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Slash fic: A loving committed relationship between two people who just happen to be men.

Title: Hard Lessons and Hobbits (revised)

Author: Debi C


Date: Original story 15 January, 2002 Revised 13 March 2003

FANDOM: Stargate SG-1

Rating: PG

Pairing: Jack/Daniel

Category: Slash, Revision, Established Relationship, Angst, Smarm, Hurt/Comfort.

Status: Finished Series: The Search Series, Story 3

Season/Spoilers: Stargate The Movie, The First Ones

Archive: Alpha_Gate, Area 52, TheBoy, The Cartouche. Anyone else please ask.

Synopsis: Daniel goes off with another team who doesn't know the rules about Danny-borrowing and is returned seriously ill.

Notes: Thanks to Maddie and Laura for the original Beta on the Gen Story. The album referenced is "Elton John Live in Australia performed with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra" This was transcribed from the album, I hope I got the words right. Also, the book quotes are from "The Fellowship of The Ring and "The Two Towers" by JRR Tolkein (as if you didn't know that.) The other book referred to is "Murder In The Place Of Anubis by Lynda S. Robinson. All these references are used without permission of the authors.

AUTHOR'S NOTES 2: Thanks to Devra for the kick in the butt and the Alpha Read on the Slash. This was originally a stand alone story and may still be read as such but after revision it worked very well as the 3rd story in this series so I hope y'all approve.

Warnings: This fic has the possibility of placing Jack and Daniel within the realm of Real Life. Please do no read if you do not wish to see the guys engaged in any of the following: Sleeping, hugging, caring, loving, needing, giving and receiving comfort and joy. Minor reference to toes. VERY unhappy Jack=bad language.

Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/ Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I do not own the characters and indeed am only playing with them for a little while. I am not making any money from this so there's very little point in suing me. No copyright infringement whatsoever is intended. The story is for entertainment purposes only. At least I hope it's entertaining. The original characters,situations and story are mine. Please check with me first if you want to archive or link to this story.

Hard Lessons and Hobbits


Jack O'Neill had really had a long, hard, bad day. Traffic was bad, coffee was cold, meetings were long. Hammond had been impatient, Fraiser overburdened with the care of SG4 who had returned injured and ill from 3P269, Carter involved in a frustrating project. Teal'c was on leave after a major injury and had returned to The Land Of Light several days ago for some time with his son. And Daniel was gone...TDY with SG-8 on some god-forsaken planet with nothing on it but sun, sand, prickly things and ruins. Hence the bad day.

Jack was a team player now. He'd been spoiled. Once the epitome of the lone wolf syndrome, he had allowed himself to fall into believing that things would get better if you worked with dedicated professionals. But today had not proven this belief system out to his way of thinking. People sniped at each other, no one had cooperated and Carter had bitched at everyone in sight, so he had stayed out of it. Now, he was headed home to a Pizza and beer dinner, an early night and an empty house. It just plain sucked!

Jack unlocked the door to a house that echoed it's lonliness. He dropped his uniform jacket on the couch in the den, wandered into the kitchen, opened the frig and looked at it's unappealing contents with a jaded eye. Yep, it was definitely a pizza or Chinese night. Even the beer seemed unappealing to him. A six-pack of a cheaper American brand stood in the middle of the second shelf and below it was two brown bottles of something with foreign words on the labels. `Wonder if Danny had ever tried Cervesa ... probably ... and if he didn't like it as much as he condemned the American types.' Jack mused. If he ever found some San Miguel, he'd buy it though, just to prove that he would drink foreign brew. But at this point, he probably wouldn't like that either.

Jack spied a bottle of white zinfandel wine hiding in the back corner, probably bought by Daniel and left over from one of their at home dinners. It had already been opened as proven by the different, plastic replacement cork in the neck. O'Neill pulled it out and released the pressure tab, sniffed the open top and finally poured the light colored liquid into a water glass. It would do, cause he really just didn't care. And it reminded him of Daniel.

Putting the bottle back into the refrigerator and carrying the glass with him, Jack wandered back into the master bedroom with it's private bath. He kicked his boots off and pitched them at the closet door, followed quickly by the BDU shirt. Then in his stocking feet, mottled green trousers, and black t-shirt the tired man schlepped into the bathroom and started the water running into the large tub. Shucking what was left of his outer garments; Jack meandered back over into the living room where his CD player sat on the entertainment center waiting. He hit the play button, not knowing what would come out over the Bose speakers. He picked up the glass of wine, went back into the bath area and stripped down to skin. Sliding into the tub of steaming water, he leaned back against the cold porcelain surface with a small sigh of comfort.

The music started to play. Softly at first, then the volume started to climb. He didn't recognize the CD. It was an orchestral arrangement and obviously a live performance of someone as there was a swell of cheering and applause. He picked up the glass of wine and took another sip, allowing the heat, and the alcohol to relax the knotted muscles in his back and shoulders. Then he lay back and waited patiently for the performance to begin.

It began as a string piece, with a solo harp, but the orchestra slowly segued in. Then, a singer started, a well-known voice but one whose identity escaped him. The song lyrics weren't familiar to him either. He couldn't quite put his finger on the man's identity, but he knew the feelings that were sung of. The words spoke of weariness, sadness and loss.

Who'll walk me down to church when I'm sixty years of age When the ragged dog they gave me has been ten years in the grave. Senorita played guitar; she played it just for you My rosary has broken and my beads have all slipped through

You've hung up your greatcoat and you've laid down your gun You know the war you've fought and it wasn't too much fun And the beauty you're giving me holds nothing for a gun And I've no wish to be living sixty years on.

Yes, I'll sit with you and talk, in your eyes we'd live again. I know my vintage breath with be living much the same. Magdalena plays the organ, plays it just for you The laurel and the bird solo when you are passing through And the beauty you're giving me holding nothing for a gun And I've no wish to be living sixty years on.

The next song was a love song, one that spoke of dedication and sweetness, of need and support, of a love longed for and found like he`d found his..

You're not a ship to carry my life You are nailed to my love in many lonely nights I've strayed from the cottages and found myself here Oh, I need your love; your love protects my fears And I wonder sometimes and I know I'm unkind But I need you to turn to when I act so blind I need you to turn to when I lose control You're my guardian angel who keeps out the cold

Did you paint your smile on when I said I knew? That my reason for living was for loving you You're relating and feeling but you're high above You're pure and you're gentle with the grace of a dove And I wonder sometimes and I know I'm unkind But I need you to turn to when I act so blind Oh, I need you to turn to when I lose control You're my guardian angel who keeps out the cold

Jack was relaxing...finally...completely. Whoever this singer was, the man obviously was a master of emotions. He'd figure out who it was....later.

Finally, relaxed by the hot bath and wine, Jack climbed out of the cooling water and carried his empty wineglass out of the bedroom area. He wandered into the kitchen, opened a can of Cream of Something soup, slapped some ham and cheese on some whole wheat bread and poured another glass of the wine. The CD player segued into bittersweet.

What have I gotta do to make you love me? What have I gotta do to make you care What do I do when lightening strikes me? And I awake to find you're not there What do I do to make you want me What do I have to do to be heard? What do I say when it's all over Sorry seems to be the hardest word.

It's sad, so sad, so sad, it's a sad sad situation And it's getting more and more absurd It's sad, so sad, so sad, why can't we talk it over It always seems to me, that sorry seems to be the hardest word

It's sad, so sad, so sad, it's a sad sad situation And its getting more and more absurd It's sad, so sad, so sad, why can't we talk it over It always seems to me, that sorry seems to be the hardest word

What do I do to make you love me? What do I got to do to be heard? What do I do when lightening strikes me? What have I got to do, what have I got to do, sorry seems to be the hardest word sorry seems to be the hardest word

Then the singer started speaking to his audience about the lyrics and their writer. Elton John, a master of his craft, though this CD was obviously an older one. The CD must belong to Daniel. He'd have to thank him for bringing it over; the younger man's thoughtfullness was just another facet in the gem of their love.

He and Daniel had become involved in a relationship over a year ago, before that they had been best friends. It had started when the two younger members of SG-1 had been kidnapped and taken to be sold as slaves on an alien world. Initially they had only been able to find Samantha Carter, but with the help of the Tok'ra they had found Daniel at a sale just in time to purchase Daniel and rescue him literally from a fate worse than death. He had been drugged, beaten and brainwashed into the actions of a pleasure slave.

After Daniel's physical injuries had been treated, he had been released to O'Neill's care. Then the psychological aspects of his ordeal had begun to make themselves known. Daniel had become very dependent on him, due to the alien drugs that had been used to break his will. In the process of healing, the two men had developed a physical and emotional relationship. Jack had thought that when the addiction and dependence had worn off that Daniel would withdraw somewhat from him, would want to resume their friendship but end their affair, but that hadn't happened. They were now closer and more in love than he had ever expected to be with anyone again. O'Neill had never considered himself homosexual, just someone who had accepted and experienced love wherever he found it. But his relationship with the younger man was the deepest and most satisfying one he'd ever had. Daniel was truly his soul mate and they complimented each other in ways that he'd never even imagined. And right now, he missed Daniel terribly and wished that he was here with him.

Chapter 1

Jack O'Neill was rudely awakened by a ringing bell entirely too close to his head. As he grabbed for the alarm clock to turn it off he noted the time as 04:15, way too early for his morning call.

After dropped the inoffensive timepiece and finally identifying the correct source as the telephone he pulled the receiving instrument onto his pillow. "Lo. O'Neill."

"Colonel O'Neill?"


"Colonel, this is Carter."


"Sir, SG-8 is back. Daniel's sick."

"Sick…Daniel? What happened?"

"I'm not sure sir. He's in the infirmary."

"On my way." Immediately awake, he hung up the instrument and rolled out of bed, reaching for his clothing in the same motion. Daniel, why did it always have to be Daniel.

Daniel had been TDY with SG-8 to a fascinating planet that literally reeked with `stuff' of terribly great importance to someone. He was sure that Daniel had been eager for the trip and the new archeological survey that was being started there. Jack himself had been tied up with reports and training requirements for the new team members that were coming in to replace personnel that were leaving or had been KIA. Long story short, when he'd gotten back to SG-1 business, he had been informed of Jackson's earlier unannounced and unapproved departure.

Initially O'Neill had been confused why Daniel went on this detail. The ruins appeared Peruvian, not Egyptian, out of Jackson's field of expertise entirely. Jack had thought that Daniel had volunteered to get out of the mountain; but then Carter had told him that Daniel actually complained to her about going the day before. He was too busy with his own work and preparing for their next mission. The young scientist had more than a full plate with his own work with ancient Goa'uld artifacts to analyze, categorize and translate. He hadn't really wanted to go she said, and in fact she had been waiting to talk to Ross about it when he approached her about `borrowing` her teammate. But the request had not come to her and she had finally learned of the trip after the fact as O'Neill had. She had just figured Daniel had acquiesced as a favor to the `new' kid on the block and finally cleared it with O`Neill. All of this was news to Jack. He hadn't been contacted either. The man had obviously gone behind his (and Carter's) back, to highjack the premier archeologist of the SGC. After bringing this little bit of information to General Hammond, who believed that Jack had `blessed' the mission beforehand. O'Neill had been generally pissed at the temerity of the new SG-8 Commander, Major Ross. The Archeologist must have agreed to go on his own. Jack sighed and shook his head. No good deed of Daniel's ever went unpunished.

O'Neill dismounted from the elevator and quickly strode into the SGC infirmary. There he was surprised to see Teal'c behind the glass walls of the IC ward, sitting guard duty to the unconscious member of their team. Major General Hammond and Major Carter were engaged in a discussion with Doctor Fraiser and Major Ross. When Carter saw the Colonel arrive, she started to step back to allow him toe rights to the circle but he waived at her to maintain position a bit longer while he went to see Daniel.

Jack strode into the Intensive Care Unit over to Daniel's bedside and took a quick topological survey of the site. O'Neill was shocked at Daniel's condition. It was obviously very bad. Teal'c sat glowering in the uncomfortable looking chair next to his teammate`s bed. The younger man's color was a half a shade off from the hospital-white sheets, his normally fair skin was translucent except where it appeared dark and bruised under his closed eyes and around the sensitive mouth. Daniel had obviously suffered a nosebleed at some point and his nostrils and lips were still stained a deep rouge in their tiny lines from remnants of dried blood. The clear plastic oxygen mask that covered his nose and mouth shrouded the man's helpless expression and two separate IV needles viciously pierced the tender inner flesh of the pale forearms. Jack gently reached out and touched the alabaster flesh of his lover's cheek, it`s normal healthy pink had faded. The delicate skin resembled an antique silken cloth, impossibly fragile and too warm by far. He met the Jaffa warrior's eyes over the tubes and coils of life support equipment and agreed wholeheartedly with the stone-cold fury that was reflected therein. Anger did not describe O'Neill's pitched emotions.

After their reaching a unspoken warrior's agreement that Teal'c would remain there come hell or high water, O'Neill turned on his heel and stalked back to the group. Samantha Carter was also furious, no doubt to anyone about that. She was in full defensive lioness mode and leaning into the other Major's face as if he were a hyena scenting her cub. Fraiser too was shifting from foot to foot as if so angry/distraught/worried that she couldn't contain all the available emotions within her 5 ft 2 frame. Hammond was obviously very unhappy with what Ross was saying to him, murmuring and shaking his head. Ross was gesticulating with his hands; looking from person to person and then glancing nervously over his shoulder as O'Neill strode towards him.

Jack's attack was quick and to the point. "What the hell happened?"

"Nothing! Nothing happened. That's what I'm trying to tell you." Ross was looking at him as if he were afraid that the senior officer would physically attack him. "He was fine last evening. We had set up camp in the village area of the ruins. Doctor Jackson was working inside the temple structure and we had all started to relax a bit. I went inside to check on him and he said he was fine."

"And?" Jack growled out.

"Later, I realized that he hadn't come for the evening meal. So I went back in and spoke to him again. He said he was fine and he'd almost finished. So I left him alone. Later, I went to bed and then in the morning, Captain King came and told me that Jackson had never shown back up to camp." The Major continued on quickly. "The sentry, McMaster's went back to the structure and found him on the path like this. I don't know what happened. He was fine before..."

Carter broke in angrily over O'Neill's shoulder. "You left him alone in an alien structure without checking on him for the entire night? You didn't even know he'd not been to dinner! What the hell kind of commander are you, anyway?"

Hammond spoke to her sharply. "Major that will be enough!"

O'Neill looked from Carter to Hammond to Ross. "Yes, sir, that is enough. Now, I want to hear the answer to her question." He turned on the Major. "What kind of Commander, Major Ross, would do that?" Then continued on his own. "What kind of Commander loses track of valuable personnel seconded under his command? What kind of Commander doesn't know when a person isn't in camp after his perimeter is supposedly secured? And what kind of a Commander goes to bed without checking on the welfare of all of his team?"

"Doctor Jackson is a grown man." Ross protested. "He is one of the most experienced field personnel assigned here. I am not his mother!"

"Excuse me, Major Ross, but you are very wrong." O'Neill mentally restrained himself from taking a step towards the younger officer and pounding each salient point home. "That's exactly who you are, as a field commander. Everyone under your command and control is your responsibility. Whether he's an experienced field operative, a raw recruit or a highly qualified civilian. Doctor Jackson is NOT in the military, he had NOT been through formal survival training and he is NOT combat personnel. He IS a highly skilled, well regarded, civilian specialist who will go to the wall for you and your team. He is a valuable member of this command with certain medical conditions and idiosyncrasies who is not normally left to his own devises in combat field conditions. He is not a soldier and he has never been expected to act like one."

"Colonel O'Neill, while I appreciate your feelings in this situation, I'm not sure that Ross has acted unacceptably as yet." General Hammond said calmly, giving O'Neill the warning eye.

"Sir, I beg to differ." Carter interjected heatedly into the discussion. "Major Ross borrowed Daniel for this mission without proper authority or clearance from either Colonel O'Neill or myself. Daniel had come to me two days ago, before they left, to tell me that Ross wanted him to go, but that he was too busy with the miniature stele that SG-11 had brought back from 3P290 and that he wouldn't have time to do both projects. I told him that I would not approve the trip because the Colonel would be back by today and that we needed to start getting ready for our own next mission. The next thing I hear is that they had left that morning...with Daniel! Who approved the change in orders, why was my approval not sought so that my instructions could be followed, sir?" She turned to Ross. "Why did you insist that Doctor Jackson be assigned on your team without official approval or proper authorization?"

"Doctor Jackson is the most qualified Archeologist in residence at the SGC." Ross protested, "I felt that his assistance was required to produce speedy and complete results of the area to be studied."

Jack tried to keep his voice expressionless. "Doctor Jackson is highly qualified in his field of expertise, but I remind you that his field is Egyptology with a fair amount of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern background. Mesoamerican and South American studies are way off his game. There are at least two better-qualified anthropologists in residence here. You did not NEED Daniel Jackson, but for some unknown reason you wanted him. Why? And why on this particular planet?"

Ross looked around at Hammond and Fraiser for support, but they were looking at him for answers. "I just wanted the best man for the job...that's all." He replied in a defiant voice. "I wanted to go, get what we needed and get back with the information. I thought that Jackson would be better qualified in case we found something that was Goa'uld in nature. That he had more experience to do the job properly."

Doctor Fraiser was not impressed. "Did Doctor Jackson say anything to you about not feeling well?"

"Well, he joked about being allergic to Gate travel." Ross looked thoughtful. "He started sneezing as soon as we got there. Then he seemed to catch a cold."

"So he complained about feeling sick." O'Neill stated unhappily, shaking his head in disbelief.

"No, he joked about his allergies." Ross insisted.

Carter and O'Neill exchanged looks.

"What?" The Major demanded. "What is wrong with you people?"

Carter explained to the young officer. "Daniel Jackson does not 'complain' about anything. He's the epitome of professionalism. He always does his job. He doesn't always take care of himself, but he doesn't joke about it either. He also knows to inform his Commander when he`s not feeling well."

"Maybe he was sick when he left here already."

She shook her head. "He was fine. I talked to him the day before you left, remember?" She looked over at Doctor Fraiser. "How was his physical?"

Janet looked at her friend and shook her head. "He didn't have a physical. He wasn't on the orders I received from Sgt Davis."

Hammond looked surprised at Fraiser, then turned to Ross. "If he was approved to go, why wasn't he covered under your team's orders, Major Ross? And if he wasn`t covered, why did he go?"

"I had our orders amended, Sir. I added him the following morning to complete the team compliment."

Jack stared at the man in utter amazement. "Wait a minute, you mean to tell us that you went to a civilian specialist and ordered him to come with you on a mission. You did not contact Major Carter or myself for approval. You had him added yourself the next morning after the mission brief and out-processing had already occurred. Daniel Jackson, who has known allergies, didn't receive proper medical attention or preparation before departing off world with you on amended orders which at time of mission planning he was not listed as a go.

Ross looked from O'Neill to Hammond to Fraiser. "I didn't know he had medical problems. No one said anything...."

"Didn't Doctor Jackson say anything to you?" General Hammond was as shocked by this revelation as everyone else was.

"Well, he said that he hadn't been to see Doctor Fraiser, but I told him that this planet had been cleared by the Med staff." Ross looked at Fraiser. "And it had been."

Janet Fraiser looked at him with fire in her eyes. "It had been cleared as far as being able to sustain earth life forms. It hadn't been approved for unlimited travel or for indefinite habitation. That takes months of study of the entire ecosystem. You didn't know particulars about Doctor Jackson because we didn't know he was going! Doctor Jackson has allergies to over twenty-seven stimuli. He always receives booster vaccinations before he leaves the SGC." She looked at O'Neill, full knowledge of what had happened written on her face. "He probably had an allergy attack and then went into asthmatic shock."

Jack O'Neill ducked his head and ran both his hands through his grizzled sandy colored hair and exclaimed, "Gaahh!" He then allowed his right hand to shoot forward and clamp down on the Major's shirt front. "Do you even have a clue in hell, what you have done!" He spoke slowly and succinctly. "You idiot! You don`t even have a fucking clue, do you?"

"Why didn't he say anything?" Ross wheezed, having some difficulty breathing around the fist on his lapel. He grasped O'Neill's hands trying to loosen them.

Carter bent in to him and spoke firmly and softly. "Daniel said he didn't want to go, he had too much work to do. You said he said that he `joked' about his allergies. Then you said you heard and saw him start sneezing. Then you said he `caught a cold'. It seems to me, Major, that he did say something...several times and you ignored him."

Jack O'Neill allowed his hand to tighten down harder on his fellow officer and twisted the man's collar uncomfortably tight. "Daniel is my team member. When I'm busy, Carter is my second in command here and in the field. When Daniel says `I am sick, I am hurt, I am tired, I am something`, we listen because when he says sick he is usually very ill, if he says he's hurting, he is usually seriously injured, tired typically means exhausted and something more often than not means there's a problem and he's not spades...and we bring him home! Because Daniel Jackson has saved our asses and our planet more times than you've even begun to think about."

General Hammond stepped forward and wrapped his hands around O'Neill's forearms. "Colonel O`Neill! Jack! Let him go!" O'Neill turned and looked at Hammond for a split second, then released the younger man, turning his back on him to regain his composure. Hammond stepped in between the two men.

Ross straightened up and took a deep breath. He glanced from the General to the two female Majors and saw no support anywhere.

O'Neill took a deep breath and turned back to face the younger officer. In a carefully controlled voice he stated "Now, Major Ross I am notifying you that formal charges of assault by neglect will be drawn up against you. So you'd better go right now and call your Air Force Lawyer to save your Air Force Ass... from me!" O'Neill looked coldly at the hapless man, then turned and strode back towards the ICU room. He pulled a chair in as he entered the doorway, planted it next to Daniel's bedside and sat down in it. Then he dropped his head into his hands. Teal'c eyed him briefly then decided to keep his own thoughts.

Ross looked back and forth between Hammond, Carter and Fraiser. "He can't do that can he?"

Hammond just looked at him. "You'd better be glad that's all he wants to do to you, Major. I'll try to talk to him before he takes any action. Dismissed."

Fraiser waited until the team chief left the infirmary to continue talking to her C.O. "Unfortunately, General Hammond, this whole thing is not going to get any better quickly." Janet glanced down at the clipboard she still held in her hands. "Sir, I need to talk to you and the Colonel...alone in my office." She glanced at Major Carter. "Sorry, Sam."

Carter reached over and squeezed her friend's elbow, nodding. "It's okay. I'll go tell him to meet you both over in your office."

Fraiser escorted the General into her private cubicle. They didn't say anything until O'Neill finally joined them and sat down, his face expressionless in the harsh florescent lights. Fraiser sat down behind her Government Issue gray desk and looked up at the two men in front of her.

"Sirs," Doctor Fraiser looked down at her notes. "You are both listed on Daniel's paperwork as `next of kin'. That gives me authorization to speak plainly to both of you." Hammond looked up and nodded waiting. Jack continued to stare at the floor but moved his head in assent. "When SG-8 brought Daniel in this morning, he was unconscious. I, frankly, didn't even realize that he had gone off world. When I found out what had happened, well, I'm very worried." At this, O'Neill raised his head and looked at her.

"What happened, Doc?" The Colonel asked calmly. "What's wrong with him?"

She ducked her head for a second, exhaling her anger. "MSgt McMasters found him on her watch. She told me that when she realized that Daniel wasn't in his tent, she went to look for him. She found him unconscious on the trail outside of the ruins, apparently headed towards the camp. She immediately fired a shot to attract attention, then started CPR. She reported that he was still `warm and alive' but that he was having difficulty breathing on his own and his pulse was very weak. By the time, they got him back here, he had a weak pulse but little voluntary respiration. He had suffered bleeding from his nose and mouth and his lungs were severely constricted from an apparent asthmatic episode. As soon as he arrived in ER, we started treatments with abuterol, epinephrine and prednazone to open his airways and clear his lungs. His body is responding to treatment and is now starting to do it's own work."

Hammond reacted first, if cautiously. "Then this is good news, isn't it?"

The Doctor nodded. "Yes, Sir. We have the symptoms under control at last. We are still assisting his breathing and his heart rhythm is good."

"But," Jack put in wearily. "There's always a but, isn't there Doc?"

"In this case, yes Colonel. I'm afraid there is." She put down her pen and looked squarely at him. "The `but' is, Colonel, but how long did he go with limited respiration and a slow, weak heartbeat? There is a very small window that the human system can do without oxygen. After that window is exceeded, comes problems." She paused and took a steadying breath. "The possibility of brain damage."

"Brain damage?" Hammond repeated starkly. "What kind of brain damage are we talking about here Doctor?"

O'Neill never moved but quietly started reciting a litany. "Brain damage as in...loss of mobility, mental impairment, seizures and whatever else is controlled by the damaged portion of the brain."

Fraiser looked at him with concern and nodded. "Yes, I'm afraid so. Those possibilities do exist. But," She hurried on. "He's still unconscious. That's not good, and, of course, we won't know anything until he wakes up. It just all depends on how long he lay there before the Sergeant found him. If McMasters got to him quick enough or if he was left in difficulty too long." She pursed her lips. "I just don't know and I won't do you or him the injustice of guessing."

Hammond nodded, accepting her report. Then he looked at his second in command. O'Neill sat expressionless in the plastic chair, his elbows on his knees and his chin in his hands staring at the wall behind Janet Fraiser's desk. "Well, Doctor," the General stood to leave. "I know of no one I trust better with Doctor Jackson`s welfare." He turned to go and Janet came around the desk to escort him out and to leave Jack alone for a minute while he processed the information. "Please keep me informed...about everything." They both glanced at the Colonel as she closed the door behind them.

After a few minutes, Janet returned to the office and quietly took her seat behind her desk.

O'Neill finally raised his head and looked directly at her. "Do you know anything else?"

She shook her head no in quick, short jerks. " We can only wait till he wakes up. Then we`ll know more." Frasier looked thoughtfully at the Colonel. "How do you know so much about brain damage?"

O'Neill continued to look past her at the gray painted walls. "When Charlie...when it happened, Sarah and I sat in the emergency room for a coupla hours. The Doc came in and explained... about... brain damage. But that was... different."

She didn't know anything about Charlie O'Neill's death other than it was a self-inflicted wound from a handgun. It would have had to have been different though. "Colonel, violent trauma is...not the same as this. The damage is...usually much more severe. This is more like starvation of the brain cells than violent injury. Daniel does have a chance, a good chance, of not suffering any damage at all. Now, I won't lie to you. It will depend on the time factor involved. His body didn't give up easily; he fought as long as he could. We just won't know anything yet, not until..."

Jack nodded. "Not until he wakes up. I know. Thanks Doc."

She could only nod in return. "No promises. but it's not hopeless either, Jack."

"No hits, no runs, no errors...but one man down." He stood up and turned to go, pausing for a second at the door to look searchingly at her. Then he was gone...back to the ICU cubicle to sit and wait.

Chapter 2

O'Neill reentered the ICU module and sat back down in the waiting chair. Teal'c had watched him come from Fraiser's office and had noted the man's depressed body carriage.

"What was said, O'Neill?" The warrior intoned.

"What I was expecting." He put his head down in his hands again for a moment then sat up, stretching tight back muscles. O'Neill looked across Daniel's bed at his friend and teammate. "Ross didn't have authorization to include Daniel in his team; he just bullied his way through the paperwork. But because it wasn't done properly, there was no pre-mission exam, no allergy medication given and no back up medicine issued. Once they got there, he started getting sick and no one noticed or listened when he complained. Apparently Daniel started working, had an allergy attack and passed out. The sentry found him in time to save his life, but we don't know how much injury he's been done." He shrugged, "Now, we wait."

"The woman, Master Sergeant McMasters was very angry when SG-8 returned from the planet." At O'Neill's look, he continued. "I had only just returned from my visit with my family and had not left the gateroom when the wormhole engaged to bring SG-8 back. So I was present when they returned Danieljackson to the SGC." The big man looked sadly at his leader. "She was shouting at her team chief."

"What was she shouting?"

"She was shouting that Danieljackson's physical condition was due to neglect and inattention on the part of her team chief, Major Ross, and his second in command. That Danieljackson had stated that the planet was causing him distress and no one believed him."

"What did Ross say to that?"

"He told her to shut her damned mouth before anyone else heard her. I did hear." Teal'c looked across the bed at his team leader. "This will not go unpunished, O'Neill."

Jack nodded at his friend, acknowledging his comments and his loyalty.

Several hours later, O'Neill was still sitting at Daniel's bedside holding the younger man's hand. Teal'c had left to get dinner then to go on to his quarters for rest and kel-nor-reem. The Jaffa had promised that he would not seek out this time. There had been no change in the younger man's condition. Daniel lay still and white in the bed, the only movement visible was the slight rise and fall of his chest with it's enforced breathing. Fraiser had come in shortly before to check his vitals and inject something into the saline drip to help dilate his lungs. Jack had stayed in the background, not bothering her. Their unspoken agreement was if she didn't notice he was there, she couldn't tell him to leave. It suited them both, for the moment.

A tall, brown-haired, bespectacled female NCO came in the infirmary and spoke to the nurse seated at the aid station. The Lieutenant pointed towards the ICU area. As the Sergeant approached the cubicle, the Colonel could make out the nametape on the woman's fatigue shirt, McMasters. She stepped to the doorway and tapped on the aluminum framing. O'Neill looked up and at the visitor.

"Can I help you, Sergeant?"

"Yes, Sir." She looked to the unconscious man. "Is there any change, Sir?"

Jack shook his head. "No, none yet." Then he looked at her. "Thank you. If you hadn't checked on him...well, you saved his life."

She nodded, accepting his thanks. "I only wish I'd have realized earlier..."

"You did more than anyone else did." Jack turned back to watch Daniel's unconscious form.

"Sir, the other members of the team..."

"Sergeant, look..." Jack tried to keep his voice even. "You were the only one who realized that he wasn't doing well. You were the only one who bothered to check on him when it wasn't convenient. Thank you for that. But you cannot make excuses for your teammates or your commander." He turned to look her in the eye. "You saved his life, literally, from what I've been told. But Ross was the one who put him at risk in the first place." O'Neill shook his head. "Sergeant, you've been around long enough know the difference between an officer and a commander. It has nothing to do with rank but with the ability to take responsibility for his own actions and the actions of his personnel. Ross failed Daniel and he failed you when he made you do his job for him."

"Yes sir." She replied quietly, gazing over towards the occupied hospital bed. After a moment, she spoke again. "I remember when he and Major Carter went missing, two years ago. I remember how...concerned you were...we all were. The SGC was a small command then, we all knew each other. When something happened to one of us, we all cared, we all worried." McMasters indicated Daniel. "When he saw me, he remembered me, that I'd been here before."

O'Neill looked at her and smiled. "He would. He always remembers." Jack stroked Daniel's hand as he held it. "That's what makes him Daniel."

She returned his smile and nodded. "Anything I can do, Sir, just let me know."

"I'll let you know when something happens. Thanks again, for everything you did."

"Thanks, Sir." She nodded and turned to go. "Everything will turn out all right for Dan..Doctor Jackson. He's a wonderful man."

Jack tried to smile, but it didn't work very well. "Thanks, I think so too."

Daniel was floating in a warm, comfortable place. He was resting and he wasn't concerned about where he was because he could hear Jack talking. His lover was droning on about UAV reconnaissance flights and MALP tapes; required equipment and suggested additions to camping gear; the decision between black nylon rope or green cotton rope and at what pound tensile strength it should be. It was rather boring, but if Jack wanted to tell him about it, he supposed it was all right. Then came the recommended number and type of MREs. At least it wasn't one of those god-awful historical romances that Sam was into. O'Neill kept right on talking and he listened until finally he faded out again, content in the knowledge that he was safe with Jack.

Carter came into the room to spell the Colonel. She was pretty sure that he hadn't eaten a real meal since SG-8 had returned two days ago. He's been living on coffee and donuts, compliments of the Medical section, but Janet had finally put her foot down. If he didn't go to the commissary and eat the five food groups he would be banned from the infirmary, or in it. The Colonel had protested but had finally given in when he admitted the proposed MRE kit was beginning to sound good to him. So she would take a few hours and sit with her teammate. Sam had brought a novel that she had wanted to read and thought Daniel might like it. It was a murder mystery set in ancient Egypt called Murder In The Place Of Anubis by a Linda Robinson. The detective was a noble in the royal court close to the Pharaoh. Well, it would be different than the equipment checklists and reconnaissance reports that the Colonel brought so he could finish his paperwork. When Teal'c came later that night, he would bring something else to read, possibly a classic like War and Peace or even the Bible. He was still curious about his Tau'ri friends and often said that he learned a lot about them by their literature.

The Colonel always maintained that when a person was unconscious they were still semi-aware of their surroundings and that they could hear things. He was big into talking and reading to them. Of course it could just be that he needed to 'do something' and it made him feel better. But Janet had agreed that it certainly didn't hurt anything. So they would come and read to each other and talk of news and gossip at the SGC. None of them could ever seem to remember what had actually been said to them while they were unconscious, but they still continued the practice. Because, the Colonel was right about one thing, it did make you feel better.

Daniel became aware again. He still couldn't quite wake up yet though he did want to, but floating in the comfortable warm place was pleasant. He could hear a familiar voice speaking. It wasn't Jack's voice this time, but the deep sonorous tones of Teal'c reading to him.

'Frodo woke and found himself lying in bed. At first he thought that he had slept late, after a long unpleasant dream that still hovered on the edge of memory. Or perhaps he had been ill? But the ceiling looked strange; it was flat and it had dark beams richly carved. He lay a little while longer looking at patches of sunlight on the wall, and listening to the sound of a waterfall. "Where am I, and what is the time?" he said aloud to the ceiling. "In the house of Elrond, and it is ten o'clock in the morning." said a voice. "It is the morning of October the twenty-forth, if you want to know." "Gandalf!" cried Frodo, sitting up...." '

Daniel realized that Teal'c was reading to him from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Somehow, it seems very fitting a book for the Jaffa Warrior to be reading. He allowed himself just to absorb the warmth and peace of Rivendale. He was very tired and it seemed so difficult to even want to think. Sleep washed back over him like a wave on a sandy shore. He slept.

Some time later, O'Neill came into the room, sat down and listened to Teal'c reading. The big warrior had a wonderful speaking voice and Jack didn't recognize the book that he was reading from. He turned his head sideways to read the title. Nope hadn't read it, but from the sound of it, he should. He vaguely remembered the popularity of the book when he had been in high school in the 60s. He remembered thinking it had sounded too much like a fairy tale for him to want to read then. 'Typical', he thought wryly. 'I was such a jerk when I was a kid'.

'Many others of Elrond's household stood in the shadows and watched them go, bidding them farewell with soft voices. There was no laughter, and no song or music. At last they turned and faded silently into the dusk.'

Teal'c looked at the Colonel. "This book is one of great adventure, O'Neill. Have you read it?"

A little chagrined, O'Neill shook his head. "No, but it sounds good. Can I borrow it when you're through?"

His friend nodded gravely. "There are two others I believe."

"So I've heard." Jack motioned towards Daniel's still form as he sat down in the room's second chair. "How's our boy?"

"Danieljackson remains unconscious. Doctor Fraiser has examined on him only an hour ago. She says his condition is unchanged." Teal'c looked at the young man lying in the bed. "I do not believe that we are without hope, O'Neill."

O'Neill tried to smile at the big man. He wasn't overly successful at the attempt. "One should never be without hope, Teal'c. Sometimes hope is all we have left."

The warrior nodded watching his friend carefully. "When I sit here, reading to Danieljackson, sometimes I feel his presence. Perhaps it is only hope, but...I can feel his spirit nearby." Teal'c rose and allowed his leader to take up the seat in the chair. He knew that O'Neill's presence would keep Danieljackson's spirit close.

"As long as we keep it near, maybe he can come all the way back to us." Taking his seat, the Colonel gently picked up the younger man's hand and stroked it with his own creating a tactile connection between them.

"I certainly hope so, O'Neill." Teal'c bowed slightly and left the two alone together.

Jack sat at his love's bedside, picked up the book and began to read.

Major General George Hammond walked into the SGC infirmary, looking for Doctor Fraiser. It was the morning of the fourth day after SG-8's return. He needed some answers so that he could take some form of action against Major Ross as much as he regretted the necessity. Hell, he regretted the whole damned incident with Jackson. Somehow, it always seemed to be Jackson.

O'Neill was at least partially right. Ross had not acted properly for a commander in the field. By ordering Jackson to accompany his team, he was directly responsible for the boy's welfare. By bypassing the system's checks and balances and taking him off world without proper out processing he left Jackson exposed to all the inherent dangers of Gate travel. By circumventing Jackson's chain of command, Ross basically stole the Archeologist right out from under SG-1 and disassembled Jack O'Neill's safety net that the Colonel had so conscientiously constructed around the wayward civilian.

O'Neill had once pointed out to him that Daniel Jackson, and Sam Carter, were both 'different' from regular personnel. As 'geniuses', they just didn't think the way that 'ordinary' people thought and O'Neill had long ago accepted that it was the nature of the beast for the two younger members of SG1 to 'do' things that would drive a C.O. 'nutzo' (the Colonel's term, not his). Jackson had walked into the Stargate program five years ago and done in two weeks what no one had been able to do since the time of RA--translate the Stargate cartouche. Carter had been able to do in a few years something that hadn't been done in three thousand years--power the Stargate. Between the two of them, they could take a glimmer of an idea and make it explode into reality. As members of SG1, those youngsters had made science fiction into science fact; it was what they excelled at. But the only way they could do this was with the apparently overzealous protection and sometime seemingly paranoid watchfulness of one Bird Colonel and one ex-Jaffa warrior.

As the General entered Doctor Fraiser's territory he glanced over at the ICU. Major Carter was on Daniel watch this time and she was reading aloud from a paperback with a rather garish cover. The picture was one of a rather well formed male wearing what was apparently supposed to be an ancient Egyptian style kilt. Well, one could say SG1 was definitely eclectic in their tastes in literature. Teal'c had been reading something last night with elves in it. He shook his head and went in search of his chief medical officer.

He found her almost hidden behind a pile of paperwork in her office. She stood to welcome him when she saw him coming towards her door. "Good morning, General. How can I help you?

"Well, Doctor. I just need an up-to-date assessment of Doctor Jackson's condition. I need to take some steps in this unfortunate turn of event that led up to Doctor Jackson being ill." He frowned. "It doesn't have to be written in stone, just an informed evaluation."

"Actually Sir, Daniel has done very well." She looked up at him almost smiling. "He has not shown any of the expected side effects. Unfortunately, he has remained unconscious, but his vital signs have stabilized, his blood pressure is good, and he hasn't experienced any negative crisis's of any kind. It wouldn't surprise me if he woke up at anytime and demanded a cup of coffee."

"Well, I must say this is very good news to hear." Hammond relaxed back into the chair he'd been perched on. "But we have no way of testing for any problems until he does regain consciousness, is that right?"

"Yes, sir. That's true enough." Fraiser nodded. "I won't be able to test for any abnormalities until he can respond verbally to my questions. But until such time as the tests are possible, his prognosis remains good, but guarded."

Hammond sat in thought for a few moments. "Doctor, do you think that any of this extra attention that SG-1 is giving him has any bearing on his strong recovery?" He watched her as she carefully thought about his question.

"Personally, I believe that it does." She responded carefully. "They are an extremely close-knit team, almost a family if you will. Certainly it can't hurt that he's always surrounded and supported by the people he trusts the most. Now, can I put a percentage on it or a number value? No, Sir I can't. But if I were hurting, I know that I'd try harder to come back if my loved ones were the ones calling me."

General Hammond nodded in understanding, and then he stood to go. It made good sense to him, even if they couldn't prove it by numbers or statistics. This definitely was good news for Major Ross. "Thank you Doctor. Please keep me informed of any change in Doctor Jackson's condition."

Several hours later Daniel swam up through unconsciousness again. He could hear the quiet murmur of familiar voices in his room and could feel as someone took his vitals with gentle touches. He couldn't quit get to the point of movement or speech but Daniel could make out Sam's soothing voice. What was she saying, oh it was one of those historical things again. But she was here. He liked that. He could tell he was sick, he felt hot and uncomfortable. He felt really bad. Maybe Sam...if...only...

Sam Carter looked up from her book. For some reason she glanced over at Daniel. At first glance he looked the same, but then she noticed something in his expression had altered. His stillness had changed into one of tension as if his muscles had become tight. His composure was one of…strain. Sam put her book down and leaned over him, laying her hand on his forehead. Where he had been warm before, he was hot now, feverish, his skin clammy to the touch.

She immediately got up and went to the door. "Janet. Janet, can you come here? Something's wrong with Daniel." By the time the Doctor had gotten into the room, the patient had started convulsing into a seizure. The two women ran to the bedside. Janet hit the code button on the wall by the bed to call for assistance. She then quickly went over to the medical supply cabinet in the corner of the ICU and retrieved a needle that she pushed into the I.V. line in Daniel's arm. Sam had raised the rail sides of the hospital bed to insure that he didn't fall out and was trying to hold Daniel down against the mattress . "Janet, what can I do?" Sam called out in panic. "How can I help him?"

The doctor, across the bed from her only shook her head at her friend. "There's nothing. I've given him an anti-seizure drug. He's just got to ride it out." Two corpsmen arrived and moved up to the bed. They then gently but firmly restrained the shaking, convulsing patient using the blankets on the bed to secure him. To keep him from injuring himself on the frame or with the equipment sensors that was attached to his body.

Janet looked up at Sam worriedly. "I was afraid of this."

"Why? What's causing it?" Carter demanded, wanting to know what was happening to her friend.

"How did he feel when you touched him?" Janet asked. "Did he seem hot, like he had a fever?"

"Yes." Sam replied. "He was very warm and he was sweaty. I didn't notice that before."

Finally the worst spasms passed and Daniel lay back bonelessly against his pillow. The two corpsmen stepped back out of the Doctor's way, waiting to be sure everything was all right. Janet checked all of Daniel's IV needles and the oxygen mask to insure they were all adjusted properly. One of the needles had torn out of the skin at the entry point causing it to bleed profusedly. Fraiser stopped the bleeding, inserted it at another location then was able to take his temperature. It was high at 103 degrees. Janet bit her lip and stroked his forehead, and murmured words of comfort as much to sooth herself as her patient.

Janet finally dismissed her medics and came over and hugged the younger woman. "It's all right, honey. You did everything right…"

At this moment, Colonel O'Neill chose to make an appearance. By the look on Carter's face, he could tell something had happened. Sam looked as if she were ready to burst into tears.

"What's wrong?" He asked tersely, crossing the room to the two women.

"Daniel had a febrile seizure." Janet replied, directing his attention to their patient. "Luckily Sam was right here on the money. She called me and I got here in time to prevent it from getting too bad."

O'Neill immediately went to Daniel's bedside. "A seizure." He repeated hollowly. "Then that means…."

"Nothing, it means nothing." Janet assured him. "He was running a fever, in his weakened state that could have caused it. Now we can prevent any reoccurrences."

"But you said that they meant…" He looked at her with hope.

"If he had done this early on, I would agree." The Doctor continued in her calming voice. "But this late in the game, and with his high temperature, it could be…probably is…the result of the fever itself." She tried to smile comfortingly at the worried man. O'Neill, and Carter, looked almost beside themselves with fear for Daniel. "Look, Colonel. Why don't you and Sam go get some dinner together." The Doctor took over now. Her other friends needed some relief. "I'll stay here with Daniel until you get back, or Teal'c comes. You both need a break." When they looked like arguing, Janet gently shoved them out the door. "Go, eat, relax, talk. We'll still be here when you get back." She smiled calmly. "Go on now."

The two Air Force officers looked at each other. Finally, the Colonel shook his head at the doctor and muttered something about 'Napoleonic power something or other' and led the way out of the clinic. Janet resolutely turned her back on them and started to adjust her patient's bedcovers.

Chapter 3

O'Neill and Carter wandered down the hallways of the SGC. They hadn't spoken much to each other, both of them deep in their own thoughts. The two entered the almost empty dining facility and went through the serving line. It was four o'clock in the afternoon, most of the lunch crowd had gone back to their jobs and dinner hadn't started yet. The hot food line was almost empty, but Jack agreed to the meatloaf and mashed potatoes, Sam asked for the Chef Salad. When they sat down and started eating at the long bare tables, they finally started to talk.

'Neill looked critically at his 2IC. She appeared tired and distracted. "How you doing, Carter?"

"I'm okay, Sir. He just scared me." She replied quietly.

"I can imagine. Would have scared me too." He assured her. "We got a little too confident in him, I guess."

Carter nodded, then started to explain. "I was reading, and I heard, no, I felt something was wrong." She looked up at her Colonel and continued. "He looked different, kind of tense. I called Janet, but he started before she got there."

"But," Jack said gently touching her hand. "If you hadn't been there…"

This quiet comment proved Sam's undoing. She stared heavily into her mostly untouched salad and the tears finally started to fall. "Aw, shit!" She said as she tried to wipe them off with the small napkin her silverware had come wrapped in. "Shit...stop it, damn it."

O'Neill scooted his chair next to hers and gathered Sam up in his arms, hugging her close to him, allowing her to hide her face in his shoulder. He patted her on the back like he would a small child. She finally broke, letting her emotions go, weeping messily into his green uniform shirt.

"I'm sorry." She sobbed, brokenly. "I'm sorry...sorry." She tried to turn away from him, but Jack held her firmly, stroking her back and murmuring words of comfort into her blond hair.

Finally, after several minutes, he released her and looked at her tear stained face, chuckling softly, sniffing his own tears back. "Well, I never thought I'd see the day."

She took a deep breath, swiped at her red eyes and sniffed. "What? That you'd see the Ice Maiden cry."

He gently pushed the mussed bangs out of her eyes. "Where did you get that from? Who ever told you not to cry?"

She ducked her head to keep from meeting his concerned, brown eyes. "My father." She sniffed again. "And I quote, the Air Force doesn't need officers that fall apart and cry at the drop of a hat."

Jack reached under her chin and tipped her head up to look at her. "Jacob said that?" She nodded into his hand. "I'm gonna kick his Air Force General's ass the next time I see him." He was rewarded by the blue eyes growing in size. "I am." He promised. "Just you wait."

She sniffed. "Okay, deal." She replied soggily. Then Sam reached over to his weather-beaten cheek and wiped away some suspicious dampness of his own.

"I wish I had a nickle for every tear I've cried because of this man's Air Force." He mumbled. "I could retire." He was rewarded by a teary grin.

Then another concerned voice broke into their circle of warmth. "Jack, what's wrong?" Hammond was standing over them, worried down to his boots by the look of him. "What's happened?"

O'Neill took a breath and shook his head at his friend and commander. "Sit down, Sir. It's okay. We just had a bad scare. Danny had a seizure and scared us into next week."

Hammond sat down in a chair next to his two officers. "Is he all right?" He looked at the two damp faces with concern. "Doctor Fraiser was just telling me this morning how well he was doing."

"Apparently she thinks it was brought on by fever." O'Neill replied. "Hopefully it won't cause much of a setback. Lucky Carter was with him and was able to get him help before it got too bad." He smiled at her and she blushed pink through her tears. "We were just indulging in a little emotional catharsis."

"Weell, sounds like you both deserve one." The General shook his head. "When I got wind that you were both in here so upset...I have to admit, I feared the worst."

"No, well, I don't think so anyway. It was just..." Jack shook his head as Carter sat up and tried to wipe her face with a paper napkin.

"I quite understand. Well, I guess I'll hit it for a little while longer then call it a day." He eyed Major Carter thoughtfully. "And I think young lady, it's about time for you to call it one too."

She started to shake her head but O'Neill caught her eye. "Remember, you've got Fish duty tonight." He reminded her. "We don't want Danny to think we'd forgotten Blondie and Dagwood and all the little Bumsteads, do we?"

Carter had to smile at that one. "No Sir. We can't forget the fish. I'll stop by his apartment on my way home."

"Good. I'll go up and relieve poor ole Doc Fraiser." He glanced over at Hammond. "I'm on Danny watch tonight. We're gonna discuss the pros and cons of down-filled sleeping bags over nylon pile ones. It's bound to be a real hair raising discussion for an allergic archeologist."

"Well, I'll leave you two to your assigned duties." Hammond got up and turned to leave, then said. "Drive safely, Major; and Jack, get some rest."

"Yes, sir. Just as soon as I can, I will." O'Neill nodded. The General shook his head and walked back to his office.

Jack continued to sit with his meatloaf and mashed potatoes after General Hammond and Major Carter had both left. He finished as much of his food as he could, thinking all the while. Thinking about his Daniel, lying unconscious in the infirmary; thinking about Sam, sobbing on his shoulder; thinking about Jacob, and how he was so gonna kick his ass for screwing up his own daughter; thinking about Ross, and how he wanted to kick his ass for screwing up with Daniel.

As he sat there thinking, something snapped in him. Abruptly, he got up and carried his tray to the cleaning area. He then strode quickly out the door and to the elevator, where he got in and hit the button hard, twice. Jack continued on at a fast pace to the infirmary. He entered the ICU where Janet was still sitting with Daniel. She looked up at him from a magazine. Jack strode over to the bed and bent over Daniel's unconscious body. He took Daniel's face in his two hands and held him, gently, in a strong, firm grasp. He searched the pale face with his eyes, looking for something...anything to hold on be sure of...and he didn't see it, it wasn't there. Then it hit him. He was scared. He was as scared as hell!

Fraiser had risen from her chair and was standing, watching him...then she came over and laid her hand on Jack's shoulder. "Colonel, he's going to be fine. Really." Janet bent down so she could see his face. "Jack."

He looked up at her, revealing his anguish in his brown eyes. "Janet..."

"Jack, it'll be alright." She assured him. "He'll be okay. He gave us a scare today, but...nothing's changed really." She pulled him away from the bed and sat him down in the chair. "We got to him in time. Sam saved him."

He nodded mutely at her calming words. Then he looked up into her brown eyes, trusting her. "I just don't know...what to do." Jack looked at Daniel's profile, the pale face lying against the white hospital pillow's case. "We've only just...found each other." He looked back at her. "After last year..."

"I know, Jack. I know." She sat down next to him. "But he's strong, we both know how strong he is...he'll come back to us, to you. Just give him time.."

He looked from her intense brown eyes to down at his hands, and he nodded wordlessly.

"Jack, I've got to go home to Cassie now. I have to give her a report about Daniel, too. The nurse knows your here." The doctor laid her hand on his two clasped ones. "No one will bother you, but if you need her help, she knows what to do; and I'm only twenty minutes away."

"I know Doc, go on home." He straightened up and looked over at the unconscious man. "We'll be all right."

She smiled at him. "I'll see you in the morning."

It was 1700 hours the next day and Colonel O'Neill finally just piled all of his paperwork into a stack and put it in his top drawer. He knew he needed to catch a nap at some point. He was tired, but he wouldn't forgo his time at the ICU with Daniel. The young man had not had any reoccurrence of the seizure that had scared them all so badly the day before. The Doctor and her minions were all keeping a close eye on him and of course the Danny-watch brigade was still in full swing. Jack just couldn't help thinking that if Carter hadn't been there with him, that no one would have noticed anything wrong until the alarms had sounded. And Fraiser had admitted that it wouldn't have sounded until he was actually in trouble. He rubbed his hands over his face, absently noting that he needed a shave.

Standing up from his desk chair, Jack put his hands on his hips and leaned back slightly to relax the tenseness in his lower back. Too much paperwork, too much worry and not enough food and sleep. 'Oh yea, no stress in my life.' he thought to himself.

Well, the Doc was putting pressure on him too; to eat, sleep and get a little real exercise, the unimportant things in life. He glanced at his watch and determined that Carter currently had 'Danny-watch' so he could go and do just that. Head down to the gym for a little workout, go grab a bite at the commissary, then take a nap for a few hours in Daniel's office on his faithful couch. Boy, if that couch could talk....the stories it could tell. Talk about don't ask don't tell...note to nice to couch. Yea, he definitely needed a break...talking couches.

Jack decided on working put on the heavy bag. It allowed him to concentrate on one thing at a time, not worry about the finesse of the punching bag or the strategy of a two-man workout. If he was lucky, he could catch Teal'c at the chow hall before the man went to bed that night. The Jaffa normally sat with their teammate during the day when he and Carter did their office work. Sam took the evening shift and he would do the midnight hours. It worked out well, if he could get a few hours nap before he sent Carter home.

He'd been hitting the heavy man-sized weight bag for thirty minutes when he heard them come in. Them being Major Ross and Captain King of SG-8. Jack tried to ignore the other two Air Force officers as they started working with the free weights in the bench area of the large weight room section. The two men were talking to themselves about an upcoming mission while spotting each other on the bench. O'Neill made some internal joke about dumbbells lifting dumbbells and turned back to punching the lights out of the large, canvas bag.

Sometime later, Jack noticed Ferretti had come in to use the stationary bike. Louis pumped away steadily for thirty minutes then dismounted and strolled over to speak to his old commander and friend. O'Neill stopped punching the bag for a few minutes and shook the younger man's hand.

"How Ya doin', Colonel? Getting a little stress relief?"

"Yeah," he admitted, wiping his sweaty face with a towel that he'd had lying on the floor by the bag. "Too much paperwork, too much stress and not enough sleep."

Ferretti nodded knowingly, understanding the feelings of the older man. "How's Daniel doing? Any change?"

"Not that I've heard of today. I'm going to drop by on my way to eat dinner then go up about 2100 hrs."

Ferretti nodded, knowing the 'injured teamie' routine from his own team. He too, was a believer in the O'Neill method of group support, 'watch 'em like a hawk until they get up and tell you to quit bugging 'em.'

"Daniel's a tough cookie, Colonel." Louis assured his old commander and friend. "He'll do okay, don't you worry."

"I know, Lou. I'll tell him you said hi." O'Neill nodded at Ferretti's words.

Ferretti took his leave of Jack and sauntered over towards the showers. The path took him through the weight bench area. Ross said something to Ferretti, who looked over at him with an odd expression then, shook his head. Another comment was made and Ferretti tried to withdraw from the conversation entirely, holding up his hands and backing away. O'Neill stopped what he was doing and watched. Ross continued to talk and finally Ferretti started talking back with a vengeance. He advanced on the other Major pointing repeatedly with his index finger and his voice growing louder and louder.

"...And furthermore, I didn't ask you damned opinion, you asked mine. I wasn't there, I don't know what happened this time but I do know that you haven't a clue of what you're talking about. I know what's happened in the past and if Jack O'Neill and Daniel Jackson hadn't been there any number of times, there wouldn't be a SGC, there wouldn't be an operational Stargate and they probably wouldn't even be an Earth right about now; and you can keep your own fucking opinion to yourself."

As ranking officer in the room, Jack knew he had a responsibility to stop the altercation before it got out of hand so he pulled the towel behind his neck and started over to the dispute. When King saw O'Neill headed over to them, the young black Captain caught Ross's arm and pointed at the Colonel.

Jack had approached the two Majors with his hands raised to act as a buffer between the two men. Ross, already embarrassed and angry from the sting of Ferretti's words, turned on O'Neill. "And here comes the great man himself, Jack O'Neill: defender of helpless wimps, and self- appointed guardian of the Geek Squad."

Jack had a memory of Ferretti reaching out to push past Ross, and Ross reacting by slapping Ferretti's hand away and drawing back a fist. Then Louis, shouting something, possibly a warning. Other than everything turning a bright shade of red, Jack didn't even remember who struck the first blow. All he could see was the man who had been responsible for letting the person he loved more than anything risk his life for a stupid survey mission that hadn't amounted to a hill of beans. He could feel the man's flesh beneath his hands become damp with blood, felt the hard nose cartilage become soft like cracked cement turning to powder.

The next thing he knew he was being restrained by two strong dark brown arms wrapped around his upper arms and chest. He was being held a few inches above the gymnasium floor and Ferretti was in his face shouting at him. Some of the other gym occupants were kneeling over a prone figure lying on the padded floor. There was red paint everywhere, on the mats, the unconscious man and as he looked down at his hands, it was on them too.

Realizing that something bad had happened and it could only be Teal'c holding him, Jack relaxed into the firm grip and nodded to the Major. Ferretti, satisfied that Jack was returning to normal, he indicated to Teal'c to put O'Neill down.

At this time a medical trauma team came into the gym at a run. When the crowd dispersed from around the victim, Jack could see it was Ross. Doctor Fraiser came in at a run and skidded to a halt taking in the whole scene. Shooting the Colonel a confused look, she turned to treat the man lying on the floor. When she saw who it was on the floor and the obvious cause of his injuries, Fraiser turned to one of the onlookers and sent him out of the room. The selected lieutenant glanced over his shoulder at O'Neill as he left the area.

Ross was quickly loaded on the gurney and whisked away to the infirmary, his second-in- command, Captain King, trailing along after him. Doctor Fraiser approached O'Neill briskly. She extended both her hands to him. Apologetically, he held his out for her examination. She took them and turned them over, noting the skinned knuckles and blood on the outer 'fist' area. "You couldn't leave it alone, could you?" She murmured low enough that only she, him and possibly Teal'c could hear her.

He looked at her helplessly. He really didn't remember what had happened, only that Ross had been mouthing off at Ferretti. O'Neill knew that the lieutenant had been sent to Hammond's office to bring the General down to the 'scene' of the crime. "Doc...", he started.

She looked at him and released her hands. "Colonel O'Neill, I'm not the one you'll have to explain to. It looks like you'll live to fight another day, so I need to get up to the infirmary to treat Ross. Please come up later and I'll finish with those hands." With that she turned and left him waiting for the General.

O'Neill turned and looked at his two friends. "What happened? What did I do?"

Ferretti shrugged at him. "That jackass Ross started mouthing off at me. I tried to get past him and he took a poke at me. You grabbed him and he started on you and, well, you lost it. Thumped on him pretty good."

Jack looked at Teal'c. The big man canted his head to one side. "I was passing the gymnasium door when I was attracted by the sounds of a fight. I merely restrained you at Majorferretti's insistence." He arched an eyebrow at the SG-2 commander giving the impression that he wouldn't have stopped O'Neill otherwise.

"Colonel, that rat deserved everything you gave him and then some." Louis almost growled. "There's no cause for him to say those things." then he continued. "But I couldn't let you kill him in front of all these witnesses either."

O'Neill shook his head. "It really doesn't matter. I shouldn't have lost my temper."

"You're right about that Colonel O'Neill. You shouldn't have," The crowd parted like the Red Sea to allow General Hammond to come over to the three men. "But from what I'm hearing, he was out of line to begin with."

"How badly is he hurt?" O'Neill asked

"Doctor Fraiser is still examining him, but I'd say at least a broken nose and some bad bruising.

"Sir," Ferretti put in. "Ross started it. The Colonel just finished it. He's been mouthing off since they got back from the survey, saying how Daniel caused his own problems at the dig."

O'Neill hung his head. "I'm sorry Sir. He just got under my skin." Jack looked up at the frowning General. "What now?"

Hammond shook his head at his second in command. "I'll start an investigation into what went on. It looks like you have enough witnesses on your side." He glanced at the crowd that had quietly formed a little distance away then to Louis Ferretti.

"General," Ferretti started to defend his friend. "If the Colonel hadn't done it, I would have. Ross was way out of line and saying stuff you wouldn't believe."

Hammond thought a moment then nodded. "Colonel O'Neill, due to the special circumstances involved, I'm not going to restrict you to quarters. Teal'c, I want you escort the Colonel to the shower, then to dinner. When he is through, please take him directly to the infirmary." He looked at O'Neill. "There, you'll let Dr Fraiser check you over. Once she is through with you, confine yourself to Doctor Jackson's room. No contact will be made with Major Ross or anyone else of SG-8. I want no repetition of this shameful display. Do I make myself clear, Colonel?"

"Yes, Sir." O'Neill was relieved that the General hadn't sent him straight to confinement.

"I want you to realize that this is not for your benefit." The General finished. "It is for the good of Doctor Jackson that I'm allowing this at all. Any further actions on your part will result in arrest and confinement in the brig. Do you understand this?"

"Yes, Sir. Thank you, Sir."


"I understand, General Hammond. Your instructions will be followed."

"I know they will, son. Dismissed." The General then turned his wrath on Major Ferretti as Teal'c shepherded 'his' Colonel towards the showers.

Chapter 4

O'Neill and his Warrior guard beat a strategic retreat to the shower room. Jack was dismayed at his loss of control. It was something that would have happened to a raw lieutenant in a firefight, not someone like him who knew better. He hadn't done anything like that in years. Ross was lucky to be alive...he could have very easily killed the younger man. He was lucky that Ferretti and Teal'c had been there to stop him.

The Jaffa warrior sat in the changing area and observed O'Neill as he stripped and headed for the shower. "I do not approve O'Neill, and I do not understand."

He had wrapped a towel around his waist and was headed for the showers. He stopped and faced his friend with chagrin. "Look, Teal'c. I'm really sorry to have acted that way. I just lost it out there."

"No, O'Neill. I do not approve of the General's actions; I do not understand them. Ross would be severely punished, possibly even executed, were he under my Command in the Jaffa ranks."

"No, Teal'c. It was my fault. I lost control of myself and I know better." Jack looked at his skinned knuckles. "I could have...would have killed him if you hadn't stopped me."

"As well you should have. He failed in his responsibility as a Commander. He is responsible for Danieljackson's injuries and should be held accountable."

Jack sighed. "No, Teal'c. It's my fault as well, I shouldn't have let him get under my skin like that."

Teal'c looked at his friend impassively. "You are emotionally distraught. Your concern for your mate shows itself. Go, shower, then we will eat. Danieljackson responds to you, more than Majorcarter or myself. He needs your strength to guide him back to us. "

O'Neill nodded and hit the showers.

An hour or so later, Jack O'Neill and his friendly guardian angel Jaffa entered the infirmary area. Doctpr Fraiser met him at the entrance and escorted him to the exam room where she inspected his hands and shook her head.

"Well, both of you are very lucky if you ask me, Colonel." She scolded him as she dabbed some stinging antiseptic liquid on his raw knuckles.

"Why, what do you mean?" He looked down into her disapproving visage.

"Major Ross has some contusions, bruised ribs, a broken nose and a black eye. You, you have a very understanding C.O." She closed the bottle, put the medicine back in its cabinet and closed the door. "Hammond convinced Ross that he was lucky to be alive. And I quote, 'Believe you me, Major Ross. If Jack O'Neill wanted you would be already. You need to make yourself scarce and stay out of his way' ."

She finished up and looked at him. "You're nominally in my charge tonight. You can sit with Daniel until you're relieved. Then I want you to get a VIP Room and get some sleep. I told General Hammond I feel partially responsible for this." She flashed a small grin at him. "After all, I am the one who told you to go to the gym."

"Oh, no. Don't you start." He chided her, shaking his head. "This is a good case of my fault, your fault, anybody's fault. I'm too tired and worried to play."

"Okay, you're off the hook for now." She nodded, releasing him from her tender mercies. "Go on so Sam and I can get some dinner and catch up on all the gossip."

Jack came into the ICU where Carter was sitting with Daniel, watching the young man sleep. She rose and came over to meet him. "Colonel, I'm glad you could come."

He looked shamefaced at his Major. "So am I. I nearly screwed up bad, Carter. It's a good thing General Hammond is so fond of Daniel."

She nodded and tried to keep a disapproving expression on her face, and failed miserably. "Yes, Sir, I just wish I had been there to watch it." She grinned at his discomfort. "That's what you get when you mix little food, less sleep, lots of worry and an Irish temper."

"Said the pot to the kettle, Major. I've seen that good Anglo-Saxon blood of yours boiling a time or two." He replied tiredly.

"Well, I'll just leave you two alone, then. You can tell Daniel all about it." She smiled and waved as she left the room.

"Yea," He turned back and looked at the sleeping form of his friend as he lay on the bed. "The two of us, Danny. That's the way it's meant to be." He sat down in the chair next to the bed and gently stroked Daniel's arm. He picked up his lover's hand and inspected it, committing it to memory. Jack intertwined his fingers with the long slender ones, with their calluses and small scars from years of handling tools and earth. The fair skin stretched across strong bones; the chipped fingernails, Deceptively delicate looking, but with a man's power in them, hands that had held him in nights of passion, that had brought him to the ecstasy of completion, that had given him such love and joy that he couldn't find words to describe it. Jack closed his fingers around Daniels, determined that nothing could separate them.

He hadn't brought anything to read this evening due to the state of affairs in the gym. Glancing around, he picked up the paperback book that Teal'c had been reading to Daniel and thumbed through it. A scrap of paper marked the place where the Warrior had left off. Jack turned to the page and started to read aloud.

'The company of the ring stood silent beside the tomb of Balin. Frodo thought of Bilbo and his long friendship with the dwarf, and of Balin's visit to the Shire long ago. In that dusty chamber in the mountains it seems a thousand years ago and on the other side of the world.'

O'Neill read for a while, allowing the words of the book to conjure up the attack of the Orcs, the great battle of Gandalf and the Balrog and finally Strider taking the lead in the journey of the eight remaining fellows of the story. O'Neill could empathize with the human hero, having to lead and command such a disparate group of individuals: elf, dwarf, human and four hobbits, and to have taken the lead at such a tragic juncture. He became enmeshed in the story as he continued to read aloud to his friend.

"So all my plan is spoilt!" said Frodo. "It is not good trying to escape you. But I'm glad, Sam. I cannot tell you how glad. Come along! It is plain that we were meant to go together. We will go and may the others find a safe road! Strider will look after them. I don't suppose we shall see them again." "Yet we may, Mr. Frodo. We may." said Sam.

As Jack put down the book and looked over at Daniel, he saw something that caught his attention. He rose from his chair and leaned over to look more closely. Above the oxygen mask, Daniel's eyes were open. He appeared to be watching Jack as he read and when he drew close, he could see that the younger man was tracking him with his eyes. Daniel was awake!

He immediately pushed the call button and when the nurse came in he almost shouted. "Get the Doc! Call Doc Fraiser! He's awake. He can see me!"

Janet Fraiser had just signed out at the surface checkpoint when the Desk Sergeant's phone rang. When he gave her the message, she turned and ran back to the elevator. Twenty-six long elevator floors later, Janet continued her sprint to her clinic and the ICU. When she finally arrived she burst into the room.

O'Neill had pulled his chair up next to the bed and he was holding Daniel's hand, rubbing it between his two, massaging it and talking to the patient. "Come on Daniel. Hang in there for me, buddy. Stay awake for me 'til Doc comes. Danny...please..."

She threw her purse and car keys on the floor and they slid obediently into a corner. Janet approached the bed from the other side, immediately starting to translate the readings from the different monitors. Fraiser picked up his other hand and felt for the pulse, noting that the skin was dry and normal temperature. There it was, slow but steady. The blood pressure cuff gave her the good solid reading of 110/80, body temp was 99.8, high but acceptable and best of all Daniel was actually looking at her with those wonderful blue eyes, watching her as she did her Doctor thing. The breathing tube kept him from speaking but those blue eyes said a thousand words. He was there, but how much of him had managed to come back.

She looked over at Jack O'Neill who was smiling broadly, first at Daniel than at her. She managed to return it without embarrassing herself professionally. "How long?"

The Colonel managed to look indignant. "Just now. I called the nurse when I saw he was awake."

She nodded, then turned to her patient. "Daniel, can you hear me? If you can hear me, squeeze my hand." Both Jack and she waited, not breathing, until she smiled and nodded at Jack. "It's good."

"Daniel, sweetie, you've been asleep for a long time." She glanced at her watch. "For five days. You're going to be very weak so I'm going to leave the tube in tonight still. Okay?" Another weak squeeze to her hand, causing her to smile over at O'Neill. "I'm going to take a little bit of blood, and we'll run some quick tests then you can sleep again, if you need to.

Retrieving a needle with a vial, she deftly found a vein and pulled enough blood for the tests she wanted to run. Daniel watched her through sleepy eyes and Jack watched Daniel. Before she left she smiled at the Colonel. "He's not out of the woods yet, but this is very good. I'm pleased he's so alert."

Jack leaned over the bed so Daniel could see him. "Hear that? You're doing good, Danny. Just hang in there and get better." The tired blue eyes closed but the hand that held his didn't release its grip. Jack held on to it as he settled back into his chair. He wasn't going anywhere the rest of the night. Daniel would be well guarded.

It was early morning at the SGC when Major General George Hammond signed in and passed through the security checkpoint at Cheyenne Mountain.

General Hammond was not a happy man. This fight between O'Neill and Ross had made matters worse rather than better. Not that he didn't understand Jack's reaction, O'Neill had started out as a father figure of sorts to the lost and bedraggled archeologist but the bond had rapidly matured into that of a close and binding friendship. Then, after last year's fiasco of he and Samantha Carter being stolen by slave traders, Jack's normal leadership instincts had been exacerbated into high vigilance and defense mode. That he and his team had been able to locate and rescue Jackson had been one for the books. The two men were practically inseparable. He hadn't seen a friendship so close in many a year.

And to make it worse, he felt pretty much the same way about the brave, upstanding young man that he had come to respect and admire. It made it hard to be open-minded about Major Ross, a man whose own teammates admitted that he had been neglectful in leaving the Archeologist on his own in an unknown situation that had proven to be dangerous to the young man. Not to mention that he'd practically hijacked the archeologist in the first place, bypassing safety protocols and flaunting regulations in the process, putting him doubly at risk. And now this mess.

Well, he sure as hell wouldn't take away the support that O'Neill gave his friend because of a stupid altercation that he wasn't so sure wasn't brought on by Ross. As he told the young officer, if Jack O'Neill had wanted him dead it would have happened so fast nobody would have even stood a chance at stopping it. As it was, Ross had gotten off lightly in Hammond's opinion. Well, today he'd call in some of the witnesses and see what had really happened in the gym and hopefully push it all back under the corner of the SGC carpet that had Jack O'Neill's name on it.

It was before 0700, so he thought he go to the infirmary to check on Doctpr Jackson himself. This was one of the worst patches the team had been through. Well, other than the times the boy had actually died or been thought dead. Which were more times than George could count on one hand. Some times it seemed like Jackson was just fated to be the whipping boy of the universe. Well, either him or O'Neill.

Hammond entered the ICU and saw O'Neill slumped over on Jackson's bed, his head and shoulders resting on the mattress next to his friend, sound asleep. Hammond shook his head. Once again the Colonel hadn't gone home to a bed, but had stayed here next to his fallen friend, no doubt catching a nap on a couch somewhere during his lunch hour or after his duty shift, then coming here to stay through the night. No wonder the man was stretched thin.

Doctpr Fraiser came up behind the General and laid a hand on his arm. The two left the small room for her office. She smiled at him. "Daniel regained consciousness last night for a short while."

"Well, that is good news." Hammond stated with a smile. "How's that affect your prognosis?"

She poured them both a cup of coffee. "Of course he couldn't talk with the breathing tube in place, but he was able to track my movements and respond to verbal stimulus by squeezing my hand." She handed a cup to the general and took a sip from hers. "Colonel O'Neill was with him. In fact he's the one who noticed it and called me back in."

"Once again the excessive attention paid off." Hammond remarked to the Doctor and himself.

"Yes, it did." Major Carter's presence staved off a bad seizure earlier and now the Colonel's presence alerted us to a change in his condition." She shook her head. "I'm thinking about doing a paper on round the clock monitoring for newly affected comatose patients. It's labor intensive but may prove useful in some cases." She grimaced. "The O'Neill Theory of Medicine."

Hammond nodded. "If it works Doctor, don't fix it." He paused a moment in thought, then reached over to her telephone. After saying a few words to the right people, he waited until a young airman arrived in the clinic. Hammond took the key and thanked the young man for his efforts.

Just about then, Teal'c showed up at the door ready for his shift. He nodded to Hammond and Fraiser. "Good Morning, General Hammond and Doctor Fraiser."

"Good Morning Teal'c." Hammond smiled at the big man. "Here early I see."

"Yes. How did Danieljackson fare the night?"

"Well, Doctpr Fraiser has some good news for you. I'll go and get Jack while you two talk."

The Warrior looked to Fraiser and Hammond went into the small IC unit. He laid a hand on O'Neill's shoulder. "Jack, Wake up, son. Your relief's here."

The Colonel jerked awake, fully and painfully alert. He rubbed his aching neck and blinked up at the General. "Yes, sir. I'm...I'm only resting my eyes..."

Hammond held back a chuckle. "I see that son." As O'Neill had stood up and stretched, the General handed him a key. O'Neill looked at it in confusion. "Now, I'm going to give you a direct order and I don't want any argument from you. This is a key to a VIP suite. I want you to go get some breakfast, go to the room, take a hot shower and then sleep until you wake up." O'Neill stared dully at the key. "Do you understand me, Colonel?"

O'Neill had the grace to grin sheepishly at his Commanding Officer. "Yes, Sir."

"No arguments?"

"No sir. None. Thank you."

"Very well, and if you or our boy need anything, well, just ask." Hammond smiled back, a twinkle in his eye. "Now go on. Teal'c here for his turn on Daniel-watch."

"Thanks, again, Sir."

"No thanks necessary. We need him, and SG1 back to normal. And if this is how I get it, then so be it. Now, git. I've got work to do today." With that General Hammond patted him on the shoulder and left the infirmary.

After Teal'c had been fully briefed on the events of the evening, O'Neill went in search of Carter. He found her in her office/lab and the two of them went on to breakfast.

Teal'c had eschewed the use of the chair and was seated cross-legged on the floor in a light meditative trance, alert for any changes in the patient's demeanor. Danieljackson had been in a deep sleep since he had arrived this morning and Doctorfraiser had briefed him to be aware of his condition. O'Neill had appeared quite exhausted by the events of the previous day and he was pleased to able to assist his friends in this manner.

He became aware that he was being watched and he arose to check on Danieljackson. The young man was awake and watching him from the bed, but he also realized that his brother- in-arms was trying to communicate something to him. The young man seemed uncomfortable, and when he touched him, his body temperature seemed very high. Teal'c immediately went to the doorway of the room. "Doctorfraiser."

Sheryl Johnson, the tall red-haired duty nurse at the desk immediately came to his call. "Yes, Mr. Teal'c?"

"Please tell Doctorfraiser that Danieljackson has a fever and is apparently in some distress. I fear this may lead to another unfortunate episode." When she seemed unimpressed by his diagnosis, he added. "I need her to come here immediately." He returned to his friend's bedside and grasped the younger man's hand in reassurance.

Frowning at the thought of disturbing her boss, the woman turned to go but with some hesitation. Teal'c turned and called in a loud voice. "I need her NOW." With this impetus, she left quickly.

Within minutes, Janet Fraiser appeared. "What's wrong, Teal'c?"

The big man indicated the bed. "Danieljackson appears to be uncomfortable. I believe his fever has returned." Fraiser did a quick exam and discovered that his temp had indeed spiked upward to 103. Daniel's eyes were open but unlike earlier, he seemed unable to focus.

"I was afraid of this." She murmured. "Please, God, don't let this happen again." She turned to the nurse. "Sheryl, go into the emergency room, prepare the large tub and fill it with cold water and get Clark. Hurry up!" When Clark, the male orderly on duty, brought the gurney from the emergency room, Fraiser started to disconnect all the instrumentation and tubes from her patient, lastly she removed the breathing tube. Then Fraiser, Teal'c, and the corpsman moved the semi-conscious man onto the gurney.

"What are we doing?" Teal'c asked as Fraiser handed him the portable re-breather to carry.

"We've got to get his fever down." She explained as they moved them through the infirmary wardroom. "I've tried chemical means and it didn't work. So, now we're going to do it the old fashioned way like my Grandma used to."

Colonel O'Neill and Major Carter returned to the clinic. They had finished breakfast and the two had swung back by on their way to her lab and his VIP suite for a final check on their teammate. "What's going on, Doc?" O'Neill came to the side of the gurney and tracked along with them.

"Colonel, I don't have time for this right now." Fraiser snapped at him as he accidentally got in her way trying to look at Daniel. "Come over here and help, or get the hell of my way!"

"What can I do?" He asked following their path, concerned by her sharp attitude.

Once in the Emergency Room, Fraiser guided the now unresponsive patient to the vat of cold water. The tub was actually a small whirlpool for therapy patients, not used much because of the nature of the work at the SGC, but it was now filled with cold tap water and would certainly do the job she wanted. Her plan was to get Jackson into the cooling liquid and drop his body temperature to a more viable level before he suffered anymore febrile seizures.

"Here Clark, Colonel give me a hand. Teal'c, get around to his shoulders, Colonel, this side, here. Now on my word, we're going to lift him into the water. Teal'c, I need you to hold onto him and support his head. He may move around and he doesn't need a head injury right now." The big man nodded and got into position to receive his teammate.

The four of them grasped the bottom sheet and lifted Jackson bodily into the cold water. Daniel gasped and arched up away from the liquid that was shockingly cold to his overheated body. Good as his word, Teal'c grasped his friend's shoulders and supported his head, and neck, while the semi-conscious man thrashed in rebellion to their crude treatment.

Janet was trying to hold Daniel by his arms, "Colonel, get up here and talk to him. Try to keep him still."

Jack moved up to Daniel's side and assisted Clark, holding his flailing arms firmly. "Daniel, Danny. Hold still! Daniel, I've got you! Calm down!" Jackson seemed to respond to his voice, lying more quietly but still shaking.

"Sheryl, go to the ice machine and get me a bucket full, now!" Fraiser snapped. When the nurse returned with the container, Janet dumped the ice in the tub at the foot end. Jackson again lurched against Clark, O'Neill and Teal'c restraint.

"What the hell are we doing?" O'Neill demanded of Fraiser, looking as frightened as she'd ever seen him, while still struggling to hold Daniel still in the cold liquid.

"He was about to seize again. Fever spiked. Had to get his temp down." Fraiser snapped as she monitored her patient's temperature and condition. "Now, shut up and let me think!" She laid her hand on Daniel's forehead. It was working; his body temperature was definitely dropping due to the immersion. But this constant fever was inexplicable; there was something more going on here than an asthma attack and an allergic reaction. What the hell was she missing?

After a few more long minutes, she checked his temperature again and nodded at the men. "Okay, that's done it for now. Let's get him out of there and back to bed. Following her instructions, all four of them grasped the wet sheet's edges and lifted the now shaking Daniel back onto the gurney, managing to pull the wet material out from under him at the same time. Sheryl appeared with a blanket and covered the chilled patient. Janet reached under the cover and peeled the soaked hospital gown off of him. She started rubbing the blanket over him trying to get the circulation going again. Finally, Fraiser nodded and they guided the table and it's burden back to the ICU.

Chapter 5

General Hammond and Major Carter were waiting for them at the door to the ICU. "What the hell happened?" Hammond demanded. Sam must have called him while they were busy.

"His temp went up." She explained shortly. "We got it down."

"The old fashioned way." Teal'c added innocently.

Hammond understood the phrase and grimaced. "And now?"

"It worked." Was all she said. She knew why they were there; she knew why what she did worked. She didn't know why it kept happening. There was more to this and she wasn't seeing it and it infuriated her. Frasier kept thinking as they eased the patient back into his hospital bed. After they got him settled, she shooed everyone out...everyone but O'Neill. He wouldn't shoo and she understood why.

"Doc, what's going on? This can't be normal." He demanded from across Daniel's bed. Daniel was semi-conscious again, his limp hand being held firmly by O'Neill.

Fraiser looked up at him, meeting his eyes. "You're right. It's not." She thought a moment, moved up to Daniel's head and started examining him again, this time going over his skin's surface inch by inch starting at the crown of his head and working downward, pushing the blanket off as she went.

"What are you looking for?" O'Neill demanded.

"I don't know, but there's more going on here and I'm missing it." She didn't even look up. "I'm going to find it."

Jack O'Neill watched as Daniel's nude body was uncovered and put through a complete visual and hands on assessment. Fraiser was gentle but through. She quickly passed her hands down his neck, across the broad chest and down the rest of his torso. After completely checking his front, she looked at Jack. "Help me roll him over on to his side." He did so with a questioning expression, carefully balancing and supporting his lover's lax form. When they had Daniel lying in the recovery position on his left side, the doctor started at the nape of his neck and went down his back.

"What are you looking for?" Jack repeated as he held Daniel's quiescent form.

"Something unusual, something different, something I missed." She muttered to herself as much as to him. "This fever isn't normal. I'm looking for something...out of the ordinary... maybe a bite...or a sting." She paused on his right shoulder and called his attention to it. "Colonel, Have you ever seen this mark on Daniel before?" She pointed to a small flaw in the skin above and beside his right scapula. It was a round lump approximately three inches across and raised about a quarter of an inch, resembling a slightly discolored pimple or a raised scar.

Jack frowned. "No, I don't recall it, but.." He struggled to think back. "No, I don't think so. Why? What is it?"

"I don't remember it from his last physical either." She bent to examine it closer. "I want to roll him onto his front." She and Jack eased Daniel over, careful that he not get too close to the edge. Danny moaned slightly in his less than conscious state. Fraiser palpated the area and frowned. "There's a knot under it, like a cyst or an abscess." She left the bedside and went to the doorway. "Clark." The corpsman appeared again from the wardroom. "Get me...a small scalpel, a kidney tray, a syringe of local anesthetic, some wound disinfectant, sterile gauze, some clean gloves and some masks. Then come in and help me."

The medic nodded and disappeared, She turned and came back over to where Jack stood with his hand on his lover's other shoulder. Jack had pulled the sheet up over Daniel's hips, covering his nudity. "You should leave."

"Why?" He looked at her with trepidation. "What are you going to do?"

"I'm going to see what that is." She replied indicating the area of concern.

"What do you think it is?" He demanded.

"I think it's a pocket of infection and that it may be the cause of these fevers." She looked up at him. "and I think you should leave now." She repeated.

"Why?" He demanded.

"Colonel, Jack, I'm going to lance this and try to drain it. It's going be messy." She looked at him with a ruthless expression.

"Look Doc. I've seen gun shots and staff weapon wounds before."

"Yes, but you've never seen me be the one doing the wounding, and it is going to be nasty." He didn't budge and she looked at him hard. "Okay, Jack, listen to me," she glanced after Clark, but he was not anywhere near to be able to hear her. "Jack, I know what's between you two, and I'm here to tell you, I don't care one way or another; but, I swear, if you pass out on me, I'll kick you out of the way and you're going to lay there until I'm done!"

"I understand." O'Neill said quietly, standing his ground. "Go on and do what you need to do. I'm not leaving."

Clark had entered the room with the requested items. Fraiser handed O'Neill a mask and gloves which he obediently put on. "Well then," she looked up at him, "just stay there and hold him steady." Jack nodded and put one hand on Daniel's near shoulder and one on the back of his neck.

The medic stood by Doctor Fraiser as she swabbed the affected shoulder area with the alcohol disinfectant then injected the local anesthetic close to the lump. Taking the sharp scalpel, she made a small incision into the discolored area, opening the 'entry site'. A dark brown, bloody discharge began to drain out, slowly at first, then more quickly when she enlarged the incision again and put pressure on the raised area. After a significant amount of fluid had drained out, a mass of bloody, solid material was extruded. This left an open abscess of an area about two inches deep and three inches wide.

O'Neill had watched the doctor's small strong hands during the operation. They were steady and efficient. While he had no inclination to pass out at the sight of the operation, the sight and smell of the material had been nauseating. Daniel, blessedly unconscious, lay quietly until almost the end when he shifted and moaned under Jack's hands. "Easy, big guy. Almost done." He muttered, bending over close to the younger man, trying to sound comforting. "Getting you fixed up here. Steady."

After draining the abscess, the doctor finished by flushing it thoroughly with a saline solution and packing the opening with more sterile gauze. She looked up finally, and O'Neill could tell she was smiling by her eyes crinkling.

"There, I think that's done it, at last." She said softly to O'Neill. "How's our patient?"

"I think he's out again." Jack admitted. "What the hell was that?"

Janet placed a sterile pad over the wound and taped it securely in place. "It appears to be some sort of sting or bite that probably occurred while he was on the planet. It looks very much like an insect or arachnid, like an... ohm, a Brown Recluse spider here on earth would cause. We'll have to do some tests to identify the type of poison so that we can use the proper antibiotic." She looked down at her unconscious patient and gently stroked the back of his neck. "Daniel, I'm so sorry, sweetheart.." she murmured apologetically. She looked up at Jack. "I was so worried about his allergies and apparent asthma attack; I didn't look far enough."

"Do you think that's what caused all of this?" O'Neill asked hopefully.

"No, not all of it. I think it was a combination of the bite's venom and his allergies." After they repositioned the patient on to his back, she nodded her thanks to the orderly. She then instructed him to take the mass for a biopsy. Clark had finished cleaning up the soiled equipment and left the room headed for the lab. "But I'd say it was definitely the cause of the fever. Now that this has been taken care of, he should start to respond normally to regular treatments." She gently stroked the neck of the sleeping man. "I can't believe I didn't catch it."

"Hey, you did good." O'Neill assured her. "You figured it out."

"Yea, finally." She sighed regretfully.

"Hindsight is always twenty-twenty, Doc. He wouldn't have been there in the first place if Ross hadn't hijacked him. And that isn't going to happen again either, I guarantee it."

"Let me get him hooked up to his IV's again then we'll let him rest for a while." She indicated the door. "I think I have some explaining to do to our 'boss'." She looked at him critically. "And I think you have some sleep to catch up on." She nodded to the door. "I'll be out in a minute."

Jack left the room to allow Daniel some privacy while the Doc. attached the tubes and catheter again. He approached the rest of the team where they stood waiting.

General Hammond was the first to speak. "What's happened, Jack?" He asked concernedly.

"Well, the Doc found something else that she thinks might have been causing some of the problems." He took a deep breath. "It looks like he'd been stung by a poisoned insect of some kind. She located a big honking abscess and lanced it. Some god-awful stuff came out." Jack grimaced. "Hopefully, this will stop these fevers he's been having."

Janet Fraiser came out of the room and smiled tiredly at the group. Teal'c looked to her and she nodded. The Warrior entered the ICU to resume his sentry watch on their now-sleeping comrade.

"Doctor." Hammond nodded. "Do you think everything's under control now?"

She nodded. "I'm pretty sure we've found the cause of the infection and excised it. We have to identify the venom and start the proper protocols." Janet looked upset. "I can't believe I missed it the first time. That was so stupid of me."

Jack shook his head. "Doc, take it easy on yourself, okay."

Hammond watched the exchange silently. He knew Fraiser had done everything she could when Jackson had come in several days earlier. He also knew that she blamed herself for missing something she had not known to look for. He stayed silent. There was nothing he could say that would make a difference in her feelings of failure or of success. It was just the way these people of his were, and he wouldn't have them any other way.

Major General Hammond looked closely at his Second in Command. "Jack, did you ever make it to your room?"

O'Neill had the grace to look embarrassed. "Uh, well, no, actually." He started to explain. "Carter and I made it to breakfast, but we came back by to check on Daniel one last time and well..." He shrugged and gestured with his hands. "Things started happening again." He made a slight attempt at a grin.

Hammond shook his head. "Go on now. Go. No arguments. I don't want to see you again during this duty day." He looked at his watch. It was 0930. "Now, Colonel. I dare say you can trust Doctor Jackson not to go running off in the next eight hours or so. This time, go to bed!"

O'Neill ducked his head and glanced back into the IC Unit. He was tired. He had hit the wall three hours ago but had continued on because Daniel needed him and he needed to be there. But the General was right; he was going into serious lag time. So he smiled agreeably, nodded politely and found his way to VIP suite # 8. There he hit the shower then the bed.

1800 hours, eight hours later, a brand new Jack O'Neill was headed for the Commissary. Amazing what eight straight hours of sleep would do for a man. He figured he'd grab a hot meal and head back up to the Infirmary to check on his wayward archeologist.

As he got in line and looked over the dining room, he saw the two women in his life sitting together. When Carter and Fraiser saw him coming their way with a loaded tray, Carter happily waived him over.

As he sat down, Fraiser inspected his tray for its contents. "Very good, Colonel." She nodded. "All five food groups."

He picked up the big cup of coffee. "Six." He commented. "I would have gotten seven, but Carter got the last piece of chocolate cake."

"Coffee and chocolate are Not food groups." Fraiser fussed happily at him.

"Try to tell that to Daniel. He thinks they're the only food groups and sugar and walnuts are additives." Carter put in, light heartedly defending her men to the Doctor.

"How is Daniel?" O'Neill asked between mouthfuls of beef tips and rice pilaf. "I assume that he's doing okay, seeing as you're both down here."

Janet smiled happily in satisfaction. "Sleeping like a baby, his fever is completely gone."

"So whatever that bite was, that was the problem?" Sam looked to Janet.

Fraiser nodded. "Well, sort of. I got the results back from the lab on that. It seems it was a little more than a poisoned bite. The tissue in it was actually a larval form of the creature that bit him."

Jack put his last bite of meat back down on his plate and made a face. "Ewwwweh, that was too much information for the dinner table."

Carter kept on going. "So it was actually incubating in the wound."

O'Neill looked at them both. "In his back? Please, Do Not Tell Daniel that little piece of news, or he'll go back into a coma for certain."

"But Colonel, it's a fascinating...." Carter started.

"Ah ah ah, I don't care; this is 'our' Daniel we're talking about here. If you have to tell him wait awhile, say another four years or so." He turned back to Fraiser. "So...?"

"So, he's sleeping and breathing on his own now." She picked up a cup of coffee. "I'd say we're home free."

"Good." O'Neill groused. "No more loaning out our Archeologist." He glanced over at Carter. "He stays with us."

Carter nodded knowingly. "Just explain to him that he can't be uh, borrowed anymore without one of our signatures on the paperwork."

Jack humphed and nodded into his cup of coffee.

"Excuse me," Master Sergeant McMasters had come over to their table and was looking a little embarrassed to be there. "Did I hear you say Doctor Jackson was doing better?"

O'Neill pointed to a chair. "Yeah, finally. Doctor Fraiser figured out what was causing his problems, and took care of it."

McMasters obediently sat down. "You mean it wasn't his asthma?"

Janet nodded. "Doctor Jackson doesn't normally have symptomatic Asthma, only allergies. His illness was caused by the attack of an poisonous insect." She explained simply.

"In other words," Jack interjected. "If he hadn't been left alone, none of this would or could have happened. Just because there isn't any large carnivores or unfriendly natives around doesn't mean a world is safe. It just means you don't know what the danger is."

She shook her head. "All I can say is, I'm sorry."

Carter looked at her over her coffee cup. "You weren't the one in charge. It wasn't your decision." She smiled at the older woman. "If you hadn't checked on him when you did, well, things might have turned out very differently."

O'Neill stood up to go. "Give him a day or two, then come up and visit him. Daniel will be happy to see you." The NCO smiled at them all and left the table. Jack looked at Janet forcefully. "I'm going up now and relieve Teal'c."

"Well, I guess I'll go back to that experiment I've been working on." Carter knew better than to try to supplant her CO at Daniel's bedside. "I'll be up later, Sir."

Janet just smiled at both of them. It was the safest thing to do.

O'Neill arrived at the ICU and Teal'c arose from his chair. "He is asleep, O'Neill. I am please to report that his fever has broken and he is resting comfortably."

Jack nodded, satisfied. "I saw Carter and the Doc in the Commissary. So, I guess that Thing was the whole problem."

"Indeed," The big man glanced at Daniel's sleeping form. "It appears so. The Doctor was very perceptive in determining the cause of Danieljackson's difficulty."

O'Neill nodded as he took over the chair. "Yeah, you'd think she'd done it to him on purpose as guilty as she feels for missing it the first time."

"We must convince her otherwise." The big man nodded. "It was probably not readily obvious when he was brought in. I did not see it."

"I think it's going to take Danny here to give her absolution." Jack looked over at the still pale sleeping figure. "This was all Ross's fault..."

"Indeed. You are going to..."

"I'm going to insure this doesn't happen again to anyone else...on or off his team." O'Neill assured him. "Now, you go on and get some sleep. Thanks for staying today." Teal'c bowed his head and left.

After he left, O'Neill leaned over his sleeping friend and touched his forehead, feeling his temperature. As advertised, it was normal warm. At Jack's touch, Daniel opened his eyes and looked confusedly at the Colonel. The Colonel smiled at him. "Hey, there love. Back with us?" Daniel blinked and tried to speak. Jack shushed him. "You're in the infirmary. You're okay now. Just take it easy." The blue eyes drifted shut. Jack stroked his forehead and sat back down in the chair.

"Jack...wha hapned?" Daniel's voice was sleepy, his precise voice slurred.

"You were hurt off world with SG-8. They brought you home. You're in the clinic. You're going to be all right now."

Daniel nodded sleepily. " 'kay."

O'Neill looked up to see Fraiser had returned to the clinic. He waived at her and she entered the ICU. Jack indicated the bed. "He's awake."

The Doctor came in and up to the bed. "Hey." She touched his forehead briefly to assure herself there was no more fever.

Daniel opened his eyes and gave her a small weak smile. "Hey."

She picked up a hand and started with the pulse, examined his fingernails for circulation, glanced at the monitors for other readings. Then she pulled out her penlight and checked both eyes for dilation. "Do you hurt anywhere?"

He nodded. "Sore, all over."

She nodded in agreement. "That's to be expected. Any place special hurt worse than others." At the slight negative shake of his head, she moved to the end of the bed, uncovered his feet and used the butt end of the penlight to run along the bottom of his left foot. "Can you feel that?"

He twitched and flexed his toes. "Tickles."

She smiled at him and examined the other foot. He twitched again. "Very good." She glanced at O'Neill. "Good nerve response." She stepped back. "Daniel, I need you to roll over. Can you do that?"

Daniel nodded, bit his lip and made the effort. Jack took his shoulder and hip in gentle hands to help him roll over. "Wham I sore? Was I ina fight?" He asked Jack's belt buckle.

Jack paused, glanced at the Doctor, then replied. "Only with yourself, Danny boy."

Janet made a face at him. "You had a couple of seizures. That's why." After the patient was comfortable in a face-down position, Fraiser pulled the dressing off and started to palpate around the wound site. "Does this hurt?"

"No. I cant feel wha yor doin." He tried to turn his head to see.

"So it's still numb here?" She asked as she explored the affected area.

"Just lay there, Daniel." Jack soothed, keeping his hands on his friend's shoulders. "Just relax."

Jackson took them at their word, until the Doctor began to remove the packing from his wound. He glimpsed the bloody gauze as she dropped it into a basin. "What's that?"

"Just the dressing." Fraiser replied absently, concentrating on her work.

"Dressing?" Daniel was becoming more alert. "Wha dressing... thought I was sick?"

"You were sick." Jack replied evenly. "But you were hurt too. Just relax and stay quiet." He watched the Doctor as she finished removing the soiled gauze and began her examination of the lesion. His expression stayed the same, neutral, hardened against his friend's injury.

"Jack, what happened?" Daniel knew that look and wanted information.

Fraiser nodded at O'Neill who answered him. "Danny, you were bitten or stung by something on the planet. It left a wound on your back. It caused you to have fever, and that made you have the seizures. But the Doc has got you fixed up now, and you just have to heal. Okay?" He tried to leave it at that.

Doctor Fraiser had repacked the wound and was retaping the gauze back onto his back. "Daniel, when we opened the wound to treat it, we found that it had a larva in it. We remo...."

At Janet's words the weakened, sick man managed to twist around to look at the doctor in spite of Jack's best efforts to hold him and faced her, pale faced and panic stricken. "What did you say?" He rasped out.

Fraiser continued on in spite of O'Neill's head-shaking protests. "We found a larval form of whatever..."

O'Neill had kept his hands protectively on Daniel's shoulders and he felt the convulsions begin even before they erupted. If he hadn't been holding him, Daniel would have fallen off of the bed by the violence of his reaction as he started to vomit. Jack wrapped his arms protectively around Daniel's chest, keeping him on the bed and supporting his weight with his own body.

After Daniel had thrown up what little liquid he had in his stomach into the container that the Doctor grabbed at first sign of problems, the dry heaves continued for several more minutes. After he'd emptied his stomach he finally lay panting, back against Jack, who murmured soothingly into his lover's hair. He held him there until the spasms stopped, the well-loved body ceased vibrating in revulsion and exhaustion. O'Neill continued to speak soothingly to Daniel until the tremors passed and he finally relaxed. Jack shifted his weight and allowed Daniel to collapse back into the bed. Daniel looked up at Jack who bent down to his level and spoke quietly in Jackson's ear as the other man recovered from his shock, fatigue and pain.

"Easy, Danny. It's gone. She got it all. It's gone. I promise. It's gone." He managed to glare at the Doctor while murmuring to the drained man in his arms.

"Swear...Jack, pleze...swear." Daniel managed to gasp out to the one he trusted.

"I swear, Danny, it's gone. No more, really gone." Finally after a few minutes, Daniel allowed O'Neill to straighten up from the bed, but kept a death grip on his hand. Jack came around to where Daniel could see him easily and looked him squarely in the eyes. "I saw her take it out. It's gone." Then he glared at the confused Fraiser over Daniel's head.

After they got Daniel relaxed and settled back on the bed. Jack glared at Fraiser. "You had to tell him, didn't you." He said angrily at the Doctor. "You had to say it. Why? Didn't you know what it would do to him?"

Doctor Fraiser was still shocked at the violent reaction of her patient. "No, I didn't. I swear I had no idea...Why? Why is he...?"

O'Neill gazed at his young friend, lying exhausted, almost asleep on the hospital bed. "Of all the things he hates and fears, it's the goa'uld...and their larva. Being taken like Sha'uri and Kowalski." He looked up at her stricken face.

"But this wasn't...."

"I know that..." He looked back down at Daniel's exhausted form. "But with Daiel, it's different. With me, it's only my worst fear." Jack shook his head. "But with him, well, it's a horror."

"That's why you didn't want me to say anything." She whispered. "I'm sorry, I didn't understand."

"Janet," Daniel gasped, seeing the doctoy obviously concerned and upset. "Jant, not yer faut. Coudn kno. Soree."

The Doctor came close to her patient and laid her hand on his shoulder. "No, Daniel. I'm the one who's sorry. I didn't understand. I promise it's all gone now. The wound is clean and you'll heal normally."

Daniel managed to nod his head. "I unnerstan." He looked at Jack and closed his eyes.

Fraiser started to work on the tubing from the IVs. Due to Jack's holding onto Daniel, only one of them had been pulled out, but the rest were twisted and tangled. She looked at the Colonel. "I'll get these straight, why don't you go and get a cup of coffee. I'll stay until you get back."

O'Neill nodded and released Daniel's hand, patting it in reassurance. before he left the room. He knew that Fraiser needed some time alone with her patient to settle herself down after that episode. The Colonel went over to the coffeepot that served the Medical staff and poured a cup for himself. He shook his head when he noticed someone had written his name on a cup and left it out in front for him to find. Well, he was certainly here often enough...and today, he deserved it.

Chapter 6

The next morning, Colonel O'Neill was waiting in the outer office area of Major General Hammond's office. He didn't want to be here, he'd rather have been in the infirmary with Daniel and Teal'c. He'd have rather of been anywhere other than here. General Hammond had interviewed several people who had been in the Gymnasium during his altercation with Ross. O'Neill knew he was guilty of striking another officer. Even though he hadn't been the instigator, it had been a loss of control that could have been potentially dangerous. He was well aware that he could have seriously injured the younger man if he'd gone any further. He only had Ferretti and Teal'c to thank for stopping him in time.

Sitting across the room looking equally embarrassed and contrite was Major Ross. He was sporting a tape across his nose to support the broken cartilage and a colorful black eye. The younger man was also waiting to see the General. He couldn't meet O'Neill's eyes and O'Neill had no reason to speak him at this time either. Finally, the inner door opened and Ferretti exited the General's office looking red faced and very much like a boy leaving the principal's office. It seemed that Hammond's investigation had revealed that he had made first contact in the altercation. He nodded to Jack on his way out, studiously ignoring the younger Major.

Hammond's secretary then indicated Major Ross should go in. The younger man entered and the door closed behind him. After about fifteen minutes, another contrite, red-faced junior officer exited the office and proceeded out the outer door.

Several minutes later, O'Neill's turn was announced. Jack had been in trouble numerous times in his career. He dreaded this one more than most because of his respect for the officer that sat behind the desk. Hammond watched him as he entered the room and came to attention centered in front of his desk. O'Neill then saluted and made his reporting statement. "Sir, Colonel Jonathan O'Neill reporting as ordered."

Hammond frowned at him and looked down at the paperwork in front of him. "Colonel Jonathan O'Neill. You have been charged with physical assault on a junior officer. You have confessed to this act and so have admitted your guilt. Upon investigation it was discovered that while you did not initiate the disturbance, you did overreact to comments that were made about yourself and one of your subordinates. This assault resulted in physical injury to your oponent that constituted physical contact and bodily harm of facial bruising and a broken nose. Do you have anything to add to this that would have any bearing on this finding?

"No, sir."

"Very well, I have decided that as you'll receive no actual punishment for this action. I have discovered that you neither initiated contact nor did you strike the first blow. However, I must remind you that this behavior is not only unacceptable from an officer of your rank and duty but with your knowledge and training in self-defense, it could have easily resulted in the death or incapacitation of Major Ross. If I were not aware of the special circumstances surrounding your actions a more severe penalty would have been proscribed. Do you understand this Colonel O'Neill?

"Yes, sir."

"Do you have any questions or comments about my findings?"

"No, sir."

"Very well, Colonel." He then frowned at his Second-In-Command.

"At ease, Colonel."

O'Neill came to the position of At Ease.

"Jack, I know that you do understand the gravity of what occurred."

The Colonel nodded. "Yes, Sir. I also know that you could have done a lot worse."

"I know that you've been under a lot of stress lately, but understand, I don't ever want to have anything like this happen again."

Jack looked down at the older man. "Yes, Sir."

"As my vice-commander, you have the right to know that I gave Major Ferretti a Letter of Reprimand for starting the fight. Major Ross received a Letter Of Reprimand also for his failure to receive permission from yourself or Major Carter to take Doctor Jackson off world. Jack, he didn't mean for Doctor Jackson to be injured. He didn't send him into a combat situation. He was careless, yes, but he didn't do it on purpose." Hammond shook his head. "I'm not sure that Doctor Jackson wasn't just as responsible. He knows how to behave off planet."

O'Neill had to agreed with Hammond there. Daniel had worked past dinner call. Ross had come to get him but the archeologist had begged off saying he would come in soon. That he hadn't was his own decision. Jack would have insisted and made him come in. The Major had only believed the recalcitrant civilian, not knowing the other man's penchant for overwork and long hours. It had nearly been the death of him.

Hammond looked up at his second in command and friend. "Jack, don't ever do anything like this again." O'Neill nodded, shamefaced. "Now, get the hell out of my office. I've got important work to do."

O'Neill nodded again. "Yes, Sir. Thank you."

The General nodded at him, O'Neill did an about face and left the room, feeling just about as embarrassed as the other two men had looked when they had left.

As he reentered the main clinic, O'Neill noticed that Major Ross had come into the infirmary and was waiting by the nurse's station for someone to notice that he was there. When O'Neill arrived, the Major stood up and looked at him expectantly.

"Was there something you wanted Ross? You do know I'm not supposed to be around you right now." Jack said evenly to the other officer.

"I know Sir." The junior officer looked very uncomfortable and very young. "Colonel O'Neill, I wanted to apologize to you and to Doctor Jackson." He shifted his feet and continued. "I guess I didn't understand what had happened, what I did wrong." He shrugged.

Jack looked at him suspiciously. "Why now? Why all of a sudden this great light bulb going off in your head?"

"Well," Ross started. ""Well, I know now what happened to him was my fault. Several people have 'explained' it to me, not the least being General Hammond." He admitted ruefully. "I guess first of all I didn't understand why what I did was so wrong. Why it's so important to be so insistent with camp security. That planet was supposedly safe. Secondly, I didn't know that this Doctor Jackson was the Doctor Jackson. That he was the one who opened the Stargate. I thought he was a regular DOD who had been selected and trained for this job."

Jack shook his head. "No Ross, nobody can be trained for this. Every time we go off world through the stargate it's a new experience. It could be a cakewalk or a deathtrap." He motioned the man to sit down in one of the chairs that lined the infirmary wall. He pulled another one out so he could face the young officer. "Daniel and I found out a long time ago that there's no guarantee of anything out there. That's why our rules here are so stringent, why we watch each other's six so closely. And as far as being selected, probably neither one of us would be picked for this job today." He smiled down at the floor. "I'm too old and Daniel, well; he's too Daniel."

"Well, I'm not sure what that means, Sir, but what happened to him, well, it could have happened to anybody. I know that now. It was my fault for not checking on him more closely. I just assumed that he would follow all protocols." Ross looked down at his hands. "And I guess he assumed that I would follow mine."

"It just proves that to assume can make an ass out of you and me." Jack chuckled at the man's expression over his choice of words. "Never assume anything on a mission on or off planet. Believe me, when I tell you I've learned it the hard way, all of my team has." Jack paused and shook his head. "Daniel though, he's the original guy with the sign on his back that says 'kick me'. If something can happen, it will happen to him."

"That's why you're so protective of him?" Ross asked.

O'Neill thought about it and leaned back in his chair, "I'm protective of all my team. I can't it's Daniel's turn, or Carter's turn or Teal'cs. It may turn out to be mine, and they'll be the ones that pull my sorry ass out of the fire with some magic trick of theirs." He changed the direction of the conversation. "It's also why you never take shortcuts with safety or security on missions. Like changing orders at the last minute, or skipping the medical exams, 'cause you never know what's gonna jump out of the bushes and bite you in the butt."

"Like Jackson's allergies?"

"Yes and no. I know about them and factor them into the plans. But it could be a stinking bug that no one's ever seen or heard of that bites one of your team, or the local equivalent of a witch doctor gives you something in your food, or a local king turns out to be a Goa'uld and wants to turn you all into hosts." Jack leaned forward again to emphasis his point. "Everything out there can kill you, Ross, everything out there will hurt you and everybody wants something or someone that you've got." Jack looked up at Ross seriously. "You don't ever relax your guard, and don't ever assume anything is 'safe'. Your team, and you, will live longer and happier lives if you stay suspicious. I know. I've been killed at least three times I can think of. Daniel's going on five and I get a little crazy, since he's the main reason that I'm alive today." Jack shook his head. "Ferretti, Daniel and me, we're all that's left of the original team that went through the Stargate the first time."

"I didn't realize." Ross murmured.

"Let me give you a piece of advice, one team leader to another." Jack looked at him seriously. "Get to know your people, find out their strengths, know their weaknesses, become friends. Everyone here is the best at what they do, or they wouldn't be here. Use them, let them work, do their jobs but protect them. That's your job as team guide them to the objectives then let them do what they do best to accomplish your mission. Then bring them home safe so they can do it again. Don't think that someone else is better or more qualified because they're on SG-1 or SG-6 or SG-12. We are all as qualified as we can be. Some are greener..." Ross flushed and dropped his eyes at O'Neill's knowing look. "Some are more experienced. But you youngsters can teach us old timers some new tricks. Us old guys," O'Neill grinned to himself, "Well, we know all the old tricks, and how to cheat creatively."

Ross looked up to catch Jack smiling to himself. "You're talking as if I had a future here. After this fiasco, I think I'm just waiting for a new assignment."

"Well, that depends on you." Colonel O'Neill nodded at him. "Can you learn from your mistakes? Can you suck it up and go on to face the people that you failed...your team? We need people like you: young, bright, and willing to take on a hard dirty job. Daniel Jackson is getting better; you didn't kill anybody this time. And if I know him, and I do pretty well, he won't hold a grudge or press charges like I would have if...well, it didn't happen. Just be a lot more careful in the future."

Ross fingered the tape on his nose. "Yes sir, I got off light this time. It was a cheap price to pay for the lesson."

Fraiser had come out of the ICU and had stayed some distance away watching. "Well, I guess you two aren't going to kill each other."

Jack looked at her and shrugged his shoulders. "Hell, Doc. If I killed everybody around here that made mistakes I wouldn't have any friends left." He grinned. "Come to think of it, I wouldn't be here either." He indicated the room. "Is Daniel asleep?"

She smiled at the Colonel. "No, I think he's waiting for you."

Jack stood. "Well, can't keep a sick man waiting." He looked at the Major. "Do you want to say hi?"

Ross looked surprised at the question. "Do you think he'd want to see me? I'd like to apologize to him."

O'Neill looked at Fraiser as she stood there with her arms crossed. "Doc?"

"Okay, but just for a minute. No excitement, do you understand?"

"Yes, M'am." He raised his hand with the center three fingers up and the thumb and pinkie bent in."

"Yeah, like I believe you were EVER a boy scout." She headed back to her office, shaking her head.

"Chicago troop 369," he called after her, "specializing in hot, automotive skills..."

The two officers came into the room quietly. Daniel lay on his back with his head turned away from the door. Jack spoke in a quiet tone. "Danny, are you asleep?"

Jackson turned to look at his friend. "Jack?"

"Yea, it's still my shift." He smiled down at his friend. "I drew the short straw."

"Ouch," Was the muffled reply, but Daniel appeared more alert than he had earlier.

Major Ross approached the bed slowly. "How ya doing, Doctor Jackson?"

Daniel nodded to the young officer. "All right, Major." He responded weakly. "Everyone get back okay?"

"Yea, we're all fine." He glanced down at the floor then back to the bed. "I'm sorry about what happened to you, Doctor Jackson. Really sorry."

Daniel looked a little confused. "That's all right. It wasn't your fault I got sick."

"Sir, I should have been more...alert. And besides, it happened when you should have been...well ah, shouldn't have been working." Major Ross was looking rather determined in his assessment.

Jack nodded at Daniel who smiled weakly in acquiescence. "Apology accepted."

"And Daniel needs to learn when enough work is enough for the night." O'Neill added gently.

Daniel looked embarrassed. "Jack..."

"No buts. We've had this discussion before." O'Neill pushed it a bit more. Daniel noticed the tape on Ross's nose and frowned at O'Neill.

"I've learned my lesson;" Ross looked back at the Colonel. "It won't ever happen again."

Daniel knew that something had occurred with the young officer and it was probably due to O'Neill. "Well, next time you want a lesson, Major." Daniel said quietly watching the two military minds agree on something. "Come to one of my lectures. It'll be a lot less painful."

O'Neill pulled up a chair next to his friend's bed. "Oh, I don't know Professor, maybe for you...."

"Major Ross" Daniel asked suspicious. "What happened to your nose?"

"It was one of those painful lessons you were talking about, Doctor J."

Daniel smiled at him sleepily. "You have to watch out for those. They're no fun."

He looked over at O'Neill. "That's the truth, Doctor Jackson, but they do work."

O'Neill looked over at him. "Well, for some of us, for other's I'm not so sure." He looked back down at Daniel. "See you around Ross."

"Yes, Sir. See you around." The Major took Jack's unsubtle hint, smiled at Daniel and left on cue.

As he left the clinic, Fraiser stopped the young officer. "Get it straightened out, Major?"

"Yes, Ma'm, I certainly did." He looked at her and nodded seriously.

"Well, just remember what you've learned. You had quite a teacher there, but he's learned it in the school of hard knocks." She smiled at the officer. "You can learn it easier if you just listen to the men like him you meet in your career.

"Yes, Ma'm. I won't forget."

Daniel looked suspiciously at his friend. "Did you 'teach' him that lesson, Jack?'

The older man nodded. "Hey, Teal'c wanted to do the instructing. He came off light." He smiled slyly at Daniel. "Professor, there are many schools in this world, all of them educational.

"Yea, and you're the head of your Department." Jackson shifted in the bed. O'Neill helped him to adjust the pillows and blanket. "Never can get comfortable in these beds." Daniel groused.

"I think we're just not comfortable in general when we're in them." Jack replied as he tucked in the blanket. "Do you want to sleep now?"

"Been sleeping...all slept out." Daniel looked at him longingly. "I want to go home."

"Nothing would make me happier, to have you home in my arms, but..." He looked around for Fraiser, and saw the coast was clear. He bent and kissed his love gently on the lips. "But I don't think that's gonna happen today. If you want I'll read for a while." At Daniel's nod, Jack picked up the book and opened it to the first page. He started to read from 'The Two Towers'.

'Aragorn sped on up the hill. Every now and again he bent to the ground. Hobbits go light, and their foot prints are not easy even for a Ranger to read, but not far from the top a spring crossed the path, and in the wet earth he saw what he was seeking.' 'I read the signs aright,' he said to himself. 'Frodo ran to the hill-top. I wonder what he saw there? But he returned by the same way, and went down the hill again.'

"Jack", Daniel interrupted sleepily, being lulled by his Colonel's voice. "I didn't know you liked The Lord of the Rings."

"Never read it before. Teal'c got me started with it. Pretty good stuff." O'Neill looked over to where Daniel lay watching him. "Have you?"

"It's the first thing I ever remember my mother reading to me." The young man murmured in response. "I love this story."

"Daniel, I'm not surprised." He laid his hand on his friend's as it lay on top of the blanket on the bed. "I'm not surprised at all. Just don't tell me the ending, okay."

"It's okay, Jack." Daniel answered him pensively. "You'll tell me."

"Always, Danny. Always."


You're not a ship to carry my life You are nailed to my love in many lonely nights I've strayed from the cottages and found myself here Oh, I need your love; your love protects my fears And I wonder sometimes and I know I'm unkind But I need you to turn to when I act so blind I need you to turn to when I lose control You're my guardian angel who keeps out the cold

Did you paint your smile on when I said I knew? That my reason for living was for loving you You're relating and feeling but you're high above You're pure and you're gentle with the grace of a dove And I wonder sometimes and I know I'm unkind But I need you to turn to when I act so blind Oh, I need you to turn to when I lose control You're my guardian angel who keeps out the cold

The end