Connections Part One
By Tammy K
WARNINGS: Violence, some profanity
CATEGORY: Hurt/Comfort, Drama, Angst
SPOILERS: A Hundred Days, Stargate the movie, minor references to Brief Candle, The Broca Divide, Children of the Gods, Cold Lazarus, Need, Solitudes, The Serpent’s Lair
TIME FRAME: Immediately after A Hundred Days
PAIRINGS: A little Jack/Sam UST
SUMMARY: The team’s efforts to deal with the implications of what happened to Jack on Edora are cut short when a highly advanced society with the power to read and control their victims’ minds targets the Colonel and Daniel.
DISCLAIMER: This story has been created for entertainment purposes only and is in no way intended to infringe upon any copyrights associated with Stargate or Stargate SG-1.
All original characters and situations are the property of the author. Please do not archive without permission.
His home seemed alien to him.
Colonel Jack O'Neill stared at the wooden door, his fingers clenching the key in the lock. He had dreamt of this moment for almost three months, but now he couldn’t move.
Damn. It seemed too good to be true. He was afraid that trying to step inside would transform his house back into an Edoran hut, bringing an end to another dream of home.
Then the roar of a passing truck pulled him back to earth. ‘You’re gonna have to do it sooner or later, O’Neill, just open it!’ He took a deep breath, turned the knob, and tentatively stepped inside.
Relieved to see the familiar entryway, Jack closed the door and instinctively tossed his keys onto the table. He smiled thinly. 'I guess old habits die hard.'
Stepping over three months of junk mail, the Colonel hung his coat and moved into the living room. He looked around, taking it in. Pictures on the wall, books on the table, the television, the phone. It was all there, just as he had left it. Laira and Garan would have been in awe of his twentieth century toys. He wished he could have brought them home with him. ‘Damn it! Back to the Edorans again.’ He cursed himself. ‘You’re here, and they’re back on Edora. For better or worse, it’s done. Accept it!’
It had been three days since he helped Teal'c dig his way to the surface, uncovering the Stargate and leading him home.
It was the rescue he had prayed for.
But what about Laira?
O’Neill couldn’t deny that something had happened between them. It was the first time since Sara left him that he had felt such intimacy. He had come to embrace the simple life. It had been so easy to leave all this behind and that unnerved him. Maybe the fates were trying to tell him something.
He scooped up a handful of photos from the mantle and lowered himself onto the sofa, exhausted. After two grueling days at the SGC he was relieved by the silence. No more tests from Janet. He thought the doctor had invented new medical procedures just for the occasion. Of course she was looking out for him, and the whole planet, by checking for alien diseases or something like that, but her constant hovering was making him crazy.
Then there was General Hammond and the government. The constant debriefings had been hard to take. D.C. must have sent every agent with clearance to enter the base. After all, how often did they get a chance to talk to a man who had spent three months on another planet? It was quite an opportunity and he understood that. But they wanted to know every excruciating detail of what happened. Most of the questions were a violation of his privacy, so he was uncooperative and evasive until they finally left him alone.
Now he stared at the photos on his lap. All three showed him with family and friends. The first with Sara and Charlie-how he had longed to see this photo again. He could still see Sara insisting that they get all dressed up and have a professional photo taken right after Charlie’s birthday. The Colonel silently thanked her for her stubbornness. He always felt better just knowing that picture was hanging on the wall.
Next was a photo of his parents, he had called them from the infirmary just to hear their voices. They would never know that their son had been lost to the world for over three months with no hope of returning. He was glad of that.
Then there was SG-1. He smiled at the photo of him with Daniel, Sam, and Teal’c, his new family. Taken by Janet Frasier at one of their many BBQ’s, it struck him how happy he looked as a part of the team.
How he had hoped they would come back for him-but as days became weeks he had given up. Embracing his new home, he had gone on alone. All the while his friends had been working day and night to save him.
Sam changed the slide on her microscope and focused the lens. "It's definitely a quartz derivative."' She said absently to Daniel, who was scribbling notes on a pad by her side.
"Really? Then our findings could lead to another new element for the periodic table." The linguist said as he wrote.
"Woo Who." Major Carter muttered.
"Woo Woo, that's it?" Daniel was shorter than he had intended. He was still wired after all those long hours working to rescue Jack. But their victory wasn’t as satisfying as he thought it would be. There was a strange tension in the air.
"Sorry, I guess my heart's not in it today." Sam smiled. Her eyes glassy with exhaustion.
"I'm sure he's fine. We’ll see him tomorrow." Daniel answered, apologizing with his eyes. He put a reassuring hand on her shoulder.
She put her hand on his and returned the smile. "You know me too well. These silent tensions are driving me crazy."
"Don’t invest too much in a resolution. Jack's never been one to open up." The archeologist frowned.
Even thought she knew he was right, Sam wasn’t happy to hear that. She had more unresolved feelings than she knew what to do with.
The Major couldn't imagine what it had been like for her commanding officer, trapped on that planet filled with strangers. No way home.
But how could he come to the decision to stop looking for the gate, become a member of Edoran society, even fall in love? She knew she would have kept digging forever. But she could do that with the knowledge that Colonel Jack O'Neill would never stop until he found her. Evidently he did not feel the same way about Major Samantha Carter. That realization had shaken her. The Colonel had not just given up on the SGC; he had given up on her.
"What's really going on here Sam?" Daniel put down his work and waited.
"I guess I expected things to look different when we found him." She stared at the floor, surprised by her own selfish thoughts.
"In what way?" Daniel pressed.
"He looked like he belonged there."
"Oh…you mean Jack wasn't sleeping on the ground next to the Gate, digging 20 hours a day while he waited for us to rescue him."
"Something like that, yeah. I just didn't expect him to give up."
Doctor Jackson sighed. Knowing Jack as well as he did he could only imagine how desperate the Colonel must have been to move into town.
"Jack is a survivor. Certainly an optimist, but still pragmatic at heart. He did what he had to do to stay alive-like any of us would have done." Daniel watched the frown on Sam's face and it all made sense.
"Ah…you're taking this personally. He gave up on Earth, so he gave up on us. Is that it?"
Sam's eyes flashed with anger-found out.
"Maybe it is. If it were you or me trapped that way wouldn't we always know for sure that Colonel O’Neill would find us?"
"Of course. But in the meantime we would still have to live. That would mean food and shelter."
"I saw the way he looked at her before we left. That was more than food or shelter."
"A little jealousy?" Daniel said too quickly
"What!" Sam fired back. "I know you all think that, but Colonel O'Neill is my commanding officer and my friend. In some ways a mentor, but I am not in love with him." Sam stood quickly, raising her voice.
"I'm not accusing you. It's ok to admit a little jealousy because he turned to someone else even if you are not looking to go out on a date with the man." Daniel waited.
Carter smiled sheepishly, a little embarrassed at her outburst. "I guess I was a little jealous of her because the Colonel turned to her for help. As his 2IC I want him to turn to me."
"It's hard to get Jack to ask anyone for help. Believe me I know."
"He doesn’t think I can handle it. If he needs a fighter, he turns to Teal'c. When he's looking for advice he talks to you- where does that leave me?"
"First of all, he rarely asks me for advice, but he relies on your technical expertise all the time." Sam shook her head. Daniel raised a hand to continue.
"Think about it. Jack has always resisted our explanations of cultural and technical matters-not because he doesn't care-well not entirely because he doesn't care-but because he has enough faith in us to know we're right. It still makes me furious sometimes when he cuts me off that way, but that's Jack. He leaves the details to you and me. He has faith in you, Sam. If he didn’t you wouldn’t still be on the team."
Sam smiled and looked up from her work. The Major wasn’t convinced by any means, but just vocalizing her doubts had made her feel better.
"You are a good friend, Daniel." Sam touched his shoulder as she closed up shop.
"I know." Daniel returned the gesture.
"I'm going home to get some sleep." Sam yawned. The day was beginning to wear on her.
"Me too. I think we all could use it. Have you seen Teal'c?"
"I think he’s in his room."
"Good, maybe I'll drop by on my way out. Try to get some rest. We’ll work all this out." The linguist promised as he turned to leave.
“I hope so.” Sam answered softly as she watched her friend close the door behind him.
Teal'c had been meditating in silence when the knocking awakened him. The Jaffa answered his door almost before Daniel had lowered his arm.
"Greetings Teal'c. I was on my way home and I thought I'd stop by."
"Please come in. Is there something you wish to discuss with me?"
Daniel took a seat and smiled. Teal'c always knew how to cut to the heart of the matter.
"Not really. I just wanted to see how you felt about Jack."
"Colonel O'Neill is my friend and commanding officer." He answered taking a seat across from Daniel.
"Who has just been trapped on an alien world for over three months."
"Unfortunately that is so. Is there a problem with Colonel O'Neill?" Teal'c stiffened.
"No….No…I was asking if you have a problem."
"For what reason?"
"You know, I really don't remember." Daniel smiled in confusion as he got up to leave.
"Good night Teal'c. I'm glad you are on our side."
"As am I DanielJackson."
Daniel left his friend's room and walked to the elevators. He wished he had Teal'c's self control. The truth was he still felt anxious about Jack's absence. They had committed all their efforts to bringing him home for over three months so it was hard to relax and enjoy their success. Not to mention the messy cleanup.
Could Sam and Jack come to terms with what had happened? He had never met two people who were less in touch with their own feelings, each vigorously refusing counseling or assistance of any kind. Leaving him with no choice but to step in and provide it for their own good. He only hoped they could make some progress at Jack’s house the following day.
"Laira!" Jack woke with a start. For a moment he thought he was back on Edora. His new found love at his side. But as the fog of sleep cleared he saw that he was still sitting on the couch in his living room, surrounded by family photos and keepsakes.
Walking out onto the deck, O’Neill looked up at the sky. They were all still there. His stars filled the sky and it was an instant comfort. Edora’s unfamiliar constellations had been just another reminder of how far away from home he really was. After climbing the ladder to his rooftop observatory, Jack lowered himself onto a deck chair, staring up at the sky. He stretched stiff shoulders by reaching his arms towards the darkness.
It was great to be back, there was no doubt about that. This wasn’t the first time he limped home after a difficult mission. O’Neill knew it always took a few days to get his bearings back. But this time he felt an extra level of uncertainty. It would not be so easy to pick up right where he left off. Still, he had a good life-no reason to complain. He just had to be patient. Time had a way of putting things in their proper perspective. The stars kept him company all night long as he savored the cool Colorado air for the first time in months.
Morning came quickly and Jack was happy to step into the shower-one thing he had REALLY missed. The cold water reinvigorated him.
Colonel O’Neill changed into Khaki pants and a dark blue pullover. Today he re-entered society. At 3pm the team would be coming over for a BBQ, a kind of welcome home party reserved for his closest friends.
He was certainly ready to get back to work. All this sitting around was killing him. Too much time to think about-dwell on- the past. The new and improved Jack O'Neill didn't do 'the past'. A man could get buried alive under the weight of missed opportunities and regrets. He had worked so hard to dig himself out that he could not fall into that trap again. It would be good to get a bracing shot of the present as soon as possible so he could get back to his life as a member of the SGC.
Looking into the refrigerator he wrinkled his nose at the smell. ‘Something was definitely rotten in Denmark!’ Of course everything had gone bad while he was away.
Next O’Neill set to work gathering up all the mail piled in front of his front door postal chute. He never realized how much junk he got over a three month span. He had qualified for a several new platinum visas, he could train at home for a new career, some phone company or another wanted to switch his long distance for a nominal fee, the parade of useless solicitations went on and on.
Throwing all those on a pile for the dumpster, he smiled at the sight of three months of Sports Illustrated, Modern Astronomy, and the Hockey Digest. Those he would be happy to catch up on. After paging through some of those magazines, Jack made a special pile for monthly bank statements and receipts from his automatic bill paying service. No real bills ever came to the house. After all, he had no way of knowing when he’d be available to take care of them. It wouldn’t do well for an Air Force Colonel to have his phone disconnected due to an extended stay on another planet.
After sorting all the mail into ‘toss it’ and ‘keep it’ piles, Jack hopped in the truck and drove to the grocery store. The Colonel couldn't help but think about how much good a single grocery store could do on Edora. We take so much for granted. Of course the Edorans would say that the simple life they had was perfect. Maybe a pack of Double Stuff Oreo’s would change their minds.
When the first knock at the door came, Jack was cleaning three months of debris off his deck chairs.
"It's open." He yelled through the sliding glass doors.
Daniel entered, lugging two large bags filled with snacks. "I wasn't sure what everyone would like so I brought one of everything." He yelled, looking around the house for his friend.
"Sounds good." Jack said as he appeared in the doorway. He took the bags and put them on the counter. Then he shook his friend’s hand warmly.
"It's great to see you." He smiled.
"I saw you yesterday." Daniel quipped.
"I know, but it's not the same. Now I'm home and it's official. I’ve escaped the infirmary again."
Daniel nodded. He knew that feeling all too well. There was nothing like the moment when you took that first step out of the infirmary after a long recuperation.
"Did you sleep well? First night home and all." The linguist asked as he watched his friend unpack the groceries.
Jack smiled at a favorite brand of corn chips. "You did bring one of everything. It looks like you cleaned out the store."
"Are you avoiding my question?" Daniel pressed.
"For now. If you don’t mind, I’d like to spend the day talking about something other than myself.” O’Neill folded the bags and put them in his recycling drawer.
"Alright…fair enough." So it's a sore subject, Daniel worried. "What can I do to help?" The linguist changed the subject with a lighthearted grin.
"Grab some plates and meet me on the deck." Secretly relieved at the topic change, Colonel O’Neill turned and left. Daniel made a beeline for the cupboard. In some ways he knew Jack’s kitchen better than his own.
"Sam and Teal'c should be here soon." Daniel added as he set the table.
"Remind me to teach Teal'c how to drive one of these days." Jack smiled at the image. It was always such a joy to introduce the Jaffa to the wonders of Earth.
"That would be something to see." Daniel moved to a deck chair. He felt a guarded quality in Jack's conversation.
The Colonel concentrated on the steaks, dreading more of Daniel's questions. How long could he avoid talk of Edora…?
"Are you ready to get back to work tomorrow?" The archeologist gently probed.
"You bet." Jack didn't look up. He thought back to yesterday’s mission briefing. It was a routine sample gathering assignment, something simple to get him back into the saddle again. He had silently thanked the General for the quick return to active duty.
"It sounds like an interesting planet." Daniel searched for a topic of conversation, hoping to draw out his friend.
"I'll take your word for it." O’Neill answered adding more of his patented Jack O'Neill BBQ sauce. A knock at the door made them both jump.
"That's probably Sam and Teal'c. I'll get it." Daniel hurried back into the house. He hoped they would have better luck.
He opened the door to find the remaining two members of SG-1 smiling in front of him.
"Hi Guys." he said, motioning them in.
"Hi Daniel. I've got the picnic stuff." Sam was trying hard to be enthusiastic.
Teal'c carried a large paper bag. "Greetings DanielJackson."
Daniel nodded, leading them out onto the deck.
Jack turned smiling. "Hey kids, good to see you." He looked all three of them from top to bottom. It was REALLY good to see them.
"Are you well O'Neill?" Teal'c asked.
"I am now. Put that stuff on the table, the steaks will be ready any minute."
Sam took off her jacket and hung it on the back of her chair. "That's good to hear, Sir." She added.
"So what's in the bag?" Daniel asked.
"Potato salad, macaroni salad, cole slaw, and BBQ baked beans." She answered proudly.
"Why Carter, it sounds like you've become a regular Julia Childs." O’Neill teased.
"Don’t I wish, sir. You can send your compliments to the chefs at Eddie’s Super Shop. That deli is a life saver."
They all laughed briefly. It sounded a little forced as Jack piled the finished steaks onto a large tray and turned off the grill.
"Dinner is served. What is everyone drinking?” Jack had already walked back into the house. “Beer I hope, cause that’s all I got today when I went shopping.”
"How is he?" Sam whispered.
"Tight lipped as always." Daniel answered.
"He seems alright." Carter was hopeful.
O’Neill returned with four cold beers and five large spoons.
"The steaks smell great." Sam added as she removed the lids from all her deli items and put a spoon in each. Then she sat down.
“Don’t tell me you’ve already forgotten about Jack O’Neill’s world famous BBQ sauce.” The Colonel beamed with pride as he took his seat at the head of the deck table.
“No, sir. It’s been a few months though.” Carter added as she handed the plastic container of potato salad to Teal'c, who examined it closely.
“You forget how nice it is to just sit and eat lunch.” Daniel sighed, relaxing for the first time in months. It was so comforting to be surrounded by all his friends.
“Tell me about it. Dig in Teal'c." O’Neill urged, smiling. "You wanted to learn about our world. Eddie’s Potato Salad is one of the best parts."
Teal'c took a large spoonful and passed the container to Daniel who took it with a smile.
“Thanks. Jack’s right. You have to try some this time.”
“Perhaps I will.” The Jaffa examined the food on his plate with concern. Every time they had a get-together he sat and watched his friends eat without joining them. But the return of Colonel O’Neill was a special occasion, maybe he would take a chance.
“Alright. That’s what I wanted to hear.” Jack laughed. “Be brave.”
All three friends watched as Teal'c finally put a spoon of potato salad into his mouth and started chewing.
“How is it?” Sam asked, hoping the native food would not be too much for the Jaffa’s alien stomach.
“It is unlike anything I have ever eaten before.” Teal'c answered, taking another bite.
“Is that good?” Jackson took a bite himself. It was heavenly. You couldn’t beat Eddie’s.
“It is. These potatoes are quite pleasing. We do not have such things on Chulak.”
“You’ll have to take some with you next time you drop in on Bra’tac.” Jack suggested as he passed the steak across the table.
“I do not think he would appreciate it as I have.” Teal'c’s eyes twinkled at the thought.
They all smiled thinking of Master Bra’tac sunning himself on the deck with a bottle of beer and a BBQ steak.
Then the team fell quiet. Each one lost in their own thoughts. The food was great and the company was wonderful, but the unspoken issues at hand started to fill the air around everyone at the table.
Colonel O’Neill felt compelled to start some kind of casual conversation. "So what did you guys do today?" He asked helping himself to a second serving of some cole slaw.
"I spent the morning examining some of the samples we brought back from Edora. They were really quite fascinating." Carter answered, sensing a chance to turn the conversation toward a more important topic.
O’Neill flinched at the mention of the planet.
Daniel saw the tick under his friend's eye. "Are you alright, Jack?" He asked softly, knowing he would earn the Colonel’s wrath for even mentioning it.
"I’ve seen enough of those rocks to last a lifetime.” O’Neill added without looking up. “Did anything interesting happen while I was away?” He asked, ignoring Daniel’s question. He was flailing for some kind of conversational foothold.
"We spent all our time working to bring you home." The linguist answered, trying to force/guide them back Edora.
Jack's eyes narrowed and he glared at his friend for a long time. Suddenly his face softened. "I ah…wanted to thank you guys for sticking with that."
No one said anything, forcing him to continue. He played with the food on his plate. "I mean, thanks for working so hard to get to me."
"I'm just glad we made it through." Daniel broke the silence.
"Me too." Jack added softly.
Sam stared at her plate. "Are you sir?"
"What?" The Colonel shot Carter a confused glance.
"Are you really glad we found you?" She repeated.
"Sam, maybe this isn’t such a good idea…” Daniel interrupted with dread.
O’Neill stopped him with the wave of his hand. "No Daniel, we're off duty, Carter can say what's on her mind. Go ahead Major."
Now Sam regretted having spoken. "…I just meant that you seemed sad to leave Edora."
"I was I guess…” He didn't offer more.
"Because of Laira?" Carter pressed, not sure why, but the Major was suddenly determined to find out about their relationship.
Jack didn't like that question at all. His eyes flashed as he dropped his fork. Sipping from a bottle of beer, O’Neill sized up his second in command.
"I appreciate your concern. But you don’t have to worry about me. I'll be fine. Three months was a long time and I got used to living there. So it was hard to leave. Let's let it go at that."
Daniel sighed. There comes the famous Jack O'Neill wall again. Once it came crashing down in front of him, no one could get inside.
Sam went back to eating quietly. Why had she brought up the woman? Maybe Daniel was right. Maybe she was jealous.
Teal'c watched silently. He knew O'Neill would not share such personal experiences with his team. He admired the man’s inner strength. A good commander did not expose such weakness to his subordinates. Even if they were his friends.
Jack ate silently, mildly irritated at Carter's tone. He felt bad enough about having given up while his teammates were working so hard back home. He didn’t need her to throw it in his face.
"Can we talk about this?" Daniel sighed. Unable to stand the silence.
"Talk about what?" Jack asked intensely, his gaze like steel.
"What just happened here." Daniel added.
No one spoke.
"Okay, I'll start. It seems to me there are some hurt feelings at this table. We should try to work it out."
"Okay, I guess it's back to me…Sam, tell Jack how you felt when he was marooned."
Sam's eyes burned. "I wanted to get him home." She answered with a touch of anger. "Didn't you?"
"Of course I did. We all did. But YOU came up with a plan and worked non-stop to get to him. Now tell Jack how you felt when we arrived on Edora."
Sam hesitated. O’Neill looked deep into her eyes and saw the answer.
"Now I see that’s going on here. You’re all mad because I had given up." He said sadly.
Sam couldn’t meet his eyes. His weak tone made her feel ashamed. "No sir, I know you must have tried to get back."
"But not as hard as you did." Daniel pressed, sure that they needed to clear the air.
"No-I just didn't expect to see you so settled. You looked like you ‘belonged’ there."
The Colonel didn’t know what to say. Carter was right. The Edorans had made him feel like one of their own.
"I'm sure Jack worked hard to uncover the gate…"Daniel started, hoping his friend would pick up from there, but he just glared straight ahead.
"I just felt like you gave up on us. We were working so hard to get to you but you must have thought we just left you there." Sam felt relieved to have said it. She looked to Daniel for support and he nodded encouragement.
"I GAVE UP on you? I thought the gate had been blown to smithereens." Jack finally growled. Not willing to go any further.
"I understand that sir, I guess I just thought you would never give up." Sam added.
O’Neill laughed humorlessly. "Well I’m sorry I’m such a big disappointment to you." He stood, taking his plate back toward the house.
"Jack, wait." Daniel stood.
The Colonel ignored him, suddenly all business. "Finish your lunches, I'll see you at 0800 sharp." He closed the sliding door, leaving the three teammates in silence.
Daniel sat down frowning. He had pushed the private man too far too soon.
"Damn it. I didn't mean to do that!” Sam cursed, mad that she had let herself reveal too many of her true feelings.
“Of course not. You said what had to be said. Jack just wasn’t ready to hear it.”
“Colonel O’Neill does not wish to share his inner-most thoughts. It is his right.” Teal’c spoke finally.
“I wish it were that simple, Teal'c. But Jack lets things build up inside until they eat him alive. He needs to let them out.” The linguist answered. Then he looked at Sam. “You have to deal with your feelings, too.”
“I know. This helped.” Sam sipped her beer lightly. “I just hope we haven’t made things worse with Colonel O’Neill.”
“Jack will come around in his own time. At least we gave him something to think about.” Daniel said.
“I hope so. We worked so hard to bring him back, were we wrong to do that?” Sam couldn’t help but remember the regret in O’Neill’s eyes as he left Edora behind.
“Of course not. Jack wanted to come home. But sometimes things get complicated. I think part of him wanted to stay, too.”
Sam nodded. She knew all about the complicated life of an officer in the SGC. But duty had a way of settling any argument. In this case she knew that was why the Colonel had returned. But her heart wanted him to have come back for something more. Those feelings could be hard to beat sometimes.
“What are you thinking?” Daniel asked, sensing her inner battle.
Sam smiled self-consciously. “That it’s time to go.” She turned to the Jaffa. “Teal’c are you ready?”
“Very Well, Major.” Teal’c picked up his coat and nodded to Daniel. “Farewell”
Daniel nodded, suddenly weary. “Ok…See you both tomorrow.”
“Are you leaving, too?” Carter asked as she put on her coat.
“No. I may stay awhile. In case he comes down. The Colonel will never admit it, but he could use a friend right now.”
“You are a good friend.” Sam hugged Daniel warmly. “Thanks for your help.”
“It’s my pleasure. Try not to let what happened here bother you. Jack’s all bluster. He’ll be his old cheerful self by morning.”
Sam and Teal’c left Jackson sitting at the table. He ate a delicious lunch, waiting for Jack to return. But there was only silence coming from the Colonel’s room so the archeologist finally gave up and cleaned off the table. He put the leftovers in the refrigerator and washed the dishes. Then he selected a book from Jack’s living room bookcase-“The Three Musketeers” by Alexandre Dumas-and sat on the sofa. Daniel knew that sooner or later his friend would reappear.
Carter drove in silence. How had their little BBQ gotten out of hand so quickly? She knew Daniel meant well but now she wished she had not confronted Colonel O’Neill with her real feelings. It was too soon.
“Are you alright, MajorCarter?” Teal'c was concerned by his friend’s silence.
The Jaffa’s deep voice startled Sam back to the present. “I’m fine. But today’s welcome home party didn’t quite turn out the way I hoped it would.”
“I agree. But I have found that when emotions are involved, things seldom do.” Teal'c countered.
Sam only nodded. Her mind wandered back to the luncheon, had her reckless statements ruined her relationship with Colonel O'Neill permanently?
Jack sat in an armchair next to his bedroom window and stared out into the world. He was smarting from Sam’s frontal assault. He should have seen it coming, though. Certainly he felt guilty about his behavior on Edora. It was just hard to hear the accusations voiced by his friends. He knew he had no choice but to rely on the generosity of the local inhabitants after the gate was buried. But that didn’t make it any easier to accept. He had given up on his team.
The Colonel pressed play on his bookshelf stereo system and soon Bach filled the room. What a relief to bury himself in the master. Closing his eyes and reclining his head back on the soft chair, he drifted off to sleep, still mentally and physically exhausted from his long ordeal.
Sam said goodbye to Teal'c in the hall outside the weight room. The Jaffa would spend an hour or so working off his frustration at their inaction. By the end of his session he often found himself surrounded by spectators, amazed at the amount of weight the alien could bench press. He secretly felt a great pride at his ability to impress the men and women of the SGC.
Major Carter walked absently down the hall toward her lab. It was the one place she could go to think without any interruptions. Suddenly a moving object almost knocked her to the ground.
“Hey!” She said as she straightened her uniform. To her surprise she had just been rundown by Colonel Robert Makepeace.
“Sorry, Colonel.” She said, moving to attention. Just what she needed, trouble from a hothead like Makepeace. The perfect end to a perfect day.
But all she got was more silence. The Colonel brushed by her, his face blank.
‘I guess he has more important things to do than worry about my welfare.’ Sam smirked as she continued to her office and closed the door.
It took almost two hours but finally Daniel heard Jack’s bedroom door open and soon he was walking slowly down the steps. “Did I say you could stay over?” O’Neill asked softly, irritated to see anyone else still there.
“Good. See you tomorrow.” He walked past Daniel and into the kitchen, smiling when he saw the dishes drying on the sink. “Thanks for cleaning up.”
“Sure thing.” The linguist didn’t move.
The Colonel came back into the living room with a fresh bottle of beer. “Didn’t I tell you to leave?”
“Yes Jack, you did. But I think I should stay.”
O’Neill sat across from his friend. “Why? I could make it an order.”
“Because you could use a friend, and you said it yourself, we’re off duty.” Daniel answered softly.
“Damn.” Jack sat quietly sipping his beer.
“This is an interesting book. Have you ever read it?” Daniel showed his friend the leather bound volume.
“The Three Musketeers? Sure. Hasn’t everybody?” Jack sensed a sneak attack.
“Right. ‘All for one and one for all’. It’s a romantic notion.” The linguist looked at the page he had been reading. “They had a perfect team.”
“Yeah, so? They also rode around on horses and wore leotards.” O’Neill challenged his friend to get to the point.
“I know SG-1 isn’t perfect, but we’ve done our best to live by that motto. It’s an important reason we’ve made it through so many tough situations. Everyone is always ready to sacrifice himself or herself for everyone else. Especially you. But this time was different. You feel like you let the rest of us down.” Daniel smiled and closed the novel. “At the base, we were spending every waking hour trying to bring you home, and what were you doing in the meantime? Getting to know Laira and becoming a good citizen of Edora.”
Letting the cold beer pour down his throat, the Colonel’s demeanor hardened. His friend had struck a nerve. “I think that just about says it all. I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain. Maybe I didn’t want to be found.” Jack’s eyes flashed.
“Maybe in your heart you DID want to stay. It’s natural for you to have conflicted feelings. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for you to be trapped there so long.” Daniel began.
Jack found himself fiddling with the paper label. He hated this ‘get in touch with your feelings’ shit.
“I still don’t know whether I’m glad to be home or sorry I left Edora.” He said finally.
“I know.” Daniel put the book down and picked up a pillow, clutching it as he folded his legs under himself on the sofa. “Tell me about it.”
Jack hesitated. He really didn’t want to get into this again, but Daniel had a way of making him open up. The archeologist had seen him at his lowest point. That counted for something.
“I didn’t move right in with Laira. I stayed by the gate site as long as I could, but after all that digging I was getting nowhere. I had to make a choice. The Edorans needed help with their crops, and I needed a place to live. It was as simple as that. And I have to admit I came to like it there.” O’Neill looked at the carpeting on the floor, ashamed of his feelings.
“There’s nothing wrong with that. Besides, Laira is a beautiful woman.”
Jack’s eyes flashed. “Yes she is. And a little companionship felt good for a change.” The Colonel missed Laira’s touch. “We got…close.” His voice was barely a whisper.
“I could see that.” Jackson smiled, regretting his flip statement when O’Neill frowned.
“Look around Daniel. I’m a divorced man, no…” he hesitated, “…no family…I live alone. You have no family, you live alone.”
“I have you.”
Jack nodded. His face lightened. “And that’s all we have. We don’t have any more in common with the people of earth than we do with the Goa’uld. Our lives are so much bigger than one planet. But after I’m done hopping galaxies I still come home to this empty house.”
Daniel wanted to argue, but he couldn’t. Sometimes the wonders of the Stargate only magnified the loneliness of their personal lives. He had gone home to his empty apartment feeling the same way on many occasions.
“But on Edora I didn’t have to put on an act. They knew Jack O’Neill the spaceman and they accepted me.”
“Have you considered going back?” The archeologist asked. If his friend was really interested in a new life, maybe he should think about making a change.
Jack looked up from his nervous hands with a hard glare. “I’m here. It’s my duty and I will discharge it to the best of my ability. End of story.” He slammed the wall back into place.
Daniel nodded. He knew the conversation was over. It had been more productive than he had a right to hope for, so he couldn’t complain.
They sat silently for a long moment. Jack sipped his beer, regarding the linguist. Daniel was always there for him, whether he wanted him to be or not. “You’ve done your job Doctor. Jackson. You can go home if you want. The patient is fine.” O’Neill said.
“Well that’s open for debate. Maybe I’ll stay over if you don’t mind. I’m not that happy with my empty apartment sometimes either.” Daniel hoped he’d say yes. It would be nice to spend some time with his friend again.
“Suit yourself. But no pillow fights.” Jack’s mood lightened.
“Darn it. I miss those. What are we going to do tonight, then?” Daniel smiled from ear to ear. “We could watch TV?” He hadn’t done that for three months either. Only Jack inspired him to check out the programming schedule.
O’Neill nodded enthusiastically. “Yeah, I have 3 months of sports to catch up on.”
The archeologist grabbed the remote. “I’m sure there are more than enough sports around the dial to get you up to date in a hurry.” He laughed.
About two hours of NHL hockey later, a knock startled them. Jack moved to the door and pushed the intercom button. “Who is it?” He asked, releasing the switch.
“O’Neill, open up.” Jack recognized the voice and unlocked the door with a scowl.
“Makepeace, what are you doing here?” He couldn’t think of one reason the Marine would be standing at his door. They weren’t exactly good friends.
“Just thought we’d check up on you.” The Colonel and three other members of SG-3 entered the room.
“Jackson.” Makepeace nodded to the linguist. Then he turned back to Colonel O’Neill.
“How are you doing, Jack?” He asked.
“I’ll live.” As O’Neill spoke neither he nor Daniel realized that Johnson and Whitaker and Collins were moving into positions behind them.
“Good to hear. So you’re going on a mission tomorrow.” Daniel smiled privately. Makepeace was just as awkward at conversation as the Colonel was. Both men stared at non-existent objects on the far wall.
Suddenly Johnson pulled out his pistol and whacked O’Neill on the back of the head, forcing him to the ground.
Daniel rose quickly.
“Get out of here!” Jack gasped as Makepeace pinned him to the floor with a boot to the back of the neck.
Daniel turned and dashed toward the door.
He looked back to see Jack face down, with Makepeace and Johnson standing over him.
“MOVE!” Jack yelled again, breathless when Makepeace grabbed his arms. The Colonel struggled, but his fellow officer was too heavy to move. Soon his wrists were cuffed behind his back.
Daniel hurried out the sliding glass doors followed closely by both men. Suddenly one tackled him then the other dragged him back into the house.
“Hey! What do you guys want with us anyway!” He demanded as he was thrown roughly to the floor next to O’Neill.
“I told you to run.” Jack groaned.
“I did...but so did they.” Daniel answered. His arms pulled behind him as he was forced to his knees.
Jack still fought. “What the hell is going on here Makepeace?” He yelled as he squirmed and struggled until Johnson hit him again with the blunt end of his weapon. Then the Colonel’s body was still.
Daniel noticed the strange metal cuffs holding his friend’s wrists. “What are those?” He asked. No one answered.
As Whitaker cuffed him, Daniel decided to cooperate. There was no way he could fight trained Marines. Besides, the only thing resistance had gotten Jack was a headache.
“What is going on here?” He asked again.
“We have to deliver you.” Said Colonel Makepeace in a strange, disembodied voice.
That sent a chill through the linguist. “Deliver us?”
Without another word, Makepeace removed a small orb from his pocket. It was like nothing Daniel had ever seen before. Solid but translucent and glowing, it seemed to surge with power.
Jack’s mind started to clear and he sat up tall on his knees. “Come on guys, couldn’t you have just sent me a card, why crash my Welcome Home Party?”
“We have waited for your return for many days.”
“I was…on vacation.” Jack grinned in spite of his situation. “If it’s me you’re after, why not just let him go?” He continued.
“We must take you both. The men who defeated RA will be quite a prize.”
“I think you’ve lost it, Bob. Just listen to yourself.” Jack was getting mad.
“They look drugged.” Daniel said quietly.
“They do, don’t they.” Jack turned from his friend to SG-3. “Never figured you for the funny mushrooms, Makepeace. But then, I’ve never been a very good judge of character.” O’Neill’s face hardened. “Now get these cuffs off and get out of my house and maybe I’ll forget all about this.” He was no longer asking.
“Enough!” Makepeace grew impatient. He motioned to Johnson who was standing behind Jack. He grabbed the Colonel’s head and held it still.
“Hey!” Jackson moved toward his friend until Whitaker grabbed him by the shoulders, forcing him to sit down on his haunches, and held him there.
Jack quickly assessed their situation, looking for a way out. But from where he was sitting, there were no options. Both he and Daniel were manacled by indestructible cuffs, outnumbered, and no one expected to hear from them until morning. Damn.
“Stay still, O’Neill. It will be painful enough.” Makepeace held the orb to Jack’s ear. The Colonel tried to struggle, but Johnson’s vice-like grip was too tight.
“What the hell is that?” He demanded with a tinge of fear.
“It will take away your confusion.”
“I like my confusion just the way…” Before O’Neill could finish, the orb seemed to float into his ear.
Daniel gasped in horror as it disappeared.
Jack’s stomach turned. He could feel the object invading his body, at first ripping through the auditory canal, then veering into his brain. He growled in agony. Sensing that the Colonel was losing his battle against the device, Johnson eased his hold. O’Neill rocked forward, his head touching the floor.
“What are you doing to him!” Daniel yelled, frantic.
Makepeace looked away from O’Neill’s shivering figure, his face sad. “The device is painful, it travels to the brain and lodges inside.”
“To do what?” Daniel asked, watching Jack’s choked cries.
“To make it easier to transport the new body.”
“Where?” He asked. Suddenly Jack stopped struggling and a calm fell over him. He sat upright, face forward, awaiting his orders.
“Jack, are you alright?” Daniel was desperate, as the Colonel seemed to be unreachable.
Suddenly Whitaker grabbed Daniel’s head and held it steady. The doctor closed his eyes, bracing for the pain. He felt the orb moving through into his body until his brain was on fire. He screamed as the agony consumed him.
Across the room Jack sat dispassionately, unaware of his friend’s cries.
After a few moments Daniel sat calmly and quietly, the device having taken control.
The orb left both men extremely susceptible to suggestion. Makepeace finished their instructions and told them to go to sleep for the evening. Jack and Daniel complied and soon they were lying on the floor unconscious. SG-3 removed their manacles, laid O’Neill on the couch and Jackson on the chair, and spread a bottle worth of beer over their clothes. Soon all signs of the evening’s struggle were gone.
After Colonel Makepeace drove his men home, he settled into bed with no memory of what he had done.
Sam sat at her desk with her head in her hands. Looking at the rocks from Edora only seemed to make her more agitated. She wanted to pulverize them. Destroy any trace that they had ever even been to the planet. And that disturbed her. Major Carter always prided herself on her ability to maintain a high level of professionalism. But this time all she wanted to do was scream.
“Burning the midnight oil I see.” Janet stood at the door.
Sam was surprised by the intrusion. “Sorry, I didn’t hear you come in.”
“I guess not. You looked like you were trying to stare a hole through that rock.” The doctor was concerned that her friend was working so late after all those months of overtime spent to save Colonel O’Neill.
“Something like that. It’s one of the samples we brought back from Edora.” Carter put the stone aside and turned to Janet Frasier.
“Oh. I see.” Janet moved to a chair in front of the Major’s desk.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Sam was defensive.
“Nothing. I know how difficult that mission was for all of you. I wouldn’t want to look at some rock from the planet either.”
They shared a smile.
“You all went to see the Colonel today, didn’t you?” The doctor asked.
“It was supposed to be a welcome home celebration.” Sam looked at her desk, still feeling guilty.
“Supposed to be…. it didn’t go well.” That was more of a statement than a question. The pained look on her friend’s face told Janet exactly how the party had gone.
“That’s one way to put it. Disaster would probably be more accurate, though.” Sam said.
“It can be a little awkward to get reacquainted after a particularly difficult mission.” Experience had taught Janet that team members often had a rough time dealing with each other after a grueling mission. There was so much guilt and shame associated with injuries and failed confrontations. It takes time to overcome those feelings and get back to working as a team again.
“Awkward, now that’s an understatement. I ruined the meal by accusing Colonel O’Neill of giving up on us on Edora. I don’t know why, but the words just fell out of my mouth. God I wish I could take them back.” Sam felt tears welling in her eyes.
“Do you really think he gave up?” Janet asked softly.
“I don’t know.” Sam cursed herself for her lack of confidence in her commanding officer.
“And what does it matter if he did?” The doctor pressed.
Sam hesitated, looking at her friend. She didn’t know the answer to that either.
“Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to figure everything out today. You’ll all deal with this in time. Colonel O’Neill did what he had to do to survive while he was marooned on that planet. You will all have to do the same to move on now that he’s back.”
“You’re starting to sound like Daniel.” Sam smiled.
“Great minds think alike.” Janet touched her friend’s shoulder. “Give it some time.”
“Thanks, I’ll try. That’s if the Colonel ever speaks to me again after the way I treated him today.”
Janet laughed. “Don’t worry about Jack. He’s been yelled at by the best of them.”
Sam nodded, suppressing a yawn. “I bet he has. Maybe I’ll go home and get some rest.”
“I was just going to prescribe that.” Janet walked her friend out of the office and down the corridor toward the locker room.
Jack blinked at the rising sun as it hit his face through the sliding glass door. His head pounding, he shaded his eyes from the light. Damn it, all he needed was a hangover. Sitting up slowly, he was surprised to see Daniel asleep in the chair across from him. O’Neill tried to focus on the evening’s events. All he remembered was some conversation-and a lot of alcohol.
“Come on Danny Boy, rise and shine.” Jack slapped his friend on the shoulder as he staggered to the kitchen.
“What….” Daniel mumbled. “Owwww!” he groaned as he tried to open his eyes.
“What time is it?” Jackson asked, not even sure where he was. All he knew was that he had one hell of a hangover.
“0700.” O’Neill called in from the kitchen as he put coffee beans in the coffee maker.
“Rats! We have to be there by 8…”
“Right you are. Breakfast?”
Daniel resented Jack’s good mood. He was definitely not a morning person.
“What is that smell?” The linguist wrinkled his nose as he sniffed his shirt.
“Booze.” The Colonel ducked back around the corner. “I think we had a little too much happy juice last night.”
Daniel held his head. “Great. Ah…I have never had a hangover like this before.”
“I have.” Jack mixed some eggs and lit his gas range.
Jackson stumbled upstairs to the shower while O’Neill made them both scrambled eggs, sausage, and toast.
Ten minutes later he came back down wearing a borrowed pair of khaki’s and a black T-shirt. The pants were rolled up a few inches and a black belt held them bunched at the waist.
Colonel O’Neill had just finished setting the table and filling their mugs with coffee. “Sure, you can borrow my clothes, thanks for asking.” He quipped.
“Well I certainly couldn’t go into work smelling like a brewery.” Daniel smiled, looking down at his baggy pants. “They’re a little big.”
“Don’t even go there.” Jack finished and joined him at the kitchen table. “Eat your eggs.”
Daniel ate heartily. “Ummmm-these are great.”
“They’re eggs. Anybody can make them.” The Colonel poured more coffee. He just couldn’t shake his headache.
“I’ve never been much of a cook.” Daniel answered.
“When I retired it was either cook or starve.” Jack spoke as he ate.
“I just eat out-or make macaroni and cheese.”
“That’ll stunt your growth.” O’Neill answered.
“From the looks of your pants I guess it already has.” Jackson smiled. “Ow!” He exclaimed. “I am never going to touch beer again!” He held his forehead with both hands and closed his eyes, fighting a sudden burst of pain.
“Easy, this should take the edge of that headache.” Jack handed him a bottle of aspirin he had opened for himself.
“Thanks, the odd thing is I don’t remember drinking all that much.”
“That’s what drinking’s for.”
Daniel shrugged and took the pills.
After eating, Jack left his friend to clean up and went to take a shower himself.
Sitting on his bed to lace up a pair of boots, Colonel O’Neill suddenly felt a stabbing pain piercing his skull. He fell to one knee, clenching his head with one hand and the bed with the other. This didn’t feel like any hangover he had ever had. It was more like a hot spike inside his brain. Riding it out with deep breaths, he was finally able to get back to his feet.
When O’Neill had the pain under control he joined Daniel in the kitchen, putting it out of his mind. After being gone for three months he was not going to let anything stop him from getting back to work. They had a mission to worry about.
“Are we ready to go?” He asked casually.
“Almost. I guess I’ll ride with you, if you don’t mind.” Daniel was wiping down the counter as he spoke.
“Sweet. We don’t want to keep the General waiting.” Colonel O’Neill looked at his watch.
“Okay, okay, I’m ready.”
Daniel grabbed his coat and followed Jack to the garage.
The ride was uneventful, Jack’s mind preoccupied with mission details. He had to admit he was just a little nervous. It had been a long time since he lead SG-1 through the gate, and after the run-in with Carter at lunch, he wasn’t sure what to expect from his second in command.
Daniel was thinking about Sam too. She was dealing with some pretty confusing feelings right now. He hoped this mission would help them get back on track.
They pulled into the mountain and after the standard check-in procedures were on their way down to the locker room. Wearing their standard off world gear both men walked silently to the briefing room.
Jack entered first. “Major, how are you this fine morning?” He smiled his best O’Neill smile.
Sam couldn’t help but lighten her mood. “Better sir, what about you?”
“A slight hangover, a little anxious to get this show on the road, but otherwise rearin’ to go.” He sank into a chair.
Daniel smiled bleary eyed at Sam as he sat next to her at the table.
“Looks like you’ve caught a case of the Colonel’s hangover, too.” She grinned.
“Well…yeah. I guess I did.” Daniel wasn’t really sure himself. But his head was still ringing.
“Where’s Teal’c?” Jack asked.
“He and the General are supervising the loading of our equipment.”
“Survey stuff. I guess.” Jack was suddenly not interested.
“Yes sir.” Sam stopped there, knowing the Colonel would just cut her off anyway.
There was a sudden silence in the room. Everyone had run out of pleasantries. That left only yesterday’s disastrous luncheon. O’Neill examined the woodgrain woven through the tabletop, hoping someone would break the thick air before he was forced to speak.
“About yesterday…” Carter began, feeling all eyes on her as she spoke.
Suddenly the phone rang and everyone jumped at the sound. Laughing as that broke the tension, Jack picked it up and responded as Sergeant Davis called them to work. He hung up and turned to his teammates. “Well kids, let’s get this show on the road.”
Sam and Daniel rose and followed their CO out the door. Both relieved to get to work.
“Good morning, Teal'c, you’re looking chipper today.” Jack breezed into the room.
The Jaffa raised his eyebrow at the Colonel. “Greetings O’Neill. Are you well today?”
“Perfect.” Jack smiled as he joined his friend at the foot of the ramp.
“Alright SG-1, you have a go.” General Hammond’s voice filled the room as he watched from the control panel above. “Good luck.”
O’Neill turned to face his commanding officer. “Thank you sir.” They exchanged a nod as the event horizon roared to life.
They walked through the shimmering porthole in the usual order: Jack, Sam, Daniel, and Teal'c bringing up the rear.
P3X257 looked the same as 50 other worlds they had seen. Trees everywhere, rolling hills in the distance, another pastoral paradise. Jack sighed.
“They always look the same.” He sighed matter-of-factly. “Weird.”
“But not unexpected-considering that the Goa’uld would have deposited humans on planets with similar characteristics to Earth to insure their survival.” Doctor Jackson was in full archeologist mode.
Jack put up a hand and frowned. “Daniel, you know I have a headache.”
The archeologist stared at his friend with mock exasperation. “You’re not the only one.” He added.
“Sir, I should be able to collect all the samples I need by that ridge.” Sam said, completing a sweep of the area.
“Then that’s where we’ll go. Watch our 6.” O’Neill inhaled the cool air and turned toward their destination.
Carter examined the Colonel as she let her teammates move past her. He looked right at home and it was a relief.
Jack surveyed the area as he took the lead. It felt so good to be back at work. If only his head would stop pounding.
They reached the small outcropping and Sam knelt to take her samples.
Daniel soaked in the new planet with enthusiasm. He was always amazed that they were actually standing on another world. Five years ago he would never have believed it was even possible.
Suddenly the linguist felt an overwhelming urge to explore by the gate. He didn’t know why, but he had to return to the stone ring immediately. Daniel slipped away while Jack watched Teal'c and Sam work.
“What is this stuff, Carter?” Jack asked.
“We’re hoping it’s a raw form of Naquada. But I need to do more tests to be sure.” Sam continued to work as she spoke.
“It looks more like silly putty.” Jack said, turning to speak to the linguist. “Daniel…”
He sighed, as there was no one behind him.
All three surveyed the area for any sign of their teammate. Finally, O’Neill saw his friend walking in the distance. “Damn it, Daniel. Couldn’t you stay put just once.” He growled, his head pounding.
“Sir, Daniel must have seen something by the gate.” Sam tried to cover for her friend, knowing that the Colonel was not happy with his archeologist.
“Doesn’t he always. I’ll go get him.” Jack said. Then he motioned Teal'c to one side to speak privately as Sam went back to work. “Keep your eyes open. You know how it goes. Pretty as a picture one minute and the next minute we’re in a 3x5 cage or I have my hands tied and I’m getting kicked in the head.”
“I will. Be careful O’Neill. It has been many months since your last mission.”
“Actually, I think I’ve been on the same mission for the past three months. It’s time to move on.” Jack answered.
Teal’c nodded. Then he watched as the Colonel headed out alone.
It took about ten minutes at a slow jog for Jack to catch up to his friend. By then they were standing in front of the gate.
“Daniel, why do you always feel the need to wander off?” The Colonel growled as he came to a halt.
“Excuse me?” Daniel had not noticed O’Neill’s advance. He was entranced by a small settlement over the mountain straight behind the Stargate.
“We have a little time to kill while Carter collects her samples. What did you have in mind?”
The archeologist hesitated, “That village looks interesting.”
“But far.” Jack wasn’t going to make it that easy for him.
“You…” Daniel never finished his sentence. Both men were suddenly spellbound. They turned and walked blindly towards the DHD. Just as Makepeace had instructed them to do. Without saying a word Daniel dialed a new address and the gate came to life.
Sam heard the power surge and froze.
“The gate’s been activated.” She dropped her equipment and took off at a full run. Teal'c followed closely and soon his longer legs overtook her. They could only watch as their teammates disappeared through the event horizon. Neither could even get close enough to see the glyphs before the address vanished.
Carter and Teal'c were left standing alone on the planet as the gate went silent.
Jack and Daniel walked blindly onto the altar at the other side of the gate, leaving the porthole behind them. Ten armed men greeted them.
“Exactly on schedule.” Arik, a tall, bulky man with bright red hair smiled. O’Neill and Jackson stopped at the foot of the altar, their faces and minds blank, awaiting instructions.
“Kneel,” Arik commanded imperiously.
The two men complied and were quickly fitted with cuffs restraining their hands; Jack’s behind his back and Daniel’s in front. A length of solid metal chain ran from Jack’s cuffs to Daniel’s with only 18 inches of slack insuring their cooperation. Jack was also fitted with a restraining collar, the leash held by one of the guards. When they were thoroughly secured, Arik nodded to another servant who handed him a round metal cylinder.
“This is not the usual procedure.” A guard said as he watched.
“I am aware of that, but these men deserve to see where they are going.” Arik privately wanted the Heroes of Abydos to see their new home. He savored his power over them.
He held the device to Jack’s ear and it glowed, dislodging the small orb implanted in the Colonel’s brain. O’Neill doubled over in pain as the orb traveled back out his auditory canal and stuck to the metal device.
“You are free of it.” Arik proclaimed.
The Colonel worked to catch his breath. Luckily the pain eased quickly. He looked around, trying to get his bearings. What the hell had happened? The last thing he remembered was talking to Daniel. Suddenly he heard a scream. He struggled to follow its’ source over his shoulder. There, Arik was repeating the orb removal procedure on Doctor Jackson. When O’Neill was sure his friend was all right, he began to survey the area.
It was like nothing he had ever seen before. They were surrounded by light blue sand. Ten-foot tall red shrubs lined the walkway ahead. Bizarre. At least there were none of the usual trees. Jack looked around for familiar faces. He didn’t see Carter or Teal'c. ‘It’s just me and Danny.’ He thought. Now what was he going to do about it?
Sam and Teal'c ran back to the gate as fast as they could. The Colonel and Daniel were gone. The gate had closed before they could read the glyphs so there was no way to follow them.
“Did you see anyone else with them?” Sam asked, her hands on her knees trying to catch her breath.
“I did not.” Teal'c too was winded.
“They must have left something behind that will tell us what happened.” Carter surveyed the area. It was a big planet. “We might need some help to find it.” She moved toward the DHD to dial home. How were they going to locate their teammates if they didn’t have the address? As the Major touched the first glyph she stopped.
“Fingerprints!” She exclaimed.
“I beg your pardon, MajorCarter.” Teal'c had no idea what his friend was talking about.
“Fingerprints…I guess Jaffa don’t really use those. Each person has a unique pattern of ridges on each of their fingers that allow us to identify him or her by comparing an imprint of those ridges to a set already on file. We use a powder that adheres to the oil secreted by each finger to save the impression. Then we’ll compare the results to Daniel’s and hope we can find the seven glyphs he touched.
“But will these Finger Prints show the order DanielJackson entered them?”
Sam frowned. “No, but they will help narrow it down.”
It had to be enough. She knew that whatever had happened Daniel and the Colonel did not leave of their own accord. She had to find them as quickly as possible.
Careful not to smudge any fingerprints left behind, Sam removed a chisel from her pack and dialed home. After she entered SG-1’s retrieval code into his GDO, Sam turned to the Gate.
“Teal'c, you’d better stay here in case they come back. Don’t let anyone touch the DHD until I return.”
“Very Well, MajorCarter.” The Jaffa watched as his teammate disappeared through the gate.
Daniel Jackson began to focus on his surroundings. He remembered watching Makepeace implant the Colonel with a small orb. But O’Neill was sitting in front of him now and he looked fine. The linguist’s headache told him that he must have been a victim of the alien device as well. But it must be gone now because he was feeling better all the time. He straightened his back and assumed his normal role as team diplomat.
“We are peaceful explorers. Why have you taken us prisoner?” Jackson started with a rasp.
Arik smiled. “Welcome to Nekara. I am Arik.”
“Nice to meet you, Arik, What’s with the leash?” Jack asked.
The large man smiled, but didn’t answer.
“Why have you taken us prisoner?” Daniel repeated.
“Come. You will learn.”
O’Neill was raised to his feet and pulled towards the group by the leash. Daniel got up quickly and fell in line behind his friend.
“How are you doing?” Jack asked softly, unable to turn and face him.
“My head’s pounding, but that’s it. What about you?”
“Just ducky.” Jack stumbled, finding it hard to keep his balance with the leash pulling him forward and Daniel pulling him back.
“Where are we?” Daniel asked, not really expecting Jack to know.
“Got me. No Carter or Teal'c either. I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”
Daniel nodded, glum. He remembered talking to Jack, then nothing.
The blue and red landscape was definitely alien. He felt a chill
run up his spine. What now?