Rain Check by JoaG

Jack knew something was wrong the minute he saw Daniel’s wet coat lying discarded on the floor near his boots. He'd seen Daniel's Thunderbird parked in his freshly shoveled driveway, and swore when his fears were confirmed by the fact that Daniel hadn’t taken the trouble of hanging up his coat to dry. Daniel had been medically cleared for light duty a mere three days ago, and in Jack's books, shoveling a foot of snow from his driveway was definitely not on Fraiser's list of 'to do' things.

He and Daniel had argued again this morning soon after Jack had returned from a two day mission offworld. Daniel had been complaining for the past week that Jack was smothering him with his concern over his health. Jack hadn't been back on terra firma for five minutes before he'd learned that Daniel had been staying on base while Jack was gone. He knew that meant that Daniel had spent most of his time working in his office, and he had started nagging Daniel. Okay, he admitted it. He'd been worried about his lover during the two days he'd been offworld; Daniel *had* been very sick in the past few weeks. He had lost his temper when he’d seen Daniel’s weary posture waiting for him in the gateroom as he stepped through the Stargate. He’d overlooked the welcoming smile that Daniel had flashed at him before he’d started haranguing him once again for overdoing things.

Heading for the bedroom to seek out Daniel, Jack turned around quickly when he heard harsh coughing coming from the living room. His heart lurched when he heard this; Daniel hadn’t coughed this way in close to a week. Daniel had been on the mend, his immune system having been suppressed due to his being injected by an experimental drug, courtesy of the NID.

Entering the living room, Jack was surprised to see that his mattress had been dragged from the bedroom and placed before the fireplace. Quilts and pillows were piled over the mattress, reminiscent of the time they'd spent huddled in this room during the ice storm, nearly three weeks ago. There were unlit candles placed all over the room, and a bottle of liqueur was sitting on the floor by the makeshift bed, along with two glasses.

Daniel was lying on the couch, his knees curled up to his chest. He was shivering slightly, but when Jack put a hand to his forehead to test for fever, he was relieved to find that Daniel's temperature appeared normal. Upon feeling Jack's hand on his face, Daniel opened his eyes for a moment. He looked at Jack sleepily with a crooked smile before shutting his eyes again. Jack realized that Daniel was chilled, probably due to the fact that his clothes were still damp. He must have worked up a sweat from his exertions outside.

Jack spotted the opened bottle of prescription cough syrup on the floor beside Daniel. He went to replace the top when he realized that the bottle was empty. Jack could have sworn that it had been at least half full. Daniel must have taken all of it in a desperate attempt to stop his coughing. No wonder he was sleeping, that stuff packed quite a punch.

Jack grabbed a blanket from the mattress and placed it over Daniel, assuring himself once again that he was merely sleeping. Jack then raised all of the thermostats in the cold house. Glancing once more at Daniel's sleeping form on the couch, Jack made a quick stop at Mrs. Henderson’s, returning with a small bundle of black fur underneath one arm.

Blackie was a stray that had found her way into Jack’s house in the middle of the ice storm. She now technically belonged to Mrs. Henderson, but the elderly neighbour was always happy to let her come and visit Jack and Daniel whenever they were home for a few days.

Returning to the living room, he checked on Daniel once more before putting out some food for the kitten. Jack lit a fire in the fireplace, noting that Daniel had already arranged the kindling. He took a seat on the couch by Daniel's feet, trying not to disturb him. Jack turned the television on, flicking through channels until something caught his eye. He settled back to wait for Daniel to wake up.

- - - - - -

Daniel woke up with his forehead scrunched against the back of Jack’s couch. He was aware of his head pounding slightly, but the pain was offset by the gentle rubbing of his stocking feet. He cleared his throat, wondering at the raw feeling this invoked. The hands paused in their caress, and Daniel attempted to take advantage and turned around on the couch.

He hissed in pain when his back and arms protested the movement. He gingerly positioned himself until he was lying on his back. The room was dark; the sun had set and the only light came from the fireplace and the television.

He raised an arm to rub at his face, ignoring the protests from his strangely sore muscles. He wondered what he was doing here at Jack’s house. The last thing Daniel remembered was driving away from Cheyenne Mountain early this morning after an argument with Jack. Jack had just returned from a short mission, and Daniel had stayed on base overnight in order to greet Jack when he returned. He had intended to return here with Jack as they were both off duty for the next two days. They had argued, and he had been heading for his own apartment in order to cool off.

He was surprised to see Jack at home. He looked at the time registering on the VCR and realized that it was suppertime.

"Hey," Jack said, squeezing Daniel's foot.

"Hey," Daniel croaked. He cleared his throat again cautiously, feeling a tickle begin and stifling a cough. He sat up slowly, his entire body one huge, aching mass. He was surprised to see a mattress lying in the middle of the living room floor.

“What’s this?” Daniel asked, spotting the unlit candles that had been strategically placed around the room. Daniel had been planning on dragging out the mattress and making a cozy little nest for himself and Jack tonight, but that had been before Jack had started on his case. He thought it sweet that Jack had had the same idea.

“You tell me?” Jack countered.

Groaning, Daniel pushed the blanket aside and made his way stiffly to the bathroom. If Jack was gonna be this way, Daniel wanted to be feeling a little more human before bantering with him.

"Jack, do we have any Tylenol left?" Daniel called out, not finding any in the medicine cabinet.

“In the bedroom,” Jack called out. As he went into the room and searched the bedside drawers, he heard Jack come in behind him.

"Headache?" Jack asked. Daniel heard the caution in his voice, and realized that Jack was trying to rein in his concern over Daniel.

"No… yes. A bit, but it's not that. I'm just so stiff and sore," he complained, looking up at Jack warily while shaking out the pills from the bottle. “What the hell did I do to deserve this?”

“Well, moving half a ton of snow by yourself might do the trick,” Jack said as Daniel shuffled to the bathroom for some water to swallow the pills.

“What?” Daniel asked, confused.

“Don’t look all innocent here, Daniel. Mrs. Henderson saw you and she gave me shit for letting you do all that work by yourself when she could see you weren’t well. What the hell got into you anyway?”

Daniel didn’t know what Jack was talking about. They’d had a heavy snowfall while Daniel had been holed up on the mountain; he hadn’t wanted to drive home in it and had elected to stay on base for the past few nights instead. He had gotten caught up in his work, and had been looking forward to spending the next couple of days here with Jack. Why did Jack think that he’d…? He blinked suddenly, a flash of memory assailing him. He was staggering to the garage in exhaustion, barely able to catch his breath, his chest burning as he coughed uncontrollably. He’d desperately searched for his cough medicine, and collapsed on the couch, too weak to do anything else.

Why couldn’t he remember coming here and shoveling the snow? He looked at Jack in confusion, afraid to mention this to him. Maybe it was just part of his illness; the drugs he’d been injected with by the NID had meddled with his memory once before. Maybe this was just a slight side effect. He pulled his attention back to Jack, who was gently kneading his sore shoulders.

"How about I give you a massage? Then maybe a hot bath or shower will help." Jack pulled Daniel against him in a one armed hug, his other hand grabbing Daniel's ass. Daniel chuckled, kissed Jack, and followed him out of the room.

“Not that I wouldn’t mind that kind of massage, but I’d like to enjoy it without wincing.”

“Shower first, then massage,” Jack suggested. Daniel smiled. Sounded good to him.

- - - - - -

The kitten stopped at the entrance of the cold-tiled room. She had been preoccupied in chasing an imaginary foe around the house, and had lost track of her humans. She had checked each and every room, and had finally tracked them down to this one. She sniffed at the clothes lying on the floor, confirming that they belonged to her two males. She sat down on top of the pile, declaring her ownership of these creatures.

She could smell the water in the room, it was all encompassing. She licked her paw while trying to decide what to do. She peered up at the huge expanse of material hanging before her, so tantalizing in its nearness. She could see the rhythmic undulations where body parts rubbed against the fabric, very similar as to when her humans tickled fingers or feet beneath blankets. They thought that they were fooling her, but she knew that they were only wishing to play. She took great pleasure in getting her humans to play, and they were very well trained indeed.

The two who were now behind the curtain, teasing her, were her favourites. One had been ill lately, but he spent lots of time with her and he always knew where the best spots on her body were to rub. The other was always very gentle with her, seeming unsure of himself, and she always purred more loudly when he picked her up to let him know that it was okay. Two others often visited, the female was nearly as talented as the male when it came to stroking her. The other was strange, as if there were two who made up one. But he also showed great affection for her, and he loved to play, so she was always glad to see him. There was also the elderly female who was with her most of the time. She was the strictest of the bunch, never giving her delicious different foods to try, never allowing her on the table, or the counters, or the bureaus. But the kitten loved her all the same.

Moans came from behind the curtain, and the kitten flicked an ear in that direction. Were they trying to get her attention? She listened attentively, but only heard more of the same. She sighed; she knew from experience that if she tried to pounce at the occasional teasing ripples of this one particular toy, she’d end up getting sprayed with water. She hated when that happened, so she sat back on her haunches, and watched as the material began to flutter more quickly.

As the ripples increased in speed, she nearly forgot herself and made ready to jump. Gasping and panting sounds came from behind the curtain now. As a breathless cry disturbed her concentration, the kitten found herself crouching, her hind legs quivering in anticipation of her leap. Frustrated, the kitten lay down on the soft clothes, curling her paws beneath her, waiting patiently. Another cry resounded, and then the teasing movements slowed, and finally stopped.

She lay there waiting for the water to be turned off. Never let it be said that she couldn’t outwait a human. Eyes half closed in semblance of extreme patience, she watched as the material was pushed aside with a loud clattering sound. Good, now maybe she could get her humans to come and play.

- - - - - -

Jack caught Daniel’s arm when Daniel stumbled slightly as he stepped out of the tub. He steered him over Blackie, who was huddled on top of their dirty clothes. Jack saw that Daniel appeared dazed, and he quickly enveloped him in his old terry cloth robe that hung on the back of the bathroom door. He pulled the toilet seat down and had Daniel sit on it while he grabbed a towel, gently drying Daniel's face and hair.

"You okay," he asked, tipping a hand beneath Daniel's chin. Daniel looked up at him and smiled crookedly.

"Yeah, that was…um… wow."

Jack realized that the shower and sex, combined with the cough syrup and exercise, had managed to thoroughly relax his lover. Jack grabbed a towel and dried himself off, watching as Daniel slowly became more alert. Blackie had gotten up and had begun pulling at the robe's tie that hung on either side of Daniel. Daniel dangled the cord before her, laughing as she jumped and batted after it.

"I'm hungry," Daniel announced when Jack finished toweling himself dry. He draped the damp robe over the bathtub and got up and padded naked into the kitchen. Jack enjoyed the view until Daniel turned into the kitchen. Picking up cat in one hand and dirty clothes and towels in the other, Jack spread the towels out one handed to dry before making his way into the living room.

Daniel entered the living room carrying a tray containing an assortment of cheeses, crackers, breads, meats and fruits.

"What's all this?" Jack asked, meaning not only the food which had obviously been prepared earlier, but the romantic setting in the living room.

"Looks like I’m gonna be giving you that rain check I owe you," Daniel said as he came up behind Jack, rubbing himself suggestively.

"You mean I'm gonna get to cash it in tonight?" Jack asked, rubbing his ass against Daniel's groin.

"Yup, with interest," Daniel said, taking Jack's hand and pulling him onto the mattress. "But after supper. And you promised me a massage," Daniel said.

- - - - - -

They sat side by side on the mattress, back against the couch, tray balanced on their blanket-covered laps.

The edge of the blanket suddenly moved, and a small lump made its way beneath the covers until it reached Jack's foot. The lump continued, following the leg, until a small head appeared beside them. Blackie scampered from beneath the covers, intent on investigating the contents of the tray. Jack fed her a few pieces of thinly sliced roast beef, smiling as the kitten daintily accepted them from his fingers.

"You're going to spoil her," Daniel said, waiting his turn to feed her a piece of cheese.

"And you're not?" Jack countered.

Jack picked up the tray and brought the remnants of their supper into the kitchen, Blackie following behind as eagerly as a dog. Jack threw a grape down the hall and she eagerly pounced after the impromptu toy. As Jack joined Daniel before the fire, Daniel handed him a liqueur glass filled with golden liquid. Jack sniffed the glass, and recognized Grand Marnier. He saw Daniel holding a similar glass.

"Got the good stuff out, did you?" Jack drawled, as they sat back and enjoyed one another’s quiet company.

Daniel sipped his drink, his tongue flitting inside the glass to quickly lap up the residue. He poured himself some more from the bottle. They both smiled as Blackie came to investigate, backing up quickly when her sensitive nose discovered the potent aroma of the Grand Marnier.

Jack settled himself beside Daniel, sipping at his drink, his hand brushing over Daniel's naked chest. Daniel leaned over to nibble at Jack's neck. His lips made their way towards Jack's mouth, teasing as he changed direction and began licking and kissing his way down his chest. Daniel stopped a moment, giving his undivided attention to Jack’s nipple. Jack laid his head back, enjoying the sensation.

Still teasing the little nub, Daniel had to gently push Blackie out of the way when she came too close to their intertwining bodies. Jack grabbed a toy and threw it down the hallway, eager for once to get the kitten away from him.

His desire swelled, and soon Daniel was lying on top of Jack, his hands and mouth seeming everywhere at once. Jack gasped when Daniel took him into his mouth, his hands fisting the blankets as pleasure overwhelmed him.

“Danny,” Jack murmured after a moment, bringing a hand up card through Daniel’s hair. “Not this way, I want you in me.”

Jack felt Daniel smile around him before he gave a final suck and moved sinuously up Jack’s body to kiss his mouth. Jack grabbed Daniel’s neck with one hand, holding him close as he thrust his tongue into Daniel’s mouth. He felt Daniel’s weight shift as he leaned slightly to the side, reaching for the lube which Jack had seen earlier peeking out from beneath Daniel’s pillow. Daniel’s other hand roamed down Jack’s back, gently cupping his buttocks. Daniel froze suddenly, his tongue stilling its movement. Jack moaned his disappointment, but then looked up to see the look of bewilderment on Daniel's face.

"What?" Jack managed to say, and Daniel held his hand out. It was liberally covered with lubricant, and as he watched, Daniel tipped the pillow over, and he saw that it was also coated with the stuff. Daniel sat up suddenly, swearing and looking around.

"Blackie," he said in way of explanation, and Jack realized that she had continued to roam around them as they’d ignored her with their lovemaking. The mess was evidence that kitten had gotten into the lube. "Shit, Mrs. Henderson is so gonna kill us," Daniel moaned as he wiped his hand on the sheet and got up stiffly, looking for the kitten. Swearing beneath his breath, Jack got up too and helped search for Blackie. Daniel soon came out of the bedroom, kitten in hand. Jack could see how her black fur appeared shiny and was sticking up in clumps.

"We have to give her a bath, get this stuff off of her before she makes herself sick. She was already trying to lick it off."

"Give a cat a bath?" Jack exclaimed. He blushed as Daniel gave him a look that clearly said, 'what planet are you from?' He grabbed Blackie quickly as Daniel handed her over to him, following Daniel into the bathroom. With a groan, Daniel got down onto his knees, searching for something in the back of the cabinet.

"What are you looking for?" Jack asked, curious as to what Daniel was doing.

"We need shampoo…you have baby shampoo back here, Jack. It's mild enough to use on Blackie."

"I do not have baby shampoo," Jack replied, blushing when Daniel triumphantly produced the bottle. "I, er, like the way it makes my hair feel," Jack murmured.

"I like the way it makes your hair feel, Jack," Daniel said with a smile, leaning in and nibbling on Jack’s lower lip.

Realizing that Daniel must have gone out of his way to find the bottle, which he had hidden at the back of the cabinet, he asked, "And what were you looking for back there in the first place, may I ask?"

"Um…bath oil," Daniel confessed.

Jack merely raised an eyebrow, and said, "I don't have any bath oil."

"I know that now," Daniel said. Jack made a mental note to buy some the next time he saw some.

Daniel instructed Jack to fill the kitchen sink with two inches of warm water while he folded a towel and placed it on the bottom to prevent Blackie from sliding on the slick surface. Jack placed the kitten in the water and she immediately began trying to claw and fight her way out, meowing her displeasure loudly. Jack held her still with one hand while soaping her up with the other, ignoring the scratches that she occasionally managed to accidentally inflict. He worked quickly, washing her fur with his fingers, trying to end the poor cat’s torture.

Daniel had filled a plastic pitcher with tepid rinse water. Jack called for Daniel to come rinse off Blackie. When Daniel didn’t comply, Jack swore and reached over for the pitcher sitting on the counter.

“Damnit, Daniel,” Jack swore as he struggled with the frantic cat. “The least you could do is give me a hand here. Is this some kind of payback for this morning?” Satisfied that she was now squeaky clean, Jack took his attention off Blackie for a second, looking back at Daniel standing behind him. Jack was shocked to see him staring blankly, face pale and sweaty.

“Daniel,” Jack cried out, appalled at his lover’s appearance. In his shock at seeing Daniel unresponsive, Jack had loosened his hold on Blackie. The cat took the opportunity to attempt to escape by climbing up Jack’s arm. “Damnit,” Jack swore as he missed the dripping kitten as she jumped to the floor.

Ignoring the runaway cat, Jack turned to Daniel. Daniel’s breath was coming in short pants, and as Jack took a step towards him, he turned his eyes to Jack. For a moment Jack saw fear expressed in his lover’s eyes as he took a step back away from Jack. Two spots of color appeared in his otherwise pale face.

Jack called Daniel’s name as he reached for Daniel’s arm. He shook him gently, and was relieved to see Daniel’s eyes finally begin to focus on him. Daniel swallowed convulsively and then turned and rushed out of the kitchen. Following behind, Jack saw him run into the bathroom. Retching sounds greeted Jack as he entered, turning on the light.

- - - - - -

Daniel sat back shakily on the cold floor as his stomach finally settled for the moment. His head was pounding, those muscles that hadn’t painfully stiffened up felt like wet noodles, and his stomach was still threatening to rebel. He was aware of Jack kneeling beside him, rubbing his back.

“Better?” Jack asked softly in his ear. Although he nodded yes, Daniel still felt terrible. He laid his head on his knees for a moment, willing his nausea and headache to subside.

“What happened?” Daniel asked, forcing the words out.

“You zoned out on me while we were giving Blackie a bath. You have a thing about bathing cats that I should be aware of?” Jack’s voice was teasing, but Daniel could hear the worry in his voice.

“I what? I don’t remember…” He lifted his head off his knees, remembering Jack putting the cat into the water. “Where’s Blackie?”

“She ran off. Look, you stay put. I’m gonna get your clothes, and then go warm up the truck and then I’ll take you to see Fraiser.”

”What? No. I’m fine.” Daniel shifted his weight, preparing to stand up. He felt Jack’s hand on his arm, and was grateful for Jack’s help. “Look, I’m just a bit tired and very stiff and sore,” he admitted grudgingly.

“Daniel, you scared the hell out of me in the kitchen. You’re not fine, and you really need to see a doctor.” Jack maintained his hold on Daniel’s arm as they exited the bathroom. His legs were shaky as they carried him to the living room.

“All I need is to lie down for a while. If I don’t feel better tomorrow morning, I’ll let you drive me to the infirmary. Deal?” Daniel took Jack’s silence to mean that he agreed to his request, although he expected that Jack wasn’t happy about it.

As he gratefully sank down onto the mattress, Daniel spied Blackie sitting by the hearth, busily giving herself a bath. She chirped a greeting at him before standing up and walking over to him, shaking first one hind leg and then the other as she attempted to rid herself of excess water. He could see that she was still very wet.

He forced his exhausted body to reach over and pick her up. Cradling the bundle of dripping fur against his bare chest, he looked up at Jack. His lover’s face was set as he stared at Daniel. He could feel Blackie begin to shiver, and he said, “Jack, we need to towel her dry. She’s cold.” He reached for the comforter and laid it over his legs, realizing that he was still naked. “I’m cold,” he said as an afterthought.

Jack got up and threw a piece of wood onto the fire before getting some towels. Daniel began to rub her dry. He had to hand her over to Jack when the simple action tired him out. He knew this wasn’t normal, but he wasn’t going to admit it to Jack. The last thing he wanted was to go back to the infirmary. He’d had enough of all the poking and prodding for a while. As Jack worked on the cat, Daniel stretched out on his side beside him, watching Jack’s hands as they gently worked over the small animal.

The sound of Jack’s voice talking to Blackie, the cat’s answering purr and the towel rasping over her fur lulled him into a half doze. He let his heavy eyelids close and allowed himself to relax.

He stirred when Jack slid in under the covers beside him, settling himself against Jack’s length as Jack snuggled against Daniel. He felt Blackie pad along the pillow, curling up against the back of his head. Her fur felt slightly cool, but it was almost dry.

“I’m sorry to ruin this for you,” Daniel said sleepily against Jack’s neck.

“You didn’t ruin anything, Daniel.” Jack kissed the top of Daniel’s head as he hugged him gently.

“You obviously went to some trouble to set this up.”

“What are you talking about? You’re the one who made this little love nest,” Jack said, stiffening slightly against Daniel.

“I didn’t do any of this.” Daniel realized that he had said something similar earlier about shoveling the snow. “At least, I don’t think I did,” he said as he pulled back and looked up at Jack. “I don’t remember doing this,” he whispered. “I had wanted to, but I don’t remember. Jack, what’s happening to me?”

“I don’t know. Maybe that drug is still playing havoc with your system. You sure you don’t wanna go see Fraiser tonight?”

Although maybe Jack was right and he should go and see a doctor, Daniel felt too miserable to try and get dressed and sit through a long drive back to the base. He shook his head, relaxing once again against Jack. He listened to Jack’s heartbeat as he drifted into slumber.

- - - - - -

A low rumble near his ear woke Jack. It took a few seconds before his sleep-muddled mind was able to identify the sound as growling, interspersed with hissing. He raised his head and saw Blackie standing on the pillow beside him, her back arched, hissing and spitting and growling at something behind Jack. He quickly turned and saw that the apparition she was trying to defend Jack from was Daniel. Naked. Standing at the picture window looking outside. Jack placed a hand on the frightened cat, who quieted a moment as she looked up at Jack.

Jack called out Daniel’s name and got no response. He stood up, shivering in the cold room as he walked to Daniel. He saw the cat jump onto the back of the couch where she continued her harangue. Daniel was staring up into the clear night sky, his eyes half closed. Jack placed a hand on Daniel’s bare shoulder, surprised at the chill emanating from him.

“Daniel, how long you been standing here?” he asked with concern. When Daniel didn’t answer, he shook Daniel’s shoulder slightly. He tugged at Daniel, who turned unresisting towards Jack. In the dim light Jack could see that Daniel’s eyes looked past him, unseeing.


Daniel swayed suddenly, and his knees buckled. Jack caught him, feeling his nails scratching Daniel’s back as he struggled to break his fall. Jack managed to drag him back onto the mattress, quickly covering Daniel’s now shivering body with his own underneath the blankets. The room was still, the only sound Jack could hear was Daniel’s shuddering breath. Blackie had run from the room when Daniel collapsed.

After several minutes, Jack decided this wasn’t going to work. He got up quickly and ran a warm bath. Returning to the living room, he urged Daniel to get up. Daniel allowed himself to be led submissively to the bathroom where Jack sat him on the edge of the tub. Holding him steady, Jack lifted one of Daniel’s legs and then another into the tub. He climbed in and pulled Daniel down between his legs. Daniel’s head was cushioned on Jack’s chest. He lay there limply, shaking, staring at the tiled wall before him.

Jack spoke to him non stop, rubbing his arms and chest. Daniel finally stopped shivering after several minutes.


“Yeah, who did you expect? Harrison Ford?”

“What are we doing?” Daniel shifted slightly, trying to find leverage to pull himself up without using his abused muscles. Jack pulled him back down, keeping him lying flat against him.

“Getting you warmed up. You zoned out again, Daniel.”

“I don’t remember,” he said very quietly.

“I know. It’s okay.” Jack lowered his head to kiss Daniel’s temple. We’ll get you warmed up and dressed. This time we’re going to see Fraiser.” He felt Daniel nod against him and Jack was relieved he wouldn’t have to fight over this.

- - - - - -

Daniel was seeing everything through a fog of exhaustion. After getting out of the bath, he hadn’t had the energy to dry himself and had sat there lethargically as Jack toweled him off. When Jack led him into the bedroom to get dressed, Daniel had curled up onto the box spring, wanting nothing but to go to sleep. Jack had sat him up and dressed him like a child. If he hadn’t been so tired, he would have felt embarrassed.

They were in the living room now, just about ready to leave. Jack was talking to someone on the phone, and Daniel presumed it was someone on duty at Cheyenne Mountain’s infirmary. He really didn’t want to go back, although he couldn’t quite pinpoint as to why he was so reluctant. He knew something was wrong; and he hated to see the look of worry on Jack’s face every time their eyes met.

Daniel leaned his head back against the couch, watching through half closed eyes as Jack put his coat on. He realized that he had stopped talking; Daniel hadn’t even noticed Jack put the phone down. He saw Jack come to him, his own coat held in Jack’s hand. He leaned forward with difficulty, his muscles protesting. Jack helped him thread his arms through the sleeves, and then let Daniel fall back onto the couch.

“I’m gonna go warm up the Avalanche. I’ll be back in a couple of minutes, okay?” Jack cupped Daniel’s cheek before kissing the top of Daniel’s head. “I won’t be long,” he added.

Daniel closed his eyes, too tired to answer. He heard Jack open and close the door, and the muffled sound of the SUV’s motor came to him moments later. Daniel tried to take a few deep breaths to gather some energy for the long ride back to the mountain.

Jack’s voice and his insistent shaking of Daniel’s shoulder roused him from what felt like a deep sleep. He blinked up at Jack, surprised to see him sitting beside him.

“Where you going?” Daniel asked when he saw Jack wearing his winter coat. He was a little surprised to see Jack frown at him.

“Daniel, we’re going to the infirmary, remember?”

“No, why?” Daniel looked around the room. When he saw the rumpled linen and blankets on the mattress on the floor before him, he remembered.

“Daniel.” Jack’s voice reminded Daniel of a father informing his son that he knew he was lying.

“I’m experiencing blackouts, aren’t I?” Daniel said.

“Yes, you are. Let’s get you to the doc, okay?” Jack pulled on Daniel’s jacket lapels, urging Daniel to stand up. As he wearily made his way to the door beside Jack, he whispered, “I really don’t want to go, Jack.”

- - - - - -

As Jack pulled into his favorite gas station near the edge of town, he glanced over at Daniel, who had fallen asleep within seconds of getting into the truck. Jack stopped the truck and quietly closed the door, trying not to wake Daniel up. It was almost 5 am, he was the only customer so Jack knew it wouldn’t take long.

He waited impatiently as the tank filled up, pacing in order to stay warm. Before going inside to pay his bill, Jack glanced quickly inside the SUV. The artificial lighting illuminated Daniel, who was still sleeping soundly. Hands in his pockets for warmth, he hurried to the small building and paid his bill. He returned to the SUV, and it wasn’t until he was halfway inside the truck before he noticed that Daniel was gone, the passenger door still ajar.

Jack quickly scrambled back out, looking around in dismay. There was no sign of Daniel. He looked towards the illuminated building, knowing that if Daniel had gone off in that direction, Jack would have seen him. He glanced in the opposite direction, seeing only trees. Behind him was the road, with an open field on the other side. Had Daniel gone that way, he would still be visible against the white of the snow in the field.

Turning off the motor and grabbing his keys, a flashlight and his gloves, Jack took a chance and made for the trees. He skirted the edge of the woods until he found what he hoped he’d find. Fresh footprints. Following them, he fought his way through deep snow and tangled brush.

After several minutes, Jack stopped to catch his breath. Jack couldn’t imagine where Daniel had gotten the energy to run this far when fifteen minutes ago he had barely been able to make it from the house to the truck. Jack’s legs were soaked nearly up to his thighs from wading through the snow. He didn’t feel the chill yet as his exertions were keeping him warm. He moved on before he had time to cool off.

Another couple of minutes and he saw the footprints end at the base of a large tree. A dark shape was huddled beneath the tree.

“Daniel,” Jack cried in relief as he hurried over to him.

Daniel was sitting in the snow, his knees bent, head down. His hands were wrapped around his torso inside his unzipped jacket. Kneeling beside Daniel, Jack placed a shaking hand on Daniel’s shoulder. Daniel’s head came up slowly, his eyes appearing glassy in the glow from the flashlight.

“Jack?” Daniel said in a high pitched voice. “Jackjackjackjack, wanna go home.”

He frowned at Daniel’s odd use of his name. “I know, Danny. Let’s get you out of here, okay?” He could feel Daniel shivering beneath his hand.

“Cold,” Daniel complained, again in that strange high pitched voice.

“I know you’re cold, you’re sitting in snow.” Jack knew that Daniel’s legs and now his butt, must be as wet and cold as his own. He pulled Daniel’s hands from inside his jacket, and took the ends of the jacket and zipped it up. He felt inside Daniel’s pockets, but couldn’t find any gloves. He took Daniel’s cold hands in his and rubbed them gently, trying to warm them up before placing his own gloves on Daniel’s hands.

“Ready to go?” Jack asked, wanting to get Daniel back into the warmth of his vehicle and up the mountain as fast as he could.

“Don’t wanna go there. Wanna go hoooome,” Daniel whined.

“Danny, let’s just go to the Avalanche, we’ll talk about it where it’s nice and warm, okay?” The cold was beginning to seep into Jack’s body and he began to shiver. “Look, I’m cold and I’d really like to get out of the snow.”

“Cold?” Daniel asked, concern lacing the shrillness of his voice.

“Yeah. I’m cold. Let’s get out of here, okay?”

Daniel nodded and shifted around in the snow. Jack placed a hand under his shoulder and helped him up. They began walking back in silence, following their footprints. Daniel was quickly losing energy, and stumbled several times, falling to his knees in the wet snow. The sky was beginning to lighten in colour when Jack finally spotted his SUV through the trees.

It was with relief that he finally got Daniel seated inside the Avalanche. The first thing jack did was turn the heat on high, making sure the vents were aimed at Daniel. The second thing he did was ensure that the doors were locked. He didn’t want to chance Daniel running off once more, especially if the vehicle was moving.

Daniel hadn’t said a word since they’d started walking back. At the moment he was sitting huddled with his side and shoulder resting against the back of the seat. His eyes were closed and he had begun shivering in earnest. Jack took his jacket off and laid it over Daniel’s legs. It wasn’t much, but would afford a bit more heat. He reached over and pulled the safety belt over Daniel.

Daniel opened his eyes, and looked at Jack in confusion.

“Where are we?” he asked, looking around dazedly.

“We stopped to get some gas,” Jack said, putting the vehicle into drive and pulling out onto the main road leading out of Colorado Springs.

“I’m cold,” Daniel stated. After a moment, he asked, “Why am I all wet?”

“You ran off into the woods.” Glancing at Daniel, Jack asked, “You don’t remember any of this?” When Daniel shook his head, Jack continued. “You were saying you wanted to go home.”

“The last thing I remember is getting into the Avalanche.” Daniel shifted onto his seat until he was sitting upright. “God, my head hurts,” he said softly.

“We’ll be there in forty minutes,” Jack told him, laying a hand on Daniel’s thigh and rubbing it gently. “See if you can get some sleep.” He could feel Daniel shivering beneath his hand, but the tremors weren’t quite as severe as they were a few minutes ago.

It was with relief that Jack finally pulled up to the base and parked as close to the main entrance as possible. He grabbed his jacket from Daniel’s lap after unbuckling their seatbelts. Shrugging the jacket on, he made his away around the vehicle and opened the passenger door. The cold air roused Daniel, causing his shivering to increase.

“Let’s get you inside,” Jack said as he tugged on Daniel’s arm to get him to stand up. He saw Daniel look around blearily in the dim morning light. Recognition dawned and he pulled away from Jack.

“Daniel,” Jack said in a warning voice.

“Jack?” Daniel looked up at Jack with huge, pleading eyes. “Promise you won’t let them take me back to mental health. Send me to Abydos; Kasuf and Skaara can look after me.”

Jack spoke around the lump that suddenly appeared in his throat. He remembered the way Daniel had been treated when he’d been mistakenly diagnosed with schizophrenia. No way was he gonna let Daniel suffer through that again.

“I promise, Danny. If it comes to that, I’ll go to Abydos with you.”

Daniel stared at Jack for a long time, trying to gauge if Jack was simply humoring him, or was telling him the truth. After a moment, he nodded, and got out of the vehicle. He swayed slightly as he stood up, and sagged against Jack. Jack grabbed his arms, afraid that Daniel was going to pass out. Daniel managed to right himself after taking a few deep breaths.

Jack kept his hand on Daniel’s arm as they slowly walked to the base. They made it through the checkpoints without problems. It wasn’t until they turned into the corridor leading to the infirmary that Daniel balked. He stopped short, his breathes coming in gasps.

“We’re almost there,” Jack coaxed, trying to get Daniel to move.

“Noooooo no no no no no no no,” Daniel said softly, turning to Jack and pressing his face against Jack’s chest. “Don’t wanna go there,” he whimpered.

Jack brought his hands up and circled Daniel’s back, trying to comfort him. He brought one hand up to Daniel’s nape, holding him steady against him.

“Remember what I promised? It’ll be all right. Let’s go see Fraiser and get this over with, okay?” An airman walked by, squeezing past them as they were blocking a good portion of the hallway. He gave them an odd look, then averted his gaze quickly when he met the colonel’s eyes.

“We’re scared,” he whined in that same shrill voice he had used in the woods.

“We? Daniel, what the hell…?” Jack felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.

“Not Danny,” he said in that same voice.

“You’re not Daniel?” Daniel shook his head no against Jack’s chest.

“Who are you?” Jack asked, trying to keep the tension out of his hands. He continued to massage Daniel’s nape gently, not wanting to alarm him. A nurse came down the hallway, and Jack mouthed at her ‘get Fraiser’. She took one look at Daniel and turned around, hurrying towards the infirmary.

Daniel hesitated several seconds before answering. “I’m me,” he said.

“You don’t have a name?”

“Not like Danny. Not like Jack. Wanna go home. Jack? Cold.”

“I know you’re cold. Let’s just go to the infirmary where we can get you out of those wet clothes, all right?” He felt Daniel tense against him and he tightened his hold minutely, prepared to hold onto him if he tried to run.

“No.” It came out exactly like a petulant two year old.

“Can you tell me where Daniel is?” Jack asked. He saw Fraiser come towards them, accompanied by the nurse who’d gone to fetch her. Jack raised a hand, warning them not to come too close for the moment.

“Danny’s sleeping. He’s scared. I’m scared.”

“Why are you scared?”

“This place made Danny sick. He doesn’t want to go back.”

“This place made Daniel better. I brought Daniel here because he was sick. He’s sick now, and he needs the doc to make him better. You don’t want Daniel to be sick, do you?”


“Daniel agreed to go to the infirmary, even though he’s scared. You can trust Daniel to know what’s best. Do you understand?”

He finally raised his head, and looked at Jack. Even though it was Daniel’s blue eyes looking at him, Jack could see that it wasn’t Daniel who was seeing Jack. In a very low voice, Daniel said, “Danny loves you.”

Just as softly, Jack answered, “I know. I love him too. I wouldn’t do anything to hurt him.”

“You hurt Blackie.”

“What? When?”

“With the water.”

“The bath? I didn’t hurt her. Sure, I scared her, but it was something that I had to do. If I didn’t get the grease out of her fur, she would have made herself sick. Understand? It was for her own good. Just like going to the infirmary now isn’t something you want to do, but it is for your own good.”

“Don’t wanna,” he said, but Jack could hear the hesitation in his voice.

“I’ll be there with you. I promise.”

“Scared. But Danny wants to go. He’s waking up. Don’t hurt us, please?” As his breathing began to speed up, he slumped against Jack. Jack tightened his hold on Daniel, Fraiser and the nurse rushing to help Jack lower him to the floor.

“Jack?” Daniel’s voice sounded weak, but it was his own timbre. Jack squeezed Daniel’s hand.

“I’m right here.”

“Cold,” he moaned as he tried to curl up on his side. Jack took his jacket off and wrapped it around Daniel’s shivering body while waiting for the medics to bring a stretcher.

It only took a few seconds to settle Daniel onto a bed. Jack stood back as the medical team efficiently removed his wet clothes, rubbing him down and dressing him in a pair of scrubs. Daniel was restless as they catered to him, constantly shifting and looking around for Jack.

Once the activity around Daniel calmed a bit, Jack went and sat beside Daniel as Doctor Fraiser examined him. Although wrapped in several warm blankets, Daniel continued to shiver. He’d curled up onto his side facing Jack, his hand gripping Jack’s tightly.

Jack watched as a nurse injected something into Daniel’s IV. Jack could feel the heat of fever as he stroked Daniel’s cheek, letting him know that he was there beside him. As Fraiser examined him, Daniel’s grip relaxed gradually and his eyes closed as the medication began to take effect.

In a soft voice meant only for Jack’s ears, Fraiser said, “Right now I can’t find anything physically wrong with Daniel except exhaustion. He’s caught a chill, which is probably what’s causing his fever. We’ll keep an eye on that, and hope he doesn’t experience a relapse. I’ve given him something to help him sleep. He should be out for a few hours.”

She put down Daniel’s chart and stood beside Jack, watching the sleeping man.

“From what you’ve described and what I just saw in the hallway, I’m afraid that Daniel is exhibiting symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder. It’s what you would call Multiple Personalities. Actually, it’s not surprising. It’s not a common illness, but Daniel has experienced most of the prerequisites for DID – a very stressful experience before the age of 9, abusive foster parents… just to name a few.”

Jack watched Daniel’s face twitch slightly and from the renewed pressure on his hand, knew that Daniel had heard Fraiser’s words to him. Damn, they thought he was asleep.

“Doc, we’ve gone through this already with Machello’s little gift. Don’t even think about calling in McKenzie.” As he squeezed Daniel’s hand in response, he thought to himself, ‘You listening, Danny? We are so not going to go that route again’.

Jack ignored the petite woman’s glare, intent as he was on the increasing signs of agitation Daniel was exhibiting. His breathing had begun to quicken and although he had burrowed his head into his chest, he had a death grip on Jack’s hand.

Fraiser frowned when she saw that Daniel was awake and upset. Jack suspected she thought he’d been sleeping and wouldn’t hear their whispered conversation. She asked a nurse for another mg. of Ativan.

“Before I make the decision to call in a psychiatrist, Colonel, I’d like to rule any other conditions which might be the cause of these symptoms.” She turned to accept the syringe from the nurse. “If that’s all right with you,” she added sarcastically before she bent over Daniel.

“Daniel, I’m going to give you something to help you sleep. You need to rest and give your body a chance to recover.”

“No, please. Jack, don’t let me… I don’t want to… Jaack,” he said plaintively as the second dose of medication began to take effect.

Jack bent low and spoke close to Daniel’s ear. “I won’t let them take you away, Danny. I’ll be here the whole time. Don’t worry, okay? I promised… I won’t forget. I’ll be here when you wake up.” He watched Daniel fight to stay awake, but the drug was stronger than Daniel’s weakened body and it quickly took him under this time.

He looked up and saw Fraiser watching them.

“He’s afraid you’re gonna send him to Mental Health,” Jack admitted.

“Damn, I’m sorry. Look, if Daniel was suffering from DID, he would have exhibited signs of the illness long before now. I just meant to say that he’s a perfect candidate for the illness. I need to run some tests… I’ll let you know as soon as I find something.”

Jack nodded and watched the doctor as she spoke with the waiting nurse. Jack let go of Daniel’s limp hand, intent on phoning Sam and Teal’c to let them know that Daniel was back in the infirmary. He had barely taken three steps away from the bed when he heard that distinct shrill voice coming from Daniel’s bed.

“Jaaaack, Jackjackjackjackjackjack.”

He turned around, and saw that Daniel’s eyes were halfway open, staring at him. As he walked back to the bed, Daniel’s other personality stopped chanting his name. Daniel’s glazed blue eyes followed him as he sat back down on the chair.

Fraiser rushed over to Daniel’s side. As she took his pulse and peered into Daniel’s eyes, she said to the colonel, “This shouldn’t be possible. He should sleep for at least four hours.”

“Scared,” Daniel said in a slightly slurred voice. “Danny can’t wake up.”

“I know, kiddo. Doctor Fraiser gave Daniel something to make him sleep. He needs to rest so that he can get better.”

“Don’t wanna sleep. Wanna go home.” Daniel reached for the IV in his hand and started tugging at it. “Jack, take me home?”

Jack quickly removed the errant hand, holding it in his own to prevent Daniel from fiddling with the IV again. “We’ll go home soon, when Daniel’s better.” He felt Daniel tug slightly, trying to free himself from Jack’s hold.

“Not Danny’s home. My home.” He pulled harder, but Jack could feel how his efforts lacked any kind of strength. Daniel gave up and tried to sit up. Fraiser reached down and pinned his shoulder to the bed. Jack was ready to lend his strength to hers if he tried to struggle, but the fight seemed to leave him. Jack could see that he was struggling to stay awake.

Fraiser took his pulse, then his blood pressure. She told Jack, “His pulse is racing and his pressure’s going through the roof. This isn’t good, he’s putting too much stress on his body.”

Leaning over and caressing Daniel’s head, Jack said to whatever entity or personality of Daniel’s that was talking to him. “I’ll take you home. But only after Daniel is better.”

“Feel strange. Jackjackjackjack. Don’t feel good.”

“Can you go to sleep? Can you go to sleep like Daniel?” Jack continued to caress the soft hair, hoping to soothe him. Daniel’s eyes were no longer focusing, and he was beginning to pant as he fought against the drugs.

“Jack, home?”

“Where is home, kiddo?”

“Kiddo?” he asked, his eyes almost shut.

“I can’t keep calling you ‘hey you’ now, can I?” He saw the slight curl of a smile on Daniel’s lips. “Never had a name before,” he admitted.

“What do your people call you?” Jack asked.

Daniel hesitated before answering. “It. They call me ‘it’.” Eyes closed now, he said, “Afraid of me. You and Priest are only ones who talk to me.”

“Do you know where home is?” Jack repeated, wondering if there was a reason to be afraid of this childlike being.

“Lost,” he sighed.

“Okay, we’ll find your home when you wake up. Go to sleep with Daniel, and we’ll talk about this later. Okay?” Jack felt him squeeze his hand, and then his hand went limp as he permitted the drugs to take over and carry him into sleep.

He slipped Daniel’s hand under the covers and got up once again to go to the phone. Once again he’d barely taken a few steps from the bed when he heard the soft cries, “Jackjackjackjackjack,”

Jack turned back and saw that Daniel was looking at him through slitted eyes. Jack canted his head and ordered, “Sleep.”

“Said you’d stay, not go,” came the soft protest.

Jack sat down once more beside Daniel. “I’m not going far, I’m just going to call Sam and Teal’c and let them know that Daniel’s sick again. They’ll want to be here.”

“Friends,” Daniel sighed, his eyes closing.

Jack stood up and waited. When Daniel remained quiescent, he made for the phone a third time. Although he was half expecting it, when Daniel called, “Jackjackjackjack” again, he muttered, “For crying out loud,” under his breath.

Fraiser took pity on Jack and informed him that she’d contact Jack’s remaining team members. Jack sat and carded his fingers through Daniel’s hair, happy that for once he could do so in public without fear of recriminations. His excuse was that he was trying to soothe this childlike entity when in fact he knew that he was soothing himself.

He heard Daniel sigh his name, and knew that both Daniel and the kid were finally sound asleep.

- - - - - -

They’d had very little to go on, but Jack had asked Teal’c and Sam anyway to review everything that Daniel had handled in the past days since he’d been working on base. So far everything had come up empty. Daniel had worked on simple translations, and hadn’t even been close to any alien artifacts. Where did this little lost soul come from? And why had it latched onto Daniel? Jack scratched his head in frustration as he thought about that last question.

Jack was reviewing the mission reports of the other two SG teams who had returned to Earth during SG1’s absence. He tossed the last folder onto the foot of Daniel’s bed, where it landed on top of the other papers he’d been perusing. Neither of the teams had returned with any artifacts or mementoes. None of the archeologists or scientists had played with any new gizmos or relics. There was no indication as to how Daniel had come into contact with this alien consciousness that was channeling through Daniel.

Jack was positive that it was an alien entity of some kind. Fraiser had ruled out that it was a Goa’uld. Actually, all of her tests showed that there was nothing there. Daniel was sick, he was running a fever of 102, but she still attributed that to overexertion and a somewhat weakened immune system. She didn’t want to make a diagnosis on the multiple personality thingie until she had had a chance to question and examine Daniel once he was more coherent. Jack knew that she still felt bad for misdiagnosing Daniel when she and McKenzie had assumed that traveling through the Stargate had finally had adverse effects on Daniel. He was confident that she wouldn’t jump to conclusions again, especially after the way the kid had spoken. This wasn’t another part of Daniel speaking, this was a total stranger.

Movement from the other side of the room caught Jack’s attention. He saw the marines from SG10 leaving the infirmary, finished with their post-mission checkups. One of the marines was ogling a nurse and bumped into a table on his way out. A loud metallic crash ensued, and Jack grinned as the marine quickly fled the scene of spilled instruments as the nurse headed his way. Not much taller than Doctor Fraiser, the needle she held in her hand made her quite imposing.

Jack glanced down at Daniel, and saw heavy-lidded blue eyes staring at him. Daniel hadn’t moved a muscle since he’d gone to sleep, he was still lying on his side, facing Jack. The noise must have woken him. Jack leaned forward and reached for Daniel’s hand which was peeking beneath the blankets. Jack gently stroked the back of Daniels hand with his thumb.

- - - - - -

Waking up in the infirmary usually wasn’t a pleasant experience. At least this time Daniel wasn’t feeling any pain from injuries. Although his brain felt as if it had been stuffed with cotton and his body ached from the tell tale signs of fever. He forced his eyes open, wondering what had woken him up, and whether Jack had been hurt alongside him. Metallic sounds clanged in his mind, like a dimming vestige of a dream.

The first thing Daniel saw was Jack sitting beside him, wearing a small grin on his face. He was looking past Daniel, something had obviously amused Jack. Even as muddled as he felt, Daniel saw the love in Jack’s eyes when they met his own. Jack picked up Daniel’s hand, his finger rubbing soothingly over Daniel’s skin.

“Jack?” Daniel mumbled sleepily. “What’s going on?”

Jack smiled down at Daniel. “Nothing, Daniel. You’ve got a fever and Fraiser wants you to rest.”

“Sleepy,” he said as his eyes closed. He forced his eyes open again, trying to remember how he came to be here. He remembered feeling cold and wet, and a vague reluctance in wanting to come to the infirmary. He heard Jack telling him to go to sleep, but Daniel felt that there was something important he was missing. Something he had to remember… something someone had said…

“McKenzie!” Daniel exclaimed, recalling his blackouts and how Fraiser had said that he was experiencing symptoms which may require him to see a psychiatrist. “Jack, please. Don’t make me see him,” Daniel begged. He tried to sit up, and was surprised at the stiffness and weakness of his muscles.

Jack dropped Daniel’s hand and instead of pushing Daniel back down onto the bed, Jack lifted him into a hug. He struggled in Jack’s grasp until he heard Jack’s whispered words in his ears.

“Danny, it’s okay, you’re not crazy. You hear me? You’re not going mad. Even Fraiser’s convinced of this.”

Daniel relaxed and allowed his head to fall forward onto Jack’s shoulder, enjoying the sensation of Jack’s arms around him. He could feel Jack’s arms straining to hold his weight, so Daniel pushed away slightly, letting Jack lower him back onto the bed.

“The colonel’s right.” Janet’s voice sounded to his left. Daniel hadn’t heard the doctor’s approach, and was now a little embarrassed at his outburst. “You need to sleep, Daniel. Don’t worry about McKenzie. There’s no need for me to call him.” Daniel felt her fingers on his wrist as she took his pulse. He closed his eyes as she inflated the blood pressure cuff, the adrenaline wearing off as his exhaustion seeped over him.

His hand was back in Jack’s grasp, the warm, callused fingers rasping against his skin. The tiny movement was very soothing, and Daniel concentrated on it. He heard Jack and Janet talking, their voices seeming to be coming from far away. The last thing he felt was a soft touch on his cheek. The fingers were too smooth to be Jack’s. As he lost his battle with sleep, he decided it must have been Janet.

- - - - - -

Jack woke with a start. His neck and back were stiff, and he realized that his head was resting on Daniel’s mattress. He straightened with a groan, opening his eyes and checking on Daniel. To his horror, the bed was empty. There were traces of blood on the white sheets. Jack searched and quickly found the culprit, the discarded IV needle lying on the rumpled pillow.

“Doctor Fraiser,” Jack yelled out while simultaneously pressing on the call button. He noted distractedly that his right hand was splattered with blood. Daniel’s blood. Damn, why had he fallen asleep? A nurse and the petite doctor both rushed into the ward. Their eyes widened as they saw the empty bed, the discarded blankets, and the bloody evidence that Daniel had walked out of the infirmary. The blood was still fresh. Daniel couldn’t have been gone more than a few minutes.

Jack picked up the phone and called security, alerting them to Daniel’s disappearance. He asked that they not approach him, but call the infirmary as soon as they found him. The call didn’t take long in coming. Daniel was in the gateroom, standing before the Stargate.

As Jack ran out of the infirmary, he could hear Doctor Fraiser’s footsteps echoing behind him. As he rushed down the corridor, Jack could see spots of blood on the floor, evidence that Daniel had been this way.

As he rushed into the embarkation room, Jack saw Daniel standing forlornly at the base of the ramp leading to the Stargate. Jack stopped beside the airmen who were waiting by the door, ready to assist but obeying Jack’s orders as to not approach Daniel. As Fraiser made to rush towards Daniel, Jack put out a hand, stopping her.

“Danny?” Jack asked as he moved slowly towards his lover.

As Daniel turned towards Jack, he swayed slightly and took a step forward to maintain his balance. A smile lit up his face. “Jackjackjackjackjack,”

“Hey kiddo,” Jack replied as he took several quick steps and put out a hand to steady Daniel. He took Daniel’s bloody hand in his, nodding to Fraiser. She came forward and efficiently cleaned him up, placing a bandage to stop the bleeding. “Whatcha doing?” Jack asked as Daniel turned back towards the Stargate.

“Way home,” Daniel stated.

“You came through the Stargate?” Jack questioned. At Daniel’s nod, Jack continued. “Do you know the address to your home?” At the perplexed look on Daniel’s face, Jack said, “We need to know which buttons to press to dial you home.” Daniel’s face crumpled in disappointment.

“Colonel, Daniel needs to get back into bed,” Fraiser said beside him. Jack agreed with her, he could feel Daniel shivering, and he was swaying on his feet in his attempt to remain upright.

“Let’s get you back into bed, kiddo. Remember what I told you? That we’d get you home once Daniel was better? Even if we knew where to dial, Danny’s too sick right now to go through the ‘gate to bring you home.”

“We’re tired,” Daniel agreed as he allowed Jack to pull him towards the door.

Jack could hear Daniel’s bare feet slapping on the cement as he and Fraiser led him back to the infirmary. Daniel was dragging his feet, his body near the end of his endurance.

Once Daniel was lying in bed, Jack asked Fraiser to wait before sedating him once more. Jack wanted to talk with the kid and see if he could find more answers.

When Fraiser and her nurses finished checking him over, Jack stepped to the foot of the bed and began rubbing one of Daniel’s cold feet. Jack asked, “You said earlier that only a Priest spoke to you. Can you describe him?”

“Her. She comes sometimes and calls me. She’s lonely.” Jack felt the warmth return to Daniel’s foot as he continued to rub the cold skin. “Like talking with her,” he added wistfully.

“How does she call you?” Jack questioned as he tucked Daniel’s foot under the covers and reached for the other one.

“She touches the sacred vessel,” Daniel said. “Feel her call me. Others touch, but don’t call. Afraid.” Daniel pulled his foot from Jack’s grasp, and burrowed under the blankets. “Cold,” he whimpered. “Lonely,” he added.

Jack moved to the chair and sat down. He looked at Fraiser who had been watching from the other side of the bed.

“Why did you come to Daniel?” Jack asked.

“Danny touched the sacred vessel. Danny was hurt, lonely, sick. Was curious. Spoke to Danny, didn’t hear. Danny forgot he touched the sacred vessel. Wanted to help. Watched, learned. Felt his love, saw your love.” Tears spilled from Daniel’s eyes and ran down his cheeks. Daniel raised a hand in surprise, rubbing at his wet face.

“Hurt Danny?” he cried.

Jack wiped the tears away with the back of his hand. “No, you didn’t hurt Daniel. People cry when they feel great emotions. It’s okay, don’t worry.”

“Love. Want to … cry … love is so beautiful.”

“Why doesn’t Daniel speak to you?” Jack asked.

“Forgets. Can’t hear me. Not-friend made Danny sick, makes him forget. Made Danny remember, though. Me and Blackie, made Danny remember he took sacred vessel.”

As he closed his eyes, Jack nodded to Fraiser and she administered the sedative.

“I want you to sleep, kiddo. I think I have an idea of where home is.” Daniel’s eyes snapped open, staring hopefully at Jack.

“Trust me?” Jack asked.

Daniel nodded, letting his eyes close. Seconds later Fraiser confirmed that he was asleep.

“Can you inform General Hammond? I think I know where this little one’s from.”

- - - - - -

“P3J 221, Colonel?” General Hammond questioned. “That’s the planet where Doctor Jackson was coerced into stealing an urn, and forcibly injected with an NID experimental drug to erase the memory.”

“Yes it is, sir,” Jack said. “The drug also suppressed Daniel’s immune system, which is why he’s still sick at the moment.” Jack remembered the feeling of satisfaction when he’d tricked the leader of SG8 into confessing that he’d been the one to get Daniel into trouble. The whole damn cause of this was because Donald Provost was homophobic, and he had been trying to get back at Daniel, not knowing that Jack was Daniel’s lover. They had thought at the time that the drug provided by the NID hadn’t worked the way it had been designed. But the being had just admitted to having been the one who triggered Daniel’s memories. Had it not been for its help, it was more than likely that Daniel would have been arrested and thrown out of the Stargate programme for theft.

“The being inside Daniel mentioned that Daniel had forgotten he’d taken the urn. The drug was what caused Daniel to forget that. Remember, we were forbidden to even touch the thing. It has to be P3J 221.”

Jack sat up straight, glancing quickly at his teammates sitting across the table from him. “General Hammond, request permission to return to P3J 221 and see if we can borrow that troublesome little urn. Maybe the priestess will agree to come here and take the kid home.”

“Permission granted. Just try not to bring any hitchhikers home with you this time.” Jack left the room with the feeling that maybe things were starting to go right.

- - - - - -

To Jack it looked like a fancily decorated, fifteen inch high piece of clay pottery with three green crystals embedded in the terracotta. To his unpracticed eye, it looked lopsided. To Carter, it was a repository of various minerals, two of which she had never before set eyes on. To Daniel, it was the vessel which would be used to draw the entity out of his body and into the urn for safekeeping until it was returned to P3J 221. To the entity, the urn was its way home.

The priestess had been quickly found, and she had agreed to return to Earth with SG1. They were now standing around Daniel’s bedside. Daniel was awake, sitting up, and albeit a little confused.

“Jack, I still don’t understand,” Daniel complained as the precious piece of pottery was laid between Daniel’s blanket-covered legs.

“Just trust me on this, okay? The thing inside of you wants out, and this jug will carry it home.”

Carter stepped up to the bed and sat down beside Daniel, taking his hand in hers. “Daniel, the life form inside of you will enter into the urn, which, as Dalara here has explained to us, is simply a conduit used for communication between her people and the being’s. The minerals inside the urn form a sort of holding cell, which the life form enters so as to change the composition of its energy. It can either communicate directly with someone touching the urn, or enter its body, the way it did with you. Unfortunately, it’s now stuck inside of you. It needs the urn to return back to its own world.”

“Oh,” Daniel said. He looked up at Jack accusingly. “Why didn’t you say that?”

“I did. Isn’t that what I just said?” Jack asked, looking first at Daniel, then Carter.

“It is only a child, Daniel Jackson,” Dalara said in a soft, melodic voice. “It has come to me seeking guidance and companionship. It is the duty of a Priest to so instruct these beings, when requested.”

“That’s another thing I want to talk to you about,” Jack said to Dalara. “It has feelings. You should give it a name. It deserves a little more respect that ‘it’ or ‘hey you’.”

“The beings have never required naming before, Colonel O’Neill”, Dalara replied with disdain.

“Well, there’s always a first time,” Jack said.

Dalara turned from Jack and walked to the head of Daniel’s bed. “Doctor Jackson, if you are ready? All you need do is place your hands on the urn. It will be painless.” She looked up at the people standing around Daniel’s bed. “We will know when it has entered the sacred vessel when the crystals light up.” She picked it up from between Daniel’s legs and placed it on his lap.

Taking a deep breath, Daniel positioned his hands around the urn. A smile played around Daniel’s mouth as he looked up at Jack.

“Jackjackjackjackjack. Thank you. Going home now. Kept your promise.”

“Hey kiddo. I told you I’d get you home. Be good now, and don’t give Dalara a hard time.”

“Always good,” he replied. He looked up at Dalara a moment before asking, “Give me name? Call me Blackie?”

Jack grinned at Dalara’s expression. “Blackie’s a great name, kiddo,” Jack said.

“Jackjackjack, bye Jack,” Blackie said as the three crystals lit up simultaneously. Dalara reached over and picked the urn up from Daniel’s lap. She swept out of the infirmary, accompanied by General Hammond and two guards.

Daniel was sitting with a bemused expression on his face. “I heard it, Jack,” he exclaimed with wonder. “I heard it talking to you. It was so happy to be going home.”

“Speaking of going home,” Jack said, looking over at Fraiser. “How long before Daniel can leave?”

“Well, Colonel. If Daniel promises to rest, and if his fever is gone by morning, I don’t see why he can’t go home then.” She smiled as Daniel slipped lower into the bed, snuggling beneath the blankets.

“Jack, I think I’m going to take a nap,” Daniel said, closing his eyes. Fraiser looked at them, still smiling as she walked away.

“I’ll come by later to see you, Daniel,” Carter said as she gave him a kiss on the cheek.

“I will also return later, DanielJackson,” Teal’c added as he stood beside Jack.

“Bye Sam, bye Teal’c,” Daniel murmured sleepily as they walked off.

Jack leaned over Daniel, whispering in his ear. “You gonna be okay by yourself?”

Daniel nodded. “Just wanna sleep, Jack.” He cracked open an eye. “I want to go home tomorrow. I think we have some unfinished business in front of the fireplace.” Daniel shut his eye, pulling the blanket up to his nose. “And this time, leave Blackie at home,” he murmured.

“Which one?” Jack asked, confused.

- - - - - -

Daniel was lost in thought, staring at but not seeing the Stargate as he stood near the metal ramp. He felt a presence beside him, and he simply knew that it was Jack. Daniel had told Jack he’d meet him in the commissary, but he had felt compelled to stop here before leaving the base.

“Something wrong?” Jack asked.

Daniel smiled, flicking his eyes towards Jack before looking back up at the Stargate.

“No, I was just thinking.”

“Don’t you get tired of doing that?”

“What, thinking?”

“No, going through the Stargate.”

“Not when I’m with you, Jack. I know you’ll always be there to show me the way home. You’re like the guiding light in a storm. You shine above everyone else.”

“Kinda feeling poetic today, are you?” Jack quipped.

“Actually, those were Blackie’s… um… the entity’s words to me just as he left. It trusted in you, Jack, and reminded me just how much I love you.”

“It reminded me how much I love you, too. Ready to go home? I think we have a date with a fireplace…”

“And a rain check to cash in.”  


Author's Comments: See Ice Storm for the prequel to Ice Storm


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