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nightspear ([personal profile] nightspear) wrote2009-06-09 10:19 am
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Archaeology (21/30)

Title: Archaeology (Table of Contents)
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Nothing you recognize is mine. I gain nothing of material value from this.
Pairings: Gen.

Chapter1 Chapter2 Chapter3 Chapter4 Chapter5
Chapter6 Chapter7 Chapter8 Chapter9 Chapter10
Chapter11 Chapter12 Chapter13 Chapter14 Chapter15
Chapter16 Chapter17 Chapter18 Chapter19 Chapter20

XXXXX

Chapter 21: SG-5

XXXXX

26 April 2001; Control Room, SGC; 2210 hrs

Daniel and Sha'uri both stood staring out the window at the Stargate until Sergeant Harriman started to look uncomfortable with the two of them right behind him.

"Daniel," Jack said quietly. "And, ah...Sha'uri. Why don't we go into the briefing room and you can explain what just happened?"

"Are you well?" Teal'c added, watching both of them carefully as they walked mechanically toward the briefing room. He looked like he didn't think the answer was 'yes.'

"Dr. Fraiser said there was nothing wrong with them," Skaara said hopefully.

"What day is it?" Daniel said.

Jack stared at him, then looked at his watch. "The twenty-sixth," he said.

Sha'uri frowned. Jack expected Daniel to explain their calendar to her, but he only said, "Is that...how long have we been asleep?"

"Almost five hours," Carter said.

"What?" Daniel said, pulling out a seat but not sitting down. "Only..."

"It was a dream," Sha'uri reminded him.

"Yes," Daniel said, looking to where his fingers were still entwined with his sister's. "A dream."

General Hammond walked into the briefing room, Aldwin close behind. "What happened?" he said.

"Shifu left," Jack started, pointing to the Stargate. "And as for the rest...well..."

"I do not know where to begin," Sha'uri said.

"Shifu showed us why it was so important to forget that knowledge," Daniel said. He looked up at Hammond, then let his eyes shy away again. Hammond looked as confused as anyone about why. "Like Teal'c has told us before, that knowledge is why Goa'uld are born evil. And like Anise explained partially last year, it's why the Tok'ra are almost all descended from Egeria."

"Wh--" Jack held up a hand. "It's why the Tok'ra what?"

"A Goa'uld is born with the knowledge of the queen who birthed it," Sha'uri said, "but the Goa'uld are...envious." She glanced at Daniel. "They do not easily relinquish knowledge or power, even...even to their kin."

"You're saying they pick and choose," Carter said, fascinated. "They can decide what memories to pass on to their offspring?"

Jack glanced at Aldwin, who hesitated, but nodded. "Yes. It is one of the differences in a queen Goa'uld, and we theorize that it was this that allowed the Tok'ra to be born as we are today, against the Goa'uld System Lords."

"But not so with a Harsesis," Teal'c clarified. "Shifu carried all of the knowledge that made both Amaunet and Apophis evil. A child born with such knowledge would be as evil as the Goa'uld."

"We could have extracted only the pertinent knowledge, not those memories of evil," Aldwin protested. "There is much that a Goa'uld like Apophis would have learned in the years since Egeria's split from the System Lords. We only need specific knowledge."

"It is not only memories of evil that causes a Goa'uld to become what it is," Sha'uri said quietly. "It is the knowledge itself, and it is...difficult to see until it is too late. In the dream, my son showed us what would have happened if he had given the knowledge we asked for."

"Well," Carter said, "I mean, I guess it would be difficult to extract one memory without disturbing any others associated with it...or does it have something to do with how Oma made Shifu forget to begin with?"

"It's not even that, Sam," Daniel said. "Knowledge is power. That's a saying here, yes? And when the knowledge is of weapons and the best way to win a war..." His gaze moved toward Teal'c but stopped halfway and went back to Aldwin. "If you don't trust me, trust Egeria's methods. There's a reason you're different from the Goa'uld, and what we asked of Shifu... You wouldn't have liked the result."

Jack hadn't thought Daniel's thoughts could make any less sense than usual. He'd been wrong.

"It's not that we don't trust you and your sister, Mr. Jackson," the general said carefully, "but we don't understand what you mean."

"I am told that you command this place honorably, General Hammond," Sha'uri said. "If you had the knowledge that you seek, you would not command so well, and many would suffer for it."

"General," Daniel said, "even if we wanted to get Shifu back, we can't. He's left. A lot of what just...happened...was personal to Sha'uri and myself. Can you please just accept that we can't get that knowledge? And, by Shifu's own words and Oma's--and Egeria's--actions, we shouldn't try again."

"I'm sorry," Hammond said, looking genuinely apologetic under his bewilderment, "but that's not enough."

"I'll...I'll explain everything that's relevant in my report, sir," Daniel said.

Jack happened to be sitting across the table from Skaara. Skaara looked like he thought he might be dreaming, because that was the only way anything this weird was happening. Jack decided Skaara was the most sensible one at the table.

"All right," Hammond finally said. "If you'd like--if it's too personal--I'll keep the report sealed, son." Daniel tensed minutely, then nodded before Jack could protest that the rest of them would really like to know, too. "Aldwin, you can return to the High Council whenever you're ready. Sha'uri, Skaara, are you returning to Abydos, or...?"

"Our father must be worried," Skaara said. "He does not know yet all that has happened."

Sha'uri didn't speak up to agree. "Do you think we can have a few minutes to ourselves before they leave?" Daniel said, his voice strained. "Sha'uri and I."

"Of course," Hammond said slowly. "The Abydonian people are welcome here, you know that. Take as long as you need."

"Thank you, sir," Daniel said, and, without looking at anyone at all, stood up and led Sha'uri away toward the elevator.

"Uh," Skaara said.

"You're dismissed, too," the general said, nodding to the rest of SG-1. "Do me a favor and keep a close eye on Mr. Jackson. If nothing else, he just lost Shifu again."

"Yes, sir," Jack said. When General Hammond returned to his office, he added, "And...Skaara, look out for your sister over the next while. She still lives with your dad, right? Just keep an eye on her."

Skaara nodded but said, "I still do not understand."

"That makes two of us," Jack said. He looked around the table and amended, "Four of us. Actually, no, I think everyone on this base is pretty much lost."

...x...

Daniel and Sha'uri emerged from his quarters less than half an hour later, both a little more composed and Sha'uri holding something that looked like part of the robe Shifu had been wearing. Daniel watched her and Skaara leave from the control room.

Jack chose to believe Daniel just hadn't noticed the rest of the team standing around him after the wormhole closed, because he kept his head down and started out of the control room right away and back toward the stairs. "Hey," Jack said. Daniel stopped, took a visible breath and turned back around to face them.

"Yes?" Daniel said.

"Um," Carter said. "Do you... Are you okay? Can you tell us what happened, now that no one else is around?"

Part of Jack had almost expected Daniel to nod and say, 'yeah, okay.' A couple of years ago, when he'd leaned more heavily on them, he might have. Instead, he said, "I'd rather not. It's not, uh...it's not relevant to...the...to..." He sighed and tried again. "I've already told you everything that's relevant to Shifu and the concept of the Harsesis. That chapter is closed."

Then he turned right around and kept going until he reached level 25.

Exasperated, Jack started to follow him all the way back to his quarters, but Teal'c stepped up first and said, "Perhaps you would like to join me in kelno'reem, Daniel Jackson."

Daniel actually flinched before he said, "I--no." He made that same, odd glance upward toward Teal'c's face and then stopped and stared at Teal'c's chest instead. "I think...maybe...I can't. Tonight. I'm sorry. It's not..."

"Do not apologize, my friend," Teal'c said, but this time, even the Jaffa looked confused.

"Want to head home?" Jack suggested, looking at his watch, so he almost missed the stricken expression that crossed Daniel's face at those words that they said casually to each other at least once week. "Or...not."

"I'm sorry," Daniel said.

"Daniel, don't be sorry," Carter said, frowning in concern and reaching forward slightly.

"I'm sorry," he repeated, leaning away and reaching back until he touched the handle to his door. "That dream--it felt like...a long time, and I'm just having a little trouble remembering it's not real, so...I really need some time to think everything through. Okay?"

Jack held up his hands and backed up two steps, just so it didn't feel like they were ganging up on him against a wall. He wondered what they had done to Daniel in the dream to make him this skittish around them, of all people. "You know it was just a dream, right?" Jack said. "Whatever happened, it wasn't real. We wouldn't hurt you or--"

"Gods, no," Daniel interrupted urgently. "I know. Of course. Please don't take offense. He just gave us a lot to think about."

"Okay," Jack agreed. "But you have to turn in the report tomorrow anyway, so...talk to us tomorrow, all right?"

"I'll talk to you tomorrow," Daniel repeated, pulling the door open and disappearing inside.

Jack stared at the closed door, then looked at his watch again. It was one of those odd times when it was basically too late to go home and too early to stay on base, and those odd days when he thought someone should be watched over but had no right to intrude quite yet.

"I will keep watch," Teal'c said simply, which solved a lot.

XXXXX

27 April 2001; Archaeology Office, SGC; 0900 hrs

Jack tried not to be angry when he first walked into the office, but this really wasn't the conversation he'd envisioned having first thing this morning after being told by Teal'c that there hadn't been much sleeping done the night before, by either of them. So he kept the report under his arm and walked in casually and even remembered to knock first on the wall.

"Good morning," Daniel said, looking up calmly. "Before you say anything, Jack, I apologize for worrying you all last night. As you can imagine, it was, uh...an odd experience."

"Can't really imagine," Jack said, "since we don't know what happened." Daniel's expression faltered a little. "You were both pretty shaken up last night."

"We're never going to see Shifu again," Daniel said. "Not until we...meet on the great path, anyway, and Sha'uri just met him for the first time. It wasn't easy."

But that wasn't it, and Jack didn't have to be a genius to know it. "So now you're over it?" he said, holding up the report. "And you want to go play with another team?"

"It sounds interesting, that's all," Daniel said. "SG-5 came back late last night with--"

"Goa'uld writing," Jack finished. "Yeah, I know, I read your report."

"Really?" he said, sounding genuinely surprised.

Jack took a minute to decide how to play that, then settled on serious. "Things don't always turn out so well when I let you go with another team to an abandoned planet."

"We can't start second-guessing that all the time," Daniel said reasonably. "There are no heat signatures on P4X-347 to indicate complex life signs as far as the sensors reach--except maybe the ocean, which they think is fish"--Jack opened his mouth to speak--"and yes, Jack, they checked, and there's no possibility of Goa'uld survival in it."

Jack closed his mouth.

"Except maybe in the building itself," Daniel added, pointing to the report, "but there's too much technology in there to separate out signatures properly to indicate any life, so SG-5 has searched it for over a week and it really seems empty. It's as safe as anything ever gets off-world."

"They asked for you to go back with them?" Jack said.

"They asked for someone who could read Goa'uld and figure out what dialect it is," Daniel said, "and for the sheer volume of text to translate in...however much time the SGC gives them, that has to be either me or Teal'c. Or Martouf, who doesn't go on missions, and this isn't the kind of thing Teal'c likes..."

Nodding, Jack flipped through the report again. "You really want to go here, huh."

"It's been a while since a research trip didn't turn into something worse," Daniel agreed quietly. "You said yesterday that you're not looking for another mission right away, and I wouldn't mind taking one."

("Whatever happened to being a translator?" Daniel said.)

"Yeah." Jack dropped into another chair. "Is that what you meant last night when you said you had to choose another path?"

"I'm not transferring to SG-5, Jack. It's one mission."

Which didn't answer the question. Jack raised his eyebrows.

"It's a little more complicated than that," Daniel amended. "I think. I haven't quite figured out what it means yet."

"Does it have something to do with leaving the SGC?" Jack asked. "Or SG-1?"

"N--why would you think that?"

"We don't know what to think," he pointed out. "You haven't been telling us much about what that kid did to you."

With a sigh, Daniel folded his legs under himself on the chair, something he did only rarely these days. His legs were too long for that easily anymore unless he really felt like squashing himself as small as possible. "Shifu didn't do anything to us," he said. "He just...showed us some things about ourselves and made us think about...things we haven't thought about in a while."

"You see?" Jack said. "I have no idea what that means."

"I'm not sure I know, either," Daniel admitted, "so I won't do anything until I figure it out."

"It'd help if we knew what the dream was about," Jack prompted.

"It was very personal," Daniel said again.

"Too personal for me?" Jack said, not very hopefully.

"Yes. Jack, let me go and spend a few days doing what I'm supposed to do: decipherment, translation, taking notes on ancient buildings... SG-5 said it's very relaxing," he added.

"I noticed they turned right around and went back as soon as they could," Jack allowed.

"Exactly. I can join them as soon as I pass the 24-hour observation period starting from"--he looked at his watch--"whenever it was that I woke up from Shifu's dream. We all need a few days' break. We're getting tired--I know you are."

It did look from SG-5's preliminary report that it'd be a nice place to relax for a while, Jack conceded, and Daniel would probably love it, with all that to study and no Goa'uld around. SG-5 liked him; they'd take care of him.

And he was right about needing a break, too--Jack was having a hard time remembering that it had only been a couple of days since he'd been with Maybourne and everyone else had almost blown up or died of radiation poisoning. And before that, they'd had two emergency missions in a week, and one the week before, and Heru-ur before that... Jack had told Daniel he wasn't looking forward to another mission this week, and if they went on missions worn out and thinking like that, it was a quick way to get killed or get someone else killed.

"All right," Jack said. "Write up your report today, turn it in, and you can join SG-5 tomorrow."

"You could take a break and go fishing," Daniel suggested.

"Yes, sir," Jack said with a salute, just to make him grin and roll his eyes, but he received a quickly-hidden frown instead.

XXXXX

28 April 2001; Control Room, SGC; 1800 hrs

After dropping Daniel off on Saturday to go join SG-5, Jack stayed on base to help Hammond finish moving back into his office and to clean up a few last details--and were there a lot of details to clean up after the last two weeks--so he happened to be near the control room when Lieutenant Barber of SG-5 stepped through the wormhole.

"Daniel wanted this to be sent back," Barber said, holding up a camera memory card as he stepped out of the wormhole and hurried up the stairs. "He was wondering if Teal'c would take a look at some of text we filmed. No trouble so far, sir."

"He is having difficulties with the text?" Teal'c said.

"Yes," Daniel said for himself through the MALP. Jack turned to the monitor to see Daniel waving at them through the camera. "It feels like...I'm close, but it's one of those dialects you just can't quite put a finger on, you know?"

"No," Jack told him.

"I would be happy to assist you, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said.

To Jack's surprise, Daniel grinned, looking actually and completely happy. "Thanks! Oh gods..." His face took up most of the monitor, but Jack was pretty sure his arms were flapping around somewhere off-screen. "You have to see this. Sam would--is Sam there?"

Carter leaned over and said, "Yeah, I'm here, Daniel."

"Sam, there's a...a...thing here, it's like a...like...it's really cool!"

"Wow," Jack muttered, impressed.

Major Pendleton's face replaced Daniel's, and he added, "He's talking about the light display we mentioned in the first report. It's absolutely amazing--in fact, there are quite a few things about this place we're still trying to characterize."

"You should come see it, Sam," Daniel added, sticking his nose back in. "You'd love it."

"We're on vacation," Jack told him. "Some of us actually stop working when we're on vacation."

"You're on vacation?" someone said some distance away.

"Yes, but Sam would have fun here," Daniel insisted.

Jack looked at Carter, who shrugged. "Maybe," she said. "I'll see if I have time."

"It's really, really amazing."

"Okay, Daniel," Jack said pointedly. "We're holding up the Stargate."

"Right," Daniel said, and moved out of the way.

"Nothing of importance to report yet, sir," Major Pendleton said.

"Thank you, Major," Hammond said, finally getting a word in. "Carry on." The wormhole flickered out. As the crowd near the console began to disperse, Hammond gave him a wry look.

"He always gets a little overexcited on these assignments, sir," Jack said, but he couldn't deny being pleased, too.

"We've all been enjoying this one, sir," Barber added. "General...?"

"Dismissed, Lieutenant," Hammond said nodding.

"Teal'c," Barber said, turning to the Jaffa, "I can show you the files Daniel had questions about."

"I will begin immediately," Teal'c said.

...x...

30 April 2001; Embarkation Room, SGC; 0900 hrs

The next--and last--time they saw Barber, he was diving into an unstable vortex.

"Oh my god," Carter said, standing frozen where she'd been dialing the DHD.

"Shut it down and call the general!" Jack yelled in the direction of the control room. "And Teal'c, too! Carter," he added, tapping her on the shoulder to wake her up and running back up the stairs.

Hammond met them just as they arrived. "What happened?"

"Barber killed himself," Jack said.

"What?" The general looked sharply into the 'gate room as if expecting to see a dead body there, and Jack's first coherent thought was that they wouldn't be able to send his dog tags to anyone, which made him wonder if Barber had family.

"He ran into the unstable vortex, sir," Carter said. "And not by accident or...he must have timed it exactly and dived in at the right--"

"But why?" Hammond said.

Jack could only shake his head. He'd barely known the kid--talked to him a handful of times, maybe, including during his training run before joining the program. "He might've seemed a little quiet just now," he offered, "but I don't know, sir. He didn't say anything to me."

"I didn't talk to him, either," Carter said. "Maybe Teal'c noticed something--"

"Wait," Hammond said as the Jaffa ran up the stairs. "We need to recall the rest of his team. Major Carter, dial up '347 again."

Carter nodded and ran back down the stairs to the DHD, and this time, a few people in the 'gate room flinched at the familiar, everyday sight of the vortex. Jack nodded to Teal'c and followed her down the stairs, explaining as they went, "Lieutenant Barber threw himself into the vortex."

"SG-5, this is Stargate Command. Come in," the general's voice called.

Teal'c frowned at him as they entered the 'gate room and joined Carter at the bottom of the ramp. "Why would he have done such a thing?"

"Guess that answers the question of whether you thought he was suicidal," Jack said.

"General, this is Major Pendleton," a voice returned.

"All personnel return to base immediately. There's been an incident."

There was a short pause, and then, "Yes, sir. We'll pack up and return now."

The wormhole closed again, and minutes later, the 'gate activated from the other side. Jack stuck his hands into his pockets and waited until the SG-5 IDC was announced, and the team and their temporary translator stepped onto the ramp.

"Jack," Daniel said, hurrying down and making his way toward them, "you have to see this."

"Daniel," Jack cut him off, rethinking the wisdom of letting him go on this trip, after all, if one of his teammates was going to kill himself halfway through. "There's been an incident."

"Yeah, I know," Daniel went on, waving a hand dismissively in a way that made Jack want to tell him to stop being so happy right now, "we got the message, but this is really important. There's this light, and...and it's in this amazing--"

"Barber's dead," Jack said bluntly.

Finally, Daniel stopped. So did SG-5 him. "What?" Major Pendleton said. "Our Barber?"

Jack nodded, sorry he'd said it like that now. "Come on," he said. "We need to talk."

It was a much less cheerful group that made its way up the stairs and into the briefing room. "How did he die?" Captain Lithell said as they filed into the room, where General Hammond was already standing at the head of the table.

Deciding he'd botched that part of it enough for one day, Jack turned to Hammond, glad for the umpteenth time that he himself wasn't the general. "Everyone, please be seated," the general said. "I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but Lieutenant Barber was killed just before rejoining you on P4X-347 when he ran into the unstable vortex of the opening wormhole."

"How would he..." Captain Jameson started, then stopped, his eyes widening. "On purpose? Not like he just...didn't move out of the way?"

"It was definitely deliberate," Carter said. "And actually, in retrospect...he did look a bit upset before..." She gestured uncomfortably toward the Stargate.

"But...he killed himself?" Daniel said. He exchanged a bewildered look with the surviving members of SG-5.

"Did Lieutenant Barber show any signs of depression while on the mission?" Hammond said.

"Oh, no way," Jameson said. "He was..."

"He was fine," Daniel said.

"Better than fine," Pendleton added. "He seemed completely...normal. Cheerful. He was up for promotion in a couple of weeks; he wouldn't have... Sir, did something happen to him while he was here?"

"He hadn't even been Earthside for forty-eight hours," Carter said.

Teal'c nodded. "He was awaiting the results of a translation with which I was assisting Daniel Jackson. His behavior did not strike me as unusual."

"We were all taken by surprise," Carter said.

"I don't...know what to say," Daniel said, looking at a box he was holding in his hands.

"General, I can't think of anything that could have caused it," Pendleton said.

"There was nothing unusual on the planet?" Jack said.

"Something that made Dean suicidal, but only after he came back to Earth?" Daniel said.

General Hammond sighed. "We can continue to investigate, including on Earth and on '347, but, unfortunately, it's been my experience that these questions often go unanswered. I'm sorry--I know SG-5 has been a close-knit team."

"Sir, I can search his workspace here," Lithell said determinedly. "Maybe he left something."

"Or his apartment, if he went home last night," Pendleton added.

"Why don't you all go take your physicals first," the general said. "I'll speak with you later about the investigation."

SG-5 left quietly. Daniel didn't. Jack wasn't sure if he hadn't heard or noticed or just wanted to give the others some space. "What's that you've got there?" Jack said, nodded at the box.

Daniel didn't answer. "Mr. Jackson?" the general prompted gently.

"What?" Daniel said, looking up, and then, "Oh. Uh...right, yes." He cleared his throat and opened the box to take out something that looked a little like a data-display tablet, but with an actual screen. "It's like a...a hand-held computer. When I turned it on, it displayed Goa'uld script similar to what was all over the pillars of the palace. I'm hoping they're instructions or something that tells about the technology in the palace."

"Like that light display you mentioned?" Carter said.

"What exactly was that about?" Jack said.

"We don't know," Daniel said, "but it looked...beautiful. It doesn't seem to do much, but, like I said..." He held up the mini-computer. "I'm hoping this will tell us more. I've been able to work out some of the text, but other parts are still..." He trailed off, touching one of the buttons on the side, frowning.

"I would be happy to provide further assistance, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said.

"Thank you," Daniel said, not looking up from the device in his hand. "I was hoping for that."

"Why don't you head over to the infirmary, too," Hammond told him. "You can work on the translation afterward."

Nodding distractedly, Daniel stood up and left the room, still looking at his device. Jack watched him until he was out of sight.

"Colonel," Hammond said, turning his attention back. "You mentioned that something on the planet that might have caused Lieutenant Barber's state?"

"Ah...I was just throwing it out there," Jack admitted. "Come to think of it...that doesn't make much sense. Does it?" he asked, turning to Carter.

She shrugged. "I can't think of anything, but there's always a possibility of off-world influence, sir, especially given how...out of the blue it was."

"And sometimes it just happens without anyone realizing before it's too late," Hammond said. "I'll ask SG-5 about anything that might have happened on Earth. But just in case, I'd like SG-1 to return to the planet tomorrow morning. Mr. Jackson can show you what Lieutenant Barber was doing while he was there. Maybe a fresh set of eyes will see something everyone else missed before, and you might be able to finish their mission there."

...x...

30 April 2001; Archaeology Office, SGC; 2100 hrs

Daniel slammed a book onto Rothman's desk with a thump and sighed in frustration.

Teal'c paused in what he was doing at Daniel's computer. Jack looked up cautiously, unnerved that anything at all was being slammed on the sacred desk that Daniel rarely touched except to put down and pick up official business. Now, he was bent over the desk, staring hard at the device in his hand, not noticing their gazes.

"What were you saying?" Jack said quietly to Teal'c, deciding that pushing Daniel now would be a bad idea. SG-5 had all left hours ago in various states of grief and irritability, and Daniel was probably upset, too--this was supposed to have been the fun mission after a bad couple of weeks.

It took another moment for Teal'c to stop watching Daniel, but then he moved the footage on the screen back. "Upon a second viewing of the Goa'uld writings from P4X-347, I discovered a figure moving in the background," Teal'c said, equally quiet, as he moved aside to let Jack see the screen. "It does not appear to be one of our personnel."

"Yi shay," Daniel snapped, pushing away to look for some other reference.

Jack looked at him again, more suspicious now they knew there was something on the planet they didn't know about. "He never mentioned any people," he said.

Before Teal'c could answer, Daniel said abruptly, "I need to go back to the planet."

"We're going back tomorrow," Jack reminded him.

"Well, this thing isn't working," he said angrily, holding up the device. "I need to figure out what's going on, and tomorrow isn't good enough."

Jack stood up straight. "We'll go tomorrow, Daniel," he repeated. "I think it's time for you to take a break."

Daniel scowled back. "Oh, so we're back to that now?"

"What?" Jack said, glancing at Teal'c to see if he'd missed something. "I'm just saying you've been working hard and you're tired. I know how you can get--"

"Why are you always like this?" Daniel said, clenching his free hand into a fist, and for a moment, Jack thought honestly that he might try to punch something. Then he said, "I'm going to talk to Hammond," turned around, and fled the office.

"Hey!" Jack called, standing quickly and following him with a mixture of alarm and irritation. He'd thought they'd gotten over Daniel's stupidly-hasty phase, and this was not the mindset one needed to talk to the general. "There's a chain of com--Daniel, stop!"

Daniel beat him downstairs, though, and by the time Jack made it to the general's office, he could already hear Daniel's voice inside saying, "This device could be the key to...to everything on that planet, and I can't make any progress on it here!"

"You're scheduled to leave tomorrow morning," Hammond was saying firmly as Jack walked in the open door. "One more day isn't going to make a difference."

"I'm telling you it is!" Daniel snapped.

"Thank you for your time, sir," Jack said sharply. Daniel might do this kind of thing to Jack sometimes, but never to the general.

But instead of taking the hint and leaving, Daniel went on, "I don't understand how someone like you can have so much power but still manage miss the point entirely."

"Hey!" Jack barked, appalled and not a little embarrassed, ready to drag Daniel out bodily if he had to at this point. "Knock it off!"

"It's all right, Colonel," Hammond said coldly, not looking away from Daniel. He tapped the paper on his desk. "This letter is to Lieutenant Barber's family, explaining that he died in the service of his country. I can't tell them anything about how he died or the work he did here; only that he's gone. Do you get the point?"

When Daniel didn't answer right away, Jack said, "Yes, sir, he does."

"Get him out of here," the general said.

Finally, Daniel stood straight and walked out on his own, brushing past Jack as he did. Jack looked at the general. "Sir--"

"I'll make an exception under the circumstances," Hammond interrupted. "But he needs to cool off by tomorrow or there will be consequences."

"Yes, sir," Jack said, and quickly left. "Hey!" he said again once he'd caught up to Daniel at the elevator. Not willing to play around anymore, he grabbed Daniel's arm and pulled him to a halt. "Look at me!"

"What?" Daniel said, turning enough to glare out of eyes that looked red, but apparently from exhaustion, because the look on his face wasn't grief for Barber or anything else.

"You're upset," Jack said. "I get that. So does the general, but you do not ever talk to him like that, do you hear me?"

Daniel yanked his arm away. "Of course not. You wouldn't want me to disrespect your...ridiculous...military...chain of obedience--" The elevator opened, and he stepped in. Jack just managed to squeeze in before the doors slammed shut.

"What's the matter with you?" Jack said as the elevator moved up. "It's been a bad week, okay, but there is no excuse for your behavior tonight."

The doors opened again. Daniel shoved past him into the corridor, where he scanned his way into his quarters and slammed the door shut behind himself.

"Was that Daniel?" Carter's voice said from behind him, where she was coming up the stairs.

Jack stared, dumbfounded, at where Daniel had just been standing. "Yeah," he said. "Yelled at the general just now."

"The general?" she said, surprised.

"I don't think I've ever said this before," Jack said, still a little stunned himself, "but 'teenager in a snit' seems to be the best description right now." When she gave him a sideways glance, he added, "You didn't see him."

"General Hammond, sir?" she repeated. "Well, he's probably upset about...a lot of things--"

"That's why the general sent him to his room instead of yelling back," Jack said. "But we've been treating him as an adult; he has to act like one, too. And when's the last time he's really blown up when he shouldn't have? Well," he amended, "at General Hammond, anyway."

"I don't think he ever has," she said. "Not really." Daniel might not like everything about their rules or their chain of command, but he followed his own sense of respect and duty to the letter--he could yell at Jack and argue with Hammond, but never like that.

Jack frowned, hoping that not too many people had heard that happening, or by tomorrow morning, the rumor mill would be churning out something about teenage temper tantrums in the general's office. "He doesn't usually make it personal with Hammond," he said thoughtfully. "And with me earlier, it was like he was mad at something specific."

"Sir, that's not unusual with you," she pointed out.

"Well...okay," Jack admitted, "but I don't even know what I supposedly did wrong this time."

"Do you think it's that thing with Shifu?"

"The dream?" Jack said. "That's a new one--getting yelled at for something I did in his dream."

"I could talk to him," she said, looking apprehensively toward Daniel's door.

He considered the offer, because they'd all been having a crappy time and Jack wouldn't mind having someone talk sense or comfort into Daniel--whichever came first--but there was no upper limit to the number of people Daniel could yell at in one night, and Carter didn't deserve that. "He usually cools off on his own," Jack finally said. "I'll stay on base tonight and keep an eye out. Come on--Teal'c's in the archaeology office. He's found something you should see before we go to the planet."

XXXXX

1 May 2001; SGC; 0845 hrs

"Where's Daniel?" Jack asked Teal'c and Carter when he didn't see anyone else in the ready room.

"I have not yet seen him today," Teal'c said.

"Me neither, sir," Carter said.

Jack paused, then pushed the door back open to check the corridor outside. "Huh," he said, returning to pull down his gear. "He wasn't in his room or the mess this morning. I assumed he'd be here by now if he wanted to go back so badly."

Teal'c finished dressing, checked his watch, then said, "Perhaps he is already in the 'gate room."

"Ah...right," Jack said dubiously. "I'll check the office when I'm done and meet you two downstairs. He's got to be somewhere in this mountain."

Except the door opened again before any of them could leave, and Daniel walked in, not looking at any of them as he made his way to his locker.

"O...kay," Jack said. "So where've you been?" he added to Daniel.

Daniel didn't look up from pulling on his jacket and only shrugged. Jack decided not to push his luck and didn't say anything else as they waited.

"Done?" Carter said a minute later.

"Yes," Daniel said quietly, zipping up his vest. "I'm done."

Jack watched him suspiciously, then decided he was probably just embarrassed--in a big way--about the night before, but at least he wasn't about to explode. With a shrug, Jack led the way out toward the main armory near the embarkation room. They could find a chance to take a break once they were sure nothing on the planet had killed Barber. He couldn't start second-guessing everything now.

Later, he would regret not thinking twice.

"Carter, dial it up," he said when they'd checked in with the general and were waiting to set off.

She moved to the DHD as the rest of them waited at the bottom of the ramp. Jack listened to each chevron lock--four, five, six, seven--

Daniel sprinted up the ramp.

"Daniel, no!" Jack cried, running after him. He could hear Teal'c yelling as he just barely managed to get an arm around Daniel's shoulders and throw both of them backward in time to let the vortex whoosh over them.

Jack landed hard on his back, Daniel's weight knocking what wind was left out of his lungs. "No," Daniel gasped, and then, before he could recover, the weight disappeared off his chest.

"Oh, god--shut it down!" Carter was calling. "Shut it down!"

By the time Jack rolled over and turned to see what was going on, the wormhole was winking out of existence, and Daniel was at the far end of the ramp with a gun in his hand.

"--on SG-5..." someone was saying.

Out of habit, Jack rose to his feet, pulling his P90 into line, and then he realized Daniel wasn't trying to shoot them; the barrel of the gun was pointing the way Jack had told him never, ever to point it, and, god, he was going to shoot himself--

"Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said, stepping onto the ramp while Jack frantically lowered his weapon and unhooked it from his vest, his mind freezing over and over on the sight of Daniel with a gun at his throat.

"I'm sorry," Daniel said, backing up a step and stopping when he hit the edge of the ramp.

"Security, stand down!" Hammond's voice shouted. "Mr. Jackson, listen to me--we can help you. But you need to put the gun down."

"Daniel, please," Carter was saying. "One minute. Put it down for just a min--"

"None of it means anything," Daniel said quietly, just barely loud enough to be heard over the ruckus. The gun inched higher, his hand shaking but the barrel pressed against his skull, his finger on the trigger, which meant he was ready to shoot, because Daniel knew better than to put that kind of pressure on the trigger if he didn't want to shoot, and a surprise now wouldn't go down well, and even a zat blast might make him convulse and squeeze it...

Finally freed of his weapons, Jack held up his hands and walked slowly closer. "Daniel," he said, "why don't you put. The gun. Down."

"I tried," Daniel said, shaking his head and swaying slightly until he bumped into the railing. "It just goes away."

Which made no sense, but it didn't matter, because all Jack had to do was get close enough to move the gun away before Daniel pulled the trigger and got killed, too. "Okay," Jack said, calmly, still moving closer and wondering if everyone else could hear his heart beating or if it was just him. "Well, we'll, uh...we'll get it back."

Daniel started to slump, leaning on the railing, looking at the floor and not moving his hand, but the gun trembled a little more, as if he couldn't quite hold onto it, and Jack just knew that any second he was going to squeeze just a little too hard... "You can't get it back," he whispered.

At a loss, Jack tried, "Whatever's wrong--we'll fix it."

Squeezing his eyes shut, Daniel let out a quiet, gasping sob. Then he opened his eyes and the gun steadied. "You don't even know what I’m talking about."

"No," Jack admitted, transfixed by the sight of the gun and almost forgetting to take another step closer. "No, I--I don't. But put the gun down. Please, Daniel. Don't do this to me."

Daniel took a deep breath. He let it out. He looked up, blinked, and--"Jack?" he said. His gun hand started to drop.

Jack lunged forward and pulled the gun away, taking just enough time to lock the safety before sliding it away, where it clattered down the ramp. "Clear," he said hoarsely.

"W-we need a med team," Carter said somewhere behind them.

"It's me, Daniel," Jack whispered, shaky with relief, and it wasn't until Daniel leaned forward and grabbed at his vest that he realized how urgently they had to get to the doctor. "Come on," he said gently. "Let's go."

"Jack?" Daniel repeated. He took a step forward and started to crumple. "Wha--what's going--"

"Whoa, whoa," Jack said, lowering him to the floor. "Teal'c--Sam! Look at me, Daniel." He untangled himself and pulled Daniel's face up to see. Daniel squirmed weakly away from him, his eyes half-open and his pupils far too dilated.

"I'm sorry," Daniel moaned, pulling back and curling into a ball on the ramp. Jack spotted a bayonet on his belt and took it away, too, tossing his own aside as a precaution. "Doesn't matter."

Teal'c dropped to his haunches next to them. "It is that planet," he said quietly. "We must investigate."

Nodding absently, Jack pulled Daniel back out of his near-fetal position. "Come on, kid," he repeated, rubbing Daniel's arm--god, his hand was ice-cold. "Talk to me. What happened back there?" Daniel's eyes stayed shut. "Daniel?"

A hand reached for Daniel's neck. Jack looked up and realized Carter must have joined them. "His pulse is slow," she said.

"Daniel, wake up," Jack said, shaking him gently. Nothing happened. Jack shook harder. "Wake up!"

"Colonel, Major, Teal'c, out of the way," Dr. Fraiser's voice called. "What's going on?"

"Tried to kill himself," Jack said as he stumbled to his feet and backed away. Fraiser stopped for an instant, staring at them, then lowered herself to the ramp as a gurney approached from behind. "And then he passed out--"

"We need to get him to the infirmary," she said, gesturing to the orderlies to help her. "Let's go!"

Jack sat down hard on the ramp. Teal'c was following the gurney but stopped when he realized the rest of them weren't behind him. If Jack hadn't been so busy keeping himself from sinking any further than he already had, he'd have been worried about the others, too. "I will go with Daniel Jackson," Teal'c decided, and hurried off after the gurney.

Soon, the 'gate room was silent. Jack dropped his head onto his knees.

"Sir?" Carter said, sounding like she very desperately wanted him to answer. He took a deep breath and clenched his hands together to stop them from shaking. A hand touched his shoulder. "Colonel."

"Yeah," Jack said, pulling himself up enough to see Carter crouching next to him. "It's--it's gotta be that planet. Daniel wouldn't have--"

"I know, Jack," Hammond's voice said, and he looked up to see the general standing over them. "We should have realized after last night, knowing what happened to Lieutenant Barber."

"I called him a teenager in a snit," he said numbly.

Hammond moved a step closer. "Now's not the time to play that game, Colonel," he said firmly. "I just had the three other members of SG-5 called. None of them showed up for work. We assumed they'd taken the day for Lieutenant Barber's memorial, but the wife of one of them answered the phone and said he was in bad shape; the other two haven't picked up and there's someone going to their homes now."

"We have to go to '347," Jack said, shaking the image out of his mind.

"It does look like that's what's causing this," Hammond said, but he didn't say 'yes.'

"Teal'c saw someone in the video footage that no one else mentioned, sir," Carter said, her voice subdued but picking up strength as she focused on the mission. Jack pulled himself up. "It looked like whoever it was might have been hiding, maybe manipulating them. At the very least, the person might be able to tell us what's going on."

"I need to check on Daniel," Jack said.

"We'll wait for the preliminary results of Dr. Fraiser's exam," the general agreed, watching him carefully. "She might know what's causing this. Then, if it looks like it'll help, you can go to the planet and look for answers."

...x...

1 May 2001; Infirmary, SGC; 1530 hrs

"So this boy you met on the planet," Hammond said as Jack stood at the foot of Daniel's bed. "Loran. He really doesn't know anything?"

"He's a kid," Jack snapped. "Carter and Teal'c are going to try to get more out of him. Why the hell isn't Daniel waking up?"

"His neurological activity is continuing to decline, sir," Fraiser said. "I'm pretty sure now that whatever substance is at fault for this actually increased his neural activity while he was on the planet. When he left, he was no longer exposed to it, and his dopamine levels dropped as he went into withdrawal. It's what seems to have happened with SG-5, and I think the same thing is happening to Loran, whether he knows it or not."

"Withdrawal," Jack said, and kicked the foot of the bed. "Daniel and SG-5 got drugged?"

"Sir, I need you to calm down," she said, walking slowly toward him with a hand held out.

Jack whirled on her. "Don't tell me to calm down! Four men are dead and Daniel is lying on his death bed, and you're giving me excuses?"

"Colonel O'Neill," Hammond said sternly.

Fraiser kept her hand held out. "Colonel. We are doing all we can. In the meantime, I'd like to recheck your dopamine levels."

And then realization splashed over him like ice. "It's happening to me, too, isn't it," Jack said, leaning on the bed.

"Let me find out," she said, gesturing to the bed and watching him as if worried he'd do something to her.

But before he could sit, the monitor over Daniel's head began to beep. Fraiser looked away from him and at the monitor. "What is that?" Jack said.

"His EEG is sporadic," she said, removing his nasal canula and shifting the wires away. "This is exactly what happened to the members of SG-5 before they died. Sir, you're gonna have to take him back to the planet."


From the next chapter ("Lux et Veritas"):

The boy wrung his hands, looking after the others. Finally, he turned around to face Daniel. "Hi," he said, raising one hand in a partial wave and smiling nervously.

Daniel braced himself and sat up mostly-straight. "Hi," he said. "Who are you?"

"Um," the boy said. He rocked once on his heels, looked over his shoulder as if to see where the others were, the said, "Loran."


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