Title: Archaeology (Table of Contents)
Disclaimer: Nothing you recognize is mine. I gain nothing of material value from this.
Chapter 13: Archaeologists
15 December 2000; Embarkation Room, SGC; 2300 hrs
Jack walked through the Stargate to find Daniel unconscious over Teal'c's knee, but he was stirring even as Dr. Fraiser clicked her way up the ramp. Stress from the trip through the wormhole, probably. That was okay. They could deal with that. "MRI first," Jack ordered.
Fraiser's head whipped up to him, as well as General Hammond's. "Sir? But wouldn't Teal'c--"
"There's no naquadah in the Goa'uld on that planet," Jack said, forcing himself to stand by and watch other people take care of Daniel. "No one knew they were there."
"Let go," Daniel was saying, squirming his way out of Teal'c's grasp. "No, let me go--"
"Kal shak, chal'ti," Teal'c said, loading him onto a gurney with the help of Fraiser and an orderly.
"Na nay," he insisted as someone tried to strap him in to make him stop struggling. "Jack!"
"Stop fighting and no one'll tie you up again, Daniel," Jack said sharply, because he didn't want to see Daniel tied up anymore, either. "That's an order--lie still. I'll be right there."
To his relief, Daniel acquiesced and froze, lying unnaturally still as Dr. Fraiser gave them all another confused look and hurried off to the infirmary behind the gurney.
"What happened, Colonel?" Hammond said, looking at the four of them left standing on the ramp. "Where's everyone else?"
Jack jerked a thumb toward Griff. "The rest of SG-2 is still searching for Captain Hatley's"--body, Jack almost said. "Still searching for Hatley, and they're scheduled to return within twenty hours from now. We have confirmation that the rest of SG-11 is dead." Something on the ramp caught his eye, and he bent to pick up the dusty journal that Daniel must have dropped.
Hammond stared at the journal, too. He stood very still for a long moment, then said evenly, "Captain Griff, do you need help to get to the infirmary?"
"No, sir," Griff said quietly.
"You're dismissed. SG-1, see me in my office."
"General," Jack said tightly as Griff walked past them, "Daniel's going to--"
"Come with me, Colonel," Hammond repeated. "Major Carter, Teal'c, you can go and see to Mr. Jackson if you'd like."
"Daniel's not a Goa'uld," Fraiser said immediately when Jack walked in, one agonizing debriefing later.
"Didn't think so," Jack said, but he was relieved anyway. "Is he okay?"
"Physically?" she said, looking at Daniel, freshly clean and damp and asleep under a pile of blankets. "Exhaustion, scrapes and bruises, dehydration... Much better than I expected, frankly. But I’m concerned about his mental state."
"He's just worn out, I think," Jack said, because Daniel was always okay in the end, but that was when Dr. Rothman had been alive to yell at them for making Daniel not-okay in the first place. And this time there was that other part... "Doc, he says the Unas was his friend. Gave it a name and everything. Wouldn't let us shoot it."
She stared up at him. "That would make things more complicated," she said slowly. "If... Do you think it's some misplaced sense of--"
"I don't know," Jack admitted. If that wasn't an abusive friendship, he didn't know what was, but then, the Unas had defended Daniel, too, both of them standing together against the other Unas and SG-1. "Frankly, I think Daniel and the Unas both got pretty confused about it."
"I can imagine," she said.
"Really?" Jack said.
"That two people might empathize with each other and form a bond over the course of a period of time spent together like that, no matter how twisted it seems to us?" she said. "It's happened before to others out of interdependence or self-defense."
"Only one of them was a person this time." Jack knew all he wanted about the psychology of people who got snatched by an enemy, but it should be different when one of them had horns.
"Maybe," she said. "But I doubt Daniel thought of it that way. He's gotten used to adapting to alien situations and accepting alien conventions for survival, whether it was at the SGC or with an Unas. Adapting is essentially what his life has been for the last years."
"The SGC never tied him up and hit him when he broke a rule," Jack snapped.
Fraiser winced slightly but responded, "If the Unas did, then you should keep that in mind."
He sighed. "Right."
"Colonel..." She hesitated, then said, "Sam told me about Major Hawkins' team."
Jack nodded tensely, watching Teal'c and Carter next to Daniel. Teal'c was still on watch, and he would be until someone told him to stand down. Carter was leaning her elbows on the bed next to Daniel, looking tired enough to fall asleep herself and disturbed enough about everything that Jack knew she'd probably spend tonight in her lab instead. "SG-2 got back about an hour after we did," he said. "They found"--most of--"Captain Hatley. He's dead, too."
When he looked back down at her, he realized she was trying hard not to cry.
"Janet. I'm sorry," he said, setting a hand on her shoulder.
That woke her up enough to say, "Don't be, sir. It certainly wasn't your fault." She held her place just long enough that it didn't seem impolite when she backed up a step and let his hand fall away.
He wanted to tell her, all of a sudden, that it was his fault, in more ways than one. He couldn't put that on his team, not right now, but Janet would understand.
But before he could start to say it, she shook her head firmly. "No, Jack," she scolded, like he was twelve, or maybe a dog that insisted on disobeying her. "It's not your fault."
"Yeah," he said, despite the part of him that knew she was wrong. His actions aside, Rothman and Hawkins had been under his command at the time. It didn't matter who'd pulled the trigger.
And maybe Hawkins had been a lost cause--maybe--but Rothman would probably have lived if he hadn't gone with them. No one knew for sure when he'd been Goa'ulded, but it was most likely during that night, when they'd taken separate watches by the river. Jack was the one who'd let him come along and let him get into that situation.
"How's Griff?" he asked when he didn't see the man in the infirmary.
"Already walked out," she told him. "He'll be fine, too."
"And Daniel? How long's he going to be in here?"
"I...could release him with you, sir, if he'll sleep better at home," she said. "But he'll be very sore for a while, and there's always a worry about infection from scrapes or from swallowing dirty water. I'd prefer to keep him on base, at least for a day or two."
Jack nodded. The house was catching up to the base in terms of which Daniel considered 'home,' but when there was still some medical question, and if Daniel might not want to be around his mentor's killer all that much, base was probably best. "We'll stay here, then," he said.
He made his way to the bedside and allowed himself to look at Daniel for a moment, just long enough for a visual check and to make sure he seemed all right. He looked more all right unconscious than he did awake. Jack tapped Carter on the shoulder to pull her aside.
"You have Daniel's tape recorder?" he said quietly.
"Yes, sir," she said, pulling it out of her pocket. "I haven't listened to most of it yet."
"I'm going to see if there's anything on it that we need to know. Can you stay here?"
She glanced back and Teal'c and Daniel. "Yes, sir. We'll stay."
16 December 2000; Archaeology Office, SGC; 0100 hrs
"...Please don't kill him," Daniel's voice said. "He has a sense of humor. It's kind of weird, though. I'm starting to ramble. I'll leave this here. Maybe you'll find it. Um. That's it."
Jack stared at the tape for a moment. When it was clear nothing more was coming out, he stopped it.
"I don't want to count the number of times I was sure we'd lost him," General Hammond's voice said, making Jack turn to see him in the back door to the office. "As you were," he added.
"You mean Daniel, sir?" Jack said, settling back into Daniel's chair.
"I mean Daniel," Hammond said. "The boy's had a lot of close calls, and I worry about that. Somehow, it rarely occurred to me to worry the same way about Dr. Rothman."
"Dr. Rothman wasn't usually in those kinds of situations," Jack said. "It was a different ball game with him." Except this time. This time, it had been exactly the same, and Rothman hadn't had the kind of lucky break that had saved Daniel so many times.
Hammond closed the door and stepped toward Rothman's desk, still looking at the tape in Jack's hand. "He was saying 'goodbye.'"
Jack felt the outline of the buttons against his skin. "Yes, sir, I guess he was."
And that made Jack angrier than anything else. They'd spent years teaching Daniel to fight without even realizing at first that they were doing it. Daniel fought for everything, even if it meant fighting them; how dare he have accepted that an Unas was going to kill him for some ritual mumbo-jumbo, and if he'd resigned himself to that fate, what the hell was wrong with him that he'd been its friend, anyway?
People thought strange things when it was a matter of life and death or pain at the hands of a captor, and Jack knew that. He just couldn't wrap his head around the fact that the same Daniel who could lie while being interrogated in an electrified cage and watching his teammates get shot could have folded in a day to this particular captor. Had he tried so hard to get under the Unas's scaly skin that he'd let the Unas get under his, too?
"How is he?" Hammond asked.
"I don't know," Jack said honestly.
Hammond nodded. "It's been less than two hours," he said, "and you may have noticed coming down the corridor... Barely anyone's still at work at this hour, and already, rumors are starting to filter into the Social Sciences department, and people are getting worried. No one really knows the whole story yet."
"There's no chain of command, sir? Is someone...taking over leadership?"
"That's what I need to ask you about," Hammond said. "Officially, Dr. Rothman never had a...second-in-command, if you will. But a lot of people, including myself and yourself, have considered his deputy in practice to be--"
"Daniel," Jack finished, already shaking his head. "General...look, no offense to Daniel, but I don't think he can take over everything. Or should."
"And I wouldn't want him to," the general agreed. "At the same time, he's the one who has shared Dr. Rothman's office--literally and figuratively--from the inception of the SGC."
"So...what are you saying, sir?" Jack said warily.
General Hammond sighed, looking at the desk for a moment as if to collect himself. "It'll make the transition easier if Mr. Jackson can help us pull things together. For one, I don't know whom I should look to for advice. That's the kind of thing that I know Mr. Jackson could tell me from inside this department."
"You're telling me," Jack said, not believing it, "that Daniel and Dr. Rothman were the only two scientists here you knew?"
"I'm telling you," Hammond said, "that not everyone here, however impressive his or her résumé, really knows what's out there. Mr. Jackson knows this department, and he knows this war; I've come to trust his judgment in these matters. You have an idea of how he is, and I need to know how much I--we--can expect to depend on him right now."
Jack sat back. "I think...if you asked, he'd do whatever you needed. But I'd rather you didn't ask too much."
Hammond gave him a tired look that told him just how unhelpful that was.
"When Daniel wakes up," Jack clarified, "if he's less disoriented, we'll ask him who can do Dr. Rothman's job and what things need to be taken care of in the short term. And then I'm going to ask you to lay off him for a while, sir. He needs a break, and this isn't his responsibility."
"All right," Hammond agreed. "Thank you."
Jack set the tape back down on Daniel's desk and left it there. Daniel complained sometimes that the other linguists' ears weren't sharp enough, and that was when the speech was human; he'd want to write the report on Unas language himself.
"I'm sorry, General," he blurted before the general could leave.
Hammond stopped in the doorway, took a breath, and turned back around. "Mistakes were made by a lot of people, and there were circumstances beyond anyone's knowledge or control. It's not your fault. You know that."
"Yes, sir," Jack said.
"Jack?" Hammond said. "I need you here now."
Jack nodded and stood up. "Yeah. I'm here."
16 December 2000; Infirmary, SGC; 0700 hrs
Daniel started awake the next morning, gasping, his eyes wide and staring at the ceiling.
"Nightmare?" Jack asked.
Daniel's head whipped around and, to Jack's relief, he relaxed slightly. "Yes," he said hoarsely, sounding puzzled. "Maybe. I saw my parents. I haven't... It's been..." He stopped.
Jack raised his eyebrows. "You wanna talk about it?"
"No." Daniel looked around the infirmary, then pulled an arm out of his blankets to see the bandage that covered his wrist. He made a fist and opened it. "I don't suppose," he said, touching the bandage on his cheek, "that P3X-888 was just a dream, too?"
"No," Jack said, pouring a cup of water as Daniel grimaced and sat up very carefully. "Here."
It took an extra moment, but finally Daniel accepted it, holding it awkwardly in two lightly bandaged hands. After a few cautious sips, he said, "I'm sorry I scared you yesterday. I couldn't get out of that...frame of mind. I don't even know--"
"S'okay," Jack said as lightly as he could. "But no more growling at me. We like you human." Daniel shivered. "Do you need to tell me what was going on?"
Not meeting his gaze, Daniel said, "It's just... If I followed the rules, and spoke to Chaka so he understood, he was nicer--"
"And otherwise he punished you?" Jack finished stiffly.
Daniel glanced up. "It wasn't... Not the way you're thinking. I told you, there were...misunderstandings. He was doing what seemed logical to him at the time."
Jack thought of the bruises that littered Daniel's chest and back. "Like tying you up, dragging you through a forest, hitting you when--"
"He saved my life!" Daniel said, his expression distressed but veering toward anger to cover it. "The rest... I did stupid things. Showing aggression, or trying to run from someone faster than I am, or fighting for control over a rope with someone stronger... Things that any observer with a brain, especially someone who's experienced at communication with foreign peoples, should have known better than--"
"Are you listening to yourself?" Jack said. "Do you...at least understand that what the Unas did to you was wrong?"
"But it wasn't," Daniel said earnestly. "That's just it. He had...incomplete information at the time, that's all. It was a misunderstanding."
"I can't believe..." Jack said, and forced himself to keep it calm. "Daniel. You're still defending him, even now?"
"Chaka wouldn't hurt me, not anymore," Daniel said, looking completely confident of that in a way that Jack found disturbing, given his last couple of days. But the Unas had said Daniel's name on the recording, so there was no pretending they'd still been confused about sentience at that point, and Daniel's voice on the recording had been terrified.
Jack rubbed a hand over his face, not sure how to answer, and when he looked up, Daniel's brief spark of passion had disappeared and faded into a blank stare at the cup he was still holding in his hand. "Why don't we talk about this later," Jack said.
To his relief, Daniel nodded, clearly not ready to tackle a full-blown debate right now, but then he asked hesitantly, "So...SG-11--"
"Yeah," Jack said.
"And Captain Hatley--"
"Yeah. They found him. I'm sorry."
Daniel nodded again, slumping. "Jack..." he started, then stopped, looking down and biting his lip.
"It's not your fault," Jack said, knowing what he was going to say. "You survived. That's all."
For a moment, he thought that was going to send Daniel over the edge. Jack let him sit and stare at his plastic cup in silence until he'd composed himself enough to say, "People talk about survivor's guilt when the guilt is unjustified. If it's not, then it's just..." He stopped again.
"You tell me one thing you did wrong," Jack said. "Tell me one thing you could've done that would have made the difference between dead and alive. If you can't, then it's not your fault."
"There was nothing I could do," Daniel said.
"Yes," Jack said firmly. "That's right."
He clenched a hand around his cup of water. "No one gets left behind," he recited. "They served and gave their lives with honor. There was nothing I could do. They knew the risks..."
Jack took the cup away from him. "I know it doesn't help," he said quietly. "I wish it did."
"Robert wouldn't have joined the search if he hadn't felt responsible for me. He said I'm always trying to get myself killed."
"Dr. Rothman joined the search because he wanted to find his friend and because I let him," Jack said. "You would've done exactly the same for him."
"You wouldn't have let me," Daniel whispered.
Jack knew that was the closest he'd come to saying, 'how could you let him die.'
"No, I--I'm sorry," Daniel said. "I don't mean... Thank you for...ending it before he k...before he killed someone."
He couldn't find a good way to answer that, so he moved on instead. "I know it's very soon," he said, "but we need to ask you a few things."
"I recorded..." Daniel started, then trailed off. "I guess the tape didn't make much sense."
"The word 'hysterical' comes to mind," Jack agreed. Daniel raised his eyebrows but didn't argue the sentiment. "But it's not about the Unas thing, exactly."
"Then wh--oh. We need a department head," Daniel guessed. "What day is it? People must be confused upstairs."
"It's Saturday, and early, so don't worry; not too many people are here right now. The general wants your opinion on how things should go--just point us in the right direction."
There was a short hesitation, and then Daniel said, "Figure out where to put things--finished assignments to be filed or distributed to some team, unassigned projects, requests for anything from advice to equipment... Everything usually goes in designated places on our desks, and we'd sort them from there. People are going to feel..." He paused. "Some will feel too awkward to keep following routine and others will do it anyway by habit, but that means no one knows where to put things, and before long we'll start losing files."
"O...kay," Jack said, thinking that sounded like a tiny thing, and that it was the kind of tiny thing that could easily muck up the works. This was going to be more complicated than he'd thought. "So how does this work? Who decides who has to do a job if someone doesn't want to do it?"
Daniel made a face. "Robert and I assign things, depending on who's on base; if neither is, people work out things for themselves and put aside the less urgent things for his approval. There aren't usually many arguments about too much work or doing things wrong, but if there are...people can veto my decisions if they disagree, but Robert can veto them, so no one complains about having to defer to me. Robert could," he amended. "Not...'can.'"
"Okay," Jack said again.
"Tell people to leave things in the same places," Daniel said, thinking. "I'll keep those organized. And I'll help with redoing the filing system for whoever takes over--"
"Someone else can do things like filing stuff," Jack said. "Don't worry about it."
"Maybe, if someone else could find things on the shelves," Daniel countered.
Jack considered the chaotic organization that he, at least, had never been able to understand, and conceded, "Okay. You'll probably have to help with that."
"But not everyone would want me to have ultimate authority, and there are things I don't know how to do: equipment, personnel, academic expertise in certain areas...oh. Training lessons and briefings...those are distributed around the department, anyway, depending on specialty, but Robert always did the first cultural briefing for new recruits. I could do it, but new personnel don't take me seriously at first. It's why I don't do them very often now."
"But you know who would be able to do all of that," Jack said, except he knew that there were only a few who could boast of as many diverse experiences as Daniel. It was time spent at the SGC and in the field, not age or rank or degree, that mattered there. "Someone you can play right-hand man to, like usual--who looks respectable on paper but will listen to your advice."
"Of the civilians..."
"There are a bunch of military personnel there. It doesn't have to be a--"
"It should be a civilian," Daniel said firmly. "We're a research department, Jack. It should be someone whose first priority will be research, and not just for military benefit."
"And we're in the middle of a war," Jack reminded him. "Not many of our civilians have seen that face-to-face aside from...well, you and one or two others."
Daniel looked down at the blankets still covering his legs. "I'm not going to help you let our department get eaten up by the military. Robert and I built that department, and I won't... It's been a civilian position, and it should remain that way. The field teams draw specialists from our department, not the other way around."
Jack wasn't always happy about how deeply Daniel hated the Goa'uld. He supposed it was a good thing now, since Daniel would at least recommend someone who'd care enough about that, too. "Maybe you're right. What about field personnel--like Dr. Balinsky?"
"He's still getting used to SG-13; too busy. And he's, uh..." Daniel frowned at his hands, then glanced up uncertainly. "He's too timid around people to make them listen to him."
"If you say so," Jack said. "You have someone in mind?"
"Sam can pick locks, right?" Daniel said abruptly.
Jack frowned. "Uh...yeah. She's not a civilian social scientist, though."
Daniel blinked, then shook his head. "Sorry. I'm just...I don't know where Robert kept the keys to his desk, and I have a spare set in my desk, but...I left my keys to my desk in my pack, which I left on '888. We'll need to be able to get in there at some point."
Jack waited. When it didn't look like Daniel was going to start talking business again, he said, "Daniel. We can take care of that. That's easy. But give me a name--even if it's just temporary, until we get things settled again--and I'll let you rest."
"Dr. Reeve," Daniel said, a moment later. "Rick--Richard Reeve. He, Nyan, Cameron, and Captain Lithell are among the few I'd call primarily archaeologists and not translators or some other kind of social anthropologist."
"I...don't think I've ever heard of Dr. Reeve," Jack said.
"Well, you don't deal with our department much. You probably wouldn't like him, anyway."
"Is that supposed to be a good thing?"
"He's an experienced classical archaeologist, he's Tau'ri, he knows the academic world, he...he's organized, he's on base all day every day because he doesn't go into the field..."
"That could be a plus," Jack admitted. Neither of them pointed out aloud that that meant the man was less likely to get killed on the job.
Leaning back gingerly, Daniel said, "He might not want the position, but for now, all he'd have to do is make things official, sign off on assignments, say 'no' when someone makes a mistake... It's good enough to keep things in order until we adjust to--until we adjust. I can take care of most day-to-day things for now, just like I did before."
"Then I'll tell the general," Jack said, making a mental note. "We'll deal with it from here."
"We'll deal," Daniel echoed, though he didn't look completely convinced. He started picking at a bandage, then winced and stopped. "Is that it? I haven't been debriefed--"
"That's it for now. You should get some more sleep, and the general and I'll debrief you later." He hesitated, then started, "You need anything? Are you in pain?"
"I'm fine," Daniel lied.
Jack eyed the raw-looking skin of Daniel's palms and the bruises visible at the edge of Daniel's scrub top, knowing it looked worse under there. "Right," he said. "Look, Dr. Fraiser says you can have medication--you're probably pretty sore right now. You're not going to get any rest if you're uncomfortable."
"I'm fine," Daniel repeated, gritting his teeth.
"You know," Jack said carefully, watching him rub the back of his neck, "Dr. Rothman wouldn't have wanted to see you in--"
"Don't you dare," Daniel hissed, looking up. "Please. Don't."
"All right," Jack said, reminding himself that the welts and bruises wouldn't kill, even if Daniel was being stubborn about meds at the moment. "Do you--"
"What do we tell them?" Daniel said, looking back down at the sheets. "We have to tell their families some story, don't we?"
Symbiotes aside, explaining the injuries on SG-11, especially with an archaeologist, would have been hard.
"General Hammond sent someone to Dr. Rothman's family," Jack told him. "Someone's probably at their door right about now. The rest of SG-11's families live near here, and they were told last night that we couldn't recover the bodies; the environment was discovered to be unsafe. All details--location, mission, cause of death--are classified." Daniel squeezed his eyes shut. "Daniel, you know we can't--"
"I know. I know. Are there going to be memorial services?"
Jack nodded. "If their families don't request something--and they probably will--we'll hold the service on base. Major Hawkins' service will be tomorrow; I don't know about the others', but I'll talk to the general and find out if you want. You know how it goes."
"We've never had a civilian die in the field before," Daniel said, fists clenching on the sheets. "Not like that. Aren't the customs different for...for Robert?"
"Well...yeah," Jack said. "I mean...it depends on whether Ro--Dr. Rothman left his preferences in a will, and on the preferences of his family. But Daniel, you've never gone to a funeral off-base--you really don't have to."
"I should. Shouldn't I? I was with them for weeks, and...and they were my team for a while."
Jack grimaced but had to point out, "What would you say if someone asked who you were? If you say you'd been with them for weeks when they died, they'll start wondering why and asking questions." Daniel pulled his legs toward his chest and dropped his head on top. Jack suppressed a sigh and set a hand on Daniel's head. "Hey. You're not forbidden from going--unless the doctor says so--and no one would probably notice you, but if they did...I don't think you'd want to have to give some lie as a cover story right now, that's all. Would you?"
"No," Daniel said into his knees.
"It's okay," Jack said. "I know you want to pay your respects, but you don't have to go to a ceremony do that. If you really want to, we'll work something out."
"I had a real job with Robert that wasn't secret. His funeral would probably be tomorrow--I don't even have to be here at work then." He shifted his head, his hair brushing against Jack's hand. "I shared an office with him, Jack. He gave me a..." He stopped.
Jack found a patch of shoulder that didn't have a bruise on it and squeezed gently. "We'll see," he finally said. "All right? That's all I can tell you now. I don't know how it'll be done, I don't know if Dr. Fraiser will be okay with you traveling that soon--"
"I'm fine," Daniel lied again. "I'll get up as soon as Janet comes and signs me out."
Sighing, Jack said, "All right. Well, we'll see. Do you want me to stay with you?" Daniel shook his head. "Are you--"
"Can you give me a minute, please?"
Jack stood up, patting his shoulder one more time. "Yeah. I'll tell the doctor to wait a bit and then come in. And I'm here all day--Teal'c and Sam, too. We'll check on you."
"Interesting choice," General Hammond said when Jack reported to him later. "Dr. Reeve."
"Interesting as in...good or bad, sir?" Jack said.
Hammond pursed his lips. "The man keeps his head down. He came in a year ago with excellent credentials but isn't someone I'd have fingered as a leader of any sort."
"I didn't even know he worked here, to be honest."
"That's what I mean. But with his academic record and maybe even because he's so unaggressive, I doubt anyone will complain about his taking over Dr. Rothman's position."
"It's who Daniel suggested," Jack said, shrugging. "From what I understand, everyone works pretty independently. They just need someone to keep it all organized--file their requisitions for them and write up personnel evaluations and whatnot."
"That's true, more or less," Hammond said. He raised his eyebrows at Jack. "And...Dr. Reeve holds Mr. Jackson's work in high regard. In fact, he's probably one of the highest ranked civilian researchers who takes Mr. Jackson and his advice most seriously, degrees or no."
Jack thought about that for a moment and remembered what Daniel had said about taking care of the everyday things himself. Even now, Jack had stuck his head into the archaeology office and found Daniel already changed into his BDUs and sifting through piles of unfiled reports. "I don't think this is some puppet-master scheme of Daniel's to take over."
"I'm sure it's not, or at least not consciously," the general agreed. "I'm also sure there's a part of him that would like things to stay the way they have been--a civilian instead of an airman, an archaeologist specializing in artifact analysis instead of one of our many language analysts... As he said, he helped Dr. Rothman build and run that department."
"I'm okay with that, sir," Jack pointed out. "I'd rather have someone in charge who'll listen to field personnel and not just people with letters after their names. What bothers me is whether the field personnel will listen to an academic who's never been through the 'gate."
Hammond nodded. "There are personnel with...different degrees of involvement in the field among the cultural specialists. Commanders who'd rather not listen to a pure academic might listen to someone with experience like Mr. Jackson, and those who won't take his advice will listen to others who will. It's always been like that, Colonel; you've just always had Mr. Jackson and Dr. Rothman as a buffer between your team and the rest of the department."
"If you say so, sir," Jack said. "Anyway. After that, it's just the issue of...well, sorting out Dr. Rothman's passwords and locked files, his possessions..."
"I understand," Hammond said, and stood. "Thank you, Colonel. I'll take it from here. Keep an eye on our boy for me."
16 December 2000; Teal'c's Quarters, SGC; 2000 hrs
When Teal'c entered his quarters, on the day after they had returned from P3X-888, Daniel Jackson was waiting for him. "It was unlocked," the boy said, his arms stiff and tense at his sides. "I hope you don't mind."
"You are always welcome here," Teal'c assured him, despite suspecting that he had come here to hide from O'Neill's scrutiny. Teal'c let the door fall closed again and carefully stepped around Daniel Jackson, studying him.
"Are you busy?"
"I am not," Teal'c said.
Daniel Jackson swallowed and glanced around the room. "Will you come and train with me?"
Teal'c raised his eyebrow. "I will not," he said. He could see that this answer surprised Daniel Jackson, who was usually the one between them who needed to be dragged away from his books and to the gymnasium. "You are not sufficiently recovered; you should be sleeping."
"But I...I'd be careful," Daniel Jackson said.
"I do not believe you are currently capable of restraining yourself to avoid further injury," Teal'c said.
"I wasn't that badly hurt. Please?"
"No," Teal'c said more firmly. Daniel Jackson was grieving now, and angry, and the flesh beneath his clothes still bore too many bruises for Teal'c to be able to control him without hurting him. "Do you wish to fight or to fight me?"
Daniel Jackson bit his lip and looked at the floor. "I want...to fight the Goa'uld, Teal'c. I want to kill every...single...one."
"Unless you wish to begin with me," Teal'c said, placing a hand on his symbiote pouch, "you will not accomplish that today."
He watched as Daniel Jackson's head rose, just enough to stare at the place where Teal'c's symbiote rested. "There's a Goa'uld in you," he said, quietly, his eyes bright with tears that he had not yet shed for fallen friends. "One day, it'll try to take a host. Sometimes I want to kill it."
Teal'c understood. Sometimes, he wished the same--this was the depth of hatred that could either harden a boy into a warrior or crush him, and all Teal'c could do was make certain that it strengthened Daniel Jackson instead of destroying him. "Is that what you truly wish?" he said, knowing what the answer would be.
"No," Daniel Jackson said dully. He sat gracelessly. "I just. I'm sorry."
"For what?" Teal'c said.
"For...for hating part of you. For Robert. For...I don't know. I'm sorry."
"As am I," Teal'c said, lowering himself slowly to a crouch. He took Daniel Jackson's bandaged hand and held it against his midsection, where he knew his friend could feel the symbiote's slight movements. "When this symbiote matures and is prepared to take a host, I will kill it. Until that day, I will use its strength to defeat others of its own kind. It will never take a host."
"If I'm taken by a Goa'uld," Daniel Jackson said, looking up intently, "you have to kill me."
Teal'c looked for any sign of insincerity and could not find it. "If you are taken," he countered, "we will kill the Goa'uld and save you." As we were unable to do for Dr. Rothman, he thought.
Daniel Jackson shook his head, his hand pressing against Teal'c's abdomen. "Sometimes you can't help it. If you can't--if... You can't let me kill someone. Or do something horrible. You have to do it, Teal'c. Promise me."
"You will not be taken by a Goa'uld during my watch," Teal'c said. "But you have my word that I would never allow you to endure such a thing." He released Daniel Jackson's hand and moved back, so they were sitting before one another on the floor. "And neither would O'Neill or Major Carter allow it."
"I couldn't ask them that," Daniel Jackson said.
"Then I am honored by your trust," Teal'c said carefully, pledging that he would never see his friend in such a position.
"I lost my..." Daniel Jackson said, subdued, touching his wrist where he had always before worn his brother's leather band alongside Teal'c's, replaced now with bandages. "Jack must have cut them off with the--with Chaka's rope."
Teal'c watched his fingers' nervous movements. "You have come very far. Do you still require strips of leather to remember why we fight?"
His expression seemed to crumple, and then hardened again. "No. I remember why we fight."
"And you remember what it is that we hope to save?"
"Sometimes," Daniel Jackson said. "Sometimes it's easy to forget."
"Tomorrow, you plan to attend Dr. Rothman's memorial service," Teal'c said. He waited for Daniel Jackson to nod. "Those who mourn him do not know what the Goa'uld can do. It is that which we hope to save."
"That's ignorance," Daniel Jackson snapped. "He died because he wanted to save me, and they'll never know. It was... It's not a fair trade. Robert wasn't supposed to die."
"But you were?" Teal'c said.
"Ye--no," Daniel Jackson said. "But that's part of my job, to be ready to give my life if the mission calls for it. His job was to learn things to help other people not die. He wasn't supposed to be there."
"Dr. Rothman was a courageous man," Teal'c countered, "and he was a true friend to you. Do not diminish his sacrifice, and do not diminish what you yourself suffered."
Daniel Jackson folded his legs under himself and rested his elbows on his knees.
Teal'c reached forward to pull his chin up and inspect the cut on his cheek. It was not deep or long; it would heal soon. What angered Teal'c was that it was not a mark received by any accident. Daniel Jackson had not spoken specifically of it, but it was clear that it had been deliberate, caused by something like a knife or a sharpened point. This was not the act of a friend, as Daniel Jackson had claimed; it was the act of someone who meant to cause fear--to look into a prisoner's eyes and see terror and pain and the understanding that he was helpless
"Jack thinks I'm crazy," Daniel Jackson said, not moving until Teal'c released him, and then he sat back, slouching in a posture that would have made Teal'c scold him at another time. "About Chaka, I mean."
"You have spoken to O'Neill of this?"
"He doesn't want to listen."
"Perhaps," Teal'c said, "you must explain it fully so that he understands your meaning."
Daniel Jackson frowned, then somehow sagged even more into himself. "You don't believe me, either."
Teal'c could not completely deny the accusation. "I do not understand how you can dismiss what the Unas did."
"He didn't understand, Teal'c," Daniel Jackson said earnestly. "If he'd captured a...some other wild animal and taken it to be eaten, you wouldn't think it wrong of him, would you? How is that any different?"
"You are not a wild animal, Daniel Jackson. Nor was Sergeant Loder when he was killed."
This made him pause, but only for a moment. "I know, but how was Chaka to know there was any difference? He'd never seen humans before, and he changed once he understood I could...talk to him and, and...do things that were helpful. The Unas were the first victims of Goa'uld oppression, Teal'c. We should go back and meet them, and they could be our allies--"
"I believe we should speak of this at another time," Teal'c said, not quite managing to keep his voice calm.
"Why?" Daniel Jackson challenged.
"Because I do not trust myself now to restrain my anger," Teal'c snapped. You did not see yourself when we first found you, he wished to say. Daniel Jackson narrowed his eyes. "You are in pain even now. The Unas did that to you."
"Bruises," Daniel Jackson protested. "That's all! It's not a big deal--"
"Do not continue," Teal'c ordered darkly.
"You hurt me worse. In the beginning. You don't think that hurt more than what Chaka did?" he continued nonetheless, knowing that those were the words to silence Teal'c. "But then I understood, and you understood, and it was different. And now I would trust you with my soul."
Daniel Jackson knew how to strike hard in anger, but he did so to Teal'c only when he was hurt and could not entirely forget that Teal'c came from the Goa'uld. Teal'c understood and did not strike back in answer, as he could have done and had done before. He stared at Daniel Jackson's hand, glimpsing reddened skin at the edge of white bandage; he wondered if that had been caused by the rope or by being dragged too many times to the ground. "Do you not know me better than a monster that held you captive for a day?" Teal'c said quietly.
Daniel Jackson looked at his knees. "Of course."
"You will give me your word," Teal'c demanded, "that, should you meet any Unas again, you will not trust it fully without knowing it fully."
"We have to go back," Daniel Jackson said. "We have to, and Chaka is our best protection there."
"We do not have to return," Teal'c told him. "SG-2 was able to collect the belongings of yourself and SG-11--"
"But we weren't done! Robert wanted--we still had another week. And now that we know there's more to that planet than we thought before...I have to finish it."
"There are other ways to honor Dr. Rothman," Teal'c said gently.
Daniel Jackson shook his head, looking toward one of the few lit candles. "Sometimes it seems like he's on a mission, and he'll be back. And then people come into the office to ask a question and it's... One person thought I was joking this morning when I said he was gone--she hadn’t gotten the...the memo yet. Can--can you believe there was a memo--"
"Daniel," Teal'c said. Daniel Jackson stopped, twisting his hands together until Teal'c reached out to make him stop for fear that he would hurt himself.
"I should talk to Nyan," Daniel Jackson finally said. "He's been...upset."
Daniel Jackson may have been Dr. Rothman's first protégé at the SGC, but Nyan had been his last, and Nyan did not have as many whom he could call friends. "I will speak with Nyan," Teal'c assured him, because Daniel Jackson's intentions might be good, but this was not his task.
"You'll tell me if you think I should talk to him?"
"Yes," Teal'c lied. He had brought the Bedrosian to this planet; he would take responsibility.
Nodding, Daniel Jackson looked back down, dragging one finger in an idle circle on the floor. Teal'c let him sit, seeing that he was about to speak but had not yet framed the words properly. He had removed his eyeglasses, and his eyes looked oddly large and even younger than normal without them as he studied the floor.
"We found Robert's will in Records," he finally said. "That's what they call it, his 'will'--it's like a letter or a...a list of instructions about what he wanted to be done with everything."
"And what is to be done with it?" Teal'c asked.
Daniel Jackson stretched his back gingerly, shifting uncomfortably on the floor. "I'm having trouble following what's going on," he admitted. "It's all very complicated. He named Major Hawkins as the person who takes care of things, but now... I think General Hammond's handling it or something. And it's not very thorough--mostly, he just mentions a few personal items. And his bookshelf--he had instructions for every book on his shelf, but I don't think he was really expecting to...you know."
Teal'c nodded. Few of them he expected Dr. Rothman to die. "Then let others do that," he advised. "You are in need of rest."
He waited until Daniel Jackson finally nodded. "I guess so. Okay. Um...can you help me up?" he said, and Teal'c saw he was trying not to settle too much pressure on his raw hands and feet.
"Sleep here tonight," Teal'c offered, carefully pulling Daniel Jackson upright. He had been privy to his friend's dreams several times before; he did not believe this would be a peaceful night.
"Jack will worry if he can't find me," he said, but even so, he took a step toward the bed.
"I will tell him you are here," Teal'c assured him, guiding him to sit on the mattress before moving to sit in a nearby corner where he could keep watch. "Rest. I will be nearby in kelno'reem."
17 December 2000; Chicago, Illinois; 1400 hrs (CST)
Daniel remembered the first time Robert had mentioned his sister--it had been in passing one winter when he'd been planning to take a few days off to visit her and had ended up quarantined on base instead. Rachel, he'd said, and the only thing Daniel remembered thinking at the time was that their family must have liked alliteration, because Rachel Rothman had married a man named Nitwit Richardson. Later, he'd learned the word 'nitwit' and decided that was probably just Robert's name for his brother-in-law.
It didn't seem funny anymore, though; not much did. Robert's sister was a lecturer at the same university where he had studied, working toward an English professorship, and she lived nearby. It seemed that everywhere Daniel looked on the way to the funeral home, he could vaguely remember Robert pointing something out to him from the last time they had been here.
It was good, he supposed, that Jack had come with him. He might have gotten lost otherwise.
"You feeling okay?" Jack said when they were outside the funeral home. Daniel nodded, even though sitting in one position on a plane for so long had left him sore, and he hadn't brought the pills Janet had given him. He wasn't dead; that was more than SG-11 could say.
Jack sighed for the fourth time that morning but didn't argue. Daniel let himself feel irritated at the excessive solicitude, mostly because it saved him from certain other things he couldn't acknowledge if he wanted to get through the day.
The ceremony was brief and almost formulaic--except without the body to bury--and exactly what Daniel had read about such funerals. Prayers, remembrances, murmured condolences...
He didn't understand most of the Hebrew being recited, but then, he didn't understand some of the English, either. Robert would have told him to pay attention. Death rituals were an important part of religion and culture and society, and it was important to listen to the language, too, and observe people's behaviors and interactions, and he couldn't, so instead, he sat still and prayed silently to his own people's gods that he wasn't sure existed.
People trickled out little by little. No one paid them any attention--even Jack was in civilian clothing so they stood out as little as possible, and Daniel barely noticed they'd trickled their way away, too, until they were standing in front of the building where Robert's sister lived.
And then, just as they reached the right floor, the door to the apartment opened and a familiar-looking man stepped out.
"Dr. Jordan?" Daniel said as the door closed quietly and left them standing in a hallway.
The archaeologist turned to look at him before seeming to recognize him. "I remember you. You're--you were Robert's assistant," Dr. Jordan said, sounding tired. "Daniel, wasn't it?"
Jack glanced at him. Daniel nodded and said, "Yes, sir. This is my commanding officer, Colonel O'Neill. We..." He stopped. Saying they'd known Robert was unnecessarily stating the obvious and not particularly relevant.
"Commanding officer," Dr. Jordan echoed, and Daniel realized he was making mistakes--not breaking cover, exactly--they could explain that away if they had to--but not staying unnoticeable, either.
"Doctor. I've heard of you from Daniel and Dr. Rothman," Jack said, stepping forward and extending a hand. Dr. Jordan accepted it--an automatic response to the introduction, just as the introduction had been an automatic response from Daniel. A lot of things felt automatic today.
Dr. Jordan held on just a moment longer than usual. "His sister says the Air Force representative who came by wasn't able to tell her what happened."
Daniel found himself looking at the floor. Calmly, Jack said, "I'm sorry. Dr. Rothman's work was classified, including his last project."
"Sir," Daniel said, "Robert left a--there was something he left for you. We were...uh...going to--"
"Can we find you somewhere later today?" Jack said when Daniel faltered.
"I'll be working in my lab today, probably until late at night," Dr. Jordan said. "If you come by, I'll let you in."
"Thank you. We'll do that," Jack said.
"Will we be able to ask questions?" Dr. Jordan said.
Jack paused, then said, "You can ask. I can't promise we'll be able to answer."
Dr. Jordan nodded, looking resigned. "I assume you're here for Mrs. Richardson," he said. "I wouldn't bother her much unless she wants to speak to you, but her husband is in there, too."
"Yes, sir," Daniel said.
Once they were inside, he found that Robert's sister's husband seemed nice enough, though it was taking all of Daniel's concentration just to answer when someone said something and not do anything wrong. Jack was good at this, though--or maybe just used to it--and made quick introductions and said what Daniel should probably be saying himself.
A small box exchanged hands, the one containing a few personal items they'd found at the SGC that had been listed in the will: a photo small enough to fit in his wallet, a book she'd written and autographed with a joke, a posthumous medal of valor that no one would ever be able to explain to her, a tiny clay statue that had always stood with the off-world artifacts... Daniel had no idea what the significance of that last one was, but he'd checked their records, and it definitely wasn't alien in origin or SGC property at all. Maybe Mrs. Richardson would understand. The rest of Robert's belongings weren't in the SGC and could be handled later by someone else.
Her husband looked uncertainly at the box. "I'll give this to her," he finally said, awkward in the way of someone mourning on behalf of someone else. "Look, uh...no offence, but I don't think she wants to talk to the Air Force right now."
Jack nodded emotionlessly. "I understand. Please give her our condolences."
That evening, just before the museum's doors closed for the night, Daniel led Jack to the lab where Robert had taken him a year ago. Dr. Jordan wasn't there, but Steven Rayner was. Jack knocked on the doorframe and Dr. Rayner looked up.
"Can I help..." he started, and then stopped. "Oh."
"Dr. Rayner," Daniel greeted, mostly so Jack would know who the man was.
Sure enough, Jack took over to say, "Dr. Rayner, I'm Colonel O'Neill. Is Dr. Jordan around? I know it's a weekend, but he said we could find him here."
"You're here about Robert Rothman." Rayner stood up and moved from behind the lab bench. "Yeah, he's in his office," he said, but didn't move toward the door that Daniel remembered connected the lab to the back office. Radiating hostility, he added, "What are you doing here?"
Daniel could feel Jack stiffening, becoming defensive without really moving or even changing his expression. "We attended Dr. Rothman's memorial service, and Daniel wanted to drop something off while we were here."
"Something?" Rayner echoed.
"It's a book," Daniel said. "It had David Jordan written in it. And a few others books, actually--Robert's, uh...his will said he wanted to leave some of them to the lab for student use, and since we were going to be here, I thought we could drop them off before we go."
"My friend left here to work for you and came back dead," Rayner said, and if Daniel hadn't been so numbly tired, he would have flinched. "Actually, he didn't even come back. And all you'll say is that he left us stuff in his will?"
"Colonel," Dr. Jordan's voice called, thankfully turning Rayner's scowl away in the other direction. "I'm glad you came. Please, have a seat." He gestured toward the end of a desk. "Excuse the clutter. We've just had a big shipment of artifacts come in."
Rayner still looked suspicious of them and not a little angry. Daniel remembered well the man's prickly disposition, but he also remembered seeing Rayner laugh while reminiscing over some past expedition with Robert. Robert had been his assistant and coworker once, too, and in a lab as small as this one, they must have known each other well.
Now, Jordan told Rayner, "Sarah talked to Jim Smith from radiology when she got back from the funeral. He said he'll be in his lab tonight and it's relatively empty right now, so she's working on the scan of the jar there."
With another look at Jack, Rayner finally picked up a coat and said, "I'll go see if she needs help, Professor, if you're staying here."
"Thank you, Steven," Jordan said, nodding to Dr. Rayner as he left before joining Jack and Daniel at the table.
"Um. These are the books I was talking about," Daniel said, handing over the pile he'd picked out of Robert's personal rows of books according to what had been written in the will.
"Gardiner's?" Dr. Jordan said abruptly, setting down the books and opening the one on top. "Ah, this is the one with my notes written all over it. I wondered where this had gone. My goodness, he must have grabbed it by mistake three years ago. Well...thank you for bringing these."
"Least we could do," Jack said.
Dr. Jordan nodded, slowly closing the introductory grammar text and putting it aside. "I appreciate it. Now...I understand," he said carefully, "that there are considerations--" He stopped, then started again. "I've had friends and colleagues who work on things about which I cannot ask. I'm not sure I've ever worked with someone who, in the end, died for something about which I cannot ask."
"We were on a dig," Daniel said.
It wasn't until Jack snapped, "Daniel," that he realized he'd said it.
"That's not a secret," Daniel said stiffly, though it was borderline--everything Robert did for the SGC was a secret, but archaeological work of some sort was part of his cover story.
Jordan gave both of them a look, as if he wanted to ask and was trying not to. Daniel said, "We were on a dig. He wanted me to see what it was like. We thought it was safe and it wasn't." Trying not to sound bitter, because this was how it worked and he knew it, he added, "Further details are classified."
"It wasn't safe," Jordan repeated, then gestured to his own cheek. "I don't suppose you can tell me whether it has to do with that cut on your face. Or those bandages you're hiding under your sleeve."
"No," Jack said firmly as Daniel self-consciously pulled his sleeves further down over his wrists. "We can't tell you that."
Daniel looked away as Dr. Jordan's eyes flicked back to him. He found himself staring instead at an open lab notebook on the table. Next to it was an image of a canopic jar with a depiction of Osiris, and on the side of the jar was written--
While Daniel's eyes remained frozen in place, Dr. Jordan started, "There's a lot I'd like to ask, and I know there's--"
"Where did you get this information?" Daniel interrupted. No one answered. Finally, he tore his eyes away to see both of them staring at him, Jack confused but alert and Dr. Jordan just confused. "How did you get this photograph?"
There was another brief pause. And then, "My...camera," Dr. Jordan said.
"Daniel?" Jack said, looking at the picture, too--he could recognize Goa'uld writing, even if he couldn't read it. It said something about...Setesh and Osiris and...what was that word...banished... "What is that?"
"A canopic jar," Daniel said. A vessel like that should hold internal organs, and, according to myth, Setesh put Osiris into a box to seal him away. He knew the Goa'uld Osiris had hidden on Kheb to escape from Setesh, but at some point, Setesh must have caught him and...what? Sealed him away, maybe, and it could have been in a canopic jar.
"That's right," Dr. Jordan was saying mildly. "Excuse me, what--"
Dr. Jordan's comment about taking the picture finally registered, and Daniel said, looking around the room, "It's here? That jar is here somewhere?"
Dr. Jordan picked up the photograph, looked at it again himself, and said firmly, "What is this about?"
The jar was nowhere that Daniel could see. If it was in Dr. Jordan's possession, and if the symbiote was still alive... Daniel glanced at Jack, then said, "Do a lot of your artifacts have those kinds of symbols on them--that particular writing?"
"You recognize the writing?" Jordan said, looking so amazed that Daniel thought there was no way he was pretending...but they'd just gone through days of finding out just how hard it could be to know when a person had been taken by a Goa'uld, especially when they didn't know the person well. "Well, what is it? What does it say?"
"Snake?" Jack said to Daniel instead, looking around them as if to assess the exits and then fixing his gaze firmly on Dr. Jordan.
"Maybe," Daniel said.
"I don't know." Even at this distance, he wouldn't have sensed anything from Dr. Jordan if the man had been a Goa'uld.
"Dr. Jordan," Jack said, standing up--asserting authority, Daniel recognized, and preparing for conflict at the same time--"how did you come into possession of that object?"
"It's a canopic jar, Colonel," Jordan said sharply, standing, too. "It was found decades ago and was just shipped here recently."
"Was it found inside a sarcophagus?" Daniel said. That would have been normal for an artifact like that on Earth, but if the jar had Goa'uld writing about Osiris on it and there was a myth about Osiris being trapped in a jar, and since they knew sarcophagi were Goa'uld devices...
Jordan folded his arms, starting to look very irritated. "As a matter of fact, no, it wasn't," he said, his words clipped. "It's just a jar, and there are more like it in the museum downstairs."
When Jack's eyebrows rose in alarm, Daniel said, "But not with that writing on them, yes?" He rose to reach across the table, pointing to the Goa'uld symbols in the picture and letting his hand brush against Dr. Jordan's as he did. He caught Jack's glance and shook his head in relief. No naquadah in Dr. Jordan that he could feel.
"And what writing would you say this is? This is getting a little ridiculous. Why--"
"Where is it now?" Jack said.
"If I tell you," Dr. Jordan said, unintimidated, "you'll do what--confiscate it without telling me a thing, and I'll never see it again, is that it?"
Just like Robert Rothman, he didn't say. Daniel heard it anyway.
Daniel looked around the lab at the artifacts scattered throughout, then focused on several that were spread on a nearby bench. "Probably," Jack was saying. "We're being completely serious. I can get a Presidential order like that"--he snapped his fingers--"for something like this if you refuse to tell us what you know."
"Can you," Jordan countered. "That would be a sight to see, considering that these artifacts don't belong to the United States of America. If they're abused, they'll be sent back to the Egyptian government."
"This is a matter of national security," Jack said impatiently. "We need to know who gave you that jar, where you put it and what you're planning on doing with it. You have no idea what you're dealing with here..."
Dr. Jordan placed his hands on his hips. "I'm getting tired of being told what I can and can't know, Colonel."
"...and," Jack said, "if you do know what that is, then we have even more questions for you."
"It's a canopic jar! I think I'd be able to recognize one by now."
Daniel made a decision and said, "This is what killed Robert, Doctor."
"Daniel!" Jack warned again as Dr. Jordan's eyebrows shot up.
"This--this kind of thing...last time this happened, five men died, including Robert," Daniel said, pointing at the picture. "I know what you think it is, but you said it wasn't found with a sarcophagus, and that--those symbols...you don't find it suspicious?"
"I find it interesting," Jordan said, frowning. "Anomalous but not out of the realm of reasonable finds. I don't have any reason to believe it's anything else. You're saying it's...what, a code of some sort?"
"I'm saying it's very dangerous," Daniel said tightly. "Please, Doctor. Just..."
The telephone rang.
Dr. Jordan glanced at it, and for a moment Daniel thought he was going to ignore it. Then he walked to the desk and picked it up. "Jordan lab," he answered shortly.
Daniel looked harder at the picture of the until he felt Jack's stare. "Goa'uld in the jar?" Jack whispered.
"Could be," Daniel answered, just as softly. "Fits the myth perfectly. The jar could be some kind of device we've never seen before."
"You see it? Here?"
He shook his head.
Then Dr. Jordan's voice said loudly, "What? How did that..." He turned around again to look at Jack and Daniel, his expression stunned. "Are they hurt? ... Yes, they--Drs. Gardner and Rayner, they were in the Smith lab... What? How many?"
Confused, Daniel looked at Jack, who was staring intently at Dr. Jordan.
"They were running a CT scan on a canopic jar," Dr. Jordan said deliberately, staring back. "That's where the accident was?"
"Oh no," Daniel said, imagining a Goa'uld loose on Earth.
"Call the Mountain--get Hammond, Carter, Teal'c, whoever's on base at this hour," Jack ordered quietly, handing him a phone. "Now, Daniel."
Dr. Jordan was hanging up just as Daniel dialed himself and heard someone answer. "Sam, it's me," he said, glad she was still at work.
"Daniel," she said, sounding surprised. "How are you doi--"
"We have a situation, Sam," he said quickly before she could start into condolences. "You have to get General Hammond right now."
Dr. Jordan was pulling on a coat and rushing out the door, speaking to Jack. Jack turned, gestured for Daniel to follow, and said, "Explosion--we don't know what happened yet."
"Daniel?" Sam said.
Pulling his attention back to the phone, Daniel hurried after them down the halls. "There's an artifact--a jar with"--he looked around, lowered his voice--"Goa'uld symbols. Jack and I have only seen a photo, but two people were studying it, and we don't know what happened, but there was an explosion or something, less than a minute ago. We suspect...a snake inside."
"Stand by, I'm getting the general," she said. "Put the colonel on the line."
Daniel caught up to the two men and told Jack, "It's Sam."
"Did you tell her?" Jack said, taking the phone from him.
"As much as I know," Daniel said. They were downstairs, now, and stepping out onto the nighttime street. "Dr. Jordan? Where are we going?"
"Steven and Sarah were at the radiology center's research lab--the imaging facilities here are being used," Dr. Jordan said worriedly. "They don't know how many people were injured." He stopped before they could cross a street and took hold of Daniel's arm while Jack was distracted on the phone. "My students could be hurt. Please--just tell me what's going on!"
"I--I can't," Daniel said. "I swear, I don't even know for certain exactly what--"
"What's the name of the building?" Jack said suddenly, pulling Dr. Jordan's hand away from Daniel and catching the man's attention at the same time. "We need to tell the law enforcement to seal it off."
"It--it could be something else," Jordan said, but he didn't sound like he was convincing even himself now. "It might have nothing to do with--"
"Never mind, Carter's got it," Jack said. Daniel followed Dr. Jordan across the campus, imagining Sam already passing a phone to the general to speak to the local police. "Let's go."
"Jack," Daniel said as they continued on. "I'm not"--armed--"equipped for anything."
"Neither am I," Jack said. "But neither is he. Hard part's gonna be figuring out who he is. We'll coordinate with the police until one of our people gets here."
"He?" Jordan echoed.
Gender-neutral unless its host is male, Daniel just barely stopped himself from saying. "It could be anything, Jack," he warned. "It might not be what we think, but it could be just as dangerous in...in another way." Explosives, destructive devices, diseases, chemical agents...they'd seen the Goa'uld use all of those, and any number of them could be concealed within a canopic jar.
"Yeah, we're not equipped for that," Jack agreed. "But we need to get the investigation and everything else contained first." Sirens wailed, and an ambulance sped past them down the street, followed by a line of police cars and two fire trucks. "They're on their way here."
Dr. Jordan looked bewildered at their conversation and the line of passing vehicles. "Why? Who?"
"My team," Jack said, absently handing his phone to Daniel. Daniel stared at it for a second, not sure what he was supposed to do with it, then stuffed it into a pocket.
"Sarah!" Dr. Jordan called as they neared the building. Daniel squinted in the dark, past the glare of lights and milling people, some in uniform and others clearly students and bystanders, and finally saw a familiar, light-haired woman sitting in the back of an ambulance. He almost expected to see the building on fire--wasn't that what happened when something exploded?--but there was nothing visible through the night from the outside to tell him anything had happened, aside from a faint haze of smoke lingering near the site.
The woman looked up as Dr. Jordan hurried toward her. "That's Dr. Sarah Gardner," Daniel said at Jack's questioning look. "Dr. Rayner said he was coming here to help her with the jar. She's probably been studying it."
"Then you start there," Jack said, motioning him toward her. "I need to talk to the police first. Take out your ID, and call me if anyone gives you trouble."
"...keep expecting them to ask me something," Dr. Gardner was saying, wrapped in a blanket and clutching Dr. Jordan's hand. "But they said just to sit and...and wait for whoever's taking over the investigation, but I don't know what--"
"It's all right," Dr. Jordan soothed, taking a seat next to her. As Daniel neared, he could see that the side of her face was covered in a darkening bruise. "Are you hurt?"
"No," she said, bringing a hand toward her mouth. "Not much, but... Oh, god--Steven--Dr. Jordan, I don't understand what happened."
"Where is Steven?" Dr. Jordan said urgently. "Was he with you?"
"We were alone," she said, "and--" She stopped, pulling the blanket tighter around herself.
"Dr. Gardner," Daniel said, drawing their attention. He cleared his throat uncomfortably. "I'm Daniel Jackson, with the Air Force--I don't know if you remember, but we met last year at a symposium. The Air Force is taking charge of the situation, and I need to ask you some questions about what happened."
"I think questions can wait until we know if everyone's safe!" Dr. Jordan said.
"I'm sorry," Daniel repeated for what had to be the fiftieth time in the last day. "This really cannot wait. Dr. Gardner, you were examining the Osiris jar, yes?"
"I--yes," Gardner said, looking too stunned to argue. "With Steven. We got on the scanner in the Smith lab, but we never finished." She stopped.
"Why not?" Daniel said sharply, leaning closer.
"We... " she said, staring at him. "I couldn't..."
Frustrated when she trailed off again, he repeated, "What happened?"
"I think you need to back off a little," Dr. Jordan said, standing up and imposing himself between the two of them.
Daniel raised his hands and took a step back, but he leaned around Dr. Jordan until he could see Sarah Gardner looking up at him in confusion. "What happened in there?" he said again. "Where is Dr. Rayner?"
"He attacked me," she said.
Dr. Jordan froze and turned around. "What? Sarah!"
"I-I don't know," she said, touching her bruised cheek. "H-he just--there was an error in the sequence. I set the size parameters wrong, and I turned around to the computer to fix it. And Steven was--he hit me! And then he left, and before I could do anything, there was that gas leak in the lab down the hall..."
"Gas leak," Daniel said, looking back to search for Jack. "A gas leak?"
"That's what the fire department is guessing," Gardner said. "The whole floor--four of us got out, but I could have sworn there were others there, too, and I haven't seen them..."
"And Steven... But Sarah, that's impossible," Dr. Jordan said. Gardner ducked her head and rocked forward very slightly, and he sat back down next to her.
"Steven Rayner," Daniel repeated. "Where was he going?"
"I don't know!" she exclaimed. "How should I--why would he have--"
"That's enough," Jordan snapped.
"Yes, sir, that's all," Daniel said. He reached up for his radio, found only a shirt, and wished he were in his more familiar fatigues. "Stay here, please," he said, trying to see over heads and through the gloom to find Jack.
"What the hell is going on?" Gardner demanded. "Who are you?"
"I'm Robert Rothman's assistant," Daniel said, and then thought 'was' and felt his breath stop.
This wasn't supposed to be here. The Goa'uld were supposed to stay at the SGC and through the Stargate; this part of Tau'ri was supposed to be safe from all of that, even Teal'c had said so. How dare the Goa'uld be here contaminating things now, when they'd already taken Robert?
A hand on his arm snapped him back to focus. "Police have been ordered to listen to me," Jack said as Daniel blinked and surreptitiously remembered to start breathing again. "We've got our own people coming in to take over. What've you got?"
"Um--D-Dr. Steven Rayner," Daniel said, shaking his head. "R-A-Y-N-E-R. He's an assistant professor at the university. He was in the room with the artifact and became violent...uh, and he ran just before the explosion. No one knows where he is now."
"Rayner. Got it," Jack said, and turned back around to the police. "Wait," he said, turning back around again. "Call the Mountain, give them an update and tell them to tighten security--they're gonna be a target if we've got one loose. And where the hell are Carter and..." He patted his pocket. "Dammit, where's my phone?"
"You gave it to me," Daniel said.
Jack frowned. "Why didn't you have your phone?"
"Then why do you have mine?"
"You gave it to me!"
Jack blinked at him. Daniel blinked back and thought of how they never had this problem when they all had their radios securely in their tactical vests.
"Give me my phone," Jack said, and Daniel quickly dug out Jack's phone and tossed it into his waiting hand before he could walk away to call Sam.
Daniel found his own, then, and glanced again at Drs. Jordan and Gardner. "Excuse me," he said, and slipped away to somewhere more quiet to make the call to the mountain.
"What's so important about that jar?" Gardner called before he could start dialing. "Why are you so interested in it?"
"And how do you know what the writing says?" Jordan added.
Gardner's eyes widened. "You can read it? No one even knows what language it is!"
"Um," Daniel said. "That's...a...I'm not allowed to--"
"It's a matter of national security," she said, sounding sarcastic. "Is that right?"
Frustrated, Daniel could only say, "I have to go, Doctor. We'll need to talk to you later."
17 December 2000; Chicago, Illinois; 2130 hrs (CST)
More than an hour had passed by the time a knock sounded on their motel room door. "Finally," Daniel muttered, tired of sitting here and arguing with Jack about what had happened, what to do, whose fault it was, and whom to watch. Arguing with Jack seemed to be their normal and most comfortable mode of communication when they were at a loss for what else to do, but it was still aggravating and meant that they didn't know what to do.
"Colonel O'Neill?" Sam's muffled voice said from outside. "It's me and Teal'c."
"Thank god," Jack said, and flung the door open. "It's about time!"
Sam stepped in, followed by Teal'c, both of them carrying neatly-packed bags that they dropped on one of the two beds. Jack opened one of them and immediately began rooting through it.
"Sir, Daniel," Sam said, "we've got our people at the site of the incident, but we're going to need more information about what happened before we can move forward on other fronts."
"Yeah, I'd like more information, too," Jack said. Finally, he seemed to find what he'd been looking for and tossed a bottle of pills toward Daniel. "Here."
Daniel scowled at the Tylenol. "I don't need it," he said. He just had to sit where he was and not move more than he had to. He hadn't realized his feet--and everything else--were still so sore from the trek through the woods with Chaka. He couldn't believe it had only been two days.
"You mean you didn't bring the stuff Fraiser gave you. There's a difference."
"I don't need it!"
Jack gave up, because they'd argued about that already, too. "Fine. Suit yourself. Any word from the police, Major?"
"No, sir," she said, giving them apprehensive looks. "We've sent out word--if Rayner tries to get anywhere, he won't get far. What about Sarah Gardner?"
"She told us what she knows already," Daniel said. "And Dr. Jordan already told us about the shipment of artifacts and even handed over all their recent lab notebooks."
"Also," Jack added, "I've been told it's not going to stay very low-profile if we keep harassing her without a more concrete reason."
"They took her to the hospital!" Daniel said. "We can leave her alone for one night."
Jack looked like he wanted to argue more but didn't; their tempers had gotten high enough without being stoked higher. Besides, Dr. Jordan was very emphatically standing in their way about bothering her now.
"She was injured?" Teal'c said.
"Not really," Daniel said, "but they're keeping everyone who escaped the fire to check for breathing problems from the smoke, minor injuries, things like that. She's probably been released already, but it would make more sense to talk to her when we have a better idea of what to ask."
"Carter," Jack said, "tell me we've got SGC personnel taking care of the bodies in the lab that blew up."
"Yes, sir," she said, "there's a medical examiner on his way, and Teal'c and I came with a team that's taking over the investigation into what caused the explosion, too. So what's the plan now?"
Jack gestured at the five lab notebooks lying on the desk. "We've started looking for anything they might've missed--our kind of stuff. So far, we can't find anything but that Osiris jar."
"Which was destroyed in the explosion," Daniel added.
"The one with Goa'uld symbols," she said. "Did you see it at all? I mean, what did it say?"
Daniel pulled out the picture of the jar that he'd seen earlier in the lab and handed it to Teal'c. "It's part of a standard myth about Osiris, essentially--the one in which Setesh tricked him into a box, sealed it, and...well, according to the myth, threw it into the Nile River. More specifically, according to this canopic jar, Osiris was--"
"...banished into oblivion," Teal'c finished, reading off the picture.
"And by 'oblivion,'" Jack clarified, pointing at the photograph, "he meant...a clay pot."
Daniel sighed and pulled out another lab notebook to flip through for clues and said, "Of the two people who were studying it, one person attacked the other and ran away, shortly after which a lab exploded and killed an estimated three people."
"We're just lucky it was a Sunday night," Jack said. "Not too many people in the labs."
"So we think there was a Goa'uld inside the jar," Daniel said, "except that Osiris must have been imprisoned a long time ago, and the 'prison' was...well..."
"A clay pot," Jack said again. He raised his eyebrows at Teal'c. "Want to weigh in here, buddy?"
"I do not know of a technology that can keep a symbiote alive for such an extended length of time," Teal'c said, setting the photograph carefully back down. "However, I also do not believe it is impossible. Osiris could have been maintained in stasis within this object."
"Like a miniature sarcophagus," Daniel said. "In fact, canopic jars are traditionally kept with the sarcophagus--one holds the internal organs, and the other holds the rest of the body. I wouldn't be surprised if there were Goa'uld counterparts with related functions."
"The question is," Sam said, "if there was a Goa'uld trapped in there, sitting out in a desert--"
"In the ocean," Jack corrected. "It was found 70 years ago and put on a ship, and the ship sank."
"And they just found all of it again now and shipped it to the museum for cataloguing," Daniel said, frowning at a recent entry in the lab book. Did that actually say...?
"But then how did it get out?" she pressed. "Hathor was found in stasis in a sarcophagus, but she stayed in stasis until she was let out."
Jack threw up his hands. "Who knows! Someone dropped it, someone opened it on purpose--the point is, it's out. Worse, there was a Goa'uld artifact and probably an actual Goa'uld in a civilian lab that we almost completely missed."
"And it's not the only one," Daniel said. He held up the notebook, pointing to a picture of an amulet. "Look--they carbon-dated the materials used to make this. Look at that date."
Jack looked. "Okay," he said. "And...?"
"It's old!" Daniel said, rubbing his temple as his head started to throb with tension. "I mean--the paint dates back over ten thousand years. That's too old to be human Egyptian; this is Goa'uld."
Sam took the book from him. "That could be a problem. But"--she flipped to the cover to see whose book it was--"Dr. Rayner notes that another test is recommended to confirm and narrow the results. We'll have to get a hold of the artifact before anyone gets a chance to do that. What was this, an expedition to a Goa'uld stronghold?"
"Maybe it was," Daniel said, trying to read and concentrate at once. "Maybe they found the base that Osiris used on Earth and didn't think it was anything more than a temple."
"There has to be an inventory somewhere that lists everything they found on that expedition," Sam said, frowning over his shoulder.
"Headache?" Jack said suddenly.
Daniel pulled his hand away from his head. "No."
"There's a bottle of Tylenol next to you," Jack pointed out.
"Will you stop it, Jack?" Daniel snapped.
"What's your problem about this?" Jack said, almost angrily. "Is this some Abydonian mourning thing, that you have to be in as much pain as possible after being beaten up by an Unas or you might dishonor--"
"He didn't beat me up, and I can mourn however I choose!"
"Stop this immediately," Teal'c growled at both of them. "If we are correct, then there is a Goa'uld free on this world. We must find it and stop it." He glared at Jack. "Do not use the death of Dr. Rothman in such a way." The glare turned to Daniel. "And do not use it as an excuse."
Daniel looked away, feeling the quick flare of anger drain away into nothing.
Sam cleared her throat and continued paging through one of the notebooks. Jack deliberately picked up the bottle, opened it, and shook out two pills. "We all need to be at full strength," he said. "Anything that might help you sleep tonight is good." Daniel accepted them listlessly.
"We need Robert's help," he said quietly before he swallowed.
"We'll just have to make do with...who and what we have," Jack said.
Daniel shook his head. "Do you know that museum? Do you know where the artifacts are from? Do you know what Osiris knows from being in Dr. Rayner's mind? We need someone who knows Egyptian archaeology and Egypt and knows how things work in that lab."
"You knew a hell of a lot just by looking at that picture," Jack said. "We can--"
"That's not good enough!" Daniel burst out. "I know mythology, language, and guns. I don't know Earth! I can't replace--" He bit his tongue and stood, abruptly enough to make stiffened muscles protest as he moved toward the bag Teal'c had brought, looking for something--anything--to occupy his hands.
"Carter, let me see that book," Jack said evenly. "D'you bring a first aid kit?"
"Yes, sir," Sam said, and a minute later she was tapping Daniel on the shoulder. "I'm just gonna make sure everything's healing okay. Let's step into the bathroom."
Daniel sighed and followed her in, closing the door behind him and sitting still on a closed toilet seat while she replaced gauze on his feet and arms.
"I'm not thinking right," he said as she pulled away his shirt and checked to make sure he wasn't in imminent danger of infection or anything else. "I need to focus."
"You need to rest," she countered, not looking up.
He laughed shortly. "It's too bad we're witnessing the rise of a System Lord on Earth, then."
She finished in silence, then gave him his shirt back. "You're being melodramatic, which tells me you need a good rest," she repeated. "Someone will find Rayner, we'll send him to the Tok'ra, and Osiris can be killed once and for all. And then we'll all take some downtime."
"We don't have an Egyptologist anymore," he said, wincing as he stretched to pull the t-shirt back on. "With Ra so prominent for so long, Egyptian history and mythology is too important not to have a trained expert on base."
Sam waited until he was dressed again but didn't get up from where she was crouched before him. "The one thing no one's ever complained about with you is your competence, especially where Egypt is concerned," she said. "We don’t expect you to replace Dr. Rothman, just like we'd never expect Dr. Rothman to replace you if your positions had been reversed."
Tears prickled unexpectedly at his eyes. "They should have been. We lost him and kept me. It should have been switched."
"Don't ever say that," she whispered fiercely. "Dr. Rothman wouldn't have wanted you to think like that, and you know it." She stood up, fingers probing the back of his head to check where he'd been knocked out days ago.
Daniel leaned forward until his forehead touched Sam's stomach. "What am I supposed to do?"
She stopped and brushed her hand more gently through his hair. "One crisis at a time. When we get home, we'll pull through, I promise. But tonight, tomorrow--we have a Goa'uld to deal with. You said you'd normally ask for help on this kind of thing. So. We need your advice--what do we do right now about the Goa'uld?"
He forced his alarmingly sluggish mind back onto the topic, pulling back and shaking his head in an attempt to clear it. "Okay. First. Okay. Uh...see if Jack and Teal'c have found an inventory of the Steward expedition. Find out what we can about those artifacts and the expedition otherwise, on our own or...or from people who know more about it."
"Okay," she said, holding out a hand to help him up. "Let's go. We'll start there."