Wayward Son - Facing your Dragon by devra and JoaG

Authors' Notes: This is a Teen Daniel story. If this isn't your cup of tea, you may leave now and not say that you weren't warned.

Also, yes, it's AU, so don't rely on canon to keep you on the straight and narrow :) Characters may make cameo appearances in odd places where they didn't normally belong



"Bless you." Cassie dug into her purse and waved a tissue in front of him. "This is the last one, Daniel. After this, you're on your own."

"Thanks." He pulled his gloves off and trapped them awkwardly against his chest with his arm as he blew his nose. He added the flimsy tissue to the pile of soiled ones filling his jacket pocket. It was so cold that by the time he and Cassie had crossed the parking lot to Cheyenne Mountain's main gate, the used tissues had frozen solid.

He stopped, fumbled putting his gloves on then stumbled after Cassie, feeling his nose prickle at another impending sneeze. His entrance to Cheyenne Mountain was announced with four successive sneezes, the sounds of which echoed in the small room. He shoved his fogged up glasses on top of his head but even without them, Daniel didn't miss the security guard's glare before he turned his attention to Cassie.

Sniffling loudly didn't do much for his clogged sinuses except make his head ache more. He cleared his throat, wishing he had something, anything, to ease the growing scratchiness.

"We were announced when we drove through the gate," Cassie told the guard. With an impassive face, he handed her a pen so she could sign in. She bent over the ledger while Daniel searched for the last tissue he'd used. He pulled it out, grabbed the bunch of frozen ones and dropped them into the garbage can next to the guard's desk. When they hit the bottom with a heavy clunk, he felt the heat of embarrassment creep up his neck and flush his cheeks.

"God, is it ever cold out there," Cassie exclaimed to the guard as she handed Daniel the pen.

He quickly grabbed the pen from Cassie and with fingers clumsy from the cold, he signed in, his chicken scratches barely legible underneath Cassie's girly, flowing handwriting.

"Someone will be here in a moment to accompany you," the guard said as Daniel handed the pen back. It wasn't lost on him that the guard pushed it aside with the edge of his finger. Germs. Another sneeze rocked him back on his heels just as the elevator doors opened.

"Bless," his dad said from inside the elevator.

"Better get used to saying that, Uncle Jack," Cassie said with a smirk. "He's been sneezing non-stop since we left school."

"This is all your fault," Daniel grumbled as he let himself fall back against the elevator wall. "You gave me your germs."

"My fault?" Cassie huffed, leaning a shoulder on the wall and crossing her arms. "Who was kissing Dria after school on Monday? She was sick, too."

"Alexandria was already over her cold—"

"Kids? Mind giving me a moment to say something here?"

"Sorry, Uncle Jack." Cassie smiled as she pulled her earmuffs off and stuck them into her jacket pocket.

"Carter said she'd look at your scanner," his dad said as Daniel unbuttoned his jacket. "But we're both heading to a meeting that's starting..." He checked his watch and made an exaggerated grimace, "Five minutes ago. So if you don't mind waiting... I'm guessing you two haven't eaten yet?"

"No, we came here straight from last period—"

"Go grab a snack and Daniel, do me a favor and go see Fraiser after you've eaten."

"Why? It's just a cold."

"Yes, maybe, but I'd feel better if you get yourself checked out."

"It's a cold, Dad. I get at least one of these every fall and winter." Bad enough his head felt stuffed with cotton and that said cotton was trying to come out through his nose, but his throat was definitely hurting and he could feel the irritation starting in his chest. Cassie and Alexandria had had simple head colds but with his luck, it looked like he was getting the deluxe version. "All Janet can do is hand me a box of tissues."

The elevator doors opened and Daniel didn't wait. He stepped out into the hallway and walked to the next set of elevators. His dad nodded to the guard on duty and activated the elevator doors with his keycard. He punched the twenty-first and twenty-seventh floors.

"It's been only a few weeks since you got over the effects of the drugs—"

"I'm fine—"

"And Fraiser said your immune system could be a little vulnerable for a while—"

"Dad, come on. Half the school has the sniffles."

"Daniel, your dad's right. It won't hurt for my mom to take a look at you. Plus," she said, leaning closer, "she's got a stash of those really expensive chocolates in her office."

Daniel stared at his feet, knowing his dad had bought Janet those chocolates as a thank you for having helped him through the drug addiction.

"So, what do you say? A quick checkup and some chocolates for dessert?"

Daniel shrugged. At this moment, as much as he loved chocolate, he wouldn't be able to taste them anyway, but Cassie had been good enough to drive him here so...

The elevator doors opened and he and Cassie stepped out. His dad held the door open and leaned out. "So, I'll go look for you in the infirmary when I'm done. If you're out of the doc's clutches before then, head on down to Carter's lab. She'll meet you there."

Daniel nodded reluctantly. He turned away, heading for the commissary when his dad called out. "Carter wanted to know how long the scanner's been on the fritz."

"Just since this morning," Daniel acknowledged slowly. "It was working fine yesterday."

His dad's eyebrows rose nearly to his hairline. "And should I ask how come you were using it both yesterday and this morning?"

"Um, I always check it," Daniel admitted, wishing he could have kept this little tidbit of information from his dad. "You know, just in case you guys go..." Daniel rolled his eyes toward the ceiling. It wasn't quite an obsession, but ever since Carolyn Lam had given him the scanner as an awkward apology, he'd felt the need to check it several times a day for his own peace of mind. Up until now, the only ones who occasionally blipped off the scanner were Sam and Teal'c. His dad had promised to let him know whenever he'd be going offworld and true to his word, so far, he'd never left the planet. And when Sam and Teal'c were away, he never relaxed until their signals popped up again on the scanner.

His father's face softened as he nodded. "Okay. I'll tell her it was working fine up until this morning."

Daniel stood there watching as his father stepped back and the elevator doors closed.

"I feel like some fries. What are you eating?" Cassie grabbed Daniel's arm and tugged him towards the commissary.


There were days when Jack was hard-pressed to keep his attention on the meetings at hand, and this was definitely one of them. Some subjects were just so uninspiring and Lee and Carter's explanations were over his head, despite his having brought their research summaries home yesterday and reading late into the night. He glanced over at Hammond, whose eyes seemed glazed over and Teal'c, who appeared to be in a state of kelno'reem while Carter and Lee talked over one another in their enthusiasm.

Didn't really matter; Carter would give them the whole sixty-minutes' presentation in a nutshell just before Hammond was expected to comment. He never understood why she couldn't do this in the first place and save them from all this tedium. He shifted on the chair, easing the growing stiffness in his ass and lower back. Damn, he was getting old. Drum roll, please - ah, here they go; the whole crux of the technobabble—



Rodney McKay hurried up the stairs, carrying an opened laptop before him. He glanced at the people sitting around the table, seemed surprised to see them there, and muttered, "Sorry, General, but I was running a diagnostic on the computer systems and I just discovered an anomaly."

"Can't this wait?" Carter gave Hammond an apologetic grimace.

"Actually, no, Sam, it can't." He set the laptop on the table between Jack and Carter, and pointed to a bunch of data streaming in a corner. Carter glanced down and when she suddenly leaned closer to the laptop, Jack knew whatever she was looking at didn't bode well.

Lee got up and peered over Carter's shoulder. "Oh, that's not good."

"General Hammond, I think we have a problem." She started tapping on the laptop, not even looking up at McKay. "When did this start?"

"I'm not sure. From what I've gathered from the data stream, I'd say about eight or nine hours ago."

"When did what start?" Jack asked, voice curt, already frustrated he'd wasted an hour in total confusion.

"Someone's hacked into our computer system. It's pretty ingenious and almost impossible to discover. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't have even found this out if I hadn't noticed the .0012 percent power fluctuations when I—"

"Are they searching for anything in particular?" Teal'c asked.

"Yes, it looks like they've managed to get into the security protocols," Lee answered.

"Can you stop them?"

Carter was typing fast and furiously, her attention more on the laptop than the conversation around her.

"It's not that simple, General." McKay was looking over Carter's shoulder, trying to push Lee out of the way. "Even if we can cut him out, we don't know if the hacker has left any little nasty surprises behind."

"Viruses," Lee muttered as if nobody knew what surprises McKay was referring to. "Major Carter's attempting to trace the feedback to the—"

"Uh oh." McKay leaned forward, as if not believing his eyes.

"What?" Jack asked testily when all the scientists leaned closer to the screen without elaborating.

"They're scanning us," Carter exclaimed.


Daniel tried not to grimace as he blew his nose with a paper napkin, the roughness adding insult to injury to his poor abused nose. The wad of napkins that Cassie had dumped next to his plate had diminished considerably. He shoved the soiled napkin into his jacket pocket hanging from the back of his chair to be disposed of later, with the rest of them. Sniffling, he reached for another fry on his plate – when the world shifted. He heard Cassie screaming from far away and suddenly his chair collapsed beneath him, sending him crashing to the floor.

The shock rebounded through his spine and into his head, and for a moment he saw stars. He blinked, expecting to be sitting amidst the debris of his chair and surrounded by tables and tacky blue tablecloths. Instead the room was empty, and the dull grey cement walls were replaced by a shiny, black metallic sheen.

For a moment Daniel thought he was hallucinating. Then he sneezed.

The resulting need for a tissue, plus the feeling that his brain had just bounced from one end of his skull to the other in a split second, brought home that this was real.

Crap. "Hello?"

The three men seemed to come out of the walls. It was only when they got close that Daniel realized he hadn't seen them because they were wearing black, along with a full-faced hood, which blended in so well with the walls that they'd been perfectly hidden. Then one of them raised an odd-shaped object that his memories warned him, about two seconds too late, that it was a weapon. Before he could even cry out, a bolt of electricity slammed into him.

He came to with the three men holding him down, his body no longer jerking but partially paralyzed and still tingling from the shock of the zat blast. He knew the effects were temporary, both from the experience of having been zatted this summer, as well as from his memories. His muddled brain spent a few seconds comparing the hurt of now to then, when a sharp pain in his arm had him yelling out in shock.

The pain continued and he gritted his teeth, breaths coming in short gasps, until the pain eased. The men stood, leaving him there alone as they walked away, and he managed just enough control of his body to curl onto his side.


Alarms went off throughout the base. Hammond stood and walked calmly to Captain Griffin's desk, waiting patiently as his aide called security to discover what the emergency was. When the man hung the phone up, his gaze didn't go to Hammond, but to Jack.

"Sir, Daniel Jackson disappeared."


"According to several eyewitnesses, he was beamed out of the commissary."

"Call NORAD," Hammond ordered, "and tell them to scan for any ships in orbit."

"They're probably cloaked," Carter and McKay said simultaneously.

"They took Daniel?" Jack stood there incredulously, unable to fathom how someone could break through the SGC's defenses and beam out someone who, technically, wasn't even part of the staff.

A bright beam of light lit the room directly above the briefing table. Fear and relief hit Jack at once; fear that someone else was in the process of being abducted and hopeful relief that Daniel was being returned. The light lasted only a few seconds, depositing an object on the table.

"What the hell?" Jack muttered, leaning in for a better look.

"Don't touch it!" Carter exclaimed as McKay reached for whatever it was.

A tiny, bloody device lay in the middle of the table. A device all of them wore under the skin of their biceps. A device that Jack himself had insisted Daniel have implanted so that they could keep track of him in case this very thing ever happened.

"It's a subcutaneous GPS." McKay reached to touch his arm and Jack figured he was making sure his own device was still there. "We need to get this to Doctor Fraiser." He looked around, grabbed a pad of paper and teased the device onto it. A streak of blood marred the shiny surface of the table, and stained the paper.

"They must have found the transmitter codes for Daniel's GPS." Carter looked up at Jack, eyes wide in alarm. "They could have found any one of ours – why take him?"

McKay retrieved a tray from the cart in the corner that held refreshments and slid the pad of paper onto it.

"Major." Hammond moved so he was standing behind Carter. "I want you to find out how these people managed to break into our defenses and make sure it doesn't happen again."

"Yes, sir."

"There's only one reason." Jack stood there, hands fisted together, barely able to breathe. It was an effort to get the words out. "They did this before, got their hands on him and his memories—"

"Yes, yes, yes," McKay said impatiently, "the NID used that little alien device to get to your son's memories this spring. So why would they want to do it all over again?" He twirled a finger in the air impatiently.

Jack turned, facing Hammond. "Is Kinsey still in custody?"

Hammond nodded. "Locked up, and not going anywhere."

"They want to study him, the same way Kinsey did." NID and rogue agents; pretty soon the Goa'uld and their allies would be after Daniel, if this kept up.

"If DanielJackson's abductors are in possession of a ship, then they have access to P3P-387 and the device which originally turned him into a child. They would be able to study its effects first-hand. DanielJackson's knowledge is documented in mission reports. The need to access his memories is unnecessary."

"That's true." Hammond stared at the bloody GPS. "Find out whether that device belongs to Daniel."

"I'll do it." Lee took the tray and gave Jack an apologetic wince.

"I have some phone calls to make. Maybe I can get some answers." Hammond walked to his office, and with his dismissal, the room was suddenly empty except for Jack, Teal'c, and the bloody smear on the table.

"Perhaps we should speak to CassandraFraiser. She most likely was a witness to DanielJackson's disappearance."

Jack found it hard to move. He started with a nod, which seemed to unfreeze the rest of his body. His muscles weren't moving right and he felt like a marionette as he asked Hammond's aide to have Cassie escorted here.


"Uncle Jack!"

Face blotchy with tears, Cassie threw herself at Jack. He caught her as she wrapped her arms around him.

"They t-took D-Daniel," she sobbed.

"I know." Suddenly he feared for the teenager's safety. What if their suppositions were wrong? What if Cassie was the next target? If Daniel could be beamed out of the base through his GPS, then so could Cassie. He was reluctant to let her go, picturing her disappearing the second he walked away. He kept a hold on her arm, ready to go with her at the first sign of abduction as he steered her towards a chair.

"Can't you find him? Mom said the GPS would help locate us if we got kidnapped." She stood next to the chair but didn't sit, instead leaning against him.

"We can't, honey. His is... deactivated." He didn't think she needed to hear the truth at the moment. Although they could take measures that would keep Cassie safe, at least. He turned to look at McKay, who was going over the data in the laptop. "Do you think we need to remove hers?"

"No. Sam's changed the frequency so whatever they used to break through our security network won't work until they manage to figure it out." McKay spoke while he alternated between reading and typing on the laptop.

"How sure are you that they haven't done that already?"

McKay stopped and stared at Jack, wide eyed. He suddenly looked contrite. "Well, there's no knowing yet what they're capable of but give us another hour or two and we'll know more. In the meantime," McKay indicated the SFs standing by the door, "you might want to make sure someone stays close to the kid. You know, just in case?" Warning delivered, McKay's attention was already back on his work.

"Just in case?" Cassie squeaked. "Just in case, what? That they come after me? Uncle Jack, are they going to come after me, too?"

"No, sweetheart." Jack pulled her close, feeling her shuddering. "If they'd wanted to take you, they probably would have taken you along with Daniel." He kissed the top of her head. "Do you think you can tell us what happened?"

"He was sitting there beside me and he was blowing his nose and suddenly there was this light and he was gone." She sighed loudly and shakily. "Did it hurt? Did they hurt him?"

"No. The transportation doesn't hurt. It might be a little disorienting when you find yourself suddenly somewhere else but it doesn't hurt."

"Okay. So Daniel could be fine, right?"

"I'm sure he's perfectly fine." He was surprised that the words came out sounding normal, because he sure as hell didn't believe them.


He was going to be fine. Huddled in a corner of the room, fingers clasping a torn piece of material from his sweatshirt's sleeve on the bleeding cut on his arm, Daniel prayed for rescue. His dad was most certainly looking for him, as were Sam and Teal'c. He just hoped Cassie hadn't been taken as well.

He'd found two power bars and two bottles of water in the corner when he'd crawled there, as far from the doors as possible. Logic declared they were going to hold him for at least a day; food and water probably meant they weren't going to hurt him. Yet. He'd stuffed the food into his jeans' pockets and kept the water close.

Loosening his hold on his arm, Daniel peered under the wad of material. It was sticky and stuck to his skin. When he pulled it away, the bleeding started again.

"Stupid." This time he tore a smaller piece of material from his sleeve, placing the new bit over the cut and under the larger wadded up piece. This way, he'd be able to pull the larger wad away and leave just the stuck-on material without making it bleed again.

He sneezed and winced at the noise. The last thing he wanted to do was call attention to himself. He tried to snuffle back the heaviness in his sinuses as quietly as he could.

His heart was still pounding in his ears and he was shivering with fear. Nervous sweat was pouring down his back and sides, dampening his underarms. Thankfully, his nose was so stuffed that he couldn't even smell the stink of his own terror.

The adult portion of his memories might be there but they did nothing to help calm him. He remembered being this scared as a grownup, just having better control over his reactions. Plus, most of the times he'd gotten into trouble this serious, his dad, or Sam or Teal'c, had been there with him. Except for that time in the Yucatan when...

"Okay, let's not go there," he whispered softly. To distract himself, he looked around the room again. Maybe he was going about this the wrong way; maybe he shouldn't be acting like a victim, and instead should be trying to find a way out of here. So they took away the means for his dad to track him; then he needed to find a way to get in touch with his dad and let him know where he was.

There had to be a phone somewhere in the building, right?

With one hand pressing on the still-bleeding cut, Daniel leaned on the wall and pushed himself upright. He walked slowly to the door, hating how his legs were jittery with reaction and adrenaline, and how his racing heartbeat worsened the pressure in his head. Then he felt a sneeze coming, and he hurried back to his corner, just in case someone was outside and listening.

Several sneezes later, he approached the door a second time. There was a faint outline in the odd metal of the room, indicating that there was an opening here but to be honest, now that he thought about it, if he hadn't seen the door open earlier, he'd not have known there was one. And worst of all, there was no doorknob and no obvious way of opening it.

A few ideas flitted across his brain, all of them partial memories of his previous life. He looked around half-heartedly, not even sure if secret passages or doors or other hidden exits might exist and if they did, would he even recognize them? He made two circuits of the room and ended up sliding down back down into the corner to huddle there, the force of a sneeze making him wish he'd had the foresight to jam a wad of napkins into a pocket. Or have kept his jacket on instead of draping it on the back of a commissary chair. At least then, he'd have had his cell phone with him.

The walls were vibrating slightly when he leaned against them, as if there was some large machinery close by. It was vaguely familiar, and he couldn't help but wonder what it was.


"We've found a faint signature trace—"

"We?" McKay gave Carter an exasperated look. "Do you know how long it took me to calibrate the sensors so I could—"

"—Which proves a spaceship was definitely in orbit no more than six hours ago." Carter raised her voice over McKay's, cutting him off.

Giving Carter a wounded look, McKay sighed theatrically.

"From the calculations Rodney entered into the computer, I was able to ascertain that the ratio of—"

Jack wasn't in the mood for science talk at the moment. "Carter, is there, or is there not, a ship in orbit?" He didn't want to be rude but he was fed up of waiting. Now he wanted answers.

"There was. It's no longer there."

"So, we have no idea where they've gone."

"Well, if we had a ship available, we could easily follow it now that we've identified its signature trace." Rodney waved a hand, dismissing his idea. "Of course the Daedalus is halfway between here and Atlantis and the Odyssey is still a few months out from being space-worthy."

"How's that supposed to help us, McKay?" Jack growled.

"Oh, it's not." McKay looked started. "I just meant, if we had a ship, we could go after it."

"What of the Ancient timeship?" Teal'c gave McKay a warning glare.

"No." Carter sat back in the chair. "Its hyper drive isn't adapted for long-range travel."

"Don't we have at least one ship in the area we can use?" Jack paced alongside the table, feeling everyone's eyes on him.

"None that will get here in the next hour, which is how long the signature trace will last before we lose it."

"Damn it. Isn't there anything we can—"

"Colonel O'Neill."

Jack stopped mid-rant as Hammond came out of his office. He looked livid.

"I've just been informed that a ransom demand has been made for Daniel."

"Ransom? They want money?"

"Unfortunately, that would be too easy. They want Robert Kinsey in exchange."

Jack's legs nearly gave out. He steadied himself by locking his knees. The kidnappers had, in effect, just written his son's death warrant. There was no way the President would release Kinsey from jail and hand him over in exchange for Daniel's life.

His face must have shown his fears, because Hammond merely said, "I'm sorry, Jack."


The room he was in gave a lurch, pulling Daniel from an uncomfortable doze. For a moment he thought it was an earthquake and he glanced up at the ceiling in fear. Then the background thrum changed pitch and the memory hit him. His heart felt like it was going to pound right out of his chest when he stared around the room with new dread.

He was in a spaceship. He wasn't even on Earth anymore.

Throat and mouth dry, Daniel reached for the bottle of water and forced himself to take a few sips. It suddenly felt cold in the room, as if the chill of outer space, possibly even just on the other side of one of these walls, was leeching the heat from around him. Slowly, he inched forward so he wasn't touching the walls and curled on his side, bringing his knees to his chest to conserve heat. He shivered, once again wishing he had his jacket with him, this time to help keep him warm.


The door to his office was closed. Jack had shut it deliberately when he'd run out of people to call, trying to pull in favors for information. Now for the past hour he'd simply been sitting at his desk, staring at the phone, knowing he needed to make that one last call. And knowing the person at the other end would be so hurt by the news of Daniel's kidnapping that the thought of it made him nauseous.

He finally made himself reach for the phone and dialed the number that he knew so well.

"Hi, Ma?"


Daniel raised his head, wondering sleepily what had woken him up. The movement made his head ache and he squinted into the glare of the opening door, adjusting his glasses with a finger. And froze when his brain woke up and he realized where he was.

A silhouette raised an arm and he saw the zat just before the world exploded in pain.


"DNA tests concluded positively that the blood on the GPS is Daniel's."

Fraiser was holding onto the chart containing the information with a white-knuckled grip. They all had wanted to believe otherwise, that the bloody chip that had been returned to them had been some well-made replica and not Daniel's.

"So far nobody has any concrete information on the kidnappers. There are rumors of an organization called The Trust but none of my contacts could confirm whether they are responsible for this." Hammond folded his hands together and looked around the table. "We have less than two days to find the kidnappers. Is there any progress?"

Carter shook her head, her expression one of defeat.

"The Tok'ra have offered us the use of one of their ships," Teal'c said. "Unfortunately it will not arrive in time to be of assistance."

"When?" Jack leaned forward, grasping at straws.

"In two days."

"Shit. We needed that ship yesterday."

"What of RobertKinsey? Have precautions been taken for his security?"

"Ah, I'm glad you asked." McKay raised a finger, almost crowing at the attention. "Sam and I," he said, stressing the words, "have come up with a jamming system that's virtually foolproof. While they might be able to physically break into Mr. Kinsey's jail cell and take him that way, but they won't be able to beam him out using the Asgard technology." He gave a satisfied smile and the start of an amused laugh. "That's because over the past few months we've managed to decode some of the Asgard computer code and so were able to extrapolate in order to build the jamming device. It's pretty amazing, when you think of it. It's got this—"

"Rodney," Carter hissed.

"—Repeating decimal code that's virtually impossible to decipher because it—"

"Rodney." When McKay looked at her, showing surprise, she simply said, "Shut up."

"Oh." Again McKay looked surprised at the expressions around the table. "Sorry," he said in a rush of breath. "I tend to get carried away. We've been working pretty hard on developing that system and as soon as the computer finishes the diagnostics and I upload it into the..." Again, he glanced around the table at the inpatient expressions. "Shutting up now."

"You mean if you'd had that system up and running yesterday, they'd never have gotten their hands on Daniel?" Jack asked incredulously.

"Well, yes, that's, um, right."

"Except the system wasn't ready, sir," Carter said tiredly, "and it was Rodney's hard work over the past eighteen hours that got it up and running today. Although..." She reached for Daniel's scanner, which she'd brought with her. "I think the timing isn't coincidental. They must have had an idea we were close to completion and..." She turned the scanner on and showed Jack the readout. Six blips appeared, four of them close together, the fifth and sixth slightly apart. Himself, Teal'c, Carter and Fraiser, all four of them here in the room, and Cassie, in one of the VIP rooms, and Daniel's GPS, in the infirmary. The six individual codes which the scanner had been programmed with.

"Daniel said the scanner was working fine until yesterday morning. That's when these people started hacking into our computers. They were analyzing the codes, testing our defenses and if we'd had something as simple as Daniel's scanner, we might have had a warning." She tossed it onto the table in frustration.

"It won't work anymore," she said when Jack reached for it. "We've adapted the frequencies in accordance with Rodney's calculations, and once we upload it and it goes online, nobody will be able to find us without the proper equipment. This will never happen again, even offworld."

Jack fiddled with the scanner, watching the blips, wondering how often Daniel had done exactly the same thing.

"How soon before it's ready?"

"It's ready now," Rodney answered the general. "I just need your permission—"

"Do it."

They sat in silence for a short time. When it was apparent nobody had further news, Hammond dismissed them. Everyone went to stand, but stopped when Teal'c, who hadn't made a move, spoke up.

"There is something which does not make sense." He glanced at the scanner which Jack was holding. "Why wait and remove DanielJackson from Cheyenne Mountain, when they could have easily taken him at any time from his home or his school? Does not the fact that they deliberately surmounted our computerized defenses when it was not essential, a matter for analysis?"

"You're right." Hammond, who'd gotten to his feet, looked like he was going to sit again, but instead pushed his chair against the table and rested his hand on its back. "This was nothing but posturing, to show us that they could take him when and where they wanted to."

"It's also disconcerting to know there must be a spy or a mole somewhere. Someone had to know Rodney was working on the security details."

Jack pursed his lips at Carter's words, wondering how much damage might have occurred when Lam had been working as a double agent. While those in power were satisfied with the results of her mission, Jack himself doubted everything she'd said or done. Sure, he knew it had been orders but it had also been his son she'd gone after.

Carter seemed to read his mind. "I'm running a full diagnostic on the computer system. And if the people responsible are the same ones Carolyn was working for, it's possible they slipped something in a while back without her knowledge."

"Or with her knowledge," Jack couldn't help adding.

"Doctor Lam made no mention of this in her debriefings." Hammond spoke with finality and Jack didn't have the energy to argue.

He waited until Hammond walked away and then trudged towards his office. There were still a couple of people who hadn't contacted him yet. He was hoping one of them, especially, would pan out.


His muscles didn't want to move, but Daniel was awake. And in pain. Lying on his side, his eyes were half-opened and he could see a pair of feet walking past him. The boots were black, with a dozen little dangly cords hanging from just above the ankle. There were small beads attached to each cord, all of them tinkling together with each step, catching the light. The noise was soothing, hypnotic, totally at odds with the dire situation he was in. The boots moved past him again and whoever they belonged to dropped a bag next to Daniel. It thudded wetly on the ground, hiding his view of the boots with the dangling cords. Then the boots moved away from him and he got just enough control to twist his head sideways and watch the tinkling dangles walking away.

He blinked at the blinding white light, seeing the afterimage of the bag and the boots behind his eyelids for several seconds. When his vision cleared, the boots were gone, as well as the person wearing them.

The tinkling was still there, and he tried to look around for the boots. Instead, the motion triggered the building pressure in his chest and he coughed, long and hard, bringing his legs up towards his chest and becoming aware of several things at the same time.

The ground was wet; he was cold and without a jacket; he was no longer in the ship and he was alone. And the tinkling sounds continued. He sat up slowly, pushing up with weak and shaky arms. He saw water dripping down a small rocky ledge, and each drop landed on top of vibrantly colored pebbles. The drops of water moved the rocks each time, causing them to tinkle when they touched one another.

He'd have been fascinated once upon a time. Right now, all he wanted was to get warm and dry.

He felt a breeze on his upper body, colder where the dampness had soaked through his sweatshirt. He needed shelter, somewhere out of the wind and, from the look of the dark sky, out of the impending rain. He got to his knees, grabbed the bag and peered inside. Water and MREs. At least they hadn't left him here to starve to death. With the bag securely hanging from his shoulder, Daniel got to his feet and looked around.

The landscape was nothing but hills and large boulders which looked liked they'd been shot out of a cannon and left wherever they landed, or a giant who'd been playing marbles and decided to leave mid-game.

It wasn't raining but there was a mist in the air. Brushing a hand over his sweatshirt, he felt the sheen of fine drops pooling there.

"Hello!" he yelled. The sound seemed flat, muffled by the mist. He listened for an answer, but he heard nothing but the chiming stones.

He trudged up a hill. Occasionally he would step on some of the musical pebbles and they'd chime. The sounds should have been cheerful but instead they were eerily haunting. He looked around when he reached the top of the hill but was unable to find any signs of civilization. The place was barren and desolate; there was nothing growing, only boulders and hills as far as the eye could see. He started walking down the hill, heading for the next one, hoping there would be someone there who could help him. He had memories of himself talking to people, communicating with them and he remembered the satisfaction he'd felt when they'd made a breakthrough.

Several hills and boulders later, Daniel realized the sky was getting even darker. Shivering, he knew he needed to find shelter. He'd hoped to be able to find some firewood but there was nothing.

A drop of water dripped onto his cheek. For a moment he thought it had started raining, until he passed a hand over his hair and felt the sheen of moisture saturating his head. The water had come from his hair.

Three boulders and two hills later, he got lucky. A small niche inside one of the boulders afforded him a bit of shelter. He was out of the wind, but not necessarily out of the dampness. He huddled against the chilly stone, pulled his legs against his chest, and lowered his head on top of his knees. His dad was coming; he had to believe that.


None of his contacts had panned out so far. Still, Jack wasn't discouraged. He had one more ace in the hole; it just hadn't materialized yet.

Like he'd done every hour on the hour, he typed in several websites, checking for updates to the carefully written message he'd left in them. Hating the cloak and dagger business Maybourne excelled in, Jack finally hit the jackpot when a series of codes and letters appeared when he checked the last site.

He wrote them down and took several minutes deciphering them. Good, he had two hours before he was to meet Harry. Maybe now he would get some answers.


The need for something hot finally had Daniel digging through the bag his captors had left him. He'd eaten MREs before, he was pretty confident he could open the package and heat up the main meal without light. Bingo, except, to his delight, he discovered a flashlight among the packages of food and water, now if only they'd thought of a bottle of Tylenol or even a package of tissues. He rooted around a little more, checking the side pockets. Nothing. Oh well, he shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth.

With a disappointed sigh, he turned the flashlight on and was distracted for a moment when the beam caught something in the ground, creating tiny rainbows whenever he moved the light around. Fighting back his curiosity, he aimed the beam inside the bag. The top MRE was macaroni and cheese, which was fine by him. While it was heating, he took the time to chug down half a bottle of water, then took a moment to take another inventory of the contents of the bag. A quick count showed he had three breakfasts, and six main meals, but still no tissues or aspirin except for the meager bit of toilet paper that came with the MRE. Logically, it was apparent there was enough for three days' worth, maybe a few days more, if he was careful. He had six bottles of water, again indicating he probably had enough for three days.

And after three days, what then?

One thing for sure, he would probably get fed up of macaroni and cheese by the time he ran out of food. While he liked the stuff, he preferred the more substantial food, like the chili or the curried chicken. Mac 'n' cheese was a comfort food although he thought he might need the comfort as he sneezed loudly into the crook of his elbow.

He wiped his nose on his sweatshirt, the sodden material coarse and uncomfortable. He tried not to think what might be staining his shirt as he looked at the cut on his arm. He'd lost the clotted scrap of material he'd placed there but the cut itself looked clean and at least it wasn't bleeding anymore.

He began to shove the uneaten packets of food back into the bag, when he noticed an overlooked pocket on the outside. Stuffed inside the pocket was a sealed baggie containing a piece of folded paper. Curious, Daniel took the paper out and unfolded it.

It was a map. At one end was an X – x marks the spot? At the other end was a picture of a circle with squiggles surrounding it. Unmistakably, this represented a Stargate. On each side of the paper were letters: E, N, W, and S. - East, North, West and South. In between the X and the Stargate, was a rough sketch of a cat. The Stargate was to the Northeast, the X to the Southwest. He'd just have to wait and see where the sun rose and get his bearings in the morning.

Easy as pie.

"I can go home," Daniel said out loud. He cleared his throat. God, he sounded terrible, even to his own ears. "This must mean I can make it there in three days."

He folded the map so that it was visible through the baggie and reached for his supper. The first mouthful was hot and tasteless, but the texture was familiar and it gave him a feeling of comfort. By the time he ate half his macaroni, his nose was running and he'd have given anything for something to blow his nose with. He finished his meal, ate his dessert and contemplated heating the rest of the water in the bottle for coffee or hot chocolate, but decided to wait until morning. He'd probably be in greater need for it then.

Why oh why couldn't his kidnappers have added a space blanket as well as a couple packs of tissues?




Maybourne was sitting in the little cafe, sipping a cup of coffee with probably a name too long to memorize and a price so exorbitant it was a wonder that the owners of the cafe hadn't yet retired on their nest egg.

Jack sat opposite Harry and asked for a plain coffee when a waiter popped up. He ignored the upturned lip and look of disgust the waiter flashed his way and tapped his index finger on the table.

"You should try the double mocha latte—"

"Plain coffee's fine."

"They've got an espresso that's out of this world—"

"Espresso keeps me up at night."

Harry smiled as he sipped his coffee. "Fatherhood hasn't been easy on you, has it?"

"It was doing damn good until your goons showed up."

"Not mine." He slurped noisily at his coffee as the waiter placed Jack's order in front of him and wiped his fingers on his apron when a few drops spilled over onto them.

"You sure you don't want a cafe mocha—"

"This is fine."

"Pastry? Sandwich?"

Jack motioned the waiter away, dismissing Harry's nagging, and began opening sugar packets and tipping them into his steaming coffee. "So, what have you heard?" He brought the coffee to his lips, savoring the smell of it. God, he needed this.

"Actually, nothing, so far. I'm waiting for someone who owes me a favor to get back to me."

Jack froze, then lowered the coffee. "Then why the hell did you set up this meeting?"

Maybourne leaned forward across the table. "Because I want to make sure Kinsey doesn't get released."

"Why? I thought you'd be happy to have him back in charge of things."

"Oh, believe me, that's the last thing I want." Maybourne smiled brightly at Jack. "Let's just say he and I didn't see eye to eye on a few things and after he was arrested..."

"You helped yourself to some of his... assets."

"Helped myself? Jack, you're making it sound like I'm a thief."

"You said it, I didn't." Jack smiled and finally took a sip of coffee. It was heaven. Maybe he should have tried the espresso, after all.

Maybourne merely smirked at him.

"You do know that the President isn't going to release him."

"I know. But your son's going to be the losing party in this deal if that happens."

Jack felt his face harden. Maybourne must have seen it, too, because he waved a hand between them.

"I just meant," Maybourne said quickly, "that I can help you and Daniel."

Jack tried not to let his relief show. He simply raised his eyebrows, waiting for Maybourne to go on.

"I can get you the planetary designation where they left him."

Jack's heart started to pound but he tried to look calm. "And as we both know Kinsey's not going anywhere, you're telling me you're really doing this out of the goodness of your heart and your fond memories of Doctor Jackson?"

"Come on, Jack, you know Doctor Jackson and I were like this." He crossed his index and third fingers together and held them up.

"So, let me guess." Jack thought quickly. If Maybourne had pissed off Kinsey, there were probably many more that were also out for Harry's blood. He most likely needed a place to hide out. "You want access to the Stargate."

"Hey." Maybourne straightened up fast, grinning broadly. "If you're offering."

"I'll see what I can do."

"Meet me here tomorrow, same time." Maybourne drained the coffee, put the cup down and stood. "And I really recommend the latte." He zipped his jacket up and strode out of the cafe, pulling on his gloves as he went.

Jack turned to ask for the bill and the waiter was suddenly there, slapping the paper down before walking away. Jack grabbed the bill and shook his head. Highway robbery for two coffees; Jack wasn't surprised that Maybourne had left him to pick up the tab.


Daniel was coughing so hard, he was seeing stars. For a few minutes, the mac 'n' cheese threatened to make a reappearance, and he dry heaved twice before his stomach settled. The drizzle had moved on to a light shower. He was chilled and pissed that he'd decided to keep moving, because whenever he stopped walking he would begin to shiver and cough.

Finally, the coughing eased. Exhausted, he leaned against the closest boulder and waited until his breathing was closer to normal. Or as normal as it was going to get, given the circumstances. He looked around, trying to gauge where the sun was in the sky and the land around him, which hadn't changed. With no compass, Daniel could only pray that he was headed in the right direction. Relying on instinct or memories, Daniel wasn't sure which, he'd taken one of the rock formations as a marker when he'd figured out which way was north, and was keeping that well to his right as he moved on.

Walking was getting harder; his legs were leaden and now he was constantly out of breath. His glasses had become more of a hindrance than help, constantly fogging up or covered in mist or slipping down his nose, so he stopped, folded them up and stuck them in a pocket for safekeeping. Squinting into the drizzly distance, Daniel realized he saw just as good with or without them.

He climbed up over the current hill and he'd started down when it dawned on him that the vista had changed. Instead of hill after hill after hill, before him was a chasm that stretched from left to right, running as far as he could see in either direction.

"Oh, shit."


"Do we really want Harry Maybourne out there?" Carter looked from Jack to Hammond.

"Yeah, those poor Goa'uld will never know what hit them," Jack said dryly.

"He does realize this is a one-way trip?" Hammond said after seeming to consider Maybourne's offer.

"I think that's what he's counting on, sir." Jack contemplated the fingerprints marring the briefing room table's shine. He added a few, popping his finger here and there in an abstract pattern. He probably looked bored; he hoped he was hiding the fear he was feeling.

"Perhaps he has obtained a planetary designation where he wishes to retire from the strife of his previous life."

"Yeah? And I got a bridge for sale." When Teal'c looked confused, Jack merely waved away his words. "I mean, I don't see Maybourne spending all his days roughing it."

"Has he not had access to the mission reports of previous years? He may have chosen a world that would be a step above a planet which would require him to 'rough it'."

"Knowing Harry Maybourne," Hammond said, fingers steepled on the table, "he's got more than one planet up his sleeve."

"Can we trust the intel he's going to give us?" Carter had her hands wrapped around her cup.

"I don't see we have much of a choice, Major." Hammond nodded at Jack. "You have a go."

Jack stood as quickly as he could without seeming rude, holding back the urge to go and do something, even if it was only to go to his office and check his emails.


He'd nearly missed it in the mist and gloom. Just as he was about to turn back and look for a way down, he saw the monument. At first he'd thought it was a dark cloud, but the mist cleared for a moment and it stood out, tall and majestic, over the land. Even better, he saw something in the maw of the chasm, and the only thing he could think of was a bridge.

He stood there a moment, arms wrapped around his ribs, trying to stay warm, shivering as the wind threw sheets of droplets at him. He began walking, staying far from the chasm's edge, not trusting his equilibrium.

The sneezes had lessened but the cough had worsened, making his head pound. Absentmindedly, he rubbed the heel of his palm against his breastbone. He squinted, wishing for the thousandth time that the rain would stop so he could wear his glasses. And get dry. And stay dry. Glasses or not, as he got closer, the monument slowly took shape.

A head appeared, the rain masking the pointed ears until he got near enough to make them out clearly. It was a cat, towering over him, nearly three stories high. Sitting regally, it looked over the land on the other side of the chasm.

Crossing the chasm, starting from the base of the statue, was a bridge made of stone. The only problem was, there was no way to get to the bridge except either over or through the statue.

He circled the huge statue slowly. The base was higher than his head, the stone slick with no handholds to climb or visible cracks to indicate an opening. From its position, it was evidently a doorway to the bridge; he just couldn't find the entrance.

There were inscriptions on one side, most of which were worn off to the point of being nearly illegible. Then he stood there and stared up at it, trying to figure out what it meant.

He knew this statue; had seen a tiny one sitting on a bookcase in the archaeological department at the SGC. Had seen it in textbooks. Had seen it depicted in alien writings in his memories. And the name was dancing right on the tip of his tongue, like a few bars of a song heard often as a child. He'd known everything about this icon... no, goddess.

Daniel found that the side of the base with the inscriptions protected him from the wind. Gratefully he sank to his knees and kneeled against the cold stone. He was tired, cold, miserable, pretty sure he was sick and just wanted to go home. He huddled for a short time, scared, alone and wanting his father more than anything. His dad wouldn't stop searching for him; he was positive his dad's love for him would leave no stone or twig or planet unturned. Still, that knowledge didn't make him feel powerful nor was it enough to chase away the constant fear and anxiety that filled him.

He wanted nothing more than to stay here and wait until his dad found him. But this wasn't a mall filled with security guards and people willing to help. Daniel was far from home and he knew that overturning planets and stones and twigs could take days, even for his dad. He had a map to the Stargate; he could use the Stargate to go home, except that it was on the other side of that bridge.

There had to be a way. He cleared his throat, straightened and began to think. Assess the situation. Start with what you know. Daniel could hear his father's voice. Okay, he knew this statue was familiar. He'd seen it many times. It represented a cat... A cat goddess, that was obvious. He knew the name... Bathent... Bakhes... Bast... Bast! Bastet! That was it.

Smiling for the first time since he'd been taken against his will, Daniel turned to the inscriptions. He ran a finger over the faint carvings arranged in a wide circle on the stone. Dirt fell out of the cracks, making the symbols clearer. He knew he knew this. Or had known this. This was just a buried memory. Star, moon, sun, several dozen forms he couldn't quite identify. In the middle of these was the picture of an eye. He'd seen this also. Painted on walls deep beneath the ground. On a pendant. On a large stone emblem hanging in an ancient city.

The Eye of Ra. That bit of information seemed to come from far, far away. He nodded to himself. Okay. So far so good. He touched the eye and the center seemed to wobble. Pressing more firmly, it moved inwards slightly. Encouraged, he pushed harder, but it seemed that the stone wasn't going to move inwards any further.

On a hunch, he pressed one of the carvings and it moved also. Excited, Daniel pressed a third, only to have the two he'd pressed move back to their original positions.

"Okay, it's a puzzle." He barely had time to frown at the hoarseness of his voice when he started coughing again.

Almost frantically, he began pressing figures at random. Despite the odds of finding the right combination, right now, all he wanted was off this planet.


Stirring his coffee, Jack watched Maybourne enter the cafe. Face red from the bitter wind, he pulled his gloves off and unzipped his jacket as he looked around the small establishment. He spotted Jack and gave him a wisp of a smile as he detoured to the counter to order.

"Damned cold spell we're having. I'm looking forward to relocating to somewhere hot and sunny." He gave Jack a hopeful look as he sat down, tossing his gloves onto the table.

"What do you have for me?" Jack took a sip of coffee, trying not to look as anxious as he felt.

"Depends. Is there warm weather in my future?"

"Just name the address," Jack said, holding back his impatience.



"Two addresses. One where you can find your son, as promised, and one where you'll grant me passage to."

"You got it?" Suddenly Jack couldn't breathe.

"I got it. And in the process, I managed to get the attention of several people I'd rather not have. Now, since I asked for my latte to go, do you think we could... You know? Go?"

Coffee forgotten, Jack stood. He was ready to race back to the mountain and go through the Stargate now to get Daniel, except despite his words, Maybourne didn't seem to be in quite that much of a hurry. He sauntered over to the counter, chatted with the barista, tore open several packets of sugar to dump into his coffee, stirred the hell out of it and then took a sip.

"Harry." The word came out sounding sharp and short. Maybourne only glanced at Jack before turning back to pay for the coffee, then slowly zipped his jacket up and put his gloves on.

"I thought you were in a hurry," Jack grumbled as they stepped outside into the biting cold.

"Hey, you can't rush a great coffee."


It wasn't working. Exhausted and discouraged, his tantrum had brought on a coughing fit that had left him feeling weak and achy. It was getting dark and there was no shelter except for this side of the monument. He curled up on the ground, emptied the bag of MREs and water and placed it on his exposed side. Its meager protection helped as he forced himself to eat some more macaroni and cheese.

He had no appetite to speak of; but he knew he needed to eat and drink to keep up his strength. The warmth of the food helped, but the overly sweet hot chocolate he'd made afterwards only ended up making him nauseated.

What he needed were his memories, but he only could remember basic things. Too many years and new memories had overwritten when he needed now.

"It's hopeless," he said out loud, curling up into a ball, leaning as close as possible against the base. He had a cat statue, he had a wadjet, he had a—

"Wadjet? What the hell is that?"

It took him a moment to associate the word with the Eye on the base. "Yeah, great. All that information in my head and I come up with a dinky little stupid word that doesn't even help me figure out what it all means."


Maybourne's patience looked like it was beginning to run out. As was Jack's.

While Maybourne had given them a 'gate address, Hammond wouldn't dial the 'gate until he'd sent a M.A.L.P. through, and the robotic probe was being a little... stubborn. Its motor had conked out halfway up the ramp, forcing them to shut down the 'gate and either get it repaired or replaced.

That had been over thirty minutes ago.

"General," Jack said impatiently as he looked down into the Gateroom where Siler had the probe's innards exposed and had half his wrench stuck inside while Carter tried to get at something with a screwdriver. "Can't we get another M.A.L.P.?"

"Maybe one that works?" Maybourne was tapping his fingers impatiently on the briefing room table.

"SG-14 is scheduled to return in twenty minutes. That gives us plenty of time to repair the MALP before they dial in." Hammond sounded calm, but Jack could see the fine lines of stress around his eyes.

Twenty minutes. Even if there had been a second MALP waiting on the sidelines, Hammond wouldn't allow the mission this close to SG-14's return. They'd lost their window of opportunity and would have to wait.

But, he could still order a second MALP from storage just in case this one was cooked. He picked up the phone and called in the order. He wished the circumstances weren't so dire, so he could enjoy watching Harry Maybourne sweat.


Daniel jerked awake, feeling like he was choking. The constant coughing and shivering only let him doze for short periods. His bronchial tubes were burning, and his ribs were sore and tight, and his head felt like it was going to pop open like an overripe piece of fruit with each progressive cough.

And if that wasn't bad enough, the last meal he'd eaten wasn't sitting well and he felt nauseated. He also had cramps; most likely gas but uncomfortable nevertheless. He rubbed his belly, hoping the gas would pass.

Exhausted, he closed his eyes, feeling the threat of a tickle deep in his throat, ready to trigger another spell. He tried to relax; in the few short hours of darkness, he'd learned to try and get as much relief as he could, while he could.

The wadjet popped up in his mind's eye. He rubbed his temple, trying to force the image away. He wanted to sleep; he was done with puzzles. He'd already decided to stay here and wait until his dad found him. He didn't care if the word was a symbol of royal power. Or if it was associated with Bastet or Hathor or was a sun deity or...

Wait, the Greeks used to think of Bastet as a moon goddess, and the mirror image of the Eye sometimes represented the moon and the god Thoth...

Daniel sat up, excited, ignoring the cough the motion induced. Not quite sure how all these ideas came to be, he fumbled for the flashlight and scrambled to the inscriptions. He pressed the eye, the moon, and the Ibis, which represented Thoth.

The noise started slowly, rock grating on rock. Soon the flashlight showed the edge of the base starting to separate, slowly swiveling outwards. He shone his flashlight into the interior and could see the bridge on the other side.

He dashed back to where he'd sheltered and began tossing the packs of food and bottles of water into the bag. When he returned, the opening was wide enough for him to squeeze through. Hurriedly he entered the space underneath the statue, ignoring the press of rock on either side of the narrow passage, and crossed onto the edge of the bridge.

When the door stopped moving, the silence seemed unnatural. It echoed for a few seconds and he strained his ears, trying to catch the last, fleeting sound. Now all he could hear was the wheeze in his lungs, the chime of the odd rocks scattered here and there whenever he disturbed one, and the rain pattering on the land.

With his foot, he tested the bridge. The stone looked like marble, and it was slick. About two feet wide, it was more than adequate but once he took a step out onto it, his legs began to shake. He made sure the bag was secure across his back and clipped the flashlight to his belt because he was terrified of dropping it into the chasm. Ignoring the weakness caused by his fear, he forced himself to take another step, and another. It was the coughing that did it, making him dizzy enough that he wasn't sure he wouldn't keel over to one side or the other. As fast as he could, he returned to the safety of the statue's base, waiting out the coughing spell.

It took him another ten minutes to work up the nerve to step onto the bridge again. He glanced down into the chasm and whatever was below; he was too high up for the meager beam of his flashlight to illuminate the bottom. Maybe it was best he didn't know, he decided.

This time he was almost halfway across when the coughing started again. Terrified, he got onto his knees, holding desperately onto the edges of the bridge, feeling like he was going to either choke or puke his innards out.

He was shaking, a double-whammy from the cold damp and what the coughing took out of him. Sitting back on his haunches, he waited until his legs felt strong enough to support him. He started to stand when the rubber sole of his boot slipped and he lost his balance. The bag he'd slung over his shoulder fell forward, the weight of it pulling him to the side. Desperately he grabbed for the ledge, and then kneeled there again, this time trembling in reaction to the close call.

When he was able to pry his fingers from the ledge, he decided to do it the easy way. He adjusted the bag until it was hanging from his neck, allowing it to drag under his body. On all fours, he made his slow but sure way, towards the other side.

There wasn't a monument here; only a large, square base, blocking his way to solid land. The beam of the flashlight revealed, at eye level, a carving of a woman with a large circle on top of her head, and with horns on either side of the circle. He tried pressing the carving, but this seemed to be solid stone. There was a small protrusion near the base, with a depression in it. He pulled and pushed, but it also wouldn't move.

There was no way through.


"Finally," Jack grumbled to Carter as the M.A.L.P. trudged up the ramp and disappeared through the wormhole.

She gave him a quick smile before turning her attention to the monitors.

"I'm going to have to talk to Major Collins when we get back," he grumbled, relieved they were finally doing something. "Two hours behind schedule and all because they thought they saw a dodo bird?"

"Well, considering they are extinct here..." Carter's gaze was fixed on the computer monitor, interpreting the M.A.L.P.'s telemetry which was just coming in. "The planet's habitable, sir. Breathable air. A little damp; temperature's about fifty-five degrees and it's drizzling. A nice improvement over our arctic freeze—"

"If Daniel's out there, he doesn't have a jacket or rain gear."

Carter cleared her throat. "It's night." She flicked a switch and the M.A.L.P.'s lights came on. As she swiveled the probe in a slow circle, all they could see was a wide, open plain. While Jack and Teal'c watched the video, Carter kept her attention on the numbers still streaming on her computer. "There's no signs of advanced technology."

"There is very little illumination," Teal'c said.

"We've seen worse. We can use the night goggles until the sun comes up." He turned to Hammond, who was standing behind Carter. "Sir?"

"You have a go."

Jack nodded, really not expecting to have the mission delayed just because it was dark. He turned to start down into the Gateroom, when Carter spoke.

"Colonel, we may have a problem."

Jack turned back to the screen, and the M.A.L.P., which Carter had remotely driven to the DHD, was illuminating something that caused his stomach to clench.

The control crystal for the DHD was smashed in, its interior destroyed.


Daniel wanted to cry. He wanted to scream, and would have, but didn't because breathing that deeply would certainly bring on another coughing spell. He was sitting on the bridge, leaning back against the stone wall blocking his way out, trying not to look at anything because the rising sun had brought the whole enormity of the chasm he was perched over into a fear-inducing clarity that the night had hidden.

Despite the cold and his precarious perch, he'd dozed – because the night had seemed so much shorter this time around – and only now he realized how stupid a move that had been. He was contemplating whether to wait here or cross back to the other side. Right now he was leaning towards staying here because the thought of crossing the bridge again made him want to puke.

He huddled there, shivering in the cold. Just the thought of the chasm below him made his body start to tilt either to the left or right, the pull of gravity seeming heavier with the knowledge that there was only a span of two feet of solid ground underneath him.

Five minutes later he began coughing again. The spasms finally made him sick and he vomited bile and water into the abyss. The coughing shot hot pain down his ribs, into his abdomen, finding a spot just to the right of his belly button that didn't ease for a few minutes after the coughing finally eased off.

He was hot underneath the chill. He rubbed his hands over his arms, feeling the heat of his skin despite the shivers that wracked him. He wanted desperately to be warm and dry, to lie down, to hear his dad's voice, to feel his grandmother's hand on his cheek. That was when he started crying. He was done assessing. And pulling on memories. And taking care of himself. And playing Boy Scout. Daniel knew his dad would come for him but something deep inside told him that it could take a long time.

Sobbing and coughing, he thought he'd never felt so alone, until a sudden memory of almost unendurable pain struck him, combined with horrible fear for the lives of his team and Earth. The determination he felt when he'd dragged himself to a sarcophagus, the thin hope he had of saving himself once his team was safe drove him to pull himself over the edge of the alien device.

So many hopeless situations: his dad growing old and ready to die within hours; Sam taken by a Goa'uld; Teal'c giving up and resigned to die for his honor; his dad and Sam missing after the 'gate malfunctioned; stuck underwater with an alien who wanted impossible information from him while everyone else thought he was dead – he'd experienced situations just as bad as he was in now, or worse, and his team had always come through for one another.

He rubbed his swollen eyes and sighed shakily. He was tired, so tired. He sat there, staring into the dark, until he realized the rising sun was illuminating the etchings in the rock clearly. Very clearly.

His mind drifted as he stared at the familiar symbol. After a moment, a name popped into his head.


The image of a red-headed goddess interspersed with his dad's voice asking, sex, drugs and rock and roll?

Rock and roll, he thought dully. Music. Hathor was the goddess of music and dancing, just like Bastet. Idly, he picked up one of the chiming stones littering the path and dropped it into the small depression in the stone. It hit the stone with a tinkle, followed by the momentary sound of stone grating on stone.

For a moment Daniel thought he'd imagined it. He dropped another stone, and the base shifted slightly.


Almost manically, Daniel began brushing his hands along the wet stone, gathering as many of the musical stones he could reach into a pile. He swept them up, dropping them into the hollow, and hooted out loud when the base began moving. It crept open about three inches, and stopped.

He peered through the crack, seeing a long tunnel, with daylight at the other end.

"More, I need more." On hands and knees, Daniel backed up on the ledge, gathering as many of the stones as he could carry, then hurrying back to add them to the pile. His earlier fear was replaced by his need to get off the ledge, and deep down he knew he was moving around carelessly, but didn't care anymore.

After the fourth return trip, the opening in the base was wide enough that he could squeeze through. Still on hands and knees, he hurried into a small space behind the outer wall, and from there, got to his feet, moving sideways as fast as he could through the stone tunnel, expecting it to begin moving and squashing him to death before he could reach the far end. Once clear, threw himself down onto his back, allowing the rain to drip into his face as he enjoyed the feeling of being of a flat surface again.

It was a long time before he reached for his bag, and the map inside.


"I'm sorry, Jack."

Jack couldn't believe it. So close, so damned close. He stood in the briefing room, too wired to sit.

"General, Daniel may be out there on that planet—"

"Yes, and if he is, you have no way of bringing him home."

"I don't care. He's alone. Just give me some supplies to tide us over for a few days, until I can fix the DHD—"

"You don't have the knowledge to do that—"

"But I do, sir." Carter came to stand next to Jack, backing him up.

"Major, there's no guarantee you can fix it."

"No, sir." She stood there, resolute. "But even if I can't, a ship will be here in a few hours. It'll take roughly twelve hours to fly to the planet. We just need a few supplies to last us until we can rescue Daniel."

Jack blinked. He'd forgotten about the Tok'ra coming with a ship to give them a hand. How could he have forgotten?

"You have no guarantee that Daniel is on that planet. If this is a wild goose chase, Colonel, and if the Tok'ra renege on their word, you'll be stuck there until the Daedalus can reach you."

"This is the only lead we have, GeneralHammond." Teal'c moved to stand on Jack's other side. "If DanielJackson is indeed on this planet, he will be in the hands of his abductors. Both ColonelO'Neill and MajorCarter will require assistance in—"

"Um, no, that's not right." Maybourne raised a finger from where he was lounging in one of the chairs. "From what I heard, they were planning on dropping your son there with some food and water and heading back here to wait for Kinsey's release."

"Generous of them," Jack said sarcastically.

"General, while you all decide whether or not you're going to send your team on a one-way mission, could we start thinking about my part of the bargain? As you can see, I'm packed and ready to go." Maybourne looked pointedly at the large duffle bag sitting next to the stairs. "I've given you the information about Daniel Jackson. I'd kinda like to leave before some other emergency crops up—"

"You sure you haven't forgotten some other little tidbit to share with us?" Jack stepped around the table, leaning over Maybourne. "Like the fact that the DHD's shot to hell or my son's alone out there on a planet with who knows how many supplies to tide him over?"

"He'll be fine, Jack. Otherwise they wouldn't have left him there—"

"He's fourteen years old! We're talking about a child—"

"With the memories of an adult. He can take care of himself."

"He may have his memories but he doesn't have the experience to use them!" Jack found himself shouting and forced himself to step away.

"Colonel. Once Colonel Maybourne has gone to his planetary designation of choice, you can go after Daniel."

"Thank you, General."

"Major Carter, send a U.A.V. through to see if you can find any sign of Daniel. You can bring it and the M.A.L.P. back with you on the ship."

"Yes, sir," Carter said with a grin.

"You're a go in fifteen minutes."

"We'll be there." Jack hurried out, already planning on getting supplies to last for several days.

"What? You're not planning on seeing me off?" Maybourne's voice echoed down the hallway after him.


Daniel stood facing Northeast, waiting for the landscape to slowly brighten as the sun appeared from behind a line of very dark clouds in the morning sky. Whatever storm front this had been, there was an end to it and hopefully it would take the rain away with it.

This side of the ravine, the land slowly went downhill. He could see for miles, and as the sun became a fiery splotch on the horizon, a reflection answered the sun's call.

The Stargate.

It was far. Just a small dot on the horizon. As the sun rose higher, Daniel could make out the occasional tree, and the land closer to the Stargate seemed a different color. It took him a few more seconds to realize that it was grass. Seeing life before him was a little less depressing than the barren area he'd traveled on the other side. Then the sun disappeared behind the clouds, and the Stargate winked out.

Still, he had a good idea where to go now. He took two rock formations as markers, and began walking.

Seeing his destination had infused him with energy. All he had to do was walk there. Piece of cake. He was on the home stretch.

Two minutes later, he was forced to slow his pace, his breath wheezing in his lungs, the recurring deep cramp in his gut and a cold sweat dripping down his back led him to believe it might take a bit longer than he hoped to reach his destination.


Jack knew waiting was always part of the game in the military, and he was often hard pressed to hold in his impatience. It took Carter and Siler nearly an hour to set up the U.A.V. and by then he was ready to scream. He found himself pacing back and forth, ignoring the irritated looks of the technicians, until Siler pronounced the device ready.

He stood anxiously by the monitor, watching the little plane fly around in ever widening circles. It took about ten minutes before Teal'c spoke out.


With a finger, he pointed to a small object on the ground. Carter circled the UAV around and zoomed in on the object. Immediately he saw Daniel looking up at them.

"He looks okay," Jack breathed in relief. He felt Teal'c's hand on his shoulder and he merely nodded his head in thanks.

Carter waggled the wings of the U.A.V. and directed it back towards the Stargate. "He's going in the right direction," she said. "He's about ten miles out; we can go meet him halfway."

Jack wanted to go now; the sooner they left, the sooner he'd be hugging the crap out of his son. But he stood there, a model of patience on the outside except for his fingers thumping impatiently on his thigh, and waited until she landed the probe.

"Godspeed," Hammond said as they hurried out of the room. Jack jogged up the ramp, and once on the other side, kept on going at the same pace.

Just a few hours more, and Daniel would be safe.


Jack trusted Carter to point them in the right direction, but he trusted Teal'c to zero in on Daniel. He didn't expect to catch up to his son for another hour but he couldn't help taking out his field glasses every fifteen minutes and giving the land a good, intense scrutiny.

He had planned on pushing them, but Carter and Teal'c took off straight through the Stargate like the Energizer bunnies without any prompting from him. He had to jog to catch up to them every time he stopped to use the field glasses.

The land wasn't the lush, fertile terrain he was accustomed to visiting. There was greenery but the trees were few and far between. A few bushes had sprung up here and there on the hills, a couple of them even had some dried, red berries hanging from them. The grass was thin and delicate, growing in tufts rather than looking like a carpet.

Something flew out of a tuft of grass nearby and Jack watched the bird fly away, making a high-pitched cackling sound reminiscent of a hyena. It circled for a long moment, waiting until they passed what must have been its nest, before diving back down to settle. He looked around, wondering what other wildlife there was around here. This was the first sign of animal life he'd seen in the past ninety minutes. He was about to ask Carter if she'd seen anything when Teal'c reached out his arm and batted him on the chest.

"O'Neill." Teal'c moved his arm when Jack stopped, and pointed.

It took Jack a moment to make out the figure barely visible at the top of a hill.

"Daniel!" The next thing Jack knew, he was running. Caught by surprise, his team remained behind. Then he heard them running, Teal'c outdistancing him within seconds, Carter remaining a few steps behind him.

Daniel kept walking, trudging slowly forward, head down. Jack called his son's name again and suddenly Daniel's head popped up. Jack expected Daniel to wave and start jogging towards them, what he didn't expect was for him to fall to his knees and remain kneeling, staring at them.

Something wasn't right. Jack put on a burst of speed, wanting to pass Teal'c, wanting to be the first one there. But Teal'c was running faster, reaching Daniel and skidding to a stop long before Jack even started getting winded.

By the time Jack reached them, he could hear Daniel's sobs. Teal'c's arms were around Daniel, supporting him, and Daniel was clutching Teal'c's forearms, but his eyes were on Jack. When Jack slid down next to his son, Daniel let go of Teal'c and threw himself into Jack's arms.

"Da-Daddy," Daniel sobbed into Jack's neck.

"I'm here. I've gotcha." Jack hugged Daniel, glad he wasn't standing because the relief at finding his son had made his legs rubbery.

Daniel's clothes were soaked. Nevertheless, he pulled Daniel even tighter against him as he cried, then pulled back as the sobs turned into harsh, wet, painful-sounding coughs. He rubbed Daniel's back, waiting for the coughing to stop.

"You sound awful," he said when Daniel leaned forward and pressed his forehead against Jack's shoulder. The sobs had abated, but his breaths were shaky and Jack didn't like the wheezing that stopped only when Daniel cleared his throat.

"I feel awful." Daniel's voice was hoarse and phlegmy.

"How about you get out of those wet clothes?" He eyed the torn sweatshirt, noting the bloody cut on Daniel's bicep.

"You brought my clothes?" Daniel knuckled one eye and Jack cupped the back of his nape. That was when he felt the abnormal heat coming from Daniel's skin. Looking closely at his son, he could see how pale he was except for the spots of color high on his cheeks and around his nose. He looked tired, and sick.

Trying not to frown, Jack shook his head. "Nope, but we did bring you a change of clothes."

Immediately Daniel grabbed the hem of his sweatshirt and pulled, trying to get the sodden material over his head. It looked like the material had a life of it own, sticking to Daniel's face. Smiling, Jack grabbed the sweatshirt, guided it up and over his head and then pulled it from Daniel's arms.

Teal'c already had the extra set of BDUs put aside and Carter had the first aid kit out. While Jack and Teal'c helped pull his boots and pants off, Carter managed to disinfect the cut and bandage his arm and have him swallow a couple of Advil.

Soon Daniel was sitting on a space blanket, wearing dry pants and a long-sleeved tee-shirt. Jack took his jacket off and wrapped it around his son's shoulders.

"You hungry?" Jack reached for Teal'c's pack, which contained the MREs. He froze when Daniel shook his head. "Boy, you really are sick if you don't want to eat anything."

Daniel rubbed his lower abdomen. "I've been having cramps."

"Okay. Let me know when you want something to eat. We got some of the good stuff." Jack waved a package of chili, Daniel's favorite whenever they went camping.

Jack wasn't sure, but Daniel's expression seemed one of repugnance.

"Are we going home now?"

Jack looked away from Daniel. His first priority had been to find his son. He just wished there was a way to get him home, now, and not a day from now. He needed to stick Daniel in a tub of hot water for a while, then tuck him into bed for a day or two. He needed his mother to make some chicken soup and feed it to his son.

Carter was the first to speak up. "We're not going back through the Stargate. The Tok'ra are coming to pick us up in a ship, but they won't be here until tomorrow. Think you can rough it out with us until then?"

The disappointment on Daniel's face nearly broke Jack's heart. But Daniel gamely smiled at Sam, then at Teal'c and Jack. "Hey," Daniel said, "I didn't get a hug."

Carter took Daniel into her arms and he laid his head against her shoulder. She rocked him gently from side to side for a moment before letting him go.

"Sir, we didn't get a chance to look at the DHD. There's always a possibility that I could fix it."

From the pictures they'd seen from the M.A.L.P., Jack was pretty sure the thing was only good for the scrap heap, but he nodded nevertheless. Carter had occasionally created miracles out of paper clips.

Jack stared at Daniel, who was coughing again. "We'll camp here tonight, make it back to the Stargate in the morning."

"I'll know within a few minutes whether I can fix it or not. I'll let you know." She stood and gathered her gear. "If you need me..."

"You're just a nice, long jog away."

"Why are you sending Sam away?" Daniel asked, looking at them in confusion. He looked like he was ready to cry again.

"Oh, honey, your dad's not sending me away." Carter kneeled beside Daniel and cupped his cheek with her hand. "I'm just going back to the Stargate to see if I can fix it. We didn't take the time to look at it when we came through looking for you."

"You're coming back?"

"Of course she is," Jack said. "If she can get the DHD working, we can get you home in a couple of hours."

"And if she can't make it work?"

"Then we'll go home tomorrow."

"I don't want Sam to go." Daniel clutched at Sam's hand, grabbing it and holding it tightly. "I don't want her to go. What if something happens?"

"Nothing will happen, Daniel." Carter patted Daniel's hand while giving Jack a worried look.

"How about I send Teal'c with Carter?"


"Well, it's a long walk back to the Stargate. He can keep her company while you take a nap."

"Would that be okay with you, Daniel?"

"You don't mind going with Sam?" Daniel asked Teal'c.

"I do not."

"Okay." He released Carter's hand and rubbed his palms up and down his arms.

"Still cold?" Jack refrained from checking his temperature. The Advil hadn't had time to take effect yet.


Jack pulled another space blanket from their packs and wrapped it around his son's shoulders while Carter and Teal'c stood.

"We'll be in touch with your dad." Carter pointed to the earpiece in her ear and Daniel nodded as he leaned against Jack. Together, the two of them watched Carter and Teal'c walk off.

"What was that all about?" Jack asked when the two were out of earshot.

"What?" Daniel gave two short coughs and cleared his throat.

"The not wanting Carter to go off by herself production?"

"I..." Daniel pulled away and rubbed his fingers over his face. "I overreacted, didn't I?"

"Maybe just a tad."

"I'm sorry. I should... Sam's a soldier. She's more than capable of dealing with stuff."


Daniel shrugged.

"Such as... The people who kidnapped you?"

Daniel shrugged again.

"Speaking of which, are you up to telling me what happened to you?"

Daniel tensed, took a short, wheezy breath and nodded reluctantly. "You know the transporter on Star Trek?"

Jack nodded. "They beamed you up."

"Into a ship. I didn't see their faces, they were wearing hoods. They cut the GPS out of my arm—Cassie! I didn't see Cassie. Did they take her?"

"No, no, Cassie's fine. A little hysterical when you disappeared but she's okay."

"You're sure? You're not just saying this to make me feel better?"


He gave Jack a wobbly smile. "Okay. I was worried. Hey, how did you find me if you couldn't track me?"

"The General and I know a few people who have their ears to the ground—"


"Not exactly."

"C'mon, Dad. You know spies?" Daniel's face suddenly grew serious. "Of course you do. What was I thinking?"

"Well," Jack said, pushing a strand of hair from Daniel's face, "these spies had a pretty good idea what was going on and they gave us the 'gate address here."

"They knew about me?"



"Why'd they take you?"

"Uh huh."

"Leverage. They wanted to trade you for a prisoner."


"So, what happened after they took your GPS?"

"They left me alone for a while in a room. Then they... Zatted me? That was the same weapon Caro – Doctor Lam used on me, wasn't it?"

"Yeah. A zat'nik'tel." Jack shoved the pack next to the space blanket and patted it.

Daniel curled up on his side next to Jack, using the pack as a pillow. "Then I found myself here. By myself. With a bag of food and water and a map."

"Map? Of what?"

"A way to get to the Stargate. There was a bridge and a puzzle and... I did it, Dad. I solved the puzzles and made my way here. I'd have made it to the Stargate by myself if you hadn't come right away."

There was pride in Daniel's voice and Jack ran a knuckle over his cheek. "Yeah, you sure would have." And if the DHD hadn't been out of commission, there was a good chance Daniel might have made it home before the deadline. He wondered if Daniel's kidnappers had underestimated him. "Tell me about the puzzle."

He kept his hand on Daniel's head, either threading his fingers through his hair or rubbing the skin around his temple, not wanting to lose contact with his son. Daniel's voice was excited at first as he spoke about some statue and moons and eyes, but by the time he was talking about chiming stones, his voice was slow and sleepy.

Keeping to himself the opinion that Daniel must have been given some sort of hallucinogen, Jack made noises where needed as Daniel spoke. He could feel the fever had abated a little, and kept up the slow, easy strokes, until Daniel's voice faded and Jack was sure he was sleeping. "I'm so proud of you," Jack whispered.


"Colonel O'Neill, come in."

He didn't take his eyes off the paper in his hand as he reached for his radio to answer Carter's call. "Go ahead."

"I guess I was over-confident. I can't fix the Stargate without a new control crystal. Teal'c and I are on our way back."

"Understood." He held back his disappointment, even though he really hadn't expected Carter to be able to do much with it.

"How's Daniel?"

Jack cast a glance at his son, who had tossed restlessly for the past two hours. "Sleeping."

"Good. He looked exhausted."

"Have you seen any sign we're being watched?" Jack asked after looking away from the map in his hands and staring in the direction Daniel had come from.

There was a pause. "No, sir. Teal'c says he hasn't seen anything either. Do you think Daniel's abductors are still here?"

"I'm not sure." Jack put the map down and picked up one of the macaroni and cheese MREs. "They gave him enough food for three or four days. Daniel would have made it to the Stargate in half that time."

"But the Stargate isn't functional."

"I know. Which means they're planning on coming back, right? Because otherwise, why bother even giving him food if they just intended on dumping him here and forgetting about him. It's not like there's a Golden Arches at the top of the next hill."

"Well, if they're watching us, they know they've lost their only ace in the hole."

"Additionally," Teal'c said, his voice coming through the radio, "they must by now be aware that our presence on this world means a ship is on its way to retrieve us. They will soon find themselves outnumbered. It would be of no consequence to remain in the immediate area."

Daniel coughed in his sleep, and Jack tossed the package of food aside.

"Not unless they've got a contingency plan."

"You don't think they'll go after Daniel again?"

Jack had been thinking about it and the odds were Daniel was safe. "No, I don't think they will. But I still can't help worrying."

"I know. Me, too. We'll be there in about an hour."

Daniel went from sleeping to coughing in a split second, pushing up off the ground onto his knees, wide-eyed, trying to catch his breath.

"Easy." Jack caught Daniel as he leaned against him, feeling his body strain as he hacked and choked. By the time Daniel was able to breathe without coughing, he was red-faced, damp with sweat and obviously exhausted. And in pain, from the way he stayed hunched over.

"Did you pull something?" When Daniel didn't answer, Jack put a hand on Daniel's back. "Icky?"

"Just a cramp." Daniel rubbed a hand over his abdomen as he shifted to the side and straightened his legs.


"Uh huh."

"You hungry? I can heat you up an MRE."

With his hand still on his abdomen, Daniel shook his head. "Maybe later?"

"How about some soup and crackers?"

Daniel gave a sharp headshake. "Water?"

Without a word, Jack handed Daniel a canteen.

"Did Sam fix the DHD?" Daniel took a sip of water and screwed the top back on.

Jack refrained from telling him to drink more and slowly shook his head. "She and Teal'c are on their way back."

"So we're sleeping out here tonight?" Daniel looked up at the sky. "It looks like rain again."

"Yeah." They'd camped out in lousy weather before and never thought twice about it. But Daniel was sick, and there was no shelter. "Hammond's due to contact us in a couple more hours." He picked up Daniel's glasses from on top of Daniel's bag where he'd put them for safekeeping when he'd found them inside it earlier.

"You said the DHD wasn't working." Daniel's voice was phlegmy and he cleared his throat, making a deep, wet sound as he held his glasses up to the sky, checking the lenses before putting them on.

"It can dial in, not dial out, remember?"

There was a look of concentration on Daniel's face as he stared into the distance. Jack could literally see the gears turning, and saw the moment when Daniel understood.

"I can ask Hammond for a couple of tents; that way it won't matter if it rains."

"A tent would be nice," Daniel said wistfully.

"In that case, feel up to taking a walk?"

"To the Stargate?"


Daniel looked like trekking for a couple of hours was the last thing he wanted to do, but he gamely nodded.

Jack clicked his radio. "Carter, hold your position. Daniel and I are going to start walking towards the 'gate. I figure we can ask Hammond for a couple of tents and a few other things to make life a little more comfortable until our lift gets here."

"Understood, Colonel. How's Daniel feeling?"

"Pretty lousy. Which is why I'd like to get him into shelter as soon as I can."


Jack put a finger up, stopping Daniel's half-hearted objection. "Maybe Hammond could get Fraiser to throw in some cough medicine."

"I'll make a list while we wait."

"We're leaving now. We should catch up with you in about two hours or so." Jack stood, grabbed Daniel's still-damp clothes and stuffed them into the bag Daniel had been given by his abductors. The space blankets were quickly folded and added to it. Jack shouldered both the pack and the bag and motioned Daniel to follow.


The pain in his side just wasn't going away. Maybe if he could stop coughing all the time, the cramp would eventually ease off.

Walking wasn't helping. Instead the urge to just stop and lie down was strong. But he'd gotten this far, he could make it a little further, especially if it meant shelter from the cold and coming rain.

It wasn't drizzling yet, but the air was very humid. He kept shivering, even with his dad's jacket on. His dad, on the other hand, looked comfortable with only a long-sleeved black sweater.

He'd sworn to himself he wouldn't be a pain, but he was reaching the end of his rope. "How much further?" he finally asked, hating himself for needing to say the words.

"Almost there."

Daniel could feel his dad's eyes on him and he tried to straighten and walk without a limp. Damned cramp was making it hard not to hunch over.

"We'll take a rest in a few minutes, okay?"

"No." Daniel ground his teeth together, trying to hold in a cough as he lied. "I don't need to stop."

"Well, you're going to have to anyways." His father's voice was cheerful and almost grating on Daniel's nerves. "See? There's Carter and Teal'c."

Daniel had to look around twice before he spotted his friends waiting for them, propped up against one of the giant boulders. He wanted to keep going because he was honestly afraid if he stopped, that's where he'd stay. But his dad maneuvered him right to them and Sam got up and Teal'c was there and suddenly he found himself sitting on the protruding piece of rock Sam had been sitting on.

He rested his head against the stone. The wind had picked up again and scent of rain was imminent. Shivering, he wrapped his arms around himself while his dad talked with Sam and Teal'c. Closing his eyes for a moment, he tried to relax. It felt good, not moving. He hadn't realized how tired he was. He let himself relax more against the rock, only to pull up, coughing.

With every cough, his brain felt like it was going to burst out of every orifice in his head.


Daniel frowned at the canteen Teal'c stuck in front of his face. He took it, put it to his mouth and had no desire to swallow. He forced down a few sips before handing it back.

"You should drink more."

"I'm not thirsty."

"Imbibing liquids will help your body rid itself of toxins." Teal'c held the water bottle out.

"You make it sound like I've got some kind of disease. It's just a cold." Daniel pushed the water bottle away irritably.

"I would offer you chicken soup; unfortunately I am not in possession of such a fowl."

"Don't sweat it, big guy." Daniel's dad clapped Teal'c on the shoulder. "I got some chicken bouillon we can heat up later. How's that sound, Daniel? Yummy?"

"Oh, just peachy," Daniel replied, trying not to gag at the thought of food.

"How are you feeling?" Sam put a hand to his face as she leaned close.

"I'd kill for a cough drop." He refrained from pulling back as Sam made what felt like a long production of checking for fever. Damn, when and where had he lost that earlier feeling of relaxation?

Sam smiled at him as she pulled her hand away. "We're only a half hour or so from the Stargate. You'll be able to rest soon."

"And Stargate Command is due to contact us in two hours. You will soon be resting beneath shelter." This time it was Teal'c who cupped his hand around Daniel's nape.

Again the action irritated Daniel, although the warmth of Teal'c's palm felt good.

"You are feverish."

"Dad gave me something for the fever, remember? I'm just sweaty from all the coughing." Moving slowly, feeling like an old man, Daniel slid off the rocky seat and stood. "Are we going?" Moving was the last thing he felt like doing but if that would get Sam and Teal'c's mother henning off his back, moving would be the least of two evils.

"There's no hurry. We can rest a little longer—"

"I'm fine, Dad."

He waited impatiently as everyone picked up their packs, then realized belatedly that he was the only one not carrying anything. His dad was even carrying the extra food his kidnappers had left him. Feeling guilty, he tamped down his impatience and waited until Sam took the lead.

The next leg of the journey was the worst. It had started to drizzle again, and the dampness seemed to make his cough worse, which pulled even more at the cramp in his side. Between gasping for air and the pain in side-induced limp, this last leg of the journey was interminable.

Head down, he plodded on. Often his dad's hand would be on his back, offering just enough support to encourage him onward.

"Daniel. Stop."

He stopped, finding himself between a large tree and one of the boulders.

"We're here."

Blinking, Daniel looked around and realized they were only a couple dozen yards from the Stargate.

"Why don't you sit down here?" His dad dropped the packs and Daniel didn't wait to be asked twice. There was no wind here; the boulder was large enough to offer protection. He leaned against the boulder, curling up on his side and bringing his legs up close to his chest to try and ease the worsening cramp.


It took Jack and Teal'c all of five minutes to string up one of the space blankets between the tree and rock, giving them a bit of protection from the rain until Hammond dialed in and could send through more supplies. It wouldn't last long; the wind was already worrying the edges where they'd attached it to the stone. But it should be good for at least an hour or two.

"There. Not bad if I say so myself." Jack wiped wet hands on equally damp pants as he ducked into the shelter. Daniel was lying on his side. His face was pale and sweaty, with shadows under his eyes. There was an almost constant wheeze to his breathing; at a guess Jack would presume he'd developed bronchitis. A damp, cold planet was the last place he wanted his son; he'd give anything to be able to tuck him into his bed at the moment.

He sat down, and the pebbles beneath him made a noise. He looked at Carter and Teal'c, then at Daniel. "Okay, I know that wasn't me. Teal'c's the one who had beans for breakfast and while they call them the musical fruit..."

"It's the rocks." Daniel snuck out a hand from beneath the space blanket he was huddled beneath and flicked a couple of shiny stones. They made a musical sound. "Remember I told you how I got the door to the statue open?" He picked up a handful of the stones.

"Yeah. The Hathor, goddess of music thing?"

"I dumped a bunch of these into a small bowl and it made the door open." Daniel dropped the stones and they made more music.

"Nice, but not exactly a snappy tune." Jack grabbed a bunch of the rocks and dropped them onto the ground, trying to play the tune of 'shave and hair cut - two bits'.

"Are you hungry, Daniel?" Carter had pulled out several MREs and was going through the choices. "I can heat one of these up for you."

"Thanks, but I'm not hungry."

"Hey," Jack said, dropping the last of the stones and grabbing a cheese ravioli MRE. "You need to eat. I know you're not feeling that great but you need to keep your strength up. How about a bit of this? It's not your grandma's pasta but it's probably the next best thing among the bunch." Jack opened the package and removed the heater pouch.

"Maybe later, Dad."

"C'mon, just a few bites." He added a bit of water and stuck the MRE pouch inside, put both into the box it had come in and put everything aside to heat. "You'll feel better once you eat something. Or would you rather have some chicken broth?"

Daniel seemed to be weighing his options. "Broth."

"Okay. Crackers?"

"No, just the broth."

"How about broth and a few bites of my ravioli?"

"Fine." Daniel rolled his eyes as he huddled beneath the blanket. As Jack waited for the food to heat, he tore open the packet of crackers and placed it within Daniel's reach, as well as a chocolate brownie, a packet of cookies and a bag of peanuts. He was pretty sure Daniel would feel better once he'd eaten something hot.

Once he'd added dried chicken broth to steaming water, Jack handed the small, plastic cup over to Daniel. "Here. Careful, it's hot."

Daniel came up out of his cocoon reluctantly and reached for the broth. He took a small sip as he wrapped his fingers around the cup.


"My nose is stuffed. I can't taste anything." He took another sip.

Jack opened his meal, speared a piece of pasta on his plastic fork and held it out to Daniel. "Go on," he added when Daniel hesitated. "Don't make me play airplane." Jack got another eye roll before Daniel handed him back his empty fork.

Jack managed to eat three large bites before Daniel swallowed his lone ravioli. Jack speared him two, handed them to him and waited while Daniel teased one piece of pasta off the fork with his teeth and handed the second one back. Jack raised an eyebrow.

"I'm not hungry." There was defiance in Daniel's tone.

Carter swooped down on him before Jack could. "You've still got a fever," she said, putting her fingers to his forehead. "But your dad's right. You need to eat. Would you rather have some chili?" Carter held up her partially eaten supper.

"Or chicken. I believe you are partial to chicken," Teal'c added. "I would be honored to share my meal with you."

"Thanks." Daniel gave them all an obviously forced smile. "But I'm really not hungry. Maybe I could eat some crackers later?"

"Drink your broth at least." Jack looked at the chocolate brownie that Daniel was ignoring and began to worry even more.


Jack was shoving his trash into the MRE bag when Daniel, who'd been dozing, suddenly sat up and scrambled for the edge of the shelter. Before Jack could drop what he was doing and go after him, Daniel stumbled around the edge of the boulder and heaved. He hurried after Daniel, crouched next to his son who was in the process of ridding himself of every hard-earned drop of broth and food Jack had coaxed into him just a few minutes earlier.

The vomiting triggered a coughing spell and for the next five minutes, Jack waited while Daniel hacked up a lung, unable to do much of anything except crouch there, offer a comforting touch and watch his son struggle for breath.

"Shit." Daniel wiped a shaky hand over his mouth when he was finally able to breathe well enough to speak.

"C'mon, let's get out of the rain." Jack helped Daniel up, frowning as Daniel rubbed his abdomen. Jack figured it could be worse, those cramps of Daniel's could have stuff coming out of both ends. Then Teal'c was there, enveloping Daniel in the blanket as he stepped back under their makeshift shelter.

Daniel was shaking, whether from cold, fever or reaction, Jack wasn't sure. What he did know was that his son was exhausted and sick and miserable. When Jack sat next to him, Daniel leaned against him and Jack pulled him close, allowing him to use his chest as a pillow.

Jack kissed Daniel's temple; the skin was sweat-damp and hot.

"I'm sorry."

"Sorry? For what?"

"For giving you so much trouble."

"Trouble?" Jack wished Daniel would look at him instead of keeping his head down. "You going out and running with gangs and getting arrested would be giving me trouble. Sneaking out and coming home drunk at all hours of the night would be giving me trouble. Getting caught stealing would be giving me trouble. Being kidnapped and dropped on a planet with no way home by a bunch of assholes is not giving me trouble."

"But I..."

"But you, what?" Jack coaxed.

"If I wasn't who I was, this wouldn't have happened."

"Okay, usually I can figure out what you're talking about, but you've got me at a complete loss right about now."

"If I were a normal person, you know, born fourteen years ago instead of more than forty..."

"You are a normal person—"

"But I'm not. I lived a full life before I forgot it all. I went to school and got PhDs. I got married. I had a job. And then I forgot all of that for eight years and now I'm a teenager with the memories of the adult I used to be. How can you say I'm normal?"

"Because you're my son, and we're both living under extraordinary circumstances. I've seen you live with the secret of the SGC and never breathe a word of it to anyone. I've seen you grow up and become the incredible person you are now. I've seen you struggle with situations that most adults will never experience in their lifetimes. I've seen—"

"But it's because of who I am that all these bad things happened in the past year. Carolyn wouldn't have been forced to hurt me if I'd been nothing but your son. I wouldn't have gotten addicted to that drug, like the other Daniel, and—"

"And that Daniel would be dead if not for you."

"I wouldn't have had all those—" Daniel began coughing but he continued to talk through the spasms—"memories coming back to haunt me, making me look like a fool in front of my friends. I wouldn't have lost the last half of last year kicked off the soccer team—"

"And might not have met Dria. You were at the right place at the right time."

Daniel was crying, and Jack held him, waiting for the emotional need to come to an end.

"Are you ever sorry you have me?" Daniel asked, his words as shaky as his breaths.

"Never. Why the hell are you asking this?"

"Because you lost your friend when you got me. You could have done things with him, gone out with him, instead of being stuck with me."

"Hey." Jack gave Daniel a slight shake to make sure he had his attention. "I knew the other you for two years. Yeah, we hung out once in a while, did a few hockey games together. But then, I've had you for more than eight years. Eight years, Daniel. Do the math. Most of the time I don't even remember who you used to be. You are the person I love, and the person I'm honored to call my son. You are an amazing person, Daniel Jackson O'Neill, and you are the best thing that ever happened to me."

Jack held Daniel as he cried, and Jack realized the stress of the kidnapping combined with his illness had not only worn him down, but pretty much destroyed his emotional defenses. His kid was exhausted, and as the tears slowed, so did his breathing, until he was all but a heavy, limp weight in Jack's arms.


"Here we go." Jack stepped out into the rain, along with Carter and Teal'c, while Daniel slept on. The wormhole settled into a blue puddle and the M.A.L.P. came to life. The camera swiveled until it focused on them.

"Colonel O'Neill, have you had any luck locating Daniel?" Hammond's voice came through both his earpiece and the M.A.L.P.'s speakers.

Jack simply took a step to the side and pointed towards the shelter directly behind them. It took a few seconds, then the camera whirred and the lens turned, focusing on Daniel.

"He's sleeping. His cold's gotten worse," Jack added as the camera pulled back. "It's been drizzling almost constantly here. We could use some supplies to tide us over until tomorrow. Maybe a tent, a couple of sleeping bags, a heater—"

"Of course, Colonel." There was the sound of voices in the background, and Jack could picture Walter putting in a hurried call to Supplies.

"And if Fraiser could send through cough syrup and cough drops, I'm sure Daniel would be very appreciative."

"We'll give her a call. Unfortunately, I have bad news."

Jack's stomach clenched and went sour. "Cassie?"

"No, no, she's fine. I'm afraid you're stuck where you are for a few more days. The Tok'ra contacted us after you left and advised that they won't be able to get a ship to you right away."

"What? They were supposed to be here tomorrow."

"I know. Unfortunately the Tok'ra came across something they feel is more important so your ship was detoured to investigate. The good news is that they have an operative fairly close by whose mission should be ending in a day or two. By the time the Tok'ra can contact him and give directions, it may be another couple of days."

All Jack could think of was his son, out here, in the cold and damp. "Daniel..." He clamped his mouth shut. He could rant and rave all he wanted, but it wouldn't get him anywhere.

"I understand, Colonel. Doctor Fraiser is on her way here as we speak; hopefully she can send some medication through to make him more comfortable."

Jack nodded reluctantly, turning his attention back to his mission when Hammond asked him about the kidnapping situation. He quickly updated Hammond of the scant information he knew about Daniel's kidnappers.

"Doctor Fraiser is here, Jack."

"Colonel? I understand Daniel's not feeling well?"

"He's got one helluva nasty cough. Slight fever. Wheezing. No appetite. Threw up what little supper he ate."

"It's possible he's developed bronchitis. The weather doesn't look all too pleasant."

"The Caribbean it ain't."

"I'm told he's sleeping. Would it be possible to wake him up so I could have a look at him? I know it's not the best method of diagnosing but it might give me an idea whether he needs antibiotics."

"I'll get him." Carter was off in a flash, and a moment later, Jack heard Daniel coughing. The cough didn't abate as he shuffled over, nearly bent in two.

"Hey, Daniel."

Fraiser got a half-hearted wave in the direction of the camera.

"I need to ask you a few questions, okay? Can you tell me how you feel?"

"Crappy," Daniel croaked.

"Yeah, I can see that." There was some more behind the scenes chatter for a moment. "Can you be a little more specific?"

"I can't stop coughing. My head's killing me and I've got a cramp in my side that won't go away." There was an audible wheeze when Daniel spoke, until he coughed and cleared his throat. "Are we going home?" He turned to Jack with a hopeful look.

"I'm sorry, son," Hammond said. "There's been a delay in getting you home. You might be spending a few days longer on the planet before we can come and get you."

"Oh." The look of disappointment on Daniel's face was painful to see.

"It sounds like you've got bronchitis. I'll send some antibiotics and some cough suppressant. Try and drink as much liquids as possible; you needs fluids, and don't catch a chill."

As if in response, Daniel shivered and clutched at the edges of Jack's jacket.

"Go on, get out of the cold," Fraiser said gently.

When Daniel hesitated, Jack gave him a gentle push. "Go on," he urged.

"Colonel, we're sending through the supplies you asked for."

A moment later, the puddle warped and several objects rolled out of the Stargate.

"If Walter forgot anything, please let me know. We'll keep the wormhole active until Doctor Fraiser returns with the medication."

"Thank you, sir."

A quick examination of their supplies showed four sleeping bags, a tent large enough for all of them, a cooking stove as well as a small space heater, a box of food, two changes of clothes for everyone, several magazines, a deck of cards, and Daniel's iPod. Jack grinned as he pocketed it. He owed Walter a thank-you supper for thinking of this and getting it here this fast.

They made quick work of setting up the tent. Jack was spreading one of the sleeping bags inside when Fraiser's voice came through the wormhole.

"Colonel. I've got the medication, along with written instructions. Antibiotics, to be taken with meals, otherwise they'll upset his stomach. Compazine if he can't keep the food down. The cough syrup will ease his coughing but will also make him sleepy. And Advil, for his fever and cramps."

"Is there anything else you need, Colonel?"

Jack shook his head. "No, General, thanks. I think you covered everything."

"We'll be contacting you in five hours' so Doctor Fraiser can be updated on Daniel's condition."

"Thank you, sir. I appreciate that."

"We'll talk then." There was a pause, a small box popped through, and the wormhole disengaged.

Jack was about to call Daniel and tell him to get into the tent, only to see him already inside, sitting on top of a sleeping bag. Carter grabbed the box with the medical logo on top of it and followed Jack to the tent, prying the box open as she stepped inside.

Daniel was fiddling with his bootlaces.

"Here, let me help."

"No," Daniel said before Jack could crouch down to help him. "I gotta go."

"Go..." Suddenly Jack understood. "Okay, Teal'c set up a latrine down by the tree line. Think you can walk that far?"

"I made it here, didn't I?" Daniel got up, moving like an old man, hunched over and half-limping, half-shuffling his feet. He accepted the toilet paper Teal'c pressed into his hand and shivered when he got outside. Jack pointed him towards the stand of trees. When he began walking alongside Daniel, his son stopped and glared at him. "Where are you going?"

"With you."

"I'm going to the can, Dad."

Jack raised an eyebrow.

"A little privacy?"

"Okay." Jack deliberately turned his back on Daniel and waited until he heard him walking away. Then he turned and watched his son.

"He's going to have to eat something so he can take the antibiotics." Carter had two bottles of pills in her hand. "Maybe give him the Compazine first, so the food will stay down?"

"Yeah." Jack watched as Daniel stepped behind the trees. "Maybe that'll settle his stomach and the cough syrup will let him rest." Jack began pacing back and forth in front of the tent. "I can't believe the Tok'ra pulled the ship! You just can't trust these guys."

"They must have had a good reason—"

"Sure they did. As always. Something classified they won't even share with us and in the meantime, we're stuck on this god forsaken planet that won't stop spitting on us."

Jack fiddled with the iPod in his pocket, anxious to give it to Daniel and see his expression. At least he'd have a touch of home for a while, until the battery died. He glanced towards the trees, wondering what was taking so long. He heard Daniel cough, relaxed slightly, and paced some more.

"The Tok'ra, despite their faults, have rarely let us down." Teal'c stood, hands behind his back, also staring towards the trees. "The ship will arrive sooner or later. And even if they cannot retrieve us, the Daedalus will be available in several more days."

"I know, I know." Jack rubbed a hand over his hair, surprised to feel how much water had already accumulated on his head. "I just want to get Daniel home."

"We understand. But it is not as if we were completely cut off from the SGC."

"No." Jack knew Hammond would most likely send over anything he asked for, within reason. He just wished the wormhole was going in the opposite direction. "You're right."

"Is DanielJackson not taking an inordinate amount of time for a simple body function?"

"What?" Jack realized it had been several minutes since Daniel had gone to the latrine.

"Should we not go and see if he is ill?"

"Teal'c, he's taking a..." Teal'c was right. Daniel had been gone long. "Daniel? You okay?" Jack called out. When he didn't get an answer, he waved Teal'c and Carter back. Bad enough one of them was going to be intruding on his son's privacy.

"Daniel? Everything okay?" Jack asked again when he was just outside the trees.

"Dad, do you mind? I'm fine." Daniel's voice didn't sound fine; it sounded strained.

"Sorry. You've been gone a while. I was getting worried."

There was rustlings, and the sound of material. A moment later, Daniel came out from behind the tree. "I can't go." He looked embarrassed as he leaned a shoulder against the tree, rubbing his side.

"That's probably because you haven't eaten anything."

"Well, I'm not hungry. You saw what happened when I ate." Daniel's voice rose and his last words were garbled as he started coughing.

"Hey, calm down. Fraiser sent something to settle your stomach. Come on back to camp and we'll see if the pills help."

"I'm not hungry. I don't see how taking a pill is going to help." Daniel pushed off the tree, took a step, and suddenly gasped, falling to his knees, his arms around his abdomen.


"Oh god, Dad. It hurts. It hurts!" he screamed in between coughs.

"Where? Where does it hurt?"

"My belly," Daniel sobbed, openly crying now as Jack took him in his arms and held him upright.

"Teal'c!" Jack bellowed. "Carter!" He looked up to yell again when he saw Teal'c already running towards them, Carter just a few lengths behind.

"Did you pull something? Strain something?"

"No. It's been hurting on and off but not like this."

"What has occurred?" Teal'c was down on his knees next to Jack, trying to assess Daniel, who was sobbing against Jack's neck.

"His belly's hurting."

"He appears to be in considerable pain."


"What is it?" Carter slid on the stony ground as she tried to stop, nearly falling in the process. A moment later she was kneeling next to them. "What happened?"

"I don't know. Carter, all these symptoms..." Jack knew Daniel's pain could be from a variety of problems, many of them serious or life threatening. He glanced down to where Daniel's hand was pressed against the lower right side of his abdomen. "Do you think it could be his appendix?"

"I don't know. The symptoms seem to match." She put a hand to the back of Daniel's bent neck. "His fever's worse."

"Icky? We gotta get you back to the tent. Think you can walk?"

Daniel nodded, but made no move to stand. Jack shifted, widening the distance between him and Daniel, and Teal'c took hold of Daniel and raised him to his feet. Jack stood, and he and Teal'c each maneuvered one of Daniel's arms around their shoulders.

Daniel may have gained height in the past year, but he was far from gaining the bulk of his adult self. Jack supported his slight weight; they walked slowly, Daniel in very obvious pain, limping and favoring his right side.

Together, the three of them got Daniel stripped out of his damp clothes. His undershirt and shorts were relatively dry as were his socks, so they put him into the sleeping bag, where he curled onto his side, shivering. The screams and sobs had stopped; he'd gone quiet on the way back and hadn't said a word since. His lips were clamped tight; a sign of pain Jack had grown to know when Daniel had been an adult. He hated seeing it on his son.

When Jack moved away to zip the bag up, Daniel grabbed Jack's hand. "Dad!"

"I'm right here."

"Don't go."

"I'm not going anywhere." He moved back, grabbed a second sleeping bag with his free hand and tossed it to Carter. "Put that over him." Probably better not to zip up the bag in case Daniel got sick and had to get out in a hurry.

"Carter, we got any morphine in that kit?" The Advil probably wouldn't even make a dent in the pain Daniel was suffering.

"Yes, sir, but I wouldn't recommend giving him any. With that cough, I'm afraid it might affect his breathing and... Well, we haven't got any recourse to a medical facility."

"Right." He looked around helplessly. "Maybe the cough syrup... it might at least ease his cough, make him a little more comfortable?"

"He shouldn't eat or drink anything, sir."

Daniel settled, still on his side, body tense in pain and shivering, clasping Jack's hand like a lifeline.


Daniel coughed then moaned in pain, his leg straightening then coming back up to his chest. The last two hours had been difficult, watching Daniel suffering. Time had slowed to a crawl, and if it was this bad for him, he couldn't imagine how difficult it was for Daniel. He couldn't even distract him from... wait, his iPod.

"Hey, look what Fraiser sent through." Jack reached into his pocket and took out the iPod. Daniel opened one eye and stared at it expressionlessly. Jack handed it to Daniel, who reached for it, then lowered his hand, allowing it to thunk to the ground, iPod still clutched between his fingers but with no obvious intention of using it.

"Anything on there you want to listen? I can... Carter can try and find the songs for you."

"No... Maybe later." Daniel pushed the iPod away listlessly.

Jack glanced at his watch, then looked over at Carter and Teal'c. Both of them were watching Daniel. They, Jack included, were all waiting for a miracle; that somehow the Asgard got wind of their predicament and would beam them up any minute and Thor would fix Daniel's appendix. That the Tok'ra ship would arrive unexpectedly, pick them up, drop them on the nearest planet with a working Stargate and Daniel would be in surgery in the next little while. Or that the SGC would dial up the planet ahead of schedule and they'd send Fraiser through to help Daniel.

Instead, they had to sit here and wait, helpless, and watch Daniel suffer.

Daniel coughed again, his face scrunching up in pain as his inhalations became moans of agony. Jack couldn't take it anymore. "Where's the cough syrup?"

"Sir, he shouldn't—"

"He needs to stop coughing. This is killing him."

As if to punctuate Jack's words, Daniel coughed long and hard, barely having time to take air in. Jack leaned over Daniel, rubbing his back, wishing there was more he could do. When the coughing finally stopped, Daniel was dripping with sweat.

Carter stuck the opened bottle of cough syrup in front of Jack's face. Without a word, he put a hand under Daniel's head, raised it and put the bottle to his lips. He poured what he figured was double the dosage, waiting as Daniel swallowed and grimaced.

"What..." Daniel licked his lips.

"Just something for the cough." Jack traded the cough syrup for a bottle of water. He gave Daniel just enough water to rinse his mouth, then lowered his head back down.

"With luck it'll make him drowsy enough to ease some of the pain." Jack knew he was making excuses to Carter; what Daniel needed was a good, generous shot of morphine to kill the pain. But like Carter said, if his breathing was affected, he could end up choking on his own phlegm.

The cough syrup seemed to work; Daniel was cough-free for nearly twenty minutes. It didn't do anything for his pain but at least it didn't exacerbate it. Jack was pretty proud of himself, until Daniel suddenly scrabbled up and tried to crawl away from the bed. "Gonna be sick," he cried before dry heaving, expelling strings of saliva and a bit of bile onto the tent floor.

Arms shaking, Daniel was on the verge of collapsing. Teal'c grabbed him and hauled him back onto the sleeping bags, lowering him down gently.

Daniel was crying, and Jack felt beyond helpless. Help would be here in under two hours. He just needed to get his son through this.

Grabbing another sleeping bag, Jack spread it out next to Daniel and lay on his side, facing his son. Daniel's glassy gaze turned to him, silently begging him to help while he continued to cry silently. Jack didn't know what to say. Instead, he picked up the discarded iPod and examined it. "Anything good on this thing?" He surprised himself by locating what was presumably the on button on the first try.

Pressing a few buttons haphazardly, Jack brought up the playlist. He didn't recognize half the albums listed, and he scrolled through until he found something he knew. "Hey, I didn't know you had this in here." He untangled the wires, stuck one of the ear buds in his ear and reached over and fitted the second one in Daniel's. Daniel didn't take his eyes off Jack, even when the song began to play. Jack put the iPod down between them and caressed Daniel's cheek, wiping the tears away.

"It's going to be okay." Jack reached for Daniel's hand and squeezed it. "You just have to hang on for another hour or so. Hammond's gonna send help as soon as he hears about you. So you just hang in there. Can you do that?"

Daniel nodded, tears still streaming down his face. He clutched at Jack's fingers as a spasm of pain struck him, his face distorting as he gasped through it. Jack readjusted the ear bud, held on to Daniel's hand, and prayed.


It was a restless sleep, but at least it was sleep. Whenever Daniel's eyes fluttered open, Jack shushed him with a touch of his hand to his cheek, and waited while the spasm of pain eased and allowed Daniel to slip back into sleep. At least if he was sleeping, he wasn't hurting.

Or at least Jack tried telling himself that whenever Daniel moaned and squirmed.

"Dad?" Daniel's fingers clasped spasmodically against Jack's.

"I'm right here." Jack gave Daniel what he hoped was a comforting smile. "Go back to sleep."

"Uh... Hurts."

"I know, Icky. Just close your eyes. Fraiser'll be here soon." Jack ran the back of his fingers across Daniel's face, feeling the dry heat of fever. Exhaustion took over Daniel and his eyelids slid shut. Because of the pressure he kept on Jack's hand, he knew Daniel wasn't sleeping. His breathing was shallow and rapid, punctuated occasionally with a rasping cough.

The sound of the Stargate was the sweetest thing Jack had ever heard. He turned his head and motioned Carter and Teal'c, who were already getting to their feet, to go.

"I'm going outside for a moment," Jack told Daniel. "I'll be right outside the tent."

He replaced the ear bud with his earpiece, listening to the conversation between Carter and Hammond. He held his breath until Hammond informed her he'd called Fraiser to the Control Room. Jack stayed out of the conversation until Fraiser announced she was coming through with a medical team.

"General," Jack said quickly, taking a few steps away from the tent, and speaking softly so Daniel wouldn't hear. "While the situation is quiet at the moment, we don't know what things may be like in two or three days from now."

"Do you have reason to believe you'll be in danger, Colonel?"

Jack saw Carter turn back to look at him. He made a face, cursing at himself for not having discussed this with her and Teal'c first. "Look, Daniel's kidnappers left him here with a few days' worth of food. If they don't get Kinsey back, do you think they planned to just forget about Daniel and leave him here to die of starvation?"

"I'd like to think not."

"Me, too. While I'd like to think these people have a heart and wouldn't allow a child to die needlessly, these people are most likely ruthless. Strategically speaking, if they did so, they'll have abandoned the only bit of leverage they had. It would make more sense if they came back here to get him and try to force our hand somehow."

There was silence at the other end of the radio for nearly two minutes. Jack could picture Hammond and Fraiser going head to head on this. Jack would feel better having a medical team come through for Daniel, but logistically speaking, if they had to fight, these people could become a burden.

"Doctor Fraiser will be coming through shortly. We'll contact you then. Stargate Command out."

A moment later, the Stargate winked out.

Jack pulled his earpiece off and hurried back into the tent.

"Fraiser'll be here soon," Jack whispered to Daniel as he lay back down next to his son. Pain-filled eyes looked at him.


"Real soon. Fraiser's getting her gear together. Next time you hear the 'gate dialing, that'll be her coming over."

"Janet's coming here? She'll be stuck... What about Cassie?"

"Cassie'll be fine. You know Janet, she's probably already got everything in hand and is ordering Cassie to go stay with Grandma."

"Gramm..." Daniel cleared his throat. "Grandma?" he amended. "She doesn't know... She's gonna be worried. Who's gonna tell her we'll be late?"

"Shhh. I'm sure General Hammond's already talked to Grandma."

"Grandma's gonna be ang—Ngah!" Daniel yelled out in pain, grasping at Jack's hands. Thirty minutes, that was about the time it would take for Fraiser to kit up and gather her supplies. Thirty minutes, Jack kept reminding himself as he watched his son shudder and writhe in agony.


"Hey, Daniel." Fraiser spoke softly as she kneeled beside Daniel. "Can you turn onto your back for me so I can take a look at you?"

Daniel whimpered as he obeyed, his eyes tightly closed as Fraiser pulled the sleeping bag aside. Jack sat up, still holding Daniel's hand.

"I'm going to press on your abdomen. Tell me if this hurts anywhere." Fraiser began palpating the left side of his abdomen.

"Ow." Immediately Daniel pressed a hand against his right side. "It hurts."

"Okay." She moved Daniel's hand aside and put her fingers against the area he'd just indicated. "This might hurt." She pressed down on Daniel's side and let go.

Daniel screamed as he tried to curl up onto his side again.

"Damn it, Doc—"

"I'm sorry, Daniel." Fraiser put a hand to Daniel's bowed head. "I had to be sure." She looked at Jack. "That's called rebound tenderness. It's his appendix."

"That means..."

"Surgery. And the sooner, the better." She turned back to Daniel. "Honey, I'm going to finish taking your vitals and then I'll give you something to help with the pain, okay? Can you hang on for a couple more minutes?"

Daniel nodded as a coughing spell prevented him from speaking. Fraiser took his BP, pulse and temperature, then listened to his chest when the coughing stopped.

She hung her stethoscope around her neck and wiped the sweat from his face with her fingers.

"I'm going to set up an IV so I can give you some antibiotics for the bronchitis and something for the pain." She pointed at one of the boxes that she'd brought with her and Teal'c handed it to her.

She pulled out a box of latex gloves, snapped on a pair, removed the bags of solution she needed and quickly swabbed Daniel's forearm. Within a minute, she had the IV in place and taped securely. She removed a syringe and a bottle of medication, filled the syringe and slowly injected it into the IV. "There you go. You should start feeling better very soon."

Fraiser turned to Carter and Teal'c. "I need your help setting the area up for surgery."

"Doc, can I—"

"Stay with him," she said quietly. "This place is so small we'll be in each other's way if we try to pitch in together." She pointed to another box. "Teal'c, I'll need that box. Just let me give Daniel some glucose and the antibiotics."

Jack leaned over Daniel while Fraiser hung the medication. Already the tenseness in Daniel's body was lessening, and his death grip on Jack's hand was easing.

"Dad?" Daniel turned to face Jack.

"Yeah, Icky."

"It doesn't hurt so much."

"I know. Fraiser just gave you the good stuff."

Daniel did a slow blink. "Is Janet going to take out my appendix?"

"I'm afraid so."

"Here?" Daniel looked around slowly. His attention was on Teal'c and Carter, both of them wearing sterile gowns and gloves, hanging sheets around the tent. "Now?"


"What about Grandma?" Daniel turned to Jack, his eyes still glassy and slightly unfocused. "She's gonna be pissed if we don't call her."

"Yeah." Jack pressed his lips together, already hearing his mother's wrath for allowing this to happen to Daniel. Bad enough he got kidnapped, but he got bronchitis and appendicitis on Jack's watch. "She is."

"I can talk to her." Daniel licked his lips slowly. "I can... Tell her it... Wasn't your... Fault." His eyelids drooped with each pause of his words.

"Shhh, it's okay. Grandma will understand. Close your eyes and go to sleep."

"No." Daniel seemed to rally suddenly. "I can talk to her. Call her. Now. Gimme your cell."

Jack couldn't help but smile at Daniel's confusion. "It's sorta long distance, kiddo." Jack heard Carter snort and he glanced up to see her grinning. "You can call her when we get back home."

"Wanna talk to her now." The drowsiness was back, and Daniel was having trouble keeping his eyes open. "And I wan... na call Alex... an... dree... ya." His eyes closed, and his hold on Jack's hand lost its grip, his fingers going lax.

"Colonel, I need you to move, please."

When Jack backed up out of the way, Fraiser had Teal'c pull the sleeping bags from Daniel's body and she log-rolled him onto his side to place a sterile sheet underneath him. Daniel moaned softly as he was moved, but didn't wake up.

"Okay. I told General Hammond I could do this without a nurse, so I'm going to need one of you to assist me." Fraiser turned to Carter, who went pale when Fraiser pinned her with her gaze.

"Um, yeah, okay." Carter swallowed as she looked down at Daniel.

"Colonel. Teal'c. You'll have to step outside while we do this."

"Doc, I can't—"

"You can, and you will. This will be difficult enough; I can't allow you in here while I operate."

"I can help." No, he couldn't, and he wasn't sure how he'd react to seeing Daniel's stomach cut open but his kid had needed him and he felt like he was abandoning him by not being there.

"You'll help by waiting outside, with Teal'c." She turned to her medical supplies, not waiting to see if Jack was going to obey. "Sam, could you connect the portable ventilator to the naquadah generator? Teal'c, there's a lamp over in that box. Set it up so over on this side. Sam, I'll need you to connect the lamp also."

Jack didn't move; he remained crouched near the tent's opening, watching, mesmerized and sick to his stomach as Fraiser moved Daniel's arms to a ninety degree angle, making it look like he was lying on a cross, and swabbed a sterile solution over Daniel's abdomen and ribs, almost all the way to his back, and down to his pubic area before placing a sheet over him.

"Colonel?" Fraiser said, giving first Jack and then the tent's opening a pointed look.

"I'm going," Jack said reluctantly. Teal'c duck walked until he was next to Jack, and both crouched there, unmoving.

"Sam, I'm going to need to intubate Daniel." Fraiser measured out some more medication in syringes and put them aside on a tray nearby. "I need you to come next to me, and hold this." She handed Carter something. Carter took it and nearly dropped it, her hand shaking so badly she could hardly hold onto it. Fraiser looked at Carter's hand, then looked at Teal'c. She plucked the instrument from Carter, and crooked her finger at Teal'c.

"Teal'c, I need you to change places with Sam. Sam, I want you to escort the Colonel out, and don't let him back in until I say so. And seal the tent behind you as you leave."


The only sound coming from the tent had been the ventilator. Jack had sat there in the rain next to the tent for close to an hour but had heard nothing but the hiss of the machine and an occasional soft murmur. So when Fraiser called to him, he tensed.

"Doc?" His instincts were to rush into the tent, but he held back. Carter's hand on his arm made him realize he'd gotten to his knees and had one hand on the entrance.

"Everything's fine, Colonel. Daniel's fine. Just give us a few more minutes."

There were rustling sounds inside and Fraiser's soft voice, and then the sheets covering the door were pulled back, and Teal'c was there. "DanielJackson still sleeps." He moved aside, pulling the sheets he and Carter had put up earlier.

Jack stood, and on shaky legs, crouched down to enter the tent.

Daniel was lying on the sleeping bags. What Jack hadn't expected, was to see his son still hooked up to the ventilator. He gave Fraiser a startled look.

"I was right; his appendix was inflamed and was ready to burst. Another hour or so and we'd be dealing with peritonitis. He's very lucky."

"But the..." Jack waved a finger towards his mouth.

"Normally I'd extubate, but I think in this case, he deserves a little downtime to allow his body to recover from both the surgery and the bronchitis. I'll keep him sedated so he's comfortable and not feeling any discomfort."

"How long?"

"A few hours. Maybe until morning."

"But he'll be fine, Janet?" Carter had moved around to the far side of the tent and had sat down, cross-legged, next to Daniel. She picked up Daniel's hand and stroked the limp fingers.

"He'll be fine. Like I said, it's more about giving his body a chance to recover from the shock of the surgery as much as it is to keep an eye on his oxygen levels."

"So he's sleeping now?" Jack eased himself down onto the edge of the sleeping bag. He placed a hand on Daniel's cheek, watching his chest go up and down in a regular rhythm. His face was warm to the touch, and if it weren't for the plastic tubing affixed to the small machine, he'd have thought Daniel was sleeping peacefully and naturally. The signs of pain and illness were mostly gone, though, except for the pallor of his skin. "He's not in pain?"

"He's sleeping and isn't feeling anything, and I'll keep him sedated until I take him off the vent."

Jack passed his hand over his mouth, hating to see his son looking so vulnerable.


"It's okay, it looks worse than it really is," Fraiser said over her shoulder as she reconnected the vent after suctioning Daniel's trachea. The coughing spell had been harsh but from the sounds of what she'd pulled out of there, it was most likely a sign that Daniel was starting to recover from the bronchitis.

The tent was crowded with everyone sitting inside. It was pouring outside, the rain muting the sound of the vent as it cascaded against the roof. Portable lights and a heater made the tent comfortable, however, chasing away the humidity.

Fraiser moved back to sit next to Carter, where they'd been discussing some fashion things in a magazine. Jack had been ignoring them, his attention half on his son, half on the quandary they were in.

Jack turned to Teal'c and spoke softly. "I want you to backtrack Daniel's steps in the morning. Go towards that ravine we saw on the U.A.V. footage."

"You wish me to search for refuge?"

"Yeah. This tent is going to stick out like a sore thumb. But it's gotta be close enough that we can bring Daniel and defend it."

"That may not be possible. While there certainly must be cave systems within the cliff walls, it may be too difficult for DanielJackson to reach them."

"Let's worry about that once we know what we've got to work with."

Despite his words, Jack sat there and worried. He worked through several scenarios, all of them not meeting his satisfaction. Best case scenario – Carter discovered a way to fix the DHD and they would go home; worst case scenario – he didn't even want to contemplate.

He wanted nothing except to bring his son home safely. He turned to look at Daniel, and was surprised to see that his eyes were half-open.


Daniel's gaze shifted and he looked at Jack.

"Daniel's awake."

Awake, and aware, from the look of burgeoning panic on his son's face.

"Icky, it's okay," Jack said quickly as he lunged for Daniel's arm as Daniel raised his hand towards his mouth. Jack caught his hand and tugged it down while Daniel shifted restlessly. Fraiser caught Daniel's other hand as it started coming up.

"Talk to him, sir. Let him know everything's all right."

Keeping hold of Daniel's hand, he leaned over Daniel and smiled. With his other hand, Jack threaded his fingers through Daniel's hair.

"Hey. It's Daddy."

Daniel calmed down, although his eyes were still wide in fear. The hand Jack held stopped struggling and Daniel's fingers clutched Jack's wrist as two matching tears slid down Daniel's cheeks. Fraiser let go of Daniel's hand and out of the corner of his eye, Jack saw Fraiser measuring out a dose of medication into a syringe.

"You had surgery, remember? Fraiser's got you on a ventilator..." Jack patted his own throat. "There's a tube in your throat to help you breathe."

Fraiser injected the medication into Daniel's IV.

"Everything's okay." Jack eased his fingers across Daniel's cheeks as Daniel's eyes fluttered shut, wiping the twin lines of dampness with his thumb. The fingers holding onto his arm relaxed and Daniel's hand dropped to the ground.


"He came out of the sedation a little earlier than I expected, that's all." She patted Jack's hand. "He probably won't remember any of this."

Jack wished he could erase the memory of his son waking up terrified and helpless. Along with all the other memories of this trip from hell.


Daylight was beginning to lighten the tent walls when Jack gave up all pretense of trying to sleep. The vision of Daniel's pain-filled face while waiting for Fraiser to come through the Stargate kept haunting him every time he closed his eyes. He needed to see Daniel awake and talking, not in a drugged sleep, before those images could be pushed aside.

Fraiser was catnapping, Carter was snoring and Teal'c was sitting next to Daniel.

"Going to stretch my legs," Jack told Teal'c. He made his way to the latrine, then took the time to work the kinks out of his back and legs as he made his way back. He didn't rush; the rain had stopped although the sky was still overcast. He paused to look around their camp, mentally planning what needed to be done if his hunch was right.

Teal'c came out of the tent just as Jack decided he was going back in. His stomach immediately clenched and his heart began to race. "Everything okay?"

"DoctorFraiser is attending to DanielJackson. All is well."

Then Jack realized Teal'c was carrying his staff weapon.

"You heading out now? Before breakfast?"

"If your theory is correct, then time may be of the essence. The sooner we find more adequate shelter, the sooner we will be able to plan our defense."

"Just remember that Daniel's not going to be mobile any time in the near future. If we have to climb down into that ravine—"

"Carrying him will not be a problem."

"Maybe not for you." Jack winced at the thought of Teal'c carrying Daniel down a sheer rock. "It'll be murder on him, though."

"We may have no choice."

Jack was about to reply when the sound of Daniel coughing came from the tent. The severity of it had both Jack and Teal'c rushing inside, only to find that Fraiser had pulled the vent out and was placing an oxygen mask over his face. Daniel's face was red as he continued to cough for a while longer.

"He'll wake up soon," Fraiser said with a smile, patting the edge of the sleeping bag in invitation. She pushed aside a strand of hair that had caught on the edge of the oxygen mask.

"So he's..."

"Going to be in pain at first when he wakes up. Don't worry. I'll give him something to make him comfortable."

"How soon is soon?" Jack sat, leaning forward and staring at Daniel's face, willing him to wake up. Jack so wanted that vision erased by the sight of his son's smile.

"Soon," Fraiser said with an amused smile.

"Before I forget. I need you to pack up whatever you think you'll need for the next couple of days. Be ready to move out at a moment's notice. We'll need to get a stretcher from the SGC next time they call—"

"Colonel, you can't be serious—"

"Very serious. We may have to move fast—"

"Daniel's just had surgery. He can't be moved—"

Jack leaned over Daniel, keeping his voice low while making sure he had her attention. "Don't you think I know that? Don't you think that taking Daniel away from here is the last thing I want to do? But we need to get him out of sight and in some sort of shelter before the bastards who took him show up."

Fraiser bit her lip, staring at Jack, almost making him uncomfortable as he leaned back.

"How long do we have?"

"I don't know. Carter said it takes around twelve hours to fly here, and the President won't give them an answer until tomorrow. Twenty-four hours, maybe, if Teal'c finds us some shelter fairly close by."

"And what if there's nowhere to hide?"

Jack shook his head. "We hunker down behind one of those big rocks if we have to. But we can't stay here. If they manage to overpower us and capture us, then they can use SG-1 plus Daniel plus the SGC's chief medical officer as a bargaining tool to get Kinsey."

"Can't you bring in backup?"

"I could. But that could mean endangering more people without any recourse for rescue. Do you really think that Tok'ra ship is going to show up here tomorrow? I don't trust them, and I'm thinking we may have to wait until the Daedalus comes around for us."

Fraiser rubbed her forehead and she frowned. "I'll need to pack more than I can probably carry by myself."

"Not a problem. Carter and I can split the load." Jack glanced at the medical machines packed into the corner of the tent. "You're not taking any of that stuff with you, are you?"

"No, sir," Fraiser said with a faint smile.

"Good." He glanced at the equipment she'd brought with her, hating what he was going to have to do.

"Now," Fraiser said, motioning towards Daniel. "Call his name; see if you can get him to wake up."

Jack leaned over and said Daniel's name. He was rewarded with the rise of Daniel's eyebrows, but nothing more. "Icky, can you open your eyes for me?"


The voice was insistent, and Daniel struggled to obey. Opening eyelids that felt stuck together, Daniel squinted at a too-bright panorama before him. "Daddy?" He shut his eyes against the glare. His voice sounded weird, hoarse, and muffled somehow.

"Right here, kiddo."

"Ahh... Am I late for school?" He felt himself drifting off again.

"No, you're not late. Do you remember where you are?"

There was pressure on his right hand and he made an effort to squeeze back. "Um..." His head felt fuzzy and he had a feeling he wasn't in his own bed. There was a deep throbbing in his belly, and as he moved his hand towards the pain, his memory came back with the realization.

He was on another planet, and he'd been sick and in pain, and they were going to be stuck here for another couple of days. And his side still hurt. Janet was supposed to have made it better.

"I wanna go home." With the words came the overwhelming emotions. He felt himself take a deep, shaky breath, his throat tightening and his face scrunching up as tears slid down his cheeks. There was something on his face, irritating, and he tried to shove it away. "I wanna go home," he started to repeat. But his mouth was so parched, his throat so dry, that the words came out as a sharp cough.

Agony speared his side, fueling the tears and the coughing as pain stole his breath away. Then there was pressure against the pain, and the agony shifted to a more manageable level as he strained to breathe. He suddenly choked on phlegm and dry heaved several times. The something on his face was pulled away as he spat. For a few scary seconds he couldn't get any air in and then with a wheezy whoop, he could breathe.

Throughout the spell, his dad's voice whispered in his ear. When it was over and he lay there sobbing, he couldn't remember his dad's words, just the sound of his voice.

Daniel clutched at his dad and felt his arms around him. He raised him off the bed just a smidgeon and pulled him close. He was aware of Janet and Sam surrounding him but all he wanted was his father.

"It's okay. It's over. You're going to be fine," his dad repeated over and over, until the words finally made sense to Daniel. He nodded his understanding and felt his dad's fingers stroke his scalp. "Shhhhh."

"I'm sorry," Daniel hiccupped. He was still crying and couldn't seem to stop. At least the pain in his side had slithered away until it was just a dull cramping.

"It's just a side effect of the sedation. You have nothing to be sorry for." Janet touched his face and adjusted something. Daniel raised his hand to shove whatever was on his face and Janet caught his hand. "It's an oxygen mask. Leave it on for a while, okay?"

He nodded, his breaths shuddering and tight.

"Is the pain better? I gave you something to take the edge off."

He nodded again as the coughing started up once more. Janet took his hand and placed it over the area that hurt. "Here, press down, just like this when you cough."

The pressure eased some of the pull on his side. It still hurt, but it was bearable. Almost.

"Better?" his dad asked when he the coughing stopped again.

"I can't... stop crying," Daniel sobbed. He was mortified. Bad enough he was so emotional, but to have Janet and Sam see this...

"It's okay." With his dad rubbing his back and his cheek nestled in his dad's shoulder, Daniel began to relax.

"You're doing great, Icky. The worst is over now. You know, you got the lucky end of the draw. You get to laze around in bed until our ride shows up while the rest of us are at your beck and call."

Daniel chuckled weakly at the visual his dad's words evoked, and that was enough to break the crying jag. Limp and exhausted, he closed his eyes and let his dad wipe his face with something cool and wet. He felt himself sliding... drifting... and he fell, teetering on the edge of sleep.

"He's doing fine, sir." Janet's voice seemed to come from far. "You can put him down. He'll probably sleep for a while."

"No, I'm fine." His dad shifted slightly, getting a more secure hold. Daniel felt it in his side for a moment, then the discomfort eased. He sighed and shifted a little, getting more comfortable. He rubbed his face against his dad's shirt, moving the piece of plastic that was in his way. "But if you could..."

Someone adjusted the oxygen mask and Daniel just didn't have the energy to try to move it again. His dad was talking to Sam or Janet, but Daniel wasn't listening. He felt safe, just like when he was a kid and had crawled into his dad's lap. "Love you, Daddy."

Daniel hadn't realized he'd said the words aloud until his dad whispered in his ear, "I love you, too, Icky."



Jack started from a half doze, and keyed his mic. "Just a second." He stood, moving awkwardly from fatigue and stiff joints. Carter, sitting next to Fraiser amongst a pile of supplies they were methodically attempting to pack into two bags, nodded to indicate she was listening in on Teal'c's conversation.

Stepping outside, Jack made a quick dash under the shelter they'd erected yesterday. "Okay, sorry, I didn't want to wake Daniel. Go ahead. Didja find anything?"

"I have come across some ancient ruins next to the ravine but I am unable to go further. There is a chasm and the way across is blocked. Are you certain this is the route DanielJackson took?"

"He said he had to figure out some puzzles before he could get across that ravine. Is there anything written on the ruins?"

"There are hieroglyphs; while I recognize the symbols, they do not signify anything which could be meaningfully construed. There is also a depression within the stone. I can derive no meaning from it either."

While Jack had the utmost confidence in his son, knowing the man he once was and who he would be, he couldn't help wonder if Daniel had hallucinated the way here instead of actually crossing the ravine via the Indiana Jones method.

"What about the ravine itself? Is there any way down?"

"I have seen nothing as yet. I will continue my reconnaissance and inform you if I do."

"Gotcha. In the meantime, the SGC is due to dial in soon. We'll start cleaning up the place."

Jack decided he'd been lazy enough. While Daniel slept, he could start moving all the extraneous stuff next to the Stargate.


"I gotta pee."

"Hey." Jack looked away from the MREs he was sorting and grinned at Daniel. "Look who's up." The late-evening sun cast long shadows into the tent, masking the paleness of Daniel's face.

"I gotta pee now." Daniel pushed at the edge of the sleeping bag and Fraiser quickly left the card game she'd been playing with Carter and crawled over to him.

"Don't move. I've got it." She rummaged in a box and a moment later, came out with a plastic urinal. "Here." She handed it to Daniel who looked at it in uneasily.

"Can't I just..." He glanced towards Carter, who was still sitting in one corner of the tent, their interrupted poker game spread out before her, and then at the tent's exit. Jack felt sorry for him.

"Tomorrow, maybe. But it's barely been a day. I want you up and on your feet soon, but let's not push it until we have to, okay?"

"How about you guys give us a few minutes of privacy?" Jack suggested as he took the urinal from Daniel.

"Sure." Carter stood and stretched. "I could use a bit of fresh air." She grabbed one of the boxes Fraiser had deemed unnecessary and carried it outside.

Jack popped the top of the urinal and reached for the sleeping bag, then arched an eyebrow at Daniel when he pushed the sleeping bag back down. "I can do this by myself." Daniel looked pointedly at Fraiser then at Jack.

"Doc?" Jack motioned towards the exit with his head. Fraiser stood and left without a word, hiding the slight smile from Daniel. Jack, however, didn't move.

"I got it, Dad."

"I know." Jack ignored his son's whine and stayed where he was.

With a roll of his eyes, Daniel shoved the urinal under the sleeping bag. There was a bit of fumbling as Daniel maneuvered it into place. Then his eyes closed in relief as the sound of liquid pouring into a plastic container filled the tent.

Jack took it from Daniel when he was done and handed it to Fraiser, who was waiting right outside the tent's opening. A minute later she came back in and stowed the now empty urinal back into the box.

"How do you feel?" She bent over and listened to his chest with her stethoscope.

Daniel yawned. "Tired."

"How's the side? Does it hurt?"

Daniel shook his head from side to side on the pillow. "No. Just a dull throb if I move."

"Good." She hung the stethoscope around her neck and took Daniel's pulse.

"I'm thirsty."

Fraiser glanced at Jack and nodded. He grabbed a bottle of water and handed it to Daniel. When Daniel tried to raise his head and shoulders off the floor, he winced in pain and fell back. Jack eased his hands under Daniel's shoulders, giving him the support so he could drink.

"Just a few sips," Fraiser cautioned.

Daniel drank a little and handed the bottle to Fraiser when she let go of his wrist. Daniel's loud yawn migrated into a cough. As Jack held onto him, Fraiser reminded Daniel to press against his incision to ease the pain. By the time it ended, the setting sun had shifted and was shining right onto Daniel's face.

The change in brightness showed the spots of fever high on Daniel's cheeks as well as the shadows beneath his eyes. Jack let Fraiser tuck Daniel in when the coughing spree ended. It left him tired and sleepy, answering Fraiser's questions in monosyllables. He fell asleep as she was taking his blood pressure.

"Are we gonna be able to move him tomorrow if..."

"In any other circumstances, I'd advise against it."


"The alternatives don't give us a choice."

"I might be wrong about this." He hated second-guessing himself, but his instincts were screaming loud enough he was surprised nobody else heard them.

"And you might be wrong."

"I'm hoping I am wrong."

"So am I."

The sound of the Stargate had Jack out of the tent and doing a short jog to catch up with Carter, who was waiting next to the M.A.L.P.

"SG-1, this is Stargate Command."

"Stargate Command? We need a few supplies, and a favor."


The sound was repetitive, slowly seeping into Daniel's sleep-addled brain. Finally the cause of the noise clicked, and the realization drew Daniel from drowsiness to full awareness.

"Dad?" Confused and disoriented, he tried to sit up; his memories told him a Stargate being dialed wasn't always a good thing. He didn't manage more than getting his head and shoulders off the ground when the pain in his side told him that this wasn't such a good idea.

"Ow. Dad?"

"Daniel, it's okay." Janet popped her head into the tent and smiled at him before pulling back out. "Colonel, Daniel's awake."

"Tell him we'll be there in a minute." His dad's voice barely registered over the sound of the Stargate kawooshing into life.

Stepping into the tent, Janet crouched next to him. "They're almost done. Your dad will be here in a minute."

"Janet? Where..." Daniel looked around, seeing the inside of a tent. He blinked, totally at a loss as to why he was lying in a tent, and then the continued throbbing brought it all back. He gently touched his abdomen and felt the bulk of bandages beneath his fingers.

"You've been sleeping for most of the day. How do you feel?"

Daniel cleared his throat, feeling the tickle of a cough starting and hoped he could tamp it down. "Still a little tired."

"How's the pain?"

"It's not bad." He remembered worse. Much worse. "It's like a dull throbbing."

"I'll give you something for it in about a half hour. Do you think you could eat?"

"I'm not really hungry." Food was the last thing he wanted right now.

"I know. But you need to start eating." Janet picked something up and held out a small jar in one hand. "Apple sauce for starters." She picked up a plastic spoon and put both the jar and spoon aside. "Wanna try sitting up a little?"

"Um..." He winced in pain as Janet eased two sleeping bags under his back. But once he was settled, he was more or less comfortable.

The Stargate began dialing again, the chevrons locking into place more quickly than normal. He craned his head, trying to look out the closed tent flap but saw nothing. "What's going on?"

When Janet looked away awkwardly, Daniel got scared. "Janet?"

"We may have to leave this area tomorrow and go find some place that's not quite so open."


"The people who took you—"

"Are coming back?" Terrified, Daniel tried to sit up straight, but again the pain in his side prevented him from even doing more than a tensing of muscles and a drop back onto the sleeping bags.

"We're not sure whether they're coming back or not, but we're not going to take a chance. If we hide, then we have a chance of defending ourselves and surprising them."

The Stargate shut down, and started dialing again.

"What's Dad doing? Did Sam fix the Stargate?" He was confused; if the Stargate was working, then why would they have to hide.

"No. General Hammond has asked one of the teams offworld to dial the Stargate repeatedly so that the Colonel and Sam can use it to get rid of any excess belongings."

Daniel frowned, trying to remember and understand. They couldn't use the Stargate, so how could they get rid of anything? He pictured the Stargate, the rings dialing, the backwash flowing out like a waterfall before settling into the blue puddle. The few times he'd been allowed in the Gateroom when the Stargate became active, he'd have to stand a certain distance away because the backwash...

"Oh, I get it."

The Stargate shut down again.

"Here. Try and eat, okay?" Janet twisted the cap off the jar and handed it to him. Daniel reached for it and froze when he saw the label.

"Baby food?"

"It's the best we could do at short notice. Come on, eat up." She held the jar directly in front of his face.

Affronted, Daniel wanted to push the applesauce away. "Couldn't you have gotten me something a little less..."


"Embarrassing?" Daniel took the jar and the spoon reluctantly. As he tentatively dipped the edge of the spoon into the jar and put it into his mouth, he realized that the Stargate hadn't started up again.

He listened intently, waiting for it to dial again. Instead, all he heard was silence, and then the distinctive chime of the strange rocks mixed with two sets of footsteps. His dad came into the tent, grinning. "Hey, you."

"Hi, Dad."

His dad sat down next to him and glanced at the jar Daniel was holding in his hand. "Hey, looks like Fraiser's going hog wild with your supper."

Daniel fought the urge to hide the jar under the blankets when Sam entered the tent.

"Hi, Daniel." Sam's grin was as cheerful as her voice. "How're you feeling?"

"I'm fine." He looked towards the opening, but didn't hear anything else. "Where's Teal'c?"

"He'll be here in a minute." His dad reached for an MRE packet and tore it open.

"Janet says we're going to hide?" He dipped the spoon into the jar.

Intent on measuring water into his MRE heater, his dad nodded distractedly. "Just a precaution. Teal'c's out looking for a place that's more defendable than here."

Daniel couldn't help feeling responsible for their situation. He ate the spoonful of applesauce because he didn't know what to answer, and was surprised that it actually tasted good.

He was scraping the last of the applesauce off the edges of the jar when Teal'c entered the tent. He gave Daniel a wide smile when he saw him.

"You look well."

"Soup's on," his dad said, pointing to the pile of warming MREs. Teal'c put his staff weapon in the corner and sat down opposite Daniel.

"How are you?"

"I'm fine," Daniel said, beginning to feel a little embarrassed at the attention. "I feel better." He gave Teal'c a quick smile as he ate the last of the applesauce.

"So, did you find anything?" his dad asked.

"The ravine is too steep to attempt a descent. Even with the proper equipment, it would be hazardous."

"What about the bridge Daniel crossed to get to the other side? Maybe there's something there we could use?"

"I was unable to unlock the mechanism. The bridge is unattainable. It is blocked by a large slab of stone."

Daniel bit his lip, debating whether to say something or not. He fiddled with the empty jar, running a finger around the edge over and over.

"Is there any way over the rock?" Sam asked.

"Climbing over it would be difficult."

Daniel didn't miss Teal'c's glance in his direction. Again, embarrassment for their situation made his cheeks hot.

"But still possible?"

"For you and I, MajorCarter, possibly. For DanielJackson, it would most likely entail severe discomfort."

"I can get the door open to the bridge," Daniel blurted out. When all eyes were on him, he stopped fiddling and put the jar down. "I got through both sides to get here." He raised his chin. He'd done it on his own, even if he'd had the help of his old memories.

"That you did." His dad reached out and squeezed his toes, and Daniel wiggled them under his dad's touch. "We can go there tomorrow, see what choices we have if Daniel can't figure out the puzzle."

"There are few choices, O'Neill. I walked several kilometers in both directions and the terrain is open. There is no place to hide from aerial surveillance."

"We'll dig ourselves a trench if we have to and cover it with camouflage." His dad picked up his meal and began eating. The matter of fact manner in which his dad spoke quickly eased Daniel's anxiety. While he watched everyone tuck into their supper, Daniel began to have trouble keeping his eyes open.

A touch to his cheek woke him up. He jumped, startled, and came awake to a shot of agony in his abdomen. He gasped, choked, and began coughing. The agony became unbearable, until he remembered Janet's instructions and pressed down on the actual point where the pain was worst. It still hurt, but he was able to cough without screaming in pain.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you." Janet leaned over him, supporting his head and shoulders as he coughed up wads of gunk, holding tissues so he could spit.

He retched, felt his stomach tighten sickeningly, and then, almost as if in apology, his chest relaxed, saving him from embarrassing himself even more by throwing up the meager supper he'd eaten. He lay there panting, his lungs on fire as well as his abdomen. Slowly, his breathing slowed, his ribs loosened and he eased the pressure on the bandages. He turned his head just in time to see Janet replacing a cap on a syringe and he knew his comfort had been chemically induced.

"Here." Janet held a cup to his mouth. He drank eagerly, gulping a few mouthfuls before he recognized the taste of apple juice. Just as he began to enjoy it, the cup was empty.

"Thanks." He licked his lips, wishing he could have more as he eyed the cup as she set it down, out of reach.

"Do you want more?" Janet asked, reading his mind.

Daniel nodded, watching as she poured more juice out of a carton. "Where'd you get that?" This time he took the cup from her, sipping more slowly, taking the time to enjoy the drink.

"From the SGC. Figured we might as well stock up on the good stuff while we had the chance. Better than that powdered stuff in the MREs, isn't it?"

Normally Daniel enjoyed the MREs because they were a treat, used whenever he and his dad went on camping trips. But Janet was right. Right now, the apple juice slaked his thirst better than just plain water.

When he was done, Janet wrapped a blood pressure cuff on his arm and he watched his dad, who was talking with Teal'c and Sam. While Janet continued to check him out, Daniel tried to listen to the conversation, but was having trouble concentrating. He knew he was drifting, but he didn't want to go to sleep.

Despite his efforts, he only caught bits and pieces of the conversation. He started dreaming of the enormous stone base at the end of the bridge where he'd spent the night trying to puzzle out how to open. He walked through underground tunnels for a while, finding his way through a maze, until he came to the bridge. One of the carvings high up on the base was prominent in his mind: a crouching figure with an enormous horn held in upraised arms, with an elongated snake inside. He could still hear snippets of the conversation going round and round, no decision made, nowhere to hide. But he knew, somehow, that there was a place...

And then he knew, saw the image in his mind – first from textbooks studied out of curiosity, then examined more carefully with the pain and anguish of the goddess's near-victory still reverberating within him, searching for clues that might explain why Hathor had remained on Earth all these centuries.

"The Dendara Light."

Daniel didn't realize he'd spoken the words out loud until his dad said, "What?"

Sleepiness driven from him by the rush of adrenaline, Daniel half-raised himself on an elbow, ignoring the painful pull dulled by the medication Janet had given him. "Teal'c, does the Dendara Light mean anything to you?"

"It does not."

"It's a carving found in Hathor's temple in Dendara... on Earth," Daniel explained quickly. "It's been thought to have been a symbol of electric lights," Daniel continued, surprised at how hoarse his voice was, "although some scholars think it's a lotus flower with a snake inside—"

"Snake?" His dad said tightly.

"Um, yeah." For a moment Daniel was confused, until he realized that his dad's anger was aimed towards the fact that the Goa'uld looked like snakes. He waved his hand, trying to hurry past the flux of information coursing through his mind. "Some think it's a great serpent of light living in the heavens, inspired by the Milky Way. But that's not what's relevant. I was just wondering if Teal'c might recognize it."

"It does not sound familiar."

Unwilling to drop the subject, Daniel looked around for something to write on. "Let me draw it for you." He waved his fingers at the clipboard Janet had been using to keep track of his vitals. With a tolerant smile, Janet unclipped the top sheet of paper and turned it upside down.

With fingers that felt clumsy, Daniel took the pen and held the clipboard up in the air. He quickly drew the picture that was well ingrained in his mind's eye - a snake filling the length of an oval shape floating above a crouching man's head.

Before he managed to do more than draw the oval and snake, Teal'c grabbed the clipboard and pen from him. "I know this," Teal'c said, roughly finishing the sketch.

"No duh," his dad said, leaning close to Teal'c to examine the picture. Daniel couldn't help smiling as he met Sam's gaze as she tried to look over his dad's shoulder. Sam grinned back at him before looking down at the drawing.

"It is indeed a symbol of Hathor. It is also an indicator that there is a temple nearby. A marker of sorts, if you will."

"Daniel, is there a symbol like this somewhere nearby?" Sam's grin was gone, her face suddenly serious and military.

"Yeah. By the statues. Near the bridge."

"I did not see this symbol when I attempted to access the bridge."

"It was on the other side of the stone." The surge of energy was gone, leaving him limp and exhausted. And sleepy.

"T, how far would the temple be from the marker?"

"It would not be far."

"Walking distance?"

"A stone's throw, as you would say."

"Then that's where we're heading tomorrow."

Keeping his eyes open was just too hard. Daniel let them close, and the sound of everyone's voices started to fade...


"This stays between us," Daniel pouted as his dad held a jar out in each hand.

"Promise." Marking a small imaginary cross on his chest with his index finger, his dad was obviously trying not to smile but his eyes were crinkling. "So, what's your pleasure? Oatmeal with apples, or cereal—"

"That one." Daniel pointed to the jar in his dad's right hand, not caring what it was.

"You sure?" His dad jiggled the jar in his left hand. "This kinda looks yummy—"

"Whatever." Bad enough he wasn't hungry and Janet insisted he eat, but did he have to eat baby food?

Damn it, if his friends ever caught wind of this... And his dad thought it was amusing, because now he was openly smiling as he twisted the cap open.

"It's not funny." Daniel reluctantly accepted the jar and spoon, studying the label. Oatmeal with bananas. Great.

Not hiding his annoyance, Daniel stuck the spoon into the mixture. He studied the oatmeal a moment before eating it. He smacked his lips. He hated to admit it, but it tasted good.

He finished the oatmeal and dropped the empty jar on the edge of his sleeping bag. As tiny as the portion was, he was full and a tad on the side of being nauseated. Janet picked up the empty jar and spoon and without a word, tossed it in a bag they'd been using for garbage.

Teal'c entered the tent, carrying a long, metallic object. He also brought in a whiff of cool, damp air before he shut the flap behind him. Daniel shivered and pulled the sleeping bag up to his neck as Teal'c placed the long object at the far end of the tent.

"Bring it over here. Hammond'll be calling in about..." His dad checked his watch. "... Fifteen minutes. Might as well get ready to go, take the tent down—"

"Go? Now?" Daniel eyed the object warily as Teal'c set it next to him. He realized it was a stretcher. "Um, Dad? I can walk—"

"No way."

"I'm sorry, Daniel, but you've just had surgery. If you were in the infirmary right now, you'd be going no further than the bathroom."

"But we're not in the infirmary." Daniel tried to roll onto his side, set on showing everyone that he was fine and could pull his own weight. He'd done so when he'd been an adult; here he was in a situation pretty similar to the ones he'd experienced as a member of SG-1 and everyone was treating him like a baby.

Teal'c kneeled next to Daniel and placed a hand on his shoulder before he could do more than move his legs in his attempt to sit up. "Reflect on this. Were you to insist on walking, you would be in pain, and would thus slow us down. Speed may be of the essence, and so this solution will benefit us all, as well as ease your father's peace of mind. Carrying you will not be a burden."

"I..." He looked around, seeing everyone's set expressions. "I don't have a choice in this, do I?"

His father shook his head.

"I'm going to zip you up in one of the sleeping bags. Are you okay with that?"

Daniel nodded reluctantly, and Janet placed the sleeping bag that had covered him into the bottom of the stretcher. With a bit of maneuvering on her part and a lot of pain-felt hissing on his part, he was zipped up tight as a mummy. He hated the restrictive feeling and immediately unzipped part of the zipper so he'd be able to stick his arms out.

"Now, the Colonel and Teal'c are going to lift you into the stretcher. Don't tense up. Just let them carry your weight."

It hurt when the sleeping bag pulled his body awkwardly. But they lifted him quickly and moved him the few inches before lowering him into the stretcher. He felt embarrassed about being carried, but didn't say a word as she put his IVs into some sort of a bag and hung them on a short pole attached to the stretcher. But as Janet began tying him into it, he realized he was well and truly trapped inside.

"No!" He tried to kick aside the straps she had laid over his legs, but between the sleeping bag and the pain in his belly, his range of motion was severely limited.

"Daniel." She dropped the straps and placed her hands on his legs, forcing him to hold still as he panted through the pain. "It's just to make sure you're secure."

"Don't. Please, don't tie me up in here." He struggled to get his arms out again, trying to lever himself up against the metal edges.

"Icky, it's just to make sure you don't fall out." His dad put a hand on his arm and Daniel tugged it away.

"Okay. Okay. I won't strap you in." She pointedly raised one hand and slowly picked up one of the straps and tucked it in under his feet. "Okay?"

He was shaking, not relaxing until the last of the straps were hidden from sight. Janet placed a backpack at the foot of the stretcher and nodded at his dad.

"I'm almost good to go." She moved to the head of the stretcher and kneeled next to Daniel. "I'm just going to tug the edge of the sleeping bag over your head." She winked at him. "Trust me?"

Feeling slightly ashamed at his outburst, Daniel nodded. Janet pulled on the edge of the sleeping bag he was lying on, tugging it up over his head, adjusting it so it made a hood. "This will help protect you from the rain and the cold."

His dad and Teal'c picked up the sides of the stretcher and he pushed against the edges with his arms, afraid to fall out. For a moment he was sorry he'd insisted on Janet not securing him but then they moved him out of the tent and he was back on the ground, his limited view of the Stargate before him.

When everyone started taking down the tent and the lopsided shelter, he couldn't help but feel abandoned. He watched them work quickly and efficiently, feeling like that proverbial third wheel.

The chevrons started to light up just as his dad was dragging the tent over to the Stargate. Teal'c picked up the other end of the tent and with perfect timing, they tossed it into the backsplash. Sam and Janet had some things in their hands that they threw in also. When the wormhole stabilized, everything was obliterated.

His feelings of isolation increased as everyone hung around the wormhole, talking into their radios. His dad paced, his gait stiff, his shoulders tense. The sound of his dad's footsteps, magnified by the tinkling of the odd rocks underfoot, helped to cover their one-sided conversation.

His dad's to and fro made him dizzy so he closed his eyes. The footsteps were almost musical, lulling him... back... and forth... back... and forth...


He opened his eyes, almost reluctant to wake up. His dad was kneeling next to him, his fingers cool against his cheek.

"Dad?" He licked his lips. The music was gone.

"We're heading out."

"Where?" Daniel asked sleepily.

"We're going to look for that temple Teal'c thinks is next to the ravine." His dad took his fingers away and fiddled with the edge of the sleeping bag.

"Okay." He wanted to close his eyes, but remembered his dad's restlessness. He glanced over at the Stargate. It was idle, and he could see Sam and Janet standing next to it, looking his way. "What happened?"

"Hammond says they think the ship that brought you here is on its way back."

Those words made Daniel want to jump and run away and hide. Instead, all he could do was try and grip the edges of the stretcher, fingers not quite catching the rim through the heavy material of the sleeping bag. He glanced up into the sky worriedly, half expecting the ship to make an appearance overhead.

"We've got a little while. McKay says maybe six, eight hours. Plenty of time to find a place to hunker down. Okay?"

Daniel felt the prickle of tears. He nodded, not trusting himself to speak. He wanted to rage and scream and cry in his dad's arms, and as good as that would feel, he knew giving in to his fears and frustration would just hold everyone back. He put on a brave face and gave his dad a forced smile.

"Good. We'll be there before you know it."

A moment later, everyone surrounded him and each gripped an end of the stretcher. It tilted slightly then evened out. His dad was behind him on his right, Janet on his left, with Teal'c in front of Janet and Sam in front of his dad. The motion of the stretcher was odd, not quite nauseating but not quite comfortable, either. Watching people's heads bob up and down was definitely nauseating, however, forcing him to close his eyes.

Footsteps tinkled with their passing, and Daniel began listening to the sounds they made. He drifted, hearing a few favorite songs in his mind.


Jack glanced continuously at his son as they carried him across the desolate land. Daniel looked like he was sleeping but he was restless, occasionally mumbling a few words now and then. They'd taken advantage of a few minutes of true slumber shortly after starting off so that Frasier could properly strap Daniel down in the stretcher. But the going had gotten hillier lately and every time the angle of the stretcher changed, even in his sleep, Daniel would make a grab for the edge of the stretcher.

"How much further?" Jack asked as they made their way uphill again. They'd been walking for three hours and even though they'd changed positions a few times, Daniel's weight was becoming increasingly heavier. Plus their time was growing short.

"We have nearly reached our destination."

And true to Teal'c's word, as they topped this last hill, they arrived at the ravine. And about a quarter mile away was a huge square stone, the size of two dump trucks sitting one on top of each other. Across the chasm, an enormous cat statue seemed to watch them approach.

They headed for the large stone. The wind was picking up, throwing damp, moist air at them. It was with relief that they reached the shelter of the large stone. As they put Daniel down, Fraiser crouched next to him and gave him a quick once over while Carter, Teal'c and Jack looked around.

As Daniel and Teal'c had mentioned, there were carvings on the stone. From what Daniel had described to him, the small depression in the stone was most likely the key to this puzzle.

"Daniel said he dropped those musical rocks into a similar depression on the opposite side to open the door." He picked up a handful of rocks, selected the ones that made noise, and dumped them into the indentation. The rocks hit the stone with a jarring ring and clattered noisily to the ground. Nothing happened.

"I guess that would have been too easy." Jack wiped grit from his hands on his pants. "Do you have any idea what any of this says?"

Teal'c stepped back, examining the expanse of writing. He waved at a series of hieroglyphs written down the left side of the depression. "These are numbers. The remainder is simply pictographs of Hathor's rule."

Jack shuddered. He told himself it was the damp cold and not the memories that name evoked.

"Is there anything here about the Dendara Light Daniel mentioned?" Carter had moved to the other side of the rock and was examining the carvings there.

"There is not."

"Okay." Moving back to the front of the stone, Carter pulled her backpack off and took out a pad of paper and a pen. She pointed to the series of glyphs Teal'c had said were numbers. "Can you read those numbers to me?"

A minute later, she had a series of numbers filling half the sheet of paper. She stared at them a moment, her eyes scanning the numbers for a while, mumbling to herself. "There are four sets of nine numbers which repeat with a slight variation." She looked up quickly at Jack. "If you're right, Colonel, and the stones have something to do with letting us through, then at a guess, I'd say the numbers represent musical tones."

She crouched down, picked through the stones for a large handful of the funny ones, and divided them into groups according to the numbers on her sheet. She tossed two of them together onto the depression, followed by four at a time, two singles, three, six, two, three and four. Each time the mix of rocks hit the depression, it created a different musical tone. "That's the first set—" She broke off when the sound of grinding stone drowned out her words. She grinned up at Jack as she gathered her stones while he and Teal'c moved to the side where a large slab broke away and moved inwards a few inches.

The second set of musical tones gave them a few more inches. The third set resulted in the stone barely moving, and the fourth produced nothing. Jack examined the opened space. The wall itself had moved, exposing a five-foot long tunnel, opening up into a larger space within the large square itself. The tunnel would be a tight squeeze, especially for Teal'c, but it was doable.

"It looks like it should open more than this." Carter was examining the interior of the rock. "It looks like the mechanism is stuck." She rubbed her fingers against the rock where ceiling met wall. "The stretcher's not going to fit through that," she said as Jack motioned Teal'c to go inside and check things out.

Biting his lip, Jack nodded.

"Can Daniel walk?" he asked Frasier as he rounded the corner to where she and Daniel were.

"I wouldn't recommend it—"

"We got the doorway partially opened but the stretcher's not going to fit. He won't have far to go, just a few feet."

Fraiser sighed. "We'll need to get him dressed first. Are you sure there's no way it can fit?"

"I'm sure." The sound of rock grating on rock once more was loud. "Carter!"

"The doorway's closing, Colonel."

"Teal'c?" Jack first shouted before reaching for his radio. "T, you okay?"

"I am fine. I have begun traversing the ravine. I will advise you of what I discover when I attain the other side."

"We'll need to move pretty fast when we get that doorway open again," Jack told Fraiser. "Carter, get ready to open the door on my say so," Jack yelled.

"Yes, sir." Carter's voice was muffled by the wind.

Fraiser pulled out a spare set of BDUs and began undoing the straps holding Daniel secure. As she unzipped the sleeping bag, Daniel stirred.

"Dad?" Daniel's voice was thick with sleep and phlegm.

"Right here, Icky. We're gonna get you dressed, okay?"


Trying to keep as much of the chilly air away from Daniel's bare legs, Jack threaded first one leg, then the other, into the pants. With Fraiser's help, he got his semi-awake son to roll first on one side and then the other so he could pull the pants up to his waist. Daniel hissed in pain a few times.

"Give me a moment, sir." While Fraiser disconnected the IVs, Jack took Daniel's boots out of his packsack. "I'm going to put a saline lock on these, so I can reconnect the IVs once we're through."

By the time Jack got Daniel's boots onto his feet, Frasier had taped the end of Daniel's IVs to his arms and was deflating some sort of bags she'd stuck the IVs in earlier.

"Daniel, we're going to sit you up. Just let us do the work, okay?"

He and Fraiser pulled Daniel up. "Sorry," Jack said to Daniel's softly spoken "Ow."

Balancing one knee inside the stretcher, Jack took Daniel's weight while Fraiser got a tee shirt over his head. By now Daniel was shivering. Jack began pulling his jacket off but Fraiser shrugged out of hers more quickly and urged Daniel to put it on.

"Carter, get that door open again."

"Yes, sir."

"We're going to stand you up now, Daniel." Fraiser pulled the sleeping bag away from Daniel. You ready?"

Daniel nodded, his face white and pinched. Fraiser took Daniel's weight while Jack got to his feet, crouched down and with his hands under his son's arms, slowly pulled him upright.

Daniel's legs were shaky; Jack could feel him trembling to stay upright. He was hunched over, his right hand covering the right side of his abdomen. With one hand holding on to his backpack, Jack supported Daniel with his other and urged him around the corner. Fraiser quickly rolled up the two sleeping bags, somehow broke the stretcher into two pieces and dragged everything over to the slowly opening stone doorway.

"Come on." Jack went first, leading Daniel into the tunnel. Jack hated the way the stone pressed in against his chest and back, but he resolutely kept moving, tugging at Daniel, one arm around his chest, giving him no choice but to keep moving. Jack felt the seconds ticking. His heartbeat was loud in his ears, and each thump was a countdown to the moment these walls were going to close in on them.

He could hear Fraiser and Carter behind them, breathing hard, the sound of metal on rock making Jack's teeth hurt as the women pulled their belongings along with them.

Daniel was using the stone face to move, pushing with his left hand as he slowly shuffled sideways. They were more than halfway through when Daniel started coughing.

"I can't... Gotta stop."

"Just a little further." Ignoring his son's pain, Jack gave him no choice and pulled him sideways. Daniel nearly fell against Jack. It was only the tightness of the tunnel that kept him on his feet. Then Jack was through and he tugged Daniel the rest of the way. His son's scream nearly cut his heart in two.

To Jack's surprise, Teal'c was there, waiting for them. He caught Daniel as his knees crumpled, pulling him out of the way so that Fraiser and Carter could hurry out.

Carter, arms laden with the sleeping bags, tossed them into a corner and reached inside, tugging hard on something. Then Fraiser was through, pulling the pieces of the now somewhat bent metal of the stretcher with her. Both women were breathing hard as Fraiser tossed the stretcher to the side and hurried to Daniel.

The sound of the closing tunnel was loud in the small space.

Daniel was curled on his side, sobbing in pain, his face smushed against Teal'c's chest. "I'm sorry, Daniel," Jack uttered, knowing he was responsible for his son's pain.

"Daddy." Blindly, Daniel reached out with one hand.

Jack grabbed it, rounding awkwardly around Fraiser's bent body as she tried to assess Daniel. "I'm right here."

The space they were in was small. Barely six feet by six feet, surrounded on three sides by stone walls, the fourth side was open, with the chasm spreading out before them. Jack glimpsed a stone walkway going across the ravine as he moved sideways on his knees, past Fraiser. He tried to ignore the drop, fighting the vertigo that flared from his proximity to the cliff's edge.

"I don't think he tore anything." Fraiser gave Jack a concerned look. "He needs something for the pain. Just let me put the stretcher back together and..." Her voice dropped off as she stared over Jack's shoulder, at the sight behind him. "Oh my goodness," Fraiser said, the words coming out of her mouth so quickly, even Daniel picked up on her awe.

"No," Daniel uttered, his face going white as he stared at the ravine. "I'm not going back over that. I don't wanna go over that again. Been there. Done that. I'm not doing that again."

In pain or not, Daniel was stubborn, and though Jack knew it was a stubbornness born of fear and as bad he felt, now was not the time for his son to stick his heels into the ground and refuse to move.

Teal'c rubbed a hand up and down Daniel's back. "You need not be afraid, DanielJackson. We will carry you. You will be safe—"

"No. I can't. I can't. Please, please don't make me." Daniel's insistent protests first became hiccupping sobs then turned into coughs. Jack kneeled there helplessly as Fraiser and Carter struggled to put the now battered stretcher together again.

"Teal'c's right. We'll be carrying you over." Jack looked at the distance they had to traverse, the wind howling loudly across the chasm, and wondered how the hell they were going to manage walking over something that, from where he was sitting, looked to be no wider than a tightrope, while at the same time carrying Daniel across in a stretcher, as well as fighting the gusts of wind.

"Please, please, can't we just stay here?" Daniel gasped.

"If we remain here," Teal'c said as he gently pulled Daniel's face away from his chest, "we will soon be discovered. However, on the other side, there is a way into Hathor's sanctuary. Safety and shelter await us on the other side."

"But I can't," Daniel hiccupped.

"I can sedate him," Fraiser said softly to Jack. "He can sleep while you carry him—"

Daniel's eyes widened in fright as he stared at Fraiser. "No! What if you drop me?"

"Oh, Icky." Jack didn't know what else to say because he shared the same exact fear. This was something that nightmares were born of and he could predict more than a few sleepless nights in his, hell, in all their futures.

"Do you believe yourself able to walk the distance?" Teal'c put a hand to Daniel's cheek, catching his attention.


"Are you well enough to walk?"

Daniel looked outside again, then at the stretcher Fraiser had finally put back together. "I can walk."

"Then we shall walk together." Teal'c slowly eased away from Daniel, picked up the stretcher, separated it into two, and attached it to his backpack. Then with a gentleness belying his size, he slowly brought Daniel to a standing position. Jack scrabbled to his feet, struggling to put his backpack on.

"Give me your hands." Teal'c held out his hands.

Daniel hesitated only for a moment, then grabbed Teal'c's forearms. Teal'c pulled Daniel forward one step so that they were almost chest to chest.

"I will not let you fall. Your father will be directly behind you, and will help support you should you falter."

That was Jack's cue, and as he stepped forward after motioning Carter to go across first. Teal'c took one step backwards, his foot unerringly finding its way onto the stone slab connecting the two cliffs. Daniel shuffled forward, then pulled back.

"I can't." He tried to tug his hands away from Teal'c's, but Teal'c held on firmly. Jack stepped up right behind Daniel, put his arms around his son's waist, and spoke into his ear. "I'm right here. We're gonna do this together."

"I... Dad, I can't."

"Do not look down, DanielJackson. Look into my eyes. Trust that you will not fall."

Jack could feel Daniel shaking as he took a single step forward. Then Teal'c took another step backwards, forcing Daniel to move forward. Then it was Jack's turn. Damn, the ledge was narrow.

He could hear Fraiser behind him, her feet, like all of theirs, would occasionally touch one of the musical rocks and the sound bounced back and forth, echoing throughout the chasm. He motioned for Carter to go on when she paused to wait for them. Jack figured they'd gone about fifteen feet when he heard the sound of rock on rock.

Unable to turn around and look back because he was afraid of upsetting Daniel's balance, Jack called out over his shoulder.


"The outer exit just sealed itself, sir."

The wind was just as cold as Jack had suspected it would be. He followed Teal'c's advice and didn't look down. Instead he stared at the back of his son's head, watching the wind whip his hair. One slow step at a time on Teal'c's part. Two slow shuffles on Daniel's. Slowly, they crept across the ravine. Carter had already disappeared into the cat colossus on the other side.

There were times when Daniel shook so hard, Teal'c had to stop and support him until his legs could hold him up again and he could move on. By the time they were halfway through, Daniel was crying silently, but he resolutely put one foot in front of the other.

It felt like forever, but the other side finally seemed to be attainable. Twenty feet. Fifteen feet. One slow step backwards for Teal'c, an even slower shuffle forward for Daniel. Ten feet. Daniel was shaking again, and Jack knew they'd have to stop. "We're nearly there," he told Teal'c when the Jaffa pulled Daniel close, taking all his weight. Teal'c's gaze met Jack's over Daniel's bent head. "Maybe ten feet."

Moving slowly and cautiously, Teal'c took half steps backwards. Inching backwards with Jack's son in his arms, Teal'c made it to safety. Once on solid ground, he pulled back into the cave deep inside the stone cat's belly. Jack, who'd followed Teal'c step for step, refrained from making that last jump inside. Instead he moved into the center, walking next to Teal'c, ignoring the shaking of his legs now that they were safe.

Fraiser came in behind him, and Fraiser was waving Teal'c to the far side of the cave, away from the wind. Instead, Teal'c remained in the center.

"Take him," Teal'c said to Jack.

"No, you need to put him down," Fraiser insisted, tugging on Teal'c's arm.

"I will in a moment. First we must activate the transport device."

"Transport rings?" Maybe Lady Luck was finally going to give them an inch or two.

Teal'c glanced downward. "Indeed. Do you not see their outline in the sand?"

Then Jack saw it as he took Daniel so Teal'c could move away. Sand had partially hidden the circle on the ground, but Carter had exposed the outline, brushing away the grains with her foot.

Daniel was a dead weight and for a second he thought his son was unconscious. Then Daniel shifted as he coughed, trying to press against his abdomen with his hand. He moaned as Jack struggled to hold him up.

At Teal'c's directions, Carter and Fraiser entered the circle. Teal'c fiddled with something behind some elaborate carving on the wall, then hurried back to them. Several seconds later, the transport rings came up, surrounded them, and in a flash of light, they were somewhere else.

Somewhere warm, dry, and dark. Absolutely pitch dark.

"Carter?" Hands full, Jack couldn't even begin to search or a flashlight.

"Just a second." There was rustling, then twin sets of lights illuminated the place. Teal'c and Carter, both armed with flashlights, gave the place a quick look over. The glimpses Jack got showed a large room with a doorway leading into a corridor behind him.

"Here, put him here." Fraiser pointed to a corner of the room. "Teal'c, if you can put that stretcher together, we can lower Daniel into it."

It took Teal'c less time to get the stretcher together and into the corner, along with a sleeping bag to soften the hard edges, than for Fraiser and Jack to manhandle Daniel over to it. Teal'c picked up Daniel's legs and they lowered him down.

They tried to be gentle but Daniel yelled in pain. Jack got up reluctantly as Fraiser began examining Daniel. "Check the place out," he ordered Teal'c and Carter. Jack knew he should be doing his own exploring, but he couldn't bring himself to leave his son. He lowered his pack, took out his flashlight and stuck his head out into the corridor. He could see the beam of Carter's flashlight as she walked down the corridor Teal'c had disappeared into. Jack aimed his flashlight in that direction and saw that the corridor turned.

Jack waited until Carter's light disappeared before returning to Daniel's side. Fraiser had set up the IVs again on the pole and was reconnecting them to the thingies on Daniel's arms.

Daniel had curled up on his side, his breathing loud and harsh and it was then Jack took note that the sound of the wind was non-existent. He kneeled next to him and pushed back a lock of hair that was stuck to Daniel's sweat-damp cheek.

"I'm giving him something for the pain, and something to sedate him so he can get some rest. There's no way he can walk anywhere—"

"We're not going anywhere if we can help it."

He watched as Fraiser injected two different types of medication into one of Daniel's IV. It didn't take long for his breathing to slow and his body to loosen. After a minute Daniel opened his eyes. His gaze was unfocused as he looked around.


Daniel honed in on Jack's voice. "Dad?"

"Feeling better?"

"Mmmm. I'm... sleepy." He did a slow blink.

"Then go to sleep."

"We made it?"

"Yeah, we made it. We're safe and sound." From Jack's mouth to god's ears. Jack could only hope the ship coming their way didn't have scanning capabilities.

"Gonna sleep now." Daniel's eyes fluttered shut, and the lines of pain and fatigue eased as he slept.


The suddenness of the lights coming on, dim though they may be, had Jack reaching for his radio. "Please tell me one of you turned the lights on?"

"The power source is shielded, and although nearly depleted, there is enough energy to provide lighting."

"Ah, I take it the lights were your doing, Teal'c?"

"Actually, no, sir, that was me."

Jack clicked his flashlight off and stuck it into his backpack. "What did you guys find?"

"This complex appears to have been deserted since before Hathor's imprisonment on Earth."

"So I take it the maid's not been around in a few centuries?"

"I found the main control center, sir. Teal'c's right; there's a bit of power left but it won't do much more than turn on the lights and—Whoa."

Immediately Jack tensed. "Carter?"

"Something just came online. Teal'c, I may need your help. Do you think you can find your way to me?"

"I will be there shortly."

"Carter, did you touch something?"

"Um, no. I think it may be an automated system. At a guess I'd say it's a long-range sensor. I need Teal'c to translate."

"How safe do you think this place is?"

"I don't know for sure. I'll know more when Teal'c gets here."

"Colonel, I'm fine here with Daniel if you want to go and join them." Fraiser patted the edge of the stretcher. "He'll sleep for a while."

Jack licked his lips, looking down at his sleeping son. He nodded slowly. If anything, he needed to get the lay of this place. He hoped they'd be safe but chances were, the approaching ship had sensors that would sniff them out from orbit.

He motioned to the radio, silently reminding Fraiser to keep in contact, and with a last glance at Daniel, stepped through the door and into the dim hallway.


The Goa'uld were never very imaginative; you'd seen one multi-complex temple, you'd seen them all. Based on the few times he'd spent time on motherships and in places such as this, and from studying the mission reports of other teams, Jack had a pretty basic idea on how to get to the main control center and after just two wrong turns, he made it under eight minutes.

"Hey, kids."

Teal'c had heard him approach because he'd been watching as Jack entered the room. Carter, however, swiveled quickly, her weapon coming up to bear on him, then lowering just as fast as she recognized him. "Colonel," she gasped, seemingly embarrassed at having been startled.

"Find anything interesting?" He moseyed on down to the console the two of them were studying. Not really impressive, just a blinking dot with a lot of alien writing running down a split screen on the right, so fast that it was impossible to read. If you could read the stuff, that was.

"It's definitely a long-range sensor. Teal'c's trying to calibrate it so we can find out how soon it'll get here."

"So, these are the bad guys?"

"It could be the Tok'ra, sir."

"If it is, then they're crashing the party a little early. Doesn't really sound like their modus operandi. They're more apt to come in and clean up the mess after the action's over and done with."

Teal'c turned to the monitor and began fiddling with a round, red ball. Immediately the flow of information refreshed and a new set of script flowed past. "Based on the information relayed from the SGC, I would assume the approaching ship is not the Tok'ra. The timing is too coincidental."

"How long do we have?"

Teal'c continued to fiddle with the ball, fine-tuning it, Jack supposed, as the flow of figures slowed, until they were scrolling past three or four at a time. "Approximately six hours at the current rate of speed."

"Definitely not the Tok'ra." Jack turned to Carter. "They gonna be able to find us down here?"

"There's nothing to stop them from scanning us and beaming us onto their ship, if they have the technology."

"Perhaps not." Teal'c moved away from the monitor and walked to a nearby console. He waved his hand over it and a large screen lit up. After punching in a few keys on some weird keyboard with unfamiliar symbols on it, Teal'c pulled up the schematics of the complex they were in.

"This room is shielded, as is the power supply room." Teal'c pointed to two areas out of several, outlined in red.

Carter leaned over and looked at the readings next to the schematics. "I've never seen this type of shielding. May I?" She glanced at Teal'c for permission and he nodded, stepping back.

"Sir, if I'm reading this right, they won't be able to beam us out of these specific areas."

"So if we just stay here, we'll be safe?" Jack had to ask despite knowing the answer would never be this simple.

"Not necessarily. There's nothing preventing them from beaming down into any other part of the complex that's not shielded. Or using the transport rings like we did."

"So they'll know where we are, they just won't be able to get to us easily." Jack motioned to the screen. "What about the other places that are shielded? Why didn't Hathor just shield the whole place?"

"It is possible that the entire complex was shielded at one time but has lost such capability as the power supply dwindled. In any case, the function of these rooms is unclear. I would need to reconnoiter—"

"We've got four hours. Then we start working on a plan."


Jack walked into the Ring room, and to his delight, saw that Daniel was not only awake, but drinking something. "Hey, sleeping beauty. How're you feeling?"

Daniel gave Jack a slow smile as he sipped from a collapsible cup. Apple juice, Jack decided as he sat down next to his son.

"I'm fine. Janet gave me something and" - his yawn struck a sympathetic yawn in Jack - "makes me sleepy."

"How long has he been awake?" Jack asked Fraiser.

"About ten minutes. He needs more rest..."

"We've still got a few hours."

"A few hours until what?" Daniel's next yawn ended in a short cough.

Jack would love to sugarcoat the answer, but Daniel was going to be there, in the midst of it all with them. Better to prepare him now so he didn't panic when things got ugly. "Those guys who kidnapped you are on their way. They'll be here in a few hours."

The sleepiness fled from Daniel as he struggled to sit up. Both Jack and Fraiser caught him as he rolled onto his side.

"Hey, what do you think you're doing?" Jack gripped Daniel's shoulder and held him down while Fraiser held onto Daniel's arms.

"I need to help—"

"You are. You're helping by staying put."

"But they're coming. We have to hide. You said this place was going to be safe." Even though he stopped struggling, Daniel's eyes were wide with fear.

"I know. I hoped it would be. But they've probably got scanners on the ship, that's how they found you at the SGC. They'll most likely figure out where we are no matter where we hide, so Carter and Teal'c are setting up a couple of surprises that'll give us a fighting chance."

Daniel kept his gaze pinned on Jack as he reluctantly relaxed back onto the stretcher, Fraiser's medication obviously the winner over Daniel's terror as Jack watched him fight then incrementally give up the battle to get up and depart to safer ground.

"We're moving Daniel where?" Frasier picked up the cup Daniel dropped, filled it with more juice, and handed it back to him. "I'm assuming you have a plan?"

"One of the rooms that's easily defendable. It's also shielded so our friends can't just drop in unexpectedly. There's a couple of other shielded areas but two of them are some abandoned storage rooms and the others don't quite work."

"What are we going to do when they come?" Daniel had the cup to his mouth, but wasn't drinking.

"Fight," Jack said honestly. He watched Daniel, saw the emotions flit across his face. Memories, Jack figured.

He'd expected some sort of bravado, but Daniel simply nodded and said, "Okay."

"They'll think they have the element of surprise. We need to try and turn that to our advantage."

"Overconfidence, Colonel?"

"If we're lucky, yeah." Jack smiled at Fraiser, then tapped the bottom of Daniel's cup, urging him to drink up.

"So you have a plan." Fraiser watched Daniel with a critical eye as he took a small sip. When he saw her watching him, he took another, longer sip.

"So, I have... something." Jack grimaced. He literally was up shit's creek without the proverbial paddle and if Carter's idea didn't work, they'd probably be trussed up in a spaceship within the next couple of hours. "Now, how do you two feel about the cold?"


"I'm freezing." Teeth chattering, Daniel pulled the space blanket closer to his chin, where it did nothing to warm him up.

"Not much longer," Sam whispered from her position on the floor to his right.

"You said that ten minutes ago." Daniel wanted desperately to rest but the cold was keeping him from doing anything approximating sleep. He was cranky, he knew he was cranky, and at this point he didn't give a damn that he was cranky.


His dad spoke tersely from his position next to the door, not even glancing in Daniel's direction. Getting no sympathy from that quarter, Daniel turned to Teal'c. "How is us freezing going to make these guys think we're not here?" He'd understood some of the earlier explanation, like the fact that Teal'c had lowered the temperature in this storage room to thirty degrees only around the floor level while the rest of the room was the same temperature as the rest of the complex due to the nature of the room itself. But he'd lost some of the reasoning as to why they were here freezing their butts off on the floor thanks to his drifting in and out during the explanations. He was wide-awake now, though; so he could use a bit of additional explaining.

"Your father discovered several devices that emit a range of heat that approximates a human body. MajorCarter and I have positioned those within the shielded area just past this room in the hopes that our enemy will walk past us on their way to investigate. And so, by lowering the temperature of this room just so, we are able to hide our own body temperatures if the ship in orbit utilizes a heat-sensing scanner. This way, we should have the element of surprise."

"Oh." It made sense, and almost made the cold worthwhile. Until Daniel had a thought. "What if they don't have a heat-sensing scanner? What if they have something fancy? They can have something fancy, can't they? Sam, you've got fancier scanners at the SGC—"

"Daniel, enough."

Trying not to pout at his dad, Daniel pursed his lips together and curled up, trying to stay warm. He looked around, watching the vapor rise from everyone's mouths as they breathed. Everyone seemed to be chilled but he was the only one shivering despite being wrapped up in his dad's and Teal'c's jackets. He missed the sleeping bag and couldn't wait for this to be over so he could crawl back into one. He tried repositioning the space blanket and froze when his dad turned to glare at him when the blanket crinkled loudly.

"Sorry," he mouthed back, not quite recognizing the military man replacing the person who meant the world to him. While part of him understood why his dad was cold and brusque, right now all he wanted was for his father to hug him and tell him everything was going to be okay. He shuddered and his teeth began to chatter. There was a rustling sound next to him as Janet raised her head and reached out to touch his foot.

"It won't be long," she whispered before lying flat again on the freezing floor.

The minutes ticked by as Daniel grew colder and colder by the second. Then his dad made a sign with his hand and suddenly the room was filled with tension. There were sounds outside in the hallway; footsteps and whispered voices. Daniel's heart suddenly lurched in his chest and his stomach contracted. The trembling worsened and he broke out in a cold sweat.

Oh god, they were here.

He was sure the people on the other side of the wall were going to open the door and barge inside, guns flaring. He wanted to cry out a warning to his dad, but he could barely get any oxygen into his lungs.

And then he felt it, that building pressure in his chest and the tickling in his throat. He panted, trying to keep the cough at bay, feeling his cheeks and throat heat up with the effort to not cough.

His father raised a hand and made a countdown signal. One. Two. Three. Four. Daniel expected something to happen; instead his dad made some more gestures. Then, as if he were watching a movie, Daniel saw his dad rise to his knees and open the door while Teal'c and Sam rushed outside with his dad right behind them. Janet was moving, stepping into the hallway and aiming her gun in the opposite direction everyone had gone in.

This wasn't his family; these were strangers.

The sound of gunfire was loud, almost as loud as his coughing. Daniel flinched at the sounds outside, wanting nothing more than to pull the space blanket up over his head and imitate a turtle until this nightmare ended and his father woke him up and told him it was time to get ready for school. Instead, the gunfire continued, punctuated with a couple of screams and thuds.

"Dad?" he gasped in between coughs, his gaze frozen on Janet who was just inside the doorway and was keeping watch in both directions.

"I'm sure he's fine, Daniel." Janet spoke in her doctor voice, the one that brooked no-nonsense from anyone.

He wanted to cry; he'd never felt so isolated before – everyone had suddenly changed, and despite his knowing they were in the process of saving his life, he couldn't seem to deal with it.

Janet raised a hand to her radio and said, "Roger that." She gave Daniel a quick glance. "Your dad's fine. They got all four intruders. They're going to search the complex; you and I are to stay here for the time being."

Daniel didn't answer, he was too busy coughing. When he finally was able to take a breath, wheezy as it sounded, he realized he was drenched with sweat. The dampness against his chilled skin was almost unbearable. Still, he'd rather be in here than out there.

He vaguely wondered if there was blood and gore among the people his dad and the others had shot, and quickly tamped away that thought when memories supplied the actual visuals.

Several glances at his watch showed that only a few minutes had crept by. "Are they almost done?" he whispered, afraid that if a kidnapper had managed to elude his dad, then he'd hear him talking.

Janet was nearly as scary as his dad. With her attention mainly on the hallway, she glanced inside the room at him as she said, almost coldly, "It's a big place. They'll let us know when they're done."

Unsure where he now belonged within the group of people he had once trusted and knew like the back of his hand, Daniel wanted to keep quiet. But the shivering had gotten so bad and his side hurt. "I'm cold," he blurted out before he could stop himself.

"I'm sorry, Daniel. I know you're uncomfortable but this is the safest place for you to be right now. At least if anyone's remained on the ship and they're still scanning us, they won't see your body heat while you're in the cold area."

"But they'll see you standing there." Daniel could hear the whiney factor in his voice and hated himself for it. Actually, he hated his neediness on top of everything else. Truth be told, he was disappointed in himself, he expected to be braver. And if he were disappointed in his behavior, he could just imagine how his father and friends felt in the face of his complaining. "They'll know you're protecting something," he said lamely.

"They'll think I'm holding down the main control room," Janet shot back as her attention was suddenly drawn towards the far end of the hallway.

"But you're not standing outside the control room—"

"Quiet." Suddenly Janet was inside the room, her back to the door, gun cocked down the hallway as she made herself the least possible target. While Daniel loved her as an aunt and had always respected her as a doctor, especially when she was wielding needles and pointing them his way, this spitfire of a person who no longer had his comfort and immediate welfare as a priority, was scaring the shit out of him.

"What's going on?"

She merely turned her head so she could glare at him and waited until he'd obviously gotten the message before turning back to watch the hallway. Compressing his lips together, Daniel had had enough. He rolled onto his side, planning on getting to his hands and knees, and from there, to his feet. He was mentally readying himself for the pain he knew the movement was going to cause and only managed a partial roll when Janet raised her gun, aimed it down the hall, and yelled, "Freeze."

Someone else yelled back and something loud zinged on the metal doorjamb behind her. Her return gunfire was loud in the room, and Daniel yelled, throwing his hands up over his head in terror while a part of his brain embarrassingly registered the noise he'd just made sounded like a girl. Then that thought totally went out of his head when Janet dropped to her knees and fired another round.

With eyes tightly scrunched shut, Daniel prayed. He knew Janet was the only thing between him and the people who'd come back to get him, and he had no weapon, had no means of helping her. Then he remembered, she had a pistol, strapped to her leg. Somehow he knew that the two of them, working in tandem, had a better chance of surviving than Janet trying to hold their attackers off by herself.

He could do it. Instead of lying here like a victim, he could get up and help Janet. He'd done it on a regular basis when he'd been a member of the team. It shouldn't be hard; he just needed to back her up. Get to his feet, get her gun, and shoot the bad guys. Piece of cake.

Hardly able to breathe from both the congestion in his lungs and the fear coursing through him, he tried again to roll onto his side, intent on getting her gun.

"Daniel, stay down."

It wasn't Janet's order that stopped him, but flesh and muscles, stiffened from the cold and growing pain, spasming so badly that he fell onto his back again, his breath frozen in his lungs as he tried to scream in agony.

Vaguely aware of the continuing gunfire, Daniel managed a wheezing gasp, and then another, teeth clenched together to hold in the screams that wanted to escape. He knew on one level that to do so would distract Janet, and on the other he simply wanted to give in to the pain. His breaths started coming so fast that he was barely able to exhale. The pain had him in its grip, and he was all but frozen, unable to move as the gunfire escalated and screams permeated the hallway. Janet stopped firing her weapon, and Daniel knew this was the end.

A deafening rumble shook the room, hard enough that dust and several small stones trickled from the ceiling.

"Dad!" Daniel finally howled when all the pent up agony released at once and allowed him to let go. Pain. Fear. Agony. Terror.

Then Janet was there, kneeling next to him, her hands pushing his away from his abdomen.

"Dad. My dad. Please. Dad, where's my dad?" His words slurred, his lips and jaw not moving right. His mouth was dry, pasty dry.

"He's okay, Daniel. Come on, sweetheart, let me look."

"Please," Daniel sobbed.

"Help me get him out of here," Janet ordered, no longer sounding like the soldier she'd become, but the doctor she used to be.

There were feet all around him. Large, heavy army boots. Legs clad in green BDUs stepped around him. Hands grabbed his arms, pulled, then heaved.

His stomach felt like it ripped in two. A scream caught in his throat as his knees gave out and his weight suddenly fell onto his arms.

"Get his legs." A man's voice. Not his dad. Not Teal'c. Then the man wasn't important.

"Ohmygod, it's freezing in here." This voice was almost familiar, someone he'd heard before. Head hanging limply between his shoulders, he gasped in pain as he was manhandled and his legs swept up off the floor. He saw glimpses of the person supporting his feet. Saw himself carried out of the room, across the hallway, caught sight of bodies littering the floor a couple dozen feet away with dark splatters against the wall behind them.

Then the heat hit him. Triggered the coughing. And he knew it was going to hurt.

That was the last coherent thought he had in a long time.


Fraiser's terse request for help had been nearly lost in the sound of gunfire. Jack was already running for the control room when the explosion shook the complex. He never paused, ignored the sprinkling of dust and rocks that rained down on him, and prayed that he didn't get lost.

He slowed just enough so he could make a turn into the main corridor without slamming into the wall, and as his boots slapped against the stone floor, he realized that it was eerily silent. He should be able to hear the gunfire by now. Worry helped lend a burst of speed and he raced down the corridor, then slid to a stop when he realized that he was close enough to be heard.

Heart pounding painfully in his ears, Jack took controlled breaths as he walked as silently as possible on shaky legs. The control room was just around the corner and down the hall, and the room he'd left Daniel and Fraiser just past that.


Harsh, pain-wracked coughs punctuated by moans and sobs.

Oh god, Daniel.

He poked his head around the corner, intent on peeking for a split second as an excuse at reconnaissance, and froze in shock.

Bodies were lying on the floor, sprawled ungainly in death. A quick glance at the bodies showed they were wearing the same one-piece uniforms as the others he and his team had just killed. Standing before the door to the control room, obviously guarding it, was a familiar figure.


The man started, caught staring at the goings on inside the room and not keeping watch in the hallway.


"My son?"

Colonel Cameron Mitchell canted his head towards the door. "He's inside."

Jack quickly dodged the bodies and hurried into the room. Daniel was on the ground, writhing in pain, coughing in such a way that was scaring Jack while Fraiser tried to hold his head and shoulders on her lap with a shaking hand while rummaging in her backpack with the other. Rodney McKay kneeled next to them, trying to get the sleeping bag around Daniel.

"Your team's on their way," Mitchell said. "Communications were out for a few minutes but they're back up now."

"I've got him." Jack reached for Daniel, easing into place as Fraiser moved away, supporting him against his chest as he gasped for breath. His son's body was so cold to the touch that Jack began to wonder if they'd made the wrong decision leaving him in that frigid icebox.

McKay finally got the sleeping bag around Daniel and Jack hooked it under his arm, holding it in place as he supported Daniel. "Probably due to SG-12 blowing up the spaceship."

"Huh?" Jack looked at McKay in confusion.

"The communications going haywire." The man looked like he was going to say something else but instead looked down at Daniel in obvious sympathy as Fraiser hung an oxygen mask connected to a small bottle of oxygen.

Daniel's eyes were half-open but he didn't seem to be aware of his surroundings. Strings of saliva dripped into the oxygen mask as Daniel rolled his head back and forth. The coughing had thankfully stopped; but his breaths were congested and shallow.

"Shhh. Easy. I got you," Jack said when Daniel jerked in a sudden bout of shivering.

Daniel's eyes shifted towards him. Jack saw recognition gleam in Daniel's gaze and he smiled down at his son. Then Daniel jerked and tried to struggle out of Jack's hold.

"Hey, hey, calm down."

With McKay's help, they held Daniel still while Fraiser reconnected the IVs which she'd hid earlier, along with her backpack and other medical paraphernalia, here in this room rather than exposing everything to the cold.

Measuring out a dose of medication into a syringe, Fraiser looked down at Daniel. "I'm giving you something for the pain, Daniel. You'll feel better in a minute." Her hands were shaking so badly it took her two tries to get the syringe into the IV.

"You okay, Doc?" Mitchell asked, still pumped with adrenaline, walking back and forth from the door to their small group huddled on the floor.

"I'm fine. I'm just not used to this; it's definitely not the most exciting part of my work."

"What? Give you a dead or near dead body and you're in heaven?"

Both Fraiser and Jack glared at Mitchell, who seemed to realize he'd put his foot in his mouth. "Sorry," he said softly, going back to the door and staying there.

It didn't take long for Daniel's body to relax and his eyelids to begin to droop. Slowly, Daniel's breathing eased. Jack half-expected him to slip into sleep, but there was still some tension in his body, which Jack didn't think was caused solely by the continuous shivering.

Jack heard Carter's voice in the hallway and Mitchell answered her. A moment later she hurried into the room and kneeled next to them. Teal'c ran into the room a heartbeat later.

"How is he?" Carter panted.

"Cold, in pain, and pretty damned scared," Fraiser answered as she disposed of the syringe.

Carter reached out to push back a lock of hair that had fallen into Daniel's face. At her touch, his eyes opened. Attempting to clear his throat, Daniel nearly choked, but spat out the phlegm at Fraiser's urgings. A couple more throat clearings and coughs, and Daniel's breathing was much improved.

"Better?" Jack gave Daniel an encouraging smile, which he had trouble holding when Daniel's expression seemed to be one of fear. "Hey, it's okay. You're safe now." He held the smile a few seconds longer before turning to Fraiser, who had repositioned the oxygen mask and was pulling out a blood pressure cuff. "What happened?"

"Three men came down the hallway and started firing. I tried to hold them off but..."

"You were outnumbered," Jack said understandingly.

Fraiser nodded as she pulled Daniel's arm free of the sleeping bag and began wrapping the cuff around it. "I was just about to run out of ammo when Colonel Mitchell and his team showed up."

Jack looked around at Mitchell and McKay. "Where's the rest of your team?"

"Gone topside to see what damage the ship incurred."

Jack turned to Teal'c and motioned towards the door while cocking an eyebrow, indicating he should go see himself. Teal'c gave him a quick nod and left, moving so quietly that McKay ended up giving a double take when he realized Teal'c was gone.

"You sure it's the ship that blew?"

"One of the men outside had some sort of remote control device. I shot him but he got to it before I could stop him."

"Great. Just great." He shifted slightly, his butt already going to sleep with Daniel's added weight. The movement startled Daniel and he jerked, his arms grabbing convulsively at the sleeping bag. "Sorry." He gave Daniel a gentle squeeze and a quick kiss on his temple. When Daniel pulled back, he and Fraiser exchanged confused looks.

"Could you go in the other room and retrieve the stretcher?" Fraiser asked McKay. Jack motioned to Carter to go with him as backup; the guy was a geek and looked like he'd never fired a gun in his life.

"So, mind telling me what you and your team are doing here?" Jack finally asked the sixty four thousand dollar question.

"Hammond thought you might need help."

Jack's eyebrows went up. "Granted, not that I don't appreciate you coming here in the nick of time, but, why didn't Hammond send you earlier and, how the hell did you get into this complex?"

"Oh, that would be my doing," McKay said from the doorway. He put the stretcher down next to the wall and pulled some sort of doodad not much bigger than Daniel's iPod out of a pocket. "It's a scanner." He gave Jack a quick, terse smile, and his eyes lit up for a second as he pushed a few buttons on the thing. "Ancient technology, straight from Atlantis."

"And that got you through the front door?" Jack asked sarcastically.

McKay gave Jack a wounded look. "Actually, yes. I was able to scan the mechanism in the gate up top and deduced that it needed musical notes to open. After a couple of false tries, the thing opened up and from there it was easy to find the rings and..." He shrugged. "... Transport down. And the rest, as you know, is history."

Fraiser finished her examination and after activating two heating pads, tucked them under Daniel's arms and pulled a second sleeping bag over him.

"Daniel?" Fraiser put a hand to Daniel's cheek. She frowned when Daniel pulled away and wouldn't quite meet her gaze. "I need you to tell me if you're in pain."

"I'm fine." Daniel's mumble through chattering teeth was barely audible through the oxygen mask.

"Good." She smiled at him. "Try to sleep. We're not going anywhere for a while yet." She glanced at Jack for confirmation, and he shook his head. This place was dry and warm, unlike the outdoors. They could keep watch with the long range sensors for the Tok'ra ship and keep one man topside at all times in case the ship was cloaked.

"Put me down." Daniel pushed against Jack's chest.

"You're better off where you are, Daniel." She eyed the stretcher then gave Jack a quick smile as she opened up the sleeping bag and readjusted the heating pads. "Your dad's body heat will warm you up faster than the floor."

Daniel stopped pushing and seemed to try to have as little body contact as possible with Jack.

"He should be okay. He's a little exhausted right now and, cold, obviously."

Jack leaned over and spoke softly in Daniel's ear. "Go to sleep." Then he turned back to Mitchell. "Any particular reason why Hammond didn't deign to let me know you were on your way?"

"Well, actually, the reason he didn't tell you is the reason he sent us."

Mitchell grinned boyishly at Jack, and Jack wondered if he'd ever looked that young and charming. He figured, young, yes; but he'd worked hard to get where he was so charming wasn't really his strong suit.

"During your last communications through the Stargate, McKay noticed that something extra was being piggy packed with your transmission—"

"The discovery was a fluke, really," McKay said as he tore open a brownie from an MRE and bit into it. Talking with his mouth full, he waved the brownie around. "I was doing a level three diagnostic, testing the new jamming frequencies of the subcutaneous GPS when I noticed... an anomaly... and..." He stared at Jack, Carter and Fraiser, who were all staring at the brownie in his hand. "What? I'm hungry. I get hungry when I'm nervous and I'm nervous as hell down here." He pointed towards the ceiling. "Are we getting out of here anytime soon?"

"Rodney," Carter prodded. "Anomaly?"

"Oh, right." McKay took another bite of the brownie and gave the half-eaten snack a satisfied smile. "You know, these are really good. Would anyone mind if I had a second one from the stores?"

It was Carter's glare that got McKay talking again.

"Oh, right. Anomaly. When I analyzed it and discovered it was copies of our radio transmissions that were compressed and sent out into space—"

"They left some sort of transmission device here, on the planet?" Carter exclaimed.

McKay nodded, already rummaging through another MRE. "And they were picking up all our communications while in orbit around Earth."

"So they knew we'd gone after Daniel."

"No doubt about it," Mitchell said from where he was leaning against the doorjamb, keeping an eye out into the hallway. "We didn't come through immediately; we wanted to make sure they were out of range before opening the Stargate again."

"You, um, didn't say how you managed to get inside here." McKay asked, following the question with an, "Aha", when he found another brownie. "I know for a fact that Sam didn't have a scanner because I have the only one existing in this galaxy."

Before Jack could answer, Carter answered, somewhat smugly. "We didn't need a scanner. We had Daniel."

McKay's eyebrows shot up and he looked incredulously at Daniel. "You're not insinuating that he figured out how to get across that ravine—"

"Not once, but twice," Carter replied.

"Tw-Twice? But... Okay, I know I was bragging about the scanner and I'll admit that if I hadn't had it with me, it would have taken a while to figure out the puzzle, but if a thirteen year-old—"

"Fourteen," Jack said.

"—can figure this out in so short a period, then, that would mean..."

"The kid's a genius?" Mitchell seemed to be enjoying McKay's discomfiture.

"Something like that." The look on McKay's face was priceless as he stared at Daniel.

Their repartee was interrupted by the sound of several pairs of footsteps and Jack eyed Mitchell, who was watching something in the hallway. Then Teal'c and three members of Mitchell's team came in.

"The ship is irreparable." Teal'c joined Jack, Carter and Fraiser on the ground while Mitchell's men made themselves comfortable against the walls.

"Colonel." Jack waited until Mitchell was looking at him. "I want you to put one man up top at all times in case the Tok'ra show up cloaked. We'll also have someone here monitoring the long-range sensors—"

"Long-range sensors?" McKay asked excitedly, licking chocolate from his fingertips. "Where?"

With a long-suffering sigh, Carter got up to show McKay the equipment while Mitchell deployed his men, setting shifts for them to follow.

Daniel's body slipped slightly against him and Jack readjusted his hold, looking down on his son. He seemed to be sleeping, his body looser than before. His fingers twitched once against Jack's thigh and he coughed, then rubbed his cheek against Jack's shirt, trying to dislodge the oxygen mask. Daniel's breathing was slow and slightly raspy. The shivering was easing off, coming only in spells instead of continuously.

Fraiser whispered soothingly and readjusted the oxygen mask as Daniel settled again. Jack stretched one leg and then the other, settling in for the long haul.


Jack took a bite of his roast beef with vegetables and chewed, savoring the flavor of the MRE.

"You don't want that," Carter exclaimed, trying to take an MRE away from McKay.

"It's Chicken Tetrazzani," McKay said, holding it out of her reach.

"Exactly," she replied, holding a hand out for it. "Trust me, it's awful."

"Actually, I kind of like this one." McKay ripped the package open and pulled out the main meal.

Jack took another spoonful of his beef, grateful he wasn't the one having to deal with the weird consistency of McKay's choice. While it tasted good, it had a tendency to stick to teeth and gums.

"McKay likes MREs," Mitchell said in a matter of fact voice. "He's got a stack of them in his office—"

"So sue me. I have a very active metabolism and it saves me the trouble of heading down to the commissary every couple of hours."

"He likes hospital food, too." Mitchell had a grin on his face, although he had the grace to blush when Fraiser, in the process of popping a piece of jam-covered cracker into her mouth, gave him a look that promised needles at the end of this mission. Lots and lots of needles. When Mitchell swallowed loudly and turned back to his supper, Jack wondered if Fraiser was planning on filing the ends of the needles first to dull them.

"Better quit while you're ahead," Jack murmured to Mitchell.

Nodding, Mitchell gave his meal all his attention.

The first time Jack saw it, he thought maybe Daniel had woken up and had gone back to sleep. They'd put him back into the stretcher a couple of hours ago, minus the oxygen mask, cocooned in two sleeping bags. But the second time he glanced at Daniel, he saw his son, who was watching him, quickly close his eyes and pretend to sleep.

Jack suddenly lost his appetite. He folded the edge over his meal bag and put it aside, then slid over the marble floor until he was next to the stretcher. He placed a hand on Daniel's sleeping bag-covered arm.

"Hey, Icky." He kept his voice soft. "Everything's fine now. I'm okay, everyone's safe. We're just sitting around, waiting for our ride."

Daniel opened his eyes and looked at Jack a moment before shifting his gaze across the room. Jack turned to look at what Daniel was gazing at, but all he saw was a blank wall. "Are you okay? You need anything? Are you in pain? Are you hungry?"

"Daniel's awake?" Fraiser dropped her supper and hurried over next to them. She reached a hand to touch his face and Daniel jerked back. Jack didn't miss the fear in Daniel's face.

"I just want to check for fever," Fraiser said.

She put a hand out slowly and this time Daniel let her press her fingers to his cheek and forehead. But he compressed his lips together as he stared upwards, not looking at either of them. Jack could see he wasn't happy.

"How's the pain?"

"I'm fine."

"You've still got a low grade fever, but that's expected. Any nausea?"

"I said I was fine," Daniel said to the ceiling. "Wasn't I clear enough?"

"Crystal clear." Fraiser reached into her bag, next to the stretcher, and pulled out two jars of baby food, and a plastic spoon. "Then you can eat these for supper." She opened the jar of pureed fruits as well as a jar of cereal. She placed them just within Daniel's reach and with a nod in Jack's direction, went back to her meal.

Jack picked up the spoon and the cereal and held both out to Daniel. When Daniel turned his head away, ignoring him, Jack lowered his voice even more, making sure nobody but Daniel could hear him. "Okay, first off, lose the attitude." He was rewarded with a quick, furtive glance. "I know you're scared and hurting and sick, but that's no reason to mouth off." Jack gave the food and spoon a little shake, bringing Daniel's attention back to it. "Fraiser said to eat."

"I'm not hungry," Daniel mumbled.

Jack bit back the sarcastic, "Tough," that he wanted to throw into Daniel's face. Instead, he sighed and reached over to give Daniel's face a caress with his fingers, and again, Daniel jerked back. Jack froze, really looking at his son's expression and instead of the belligerence he expected to find, he saw raw fear. "Hey, what's going on?"

Daniel hesitated before answering. "Nothing."

"That didn't look like nothing just now."

"Where's the stuff Janet wants me to eat?" Daniel pushed aside the sleeping bag and reached for the jar in Jack's hand. He grabbed the food and spoon and began stirring it around.


Daniel ignored Jack.

"Look at me."

Slowly Daniel shifted his gaze so he was looking at Jack.

"What is it? What did I do?"

"Nothing," Daniel said sullenly after a moment.

"I know what you saw and heard must have been frightening—"

"Dad, I've got memories from when I was an adult, I've been to another universe, twice, and I've been kidnapped, twice. I don't think there's much else that can scare me more than what I've gone through in the past year."

Jack heard the blatant lie. "Daniel, I thought we'd agreed we were going to discuss things—"

"There's nothing to discuss." Daniel shoved a spoonful of beige stuff into his mouth. When it was clear Daniel wasn't going to talk, Jack moved back to where he'd been sitting and ate his now lukewarm meal, trying to figure out what was wrong with Daniel.


There was only one place in the world he wanted to be right now, and he may as well be asking for the moon instead. So he closed his eyes, ignored his churning stomach, the ache in his belly, the constant headache, the pressure of his bladder, the fear he felt from the people he thought he once trusted, and pretended he was in that safe place.

His bedroom. His other bedroom. The second bedroom in his grandmother's house. The one where he'd always felt safe, where he'd always been welcome. The one that had been his and his alone, for whenever he slept over. The bedroom that was part of the house his grandmother owned, and his grandmother was the only person in the world he felt he could trust at the moment.

The one person he wanted to confide in, and he wouldn't even be able to tell her what was bothering him. He blinked back tears, feeling extremely alone in a room full of people.

Trying to pretend he was lying on a semi-firm mattress instead of a wire-mesh stretcher, he pictured the bedroom around him. The cupboard that opened up to a built-in desk. The window that looked out over his grandma's garden, the bookshelves, the—


He jumped at the sound of Janet's voice and his hand immediately went to the swathe of bandages on his abdomen to try and still the tearing pain.

"Sorry, didn't mean to wake you up. I thought you might have need for this." She held up the dreaded urinal and he felt his face grow hot in embarrassment. But he couldn't refuse, he had to go too badly and he'd been ignoring the call of nature for too long. He fumbled it beneath the blankets, trying not to imagine everyone staring at him, positioned himself, and let go.

Janet took urinal from him when he was done, handed him two Advil and a bottle of water, and left the room with the urinal. He turned his face away from everyone, feeling the blush heat his cheeks again. He tried to imagine his room again but now he'd lost the concentration. Instead he listened to the murmur of conversation, trying to hear the military in his dad's and Sam's voices, and wondering why he'd never noticed it before today.

The conversation slowed to a stop as everyone began getting ready to go to sleep. The rustlings were loud in the room and hid the sound of his dad's approach. Except that Daniel knew he was there; he could feel his dad's eyes looking down on him.


Quick decision: feign sleep, or acknowledge his father. The first choice was tempting but his love for his dad had him opening his eyes and turning his head.

"Just wanted to say goodnight."

"Night, Dad."

When his father leaned over and kissed his forehead, Daniel felt tears prickle his eyeballs. He swallowed the tight lump in his throat, wishing he'd never seen that other side of his father. When his father brushed away one of the tears with his thumb, Daniel couldn't help wondering how many people his dad had killed.

"Mitchell's got someone standing guard, so don't worry about anyone sneaking up on us. And McKay and Carter are gonna trade shifts watching the long-range sensors for our ship."

He nodded, not trusting his voice.

"You okay? Need anything?"

He shook his head.

"Okay." His dad stared at him a long moment before joining the others at the other end of the room, leaving Daniel with a modicum of privacy.

Daniel closed his eyes, ready to sleep. And waited. Opened his eyes, shifted to ease pulling stitches, closed his eyes, scratched an itchy nose, coughed, settled himself again to relieve aching joints, and waited some more. After a few minutes, he came to the conclusion that he was wide-awake for the time being.

With a sigh, he stared at the ceiling. And jumped when a large hand fell on his shoulder.

"Teal'c?" Daniel gasped, once again wincing at the pull of his incision.

"Are you unwell?" Teal'c was sitting next to him, cross-legged.

"No, I'm fine," Daniel whispered. "I just can't sleep."

"Do you wish me to request DoctorFraiser to administer a sleep-aid?"

It was tempting. Escaping from all of this – feeling good. Not caring. Not being afraid. Just take a pill, and sleep. He clamped down on the rising need. "No. I think I've had enough drugs. Thanks anyway."

Teal'c inclined his head. "I have cards. Do you wish to play?"

Daniel didn't, but it would help pass the time until he got tired. "Sure."

He watched Teal'c move silently across the room, pick up a packsack and retrieve a deck of cards. He sat down again next to Daniel and began to shuffle.

"Go Fish?"

"As you wish."

They played one game, Daniel losing to Teal'c. During the second game, Daniel folded his cards and tossed them onto the floor. "Sorry, but I just can't seem to concentrate."

"I understand." Teal'c gathered the cards and put them into a vest pocket. "Do you wish to converse?"

Daniel shrugged. "Why are you sitting with me? Don't you need to sleep?"

"I am not fatigued. And I am here because your father asked me to, and because I am your friend."

"Dad asked you to talk to me?"

"He requested I be available in case you wished to converse."

"Um, not that I want to be mean or anything, but what would I want to talk about?"

"Whatever it is that is bothering you."

Daniel clammed up, sticking his hands back under the sleeping bag. "There's nothing bothering me."

Teal'c was silent. Daniel could hear someone snoring, and someone else farted, the sound almost comical if this had been a less stressful situation.

"You do your father an injustice." Teal'c's words seemed loud, despite the low whisper. Daniel had a feeling that every ear in the room was cocked their way.

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"Your silence."

"I'm talking, aren't I?"

"Now you do me an injustice."

Daniel sighed heavily, and was sorry a moment later when the sigh turned into a cough. Teal'c handed him a tissue into which he spat out a mouthful of gunk.

"Your father is a warrior. His task is to protect you—"

"I know that, Teal'c." He rubbed suddenly cold hands on his chest, knowing where this conversation was going.

"As is mine, as well as MajorCarter's and DoctorFraiser's."

"I know—"

"Do you? You now treat them as if they were your captors. You show fear and uncertainty. You act like a child, and not the warrior you also are."

"I'm not a warrior."

"DoctorFraiser informed me during the firefight that you attempted to stand—"

"I'm not a coward," Daniel hissed, remembering the pain of that moment of folly. "I wasn't running away. I was trying to help. I was going for her pistol."

"Indeed. And by that act, as well as several other occurrences during the past year, you have proven you are able to think clearly during a crisis."

"I don't think, I just act," Daniel said, deflated.

"And thus I have made my point. You are a warrior, but not in the manner of myself or your father."

"I'm not. I was scared. I was terrified." The admission hurt, a lot. But hey, he was a kid, wasn't he? Kids were supposed to be terrified at the thought of a boogeyman, let alone a bunch of people firing guns in his direction.

"As were we all. By conquering our fears, we are thus able to act. And you act in a manner different from ours. Your brain is your weapon, DanielJackson. Should you judge others because they choose to fight their battles differently?"

Daniel's head ached with all of this. He rubbed a hand against his temple, trying to understand Teal'c's words. "I got us here to safety, knowing they were coming to get us. Is that what you mean?"

"It is. You survived on this planet on your own. You easily opened a series of puzzles, the solution of which eluded us all. DoctorMcKay required alien technology to operate the mechanism allowing us to reach the transport rings. You needed nothing but your mind."

"It wasn't easy," Daniel grumbled, trying not to bask in Teal'c's praise because he knew Teal'c would be pulling the ground beneath his feet in a moment.

"And your friends killed the people who were threatening your life. Our lives. Your father did what he had to, to ensure our survival."

Daniel swallowed. Eating crow did nothing for an already nauseous stomach. "My dad was... different." Saying these words was hard. He felt his throat tighten again with emotion, and he fought the tears.

"To become a warrior, one must occasionally disconnect one's emotions."

"So Dad... He..." Daniel couldn't get the words out. The relief he felt was so great, and he felt so silly, he wasn't sure if the building sobs were from embarrassment or not.

"He loves you, DanielJackson."

"He scared me," Daniel managed to utter before he lost control. Then he was sitting up, cradled in Teal'c's arms, sobbing his heart out.


Unable to speak, Daniel put his arm out blindly for his dad. He felt Teal'c move away, and then he was crying and coughing into his dad's neck.

"I love you, Daniel. Please believe that." His dad's face was pressed against Daniel's.

"Me, too," Daniel sobbed, not caring how much the position he was in hurt. He finally felt safe in his dad's arms, and that was all that counted.



"Right here." Jack answered Daniel's frantic call, stepping back from where the long-range sensor and the group of people huddled around it, which had hidden him from Daniel's sight. He waved and saw Daniel relax back into the nest of blankets inside the stretcher. "I'll be there in a minute." Jack turned back to McKay and the blip on the sensor. "How long before the ship gets here."

"Five and a half hours." McKay grinned at Jack. "We'll be home by this time tomorrow."

Everyone began back-slapping one another and Jack quickly slipped away. He crouched down next to Daniel, who still looked half-asleep. Considering that Daniel had tossed and turned half the night, it wasn't surprising he was the last one up this morning.

"What's going on?" Daniel rubbed his eyes and looked at the happy crowd of people in confusion.

"There's a ship coming. Look like our ride's gonna be here in a couple of hours. We're going home."

"Oh." Daniel's smile was slow in coming and Jack began to wonder how awake he truly was. "Where's Janet?"

"Yo, Doc!"

Frasier pulled away from the crowd at Jack's call and walked over to them, grinning. "Did your dad tell you?"

"We're going home."

"Yeah." She crouched next to Daniel and Jack. "How are you feeling?"

"I, um..." Daniel gave Jack what looked like an embarrassed glance. "I gotta go."

"Okay." When Fraiser reached for the urinal, Daniel put a hand out. "Um, no, I mean, I gotta go."

Fraiser didn't bat an eyelash while Jack wondered why Daniel simply didn't ask him for help. She simply nodded and turned to Jack. "It's about time Daniel gets a bit of exercise." She disconnected the IVs and said, to Jack, "Help me get him to his feet."

While Fraiser cleared the blankets Daniel was nestled in, Jack got his arms under Daniel's armpits and in one sweeping motion, got his son onto his feet. Daniel wobbled a moment, got his balance, and shuffled forward slowly. Fraiser invited Daniel to walk towards the door, obviously intent on leading him to what they'd appropriated as a latrine.

"Hey, I can take him."

"I've got it covered, sir," Fraiser said over her shoulder.

Jack frowned, wondering why Daniel had chosen his doctor over his father to help him with a normal body function.

"How about you heat up some eggs for Daniel's breakfast?"

Shrugging, Jack grabbed an MRE and did as Fraiser requested. By the time she and Daniel came back, Jack had rearranged the sleeping bags in the stretcher, and had spread another one on the ground so Daniel could sit up and lean against a backpack. Daniel was walking a little straighter as he made his way back.

He and Fraiser helped him down and Daniel leaned back against the pack with a groan.

"Better?" Jack asked as he handed Daniel the now hot MRE.

"Yeah." Daniel glanced at the bag, sniffed it, then teased a bit of egg into a spoon and took a bite. Fraiser watched like a hawk as Daniel ate half the eggs, a roll of bread liberally spread with butter and jam, and a large container of juice.

"Now that you're eating, I think we can do away with your tethers." She removed one of the IV ports from his arm and covered the pinprick with a bandage. "We'll leave the other one in so I can administer antibiotics."

Daniel examined the bandage, which was slowly being stained red. "How much longer?"

"The antibiotics?"

"Uh huh."

"Another three days, at least."

"You mean I can't go home when we get back?"

Fraiser shook her head. "Not for at least three days. I'm sorry, but you do realize you've been through an ordeal."

"I'm fine."

"You're improving, but you're not quite fine yet."


Fraiser gave Jack a reassuring smile. "Just call me overcautious, sir. Normally a patient would be released in a couple days after surgery. But this definitely wasn't your normal run of the mill situation, was it?"

"Hell, when is it ever?" Jack gave Daniel's arm a squeeze.

"When can I go back to school?"

"Four to six weeks—"

"Oh, come on! That's ridiculous."

"Daniel, you had surgery."

"But I've missed so much school already." Daniel turned to Jack, totally distraught. "This isn't fair."

"No, it's not," Jack started, not knowing what to say.

"It's your fault. If you hadn't forced me to get the GPS—"

"Hey!" Jack snapped. "These people could have taken you at any time. That they chose to do so in a secure area was their way of showing off. The GPS had nothing to do with it."

When Daniel's face drained of color, Jack realized what he'd just said. He'd have given anything to take it back. "But that doesn't mean it'll happen again," Jack said quickly. "And they could just as easily have gone after me, or Carter, or Fraiser—"

"Or Cassandra," Fraiser said softly.

"I just want to go home." Daniel crossed his arms and threatened to thrust out his lower lip.

Fraiser's smile was gentle. "I know, honey. It's been a rough couple of days for you." She patted his leg. "Let me know if you need anything, okay?" She got up and strode away without waiting for an answer.

Daniel's pout disappeared as he lowered his arms. He sighed softly.


"Grandma's gonna get all upset again."

"Not at you. This isn't your fault."

"I know that." Daniel picked up the edge of the sleeping bag and ran a finger over the zipper's teeth. "I hate worrying her."

"I know. So do I. But she understands. She may not know all the details, but she understands."

Daniel rubbed a spot above his eyebrow. "Does she know I was kidnapped?"

Jack nodded slowly.

Daniel's eyes widened. "Oh shit."

"She knows I'm with you now. Hammond was going to let her know."

"And the appendicitis?"

Jack waggled his head. "I'm sure Hammond told her that, too."

"So she's sitting at home, stewing all this time and..." Daniel groaned and Jack couldn't help smiling. "She's going to be so..."


"Yeah." Daniel closed his eyes and Jack wondered if he was imagining his grandmother doting over him at the moment. Jack wished that were the actual case: that Daniel was home, in his bed, and that his mother was there to help make Daniel feel better. Because after Daniel's admission to Teal'c last night that Jack had scared him, he couldn't help but feel guilty and inadequate on so many levels.

Jack started getting to his feet and Daniel's eyes flew open. "Where are you going?"

"Just to check with McKay. He was trying to see if he could get the long-range communications working."

"Can I come? Janet said I could walk around a bit."

Jack's first instincts were to order Daniel to stay in bed, but common sense prevailed. "Sure." He helped Daniel up, not missing the wince and the hand covering his incision as Daniel took a few steps. Walking slowly, they moved into the interior of the control room.

"Got anything yet?" Jack asked McKay. The man had taken a console apart and connected his laptop to it and was sitting on the floor, busily typing away.

"No, and the way things are going, I'll probably get this thing to work by the time the ship's in radio distance."

"How did you get your laptop to interface with alien technology?" Daniel asked, wonder coating his words.

"Trust me. It's a lot harder than it looks." McKay disconnected a wire from a crystal and reconnected it to the next one. "Damn thing's wired so redundantly that it's hard to figure out which are copies and which aren't."

With one hand supporting his weight, Daniel carefully leaned over to examine the exposed innards of the console. "Can I help?"

"Know anything about fluctuating crystal matrixes or naquadah-generated pulses?" McKay asked as he hit a few more keys.

"Um, no."

"Then, sorry, kid."

Daniel looked disappointed as he straightened up.

"So, does that mean you got nothing yet?" Jack repeated. The smile on Daniel's face was worth the trouble of egging McKay.

"No, I don't have anything yet," McKay said in a sarcastic manner. And as he disconnected the wire from the crystal and reattached it to yet another, McKay paused and looked at Jack. "This place is old. Really old. And it's not like the usual Goa'uld technology we're used to. It's more of marriage of several borrowed technologies, a few that we've seen on other worlds, and one or two that I've never seen before." McKay tapped an odd line of filaments that were twisted around each crystal. "It's not rocket science, it's just time-consuming."

"Well, it was worth a try." Jack put a hand on Daniel's shoulder, ready to escort him to the long-range sensor so he could see the blip that was a ship. They began walking away.

"Hey, kid?"

Jack and Daniel stopped.

"Thanks for the offer. For what it's worth, I don't think a miracle would get this thing up and running anytime soon."

Daniel smiled, and Jack nodded to McKay. The man shrugged and returned to his work. Despite his insistence that he couldn't get the communications system to work, he was still working on it adamantly.

After a quick tour around the room, Daniel's pale, shaky countenance was indication that it was time to get him back into his so-called bed.

This time Daniel sat down with a gasp, hunched over his side. Jack hadn't realized Fraiser had followed them back until she crouched down next to Jack.

"Don't try to overdo it." She held out a pill and a bottle of water. "This will help."

"I don't need anything." It was obvious to both Jack and Fraiser that Daniel still hadn't quite relaxed and was still favoring his side.

"Humor me. Please?" She took his hand, turned it right side up and placed the pill on his palm. He swallowed it down with half the bottle before coming up for air.

"Try and finish that," Fraiser said, pointing the bottle of water. "I know your appetite's still not up to par, but I left some crackers and other things you can snack on."

Daniel gave the pile of MRE extras a doubtful look but nodded anyways, but it was the look he gave Fraiser's departing back that pinged Jack's 'daddy' radar.


He handed the bottle back to his father. "I don't want to eat. I just had breakfast."

Jack sighed. "That's not going to endear you to Fraiser nor decrease your time spent in the infirmary."

"If I eat, will you promise me something?"

"I can't promise to get you out of the infirmary or letting you back into school early."

Daniel shook his head. "Not either of those."

What could it be? If it wasn't either of them, Jack was pretty damn sure, contrary to what Daniel said, that the promise he was trying to extract from him was something along those lines. But what the hell. "Sure, but you have to eat first."

Without being asked a second time, Daniel blindly picked up the first thing at hand. He ate silently, finishing the crackers and peanut butter topped with apple jelly. Jack took pity on him when he hesitated over the dessert.

"Okay, enough." Jack plucked the brownie package from Daniel's hands and placed it aside to later feed McKay's overactive metabolism. He handed another napkin to Daniel to wipe his mouth, then exchanged it for the bottle of water. "Finish that," he ordered.

Daniel finished the water then kept the empty bottle in his hands, palming it, his right thumb worrying the label in a number of different spots.

Jack had a feeling if he didn't bring it up, the bottle would soon be naked, Daniel would be covered with label shreds and their ride home would be knocking at the door. "What promise did you want to pull from me?"

"I want you to tell Janet," he yawned cavernously, burying it in his shoulder. Bleary eyes filled with tears. "I want you to tell Janet," Daniel began again, "... no more pain pills."

Oh, shit. "No, I can't do that. And you know that. You just had surgery—"

"You promised," Daniel said softly. "Don't make me. Please."

"This is different."

Daniel gave his head an adamant shake. "Every time will be different. Every time will be different from the last time. It'll never stop."

God. "How about we compromise—" He raised a finger to Daniel's protest. "A compromise, not a promise. I'll talk to Fraiser and see what she says, how's that?"

"I guess. A compromise."

Jack patted the surrogate bed covers. "Why don't you lie down for a while?"

Daniel lay back down, shrugging off Jack's assistance, but he stayed by his side, hands off, just listening to him breathe, jumping when Daniel finally spoke.

"Dad, do you still have my iPod?"

For a moment, Jack couldn't remember where he'd put it. He patted down a few pockets before he found the oblong lump in his vest. "Here." He handed Daniel the iPod. "I'm not sure how much of a charge is left."

Daniel turned on the iPod and nodded. "It's still good for a while." He stuck the ear buds into his ears, and seconds later his fingers were beating out an accompanying tattoo on his thighs. Feeling a little like he'd been dismissed, Jack stood, holding back a groan as he did. He shook out his knees; another reason he'd be glad to get Daniel home and into a real bed rather than a makeshift one on the floor.

With still a few hours to go before they got off this planet, Jack was starting to feel a little cooped up. Maybe taking a walk up top might do him some good; see if it was still raining, stretch his legs a little if it wasn't. He'd only taken a few steps towards the door when Daniel called out.

"Where're you going?"

There was pure fear on Daniel's face. All thoughts of going outside for a walk disappeared as Jack headed back to his son. "Nowhere. I was just stretching my legs."

Daniel stared at him for a long time and Jack felt he was trying to ascertain whether Jack had just lied to him. Needy one moment, undeniably strong the next, his mood swings were forcing Jack to paste a smile on his face and bite down and swallow nasty words.

There really wasn't anything for him to do for the time being. They were in waiting mode and except for those on guard duty, they were pretty much just sitting around.

"On second thought, maybe I'll take a break." With a grunt, Jack sat down next to Daniel. The pile of sleeping bags didn't do much to mask the hardness of the floor. Jack stretched out next to his son, intent on relaxing for a little while.

He never expected to wake up, Daniel cuddled up next to him, to the sight of Jacob Carter grinning down at them both.


"I can walk." Daniel eyed the stretcher as if it were something a cat or dog had upchucked.

"Honey, it's a long walk to the where the transport rings are. I'm not sure you're up to walking that far." Fraiser paused in her attempts to repack her packsack.

"I'm not an invalid." Daniel gave a sidelong glance towards SG-12, who were laughing and talking with Jacob. And Jack understood.

"How about you walk with us," Jack said slowly, "and if you get tired, you ride the rest of the way?" Jack raised a finger when Daniel nodded emphatically. "But, if Fraiser says you've had enough, I don't wanna hear any whining."

"Dad, I'm fine."

Jack merely raised an eyebrow at his son, squelching any more objections. He tossed his backpack onto the stretcher, and when Fraiser snapped hers closed, she tossed it alongside his. He figured they may as well get some use out of the thing; why bother taking the thing apart and putting it back together if Daniel got tired halfway there.

Carter came over with two backpacks. She added them to the pile, then helped Fraiser fold the sleeping bags Daniel had been lying on. Seeing his makeshift bed and chair quickly disappearing, Daniel slowly maneuvered onto his knees.

"Here, let me—"

Jack started to bend down so he could help Daniel up, but stopped short when Daniel hissed, "I can do it." A glare in Jack's direction had him pulling his hands away and he watched helplessly as Daniel moved in slow motion, throwing occasional glances towards SG-12.

"Do you wish assistance?" Teal'c simply put his hand out in front of Daniel.

Without hesitation, Daniel grabbed Teal'c's hand and using it as an anchor, slowly levered himself to his feet. "Thanks."

Teal'c smiled and nodded at Daniel.

"Hey, Danny." Jacob left the other group and came over to them. He gave Daniel a gentle pat on the back. "Look at you. From the way Mitchell was talking, I thought you were flat on your back. Looks like you're on your way to a speedy recovery."

"It's not that bad." Daniel gave Jacob a wide smile and moved his hand away from the incision site. Daniel was going for the 'I'm fine and healthy scenario', which worked for a full five seconds until he started coughing.

While Jack grabbed Daniel's arm, trying to hold him upright as Daniel was bent in two, trying to protect his incision, Carter rubbed Daniel's back.

"Dad, do you happen to have a healing device in the ship?"

For a moment Jack was filled with hope and elation, the possibility that Daniel's pain and recovery could be over in just a few more minutes.

But Jacob shook his head. "I'm sorry, Sam." His gaze met Jack's. "I'd give anything to be able to help him."

The coughing spell seemed to go on forever. Daniel looked like he was about to drop. Jack was about to put an arm around him when Daniel managed to take a normal breath. He cleared his throat, coughed a little more, and slowly straightened.

His face was red and dripping with sweat. He took his glasses off and wiped his face with the back of his hand, pretending that shaking fingers was something normal.

"How about some cough syrup?" Fraiser waited until Daniel nodded, then pulled a small bottle from a pocket of her vest. Measuring out doses in the bottle's cap, she handed them to Daniel, who, with a grimace, gulped them down in quick succession.

"We're ready to move out," Mitchell announced as Fraiser screwed the top back on. He motioned to two of his men to grab hold of the stretcher, the others adding their own packs to it as they passed by, heading for the way out. Jack wanted to stop them, to tell Daniel to get on instead, but one look at his son's determined face, exhausted as he may seem, made him still his words.

"Ready?" Jack asked him.

"Yeah." Daniel's voice was breathy and wheezy, but he walked slowly out of the room.

Jacob stayed with Daniel, talking softly with him. Jack pulled back, taking the rear. Carter slowed her steps to match Jack's.

"I'm sorry, sir. I'd been hoping all along that whoever came to get us would have had a healing device with him."

"The thought sorta crossed my mind, too," Jack admitted, trying not to let the disappointment he felt come through in his voice. Carter looked heartbroken; the elation she'd expressed on having her father be the one to rescue them seemed tempered by the fact that he wasn't able to help Daniel.

"Daniel's been through so much this past year; he really didn't need this."

"I know." Jack would give anything right now for the son he had a year ago; the one who hadn't gone through a hormonal-based influx of repressed memories of another time, the one who hadn't been targeted by the NID and other agencies for his unique situation, the one whom Jack had nearly turned into a drug addict when he'd tried to save a friend in another universe, the one who cared for music and soccer and hockey games and with no greater worries than what he was going to eat for supper that night and whether his girlfriend had called.

Jack really hadn't expected Daniel to make it to the ring room, but make it he did. Jacob beamed them up to the ship in two groups. Fraiser took charge immediately, fixing the sleeping bags on the raised platform in the cargo hold and helping Daniel up onto it.

That Daniel didn't say one word of protest showed how much the walk had taken out of him. He shook his head when Fraiser offered him the familiar painkiller and glanced over at Jack. "How about some Tylenol?" Daniel asked.

Fraiser hesitated; she hadn't missed the look the two had exchanged. "Are you sure?"

"Yeah, Daniel's sure," Jack answered, hoping that the good doc would just accept their answers without any further questions.

"Tylenol it is, but if you need something stronger, you better not hesitate to ask."

Daniel took the pills Fraiser offered, closed his eyes when Jack told him to, and went to sleep. Without or without the painkiller, exhaustion overrode any pain Daniel was experiencing.


A change of scenery; plain utilitarian grey opposed to gilded Goa'uld decor, didn't do much to distract Daniel. Or Jack, for that matter.

"Why can't I go and see Jacob?" Daniel whined. "I want to see what it looks like outside—"

"The force field distorts the view of outer space," Carter said patiently.

"Fraiser said you're to rest," Jack said a little more testily.

"If you wish to speak with JacobCarter, I would be happy to relieve him," Teal'c said, giving Jack an irritated look.

"You can't really see outer space until we come out of hyper drive." Carter checked her watch. "We've still got several hours; the best time to go up front would be just before we enter our solar system. Then the view will knock your socks off."

Daniel was bored; Jack could see the signs. "How about a game of chess? There must be something in here we could use for board pieces and—"

"I've, um, got a travel chess kit in my bag." McKay, who'd been going over data on a small electronic device, had raised his head and was looking at them across the room.

"You play chess?" Daniel sounded surprised; Jack certainly wasn't. And he looked interested, perking up as McKay pulled his pack to him and rummaged through it.

"I was on a chess team in high school." McKay pulled a small, compact box from the pack and stood. He handed it over to Daniel, then gave him an appraising look. "You any good?"

Daniel shrugged, and Jack could see him uncharacteristically pulling back, the shine of interest fading quickly from his eyes.

"He beats me one out of three games."

"Two out of five," Daniel interjected.

"And yes, I was in a chess club," Jack added before McKay could ask if he was any good. He wasn't about to admit that the chess club consisted of a bunch of drinking buddies who used the excuse for playing chess as a reason to get together, smoke, drink and brag about their sexual exploits, but as much as they had goofed off together, there had been some serious game-playing as well.

McKay held the box invitingly, waiting patiently until Daniel made his decision. When Daniel grudgingly nodded his interest, McKay climbed onto the platform and sat next to him and began setting up the pieces. Five minutes later, Jack left the two staring at the tiny board and went to see if there was anything interesting up front where Jacob Carter was piloting the ship, while trying not to feel guilty that he was doing the exact thing Daniel had wanted to do to help pass the time.


Daniel and McKay had been at it for two hours. McKay had won every game but to be honest, Daniel had certainly given him a run for his money. And after each game they played, McKay would take the time to run through the moves they'd made, and the two would discuss alternate moves and strategies.

Now, though, Daniel's concentration was flagging and Jack could see two glaring errors that he'd made. McKay could bring the game to a close in a few more moves.

Taking a card from the deck of cards Teal'c had pulled from his vest earlier, Jack carefully positioned it on the precarious construct he'd been painstakingly building. And again, like every other time he reached this level, the vibrations from the ship's engines were too much for it and his house of cards dissipated into what looked like a child's version of 52-pickup.

When Daniel didn't try to correct his mistake, McKay brought the game to a close. Daniel groaned out loud at his lack of foresight.

Sweeping the game pieces into his hand, McKay put them away and closed the box. "Well, that was fun." He slid off the platform and stood, took a few steps, stopped, and turned around. "Hey, next time you're at the SGC, drop by my lab. If I've got the time, we could play a few more rounds."

Again, Daniel looked surprised. "Sure," he said, doubt coloring that one word.

"No, I mean it. We could, you know, grab something to eat and I could give you a few more pointers."

"Okay." Daniel still sounded unconvinced, and Jack was pretty sure McKay was having a short moment of sympathy for the bored, convalescing teenager.

"Better take advantage of his offer," Jacob Carter said from the entrance to the cargo bay. "From what I hear, Doctor Rodney McKay doesn't offer to share his time with that many people."

"Hey, I happen to have a heavy workload and I don't have that much time to socialize. Playing chess relaxes me and I could use an occasional hour or so, once in a while, to, you know, relax." He looked nervously around the room at SG-12 and SG-1, who were staring at him avidly. "So like I said, if you happen to be in the area—"

The ship lurched violently to one side. Daniel nearly tumbled off the platform; only Jack's quick reflexes prevented him from a painful landing.

"What was that?" McKay's voice was nearly drowned out by several alarms.

"Someone's shooting at us," Carter yelled as everyone attempted to get to their feet.

"That's what I came to tell you." Jacob caught himself on the edge of the doorjamb. "Someone's following us."


Daniel scrambled to get his balance as his dad helped him back onto the platform. Everyone staggered out of the cargo bay. His dad let him go and yelled over his shoulder as he followed everyone, "Stay here."

Like hell he would. Daniel carefully slid off the platform and walked drunkenly towards the exit. There was something wrong with the room, like he was in some sort of crazy funhouse ride with gravity pushing him sideways. Then it hit him. It probably was gravity gone crazy; Sam had mentioned something about trying to fix some sort of controls and Rodney had run after her, yelling suggestions.

Everyone else was crowded in the control room, staring at something in front of them. Heads were in the way so he couldn't see. Daniel spotted his dad on his right so he slid behind SG-12 and circled around them in the opposite direction, trying to stay out of his dad's line of sight. He came up behind Janet and gasped at the sight behind the view screen.

Outer space was dark, just like they said it was, except for the sight of a sun shining brightly in the far distance. Then the ship shook violently again and he was shoved against the bulkhead. The pain in his shoulder and ribs from the impact was nothing like the pain in his abdomen. He fell to his knees, feeling hot bile rising into his throat, threatening to choke him. He swallowed back the nausea, trying to breathe through the suddenness of the pain. Slowly the fire in his side eased, only to be replaced by throbbing in his ribs and shoulder.

Others were picking themselves off the floor while Teal'c and Jacob maintained their positions. One person stayed down, and Janet hurried to him. Words flew back and forth, numbers about shields, engines, drives. Sam's voice came over a loudspeaker, and Daniel tried to understand what she was saying but it was too technical.

"Who the hell's shooting at us?" His dad sounded pissed. Daniel stayed down, hoping his dad wouldn't spot him.

A computer screen popped up, superimposed on the view screen. It had technical data that made no sense to him.

"That would be my latest assignment. I thought I'd given him the slip; he must have followed me."

"I thought we were cloaked!" his dad said in a clipped voice.

"There's no reason to cloak the ship while traveling in hyperspace."

"Maybe you better rethink that reasoning," his dad said sarcastically. "And maybe now would be a good time to cloak—"

"Don't you think I know that?" Jacob said, just as sarcastically. "Sam," he said into the radio, "can you get the cloaking device back online?"

"I was trying to get the shields—"

Another powerful blast rocked them, and Daniel again went flying into the bulkhead, smashing his head on the wall and forcing the breath out of him. There was silence on the deck for a few seconds while people picked themselves up. Once more, the only people standing were Jacob and Teal'c. Jacob still had his hands on the spherical control, and Teal'c was moving across the room, checking on everyone and helping them up.

"McKay. Get to the control room and get that cloak online." Cameron Mitchell's order wasn't quite as nasty as his dad's, but there was enough authority in it that Rodney ran past them, heading to the control room on his way from the engine room. Maybe, Daniel thought, the fact that Rodney was actually running down the corridor wasn't that good a sign because Rodney probably understood more about what was happening than he did.

"Who the fuck is shooting at us?" His dad was glaring at Jacob. The military persona had returned, and Daniel flinched at the suppressed anger in his dad's voice. Amazingly, Jacob didn't seem to be afraid of his dad. Not even a little bit. "And why the hell is he following you?"

"Maybe because I stole something of his and he wants it back?" Jacob's words were neutral, as if he were talking to them about a movie he'd seen and they were all sitting around a dinner table and not in the middle of outer space in a ship that had alarms blaring and people running.

"That is Ba'al's ship." Teal'c had reached Daniel and was kneeling next to him, staring over his shoulder. Daniel turned stiffly and felt his jaw drop at the scene outside.

It was a vision that even the special effects people in the movies would never get right. The ship looming over them was enormous. Like a huge, dark spider approaching the poor fly stuck in the web, it moved silently, gracefully, overshadowing the wonders of space.

"You can tell whose ship that is?" Daniel asked when he managed to get his jaw back in working order.

"Daniel! Didn't I tell you to stay put?"

He flinched at the gunfire sharpness of his dad's voice. Then Teal'c put a hand on his arm, and Daniel raised his eyes to meet Teal'c's gaze. Their conversation came to him, and he suddenly lost his fear. That was his dad, doing what he did best. Protecting them. Protecting him.

He nodded at Teal'c. "I'm okay." And knew Teal'c had understood both meanings he'd meant to convey.

A moment later his dad's attention had moved back to Jacob. "What the hell did you steal that's got him so riled up?"

There was a flash outside. The ship lurched and Daniel fell into Teal'c's arms. Even as he gasped in pain from the shock, he knew the bolt had missed them.

"Something he obviously wants back," Jacob said calmly.

"Why did you steal—"

"Because I got a message saying I had to abandon my position and rescue a couple of allies who'd gotten themselves into a tight spot," Jacob spat back, obviously starting to lose his temper. "I saw my chance, took the damned thing, and booked. I thought I'd lost him. So sue me."

Sam, Jacob and Rodney were talking on the radios, their words so fast and technical that Daniel couldn't keep up anymore. The ship outside now filled the view screen. Daniel pushed away from Teal'c's support and leaned against the bulkhead, one hand held protectively against his incision.

His dad calmly clicked the radio and said, "McKay. We need that cloak now."

Silence filled the room.

"McKay." His dad's voice grew impatient.

Several seconds later, his dad reached for the radio again. He turned and his gaze met Daniel's. Before he could say anything, Rodney's voice came over the radio.

"That's it. The cloak's up and running. But the inertial dampeners are at fifty percent—"

Jack spun towards Sam's dad. "Jacob—"

"Everyone hold on."

The ship twisted, or at least it felt that way to Daniel. Rodney's voice stopped with a yelp and Daniel couldn't move for several agonizing seconds; he was frozen in place, pushed with almost unendurable pressure against the bulkhead. Release came with almost dizzying relief as he collapsed to the floor. His vision faded for a moment as he gasped for air. When things cleared up again, the threatening ship outside wasn't so much as getting closer, as that they were flying down alongside it. He could see windows every so often, and once he could have sworn there was a face peering out at them. Then it was gone as they slid past.

"It's still coming," Jacob said, still standing at the control sphere. "Sam, I need the hyper drive engines."

"I'm working as fast as I can."

"You've got thirty seconds. After that, we'll be within range of their proximity sensors. Our cloak won't do us any good at that point."

"Thirty seconds?" Daniel hadn't realized Teal'c was still kneeling next to him until he leaned over him.

"Are you injured?"

Daniel could only focus on the countdown. "Thirty seconds?" he squeaked again.

"Dad. Go." Sam's voice was curt and tight in the loudspeakers.

"Everyone hold on. This is going to be rough."

Teal'c reached for him and in a quick move, pulled Daniel close to his chest. Then suddenly the pressure was back. And it was worse than before.

Daniel fought for breath as pressure shoved the air from his lungs. An unyielding force crushed his abdomen, causing pain so bad he would have screamed if he'd been able to. The ship was eerily silent, except for the thrum of the engines and the pounding of his heart in his temple. As he began to lose consciousness, Daniel felt Teal'c slowly collapse to the ground, bringing him down with him.


"Dad?" Thick with confusion, Daniel's voice was the most wonderful sound Jack had heard in the past hour.

"Right here, Icky." Jack leaned over and touched Daniel's arm. Daniel slowly opened his eyes and Jack, familiar with the headache his son was sporting, gave him an encouraging smile.

"Are we home yet?"

Jack shook his head as slowly as his headache allowed him to. "About that. We've got a slight delay while Carter and McKay try to fix the inertial dampeners."

Daniel raised a hand and rubbed his forehead. "That's why the ship felt so weird, wasn't it?"

"Yeah. The dampeners prevent the—"

"I know what they are, Dad. I watch the SciFi channel, remember?"

"Of course you do." Jack gave him a lop-sided smile, relieved he didn't have to spout anything scientific in front of anyone.

"Why does my head hurt?"

"Ah. According to Fraiser, that's from lack of oxygen."

"We ran out of air?"

"No. During those few minutes of hyperspace, the pressure was so great our diaphragms couldn't expand so we weren't able to breathe. Hence the headache is due to lack of oxygen. It should get better in a little while."

"Good." Daniel closed his eyes, obviously not wanting to sit up.

Jack glanced across the room where Fraiser was treating Captain Johnson, who'd suffered a few broken ribs during their escape. She'd said Daniel's slightly longer bout of unconsciousness was due to his weakened condition, but Jack was beginning to wonder if he'd also been hurt.

"How're you feeling? Other than the headache?" Jack tried to sound casual.

"My ribs hurt. And my side." Daniel's hand skimmed over the lower right side of his abdomen.

Jack did a quick calculation and came up with the hopeful conclusion that maybe this time Daniel would be willing to take Fraiser's magic pills. Or so he hoped.

Jack nodded as Jacob came to kneel next to them. Not suffering from a headache, the man looked way too cheerful.

"Hey, Danny."

Daniel opened one eye just long enough to look at Jacob. "Hi."

"Doctor Fraiser will be with you in a second. Sorry about all of this."

"Dad said we need repairs?" Daniel's voice sounded phlegmy. He cleared his throat noisily.

"That's right. Shouldn't take too long. Sam and Doctor McKay are working on bringing the inertial dampeners to full power. We're parked on the dark side of a moon so, even if we were followed, they won't find us that easily this time."

Fraiser left Johnson's side and came to join them. "How are you feeling, Daniel?"

"He's got a headache, he's complaining of pain in his ribs and side."

"Okay, let's have a look." She eased Daniel's tee shirt up and pressed against his ribs. Daniel flinched once when her fingers touched a particular spot, but didn't overly react. "Would you hand me my packsack, please?"

Jack stretched to the side and grabbed the opened packsack as Fraiser peeled back Daniel's dressing. She palpated the area around the incision, then added a fresh dressing. "There's no sign of infection. And your ribs are a little bruised, but nothing serious."

Fraiser removed two pills from a blister pack, definitely not the same ones she'd administered to the group for their headaches. "Here, this'll help with the headache and also with your side."

Daniel glanced towards Jack. He was hurting, it was written all over his face, and Jack could only hope that maybe Daniel would reach out and just take the damned pills the doc was offering. Jack nodded and gave the slightest sigh of relief when Daniel took the pills.

Fraiser waved a hand towards Daniel and before Jack could help raise his head and shoulders so he could drink, Jacob was there, moving faster than Jack. Daniel swallowed the pills and started drinking the water but the change in position triggered a coughing spell. He sputtered, water shooting out of his mouth, spraying Jack and Fraiser as he coughed.

Jacob held onto Daniel while Fraiser caught the bottle of water before Daniel dropped it, and brought Daniel's hand up to his incision site, urging him to press down to help with the pain. Jack could only kneel there and wait, watching and waiting until the spell was over.

"Ow." Daniel grabbed his head and fell back against Jacob's chest, panting noisily.

"I'd like to get him back to the cargo bay. I should give him another round of antibiotics." Fraiser handed the water bottle back to Daniel, who took a couple of cautious sips. "They're working wonders," she told Daniel with a smile. "Your lungs sound a lot clearer."

Daniel rolled his eyes at her, pulling the water bottle noisily away from his mouth, breaking the suction. "Yeah, really? You could've fooled me."

"Yes, really." She placed an index finger on the bottom of the bottle and pushed it back towards his mouth. "You'll probably have that cough for a while."

"Great." Daniel finished the water, dropped his arm, and balancing the empty bottle on his thigh, wriggled his shoulder back and forth.

"Did you hurt your shoulder?"

"It's a little stiff."

A minute later Fraiser diagnosed his shoulder as bruised, along with the rest of him. "Let's get you back into the other room so I can connect your IV."

Jacob and Jack helped him up. Daniel was shaky, but he managed to walk on his own while, one hand on the bulkhead for balance while Fraiser shadowed him. He took a few steps then stopped to look back at Jack.


Jacob put a hand on Jack's back when Jack hesitated. "Go with him," Jacob said softly. "There's nothing you can do here."

By the time Daniel detoured to the latrine and Jack had him swaddled in his sleeping bag and Fraiser had connected the IV, Daniel's eyes were starting to look a little glassy.

"We're not going to make it home, are we?" Daniel didn't sound worried, just sad.

"Hey, where's all this doom and gloom coming from." Jack settled himself on the platform next to Daniel and swept back a lock of hair from his face.

"Everything's been going wrong since... You know, there are days when it's just not worth getting out of bed. I think this week has been one of those times."

"Won't argue with you there." Jack kept his hand on Daniel's head, rubbing his thumb in circles around his temple.

Daniel sighed softly. "Feels good."

"And we're going to make it home as soon as the ship's fixed."

"What if they can't fix it?"

"Hey, don't let Carter hear you say that. If she and McKay can't get this oversized space dingy to fly right, they'll never be able to show their faces at the SGC without being ridiculed."

"That's not even funny, Dad."

Jack shrugged. "Okay. You're right. Jacob said we could do another jump into hyperspace to the nearest planet with a Stargate."

"We can do that?"

"It would take three or four jumps, spread out over several days so that we could take time to recover. But yeah, it's doable. Me, personally, I'm hoping Carter fixes the darned thing because I'm not looking forward to more of these headaches."

"Me, neither." Daniel's voice drifted off on the last word. Jack remained silent, keeping up the gentle massage, and waited for Daniel to fall asleep.


"We're never going to get home."

Jack frowned at his son, who was standing by the view screen, staring out into the darkness. "Don't be ridiculous, Daniel."

"MajorCarter and DoctorMcKay have nearly concluded their repairs." Teal'c was braver than Jack; he walked over to the pissy, cranky and homesick kid of his and stood there next to him, hands clasped behind his back, staring out into the depressing landscape. "We shall soon be able to continue our journey to Earth, perhaps even within the hour."

"It's been hours already." Daniel slapped the edge of the wall moodily with his hand and shuffled away.

Jack bit back the retort that Daniel had slept the majority of those hours away, whereas everyone else on the ship had had to endure the long, boring hours awake with very little to do. "And it'll be a few more hours." Desperate for something to occupy his son who was apparently starting to feel better, hence the crankiness and boredom, Jack made a suggestion. "Carter and McKay must be starving. How about you go ask what they'd like to eat and we'll see what we can scrounge up for dinner."

"I'm not hungry."

"Well, maybe they are."

"Maybe we can have dinner after they fix the ship."

"Hey. Since when have you been so inconsiderate?" Irritated, Jack knew his tone was harsher than he'd meant it to be.

"Inconsiderate? What about me? I'm the one who was kidnapped and dumped on a planet to fend for myself." Daniel turned to face Jack, his hand slapping his chest angrily. "I'm the one who got sick and got appendicitis and had to be operated on. I'm the one who's going to miss school again. I'm the one who's going to have to lie to all my friends about where I was and why we didn't tell them I've been in the hospital. Oh, wait, maybe that's because I wasn't in a hospital and it's a little hard for them to come and visit me when I'm stuck in the middle of outer space in a ship that won't even fly!"

Daniel was breathing heavily and his rant was punctuated by a loud, wet cough. Jack had a sneaking suspicion that if Daniel had been well and hale, he'd have given Jack the full blown-out tantrum he'd seen the adult Daniel do many years ago which, at the time hadn't been funny, but had given them both a few laughs afterwards when that particular mission had ended. Had that been the case, he wouldn't have held back the angry words just sitting on the tip of his tongue.

"Well," Mitchell said, getting up off the floor where he'd been playing poker with Fraiser and two of his team, "I'll go see if anyone wants anything to eat." He gave Jack a nervous smile as he walked by. "Like my grandma used to say, there's no better place to air out your grievances than at the dinner table." He grinned boyishly. "That's probably because everybody's too busy stuffing their mouths to complain."

"How about you go grab something for us to eat?" Jack asked when it looked like Daniel was calming down. He'd moved to the side and was leaning a shoulder against the wall, his arms wrapped around himself.

"I told you I wasn't hungry." Daniel stared at his feet.

Jack shot Fraiser a glance, but she didn't look worried as she shuffled the deck of cards and said, "Well, you've been sick—"

"I'm not sick. I'm recovering—"

"—So until your appetite returns," Fraiser continued, dealing the cards to the remaining players with the dexterity of a Los Vegas dealer, "instead of an MRE, you can have your pick of the rest of the jars of baby food. I've got cereal and applesauce—"

"Damn it. I'm not a baby."

"Then stop acting like one," Jack snapped back. "And watch your language, mister."

"I'm sick—"

"You were sick. You're recovering. You just said so yourself."

"I'm not hungry! Why is that such a big deal?"

"Because," Jacob said gently from the doorway, "everyone's been very worried about you."

Daniel didn't answer. Neither did he look at Jacob. Instead, he stared at the ground, shifting his weight just enough that Jack knew he was starting to get tired. He ignored Jacob when he came to stand next to him.

"I just want to go home," Daniel said, so softly that Jack barely made the words out.

"I know, kiddo. And I've got good news."

"The ship's fixed?" Daniel's head popped up and he followed Jacob visually as he crossed the room to the main control panel.

"Cross your fingers." Jacob smiled at Daniel, pressed a control, glanced at the readouts, and pressed the radio. "That's it. Inertial dampeners are at full power."

"We can go?" There was an almost desperation in Daniel's voice.

"As soon as we've had something to eat," Jacob said. The man never looked at Jack, for which Jack was extremely grateful because he wasn't sure if he'd have burst out laughing or hugged him.

Everyone followed Jacob to the cargo bay, except for Daniel. And Jack. Laughter and conversation from the cargo bay traveled down the short hallway.

His son had gone back to the window and was once again staring sullenly into space. Jack walked over to stand next to Daniel and felt him stiffen. Trying to act nonchalant, Jack stuffed his hands into his pockets and looked out into the dark.

"I know it's been hard," he started, then stopped when Daniel rudely puffed out air through his lips, and changed his tactics. "But you have to remember, everyone here, in this ship, endangered their lives to come and help you. I think a little bit of courtesy on your part wouldn't go amiss."

"I didn't ask them to—"

"Don't. Don't even go there." So much for the fatherly niceties he was aiming for.

Again, Daniel dropped his head and stared at the ground. Slowly he raised his hand and rubbed at a point between his eyes. "I just want to go home," Daniel repeated. "I miss Grandma and Alexandria and I just want to sleep in my bed and Janet said... I just want to go home."

Jack turned and put an arm around Daniel and gently tugged him close. His son took the one step separating them and leaned against Jack. "How about, you come and eat something, then lie down for a little while, and when we get back and once Fraiser has run all her tests, I'll talk to her and see if she can let you go home a little early. Deal?"

"Deal," Daniel said into Jack's chest.

God, he was making so many promises, here was hoping that he'd be able to uphold at least one of them.


The view was incredible. Sitting Kirk-like in a raised chair in the center of the bridge, Daniel surveyed their approach into their solar system. He got a feeling of déjà vu for a moment at the sight of the planets and the moons, then realized it was something he'd seen once as an adult. The accompanying feeling of doom and gloom wasn't there this time, and he was able to enjoy it to the fullest.

"Wow," he uttered.

His dad gave a soft huff. "Yup, that pretty much says it all."

He knew he had a grin a mile wide but made no effort to reel it in as he watched in fascination as the ship approached Earth. His dad stood behind him, leaning his forearms on the back of the chair.

"How many times have you seen this?" Daniel asked, not taking his eyes off the panorama.

"Not often enough," his dad said softly.

There were no words to describe all of this; even an IMAX theatre couldn't compare. The thrill was so incredible that by the time they entered Earth's atmosphere, he'd forgotten the pain in his side and the lingering headache.

Flying over mountains, rivers and cities took his breath away. Remembering that his dad had once flown fighter planes, Daniel canted his head backwards to look at him and saw something in his dad's eyes that he couldn't quite read.

"Do you miss this?" Daniel asked.

His dad took his eyes off the view and glanced at Daniel. "Miss what? Flying around in space in a broken down ship?"

"No." Daniel looked ahead once more and gave a small wave with his hand. "This. Flying. The freedom of it all."

"Technically, I'm not flying the ship."

"But you're flying, in a ship."

"It's not quite the same thing."

"So, you're saying Jacob is the one getting a thrill out of all of this?" Daniel looked at Sam's dad, who was standing serenely with one hand on the controls.

"I suspect it's Selmak who's driving, not Jacob," his dad said with a bit of humor in his voice. "And driving this thing as opposed to a jet is like..." His dad leaned forward a little, his hands hanging over the edge of the chair, close to Daniel's shoulder. "Riding a tricycle compared to Carter's motorbike."

"Do you think Jacob would let me drive the ship before we get home?"

His dad simply cleared his throat.

"It was just a thought," Daniel groused. Then the blur of land below them slowed, and the ship made a wide turn, heading for a large mountain off to the right. "Is that...?"

"Yup. Cheyenne Mountain."

"Jack. Now might be a good time to contact the SGC and tell them we're here." Sam's dad turned towards them, and Daniel decided his dad was wrong. It wasn't Selmak, it was Jacob.

"Yeah. You're right." His dad rubbed his hand over the top of Daniel's head as he walked by, heading for the radio. Daniel didn't pay attention to their conversation; he was too busy looking at landmarks. Over there on the right was the main entrance. There was a large mountain of snow at the edge of the two parking lots; obviously they'd gotten a pretty big snowstorm while they'd been gone.

Daniel quickly looked over the parked cars, trying to make out his dad's truck. There were a few vehicles that were still snow-covered. He panned through them quickly as Jacob slowly circled the area and was pleased with himself when he spotted the large mound of snow covering what had to be their Avalanche.

Then they were zipping over the cars, heading for a clear spot at the far end that was large enough for the ship. Then they were down, and everyone was heading out to get their gear. Daniel eased himself off the chair, moving slowly, his body stiff from sitting in the overly gilded chair.

His dad caught his eye and he pointed to where Daniel was standing. "Wait here," he said hurriedly as he left the room, leaving Daniel alone with Jacob. He took a few steps closer to the view screen.

If not for the dull pain in his side, now that he was home, everything he'd gone through almost felt surreal.

"It's like this has all been a dream."

Jacob stepped away from the console and stood next to Daniel. "More like a nightmare, huh?"

"I wanted to come back so badly when I was stuck on the planet." And all those hours on the ship, Daniel added silently. "And now that I'm really here, it's like I never was gone. Thank you for bringing me home."

Jacob smiled at him, his eyes twinkling. "I just wish I could have gotten to you sooner. Made the whole experience a little easier."

A transport truck was heading their way, followed by two military Jeeps. Daniel watched them pull up next to the ship and soldiers jump out of the Jeeps.


Turning, Daniel saw his dad standing in the entrance holding a sleeping bag in his arms. "Ready to go?"

"Are you coming?" Daniel asked Jacob.

Nodding, Jacob clapped Daniel lightly on the back, urging him towards his dad. "I may spend a day or two before heading back."

"Sam'll be happy." He smiled at Jacob as his dad wrapped him up in the sleeping bag.

"Come on."

It was cold outside, but not as cold as the day he'd been abducted. Walking carefully on the snow-covered ground, the short distance to the transport truck felt longer than it truly was. He glanced at the three steps leading into the vehicle with apprehension, not sure if he could manage to climb them. Then Teal'c was there, holding a hand out to him. Slowly, with Teal'c's help, he made it up the steps.

Settling on a seat, Daniel carefully slid to the far end to look out the window. His dad, holding a sleeping bag over his shoulders like everyone else, had stayed outside to talk to the soldiers, along with Sam and Mitchell. Janet and the rest of SG-12 climbed into the transport amidst a lot of complaining about the weather.

Shivering, Daniel pulled the sleeping bag closer. While the interior of the vehicle was heated, with the doors open, the warmth was leaking out. He watched his dad go back inside the ship with the soldiers, then a few minutes later, Sam and Jacob came out and stood there, staring towards the interior of the ship.

When two of the soldiers came out carrying a long, heavy black bag, Daniel frowned. The bag looked familiar. He watched as they tossed it into the back of one of the Jeeps. A minute later, a second bag was carried out and disposed of in the same way.

"Oh, God." He felt like throwing up at the sudden realization.

"Daniel, what's wrong?" Janet, sitting in a seat behind him, leaned forward.

"Those... They brought the bodies back?"

"It is standard procedure, DanielJackson. We have not yet identified your abductors and—"

"There were dead bodies inside the ship with us?" Somehow the idea that there had been dead people in there was both intriguing and appalling.

"It's okay, Daniel." Janet put a hand on his shoulder and gripped him, hard. Daniel wondered if she was afraid he was going to run out of the transport, screaming like a little girl and wanted to make sure he stayed put. "They can't hurt you now."

"I know that." He rolled his eyes, and saw Teal'c's mouth twitch into an almost smile. When Janet loosened her grip, he couldn't help the full body shudder. "It's cold," he said, which wasn't exactly a lie. He tucked the sleeping bag up close to his neck as small tremors continued, watching in morbid fascination as yet more bodies were piled into the Jeeps.

"Will someone please shut the doors?" Rodney groused from the front of the transport, sitting right next to the opened doors. "It figures. We managed to survive being stranded on a planet and attacked by hooligans, and now we'll probably all die of pneumonia by the end of the week."

Daniel ignored Rodney. However, the spectacle outside was soon put to an end when Daniel began coughing. He turned from the window, coughing into his sleeping bag as Janet moved from the seat behind him to sit next to him. He shut his eyes to hide the spots floating before him until the coughing let up.

He wasn't cold anymore. Sweat had dampened his tee shirt and the chill in the air sent goose bumps up his back as movement displaced the sleeping bag. Breathing heavily, he cleared his throat and rested his head against the back of the seat, only to pull up again when that position tugged painfully on his incision.

The transport tilted to the right as his dad came up the stairs, followed by Mitchell, Sam and Jacob. "You okay?" his dad asked as he sat in the seat opposite Daniel, wrapping his sleeping bag around his shoulders.

"He's fine," Janet replied for him. "I think he's just a little tired and cold."

The driver shut the door and the transport lurched forward. As they got nearer to the main entrance, Daniel admitted to himself that Janet was right. He was tired. As much as he wanted to go home, right now, he was actually grateful they were almost at the base so he could stretch out on a bed for a while. Still, he had to ask. "When can I go home?"

Janet didn't answer for a moment as she tugged the edge of his sleeping bag up to his neck while holding onto her own. "Well, you've only got one more dose of antibiotics to go. How about we get that one over and done with tonight, let me run a few tests and we'll talk about it in the morning?"

Daniel knew from her tone of voice that this was the best he would get from her. He turned to his dad. "I want to talk to Grandma."

His dad nodded. "The minute we get you settled, okay?"

He knew he should also call Cassie and Alexandria, but at the moment the idea of talking to them was just too much. He shivered again as he watched the snowy landscape disappear as they drove into the main entrance tunnel. A minute later, they'd pulled up to the entrance. SG-12 got up and walked by, escorting Captain Johnson, who was moving slowly and stiffly, one hand held protectively around his broken ribs.

Daniel stood, moving even more slowly than the injured captain, having trouble gathering the sleeping bag around him. Teal'c pulled it sideways so Daniel could get a hold on it, then he shuffled forward to where Sam and Jacob were waiting near the door.

Getting down the stairs seemed an even harder feat than going up. But with Jacob's help and support, he managed the steps, trying to hide his embarrassment as SG-12 stood nearby watching and waiting.

Wanting to get in out of the cold, Daniel began walking, head down, towards the elevators, trusting that his dad and Janet were following. However, Janet's "Not so fast, Daniel," brought him to a halt with an irritated huff of air. He turned, impatient to see what the holdup was, and then took an involuntary step backwards when he saw the wheelchair she was standing next to.

"Oh no." He put out a warding hand, refusing to be wheeled into the infirmary. "I'm not getting in that."

Janet simply pointed a finger to the chair. The medic who'd obviously brought the chair to the elevators watched him curiously. Daniel turned to his dad for help, and was disappointed when his father motioned to the chair with his chin.

"I can walk."

"I know you can, but I'd rather you didn't." Janet tapped the back of the chair with her fingers.

"I'm fine." He wasn't; his legs were shaking and his side was pulling, and his head had begun to ache again, but that was beside the point. Bad enough everyone on the base probably knew what had happened to him; he didn't know if he could stand having them all see him come in like some sort of invalid.

"You wouldn't want me to keep you an extra day or two because you're suffering from exhaustion, now, would you?"

"Oh, great. Exaggerate much, do you?" Daniel glared at Janet, not in the mood for any of her threats, be they serious or in jest.

"Daniel, get in the chair before I get Teal'c to carry you to the infirmary."

"I can walk, Dad." To prove that he could, Daniel began heading for the elevator. Just those few feet, however, had him regretting his stubbornness and wishing he'd gotten into the wheelchair.

He stood apart from everyone as the SF on duty called the elevator. Jacob, however, moved into his space. Ironically he was the only one, other than Teal'c, who hadn't bothered with a sleeping bag for warmth.

"You know, giving in doesn't always mean you've lost the battle."

"This isn't a fight—"

"Then why are you being stubborn?"

Daniel bit his lip, too embarrassed to even begin to try and explain.

"Everyone who'll see you in that chair will by now know you've gone through hell and back. There's no reason to hide the fact that you're in pain. You're only hurting yourself in the long run."

"How did you know..."

"I'm a pretty good judge of character. Plus, Jacob has a son and daughter; he's pretty well acquainted with stubborn teenage pride."

"Selmak," Daniel said when Jacob's eyes glowed, feeling his blush warm his cheeks.

Jacob's head dipped and Jacob now grinned at Daniel. "If you take the chair, I'll push you."

"With an offer like that, how can I refuse?" Telling himself he was merely saving face in front of everyone, Daniel walked into the now opened elevator. He eased himself down into the empty chair, felt Jacob's hand on his shoulder as he told the waiting medic that he'd take care of Daniel, and let his dad arrange the sleeping bag around him as the elevator began its descent.

He kept his head down as they made their way through the packed hallways. His dad, Teal'c and Sam, surrounded him, however, so all he really saw were legs going by. He'd rather have had the anonymity of walking among a group and he couldn't say he wasn't relieved when they turned into the infirmary.

Within minutes he'd been undressed, put into a hospital gown, given a bed and examined by Doctor Warner while his dad and everyone else waited their turn. Daniel answered the doctor's questions, submitted to his poking and prodding, tried not to wince when he pressed the sore spot on his ribs and at first refused, then ended up swallowing the pills Warner prescribed when he admitted that he was hurting. Selmak was right – giving in didn't mean he'd lost the battle. Giving in was better than having an argument. Giving in meant drawing less attention to himself. Giving in meant the hours would pass quicker due to a drug-induced slumber.

Told to get some rest, Doctor Warner pulled back the privacy curtains as he stepped through them, leaving Daniel shuttered in a small, private space with only a nurse, who made short work of taking blood samples. When she left, he could have gotten up and opened the curtains but honestly, compliments of the day's events and whatever med Warner had given him, Daniel just didn't have the energy.

And he wasn't really alone: he could hear Doctor Warner with his dad. Sam and Jacob were talking and Rodney was whining about being hungry. Secure in the knowledge that his dad wasn't far, Daniel allowed himself to relax. While everyone had tried to make him comfortable what with the sleeping bags and such, nothing had felt as good as the thin mattress he was now lying on. Not quite as comfortable as his own bed would have been, this still felt like a bit of heaven.

He was drifting when the curtains parted and his dad stuck his head in. "Hey? How're you doing?"

"Can I call Grandma?"

"Sure. Give me a sec, okay?"

His dad disappeared, only to come back a few seconds later with a cell phone. "Your backpack's in my office. I'll get someone to bring it down later. But for now, one of the lovely nurses offered the use of theirs so, keep it to Grandma only and you can call the rest of the crew tomorrow, okay?"

Daniel nodded as he accepted the unfamiliar phone. He dialed his grandmother's number, drumming his fingers impatiently on his thigh as he waited.



"Daniel?" There was surprise in her voice. "Mhuirnin." This was tinged with relief. "Oh God. Are you all right? Where are you?" Impatience, combined with concern.

"At the infirmary. I just got home." Daniel blinked back tears at the sound of his grandmother's voice. Suddenly it all felt like he was really and truly home.

"Are you all right?" she repeated.

"I'm fine." Then he felt remorse as he realized he couldn't exaggerate because she'd be all over him tomorrow. He cleared his throat, forcing words past the tightening due to emotions. "I'm a little tired. I don't think Janet's letting me go home tonight."

"I should hope not. Not with your appendix. Are you in much pain, sweetheart?"

"No. Really, I'm fine. Doctor Warner gave me some pills and it's not that bad unless I'm up for a while."

"So you think Janet will be releasing you tomorrow?"

Daniel cleared his throat again. "I hope so, Grandma," he said fervently.

"Is your father there? Does he know for sure?"

"I'm not sure. Just a sec." Daniel put his hand over the mouthpiece and called out for his dad.

A second later, a nurse stuck her head into the cubicle. "Your father's talking with General Hammond. Do you need anything?"

"No, my grandmother wanted to talk to him." Daniel raised the phone so she could see it. "I'll tell him later." The nurse smiled at Daniel as she backed out.

"Dad's not here right now. I'll tell him to call you." His last words were distorted by a yawn. "Sorry."

"As much as I want to talk with you, mhuirnin, I think you need to hang up and get some rest."

"I'm fine, Grandma."

"Humor an old woman and listen to your doctor, okay? Hang up the phone, close your eyes and go to sleep. You sound sleepy. Growing boys, especially those who've just had an operation and are recovering from bronchitis, need their sleep."

"I love you, too, Grandma," Daniel said, hearing the smile in his voice and knowing his grandmother probably could hear it also.

"I'll hopefully see you tomorrow. Sleep tight, sweetheart."

"Night, Grandma." Daniel flicked the phone off and dropped it onto the bed with a smile. He really was tired; the pills were kicking in hard and fast, bringing sought-after relief and an extremely guilty pleasure at the feeling.


Home, sweet home. Daniel wanted to throw off the seatbelt and jump out of the truck and run into the house even before his dad stopped in the driveway. But the thirty-minute drive had stiffened him up and he was still so tired, he felt woozy. The best he could do was unbuckle the seatbelt and open the door. By the time he managed to get his legs out of the truck, his dad had gotten out, circled the front of the truck and was offering a helping hand.

Highly aware of his grandmother waiting and watching from the doorway, Daniel ducked his head to hide his grimace, refused his dad's help and pulled himself up by using the opened door. He stood there a moment, gave his grandmother a quick wave, then slowly shuffled up the snow-covered walk.

She let him take the last step into the house, backing up to give him room, her sharp eyes raking over him from head to toe, stopping a moment in the vicinity of his abdomen, then coming back up to meet his eyes. Without a word, she opened her arms and Daniel stepped into them gratefully. The moment she hugged him, her touch, her smell and her softly spoken, "Welcome home," set him off and he was quietly sobbing into her neck. Great, definitely not the way to prove to her that he was okay.


"I'm fine," he sobbed, trying to get his emotions under control, but instinctually he tugged her closer as she tried to push him away for even more visual assessment. "I missed you," was the only thing that he could come up with on such short notice that didn't make him sound like a hopeless basket case.

"He's fine, Ma." His dad's hand was on his bent neck and he squeezed his nape. "He's just a little weak and sore. Nothing a few days in bed and some home-cooked meals won't take care of."

His grandmother's hands were on his back and in his hair. The sobs weren't abating and by now, he was so humiliated even though he wanted nothing more than to curl up in her lap like he'd done as a kid.

"I'm sorry," he gasped, still crying as he pulled away, embarrassed at his lack of control.

"Shush, mhuirnin." His grandma held onto him, pulling him close again. "It's all right."

And that was all he'd needed. He clung to his grandmother for what felt like forever, then allowed her to lead him to his room, where she pulled down the comforter while his dad peeled his jacket off him and bent down to remove first one boot, then the other. He got into bed uncomplaining, sniffling and rubbing at his swollen eyes.

His grandmother sat next to him on the bed and he clutched her arm, making sure she didn't go anywhere. "I'm right here, sweetie."

"Dad?" He blinked myopically, wondering where his glasses had gone to as he looked around his bedroom for his father.

"Just putting your coat and boots away."

"I feel like such an idiot," he admitted in a low voice.

"And I'm actually pretty honored that you missed me so much." His grandmother was smiling down at him. "I'm so sorry for what you went through. I wish I'd been there to help—"

"No! No, I'm glad you weren't. It was awful. It was—" Daniel bit his lip, knowing he wasn't allowed to give out details about what he knew of his dad's work, and especially not what had happened to him. "I'm just glad I'm home now," he said in a small voice.

"I'm glad you're home, too. Can I get you anything? Something to eat? Drink?"

Daniel shook his head. "Not hungry."

"Are you in pain? Do you need—"

"No, I'm okay."

"Then sleep."

"Not sleepy." His grandmother's fingers rubbing alongside his forehead and temple were soothing. He sniffed loudly, trying to unclog clogged sinuses and got a headache for his trouble.

He closed his eyes, listening to his dad's footsteps as they came into his bedroom. "Fraiser said you should rest."

Daniel cracked one eyelid open to look at his dad. "I'm resting."

"I can see that," his dad said with a smile as he sat at the foot of the bed.

Closing his eye, Daniel let his grandmother's touch lull him into relaxing totally. He couldn't stay awake and he let himself slip into a twilight sleep. Neither his father nor grandmother spoke; he could hear the occasional sounds they made as they shifted or cleared their throats. Part of him knew they'd be discussing him the moment he fell asleep, and to be honest, right now, he didn't care.


Daniel declined his dad's offer to refill his bowl. The few spoonfuls of macaroni and cheese that were left had lost their appeal. He chewed what he had in his mouth, swallowed, and pushed the bowl aside.

"Are you sure? Would you like anything else?" his grandmother asked, sitting across from him at the table. She'd watched him like a hawk as he'd eaten, making him a little self-conscious. "How about some milk and cookies?"

"No, thanks. Maybe later?"

His dad plucked the bowl from the table, scraped the last few elbows of macaroni into the garbage, and rinsed the bowl. "Don't push him, Ma. He's just eaten more right now than he's had to eat in the past few days."

"I'm going to go call Alexandria before I go take a shower." Daniel eased the chair back and stood, scratching at his head. He was dying for that shower and rued the fact that even though Janet had given him the okay in the infirmary, he'd slept through last evening and night and this morning she was reluctant to let him out before his hair had dried so he'd settled on waiting until he got home.

"Don't move. I'll get the phone." His grandmother was up and gone from the kitchen before Daniel could make it around the table.

"Dad..." Daniel rolled his eyes towards where his grandmother had been sitting.

"She was worried. Let her fuss a little." He was scraping the leftover macaroni and cheese into a Tupperware container.

"It's not that. She looks tired."

His dad left the dishes and wrapped an arm around Daniel, giving him a gentle squeeze. "I know. Between you and me, I don't think she got much sleep."

"I'm sorry." That was exactly what Daniel had been thinking and he felt ridden with guilt.

"Shhh. Don't. You can be sure Grandma's gonna sleep like a baby tonight."

"Here you go."

His grandmother handed him the wireless phone and he gave her a quick hug as he took it from her. "Thanks." He followed the hug with a quick peck to her cheek. "I love you." Head down, he shuffled out of the kitchen and to his bedroom, punching in the numbers to Alexandria's cell as he sat down on his bed.

"Hello?" Alexandria's voice was full of apprehension.


"Daniel! Are you all right? Are you home? Are you okay?" Her voice rose with each question while he heard voices in the background asking the same questions.

"I'm fine," Daniel answered quickly. "I'm home."

"Your grandmother said you'd had an operation. Your appendix?"

"Yeah. But I'm fine."

"Can we come over?"

"We?" For some reason Daniel had thought Alexandria was home. Obviously he was wrong.

"Me, Corey, Li and Lena."

"Um..." He paused, not exactly sure he wanted company. He'd hoped for some quiet time with his grandmother while at the same time, he wanted to catch up with his friends. "Yeah, sure."

"We'll be there soon. Corey and Li are helping Corey's mom shovel their driveway since Corey's dad broke his leg."

"Steve broke his leg?" Daniel asked in shock.

"Oh, you didn't know? He slipped on some ice and fell in the parking lot where he works."

"Is he okay?"

"Yes. Just frustrated because he's got to get around on crutches. I'll tell you all about it when I see you, okay?"

"Okay." He was about to disconnect the call when Alexandria called his name.

"We'd have come to see you at the hospital if you'd told us." There was hurt in her voice.

"I know. I'll tell you all about it when you get here," he replied. He said goodbye to her and hung up.

Gathering clean clothes, Daniel dumped them in the bathroom, then followed his dad's and grandmother's voices to the living room. He took the stairs slowly, then replaced the wireless on its cradle next to the couch. "Alexandria's coming over with Corey, Li and Lena. Did you know that Steve fell and broke his leg?"

"No. Is he okay?" his dad exclaimed.

"When did that happen?" his grandmother asked.

"I think he's okay. Alexandria's gonna give me the details when she gets here." Daniel scratched his scalp, which was feeling dirtier by the minute. "What do I tell them?"

"About your being kidnapped?"

"General Hammond wants to keep this whole incident quiet," Jack said, looking at his mom.

"I know." His grandmother's lips were pressed tightly together and Daniel averted his head, unable to meet her gaze. "General Hammond told me didn't want to panic the other children or their parents, make them feel that Daniel might be a danger to them."

Daniel forced himself to breathe and not show any emotions, hating the constant lies he and his dad were forced to tell.

"Are they?"

"Are they what?"

"In any danger. We both know Daniel's situation is unique—"

"No, there never was any danger for anyone else. And we've taken care of the kidnappers—"

His grandmother gasped and he looked up just in time to see her give his father one of those 'we're going to need to talk later' looks.

His father shook his head. "He's fine," he said softly, keeping his gaze on Daniel all the while. "Tell them there was an outbreak of a drug-resistant bug in the hospital and you were in isolation for your safety. Even your grandma didn't get to visit you."

Daniel sighed. "Okay." One day they were going to run out of lies, or Janet wouldn't be able to come up with anything believable. "I'm going to take a shower."

The shower was all he'd hoped for, and more. He stood under the stream, letting the water pound on his back as he shampooed his hair, luxuriating in erasing half of his discomfort. And then he took a deep breath, and the steam caught in his bronchial tubes.

Truth be told, once he'd coughed up all the crap that had apparently been sitting there, he did feel better. Except by then he somehow had gotten down on his knees in the tub, one hand wrapped around his healing cut and the other braced on the porcelain edge for support.

He stayed there a long minute, waiting until he stopped seeing spots before his eyes, and then slowly, and with a bit of difficulty, got up. Breathing shallowly until he felt secure enough to take a deeper breath, he continued with his shower, grateful the sound of running water had masked his coughing.

Exhausted by the time he finished, Daniel sat on the lowered toilet seat as he dried off. He dressed in loose sweatpants and a bulky jersey, and with socks in one hand and a towel draped over the back of his neck to catch the water dripping from his hair, he returned to the living room.

"How was the shower?" his dad asked as Daniel took the corner of the sofa closest to the fireplace, next to his grandmother.

"Heavenly." Daniel gave his dad what he hoped was a convincing grin.

Without needing to ask, his grandmother took the towel and rubbed his hair while Daniel struggled to pull his socks on. As wonderful as the shower had felt, right now he just wanted to sit back and do nothing for a while. He stretched his legs in front of him, let his grandmother work on his hair, and soaked up the heat.

He was dozing when the doorbell rang. He barely had time to sit up when Alexandria and his friends hurried into the house. They kicked their boots off and raced into the living room, bringing a whiff of winter chill with them that was quickly burned away by the fire's warmth.

"Hi." Alexandria perched on the bolster as she shrugged out of her jacket. Daniel waved to his friends as they all tossed their jackets onto an empty chair and took seats on the couches.

"Corey, how's your dad doing?"

"He's cranky as hell," Corey answered Daniel's dad. While Corey gave them details about his dad's accident, Alexandria leaned back and carefully rested her head against Daniel's shoulder.

"Are you really okay?" she whispered.

"I'm fine." He squeezed her hand and she leaned over to kiss his cheek.

"I missed you. I was so worried."

"I know. I'm sorry." Turning his head just enough so that he could kiss her temple, Daniel felt guilty. He'd caused so much worry; now that his own ordeal was over, he had time to think of everyone else and hated how the situation had put him in yet another awkward position.

The conversation switched over to Daniel, and he just sat there, letting his dad weave the deceptiveness of their cover story.

"Geeze, Daniel," Li stated when his dad paused to take a sip of coffee, "you sure have the weirdest luck."

Daniel gave a short laugh, remembering a song lamented on a rerun of an old TV show he and Teal'c had watched a few weeks ago. "If it weren't for bad luck," he repeated, "I'd have no luck at all."

When everyone seemed satisfied that Daniel was fine and that they hadn't been slighted, the conversation turned to school and the lessons Daniel had missed. His grandmother came in with refreshments and chips and Daniel accepted a bottle of Snapple from her.

"Let me get your laptop and I'll show you," Lena insisted when discussions over a certain problem got heated. She got up with an ease Daniel envied at the moment, watching her trot up the stairs and come back with his laptop a few seconds later.

"Why's your iPod plugged in? Your laptop's not even on." She held out Daniel's iPod in confusion.

Daniel took the iPod, turned it on and nothing happened.

"You told me to plug it into your laptop," his father said defensively.

"But you have to turn the laptop on, Colonel Jack. Otherwise it won't charge."

His father looked startled. For a moment Daniel thought his dad was playing his dumb act again, something he did occasionally. But it was obvious to Daniel that his dad had never truly figured out that the computer needed to be on for the battery to charge. His dad should have known that. His dad wasn't stupid, far from it.

"He told me to plug it into the laptop, and that's what I did," his dad said with a shrug. He shifted on the couch, and the lamp threw light onto his dad's face, and what Daniel saw scared him. He'd said earlier that his grandmother had looked tired. His dad, however, looked old. "How am I supposed to know how these newfangled gadgets work, huh?"

Daniel held the iPod in his hand, staring at his dad and remembering the nearly unendurable pain and his dad lying next to him on the ground, sharing the ear buds with him, telling him everything was going to be okay. And how they'd listened to music he knew his dad hated, listening until Janet had come through the Stargate.

"It's okay, Dad. I can charge it later." He turned the laptop on and while it booted, pretended to listen to his friends.

"What's wrong?" Alexandria shifted so that her lips were next to his ear.

"Nothing," he lied.

"You're tired. We're tiring you."

"No, I'm fine." Actually he was tired. His head was starting to ache and his side was burning from sitting up for so long.

When his laptop was operational, Lena grabbed it and opened the school's website. Twenty minutes later, Daniel's headache was in full bloom and he was squirming on the couch, unable to get comfortable. And he'd lost track of his friends' explanation of their homework assignments. The discussion was still going strong when Alexandria suddenly slammed the cover to his laptop shut.

"Okay, we can finish this tomorrow. Daniel, we'll come over after school tomorrow, okay?" She stood up, and motioned to everyone to do the same. "Daniel's tired, and I'm sure the last thing he wants to hear about right now is homework."

The exodus out of his home was almost as fast as their entry into it. He managed to stand without wobbling too much and followed them to the door, his dad standing behind him with a hand on his shoulder. Corey, Li and Lena said goodbye and hurried outside while Alexandria paused to give Daniel a kiss on the lips. "Call me?"

Passing his tongue over his lower lip, tasting Alexandria's lip gloss, Daniel could only nod. Then they were gone, and his dad shut the door, leaving the house in blessed silence.

"C'mon." His dad gave him a gentle push, guiding him into the kitchen. His grandmother watched him with worried eyes while his father handed him a pill and a glass of water.

He pushed the pill back towards his father, shaking his head. Daniel accepted the glass of water, judging his dad's reaction over the rim of the glass.

"Daniel," his father breathed his name out on a sign of exasperation as he held the pill between his thumb and pointer finger.

"Two Advil will work, okay?" Probably not, but Daniel didn't want to be sucked back down into the oblivion of the pain pill.

Without another word, his father exchanged one pill for the two Advil and handed them over to him. He took them, burying his gaze in the glass of water, refusing to meet either his father's or grandmother's expressions of concern.


The details of the nightmare were already fading, leaving Daniel with sweat-dampened clothes, uneasiness and a racing heartbeat as he made his way to the bathroom to pee. When he finished, instead of going back to bed, Daniel continued down the hallway and stopped at his father's bedroom. The room was dark and he could barely make out his dad's form under the mound of blankets.

The nightmare had been one of those confusing types that kept changing: there'd been gunfire and people chasing him and his dad and there were bodies everywhere, as well as a vague feeling of uneasiness coupled with a side order of horror behind a locked door. He leaned against the doorjamb, wishing he was small again so he could simply crawl into his dad's bed, no questions asked, so he could banish the vestiges of his nightmare. Or maybe he should just find and sleep with that stuffed toy camel instead, the one his dad had given to him when he was five to keep the nightmares at bay.

Daniel seriously considered dragging Lumpy off his bureau and bringing him into his bed, but was afraid of what his dad would think. Then again, hell, that was what the camel was for, right? He turned around, ready to head back to his room, when his dad spoke out.

"Daniel? What's wrong?"

"Um, nothing." He turned back, suddenly reluctant to enter the room.

There was the soft rustle of bedclothes and his dad sat up, staring at him as he blindly thrust his feet around, searching for his slippers. "Are you sick? Are you in pain?"

"No, really, don't get up. I'm fine."

"Fine isn't finding my son standing in my bedroom door in the middle of the night." His dad stood and walked toward him, one of his slippers making scritching sounds on the wood floor as his dad tried to fit his foot properly into it. Then his father's hand was on his forehead. "Hmm, no fever." His hand moved to cup the back of his head. "What's wrong?" his dad asked again.

The heat from his dad's fingers reminded him how cool it was in the house, and his sweat-damp clothes didn't help. The shiver began at the base of his spine and rattled upwards. He brought his hands around his ribs, feeling the tenderness of the bruises there. His fingers he stuck under his armpits as he stared at his cold, bare feet.

"Nothing... I just..."


Reluctantly, Daniel nodded. The pressure on his head increased and he was pulled him forward while his dad took a step closer. Then his dad's arms were around him and Daniel huddled against his father's chest. "I'm not surprised," his dad said softly. "C'mon."

The chill was back as his dad moved away. Daniel followed, almost embarrassed when his father motioned towards his bed. "C'mon, climb in."

His father's body heat still filled the nest of blankets and Daniel curled up gratefully in the spot where his dad had lain sleeping. His dad took the chilly side of the bed and as Daniel lay there, listening to his dad settle, the anxiety he'd felt upon waking from the nightmare fled.

"Wanna talk about it?"

He really didn't. "I was back in that room, with Janet and..."

"And you were scared?"

"It was a dream."

"Dreams are your subconscious working overtime."

"Yeah, well, I was scared when it happened; I guess I'll continue being scared while I dream about it. I'm not scared now, though." He cleared his throat noisily and yawned loudly. His dad chuckled and turned onto his side while Daniel closed his eyes, already feeling sleepy.

Sometimes all it took was knowing one wasn't alone.


"Hey, sleepyhead."

"Five more minutes?" Daniel tried to bury his head under his pillow and a pulling pain in his side woke him up faster than his dad's teasing voice. Suddenly wide-awake, he realized he wasn't being woken up for school, that he wasn't in his bedroom, and that his dad had gotten up and he'd never heard him.

He peered at his dad, who was not only already dressed, but was wearing his jacket. The sun peeked through the edges of the closed blinds, chasing the shadows from the room.

"I'm leaving for work; I just wanted you to know your grandmother will be here in a few minutes."

"Grandma doesn't have to stay with me."

"You gonna try to change her mind?"

"Um. No, not really."

"Go back to sleep. I just wanted you to know I was leaving."

Yawning, Daniel rubbed his eyes, wondering where his glasses were. Oh, he'd left them in his bedroom last night. "Okay."

"So... No more nightmares?"

"Nope," he answered around another yawn. "Slept like a baby."

"Glad to hear it." His dad gave him a quick kiss on the forehead. "I'll see you tonight."

Daniel waved a hand languidly as his dad straightened, eyes already half-shut. "Bye. Love ya." He snuggled in the bed, listening sleepily to his dad's footsteps as he walked out the front door.

The silence was fleeting as footsteps started up again, the sound muffled by the multitude of books shelved on either side of him. He walked down the long aisles of the school library, searching for one particular book, the name of which eluded him, the author just on the tip of his tongue. He had no idea what the subject matter of the book was; he just knew he'd recognize it when he found it.

Up and down the aisles he walked, his fingers skimming the covers, until he turned a corner and the books became rough and chilled. The sound of his footsteps changed, echoing hollowly between the stone walls of the temple's hallway. The deeper he walked into the temple, the darker and damper it got. He clicked on his flashlight and continued searching, his frigidly stiff fingers feeling the smoothness of the metal wall.

The light glinted on a tiny golden emblem etched into the wall and he stopped. Here it was. Right in front of him. This was what he'd been searching for.

The compulsion was strongest here, and he waved the flashlight along the wall, its beam unsteady as he shivered, searching for a way to get beyond the wall to the treasure it protected.

There was a hidden latch in the stone; how he knew it, he had no idea. His fingers found the triggers, and on silent hinges a door swung open a few inches. He was about to shine the light into the pitch-dark room beyond, when he heard the dry scuttle of scales on rock within.

He froze.

He listened. There was only silence. Silence that began to fill him with terror.

Where was his father? Janet? Sam? Teal'c? Rodney? SG-12? And how had he gotten here, by himself?

And more importantly, what the hell was behind the hidden door?


He turned towards the voice and aimed his flashlight down the corridor, seeing a woman standing just beyond the beam's illumination. She took a step forward and he recognized her. Dark eyes, dark, curly hair, wearing a brown, woven robe. "Sha're?"

"You should not be here, Dan'yel. It is not safe."

"Where am I? What's in there?"

He heard the scuttling sound again from deep inside the room, followed by a high, piercing cry. It was familiar, as familiar as the sound of Sha're's voice. Ghosts, both of them, from his past memories. However, the cry filled him with terror even though he couldn't place it. With the MP5 he now held in his hand, he turned towards Sha're, intending to protect her. But Sha're was gone, and in her stead was another familiar figure.

"You should have listened to Corey and Lena last night," Alexandria said, her face so similar to Sha're's that she could've been her younger sister. "Then you'd know the answers."

The scuttling sound was closer and Daniel was undecided; should he rush in and try to shoot the thing in the dark, or shut the door and hope it couldn't get out and get to Alexandria? He wavered, and the feeling of terror increased. He'd once fired this weapon at an urn full of innocent alien babies, feeling absolutely no remorse at killing them. But that had been so simple; they'd been there, in plain sight, the opportunity his for the taking. This thing was... there, inside, waiting for him, waiting for Alexandria. Decision made, Daniel lunged for the door, intending to shut it, but froze again when he heard Alexandria's chuckle.

The expression evil personified couldn't hold a candle to the sound Alexandria had just made. He turned towards her, one hand on the door, the other one ineffectually clutching his weapon, and saw her eyes glow.


Sitting up in bed was a mistake the moment he did it. Pain, as well as the fear carried over from his nightmare, struck him hard and he continued the motion, sliding out of bed, trying not to get tangled up in the sheets. Breathing heavily, feeling sweat still pouring over his body, Daniel hunched over, one hand protectively over his incision.

"Daniel? Are you all right?"

His grandmother came running into the room. She hurried to him as he slowly straightened up and shoved a handful of sweat-streaked hair out of his eyes.

"I'm fine. Just got up too fast."

Her eyes flicked past his face and slowly swept up and down his body. He followed her gaze, looking down on himself, and saw the telltale signs of sweat darkening his chest, his armpits and his groin.

"You're a little too young to be having hot flashes," his grandmother said wryly.

"Not to mention I'm not a girl." Daniel flashed her what he could only hope was a genuine-looking smile. "I was dreaming."

"Sounded like it was quite a doozy."

"Yeah, well, the last few days weren't exactly a day in the park."

"Do you want to talk about it?"

Maybe he'd have discussed the similarities between Sha're and Alexandria with his dad, but his dad wasn't here, and the dream was already fading except for the residual feeling, once again, of the utter fear and anxiety he'd felt. He shook his head. Using his dad's words earlier, he replied, "Nah. It's just my subconscious acting up." He pulled off the damp jersey and tossed it onto the bed. "I'm going to take a shower."


He'd taken one step towards the hallway but turned back at the questioning sound of his grandmother's voice. She was staring at his bicep. He looked down and saw a red scar, several days old. He rubbed at it, feeling a bit of tenderness and wondering how he'd managed to forget this small injury, which had been the start of it all.

"It's just a small cut, Grandma. It doesn't even hurt."

She looked shaken; Daniel wondered how much she knew, how much she suspected and how much she filled in with her imagination. "It's fine. Really." He rubbed at his arms, which were now started to fill with goose bumps. "I'm going to take that shower and—"

"French toast okay?"

The thought of food was the last thing he wanted. "Sounds good," he lied.

"It'll be ready when you're done."


The shower hadn't done much to alleviate the continuous anxiety except wash the stink of sweat from his body. Dressed in yet another pair of loose sweats and jersey, Daniel made his way to the kitchen. As promised, there was the French toast, along with a glass of orange juice, a scrambled egg and a few slices of bacon.

Despite his churning stomach, Daniel managed to eat some of the eggs and toast, leaving off the bacon after one nibble told him it would be a mistake to eat.

"Thanks, Grandma." Daniel stood, intending to clear the table but his grandmother waved him away.

"Is that all you're going to eat?" She stared at the barely touched French toast.

"I'm not really hungry."

"I can make you something else—"

"Really, this was great. I'm just not hungry."

"How about some fruit? Do you want a banana or—"

"Please, you don't have to do any of this. I'm just not hungry."

"Shush. Let me spoil you for a few days, okay?" She emptied his uneaten breakfast into the garbage and waved him away. "Go. Let me clean up."

Daniel walked around the house aimlessly for a little while, trying to decide what to do. He didn't feel like watching a movie, he wasn't tired and he didn't feel sick. Just a little weak and a little unsteady. And anxious. After a few minutes, he stretched out on the couch in the living room with his laptop and phone. He text-messaged Alexandria a quick note, telling her he missed her then logged onto his computer to check out his homework assignments.

For the next three hours, Daniel lost himself in schoolwork. He ignored the glass of juice and snack his grandmother brought him, his breakfast was still sitting uncomfortably in his stomach. He was grateful that she was leaving him to his own devices. She was downstairs watching television; having given up on the hovering when she saw what he was doing.

Tired now, he awkwardly shifted the laptop to the coffee table and sank deeper onto the couch, intending to take a nap.

"Would you like something to eat, mhuirnin?"

He opened one eye to glance at his grandmother, who was standing at the top of the stairs, looking down into the living room. "I'm not hungry, Grandma."

"Well, maybe if you ate, you'd feel a little more energetic."

"I will. Later. It's not even lunchtime yet."

"Did you finish all your homework?"

"Not yet. I'll get back to it later."

"Don't push yourself too hard. You have to rest."

Daniel shut his eyes again. "Yup. Doing that right now. Taking a nap."

"You're sure you don't want to eat first?"

Daniel took a deep breath. "No, Grandma. I'm not hungry. But thank you." For a moment he thought she'd leave, but then he heard her come down the stairs. "Here, you're going to get cold if you stay like that." He heard her pull the afghan off the other couch and then felt its weight on top of him. "Let me know if you need anything."

"I will." He gave her a forced smile before shutting his eyes yet again. As she walked away, he listened to her footsteps as they went up the stairs, down the hall, and down the stairs to the den. He felt a shiver of anxiety return at the similarity of his earlier dream. The feeling of relaxation he'd had earlier was gone, replaced by a racing heartbeat and shallow breaths.

Opening his eyes, intending to nap downstairs instead, in the presence of his grandmother, Daniel found himself once again in front of the hidden door. With an ease he knew didn't come from his fountain of memories, he found the hidden catches and opened the door. This time as he pushed the door ajar, he heard the sound of faraway gunfire.

"Dad!" he yelled, not wanting to go inside that room alone. "Dad! I'm over here." Still, the compulsion was too strong and he pushed the door all the way open. He walked into the room, his flashlight barely illuminating the length of it. Against the far wall was a large fountain, which circled the breadth of the room. Water bubbled musically, bouncing off the walls. Along the other walls were niches dug into the stone. Most were empty, but Daniel knew that one of them would contain what he was looking for.

He began searching, ignoring the chills that ran up and down his body and the coughs that wouldn't stop. The odd pain in his side was gone at the moment. Every niche he checked was empty as he made his way along the wall. As he turned to the next wall, he heard someone behind him.

He turned to see Sam standing there. Even before he could greet her, her eyes glowed.


"Don't tire yourself, mhuirnin."

"It's just homework, Grandma." Now ensconced on the sofa in the den, complete with pillows, a blanket, the remnants of his lunch, several textbooks and his laptop, Daniel was determined to stay awake until his dad came home.

His concentration was shot, however, and it took him a long time to get through the schoolwork. He couldn't shake the feeling that the dreams were more than dreams. But slowly the familiarity of the television screen and the music in his iPod began to ease the tension, and he was able to focus. By the time his grandmother sat dozing in front of her favorite talk show, Daniel had caught up with a good portion of schoolwork he'd missed while he'd been kidnapped.

Unfortunately now he was tired and sleepy, sporting a headache and more than a little uncomfortable from the half-lying position on the couch. He put the laptop aside and slowly and carefully made his way upstairs.

The aroma of the stew bubbling in the crock-pot filled the kitchen and despite his discomfort, his stomach grumbled appreciatively. Daniel headed for the bottles of pills in the kitchen cupboard. The painkillers Janet had prescribed for him were there, next to the Advil. Just a year ago, the mere idea of medication in the house wouldn't have raised any eyebrows. Now, it was a testament to his dad's trust in him after the debacle with the addiction just a short while ago. Still, Daniel couldn't help thinking his dad probably counted the pills every morning and every evening, just to be safe.

Instead of reaching for the painkillers, he helped himself to two Advil. Just enough to take the edge off. And more importantly, something that wouldn't make him sleepy.

He stood at the window for a long time, staring at the softly falling snow. Ironically, now, because he couldn't, he had a yearning to go outside and make a snowman. To build a fort and gather snowball ammunition so he could waylay his unsuspecting dad when he walked into the house. A week ago Daniel would be outside right now, shoveling the stairs and the driveway. Now, if he so much as picked up a shovel, he'd probably land himself a nice, long stay at the hospital.

Bored, he turned back to the kitchen and set the table. He helped himself to a Snapple and heard the television shut off and his grandmother come upstairs just as he finished the drink.

"There you are."

"Supper sure smells good." He tossed the empty bottle into the recycle bin.

"Are you hungry tonight?" she asked, removing the cover of the crock-pot and dipping a spoon into the stew.

"Yeah." He smiled at her as she offered him a taste. It was hot and delicious. "Mmmm. I hope Dad's not delayed because of the snow."

"The roads are fairly clear; there shouldn't be any problems." His grandmother tasted the stew, replaced the cover and pulled out a bag of rolls from a cupboard.

As if in answer, Daniel heard the Avalanche pull into the driveway.

As soon as his dad walked in the door, Daniel knew something had gone wrong at work. His grandmother tried valiantly to keep a conversation going during the meal but Daniel was too tired to participate and his dad, obviously, too stressed and distracted to try also.

Daniel finished his supper, the silence in the room beginning to grow uncomfortable.

"This was really good, Grandma." Daniel wiped his bowl with the last of his roll, leaving a smear of butter on the side as he popped it into his mouth.

"I'm glad you enjoyed it. Do you want some more?"

He was comfortably stuffed; and for once his stomach wasn't upset. "Thanks." He craned his head towards the crock-pot. "There's leftovers, right?"

"Of course."

"Then I'll skip on the seconds and look forward to more of this tomorrow."

"Jonathan? How about you?"

His dad was staring into space, chewing methodically and appearing as if he wasn't tasting anything. "I'm good. Thanks." Lowering his gaze to his bowl, his dad finished up the last of his stew in silence.

His dad went downstairs the moment he finished eating, uncharacteristically leaving Daniel and his grandmother alone to clean up. They heard the TV come on, the volume loud enough that would make sitting in the den uncomfortable.

"Let me clean up. You go lie down and rest," his grandmother said when Daniel began to clear the table.

"It's okay. I'm fine." They worked companionably, Daniel clearing the table while his grandmother put things away. When the kitchen was clean, his grandmother began gathering her belongings.

"I'll see you tomorrow," she said as she put on her coat.

"You don't have to—" Daniel gave her a wry smile when she merely raised her eyebrows at him. "I'll see you tomorrow, Grandma," he said meekly, giving her a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

"Tell your father goodnight for me."

"Oh, thanks. You're playing chicken and leaving me to the wolves, huh?"

His grandmother smiled at him, tearing herself away from interlocking the ends of her jacket's zipper. "Wolf. Singular, though he growls enough for a pack, it's only one." She stopped and her smile faded as she stared at Daniel. "Do you want me to stay tonight? Or would you rather come home with me?"

The offer was tempting; his dad, in this mood, was never good company. But he wanted to try and talk to him tonight. "Thanks, Grandma. But I'm fine. I'm going to go call Alexandria and try and catch up."

"You make sure you don't stay up too late." The punctuated her words with the loud zzzzzp of her zipper.

"I won't." He gave her another kiss as he walked her to the door. Looking outside at the accumulated snow covering her truck, Daniel shuddered. "Maybe you should stay here tonight instead."

"It's only two miles. I'll be fine."

"But it's going to take you as much time to clean the truck off as it will for you to drive home. I can get my jacket and help—"

"You can get your tush into your bed and relax," she said as she carefully stepped into the snow. "I've can handle a few inches of snow."

"Call me when you get home." Daniel shut the door and watched as his grandmother cleaned her truck, feeling guilty about not being able to help. He felt bad about everything; not being able to shovel or help his grandmother, knowing his dad was downstairs and in a foul mood and not being able to say anything to make it better, still having some schoolwork he hadn't caught up with. By the time his grandmother had driven off, Daniel was chilled from leaning against the door and his side was hurting, even with the Advil he'd taken.

Once his grandmother called to say she was safely home, he spent the next two hours lying flat on his back in his bed, talking with Alexandria. He was fighting sleep by the time he hung up. At some point his dad had lowered the volume on the TV, and now Daniel couldn't even hear it. What he could hear were the faint sounds of a plastic shovel against asphalt. When he went to check it out, he saw his dad outside, shoveling the driveway.

Daniel lowered his forehead on the glass window, watching his father work. When he saw his dad coming back to the garage to put the shovel away, Daniel returned to his room. He contemplated his bed; he could climb into it and go to sleep, but that idea sent a cold frisson of anxiety through him. He could do some more homework but he definitely wasn't up to concentrating on anything right now.

Movies, though, that he could do. He began to rummage through his DVD collection, picked one with plenty of action to keep him attentive, and went downstairs to get his laptop. On his way up, he met his dad in the hallway, who was in the process of locking up.

"You're going to bed now?" Daniel squeaked, clutching his laptop to his chest. The sudden realization that he had to go to sleep, alone, had him regretting not taking up his grandmother's offer and going home with her.

"Yeah." His dad reached around Daniel and flicked off the kitchen lights.

"But it's early."

"I know. I'm tired. I just want a good night's sleep—"

"I'm sorry about last night—"

"That's not it. I just had one hell of a day. I'm sorry I wasn't great company tonight—"

"But I thought... I wanted to talk—"

"Look, I don't want to talk about my day. It's done. It's over. Talking won't change anything. Just let me get some sleep and—"

His dad had obviously misinterpreted Daniel's need to talk. Speaking quickly so his dad couldn't interrupt him, Daniel blurted out his fears. "Remember you made me promise to tell you if I started having problems with my memories again? Well, I'm having dreams, nightmares, about when I was on the planet and it's just as bad as before—"

"Post Traumatic Stress. Fraiser said it might happen. I'll drop by and see her tomorrow and see if we have to schedule an appointment with Doctor Kayton—"

"I don't need a shrink."

"We'll let the doc decide that—"

"Dad, the nightmares aren't about what happened to me. They're weird; sometimes I can remember and sometimes I can't but I'm always looking for something and—"

"Look, it's obvious. You spent, what, two days trying to get to the Stargate? You were stressed, terrified, sick and hurting. It's normal that your mind's playing catch up now and giving you a hard time with nightmares." He glanced at the laptop in clutched in Daniel's arms. "You planning on doing some homework?"

Unbelievingly, Daniel stared at his dad. "No," he said curtly, trying to get past the hurt of his dad's indifference to his fears. He'd been waiting all day to speak to him, thinking that his dad could fix this if he just told him about it. Never had he expected his dad to walk away, disinterested.

"You look tired. Why don't you hit the sack early also and we'll see what Fraiser says tomorrow."

Daniel endured his dad's kiss to the top of his head and watched as he disappeared into his bedroom. Alone in the dark hallway, Daniel slowly turned around and went into his own bedroom. While his computer came out of sleep mode, Daniel added three more movies to the one he'd chosen. It was going to be a long night.


Jack tossed the covers back in frustration. Sleep wasn't just elusive tonight, it looked like the damned thing had skipped town and kept on running. He kept replaying the day's scenarios - the intruders that had attempted to swarm the SGC had killed a returning team in the process. The next four hours had been a desperate attempt to round up the invaders. Twelve people injured, two of them critically, and three dead. He couldn't help but blame himself; he hadn't trusted these people – maybe if he'd protested louder and longer with each added visit to their planet, this wouldn't have happened.

Possibly another hour or two of mindless television would change the visuals in his head. Padding quietly out of his room and heading for the den, he stopped when he heard a cry coming from Daniel's room.

The door was ajar and Jack pushed it open just enough so he could peek in. Daniel's laptop, sitting on the bed, illuminated it. The fluid light from the movie currently playing chased shadows alongside Daniel's body.

Stirring restlessly, Daniel mumbled in his sleep. He cried out softly again, repeating the sound Jack had first heard. This time Jack also heard the new two syllables of the word; recognizing it as Goa'uld.

The mumbling stopped, replaced by fast, shallow breathing. The dream looked particularly unpleasant; maybe it was one of those nightmares he'd mentioned earlier. Jack stepped into the bedroom, turned on the bedside lamp and reached for Daniel's shoulder.

He saw the sweat covering his son's face at the same time his fingers encountered the damp tee shirt. Daniel's reaction was instantaneous: Jack didn't even have time to shake Daniel's shoulder or call his name. Daniel rose up in bed screaming, scattering blankets, laptop and stuffed toy. Thankfully for the laptop it landed against Jack's thigh, preventing it from falling to the floor. Daniel, however, scuttled off the bed, bent over in pain. Off balance, he managed three running steps before landing on his knees.

Jack shoved the laptop back onto the bed without thinking as he turned and ran after Daniel, calling his name.

Daniel crawled away from Jack, his movements frenzied, disoriented. Jack followed his son and caught him by the biceps, holding him in place.

"Daniel, Daniel, wake up."

Jack breathed a sigh of relief when he saw recognition in Daniel's eyes as he raised his head.


"The one and only."

Panting, Daniel remained there on all fours, his eyes darting around the room.

"Hey, it's okay. You're home."

"Dream. It was a dream." Daniel's words weren't a question, but the look he gave Jack was begging him to tell him that it was so.

"I think you had a flashback, Daniel."

Daniel shuddered, and Jack let go of his arms, shifting his weight to take the strain off his knees. "Can you get up?"

"Yeah." Daniel slowly straightened, one hand held protectively against his side. Jack offered Daniel a hand and took some of his weight as they both stood. "Did you pull something?"

"N-No. I'm fine."

He let go of Daniel, walked to his bureau and pulled out a clean pair of sweats. He tossed them onto the bed as he bent down to pick up Lumpy from the floor. "Change your clothes. You'll be more comfortable."

Daniel still seemed disoriented as he slowly stripped and changed. Jack stroked the short fur, not saying anything as Daniel tossed his sweat-dampened clothes into a corner of his bedroom.

He was waiting for Daniel to get back into bed, and it took him a long minute to realize, once Daniel had changed, that his son had no intention of doing so. Daniel was just standing there trembling, arms crossed over his head, looking at the floor.

"Bed's probably too damp to be comfortable. C'mon." With Lumpy under his arm, Jack led Daniel back to his bedroom. All thoughts of watching television now had fled. He turned on the light, coaxed Daniel into his bed before getting in also, and once under the covers, he handed him the stuffie.

Lying on his side, clasping Lumpy tightly to his chest, Daniel stared at the edge of his pillow.

"I'll give Fraiser a call in the morning."

Daniel continued to stare.

"Wanna talk about it?"

The bed shook as Daniel shuddered. His silence was answer enough.

"It sometimes helps to talk." Jack reached out under the blankets and touched Daniel's arm. He half expected to feel abnormally warm skin; but instead of feverish, Daniel felt cold.

"Daniel?" Jack moved his hand from Daniel's arm to cup his cheek. "Are you all right?"

Jack wasn't sure if it was the question or the touch of his hand. But Daniel's gaze left the pillow and met Jack's.

"My side hurts."

His first instinct was to shove Daniel onto his back and take a look at incision. Instead, he left his hand there, and asked, simply, "Do you need me to call Fraiser now?"


"Did you pull something when you fell?"


"Is this just, I made a wrong move and I'm a little sore and I can't sleep because my side hurts type of hurting?" The blankets shifted as Daniel moved his arm underneath. Jack figured he probably was probing the cut.

After a moment, Daniel answered, "I think so."

"Did you take a painkiller tonight?"


Jack sat up. "I'll be right back."

Sixty seconds later, Jack was back, a prescription pill in one hand and a bottle of water in the other. When Jack offered the pill to Daniel, he stared at it.

"It's going to make me sleepy."

"That's sort of the idea."

"Can I have some Advil instead?"

Jack sat on the edge of the bed and wanted nothing more than to take Daniel in his arms and swear to him that he'd protect him from everything and anything out there. Unfortunately, there was nothing he could do about Daniel's private demons, much to his regret.

"You have to sleep."

Daniel looked away.

"I'll be right here, right beside you."

Daniel glanced at the pill again, this time with longing.

Jack knew that look very well and part of him wanted to rescind his offer and go with the Advil in its place. Then he took a mental step back and absorbed the smudges of darkness under Daniel's eyes and noted how his hands shook when they weren't grounded. "I'm not going anywhere. Take the painkiller."

Slowly, Daniel's arm came out from under the blankets. He reached for the pill and swallowed it down with a healthy slug of water. When Jack got into bed again, Daniel shifted closer, close enough that Lumpy's hump now rested against Jack's chest.

It was heartbreaking to watch Daniel resisting the pull of sleep. Clutching the old stuffie like a lifeline, Daniel fought to keep his eyes open over the next thirty minutes. It was just a matter of time before the drug-induced sleep won out, and when Daniel's eyes finally closed and didn't open, Jack allowed himself to relax.


"I don't see why I have to go back to see Janet." Daniel had obviously recovered from the previous night. The meek and dazed young man was gone, replaced instead with a bad-tempered, rebellious teen.

"I think I was pretty clear about it already. One, you had a flashback so traumatizing that you couldn't function afterwards—"

"It was a nightmare—"

"And second, you fell and were in pain afterwards. You need to get checked out."

"I'm fine now."

"Good. Let's see if the doc says the same thing."

The trip to the mountain was a silent one, with Daniel's full attention turned inward to the music coming from his iPod. Jack glanced at the little device stuffed into Daniel's jacket pocket. It was a lifesaver at times, like today – giving two people an excuse not to talk and avoiding uncomfortable silence.

Daniel took the lead once he slipped out of the Avalanche, stomping through the parking lot, letting Jack bring up the rear. But halfway there, his son's irritability no longer sustained his energy, and he began flagging. He was breathing heavily. Jack caught up to him and slowed his pace, then felt awful that he hadn't parked closer to the entrance when Daniel began to cough.

By the time they went through the checkpoints, Daniel's cough had subsided, leaving him only a little wheezy and sullen. He barely said a word to the guards on duty, and projected an aura of defiance as he followed Jack through the hallways.

It didn't take Jack long to explain everything to Fraiser, and while she ordered Daniel onto one of the beds, Jack made his escape. A quick trip to the commissary for coffee and brownies would hopefully be enough to mollify Janet Fraiser once she finished with Daniel.


"Well," Janet said, pulling Daniel's sweats up to cover his abdomen, "it doesn't look like you did yourself any damage in that fall."

Daniel couldn't help throwing an I told you so look in his dad's direction. He ignored the piece of brownie his father had placed next to the bed, although Janet kept eying hers as he stood up and pulled his sweatshirt over his pants.

"But you need to be more careful, Daniel—"

"It wasn't my fault. Dad woke me up in the middle of a nightmare and I fell out of bed."

"That's not how I remember it."

Daniel really didn't remember what had happened except for that ghoulish touch on his shoulder while he'd dreamed he was being followed by something... evil. So instead of arguing with his dad, he shrugged noncommittally. "Can we go home now?"

"I have to go to a meeting in twenty minutes—"

"Of course you do."

His father suddenly looked guilty. "I'll arrange for a car to take you home."

"You know, if you'd let me get a driver's license—" Daniel gave his dad a smirk when his dad raised his eyebrows in warning. "Fine. I'll be in Sam's lab." Daniel stepped away from the bed and stopped, looking over his shoulder at his dad. "She's not going to your meeting, is she?" he asked sarcastically.


"Colonel, you mentioned an appointment with Doctor Kayton. If you'd like, I can get in touch with her and see if she thinks it's worthwhile for Daniel to see her regarding the flashback—"

"It was a nightmare." Daniel scrunched his shoulders up towards his ears. The last thing he wanted was to visit Liz Kayton again. He was pretty sure his dad and Janet had talked about it regarding his addiction problems and he probably escaped having to see her through the skin of his teeth. Going to her now seemed almost... like a step in the wrong direction. He knew the nightmares were a problem but what he wanted, most of all, was for his dad to just acknowledge them for what they were. Then, maybe, he could try and talk to someone about them.

Talk to someone about what his father really did when he stepped through the Stargate.

And he really didn't want to go there. Nuh huh. Bad idea.

"Yeah, I'd appreciate that." His dad checked his watch and it was obvious he was impatient to go.

"Then come back here in about a half hour and I'll let you know what she says."

Daniel would have rather shown them what he thought about that idea. Instead, he fisted his hands and walked away, wishing there was a door he could slam.


Walking with purpose down the hallway, Daniel ignored the SFs stationed at different locations in the SGC. He'd learned at a very young age that if you looked like you belonged, people assumed you belonged. He'd only been stopped on a handful of occasions; most others either knew who he was and turned a blind eye or else assumed he was a visiting dignitary and didn't want to cause waves by stopping him.

Entering Sam's lab, Daniel paused near the door and looked around. He'd expected her to be here; he needed a sympathetic ear and had been counting on her taking a few minutes to talk to him.

Disappointed, he was about to leave when he heard a sound from deep inside the lab. "Sam?"

"What?" Rodney McKay, who'd been leaning over a computer monitor, suddenly straightened and looked at Daniel in surprise. "Oh, hello." Then his face changed; it became more guarded. "You're not here to play chess, are you? Because I'm in the middle of something and this really isn't the best of times."

"No." Daniel shoved his hands into his pants pockets, and as the movement forced the elastic band of his sweats to move against his still tender incision, he quickly removed his hands and adjusted the waistline. 'I was just looking for Sam."

"Ah. She's down in the M.A.L.P. room trying to upload a new operating system into their computers."

"Will she be long?"

Rodney turned to the monitor and punched several keys on the keyboard. "How should I know? She's trying to upload data using software that's not compatible. Do the math."

"Oh. Okay. Thanks." Discouraged, Daniel went to leave, then stopped. "Oh, I wanted to ask, did you guys find anything interesting in that room?"

Rodney frowned at Daniel. "You'll have to be a little more specific." He waved his hand in a sarcastic way. "I've been in a lot of rooms lately. Although I think I've spent too much time in this one. I hardly remember what my own living room looks like, let alone my kitchen and bedroom—"

"On the planet. Where you came to rescue me. The room with all those... um... niches. Were they all empty?"

"You know, we were both in the same underground temple. And I know you didn't get to move around all that much, considering you'd just been operated on, and all. But as I did get a chance go do some exploring, I still have to ask. What room?"

Daniel stood there, blinking mutely in light of Rodney's sarcastic tone. "The one where all the empty niches were," Daniel finally answered, speaking as if he were talking to a five year old.

"I know we were both in the same structure – let me say this just once, there was no room with empty niches in it."

"It was a hidden room... you didn't find it? I thought you guys went exploring."

Rodney turned back to his computer and was comparing data on it to an electronic pad in his hand. "When did you have the time to look around? From what I remember, you were flat on your back almost the whole time."

"I don't know!" Daniel exclaimed. "The room was full of little alcoves, and there was something... A..." He shut his eyes, trying to picture what he'd been looking for. "An urn. It was in one of the alcoves—"

"Listen to me very carefully. There was no room with little alcoves in it." Rodney swept his gaze from the computer and stared at Daniel. "The whole place was more or less deserted. Believe me. I went on one too many sweeps with Colonel Mitchell and I would have seen a room with an urn in it."

"It was a hidden room," Daniel all but yelled. Wasn't this man supposed to be as smart as Sam?

"Then if it was hidden, how do you know about it?"

"I..." Daniel felt his mouth shut with a snap, nearly catching his tongue on his teeth. How did he know that there was a hidden room containing an urn? He'd only seen it in his dreams, despite how real those dreams felt. "I don't know."

"You don't know? Who put you up to this?" His eyes narrowed. "Was it Major Carter?"

"What? No!"

"And what am I supposed to have put Daniel up to?" Sam was standing in the doorway, watching them both with amusement on her face.

"Nothing." Daniel took a step closer to Sam. "I wanted to know if you found anything in the hidden room." At the look of confusion on Sam's face, Daniel hurried on. "The one with all the empty niches. I didn't get to check them all, there must have been something in them?"

"Daniel, are you talking about the rooms in Hathor's temple?"

"Yes," he answered, nodding emphatically.

"There weren't any hidden rooms."

"That's what I told him," Rodney said with impatience in his voice as he went back to his computer and electronic pad.

"But I was there. I saw it."

"Honey, you didn't have a chance to explore, remember?"

The honey spoken in front of Rodney coupled with Sam's unusual tone of condescendence towards him hurt. A lot. "But..." Daniel rubbed his fingers alongside his eyebrow. "But I was there. I remember... I can see the gold emblem on the wall that's a marker for the door."

Sam shook her head in confusion. "Golden emblem?"

"Um, wait a minute." Rodney snapped his fingers several times impatiently. "Golden etching in the wall. Looks like a cross between a cow and a lion?"'

"Yes. The cow is a symbol of Hathor and the lion—"

Rodney shook his hand towards Daniel, indicating that he didn't want to hear the explanation as he turned to the computer again, typing quickly.

"You saw that symbol?" Sam asked, stepping into her lab and rubbing a hand along the back of Daniel's shoulders.

"Yes, didn't I just say I did?"

"No, you didn't," Sam said sarcastically to Rodney.

Rodney stopped typing and looked up at her, confused. "I just identified a symbol that the kid couldn't have seen. Wouldn't that logically tell you I saw the damned symbol?"

Sam looked like she was trying to hold in a fart. Daniel wasn't sure if she was amused or irritated.

"Here. I knew I'd taken a picture of it."

Sam pressured against Daniel's shoulders, urging him closer to the monitor. And there was the symbol he'd seen in his dreams. "That's it," he said softly.

"Well, then you must have somehow gotten into restricted files, because there's no way you could have read about this. The symbol is located at the far end of the temple, nowhere near any of the areas where you stayed."


"How do we know he really saw this? He never even described it, I did."

"Are you calling me a liar?" Hands fisted, Daniel took a step forward. He saw Rodney's eyes widen and was about to take another step, when Sam put a hand on his shoulder.

"Daniel." Her voice was soft, but held enough command that he knew to back down.

Only then did he realize how foolish he looked. Rodney could probably beat the crap out of him, even before he'd gotten cut open thanks to his appendicitis.

"How do you know about this?" She kept her hand on him, her fingers gently squeezing.

"I was there. I keep dreaming about it, along with the kidnapping and..." Daniel shuddered.

"That's a normal—"

"I know." He pulled away from her. He didn't need one more person telling him it was to be expected. He'd gotten enough of that from his dad and Janet.

"So the interesting question here is how did you know that symbol was in the temple?"

"He's got Doctor Jackson's memories. He probably associated whatever symbols go with that particular Goa'uld and made it up."

"I've never seen that particular symbol before—" When Rodney went to open his mouth, Daniel spoke louder and faster, emphasizing the name to make sure Sam and Rodney knew the information hadn't come from his meager years of schooling. "Doctor Jackson never saw that particular symbol before. I couldn't have made it up. And Sam, there's something in that room that's important."

"Is that your memory or your dream speaking?"

"The dream," he answered without hesitation.

"It would be pretty interesting to try and see how you got that information." She gave him a quick smile as she left his side and went to another computer. "When I get a bit of time, I'll go over the mission notes and see if I can find anything that might answer that question."

"Sam..." She looked up at him distractedly and it was obvious he was disturbing her work. "I think it's important."

"Why do you say that?"

"Just a feeling... In my dream. It's pretty intense—"

"It's a dream." Rodney rolled his eyes at him. "That's what dreams do. Although at your age, you should be dreaming about girls and sex. Although there is this one particular recurring dream where I—"

"McKay, that's enough. Neither Daniel nor I need a description of your wet dreams."

"Fine, suit yourself." Rodney turned back to his computer. "But for all you know, my dreams might make medical history one day."

"I should let you finish your work," Daniel started awkwardly.

She gave him another quick, distracted smile. "I have a meeting with your father and General Hammond in ten minutes. I'll get back to you about the mission reports then." Sam waited a moment, looking like she was waiting for him to leave. He gave her a quick flick of his fingers and headed back towards the infirmary.


It's just a dream, Daniel. I won't be long, Daniel. Why don't you sit down here and wait for me, Daniel. I'll be right back, Daniel. It's a normal reaction to a stressful situation, Daniel. We'll have a car waiting to take you home, Daniel. I'll be just another minute, Daniel.

Fed up with waiting, fed up with nobody wanting to truly listen to him, Daniel had claimed one of Janet's infirmary beds for himself. He was now lying flat on his back, listening to his music, bored out of his mind. To make matters worse, the reason he was here was so Janet could make him an appointment with Liz and she hadn't even gotten around to doing that yet.

The far end of the infirmary was full, and Daniel wondered if the reason behind that was why his dad had been so pissy last night. He knew better than to ask what had happened but curiosity always made his imagination run rampant. He just hoped his dad hadn't been in the thick of things when all these people had gotten hurt.

He closed his eyes and concentrated on the song. Tapping his fingers to the beat, he couldn't help but wonder how much longer it was going to be. The music slowed, changed, and then became eerily familiar. It took Daniel a moment to recognize it, then realized it was caused by the water flowing down the stone wall and stirring the musical rocks under the surface.

The light from his flashlight glinted off the water, sparkling on the wall and ceiling. Dark shadows in the walls showed the multitude of niches; so far all of them had been empty.

A hissing sound came from the fountain, and Daniel remembered his enemy. Fear paralyzed him for a few seconds, and then he was backing up, heading for the opened door behind him. One step, pause, sweep the flashlight from one end of the room to the other. Another step, pause, freeze when the sound of scales on rock came from his left. A quick check showed nothing but his damp footprints. Two quick steps, and his back was to the wall. Where was the door?

Breathing heavily through his mouth, Daniel glanced to his right, fighting the growing urge to cough. There, just two feet away, was the door. Moving as fast as his congested lungs would let him, Daniel dashed for the door and fumbled on the wall for the hidden catch that would shut it.

He found it, just as he heard an inhuman scream behind him. He flung himself towards the door just as something exploded out of the fountain of water across the room, heading right for him. He ran, and each step was an effort. He found himself moving in slow motion, trying to escape the creature that was hunting him, and knowing he was going to fail.

"Nooo!" He flailed with his hands, trying to stop it from touching him. He hit warm flesh and recoiled, then kicked wildly with his foot as something brushed his leg, ignoring the flash of pain in his abdomen when he missed.

"Daniel, wake up."

He tried to roll away but came up hard against a surface. His only escape was on hands and knees, until he could find something to help him get to his feet.

"Daniel. It's just a dream. Wake up."

The thing was on him again, grasping his shoulders. He struck forward with clasped hands, only to find his hands held down.

"Icky. It's Dad. Stop fighting us."

Suddenly the dark cavernous room was gone, replaced by the blindingly bright room of the infirmary. He saw his father's face just inches from his own, staring at him.

"It's here. It's here. You have to stop it." Daniel tried to get up, but his father merely wrapped his arms around him and pulled him close.

"Dad." He pushed against his dad's chest but couldn't budge him.

"It was a dream, Daniel. You're safe."

Realization hit him when his brain caught up to his whereabouts and took control of the panic and anxiety that filled him. "Dad?"

"It's okay. You're safe."

"How is he? Is he okay?"

"Sam?" Daniel blinked past his dad's shoulder, seeing Sam's anxious face and Janet's next to her. He looked around in confusion. "Where am I?"

"In the infirmary," Janet said.

"I know." He remembered lying down on one of her beds. But he wasn't on the bed now; actually he was on the floor, underneath something. He glanced up. A table?"

"How'd I get here?" he asked sheepishly, having a dreadful feeling about the answer.

"You had another flashback."

This time Daniel didn't correct his father. This was definitely more than just a dream.

"Fraiser noticed you were dreaming and when she tried to wake you up, you sort of panicked."

"Sort of?"

"Jumping off the bed and sliding under the table would justify panicking," Janet replied.

"Think you can get up?"

Daniel nodded. His dad let go and backed up from under the table where he'd crawled to get to him. Moving carefully, Daniel got on his hands and knees and followed his dad. Sam and Janet helped him up and for a frightening moment, he found he couldn't straighten up, the pain in his side was so bad. He realized after a moment it was more from tension than actual injury and as he relaxed, so did the pain.

Without a word he let Janet lead him back to the bed he'd been sleeping on earlier. He sat, gently prodding the incision site with a finger.

"What are you doing here?" he asked as his dad sat down on the bed next to him.

"Well, we were coming to talk to you. Something Carter said at the meeting got Hammond's curiosity and he wanted more details."

"It's about the symbol you saw, Daniel. General Hammond would like to know where you saw it."

"I told you, on the wall to the hidden room."

Sam shook her head. "No, sweetie. You must have seen it somewhere else and made the connection when McKay brought it up."

"I saw it on the wall in Hathor's temple."

"You're positive about that, Icky?" His dad leaned over, just enough for his shoulder to touch Daniel's. He could feel his dad's body heat and he moved closer so he was leaning against his dad. "I'm positive, Dad. I don't remember seeing it anywhere else."

Sam grimaced. "Maybe it was on the ship while you were prisoner."

"No. I didn't see anything. It's not like they gave me a tour of the ship—"

His dad prodded him sharply with his shoulder and Daniel shut his mouth.

"When you're dreaming, Daniel," Janet said, speaking slowly as if trying to not frighten him, "is it always about the room, and do you know what you're looking for in that room?"

"It doesn't always start with the room but I always end up in it. And I just know I'm looking for one particular thing, and there's something really bad inside and it's after me."

"Doctor McKay told me you mentioned an urn."

Daniel blinked at Sam. "An urn?" Suddenly he pictured it in his mind – large, ornate, and decorated with symbols depicting yet another god. "Yes. Yes, there is. I don't know how I knew this but there's an urn inside the room dedicated to the goddess Sekhmet."

His father sighed heavily. "A goddess? You mean a Goa'uld? Like in, Hathor?"

"Sekhmet supposedly ruled before Hathor, but there's this..." Daniel scrunched his eyes closed, trying to make sense of his jumble of memories about the whole god and goddess family. He had no idea how his adult self had kept it straight in his head. "Let's just say, a long time ago, Sekhmet went on a rampage and Ra tricked her, drugged her, and afterwards she changed. And for a long time she was closely related to Hathor that they even were considered as one for a time."

"So Sekhmet is Hathor? Makes sense, seeing we were in Hathor's temple."

"Yes, maybe. I'm not sure, Dad. I think they're two different people."

"So, you're saying, the urn you were supposedly looking for in your dream—"

"Not in my dream, Janet. I did look for it. I was in that room—"

"So you're saying the urn belonged to both Hathor and this Sekhmet person—"

"It wasn't just a dream, Dad," Daniel blurted out, "I was there, in that room, just like I was in that room with you guys freezing my butt off, and in the Control room with the long range sensors."

"Daniel, you didn't go into a hidden room—"

"Damn it, Sam. I know I did."

"Careful," his dad reprimanded.

"I. Was There. In that room. I remember that part very clearly. I was soaked to the bones. I was coughing. My side hurt but not like it did after Janet operated—"

"So you're saying you went into the temple before we found you?"

Once again Daniel found himself blinking at Sam. She was right. He'd been there before he'd met up with his dad and SG-1. "How can that be?" he whispered to himself.

Janet touched his knee to get his attention. His mind whirling a mile a minute, he dragged his focus on her. "Do you remember how you got into the room?"

Daniel shook his head. He remembered the nightmare-quality of getting to the transport rings that had brought them to the temple. That was all. Discouraged, he wrapped his arms around his chest.

"Tell me about the urn." Sam placed a hand on his arm.

"It's, um... about this big." He uncrossed his arms and held his hands about a foot apart. "There's a head, part woman, part lion. With horns and a..." Daniel circled his fingers over his head. "A moon or sun, I think. Sun disk," he said with certainty, that particular memory falling into place. "The rest of the urn was pretty big. Wide. With markings on it. And a cover. The head part is the cover of the urn."

"Like the canopic jar Rothman found from the Steward Expedition in that museum in Chicago?"

There was something in Sam's words that Daniel didn't quite get, but everyone else seemed to because the looks everyone exchanged were certainly something he wasn't privy to. "What?"

"Do you think it could be another Isis Jar?" Sam finally asked.

"What's that?"

"We've met Hathor and Osiris. It can't be them." His dad's voice was cold.

"What if it's Sekhmet?" Sam's voice sounded worried.

"Didn't Daniel just say Sekhmet and Hathor were one and the same?"

Daniel hated being ignored and he raised his voice. "No, I just said that they were depicted as being the same for a while. What are you guys talking about?"

"Sir, I have a theory and I don't think you're going to be happy to hear it."

"What theory? What's going on, Sam?" Daniel was getting dizzy, turning left and right towards his dad and Sam.

Sam bit her lip, her eyes unfocused as she was obviously thinking something through. "If these flashbacks mean Daniel really was there, in that room, then how did he get there in the first place?"

"I told you, I don't know."

"I know that." She gave him a quick smile that didn't do anything to alleviate his worry and only added to his confusion. "I think we need to first discover how he knew about that room."

"What are you saying?" His dad leaned past Daniel to almost glare at Sam.

"Hypnosis, sir," Janet added, obviously following Sam's train of thought. Daniel wished he could have seen this one coming.

"No." Daniel slid off the bed, moving awkwardly as he tried to work out the kinks from over-tense muscles. "You're not hypnotizing me." Great. Here he was trying to convince everyone that he'd been in a room nobody had seen and they wanted to try and make him cluck like a chicken. He wondered what quack Janet even had in mind.

"Doctor Kayton is qualified. I can give her a call."

"No. Did you hear me?" As great as Liz had been in helping him come to grips with his nightmares last year, hypnosis was a step beyond what he was prepared to go through.

"There's really nothing to it." Sam got up and came to stand next to him. "I did it once."

For you. Sam's words were unspoken but he knew from his memories that she'd been hypnotized to try and remember details about a time when his other self had gone on a mission and was presumed dead.

"I don't think I can be hypnotized." It was all so stupid. He would never be able to relax enough. And to be honest, he was afraid he would be made to cluck like a chicken in front of an audience.

"It's just like going to sleep." Somehow Sam's words didn't make him feel better about it.

"Actually," Janet said, "it's not a state of relaxation as much as a state of heightened awareness."

"I think we need to speak to General Hammond." Sam's look seemed apologetic before she turned from him.

To Daniel's chagrin, his dad nodded as he got off the bed. "Better make yourself comfortable. Looks like you're stuck here for a little while longer."

"Dad, I don't wanna be hypnotized."

He accepted his dad's hand around the back of his neck. He'd wanted reassurance about the whole dream thing. Maybe whoever made up that saying, careful what you wish for, knew what they were talking about.

"You want to get a handle on what's going on, right? I'm not crazy about the idea either, but this may be the only way."

He watched everyone leave the infirmary and wondered why his dad's words didn't make him feel any better about things.


"I can't believe you're doing this." Daniel glared at his dad, as well as everyone else who'd crowded into Jack's office. He ignored Liz, who was pulling his dad's chair away from the desk.

"Hey, be thankful. McKay offered to do the hypnosis so between you and me, you're getting off easy."

"Would you sit here, please, Daniel?" Liz had a hand on the back of his dad's chair.

He knew he was pouting, he knew he was being an ass and he'd have liked to have shown his displeasure by flopping into the chair in disgust. Unfortunately, the best he could do was to gingerly seat himself and squirm around until he was halfway comfortable. At least Liz had given him the more comfortable of the chairs, for which he was grateful for. Four hours of waiting around, pacing instead of resting, had made Daniel into a crabby and achy son of a bitch.

She lit a candle and placed it on the desk in front of him. "I'd like you to look into the flame and think of nothing."

Okay, that was easy. He'd done it plenty of times with Teal'c while meditating.

"I want you to listen to my voice."

Someone shifted their weight, and Daniel knew there was no way he'd be able to do this with an audience. He turned to look at his dad, Sam and Teal'c, all of them watching avidly.

"I can't."

Thank God Liz seemed to understand. Within seconds, she'd emptied the office and shut the door on everyone.

"I hate this. Nobody's telling me anything."

"Don't look at me. I know even less than you do."

"Am I going to remember anything about this if you can..." He made a twirling motion towards his forehead.

"If you want me to."

"So if you make me cluck like a chicken—"

Liz laughed. "I won't. But yes, if I did make you cluck like a chicken, you'd remember."

Daniel squirmed around; the pain in his side a dull ache that reminded him that he should've taken advantage of the four hours and lain down instead of pacing, but then, of course, lying down meant sleeping, and sleep meant nightmares and... "Okay. Let's do this."

"We'll start with the room you remember, and if we have success with that, I'll bring you back increment by increment to see how you managed to get there."

Daniel swallowed nervously and wiped damp palms on his thighs. "Okay."

"Just relax, and look at the candle."

He focused on the flickering wick, and when Liz began to speak, he listened to her voice.

He was back in that room; cold, wet, in pain, feeling sick and horrible, coughing his lungs out. He searched out the canopic jar, finding it hidden in the back of a particularly deep niche that had, at first glance, appeared empty. He took a cautious step towards his goal.

He was crossing the stone bridge a second time, this time taking each step with confidence. His goal was to return to the first barrier; to the set of transport rings he knew were there...

"Let me go!" Daniel kicked out at one of his kidnappers, only to have another grab him and force him down. He felt a prick on his arm and suddenly his body wouldn't obey him. The painful holds were released and he simply lay there – until someone slapped something onto his forehead and he heard words—

His screams reverberated in the small room and Daniel was off the chair in a flash, barely registering the pain in his side as he slammed into his dad's arms.

"It's okay. You're safe. You're at the SGC."

Shivering, Daniel could only hang onto his father. His dad's hands were warm, even through the thick material of his jersey.

"You back with us?"

Shuddering, Daniel nodded. He was peripherally aware that everyone who'd left his dad's office before had come back inside.

"Didn't make me cluck like a chicken, did you?" Daniel said into his dad's shirt. His mouth was dry and he couldn't stop shaking.

"Actually, that came after you crowed like a rooster."

"So—" Daniel swallowed with difficulty as he turned his head to look at Liz. "It worked?"

"I only touched the surface of your memories," Liz said, putting a hand on his wrist. "There definitely is something there, some sort of suppressed memory." When she didn't let go of his arm, Daniel realized belatedly she was taking his pulse. "And for the record, Daniel, these aren't simply nightmares. These are definitely memories."

"How did I...?" These new memories were jumbled, not quite making sense. "How did I get to that room?"

"It looks like you found your way into the temple at some point while you were trying to get across the stone bridge. From what you said, it looks like you crossed the bridge once, then went back across, found the rings, the temple, found the room and then crossed the bridge a third time and continued to make your way towards the Stargate."

Memories of crossing the bridge, sure-footed, as if in a dream, sent him shuddering again. "How? Why?"

Nobody answered. Reluctantly Daniel turned around once Liz dropped her hold on his wrist, grateful when his dad kept his arms around him because his legs were shaking. It was Sam who finally answered.

"We're not sure why, but your kidnappers appeared to have a hidden agenda. From what you told us, it looked like they somehow..."

"Say it, Carter," his dad said angrily. "They brainwashed him into going into that room."

He lowered his head back onto his dad's shoulder. "Why? What did they want?"

"We don't know yet." Sam looked uncomfortable and Daniel wondered dazedly if his dad was glaring at her.

"You found an urn," she continued. "At this point we're not sure what was in it or what you did with it. We have to assume, however, that the urn was their goal."

"But you have an idea what the urn was for, don't you?" Daniel insisted.

Sam fidgeted. Her gaze went to his dad. "We, um, we might."

"Which is simply pure speculation at this point. Now, I think it's time Daniel got some rest. I'm sure Janet can find him a bed for a few hours."

"I want to go home." He ignored Liz's suggestion that he lie down. He could still remember the helplessness of paralysis and being at the mercy of the men who'd kidnapped him.

"Actually, if the doc doesn't mind, I think that's a good idea. Doc?"

"I want Daniel to take his medication before he leaves and go straight to bed."

"I've got his pills in his bag." His father pulled away, then the chair Daniel had sat on earlier was pushed behind him. "Here, sit."

Sitting wasn't any more comfortable than standing. But at least he didn't have to worry about his legs giving out on him.

Daniel ignored the pill his father was holding out to him and drank the tepid water in the bottle his dad dug out of a desk drawer. When his father replaced the pill with two Advil, he swallowed those as his dad phoned the office of General Hammond.

Janet sat next to him while Liz perched on a corner of his dad's desk.

"There's a good chance that since we've broken through the barrier, the dreams will stop," Liz said.

"Really?" Suddenly his bed seemed very appealing.

"There's also a chance that the dreams may intensify instead before they stop."

"Oh." Okay, scratch that idea.

Janet turned her chair so she was facing him. "Do you feel up to another session in a few days?"

"To find out exactly what's in that urn? Hell yes." He turned to pout at Sam. "Since nobody seems to want to tell me."

"We're not sure—"

"Yes, you are."

"We can't be certain—"

"Whatever it is, it's something bad, isn't it?"

"The dreams already cause you unease, DanielJackson. Would divulging theories ease this anxiety, or simply make it worse? Until we are certain as to what your abductors were after, there is no use in making matters worse."

Teal'c was right. Although, damn it, he hated not knowing. "Did they get the urn?"

"We don't know." Liz crossed her legs and rocked a foot up and down slowly. "You became agitated so we moved on."

His dad hung up the phone. "First of all, there will be no repeat hypnosis sessions. Not today, anyway. Secondly, we're good to go. You ready?"

"Yeah." Daniel stood slowly, testing his legs. The earlier shakiness had mostly gone, and the Advil hadn't kicked in yet so he couldn't quite walk without limping. He made it to the door before stopping and turning to face everyone. "Just one thing. Was freeing Mr. Kinsey the reason I was kidnapped, or was it to get the urn on that planet?"

Sam began fiddling with one of her nails. "I think releasing Kinsey was a wild goose chase."

"So whatever was in that room is important?"

Sam looked pointedly at his dad, and nodded. "Yes. They went to a lot of trouble to try and get it. Maybe they couldn't figure out the riddles and needed your memories to unlock the doors. They certainly didn't have McKay's scanner to get in the easy way. And even if my theory is wrong, by doing what they did, they made themselves enemies of the SGC. Which in and of itself says we need to know for certain what they were looking for."

His father sighed and rolled his eyes. "Fine. When would you like to do a repeat performance?"

"How about tomorrow?"

Daniel thought his dad was going to say it was too soon. His eyes were hard but he nodded at Liz. "Fine. I'll bring Daniel in again in the morning."

They walked to the Avalanche in silence; Daniel could tell his father wasn't in a good mood and he had too many bits and pieces floating around in his head to try and make conversation. And he was tired. He hated how these dream memories were hard to piece together and see the entire picture. Kinda like the connect-the-dots games he'd loved as a child.

The drive home was a blur. As he followed his dad to the house, careful not to slip on the snow-covered stone stairway, he wasn't any closer to putting the pieces together and making sense of them.

Once inside, he hung his coat haphazardly in the closet, tossed his boots onto the boot tray, and padded into the kitchen. His mouth was dry and pasty, and he'd just opened up the fridge door when his dad followed him in.

He grabbed a Snapple from the fridge, popped the cover and took a sip. He used the drink to postpone going to bed despite his fatigue. Notwithstanding Liz's assurances that the nightmares might be over, he was afraid that these new memories might just be new fodder for his subconscious.

"You going to go lie down for a while?"

"Um... I have to go check and see if I have homework—"

"Which you can do after supper. You look tired, Icky. Go get some rest."

How to tell his dad that he was afraid to go to bed? Then again, he'd have to sleep sometime. Maybe there was no better time than the present.

He recapped the bottle and put it back into the fridge. He didn't realize his dad was following him until he came into his bedroom with him. As he got into bed, his dad rearranged his comforter, waited until Daniel had squirmed around a little to find a comfortable spot, and leaned down to kiss Daniel's forehead.

"Sleep tight. I'll wake you for supper."

"I won't sleep that long." Whatever other comments Daniel wanted to make were lost when he yawned.


Jack figured Chinese for supper would be good enough. Vegetables, meat, rice – he damned well wasn't in the mood to cook anything and Daniel probably wouldn't care what Jack put on the table in front of him when he woke up.

He grabbed a beer, tossed the cap into the sink, and went down to the den. Sitting in the recliner, with his legs resting on the footstool and his beer balanced on his stomach, he began searching for something worthy of his attention on the television.

He'd barely cycled through a dozen channels when he heard the floorboards creaking overhead. For a moment he thought Daniel was headed towards the bathroom, but the footsteps headed for the stairs. A few seconds later, Daniel sat down on the couch.

"Something wrong?"

Daniel simply shook his head and curled up on the couch. With glazed eyes, he stared at the TV. Jack flicked through a few more channels until he found an old western. Then he stood, covered Daniel with the afghan from the back of the couch, and resettled on the recliner again. He was pretty sure that the drone of the television set would lull Daniel to sleep.

"What's Sam hiding from me?"

Jack made a face. He wanted to tell Daniel how Rothman had found the dead Goa'uld in that cracked suspended animation device that looked like the ancient Egyptian urns, but as this had occurred after the adult Daniel had been turned into a child and thus didn't directly involve his son's memories, it was a need-to-know situation. "I can't tell you."

"Telling me might help put some of what I remember into perspective."

"It might. Or it might give you nightmares all on its own."

"Hey. I'm a teen. Just going to school is enough to give me nightmares in this day and age." Daniel's words were lethargic. "Anyway, how many teenagers do you know with my history?"

"Besides Cassie? Thank god, none."

Daniel yawned, shifted on the couch, and yawned again. "What if I remember what I did with that urn?"

Jack sat up in alarm, the footrest of the recliner thumping loudly as his feet hit the floor. "You touched the urn?" Immediately his thoughts went over the past few days, trying to think if Daniel had acted strangely. There was no proof that what Daniel had found was the home for a Goa'uld but the possibility was definitely there.

Daniel's eyes widened slowly in alarm. "Yeah."

"You never mentioned that before."

"I know I picked it up. I just don't remember..."

Jack thought furiously. "The ship didn't come until after you found that room, so you didn't give it to anyone. It's possible you hid it somewhere else, and that your kidnappers found it and hid it themselves at some point when they were in the temple."

"I don't remember..."

As much as he hated to put Daniel through any of this, he realized the hypnosis truly was necessary. "What about the temple itself. Do you remember any of the rooms where you found yourself alone?"

Daniel mumbled something incoherent. His eyes were closed, and he finally looked comfortable.

Jack got up slowly, moving quietly. He leaned over Daniel and pulled the afghan down an inch, then pushed aside Daniel's ponytail while pulling his jersey down. The skin along Daniel's nape was unblemished. Jack hadn't realized he was holding his breath until he released it as Daniel's shoulder came up and he reached for the blanket to cover the exposed skin.

As he settled back onto the recliner it dawned on him that he'd over-reacted. If Daniel had been infected by a Goa'uld, the surgical incision would have been healed already. Hell, he wouldn't have had an appendicitis attack in the first place.

Shaking his head, Jack picked up his forgotten beer and took a sip. Still, he thought that he'd mention his concerns to Fraiser in the morning; a scan wouldn't take long. Just to be safe.


Daniel opened one eye and glanced at his alarm clock. Almost eight a.m. - more than enough time for a couple more hours' sleep.

He yawned. Funny, he distinctly remembered going downstairs to the den last night and dozing on the couch. He had no memories at all coming back to his own bed. He turned in the bed, moving carefully, pleased to find that movement was a bit easier this morning than before.

His dad was up; he could hear dishes clinking in the kitchen. He yawned again as he snuggled the blankets up to his chin. He'd just gotten comfortable when it hit him. Eight in the morning. His dad should have left for work an hour ago. Daniel sat up just as the overhead lights came on. He blinked at his dad who was standing in the doorway.

"Good, you're up. Fraiser and Kayton are expecting us in about an hour."

"Dad, you're late! Why didn't you wake me up?" Daniel slid out of bed, the shock of cold floor enough to dispel the last of the grogginess from his brain.

He grabbed sweatpants and a sweatshirt from a pile on the floor, and began rummaging for clean underwear and socks.

"To be honest," his dad said as he leaned against the doorjamb, "I didn't have the heart to wake you."

"You could have woken—" Daniel paused, clothes gathered haphazardly in his arms. "I didn't have any nightmares."


"I didn't have any nightmares." Daniel couldn't stop the grin from spreading on his face.

"You looked too peaceful, so I let you sleep in." His dad moved aside, pointing over his shoulder. "You've got time for a quick shower. Breakfast will be on the table when you're done."


"Why do I need an MRI?" Daniel baulked at entering the small room. This had once been the stuff nightmares were made of. He still had them occasionally – chased by mad scientists forcing him to undergo all sorts of tests.

"Just a precaution." Janet smiled at him, but it didn't reach her eyes. Once again, people were keeping things from him and he was getting fed up. "It won't take very long."

"So you're not going to tell me what's wrong with me?"

"There's nothing wrong with you. It's just a step we overlooked when you came back from the planet—"


"You were kind of anxious to go home that day, remember? Well, now you have to pay the price for my overlooking protocol."

He still felt she wasn't being truthful. And it looked like he didn't have a choice. He sat down gingerly on the table, shifted around as Janet positioned him properly, and then watched curiously as his upper body was enveloped in the large tube.

Janet was right, it didn't take long. It seemed like the machine had just started making all these awful sounds and then it stopped and he was pulled out.

"Liz is waiting for us." This time Janet's smile seemed to be the real thing. He followed her to his dad's office, greeted Sam, Teal'c and Liz, and took his dad's chair when he got up and offered it to him. Daniel sat, nervously rubbing his sweaty palms together. Liz lit the candle on the desk in front of him and he took a deep breath, watching the flame, listening to her voice—

—And woke up in the corner of his dad's office, cowering between the filing cabinet and the wall. He blinked at everyone staring down at him and latched onto the one person who represented security.


"Can you get up?" When he nodded, his dad and Teal'c reached out their hands and helped him up. Dazedly, he allowed them to lead him back to the chair.

"What happened?" He had absolutely no recollection of getting up off this chair and moving into the corner.

"You scared yourself out of the hypnotic trance."

Daniel was surprised that he was trembling. He felt cold sweat drip down his armpits and the small of his back. His dad put a hand on his shoulder and left it there.

"I did? I don't remember." He turned to Liz. "You hypnotized me?"

She nodded. "You recalled something that was obviously somewhat frightening—"

"I'm sorry," Daniel said, interrupting Liz's seemingly carefully worded explanation, "but I think that would come under the term of terrifying, and not frightening. Frightening doesn't quite cover finding yourself in a corner and gibbering like an idiot."

"And your fear pulled you from the hypnotic trance," Liz continued as if Daniel hadn't said anything.

"What did I remember?"

Nobody spoke. Liz leaned down and blew out the candle.

"What did I remember?" Daniel asked again.

"Maybe it's best you don't remember..." his dad started.

"Not knowing is worse. I know that, the older me knew that," Daniel spat, pointing to his temple, "and you know that, especially considering the work you do."

"And that work is exactly why it might be best you don't know."

Oh great, even Sam was on their side.

Daniel turned to Teal'c, knowing Teal'c would side against him if he truly believed if it was for his own good.

"While we have not yet ascertained the contents of this urn, our theories would possibly frighten a child. But DanielJackson is not a child to be frightened of creatures that live in the lakes of Reandu; he has a plethora of memories to aid him place the situation into context. And DoctorKayton did affirm that his nightmares would end with the knowledge behind them. Is there not a possibility that this unknown fear would yet create new nightmares?"

"Yeah, what he said," Daniel crowed as the residual effects of his unknown fear began to fade.

Everyone turned to his dad; apparently he would have to make the decision. Daniel tried to school his features but he couldn't help smiling as he felt he was going to finally hear what they'd not been telling him.

His dad removed his hand from Daniel's shoulder and took a few steps away. "About six years ago, Rothman found some evidence of Goa'uld artifacts in a Chicago museum," his dad started saying slowly. "Amongst the artifacts were two jars. Jars similar to the one you described."

"Yeah, you sort of mentioned that before," Daniel said impatiently, eager to hear more.

"The jars were sort of... occupied."


"They were stasis chambers for Goa'uld, Daniel."

Sam looked serious, and Daniel felt the smile on his face begin to fade. Suddenly he was sorry he'd asked. He wanted to tell them to never mind, to just go on with their day, to ignore he'd even asked for the truth. He wanted to cringe when Sam continued talking.

"One of the jars was cracked, and the Goa'uld inside was dead. The other... well, it had been opened and the Goa'uld inside took the person who'd fount it as a host, after killing one of the archaeologists researching the Steward Expedition findings."

Daniel felt the sweat start up again, moistening his already damp clothes. He suddenly smelled his fear; rank while mixed with deodorant. "You think I... The urn... You think there was a Goa'uld inside?"

"We don't know," his dad barked. "You weren't able to tell us."

He could remember the feel of the chilly smoothness of the urn on his fingers. It should have felt warm, shouldn't it, if there had been something alive inside? Suddenly he needed to know. "I... Can we try again?"

Liz shook her head. "From your reaction, there's too strong a mental block preventing you from remembering. It would take several sessions to chip away and I have a feeling time is of the essence here." Liz turned to look at his dad, and Daniel followed suit. His dad remained non-committal but Daniel could tell from tiny telltale signs in his dad's face that Liz was probably right.

"We need to know what your kidnappers were after," his dad said after a long pause. "And considering we don't know yet who they were or who masterminded the whole thing, there could very well be another ship on that planet right now with more people searching the temple for the urn."

"We do not know if the urn itself was the sole goal of DanielJackson's kidnappers. It is possible other items still remain undiscovered within that room which may be important."

"We need to go back, sir."

"I know. I'll speak to Hammond."

Simultaneously disappointed and relieved, Daniel let his head drop to his chest.

"Colonel, we may need Daniel's expertise."

Daniel raised his head so fast, he banged it on the back of the chair. No, no way. He wasn't going to that place to wait for rescue, not knowing if they were going to be attacked again.

"With the Daedalus, we could be there and back in two days. An advance team could go through the 'gate and if they needed Daniel to help open that hidden door, then we could beam him down when the ship got there."

A ship? They had a ship? No Stargate?

His dad turned to stare at him. Daniel stared back.

"I'll speak to Hammond," his dad repeated, exiting the room and leaving Daniel sitting there confused. He was going on a spaceship? Wouldn't it be nice if someone asked if he wanted to make the trip?


"And you're okay with this?" Alexandria sounded offended

"It's not like I have a choice." Daniel kept his voice low, nearly whispering into his cell phone.

"But that's so barbaric. Bad enough you're going somewhere with no internet, but no cell phone service? What are you going to do all day long?"

"I think my dad's got a few activities lined up to keep me busy."

"Two or three days? I'm going to miss you, Daniel. I'd been hoping to come over tonight and..."

"I've missed you, too." The near-lie came easily to him; with all the happenings of the past days, his thoughts hadn't been on his girlfriend all that much. Which made him feel uncomfortable and guilty. He wasn't sure if the unease was due to the realization that he'd had more important things to think about other than her, or that he was able to lie about it. But now that he knew he was going to be separated, the next few words were heartfelt. "I wish I wasn't going; I'd rather stay home and be with you."

The moment he hung up, however, it actually dawned on him that he'd actually rather be with his dad, in the thick of things. He remembered all the times his father had gone off on missions and how, especially in the past year since he actually knew what his dad's work entailed, he'd felt left out, not exactly abandoned, but wishing at times he could have participated in the excitement.

Then he remembered lying on the floor in that temple and being scared shitless while bullets flew in the hallway. Okay, maybe he could tone down the wish for excitement a few notches.

What a collection of lies his life had become. How the hell did his dad live like this? His first phone call had been to his grandmother and while she'd said words of support as Daniel tried to weave a lie around how he was going away to deal with the nightmares that were incapacitating him, there was no missing the underlying tone of disapproval in her voice.

He sighed. Why did things always have to be so complicated with him?


The novelty of being in another spaceship wore off after walking through identical corridors and finding very little to hold his interest. Daniel's idea of dragging his laptop had been kyboshed by his father and he'd settled on a fully charged iPod for company instead, but even then, he was bored. And weary. Too many nights of interrupted sleep and by the time Daniel stopped exploring and began searching for his assigned quarters, he was just plain tired. Finally he found the right level and the numbers on the doors were counting down towards his when he bumped into Rodney McKay.

"Hey, I'm glad I found you." Rodney gave him a quick smile. "I didn't think we got that infamous door on tape but we did. I was hoping you'd come see if anything looks familiar."

"Sure." Daniel abandoned the idea of resting and followed Rodney to a small lab two flights up, listening to the man jabber about things relating to the Daedalus that he couldn't even begin to comprehend. There was a wide screen monitor and it took Rodney only a moment to bring up the digital recording.

While the visuals were familiar – very familiar – there was nothing there that Daniel could put his finger on that indicated how the door should open. It had been very clear in his dream but here, it was just a wall with a gold symbol with the parody of a cow and lion etched into it.

"Why didn't you go through the Stargate with the other teams?" Daniel asked as Rodney zoomed into the area around the symbol.

"General Hammond wanted to secure the temple before sending anyone in—"

"I thought the teams were going in to spy on the place—"

"There's nothing to spy on if there's nobody actually there—"

"So you aren't interested in going into the temple and finding a way to open that door?" Daniel waved at the monitor.

"Yes, I am interested. But going into a war zone with only a handful of people to protect you isn't exactly my idea of a comfort zone. Now this, a ship with big guns and a small army on board, is much more like it."

Daniel wasn't about to argue because those were his sentiments exactly.

"So, see anything that might look like a way in?" Rodney's tone was almost sarcastic.

Daniel hated to admit that he had no idea how to open the door. "What about that thingamabob you used to get into the Hathor's temple?"

Rodney made a face, keeping his gaze averted. "Major Carter," he said, emphasizing Sam's name, "thinks it's not going to work inside the temple."

"Why wouldn't it?"

"My point exactly."

"But Sam had to have some sort of reason to say that."

"She said a lot of words too complicated for you to understand. In a nutshell – the puzzles on top were just locks and accessible to anyone who had the knowledge to enter. The door inside is private, most likely a place Hathor would go to do things in private."

"What things?"

"How do I know? Torture her servants? Cut her toenails?"

"The room had all these niches—"

"Yeah, yeah, you've said that already—"

"So maybe it was some sort of display room. For treasures or pieces of art."

"Do you really think a Goa'uld would display art?" Rodney looked at him with disgust.

Daniel stopped to think. His memories told him the Goa'uld had gaudy and expensive tastes. "Maybe. Who knows? Or, or, or, maybe it's a vault."

Rodney raised a finger and saluted Daniel. "You might be onto something there." He waved at the monitor. "So, I ask again. Do you see anything that might indicate there's a way in?"

Daniel watched the short bit of video several times before finally conceding defeat. "There must be some sort of a lock or doorknob—"

"What you see is what you get. The wall's definitely not made of stone; some sort of metal, maybe. The only thing on that wall is the symbol." Rodney zoomed in on the symbol and Daniel leaned closer, hoping something would trigger his memory of how he'd opened the door in the first place.

"It's no use," he said after a few minutes, using the tabletop to help stand up straight. "I can't see anything that'll help."

"Maybe once you're there—"

"Do you really think my dad will let me go down there again?"

"I don't see why not." Daniel turned in surprise as Sam walked into the lab. She smiled at him and reached up to ruffle his hair, flipping the tip of his ponytail against his neck. "SG-8 hasn't had any luck with opening the door."

"So the scanner was a bust? Damn, still, I'd hoped..."

"Nope. Last we heard from Colonel Bryant, the scanner's registering nothing. It's as if the door doesn't even exist."

"He can't be using it right. That's a very delicate piece of equipment and what if he's broken it?"

"I'm sure he's using it correctly, McKay. We talked about the scanner not functioning on this doorway. In any case, just to make you happy, you can test it out yourself in about five hours." She turned to Daniel, still smiling. "How are you doing? Did you find anything?"

"Nothing," Daniel sighed, shaking his head in disappointment.

"Like McKay said, maybe once we're down there, you'll figure it out. You did so once already so I have every confidence you'll do it again."

"I wish I believed that," Daniel said almost to himself.

"Don't worry about it." Rubbing Daniel's shoulder, she motioned towards the door. "If you guys are done here, your dad would like to see you in the infirmary."


Sam nodded. Daniel sighed again, kissing all thoughts of a nap goodbye. "I'll see you later, Rodney."

Rodney waved a hand distractedly, his attention still on the digital recording. Daniel followed Sam, grateful she seemed to know where she was going. Ten minutes later, they were in the infirmary.

His dad and Doctor Lindstrom, the Daedalus' chief physician, were waiting for them. And Daniel was furious when he saw the instruments lined up on a tray next to the hospital bed his dad was sitting on.

"Why wasn't I told about this beforehand?" Daniel whined, glaring at all the decision making adults in the room. "I have no choice now, especially if I want to go... Change that, ordered to go down to the planet." He pointed at the waiting instruments. "This isn't fair."

His dad had the good grace to appear sufficiently reprimanded.

"Yeah, that's what I thought." Daniel turned to walk out, but Sam put two fingers on his arm, calling his name softly.

"You're going to need the subcutaneous transmitter if we have to beam you to the planet and back. It's for your own safety, Daniel."

"Fine. Then I won't go to the planet," he spat through gritted teeth.

Sam moved around him so that she was facing him. "The GPS wasn't why you got kidnapped. They could've taken you at any time. They only chose to do so when you were at the SGC to make a point."

"What point?" He was well aware that he'd already had this conversation with his father, but he didn't care.

"That they could take you, or any one of us. And as awful as the experience was for you, one good thing did come of it. It confirmed a flaw in our security and now it's fixed. Having a subcutaneous transmitter will not make you more prone to being taken away again as not having one. But it does give us the advantage of finding you if we need to."

Daniel took his glasses off and rubbed his eyes. He was sorry he'd gone with Rodney; he could have been in his quarters right now, sleeping. His dad would surely have taken pity on him if he were sleeping and not force him through this, wouldn't he?

He looked up into Sam's face, and saw only honesty. Slowly, the anger seeped out of him and without a word, sat down next to his dad.

"Thank you," his dad said simply. His dad flashed him an apologetic smile that Daniel had no intention of reciprocating.

"Yeah, whatever," he grumbled.

The whole procedure took less than ten minutes. He pulled down his sweatshirt over the small bandage, remembering the last time he'd had it done, he'd freaked out and had woken up hours later. Freaking out seemed to be a popular condition with him lately. He stood and his dad walked out of the infirmary with him, one hand pressed against the back of his shoulder.

"Can I go lie down for a while?" He stopped just outside the corridor, then had to move aside as people walked by.

"You okay?"

"Yeah. Just a little tired."

"You sure?"

"I'm sure."

"Can you find your way to our quarters?"

Daniel was about to flippantly say yes, despite the fact that he really had no idea where he was at the moment. And he really wanted to lie down. "I'm not sure," he admitted slowly.


His father led him to an elevator, down three corridors and stopped before a door. It took Daniel a moment to realize the numbers of the door matched their assigned quarters. It had taken all of five minutes; had he been alone, it would probably have taken him a half hour. "Thanks." He opened the door and stepped inside.

"You're sure you're okay?"

"I'm okay, Dad."

His dad cupped his nape a moment, then kissed his forehead. Daniel closed his eyes in embarrassment when two female officers walked by. One of them glanced their way and smiled. He could just picture them talking in low tones, saying 'aw, how sweet' as they walked away.

"I'll send someone to get you when we get there. You've got four hours to nap."

"I'm not going to nap. I just want to lie down a while."

"Like I said, you've got four hours to nap." His dad winked at him and walked away, leaving Daniel alone. He walked in, toed off his boots and with a sigh, slowly stretched out on the bed.


Daniel blinked sleepily at Teal'c, wondering what he was doing in his bedroom. "Hey."

"Greetings, DanielJackson. Your father wishes you to join him on the bridge."

Bridge? Daniel suddenly became aware of the deep thrumming of the ship's engines, the metal walls, the stiff mattress. He sat up as fast as his body would allow him to. "Are we there yet?"

"We will exit hyperspace in approximately fifteen minutes. We shall be in orbit in twenty."

Groggy and stiff, Daniel tried to force his feet into his boots without untying them, finally having to give in and sit on the bed and put them on properly.

"There is no need to rush. We have ample time."

"I know." The more he hurried, the clumsier his fingers were. "Just gotta pee. Back in a sec."

One minute later, he was wiping his hands on his pants, hurrying after Teal'c as he was led through yet another maze of corridors. "How do you remember where to go?" he asked as Teal'c turned another corner.

"How do you know the ways of Stargate Command?"

"I guess you spent a lot of time here, huh?"


The doors opened and they were on the bridge. Daniel took it all in as he walked to meet his dad, who was standing behind Captain Caldwell. The captain nodded at Daniel as he took his place next to his dad.

The next minutes were incredible as Daniel watched them take orbit around the planet. He was grinning by the time the captain contacted SG-8 and watched in wonder as Rodney, Sam, and Teal'c moved to the center of the bridge and were beamed down to the planet in a flash of light that would rival any SciFi TV show.

"You're not going?" Daniel asked his dad.

"They've got enough firepower down there. They needed McKay and Carter more than they need me."

Daniel wondered if his dad chose to stay on the ship because Daniel was here, and not because his dad thought he wasn't needed.


Daniel was bored. He'd showered, had something to eat, walked around the ship some more, had something to drink, and was now sitting in the Officers' Mess with his dad playing gin rummy.

He gathered the cards and shuffled slowly, tired of the incessant chatter coming through his dad's radio from the planet. He'd pulled out his iPod and was listening to music, which was more entertaining than hearing Rodney and Sam bicker non-stop. Then again, there was little enjoyment in the game. His dad's concentration was obviously on the happenings down below because Daniel had won six games in a row.

He was about to deal the cards when his dad held his hand up. "Don't bother," Daniel heard through his music. He pulled out an ear bud as his dad continued. "We're about to get called down."

Almost as if on cue, he heard Sam call the ship, requesting Captain Caldwell to beam Jack and Daniel to the planet.

"C'mon. We've got time to hit the john before we report to the bridge." The intercom suddenly came to life, ordering them both to report to Captain Caldwell.

Ten minutes later, his dad was kitted up and Daniel nervously followed him back up to the bridge. He didn't know where to stand, afraid that when they beamed him out, he might be out of range and thus forgotten. So he dogged his dad's footsteps, nearly bumping into him when his dad stopped.

Somehow Daniel thought there'd be speeches or something, but Captain Caldwell simply wished them luck and there was a bright light.

Daniel stumbled against his father, blinking in the dimness of the temple's corridor. The only illumination came from the spotlights aimed at the door in the wall about fifteen feet from where they'd appeared.

"You okay?" His dad reached out and caught his arm.

"I'm fine. I forgot it would be dark in here."

"Colonel. Daniel." Sam came out of the light, hurrying towards them.

He was startled by the sound of chimes, then remembered the odd stones of the planet. Funny, though, he didn't remember any inside the temple.

"Good. We can use your help." Sam led them back to the door, which Daniel approached with sudden trepidation. The oddly disjointed music of their steps began grating on his nerves. He glanced beyond the shadows in the corridor, half expecting one or more of his kidnappers who'd survived their attack lying in wait for him. He kept telling himself he was safe; that there were only SGC people here, all of whom were more than able to protect him.

He turned to the door. It had been one thing to see the door in his dreams; it was quite another to know it actually existed. Daniel stopped in front of it, aware of Sam and his dad standing on either side of him, and Rodney, Teal'c and two guards behind him. He reached a hand to touch the door. It was just as cold and smooth as he remembered.

"Did you find anything?"

"Just this." Sam pressed the symbol in the center of the door, and the wall lit up with a multitude of small squares. At a guess, Daniel would have said there were a few hundred. "And this." Sam pressed one of the squares and it chimed. "We've concluded that there are seven different sounds. I'm guessing this is a combination lock of sorts. What we can't figure out is the combination." She turned to look at Daniel expectantly. "Any ideas?"

Daniel blinked at her in bewilderment. "Um, no, not really." He touched one of the squares, and it chimed a half octave below the one Sam had pressed. He randomly touched a few more, trying out the different tones. Then he shook his head, totally baffled. "I opened this. I know I did." He ran his fingers over several squares, and the discordant sounds were painful to hear. "Sorry."

"Look, how about we just step back and let you see if anything comes to mind." Sam moved away, and then widened her eyes meaningfully at his dad, who muttered, "Oh, right," and he moved around Daniel to go lean against the opposite wall. Teal'c and Rodney stepped back also; Rodney leaning against the wall with his arms crossed, watching him with a smirk on his face, until Teal'c glared at him.

The door made him uncomfortable. At first he thought it was because everyone was watching him but after watching the lit squares fade away, he realized it was something else. Like there was a boogeyman hiding behind the closet door. Now that he'd learned about the Goa'uld in the urns, he was reluctant to find out what was behind the door.

He pushed his uneasiness aside and tried to concentrate. At first he was extremely self-conscious as he began experimenting with the squares. He walked back and forth, trying different patterns, different variations, trying to incorporate Egyptian mythology symbolizing either Hathor or Sekhmet with the squares. After ten minutes, he knew it was a lost cause.

He began pacing in front of the door, trying to think. But each step he took produced a tone, frustrating him more. He went to kick the musical rocks out of the way, when he realized that the stone floor was bare.

Suddenly he had an idea. He walked the length of the corridor until he there were no more sounds. Then slowly, he walked towards the door. Each step produced seven different sounds, with the area immediately before the door being silent. Then seven more steps past the door produced the same repetition of sounds in reverse order.

"That's it. Here's your combination." Daniel quickly walked back, repeating the seven tones as he grinned at everyone.

"Holy Hannah." Sam took a tentative step forward, as did his dad. The two sounds mixed discordantly with Daniel's. "With all of us walking around, it never occurred to me that the sounds weren't random."

"Well done, DanielJackson." Teal'c inclined his head when Daniel glanced his way.

"It won't get the door open, though. We still have to figure out which of these seven blocks will open the door."

"Maybe you just need to play the pattern out." Rodney began pressing squares, identifying the tones, and making a small mark next to them with a marker. They waited for the squares to fade before rebooting the door by pressing the original glyph, then Rodney pressed the seven squares. Daniel held his breath and took an inadvertent step back. He released his breath when nothing happened.

"Maybe it has to play backwards." Almost manically, Rodney pressed the squares in the opposite sequence. Again Daniel tensed, then relaxed when the door didn't open.

After several minutes, he went to the far wall to join his dad, watching Sam and Rodney try to figure out which of the seven keys depicting the notes would be the right combination.

"Give it another minute and Carter's gonna say the odds of hitting on the right squares are astronomical," his dad whispered to him.

"But they are."

"I know that. But they're the geniuses. And they haven't figured it out yet."

Daniel snorted.

"I believe MajorCarter's perseverance is based on her rivalry with DoctorMcKay."

His dad rolled his eyes at Teal'c. "Ya think?"

"This is ridiculous. The odds of getting the right combination are astronomical," McKay huffed in exasperation.

"Told'ja," his dad whispered to Daniel.

"You said Sam."

"I said one of them."

"DanielJackson is correct. You implied MajorCarter to be the one to utter these words."

"Fine. I said Carter." His dad adjusted his weapon. "But I was right. Just chose the wrong genius."

Daniel snorted as Sam and Rodney continued to argue, until they brought his name into their disagreement.

"Look. What if we hypnotize him again and have him tell us how he figured out how to open the door."

"We can't do that." Sam gave Daniel and his dad a quick glance. "First of all we don't have Doctor Kayton with us, and second—"

"To hypnotize him? We don't need her. I can do it."

"You?" Sam's snort of disbelief was almost equal to Daniel's.

"What? You've never done it?" Now Rodney's snort rivaled Sam's. "I've told you before. There's nothing to it. I used to do it at parties; everyone loved to watch their friends run around the house barking like a dog or—"

"No!" It had been one thing to agree to hypnosis when the psychologist had a medical degree and another when the person wanting to hypnotize you boasted about doing it for entertainment value. "No way."

"Look, it's no big deal." Rodney left the wall and approached Daniel. "I'll just put you under and have you tell us how you figured out the combination—"

"No." Daniel raised his hands, warding him off, sliding against the wall to keep his distance. Rodney only stopped moving when Teal'c took a step forward, putting himself between Rodney and Daniel while his dad moved to stand next to Daniel.

"Fine. But by the time we figure this thing out, you're going to be older than your father," Rodney spat out, turning away from them in obvious disgust. He stomped across the corridor, sounding out the seven tones, as if trying to mock Daniel.

The sounds faded, leaving uncomfortable silence.

"If you would permit me, I would attempt this hypnosis."

"You?" While Daniel didn't want to be hypnotized at all, he'd rather it be Teal'c and anyone else. "You can do that?"


"T, you been holding out on us, buddy?"

Teal'c raised an eyebrow and gave his dad a funny look. "I have observed DoctorKayton and believe the process is a simple mixture of meditation, relaxation and suggestibility."

"That's exactly what it is." Rodney spoke quickly, taking several quick steps back in their direction. "And the person who's being hypnotized won't do anything he's uncomfortable with. Actually, a lot of show people who hypnotize for entertainment look for extroverts as their subjects because they're already comfortable being in the limelight."

"I don't know if this is such a good idea." His dad sounded worried. "Especially after Daniel's reaction the last time."

"We truly don't have much of a choice, sir."

"I would simply ask him how to open the door. Nothing more."

Daniel swallowed, feeling his palms begin to sweat. "You won't make me—"

"Cluck like a fowl? You know I would not. I do not see how this would be entertaining."

"It's all in seeing someone you know make a fool of himself." His dad put a hand on Daniel's shoulder and he could feel the heat of his hand seep through the material of his sweatshirt. He had forgotten how chilly and damp this planet was. He gave his dad a tight smile and lowered himself slowly to the ground. Crossing his legs wasn't possible at the moment so he sat, back resting against the wall, legs stretched out in front of him and watched as Teal'c crouched before him.


His son never ceased to amaze him. Not the part where he'd solved half the riddle that had stumped Carter and McKay for the better part of four hours, but the part where he simply sat down and trusted Teal'c in spite of how scared he was.

Jack hadn't missed how jumpy his son was. It wasn't just being here with the memories of what had happened; there was something else and Jack would bet his next year's salary that it had to do with what was behind that door.

Teal'c's method was slightly different from Liz's, but nonetheless, after a few minutes, Daniel's chin was resting on his chest and he looked totally relaxed.

"DanielJackson. Tell me how you opened the hidden doorway in Hathor's temple."

"Music." Daniel's voice was slow and soft.

"You discovered the seven musical notes on the floor?"


"You used these notes to open the door?"


"Tell me how you opened the door."

"Pushed the matching buttons."

"Which buttons did you utilize to open the door?"

"The ones that matched the music."

"Oh, come on," McKay exploded. "We could be here all day if you—"

Jack angrily motioned him to shut up and the man's eyes widened. Jack didn't miss the look of irritation he threw his way and the beseeching look he gave Carter.

"He's going about the question the wrong way—"

"Shhh." Carter waved his complaints away, her attention focused on Daniel and Teal'c.

"How did you choose the buttons that matched the music?"

"Couldn't choose. They were like my keyboard."

"Explain to me how the buttons resemble your keyboard."

"Letters are worn from constant use. The S. The L. Figured maybe whoever used this door might have left smudges or something. Found them."

"My God. The boy's comparing a metal wall to a cheap plastic keyboard." McKay all but rolled his eyes.

"You discovered seven buttons that contained signs of use?"


"And you were able to enter the room?"

"Yes. There's..." Suddenly Daniel breathing sped up and his head rolled slightly on his neck. "Don't. Don't go inside!" He woke up suddenly, his eyes wild until they found Jack's.

"It's all right, Icky."

"Dad? There's something in there. Something bad."

"It's all right. If we get the door open, we'll be ready for it."

Jack turned to Carter, who was already examining the wall carefully.

"Do you think it'll work?" Daniel waved a hand towards Carter, then fisted his fingers together when his hand shook.

"That's the most preposterous suggestion I ever heard."

Jack lost his temper and turned to McKay. "That's enough."

"But did you even consider that this wall is made of metal and that it would take centuries of constant use to even start to wear it down to the point that—"

"We are talking Goa'uld. Centuries are very possible."

"—And constant use. We're talking fingers touching metal. Do you have any idea how much—"

"I've found an impression," Carter called out from the wall.

"What?" Suddenly McKay no longer sounded like a know-it-all. "You did? Where?" He hurried over to Carter, his nose pressed to where she was pointing. "I don't believe it. He's right. There's obvious usage here."

"Good work." Jack reached out and cupped Daniel's cheek, suddenly feeling his son needed reassurance.

"They're going to open it, aren't they?"

"Thanks to you."

"Maybe they shouldn't."

"It is why we are here." Teal'c offered Daniel his arm, and his son took it. Teal'c helped Daniel onto his feet and along with Jack, they stood and watched as the team of Carter and McKay sought the combination code that his son had broken with obvious ease.

"We've got it, sir. I think we can open it now." Carter had marked each square with a pencil; she was obviously waiting for Jack's order.

Jack called in SG-8 as backup. As much as Carter had been involved with the door's puzzle, he needed to pull her away from it. "Carter, I want you to stay with Daniel."

There was no resentment when she turned to nod at him. Without another word, she left the door she'd worked so hard to open and stood next to Daniel, ready to protect him from whatever was behind the metal door. At his nod, McKay pressed the seven buttons in the proper sequence. The door clicked and began to slowly swing open.

With a hand gesture, Jack motioned Teal'c ahead. With several flashlights illuminating the interior, Teal'c took a cautious step, then another. He paused just inside the room, his head rotating slowly from left to right. The sound of water was loud inside, and the humidity level went up another notch as warm, damp air flowed out the open door.

Teal'c moved on until he stood in the center of the room. Jack ordered SG-8 to follow him in, while McKay, Carter and Daniel remained in the corridor.

The room was rectangular, roughly fifty feet long by ten feet. A low fountain of sorts followed the three walls, leaving the one behind them high and dry. A waterfall flowed from the ceiling down a third of the right wall. And almost all of the walls before them held the niches Daniel had been telling them about. And a quick glance around showed they were all empty.

"What's that?" Colonel Bryant's flashlight caught something on the far ledge of the fountain. Daniel's urn, it looked like.

Teal'c moved away from the group to go check it out but before he was halfway there, an alien screech caused them all to jump.

Teal'c moved inhumanly fast, bringing his staff weapon up and shooting a dark blur that had flown out of the pool. By the time it landed wetly on the ground, five P90s were aimed at the now dead and steaming Goa'uld.


"It's okay, Daniel. It's dead. Stay there," Jack yelled to his son as he approached Teal'c, giving the dead Goa'uld a wide berth. "Do you think there are any more?" he asked softly so Daniel wouldn't hear.

"That is a possibility." Teal'c moved cautiously to the urn. "It has been opened." He peered inside. "It is empty."

"So what are the odds that the snake's been living in that thing for a few thousand years and Daniel escaped getting goa'ulded by the skin of his teeth?"

"If that is what had occurred, then DanielJackson has been extremely fortunate. Most likely the Goa'uld was not quite recovered from the stasis when it was released and did not immediately take him as a host." He aimed his light at the niches. "These are empty." He pointed his flashlight at one opposite the urn. "Although this one bears signs of having recently been disturbed."

Teal'c was right. There was a thick layer of dust inside the niches; the one Teal'c was pointing to clearly showed the outline where the vase had once sat.

"Check those out," Jack ordered Bryant, trying not to consider Teal'c's words. The colonel deployed his men and they began to methodically search all the small niches in the walls while Jack and Teal'c stood guard.

Jack nudged the dead Goa'uld with his boot. "Sekhmet?"

"Most probable. The writing on the urn would so indicate."

It took several minutes, but they came up empty. Before they left, Teal'c gathered the dead Goa'uld and the urn, stuffing the corpse inside and placing the cover on top.

Jack couldn't help himself. The moment he stepped through the door, he took Daniel in his arms and hugged him. Startled, Daniel slowly put his arm around Jack and hugged him back. Jack held onto him for a few more seconds before reluctantly releasing him. He'd drown these particular demons one night when Daniel wasn't home; in the meantime, he had a dead snake to deliver to the SGC and a son to bring home.


He was hyper-aware of his grandmother watching him from the window as he got out of the Avalanche. Tired as he was, Daniel was pleased that he managed to work his way out of the truck without too much pain despite the heaviness of his limbs. He waved towards her and once she waved back, he reached for his backpack. He went up the steps slowly, one hand holding onto his backpack, the other one clutching his jacket and holding it closed against the cold. His grandmother opened the door just as he reached it and he stepped inside and was pulled into a hug even before he could move aside to let his dad in.

"I'm fine, Grandma," he said in to her neck as she held him close. "I missed you."

"I missed you, too, mhuirnin." She loosened her hold, still holding him at arm's length. "You look tired."

"I'm fine."

"He is tired," his father said as he squeezed past them just enough so he could shut the door. "He's eating supper and going straight to bed."

"Speaking of supper," Daniel said, ignoring his dad, "is that spatini sauce I smell?"

His grandmother smiled, her eyes shining behind her glasses. "Do you feel up to eating some? Or I can make you something a little easier on the stomach."

Daniel's stomach rumbled in anticipation. "No, pasta sounds wonderful. Is it done?"

"Just need to cook the noodles. You've got time to take a quick shower if you want," she added over her shoulder.

Showering sounded like too much effort at the moment. "Tomorrow." He kicked his boots off and shrugged out of his jacket. Dragging his backpack into his bedroom, he dropped it in a corner and sat on his bed. For a moment the temptation of lying down and forgetting about supper was strong, then his stomach rumbled again and he got up with a sigh. Although he'd love to have argued his dad's words about going to bed straight after supper, he'd been too hyper to sleep on the Daedalus and it was catching up to him now.

He compromised by splashing water on his face and getting into his pajamas. Padding into the kitchen in stocking feet, Daniel took a spoon from the cutlery tray and dipped it into the simmering sauce.

Blowing on the steaming spoonful, Daniel's mouth watered at the wonderful aroma. The taste was just as delicious as the smell.

He went to dip the spoon into the sauce again but his father came up behind him, plucked the spoon out of his grip and stole a taste for himself.

"So, are you two here to stay for a while or will you be gallivanting out of town again tomorrow or the next day?"

"Not going anywhere," his dad answered absently, intent on fishing out a second taste.

Normally Daniel would have fought his father for the spoon, or would have grabbed a second one for himself, but he was too tired. He sat down at the table, half-listening to his dad and grandma talk. Soon he was fighting to keep his eyes open. When his grandmother came to stand behind his chair, he rested his head back against her abdomen while she ran her fingers up and down his neck and shoulders, pressing against tight muscles. "Mmmm, feels good."

"Don't go to sleep on me."

"Not sleeping," he mumbled.

Her fingers stilled and she leaned over his shoulder. He opened one eye to see her watching him with a smile on her face.

"Not sleeping," he repeated.

"Good. Because supper's just about ready." Two seconds later the kitchen timer went off. Daniel forced himself to his feet while his grandmother strained the pasta, pouring himself and his dad a large glass of milk each. By the time he sat down again, he had a huge plateful of spaghetti and meatballs in front of him.

At first he didn't think he'd be able to eat half of what his grandmother had given him, but too soon he was scraping off the last of the sauce with a piece of bread. He yawned just as he popped the bread into his mouth.

"Sorry," he managed to say before he fought a second yawn.

"Time for bed, big guy."

"Sleep well, mhuirnin."

"Night," Daniel mumbled, pushing himself to his feet and all but stumbling into his bedroom. He shut the light, got under the covers, and stretched out. His bed, his mattress, his pillow, his comforter; not some strange bed on the ship which he had to share with his dad. The familiar glow of his clock, the ticking of the clock in the kitchen that always seemed louder at night. Daniel sighed appreciatively as he heard his dad and grandmother cleaning up in the kitchen.

He closed his eyes, shifting around, trying to get comfortable. He'd achieved the perfect position, was just starting to drift, when he heard a car door slam outside. The dishwasher came on, drowning out the voices in the kitchen. Sleep, which had been so close a few seconds ago, was suddenly elusive.

Turning onto his back, Daniel thought back to the short debriefing he'd actually been privy to. It had been déjà vu in a sense, strange to actually be involved in a part of his dad's work. There'd been a picture of the mysterious urn on a projector which Sam had put up for General Hammond, while the urn itself was being studied by a bunch of scientists.

The thing inside the urn was dead. He'd only gotten a glimpse of it after Teal'c had shot it and that had been more than enough. He shuddered, trying to think of more pleasant things. Like Alexandria, or the new Wii game that Corey was supposed to have bought and he couldn't wait to try and play. Unfortunately, now that his mind had provided the visual of the dead Goa'uld, it seemed hell bent on replaying those few anxious seconds when Daniel had heard Teal'c's staff weapon discharge as well as a loud, inhuman scream, cut off as it died.

All sleepiness was gone now. He listened as his grandmother said goodbye to his father and left the house. Listened to her start her truck and drive away. Listened as his father walked the perimeter of the house and locked up. Listened to the water run as his dad took a shower, then went into his own bedroom. Several minutes later, his dad's bedroom light went out and Daniel was left in complete darkness.

His reaction was instinctive; he sat up, pulling the blankets up to his shoulders, and stared out into the dark, listening intently for any sounds that didn't belong.

He was desperate to reach for the bedside light, but a paralyzing fear he hadn't experienced since he'd been a child kept his hands under the security of the comforter. His stomach churned sickeningly as his heart tried to beat its way out of his chest.

This was ridiculous. There were no Goa'uld in his bedroom, or in the house for that matter. Still, no matter how many times he told himself that, his body wouldn't believe him. His heart continued to race and his stomach contracted sickeningly. It felt like forever before he got the nerve to quickly pull his arm from beneath the blankets and turn on the lamp next to the bed.

He was ready to bolt at the first sign of anything moving. When he deemed the room was safe, his attention fell on his closet door. "Oh come on," he muttered under his breath. "Exactly how old are you?"

He slowly lowered one leg and then the other to the floor, then sat there for a minute, trying to gather the courage to face his closet. Deep down he knew he was simply spooked by what had happened on the planet, but that didn't make him feel any better at the moment. Tired of being scared, he finally stood and walked determinedly to the closet. He picked up an old, battered baseball bat and holding it one hand, he reached for the handle with the other, grasped it, and paused. Slowly he twisted the handle, and flung the door open quickly, baseball bat at the ready. He waited several agonizingly long seconds and when nothing came out of the closet, he relaxed, lowered the bat and shut the door.

"Stupid," he mumbled, putting the bat away and heading back for his bed.

There was a creaking sound down the hall; it could have been the house settling, or it could be someone coming up the stairs from the den. Frozen in place, halfway to his bed, Daniel looked towards the bedroom door.

Ten seconds later, not quite sure how he'd gotten there, Daniel stood in the entrance to his dad's bedroom, listening to him snoring softly. Arms wrapped around himself against the chill of the house, Daniel realized how foolish he'd look if he woke his dad just so he could go check his closet or the space under his bed. He contemplated going to the den to sleep but it felt too far away from his dad. He could lie on the couch in the living room but the thought of something coming down the fireplace gave him the willies.

Leaning against the doorjamb, Daniel realized that this was the only place he felt safe. The room was dark, but he had no fear of anything creeping up behind him or taking a flying leap from the top of a bureau. His fatigue began to catch up to him and he yawned even as he began to shiver. His stomach finally unclenched and the feeling of needing to puke eased.

He was cold and was getting colder by the minute. He felt something warm sliding down his cheeks and he rubbed away the tears of frustration. He couldn't stand here freezing all night. Feeling slightly calmer, he left his dad's bedroom and returned to his own. And the near-paralyzing fear hit him again the moment he stepped into the room.

With the last of his self-control, he hurried to his bed, dragged the comforter from it and wrapped it around himself. He ignored the twang of pain the movement created deep in his side and hurried out into the hall, slowing only as he reached his dad's bedroom. Tiptoeing into the room, Daniel slid down to the floor next to the bed and wadding the edge of the comforter into a pillow, he curled up into a ball.

He didn't plan on sleeping; all he wanted was to get through the night and then sneak back into his bed before his dad woke up. He yawned as he started to relax, fiddling with the edge of the comforter to cushion the hard floor. His dad's snores were comforting, letting him know he wasn't alone. He closed his eyes, just for a moment—

—Only to open them to see his father staring down at him from the edge of the bed as he held a hand to Daniel's forehead.

"Are you sick? You don't have a fever."

"Not sick." The lamp made his eyes water so Daniel turned his face back into the depths of his comforter. He was stiff and sore, and his back and neck ached along with his side.

"Okay, this had better be good."

"Morning, Dad." Daniel turned onto his back, trying to stretch out the kinks. Even his hips had gotten into the act and were aching.

"Last time I looked, you had a bed," his father said, sitting up and sliding his legs out of the bed.

"Mmm," Daniel mumbled deliberately, berating himself for not having had a chance to sneak off before his dad woke up.

"Did you have a nightmare?"

"No, not exactly."

"Then mind explaining to me why you're sleeping on the floor of my bedroom when you have a perfectly good bed?" His dad's expression changed. "Oh, you didn't have an accident—"

"No!" Mortified, Daniel shook his head vehemently. "I just... couldn't sleep."

"Ah." His father patted the bed. "How about you catch a bit more sleep until your grandma gets here."

"She doesn't have to babysit—"

"Do you honestly think she'd willingly stay home and leave you here by yourself until she's satisfied you're on the mend?"

"No, I guess not."

"Come on, up and at 'em."

Daniel thought getting up would be as easy as getting down, but he'd stiffened up overnight. His dad reached over and helped him up and he gladly slid into the warm spot his dad had occupied just moments ago. Immediately a lot of his aches eased as he stretched out on the mattress.

"So..." His dad sat again on the edge of the bed. "Why couldn't you sleep? Would it have anything to do with the goings on in the temple?"



"No, not exactly." Daniel was reluctant to admit how scared he'd been.

"Then what?"

Shrugging, Daniel avoided his dad's eyes.

"Thinking too hard? Replaying some of the things that happened over and over in your head?"

"Sorta." Daniel felt his eyes begin to prickle and he pressed his lips together, refusing to cry.

"Why didn't you wake me up? We could have talked about it."

Daniel hadn't wanted to talk about last night. He'd just wanted to feel safe. "It was stupid." His voice wavered and despite his efforts, he couldn't hold the tears in and the room swam blurrily.

"Was it the snake? Was that what spooked you?"

"I opened the jar, didn't I? When I found that room the first time?"

"Probably, yeah."

"I could've been—"

"But you weren't! You can't go tearing yourself up about that. Neither of us can."

Daniel nodded as he took shaky breaths. Now he knew why his dad hadn't gotten any sleep on the return trip on the Daedalus. "I kept imagining it was here, in the house—"

"Why the hell didn't you wake me up?"

"I felt like an idiot—" He broke down, starting to cry in earnest.

"Oh, God, Icky." Somehow his dad's arms were around him and he was clutching his father, sobbing against him. "You're not an idiot. This was more than your friendly neighborhood boogeyman. Promise me, next time, you wake me up. You shouldn't have had to go through that alone."

"I promise." Daniel sniffled through swollen sinuses.

"You do know that there aren't any snakes here? On Earth?"

"I know that, Dad." Daniel pulled back slightly and rubbed his eyes with his palm. "I know that, but it didn't stop me from imagining that it was here. I told you it was stupid."

"Not stupid. Just an over-active imagination."

Daniel sniffled again as he lay back against the pillow. His dad reached for a box of tissues and handed them to Daniel, who took one and blew his nose. Despite his dad's words, Daniel was already worried about the coming evening. "Can I sleep here tonight?"

"Of course you can." His dad grabbed the garbage can and held it so that Daniel could toss the used tissue into it. "Are you okay now? I have to go get ready for work."

"I'm fine, Dad." His dad was up and about, and by the time he left for work, it would be daylight. And things always looked better in the daylight. "That was last night, this is now." He yawned, barely getting a hand up in front of his mouth in time to cover it. "Have a good day."

And despite Daniel's bravado, slowly the feelings of unease began to creep up on him the longer he lay in his dad's bed. By the time he could smell the coffee, he got out of bed and padded into the kitchen. The moment he saw his dad, his anxiety eased. Without a word he poured himself some coffee, added milk and sugar, sat down and pouted.

"Not sleeping in?" His dad looked over the top of the newspaper at him.

"I was going to, but figured I need to start with the schoolwork again." Daniel sighed theatrically.

His dad put the paper down and leaned an elbow on the table. "I know the past year has been hard."

Daniel sighed again, burying his face in his coffee cup.

"Do I need to speak to someone? Get you a delay on some exams? A tutor?"

"No, I'm okay. I just don't want to get too far behind. Bad enough I'm missing soccer. I'm lucky Coach has kept me on the team after all the time I've missed."

"You're sure?"

"I'm sure, Dad."

"Want me to make you some waffles?"

Daniel shook his head reluctantly, his hair flying into his face. Shoving the untied locks behind his ear, he glanced at the clock and knew his dad needed to leave soon. Still, he appreciated the offer. "Maybe on the weekend?"

"Grandma'll be here soon. She can make you some if you're hungry later."

"It's okay." Daniel stood. "Cereal is fine." He took a box of cereal from the cupboard to prove that it was fine. Splashed some milk from the fridge over his flakes. Sat back down and finished his coffee before digging into his cereal. By the time he scraped the bottom of the bowl, his dad was putting on his coat and was ready to leave.

"I'll see you tonight."

Daniel stood, feelings of anxiety creeping up again. With the empty bowl in hand, he nodded as he walked to the dishwasher with it. "Have a good day." He tried to sound nonchalant but his voice sounded strained even to his ears.


"I'm fine, Dad." He cleared his throat and coughed, trying to pretend it was the vestiges of the bronchitis affecting him. "Have fun filling out all the paperwork." That was a memory of old that he remembered having to do often. And of his dad's dislike of writing reports.

"Yeah, right. Thanks." His father kissed his forehead and walked towards the door.

Daniel stood there, bowl still held in his hands, his breakfast threatening to make reappearance. He fought the urge to run after his dad and beg him not to leave him alone. He'd actually taken a step forward when his dad yelled out, "Grandma's here," just as he walked out the door.

Turning back to the dishwasher on shaking legs, Daniel shoved the bowl and spoon into its depths. By the time he straightened, he'd composed himself enough that he could greet his grandmother without spewing in her face. He went to the front door and watched her and his dad talk for a few minutes. Great. His dad was probably telling her all about his sleeping on the floor last night.

Once his grandmother was in the house, all signs of his earlier unease disappeared. He got through a cursory greeting by quickly stating he needed to shower and dress. Testing his limits, he managed a long shower without the urge of needing to run out of the bathroom screaming. Satisfied now that he was over the irrational fear, he grabbed his laptop and descended into the den, losing himself in homework and text messages, allowing music and movies to batter his senses.

He only came up for air when his grandmother came downstairs with a tray at noontime. With half his mind on his work, he gobbled up his food, remembered to thank her when she returned for the empty tray some time later, and went back to his studies.

It was a few hours later that he was forced to stop. His head was starting to pound and his back and neck were stiff from sitting in one position, and his side was aching. He'd turned the television off a while back, and his iPod was sitting on the coffee table. He rotated his neck, trying to ease some of the kinks out when he realized he didn't hear anything.

Had his grandmother gone out? Was she still in the house? "Grandma?" he called out. When there was no answer, he half-limped, half-tiptoed to the edge of the stairs and listened. At first he thought he was listening for sounds his grandmother might make if she was reading or dozing. A tremor went through him when he tried to make out the unnatural sounds of an invading alien being or the footsteps of an interloper. When all he could hear was the continued silence, he began to fear that maybe his grandmother had met with his fate of several days ago.

"Grandma!" Terrified now that his grandmother was no longer in the house, or even on the planet, Daniel ran up the stairs pell mell, ignoring the pull of stitches as his stocking feet slid on the hardwood floor.

"What? Daniel, what's wrong?" Running up the few steps from the living room, his grandmother greeted him in the hallway, her face worried as she hurried towards him. He skidded to a stop, slamming against the wall to avoid bowling her over.

"I'm fine. Are you all right?" He let his grandmother grab his arm as she looked him over with a worried look. He realized how he must look; his hair wasn't tied back and he'd let it dry naturally. A cold sweat dripped down his back and armpits, and he was trembling in reaction.

"Of course I'm fine. Why wouldn't I be?"

He wiped a sheen of sweat from his upper lip with the back of his hand and gave her what he hoped was a convincing smile. "No reason. I didn't hear you and thought you'd gone home without saying goodbye."

"Nope. That's not going to cut it. Not this time" She pointed towards the kitchen and Daniel hung his head, watching his feet as he slid them down the hallway, into the kitchen. She pulled out a chair and took a seat opposite him when he sat. "I want the truth. It's one thing to be told you were kidnapped and return home from bronchitis and an operation—"


"And then have you disappear again for another day and a half with the excuse that you went away for a rest—"


"Only to have you come home looking twice as exhausted and hiding something from me."

"I'm not exhaus—"

"I know your dad's job is classified and somewhat complicated, and I know I've been lucky to have been included in a few of these situations. But I worry—"

"Please, Grandma, you don't have to worry—"

"I worry because I know what your father does is dangerous." She put a hand up to stop another interruption. "I'd be a fool not to acknowledge that. But when you're involved in all of this – and I know the kidnapping wasn't your fault, or the bronchitis or the appendicitis – but I'm pretty damned sure you going away for nearly two days when you're barely back on your feet was something that could have been avoided—"

"You're right," Daniel said in a soft voice.

This time, instead of talking over him, his grandmother sat there silently staring at him.

"It wasn't a matter of life and death." Daniel tried to make a funny face, but failed. "But Sam and Rodney thought it was urgent and they needed my help. I wasn't in any danger..." He cleared his throat, realizing this wasn't exactly true. "I wish I could tell you," he finally added, dropping his head again onto his chest and staring at the wood grain of the table.

"I understand why you can't tell me, sweetheart." His grandmother reached out and took his hands in hers. "But there are times when I need to know things – like why you were so afraid a few minutes ago. I can't help you if I don't know what's going on."

"I know." Daniel wanted to confide in her so badly. And for a moment his promises of secrecy suddenly didn't matter in his need for comfort and he was ready to blurt out the truth. Then common sense prevailed and he ended up searching for the right words. "Something almost happened when I got kidnapped... something bad."

"Your nightmares?"

"Yes." He fiddled with a hangnail, digging at it with his thumb. "Doctor Kayton hypnotized me—" He heard his grandmother gasp in surprise and he smiled wryly. "Sam assured me Dad didn't make me quack like a duck or anything."

"Thank goodness. What happened with the hypnosis?"

"I remembered a few things and um... well, the kidnappers wanted me to find something for them because of my memories. You know." Daniel stopped pulling at the hangnail and motioned towards his head. "From before?"


"So we went back to see what it was my kidnappers had wanted so badly."

"Did you find it?"



"It's... Um... Broken. Worthless."

"So it was all for nothing?"

"No. At least now we know why they took me. It wasn't just a random act. This does make me feel better, I guess, because I know they wouldn't have kidnapped Cassie, or Dad, or Sam, or even you, because it was really me they wanted." Daniel became aware that talking it out with his grandmother actually helped put things in perspective.

"Are you afraid they'll come after you again?"

Daniel nodded, finally raising his head to look at her, unable to lie to her. "Dad's team got the kidnappers but they don't know if they were working for anyone else. I keep hearing things, that there's someth—someone in the house. And before, when I didn't hear you, I thought, for a minute, they had come and taken you."

"Mhuirnin. I hate to have to say this, but I think you should make an appointment to talk to Doctor Kayton again."

The tears hit him suddenly, just as he was nodding his reluctant agreement. His grandma was out of her chair in a flash and had him wrapped in her arms, and he cried tears of relief and embarrassment.

"I want you to think about what I'm going to tell you," his grandmother said as she held him close. "Do you really, honestly think, if there was any danger whatsoever of you being taken away again, that your father would have left you here, alone, in this house, with only an old woman to keep you safe?"

"You're not old," he sniffled. The tears were making his head ache more and he was just plain miserable and scared.

"But am I right?"

Her words made sense. Lots of sense. But what if his dad was wrong and they were still after him?

"The thing they wanted you to get. You said it was broken?"

"Yeah." He took a shaky breath as she let him go.

"So why would anyone come back for you, huh? The ultra-super-duper secret thingie they wanted isn't of any use to them, and what are the odds they'll find something else only you can figure out?"

"I know that." Just like a kid really knew there was no such thing as the boogeyman. But the moment it was lights out, that conviction was out the door when all the irrational fears came rushing back. He went back to fiddling with the hangnail, trying to catch the piece of torn skin with his fingernails.

"Did you talk to your father about this?"

"No." His discussion this morning with his dad didn't really count. Frustrated, Daniel pulled suddenly on his hangnail and the sharp pain was distracting enough that he kept from looking up at his grandmother as he stuck the now bleeding finger into his mouth.

His grandmother ran her fingers over his hair, gave him a quick kiss on top of his head, and headed for the sink. She poured water into a kettle, sighing softly. "Want some tea?"

Before he could answer, the doorbell rang. Daniel stood nervously, then sat as his grandma waved him back down. He dropped his arms onto the table and rested his head on them as he listened to her walk to the door.

"Hi, Grandma Rose."

"Dria. Come on in."

Daniel straightened so suddenly, his neck twinged as well as his side.

"I tried to call, but Daniel's not answering his phone. I just wanted to say hi."

"He's in the kitchen."

There were twin metallic ripping sounds as she unzipped her boots, and then footsteps as Alexandria came into the kitchen. She stopped in the entrance, looking at Daniel uncertainly.

"Take your coat off, sweetheart." His grandma squeezed past Alexandria and took down three cups.

"Hi." Daniel gave her a quick smile, and suddenly the apprehension in Alexandria's eyes faded and she smiled back.

"I didn't hear from you since you texted me during lunch period. I was a little worried." She sat down next to Daniel after she hung her coat on the back of the chair.

"I'm sorry. I got caught up in homework and didn't think to check my messages."

Daniel and Alexandria spent the next hour talking about school, both of them devouring homemade brownies. They were shooed into Daniel's room when his grandma began preparing supper. And when Alexandria insisted he lie down when he tried to find a comfortable position to sit on his bed, he didn't protest.


"Hi, Mom. Hi, Daniel." Jack shut the door behind him, toed off his boots, hung his jacket up in the closet and followed his nose into the kitchen. His mother was standing at the stove, stirring something in a pot from which the delicious odors were emanating from.

"Dria visiting?" Jack asked, eyeing the bright pink jacket hanging from a kitchen chair.

"She's just what the doctor ordered." His mom replaced the cover on the pot and stopped long enough so Jack could plant a kiss on her cheek. "He spent the day working on his studies. Barely took the time to eat, he was working so hard. Then suddenly about an hour ago, he comes running upstairs in a panic."

"Did he have a nightmare?"

"No. He said he—" His mom broke off as footsteps sounded in the hall. A moment later, Dria walked into the kitchen, smiling up at Jack as she reached for her jacket. "Hi, Colonel Jack."

"Hello, Dria. Leaving already?"

"Daniel's sleeping." She pulled the jacket on, then flicked her mass of hair out with one hand. "Is he really okay?" She stood there and looked at him, her teeth worrying her bottom lip.

"He's really okay." Jack moved closer to her and put a hand on her shoulder. "Any reason why you're worried?"

Dria shrugged. "He just seems really tired."

Jack's mom moved around the table and took Dria's hand. "He spent the whole day working on schoolwork and he didn't take a nap. Now I know it sounds childish but—"

"I know. He's recuperating. My mom had surgery two years ago and spent a lot of time sleeping the first week or so." She gave them both a relieved smile. "Okay. I feel better now. I was just worried because he just sort of nodded off in mid-sentence." She reached into her jacket pocket and took out her cell phone.

"Give me a second. I'll give you a lift home," Jack said before she could call home.

"You don't have to. My mom said she'd come and get me."

"It's not a problem. Supper's not ready yet and it looks like we may be eating late anyways, since Daniel's doing the Sleeping Beauty routine." Jack grabbed his jacket, then tiptoed to Daniel's room to peek inside while Dria put her boots on.

Daniel was lying on his side, one arm curled under his cheek, the other hanging over the side of the bed. He went inside, pulled the edge of the comforter over to cover him, and took a moment to push aside his hair. He left the room, satisfied that Daniel wasn't feverish.

"Got everything?" He shoved his feet into his boots, and when Dria nodded, waved to his mom. "I'll be back soon."


Twenty minutes later, Jack came into the kitchen in time to take the plates from his mother's hands and began to set the table. "You started saying something earlier, Ma?"

Busy removing cutlery from the drawer, his mom nodded. "He was pretty panicked and thought someone had come and kidnapped me."

Jack paused, plate in hand. "Was he dreaming?"

"I don't think so." His mother dropped the cutlery on the table with a loud clatter. "He needs help, Jonathan."

"I know." Jack put down the last plate and sighed as he began separating knives from spoons. "I'll make an appointment in the morning."

"I think you need to talk to him."

Jack nodded as he placed the cutlery next to the plates. "I was hoping after last night he'd come to me to talk things over. You'd think he'd have learned his lesson after last year—"

"I think he might be embarrassed over his fears. He's too old to be scared of the dark but he's had to deal with things that most adults wouldn't experience, let alone a child. That has to be affecting him on some level."

"We were so worried about his physical well being, I guess we thought we had time for him to process things..." Jack accepted the feelings of guilt; this was something they should have seen coming.

"He's a strong boy."

"Yes, he is." His friend Daniel had been one of the strongest people he'd ever known. His son was showing signs of being just as resilient; Jack just wanted to make sure he grew up without the trials and tribulations his friend had. Unfortunately the past year seemed to be trying to make up for the last carefree years.

"Supper's ready. Should we wait for him to wake up?"

"Not unless you want to eat supper around midnight." Jack gave his mom a gentle smile. "I'll go wake him up."

As tired as Daniel must have been, he woke up to Jack's gentle shaking. "Is it morning already?" Squinting towards the window, Daniel yawned and stretched.

"You're about twelve hours early. C'mon, Grandma's waiting. Supper's ready."

"Supper?" Daniel blinked up at Jack in confusion, and Jack couldn't help laughing.

"Come on, Sleepyhead. Let's get some food in you so you can get a good night's sleep." Heading back to the kitchen, he heard Daniel's grumbles and yawns as he got up. By the time Daniel joined them, he'd washed his face, the edges of his hair damp and curling in spots. The water splashing hadn't faded the pillow creases on his cheek, though.

"Smells wonderful, Grandma," Daniel said, sniffing appreciatively as Rose placed a bowl of stew in front of him. He grabbed a piece of bread from the breadbasket.

Jack seconded the sentiments as he accepted a bowl from her. He'd eaten a single spoonful when Daniel paused in the midst of slathering a piece of bread and looked around the kitchen.


"Your father drove her home."

Eyes closed, Daniel raised his head towards the ceiling. He sighed loudly. "I'm such an ass."

"She understands." Jack blew on a piece of meat to cool it off.

"I fell asleep. We were talking and I fell asleep." Daniel tossed the bread onto the table in disgust. "I can't even imagine what she thinks about me."

"She was worried about you," his mom said as she put her spoon down.

"But I fell asleep."

"So? It's not the end of the world. She knows you're still healing and that you need rest." Jack tapped the spoon twice against his bowl. "And you need to eat to get your strength back."

Almost reluctantly, Daniel picked up the piece of bread and dipped the end of it into the stew. He took a cautious nibble, then a larger bite, and a moment later, dug into his meal as if he hadn't eaten in a week. Jack and his mom exchanged amused looks, and by the time Jack had finished half his bowlful, Daniel had already risen and helped himself to seconds. At this rate, Daniel's strength would be back before morning. If he didn't choke on his food first.


When the siren went off indicating the end of the second period in the hockey game, Jack raised his arms and stretched in the recliner. Daniel was still tapping away at his laptop; half-lying on the couch with the computer resting on a padded tray, Daniel had the best of both worlds. Jack could hear the occasional ping of the Instant Messenger which Daniel used to chat with his friends. During power plays or fights, the tapping ceased and Jack occasionally glanced at his son, seeing his keen interest in the game taking him momentarily away from his schoolwork.

During the intermission, however, the tapping began to lessen, and loud yawns began to punctuate the players' interviews on screen.

"Why don't you go to bed?" Jack asked, watching Daniel carefully for his reaction. Not wanting a repeat of last night, Jack was going to make sure his son felt safe enough to sleep.

"Yeah." The word was lost in yet another yawn. Pushing back a handful of loose hair, Daniel powered down his laptop and eased it onto the coffee table. Jack had expected him to go upstairs but instead Daniel pulled himself lower on the couch until he was lying flat, and turned his head just enough so he could see the television.

By the time the third period began, Daniel was fast asleep.


Jack hated to wake Daniel up again but he wasn't about to leave him down here alone, not tonight. He got his groggy, half-asleep son up the stairs and into the bathroom. By the time Jack had brushed his teeth, Daniel was standing just inside his bedroom door, hands wrapped around his midriff, waiting uncertainly.

"What'cha waiting for?" Jack indicated his bed. "Hop in."

Daniel didn't move, but he did look at the bed longingly.

"Icky. I'm not sure exactly what's going on inside that head of yours, but I think it's time we give Liz Kayton a call. What do you think?"

Daniel relaxed enough to raise a hand and stick his fingers under his glasses, rubbing his eyes. "If you say so." He lowered his hand and idly rubbed his bicep. It didn't take a genius to see what Daniel was subconsciously searching for. The GPS was too tiny to actually feel but Jack was pretty sure the fresh incision beneath his fingers was a constant reminder of what was under his skin.

"Look." Jack left the bed and moved next to Daniel, leaning on the opposite doorjamb. "Carter and McKay have fixed those things in such a way that they can't be used against us again."

"I know." Daniel stopped poking at his arm and seemed to find the patterns in the wood floor fascinating.

"And we got the Goa'uld that your kidnappers wanted. So they won't be coming back for you again." Jack wasn't about to mention to Daniel that it had been pure luck and greed on Maybourne's part that had led them to finding him.

Daniel looked up at him quickly; a flash of hope filled Daniel's face, only to disappear when his eyes sought the floor again.

"This life of ours, it's not exactly your normal domestic family—"

Daniel's reply was a snort accompanied by a quick, wry grin.

"But I've done everything I could to try and keep you safe. That thing in your arm is just one part of it. That it backfired... I could tell you that it won't ever happen again, but that would be just empty platitudes. You're too old to fall for those lies so I'm laying everything on the table."

A short nod.

"If anything ever does happen to you, I want you to know that I'll move heaven and earth to find you. As will Carter and Teal'c. And Hammond."

"I know, Dad. You found me once and I think I have a pretty good idea how hard that was."

"There's another option." The idea suddenly popped into his head; something he hadn't contemplated in over eight years. "I could always leave the SGC—"

"No!" Daniel surged forward, his face earnest. "No. I know how important your work is. I understand that. They need you. And I have a feeling, that even if you had retired, that wouldn't have stopped them from coming and kidnapping me."

"Smart kid." Daniel was close enough that Jack simply was able to reach out and rest his arm along Daniel's shoulders. "So, what do you say? Bed?"

This time he needed no prompting as Daniel walked with him to the bed. He waited until they were both under the covers and then turned the light off.

Daniel shifted around a few times, settled, and within minutes was snoring softly.

"Sleep well," Jack whispered as he turned onto his side.


Before Jack could put the key into the lock, his front door opened and he had to hurriedly step aside, juggling bags of Chinese food as Corey, Nate, Li, Cassie and Dria brushed by him.

"Hi, Uncle Jack. Bye Uncle Jack." Cassie did a half-pirouette, managing to give Jack a kiss on the cheek as she hurried down the stairs.

"Bye, Colonel Jack," Dria called as she ran down the stairs, hurrying towards her mother's van. Nate and Li followed her into the van while Cassie headed for her Jeep. Car doors slammed, motors started up, and Jack finally managed to free a hand to wave into the dark, not even sure if any of the kids were looking his way. With a smile, he stepped into the house, calling out to his mother and son.

"Did you remember to get the coconut shrimp?" Daniel asked as he grabbed the bags from Jack. "And egg rolls? Did you get extra egg rolls?"

"Yes, and yes." Jack shucked his outer clothes, his stomach growling in anticipation of the food. He'd had to deal with the smells coming from inside the bag for the past fifteen minutes, and had been tempted to snatch one of Daniel's extra egg rolls just to shut his stomach up.

Jack stood a moment in the kitchen doorway, watching Daniel eagerly remove the containers from the bag and place them on the table while his mom placed cans of soda on the table. He watched Daniel for a moment, seeing his son moving with relative ease, seemingly relaxed with none of last night's anxiety.

His mom looked at him quizzically and Jack smiled, pushing away from the entrance and taking his seat. He was tired; eating and listening to Daniel talk about his friends' visit was enough for the moment.

"And Corey's dad's getting his cast taken off in another two weeks. Corey can't wait because he's had to do all the work in the house and helping Gina with the shopping and he's hardly had any time to play his video games." Daniel shoveled some food into his mouth, chewed, and began talking again. "Dria said that Steve McCarthy in her Physics class wants to ask Cassie out on a date—"

"Isn't Cassie seeing Dominic?" Rose took a sip of her soda.

"Yeah." Daniel grinned as he took a large bite of egg roll. "But they're having some problems. Cassie didn't know Steve had a crush on her and now she's gone all girly on us." Rolling his eyes, Daniel grabbed a container and forked a few pieces of coconut shrimp onto his already over laden plate. "It was funny to see."

Jack let Daniel's exuberance wash over him as he ate, his mind still half on work. The other half that had spent the day worrying about Daniel relaxed as his son acted like his normal self. He began doubting his decision and wondered if he'd acted in haste, but after remembering Daniel's uneasiness last night, figured it wouldn't hurt to have a medical opinion confirm Daniel was fine.

It was near the end of the meal when Jack found an opportunity to break the news; Daniel was gnawing on a sparerib, too busy eating to talk.

"I made an appointment with Liz Kayton for you on Thursday."

Daniel froze, sparerib caught between his teeth. He lowered the bone to the plate, eyes flashing angrily as he wiped a smear of oil from his mouth with a napkin.

"I don't need to see Liz."

"I thought we agreed last night that it was for the best."

"That was then. I'm fine now."

"Let's see what the doctor says—"

"I don't have to see Liz. You literally said there was nothing we could do about our situation so sitting around and worrying about it isn't going to do any good. I'm dealing with it."

"Getting up at the crack of dawn with me two mornings in a row when you had the chance to sleep in, does not sound like you're dealing with it."

"So now I need a shrink because I want to spend some time with my father in the morning."

"Stop bullshitting me, Daniel."

"Fine. If you'll excuse me, I'm tired." Shoving away angrily from the table, Daniel's exit was marred when he obviously moved too quickly and froze for a second before stomping out of the kitchen.

"Well, that went well."

His mother, who'd sat quietly throughout their argument, simply cleared her throat, playing around with the remainder of her food. Despite his now-churning stomach, Jack finished what was on his plate before rising and putting the leftovers into the fridge. He could feel his mom's eyes boring into his back. Finally he couldn't take it anymore and he turned on her and snapped, "What?"

"Daniel had a good day today. He had no panic attacks or nightmares; he had a few hours of fun with his friends. Of course he's upset because he has to go for more counseling." She rose and began scraping the remains of their meals into the garbage.

Jack sighed as he forced a plastic cover on top of a sticky container. "So I have the choice of seeing my son suffer or getting the silent treatment?"

"Do you think he's truly over his fears?"

A five-year-old boy cowering at the foot of Jack's bed after a nightmare was different from a fourteen-year-old boy who couldn't sleep in his own bedroom. "No."

"Then let him come to grips with this himself. He'll probably be more amenable to the situation the next time he gets a panic attack."

Balancing wobbly containers from the table to the fridge, Jack agreed with his mom. "I think even if he were over that fear, talking with Liz is a good thing. Those days were hard on him; I'm sure there are a few things he's holding back." The violence that had occurred within the temple being one thing, Daniel's reaction to Jack's command was another.

"He's a teenager." She compounded that statement by swiping a damp dishcloth over the kitchen table. "What do you expect?"

"He's Daniel. Even ten years ago, getting him to talk about his problems was like pulling teeth. Unless it was about the plight of some poor, oppressed people in which case he wouldn't shut up."

"Always the sensitive soul." His mom tossed the dishcloth into the sink and cupped Jack's cheek with a cold, damp hand. "Just like his father." She gave him a kiss on the cheek and patted his cheek tenderly. "Let me go say goodnight to the boy and then you can see me out."

"Good luck in getting more than a grunt out of him," Jack tossed after her.


Jack had expected Daniel to make an appearance in his bedroom before he turned off the light. He had actually left the light on a good twenty minutes longer, pretending to read, waiting for Daniel. Finally he gave up; maybe Daniel was right. Maybe he was over this.

Then he heard Daniel's door open; the slight jingle of the doorknob and the almost-creak of the hinges were barely audible unless one knew to listen for it. He didn't move, listening intently as the rustle of clothes and soft footsteps came his way. He could hear Daniel breathing in the doorway; fast and breathy with an occasional long inspiration which Jack suspected was Daniel's attempt to calm down.

"Hop in before you freeze." Jack stretched his arm and pulled the comforter and sheets back. When Daniel didn't move, Jack patted the bed. "Daniel..."

He moved fast, sliding around the corner of the bed that he slipped and bumped the mattress with his leg. Then he was clambering in next to Jack, and shuddered so violently the bed shook. He turned onto his side, his back to Jack, the covers pulled up to his chin.

"You okay?"


Jack reached out and touched Daniel's tense back. The material of his clothes was damp with sweat. Fine tremors coursed through Daniel and Jack realized how hard it had been for his son to hold himself together.

Daniel turned suddenly, and Jack moved his hand. He rolled forward so his face was only a few inches away from Jack's. "I thought I was over this."

He'd tied his hair back, but a long strand fell across his cheek; a dark shadow against pale skin. Jack plucked the strand and moved it so it hung behind Daniel's ear. "I know."

"I keep hearing things when I go to bed. Things I know aren't there."

"It could be flashbacks—"

"No. It's... I know it's a car spinning on ice outside, but instead I hear the noise that thing made when it came out of the water." Daniel shuddered again. "Dad. It did that once before..."

"Make that screeching sound?"

"No. Jump out of the water. I managed to shut the door just before it reached me."

Jack felt a cold sweat envelope his body. "The first time you found that room?"


"When you opened the urn?" His mouth didn't seem to be working right; his tongue was dry, his jaw frozen.

"I didn't know what was inside. It's a little fuzzy. I remember finding the urn and opening it, and not being able to make anything out. I put it on the edge of the fountain and looked around the room some more. I heard a splash, turned around and there was nothing there. A little while later, I was passing the door, and it came at me."

"And you left the temple at that point?"

Daniel nodded. Jack heard him sob once. His voice was thick with unshed tears when he spoke again. "It nearly got me, didn't it? I remember what those things do to people. What it did to Sha're, and Skaara." Daniel's tongue tripped on his wife's name. "I could have been like them. Evil."

"But you weren't. You know, as much as all the shit you've gone through lately, there's one thing you have to remember."

Daniel exhaled shakily. "What?"

"That I would have done everything to get you back, and get that snake out of you. Just like I promised you ten years ago. Do you remember? That I'd help you free Skaara and Sha're?"

Daniel nodded again, one hand coming out from beneath the blankets to brush at his eyes.

"And we did. Both of them are living happily on Abydos now."

"They... They are?" Daniel sniffled and wiped at his eyes again.

"Last time we spoke to Kasuf, he told us both his kids are fine."

"You never told me."

"Until a year ago, telling you wouldn't have meant a thing to you."

"You could have told me after I got the memories."

"You never asked about them." Jack wasn't about to bring up the fact that Daniel, his adult friend Daniel, had been married to the woman. Nope, not going there. He hoped his son could grow into his sexuality like a normal teenager rather than remember dreams of adult married bliss. No use trying to make him mature that fast.

"So... I'm seeing Liz..."

"Day after tomorrow."

"Okay." Inhaling through partly blocked sinuses, Daniel sighed softly. "Thank you. I guess you were right after all."

"I won't admit that I was hoping you were over this, too. Your Grandma said you had a good day. Is that true?"

Daniel sighed again. "That's why I thought I was better."

"It's a start. Keep that in mind."

"Okay." Daniel yawned, exhaling loudly into Jack's face. "Dad—"

"Go to sleep, Daniel."

"Love you, Dad." Daniel snuggled into the pillow, muffling a second yawn with it.


Daniel, legs spread out in front of him, slouched in the plastic seat, his lower back not even coming close to touching the back of the chair. Doctor Liz Kayton was running late and Daniel's earlier nervousness had morphed into impatient churlishness the longer the clocked ticked past their appointed hour. Finally he'd stopped grumbling and sat in sulking silence for the last twenty minutes.

It was obvious they were the last patients of the day. And considering how Doctor Kayton had taken them at the last minute, in Jack's opinion, waiting wasn't that much of an inconvenience.

Nearly fifty minutes late, Liz opened her door and smiled at them.

"I'm so sorry. I had to return a few phone calls before the offices closed and then my daughter called with a small crisis." She motioned Daniel inside. "I'm all yours now."

Daniel stood but didn't move towards her. "It'd be nice if you could give priority to the paying customers."

Liz stood there, the smile frozen on her face while Jack swore as he scrambled to his feet. He grabbed Daniel's arm, holding back the urge to shake his son. "What the hell's gotten into you?"

"Nothing. I'm going home."

"You're not going anywhere until you've apologized—"

"Why? She's the one who's made us wait all this time. How is that my fault? I hate waiting. I didn't want to come here. You dragged me here, and I'm not even important enough to Liz that she made an effort to be on time."

"She squeezed us into her schedule—"

"So what? If she'd kept to her schedule, I'd be walking out of here right about now. I hate having to wait."

Daniel had been standing still, yelling at both of them. Now he suddenly exploded, a frenzied ball of energy pacing back and forth in the waiting room.

"Just like I had to I wait for you to come and find me on that planet. You keep saying no matter what happens, you'll come for me. You'll find me. You'll move heaven and earth so you can save me. But what happens to me in the meantime, huh, Dad? I'm waiting. I waited on that planet. I kept hoping and praying and I was sick and scared and hurting and I wanted to go home and I kept waiting and waiting. And then you found me. And did we go home? No. We had to wait. And wait. Wait for Janet to come. Wait to get rescued. And then they came and we had to hide. And wait. Again. And I was still scared and sick and even though you'd found me we weren't safe yet.

"And even then we still didn't get to go home. How long did we wait on that planet, huh? None of our allies gave a shit about me. Nobody bothered sending a ship to rescue me. Sure, Jacob came but that probably was because Sam was out there. How long before we got rescued, Dad? How long did we have to wait?

"You wouldn't believe me about that room. How long did I have to wait until you did something about my dreams? And what did that get me? Now I can't even sleep in my own bed."

Jack tried to speak, embarrassed and angry, wanting to interrupt Daniel's rant, but Liz caught his eye and shook her head. So Jack pressed his lips together and watched his son's nervous energy propel him back and forth across the room, rehashing those days over and over again, spouting hurtful words.

He'd never realized, never suspected, how much anguish Daniel had been holding inside. He should have known, should have done something earlier. Should have made the effort to talk to Daniel as soon as they'd gotten home, should have realized how such an ordeal would have affected him.

Ten minutes; fifteen minutes; twenty minutes – the rant continued. Liz simply leaned against the doorframe, watching him, saying nothing, her face neutral. Occasionally she'd meet Jack's gaze, and her expression wouldn't change.

It took Daniel thirty minutes before his steps began to slow, no longer yelling, his voice hoarse. He came to a stop, his back to them, breathing hard, a hand pressed against his side, dropping his chin to his chest.

"Are you done being angry?" Liz said after a minute of silence.

"No." Daniel's voice was soft and almost inaudible. His shoulders slumped so that he looked defeated. Liz stepped into the waiting room, moving till she stood before him. "So, tell me why you're so angry."

Daniel stopped pressing against his side and brought his hands around his midriff.

"I hate this."

"Being angry at your father?"

"No!" Daniel's head popped up and he shot his father a quick, frantic look. "I'm not mad at Dad."

"Really?" Liz crossed her arms, her attitude one of expectation. "Who're you angry at, then?"


"Ah. And can you tell me why?"

"I... I'm afraid." Daniel's head went down again.

"Afraid of what?"

"That it'll happen again. That this time, my dad won't be able to find me—"

"Daniel," Jack said quickly. "You know that I'll—"

"That time, yes. Next time I may not be so lucky." His voice shook with bridled emotions. "No." He chopped a hand through the air. "That's not true. I'm not helpless. I know I would have made it home if the DHD had worked. I've done things and been places that most people can't even dream about. I have skills most kids my age don't. There's no reason for me to be panicking over every little sound in the house."

"So, what can you suggest you can do, to empower yourself over these fears?" Liz's voice was gentle.

"If I knew, I wouldn't be here."

"How about we try something?"

Daniel looked up at her, his face so full of hope, it tore Jack's heart.

"Your panic attacks begin once you're alone. Especially at night, right?"

Daniel nodded. "Once dad's gone to bed and I know he's going to be asleep and I'll be alone."

"So how about you stay in your room for, say, thirty minutes, by yourself, before you go join your father."

"Thirty..." Daniel's face blanched.

"Do you think you can do that?"

"Thirty minutes? By myself?"

"If that sounds too difficult, let's make it fifteen minutes. And then you go join your father," Liz repeated.

"I can do that." Daniel's voice wasn't convincing.

"And then every night, add another five minutes."

"So tomorrow night, I'll stay by myself for twenty minutes?"

"That's right." Liz moved to her receptionist's desk and pulled out the appointment book "So when you come see me again, you'll have hopefully worked your way to forty-five minutes."

"What if I can't?" Daniel asked in a small voice.

"Then you try again the next night," Liz replied, turning the pages and stopping to write. "Is that all right with you, Colonel?"

"It's fine." Jack finally moved from where he'd stood throughout the hour and cupped his fingers around Daniel's nape. Daniel leaned his shoulder against Jack, seeming to need physical reassurance.

"Can we go home now?"

Jack glanced at Kayton, who nodded with a gentle smile.

"Home it is." He'd expected Daniel to bolt for the door but he only moved when Jack took a step, staying in contact with him. Jack put his arm around Daniel's shoulder, letting it rest there companionably while they waited for the elevator.


Everyone erupted into laughter at his dad's joke; even Teal'c sported a smile at the idiocy of the situation. Daniel forced his mouth into a grin, his lips and cheeks feeling numb and wooden. When the conversation changed topic, he stared out the living room window, watching the reflection of the fire burning in the fireplace.

He'd been fine all day, enjoying Sam and Teal'c's company as well as his grandmother's. But now that supper was over and the evening was coming to an end, anxiety was creeping over him. He'd begun dreading evenings. And keeping an air of normalcy until bedtime was beginning to wear on him. He'd tried Liz's suggestion, working his way from fifteen to thirty-five minutes. But the added stress was beginning to tell; he wasn't sleeping well even in the comfort of his dad's bedroom. His stomach churned at suppertime and he had little appetite. He still had two more nights before going back to see Liz; he couldn't see how forcing this was helping. He felt worse now than before he'd gone to see her.

He heard dishes clanking and realized, with a start, that everyone had gotten up and gone into the kitchen. Except for Sam, who was leaning forward in the chair across from him, forearms resting on her knees, watching him.

She gave him a quick smile. "You looked deep in thought."

"Not really." Feeling uncomfortable, Daniel fidgeted on the couch. "I just wish winter were over so it wouldn't be so gloomy and dark all the time."

"Yeah. It's dark when I leave for work and dark when I come home. Sometimes the only daylight I see is offworld." She said the last word in a whisper. "You must be finding it hard, stuck in the house."

Daniel shrugged. That was the least of his problems. But actually the thought of going out skating or skiing, or just hanging around the schoolyard, seemed like a lifetime ago.

"Your dad mentioned you were seeing Doctor Kayton."

Daniel shrugged again. "Not a surprise, is it?"

"Actually, no. I'm glad you're seeing her. You went through quite an ordeal. It's hard sometimes for any of us to come to grips with things, even after all these years."

Daniel leaned forward, mimicking her posture, even though the position was uncomfortable, pulling at his side. "Sam, how do you do it?"

She raised an eyebrow in confusion.

"Go through the Stargate. Live with the danger. Kill people."

Sam took a deep breath and closed her eyes. "This may sound unfeeling and cruel, but you eventually become desensitized to the danger, to the deaths. We have to keep a fine line between disassociating yourself and remembering why we're doing this. You... You used to be our conscience." Her smile was sad as she looked at him. "Every time I go out there, every time we have a situation, I try to think, what would you have done? What would you have thought?"

"Me?" Daniel was confused. Did she miss his other self that much?

"You taught me so much, in those two years. Your compassion, your empathy for others. You and your father went head to head quite a few times over missions—"

"Yeah..." Arguments and yelling and screaming and oh, there was even a tantrum or two mixed up in his memories. "I remember."

"I've learned to not react to a situation and actually think it out first. Thanks to you."

"Yeah. Go me. Too bad this version is nothing like the old me was—"

"But you are." Sam's smile was back, her eyes wide and earnest. "Do you know what the biggest danger to you was when you were kidnapped?"

"The appendicitis?"

Sam nodded. "Yes, but not counting that."

Daniel thought a moment. "Freezing and starving to death?"

"No. It was the Goa'uld."

"Yeah, because I was stupid enough to open the urn."

"But your kidnappers probably counted on you to do that."

Daniel frowned. "They wanted me taken by Sekhmet?"

"I think so. My theory is that this way they could come back and offer her an alliance. She was out of favor from the System Lords, right? She'd have to work hard at getting an army. Years. But with the rogue NID backing her up, providing intel, she could move up in the ranks pretty fast."

Daniel shuddered. He hated the memory of the Goa'uld flying straight at him.

"And you didn't play into their hands. You escaped. Twice," she said, her nose wrinkling up impishly as her smile turned into a grin.

"So the door... They could have opened it at any time? Gotten inside to get the urn?"

"No, I don't think so. They needed you to open the door. But think about it. The Goa'uld would have access to all your knowledge, old and present. And by using you, they'd have struck a blow to the SGC itself. And to SG-1. So they would've killed two birds with one stone; get the door opened so they could get their hands on the Goa'uld while it was in stasis and give you over as host later, or have you taken over then and there."


"But see? To them, you were the proverbial sitting duck. A child. Helpless. Easily overcome, hypnotized, manipulated. And you still managed to open the door when nobody else could, avoid the Goa'uld, wait for rescue, and bring us back so we could deal with it. Trust me. The newer version is just as good as the old version and keeps on getting better."

Daniel couldn't help smiling and this time, it felt good.


Daniel's gaze bounced from the clock to the closed bedroom door. Six minutes left. Six interminable minutes left, bringing the time up to thirty-five minutes tonight. He began shivering and sweating at the same time. He stank – the fear seemed to ooze from his pores and contaminated his sweat.

His bedroom, once his haven, was quickly becoming a place of fear and dread. He knew that if he couldn't overcome this, there would soon come a time when wouldn't be able to enter this room without feeling discomfort.

He tried thinking back on Sam's words, telling himself that he hadn't been a victim, that he had outwitted his captors, albeit unwittingly.

Five more minutes.

He drew his legs more tightly against his body, against the possibility of some imagined Goa'uld beamed under his bed from a ship in planetary orbit. Stupid as it sounded, the fear of stepping down off the bed was real. There. See? It was slithering under his bed, moving closer to the edge. If Daniel looked down, he'd probably see the edge of its tail sticking out.

He stared at the digital readout, watching the numbers climb down to zero, and start up again.

Four minutes left.

Daniel jumped and turned his head to stare at the closet door, a soft rustle having caught his attention. He gasped for breath, his muscles so tight he could hardly pull air into his lungs. He waited, eyes glued to the door handle, expecting to see it turn any second. Then a thought hit him. What if this was a decoy, to take his attention away from the Goa'uld under his bed?

He scanned the edge of the bed, ready to jump in the opposite direction. His attention darted from mattress to door, from door to mattress. A desperate glance towards the clock showed that less than thirty seconds had elapsed.

He wasn't going to make it.

He tensed, ready to jump off the bed and make a running start towards the door. His dad was out there, waiting for him, probably sitting up in bed doing a crossword puzzle. He'd understand, know why Daniel hadn't been able to make it the full thirty-five minutes. He began to move, was actually starting to spring off the bed, when a part of him resisted.


He sat back on the bed, fear starting to turn to anger.

"No," he said, more loudly. "This is ridiculous."

Moving before the anger and determination left him, he slipped off the bed, fell to his knees, and pulled the blankets away, exposing the emptiness beneath. He ducked his head down and glanced quickly, saw nothing, took a deep breath and dove down again, this time staying there and doing a thorough visual check.

No Goa'uld.

Holding back the urge to stick his tongue at his imaginary foe, Daniel stood, moving stiffly on still too-taut muscles. He grabbed the doorknob of his closet, took a deep breath, and opened the door. He batted his clothes aside, assuring himself that no trespasser lurked inside.

The near-paralyzing fear had left him, but he was still shivering in reaction. He stomped back to his bed and was surprised that the allotted time had passed, and he'd spent an extra minute and a half in his room.

The anxiety was still there, however. He took a moment to remove clean pajamas, opened the door, slapped the light shut, and deliberately forced himself to walk at a normal pace to his dad's bedroom, despite the urge to run.

His father took in the clothes he held in his hand and looked at him quizzically.

"Shower," Daniel called over his shoulder, hurrying into his dad's en suite. He showered quickly, dried off even more quickly and put his pajama bottoms on. He walked into the bedroom trying to pull the pajama top over damp skin, having to stop at the foot of the bed a moment to struggle with the material. He slid into the bed, feeling cold despite the heat of the water. Curling into a tight ball, he wished he could stop shivering. His dad put his puzzle away, turned off the light and moved onto his side.

"Night, Icky."

"Night, Dad."

They were back to back, the heat of his dad's skin penetrating through his pajamas, a comforting touch. Within minutes he stopped shivering. A little while later, he was able to relax enough that he could uncurl himself. His side twanged as he moved and he ran fingers over it, trying to quell the sudden throbbing.

"Want to talk about it?"

Soft as the words were uttered, his dad's voice caused him to jump.

"Not really."

"I wish there was something I could do to help."

So did Daniel. "You are," he finally said.


An hour later, Daniel still wasn't sleeping. Neither was his dad. Both of them lay there, back to back, unmoving, probably afraid to disturb the other. Or at least in Daniel's case, alerting the other to the fact that each wasn't asleep.

He was stiff, trying to pretend he was sleeping. He shifted, moved onto his back, and stretched his legs out. Ahh, better.

His breathing eased, slowed, deepened. He began to drift, aware at one point that his dad had shifted also. Sam's words came to mind, about desensitizing herself from her feelings. Teal'c had said something similar back on the planet, about his dad disconnecting his emotions. He wondered idly if that was how his dad coped with everything when he was on a mission.

A vague memory of his dad arguing with his adult self proved his dad was full of emotions, even when off world. He smiled and sighed sleepily.

Daniel was walking down the temple corridors, heading for the lure of sunlight at the far end. His dad walked next to him, grim faced, gun held at the ready. Daniel glanced at his father, noting his eyes shifting constantly, turning every few seconds to look behind them.

They left the corridors and stepped outside into the spring day. A warm breeze caressed Daniel's face, teasing a few tendrils of hair that had escaped his ponytail. He saw someone walking towards him through the multitudes of wildflowers in the meadow opposite them.

He smiled when he realized it was Alexandria. Time and space changed – he felt great, relaxed. The breeze and the motion of her walk swung her hair seductively from side to side in surreal slow motion. He stepped towards her, moving equally slowly, smelling the perfume of the flowers.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his dad hurry past him, his gun raised. "Get back, Daniel!" The gunfire was deafening, but not quite as loud as Alexandria's scream. She fell to the ground, her dress soaked in blood. She turned her head and raised a hand imploringly towards him. He started to run to her, only to have his father grab his arm.

"No!" His scream was rent from him, pulling all his breath from his body. He couldn't breathe.

"Stay back. It's too dangerous." Coldly, his father pushed him away and walked towards Alexandria, the gun pointed at her head.

Speechless, Daniel could only stand there. Alexandria's brown eyes blinked, then glowed brightly just before the life faded from them.


Gasping, Daniel found himself sitting up in bed. Cold air pressed against his sweat-damp pajamas, the goose bumps bringing him to full wakefulness.

"Hey." A light clicked on.

Daniel blinked against the sudden illumination. His dad rolled towards him, putting a hand on his lower back.

"You okay?"

"Dream," Daniel gasped. He stared down at his dad, seeing only concern and not the single-minded cold-bloodedness of his dad, the Colonel.

"Sounded like a doozy."

"Yeah." He eased himself back down onto his back, mindful of his incision. "Alexandria was a Goa'uld, and you killed her."

"Definitely a doozy."

Closing his eyes, Daniel nodded. The dream images came back to him, but it wasn't Alexandria's bloody body that he saw; it was his father's hard face.


"You look tired." Janet, busily poking at Daniel's abdomen, stopped and stared at his face.

He shrugged, barely meeting her gaze. "Dad dragged me out of the house at an ungodly early hour to come here."

"The shadows under your eyes point to a whole lot more than getting up early one morning. Are you having problems sleeping?" She finished her examination and stepped aside, snapping off the latex gloves.

"A little," Daniel half-lied as he sat up, pushing sideways to ease the burden on his healing abdomen. "I've been having a few nightmares. Liz said that was to be expected," he added quickly so he could hide the fact that he really truly slept during the time his father left for work and when his grandmother deemed he'd slept in enough an hour or two later. He slid off the bed and zipped up his pants, pulling his jersey over his belt. "So?"

"Two more weeks."

"I feel fine now," he said with false enthusiasm, hoping against hope she'd relent and let him go to school. Maybe with a change of scenery, he'd be able to deal with the nighttime fears.

"How's the cough?"

"Pretty much gone."

"That's good. You're doing great; keep doing what you've been doing. No heavy lifting, plenty of rest. Try and get more sleep." The last was said gently. "I could give you something to help you sleep; it might help you from waking up with the nightmares."

Daniel bit his lip; he was tempted but knew it wouldn't help with his problem and was afraid it might reawaken the addiction thing. "Thanks, but it's not that bad."

"How are your sessions with Liz coming along?"

"Good." They started walking slowly out of the infirmary, heading towards the exit. He'd worked up to sitting in his room alone for an hour; and while the fear was still there, it wasn't as all consuming as it had been previously. But the anxiety was just enough to keep him from sleeping, even with his father lying in bed next to him.

"Doctor Fraiser?"

Both of them stopped as a nurse hurried their way. "I have a message for Daniel." She smiled at him. "Your father said to join him in the Briefing Room instead of his office."

"Thanks, Becky." Janet pushed the main doors open and motioned for Daniel to precede her.

"I can find my way—"

"Don't be silly. You know you're not supposed to walk around the base unaccompanied." She gave him a quick smack on the back of his head, flipping his ponytail against his cheek, flashing him a smile.

"That's never stopped me before," he answered, deliberately cheeky.

"True." Her heels clicked loudly on the floor; despite her short legs, she could move quickly and Daniel lengthened his pace to match hers. "But I need a break and this is a good excuse to get away for a few minutes. Plus, I need to talk to your father."

Five minutes later, Daniel walked down the stairs leading into the Briefing Room. His dad was there, standing next to the large table, talking with a marine who often sparred with Teal'c in the gymnasium. Sam was there also, talking with Rodney, both of them poring over a laptop. A meeting had most probably broken up recently; papers were strewn over the table, and several coffee cups were forgotten - all to be tidied up by General Hammond's aide as soon as everyone left.

Daniel stopped at the bottom of the stairs, Janet standing next to him, both of them waiting until Jack acknowledged them. He waved and motioned them over, still talking.

By the time Daniel reached his dad, he'd finished his discussion with the marine, who nodded at Daniel and Janet as he passed by them. Thrusting his hands into his pockets, his dad looked over at Janet, raising his eyebrows. "So?"

"He's doing great. No sign of infection. I told him he can go back to school in two weeks' time."

"Isn't that a little soon?"

Janet shook her head. "No. No sports, however, for at least another month. No heavy lifting, so that means no shoveling." She grinned at Jack. "Sorry, sir."

"Your appendix couldn't have waited until the summer, could it? Talk about timing."

"I dunno, Dad. The timing seems perfect to me."


His dad was in the process of tugging on his ponytail, when a klaxon went off and the room was doused with red light.

"Unscheduled Offworld Activation!" Walter's voice boomed shrilly throughout the room, echoed in the loudspeakers in the corridors and in the Control Room. Daniel had, over the years, heard this announcement many times but rarely during the times he'd been in the Briefing Room. Curious, like everyone in the room, he walked towards the window overlooking the 'Gateroom.

The chevrons were turning, the whole spectacle awe-inspiring, with a little added thrill of not knowing who was dialing the 'gate. He glanced at his dad, who was watching expressionlessly. Sam and Rodney looked on in anticipation and Janet looked tense. General Hammond had left his office and joined them, looking down curiously.

The 'gate whooshed into action even as soldiers rushed into the room, surrounding the 'gate and the ramp. A wave of goose bumps went up and down his spine and he leaned closer, his attention at first on the waiting soldiers then, like everyone else, on the blue puddle floating serenely in the midst of the inner rings.

"General Hammond. SG-3 reports they're coming in hot." Right on the tail of Walter's voice, which came over the room's intercom, loud enough to be heard over the still-blaring klaxon, a bolt of fire flew out of the wormhole. It crossed between two of the SFs, impacting against the cement wall with a loud thump.

The floor beneath Daniel's feet actually shook. Daniel stared in shock at the floor, then raised his eyes to the scene in the 'Gateroom as bolt after bolt came through the Stargate. Two soldiers went down before the others could scramble to the side, out of the line of fire.

Then one shot went wide, flying high and hitting the wall to the right of where they stood. "Lower the shield," Hammond yelled, trotting towards the stairs towards the Control Room. There was a rumbling sound right above the ceiling and Daniel looked up, seeing the start of a shadow descending above the large picture window.

"Get back." His dad grabbed his arm, pulling him away from the window just as a flash of red came flying out of the Stargate and struck.

The explosion was deafening as metallic gears ground to a halt. Half blinded, Daniel squinted in shock towards the window, which was covered with a spider web of cracks. If that window had shattered—

"Threat level: Foxtrot Alpha Six. All security teams to the Gateroom." Walter's voice boomed over the loudspeakers again.


"Colonel?" Sam was there at their side while Daniel tried to peek through the ruined window.

"Armory." Sounds of people running outside in the hallway distracted Daniel. He turned to peer past the General's office, into the hallway, when he heard gunfire. His dad grabbed his arm again, and began hurrying him out of the Briefing Room.

There was no sign of Janet; Daniel wondered if she'd gone back to the infirmary.

"Dad? What's going on?" Sam and Rodney following on their heels, Daniel was having trouble keeping up with his father, having to dodge the security teams running in the direction they were just leaving.

"Stay with me and keep quiet."

Sam hurried past them, stopping in front of a door not far from General Hammond's office, which she opened with her passkey. She entered, and Daniel craned his head around his dad's shoulders as Sam handed both his dad and Rodney a flack vest, guns and ammunition.

"What about me?"

Daniel had expected his dad to hand him a gun, instead his father turned cold eyes towards Daniel as he spoke to Rodney. "Get him out of here."

Without waiting for an answer, his dad ran off towards the sounds of gunfire. Sam slammed the door shut and ran after his dad.

"Come on, before they lock down the elevators." Rodney grabbed his arm and tugged, but Daniel set his feet and pulled his arm out of Rodney's hold.

"No. I want to help."

"You can help by getting out of here."

"You're not going to leave them alone to fight whoever's attacking?"

"Yes, that's exactly what I'm going to do. Because I'm not a soldier. This is their job, to protect people like me and you."

"And who's going to protect people like my dad?" He couldn't believe his father had left him here and had run straight towards the danger.

"This is their job. This is what they're trained to do."

Daniel glanced down at the gun Rodney was holding in his hand, and sneered. "You're just a damned coward." He moved, surprising Rodney just as he'd hoped, and ran in the direction of the Gateroom.


It was carnage, bodies everywhere. Jack moved cautiously towards the intersection, stopped, and eased a miniature mirror around the corner. Bodies, both theirs and the enemy's, lay strewn on the ground just past the blast doors which had failed to close and thus had allowed the enemy out of the 'Gateroom. He frowned; there were more bodies of the enemy than soldiers lying there.

Quietly, he pulled back and signaled the men to be cautious, and to expect a trap. Leading the way, Jack held his weapon at the ready, adrenaline holding his muscles at a fine line between shakiness and exhilaration.

The first body he came to wasn't one of theirs. He prodded it with his foot and turned it over. Human. Armour covered his body. There were no signs of wounds, no signs of blood. He recognized the armour; this was déjà vu all over again. The same aliens who'd attacked the base weeks ago and wreaked so much havoc.

With his weapon aimed at the dead person at his feet, Jack glanced at all the bodies littering the hallway. There was blood on the floor, but it all came from the four soldiers who'd been unfortunately surrounded and killed during the first strike.

Jack reached over and pulled a knife from the sheath of the SF next to him, and coldly jammed it into the leg of the alien nearest him. The supposedly dead body screamed, jerking away even as it brought its weapon up to bear. Jack shot him reflexively, then shot the next invader as he broke cover from playing possum and started shooting at them.

In seconds, all the invaders were dead or dying. Realizing how close they'd come to being tricked, Jack walked past the invaders, kicking the weapons out of reach of the few who were still alive but obviously injured. He waved Major Hagman past, ordering him to continue with the sweep while he knelt next to one of those still living.

"How many?"

The man spat in Jack's face.

Jack plunged the bloody knife into the man's thigh. "How many," he yelled over the man's screams. Determined, the invader clamped his jaw together and glared at Jack. Standing, Jack shot the man in the heart and began to walk away.

The gasp he heard was soft, but it was so out of context with the situation that Jack stopped and turned. Daniel was standing there, several feet into the corridor, his face white with shock, eyes wide and disbelieving.

"Daniel—" Jack took a step towards his son, and stopped when Daniel took a step back, nearly tripping over the leg of one of the dead SFs. Plastered against the wall, Daniel stared at Jack, his face reflecting fear.

Fear. Not horror.

Fear. Of Jack. Of what he'd just done.

"Icky, it's okay." Jack released his weapon and raised a hand towards Daniel, as if he were trying to calm a panicked animal.

Daniel stared at his hand, then raised his eyes back towards Jack. His mouth moved, but no sounds came out.

"You shouldn't be here. Come on, let's get you somewhere safe." Jack took another step, and Daniel seemed to shrink into himself. Stopping his advance, Jack's thoughts raced. He had to get his son out of here.

He changed tactics, instead of going for the slow and cautious, he strode quickly down the hallway. Daniel screamed, threw himself towards the ground, and before Jack could react, had grabbed the discarded gun of the downed SF and pointed it at Jack.

Hands held out to the side, Jack froze. Time seemed to slow. He could see the gun shaking in Daniel's hands as his son rose to one knee. Saw his finger tighten on the trigger. Heard the sharp rapport of the gun firing. Almost imagined the bullets as they passed next to his head and hit—

Jack threw himself to the side, giving Daniel a second, clear shot. The man who'd crept up behind him fell to the ground as Daniel emptied the magazine, the remaining shots going wild, until all Jack could hear were Daniel's ragged breaths and the sounds of the chamber clicking repeatedly once the bullets were spent.

Legs shaking, Jack hurried to Daniel, took the gun out of his hand and bent down to wrap his arms around his son. Daniel didn't reciprocate the motion. He simply knelt there, his body stiff, his breathing rough and labored, shaking so badly Jack thought it a miracle that the first bullets actually had hit his target.

"Thank you," he whispered into Daniel's hair.

"Colonel O'Neill." Jack's radio crackled with Sam's voice.

He reached for his radio with one hand while holding on to Daniel with the other. "O'Neill."

"Security cameras show eighteen of them made it in before Chief Master Sergeant Harriman managed to disconnect the Stargate. We can account for eight of the intruders."

Jack looked at the tangle of bodies and made a quick count. "I've got seven here."

Hagman's voice came over the radio. "I've got three here."

"I want a full sweep of the base." Hammond's voice was terse. "Colonel O'Neill, report to my office."

"Sir, permission to report to the infirmary. Daniel..."

There was a pause. "Granted."

"Thank you, sir," Jack whispered.

"GeneralHammond." Teal'c's voice came from directly behind Jack as well as through his radio. "I will accompany O'Neill and DanielJackson to the infirmary." Jack turned, seeing Teal'c standing there with a contingent of men. Teal'c motioned them forward and they immediately began checking the bodies.

"Icky, can you walk?"

Daniel's head moved slowly up and down. Jack pulled away and he and Teal'c both grabbed an arm and hauled Daniel to his feet. He swayed, nearly went down when his knees seemed to give way, then staggered forward as both of them helped hold him upright. After a few steps, Daniel seemed to gain strength. They turned the corridor, away from the carnage. A few steps later, Daniel stopped, leaned forward, and puked up his last meal.


The infirmary was a beehive of activity. On one level, Daniel was aware of the screams and moans of the injured and the hectic activity of the medical staff. On another level, he just didn't give a shit.

He was cold, shivering and huddled up against the upraised head of a bed, a pillow held against his lap so he could fist his hands in the hypoallergenic foam, and a blanket wrapped around his shoulders in a vain attempt to keep the heat from leeching out of his body. His head ached, his stomach hurt and the room kept fading in and out. He stared at the blanket, concentrating on the nap of the material, trying to focus on nothing so that he could stay in the here and now.

His dad was with him, as was Teal'c, both of them sitting on the bed next to his. He'd been here for hours, or maybe days – Daniel wasn't sure.

"Oh, thank goodness." Rodney, half-running across the infirmary, came to a stop next to his bed. "He took off looking for you. I started going after him but then I met up with Teal'c... and..."

Daniel was aware of Rodney staring at him. He didn't look up, kept his gaze down and kept following the pattern of the blanket from right to left, left to right, skipping over a fold of material and moving on.

"I ordered you to retreat to a safe position and said I would go in search for DanielJackson."

"Is he...?"

"He is in shock."

"I'm sorry. I never thought he'd run off."

"It's fine, McKay." His dad's voice sounded... dull. Dead.

"What did the doctor say?"

"He has not yet been examined by a doctor."

"I guess they're a little busy at the moment. Do you want me to go and... You know... Try and get one to come and look at Daniel? I've been dating one of the nurses and she could try and give you priority."

"I said it was fine."

"Okay, if you're sure."

Rodney's footsteps retreated, and then there was silence. Well, silence, if you didn't count the noises all the soldiers who'd been hurt were making.

After a while, Daniel began searching for threads of differing shades in the blanket, seeking each with diligent attention, counting each carefully, focusing on the blanket instead of the world around him. He counted each shade that differed from the normal grey of the scratchy blanket, focusing so completely that for a while, the sounds of pain and terror disappeared.

The touch of hands on his face pulled him from the world of minute stitches, and back into the world of calamity. Janet was leaning over him; somehow he knew she was right there but she also appeared to be far, far away. Her voice came at him through a tunnel, distorted, words not matching with the shape of her lips as she spoke. He blinked, feeling nauseated, going back to the blanket when she let go of his face. After a time he felt a prick in his arm, and slowly the world returned.

He blinked, slowly, languidly. His dad. Teal'c. Janet. All watching him. He stared back. Licked his lips, the sensation of thirst reaching his fuzzy brain. The world began doing a slow loop de loop, and for a moment, the blanket loomed close as his nose nearly met it, tantalizing him with escape once more, and then hands caught his downwards spiral and pulled him back, easing his head onto the pillow that had slipped from his grasp.

"Whoa, there," Janet said softly as Teal'c filled his vision. He lay limp as a rag doll, his mind slowly catching up to the fact that his body had drooped forward, only to be caught by Teal'c and placed back onto the mattress. "Try to sleep, sweetheart." Janet's hand moved towards his face and she brushed hair out of his eyes.

"Da-Dad?" His mouth was dry, his lips and tongue having trouble forming words.

"Right here, Icky."

There was a blur of motion and then his dad was next to him, one hand resting on his chest, the other cupping his cheek.

"Thirsty." He blinked as everything went out of focus and he fought to clear his sight.

"Teal'c's gone to get you some water. How are you feeling?"


"Fraiser gave you a sedative so you're going to be a little sleepy."

"Don't want to sleep. Wanna go home." He started licking his dry lips again when Teal'c leaned over him, holding a glass and placing the straw against his lips. He sucked at the water, barely having enough strength to drink. He hadn't even begun to slake his thirst when the glass emptied, the straw making noisy slurping sounds.

"Close your eyes for a little while, okay? I need to go see Hammond. We'll go home when I'm done here."

The words sounded simple and promising, but Daniel knew it wasn't always that simple. But he obeyed, let heavy lids close and allowed oblivion to take him for a few hours.


When he woke up, the infirmary was quiet. Daniel lay there, feeling sluggish, not wanting to move. He realized he was still feeling the effects of the shot Janet had given him but the weirdness was gone. He opened his eyes and saw Teal'c sitting next to him, watching avidly.

"Do you require assistance?"

"No." The words came out as a rasp and Daniel cleared his throat. "I'm fine." Then memory hit him hard and he sat up, ignoring the way his head seemed to float above his body for a few seconds. "Is my dad okay? The base?"

"O'Neill is with General Hammond, and has been thus for the past three hours. Stargate Command is secure; the incursion has been successfully dealt with. You are safe."

He felt relief at hearing his dad was okay. Daniel remembered his father being there with him before he went to sleep but he hadn't remembered if he'd been injured. "Sam? Is she okay? A lot of people got hurt."

"MajorCarter is fine. There were indeed many casualties; seven dead, twenty injured, four of them are in critical condition. There were eighteen invaders; only three survived. They will be..."

"Interrogated?" Daniel swallowed at the memory of his father coldly plunging a knife into a man's leg and demanding answers. He fell back against the bed. Then his dad shot him.

"I apologize. I did not mean to upset you."

"No. No, I'm not upset. Thank you for telling me." The small burst of energy was gone, leaving him drained and tired again.

Teal'c inclined his head then looked up, past Daniel. Turning his head, Daniel saw his dad walking towards him. A grin spread over his dad's face.

"Hey, look who's awake."

Daniel didn't exactly feel awake as he watched his dad circle the bed and stand next to Teal'c's chair. "So, you feel up to going home?"

Daniel wanted nothing more than to get out of the Mountain. Too many bad things happened here, and he thought he might never step foot inside again. He sat up slowly and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. He sat there a moment, waiting for the room to stop spinning. Spotting his glasses on the table next to the bed, he reached for them and put them on.

Waiting patiently as Janet removed the IV from his arm, Daniel looked down and saw his boots under the bed, neatly lined up with the toes sticking out. Once Janet finished, he put his boots on, and Teal'c handed him his jacket. He stood and shrugged into the jacket, and without a word, followed his father to the elevators.

"Be well, my friend," Teal'c said as the elevator door opened. Daniel turned to Teal'c, gave him a quick hug, and hurried into the elevator, which his dad was holding open, waiting for him.

The cold air was bracing, helping to chase some of the cobwebs from his head. But once in the Avalanche, with the heater running, Daniel began to get drowsy again. He closed his eyes, the bright sunshine gave him a headache, and let the truck's motion lull him into a half-sleep.

He stirred only when the truck stopped and the motor was turned off. He opened heavy lids, the thought of walking up the walkway to the house almost too much of an effort. Then he straightened, sitting up in surprise.

"We're at Grandma's?"

"I thought you might appreciate a change of scenery for a change."

"But... Does Grandma know what happened?"

His dad closed his eyes and shook his head slowly. "I just told her we were coming over. She knows you're spending the night—"

"And you?"

"I thought..." His dad looked away. "I thought maybe you might want to spend a bit of time alone—"

"No. I... Dad, we need to talk."

"Yeah, I know."

"Please? I'm not mad. Stay here tonight, or let's just go home."

"Grandma's expecting you—"

"Then stay here. We'll go home tomorrow."

"You're sure?"

Daniel wasn't sure, but his dad looked relieved.

"I'm positive."

Daniel dragged himself into his grandmother's house, feeling something close to embarrassment as she watched him keenly as he shed his winter clothes.

"Do you mind if Daniel lies down? Fraiser gave him a sedative; she's concerned about his not sleeping."

"Of course not. I've put fresh sheets on the bed. Do you need anything, mhuirnin?"

"No, Grandma. Thank you." He shuffled over to her and hugged her before heading for the bedroom. He sat down on his bed, wondering for a moment if he'd be able to sleep or if would be assailed with the usual anxiety. This room, this house, had always been a haven. He waited a moment, but felt nothing but the pull of sleep. He jerked his sweatshirt off and his pants, tossing them both carelessly onto a chair. His glasses he put away with more care, hanging them on the wrought iron headboard. As he slid under the cool sheets, his father entered the bedroom.

"Want me to stay with you?" his dad asked as he sat down on the edge of the bed.

"I think I can sleep." Daniel yawned, punctuating his fatigue.

"We'll be in the kitchen. I'll come wake you in time for supper."

"You're going to stay?"

"I'm staying. That is, if you want a bed partner tonight."

Daniel yawned again. "Course I do. Bed's more comfy than the couch." He felt his dad pull the comforter up closer to his chin and Daniel snuggled into its comfort.


"Did you sleep well?"

Daniel yawned and nodded grumpily at his grandmother. If his dad hadn't woken him up, he probably would have slept until morning. He wasn't really hungry and the residual fuzziness from the sedative still had him in its grip.

He stared at the baked chicken in the centre of the table, finding it unappealing. When his father grabbed a drumstick and dropped it onto Daniel's plate, Daniel nearly picked it up and put it back. He accepted the bowls of vegetables, spooning a small portion of each onto his plate in order to be polite.

He drowned everything in gravy and once he couldn't put off eating any longer, jabbed his fork into his mashed potatoes and took a bite.

The first bite woke up his hunger and suddenly, he couldn't get enough. He finished what was in front of him, emptied the remaining vegetables onto his plate, and added several slices of white meat. Wiping his mouth with the napkin, Daniel decided he had room to spare for dessert when his grandmother brought out an apple pie.

"Have I told you today that I love you, Grandma?" Daniel took a deep sniff of the slice his grandmother placed before him, watching the large mound of ice cream slide down the side, already melting from the heat of the pie.

"Not yet," his grandmother answered with a smile.

"Ith delithous," he managed to say around a large mouthful of filling and crust.

"That boy has a bottomless pit. If I ate the way he does, I wouldn't be able to fit through any doors."

"You and me both, Ma."

A quick glance at his father's plate showed his slice of pie and ice cream to be as generous as his.


Daniel helped clear up the kitchen, then sat in the living room, drowsing as his dad and grandma talked about nothing in particular. He slid down the sofa until his head rested against his grandmother's shoulder, sated, sleepy and comfortable.

He woke up reluctantly when his father shook his shoulder, dutifully kissed his grandmother goodnight and followed his dad to his bedroom. By the time Daniel got ready for bed, the sleepiness had passed and he felt wide-awake.

"Fraiser set up an appointment for you tomorrow with Kayton." His dad, sitting on the edge of the bed, seemed to watch Daniel for a reaction.

"Okay." He wasn't surprised. What did surprise him was his dad's avoidance about what had happened. "You know," Daniel said, choosing his words carefully and slowly as he propped his pillow behind his back and sat against it, "for a while today, I was... more afraid—" His words suddenly sped up— "Of you than I was of the people who attacked us."

"Daniel, I'm sor—"

"But it's okay. I understand now." Daniel smiled, seeing confusion in his dad's face. "I saw the guy who was faking and when the gun came up, all I could think of was that you were going to be killed. I couldn't deal with that."

"Cheyenne Mountain is no place for a child. I should know better – should have known better—"

"Oh, come on, Dad. You've been bringing me there since I was five. Plus you admitted that I could have been kidnapped from anywhere on the planet—"

"That's not what I meant—"

"I know what you meant. And I wouldn't have been in any danger if I had listened and gone with Rodney. But leaving just didn't feel right."

"You were listening to your memories. You aren't trained to fight. Not anymore."

"Maybe..." Daniel tried thinking back and couldn't be sure if the reason he'd run off was because the adult Daniel would never have left his comrades, or if he truly thought he could have helped. "Maybe I did, but I don't think so."

His father sat back on the bed, copying Daniel's position." About what you saw me do—"

Daniel swallowed. "I understand—"

"Do you?" His father twisted on the bed so he was leaning over Daniel. "There's a difference between hurting someone in self-defense and doing it deliberately."

"You needed information." Daniel's voice cracked and he turned his head towards his dad. "You needed to know, because people had gotten hurt and you were afraid more would get hurt if you couldn't stop them."

It was his dad's turn to swallow. "I'm sorry you had to see all that."

"Me, too," Daniel said softly.

"The good news is that we got the information we needed. Doctor Weir is already preparing for negotiations with their leader so hopefully all of this animosity will be over in a few days. Or weeks. Maybe a month or two..."

"So you're going to treat this as if nothing happened? People died, and it's okay?"

"No, it's not okay. But a truce will mean no more bloodshed. Sometimes we have to cut our losses."

Daniel nodded slowly. "You know something?" He felt his lips stretch into a smile. "We didn't have to come to Grandma's tonight. I think I could have slept in my own bed."

"I don't think so," his dad said with his own wry smile.

"I'm not saying I won't have nightmares." Daniel picked at the edge of the sheet. "But I think I can spend the nights in my own bed from now on."

"Really? What brought this change about?"

He saw again the intruder aiming a gun at his dad's back, and he shuddered. Despite the atrocities he'd just seen and suffered over the past days, he knew his dad's wellbeing was the most important thing in the world to him. "Knowing I love you," he said quietly.

When his dad reached for him, he gladly fell into his hug.



"Mmmm." Daniel brushed away his grandmother's hands, snuggling back under the blankets that she'd pulled away.

"Come on, sweetie, time to get up."

"Five more minutes?"

She kissed his cheek after she pulled the blanket down again. "Your appointment with Doctor Kayton is at one-thirty. You have just enough time to shower and eat before we have to leave."

"What time is it?" He squinted up at his grandmother.

"Just past noon." His grandmother actually grinned as Daniel sat up in bed in shock.

"Noon?" he squeaked. He looked around in confusion, and at the empty half of the bed. "Where's Dad?"

"He left early to go to work. Something about having to fill out paperwork."

"He went to work?" Daniel had never even heard his dad get out of bed. The last thing he remembered was laying his head on the pillow. "Is it really noon?"

His grandmother picked his arm up and held his watch-clad wrist in front of his face. Daniel blinked. "Wow."

"Go shower. I'll have a batch of pancakes ready for you when you finish."

Shower, clean clothes and a double helping of pancakes, eggs and bacon, and Daniel felt like a new person. He laughed and joked with his grandmother, feeling better, physically and emotionally, since the day he'd been abducted.

He even looked forward to his visit with Liz; maybe once he started talking about yesterday's events, his mood would change. But hey, he'd slept through the night, and more. He'd moved past that particular hurdle; life was looking good.


Jack pulled into his mother's driveway, turned off the engine, and rested his head against the backrest. He closed his eyes a moment and took a deep breath. The day had been hard and painful; two more soldiers had died, and a third was going to be crippled for life. Paperwork, debriefings and security meetings had taken up the majority of his day, but his thoughts had been with Daniel.

He'd tried to take a minute to give his son a call to see how he was doing, to see how his meeting had gone, but Doctor Kayton had beaten him to it. She'd caught him between one meeting and another – and apart from that one phone call, every second of his day had belonged to Hammond.

Opening his eyes and straightening, he turned to look at the brightly lit windows, seeing his son behind the opened blinds, talking on the phone and looking his way. With a deep breath, Jack opened the door and slid out of the truck.

Heat and wonderful smells met him as he stepped into the house. He shut the door and turned towards Daniel, who was looking... incredibly well.

"My dad's home, so I need to go."

"Dria?" Jack mouthed.

Daniel smiled and nodded.

"Say hi for me." He shrugged out of his jacket as Daniel conveyed Jack's greeting and said goodnight.

"How'd it go?" Jack asked the moment Daniel pocketed his cell.

Daniel shrugged. "Liz doesn't think I'm cured."

"Really?" Despite Daniel's flippant comment, could Kayton have been wrong? She'd theorized that Daniel's subconscious had created all these fears so that Daniel would have an excuse to be with Jack at night, so that the father he trusted and loved, wouldn't become the Colonel who terrified him. Time and patience, were what she'd prescribed.

"I slept until noon." Daniel gave him a grin and stuck out his hands as in a ta dah! proclamation.


His mother nodded at him as she peeked around the kitchen doorway. "And I had the dickens of a time getting him to wake up."

"Well, I see things are back to normal, huh?" Jack gave Daniel a quick hug, then stuck his cold hands under his jersey, eliciting a yelp as Daniel danced away from him.

"Ow," Daniel said, laughing even as he put his hands against his right side and Jack froze.

"Damn, I'm sorry."

"No, it's fine." Still laughing, Daniel waved away Jack's concern. "But I wish things were back to normal. Liz said I slept only because I was so tired and the fact that Janet gave me a sedative."

"Well, I guess time will tell."

He ruffled Daniel's hair, smiling as Daniel kept his distance, wary of Jack's hands. "So, Ma, what's for supper?" He stopped to kiss his mom's cheek, then laughed when she smacked his hand as he tried to sneak his cold fingers down her neck.


Jack woke up with a start, feeling something was wrong. A second later he knew exactly what it was.

His bed was empty.


His first thought was that something had happened to Daniel and he lay hurt or sick somewhere in the house. He jumped out of bed, walking as quickly as a darkened house would allow him, and came to a stop outside of Daniel's bedroom. He peered inside, heart thudding sickeningly, filled with trepidation, half-expecting to find that his son had been kidnapped again. Or worse.

To his intense surprise, Daniel was a blanket-covered lump in the bed.

He tiptoed closer, peering down at his son, who was sleeping peacefully, the comforter pulled up to his chin. One foot stuck out past the edge of the comforter. Jack tugged the bedspread down to cover the bare toes. Daniel's iPod lay discarded on the pillow next to him, as if Daniel had at some point tugged the thing off his ears and tossed it aside when he'd decided to go to sleep.

Daniel hadn't been able to bear staying by himself after dark for weeks; what had just changed? Could Kayton have been wrong?

Jack tried to remember how long he'd lain in bed waiting for Daniel tonight. He'd called the usual goodnight, expecting Daniel to remain there for his allotted time. He must have dropped off to sleep because he didn't remember Daniel coming to join him in his room.

Glancing at Daniel's clock, Jack was surprised to see it was time nearly time for him to get up. As if on cue, his alarm clock went off in his bedroom.

"Way to go, Icky." He smiled as he hurried to silence the alarm clock before it woke Daniel.


"And he slept the whole night again?" Rose whispered from the doorway.

"I think so," Jack whispered back, feeling inordinately proud of his son. Daniel was growing up. He'd not only faced his demons, he'd gone in waving a red cape in their faces and had come out of that encounter a winning toreador.

Not to mention he'd managed to save Jack's life in the process.

They stood there for several long seconds, watching Daniel sleep, before backing out and heading to the kitchen. Jack took his half-finished cup of coffee and sipped.

"What's so funny?"

Jack realized he was smiling. "Just remembering when Charlie slept through the night for the first time."

His mom, who'd moved to pour herself a cup of coffee, paused and raised an eyebrow. "Charlie?"

"Yeah. Me 'n' Sara woke up in fright, both of us literally too nervous to go into the bedroom to check on him and see if he was still breathing."

"You didn't."

"Oh, it was straight out of a slapstick comedy. Sara was telling me, 'you go in', and I was saying, 'no, you go'. Finally our frantic whispers woke up Charlie who was wet and starving and wasn't shy about letting us know."

"Well, I can take care of the starving part when Daniel wakes up. The wet, you're going to have to deal with this time should it come up."

Jack chuckled as he finished his coffee. "I just did the ohmygod, is he breathing? bit this morning. I think you can deal with ordering him into the shower." He rinsed his cup and placed it in the dishwasher. "Gotta go."

"Oh, right. Run off and leave me with the dirty laundry, why don't'cha?"

Jack laughed. "I think Daniel's healed up enough to help out with the laundry." He sobered. "Speaking of which. If his aversion to being alone has eased, maybe you should think about getting your own life back. Daniel can probably handle staying on his own—"

"There's no rush. He's still off from school for another week or so, right?"

"I appreciate you giving us a hand, but you have your own life—"

"You two are my life. It's been a pleasure to help, and besides - it's always nice to feel needed."

"Thanks, Mom. But I'm sure we can manage—"

"Besides, you'll need me to take Daniel to see Doctor Kayton again the day after tomorrow." She sipped her coffee and gave him a satisfied smirk.

Jack shook his head; he'd already forgotten about the shrink wanting to see Daniel again. "What would we do without you?" he murmured as he kissed her cheek.


Jack looked up and watched Daniel descend the stairs. He looked intently, searching for signs of distress. Daniel smiled at his dad, looked curiously at the movie Jack had been watching, and dropped onto the couch with barely a touch of caution for his healing scar. Clad in his pajamas, Daniel looked relaxed and just a touch sleepy.

"Thought you were talking to Dria," Jack said as Daniel stretched out on the couch.

"I was. Her mom needed her to help with something so..." He yawned and fidgeted with the couch cushions, trying to prop his head at the proper viewing angle. "You're stuck with me."

"School assignments finished?" Jack asked, trying to sound like he wasn't fishing for insight into Daniel's state of mind. His son was very obviously okay with everything; there was no sign of anxiety, no sign of edginess – only relaxation to the point of comfort. Like any other night before the whole kidnapping thing had happened.

"Yeah." Daniel stretched, looking altogether bored. "I need to do some research." He yawned again. "Tomorrow." He pointed at the television, raising his head and looking around the coffee table. "Is that the only thing playing tonight?" His eyes latched on to the remote control sitting on the table on Jack's far side. Jack put a hand on it proprietarily until Daniel relaxed back into the cushions, muttering under his breath.

"It's a classic." They stared at the love story playing on the television for several minutes. "How'd your session with Liz go today?"

Daniel grimaced as he rubbed his forehead. "I told her I was doing better," - he waved his finger in the air before resuming the rubbing, - "you know, sleeping and stuff? But I don't think she believed me."

"Why do you say that?"

Daniel's fingers stilled. "For one thing, she wants to see me again day after tomorrow. This is worse than the first time I saw her, Dad. I keep getting the feeling she thinks I'm going to break or something."

Jack shoved the footrest of the recliner down with a thunk and leaned forward in the chair. "Daniel, you shot and killed a man. Sometimes I can't help but think..." Jack swallowed as he recalled Daniel's intent, shooting Jack's attacker until no bullets were left in the gun.

"That I'm going to break?"

"You're fourteen—"

"It's not the first time I shot someone. Okay," Daniel said, his words coming faster and faster, "the first time I didn't actually shoot him because I forgot the safety, but the intent was there."

"Intent and deed are two different things—"

"Not always." Daniel sat up and slid closer to Jack, leaning over the bolster so that they were only a few inches apart. "I'm fine, Dad. I've faced my demon, slayed my dragon."

"There's always dragons to slay, especially in my line of work. And you're the one being pulled into the line of fire, just by association." Maybe Daniel now truly understood what Jack had to go through, why he was the hard-nosed Colonel when he needed to be. He hated that Daniel had had to kill someone in order to learn that lesson but he seemed to be less traumatized by that than by having seen Jack at his worst.

"Then we slay those dragons one at a time."

"Most of them fight back."

"I know. I also know I've been very lucky, and I've probably added a few more scenarios to my growing plethora of nightmares, but, really, I've got a handle on this."

"I worry." Jack gave Daniel what he hoped passed for a convincing smile.

"I know. You don't have to." Daniel leaned closer, his hands touching the edge of Jack's chair.

"It's not exactly something I can turn off."

Daniel grinned at him and lunged for the remote. Crowing happily, he waved it around as he fell back onto the couch. He aimed it teasingly at Jack and hit a button, as if he wanted to turn Jack off. Then he aimed it at the television. "How about we try for something with a little more action?"

"Oy." Jack rolled his eyes. "Haven't we had enough action to last us a lifetime?"


The End!

Authors' Comments: A huge thanks to Becky, who not only answered my cry for help, but even went and found pictures so I could see what she was talking about. Thanks hon, you made writing this a whole lot easier. Although, any and all mistakes, medical or otherwise, are mine, all mine.


to contact devra

to contact JoaG

quality statistics
Discount Ink Cartridge
Since 30 September 2008



DISCLAIMER:The characters mentioned in this story are the property of Showtime and Gekko Film Corp. The Stargate, SG-I, the Goa'uld and all other characters who have appeared in the series STARGATE SG-1 together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MGM-UA Worldwide Television, Gekko Film Corp, Glassner/Wright Double Secret Productions and Stargate SG-I Prod. Ltd. Partnership. This fanfic is not intended as an infringement upon those rights and solely meant for entertainment. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author.