Out in the open
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.
Category: Episode tag, h/cSeries: Number ten in Scribe's Shower Scene Series
Season/spoilers: Season 4 - Point of no return
Warnings: Err... a lack of total nudity (Scribe shakes her head sadly and decides she's slipping...)
Summary: Daniel has an unwelcome guest
Author's Notes: I can promise you Martin does not appear in this story either clad or unclad.
Nausea. It had been Daniel's constant companion for the past two days. All he wanted to do now was swallow the medication Janet had given him and curl up his own bed to sleep for a week. What he didn't want to do was think. Not about Sarah. Or Osiris. Or the fact that he'd been on the wrong end of a goa'uld ribbon device - again.
Sleep. That was what he needed. He pushed his key into the lock of his apartment and opened the door. Everything was just the way he'd left it before rushing first to Chicago and then to Egypt. Wearily Daniel kicked the door closed and headed for the kitchen, his left hand fumbling for the medication in his jacket pocket. Two days of rest, fluids and Janet's professional version of TLC in the SGC infirmary had pretty much set him back on his feet. Another couple of days at home and he'd be fine - physically anyway. After all - he'd been here, got the T-shirt. In fact, by rights, he ought to have a whole wardrobe full of T-shirts all neatly labelled Daniel Jackson - Expert Ribbon Device Tester.
Cold water gushed over the rim of the glass Daniel filled at the sink. He drained half in a single swallow before shaking two white pills out of their bottle, popping them into his mouth and washing them down with the remainder. Still thirsty he reached out, intending to refill the glass.
Something brushed his shoulder, making him start. Before he could react further, an arm snaked around his neck - he caught a brief glimpse of pale skin and taut muscles and then... The glass slipped from Daniel's fingers, shattering into pieces in the sink as his hands flew upwards, instinctively trying to loosen the increasing tightness against his wind pipe.
Two minutes. That was how long it took to suffocate. Jack had told him that. Jack had also taught him various ways to break a strangle hold, right after their return from Hadante and Daniel's first experience of being nearly choked to death. Now, prepared and trying not to panic, his long fingers sought those of his assailant. If he could just get a grip on a little finger, or even a thumb... had to keep calm. Two minutes was a long time... owww!
Something sharp pricked his upper arm. He barely had time to register he'd been on the wrong end of a hypodermic needle before a dark cloud swirled around him and dragged him into unconsciousness.
He came to slowly - confused and disorientated. His neck muscles protested vehemently as he lifted his head; his shoulders and back almost immediately joining in the symphony of aches and pains. Other sensations - headache and nausea - began to filter through too, clueing him into the fact that - oh, shit, he was in deep trouble. Cautiously, Daniel opened his eyes and attempted to focus on his surroundings. Okay, judging by the blurred shapes floating before him, he was still in his apartment. At least he figured it was his apartment. Apart from the fact everything was more out of focus than usual, even without his glasses, he was seeing things from an odd perspective. He finally realised that was because he was sitting on a kitchen chair in the middle of his living room - not his normal choice of seating. The numbness in his hands was due to his wrists being tied behind his back. From the limited movement available to him he figured they were probably secured to the chair back. His ankles were also tethered to the chair, forcing his legs apart and making him feel more than a bit vulnerable.
"Doctor Jackson." A tall, dark-haired man appeared from the kitchen, carrying a glass of water. "We meet again."
Daniel's vision was beginning to return to normal, or at least normal without his glasses. He blinked slowly and studied the face before him. Long and lean, thin lips, dark serious eyes. Oh God. Peter Tanner. The alien deserter who had masqueraded as Martin Lloyd's psychiatrist. Fear curled up Daniel's spine as he remembered the last time they'd met. He'd been tied to a chair then too. Powerless to do anything except make bad jokes to cover his fear while Tanner calmly produced instruments of torture from his black bag. Daniel's gaze swept his apartment. Oh shit! There it was. Sitting on top of his piano.
"Drink?" Tanner moved a step nearer and held the glass out to Daniel. "You're probably feeling thirsty... from the shot I gave you."
Daniel licked his lips, aware that he was, in fact, incredibly thirsty. He wasn't, however, about to swallow any liquid offered to him by an alien who'd drugged him and tied him up. He studiously ignored the glass. "What do you want?"
With a shrug as if to say suit yourself, Tanner set the drink on the nearby coffee table. "Surely that's obvious?"
"Actually..." Daniel pulled a 'please don't hit me for asking' face. "No, it isn't."
He was relieved to find Tanner apparently had no intention of hitting him. Instead the man simply gave him a weary look, as though Daniel was being deliberately tiresome. "Where are Bob Matthews and Dave Smith?"
The names meant absolutely nothing to Daniel. He shrugged. "Bob and Dave? Are we talking used car salesmen? You could try the phone book."
As Tanner's eyes narrowed, Daniel flinched, expecting retribution. This habit of making wisecracks he'd picked up from Jack really wasn't a good idea. Fortunately, though, Tanner still didn't show any interest in physical violence.
"Doctor Jackson, you have a smart mouth. I hope you have a smart brain to go with it because I really don't want to hurt you. But... if that's the only way to get you to tell me what I want to know, I won't hesitate to do so."
Daniel's stomach tightened in reflex to the threat. Okay, definitely no more wise cracks.
Tanner moved to the piano, scooped up the black bag and walked back to Daniel, placing the bag on the coffee table next to the water. "Now... where are Bob Matthews and Dave Smith?"
Don't look at the bag! Daniel forced the unwelcome memories of their earlier encounter away and tried to keep the fear out of his voice. "Look, I'd love to tell you whatever it is you want to know, but the names mean nothing to me."
He flinched as Tanner made a show of opening the bag. There had to be some way out of this. Just concentrate on thinking - other than about what was coming out of that bag of course. Tanner. Martin. The space ship they'd travelled in. A memory filtered to the front of Daniel's mind.
"Wait.. wait..." he said quickly, the words almost falling over themselves. "Let me guess. Bob and Dave are two of the guys who deserted with you, right?"
The glance from Tanner told him he was right. So far so good. Except his guesswork really hadn't gained him anything and somehow Daniel didn't think his next statement would be so well received.
"You have to believe me. I really don't know where they are."
"Don't play games with me, Jackson." Tanner loomed over him ominously. "Your people took Matthews in the middle of the night and snatched Smith right off the sidewalk. Walters and I barely got away by the skin of our teeth. Now tell me where they're being held."
Daniel felt panic rise. "Honestly. I don't know. Look, you grabbed the wrong guy here. I'm an archaeologist, not..."
"An archaeologist." Tanner's expression matched his scathing tone. "Right. The United States Air Force employs 'archaeologists' to carry out covert surveillance operations?"
A rueful smile tugged at Daniel's lips. "Well, actually, yes." It sounded ridiculous even to his own ears. He drew in a quick breath and tried to relax. Not being able to hear Tanner for the thundering of blood in his ears wasn't helping. "Okay so I don't exactly spend all my time digging in the dirt, but..." Daniel fixed Tanner with what he hoped was a sincere look. "I really don't know where your people are."
In response Tanner merely shook his head. He plunged his hand into his bag, pulling out a small black plastic case. Despite his previous resolution, Daniel couldn't help but stare as Tanner placed it on the coffee table and flicked it open. Inside was a small vial and a hypodermic needle.
"Doctor Jackson, the drug in this vial will guarantee you tell me what I want to know. Unfortunately, it does have some unpleasant side effects. I have no desire to inflict this on you but..."
"I don't know where your people are!" Daniel protested, desperately pulling on the ropes around his wrists. "I'm not your enemy. We helped Martin. Tried to send him home. And we can help you if that's what you want."
Tanner's face was expressionless as he picked up the hypodermic and slowly filled it from the vial. Daniel swallowed hard as a tiny jet of the drug sprayed fountain-like into the air.
"Injecting me with that stuff really isn't going to achieve anything. I'm telling you the truth. We're fighting the goa'uld just like you were. And believe me, we have better things to do than waste resources tracking down four alien deserters who don't want to be found."
Tanner shook his head again. "You're lying, Doctor Jackson. We've been under surveillance for months, barely keeping one step ahead of your people. All we wanted was to disappear..."
Daniel felt the cold wash of alcohol on his upper arm as Tanner pushed the sleeve of his tee-shirt up. The alien's voice was little more than a whisper in his ear. "Then last week you found us again. And now I've found you. So tell me where they are."
His eyes closed, Daniel shook his head. "I don't know."
A sharp pain, more of a scratch than a puncture, and then heat. It radiated up his bicep and down into his forearm. Despite himself, Daniel turned to look, but there was nothing to see except the faint glistening of his skin where Tanner had swabbed the site with more alcohol.
Whoa! Dizzy. The room was suddenly spinning like top. Daniel found himself desperately trying to focus on the glass of water sitting on the coffee table. For some bizarre reason it was the only thing in his living room not engaging in some warped re-enactment of The Sorcerer's Apprentice, complete with psychedelic colours and atonal music. He blinked once, twice... wondered if it was too late to ask if he could still have a drink... and then began to giggle. He really had to remember to tell Jack he'd just rediscovered the seventies...
Damn it! He'd called this all wrong. Tanner studied the unconscious form of Daniel Jackson and wrestled with his conscience. His plan had been quick and dirty. Get the information he needed and then leave. If he had to use the drug, well... Jackson was part of the military, and it was his side, his paymasters, that had called the shots. Just another casualty of war... it was easy to say. So why was he having such a hard time swallowing his own rhetoric?
Maybe because Jackson hadn't told him anything, hadn't known anything? Well not about Matthews and Smith anyway. The drug had worked. The archaeologist had spilled the beans about the Stargate and what had happened to Martin. Told the whole story in meticulous details, right down to how Martin's home world - Tanner's home world - had been devastated. Apparently Martin was now living happily in Colorado and running his own SF bookshop. Which was all very fascinating but completely irrelevant since Tanner and his men had long decided they were never going back.
So why was he still sitting here, staring at his handiwork? Tanner ran a hand through his hair and swore. He was obviously going soft. All he could see was Jackson's drug-glazed eyes gazing up at him as the archaeologist repeated over and over 'We can help you if you let us. We're not your enemy.' There had been such sincerity there, despite the obvious discomfort caused by the drug, despite Tanner's own demanding interrogation. Somehow, Jackson had fought through it all and instead of anger at the way he was being treated had held out a hand of friendship.
Damn. Damn. Damn. He really ought to just get up and go. He was a soldier wasn't he? He'd killed before. Had no qualms about doing what was necessary, what was right. And Matthew and Smith were still out there. So Jackson's people hadn't got them, but somebody had. He should go. Get on with his mission. Leave Jackson to his fate.
Except he couldn't. The archaeologist really didn't know anything and Tanner couldn't bring himself to just leave him to die. He blew out an exasperated breath. Moving back to his bag, he produced a knife with a wicked looking six-inch blade, then headed towards his prisoner. He was just about to slice through the rope binding Jackson's left ankle to the chair when someone knocked on the apartment door.
Daniel hadn't laughed for long, and he definitely wasn't feeling like laughing now. He was sticky with sweat and... he hurt. Neck, back, arms. Part of his mind - the part that was still functioning coherently, was whispering he was feverish. The other part was trying to figure out where the hell he was? Why was he sitting in this chair? Uh-oh! Wait. Couldn't move. It was coming back now. He was tied up... tied and drugged and... Must've passed out.
An insistent rapping on his front door drew his attention away from his misery. There was only one person who would abuse his front door like that.
"Jack?" Daniel barely managed to vocalise the name before a hand clamped over his mouth.
"Shhh!" A face leaned in towards him, eyebrows raised meaningfully as a vicious-looking knife was waved approximately six inches from his nose. "Keep quiet and you won't get hurt."
"Daniel! Open the damn door." Jack's voice sounded concerned as it filtered through the thick wood.
Thoughts skittered through Daniel's mind like dry sand through his fingers in the Abydonian desert. As fast as he tried to catch a thread, pin it down, it drifted away, intangible and out of reach. He was hot, so hot. Really ought to turn down the heating. Only he couldn't do that, could he. No, this nutcase with the knife wanted him to stay here and keep quiet. Which actually seemed like a good idea because he wasn't feeling too good. In fact he felt like he'd spent the night drinking cheap whiskey...
More banging on the door. Oh yes, Jack was outside. Should let him in only...
Why was that glass of water over there? That's what he needed. Only he couldn't move. Oh right. Tanner, that was his name. Now he remembered.... Ahhh, the Torment of Tantalus. This was cruel, very cruel considering how thirsty he was. Anyway, why didn't Jack just use his key? All that banging was making his head hurt. Just use your key, Jack!
"Shit!" The oath came from his guest.
Daniel's head jerked up and his eyes opened. Odd, he hadn't realised he'd closed them. Ah - Jack had finally remembered. Oww! Hand in his hair. Something cold against his throat. Damn it, he needed to do something, say something. Had to remember... Got to get rid of the cotton candy masquerading as his brain. Needed to concentrate. Yes, yes. That was it. Hold those words. Force them out.
"Tanner... It's Jack. He can....help you... if... you let him."
What the hell? Jack's stomach lurched as he pushed open the apartment door and saw Daniel tied to a chair in the middle of the living room with some goon holding a knife to his throat. This was supposed to be a social call - a quick check to see for himself Janet was right, that Daniel really was okay. So how come he'd walk in on some warped scene out of a silent movie with Daniel starring as the victim? Damn it. He should never have gone fishing. First Osiris, now this?
"Move slowly, Colonel O'Neill. Hands where I can see them."
As he complied, Jack's brain whirled, trying to dredge up a name and motivation for the knifeman while assessing Daniel's condition and figuring out a strategy for changing a very unacceptable set of circumstances.
Assessing Daniel's condition wasn't too difficult. He looked awful - far too pale, dark circles beneath dull eyes, hair and skin damp with sweat. From the slurred speech and the I-think-I've-drunk-too-much expression on his face, it wasn't hard to guess Daniel had been doped up with some sort of happy juice that was now making him feel distinctly... unhappy. That probably meant his assailant was after information...
Tanner. The name leapt to the front of Jack's memory. This was one of the goons who had been tracking Martin.
"Daniel..." he began slowly. "You okay?"
Tanner replied before Daniel had a chance to. "He's sick," Tanner said, holding Jack's gaze. "Dying in fact... but I'll help you save him in return for your assistance."
Jack felt his stomach knot. "What have you done to him?"
"First give me your word."
Never bargain with terrorists. It had been drummed into Jack throughout his career. Yet here was Daniel with a knife to his throat - worse, a definitely feverish Daniel whom Jack feared had been pumped full of some alien drug.
"Jack..." Daniel straightened up and focused on a point somewhere to Jack's right. He licked his lips and frowned, clearly having trouble getting his mouth to follow his thoughts. "He just... wants to find his men."
Jack's eyebrows shot up as he favoured Tanner a sharp look. "Your men deserted you?"
Tanner glared at him. "Two of them have been taken. I thought it was your organisation, but..." He jerked his head at Daniel. "I've discovered that isn't so."
"Daniel would've told you that without you drugging him," Jack accused. "We have better things to do then spend our time tracking down alien deserters."
"So he said. But somebody's taken them and how was I know to know he wasn't lying."
"Maybe from the innocent look on his face?" Jack retorted, his eyes back on Daniel. "Did he mention he's an archaeologist?"
"We discussed that," Tanner replied, but guilt flickered over his face. "Look, he says you can help me and since I'm sure you don't want him to die..."
"D...d...die?" Daniel's head had slumped forward onto his chest, but now he jerked upright, fresh fear registering on his face.
Jack met Daniel's gaze as best he could; it was kind of difficult given that Daniel's eyes were doing their best to work independent of each other. "Nobody's going to die here, Daniel. I'm getting you to Doc Fraiser pronto."
Tanner shook his head. "You don't have time to take him anywhere. Give me your word you'll help me and I'll tell you what to do to keep him alive."
Jack's eyes narrowed. "Why should I trust you?"
Tanner shrugged. "Maybe because Jackson would already be dead if that was my intention."
A shiver ran up Jack's spine at the reminder Daniel had clearly been in this man's hands for quite some time. However, Tanner had a point. And besides, Daniel was doing his best to give Jack what was no doubt meant to be a meaningful look. It burned Jack to see Daniel's communication skills reduced to an off-kilter expression. Maybe if he met Daniel halfway - okay, maybe more than halfway.
"Daniel? Should I trust him?"
Jack was rewarded by a definite nod from Daniel, although he wasn't sure it really made him feel any better. After all Daniel had claimed a hungry adolescent Unas was his friend. Mind you... he had been right about that. Jack sighed and turned his attention back to Tanner.
"Okay so Daniel seems to think I should trust you. But why would you trust me?"
"Same reason. Because Jackson said I could. And since he's incapable of lying right now..."
"Good point," Jack conceded. He considered a moment, still desperately unhappy about having very little choice, but knowing he couldn't just stand by and wait to see if Tanner's prediction about Daniel's condition was true. "Okay, you have my word."
Jack slowly lowered his hands as Tanner removed the knife from Daniel's neck and set to work on the ropes around his ankles. In two swift steps, Jack crossed the room and began to loosen the knots securing Daniel's wrists. He leaned forward, whispering in Daniel's ear.
"You're going to be okay, Daniel. You hear me? First chance I have to get you out of here..."
With obvious effort, Daniel twisted his head towards Jack's. "Help... him."
"Gave... your word."
Daniel's wrists were suddenly free. Jack winced at the sight of the raw skin where the bonds had been. Daniel had obviously done his best to get free. His gaze flickered towards Tanner, anger rising. He could take the alien now. Catch him off guard with a right hook, get the knife... As he took a step forward, Daniel's hand snagged the sleeve of his jacket. Blue eyes pinned him as Daniel used a brief moment of total lucidity to make it plain what he was expecting Jack to do. Damn it.
Carefully Jack untangled Daniel's fingers from his jacket, frowning as he felt the heat of his skin. "It's alright, Daniel. I gave my word."
In response Daniel merely closed his eyes apparently now happy to give up his battle with unconsciousness.
Tanner straightened up, eyeing Jack warily. "I just did what I had to do for my team, Colonel O'Neill. They're all I have left."
"Sure," Jack replied. "You took care of Marty real well."
Tanner shook his head sadly. "We did what we thought best. Would you have preferred it if we'd killed him?"
"No," Jack admitted.
"So tell me, colonel. If somebody snatched half your team on an alien world, wouldn't you do whatever it took to get them back?"
Jack winced as Tanner's words hit home. 'Nobody gets left behind.' That was his own philosophy. He could hardly blame Tanner for feeling the same way about his men, for doing whatever he felt he had to do. He blew out a long breath, trying to let go of the emotional reaction to the fact it was his team, that it was Daniel, who had been on the receiving end of Tanner's fight. Slowly he nodded.
"Yeah. I'd do whatever it took."
Relief flickered over Tanner's face and he turned his attention hurriedly towards Daniel. "We have to keep him cool."
In response Jack moved round to Daniel's front, crouched down and cupped his hand against Daniel's cheek. Crap. He was really burning up. "What the hell did you give him?"
"Nothing you'll have heard of. Trust me - as long as we keep his temperature down he'll be fine."
"Okay, okay." Jack's gaze swivelled around the apartment and fell on the glass of water. That was hardly going to keep Daniel cold. What they needed was an ice bath, but since Daniel didn't have a tub... The shower. That would have to do.
"Daniel." Jack tapped his cheek gently. "Wake up, Daniel. We have to get you into the shower."
Eyelids flickered, then opened. Daniel tilted his head on one side, then reached out with a shaky hand to touch Jack's face, his expression mystified.
"J...just checking." Daniel screwed up his face in heavy concentration. "Things keep... going kinda... weird." Suddenly he wrapped his fingers into Jack's shirt front and pulled the colonel close, whispering confidentially. "Drugged me."
"Yeah, Daniel, I know," Jack responded sympathetically, untangling Daniel's fingers for a second time. "We have to move you now, okay?"
Jack helped Daniel to his feet and, as the younger man swayed dangerously, slid an arm around his waist and guided him to the bathroom. Three was definitely a crowd in the small room.
Jack nodded Tanner towards the shower cubicle. "You wanna get the taps?"
"No," Tanner replied, hastily adding. "It won't help him if we all get wet."
Jack turned his attention back to Daniel. "Okay. Think you can undress?"
Daniel shot him a puzzled look.
"He's still drugged," Tanner commented matter of factly. "Just tell him to do it, and he'll do it."
Jack glared at him, not liking the idea that this alien had had a compliant Daniel Jackson under his control for goodness knows how long.
"What?" Tanner demanded.
"Nothing," Jack lied, making a mental note to talk to Janet about what to include on Daniel's next exam, which hopefully was going to take place very, very soon. He turned his attention back to Daniel. "You need to get in the shower, Daniel. So... ummm.... Strip, okay?" He hesitated for a fraction of a second and then quickly added. "Down to your boxers will do fine."
Another puzzled look and then Daniel began to fumble with the buttons on his shirt. He might be compliant, but Jack was pretty sure the formidable Jackson brain was doing its darned best to counteract the effects of the drug.
A minute later Daniel had managed to undo one button, more by luck than judgement.
"O'Neill. There isn't time for this, " Tanner hissed urgently.
Jack blew out a exasperated breath and moved closer to Daniel. "C'mon, buddy. Let me help you, here."
"Don't feel so good," Daniel confessed as Jack began to undo his shirt buttons. He leaned forward, resting his forehead on Jack's shoulder. "Tired..."
"You've got a fever," Jack explained patiently. "You'll feel better once you're in the shower and cooled down." Daniel's head was heavy on Jack's shoulder, the heat from his forehead radiating through the thin material of Jack's shirt. This was definitely not good.
One cuff button done, one to go. Jack blew out another breath as he finally managed to remove Daniel's sweat-soaked shirt. Uh-oh. Daniel had somehow managed to keep his head on Jack's shoulder throughout but now he was executing a slow, yet graceful collapse, his face sliding down Jack's chest. Jack's knees complained loudly as he dipped and caught Daniel under the arms before he hit the floor. He lowered the unconscious archaeologist to the cool tiles as gently as Daniel's weight would allow. Well at least Daniel passing out solved Jack's discomfort over stripping him, but his heightened concern over Daniel's well-being made up for that in spades.
Ten seconds later, Daniel's socks and sneakers were tossed into a corner. Jack then turned his attention to belt, button and fly, calling Daniel's name in a soft, insistent tone. Nothing. Daniel was definitely out cold. Except of course, he wasn't cold. He was hot - burning up beneath Jack's touch. The cotton of Daniel's pants was heavy with sweat, the damp fibres making the material cling tenaciously to his legs as Jack first pulled them down over Daniel's slender hips and then tugged them from the ankles.
"You could try and help," Jack snapped at Tanner.
As Tanner darted forward, Jack slid his arms around Daniel's chest.
"Gotta lay off the candy, Danny-boy," Jack complained as they began to manhandle Daniel into the shower. Suddenly Jack swore, his eyes on the showerhead. "Oh shit! I forgot Daniel has this old-fashioned fixed shower. I'm going to have to prop him up under it, and that means..." He kicked off his shoes and socks and then shucked off his jacket and shirt. "Daniel's not the only one who's going to cool off."
Reluctantly he turned on the cold water, gasping as it splashed over him. Almost instantly though his attention was back on the sprawled limbs of his unconscious team-mate. As quickly as he could, he hauled Daniel into a sitting position, supporting him from behind and trying to ensure as much of Daniel was under the powerful jet of water as possible without either risking drowning or getting a thorough soaking himself.
With the back of Daniel's head now resting against Jack's chest to keep his face out of the deluge, Jack could see the water bouncing along Daniel's collar bone. From there it ran in glistening ribbons down the smooth contours of Daniel's chest and the relaxed muscles of his abdomen, before pooling in the folds and creases of his dark green, stretch cotton boxers. It was almost hypnotic, relaxing even, except for the fact Jack could still feel the fire radiating from Daniel's back.
Five long minutes passed during which Daniel didn't so much as blink. Then, with a soft puff of expelled breath, consciousness began to return.
"Daniel?" Jack eased painfully forward, his muscles already cramped from the cold and the strain of bearing most of Daniel's weight. "You okay?"
Daniel's head rolled to the left, cracking Jack painfully in the jaw. As Jack pulled back with a curse, Daniel jerked awake. Unfortunately that meant his head moved directly into the full force of the icy water. With a guttural exclamation, Daniel rolled free of Jack's grasp, ending up on all fours, coughing and spluttering.
"Daniel!" Jack was on his feet, reaching towards his teammate.
Blue eyes stared up at him, no recognition in their expression, just feral fear.
"Daniel, it's me. Jack."
In response Daniel's head swivelled to the open shower door.
"No, Daniel, listen..."
Too late. Daniel pushed himself to his feet, clearly planning to make a run for it. Unfortunately for him, standing was about all his weakened body could managed. He managed to lurch one step forward, swaying dangerously, before Jack darted through the water and wrapped him in a bear hug.
"You have to stay here, Daniel. You have a fever."
Crap. Jack felt his stomach lurch as Daniel gave him another uncomprehending look. He had a very unpleasant feeling that Daniel had somehow managed to shake off the compliance-inducing effects of the drugs.
Sure enough Daniel shook his head, slowly at first and then with more force. "No."
"Yes," Jack replied with more vehemence than he intended. "You have to get under the shower."
This time Daniel backed up his refusal with an attempt to wiggle out of Jack's hold. Thank goodness for boxers. Jack tangled his fists in Daniel's rear waistband and pulled him closer. "Yes!" he repeated.
He side-stepped to his right, taking Daniel with him. Both men gasped as the icy water cascaded over them.
Tanner. For a moment Jack had forgotten the alien was there. "What?!" he demanded, as he struggled to maintain his control of 180lb of wet, slippery archaeologist . "I'm kinda busy here."
Tanner curled his body awkwardly around the shower door so he was in Jack's line of sight. He held up a hypodermic. "I have a sedative."
"No!" Jack's reply was immediate. "He's had enough of your damn drugs."
Colour crept up Tanner's neck. "He needs to be kept cool for at least an hour, maybe two. You'll never hold him that long."
"Two hours?" Jack winced as Daniel twisted in his grip, somehow managing to grind an elbow into Jack's ribs. Tanner was right. Daniel wasn't exactly running at full strength, but holding him under the shower was going to be exhausting if he kept up the eel impressions. Besides, the shower was damn cold - and even though he was probably helping to absorb some of Daniel's excess body heat, Jack was sure frostbite was beginning to take hold in his fingers. "Ommmphhhh!" Jack blew out a sharp breath as Daniel's efforts to get free resulted in a hip bone contacting rather forcibly with a particularly soft part of Jack's anatomy.
"Hit him then," Tanner suggested. "Knock him out."
"Don't tempt me," Jack replied through gritted teeth. "Daniel! Stop it!"
Daniel abruptly stopped. He stared at Jack and, just for a moment, Jack believed he saw a flicker of recognition. As quickly as it came, it was gone again. Whatever Daniel's fevered mind was relaying, he was clearly not getting the point that standing under a torrent of icy water was saving his life, not some new form of SGC endurance training.
Daniel ducked his head down and threw his weight to the left. Both men staggered towards the tiled wall before Jack regained his balanced and dragged them back under the water.
Tanner's voice penetrated through the noise of cascading water and Daniel's muttered curses. "What about restraining him? I have more rope."
Jack considered for the briefest of moments before rejecting the idea. No, the only way to do that would be to tie Daniel to the showerhead. That smacked far too much of out and out torture for Jack's comfort, even if it was to save Daniel's life. There had to be another way. He and Tanner could take turns holding Daniel. Only he had the feeling Tanner wasn't going to welcome that idea, and besides if Daniel did start to come back to his senses, Jack figured he was going to want to find himself in the grip of someone he trusted, not a strange alien who had tied him up, drugged him and no doubt, scared him half to death. What he would want was... Yes! That was the solution..
"Tanner! Get me my mobile."
"You want to make a phone call?"
"Just get me the damn phone!"
Shooting Jack a sour look, Tanner snatched up Jack's discarded jacket and quickly rummaged through the pockets. He held the phone up.
"My hands are a bit full," Jack snarled pointedly. "Dial the number." He barked out a set of figures. "Now hold it so I can speak."
Reluctantly Tanner moved into the shower cubicle and held the phone to Jack's ear.
"Teal'c? Yes! I need you over at Daniel's apartment. Yes, now. It's an emergency. What? No, don't bring Carter. I'll explain when you get here." Jack jerked his head away from the phone and pinned Tanner with a sharp look. "A big black guy is going to arrive in the next fifteen minutes. When he gets here send him through, okay?"
Tanner nodded. Cautiously he reached out one hand and felt Daniel's temperature. "This will work, O'Neill."
"It had better," Jack snarled.
They took it in ten minute shifts. While Teal'c held Daniel upright under the spray, Jack rubbed warmth back into his own frozen limbs. Then they'd swap over. Tanner at least proves himself useful by making endless cups of hot coffee.
Each time Jack stepped back under the icy flow he prayed this time Daniel would recognise him, that this time the constant battle to hold onto the near-naked archaeologist would stop.
It had been an hour and twenty minutes since Teal'c had arrived. Even in the grip of fever Daniel had realised struggling against Teal'c was a waste of time. No, Danny-boy kept his fight and his mean tricks for when he was in Jack's arms. If this was payback for Jack insisting on teaching him black ops moves Daniel was sure making the most of it. Jack didn't want to begin to think about the bruises Daniel had managed to inflict on him, while he had had to play the model of decorum, trying to avoid getting so much as a whisker burn on Daniel's bare skin.
Apparently this round wasn't going to be any better. Jack could feel Daniel trying to twist free, even though the archaeologist should have run out of energy a long time ago. Jack was certainly exhausted. Frozen to the core, despite the warm-ups and the coffee. An hour and twenty minutes. Surely it couldn't be much longer now. Tanner was sure Daniel's core temperature would start to regulate again any time now. All they had to do was sit it out.
He felt Daniel move again and braced himself for another round of tussling. Daniel's head pressed into his chest, the familiar scent of his hair filling Jack's nose, bringing back memories of other times when he'd battled for Daniel's life. Hadante - Daniel lying unconscious on the steps of the star-gate. His hair had been long then. Carter had leaned over him, stroking it in that maternal way of hers. The same way he had right after a half-crazed Daniel tried to blow his head off in a supply closet.
"You're going to be fine, Daniel." The words were automatic now, a litany of hope he'd repeated over and over, spilling from his mouth without taking up conscious thought.
"Jack?" Blood-shot blue eyes scanned his face.
"Daniel?" Jack suddenly realised Daniel had spoke his name. Twice. He looked down, hardly daring believe Daniel was returning his gaze with a lucid one of his own.
Daniel blinked warily, his gaze moving from Jack's face to the bare, hairy chest that was inches from his nose. He shivered. Craning his head around, the familiar frown line formed between his eyes. His mouth fell opened, then closed with audible click, only to open again.
"Ummm... Jack. What are we doing in the shower together?"
"How is he?" Jack emerged from Daniel's bedroom wearing a pair of pjs that were slightly too short in the leg. Somehow his clothes had become soaked while lying on the floor of Daniel's bathroom, and since most of Daniel's clothing was in the laundry basket...
"Daniel Jackson is well." Teal'c was sitting in an armchair looking immaculate and just a little bit smug. He was dressed in a black T-shirt and tan chinos - items of clothing that Jack noted didn't even look wrinkled never mind wet. Jack sighed and self-consciously tugged at the hem of the pj jacket. Royal blue really wasn't his colour.
The sight of Daniel quickly drove his fashion concerns away, however. Teal'c had taken over Daniel's care the moment Jack had alerted him to Daniel's lucidity. Within minutes, Daniel had been thoroughly dried with a large, soft towel Teal'c had apparently kept in reserve. Teal'c had then whisked him from the bathroom and installed him beneath a blanket on the sofa with a mug of hot chocolate, while Jack had been left hunting for a towel that wasn't already soaked. Fortunately Daniel was too weak to complain that the pjs Teal'c had retrieved for him were even shorter in the leg than Jack's, revealing not just bare toes and ankles, but a fair amount of calf. Then again, since they were his pjs and they looked pretty new, maybe that was the way he liked them.
Jack smiled ruefully at the domestic turn of his own thoughts. Keep this up and he could trade in his commission for a job as mother hen.
"I'm fine, Jack." Daniel met Jack's gaze with a grateful look. "Really. I'm just... fine."
The act didn't convince Jack, however. Daniel still looked anything but fine. For one thing the dark shadows beneath his eyes suggested he needed to sleep for a week. Add to that the pallor of his skin and the way he was gripping the mug of chocolate as though afraid he might drop it at any moment, and Jack would put money on Daniel not making it to his apartment door unaided.
"O'Neill." Tanner moved from the periphery of the room. "What about my men?"
Jack reluctantly turned his attention away from Daniel. "First we get Daniel to the SGC, then we find your men."
Tanner opened his mouth to speak, but Jack raised a finger for silence.
"I gave my word, Tanner. We'll help you find your men. But my first priority is still ensuring Daniel is going to be okay."
"Jack..." Daniel tone was one of protest.
"No, Daniel. I've already spoken to Fraiser. She wants you in the infirmary asap."
Daniel groaned audibly. "I've only just gotten out of there."
That elicited a sympathetic smile from Jack. "Yeah, well. Next time I go fishing, you're coming too. Trust me - nothing ever happens on a fishing trip."
"O'Neill is correct," Teal'c interjected, his tone as solemn as ever. "There is no danger on a fishing trip." He tilted his head. "Not even to the fish."
Strolling through the corridors of the SGC two days later, Jack was feeling relaxed for the first time since returning from his trip. Together with General Hammond, he'd spent most of the past forty-eight hours on the phone working through the smokescreen the NID had tried to throw up. The President's name had been used on more than one occasion to obtain information but eventually the joint offensive of O'Neill and Hammond had found a crack and pushed it wide enough to get what they wanted. The two aliens appeared mysteriously at the front gate of Cheyenne Mountain while the NID continued to maintain it knew nothing of their existence.
It was a partial victory Jack could live with. He'd just left Tanner and his men engaging in a reunion and considering the offer of homes in the land of the light. It wasn't exactly what they were used to in terms of technological advances, but they would be safe from the NID and it was a chance to start afresh. Jack had a feeling they would probably accept the offer.
Now he was heading to the infirmary to check in on Daniel. He'd dropped in two or three times each day and had been relieved to see Daniel recovering from his ordeal - it had been more than a bit scary under that shower for a while. Jack blew out a noisy breath, wondering what the SGC rumour mill would make of that particular incident. He would have to talk to Teal'c, make sure the Jaffa realised not everyone would view spending an hour hugging Daniel to their chest in a shower as an act of selfless heroism.
At least Daniel didn't remember much about what happened in his apartment once Tanner pumped that truth drug into him. A smile tugged at Jack's lips at the thought. Maybe there would be chance for a little payback from Daniel for half-scaring him to death....
Daniel was restless. Janet had promised to discharge him straight after lunch, but here it was, nearly two o'clock, and he was still stuck in this bed. His only consolation was she'd let him keep his pjs instead of insisting he wear one of the infirmary's dreadful gowns. As the door opened and Jack's face appeared, his mood brightened. If anyone could spring him from Janet's clutches it was Jack.
"So, I hear Janet's letting you go this afternoon." Jack covered the distance from the door to Daniel's in three athletic strides.
"That's the rumour," Daniel complained. "Seems she's disappeared for a long lunch, though." He sighed wearily. "I just hope she isn't off plotting more tests. You won't believe the things she's put me through over the past two days."
Jack grimaced sympathetically. "Well you have to admit you out did yourself this time. Going straight from being ribboned by Osiris to having Tanner pump you full of happy juice to get you to talk..."
Daniel felt a surge of guilt at the reminder. He didn't remember much of what happened in his apartment, but he'd guessed from the snippets of information Sam, Teal'c and Jack had fed him over the past few hours that he'd pretty much babbled on about anything and everything.
"Yeah, about that," he began, his face sheepish.
"Forget it," Jack said casually. "According to Doc Fraiser, that stuff would've turned even Teal'c into the perfect chatshow guest. Once it was in your veins there was nothing you could've done to stop yourself talking about the Stargate. And since Tanner isn't really one of the bad guys... and since he's given us his word that the shot he used on you was the last one he had... No harm done."
"Right." Daniel nodded slowly. Jack's words set his mind at rest about the security aspect, but he had a nagging feeling he hadn't just talked about the Stargate.
"Of course..." Jack said. "There is all that other stuff."
Uh-oh. Daniel's stomach lurched. "Other stuff?"
He shifted uncomfortably. Oh God. He just knew he'd said something he shouldn't have. What had it been? Informing Tanner that he considered Jack to be condescending? Or ignorant? Maybe a half-hour rant about never being shown any respect. He groaned silently at the thought, remembering another occasion when he'd done just that. He'd been high as a kite then too.
Jack was studying him closely, his expression unreadable. "Yeah... you know..."
"Yeah." Daniel winced. "I kinda hoped..."
"Tanner has a big mouth," Jack informed him cheerily. "But..."
"But?" Daniel felt a glimmer of hope.
Jack shrugged nonchalantly. "Well it's just that... you were drugged right?"
"Yes," Daniel agreed slowly, not sure where Jack was going with his comment.
"So... you weren't really responsible for what you said."
"Right," Daniel agreed quickly. If Jack was offering to let him off the hook with a bit of illogical thinking he wasn't about to jump up and swallow it back down.
"So all that stuff about me..." Jack raised his eyebrows.
"Drugged," Daniel said quickly.
"Drugged," Jack agreed.
Daniel blew out a sigh of relief. Jack, though, had apparently not finished with the conversation. He picked up Daniel's water glass and swirled its contents. "So that thing you said... "
"Thing?" Daniel asked, nervousness creeping back into his voice. Oh God. What *had* he said?
He looked hopefully at the door willing Janet to turn up. He wouldn't even complain if she announced she'd dreamt up some new embarrassing and highly invasive test to try out on him. Anything had to be better then being reeled in by Jack O'Neill. The guy might not catch any real fish but he sure knew how to play a line. Any minute now, Daniel knew he was going to get hit between the eyes.
"Let me think now." Jack rubbed at his chin as though trying to drag up some elusive piece of information. "Ah - I remember! Something about me being the one person you trusted."
"Really. I didn't mean to..." The apology was out of Daniel's mouth before Jack's words registered. His jaw dropped open. "What?"
Jack was now in full flow, a smug expression on his face. "I mean there I was - thinking you'd say I was condescending... ignorant... And all the time..."
As Daniel's scrambled thoughts finally managed to align themselves, he suddenly realised there was possibly something worse than badmouthing Jack while drugged. Jack would've forgiven him for saying whatever he'd said. But a Jack who had discovered Daniel had blurted out a whole load of soppy stuff about how much their friendship meant? Oh boy!
"I was drugged," Daniel said quickly.
Jack smirked. "With a truth drug, Daniel."
"Yes, but..." Daniel shook his head. Why was he worrying? So Jack knew how he felt. He could live with it. After all, it was the truth. Jack's friendship did mean a hell of a lot to him, despite the fact he hated to admit it because the man frequently drove him nuts. Daniel felt himself smile. Maybe Jack finding out might even be a good thing. Sam was always complaining about the way men spent all their time posturing to protect themselves emotionally instead of being honest about how they felt. Okay, so he could live with it... well at least he could if Jack took that ridiculous smirk off his face.
Daniel licked his lips and shot Jack a stern look. "You're going to be unbearable, aren't you?"
"Who me? Never. But next time you give me hell for calling you Spacemonkey...." Unbelievably Jack's smirk widened. "You know you had me with that one. I really thought you hated it and all the time..."
"Jack." Daniel protested, aware his face was burning. This was awful. All his inner most thoughts laid bare.
Jack's face suddenly took on a serious expression. "Don't worry, Daniel. I won't... you know...."
"Tease the hell out me?" Daniel offered.
"Right," Daniel said without conviction.
"After all," Jack continued. "The feeling is mutual."
Daniel blinked, not sure he'd heard right, but before he could make any comment Jack was heading towards the door. He paused in mid-stride, half-turning back. "Mind you... I need to look up something in the dictionary. Now what was it?" He turned away again, throwing the words over his shoulder. "Oh yes... callipygean."
"What?!" Daniel protested. Callipygean? That meant... "I never said that!"
Jack waved a hand as he moved into the corridor. "Later, Daniel."
"Jack, you come back here. Jack!"
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