The Janus Factor - Part 2
All publicly recognisable characters and places are the property of MGM, World Gekko Corp and Double Secret Productions. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes and no infringement on copyrights or trademarks was intended. Previously unrecognised characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Spoilers: Takes place after In the Line of Duty - assumes knowledge of the SG1 canon up to that point.
Content warning: Minor bad language and one sexual situation, plus the usual Danny whumping.
Getting out of the palace had been easy. Getting back in proved much harder. Guards seemed to be everywhere.
"Guess they figure we're missing," O'Neill commented drily.
"Indeed so," Teal'c replied. "However, I think fortune may be with us." He nodded towards two guards who were watching a young girl drawing trying to calm an irate animal that was loaded with baskets.
"Let's go," O'Neill replied, quickly circling around the entrance towards the small door.
Before the guards knew what had hit them, they were unconscious. The young girl, still trying to regain control over her animal didn't even notice as O'Neill and Teal'c dragged the heavy bodies into the shadow of the door.
"Shall we bind them?" Teal'c asked.
"No," O'Neill responded quickly. "With any luck, they'll think they were hit as we went out - not as we came back in." He paused, gazing thoughtfully along the featureless palace. "The question is, how do we find this cell?"
"The guard said it was located beneath the palace. I suggest we first locate a stairway," Teal'c replied as pragmatically as ever.
O'Neill smiled. "Follow the yellow brick road!"
Wingard was at the cell almost immediately. His expression was serious as Sam was released into the corridor. Behind her, Daniel no longer seemed aware of what was going on around him. Nevertheless Sam didn't want what she was going to say to be overheard.
"I want to speak with you alone," she requested urgently.
Wingard studied her curiously, and then nodded. The door to the cell was closed behind her, as he led her along the corridor. As soon as they were a decent distance from the guards he stopped. "So you've come to your senses. The codes?"
Sam shook her head. "No. You know I can't tell you those. You read Daniel's mind. You said it yourself. I'd die first. And so would he."
Wingard frowned. He had felt relief when Sam had requested his presence. Vainly he had hoped that this madness in which he was caught would be resolved. "Then why call me?"
Sam took a deep breath, suddenly aware that she was gambling Daniel's life on a wild hope, on the chance that she had seen a sign that suggested she might have something to offer, no matter how desperate that offer. For a moment she felt dizzy, unable to focus her mind and thoughts on what she was about to do, but then an anguished cry from the cell behind her brought her crashing back to reality.
"I'll do anything else you want," she said quickly. "Anything!" She emphasised the word as she looked Wingard straight in the eye.
The Tippe looked at her in surprise, immediately understanding what she was offering him. For a moment his thoughts spun as he realised that she was offering him exactly what he wanted, but had not dared to acknowledge. But then the soldier in him took over. "Why would I trade the antidote for something I could simply take?"
Sam held his gaze. "Because we both know that something given willingly is more satisfying than something taken by force."
Wingard suddenly became aware that he was breathing heavily, his heart pounding in his chest. Damn this woman with her golden hair and blue eyes. And damn Strabil for getting him into this mess. Abruptly he made up his mind. He took Sam's hand and began to lead her down the corridor towards his private quarters.
"Wait! The antidote," Sam pulled away from him.
Wingard turned to face her. "After."
"No! I can't leave him like that." The appeal in Sam's voice tore into Wingard. "Please!"
The ruggard man shook his head. "If I give it to you now, how will I know you will do what you promise?"
Sam looked at him, her eyes brimming with tears. "Because I have promised. Because you know me from his mind."
Wingard sighed to himself. Fool, he thought, as he pulled the vial from his pocket. He handed it to Sam and waved towards the cell. "I wish..." he began, and then stopped. "Do what you must."
"Thank you!" Sam's gratitude was totally genuine as she grasped the precious vial. As she spun back towards the cell, Wingard closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He had seen what these Tau'ri were like when he read Daniel's mind, and now he had proof of their loyalty to one another. If only this Tau'ri woman would feel for him, what she felt for her team-mate.
Sam hurried through the cell door. "Daniel!"
The anthropologist was curled in the corner, his knees to his chest. As Sam reached out to touch him, he groaned again. "Daniel! I've got the anti-venom."
Not knowing whether he heard or understood, Sam tried to pull him into a sitting position, but he resisted her efforts. "Damn it, Daniel. You've got to help me here."
Suddenly Sam was aware of a presence next to her. Without a word, Wingard wrapped his arms around the anthropologist's shoulders and pulled him upright.
"Thank you," Sam said again. "Daniel, listen to me. I have the anti-venom. You must drink it." This time Daniel's eyes fluttered open. He gazed at Sam through a haze of pain, his eyes questioning, but then gave a barely perceptible nod. With a reassuring smile, Sam held the vial to his lips, tipping the liquid so that he was able to drink it. The expression on Daniel's face clearly stated that the liquid tasted vile, but with a sudden determination, he swallowed.
As the liquid hit his stomach, Daniel's hand flew to his mouth.
"Oh no!" Sam cried. "Don't you dare be sick." His eyes held hers, the panic clear in them. "Breathe!" Sam commanded. "Deep breaths. Breathe with me. In!" Sam took a deep breath, watching as Daniel mimicked her. "Out! In. Out."
The panic disappeared from his eyes, as the increased oxygen did its work. Sam reached for the water jug, encouraging Daniel to drink. As he took two large gulps, she finally allowed herself to sigh in relief. "You're going to be OK." She murmured, brushing at a strand of sweat-soaked hair, her hand resting affectionately against his cheek. "You're going to be just fine." Her eyes caught those of Wingard.
"Now," he said calmly. "You have a debt to pay."
With one last glance at Daniel, Sam followed her captor from the cell.
Wingard's apartment was simply yet expensively furnished. He opened the door, ushered Sam in, and ordered the guards that had followed them from the cell to wait outside. Sam could not fail to notice the lecherous looks the guards exchanged as the door closed.
Wingard closed the door behind him and leaned against it, drinking in the sight of the Tau'ri woman. Even dirty and dishevelled from the cell, he didn't think he had ever seen anything as beautiful. His body filled with desire for her. Moving towards her he gently took his hands in his own and leaned close to her. "You gave me your word," he whispered. "Willingly."
Unable to speak, Sam merely nodded. The memory of Daniel's tortured cries filled her mind, and she firmly told herself it was a small price to pay.
Sam stood motionless as Wingard slowly undressed her. When she was completely naked, he motioned to the bed.
Feeling numb, Sam obediently lay down.
Jack was totally frustrated. "Teal'c, we've covered every inch of this floor."
"I believe you are right, Colonel," Teal'c replied. "Perhaps the doorway we are seeking is hidden from view in some way."
O'Neill nodded. "Or it simply isn't accessed from this level." He turned round. "Let's go back to the stairs we did find."
"O'Neill, those stairs led up. We wish to go down."
Jack shrugged. "I'm open to other suggestions."
Teal'c considered for a moment. "I have no other suggestion."
"Exactly," O'Neill replied. "We go up."
It seemed he'd been looking at her for ever. Sam's heart was pounding in her chest as she gazed studiously at the ceiling, wishing he would just get it over and done with. She sensed him remove his shirt, felt the bed depress as he sat beside her. What was he waiting for?
"I can't." The words were whispered so quietly Sam wasn't sure she heard them correctly. She turned her head and found herself looking straight at Wingard.
"I can't," he repeated. "Not like this. You say you are here willingly, but I know you're only doing this because of Jackson. Hell, you're probably thinking of him right now. You're doing this because you promised. Because of your sense of honour. But it isn't really willingly is it?" Sam gazed at him with both relief and astonishment, but his next words really amazed her. "I want you to come to my bed truly freely. Because you want me." Wingard gave a wry smile. The words sounded foolish even to him. Here was a beautiful women, naked on his bed and he was talking about honour. Finally he forced the words he really wanted to say from his lips. "I've fallen in love with you Samantha Carter."
"What!" Sam sat up, pulled a sheet from the bed and wrapped it around herself.
"I'm in love with you." Wingard repeated the statement, relishing the words. For the first time in his life he felt free. He looked at Sam and recoiled at the hostility he saw. What was he thinking! This woman would never give herself to him out of any feeling of attraction. Not after he'd been part of torturing her friend, of lying and cheating. Abruptly his euphoria vanished. "I'm sorry." He couldn't bear to look at her. "I'm so sorry." He scrambled from the bed and hurriedly put his shirt back on as Sam watched him with suspicion in his eyes. "I'll make it up to you."
"Make it up to me?" Sam wondered vaguely if the whole world had gone mad.
But Wingard's mind was running ahead of his mouth now. There was still a way he could win this Tau'ri woman. "Yes. Make it up to you. We'll get Jackson from the cell. Re-unite you with the other Tau'ri. Then, together we'll take on Strabil. You know he invented the Witpre, so that he could trick O'Neill and the Jaffa into thinking you were held by some renegade band of outlaws. Well I have some guards who are loyal to me. We'll stage a revolution. With you by my side, we'll overthrow Strabil. Make a real treaty and take on the goa'uld. But first, Jackson..."
Sam's mind was whirling. "What the hell are you talking about?"
Wingard smiled at her. "Strabil's plot. It's time I stood up against him."
"Wait!" Sam commanded. "Slow down. I think you'd better explain to me what is going on from the start."
Wingard's smile widened, and he quickly told Sam everything he knew. How Strabil intended to use the codes both to keep Heu'ra at bay and to raid earth for whatever technology was of use. He explained about the Witpre - how he himself had headed up a team of Strabil's own guard masquerading as rebels to capture half of SG1. Sam listened in astonishment, occasionally asking questions, but quickly coming to understand the two-faced plot into which SG1 had been entrapped.
"And you're really willing to help us. To stand against Strabil?" she finally said.
Before Sam could respond, the door to the room flew home.
"Colonel!" Sam exclaimed.
O'Neill took one look at the scene before him, and immediately jumped to conclusions about what had taken place. "What the hell?" His eyes fixed on Wingard. In one rapid move he was across the room. Wingard hit the floor hard as O'Neill knocked him flying. "You bastard!"
O'Neill was deaf to Sam, responding only to what he imagined. His fist contacted with Wingard's face.
"Colonel! Stop it!" Sam grabbed her commanding officer's arm as he pulled back ready to strike again. "This isn't what you think."
O'Neill paused and looked up at Sam, his face cold. "Then exactly what is it, Captain."
Sam looked at him, not quite knowing what to say. She glanced at Wingard who was pinned beneath the Colonel, blood trickling down his chin. "I... It's... I'll explain later. Colonel, the man you've been making a treaty with - he's double crossing you."
"I already had that figured, Captain." O'Neill's voice was still cool.
"You did? Good." Sam nodded and took a deep breath. She was painfully aware that she was precariously wrapped in a rather think sheet. "Wingard here, is willing to bring the whole thing out into the open. But first..."
"First?" O'Neill asked, one eyebrow raised.
"We have to get Daniel."
"Where is Daniel Jackson?" Teal'c asked.
"Strabil has him in a cell," Carter replied quickly. "I can take you there."
"No," Wingard interjected. "It's too dangerous. I'll bring him to you."
O'Neill glared at the Tippe. "No way. Right now I wouldn't trust one of your people to bring me a cup of coffee."
"Please," Wingard replied, trying to shift under O'Neill's weight. "It is the safest way to bring your friend here." He shot a quick look at Sam. "I promise he'll be safe with me. Samantha. I promise."
Sam studied his face briefly and then nodded. "It's OK, Colonel. You can trust him."
O'Neill looked at her as though she'd gone mad, but slowly he released the Tippe. "OK. But I'm going with you."
Wingard climbed slowly to his feet and nodded his reluctant agreement.
As O'Neill followed him to the door, he shot one last glance at Sam, his face expressionless. "Captain?"
"You might want to get dressed."
As O'Neill had suspected the doorway to the cell stairway was on this level. A clever ruse to confuse anyone escaping into believing they were on the ground floor. O'Neill had to admit he was impressed with the way in which Wingard handled the guards outside the cell. The man's tone broked no discussion, and although the guards eyed O'Neill suspiciously, none of them challenged his right to be there.
As the cell door opened, O'Neill paused, making it clear that Wingard should step in first. Even then the Tippe managed to make his actions look naturally.
O'Neill's nose wrinkled at the foul air in the cell. As his eyes adjusted to the dim light, he identified a dark shadow in the far corner. Daniel! The young man was curled on his side on the floor, his back to the door.
Jack was at his side in a moment. "Daniel," he whispered. "It's Jack." When there was no response, Jack reached out and shook Daniel's shoulder. The archaeologist's clothes felt damp and cold to his touch. "Daniel. Wake up!"
"He was bitten by a Widow Maker," Wingard volunteered. "We gave him anti-venom, but it takes time to regain strength."
"Widow Maker?" Jack rolled Daniel on to his back. Even in the dim light he could see the archaeologist's face was deathly white.
"A snake," Wingard explained
The word made Jack shudder, but before he could demand more details Daniel's eyes flickered open. "Jack?" Daniel's voice was barely audible.
"No Superman to the rescue as usual," Jack joked softly, disguising the anger he felt at seeing his friend so debilitated.
Daniel managed a weak smile, but his thoughts were quickly running ahead of his own situation. "Sam. She went..."
"It's OK. She's safe." Jack slipped his arm around the anthropologist's shoulders, helping him to sit up. "Do you think you can walk?"
Daniel considered for a moment. The agonising pain had quietened to a dull ache, but he still felt as though somebody had given him a thorough beating. He nodded, and leaning heavily on Jack made it to his feet. "What's he... doing here?" Daniel spotted Wingard.
"Helping to save your butt," Jack said with an ironic grin.
"Uh-huh." Daniel shot Wingard a dark look. "I might... want to... argue that point." He took in a deep breath as the cell began to swim around him. "But not just now."
"That's my boy," Jack muttered almost absentmindedly as he helped his stricken friend from the cell.
Fully clothed Sam ran to Daniel's side and wrapped the archaeologist in a tight in embrace as he entered the room. "You're OK!"
Weakly Daniel nodded. As Sam let him go, he felt his legs give way beneath him. The brief walk from the cell had just about drained him. He reached out and grabbed O'Neill's arm, just as the Colonel realised what was happening and caught him.
"Take it easy, Danny." O'Neill helped him towards the bed.
"Thirsty." Daniel managed to say as he felt soft pillows beneath him.
"He hasn't eaten in two days either," Sam interjected. She moved to Daniel's side and gently took his right arm, turning it over to inspect the snake bite. The skin around his wrist was a deep purple colour, punctuated by two bright red spots. "The anti-venom?"
"I'm fine," Daniel replied softly, although his face belied his words..
Sam turned to Wingard who was trying to not feel jealous at her protectiveness towards the blond-haired Tau'ri. "He needs water. And food." The mention of the word made her own stomach rumble, reminding her that Daniel wasn't the only one who hadn't eaten. "I think maybe we could all do some."
"Of course," Wingard responded. He moved towards a tassled ribbon hanging from the ceiling which O'Neill recognised as the type of communication chord seen in Victorian homes back on earth.
"Woah!" O'Neill grabbed Wingard's arm. "Thinking of raising the alarm?"
"No!" Wingard protested. "It connects only to the kitchen. I promise you, it will call no-one other than a servant." He glanced towards Daniel. "If you want your friend to eat..."
O'Neill studied Wingard's face and then, drawing his knife from its sheath indicated the Tippe should continue.
Twenty minutes later Sam and Daniel were enjoying their first decent meal for forty-eight hours. While Sam tucked in heartedly to the cold meat, bread, cheese and fruit, she could not help but notice that Daniel was barely picking at his food. She glanced at O'Neill, who met her eyes and merely nodded, her concern registered.
"So this plan," O'Neill said, his attention returning to Wingard. "You believe you have enough supporters to take Strabil on face-to-face."
Wingard nodded. "My own men are loyal only to me. That's 50 men. And I believe many of Strabil's own guard would rather side with a Tau'ri alliance than continue appeasing the goa'uld. I've heard the guardroom gossip. There have been a lot of questions. Questions and confusion. Some even believe the Witpre really exist and have voiced an interest in joining them."
O'Neill pondered the idea. "OK. If you can get us back through the Stargate, we'll return with enough men to support you. Once you are in power instead of Strabil, we will see about the alliance."
Now it was Wingard's turn to look uncertain. "How do I know that you will return once you are through the Stargate?"
O'Neill smiled sardonically. "Well you'll just have to trust me on that one won't you."
"You could stay and help me now," Wingard protested.
O'Neill shook his head. "Not with a man down."
At that Daniel pushed himself up to a sitting position, his face still pale. "I'm OK, Jack. We don't have to go back on my account."
O'Neill turned to the archaeologist with a sarcastic look. "I'll be the judge of that, Daniel." He turned back to Wingard. "Get us through the gate - we'll be back within two days. You have my word."
Wingard still looked uncertain. Finally he spoke. "There is something else you should know." Jack gave him a questioning look, and Wingard swallowed before continuing. "In terms of an alliance. We have very little to offer you."
"Oh?" Jack replied quietly.
"What about those weapons you used out in the forest?" Sam commented, recalling the powerful blasts of energy that had whizzed around her ears.
"Stolen," Wingard said shamefaced. "That's the way of the Tippe. At least under Strabil it has been. Everything we have of value has been stolen from some other culture. We use the great circle to visit other worlds, often using subterfuge, and then take what we need."
Jack shook his head. "Why are you telling us this now?"
Wingard's eyes moved to Daniel and then to Sam. "Because I have seen that things can be different, that there can be... honour."
"Seen?" Jack queried.
"He read Daniel's mind, with some sort of device," Sam explained.
Jack snorted. "No wonder he's gone flaky on us!"
"Jack!" Daniel protested from the bed.
"Just kidding, Danny," Jack hastily replied as Teal'c gave him a sour look.
"It's true," Wingard interjected, not following the teasing. "I am no longer who I was. And I don't want to be. Nor do I want my people to continue this way."
"I see," Jack said slowly. "Well, I reckon we can help you with that. But be warned. Not everyone on our world is like Danny-boy here. We have a good few Strabils too."
His mind made up, Wingard had quickly leapt into action. Calling a handful of trusted men to his quarters, he quickly supplied SG1 with the casual uniform of his personal guard. Daniel in particular was relieved to get out of his SGC uniform which was thoroughly damp and stained from the cell floor.
Quickly Wingard ordered three of his men to create as much confusion as possible in the palace. As they set about the task with obvious enthusiasm, he led SG1 out into the passageway, together with six more of his men. Bunched together the group looked every bit a part of the armed presence.
Daniel gritted his teeth as they hurried along the passageways at a fast march. Every muscle in his body protested at the movement, but he was determined not to let the rest of SG1 down. In no time at all though his fresh uniform was damp with perspiration.
"Are you all right, Daniel Jackson?" Teal'c voice was a low whisper behind him.
"I'm fine, Teal'c," Daniel hissed back, wishing for once the Jaffa wasn't so observant. "Just looking forward to a decent night's sleep."
In no time at all, they were outside the palace and crossing an open courtyard. At the far side, two sentries blocked the gate.
"My Lord Wingard!" The nearest sentry recognised the Tippe instantly. "Lord Strabil has ordered that no one leaves the palace."
Wingard held the sentry's gaze. "The Tau'ri have escaped. I have orders from Lord Strabil himself to go in pursuit of them."
The sentry glanced nervously at his companion and then returned his attention to Wingard. "I am sorry, my Lord. My orders are clear. No one is to leave the palace, including you."
"I see." Wingard began to turn away as though intending to return across the courtyard. Abruptly he swung round, pulling a weapon from his robe he fired point blank at the sentry. The man hit the ground instantaneously as Wingard turned the weapon on the other sentry and fired. "Let's get out of here. We have only a few moments before these men are found."
In the distance, the Stargate loomed like a huge black wheel in the darkness.
"Colonel O'Neill!" Teal'c voice was urgent as the small group took cover at the edge of the woods, so close to the Stargate that it seemed to mock them from where it stood in opoen ground. "I believe Daniel Jackson is unwell again."
Jack hurried back from the front of the group where he had been keeping pace with Wingard. "You OK?" He addressed Daniel with concern. It was clear that the anthropologist was still in considerable pain. Bravely Daniel nodded, but the grimace that crossed his face revealed the truth.
"Daniel?" Sam was concerned now. She took Daniel's arm and pushed the sleeve from his wrist. The dark bruising had spread from his wrist up past his elbow. Sam glared at Wingard. "The anti-venom. It was a permanent cure, wasn't it?"
A cold laugh behind the group made them spin round. Strabil had appeared in the open ground between them and the Stargate as though from no where. Behind him a band of roughly twenty men stood armed and ready to fight. Instantly both groups brought their weapons to bear on the other. Strabil laughed even louder as he recognised the stalemate. "So Wingard. You've thrown in your lot with the Tau'ri. I should've known you weren't to be trusted."
"Me!" Wingard spluttered. "You're the one trying to double-cross everyone."
Strabil smiled. "Well, now you've wrecked my plan with the Tau'ri I won't need to double-cross anyone else will I."
Slowly he moved towards the group until he was standing a few feet away from O'Neill. "I shall enjoy obtaining the codes to your base from you, Colonel O'Neill. The spirit in you will be interesting to break." He glanced over at Teal'c. "As for you, Heu'ra will pay handsomely."
Teal'c raised his gun an inch. "We are not yet your prisoners."
At that Strabil merely laughed and switched his attention to Daniel. "I see the Widow Maker is still doing her job with this one." He glanced at Sam who was standing protectively in front of the archaeologist. "My apologies, Captain Carter. What you gave your friend wasn't anti-venom."
"But he got better!" Sam protested.
Strabil's smile widened. "The vial contained a powerful painkiller, although I'm amazed he managed to swallow it. The taste is enough to make even my strongest men retch." He glanced back at Daniel without compassion. "Looks like the effect is beginning to wear off."
Sam turned to Wingard in outrage. "You knew this!"
"No!" Wingard protested. "You must believe me, Samantha." He looked away from her with shame in his eyes. "I should've guessed there was no anti-venom. The Widow Maker is a rare species. It isn't even native to our planet. Strabil 'found' it on one of his forays through the great circle."
Strabil was amused by the exchange, his sharp mind quickly grasping the emotion that now motivated his second in command. He moved closer to Sam. "So Wingard. The Tau'ri woman turned your head and scrambled your brains. Perhaps I will spare her life. It is about time I sampled the exotic pleasures of the Tau'ri home world."
Sam was never quite sure who moved first. A growl to her left was clearly O'Neill as he launched himself at Strabil. But Wingard was on the move too. As both men collided with the Tippe leader, all hell seemed to break loose around her. She dived for cover, grabbing Daniel by one arm as she did so and making sure that the anthropologist was safe before taking out two of Strabil's men with accurate blasts. She glanced at the weapon Wingard had given her with admiration. "Neat shooting," she congratulated herself before ducking down beside Daniel. "We've got to get to the gate," she said, looking anxiously at his face. He didn't look like he was capable of going anywhere, but he nodded gamely.
To Sam's right, O'Neill and Wingard were engaged in a fist fight with a Strabil and his men. To her left, Teal'c was taking out the Tippe with ruthless efficiency. Wingard's men were making a good job of keeping the remaining band occupied. Now that the fighting had become hand to hand no-one seemed to be using the energy blasters. Sam quickly took in the situation - the Stargate stood a mere 100 m from their position. She pulled Daniel to his feet, ignoring the groan that escaped his lips. "We'll make a run for it. You dial and I'll cover you. OK?"
Again the nod. Sam studied Daniel wondering if he was really responding to her. His eyes were beginning to take on a glazed appearance. "Daniel!" she snapped, taking his face in her hands. He winced at her touch, a clear sign that the painkiller was indeed wearing off. "Did you understand what I said?"
"Yes," Daniel managed to make his mouth sound out the word. Everything around him seemed to be growing distant. His chest was beginning to hurt again. What did Sam say? Run for the gate? The idea seemed so absurd Daniel had to choke down the urge to laugh. Right now standing upright on his own seemed like a significant challenge. But suddenly he was moving. Propelled forward by Sam, his legs seemed to know what to do. He could see the gate. See the DHD. Home.
As Sam and Daniel broke cover, O'Neill saw his chance. He threw one last punch at Strabil, contacting with the man's jawline with an unsatisfying thud, then grabbed Wingard and headed after his comrades. "Teal'c!" he yelled. "To the gate."
The big Jaffa whirled around, and then back. Picking up a discarded weapon he began to lay down covering fire.
He was at the DHD. Daniel couldn't quite believe it. All he had to do was dial in the co-ordinates. His right arm hung numb at his side. Gritting his teeth against the growing pain, he hit the symbols with his left hand. One, two, three... Something stung his right shoulder. He glanced down, fascinated to see smoke rising from his uniform. Dark blood the colour of wine began to flow freely down his arm but he couldn't feel it. Four, five. Why couldn't he feel it? Whenever he'd been hit by a staff weapon it had hurt like hell. Six. Seven. The event horizon burst into life.
O'Neill reached Sam's side and quickly aimed his decoder at the gate, sending SG1's code through to the base on earth. "Go!" he ordered her. Sam glanced at the chaotic sight once, her eyes momentarily resting on Wingard who was struggling with one of Strabil's men. Then she stepped through the gate.
"Daniel!" O'Neill yelled. "Go!" He cursed loudly as he saw Daniel stood motionless at the DHD. Before he could move to assist him though, Teal'c was there. In one smooth motion he swept a huge arm around Daniel's waist and propelled the injured archaeologist through the gate. "O'Neill, come now!" Then Teal'c too was gone.
O'Neill moved towards the gate, but the sound of a man in pain caught his attention. Wingard!. An energy blast had caught his upper leg. Without even thinking O'Neill strode from the gate, his own weapon firing wildly. Snatching Wingard up, he rolled the small man over his shoulder and in a running dive carried both of them to safety.
Daniel heard the familiar sound of the SGC's metal ramp beneath his feet. In front of him he could see Sam. She reached towards him, calling Janet as she did so. Dr Frasier. Daniel tried to speak her name as the pain returned in all its force. For a brief moment he was aware of a pair of concerned brown eyes looking at him. The familiar perfume of a starched white coat nixed with something altogether sweeter. Someone yelling about a snake bite. Someone else mentioned an energy blast. Then his face contacted with cold metal and blackness overwhelmed him.
"I need a medic!" O'Neill yelled as he hit the ramp with Wingard still on his shoulders. Two more white coats rushed to his side. O'Neill glanced around as the Tippe was taken from him. Janet was barking orders. Hammond was pacing at the end of the ramp. Sam looked close to exhaustion, and Teal'c was standing to one side, sweat trickling down his face, his expression unreadable as ever. O'Neill saw the final member of his team being rolled on to a stretcher. "Damn it, Daniel!"
Janet Frasier hadn't slept for 48 hours. Her eyes felt gritty, her hair hung limp around her head and she desperately wanted a shower. Beside her in the lab, Dr Jonathan Schuricht, one of the world's top toxicologists, was sitting with his head resting on the lab. bench. Two days, Janet thought wearily. This batch of samples had to be the one.
In the infirmary Daniel Jackson lay motionless, surrounded by the complex medical equipment that was keeping him alive. The ugly purple bruising had spread out from under the bandages on his wounded shoulder, creeping relentlessly across his chest towards his heart.
Beside his bed, Colonel O'Neill was sitting motionless, watching the younger man's chest rise and fall. If only he had refused this mission, he thought for the hundredth time. He'd known it was a trap from the moment he stepped through the gate. Hell, before they stepped through. If Daniel died...
The infirmary door opened and Sam stepped in. "How's he doing?"
O'Neill shrugged. "No change. The last batch of serum Janet tried did nothing." He rubbed at his eyes.
"Wingard wants to see you, Sir." Sam pulled up another chair, absentmindedly taking Daniel's hand in her own. "He's ready to go back through the gate. SG3 and a platoon of marines are going with him."
O'Neill sighed. At least something good had come out of the mission. Wingard, who's injury had proven to be relatively minor, had proven himself a useful ally after all. For the past two days he had answered questions and provided information to General Hammond. At the mention of the goa'uld sarcophagus, the jigsaw pieces had fallen into place. Wingard was able to confirm that Strabil had become more and more unstable once Heu'ra had delivered the device to their world. Now the plan was to return to the planet, capture Strabil and help Wingard get the man off the evil addiction. SGC had promised the Tippe an iris for their own gate in exchange for certain pieces of technology and information on where the technology came from. Hammond had turned a blind eye to the fact that the Tippe seemed to be the pickpockets of the galaxy.
As O'Neill headed to the gateroom, Sam turned her full attention to Daniel. "I'm so sorry," she whispered, squeezing his hand. She felt like crying as she looked down at his ashen face, the purple bruising beginning to creep along his jawline. The fact that she had done everything she could to save him, bar give away the codes, seemed of little consolation now. Even now she blushed at the memory of explaining to O'Neill exactly what she had been willing to do. She had managed to persuade the colonel that the full details did not need to go in the official report, quite how they were going to fudge it she didn't know. She had also persuaded him that Daniel didn't need to know, although she had a nasty suspicion the anthopologist would weedle it out of her when he woke up.
If he woke up, Sam thought, glancing at the clock. How many more hours could he survive with the poison in his system? Thank goodness Strabil's estimate of 12 had been wrong. But as the hours ticked by...
Sam's black thoughts were interrupted by Janet and Dr Schuricht. Janet moved straight to Daniel's bed and quickly checked the anthropologist over. Scribbling on his medical notes, she nodded to her companion and shot Sam a concerned look. "This may be our last chance."
She moved to Sam's side, resting her hand lightly on the other woman's shoulder. Together they watched Schuricht inject Daniel with the newest serum he had concocted. He glanced over at the two women and spoke the words everyone was tired of hearing. "And now we wait."
Light. There was light shining in his eyes. And that smell. Sharp. Clean. Antiseptic. God, he was in the infirmary again. Daniel forced his right eye open and blinked up at the light directly above his bed. Way too bright, he thought to himself. He closed his eye and turned his head slowly to the left, aware of a dull ache up the right side of his body.
Slowly he opened both eyes, and was greeted by the sight of O'Neill at his bedside. The colonel was half-sitting in a chair, his head resting on Daniel's bed, clearly asleep.
"Hi," Daniel said. The sound escaping his parched lips more of a croak than an actual word.
It was enough to stir O'Neill though. The colonel blinked hard, suddenly unsure whether he was dreaming.
"Hi." Daniel tried again, this time making the word almost sound like English.
A broad smile stretched across O'Neill's exhausted face, and he grabbed Daniel's left hand and squeezed it affectionately. "Hi yourself, snake boy!"
Extract from the diary of Dr Daniel Jackson
I returned back to duty just in time to visit the Tippe world and watch the new iris being installed. That should give Heu'ra a nasty surprise next time he decides to pay a visit.
Meeting up with Strabil was weird though. Knowing what he had been through after Wingard destroyed the sarcophagus, I could understand, perhaps even sympathise with him. I guess that made it easier to accept his apology. But I have to confess, I felt uneasy sitting in that room where that snake bit me. Jack has always been the one on the team with a thing about snakes. I wonder how we'll cope with both of us jumpy about them. And at the end of the day, I suspect that Strabil is still as two-faced as ever. I just hope Wingard learns to watch his back.
Watching Sam and Wingard together was strange too. The man is clearly besotted with her. She though seemed uneasy in his presence. No, not uneasy, embarrassed. And O'Neill - if I didn't know better I'd swear the guy was jealous. Oh well, when I get half a chance I'll weedle the whole story of what went on out of them. For now, I'm just glad to be in one piece and out of the infirmary. I was beginning to think Janet thought I was a pin cushion. I've even persuaded General Hammond that a return visit to the ruins on P6R299 would be therapeutic, I just hope there aren't any snakes in the ruins!
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