The Lareina by JoaG

Daniel looked up from what he’d just written in his journal, wiping beads of sweat from his face with the back of his similarly damp arm. He reached down and picked up his glass, sipping the overly sweet drink and trying not to grimace. Jaceen, the servant who’d been assigned to SG-1, must have noticed his glass was nearly empty as she quickly approached with the ever present pitcher. Needless to say they all needed to stay hydrated in this heat and humidity, but Daniel would have preferred unflavored water over the juice concoction everyone on P3A 006 seemed to enjoy.

Sam seemed to like the stuff, and she held out her tumbler for more when the darkly tanned servant finished filling Daniel’s. Drink in hand, Sam sat back in her cushioned chair and turned her attention to the information laid out before her, studying the surveyed reports of the minerals they were currently negotiating for.

Daniel sighed and frowned at his glass. They’d only been on the move for a half day and he was already bored. The caravan they were traveling with was scheduled to reach the first of the four mines in another three days; the going would be slow and tedious with nothing more than scrubby growth and rocks to look at for diversion. He envied his teammates; they at least all had something to do on this mission. Sam had the scientific aspect to keep her occupied, Teal’c had befriended a few of the guards and was busy sparring with them, and Jack was currently entertaining the ruler of this pre-industry society, the Lareina Kathein.

The caravan could only travel as fast as the garun, large oxen-like beasts which pulled the enormous wagons. Most of the group walked on foot, though, trailing behind or to the side of the wagons, or alternating riding long-legged beasts called kains, or sitting alongside the drivers of the wagons. As accustomed as SG-1 was to walking, they weren’t used to the planet’s uncommonly high temperature and humidity. Thankfully it was customary for the caravan to stop at midday for a few hours to wait for the worse of the heat to dissipate when it was this bad.

Daniel chewed thoughtfully on the end of his Bic pen as he watched Jack. His lover was talking with the Lareina under the protective heavy canvas awning which shaded them from the brutal midday sun. They were sitting together about twenty five feet away from SG-1’s own little oasis. The Tau’ri were honored guests and their personal wagon had been situated in a position of high regard, close enough for Daniel to watch but far enough to not be able to overhear their conversation.

Not that Daniel was usually jealous about people Jack normally dealt with, but Kathein had taken a liking to Jack and the poor man had no choice but to keep her company. They’d joked about it between the four of them ever since the Lareina had begun making life hellish for Jack.

Jack hated making small talk and he’d been hard pressed keeping the woman entertained the past three days while everyone else had been busy making pre-departure plans. Daniel averted his eyes, not wanting to be caught staring as the Lareina turned to look his way. He tried to reread his last entry but his attention kept wandering back to the couple before him.

Daniel dared a quick glance and saw that the two were staring at one another in rapt attention. The Lareina was leaning forward slightly, her hand resting on Jack’s knee. Jack’s head had that little tilt to the side which indicated she had his full attention. Neither were talking at the moment and it looked to Daniel like they were simply gazing into one another’s eyes.

The spell was broken when bells rang out, indicating that the caravan was ready to move on. Servants began scurrying everywhere, picking up the remains of the midday meals and rolling up the canopies which had been cleverly attached to the sides of the large wagons. Daniel had been told that these would also become their sleeping tents, one to each side of the conveyance to provide a measure of privacy. It went without saying he’d be sharing with Jack, while Sam and Teal’c would be sleeping on the other side.

Daniel began packing his belongings and as he helped Sam put her stuff away inside their wagon, he saw Jack help the queen up into hers. Not that she needed the help. The woman was probably in better shape than Sam; she trained daily with her guards and had a figure most women would kill for. As she tucked her long red hair up into a wide brimmed hat, she waved farewell to Jack as he sauntered over to join his teammates.

“So?” Daniel asked as Jack leaned against the side of the wagon, watching the servants curl the canvas up and lash it to the wide-based wagon.

“What?” Jack questioned.

“What was so interesting?”

“Nothing.” Jack shrugged then pushed off with his shoulder till he was standing up straight. He picked up his baseball cap from the pile of equipment by the back wheel and threw Daniel’s boonie hat over to him. Daniel caught it awkwardly; his hands already full of Sam’s books and notes. He handed Sam her stuff and then placed the hat on his head after snapping his sunglasses over his lenses. He took up his position beside Jack and Sam as their conveyance was eased into the flowing stream of wagons and people.

The convoy consisted mainly of either workers or support staff conveying supplies to the various mines. The arduous trip was made once every three months, with the Lareina accompanying them whenever the whim set upon her. This trip she was proudly leading her new acquaintances from Earth to her mines in the hopes that the minerals were of good enough quality to set up trade negotiations.

Initial testing of the raw materials had shown several minerals which were rare or non-existent on Earth, including one that Sam said she had never seen before and had very promising properties. If the quality and quantity of these minerals were as good as the Lareina promised, Sam was hopeful that the agreement would be signed by the time they left P3A 006.

- - - - - -

Daniel toyed with his mostly uneaten supper, wishing the endless entertainment would end. He’d developed a headache near the end of the day and even with the Tylenol he’d taken earlier, the pills had only taken the edge off, leaving him irritable and nauseous. The music was grating on his nerves, the instruments and songs unfamiliar. Normally he’d love to study the culture, but right now he ached for peace and quiet.

Jack was sitting at the head of the makeshift dinner table to the right of the Lareina, with Teal’c at Jack’s side. Sam was placed on the Lareina’s left, with Daniel beside Sam. He couldn’t hear any of the conversation flowing around them, and their laughter boomed at the telling of a joke he didn’t quite make out.

At least now there was water available. Jaceen had gone to the trouble of boiling water for them and Daniel sipped the tepid liquid. He shivered suddenly, and realized that the temperature had cooled off considerably with the setting of the sun. Unable to stand the noise any longer, he waited for a lull in the conversation before getting up off the cushions he’d been sitting on, nodding to the Lareina Kathein as she turned towards him.

She waived a hand in dismissal and Daniel ignored Jack’s glare and Sam’s worried look. He headed off towards their wagon, keeping his eyes peeled for the unique design painted on its side which identified it as theirs. He finally spotted it at the far edge of the camp, a good ways away from the revelry. A small lamp had been lit inside the tent, providing minimum illumination. Daniel quickly stripped to boxers and tee and slid into his sleeping bag.

- - - - - -

Daniel jerked awake when a cold hand snaked around his nape and a hard body pressed against his back. Disoriented for a moment, he fought to turn around and look at his aggressor, and then relaxed when he heard Jack’s voice in his ear. The lamp was out and it was very dark in the tent.

“Why’d you leave so early, Danny?” Jack murmured as he rained kisses on Daniel’s neck and jaw while rubbing his erection against Daniel’s hip. For a moment Daniel felt irritation; his head was still throbbing, he was nauseous and the last thing he felt like doing was making love. Then he realized the faint music and singing he could hear in the background meant the supper wasn’t over yet, and that they weren’t even on Earth. He could hear soft conversation nearby and realized that Sam and Teal’c were getting ready for bed on the opposite side of the wagon in their own tented sleeping area.

Daniel pushed Jack’s hands away as they fondled Daniel through his underwear.

“Jack, stop it,” Daniel hissed as he batted his lover’s hands away and turned to face him.

“I tried getting away sooner but Kathein wouldn’t let me,” Jack whispered as he laid his length over Daniel. Daniel realized Jack was naked as his lover rubbed his erection teasingly over Daniel.

“Jack!” Daniel insisted as Jack obstinately reached for Daniel once more. “Sam and Teal’c...”

“We’ll be quiet,” Jack whispered as he licked Daniel’s ear.

For the first time in their relationship, Daniel pushed Jack away angrily. “Jack,” he spat at him, “we’re on a mission.”

“So, let’s live dangerously,” Jack persisted, his hands roaming over Daniel’s body. Daniel grabbed hold of Jack’s hands and held them away from him.

“Jack, no,” he said in exasperation. “What’s gotten into you?”

“I want you,” Jack whispered, trailing kisses as he moved from Daniel’s jaw to his mouth. At first Daniel acquiesced and accepted the kiss when Jack stopped groping him, but when Jack stuck his tongue into his mouth, Daniel pulled back hurriedly as the urge to retch overtook him. The Lareina’s perfume overwhelmed Daniel; obviously Jack had been in close enough physical contact with her that it had spread to his skin.

With a hand covering his mouth to hold back his queasiness, Daniel scrabbled backwards in the dark, away from Jack. He came to a stop as he bumped the large wooden wheel, eyes wide in the dark quarters as he tried to see where Jack was. What the hell was wrong with Jack? And why could he smell the woman’s perfume on Jack’s face? If he’d gotten that close to her, it meant he had to have kissed her…

“What’s the matter with you?” Jack complained loudly, causing Daniel to jump.

“Shhhh,” Daniel hissed again.

“Don’t shush me,” Jack retorted, although his voice had lowered to a whisper once more. “Care to tell me why you’ve suddenly decided to play hard to get?”

Daniel’s temper snapped as his headache blossomed once more. “Well maybe the fact that you’re coming to me to assuage your rutting reflexes after cuddling up to Kathein…” Daniel hissed. He rued the words the second he’d said them, and before he could apologize, Jack cut him off.

“And the fact that I’ve been fighting the woman’s advances all fucking day and wanting nothing but to be with you doesn’t mean a thing?” Daniel could hear rustling sounds and it was only when the edge of the canvas was raised did he realize that Jack had been getting dressed.


“Go to sleep, Daniel,” Jack said angrily as he walked away out of the tent.

Daniel sighed and groped the ground before him, seeking the edge of his sleeping mat. The two cushioned mats had been placed within a foot of one another and Daniel had kicked them together earlier before going to bed. He slid under the covers, shivering slightly in the cool air. He listened attentively, hearing only silence. He realized that his teammates had to have heard their argument and blushed at the thought.

Jack returned some three hours later, creeping into his bed quietly. Daniel hadn’t slept as he waited for the older man to return. Both illness and worry kept him from dropping off. He wondered where Jack had gone and hoped he hadn’t sent Jack to the woman’s bed.

Jack settled quickly and his deep breathing soon told Daniel that he was sleeping. Daniel turned and moved closer to Jack. He curled up beside him, sharing Jack’s pillow as he placed his arm around Jack’s waist. Jack sighed and moved instinctively against Daniel. Daniel could smell the clean, fresh scent of someone who had spent time outside intermingled with the odor of campfire smoke. He was relieved that Jack had probably gone out and spent time brooding.

Relaxing now that he knew Jack was back, he listened to his partner’s breathing as he allowed sleep to finally overtake him.

- - - - - -

Sam kept looking over towards Daniel’s tent, worried about her friend. He’d been unusually quiet last night at supper and had left the festivities unexpectedly. The Colonel had been noncommittal this morning when she’d asked after him, saying that Daniel hadn’t slept well and to let him sleep. But with all the noise of the stirring camp, Sam was amazed that Daniel was still asleep.

She and Teal’c had overheard their argument last night and she herself had wondered at the Colonel’s continued attentiveness to the Lareina. The relationship between her commanding officer and Daniel wasn’t a secret from Sam and Teal’c, but the two had always been careful not to overplay their attentiveness to one another and had never before put any of their teammates in quite an embarrassing position as they had last night. It had disturbed her to hear their lover’s quarrel. The two had disagreed before, actually they had always bickered and teased one another, but it had never been of a sexual nature.

Movement from the one remaining tent proved to be Daniel. He had his glasses in his hand and was holding his other hand to his eyes, shading them. He seemed to stagger slightly as he stepped into the sun-heated air. He put his glasses on as he spotted them, making his way to them. He was walking with what seemed to Sam as a gingerly gait.

He was pale and already sweating. She couldn’t see his eyes behind his sunglasses, but the dark lenses couldn’t quite hide the dark circles beneath them. She poured him a coffee and handed him the breakfast that she had kept aside for him, a meat concoction rolled up in a pita-like bread. He stared at the meatroll a moment and took a small bite. He sipped the coffee rather than gulping it as was his usual want.

She kept a careful eye on him as he nibbled at the food, and she noticed that the Colonel’s expression was neutral. Daniel was obvious in his avoiding looking at his lover, keeping his attention mostly on the food he wasn’t quite enjoying.

When he poured most of his coffee over the base of the nearest tree, Sam knew for sure that something was wrong with her friend. She exchanged a knowing look with Teal’c before she leaned over and touched Daniel’s arm to get his attention.

“Are you all right?” she asked. Daniel had been staring at his empty cup and at her inquiry, nodded his head.

“Just a bit of an upset stomach,” he admitted reluctantly.

Okay, that explained the lack of appetite, but not his overall appearance.

“Maybe the heat and humidity got to you yesterday,” she said as she realized that he hadn’t liked the refreshments and might even be dehydrated. She placed a hand to his cheek, noting that it was cool and damp.

Daniel brushed her hand away in irritation and she smiled at him.

“I think you should take it easy today and stay out of the sun,” she suggested. Turning to the Colonel, she added, “Daniel could ride beside our driver. There’s plenty of room and he’ll be in the shade.”

The Colonel’s eyes were hidden behind his sunglasses, but his mouth softened slightly as he nodded.

“Carter’s right. I don’t want you walking in this heat today. Stay in the shade and make sure you get plenty of liquids.”

“Shall I accompany you today, DanielJackson?” Teal’c asked.

“I’ll stay with Daniel,” Sam said quickly. The Jaffa’s offer was kind but she knew that she could probably keep Daniel better entertained than Teal’c, who had found common interests with several of the guards. Let at least one of the group enjoy themselves on this long and tedious mission. And besides, she wanted to keep an eye on her friend. Normally they would all take turns but with the Colonel’s continued required attentions to Kathein, she knew he would be hard pressed to divide his attention between the Lareina and Daniel.

Their orders were to make Kathein happy and short of sleeping with her, if the woman wanted Colonel O’Neill to keep her company, then the poor man had no choice but to jump at her beck and call. This trade agreement was important to Earth and there were many pressures on them to get those minerals mined and shipped back home.

“You don’t have to,” Daniel said softly. The fact that he hadn’t argued with Jack’s decision indicated to Sam that he really wasn’t feeling well. They all stood up when the bells rang, indicating that the convoy was on the verge of leaving. She followed Daniel to the wagon, climbing inside the stuffy interior and looking for Daniel’s journal and books. She placed all in a bag and settled them at his feet within easy reach. The wagon lurched as the driver moved the garun forward onto the trail. Despite the swaying of the conveyance, Sam managed to pour a mixture of fruit juice and water into several small jugs.

“I’ve diluted the juice,” Sam said as she placed the containers behind Daniel’s seat. “It should be a little more palatable.”

Daniel nodded distractedly as he began leafing through his journal. She jumped off the high edge, hurdling over the steps and landed easily on the sandy ground.

“Make sure you drink all of it,” she ordered as she took up the pace of the caravan.

He waved in her direction and she knew she had already lost him as he began reading his latest entry in his journal, nibbling on the already mangled end of his pen. She walked off to the side to avoid the dust raised by the wagons before her. She was surprised to find she enjoyed the peace and solitude, walking alone when she felt like it or searching for company when she was tired of her inner thoughts.

She could see Colonel O’Neill ahead of her, similarly walking alongside the Lareina’s wagon. The lithe woman was walking beside him, matching him stride for stride. If Sam hadn’t known that the Colonel was in a lifelong relationship with Daniel, she would have thought for sure the couple before her was openly flirting.

Although her friends had never flaunted their relationship, the subtle signs were there for people to see if they were looking for them. The looks that passed between Daniel and her commanding officer, the subtle touching, the ease with which they performed their tasks together, all spoke volumes if one knew these people well. And their insistence upon arriving that they share quarters together. Originally they had all been assigned individual tents, but the Colonel had demanded that he share a tent with Daniel and that Sam and Teal’c do likewise. The excuse was that they were accustomed to this arrangement, and the Lareina had, in Sam’s opinion, reluctantly agreed.

Kathein very obviously had designs on the Colonel, and knew, or at least suspected, that Daniel was close to him. Sam grinned at the thought of her trying to lure him away from Daniel. Easier to try and teach a Goa’uld how to show mercy.

It was too bad that the woman’s intentions had upset Daniel last night. He obviously hadn’t been feeling well then, and Sam was a little ticked at Daniel for not telling them about it. Obviously the Colonel had also missed the signs; he’d probably be making it up to Daniel later this evening.

“Daniel, water,” she called out, noting that Daniel hadn’t drank anything in the past thirty minutes. She herself finished off the last of the sweetened water in her canteen and hopped up onto the first step to refill it with the jugs she had placed there after handing Daniel his share. The juice was this world’s equivalent to Gatorade; although fairly sweet in taste, it helped replace many of the substances that the body lost when it was this hot and humid.

She spent the next several hours talking with Daniel when he finally pulled his nose out of his journal. Then when he began nodding off, she watched as he slowly relaxed on the large, cushioned seat. Once she was sure he was sleeping, leaning back comfortably on the high-backed seats, she sent Jaceen looking for one of the miners who had promised her yesterday to answer some of her questions about the inner workings of the mine.

She became so engrossed with the man’s knowledge of the minerals that when she saw Daniel jump off the side of the wagon and stumble to his knees, it took her a moment to register that he was in distress. He got up and staggered away from the trail the caravan was traveling, finally falling onto his hands and knees.

As she ran over to him she saw he was being violently sick. His body was trembling with the effort of staying upright and she quickly wrapped her arms around him, pulling him against her, steadying him as spasm after spasm wracked his body. Daniel gasped for breath in between bouts of retching and coughing.

She was peripherally aware of the convoy passing them by and of a small group of people standing around, either gawking or offering to help while being more of a hindrance than an aid. Daniel sagged more and more against her while helplessly dry heaving as his stomach tried to expel what was now no longer there. She was too busy trying to support Daniel and ignored the questions and offers of assistance.

Suddenly Daniel’s arms gave out and she moved beneath him to support his shoulders and head on her lap. His eyes were closed but he was still conscious, his hand clutching weakly at Sam’s leg. She brought her hand to Daniel’s chest and gently massaged the tight muscles there, knowing from experience the abuse this kind of illness caused. He continued to heave, but not quite as harshly as before.

She looked up and saw that the last wagon had passed them by and had already traveled a fair distance away from them. The onlookers had left by then and only Jaceen and the miner remained. The two of them had been holding up a piece of cloth, creating a bit of shade for her and Daniel. Three of the kains were trotting towards them, raising dust. Sam was relieved to see Teal’c’s familiar bulk astride one, and the Colonel on another. Obviously news of Daniel’s illness had reached the whole caravan.

“What happened?” O’Neill yelled out as he slid off the tall beast and ran the short distance to where she sat, Teal’c following a step behind.

“I’m not sure,” Sam answered as Daniel stirred at the sound of the Colonel’s voice. “Daniel got sick,” she added as her commanding officer cupped a hand gently around Daniel’s jaw. Daniel opened his eyes and looked up but she could tell he was having trouble focusing by the glassy appearance of his eyes.

“How you doing?” the worried man asked in a surprisingly gentle voice.

“A little dizzy,” Daniel replied as he tried to sit up.

“Don’t move yet,” Sam cautioned him as both she and the Colonel pushed him back down.

Teal’c handed her a canteen and she sniffed its contents, smelling only water. She tore the diaphanous scarf she wore around her shoulders for protection from the sun and poured the water over its edge, wiping Daniel’s hot and sweaty face with it.

“It appears to be heat sickness,” Jaceen said timidly.

“I know,” Sam said as she continued to wipe at Daniel’s neck, “but he stayed out of the sun today and had plenty to drink. I think it’s more than that, maybe some sort of allergy to an herb or food?”

“He hasn’t been eating much,” Colonel O’Neill said as he sat beside her. “I think he’s been feeling lousy from the get go.”

“I’m thinking the juice, and damnit, I forced him to drink some today. Daniel,” Sam said, seeing that the spasms were dying out, “do you think you can get up now?”

He nodded weakly, but Teal’c quickly spoke up.

“I will convey DanielJackson to our transportation vehicle,” he stated. When Daniel pushed himself away from Sam, Teal’c and the Colonel were there to assist him. It was an easy matter for Teal’c to lift him onto one of the tall beasts. Teal’c climbed up behind him and supported Daniel’s sagging form against him. Sam hopped up behind the Colonel while Jaceen took the other beast, sharing it with the miner.

- - - - - -

Jack slid off the lanky animal as soon as it came to a stop, rushing over and grabbing Daniel’s waist as Teal’c carefully lowered him down into Jack’s arms. Jack felt Daniel attempt to stand, but his legs gave way and he fell against Jack. Carter was suddenly there helping Jack to hold him up.

The three of them more or less manhandled Daniel into the waiting wagon. Their driver had pulled over when he’d spotted them, allowing them time to get Daniel inside before he started the wagon moving again.

The interior was dark in comparison with the bright sunlit day, and Jack groped blindly amongst the supplies for one of their sleeping mats. Carter opened the canvas window in the back, allowing a bit of air to circulate in the stuffy space and providing enough light to allow Jack to see what he was doing. She dug out her packsack and began rifling through their first aid kit.

Jack found a mat and uncurled it in the center of the wagon, and Teal’c lowered Daniel onto it, turning him onto his side. Jack sat down at the head of the cushioned bed and took Daniel’s head onto his lap. Daniel was shivering, but his temperature felt only slightly warmer than normal. Jack didn’t want to chance overheating him so he didn’t cover him with anything.

“Daniel,” Carter said as she stepped over Daniel to kneel in the small space by his side. “Do you think you could manage a bit of water? I want to give you something for the nausea.”

“Don’t know,” Daniel admitted through chattering teeth.

“Let’s try, okay?” She held a small, round, yellow-green tablet near Daniel’s mouth and Jack raised Daniel’s head slightly to allow him easier access to it. She fed him the pill and let a few drops of water dribble into his mouth. Jack watched him swallow the pill, hoping he could keep the Compazine down and ease some of his discomfort.

Knowing from experience that the medication would make Daniel sleepy, Jack tried to make himself more comfortable by pulling another of the sleeping mats behind him to cushion his back. Jack removed Daniel’s glasses and placed them up on a ledge for safekeeping. He then placed a hand on top of Daniel’s sweaty temple and gently massaged his scalp, hoping to ease the headache he knew had to be making Daniel miserable on top of the nausea.

“Tell me what else you’re feeling,” Carter said as she dribbled water on her scarf and proceeded to wipe Daniel’s face with it again.

“Headache,” he said, confirming Jack’s suspicions. “Sick, dizzy. Muscles hurt.”

“How long, Daniel? When did it start?” Carter asked.

‘How long indeed’, Jack thought. Definitely since yesterday afternoon. Jack wasn’t sure exactly what had gotten into him last night, but when he’d left Daniel to go cool off he belatedly realized his partner hadn’t been feeling well. Was that why Daniel hadn’t admitted to being sick? Because of their argument? Okay, he and Daniel hadn’t talked much today but Carter had kept the younger man company. Jack had been trying to watch him, though, as he had dutifully walked with Kathein earlier that morning.

“Yest’day, I think,” Daniel mumbled.

Jack felt the wagon tilt slightly as someone climbed onto the steps, and a moment later Kathein leaned into the doorway.

“Daniel Jackson is ill?” she asked solicitously, looking at Jack and Daniel.

“We think he’s allergic to some of your food,” Carter informed her.

She nodded, dismissing Daniel and looking pointedly at Jack. “I will require your attention shortly so that we may continue our discussions of the distribution of the minerals. Please attend me.”

“Damn her,” Jack said under his breath once Kathein had left the wagon.

“Others sick?” Daniel asked with his eyes squeezed shut.

Jack glanced at Carter, and then at Teal’c. Both shook their heads.

“No, only you. So it’s not a sickness, it has to be something you ate.”

“Oh great,” Daniel mumbled.

Jack waited a while until he felt Daniel begin to relax. When he was sure he was sleeping, Jack slid from beneath Daniel and left him to Carter’s care.

- - - - - -

“Sam,” Daniel said as he turned towards his friend once he heard Jack leave. “Do me a favour?”

”Daniel, I thought you were sleeping,” she stated in a surprised voice.

“Go play chaperone.”


“Find an excuse and stick to Jack, watch and see if she’s doing something to him.”

“I don’t think the Colonel’s going to be happy about my leaving you,” Sam began, but Daniel cut her off.

“I’m feeling better, not quite as sick. And Teal’c can stay with me.” Daniel glanced towards the open end of the wagon and saw Teal’c following their conversation. “Please Sam, I don’t trust her. I’d feel better if someone watched Jack’s six.”

He was feeling a little better, the pill that Sam had given him had taken away some of the debilitating nausea he’d been experiencing. He’d have been happier if Jack had been able to stay with him here in the confines of the wagon, but would settle with someone keeping an eye on Jack instead.

He was sleepy and knew he’d be asleep in a few minutes. He rubbed his eyes then wondered where his glasses were. Didn’t matter, he didn’t need ‘em if he was going to sleep.

“Okay, but if the Colonel gets mad I’ll tell him it’s all your idea,” she chided gently as she stood up. She placed a hand to his cheek in farewell, and stepped off the wagon. Teal’c moved inside to take her place.

“I think I’m going to sleep now,” Daniel said, stifling a yawn.

“Perhaps you should attempt to drink some liquids first,” Teal’c suggested, handing him a flask. Daniel raised himself onto his elbow, surprised at how weak and shaky he still felt. He took a few tentative sips, testing his nausea. When nothing threatened, he drank several swallows, feeling the tepid liquid dribble into his abused stomach.

He lay back and tried to relax, ignoring he slight ache in his neck and back, and the slight cramping in his legs and feet. It was stifling inside; he was situated too low in the confined space to feel any of the air flowing from the open window.

He dozed lightly, waking up every time one of wheels hit a pothole or one of the garun snorted or farted. He couldn’t seem to get comfortable, no matter how he positioned himself, his body ached and he had to reposition himself every time he woke up. He had no concept of time; it might have been thirty minutes or three hours from the time he’d gotten sick when he finally felt the wagon turn off and finally come to a stop.

It was midday. Time for lunch and siesta.

- - - - - -

Jack waited impatiently for the Lareina to dismiss him and Carter, and he had a sneaky suspicion the woman was deliberately delaying them when she knew they were both anxious to go and check on Daniel.

She’d hidden her displeasure well when Carter joined them, but Jack was beginning to recognize her mannerisms. Although all smiles and pleasant words, her eyes had tightened nearly imperceptibly and her body was held more stiffly than usual whenever she addressed Carter. He’d noted the same reaction towards Daniel and Jack suspected she knew about his and Daniel’s relationship.

The wagon train had stopped, the makeshift canopies had been erected to provide shade from the sun, and a cold lunch was being distributed. Kathein had been served her meal but she ignored it and was making a show of going through the paperwork they had been discussing for the past two hours. Jack held himself still, only moving to wipe away the sweat dripping down the side of his face. He glanced at Carter and saw her looking in the direction of their wagon.

“Very well,” Kathein finally said, gathering the documents into a neat pile. “I will examine these more closely and give you my answer this afternoon.”

Effectively dismissing them, she turned her attention to her meal. Jack motioned to Carter with a tilt of his head to follow him. The Lareina irked him, she could blow hot and cold, and Jack never knew which side she would show him whenever he came to talk to her.

They quickly strode through the camp and reached their wagon. He could see Daniel sitting on a mat on the ground, leaning against one of the enormous wagon wheels. Daniel smiled a greeting at them when he spotted them. Jack eyed him critically and decided that Daniel looked a bit better.

A partially-eaten power bar sat beside him on the sleeping mat, indicating that Daniel had managed to down some food. Jack and Carter both flanked Daniel, each squatting down on either side of him.

“Feeling better?” Jack asked as he inched his fingers over Daniel’s, moving his body to hide the movement from any onlookers. He squeezed gently and Daniel turned his palm over and gave Jack a squeeze back.

“Yeah, a little,” Daniel answered. Jack wondered if he really was better or if the Compazine had simply done its job.

“You’ll need to stick to MRE’s for a bit; at least until we can figure out what exactly made you so sick.”

Daniel nodded. “I figured as much. Just keep that juice away from me,” he said with a smile as he turned to Carter. “I don’t think I could swallow any right now.”

“I’m sorry about that,” Carter said contritely. “But you do know the stuff is good for you.”

“Not if that’s what’s making him sick,” Jack said.

“True,” Carter said, chewing on her bottom lip. Jack guessed she was feeling guilty about having forced the liquid on Daniel.

“I need to go set up the radio relay, Sir,” Carter told him.

“Teal’c’s doing that,” Daniel said, pointing off to the right with his chin. “He was fiddling with it a little while ago and said you should go join him after you ate.”

Carter got up and went to inspect the basket of food that was sitting beside Daniel. She pulled out some meat and began making sandwiches, handing two to Jack before eating her own.

The radio relay was being set up to facilitate communications, both for SG-1 on this mission and for any subsequent missions to the mines in the future. Although so far they’d traversed gentle hills, they would soon be entering a more rugged, mountainous area which could affect their radio waves.

Teal’c had gone off to the highest point in the immediate area, a designation they had already mapped off which was about a kilometer and a half away from their mid-day camp site. With the sun high in the sky and the energy-sapping heat of mid-day, Jack didn’t envy his two team members’ job. He would have accompanied Carter on this duty also, but there was no question of leaving Daniel alone.

“I’ll see you in a few hours,” Carter called out after gathering her equipment, munching on another sandwich while heading for the saddle beasts.

“Take it easy out there,” Jack called out. She raised her hand in acknowledgement. Jack finished his meal and sat back against the wagon, trying to rest during the lull in their journey. Daniel appeared restless, though, constantly shifting around.

“What?” Jack finally asked, cracking an eye and looking at Daniel.

“Nothing, sorry,” Daniel replied.

“Okay. Is there anything you need? Water? Pills?”

“No, Teal’c dosed me about an hour ago. Guess I’m good for a little while.”

“You eating okay?”

Daniel picked up the uneaten portion of his power bar, and fiddled with it nervously before answering.

“Yeah, the pills are helping, but I’m still feeling a bit queasy.”


“Took more pills for that, but yeah, it’s better now.” Daniel looked over at Jack with a slightly sheepish look. “Honestly, I’m feeling much better. I just wish I knew what it was in the first place that caused that. Because I really don’t want a repeat performance.”

“You and me both. I think you frightened Carter this morning.”

“I scared myself too,” Daniel admitted quietly, folding and unfolding the empty part of the wrapper over and over. “I honestly thought for a second that… well, let’s just say I was pretty scared.”

“We can turn back, you know, return to the SGC if you don’t start getting better soon.” Although he said the words, Jack knew what Daniel’s answer was going to be even before he said it.

“The minerals are important, Jack. I know the pressure General Hammond is under to get the mining agreement signed. I think if we turned around and went home now, the Lareina would simply rescind everything. Plus I don’t think she likes me very much.”

“I sort of noticed that,” Jack said with a grimace.

“She seems to like you.” Jack saw the start of a dimple in Daniel’s cheek as he tried to hold back a smile.

“Ya think?” Jack groused. “Although what she sees in me when she could be looking at you…”

“I think she’s got pretty good taste myself,” Daniel stated. Daniel turned to stare at Jack and for the first time he noticed Daniel’s pupils were dilated. Jack hoped it was simply the effects of the medication he’d taken.

Jack yawned and laid his head back against the wagon. He’d only gotten a couple of hours of sleep last night, having woken up early and trying to figure out what had gotten over him, leading to their argument. When the sun had risen, Jack had spent a good amount of time simply lying there watching Daniel sleep.

He yawned again and Daniel chuckled. Daniel moved over on the mat he was sitting on and patted the empty space beside him. Jack slid down and lay on his side while Daniel did the same. It was just too hot to do anything else but sleep. He felt sorry for Teal’c and Carter, vowing that they could spend the rest of the afternoon resting in the wagon with Daniel if they felt like it. The last thing he heard was Daniel shifting around behind him restlessly.

Jack woke up feeling headachy and lethargic from the heat. His clothes were sodden with sweat and he simply lay there, listening to the goings on of the camp. He could hear Daniel breathing softly beside him, and he could feel Daniel’s body heat even though there were inches separating them. The heat and humidity seemed to make everything unbearable.

He finally turned onto his back with a soft groan. He looked at Daniel who was still asleep, his face near Jack’s. There were still dark circles under his eyes and he was still pale, and he needed a shave, but his familiar face sent a pang down into Jack’s stomach as he realized how much he loved the man lying beside him.

He closed his eyes again, not expecting to sleep.

The noise of the camp breaking up woke him. The sun was much lower and the temperature had cooled off a bit. Daniel was sitting up beside him, rubbing his right leg.

“Hey,” Jack said, his mouth feeling thick and pasty. He was dying for something to drink and he looked around for a canteen.

“Sleep well?” Daniel asked as he handed him some water. Jack nodded as he first slaked his thirst then poured some of the water over his head, giving his head a shake. Droplets splattered all over and he quickly regretted the action when his headache blossomed. He reached for his pack and took out a couple of Advils.

“Sam and Teal’c are back,” Daniel informed him. “I just saw them riding in.”

“Good, I’ll talk to Fraiser tonight when Hammond powers up the Stargate.” He walked over to the ever present jug of water and filled Daniel’s canteen, then his own.

Carter looked totally exhausted when she returned to the wagon and Jack suggested she go rest inside. Teal’c reported that the relay was working fine and they should have no problem communicating with the SGC via the MALP that had been left by the Stargate specifically for this purpose.

When the servants began pulling down their canopy, Jack went over to help Daniel back inside the wagon. He caught Daniel rubbing his leg again, but at his questioning, Daniel merely replied that he had slight cramps.

Jack feared dehydration and bade Daniel drink more water. He watched as Daniel settled himself beside Carter, who was already fast asleep. Daniel opted to sit inside near the front of the wagon and Jack took the front seat beside the driver. He talked for a while with Daniel, but he could see Daniel was tiring so he urged him to lie down and sleep.

He watched his team members sleep, one obviously exhausted and sleeping deeply and heavily, the other one sick and weak and tossing restlessly. He found himself constantly reaching down and checking Daniel for fever. His temperature remained normal, thankfully, and he was sweating freely, so hopefully he was getting enough liquids.

He finally relinquished his seat to Teal’c when Kathein’s servant came to inform him the Lareina was ready to see him. He jogged lightly to the woman’s wagon, where as usual, she walked easily by her wagon as she waited for him.

- - - - - -

They spent the rest of that afternoon’s journey discussing the mining rights, and Jack was wishing that Carter were here to help answer some of her questions. At least he didn’t have to take notes; one of the servants was doing that for him. The sun was nearly setting when they reached the oasis they’d been heading for and the convoy soon settled into the now-routine business of making camp.

Expecting to be excused, he was surprised for a moment when Kathein invited him to eat with her. He had no ready excuse; Daniel was getting better and had both Teal’c and Carter to watch over him. He sighed, and agreed. She sent one of her people over to them with the message not to wait for him and then preceded him into her quarters.

- - - - - -

Soft hands caressed his cheek and he caught them easily, bringing them to his mouth and pressing kisses onto the soft skin. His body was shaking with desire, and his cock straining at his pants. He licked the small fingers, bringing one into his mouth and sucking on it before biting down gently.

He took the finger from his mouth, searching for those warm, supple lips he remembered so well. He found a mouth, and looked up. Shining purple eyes stared at him lovingly, pupils dilated in lust.

Jack blinked. That was wrong. The eyes should be blue, a clear and brilliant blue.

He pushed off the bed and stood up, swaying.

“Jack,” the woman protested as she raised an arm in supplication.

“No, this isn’t right,” he said, backing up towards the edge of the tent. He spotted his tee shirt lying on the ground and grabbed it, nearly losing his balance in the process.

His head felt thick and the whole candle-lit tent looked surreal. The ache in his groin was persistent and he had to leave before he lost control and tried to slake his relief with this woman. He needed Daniel. He needed Daniel now!

He stumbled out of the tent, fumbling with the flaps before finding the opening. The cool night air washed over him, helping to clear his head a little. He searched for his wagon, thinking it was usually camped to the right of the Lareina’s. He set off in that direction.

It took him several minutes but he finally found it. Both tents had been erected together rather than on either side of the wagon. It made one large tent, which was what had confused him.

He entered the tent and saw Daniel lying sprawled on his stomach opposite the entrance. He’d been writing in his journal earlier, it was sitting open beside him, his lax hand resting over the pages. Jack’s cock jumped to attention, swelling even harder at the sight of his slumbering lover. His eyes traveled over the familiar form before him. The blanket was caught between Daniel’s legs, pulled tight against his ass. Jack took an involuntary step towards Daniel when a voice suddenly yanked him back to the present.


He turned to the voice and saw Carter and Teal’c both sitting off to the side, Carter presumably working on the notes that had been taken today. Why the hell were they here? Why couldn’t they have stayed in their own tent tonight?

Daniel groaned suddenly and rolled over onto his side. Jack could see the paleness of his face and suddenly he recalled Daniel was sick. Daniel opened his eyes, and looked at Jack.

Damn, he needed relief. He needed Daniel badly, he felt as if he were burning up. What the hell was going on?

Ignoring Carter and Teal’c’s questions and Daniel’s voice calling his name, Jack sped out of the tent and made for the sanctuary of the dark night, where only he and his hand would know how close he had come to taking Daniel had he been alone with him.

- - - - - -

After relieving the pressing needs of his body in a dark corner and coming to grips with his emotions, Jack wandered around the camp until he found some water. He washed his hands and face, trying to scrub away the stench of the Lareina’s perfume. His head ached and his legs felt shaky. He suspected he’d been subjected to some kind of aphrodisiac, his memory was fuzzy but he recalled feeling the woman’s body beneath his hands.

Daniel had looked up at Jack. He had to have seen the state Jack was in. Damn, how was he going to explain this to him? Would Daniel even believe him?

He rubbed his hands through his hair in irritation. Of course Daniel would believe him. That woman had tried to force Jack into doing something he hadn’t any interest in doing. He’d known at first she’d been flirting with him. He’d been polite, but hadn’t reciprocated. But flashes of memory came to him, sitting by her side and being mesmerized by the exotic colour of her eyes, her soft lips, her voice a sultry seductive siren song that pushed out all thoughts except those of her.

Christ, how long had she been doing this to him?

Angry now, he made his way back to his tent, remembering suddenly he was supposed to speak to Hammond tonight. He glanced at his watch as he passed a campfire, and he noted that the scheduled time had come and gone. Shit. He hoped Carter had managed to get through in lieu of him.

He entered the tent a second time that evening, feeling more in control of himself. Carter and Daniel were sitting side by side, talking. Jack’s eyes went straight for Daniel, afraid of what he would see reflected in his lover’s face.

“Jack!” Daniel exclaimed. Daniel was sitting crossed legged on the sleeping mat and he made to rise when he saw him. Jack went straight for Daniel and crouched beside him. He nearly sagged with relief when he saw worry and love and not the accusation and anger he was expecting.

“Are you okay?” Daniel asked, his eyes searching Jack’s face with an intensity that was almost scary.

“Yeah, I am now.” He took Daniel’s hand and squeezed it before turning to Carter.

“Did you talk to Hammond and Fraiser?” He felt Daniel squeeze back.

He listened with half an ear as Carter expounded on her conversation with Hammond, the details being exactly what he’d expected. He sat beside Daniel and tried to relax. When she moved on to her conversation with the SGC’s doctor, however, he gave her his full attention.

“Janet was mostly worried about dehydration but considering that Daniel managed to eat a full MRE tonight, she thinks he’s over the worst of the allergic reaction. She cautioned that we all keep to what we already know is safe for us to eat, and that Daniel not eat any of the local food.”

Jack nodded. In other words, continue doing what they’d been doing already.

“Colonel, Teal’c is out searching for you. If you don’t mind, I’ll go see if I can find him and let him know you’re okay.”

“Fine.” Bless her, she was giving them privacy. Carter stood up, but as she was leaving the tent, Jack called her back in.

“Do me a favour?”


“No matter what Kathein says, make sure either you or Teal’c continue to play chaperone when I’m with her.”

“Understood,” she said after a short pause.

“She drugged me,” Jack said quietly to Daniel, his thumb rubbing small patterns on the back of Daniel’s hand.

“I figured as much.”

“If there wasn’t so much riding on this trip, I’d have us turn around right now and go home.”

Daniel turned to face Jack and stroked a finger down Jack’s cheek. “Not on my account, I hope.”

Jack would have preferred to hand Daniel over to Fraiser, even with the news that Daniel was feeling better. But the mission came first and so long as the trip wasn’t endangering his team, he had no choice but to continue on.

“No. But because the one woman who holds everything the SGC wants tried to coerce me into doing something I had no intention of doing. And I think she tried this more than once.”

Daniel teasingly nudged Jack with his shoulder. “We’ll get Teal’c to babysit you, don’t worry. She won’t try anything with him looking over her shoulder.” Jack smiled at the thought of the Jaffa watching Kathein with an eagle eye. He felt better, glad he knew now what had been happening to him.

- - - - - -

Daniel’s frantic movements as he tried to get out of his sleeping area woke Jack up. Before Jack could sit up, Daniel scrambled off the sleeping mats and had almost made it out of the tent before he began throwing up. Jack was up in a flash. He could hear Daniel struggling to breathe through the violent upheaval, coughing and gagging whenever he tried to take a breath.

Teal’c reached Daniel the same time Jack did and they both held onto his shaking body. Jack spoke soothingly, trying to keep Daniel calm. Carter lit the lamps, and Jack saw her rifling through her pack. Soon Daniel had nothing left to throw up, although his body kept on trying. They pulled Daniel back onto the mat, removed his soiled clothes and covered him up with a blanket. Daniel curled up on his side, his knees drawn to his chest. As Carter gave him an injection of Compazine, Jack hoped the antiemetic would act quickly and ease Daniel’s suffering.

Jack grabbed the corner of the blanket and wiped Daniel’s sweaty face with it. Daniel’s breathing sounded harsh and quick, and he was shivering. Daniel grabbed at Jack’s hand and Jack could see the fear reflected in his lover’s eyes.

“It’s gonna be okay, you just need to ride this through,” Jack told him. Daniel moaned and squeezed Jack’s hand tightly as he dry heaved once more. “It’s okay,” Jack whispered. “Just try to relax in between bouts.”

“Can’t. Hurts.”

“What hurts, Daniel?” Carter asked, leaning over Jack and reaching for Daniel’s wrist to take his pulse. “Your stomach?”

Daniel nodded, unable to talk when another spasm wracked his body.

Carter finished taking his pulse and shook her head. She placed a hand on his cheek, then his forehead.

“He has a fever,” she informed Jack, “and his pulse is way out there.”

Jack didn’t need her to tell him that. He could feel the heat coming off Daniel’s hand which was still holding tightly onto Jack’s. He could also see the pulse in Daniel’s neck beating so fast it was almost vibrating.

“Carter, you sure Daniel didn’t eat anything local tonight?”

“Yes Sir, I’m positive. He had more of an appetite and managed to eat an MRE.”

“What about the water? Could it be contaminated with something?”

“I observed the woman Jaceen myself,” Teal’c said. “The water is very carefully boiled and MajorCarter and I have both ensured it was purified before being provided for our drinking needs.”

“Damnit, there has to be something he ate or drank that’s making him sick,” he ranted to nobody in particular.

click for larger picture A birthday prezzie,

sketched by Ximeria

His attention was returned to Daniel once more as he moaned in discomfort. The worst appeared to be over, though, so Jack slid down beside Daniel on the mat. Daniel allowed Jack to pull him against his chest and he maneuvered his body against Jack’s, seeking his body warmth.

- - - - - -

Daniel woke up slowly, trying to figure out what had disturbed him. He listened attentively and heard Jack’s voice raised in anger outside, slightly muffled through the thick canvas of the tent.

With a groan, he managed to sit up. His head spun and he had to swallow a few times to ease the nausea that had returned with the movement. The muscles along his ribs and back ached fiercely and his head was throbbing. He felt feverish, even his skin hurt. His eyesight was blurry, and he rubbed his eyes, trying to clear his vision.

He had an awful taste in his mouth and he felt like he couldn’t get enough saliva to wet it. He looked around for a canteen, and spotted one by their packs. Crawling over to it, he managed to swallow a few sips before looking for his clothes.

He got up, holding onto the wagon until his head stopped spinning, and spotted his glasses nearby. When he put them on he was surprised that his vision didn’t improve by much. He found his pants and tee shirt lying discarded by the far side of the tent. He wrinkled his nose at the sour stench of vomit as he picked up his tee shirt. He dropped it back onto the ground and walked unsteadily to his pack and found clean clothes. He could still hear Jack arguing with the Lareina while he dressed, wanting to turn their wagon back and bring Daniel to the SGC for treatment.

Daniel cautiously opened the flaps of the tent, squinting in the bright light. He belatedly wished he’d thought of looking for his sunglasses when his headache doubled in intensity but he wasn’t sure where they were. Reluctantly he stepped outside and heard Sam call his name. Jack’s voice stilled and suddenly he was there by Daniel’s side, an anxious expression on his face.

“Hey, you shouldn’t be up,” he said as he helped Daniel over into the nearest shady area. “How are you feeling?”

Sam and Teal’c joined them, and he could see the worry reflected on their faces. He ignored the way his body broke out in sweat from the short walk.

“I’m fine, guys. Just a little dizzy and tired.” He looked around as he sat down and saw the Lareina standing off a ways, staring at them. He nodded to her and she moved off without acknowledging him.

“You should have stayed in bed a little longer,” Jack chided. When Daniel raised a questioning eyebrow, Jack added, “You’ve got plenty of time to rest. We’re turning back.”

“Turning back? Why? I told you last night I was feeling better.” He wasn’t really, but this mission was important to Earth. They would reach the first mine later that afternoon; it would take two days to reach the Stargate. It wasn’t worth turning back now, especially as they were so close to reaching their goal.

“You expect me to believe that after your little episode last night?” Jack exclaimed incredulously.

“Daniel, the Colonel’s right. This trade agreement isn’t worth your life,” Sam added.

“My life? I had an upset stomach! I’m sorry about the mess and the worry, but aren’t you guys making a big deal over this?” Sure he felt really lousy at the moment but he’d get over this, whatever it was. He always did. He looked over at Teal’c, expecting the Jaffa to at least agree with him.

But instead of siding with Daniel, Teal’c placed a hand to Daniel’s cheek. Daniel’s reactions were a little slow so he jerked his head back after the damage was done.

“Your body temperature is elevated. You are not well.”

“It’s hot outside, Teal’c,” Daniel said sarcastically. “Of course I’m hot.”

“Can it, Danny,” Jack growled. “We just have to look at you to know you’re not feeling that great.” Daniel lowered his head in embarrassment, trying to hide his expression of dismay. “This has gone on long enough, it’s time to get you back home and have you play at being Fraiser’s pincushion for a little while.”

“And that visual is supposed to make me want to go back?” Sam’s lip curled up slightly at Daniel’s words, but Jack’s face remained impassive. “Look, okay. So I’m feeling a little lousy. But we’re close to reaching the mines, which is what this mission is all about. Why don’t we go on to the first one and if I’m not better by tomorrow, we leave then? I’m not slated to be doing anything there anyway, so I can take it easy while you guys all go exploring. At least this way we’ll have completed part of our objective.” He could see that Jack wasn’t buying it.

“Look, do you really want to turn back because I’m sick, or because you’re pissed that Kathein tried to drug you into her bed.” Jack started at his words, and then glared at Daniel. “Because if that’s the case, you’re going to be axing our best chance in years to get the trinium and other raw materials we’ve been searching for. Please Jack, I’ll nr fine. I’ve had worse than this.”

“You may have had worse, but we’re two days away from proper medical help and I’m not willing to risk you for some minerals.”

“Jack, if I can risk *you* in the hands of Kathein, then maybe you can risk trusting me on this.”

Jack’s eyes narrowed and Daniel could see that he was biting back a retort. The emotions running through Daniel at the moment aggravated his illness and he wanted nothing more but to curl up somewhere in a corner and hide his head under the covers. But Jack had put on his mother hen hat and was ignoring their mission’s mandate. He really felt lousy and was having a hard time hiding the severity of it from Jack.

“Fine,” Jack snapped at him. “Get something to eat and get back in the wagon. I’ll go tell her highness that we’ll be ready to leave in fifteen.”

As Jack walked away, Daniel sighed and closed his eyes. A hand gripped his arm lightly and he opened his eyes to see Teal’c squatting beside him.

“He is worried for you, as are we all. Do not belittle his concern.”

“Teal’c, I’m not…”

“Yes you are, Daniel,” Sam interrupted. “You’re not fooling anyone, you know.” She took a deep breath and Daniel was relieved when she changed the subject. “I’ll get you something for your fever. Eat this and drink some water.”

Daniel accepted the power bar she handed him, wondering how he was going to force it down. He unwrapped it and then took a tentative bite, chewing slowly. He swallowed it down with a sip of water, actually feeling the nourishment reach his stomach and sit there uncomfortably. It felt like his stomach was swollen and irritated, and the food was making it worse. He managed another two bites when the nausea rose up again.

He sat there with his eyes closed, fighting the waves of heat and queasiness that rolled over him. He finally won the struggle and was able to swallow the pills Sam gave him. She eyed him critically but didn’t say anything as she took the nearly untouched meal away from him.

By the time Jack returned, the camp was almost ready to move. As Daniel stood up and walked back to the wagon on wobbly legs, he wondered at how sensitive his skin was. The material of his pants was rubbing painfully against his legs and his boots felt nearly unbearable. As he placed a step on the first rung to haul himself onto the wagon seat, Jaceen stopped packing their belongings and joined them.

“I did not wish to overhear,” she said, eyes downcast. “But your voices carried so.” She glanced up nervously, eyeing them all.

Daniel heard Jack say to her to go on as he grabbed the seat to prevent himself from falling backwards as his legs nearly gave out on him. He nearly fell onto the seat and clutched at the sides when the world began to spin.

“There are healers at the mines that could look at Daniel. Perhaps the Lareina will send one to you when we arrive today. I wished only to say…” She bit her lip and looked around cautiously, before lowering her voice. “The healer who is appointed to the mines is a friend of the Lareina’s, and will do as she is told. If you would, the Leroi’s… friend… is known to all as being well versed in the healing arts. But the Lareina will not take kindly to her husband’s paramour treating one she believes to be in the Lareina’s care.”

“Wait a minute,” Jack exploded. “Husband?” He stared up at Daniel dumbfoundedly. “She’s married?”

Jaceen’s expression was one of confusion.

“But yes. Surely you knew?”

“No,” Sam intervened quickly before Jack could say something rude. “We were given to understand that Kathein was sole ruler here.” She looked up at Jack and then at Daniel. “This could be a problem, Sir.”

“The Leroi Howain oversees the mines and spends much time there and away from the city,” Jaceen explained. “It is also one of the reasons why we are escorting you to the mines, so that you may discuss and finalize the agreement with him. I do not understand why you were not told of this.”

“Oh, I can think of a few,” Jack said as he glared towards the head of the wagon train. “Thank you, Jaceen,” Jack said suddenly. “I appreciate your candor and Daniel could certainly use the services of a healer.”

“We’ll be at the mine by suppertime tonight, Sir,” Sam confirmed. “Could you make the arrangements for this healer to come?” she asked, looking at Jaceen. The younger woman nodded and smiled, then looked up at Daniel.

“I am certain that the Leroi will do so the instant he hears of illness. If anyone can help you, Daniel, it will be Braggain, who trained under the skills of Timal. All who do are renowned for their healing abilities.”

“I’d rather have Fraiser looking at you,” Jack said, bringing his hand to grasp Daniel’s arm and rubbing it gently, “but maybe one of the local healers can identify exactly what bug you’ve picked up or what allergen that’s making you sick.”

The sensation of Jack’s hand was both comforting and painful on Daniel’s sensitized skin. He didn’t pull away but instead withstood the discomfort. When Jaceen finished gathering their stuff, Jack let go of Daniel and began handing her their supplies, which she packed in the interior of the wagon.

Their driver clambered up onto the seat beside Daniel, giving him a nod before speaking. “You had best stay on the wagon,” the driver warned. “We will be traveling more quickly, at least until we reach the foothills.” Daniel looked at the grayish brown smudge that blurred before him. “A storm approaches quickly and we need to deviate from our route.”

“Storm?” Daniel mumbled, turning to look around the wagon behind him when the man pointed in that direction. The sky was a strangely ominous grayish pink. From his vantage point, Daniel could see that the storm system was huge.

“We have no wish to be caught in the flatlands,” the driver continued.

“Hey, looks like we’re in for quite a storm,” Jack said as he came up beside them and handed Jaceen the last of their stuff.

As soon as Jaceen stepped off the wagon, it pulled away with a lurch. As they took their place in the convoy, Daniel could tell that the pace was nearly double that which they’d been traveling for the past two days. The heat was oppressive already this early in the morning. it was going to be hard on both the people and the huge beasts pulling the wagons.

“You said we’re deviating?” Daniel asked, looking back worriedly at his friends walking beside the wagon. He regretted the movement, the world tilting nauseatingly a moment before it righted itself again. He had to concentrate on the words of the driver.

“Yes. We will take a seldom-used route to gain the foothills, where we will be able to take shelter should the storm continue this way. With the original route, we needs cross a river but it will be too swollen with rainfall by the time we would get there this afternoon. The alternate route is treacherous, which is why we rarely use it, but we would cross the river much sooner. Since the Lareina’s young son was killed there, we avoid it as much as possible.”

They traveled in relative silence, everyone trying to conserve energy as they kept up with the fast pace Kathein was setting. Daniel mulled over the driver’s words, and wondered about the death of Kathein’s son.

Soon the heat sapped the last of Daniel’s energy and he had no choice but to move inside and lie down. As he sat down on the makeshift bed that Jaceen had prepared for him earlier to try and remove his boots, he felt the wagon tilt and Jack’s anxious voice called out to him as his form blocked out the light.

“You okay?” Jack questioned as he knelt beside him. Daniel looked at Jack, noting that his clothes were sodden with sweat. He felt guilty about lying down when Jack and everyone else were most probably already exhausted.

“Tired,” he said weakly, tugging on his boot while trying to ease it from his throbbing foot. Jack moved his hands gently away and fiddled with the laces, finally easing the heavy footwear off. Daniel lay down onto the mat as Jack worked the other boot off.

“What about you?” Daniel asked, seeing Jack wipe sweat from his face with the back of his hand.

“Hot,” he said with a wry grin. “But we’ve got plenty of water, so we’re all okay.” He looked around and spotted a canteen. “Speaking of which, I don’t remember seeing you drinking any today.” He handed it to Daniel, who took it and forced a few sips into his still rebellious stomach.

“I’d better get out there before they think I’m goofing off,” Jack said with a grimace. He squeezed Daniel’s shoulder and Daniel nearly shot off the floor from the pain. He pulled away from Jack instinctively, and saw Jack freeze.

“Sorry,” he mumbled, but Jack was eyeing him with concern.

“What the hell was that?” he demanded, his fingers ghosting over the spot where he’d grasped Daniel.

“My skin hurts,” Daniel finally admitted.


“Where it touches my clothes.” He felt Jack lift his tee shirt and he raised his head to look at the pale, unblemished skin of his abdomen. Jack’s hand trailed lightly over his skin, leaving sensations of fire behind wherever his fingers touched.

“This hurts?” he asked, keeping his eyes on Daniel’s face. Daniel nodded, pulling down the material to cover his exposed skin, forcing Jack’s fingers away from him.

“Danny,” Jack said, “we can’t turn back with that storm coming. We have no choice but to keep going. This is more than just a bug or allergy.”

“I know.”

“All we can do now is pray that this Braggain woman can help you.”

Daniel nodded, knowing his predicament full well. He closed his eyes wearily. He felt Jack’s cool lips on his own before his whispered words reached him.

“Get some sleep. I’ll be right outside.”

“ ‘Kay,” he said, keeping his eyes closed. He heard Jack leave the wagon, and Jack’s voice carried to him as he filled his teammates in on Daniel’s latest symptoms.

He tried to sleep, but the heat in the wagon and the increasing sensitivity of his skin kept him awake. He took a finger and played it up and down his arm curiously, seeking out the pain. He realized that it hurt more in certain spots, as if the nerves themselves rather than his skin as a whole were what had become sensitized. Finally exhaustion claimed him and he fell asleep despite the heat and pain.

He woke up with a cry, his feet seeming to be on fire. Shivering with fever, he reached down and tried to massage the hurt away. His whole body ached and burned, and he held back the need to call out for Jack. Feeling like a child, craving sympathy and someone to tell him he’d be fine, instead he ground his teeth together and told himself he was a grown man. He’d weathered allergies, colds, the flu and broken bones throughout most of his life by himself; he didn’t need to beg someone to come and hold his hand just because he was feeling a little insecure.

He rummaged through the nearest packsack, seeking something for his fever. He removed a blister pack and peered at the packaging, his eyesight blurry and unable to make out the wording. He picked up a few others, rubbing at his eyes and hoping the print would be clearer. He finally came across the Tylenol, recognizing the yellow and red color of the tablets. He swallowed two, draining half the water when he realized how thirsty he was.

The wagon hit a pothole and Daniel lost his balance, falling onto his side. He realized that the going was rougher than before, although their speed hadn’t diminished. He could hear people calling out to one another, a sense of unrest in the air. He heard running water, and suddenly the sound of the wagon changed as it splashed through it.

Crawling on hands and knees, he decided to go look outside and see what was going on. He’d only made it halfway when without warning the water he’d drank made a sudden reappearance. He dropped onto his side, curling around the painful cramping of his stomach that brought tears to his eyes.

When the cramps finally eased, he realized the wagon had come to a stop. He continued to lay there, exhausted, when Jack suddenly entered the interior.

“Daniel, we’re going to have to…” His voice trailed off and he rushed to Daniel’s side.

“What happened?” he asked, eying the puddle of liquid Daniel was lying in.

“I was stupid. I drank some water too fast,” Daniel said, forcing himself back into a sitting position and wiping the warm water from his arm. He was relieved to see Jack; glad that he wasn’t alone.

Jack looked at him carefully before his hand came up to caress Daniel’s cheek. “Shit, you’re burning up,” Jack said. Daniel leaned into Jack’s hand a moment before answering.

“I took some Tylenol, but I think they’re…” he waved at the water he’d vomited. Jack reached over for a pack and fished out some more pills. Daniel took them from him and swallowed them dry this time.

“I hate to do this to you, but we’re going to have to walk a ways now. The road is too steep for chancing passengers riding inside the wagons. I took a look and there’s no way you’re staying in here.”

“Okay,” Daniel said, steeling himself for the journey. He looked for his socks and boots, and as he reached for them, Jack was already there. He took the socks from Jack and pulled them over his feet, hating the heat they already generated on his sensitive nerves. He pushed his feet into his boots, biting back a moan. He laced them up as loosely as he could, then nodded to Jack that he was ready. Jack looked at him quizzically and then reached back and took Daniel’s glasses and placed them on his nose. His sunglasses followed, then his boonie hat.


Daniel took a deep breath and let Jack help him up. As he leaned against his lover, he noticed that Jack’s clothes were soaked with sweat.

His legs felt rubbery as he grabbed the seat for leverage and made his way to the ground. Teal’c and Sam were there, helping him down. As he walked towards a bunch of trees where many of the people were resting beneath the offered shade, he saw the path the wagons had to take. Jack was right. It was very steep, surrounded by unforgiving boulders and trees.

They sat down at the edge of the trees, where they had a bit of privacy. Most of the group was resting, but a few had already begun trudging up the hill, widely littered with rocks which prevented the wagons from traveling the easier route. The spot where the people were climbing was nowhere near as bad as where the animals were forced to go.

Daniel couldn’t believe the garun could make it up that grade. He watched as they struggled, their hindquarters quivering with the effort of placing one step before the other, pulling the loaded wagon behind them. Daniel heaved a sigh of relief when it finally cleared the top. The event recurred when the next wagon in line began climbing the hill.

“Jaceen was telling me that Kathein’s toddler son was killed when her husband left him sleeping inside their wagon,” Sam said. “The wagon in front slid into theirs when one of the garun slipped. She didn’t come right out and say it, but I understood that Kathein never forgave Howain.”

Daniel looked at Jack, wondering how he would take the news. Jack’s eyes narrowed slightly and Daniel wondered if he was already hating this man who had unwittingly caused the death of his child. He sighed, wondering if there was going to be even more tension when they finally met up with him.

Jack shifted closer to Daniel and pulled him against his chest. Daniel allowed the motion and leaned tiredly against Jack, reveling in the feel of his body against his own. It was really too hot for body contact, but he’d missed Jack’s touch and began to feel a little more secure once again.

“Don’t go to sleep,” Jack whispered in Daniel’s hair. He nodded, knowing they were going to have to start moving soon. He looked back at the wagons and saw that their own was next in line. He tensed as he saw their driver step down and began leading the animals up the hill. He held his breath, muscles stiff and tense, until they finally made it to safety.

He hadn’t realized that Jack had also tensed up until he felt his body relax beneath his. Jack took out his canteen and offered it to Daniel.

“Try and drink a bit before we go.”

Daniel took a sip and waited. His stomach contracted once, and then settled down. He managed a few more sips without mishap and handed the container back.

He stood up and looked up the path they had to take, already wishing they were at the top. The landscape was fading into a blur; he was going to have to trust his team to make sure he didn’t walk into a tree or fall over the edge of a cliff or something. With Sam taking point and Jack and Teal’c flanking him, they began their slow trudge uphill.

- - - - - -

Jack knew Daniel was downplaying his illness. Even before they’d begun their relationship, Daniel had always had trouble with someone fussing over him when he was sick. But as their relationship changed from one of friendship to intimacy, Daniel had slowly allowed Jack through his defenses and acquiesced to letting Jack care for him when he wasn’t well. But Jack thought there was more to it this time. Daniel’s adamancy earlier to keep going when they’d had a chance to turn back had been a not-so-gentle reminder to Jack that their mission came first.

Daniel stumbled over a protruding rock and Jack grabbed Daniel’s arm to keep him steady. A few moments later he stumbled again. Jack snaked his arm around Daniel’s waist, keeping him from tumbling to the ground. It took Daniel a few seconds to regain his equilibrium, and when they continued on, he was leaning heavily against Jack.

The ascent was steep but easily manageable to someone who was in fairly decent shape. But Daniel was definitely on his way to being dehydrated, hadn’t kept food down in two days and had a fever of at least 102 if not higher. The unusually high heat wave this land was currently experiencing was debilitating on the healthy, let alone the ill. Daniel needed to be in bed, and not being forced to walk up a steep hill. What Daniel truly needed was a soft bed, one of Fraiser’s IVs stuck in his arm, supplemented by whatever drugs that could ease the fever and pain he knew Daniel was undergoing.

When Jack had first heard that they needed to evacuate the wagons, he had at first thought it was Kathein’s way of punishing him for his having more or less ignored her these past hours. But then he’d heard the people talking amongst themselves and had learned that the Lareina had never used this route since her son’s death. Necessity had forced them here, and fate was forcing Daniel out of his sick bed and out into the heat.

Jack heard thunder rumble behind him and he glanced back, seeing the storm clouds approaching in the distance. He could hear the huge beasts lowing and grunting to his left as they struggled to pull up their heavy loads up the nearly impossible path. Only half had made it to the top so far and he hoped the rain stayed away until all of them had reached safety. Rain would make the treacherous path slick with mud, rendering it almost impossible to climb.

The wind picked up, the breeze feeling good against his skin even though it was fanning hot air against him. His pants and tee shirt billowing against his legs and abdomen, he relished the feeling as the gusts dried the sticky sweat from his body.

Most of the group had already made the climb, only a few stragglers other than SG-1 remained. Jack glanced up, seeing they were barely halfway to their goal. It was slow going, but he knew that Daniel was giving it all he was worth. This worried Jack because Daniel hadn’t had that kind of energy to spare to begin with.

Jack heard Daniel moan softly, his free hand clutching at his tee shirt which was flapping in the wind. Although Daniel kept his eyes on the ground before him, Jack had noted how dilated his pupils were and he suspected that Daniel was seeing nothing but a beige blur.

Daniel began to slow down, his steps unsteady. Jack was thinking of stopping in order to give Daniel a break when suddenly he became a dead weight in Jack’s arms.

“Teal’c,” Jack breathed as he went down under Daniel’s weight, trying to prevent the fainting man from crashing to the ground. Teal’c’s quick reflexes took some of Daniel’s weight from Jack, allowing Jack to maneuver himself underneath Daniel and cradle his head and shoulders on his lap.

Carter was there, her hands on Daniel’s neck, taking his pulse, checking his breathing. Jack reached back and took out his canteen, pouring water into his hand and wiping his dripping hand over Daniel’s face and neck. It took a minute but finally Daniel began stirring.

“Sir, he won’t make it up this hill by himself,” Carter said, her hand lying flat on Daniel’s chest. “I’m going to go see if I can find a spare mount.”

Jack nodded, knowing that Teal’c could easily cart Daniel up the rest of the way if Carter couldn’t get him a ride. All of the animals had been appropriated to help lighten some of the heavier wagons, it was doubtful that any could be spared at the moment.

Jack continued to wet down Daniel’s face, and when he was responsive enough, had him swallow a few sips of water. Daniel began shivering, and Jack knew that his fever was mounting. Daniel curled up on his side, his hands clutching at Jack’s thighs.

“Shhh, it’s okay,” Jack soothed.

“God, Jack, make it stop,” Daniel whispered.

“What? Make what stop?” He stroked a hand through Daniel’s sweat-soaked hair.

“The wind. Please, it hurts.”

That was when Jack realized the wind was whipping the fabric of their clothes against their bodies. Daniel’s skin had been hurting him… shit!

He shifted around so that his back was taking the brunt of the breeze, and Teal’c moved beside him, trying to make as much of a windbreak as they could between the two of them. He looked at Teal’c, and was ready to ask him if he would carry Daniel up when he heard the sound of hooves coming towards them.

Kathein rode towards them on her personal mount; he could see Carter at the top of the hill looking down at them. The Lareina came to a stop before them, and motioned for them to come.

“Put him up behind me,” she ordered, turning the animal around so it was facing uphill once more. Jack and Teal’c grabbed Daniel’s arms and lifted him to his feet. They managed to get Daniel astride the animal, where he slumped against Kathein, half conscious. With Jack and Teal’c on either side of Daniel, they held onto him to ensure he didn’t fall off and continued on up.

An enormous tent had been set up where most of the people were preparing to shelter from the storm. Some were inside the wagons, but the majority were resting under the canvas, enjoying the now cooler temperatures.

It was with relief that they finally made it to their wagon. Teal’c climbed onto the steps and lifted Daniel’s unresisting body off the animal’s wide back. Carter went in right behind Teal’c, but Jack took a moment to look back at Kathein.

“Thank you,” he said, standing on the wagon’s steps, bringing him up to the same height as the woman. She raised a hand and stroked Jack’s jaw with a finger. He held himself still, trying not to flinch away from her touch. Without a word, she turned the beast around and trotted off to her own conveyance.

The normally tidy interior was littered with their supplies, which had fallen off the shelving as the wagon had gone up the incline. Carter was tossing everything into a corner and had cleared the sleeping area. Teal’c had put Daniel down back onto the mat, and Jack squeezed by the two to sit at Daniel’s head.

Daniel was restless and in obvious pain; the interior was stifling as the wagon was sitting crosswise to the blowing wind. He moaned and tried to pull away as Carter began removing his boots and socks.

“Easy,” Jack soothed, bending down close when he saw Daniel open his eyes. He placed a kiss on Daniel’s temple, feeling the dry heat of his skin beneath his sensitive lips. Daniel’s fever had risen, Jack wished he had a thermometer, but at the same time was afraid to know the results. Daniel clutched at Jack’s tee shirt, and Jack gently pried his fingers from the material, holding them in his own.

“We need to get his fever down,” Carter said as she tucked Daniel’s socks inside his boots.

“There’ll be plenty of water soon,” Jack said, hearing the boom of thunder follow almost immediately after a blinding flash of lightening. “Maybe we can fill a container, give Daniel a bath…”

A gust of wind rocked the wagon, and the splatter of rain quickly darkened the light-colored canvas that was their ceiling. Within seconds, the spray became a downpour, then a torrent. The sky had darkened considerably, lit from without by the almost constant lightening.

“Or maybe a shower?” Carter suggested, looking at the sheets of water that seemed to cut them off from their neighbours. She had to raise her voice over the sound of the deluge.

A loud clap of thunder deafened them, and the wagon was buffeted again by the wind. The solidly constructed wagon easily withstood the elements, although Jack realized had they stayed in the flatlands, they could easily have been subjected to floods if this rain kept up. Then nearly as suddenly as the storm had begun, the wind died down.

No longer swept along by the wind, the rain fell straight down. Soon it began easing in its intensity, and Jack could hear people outside, laughing and talking. Carter craned her head outside and turned to look at Jack.

“Sir, now would be a perfect time to…”

Quickly stripping Daniel’s pants and tee shirt from him, they pulled the feverish man out onto the wagon seat. Jack sat on its edge and tried to make Daniel comfortable. The falling rain was blessedly refreshing, and after Jack settled Daniel near-naked body against the cushioned seat, Jack lifted his face to the rain to wash off the sweat and dust.

After a few minutes, Daniel raised his head from where it had been lying against Jack’s chest and asked weakly, “Is there a party?”

Jack laughed; after the incredibly hot days of travel, everyone was outside enjoying an impromptu shower. “No Danny, no party. Just a bit of a celebration.”

“Oh.” He closed his eyes and relaxed against Jack again. After a few minutes, he shifted a bit. “Um, Jack, why am I outside without my clothes?”

Jack heard Carter snort at the question. Apparently Daniel did too because he turned his head towards the sound.

“I’m sorry,” she said, leaning close to them, still smiling. She placed a hand against Daniel’s cheek, and smiled. “Your fever was pretty high. The rain brought it down a bit.”

“Feels good,” Daniel said sleepily. He moved on the seat to make himself more comfortable, nuzzling his face into the crook of Jack’s arm. He fell asleep within seconds despite the rain falling over him.

After several more minutes, Carter suggested, “I think that’s enough, Sir. We wouldn’t want him getting chilled.”

“Right. Daniel, can you sit up?” Jack asked, pulling a groggy Daniel up into a seated position. Daniel pushed his legs over the side until he was sitting on the seat, facing the interior of the wagon. Teal’c entered before them and by the time Jack and Carter helped Daniel inside, the Jaffa had enveloped Daniel in a blanket and had him settled back onto the mat.

Letting the covering absorb the droplets from Daniel’s skin, Jack rummaged through Daniel’s pack, looking for clean dry clothes. He and Teal’c dressed Daniel in his underwear and tee shirt, and covered him with a dry blanket. Once Daniel was comfortable, the three of them quickly changed into dry clothes.

By the time they’d finished dressing, bells were being rung, warning of their imminent departure. They had just enough time to eat before the wagons started up. Jack stayed with Daniel, who was had fallen into a restless sleep once more. Teal’c and Carter left the wagon to go map out their new route, leaving Jack alone with Daniel.

Jack watched Daniel toss and turn in his sleep as Jack worried about his lover’s health. If things didn’t improve by tonight, he was going to ask Hammond to evacuate Daniel out when the General opened the Stargate for an update.

- - - - - -

Jack blinked in the harsh sunlight, his eyes not quite adapted from the dark of the mines. He listened with half an ear as Carter discussed what they had just seen on their tour with Howain and Kathein, being more interested in staying out of the noticeable strain between husband and wife.

Kathein had latched herself onto Jack during the tour, hooking her arm in his whenever they stopped to examine something, touching Jack needlessly all the while taking obvious pleasure in taunting her estranged husband. It made Jack very uncomfortable, and after the first few affectations, Carter, bless her, had tried to keep herself between the Lareina and Jack in an attempt to thwart Kathein’s flirting. The tall, dark, well-built man seemed to take it all in stride, ignoring his wife’s antics and giving Jack his complete attention.

Catching Carter’s eye, he glanced towards where they were camped and she nodded, understanding that he wanted to go check on Daniel. Teal’c had stayed behind with the ailing man. None of SG-1 had wanted to leave Daniel alone, especially since they’d finally had to resort to giving him some morphine to help alleviate his pain.

After excusing himself, he hurried through the mining site and spotted Teal’c talking with Jaceen and another woman. The stranger appeared upset and was gesticulating towards their wagon. As Jack approached, he managed to get the gist of their conversation. She was a healer and had been requested to look at Daniel.

“I insist you allow me inside,” the woman huffed. “It is my duty to look after anyone who is ill, and it is negligence on your part to withhold the sick from my skills.”

Teal’c remained a stolid obstruction before her as she tried to peer over his shoulder into the wagon.

“Is there a problem here?” Jack asked, wondering if this might be Braggain, the Leroi’s lover. Howain had sent for the healer as soon as he’d heard of Daniel’s illness, but had also informed Jack that Braggain was at one of the other mines and it would take a bit of time to return. Jack wasn’t very impressed if she was Howain’ lover; the woman obviously thought too much of herself, her perfume already tickling his nose. Wrinkling his nose, he couldn’t help but wonder how this would make Daniel sneeze in the close confines of the wagon.

“There is no problem as such, O’Neill,” Teal’c said succinctly. “This person was sent by the Lareina. I have informed her we have no need of her services, but she does not appear to understand.”

“Ah,” Jack said. “Right. Sorry, we have everything under control. You can go on home now.”

“You have no right!” she exclaimed, trying to push past Teal’c. “I am in the Lareina’s employ. I demand to be let through.”

“Well, you see,” Jack said as he leaned casually against the wagon, “we’re waiting for the Leroi’s healer. So unless your name is Braggain, I’d suggest you keep your voice down. You’re disturbing the sick.” He made little shooing motions with his hand as he said the last, and stifled a grin as the woman’s mouth opened and closed several times in surprise. She finally closed her mouth with an audible click and turned around, stomping off angrily. Jack watched to see what direction she’d head for. He wasn’t disappointed; she went straight for the royal wagon.

Jack sighed. As Teal’c stepped away, Jack hauled himself up the steps. He peered inside, noting that Daniel was still asleep. “How is he?” he asked as he stepped back outside, leaving the sleeping man to rest in peace.

“His temperature is beginning to climb once more,” Teal’c said. Jack had expected the news, but his heart dropped when he heard it said. “The injection has helped, though. He has slept peacefully since you left.”

“Thanks for staying with him,” Jack said, placing a hand on Teal’c’s shoulder. The Jaffa inclined his head, smiling gently.

“Do you trust this healer who the Leroi has sent for?” Teal’c asked suddenly.

“I don’t see we have a choice,” Jack admitted, sitting heavily on the wagon seat. “We can only hope she can recognize whatever it is that Daniel’s caught. But I’m not holding my breath here; this world is so technologically behind we’re gonna be damn lucky if she can diagnose him.” He played a tattoo on the seat cushion with his fingers before telling Teal’c his decision. “I’m going to ask Hammond to send an evac team here.”

“Indeed, that is most wise. DanielJackson has grown weaker every day.”

Jack surveyed the camp, relieved that Teal’c agreed with his decision. He wished he could speed time forward; get that damned healer here to look at Daniel and then push on to the appointed time when Hammond was scheduled to contact them again early that evening. He looked at the sky, noting there were still a few hours before sunset.

Daniel coughed. Jack glanced at Teal’c and entered the wagon. Seeing that Daniel was more or less awake, Jack grabbed the canteen; the first thing he needed to do was get some more water into Daniel. He saw his lover’s eyes were sunken, his face grayish white. As he helped Daniel sit up and brought the canteen to Daniel’s lips, he could feel the fever raging inside the man. He gave him some more Tylenol and helped Daniel settle back onto the mat.

Daniel coughed again, and suddenly he was vomiting up the water and pills. Jack hurriedly pulled Daniel towards him, trying to turn him onto his side. The spewed water ran down Jack’s arm as he held Daniel close to him, feeling his body shake from his efforts.

“Sorry,” Daniel mumbled as Jack tried to blot the excess water from Daniel’s tee shirt. He let Jack rock him gently in his arms afterwards, his eyes closing as weariness and illness overwhelmed him.

Carter and Howain found them like this twenty minutes later. A second man, his long, curly blond hair neatly tied back in a ponytail, brushed by them as he entered the wagon, his long slender fingers gently pulling Daniel from Jack and laying him on the mat.

When Jack opened his mouth to protest, Carter quickly spoke up.

“Sir, Braggain finally arrived. We brought him here as fast as we could.”

Jack looked in shock at the person who was efficiently examining Daniel. Braggain was a man? Hell, that explained some of Kathein’s reaction towards Daniel.

Braggain mimicked what Fraiser would have done had she been examining Daniel without benefit of any of her medical paraphernalia. At the healer’s urgings, Jack described Daniel’s symptoms to him, portraying how he had seemed to be getting better only to quickly worsen. Braggain was efficient and gentle, and his questions were direct and intelligent. The only thing that had him confused was Jack’s description of the pain Daniel had been suffering.

“He does not appear to be in any great pain at the moment,” he said, sitting back on his knees.

“That’s because we’ve given him some medicine to take the pain away,” Carter explained. Jack wondered how they were going to explain morphine to someone who probably had no inkling of what something as simple as Aspirin or other pain killers were.

“This potion also makes him drowsy?” he asked.

“Yeah,” Jack said, noting that Daniel was semi aware, his heavy-lidded gaze trying to follow the conversation.

Braggain moved down to Daniel’s feet and gently ran a finger from arch to ankle. Daniel gasped and attempted to pull his foot away. The healer patted his foot in apology and placed it back down onto the mat, throwing the edge of the blanket over his feet. He did the same with Daniel’s arm, this time nodding to himself when Daniel again expressed the sensation of pain.

Jack realized the morphine was wearing off. He made a mental calculation and knew that Daniel would soon need another shot to keep the pain at bay. He saw that Carter had come to the same conclusion and was removing another pre-prepared syringe from their kit.

The healer watched with avid curiosity as Carter gave Daniel the injection. He was asking many questions which neither he nor Carter had the medical knowledge to impart, making Jack wish again that Fraiser were here, both to care for Daniel and to answer this man’s avid mind.

As the healer knelt back on his knees, finished with his assessment, he gave Howain a strange look before turning to Jack.

“Your friend has been poisoned,” he told him.

“Poisoned?” Jack repeated stupidly. Of all the scenarios he had come up with, that had been one that had not once come to mind.

“The signs are unmistakable,” he said sadly. “I have an antidote, but he is so weak… he requires liquids but his illness prevents his body from accepting it.”

“You’re sure about this?” Jack asked, once again seeing Braggain look towards the Leroi.

Braggain nodded then stood up. “It will take me a few hours to prepare the antidote. I will return as quickly as I can. In the meantime, do not move him, but do try and make him drink.” As he left, he stopped beside Hawain and dropped a hand onto the man’s shoulder, squeezing once before caressing the man’s cheek and leaving the wagon.

“My wife has used such poisons before,” the dark-haired man said sadly as he looked at Jack.

”Kathein did this!” Jack exploded. He stood up quickly, intent on confronting the woman.

“I am sure she never meant it to go this far,” the other man said gently, holding a hand forward to stop Jack. “She normally does this in order to temporarily incapacitate one in order to lure the other to her bed, foolishly thinking the one being lured can simply ignore the illness of a loved one.”

“She had no right. She could have killed Daniel.” Jack stopped suddenly, realizing that Daniel could still die. Poison! So she could get Daniel out of the way and Jack into her bed? Of course she’d do it. She’d had no qualms drugging Jack to make him more compliant towards her. Obviously she didn’t learn that a person wouldn’t willingly leave an ailing loved one to jump into bed with her.

He saw Daniel trying to stay awake, the painkiller beginning to take effect. He tried to get more water into Daniel, encouraging him to take small sips until he fell asleep in Jack’s arms.

- - - - - -

Tired. He was so tired. He was hot, burning up, and irritably he shoved the heavy blanket aside. He was surprised at how heavy and weak his body felt. He licked dry lips; he was so thirsty. The thought of water quickly evaporated when his stomach cramped painfully.

Daniel heard raised voices outside, recognizing Jack’s but unsure as to whom the woman he was arguing with was. With a groan he pushed himself up into a seated position, grabbing at the wall when the small room he was in spun sickeningly around him. He panted through his mouth for a minute, afraid he was going to throw up and remembering how often he had done so in the past little while and how much it had hurt. His shoulders, neck and chest hurt, making it difficult to take a deep breath.

When he thought he could move without puking or toppling over, he grabbed his pants and pulled them on before making his way to the entrance of the wagon. Jack was standing outside towering over a red-haired woman whose regal bearing appeared familiar to Daniel. Their words snaked through his brain, he knew he should understand them but making sense of them was beyond his cognitive abilities at the moment. He knew the words they spoke but couldn’t seem to be able to string them together to understand the sentences.

Suddenly his heart froze when one word spoken by the red-haired woman stood out. “Beloved.”

Daniel gasped, trying hard to understand what they were saying. Other words followed, burning a path into his brain. ‘Host, snakes, mines, goa’ulds.’ Oh God, Hathor! Hathor was here, and she was going to implant Jack with a snake while he was inside the mine.

- - - - - -

“I did not mean for your beloved to become so ill,” Kathein had said to Jack when she’d come scratching at their wagon a few minutes ago. “I had never intended this, I simply wished him to stay away for a night or two so that we could...”

“So you poisoned him? And drugged me? And expected me to fall to my knees thanking you for a great time in bed? These the new duties of a host?”

“You do not understand,” she said in a soft voice. “My husband…”

“Oh I understand all right.” Jack had jumped off the wagon and stood facing the contrite woman who had been uncharacteristically playing with the fringes on her sleeves. “You saw that Daniel and I were together and you decided to try and split us up, like you’d love to do with your husband Howain and his new partner.”

Her eyes flashed as she had glared at Jack. “His beloved is a ghoul, twining himself into my husband’s life like a snake, drawing him away from me. My people hunt snakes in the mines, and take pleasure placing a knife behind their necks and cutting their heads off.”

“So you would kill the man who loves your husband? Why? Because he’s making your husband happy since you obviously won’t. Or can’t. Or is it just because he’s a man?”

“My husband is not the saint you believe him to be!”

“And you are?”


Daniel’s voice intruded into Jack’s consciousness, and he realized that he’d been hearing the sound for the past minute, but had pushed it aside as his argument with Kathein had heated up. He turned quickly and saw Daniel hanging onto the wagon seat, trying to make his way down to them.

“Jesus, what the hell are you doing up?” Jack scolded as he rushed towards Daniel before he ended up falling head first onto the ground. His legs did give out just as Jack reached him. Jack caught him and lowered him carefully to the ground, kneeling beside him while holding him steady.

Daniel struggled in Jack’s arms, looking up at Kathein in horror, trying to push himself away. He grabbed Jack’s arm with surprising strength. “Get away from her, Jack. She has a Goa’uld larva, she wants to make you into a host!”

“Daniel, it’s okay,” he murmured, feeling the fever-heat rising off of Daniel beneath his hands. He looked around for someone to help him get Daniel back into the wagon as Daniel continued to resist.

“No! Hathor! Jack, she’s here!”

Jack realized then that Daniel was delirious, his fever and illness finally taking their toll. Daniel was mistaking the red-haired woman standing behind them for the Goa’uld queen who they’d killed over a year ago.

“Shhh, it’s not Hathor. She’s dead, remember?” He turned his full attention on his lover when suddenly Daniel’s eyes widened as he stared up at Jack.

“Nooooo!” Daniel wailed, pushing Jack away. “She got you!”

Jack grabbed Daniel’s hands, looking around wildly for someone to help calm Daniel. He pulled Daniel to him, hugging him close as the distraught man fought him. “Nobody’s got me, Danny. You’re just dreaming. Everything’s okay, I promise.”

Jack saw Kathein rush away from them and a few minutes later she returned with Teal’c and Carter trailing behind. Both rushed to a stop beside them and knelt beside Daniel, talking softly and trying to calm him.

Daniel had continued to try and push himself away from Jack but Jack wouldn’t let go, waiting until Daniel exhausted himself and finally he half sat with his head quietly on Jack’s shoulder. Jack’s knees and back ached from the awkward position he was in, holding most of Daniel’s weight in his arms.

Teal’c and Carter eased Daniel up onto his feet and helped him into their tent. They had left Daniel sleeping inside the wagon earlier, not wanting to disturb him until he woke. Jack stood up slowly, feeling his age. He was tired from lack of sleep and worry over Daniel’s plight.

He followed them into the larger sleeping area as they laid Daniel onto the mat. As Jack stood just inside the entrance, he heard Daniel calling for him.

Teal’c moved so Jack could squeeze by to sit down by the head of Daniel’s makeshift bed, taking one of Daniel’s hands in his.

“What’s that smell?” Daniel asked, his unfocused gaze trying to find Jack.

Before Jack could answer, Daniel suddenly tensed and squeezed Jack’s hand painfully. As Jack tried to extricate his hand from Daniel’s death grip, Daniel began convulsing.

“Shit! Shit! Shit!” Jack exclaimed. Knowing there was nothing they could do until the seizure played out, Jack used his other hand to stroke the hand that held his so tightly.

After what seemed like forever, Daniel’s body relaxed. Jack and Carter moved in unison to turn the unconscious man onto his side. Jack looked at Carter helplessly, wishing there was something more they could do.

Carter wiped the saliva away from Daniel’s mouth while Jack realized that they needed to remove Daniel’s now sodden pants. Teal’c spoke to someone outside and soon they had fresh water with which to clean Daniel with. As they slipped Daniel’s pants past his hips, Jack was dismayed at the small amount of urine Daniel’s body had released. They desperately needed to get liquids into him. They continued to bathe him, hoping to bring his fever down and try and rouse him with the water.

The tinny sound of Hammond’s voice came to them and Jack looked around for the radio. Damn, he’d lost track of time and had forgotten their scheduled contact. Teal’c grabbed the radio and answered the summons.

“GeneralHammond, DoctorJackson is in desperate need of medical assistance. We must speak with DoctorFraiser immediately!”

A few seconds of silence and Fraiser’s voice came across to them. “I’m here. What happened?”

“DoctorJackson has experienced a seizure. He is currently unconscious and is non-responsive.”

“How long ago was the seizure?”

“No more than twenty minutes ago.”

“Teal’c, it’s normal for a patient to remain unconscious for a while afterwards. Keep talking to him; he’s going to be confused when he wakes up.”

“Understood,” Teal’c said as Jack kept returning his gaze to Daniel’s still form. “However, we have been informed that DoctorJackson has been poisoned. His fever is currently very high and he is unable to take in acceptable amounts of liquid.”

Jack half-listened to the explanations both Teal’c and Carter gave the General and the SGC’s Chief Medical Officer. From what Fraiser described, they were doing the right things for Daniel with the limited medical supplies they had.

Carter explained to Hammond that they’d postponed their visits to the other mines; Braggain had deemed Daniel too sick to be moved and they were all hoping that whatever the healer had gone to prepare would nullify the poison quickly.

Jack continued to talk to Daniel all the while, in case he could hear them but was just too weak to let them know. Close to an hour later, Daniel finally opened his eyes partway and moaned.

“Daniel,” Jack called out immediately. The dull blue eyes tried to track, but wouldn’t focus. Jack stretched out his length beside Daniel so his face would be at the same level as his partner’s.

“Hey,” he said softly as Daniel finally looked at him. Jack brought a hand up and stroked the too-hot face. His fever had come down a bit, but not by much.

“J’ck,” Daniel said, his hand coming up and weakly trying to grasp Jack’s arm. “Wha?” he asked, his tongue coming out to lick his cracked lips.

“Shhh, you’ve been sick,” Jack consoled.


Jack reached over and supporting Daniel’s head and neck, lifted him up a bit so Carter could get some water into Daniel. He managed a few swallows and Jack put him back down.


“We’re still offworld. You’ve been sick for a few days, remember?”

“No… t’red… hurts,” Daniel complained, his eyes closing. “Wanna go home.” Daniel reached out blindly with his hand and Jack grasped it.

Jack swallowed a lump in his throat at the words. Hearing Daniel admitting he wanted to go home told him how badly off his lover was. He pulled Daniel to him and settled his fevered body against him. Daniel snuggled his face into the crook of Jack’s neck, relaxing against him.

“Go to sleep,” Jack whispered in Daniel’s ear as he kissed the top of Daniel’s head. A soft sigh was Daniel’s only response.

- - - - - -

Braggain arrived a short time later, flushed and out of breath.

“I just heard. How is he?” he asked as he reached over to gently turn Daniel onto his back in order to examine him.

“Weak. He’s been sleeping ever since he had the seizure,” Jack said as he sat up.

“Yes, that is to be expected,” he said in a preoccupied manner, his attention on his patient.

When he finished, he sat back and looked at Jack. Jack knew the look; things were just about to get worse.

“His heart beats irregularly; I do not know if it is from the poison or from his lack of liquids. Hopefully it is not too late for the antidote and he will begin to rally quickly.”

They tried to rouse Daniel but he remained asleep or unconscious. Braggain motioned for Jack and Teal’c to raise Daniel into a partial sitting position as he measured out a thick, gooey substance and mixed it with a few spoonfuls of water. Using a device that looked like a small spoon with a raised edge, he dribbled a bit of the sticky liquid onto Daniel’s tongue.

It took a few moments for Daniel to register the taste because he tried to spit it out. Braggain deftly added a few drops of water and held Daniel’s mouth shut, forcing him to swallow. Daniel came partially awake and they took the opportunity to give him more water, and the rest of the medication.

Jack took Daniel back into his arms again and Daniel sighed Jack’s name as he lay limply against him. Jack buried his head in the sweat-stiffened hair. There was nothing more to be done but wait. And pray.

- - - - - -

It was the worried cries outside that woke Jack and not the sound of the approaching motors. It took him a moment to understand that the alarm had been raised; these people had never seen anything motorized and had no idea what was approaching. For that matter, neither did Jack.

A small lamp had been left burning in the corner of the tent where the healer sat vigil. Jack met Braggain’s anxious gaze.

“It’s okay,” Jack told him, realizing the healer had no idea what was going on outside. “I think it’s the cavalry,” Jack said as he slid from beneath Daniel. “I hope,” he muttered beneath his breath.

Daniel hadn’t moved during the time Jack had dozed. Jack berated himself for having fallen asleep; Daniel had remained unconscious for the past several hours, and they’d been unable to get any more liquids into him. Jack and Braggain had been constantly bathing Daniel’s body with water, hoping to keep his fever down.

As Jack stood up to go outside to see what was happening, he automatically placed a hand on Daniel’s forehead. He thought Daniel’s fever was starting to creep up again. “Stay with him,” he ordered Carter after he shook her awake and dug his P-90 from the bottom of the pile of stuff that had been carried inside the tent. He stepped outside and climbed onto the steps of the wagon. From his vantage point, he could see two head lights approaching, dipping and weaving as the small vehicle made its way around obstacles as it entered the camp.

“I believe that General Hammond has sent us some aid,” Teal’c said from behind him, startling Jack with his silent approach.

“Ya think?” Jack stated grumpily as he jumped off the wagon and began hurrying towards the nearing vehicle.

As he approached, he realized it wasn’t one, but two vehicles. The drivers had been forced to come to a stop where the crowd had gathered, preventing them from moving any farther inside the camp. By the light of the lamps and torches the throng was holding, Jack could make out two All Terrain Vehicles, their drivers momentarily hidden from view as the inhabitants of P3A 006 crowded around for their first view of Earth’s version of a ‘garunless carriage’.

Teal’c pushed through the curious miners, making a path directly for the smaller of the two drivers. It was with knee-weakening relief that Jack recognized Fraiser.

“Doc,” he called out. She stopped a moment from where she had been unbuckling the straps holding three large boxes to the rear of the ATV and smiled at both Jack and Teal’c.

“Sir,” she said. “I was beginning to think we’d been given wrong directions.” She looked over at the other SGC member who had accompanied her and Jack recognized Ferretti, similarly undoing more supplies. “Lou,” Jack said in greeting as he picked up two of the boxes, Teal’c hefting several more. Ferretti grabbed his share of the supplies and they headed off for the wagon. Jack could see Kathein and Howain examining the ATVs, a look of wonderment on both their faces.

“How’s Daniel?” she asked as they left the crowd.

“Not good,” Jack told her as he pointed their tent out to her. She went inside and hurried to Daniel’s side. “He’s been unconscious for over three hours”

Jack saw her smile a greeting at Carter and glance curiously at Braggain, then all her attention became focused on Daniel. A cursory examination had her rifling through the supplies she had brought.

Two IVs were quickly hung and oxygen administered. Jack sat back out of her way, allowing Carter to move forward and assist the doctor. Braggain began questioning her actions and although working quickly, Fraiser was answering the healer’s questions without losing a beat. The poor guy probably thought Jack had brought a quack to treat Daniel as he stared at the IVs flowing into Daniel’s veins.

Jack had to hand it to the man, though; when Fraiser placed a Foley catheter into Daniel, Braggain simply flinched and accepted her explanation. She drew a bit of blood and inserted it into a hand-held Blood chemistry analyzer, then added another IV to the lot.

“Doc?” Jack questioned when the flurry of activity finally calmed a bit.

“It’s not good,” she confirmed. “He’s severely dehydrated and shocky. I’ve given him potassium and magnesium to start replacing his electrolytes so hopefully that’ll help with his heart arrhythmia, and something to get his blood pressure back up. His fever is over 104; we need to get it down quick.”

Braggain went to get fresh water and Jack helped turn Daniel onto his side so that Fraiser could administer fever-reducing medication.

Throughout the rest of the night they waited. Daniel’s fever fluctuated, eventually creeping back up as the sun rose. Braggain administered more of the antidote, having to patiently smear minute amounts in Daniel’s mouth until he’d taken the full dose.

Finally Jack couldn’t take it anymore and left the tent to get away from the sight of his lover’s suffering. Somehow he’d thought if he could get Daniel to Fraiser, he’d be all right. But he’d expected too much… Daniel wasn’t improving, and Jack had to tell himself at least he was holding his own.

He walked across the small town that had been built around the mine, trying to ease his tense body. He stopped by the mine, remembering their mission and realizing he needed to send Carter and Teal’c off to the next mine regardless of Daniel’s outcome. Fraiser was here now; Daniel’s care was no longer their responsibility.

But he couldn’t stay away for long and soon he found himself standing outside their tent. With a deep breath, he walked in. His eyes went straight for the sleeping mats where Daniel still lay, totally still, his pale and unshaven face making him look gaunt. Fraiser was taking his vitals, recording everything on a pad she kept beside her.

He heard a noise behind him and turned to see Kathein sitting beside Carter. She had risen when Jack had entered and stepped up to him.

“I came to see how he was,” she said remorsefully. “Please believe me when I say I never meant for him to become this ill. He was only supposed to be unwell for a few hours.”

“That’s supposed to make me feel better?” Jack answered sarcastically, turning away from her and wishing she’d leave. He ignored the wounded look she put out and approached Daniel. “How is he?” he asked the doctor, expecting the same answer as he’d gotten all night.

To his surprise, she smiled. “His breathing is better and his fever’s dropped two degrees.” Fraiser furiously ran her pen in circles on the edge of the pad. “Do either of you have an extra pen?” she sighed as she clicked her dry ballpoint closed and pocketed it.

“Daniel has several,” Carter offered, picking up Daniel’s pack and looking for his store of writing implements.

Jack smiled despite himself and sat down beside the mat, picking up Daniel’s hand and stroking it gently. As Carter handed one of Daniel’s mangled Bics to Fraiser, Kathein shrieked.

“No, do not!” She rushed forward and batted the mutilated pen out of Fraiser’s hand. “That is how Daniel sickened. I placed the poison on his quills.”

“What?” Jack exclaimed, realizing immediately how Daniel had been poisoned as he recalled Daniel’s habit of chewing on the ends of his pens.

“But I did not know of his obsession with the paper and quill. No one writes that much. I was unable to remove them for cleansing afterwards, and he kept taking them out and ingesting more of the poison in the process.” Kathein looked at Jack and must have seen the rage burning in him as she dropped her eyes and stared at the ground.

Fraiser immediately picked the pen up and placed it in a plastic container, along with the rest of Daniel’s supply of Bics. She handed Sam a sterile wipe and bade her to wash her hands, doing the same herself.

“Please, I am sorry.” Kathein moved closer and got down on one knee beside Jack and Daniel. “I only wished to have someone care for me again,” she whispered.

“So you chose me at the cost of someone I love very much?”

“I… yes,” she admitted.

“And you thought you could find happiness with me by drugging me?”

“I thought if I could please you, you would begin to desire me.”

“Lady, it doesn’t work that way.”

“I know, I just… I miss my…” She looked up at Jack with tears in her eyes, brushing them away impatiently as they began to flow down her cheeks. “I could not forgive my husband when our son died at his hands, and now…”

“You want him back but he found someone else.”

She nodded.

“And you’re trying to get back at him by going after someone *I* love? Because I care for a man?” Jack hissed savagely, lowering his voice to a bare whisper at the last accusation.

“No!” she exclaimed, looking at Jack in horror. “I found you attractive; you are noble, kind, and I believed you could care for me.”

“You thought I was better than your husband because he hurt you? God! I was married, Kathein. My wife left me because I did the same thing your husband did. My son… our son died because of my mistake. It was my fault, and you think I’m a better man than Howain?” Jack laughed at the irony. Here both men had been responsible for the deaths of their sons, their wives hadn’t been able to live with the consequences and both men had found happiness with another man.

“My wife forgave me, but it took me years before I could forgive myself for Charlie’s death. Daniel helped me find the way to do that.” He looked away from the grieving woman and gazed at Daniel a moment.

“Kathein,” Jack said softly. She raised purple eyes and stared at Jack. “You need to start by forgiving yourself for your child’s death.” Her face closed at his words and he saw the anger reflected by the narrowing of her eyes. “You were there that day, weren’t you? You knew the route was dangerous. Did you know your son had been left in the wagon? Did you go and make sure yourself that he was safe before making the climb?”

“How dare you!” she shrieked. She pulled herself up and Jack could see her body quivering with rage. “How dare you blame me for his death!”

“I’m not blaming you. You’re doing a fine job of that yourself,” Jack said gently. “You need to accept what’s happened and stop putting blame on both of you.”

Kathein sat back and hugged herself, eerily reminiscent of Daniel when he was upset or worried. “I was there,” she whispered. “I knew the way was risky and I did not wish my son to distract me from supervising the caravan, so I said nothing when I heard he was asleep in the wagon. I should have removed him, but we had gone that way many times without mishap.”

“You need to talk about this with Howain. Accept what happened, and put it all behind you.” She nodded, sniffling like a child as she wiped the tears from her face with the back of her hand. “And get rid of the drugs! Howain’s your husband, but you have to accept that he’s moved on. If you’re lucky, you’ll find someone else who will love you. But don’t force the issue.”

She smiled at that and nodded. She rose to her feet and froze. Jack followed her gaze and saw Braggain staring at them from the corner. They had forgotten the man was there. Kathein nodded at Braggain and left the tent.

“Words of wisdom,” Braggain said softly. “I shall hope she heeds them.”

“Yeah, well, I just wanted to make sure she doesn’t put some other sucker through the same mess,” Jack groused. He hadn’t forgiven her, but talking had helped get rid of some of the stress he’d been under. He didn’t understand why he’d been compelled to tell Kathein these things instead of throwing her out of the tent. He suspected some of Daniel’s values had rubbed off on him. God, he hoped Daniel would be okay.

- - - - - -

Daniel woke up to unending pain. His head throbbed with it, his shoulders, chest and stomach burned with it, and his whole body ached as he lay on an unfamiliar mattress. He tried to turn around and find a more comfortable position, and groaned helplessly as the nerves in his back and legs protested vehemently. Fire ran up and down his body and he panted with the agony.

He felt a painful touch on his face and intelligible sounds assaulted his ears. After what felt like an eternity, the torture began to ease and he recognized the touch to be Jack’s hands on his cheek and his voice whispering in his ear. Even though his thoughts were fuzzy, he remembered the pain and illness he’d been experiencing and began to panic. He forced his eyes open, looking for the comfort that was Jack. He wanted to be swept up in his arms, told that everything was going to be okay.

He couldn’t make anything out; everything was a huge, stomach-churning colorful blur. He snapped his eyes closed and moaned Jack’s name.

“I’m here, Danny,” Jack whispered, so close that Daniel felt his breath tickle the hairs behind his ears. Daniel reached out blindly with a hand that felt like it weighed a hundred pounds. Cool skin touched his and squeezed it gently. Daniel grasped his hand and pulled it towards him, tucking the only part of Jack he could hold onto beneath his chin, trying to curl his body around it.

He felt Jack’s breath against his neck, preceding the soft touch of cool lips against the fine hairs there. The feel of it sent a shiver down his spine. The hand he was clutching gently squeezed his fingers and then Jack’s body was carefully melded against his back.

“Go back to sleep,” Jack whispered in his ear. Comforted with Jack’s presence, Daniel listened to his lover’s breaths as he fell back asleep.

- - - - - -

Jack felt Daniel’s hands relaxing their grip around his fingers as he slipped back into sleep. God he’d been in so much pain. Fraiser had rushed to get some morphine into him; thankfully that had done the trick and Daniel had finally been able to relax as the drug temporarily obliterated his pain.

Jack took a few more minutes to greedily savor the feel of Daniel’s fevered body beneath his, glad he had been able to comfort him in the few minutes he’d been awake. Reluctantly, he pulled back, adjusting the oxygen mask that Daniel had pushed askew when he’d tried to escape from his pain.

He laid another kiss on the back of Daniel’s neck before sitting up and rubbing his hands tiredly over his face. He felt his unshaven cheeks and decided that shaving was too much of an effort at the moment.

When Fraiser came to sit next to him, he said, “He was in so much pain, Doc. Shouldn’t the antidote start taking care of that?”

“It doesn’t work that way, Colonel. Whatever Braggain gave Daniel, it stopped the poison from doing more damage, but it’s going to take time for Daniel’s body to get better and he’s already very weak. The neuritis will probably take a couple of weeks to subside, maybe even a few months. He’s going to be pretty sick and in a lot of pain for quite a while yet.”

“Damn,” Jack breathed.

“Sir, if he’s more stable by tomorrow morning, I’d like to get him to the SGC.”

“You gonna take him on the ATV?”

“I don’t think so. I really want to keep him out of the sun and any kind of travois we MacGyver up will be uncomfortable and hot. Do you think we can take him back in the wagon? I can send Ferretti back to the SGC for enough supplies to last us… what, three days?”

Jack nodded. “I don’t think Howain will mind. We can keep the ATVs here and Carter and Teal’c can catch up with us when they’ve finished at the other mines.”

“Fine, I’ll make up a list of what I’ll need.”

- - - - - -

Jack yawned and stretched, then glanced at his watch. Surprised, he realized he’d slept for eight hours without waking. He turned onto his side, needing to check on Daniel. Carter was sitting beside the sleeping man immersed in her notes, her right hand gently stroking Daniel’s head. Jack cleared his throat and she looked up at him and smiled.

“Morning,” she whispered, glancing over at the blanket-covered lump near her which he assumed was Fraiser.

“Morning. How is he?” Jack asked in a whisper, trying not to wake up the doctor. Fraiser had sat with Daniel for the past two days and nights with only a few catnaps in between. She’d only acceded to Jack’s urging to get some rest once Carter and Teal’c had met up with them late yesterday afternoon.

Jack sat up, feeling more or less human now that he’d gotten more than one or two hours’ sleep in a single stretch.

“Both of them slept through the night,” Carter answered, smiling.

Jack leaned over Carter and pressed his hand against Daniel’s cheek, noting that although Daniel’s fever was still in evidence, it wasn’t quite as high as it had been when they’d first set off. Daniel had finally woken up long enough last evening to answer Fraiser’s questions, leading Jack to realize that Fraiser had been worried about brain damage. The painkillers she’d been forced to give Daniel, along with his weakened condition, had made him so sleepy during their trip home that he’d do nothing except open his eyes for a moment before falling right back to sleep.

Ferretti popped his head in the door and waved when he saw Jack was awake. “Wagon’s ready to go as soon as everyone’s up,” he said softly.

“I’m up, I’m up,” Fraiser grumbled from beneath the blankets. She sat up and pushed her tousled hair from her face.

“Hey Doc. I’ll get you two some breakfast.” Ferretti disappeared and Jack could hear him talking to someone outside.

“Did he wake up?” Fraiser asked Carter.

“Nope, slept like a baby. His temperature’s the same. I changed the IVs and gave him his meds as per your instructions.”

“Good,” Fraiser said as she climbed out of her sleeping bag and made her way over to check on her patient herself.

Ferretti returned a few minutes later and handed them all the usual meatrolls. Jack wolfed his down then headed outside to empty his bladder. He passed Teal’c on the way out, clapping him on the shoulder in greeting.

When Jack returned to the wagon, the tent was already in the process of being taken down, and Teal’c and Ferretti were getting ready to bring Daniel inside. Jack grabbed the IVs and the oxygen tank while Teal’c scooped Daniel in his arms. Ferretti helped Teal’c and Jack guide their patient, tubes and equipment into the tent while Fraiser settled Daniel, and Carter helped clear the camp.

As he hung Daniel’s IV, Jack saw his lover’s eyes were open and he squeezed by Teal’c and Fraiser, while Ferretti left the wagon.

“Morning,” Jack greeted him as he raised Daniel up so that he was leaning against Jack. Daniel’s eyes were dulled by pain and drugs, but he appeared to be pretty much awake.

He smiled at Jack, shifting a little to make himself comfortable in Jack’s arms.

“Morning,” Daniel said, then smiled at the rest of his friends.

“How are you feeling, Daniel?” Fraiser asked as she took his pulse.

“Tired. Thirsty.”

“Okay, there’s not much I can do about your fatigue except let you rest, but I think we can handle your thirst.” She reached into her supplies and took out a small sponge and dipping it in a cup of water, allowed Daniel to suck the liquid from it.

“Where are we?” he asked, licking his cracked lips.

“Heading for the Stargate, still on P3A…” Jack paused as the planet’s designation eluded him for a moment.

“006,” Carter provided as she stepped into the wagon. “Hey Daniel,” she greeted. “You’re awake.”

“Hi Sam.” Carter came over and kissed his cheek, grinning widely at Daniel.

“Think you’re up to a bit of juice?” Fraiser asked after she’d allowed Daniel to sip at a bit more water.

He hesitated a moment, then nodded before laying his head back, relaxing against Jack’s chest. Janet handed Jack the small glass of pale yellow-colored liquid and Jack slowly allowed Daniel to sip from it. Jack noticed he seemed hesitant to drink it, but dutifully took a sip.

“Apple juice?” Daniel questioned after his first taste.

Jack raised the glass to his own mouth and took a sip of the tepid liquid. He let it roll on his tongue, savoring the flavor... “Yep, apple juice. Not that sticky stuff you hate so much.”

“How did… you said we were going to the Stargate. How’d you get apple juice?”

Jack smiled, hearing the confusion in Daniel’s voice.

“Well, the Doc brought some back with her, that’s how.”

“Janet?” Daniel raised a shaking hand and scratched his nose. “Oh,” he said when he understood. “You came?”

“You know, guys, as much as I like going offworld, I really wish it wouldn’t be when one of you four are hurt or injured.”

Daniel smiled then tugged at Jack’s hand that was holding the juice. Jack obediently let him take a few more sips.

When Fraiser had said he’d had enough, she smeared some cream over Daniel’s chapped lips. By then Daniel was fading fast. When Jack went to put him down, though, he muttered something sleepily and held onto Jack’s arm. Daniel was a heavy weight so Jack shifted slightly to make himself more comfortable, happy to have Daniel sleeping in his arms.

- - - - - -

“You all set?” Jack asked Daniel as he placed the bag of meds Fraiser had just handed him into Daniel’s overnight bag. Jack peered inside, seeing only Daniel’s dirty pajamas and his shaving kit. Jack pawed the clothes aside and noticed the few magazines and books that Carter had brought Daniel, none of which Daniel had read, to Jack’s knowledge.

Without answering, Daniel slid off the infirmary bed on which he’d been sitting quietly and grabbed his jacket. Jack picked up the overnight bag and waited till Daniel seated himself on the obligatory wheelchair. He was strong enough to go home but Fraiser had been adamant that he not tire himself walking to the parking lot.

The trip to the elevator was made in silence, something that Jack still wasn’t comfortable with. Daniel had said he wasn’t angry or upset with Jack, but from the time Daniel had gotten strong enough to stay awake for more than several minutes at a time, he had begun to withdraw from Jack.

Oh sure, Daniel was almost his usual talkative self with Fraiser, Carter and Teal’c, and even Hammond had him laughing at one of his jokes earlier this morning. But when it was just the two of them, those quiet times when they should have been reconnecting, Daniel was sending out busy signals.

Daniel fell asleep soon after Jack pulled out of the mountain, making the drive a little easier than the hard-to-fill silence which had permeated the vehicle. Once Jack pulled in and parked in his driveway, he sat back in the driver’s seat and watched Daniel sleep. Actually Jack spent a lot of time during the past week watching Daniel sleep in the infirmary. And although it was a slumber resulting partly from his weakened condition and partly from the powerful painkillers he still needed to take for the neuritis, it had been a healing time for Daniel.

Well, make that a time to heal physically, because there was definitely something bothering the man Jack loved. He hoped Daniel would come to terms with it soon; Jack wished Daniel would confide in him but knew his lover well enough that he’d do so only when ready. Until then, Jack would take care of Daniel to the best of his ability and wait.

“Daniel,” Jack said, shaking Daniel awake gently. Deep blue eyes popped open and looked around, startled. “We’re here,” Jack said, trying to help Daniel figure out where they were. He knew the painkillers confused him sometimes when he woke up.

“Oh,” Daniel said, smiling at Jack. Then a mask descended over Daniel’s face as he probably remembered what was upsetting him. He pushed the door open and began walking up to the house, leaving Jack hard pressed to grab Daniel’s bag and meet him at the door. Daniel already had his keys out and had the door unlocked, but Jack reached over and pushed it open.

“Do you want to lie down?” Jack asked. Daniel simply shook his head. Remembering that Daniel had picked at his breakfast that morning, Jack asked, “Are you hungry? Do you want to eat something? Without saying a word, Daniel made for the kitchen, seating himself at the table. Jack poured Daniel some juice while he set about heating some soup and making them a couple of sandwiches.

At least Daniel made an effort in eating his lunch; nibbling at half a ham sandwich and a few spoonfuls of vegetable soup, followed by a glass of milk. His nearly non-existent appetite was something that Fraiser had said would soon return once he got stronger. Jack polished off Daniel’s leftovers and took out some brownies he’d picked up earlier for dessert, placing one on the table before Daniel.

“Do you mind if I eat that later,” Daniel said as he fiddled with his napkin. “I think I might go lie down now.”

“No problem,” Jack answered. As he cleared the table, he watched Daniel out of the corner of his eye as he made for the bedrooms. Daniel paused momentarily before the guest bedroom before continuing into theirs. That small hesitation nearly broke Jack’s heart.

Jack quickly finished cleaning up in the kitchen and entered his bedroom. Daniel had stripped to his boxers and tee shirt and was sliding under the covers. Jack quickly removed his own clothes and climbed in beside him.

Daniel didn’t look at Jack, turning his back to him. Jack shifted over and spooned behind Daniel. His lover tensed as Jack snuggled against him, but Jack simply placed his hand over Daniel’s shoulder and stroked the warm skin. He buried his head in Daniel’s neck and said, “I’ve wanted to take you in my arms for the past week, but Fraiser was watching me like a hawk. Besides, her beds are a bit too small for my taste. Just go to sleep, I’ll be here beside you.”

Daniel’s body slowly relaxed as sleep overtook him. After several minutes, Daniel sighed softly and turned to face Jack. He moved closer, bringing his leg over Jack’s and throwing his arm over Jack’s ribs, seeking contact with Jack in sleep as he refused to do when awake.

- - - - - -

The sound of a soft groan wrenched Jack from a deep sleep. When the sound was repeated along with the movement of a mattress dipping as someone got up, Jack realized immediately that he was home and that Daniel wasn’t well.

“Danny?” Jack exclaimed, sitting up in a rush and seeing Daniel stumbling towards the bedroom door.

“I’m fine,” Daniel replied as he reached the door, pausing and holding onto it for support.

Casting a glance at his alarm clock, Jack realized he’d fallen asleep and had slept for over four hours. Belatedly he realized that Daniel was overdue for his pain pills, and their impromptu meal had thrown Daniel’s schedule off. He threw the blankets off and sped after his lover, who was in very obvious pain.

“Daniel, I’ll get your pills. Get back into bed,” he ordered. Daniel threw Jack a relieved look and turned around, returning to the bed. Jack wanted to help ease him back under the covers but knew from experience that his touch would prove to be painful at this point.

He found the pills in Daniel’s bag and grabbed some juice and some cheese from the fridge. He found Daniel sitting up on the bed, both pillows heaped behind his back, the blankets bunched at his feet. Daniel eagerly swallowed the medication and a few bites of cheese then sat there with his eyes closed.

“God, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to fall asleep,” Jack admitted as he sat beside his lover. But the combination of warm, comfortable bed and having Daniel close by had lulled him into a feeling of security. He’d unwittingly made up some of the hours of missed rest which he’d spent sitting by Daniel’s side during the past week.

“It wasn’t your fault,” Daniel replied, his eyes still closed. Jack inched backwards until he was leaning against the headboard, the wood digging uncomfortably into his back. He eyed Daniel’s pillows longingly.

“You were tired,” Daniel said, moving forward slightly so Jack could remove his pillow. Instead, Jack leaned closer to Daniel and shared the edge of the pillows. Daniel leaned slightly into Jack, resting his weight against him. Over the next several minutes, as the painkillers slowly began to take effect, Daniel slowly relaxed, leaning more on top of Jack than the bed. By the time the pills had kicked in and Daniel had relaxed completely, Jack had his pillow back and Daniel was using Jack as one too.

As Jack carded his hand through Daniel’s hair, Daniel squeezed Jack’s ribs.

“God, I missed this,” Jack breathed. Even though Daniel was still recuperating, just the thought of having him in the same bed made everything feel like it was back to normal.

“I missed you, too,” Daniel replied, his voice muffled because his face was buried against Jack’s chest.

Jack lowered his head and kissed Daniel’s temple. He was relieved to feel his skin at a normal temperature, recalling the last times they’d sat like this, Daniel had been burning up with fever.

“What? Checking for fever?” Daniel asked sleepily.

“Well, I kinda got in the habit on the planet,” Jack admitted with a smile, glad that Daniel was finally talking to him.

“I’m sorry about that,” Daniel said.

“About getting sick? Like it was your fault?”

“Actually yes, it was,” Daniel said, pulling away and rolling onto his back. Jack immediately missed Daniel’s weight and heat, and turned on his side to look at him.

“Now that’s a stupid thing to say. You were poisoned, how could you not get sick?”

“But Kathein poisoned me because she saw our relationship as a threat. You know, we’re so careful here at home to hide ‘us’ from everyone, and as soon as we go offworld for a couple of days, we let down our guard and look what it nearly cost us.”

“Oh for crying out loud, Daniel,” Jack blurted. “We did so not let our guard down. Kathein thought I was witty and handsome and she wanted me, she just made you sick so the way to me was clear.” Jack huffed, his pride at turning at woman’s head at his age warred with the thought that said woman had made his lover sick in order to get to him. “At least I think she did,” Jack added, thinking suddenly maybe Kathein had seen through their careful ruse and had attacked them because they were lovers and not because she had found Jack attractive.

“Well I must have done something to turn her against me, because she sure didn’t want me in her bed.”

“You’re jealous,” Jack said incredulously. “You’re jealous she wanted me and not you!”

“I am not,” Daniel said with a pout. “I’m just frustrated that I must have done something to show that we’re… close, and because of my mistake, I nearly cost us the mission.”

“Daniel, you did nothing wrong. Believe me, it wasn’t your fault. This is what’s been bothering you?” Jack stretched a little and kissed Daniel’s mouth chastely, not wanting to push but needing to let Daniel know that Jack was there for him. He pulled back when Daniel relaxed.

“Even if she did recognize you and me as being together, and maybe we were giving off some kind of vibes she recognized since her husband is living with another man. But it’s nothing that you, in particular, did. And don’t tell me that your life isn’t more important than a bunch of rocks.”

“Those rocks meant a lot to many people,” Daniel replied. Jack bit back a smile, hearing the whining in Daniel’s voice. Give his lover a combination of strong painkillers and get him to talk when he was half asleep, and his childish self would come sneaking out at times.

“I don’t give squat about them. It’s you I care about. It’s you I love. And I nearly lost you back there.” Jack reached over and stroked Daniel’s cheek with his thumb, Daniel’s eyes, wide and slightly dilated from the meds, stared at him in open wonder.

“And the mission didn’t get scrubbed; we’re getting more than our quota of rocks and the people there are going to benefit from better medicine and an introduction to mechanics.”

“You don’t think we’re moving too fast? Shouldn’t we hold back our knowledge… you know the Nox and the Tollans…”

“Yeah, we’ve discussed all of that to kingdom come. Carter’s going to simply explain the basics of a few things to their more brainier people and let nature take its course. Fraiser, though, is getting together with Braggain. He was really impressed with her medical things and he wants to try and replicate some for his people.”

“All of this just so we can get more rocks,” Daniel complained.

“Daniel, we can’t play watch watchdog over everyone we meet in our travels. They saw the ATVs and the IVs and stuff; it’s normal that they’re curious and want some of those for themselves.”

“Like I said, we’re going to contaminate a world with technology because of me.”

“Ack,” Jack groaned, frustrated at Daniel’s one track mind. “Okay, what if some large predator had come sneaking around one night and attacked Jaceen. Now let’s say there was nobody close enough to save her but you. Would you have taken your firearm and shot it if you’d had a clear shot?”

“Of course I would.”

“And the same holds for me if I was the one with the P-90 and a clear shot?”


“Teal’c? Carter?”

“Of course. Jack, what are you trying to get at?”

Jack smiled; happy for once that Daniel’s drugged mind was letting him get the upper hand in their discussion.

“And so everyone comes running when they hear the shots and they see this really honking dangerous beast lying dead with a bullet wound or two or three, or maybe a smoking hole in its head from Teal’c’s staff blast. And of course the big powerful hunter is standing with one foot on top of his kill, smoke pouring from his gun’s barrel and the heroine is simpering all over him.” Jack looked at Daniel to see if he was following Jack’s trend of thought.

“Do you see where I’m going with this?”

Daniel blinked. “Smoking barrels? Simpering heroines?”

Jack sighed, and took a deep breath. “Daniel, if we’d shown them our weapons rather than our vehicles, don’t you think they’d want a gun of their own?”

“Oh. Right.”

“So we’d have saved a life, but would have introduced those people to far more dangerous things than an ATV.”

Daniel giggled after a moment, and then the giggles turned into laughter.

“What?” Jack asked, wondering what was so funny. Daniel turned to Jack and buried his face in Jack’s neck, his body shaking with mirth.

“Just picturing Kathein’s wagon train being pulled by a bunch of ATVs instead of those big herd animals. How many ATVs will it take to pull a wagon, Jack?” Daniel said when he finally managed to stop laughing, giggles punctuating his words. He lifted his head up far enough to wipe his eyes, then dropped his head back onto Jack.

“Danny, we’re not giving them ATVs…” Jack replied.

“You’re not? But you said... oh no, you’re gonna give ‘em guns? Jack, you can’t!”

“What are you talking about?” Jack asked, confused. “We’re not giving them guns or ATVs. I told you Carter’s gonna show them ways to improve their way of living, and just maybe steer them onto the road of self-development. What’s gotten into you?”

A sudden thought had Jack reaching for the bottle of prescription pills on the bedside table where he’d left them. Glancing at the label, he groaned when he realized he’d given Daniel the nighttime prescription instead of the daytime one. He shook his head, realizing that Daniel would probably be sleeping the rest of the afternoon and evening.

Daniel remained relaxed and half asleep so Jack decided to get up and let him sleep.

“Where you goin’?” Daniel asked, blinking as Jack sat on the side of the bed and contemplated his clothes, thinking a shower might wash away some of the cobwebs the nap had placed in his brain.

“I’m gonna go take a shower then go and make some supper. Why don’t you stay here and get some more rest, okay?”

Daniel nodded and shut his eyes. Jack got up and went to the bathroom, turning the water on. He stripped and just as he went to step into the shower, he felt a hand on his back. He turned and saw Daniel standing beside him.

“Hey?” Jack questioned.

“Shower?” Daniel asked as he swayed slightly before Jack.

“Yeah, but you might do better to wait until tomorrow, whaddya think?” He’d thought for sure Daniel would have gone straight to sleep.

“I think shower sounds good.” Daniel blinked slowly.

“I think bed sounds better.”

“Jack, I want a shower,” Daniel insisted, putting a hand out for the shower door.

Realizing that it would probably be easier to go along with Daniel at this point, Jack grabbed Daniel’s arm and turned him around to face him. “Wait. Okay, but maybe you’d like to strip first?”


Daniel looked at himself, seeing he was still wearing his boxers and tee shirt. “Oops,” he said, chuckling as he stripped.

Jack kept a hand on Daniel as he stepped into the shower cubicle and followed him in. Daniel just stood there, letting the hot water stream over him, his hands braced against the tiled wall. Jack quickly washed and then turned Daniel over to face him. A small smile graced Daniel’s face and he had his eyes closed.

“Do you wanna…?” Jack asked, but knowing already what Daniel was going to want. As Daniel shook his head, Jack grinned to himself. He soaped up the washcloth and began washing Daniel’s body. Daniel soon leaned his forehead against Jack’s shoulder and let Jack do all the work.

They’d done this before for one another when the other was exhausted or sick; Jack enjoyed touching Daniel but it also brought home the fact how weak and vulnerable his lover still was. When Jack warned Daniel he was going to kneel down and wash Daniel’s legs and feet, Daniel almost toppled over when he wasn’t able to steady himself.

Jack decided he’d had enough and turned the water off, leading a more asleep than awake Daniel back to the bed. After sitting him down, he quickly toweled him off and then nudged him back under the covers. As Jack leaned over to kiss him he knew that Daniel was already dead to the world. He kissed the corner of Daniel’s mouth, then his closed eyelid, when the reality of all that had happened in the past ten days hit home. Daniel was home, safe, recuperating, but he could so easily have died out there.

As the shock hit Jack, he had to catch himself on the bed. Breathing hard, his throat threatening to choke up, Jack realized he’d held back all his emotions while Daniel had been dying of the poison and then recuperating in the infirmary. Seeing finally that Daniel was better, and would recover, almost overwhelmed Jack.

He sat beside Daniel for a long while, watching him sleep, listening to him breathe, until he found himself shivering. He’d never dried himself off and his body was chilled. He hurriedly dressed, the sweats warm and comfortable against his skin.

He wasn’t able to leave the room, though. He made it as far as the door and then came back to the bed. Was Daniel right? Had Daniel almost died because some woman couldn’t stand the fact that two men loved one another and couldn’t love her?

Jack crawled back onto the bed and sat against the headboard, watching Daniel sleep. He was hungry, but not that hungry. He would sit here for a while longer and just feast his eyes on the man who was the center of his life.

- - - - - -

Jack sat back and indulged himself, watching Daniel across the table from him as Daniel enthusiastically waved his hands around, trying to convince the assembled people the merits of choosing P3Y 181 for their next mission. Carter had a smug look on her face and Teal’c’s lip was curled up slightly. Jack smiled to himself, enjoying seeing Daniel looking healthy and excited about his work.

It had been a long five weeks, but every day, Daniel had gotten stronger and stronger. Fraiser had eventually allowed him back to work for light duties, and yesterday Daniel had gotten the all clear for offworld travel.

The planet Daniel was so interested in would be an archaeologist’s dream. There were ruins galore, and Daniel had been salivating over the pictures taken by the MALP three days ago from the moment he’d seen them.

Jack glanced over at General Hammond and the older man met Jack’s gaze, his eyes twinkling. Yep, Daniel was going to be exploring those ruins in a couple of hours’ time.

As Daniel came up for breath, looking around at his teammates, gauging their reaction to his arguments, Jack leaned forward in his chair, ready to tease Daniel a little and lead him on. Daniel saw the look on Jack’s face and frowned slightly, his hand tapping the writing pad before him nervously with his pen.

Jack opened his mouth to speak and saw the dreaded pen move up towards Daniel’s face. He wouldn’t, would he?

The second Daniel’s teeth touched the plastic edge of the writing implement, Jack was yelling as he reached over the table, Carter was half lying on the table and Teal’c simply put a hand out towards Daniel. Three pairs of hands grabbed the small pen and pulled it out of Daniel’s grasp, leaving Daniel staring at them, mouth hanging open, fingers still curled around the now-missing ballpoint.

Carter and Teal’c relinquished the Bic pen to Jack, who shook it at Daniel accusingly.

“Will you never learn?” Jack exclaimed loudly as he let himself fall back into his chair. His heart was pounding and he was enveloped in a cold sweat.

“What? What did I do?” Daniel sat there looking befuddled, his eyes on the pen as Jack dropped it onto the table like a hot potato.

Shaking his head, Jack reached into his pocket and took out the gift the three of them had bought for Daniel. They had been going to present it to him later in the gateroom as a welcome back present, but Jack figured now was the time. With an apologetic look towards the General, Jack slid the long, slim box towards his lover.

Daniel picked it up curiously, his eyebrows going up when he read the name inscribed on the box.

“Montblanc? Jack, I can’t… do you know how much these things cost?”

“Well, I should hope so since the three of us had to pay for it.”

Daniel was holding the shiny ballpoint up to the light, admiring it. As he scribbled on a corner of his pad, testing the feel of it, Jack added, “And since you do too, I hope you’ll keep the damned thing ‘OUT OF YOUR MOUTH’!”  


Author's Comments:Thanks to Kat and Ximeria for the wonderful beta, KaleeKat for mentioning that wonderful book, and of course thanks to the gang, who constantly keep me on my toes. Thanks, you guys!


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