Zappedby JoaG Note: This story first appeared in Annie's zine Pretense 7
Author's Warning There may be religious content offensive to some
The room was dry and dusty, stale, smelling of old paper, candle wax and a hint of exotic spice. Jack wrinkled his nose against a threatening sneeze and peered into the gloomy library, searching for Daniel.
His lover wasn't hard to spot—he was the only one left in the room, sitting hunched over a paper-strewn table in the corner, leaning close in the flickering candlelight. The two religious geezers who'd been working with Daniel the past two days had come out for air a few hours ago, had enjoyed a hearty supper and had disappeared, presumably to get some sleep. This was why Jack was here now, to coax SG-1's hard-working archeologist to bed. Between the translations and the trade negotiations, Daniel was burning the proverbial candle at both ends.
Jack entered the room, spotted the discarded dishes on the table next to Daniel as he approached, and shook his head. Two plates were empty; one was untouched. Jack recognized the food from lunch and knew from experience why Daniel hadn't partaken of the meal. His own tongue was still sore and swollen from the hot spices. He figured he'd have to feed Daniel before tucking him in. Although he'd rather eat Daniel, if given a choice.
"Coming to bed?" Jack asked softly as he stopped beside Daniel. He eyed Daniel's bare chest where the soft material gaped open.
"In a minute."
Jack could see the tension in the younger man's bent neck and awkwardly held body as he furiously wrote on the lined pad, leaning close to the table in order to see in the guttering candlelight. Jack placed his hands on Daniel's shoulders and began kneading the taut muscles. The sound of the scratching pen slowed and then stopped as Daniel bowed his head, allowing Jack to get to the painfully tight spots.
Jack continued to rub and knead for another minute, then leaned over and plucked the pen from Daniel's unresisting fingers. As he tossed the Bic on top of the pile of scrolls, Daniel turned his head to face Jack, the candle's flame reflecting in his glasses.
"Hey. I wasn't finished." Daniel half stood and reached for the pen but Jack grabbed his arm and pulled him upright.
"Yes, you are." He lowered his head and kissed Daniel, hard.
He felt Daniel's surprise, then as his lover responded, Jack held the kiss several blissful seconds longer before reluctantly pulling away. Daniel looked at Jack's mouth hungrily, sighed and straightened up.
"You shouldn't have done that." Daniel stretched his neck first to one side, then the other before raising and stretching his shoulders. He reached for a scroll and began rolling it up. The oily, plastic-like coated papyrus rustled in the quiet room.
"It's late and I don't see anyone else here with us."
"We're off-world, Jack." Daniel placed the rolled scroll aside, glanced at Jack and reached for another. "You know we can't take any chances that could..."
"I see you found him, sir." Carter breezed into the room, the floor-length dress jingling and chiming loudly as its decorations clashed together with her steps. She stumbled as her foot caught the dress' hem and she swore, picked up a large handful of material and strode purposefully towards them.
"God, I hate this thing," she complained.
Jack looked down at his own attire: button-less shirt and simple split up the side skirt, or sarong, as Daniel called it. He'd felt uncomfortable with so much skin exposed at first, and hell, just the idea of wearing a skirt... but after the first day, he'd gotten accustomed to it. And Daniel seemed to enjoy the way it looked on him from the many times he'd caught him staring. And of course he didn't mind staring at Daniel's similar attire...
Two young maids followed Carter into the library, hips swaying seductively as they moved easily in their restrictive clothing with an ease of lifelong practice.
"See what I meant?" Daniel said to Jack in a whisper as the women began to clean up the remains of the earlier meal. They giggled together, casting glances towards Daniel as he rolled up the last of the material he'd been working with. Carefully gathering the scrolls into his arms, he returned them to their proper places.
Jack cleared his throat, thinking that Daniel was right. They were usually very careful of their relationship and he'd come very close to being caught tonight.
"Where's Teal'c?" Jack made sure to walk behind Daniel and enjoy the view as they made their way down the hallway towards the sleeping areas. Daniel's sarong was slit nearly all the way to his hips and with each step, a bare, muscled leg flashed tantalizingly.
"He's still talking with Telnor," Carter answered as she continued to struggle with her heavy dress.
Jack pitied her, he knew that underneath the dress were several layers of slips and petticoats, each of varying lengths, and each threatening to trip the impatient major with every step she took. He smiled to himself as he recalled the first day she'd worn the dress at Daniel's urging, having informed them in no uncertain terms of her displeasure. If she'd been unhappy with wearing that blue number amongst the Shavadai people, then she was downright pissed with being forced to wear this one.
Carter had hated everything about Foorish customs; how the women were treated with excessive respect, how she'd had to eat and sleep separate from her team in a women-only part of the palace, how she wasn't permitted to leave the palace without an escort, but most of all, how sorry she was for giving in to Daniel's suggestions that they go along with the dress code.
Daniel had urged them all to try to fit in with the Foorish customs. They were easily offended, despite their welcome and eager negotiations for trade. Earth had seeds they were very interested in, the Foorish had herbs with promising healing properties and mines the SGC would love getting a hold of. Trade, however, had been mostly stalled while Daniel translated holy scrolls that had been in existence for thousands of years. The priests had been ecstatic to learn Daniel could read the writing, which had been lost to them.
Daniel turned to Jack, all signs of his exhaustion gone. "Good, I need to talk to Teal'c. I found a passage in one text that mentions the names Adonai and Sabaot." His eyes shone in the hallway's smoking torches at his renewed excitement. "Adonai is another word for Lord or God, and Sabaot means Lord of Hosts."
"Maybe," Daniel replied, frowning in concern when Carter stumbled again. "But these are a few Hebrew names, and combined with the references I came across yesterday to the name of Yeshua, a teacher and healer who would be born of the Lord, and who would be betrayed, then rise from the dead..."
"You're not trying to say that Jesus came to this planet, are you? And that he might have had a sarcophagus?" Daniel had mumbled something last night about finding references to Christianity when he'd stumbled into bed, his words fading fast as Jack had kneaded his stiff body into a limp and relaxed mass.
"I don't know," Daniel admitted, glancing first at Jack, then at Carter, his expression almost apologetic. "It could mean that the deity most religions believe to be God was actually a Goa'uld." He waved his hand in the air, his words speeding up in his attempt to get them out. "But it could also mean that someone here four thousand years ago managed to foretell that Jesus Christ would come to Earth. I need to talk to Telnor, find out more about their myths and beliefs. If—"
"Daniel." Jack turned to Carter in surprise. She rarely interrupted Daniel's spiel; she usually left that to Jack. Daniel stopped walking as they entered the hallway leading to the women's quarters, staring at her in wide-eyed surprise. She stood stiffly in her dress, fists bunched into the heavy material as she held the weight away from her feet. Despite her efforts, much of it draped onto the floor. "I hate to say this, but it might be better not going further with this."
"But, Sam, this could be important. Can you imagine it? We could discover the truth about Jesus, about the miracles he performed. Whether he's the real thing or whether he was a Goa'uld. Or whether God is... or... or was. Or both are! Don't tell me the thought never crossed your mind?"
"No, actually, it hadn't." Carter's face was pinched and already bad-tempered with having to deal with something as simple as recalcitrant clothes, she turned on Daniel. "Not until you just brought it up just now." She dropped the material she'd held up in her hands, her fists still tightly clenched at her sides. "And you know what? I don't want to know." She took several steps away from Daniel, miraculously walking unimpeded in her anger. "Every time I step through the Stargate, I like the idea that there's someone, something, up there..." she pointed towards the ceiling, "looking out for me, and for everyone I care for. That there's a reason to all of this, that it's not all for nothing. I don't want to find out that after all these years, I've been worshipping a false god."
"She's got a point," Jack added as Carter stormed out of the room and into the forbidden area that was the women's quarters. "I don't think I want to know, either."
"What?" Daniel stared at Jack in bewilderment before turning to the empty doorway. "Sam, wait!"
Before Jack could stop Daniel, the man rushed off after Carter and stepped through the ornate doors they'd been carefully warned to never pass through. Although Jack had believed the warning had been in principle only, when the room lit up in a blinding display of light, Jack knew Daniel was in trouble.
When his eyes finally adapted to the intense light, he saw Daniel standing frozen beneath the golden archway, head thrown back in agony as his body convulsed with what appeared to be electricity coursing through it.
Without thought, Jack ran towards Daniel, only to be grabbed from behind by two of the palace guards. He struggled to get to Daniel, but couldn't break free of their hold.
Daniel's ordeal was silent as light sizzled quietly around the doorframe. Jack expected to hear the hiss and crackle of electricity, waiting for sparks to arc away from the current enveloping the man he loved. But Daniel's torment was soundless as he was held in place by the powerful stream flowing through him.
The quiet was broken only by the harsh breathing of the men holding tightly onto Jack, and the sound of running footsteps as Teal'c and more of the palace's guards rushed into the room.
"Don't!" one of the guards cried as Teal'c moved to Daniel's aid. The large man stopped before his teammate, then looked back to Jack uncertainly. Despite Jack's caution, Teal'c reached a hand out, when suddenly the light went out and Daniel fell to the floor like a puppet whose strings had been cut.
Immediately, Teal'c knelt and grabbed Daniel's foot, pulling him away from the entryway. Jack rushed to their side, reaching for Daniel's face, his fingers frantically searching for a pulse. Daniel's eyes were partly open, his pupils so dilated, no blue was evident.
"God, no," Jack prayed as he continued searching for a non-existent pulse.
"Daniel Jackson does not breathe," Teal'c added as he straightened Daniel's body. As Teal'c placed his hands over Daniel's sternum, Jack lowered his mouth over Daniel's and he began to breathe for his lover.
- - - - - -
"Come on, come on, please," Jack prayed as he placed his ear to Daniel's mouth while fumbling at his neck again for a pulse. He ignored the sweat that poured down his face and neck while Teal'c removed his hands from Daniel's chest and sat back on his heels, waiting as Jack checked Daniel's unresponsive body. Jack thought of what Daniel had been talking about several minutes earlier and hoped that there was someone "up there," as Carter had said, listening to his prayers, and not just the memory of some long-forgotten Goa'uld who'd ruled thousands of years ago.
A light flutter beneath his questing fingers brought a sigh of relief from him. "I've got a pulse." He added a silent "Thank you, Lord," glad now that Daniel hadn't found irrevocable proof that God had actually been a snake.
He turned back to watch Daniel's chest carefully, but there was no movement. His heart might be pumping, but his lungs weren't working. He turned back to Daniel and began giving rescue breathing once more, thankful that part of their CPR efforts had been worthwhile.
He continued to breathe for Daniel, the slack mouth beneath his a parody of Daniel's earlier response to his kiss in the library. Lightheaded and breathless, Jack continued giving mouth-to-mouth until Teal'c pulled him away and took his place.
While Teal'c took up the resuscitation attempt, Jack latched his fingers onto Daniel's wrist, keeping hope that the rapid pulse was a testimony to Daniel's fight to stay alive. Impatiently, Jack wiped the sweat that dripped from his nose, urging Daniel to breathe, ignoring the sightless eyes behind the skewed glasses that stared towards the ceiling.
Jack could see sweat beginning to bead on Teal'c's head. He'd lost track of time but although it seemed like he'd been kneeling at Daniel's side for an eternity, he didn't think more than fifteen minutes had gone by. He knew they needed to get Daniel through the Stargate as soon as possible. They needed a stretcher, blankets, someone had to go and get Carter.
He wondered why none of the guards had moved, why none of them had gone for a doctor. Although the people here lived in a mixture of forgotten science and primitive ways, and Jack was pretty sure their medical lore wouldn't be advanced enough to help Daniel, he'd thought they'd have at least offered.
He glanced at the innocuous looking doorway, which except for a small warning posted beside the door, was lit by two burning torches, as was the rest of the palace. Electricity was an unknown, or so he'd thought until the "custodian," as they called it, had zapped Daniel.
Behind the doorway, unmarried, and some married, women lived and slept without fear. Daniel had concluded it was protection against Jaffa, set up in the early days when the population had first been brought to the planet. Another such mystery was the preservation of the scrolls Daniel had been working with. They'd been assured they were the original papyri, preserved in methods long forgotten thousands of years ago.
Teal'c pulled back, and Jack leaned forward, waiting and watching for movement.
"Come on, Danny, breathe," Jack murmured as he waved Teal'c aside and took up the position. Ignoring his aching knees and back, he pressed air into Daniel's lungs, pulled back, and waited till it was expelled. He took another breath and as he placed his mouth over Daniel's, he felt and heard a slight breathless wheeze.
He froze, waiting anxiously, and was rewarded with another soft inhalation. "He's breathing," he told Teal'c with relief. He saw the Jaffa relax and press a hand to Daniel's chest, feeling for himself Daniel's return to the living.
"He's alive." The incredulous murmurs of the guards reminded Jack that they weren't alone. His single-mindedness in keeping Daniel alive had thrust their presence from him, but now he was very much aware of dozens of pairs of legs and feet surrounding them.
"What kind of magic is this?" Janus, commander of Telnor's guards, stepped forward and peered down at Daniel.
"It's not magic." Jack forced his gaze away from Daniel's still form and looked up at the burly man. "We need help. We have to get him through the Stargate... through the Chappa'ai."
"Take them." Janus stepped back as his men moved towards them.
"Hey, wait, we need a stretcher here," Jack argued as two of the men roughly grabbed his arms and pulled him upright. "Let me go!" He struggled uselessly as they forcibly dragged him away from Daniel's side.
"He attempted to enter the Sanctuary." Janus pointed towards Teal'c and Daniel, and although several of his men surrounded the two, none seemed willing to touch Daniel. "The Custodian struck him down, although I've never heard of anyone surviving the Custodian's punishment. You brought him back to life with your magic. Telnor will have to decide your fates. And his."
"Daniel didn't try to go into your damned Sanctuary. He forgot about it! He was running after one of his teammates. And it's not magic! It's simple resuscitation! Go and get Major Carter. Get Telnor! Or take us to the Stargate!" Jack yelled at the men who were standing around uncertainly, still afraid to touch Daniel or Teal'c, who had remained kneeling beside him. Maybe the city's ruler could talk sense to the guards.
"Don't touch him!" Jack yelled when one man finally reached down towards his stricken lover.
"I will take him," Teal'c said, raising a hand to stop the guard. Gently, Teal'c raised Daniel's limp form into a seated position and maneuvered him into a fireman's hold. Jack shrugged off the guards' hold on him and moved to Teal'c's side. He pressed a hand to Daniel's wrist, searching for the rapid pulse.
"Let's go." Janus moved out of the room, and without recourse, Jack and Teal'c followed him. The guards quickly surrounded them, and Jack could hear their continued whispering between themselves.
"Janus, please," Jack said to the man's back. "It was an accident. Daniel had no intention of going into the women's rooms. He argued with Carter; he wanted to apologize to her."
"The rules are sacrosanct." Janus slowed and allowed his men to precede him as he waited for Jack to catch up to him. "The decision isn't up to me. The Custodian knows when a male who is no longer a child enters the Sanctuary. No man has been struck down in my lifetime, and none has ever survived its punishment, as far as I know."
Janus turned down a hallway which Jack wasn't familiar with, away from their sleeping quarters. When one of the guards opened a door leading down into a dark stairwell, Jack's hopes of getting Daniel home quickly disappeared. Janus reached for a piece of wood piled beside the door and held one end of it to a burning torch. The flame quickly caught.
"None survived because nobody knew how to revive them. This could be something we could teach you." Jack reached a hand and grabbed Janus' arm as the guard moved to descend the stairs. "Not for saving people who've been punished by the Custodian—it can save people who have drowned."
"We don't want your magic." He pulled away from Jack, and held the flaming torch before him, lighting the stairs.
"It's not magic!" Jack shouted in frustration at the man's back. He ignored the push one of the guards gave him and took a careful step down the creaking wooden stairs. Teal'c followed behind him. "It's called CPR. It's a simple method of breathing for someone until his body recovers."
"O'Neill speaks the truth," Teal'c added as they stepped into a long, darkened room. Several of the guards lit more torches and began to place them in sconces around the room, exposing closed doors along the walls. "The Jaffa have been taught this method of resuscitation. It is employed when a prisoner has been tortured to extremes and is required to be kept alive when no sarcophagus is available. The method of keeping someone alive by breathing for him is not magic; the sarcophagus, on the other hand, is.
While Jack frowned at Teal'c, knowing Janus wouldn't even know what a sarc was, the commander ignored Teal'c and walked to one of many doors and motioned to a guard to unlock it. He held it open while another guard placed two torches inside, and then waited for Jack and Teal'c to enter.
"Don't do this. Please." Jack stopped at the cell's entrance, knowing that the chill of the prison wouldn't be beneficial to Daniel. "Daniel needs medical help. This place isn't going to help him recover."
"He shouldn't have gone into the Sanctuary. He shouldn't even be alive."
"He didn't mean to!" Jack yelled at Janus, his temper and worry getting the better of him once more. One of the guards pushed him inside and Jack didn't try to fight, knowing Teal'c couldn't back him up while carrying his precious cargo. The door slammed behind Teal'c once he'd entered the room.
The Jaffa knelt and Jack caught Daniel's torso as Teal'c tilted him sideways, and they gently lowered him onto the dirt floor. The ground was dry, but cool to the touch. As soon as Daniel was settled on the ground, Jack checked him out and was relieved to find that he was still breathing, albeit rapidly and shallowly. His half-opened eyes began to spook Jack, reminding him of the moments where Daniel had actually been dead, and with a shaking hand, he reached over, pocketed Daniel's glasses and gently closed Daniel's eyelids.
Teal'c stood and checked the door, then walked around the room, examining their prison while Jack ran his hands down Daniel's body, searching for burns which usually occurred with electric shock. To his surprise, Daniel's body was unmarred. Jack even went as far as removing Daniel's sandals, half expecting to find burn marks on his feet, but the skin there, as on the rest of his body, was white and unblemished. He prayed that there hadn't been any internal damage from the electrical current, or whatever power surge that had caught Daniel in its grip.
He cursed at their flimsy clothing, wishing for his BDUs and jacket as Daniel began to shiver. "He is going into shock," Teal'c said needlessly as he joined Jack.
"I know. We need to elevate his legs and keep him warm."
Teal'c sat down and leaned against the wall, pulling Daniel's legs up over his lap. He straightened the sarong so it covered as much skin as possible and took Daniel's bare feet in his hands to warm them up.
Before Jack could crawl over and lay down next to Daniel, the door opened and Janus entered the room. "Water, blankets and light." He tossed three blankets down next to Jack, put an oil lamp on the ground next to the door, and placed a pitcher of water with a small cup beside it.
Janus stared at Daniel's unconscious form for a moment before turning to look at Jack. "This breath you forced into him, it truly would cure someone who drowned?"
"Sometimes, not always," Jack answered as he reached for the blankets and handed one to Teal'c. They were thick and soft, and hopefully would keep Daniel warm. "It depends on how long the person went without breathing, and a whole bunch of other factors."
"But it works?"
Jack nodded. "It kept Daniel alive until his body recovered from the shock the Custodian gave it. We kept his blood circulating, gave him some oxygen."
"Would you show me?"
"Get us out of here and I'll gladly demonstrate."
"I can't. I don't have the authority. I'll speak to Telnor in the morning. Do you need anything else?"
Janus shook his head. "We can't disturb the women. I'll bring her once I speak to Telnor. In the morning."
He looked at Daniel with what seemed to be a regretful look before backing out of the room and closing the door.
"I have heard that his infant son died last year when he fell into a river," Teal'c said as he wrapped a blanket around Daniel's legs.
Jack reached for the lamp, checked the amount of oil and guessed they'd have enough to last the night. The torches certainly wouldn't last more than thirty minutes. He placed the lamp nearby, grabbed a blanket, and lay down alongside Daniel.
"That explains why he's interested in CPR. But it sounds like they're not quite ready to forgive Daniel."
Jack rolled Daniel over so he could slide underneath him, trying to get as much of Daniel's back and shoulders against his chest. He pulled the blanket over the both of them and wrapped his arms around Daniel's upper chest. He could feel the shivers coursing through Daniel. He curled around his lover, making sure his ear was close to Daniel's face so he could monitor his breathing.
It was going to be a long night.
- - - - - -
His head hurt. A lot. There was a loud ringing sound in his ears which wasn't helping his headache, his muscles ached and all his joints hurt so bad he was sure that they were fused together.
He tried to move despite the pain, and only succeeded in shifting his right arm over a few inches. His body seemed to be asleep, as if the circulation had been cut off with painful pins and needles through it on top of very sore muscles. But as much as he tried, he couldn't move his legs.
He spread his right hand out and felt hard-packed dirt beneath his tingling fingers. For a moment he remembered nights as a child when he'd slept outside in the desert, the night-chilled sand cool and silky beneath his fingers as he'd allowed the small grains to slide between them. But the sand there had been more giving than the hard ground beneath him here.
He shivered, and felt someone's arm tighten around his chest. So okay, he wasn't in Egypt and he knew he wasn't on Abydos because the body behind him definitely wasn't Shau'ri. The place didn't smell like the infirmary and he wasn't lying in a bed, so that also ruled out his house and Jack's.
So that meant he had to be offworld. He shivered again, the movement worsening his headache. He opened his eyes, curious now as to where he was. Which was when he realized his eyes were already open. And he couldn't see a thing.
Okay, so it was night. Right? Which made sense because Jack was lying cuddled up behind him. But that wasn't right, because if they were offworld, Jack would never... so something must have happened to Daniel. Something bad, if the pins and needles and numb limbs were anything to go by.
Worried now, he tried to sit up. He pushed forward away from Jack and got his arms underneath him. But with growing panic, Daniel realized he was still unable to move his legs. The ringing in his ears got worse and Daniel fell onto his side. Jack! He'd been close by, where was he? He threw his arms clumsily to either side of him, rolling onto his back, searching for him. Where was he? Had he been mistaken? Maybe it hadn't been Jack after all.
Hands grabbed at him and blindly, Daniel tried to fight back. Someone was holding onto his legs, he could feel the hands holding him down, fingers gripping his ankles, but his muscles wouldn't obey his command to kick out, roll over, get up.
He quickly tired and he found himself curled up on his side, panting heavily as he trembled in exhaustion. His head was pounding now, the pain nearly driving all coherent thought from his mind. Then the hands were back, gentle now that Daniel was no longer struggling.
He felt himself being lifted and helplessly pulled against a warm body. The heat was welcome and tentatively, he reached a hand out, feeling rough hair beneath his fingers. There was soft material also, and he spread his chilled fingers against the heat of the warm skin. A hand covered his, and another moved his head until it nestled comfortably against someone's neck, more fingers gently rubbing his scalp just above his nape. Now that his breathing was beginning to slow, Daniel's headache eased a little. Daniel breathed in the musky scent of the skin lying beneath his face, finally recognizing his lover's unique smell.
"Jack." He knew he'd spoken the word, but he heard nothing beyond the roaring in his ears. The hands in his hair stilled, and Daniel felt a warm brush of air against his temple as Jack's mouth moved.
"I can't hear." The warm air stopped as Jack stopped speaking, and Daniel continued. "I can't see." He felt Jack's lips against his temple where the air had flowed seconds earlier. Daniel swallowed, then spoke again. "I can't move my legs."
- - - - - -
There was nothing Jack could do except hold Daniel tightly and whisper to him that everything would be all right, despite the fact that Daniel had just informed him that he'd been rendered deaf, blind and could very well be paralyzed. As he felt Daniel trembling against him, Jack silently chided himself for having allowed his attention to drift, leaving Daniel to wake up alone, confused and in pain. He tried to convey encouragement and strength by just holding Daniel and hoping his touch was comfort enough.
Daniel's earlier struggle hadn't lasted long, but Jack could tell it had been long enough to exhaust him. Even now, Daniel lay limply against him, his legs askew where he'd rolled off of Teal'c when Teal'c had helped Jack try to hold Daniel still. Jack knew Daniel wouldn't stay awake for much longer.
"Teal'c, can you get me some water?"
Almost immediately, the small cup was at Jack's side, brimming with liquid. He stuck his fingers into the water and allowed a few drops to fall onto Daniel's mouth. He was rewarded with a flick of a tongue. He dipped his fingers in the water again and rubbed them against Daniel's mouth, then took the cup from Teal'c and placed it against Daniel's lips.
He allowed Daniel a few swallows before moving the cup away. Daniel lifted his head, blindly searching for the cup.
"More?" he whispered.
Jack put the cup down and placed his wet fingers perpendicular against Daniel's mouth, hoping to convey that he'd give him more water later. Daniel's plea for more nearly broke Jack's heart, but he didn't want to chance overtaxing Daniel's system. "I'm sorry," Jack whispered back, even though he knew that Daniel couldn't hear him. Daniel sagged back against Jack, his lips cold and wet where they touched Jack's throat.
Jack reached for the blanket, which had slid to the ground. But before he could grasp it, Daniel shuddered violently. His knees came up, hitting Jack's thighs as he curled up into himself. Daniel gasped loudly, his body contracting in what appeared to be strong seizures.
"Jack!" Daniel screamed in pain as he twitched helplessly in Jack's grasp.
Seconds later, it was over. Daniel was shivering as Jack pulled him back into his arms. After a moment, Daniel's eyes rolled back and with a soft sigh, he gave in to oblivion.
"What the hell happened?" he asked Teal'c worriedly as he rushed to feel for Daniel's pulse. It beat strongly and rapidly.
"I have seen this many times before, O'Neill. There was a time when Apophis enjoyed torturing his prisoners with electric current, before he tired of it." Teal'c pulled the blankets over Daniel, straightening Daniel's legs as he did so. "Electrical impulses control one's body. It is as if Daniel Jackson's body still believes it is being electrocuted. The symptoms should abate with time. His sight and hearing should also return."
"What about his legs?"
Teal'c's hands stilled and rested on Daniel's blanket covered legs. "Muscular weakness is common. He is most likely also in considerable pain due to involuntary muscular contractions experienced during the initial charge. He may experience a few more muscular seizures such as this. But they are not life threatening, only painful and debilitating. Most deaths from electric current occur at the onset, when the victim stops breathing, or should their heart stop beating. He has not suffered any visible burns, so we have no worry of infection. Now we can only ensure that Daniel Jackson is comfortable."
There was still the problem of Daniel going into shock, Jack thought. Plus he was pretty sure that Daniel's breathing wasn't quite up to par. He needed oxygen, fluids, and a bed that was softer and warmer than the hard, chilled ground he lay on. Plus there was whatever punishment the Foorish people might want to exact on him if they thought being killed by the Custodian hadn't been enough.
He reached for his watch and tilted it towards the lamp. They'd been imprisoned for less than three hours; it would be several more before anyone came.
Daniel coughed softly, the air flowing along Jack's throat. Hopefully Daniel would sleep the remainder of the night, and would wake up mostly recovered in the morning.
Positive thoughts, Jack told himself as Teal'c lay down on Daniel's other side.
- - - - - -
Daniel's muscles cramped violently, startling him from sleep as his body convulsed helplessly. Air was forced from his chest as his diaphragm squeezed his chest in a painful grip. At first Daniel thrashed on the ground, confused and lost, blind and deaf, struggling against the agony which enveloped him, but as the seconds went by he began to panic when his lungs continued to refuse to cooperate and draw in air.
His struggle was silent until his chest muscles finally relaxed enough for him to cry out for help when he was finally able to gasp in mouthfuls of air. But as the words wheezed out of his throat, he remembered he couldn't hear. He had no idea whether Jack had heard his plea or not, and then the thought flew from his mind as his chest seized once more.
His body jerked and released, the contractions creating waves of agony. Despite his terror and pain, he became aware of hands holding him steady, protecting him from the hard ground. When the last cramp faded, leaving him shaking and weak and unable to move on his own, those same hands lifted him up into a half-seated position, which eased the pressure on his chest and helped the flow of air into his lungs.
He sat leaning sideways against Jack, concentrating on simply breathing until the pounding in his head began to recede and the burning in his chest turned into a heavy pressure. He raised his arm, intending to lay his fingers against Jack's chest as he'd done earlier, needing the physical touch, but only managed to lift his hand a few inches before his muscles rebelled and threatened to cramp. He had to let his arm drop heavily onto his lap.
He felt a touch against his fingers and his hand was raised and placed against warm, hairy skin. For a moment he wondered why Jack's shirt had been unbuttoned in the first place but decided he'd try and figure that out later. He could feel Jack's heart beating rapidly against his palm, held there securely as Jack's thumb gently traced the back of his hand. Jack's other hand came up to support Daniel's shoulders.
Someone placed a blanket over him, the welcome weight against his sweaty skin helping to keep him warm now that he was beginning to cool off. He moved his head, forcing his eyes open and straining against the cacophony ringing in his ears. But try as he might, he couldn't see or hear anything.
He was desperately thirsty, only having been given a few sips of water earlier. Were they rationing water? Or had it been because Jack hadn't wanted to give Daniel too much, considering he'd been injured, somehow. He licked his lips, about to ask if there was water, when suddenly he recognized Jack's warning finger, dripping liquid onto his lips. He opened his mouth and licked the welcome drops. This time the cup wasn't pulled away and Jack allowed him to slake his thirst.
"Thanks," Daniel said, the word feeling strange because he couldn't hear it as he spoke it.
He felt Jack move so that his cheek was lying against Daniel's forehead. His lips moved against Daniel's temples and he guessed Jack had said "you're welcome." Then Jack began to gently rub Daniel's back, his other hand still holding Daniel's against his bare chest. The light massage felt incredibly good against muscles that continued to threaten to knot up. Daniel sighed softly, and was rewarded when Jack increased the range of his movements.
Daniel jumped when someone touched his right leg, but relaxed when strong fingers began kneading the aching muscles there. Jack stopped his rubbing and held Daniel's shoulders again while that someone, who Daniel guessed to be Teal'c because of the size of his reach, finished massaging his leg and moved onto the other one.
"That feels good."
Again there was the odd feeling of speaking and not hearing himself. Jack squeezed the hand he held in acknowledgement to Daniel's words. Daniel popped his jaw, hoping to somehow get the pressure out of his ears and maybe trigger his hearing. He cleared his throat, hoping to hear something, but it was to no avail.
He hated not hearing, not seeing. He hated not knowing where they were and what had happened to get them there. And where was Sam? Daniel tried to remember his last clear memory and he thought he remembered himself and Jack walking Sam to her room. Yes, that was it, she'd been wearing that outfit she hated so much and had been having problems walking around in it.
So that explained why Jack's shirt had been unbuttoned. He was wearing Foorish attire. Daniel realized then that Teal'c's hands were on his bare legs but he was beyond embarrassment and was too tired to object.
Thinking was making his headache worse so instead he tried to relax and allow his friends to help ease his discomfort. When Teal'c finished with Daniel's legs, Jack eased him back down onto the ground and Teal'c moved on to kneading his shoulders and back. Jack kept hold of Daniel's hand, however.
He must have dozed off because the cramps woke him up again.
- - - - - -
Daniel's pained gasps echoed loudly in the small room as he writhed in pain for the third time in nearly as many hours. There wasn't anything Jack or Teal'c could do except hope they eased quickly.
Daniel's breathing caught as his chest spasmed, his eyes squeezed tight as his face contorted in agony. The hand that still clutched Jack's jumped as if the nerves were undergoing electric shocks.
It looked like Daniel's whole body was being shocked, although there was no current running anywhere in the room. These spasms didn't look like epileptic seizures, it looked more like Daniel was reliving the Custodian's punishment.
Finally after several more seconds, Daniel stilled, his harsh, rapid breathing the only sound in the room. Jack reached down and straightened Daniel's legs, which he'd pulled up towards his chest once again at the onset of the spasms, or whatever this had been. At least this episode had been shorter than the other two; Jack hoped that maybe it would be the last one.
"The human body is made up of electric current." Teal'c helped pull Daniel back into Jack's arms, the position easing the exhausted man's breathing. "The electric charge such as Daniel Jackson experienced disrupts its flow inside the body. It is my belief that these small convulsions are the body's way of resetting itself. They are uncomfortable and painful, but they will soon stop."
"I hope to God you're right." Jack shifted Daniel's heavy body in his arms, trying to ignore the burning muscles in his back and shoulders from holding his lover upright. Daniel trembled either with reaction, pain or cold, or maybe a combination of all three.
"What's happening to me?" Daniel asked in a hoarse, breathless whisper, his unfocused gaze staring across the room. Even in the dim light, the two torches having gone out a long time ago and only the oil lamp providing illumination, Jack could tell that Daniel still couldn't see anything.
And obviously his hearing was still affected since he hadn't heard Jack and Teal'c's conversation. Jack also expected that Daniel was confused and scared, and at this moment there was no way Jack or Teal'c could communicate with Daniel except to try and comfort him and let him know he wasn't alone.
Jack lowered his head, nuzzling Daniel's face. He felt Daniel turn towards him, felt Daniel's eyelashes flutter against his skin as he closed his eyes. A few moments later the tension in Daniel's body eased as he either fell asleep, or lost consciousness. His breathing was still ragged, but it slowly evened out as his body recovered from the latest episode.
Jack began to feel the chill of the room, his own light clothing scant protection. If he was cold, then Daniel would be feeling it more. Fairly sure Daniel wouldn't wake, Jack lowered Daniel back down onto the blankets. He and Teal'c turned Daniel onto his side and Jack lay down behind him, curling up against Daniel's back and pulling another blanket over the two of them. Teal'c took the remaining blanket and settled close by.
Body tense with worry, Jack lay stiffly against Daniel until he felt his skin temperature begin to warm up. With Jack behind him and Teal'c in front of him, the occasional small shivers finally stopped.
Jack wasn't sure how long he lay alongside Daniel. It had been long enough for his neck to stiffen and his back to start aching when Daniel moved. He was making small sounds of pain as he moved his legs restlessly. His shoulder fell against Jack and that was when Jack realized Daniel was trying to turn onto his back.
He pulled Daniel back until he was lying supine, pleased to see that Daniel didn't quite wake up. It wasn't until Jack had made himself comfortable lying on his stomach plastered against Daniel's side that he realized Daniel had moved his legs. He'd said earlier he'd been unable to... that had to mean he was getting better, didn't it? Maybe his sight and hearing would be next.
With a lighter heart, Jack allowed himself to relax and fell into a light doze.
- - - - - -
The moment Daniel woke up, he knew he was alone. The loving arms that had been with him every moment since he'd woken up blind and deaf were gone, leaving him bereft and a little alarmed. He pushed his hand from beneath the blanket and felt around him, hoping that Jack had simply rolled away in his sleep. But the dirt floor was cool to the touch, informing him that no body had lain there recently. He rolled onto his back and put his arm out the other side, but again, his senses told him there was no one there.
He sat up carefully, his body still full of the sensation of pins and needles, his head throbbing painfully at the movement. The blankets slipped down from his shoulders to pool around his legs and hips. As he shifted his legs to maintain his balance, he realized that his lower body was responding to his commands, even though his limbs were heavy, stiff and sore, as was the rest of him.
The room was dark and very quiet; but he didn't know if that was because it was empty, or if he still couldn't see and hear. Maybe Jack had moved farther away to get some sleep so as not to disturb him.
Oh God! He could hear! The word had sounded muffled and seemed to come from far away, but it had been audible. Ecstatic that he could hear again, he called out a bit more loudly, turning his head in the darkness and listening carefully for an answer.
It suddenly came to him that maybe they'd been afflicted with the same illness as him. Maybe they couldn't see or hear and so they didn't know he was awake. With a trembling hand, Daniel began feeling around him. His questing fingers only came upon a few blankets, all of which were beneath him or tangled between his legs.
Okay, so there was nobody within a few feet of him. Maybe they were a little farther; in any case, he needed to know where he was. So he got up onto his hands and knees, and right then he knew he'd never be able to stand without help. Sluggish muscles obeyed, but threatened to collapse at any moment. Despite the dizziness and his uncoordinated body, he cautiously began feeling his way around the room on his hands and knees.
He found the wall by bumping into it. He followed it around the room's contours, stopping only for a moment upon discovering a glass object. His numb fingers soon told him it was an oil lamp. By its weight and the fact that it was cool to the touch, he determined that it was empty of oil. Hope spread through him at the thought that maybe if his hearing was returning, so was his eyesight. Or maybe he'd never lost his sight, maybe he'd been in a pitch dark room the whole time.
Frustrated that he still didn't know what was going on and where the rest of his team was, Daniel continued exploring until he came upon his blankets once again. His exertions had exhausted him and he collapsed on top of the coverings gratefully.
He lay there, trying to recall where he might be. He thought he'd argued with Sam—he could picture her walking awkwardly with the unwieldy dress that she'd worn simply because he'd suggested they follow the Foorish customs. There had been discussion about Goa'ulds. And Sam had been angry with him, hadn't she?
Damn, he wished his head didn't hurt so much, he couldn't think straight. He thought he'd lie there worrying about his friends, but the moment he closed his eyes, he fell asleep.
- - - - - -
He woke up to the realization that he'd heard a door open. Daniel opened his eyes, seeing only blurriness before him. He turned onto his back and saw a figure he thought he recognized standing in an open doorway. Everything was unclear, fuzzy, even worse now than the usual view without his glasses.
Daniel hated how his voice sounded weak and shaky, and at the same time he was very relieved to be able to hear at an almost normal volume. He didn't feel much better, but as he sat up, he realized he was feeling stronger than when he'd woken up earlier.
"Come with me."
Before Daniel could react, two guards entered the room and grabbed Daniel's arms. They pulled him to his feet and began to drag him towards the exit. Daniel struggled to keep up, his bare feet dragging painfully in the dirt before he managed to take a few steps. Without releasing their hold on him, the men slowed to allow him to walk.
"Janus, what's going on?" Daniel squinted in the bright torch light, his eyes tearing after the dark of his prison.
The man remained quiet and refused to look at him, his back held stiff as he led them through an unfamiliar room. Daniel tried his best to keep up with the pace the commander set. But despite his best efforts, by the time they reached a narrow stairwell, Daniel was exhausted and out of breath.
Janus must have noticed because he motioned to the guards, who lowered him down onto the nearest step. Daniel breathed deeply, trying to get his breathing under control and gather his energy.
"Where are my friends?" He looked up at the man who'd befriended them, had shown them around the palace and city at the behest of Telnor.
Janus finally looked at Daniel. "You'll be seeing them in a moment." He shifted slightly, looking a little ill at ease. "I'm happy to see you're feeling better."
"I am, thank you." Daniel wiped the sweat from his face with his forearm, then looked at Janus once more. "Can you tell me what happened to me? And where we're going?"
"You shouldn't be alive. Nobody survives the Custodian's punishment."
Daniel frowned and tried to remember who the Custodian was. Something about a guardian protecting the women's quarters from strangers.
"Janus," Daniel said softly. "I don't remember. Could you maybe—"
"You were dead. You weren't breathing and your heart wasn't pumping. O'Neill and Teal'c did some kind of magic which he says anyone can do and brought you back."
"CPR." Daniel looked at his chest and despite his blurred vision, he could see dark bruising. That explained part of his aches and pains, didn't it? He touched the sensitive skin and muscles, testing his pain threshold.
"O'Neill said anyone could do this... CPR. Is that true?"
"Um, yes, it is. But you need to be taught how to do it properly." Daniel had to make sure that the Foorish knew that CPR wasn't a miracle cure. "But it doesn't always work. It can bring someone back, but sometimes they've just gone without oxygen too long and it doesn't work. Or it does work but the person is changed."
Janus nodded. "Telnor wants you to give a demonstration of this CPR."
"So you want me to teach you how to—"
"You will perform this method of healing. If someone as debilitated as you right now can do it, then it'll prove that just about anyone can."
"Now?" Daniel almost panicked; the last thing he felt up to was vigorous exercise and he was afraid that the only thing he'd be performing was a swan dive to the floor if he was forced to perform rescue breathing.
Janus motioned to the guards, who helped Daniel up. With a deep sigh that hurt his bruised chest muscles, Daniel put one foot onto the first step and started up the stairs.
By the time they traveled through the palace and entered a small room, Daniel was shaking with exhaustion. He was grateful when he was allowed to sit on a padded bench, and leaned his arms onto his thighs. His head was pounding so hard he felt nauseous.
He was vaguely aware of Janus leaving the room, leaving Daniel attended by the two guards. Time flowed strangely around him and he began to wonder if he was going to pass out. He felt hot and cold both at the same time, and the room was doing strange loops around him. He concentrated on his breathing and stared at the blurred patterns on the tiles beneath his bare feet.
Eventually everything settled except the aches and pains in his body. He squeezed his hands into fists, testing the range of motion. He still felt a mild numbness in his extremities, but he figured he wouldn't need to do any kind of fastidious work for a while yet.
His feet were cold, exacerbating the tingling sensation in them. He wished for socks and boots, and heck, BDUs, as he stared up close at his fuzzy looking, bare, hairy legs.
Cautiously raising his head, Daniel looked around the small room. It was quite lush and well decorated, and he guessed they'd entered Telnor's private living area. He sat up slowly, gripping the edges of the bench when the room lurched. He waited a moment, but when nothing threatened to move again, began to examine the room curiously.
Padded benches and chairs were set against the wall with decorated panels separating them, suggesting privacy. It wasn't until the far door in the room opened and humid air wafted in that Daniel realized it was a changing room of sorts.
Janus stood in the doorway, beckoning him to come. As Daniel approached, he saw a large indoor pool behind the guard, and several indistinct figures waiting at the far end. Daniel followed Janus, but was puzzled when they came to a stop at the pool's edge.
"There." Janus pointed to a dark form in the water near Daniel's feet. "You can begin the demonstration."
Daniel squinted at the water, trying to force his vision to clear. When it did, Daniel realized his world might have just come to an end.
Floating face down at the bottom of the pool was a grey-haired man, wearing BDUs.
"Oh God, no!"
Without hesitation, Daniel jumped into the pool and sank beneath the water, grasping the limp figure with his numb hands. He kicked up and reaching the surface, tried to turn Jack over onto his back, but his weakened body and Jack's weight prevented him from doing so.
"Help me!" Daniel cried out, treading water and holding onto his precious burden. When no one attempted to do so, he began swimming towards Janus.
"I have to get him out of the water. I can't start CPR here. Help me get him out!"
As Daniel's floundering hand touched the edge of the pool, Janus reached down and pulled Jack out of the water. Daniel tried to climb out, but only managed to lose his grip and fall back into the water's depth. Coughing and spluttering, he finally got one foot onto the edge and with Janus' help once again, rolled onto the cold, tiled floor.
Gasping for breath and only seeing blurred shadows now before him, Daniel shuffled on his knees and knelt beside Jack, checking for signs of life. It was then that he realized the man's hands and feet had been tied together. There was no pulse, and Jack wasn't breathing. They'd killed Jack deliberately in order to see if Daniel could bring him back.
Without thinking, Daniel's training kicked in and he began the first steps at attempting to bring Jack back to life. After a moment, he turned desperately to Janus. "I can't do this by myself. I need your help."
"Show me." Janus knelt beside him and Daniel quickly instructed the guard how to breathe for Jack, then settled back over Jack's chest, wondering if this was what Jack had been doing to him not that long ago. Whether Jack had desperately prayed as Daniel was now while he'd toiled to force blood through Daniel's body. Whether Jack had closed his eyes against the almost obscene movements the unresponsive body made beneath him as Daniel pushed unceasingly against his chest.
Daniel's world dimmed to the feel of the chilled body he sat astride upon, to the seemingly endless times they checked for signs of life, to the rapid deterioration of his own body as he forced tiring muscles to continue, and the internal litany of desperate prayers begging not to take Jack away from him.
A weak cough, a spasm beneath his hands, and suddenly Daniel half fell, half rolled off Jack, frantically trying to turn him onto his side when he began to vomit water. Then hands were pulling Daniel away, a blanket was wrapped around his shoulders while several forms surrounded Jack, hiding him from his view.
"No, please," Daniel begged weakly, unable to gather the strength to fight off whoever was holding him upright. The world tilted and he sagged against a hard, warm body. He began shivering, cold and reaction suddenly setting in.
"Danny, it's okay."
Jack's voice was right beside his ear. But that couldn't be, Daniel could hear him coughing wetly, dragging air into lungs that had been saturated with water not that long ago.
"Please, let me go to him."
"Daniel, it's okay. The colonel's right beside you."
"Sam?" Daniel turned to the familiar voice, seeing only a beige blur.
"We're here. We're all fine. The colonel's fine."
"They killed him, Sam. They killed Jack." Daniel could still feel Jack's body beneath his hands, so cold, so still.
"It wasn't me, Daniel." Warm hands touched the sides of Daniel's face, and a finger gently traced his upper lip.
"Jack?" Daniel squinted at the face only inches away, unable to make out the familiar features in the blur around him. "I don't understand. I... you..."
"They used someone who looked like me. I'm right here, Daniel. I'm fine. I didn't drown."
"Why?" Suddenly Daniel was angry – —all the fear he'd experienced, the anguish thinking Jack was dead was all forgotten and his rage gave him the energy to yell and pull away. "Damnit, I thought it was you. I thought you'd died!"
"I know. Believe me, I know exactly what you went through."
Drained by his outburst, Daniel closed his eyes as the world seemed to darken for a moment and sagged helplessly as his body gave out. He was caught up securely against someone and he had no energy to even try to see who it was.
"I'm so tired," he whispered.
- - - - - - -
"I know." Jack caressed Daniel's cheek again, seeing the pale face with dark shadows beneath his eyes. He'd felt so helpless watching Daniel's agonizing attempts to revive the prisoner who had been dressed in Jack's BDUs before being tossed into the pool. And it had been clear to everyone that the subterfuge had worked; that Daniel had thought it was Jack who'd drowned and had been working almost to the point of exhaustion to revive him. No, scratch that, Daniel had worked beyond exhaustion.
But from Daniel's actions, they'd seen that his vision had returned to some extent, and so had his hearing. So despite Jack being unable to help Daniel through his "demonstration," he and the rest of his team had been elated to see how much Daniel had recovered during the hours they'd been separated from their teammate.
Daniel opened his eyes again at Jack's touch, and Jack could see him squinting as his unfocused gaze fixed upon Jack's face. He heard footsteps come up behind them, but he ignored the city's leader, keeping his attention on Daniel.
"You may return to your quarters. I believe Doctor Jackson could do with some rest."
"If it's all the same to you," Jack said as he finally tore his gaze from Daniel's face and looked up at the leader's calm visage, "I'd like to take my team home."
"I understand, Colonel. But we haven't finished talking business, and I admit I was quite impressed by Doctor Jackson's brave demonstration. I'm quite willing to let him live, and allow him to return home, despite his transgression. But first, I'd like to learn more details on this CPR." The man smiled coldly, not afraid to show Jack he held all the cards. "You can get him settled and I'll arrange for transportation to the Chappa'ai first thing in the morning."
"Can you walk?" Jack asked Daniel when Telnor moved away.
"Even if it kills me," Daniel answered. Jack waved the guards away as they tried to help Daniel up. With Teal'c's help, Jack and Carter got Daniel to his room.
As Teal'c rummaged through Daniel's belongings for clean, dry clothes, Carter seated herself on the bed close to where Daniel sat leaning against the wall, huddled in the blanket.
"Sir, I don't think Daniel should be left alone. Teal'c and I can take care of finalizing the trade agreement, and we can both explain the basics of CPR."
Jack agreed with her, there was no way he was leaving Daniel alone now. Not after he and Teal'c had been forcibly removed from their cell while Daniel slept because Telnor had decided to see if Daniel would survive without them around.
Carter handed Daniel some water and a pill. "It's a painkiller," she said at Daniel's raised eyebrow. Without a word, Daniel reached for the medicine and drained the water.
Carter took the glass from Daniel, and then sat there with her head bent. "I'm so sorry, Daniel." She continued avoiding meeting Daniel's gaze as he stared up at her, perplexed. Jack put a hand on her shoulder and squeezed gently.
"Now's not the time," Jack admonished her gently. She nodded and stood up to answer a knock at the door. Carter stepped from the door, allowing a Foorish servant carrying a tray laden with food to enter. As Carter instructed her to place it on a nearby table, a delicious aroma filled the room.
Teal'c handed Jack the clothes he'd gathered and with his help, they stripped Daniel of the sodden shirt and sarong and helped him into underwear, tee shirt and socks. Carter approached the bed with a steaming cup.
"Soup?" She held the cup near Daniel and he sniffed appreciatively.
"Smells good." He closed his eyes and made no move to sit up and take the proffered cup.
Kicking the heavy folds of her dress out of her way, Carter sat down while Jack climbed onto the bed beside Daniel and pulled his shoulders and head onto his lap, propping him upright. Carter held the cup to Daniel's mouth and slowly fed him the warm broth. Jack could feel Daniel shivering; he hoped the soup would help warm him up.
Teal'c handed Jack a plate containing what looked like a pastry. He recognized the food as being one he'd enjoyed and bit into it appreciatively.
"Daniel, how much of your eyesight and hearing has come back?" Carter reached over and wiped a smear of broth from the corner of Daniel's mouth with the flowing material of her dress.
"Eyesight's still a bit blurry, and everything sounds muffled... but I can see and hear, which is a definite improvement from a few hours ago... it was hours, wasn't it?" Daniel squinted up in her direction.
"You were sleeping when they took us away early this morning. It's late afternoon now." Jack and Teal'c had been caught unaware by the guards as they'd entered the room, and Daniel had been sleeping too soundly and hadn't woken up.
Carter smiled at Daniel tentatively. "Do you remember what happened?"
Daniel shook his head. "Right now everything's a jumble."
"You're exhausted," Jack explained. He broke off a bite of pastry and proceeded to share his meal with Daniel between sips of broth. When they finished the pastry, Jack waved Carter over to eat her share while he took the cup from her and helped Daniel drink the remaining soup.
They had just finished eating when the servant returned to take the tray.
"Telnor is waiting for you in the main hall," she announced with a curtsey, trying not to stare at Daniel and Jack together in the bed.
"Tell Telnor that Carter and Teal'c will be with him in a few minutes."
Carter nodded her approval and Teal'c took their notes. Jack glanced at Daniel; he appeared to be sleeping. Gently and slowly, he slid from underneath him and walked over to his teammates.
"Give Telnor whatever he wants for the trade agreement." Carter's eyes widened in surprise until she realized what Jack meant. She smiled at him, a gleam in her eye.
"We're not going to uphold the agreement, are we, sir?"
Jack shook his head. "Would you trust anyone who just did what he did to Daniel?"
"I wouldn't trust anyone who insists their people wear these stupid dresses." She grabbed a handful of material to emphasize her point.
"Just don't make it too obvious, or else he'll figure it out."
"We shall return as quickly as possible, O'Neill. Take care of Daniel Jackson in our absence."
Jack clasped Teal'c's arm. "I intend to, Teal'c."
He walked them to the door and then told the guard he didn't want to be disturbed. Before returning to Daniel, he divested himself of the hated sarong and put on his own military issue underwear. Then he climbed into the bed, intending to spoon up behind Daniel. Before he could, Daniel turned on his side to face Jack.
"Who was the man?" Daniel asked as Jack coaxed Daniel to lie against him. Despite the warm soup, Daniel was still shivering.
"A prisoner. Just someone who looked like me." Jack pulled the blankets up over them both.
"Telnor's plan worked, because I thought it was you."
"I know." Jack didn't tell Daniel that all three of SG-1 had been forced to watch through a mirrored room, unable to warn Daniel that the person he'd been trying to save so desperately wasn't him. Then again, Jack doubted that the knowledge would have stopped Daniel from saving the man, but at the least it would have saved him from experiencing some awful heartache and fear.
He rubbed Daniel's back and Daniel sighed. He nestled his face between Jack's neck and the pillow, his nose cold against Jack's skin. Daniel's hand snaked under Jack's tee shirt and his chilled fingers lay against Jack's chest. His other hand came up to curl beneath his chin.
"We need this trade agreement," Daniel said after a moment, his voice slightly muffled.
"We can get the minerals somewhere else."
"Janet was really excited about the herbs."
Jack paused, remembering their doctor's enthusiastic report about the medicinal possibilities contained in the samples the previous SGC team had brought back to Earth with them. "I know, but I'm not sure that dealing with someone as cold and hard as Telnor is beneficial to Earth."
"We could still give it a try. Maybe a smaller version of what we were originally trading for..."
"Look, I'm not going to worry about it now. All I want to do is get you the hell out of here and into the infirmary."
Daniel didn't answer, and Jack kissed his forehead as way of apology. "I'm just worried about you," he added. "Try and get some sleep."
Daniel nodded and Jack lay quietly for a moment, Daniel's weight pressing almost uncomfortably against him.
"Why did Sam say she was sorry?"
"She's upset because she's blaming herself for what happened to you." Jack pressed a hand over Daniel's, which was still hidden beneath his tee shirt.
"What did happen to me?"
"Remember the Custodian?"
Daniel nodded after a moment. "It wards against men entering the women's quarters."
"Right. Well, you and Carter had a bit of a disagreement, and I guess you forgot about the Custodian and you went after Carter and got... zapped."
Daniel's breathing had deepened and slowed, his shivering had stopped, and for a moment Jack thought he'd fallen asleep. But then he turned his head to look at Jack. "Zapped?"
"Think zat, but on a bigger scale."
"I don't remember..." Daniel settled back against Jack's neck.
"Sort of a good thing you don't... it got kind of... rough."
After a few seconds, Daniel asked sleepily, "Did I die?"
Jack's throat closed and he swallowed hard to gain control. "Yeah." His voice came out as a strained whisper.
Daniel didn't answer, his breathing was deep and rhythmic, and Jack was sure this time Daniel had fallen asleep until he suddenly jerked.
"It's okay," Jack whispered as Daniel raised his head in alarm. As exhausted as Daniel was, his body still wasn't ready to relax and let go.
Jack held Daniel through several more false starts, until finally, an hour later he fell asleep and stayed asleep. Jack extracted himself from Daniel's grasp and took the opportunity to dress in his spare BDUs, feeling more comfortable than he had in days.
He sat on a chair beside the window, alternating watching the shadows lengthen as the sun began to set. Daniel slept deeply until he shifted in his sleep and woke up with a small gasp.
- - - - - -
Turning in a bed should be a piece of cake. It's usually something one does without thought, an automatic reflex to get more comfortable. But Daniel felt like he'd worked out in the gym, for three days straight. Without a break. Every single muscle and joint flared painfully as he'd started turning onto his back, waking him up with a start.
"You okay?" Jack rushed to the bed as Daniel tried shifting again, moving very slowly and wincing as he finally managed to turn onto his back.
"Ow," he finally said as he straightened his legs.
"Stiffened up, did ya?" Jack flicked the blanket back into place around him.
"That's an understatement. Even my toes hurt." He closed his eyes and wished he were home.
Lying there, feeling helpless once again, Daniel listened as Jack moved away from the bed. A moment later, he heard the unmistakable sound of water being poured into a glass. Daniel opened his eyes, trying to focus on Jack and now that his body had quit complaining so much as he wasn't moving, he realized how dark the room was.
When Jack sat on the side of the bed with another painkiller, Daniel managed to rise onto his elbows with Jack's help and he gratefully swallowed the medication and water.
Lying comfortably once more, Daniel tried looking around the room, trying to find a light source. How did Jack manage to move around in the dark? Unless it wasn't dark, maybe...
Afraid of Jack's answer, Daniel still had to ask. "Please tell me the sun's set and you haven't lit any lamps." Daniel's voice, although spoken in a joking tone, held a tremor of fear beneath it.
"It has, and I haven't. I'm sorry, I was looking outside, and I didn't light any lamps." Jack reached over, placed the glass on the table, and lit one of the small oil lamps. "Better?"
Daniel blinked in the sudden light and smiled. "Yeah, thanks." Thank God, he could still see.
He frowned. Somehow that blessing sounded wrong, somehow. It bothered him, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it.
The bed dipped as Jack sat down on the bed beside him, leaning his back against the wall. After a moment Daniel felt Jack's hand touch his head as he threaded his fingers through Daniel's hair. Daniel wondered how long he'd been asleep. And how long his friends had been talking with the Foorish leader?
"Any news from Sam and Teal'c?"
"Nope. Actually it's suppertime. They might have broken off to eat." Jack leaned towards Daniel. "You hungry? I could—" He waved towards the door, but Daniel shook his head. The thought of food made him a little nauseous with the headache he was sporting.
"Maybe later. My head's pounding too much right now." He closed his eyes, enjoying the feel of Jack's hand gently massaging his scalp and nape.
"Give the pill a chance to work."
"Mmm," Daniel said without opening his eyes.
He felt Jack's lips on his forehead, then the gentle kisses moved down his cheek, Jack's breath warm and moist against his skin. When he reached his mouth, Daniel opened up in invitation. Jack's touch was gentle and familiar, comforting in this world of pain and confusion. Despite their agreement to never display untoward affection offworld, this was exactly what Daniel needed at this moment, and he loved Jack the more for it for realizing it.
"God, you feel good," Daniel mumbled as Jack finally pulled away and stretched out alongside Daniel. The pill was beginning to work, his body was a little looser, the stiffness manageable, although his limbs were heavy and felt cumbersome. He relaxed completely against his lover, his mind beginning to drift as he slid towards sleep.
I don't want to find out that after all these years, I've been worshipping a Goa'uld.
Sam's voice echoed in his head, and suddenly Daniel remembered. He recalled his discovery of the mention of the names Adonai and Sabaot and his subsequent discussion with Jack on the subject, and his argument with Sam. Her words went through his mind, over and over again. He realized this probably had led to her walking into the women's quarters and his thoughtless attempt to go after her.
He was thankful he didn't remember the zatting, or was it zapping? He did wish he'd forgotten the part that had gotten Sam so upset, though.
"Hey, what is it?"
Daniel realized he'd stiffened and Jack was looking at him worriedly. He raised a hand to rub at his forehead.
"I remember. I remember Sam getting upset at the reference ‘Lord of Hosts.' "
"Yeah, well, it's not exactly something you want to go and announce to the world." Jack moved so he was looking down at Daniel. "Can you picture the ramifications if you proved that most Earth religions were actually based on a snake? Gives the whole meaning to the term devil, if you know what I mean."
Actually Daniel could picture the outcome. Even if there was indelible proof that God was actually a Goa'uld, and even if the truth was kept from the public, there would come a day when it could no longer be kept secret. And the world would fall apart.
Daniel recalled his fervent appeal to someone, something, anything, out there, when he'd thought it was Jack that he had pulled from the pool. No matter how much one said they didn't believe in God or a supreme power, in times of strife, it was natural to turn and beg for help. And who was he to take this away from people who believed, who found enjoyment and satisfaction in their faith... he just couldn't do it.
His research here on the subject was far from complete; there had been only a few mentions of familiar names so far and references to more scrolls. It could have meant anything, couldn't it?
"I'd need to do more research, to see exactly how the term was used, since what I found was just a reference." Daniel lowered his hand, the simple act of massaging his forehead causing his muscles in his arm to shake in fatigue. "The Lord of Hosts, on Earth, actually refers to an army, and not... you know." He meant to wave his hand towards the window, but it just flopped back onto the bed.
"So, not snakes?" Jack reached over Daniel and picked his hand up, resting it on Daniel's chest. He threaded his fingers amongst Daniel's, Jack's skin warm against his chilled digits.
"I don't know," Daniel sighed. "The term was written in Goa'uld, and it clearly means... host."
Jack was silent while Daniel thought things over. Making his decision, he stiffly turned onto his side to look at Jack.
"Jack, are my notes here?"
"Yeah, I think so."
"Would you get them for me?" Jack went to protest and Daniel raised a hand, stilling his words with a finger placed clumsily against Jack's lips. "What I need to do won't take long."
Jack slid out of the bed and found Daniel's papers.
"Can you open it to the last pages?" he asked when Jack went to hand him the pad of paper. "Go back four of five pages," he instructed when Jack flipped through them. He had Jack stop when he found the correct portion of his translation. "Now tear that page and the rest of my notes out."
"Are you sure?" Jack stared at Daniel, index finger marking his place as he fiddled with the pad.
"Burn them, destroy them. I don't want to bring anything home that might get misconstrued."
Jack kept looking at him, Daniel's work resting in his lap. "This isn't like you."
"The Foorish probably won't let me back here to continue the translation. I won't have any way of proving whether my theory is right or wrong, and I won't take the chance that someone on Earth finds my notes and jumps to a wrong conclusion, like I did." Exasperation began to fuel him with energy and he reached for the pad to tear the pages out himself. Jack simply moved the papers out of his reach and Daniel fell back onto the mattress. He closed his eyes, wishing that life just wasn't so complicated.
"Jack, I just don't want to know. For once, I don't want to know the truth."
Daniel heard the sound of ripping pages and felt Jack get up off the bed. After a moment he heard a match strike and he opened his eyes to the sight of Jack holding the flaming pages over the fireplace. When they'd been more than half consumed, he dropped them onto the stone hearth. The room flared momentarily and darkened once more as Daniel's notes were reduced to ash.
"Thank you." Worn out emotionally and physically, he simply lay there and wished that he could wake up in his own bed, in his home, all of this a dream.
- - - - - -
Daniel's head bobbed slowly with the movement of the carriage, sleeping soundly. He was leaning heavily against Jack, having slid sideways along the back of the seat not long after they'd left the palace. The long walk through the palace's corridors had taken a lot out of Daniel, despite the fact that he'd managed to keep up with the pace set by Telnor's guards.
Daniel's continued lethargy and weakness was worrying Jack and he was glad they were finally on their way back to the Stargate. He checked the landmarks and calculated at the current speed of the horse-drawn vehicle, they'd be arriving within the next fifteen minutes.
"I'll be glad to get home," Carter said quietly as she tried to stretch her legs in the carriage's limited space. He felt the same way she did—he really wanted to get Daniel checked out and then home and into their bed.
Jack pushed the packsack containing the signed documents of the trade agreement with his foot, making more room for her. She smiled her thanks before dropping her feet on top of the pack. She was much happier now that she'd dropped the Foorish attire and was back in her BDUs.
He thought back to Telnor's words as he'd met them near the outer doors just before they'd taken their leave an hour ago. The man had forbade Daniel to ever return, and that any team coming back to his city would need to have a different mediator with them.
Not that Jack was worried about SG-1 being reassigned here, he was going to recommend to Hammond that he agree to only the simplest terms of their agreement; long term trading wasn't necessarily a wise idea with ruthless people like Telnor. Not that Jack mistrusted the Foorish leader—he did. But Telnor had made it clear that he was allowing Daniel to return home simply through his own generosity. Heck, he'd stated again that he'd allowed Daniel to live simply due to the fact that he'd been impressed with Daniel's performance yesterday.
Damn the man. Daniel had thought Jack was dead and Telnor had been impressed?
The Stargate finally loomed before them, the driver forcing the horses into a trot. Jack wound an arm around Daniel to hold him steady, but the increased speed didn't rouse the sleeping man.
When they came to a stop, Carter grabbed their bags, jumped off the carriage and went straight for the DHD. Jack shook Daniel awake, his concern beginning to escalate when Daniel only opened his eyes after a few controlled taps to his cheek.
"We're here." Jack watched as Daniel glanced at the ‘gate and smiled sleepily. He straightened and slid his feet towards the three steps leading down from the carriage.
Teal'c stood at the carriage's door, ready to assist Daniel home. When he reached the ground, Daniel stumbled and Teal'c caught him and held him steady. Jack quickly scrambled down the steps, waved goodbye to the driver, and grabbed Daniel's arm. Together, they led their tottering archaeologist towards the active Stargate.
- - - - - -
Jack leaned his elbows on the table and placed his head in his hands, rubbing at his forehead and trying to force the tension headache away. The debriefing had gone on for much longer than he'd have liked, the details of Daniel's injuries having been dredged up three times now in the past twenty-four hours. Once for Fraiser, just now for Hammond's information and another for Jack's nearly-finished mission report.
Jack raised his head and saw General Hammond staring at him with concern. He'd thought the general had left along with his team once he'd dismissed them all. He raised his palm and rubbed his eyes before pushing his chair from the table.
"Sorry, sir, it's been a long couple of days."
"It's quite understandable. I understand that Doctor Fraiser is pleased with the progress of Doctor Jackson's recovery."
Jack blinked. The last time he'd seen Daniel earlier this morning, he'd been hooked up to all sorts of lines and monitors, still sleeping the sleep of exhaustion. Jack hadn't had time to run back to the infirmary before the meeting; he'd been planning on doing that now that it was over.
Hammond smiled. "Why don't you go there and see for yourself. She mentioned something about having taken care of dehydration and electrolytes; as a matter of fact, I do believe she also said something about releasing him soon."
Jack heard Hammond's chuckle as he raced out of the room. He skidded to a stop at the door and turned to face Hammond.
"Thank you, sir."
Hammond waved as Jack turned to hurry to the infirmary.
- - - - - -
Daniel was beginning to feel a little uncomfortable at all the sidelong glances he was getting from Jack. He was happy to see that they were nearing Jack's home; he'd been about ready to offer to drive if Jack couldn't keep his eyes on the road.
Jack turned to check him out one more time and Daniel decided that enough was enough.
"Why do you keep looking at me?"
"Me? I'm not." Jack suddenly seemed interested in the road, his gaze flicking first to his rearview mirror, then his side mirror.
"You've been checking me out almost since the moment we left the base."
"I have not."
"You have, too."
"You look like you're expecting me to do or say something. What?"
Jack pursed his lips, then let out a puff of air before smiling. "I think I'm half expecting you to fall asleep," he finally confessed.
Daniel frowned. "Okay, I admit I'm a little tired, but I'm not exactly sleepy." Then it dawned on him why Jack had been so worried. "Oh."
"I was doing that sleeping thing on the planet, wasn't I? Didn't Janet explain it was part of the side-effects of the Guardian's jolt?"
"Whatever. But I'm feeling good."
"You just said you were tired." Jack flicked his signal light on and turned into his driveway. Daniel put his hand on his seatbelt release, waiting for Jack to stop the Avalanche.
"I'm tired, yes. Janet said it would be at least a week before I feel normal again. But I'm not about to drop off and sleep for a couple of days." Daniel unlatched the belt and opened the door.
"She said you had to rest."
"And I will." He stood and stretched, breathing deeply of the fresh evening air. The quarter moon was barely visible in the east where the sky was still a deep, vibrant blue; it would be a perfect night for stargazing. Daniel glanced at the ladder leading to Jack's roof and on the spur of the moment, decided that was how he wanted to spend the rest of the evening.
"Hey, where you going?" Jack paused on the way towards the front door as Daniel walked across the lawn.
"I'm going to rest." Daniel pointed towards the roof. "You coming?"
Jack nodded. "It's gonna get chilly. Let me get some blankets. I'll be right up."
Daniel climbed the ladder, realizing as he reached the top that he was far from recovered. His legs and arms trembled and he quickly sat down to watch the fading colors of the sunset. By the time Jack returned with a handful of blankets and pillows, Daniel was grateful for their comfort and warmth. They cuddled up together, not bothering to use the telescope as they watched the sky darken and the stars brighten. The crickets and toads peeped and croaked—background music accompanied by the soft sigh of the wind.
Daniel relished the time, grateful to being able to see and hear clearly once again. Jack slid down and laid his head in Daniel's lap, his feet crossed and resting high against the wooden railing. Daniel stroked Jack's face with his fingers, then moved to play with his hair.
"This is all so beautiful," Daniel sighed. The Milky Way was exceptionally bright, the stars more vivid than usual, giving him a feeling of oneness with the universe.
"Sorta makes one think, doesn't it? That feeling of smallness on a universal scale."
"Oh yeah. I'm feeling very miniscule right now."
Jack rubbed the back of his head against Daniel's crotch, making his cock twitch. "You're not feeling miniscule to me."
Daniel laughed, then placed his hands in Jack's hair, stopping the motion. "I meant that sometimes I act without thinking, like I did back on that planet." He rubbed his fingers over Jack's forehead nervously. "Maybe it was a good thing that I went after Sam. It knocked some sense into me, didn't it? Sort of like a cosmic lesson."
"You mean to say that the Custodian zapping you was divine intervention?"
Daniel laughed. "No, that would be kind of an arrogant notion on my part, wouldn't it?"
"And your point is?"
"Jack!" Daniel smacked his lover lightly on the shoulder, feeling Jack chuckling.
"But if I hadn't gone after Sam, if nothing untoward had happened that night, then I'd have gone back to those translations and..." Daniel shrugged. "Who knows? Then tonight we might be looking up at the sky and thinking it's just a pretty sight, and that there's nothing magical about it."
A shooting star lit the sky, traveling slowly enough that Daniel could follow its path before it disappeared from view behind the trees. Its trail stayed illuminated for a few seconds more, the brilliance shimmering even longer like a strong flashbulb.
"Wow. Did you see that?"
"No magic, huh? I think someone up there is trying to prove you wrong."
"I... that was just a coincidence."
"Sure, if you say so." Jack lowered his feet and pushed himself up and leaned over to kiss Daniel soundly. "You want magic? Come inside with me, I'll show you some powerful stuff."
"Hey, I'm supposed to be recuperating here." Daniel wound his hand behind Jack's nape and pulled him in for another kiss.
Jack laughed when Daniel finally let him go and he stood, taking Daniel's hand to pull him up onto his feet. "Come on, big guy. Let's see if I can help you find heaven."
Author's Comments: When I first mentioned the idea of Jesus being a Goa'uld to both Seanchaidh and Mira at Toronto Trek in 2004, the two of them actually squeeled. I wasn't sure how far to go with this and actually chickened out, deciding to use it as a small part of the story but I would love to see someone else explore the possibilities one day. Maybe à la DaVinci Code? Lol.
So hugs are sent to Mira, for having done a wonderful beta with this, and to Seanchaidh, for the grin that matched Mira's, and many thanks to Annie, for trusting in me once again.
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