he was on an operating table, possibly dying.
Looking at Jack, she could see how hard this was hitting him, even though he was trying to hide it. There was a haunted look in his eyes that she could sympathize with. She knew how she'd feel if she had been the one to shoot Daniel.
Feeling like she needed to say something, Sam stepped toward Jack. "Sir, Teal'c told me what happened. You had no choice but to do what you did. I know that Daniel would agree."
"Yeah, well, that's really going to make me feel better if he dies, Carter," Jack grated out harshly. He regretted his words almost instantly. He closed his eyes for a moment to reestablish control. Opening them, he saw the pain on the Lieutenant Colonel's face. "I'm sorry, Carter. That was uncalled for. I'm just . . . worried." 'Make that downright terrified.'
"I know, sir. We all are. But he'll be okay. Daniel's strong. He's survived a lot worse than this."
"Indeed," Teal'c agreed. He did not know what had caused Daniel Jackson to do what he did, but the Jaffa had complete confidence in his friend's ability to survive things that would kill most people. The archeologist had proven that time and time again. He would survive. He had to, for, if he died, Teal'c knew that O'Neill would not recover from the guilt.
Guilt burned deep inside the Jaffa as well. He kept wondering if he could have managed to subdue Daniel Jackson and prevent him from reaching the gun. Perhaps if he had moved fast enough. . . . But there was no use in wondering what he could have done differently. It would change nothing. He could only give what strength and assurances he could to his friends and hope with all his might that Daniel Jackson survived and recovered fully.
It seemed like an eternity passed before the O.R. doors opened and Doctor Brightman came out.
"How is he?" Jack immediately asked, his heart in his throat.
"He's alive," the doctor answered. "We almost lost him, but he pulled through, and, at the moment, he's stable."
"Is he going to be okay?" Sam asked.
"It's too soon to tell. He is extremely weak, and I'm worried about complications. We'll see how the next few hours go."
"Can we see him?" Jack asked.
Doctor Brightman shook her head. "I'm sorry, but no. Though there is no sign of Goa'uld infestation, it's clear that Doctor Jackson was either not in control of his actions or was not in his right mind. Considering that he had close physical contact with Colonel Vaselov, I am concerned that there may be a connection. I've put him in an isolation room. We'll keep a close eye on him and see if he manifests any other symptoms." She looked at the worried faces gathered around her. "We're doing all we can for him. It's just a matter of waiting now. I'll let you know the moment there's any change in his condition."
Jack hesitated. He wanted to demand that the doctor let him see Daniel, but he knew that, even though he was the base commander now, when it came to the infirmary, his authority was still below that of the doctors.
"All right," he reluctantly said. "I want you to call me the second there is any kind of change, Doctor."
Suddenly remembering something, Sam asked, "How are the two men that Daniel shot?"
"They'll both be fine. Neither one was seriously injured."
Thank God for that. If either of those men had died, Daniel would be devastated, even if it turned out not to be his fault. Sam felt guilty for thinking more about how Daniel would have reacted to their deaths than about the tragedy of losing two men, but she couldn't help it. Daniel was one of the most important people in her life, and all she could really think about right now was him.
Doctor Brightman excused herself and left to attend to her newest patients.
"Sir, if you don't mind, I'm going to talk to SG-11 and find out if they noticed anything out of the ordinary about Daniel," Sam said to Jack.
"You do that, Carter. We need to find some answers. This whole thing stinks to high heaven."
"I will ask others if there were any unusual occurrences," Teal'c said.
The three went their separate ways, Jack heading back to his office. He sat at the desk and looked at the pile of paperwork that was waiting for him to go through. He remembered his conversation just that morning with SG-1, his joking remarks about the potato mix-up. Potatoes. Daniel lay in the infirmary, his life hanging in the balance, and Jack was here dealing with stupid things like food supplies.
Jack leapt to his feet and began pacing the floor. At that moment, he wished that he was still just Colonel O'Neill. These new stars on his shoulders sure didn't do him or Daniel a damn bit of good today.
Jack spent the next half-hour pacing. Finally, he couldn't stand it anymore and escaped from the office. He stalked through the SGC corridors like a restless tiger, wandering here and there. At last, his wandering led him to the gate room. Of their own volition, his eyes fell to the spot where Daniel's body had lain. The blood was gone, all traces having been washed away, but Jack could still see it, on the floor, on Daniel, on his hands.
Jack let out a curse. "Screw this." He turned on his heels and marched to the infirmary, heading for the observation room above the isolation room that Daniel had been put in. He stared down at his best friend's unmoving form, wanting so badly to be down there at his side. He watched as a nurse dressed in surgical scrubs, gloves and a mask entered the room and checked on Daniel. She jotted something down on his chart, then left.
An idea suddenly popped into Jack's mind, and he left the observation room. He could do this. He didn't spend all those years in Special Ops for nothing.
Making sure he wasn't seen, Jack made his way to the supply room where all the medical uniforms were kept. He found a set of scrubs and quickly changed into them. He then spotted a box of latex gloves and donned a pair. Tying a mask over his face, Jack snuck out of the supply room and headed to the isolation room.
The sound of the life signs monitor came to his ears as he slipped inside and approached Daniel. His gaze went to it, tracing the rise and fall of the glowing line that measured the beat of Daniel's heart. Then his eyes went to his friend's face, and there they stayed. He rested a gloved hand on Daniel's cheek for a moment, then clasped the archeologist's hand.
"God, Daniel. I'm sorry," he said in a low, tortured voice. "I am so sorry that I had to do this to you. I didn't want to. You have to believe that. The last thing in the world that I'd ever want to do is hurt you. You need to be okay, Daniel, because I don't think I could take knowing that I . . . that I killed you. Beside, how am I supposed to run this place without your help? I can't do it alone. I'm going to need that irritatingly unswerving morality of yours to keep me from screwing up and charging in, guns blazing, when there's a better solution that only you can come up with. Not that I'll be doing the charging in myself. That'll be up to you, Carter and Teal'c now. Carter's going to need you, too. She's SG-1's commander now, and though she's got a better head on her shoulders than I ever did, she'll still need you to point out the options that we military types don't always see. And we all need that brain of yours. I can't count the number of times it's saved our butts. So, don't you even think of going anywhere, Daniel. I'm not going to make that an order since you don't follow those half the time anyway, and I sometimes think that you delight in not following them. But I'm asking you, Daniel. I'm begging you. Don't leave us."
Knowing that he had to leave before he was caught, Jack gave Daniel's hand a final squeeze, then left the room, failing to see the figure that was standing in the observation room, looking down at him.
Doctor Brightman watched General O'Neill leave. Though she'd only been in this position a few months, it had not taken her long to see the bond that linked O'Neill, Daniel Jackson, Samantha Carter and Teal'c. She had read all of their files, both the military files and the medical files, as well as quite a few mission reports, and it had amazed her to see what those four people had gone through over the past seven years, especially the man who now lay in the room below. He had died so many times that it boggled the mind and had come close to death so many more times. She'd read about the horror of Daniel's most recent "death", the terrible radiation poisoning that ravaged his body. She could only imagine how hard that had been on her predecessor, Janet Fraiser. She had found some of Doctor Fraiser's personal notes about the tragedy, and it was clear that Daniel's slow, agonizingly painful death had almost been too much for the woman to bear.
Now, Daniel was in her care, and it was up to her to keep him alive. She prayed that she didn't fail.
Two hours later, Jack was back in the observation room, gazing down at Daniel. He had tried to get some work done, but thoughts of his friend were preying too heavily on his mind.
Jack heard the door open and turned to see Sam and Teal'c come in.
"How's he doing, sir?" Sam asked, looking down at Daniel.
"I don't know. The doc hasn't said anything yet."
At that moment, the doctor came in.
"Any news?" Sam asked her.
"Yes, some good news, in fact," the doctor replied. "I have every reason to believe that Daniel is going to be all right."
Sam, Jack and Teal'c all looked down at their friend, breathing a silent sigh of relief. Daniel Jackson had beaten the Grim Reaper yet again.
"He's lost a lot of blood, but his life is no longer in any immediate danger," Doctor Brightman told them.
The conversation turned to speculations on the reason for what happened. Though Daniel's symptoms were not identical to Colonel Vaselov's, Doctor Brightman was certain that they were suffering from the same ailment, which could only mean one thing: there was a contagion on the base.
As Jack gave the order putting the SGC in lockdown, the thought went through his mind, 'Daniel, you'd better not survive that gunshot wound only to die with the rest of us from some damn disease. This is not the way I want my very brief time as the SGC's commander to end.'
It was over. Anubis was now the only living resident in the frozen wasteland that was KS7-535. The only way he'd ever get off that planet would be to use his powers as an ascended being, and, if Daniel was right, that would have the Ancients down on him in a flash. Either way, it was unlikely that they'd ever see that slimy Goa'uld again . . . at least Jack hoped they wouldn't.
Jack was sorry about Vaselov, though. He wasn't a bad guy for a Russian. He certainly hadn't deserved to die like that, though, according to the doctor, Vaselov was a deadman anyway. There was nothing she could have done for him, and he knew it. Was that why he chose to do what he did? Or was it because he felt responsible for bringing Anubis to the SGC? Either way, it had been a noble act of courage and self-sacrifice, and Jack was going to be sure to tell that to the Russian government.
Jack was presently wrestling with his conscience regarding a certain archeologist. Ever since Daniel woke up, Jack had been avoiding talking about the fact that he shot his friend. He knew that Daniel was just a wee bit miffed about it and that they really needed to clear the air, but he just didn't know what he was going to say.
'Hey, Daniel. Sorry about shooting you. Yeah, I know the shoulder hurts and that you're gonna have to go through physical therapy, but look on the bright side. You're still alive. That's more than we can say for Rothman.'
Jack grimaced. Yeah, that would go over real well.
Yet again, Daniel had come through for them. If it hadn't been for him, they would never have figured out who was responsible for everything that was happening, and if they hadn't known that, they wouldn't have known what to do. How on Earth Daniel had known that it was Anubis was something Jack hadn't figured out. He had been so positive, as if he sensed it. Jack had to wonder if Daniel's time as an ascended being had left a little something behind. The archeologist was the only one who had conscious memories of what he did while Anubis was in his body. Jack couldn't remember anything he did while he was possessed by the Goa'uld, not even setting the autodestruct. Carter also had no memory of what she did, which was probably a good thing since one of the things she did was shoot Daniel with a zat, and she was feeling guilty enough about that as it was.
Possessed by Anubis, zatted, shot, then zatted again. Poor Daniel had definitely had a rough time of it . . . and Jack wasn't making it any easier on him by avoiding talking to him.
With a sigh, Jack got up and headed for Daniel's office. He knew that the archeologist was supposed to be resting, but Daniel's idea of rest was sitting in his office, doing translations. As the leader of SG-1, Jack had never had much luck getting the guy to rest properly, and it didn't look like the promotion to base commander was going to change things.
Sure enough, Daniel was in his office. Instead of doing translations, however, he was staring at the blank TV screen, looking like he was a million miles away.
"Whatcha doin'?" Jack asked.
Starting violently, Daniel grabbed his shoulder, hissing with pain.
"Sorry," Jack apologized, wincing in sympathy. "Didn't mean to startle you. So . . . I ask again. What are you doing? You know that you're supposed to be resting."
"I am resting," Daniel insisted.
"Uh huh. Sure you are."
Daniel's eyes skittered away from Jack's and glanced at the TV. "I was, um, looking at the tape of what happened in the gate room when I, uh . . . you know."
Jack's stomach clenched. Damn. He hadn't wanted Daniel to see that. "Oh."
Daniel's eyes locked on his. "Thanks, Jack," he said softly and sincerely.
The thank you shocked Jack. It was the last thing he had expected. "Thanks? What the hell for? I shot you, Daniel. I almost killed you."
"Yeah, but that wasn't your intention, Jack. That was just . . . bad luck. You could have shot to kill. I was going to shoot you. I know what the rule book says regarding situations like that. You shoot to kill, no exceptions."
"Daniel, you're my friend. There was no way in hell that I was going to deliberately kill you."
"And what if Anubis had managed to shoot back?"
Jack didn't reply.
"You risked your life for me, Jack," Daniel said quietly. "If it had been anyone else in your place, except maybe for Sam or Teal'c, I'd probably be dead."
"No way are we going to let you die again, Daniel. You've done that way, way too many times already. Besides, we need you around here. You know I'm no good at that diplomatic stuff. I'm gonna need you to advise me so that I don't tick off any VIP's."
Daniel grinned. "I'd be happy to, though I think you handled the potato crisis just fine on your own."
"Yeah, well, the next food crisis is all yours, Danny Boy, with my blessing."
Daniel's expression grew thoughtful. "Hmm. Well, in that case, how about we talk about getting some MRE's that don't taste like chicken?"