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~*~

 

General Jack O’Neill eased his laptop case down beside the umbrella stand and slumped back against his front door with a relieved sigh. 

Another day over; one day closer to the end of this tour.

The walk home had been long and cold and it took a moment to work up the energy to shake the snow from his hair, brush it from his shoulders, and divest himself of his heavy coat.  Toeing off his dress shoes, he opened the entryway closet and shoved them inside, wriggling his toes gratefully as he hung up the damp coat as well.

He was going to have to start carrying his dress shoes to work like the civilian secretaries if the status quo continued indefinitely.  He’d been in Class As for three of the last four weeks.

The Pentagon, as he’d known it would be, was vastly different from anything else he’d undertaken in his career. 

And not in a good way.

He’d gotten an inkling of what Hammond had shielded them from during his own tenure as C.O. of the Mountain; however, what they’d dealt with from there was nothing compared to stepping directly into Hammond’s shoes in this venue. 

The Washington power play was no longer a myth and the term full-court press had acquired an entirely new context.  Not a day had passed since moving here he hadn’t had to wrestle down the nearly irresistible urge to slip back into his special ops persona and take down the entire Air Force zip code contingent.    

Very few of the players in the Building who actually knew about it, understood the significance of the Stargate program, and if they did, fell into one of two categories:  Kinsey’s camp - bury the Gate forever; or Vidrine’s – failure to utilize the potential of the Stargate to Earth’s advantage, irregardless, was unthinkable.

Homeworld Security?  Right.  Like Homeland Security, it entailed little more than assigning defense contracts to the politically scrabbling masses knocking on his door.  He was still waiting for a mission where he could assign himself to captain the Prometheus.

He missed his team; he missed the camaraderie eight years had developed; hell, he missed the off-world adventures; but most of all, he missed having his team at his back.  He was thankful every day, when his feet hit the pavement, to be out of the place in one piece, without a knife sticking out of his back. 

Jack bypassed the fridge and headed straight for the bar, splashing two fingers of Jack Daniel’s into a tumbler. 

“Dinner is served,” he announced to the silent condo and lifted the glass, swallowing the entire contents in one gulp.

The fiery liquor slammed into his empty stomach, exploding with the force of a hand grenade since he hadn’t bothered with lunch, being too full of loathing for the Kinsey sycophants to keep anything else down. 

Sighing, he poured a second glass and sank down on the sofa, unbuttoning his uniform jacket as he slid down to rest his head on the uncomfortable, art deco arm.  He really did need to think about getting new furniture, or having his own stuff sent from Colorado. 

Daniel would love the place; for comfort it rated a big fat zero. 

His real estate agent had extolled the virtues of the endless view; the easy access to all things cultural and sporting via the Metro practically at the doorstep of the building; the convenient shopping so close you could run downstairs if you’d forgotten something for dinner; or for that matter, phone the concierge and have it delivered to your door. 

She’d hammered at its accessibility, convenience, and the view, until he’d told her point blank he didn’t give a damn about the scenery, couldn’t remember the last time he’d cooked, and he was less than thrilled at the thought of having to keep a packed parachute under his bed in case of a national disaster.

When he’d called her back and made an offer, he’d told himself it was because it was the only affordable place within walking distance of the Pentagon.  And there was no way he was negotiating the Washington rush hour in a vehicle unless he was ordered to do so. 

So he’d found himself with a job he hated, a condo with a view he could care less about, and a house full of furnishings he deplored.

Except for the stereo, which was the real reason he’d bought the place.

He’d poked the play button more out of boredom than any desire to hear the sound system.  The acoustics had been great, though, so he’d left it on as he’d dutifully followed the realtor from room to spacious room. 

The living room, dining room, and kitchen had been conceived as an open floor plan, creating a delicious continuity of flowing space. 

Delicious had been the realtor’s words.

The Washington power couple who’d owned it had been taking jobs in separate countries and wanted out from under the mortgage as quickly as possible, making it, according to the realtor, a steal as far as Arlington properties went. 

Jack considered it thievery of a different sort, but had dutifully put his money down and waited for the bank to tell him he could move in. The equity on the Colorado Springs property had gone straight into his federally-subsidized and protected retirement account. 

It had been the sixth cut on the CD that had sold the place.   He’d gone to look.

He’d been in the kitchen idly opening cupboards, wondering with ever-increasing boredom, what he could possibly hope to fill any cupboards with, let alone the glass-fronted, beveled-edged beauties he was looking at, when the first notes of the mellow keyboard instrumentation had drenched the room. 

As he rarely paid attention to much more than sound, he’d been unprepared to be caught so dramatically by the words.  The harmony of the keyboard twining about the vocalist’s smoky voice had left him standing stock still, staring unseeing into the distance, until the song was over and he’d moved deliberately to check out the CD and the cut.

He sat up to retrieve the remote from the end table, pointing it at the CD player as he slumped back down.  It had become his evening ritual.  While other CDs came and went in the changer, the Sarah McLachlan CD never moved; it owned the first spot, and if it had been a record, cut #6 would have been grooved so deeply it would have stopped playing long ago.

Jack had been in Washington five months.

The music literally swelled to fill the room.  Not in volume - rather it filled the space with its essence, creeping into his very soul in a way no other medium had ever been able to reach him.

The lamp is burning low upon my tabletop, the snow is softly falling.  The air is still, in the silence of my room I hear your voice softly calling.  If I could only have you near, to breathe a sigh or two, I would be happy just to hold the hands I love, on this winter’s night with you.

He rose and crossed the room, as he always did, to stare out the window, leaning a shoulder against the window casing, whiskey in his hand forgotten.

The smoke is rising in the shadows overhead, my glass is almost empty.  I read again between the lines upon each page, the words of love you sent me.  If I could know, within my heart, you were lonely, too, I would be happy just to hold the hands I love, on this winter’s night with you.

It had hit him like a slap in the face, standing there in someone else’s kitchen, two weeks out of Cheyenne Mountain and already dreading every hour he would have to spend below the earth fifteen hundred miles from where he’d left his heart.

The fire is dying, my lamp is growing dim, the shades of night are lifting.  Morning light steals across my windowpane, where webs of snow are drifting.  If I could only have you near, to breathe a sigh or two, I would be happy just to hold the hands I love, on this winter’s night with you, and to be once again with you.

That wasn’t quite right.  The holder of his heart had informed him, on several occasions, he was the original Tin Man; Jack O’Neill did not own such a thing as a heart.  Granted, it had usually been under extreme conditions and had always been recanted with remorse when the heat of the battle had passed.

Jack swirled the dark liquor in his glass and clicked the remote so the song cycled to repeat.  Twenty some stories below, and two miles away, the lights on the Potomac twinkled like stars, fallen from the sky, through the thickly falling snow. 

Yeah, the view was phenomenal, but the stereo had sold the house that would never be a home; he could admit that now.

He missed his team more than he could articulate and with a constant ache akin to the ghost pain of a missing limb.  It wasn’t something he could analyze away, or shrug off.

The fact that his mind had become alien territory, and for the first time in his life, he was uncomfortable in his own skin, didn’t help at all.

SG-1 was history. 

Carter was off playing with the real aliens probably, at Area 51.  Teal’c was off freeing the Jaffa – no, that wasn’t right either – SG-1 had pretty much rid the universe of the Goa’uld, so the Jaffa were free. 

Yeah, Teal’c was playing at politics, too.

And Daniel was three days away from catching the bus outta town, off-world, outta sight, out of mind. 

They should retire the number and the jerseys to the Stargate Hall of Fame. 

There would be no getting that particular band back together; God bless the new kid and his gung ho efforts to salvage what was left of it.

Sighing, Jack swallowed the remainder of the whiskey and deposited the tumbler in the sink on his way through to the foyer. 

Who’d have thought he’d ever be bringing work home, but it got him through the long stretches of empty evenings.

“You have mail,” a sexy voice informed him when he’d powered up the laptop he’d retrieved and switched on the wireless. 

He hated the soulless, clinical detachment of emails; hated the whole process of communicating via some link in Timbuktu, or more likely, Bangladesh; hated the thought that while his message was zipping around the world, he was stuck in Washington in a dull-as-ditchwater job that was slowly ripping him apart at the seams; hated the fact that he’d let Hammond convince him there were a hundred and one reasons he should take this job instead of retiring; and absolutely loathed that Daniel dashed off sound-byte emails rather than calling.

Carter’s emails were few and far between, but at least chatty and lengthy, and more importantly, devoid of techno babble, which might have been why they were few and far between.

Teal’c, on Dakara, had no access to email.  The Jaffa had no use for Earth-based technology and Jack had no access to a Stargate to receive messages from the warrior.  However, Teal’c always called to check in whenever he was Earth side. 

Their conversations were usually brief - and often centered on how a certain archeologist was faring, since Teal’c was as much of a mother hen as the General - but satisfying.

Absently juggling the credit card sized remote, Jack signed into the secured government site that in turn let him access his hard drive at the office and cycled the song to play again.  For some reason, though he’d never stopped to analyze why, the repetitive action was sedating.

If I could only have you near, to breathe a sigh or two, I would be happy just to hold the hands I love, on this winter’s night with you.

::From::  Dr. Daniel Jackson, djackson@sgc.gov

::To::  General Jack O’Neill, joneill@pentagon.gov

you’ll never guess who just showed up on our doorstep . . . never mind, you’ll never guess, not in a million years.  vala.  yes, the prometheus hijacker.  and yes, jack, the one who beat the crap out of me before it finally sunk in that my mother might have been wrong about hitting girls.  with a treasure map.  and a pair of cuff links . . .

Jack set the computer on the coffee table and got up to pour himself another drink; he knew what was coming.

. . . and a pair of cuff links.  why is it i always attract the looney toons?  strangely enough, these aren’t your usual run-of-the-mill french cuff cufflinks.  oh no!  these bracelets are used by the goa’uld to link their loyal jaffa to prisoners during transport.  if the jaffa and his prisoner are separated at any point – for more than AN HOUR – they both fall dangerously ill.

“Oh for cryin’ out loud, Daniel!  How could you fall for this?”  Jack resorted to the whiskey as he scrolled down to read the remainder of the note.

i suppose it goes without saying i’m the one she shackled with her machinations.  if i miss the daedalus because of her, i swear, i will murder her in cold blood.  i have less than twenty-four hours to figure out the cipher for her damn treasure map, point her in the right direction and get her off the planet.  just checking in, and blowing off some steam before i go to work on her damnable puzzle. 

thanks for listening – as always.

dj

Jack downed the rest of the whiskey, lowered the laptop lid, and slumped back on the sofa to consider his options. 

He could email back: 

::From:: General Jack O’Neill, Pentagon, joneill@pentagon.gov

::To::  Dr. Daniel Jackson, Civilian Consultant, Stargate Command, djackson@sgc.gov

Here’s another option.  You could miss the Daedalus for me.

-- J

He could call; however, Daniel would likely be pissed if he interrupted the flow of mental gymnastics in trying to decipher the encryption. 

“You know me,” Jack murmured, “I’m a huge fan of subtlety.”  He slumped further down so he could rest his elbow on the arm of the sofa and dig his fingers into his eyeballs before the ache behind them escalated to a migraine.

Sighing, he left off digging and smacked his open palm against the wooden arm. 

“So maybe I should give up subtlety.  Maybe I should try the direct approach - Daniel, DON’T GO!” 

He had never in his life been subject to mood swings like this.  He rose – too fast for the amount of liquor igniting the burn in his system already – smacked the cover of the laptop completely closed, threw the remote back on the sofa, and kicked the coffee table in an unsuccessful attempt to relieve some of his frustration.  

Or - he could get on a plane tonight and go home.

Home to Daniel. 

Home to where he’d mistakenly left his heart – in Daniel’s keeping - though he doubted very much the archeologist had any inkling of the hand he’d been dealt.

It certainly wasn’t something he’d planned on doing.  It hadn’t been on his checklist of things to accomplish before accepting the new posting. 

Move to Washington – check.  Leave heart with Daniel – check. 

He’d struggled through every preposition, pronoun, and participle, but in the end the L word had finally come out of his mouth when he’d bid farewell to his teammates.  He’d had no conception at the time, how diminished, how hollow and empty, that word would sound in a no-Daniel zone.

It had taken nine years, but he’d finally learned to live with the conflicting duality that was Daniel; had come to terms with the fact that as gung-ho as the archeologist was about the sanctity of life, Jack could no more stop him from sacrificing himself for others than stop Niagara Falls. 

He understood he could not take Daniel out of the Mountain.  The Stargate was an integral part of the archeologist.  Like Vala’s damn bracelets – and he’d already been alerted to the bracelet situation by Landry – remove Daniel from the vicinity of the Stargate and he withered. 

As if animate, the bottle hovered over the tumbler for a moment longer, then thumped back down on the bar without disgorging its forgetfulness. 

A niggling thought lodged itself at the back of his mind.  Once planted in fertile ground, the seed germinated quickly and began to sprout ideas left and right. 

Like the Mountain, the Pentagon knew no day or night.  He’d have to manage multiple threads for a few hours, but that didn’t even qualify as challenging.  No, the wild card in this would be Daniel – and his reaction – therein lay the real challenge. 

What would Daniel think of this?  Instinct told him the archeologist was as far down this path as he was and instinct rarely failed him.  Okay, so maybe he’d been willfully blind to the magnetism constantly drawing them together; absence had categorically put an end to any willfulness on his part.  But what effect had it had on Daniel?

Jack sat back down on the sofa and reopened the laptop. 

He had an hour to sort through five months’ worth of emails for any clues he might glean.

He supposed he could find whatever clues he wanted, though that didn’t necessarily make them real.  But he was trying hard to approach this with as much honesty as possible, despite the fact the whole situation had taken him by surprise.

Inclination demanded a safety net; intuition insisted on a free fall.  In the end, the leap of faith would be his and his alone.

He picked up the remote, skipped back to #6, and set it to play on repeat.

 If I could know within my heart, you were lonely, too, I would be happy just to hold the hands I love, on this winter’s night with you.

Jack wondered idly if they had winter and snow in the sea-surrounded city of Atlantis.

*           *           *

“Welcome aboard, sir.  You’ll be bunking with Dr. Jackson, the accommodations are tight this trip out.  We weren’t expecting to take on another passenger at the last minute.”

“I am aware of that, Colonel.  I appreciate the juggling you’ve had to do to fit me in.  For the moment, all I need is a corner to stow my gear.”

Colonel Caldwell nodded.  “Major Sorenson will show you to your quarters, sir.  Is there anything else I can do for you?”

“Where might I find Dr. Jackson?”

“He boarded just ahead of you and went directly to the bridge, sir.  He brought only his personal gear aboard, we’ve had the rest of his things for days.”

”Yeah, I got that you’re pissed, Caldwell, the first time.  Why don’t you just point me in the direction of our bunks and I’ll figure out the rest.”

“It’s no trouble to show you to your quarters, sir.  And I’d be happy to show you around the ship after stowing your gear,” the unlucky Sorenson offered, attempting to pour oil on the troubled waters.

“I doubt the design has changed so much I’ll need a guide,” Jack responded, raising an eyebrow.  “Little smaller than the Prometheus, but I imagine that makes for better response time.  Couldn’t exactly turn that thing on a dime.”

“The Daedalus doesn’t exactly turn on a dime either, General, but she does handle better than the Prometheus.” Caldwell accepted the olive branch.

“Heard they’d upgraded your weapons array as well.”

“We’re certainly a match for anything we might encounter out there, sir.”

“I would like to have a look around, if you don’t mind.”

“Not at all, General, feel free to wander.”

Posturing done, both alpha males backed down, exchanging genial, if not exactly friendly smiles, and ended hostilities.

“Your quarters are this way, sir, if you’d like to follow me.”  Sorenson stepped immediately into the breach before either officer could reacquire.

“Crew quarters in approximately the same place as the Prometheus?”

“Yes, sir, on the flight deck, aft of the hanger bays, sir.”

“I’ll find it.  What’s the number?”

“36, sir.  Your access card has been striped to allow it to open Dr. Jackson’s quarters.”

He found it easily, the Daedalus might be smaller than the Prometheus, but it was laid out along similar lines.  Like most big ships, certain things belonged in certain places.

Jack hit the overhead light and moved to stow his gear under the starboard bunk, glancing around the small, compact space.

The trip to the Pegasus galaxy would take eighteen days.  He’d finagled two months.  If he couldn’t convince Daniel in the three weeks he had before the Daedalus schlepped home again, he would give it up as a lost cause, turn in his resignation, and retire to Minnesota. 

Yet again.

Hammond had agreed to hold down the fort for the two months, but only after Jack had laid all his cards on the table. 

The General’s only comment had been, “Very few of us find that one person who completes us in the lifetime we’re given.  If this is right for both of you, let nothing stand in your way.”

A shaving kit sat on the shelf above the in-room sink; on the ledge two feet above the port bunk, several books had already been shelved; however, in place of the picture of Sha’re the archeologist usually hauled around wherever he was making home, was a framed photo of SG-1. 

They’d finally moved into the category of family.  Jack smiled.  About time, he thought, pleased that it hadn’t taken him nearly as long to figure that one out.

He sat down on the edge of the bunk and debated trolling the ship for entertainment.  Strategically, a public dénouement might serve his purpose better, at least as far as staying aboard; however, he had no desire to embarrass either himself or Daniel with public declarations and he thought it might be difficult to camouflage these new feelings he’d only just begun to integrate into his paradigm. 

He was better off waiting and hoping Daniel didn’t come back to the cabin before they made the jump to hyperspace. 

Jack bent over, unlaced his boots and toed them off, kicking them under the bunk before lying back to stare unseeing at the ceiling.  He still hadn’t worked out what he was going to say; did you go about this the same way you asked a woman to marry you?  Did you get down on one knee and offer heart and hand?  He didn’t really think Daniel would care about flowery speeches and grand gestures, though if he’d spent a little more time thinking about the how, he might have come up with something better than – hi, miss me?  I missed you.

He was too old for grand gestures, let alone grand passion. 

I need you, didn’t have quite the ring he was looking for.  Not that there would be any rings involved here.

He liked George’s statement a lot, ‘Very few of us find that one person who completes us in the lifetime we’re given’. 

Would Daniel buy – you complete me? 

Because he did. 

If I could only have you near, to breathe a sigh or two, I would be happy just to hold the hands I love, on this winter’s night with you, and to be once again with you.

If he thought about this too much, he’d overplay his hand and scare the kid away for good.

He was not a patient man, but he had learned patience the hard way; could even practice it when the need was extreme.  The strategist in him deemed this an extreme need.

Jack closed his eyes on a sigh and was asleep between one heartbeat and the next.

He was awake the moment his subconscious caught the sound of footfalls in the corridor, and fully conscious when two seconds later the key card scraped through the reader and the door swished open. 

He’d never, in his entire life, experienced anxiety on this level.  The next few minutes could make or break the remainder of his existence; possibly even decide if he wanted it to be long or short.

Daniel stopped short on the threshold.  Disbelief warred with surprise, but was wiped out almost instantly by a look of horror, before the archeologist shook his head, grimaced slightly, and blinked. 

“Sam?  Teal’c?”

“Are fine.  As is Cassie, General Hammond and  . . . Walter.  Oh, and Siler, too.  You okay?”

Daniel blinked again, but didn’t respond to that query. 

“What the hell are you doing here?  We’ve made the jump to hyperspace, you know, there’s no turning back, Jack.  Sorry.”  He raised a hand to his temple, realized what he’d done, and lowered it self-consciously. “That didn’t come out quite right.” 

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.  Residual headache from Vala’s bracelets is all.  What are you doing here?”

“You don’t look so hot, are you sure you’re alright?” 

Jack swung his feet off the bed as Daniel stepped inside, allowing the automatic door to shut behind him.

“I’m . . .”

The ‘fine’ part never made it past his lips because his knees buckled, apparently unexpectedly from the look of blank surprise that slipped briefly across the mobile features, just before his eyes rolled up in his head and the end of the bunk came up to smack him in the temple.

Though he lunged, Jack wasn’t in time to even break his fall.  Daniel went down like a felled tree.  Both thuds, hard head against the sharp edge of the bunk, and again on the tile floor, were frightening. 

“I swear to God, Daniel, you’re gonna be the death of me yet!” 

Jack thudded to his knees next to the prone figure, searching for a pulse.  The pool of blood already shimmering on the tile floor was enough to snatch his breath away. 

“Head wounds always bleed profusely, get it together, O’Neill.” 

He was used to Daniel’s blood, had been decorated with it more than a few times, but his stomach vaulted sickeningly as he straddled the archeologist’s knees and leaned precariously to slap the communicator on the wall.

“Infirmary, this is O’Neill in Dr. Jackson’s quarters.  Dr. Jackson passed out and gashed his head open in the fall.” 

He was already searching for something, anything, to stop the bleeding and had yanked the blanket from the bed, hacking off a corner with his Swiss army knife, when the intercom crackled back.

“UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES ATTEMPT TO MOVE HIM, SIR!” the emphatic voice ordered.  “We’re on our way.”

“Yeah, tell me something I don’t know, like how to make him stop doing this,” Jack muttered, carefully pressing his piece of hacked-off blanket against the hideous looking gash just above Daniel’s right temple.  Quarter of an inch lower . . . he shook his head as his stomach heaved again.  “Don’t even go there.”

Time warped like a stretched rubber band so everything slid into slow motion and became measurable in heartbeats – Daniel’s heartbeats. 

The first piece of blanket was discarded and another piece hacked off before the door at his back swished open.

The doctor entered, followed by a pair of marines maneuvering a backboard awkwardly through the door. 

Almost on top of them, Colonel Caldwell beamed directly into the room.

“Apologies, Captain,” he said, stepping back into the doorway, “the sensors must need realigning again.  What happened, sir?”

The doctor was on his knees, too, bending over Daniel.  “I’m Dr. Simic, and I’d also like to know what happened.”

 “He walked in the door and passed out.  Said he had a bit of a residual headache from the damn bracelet and just . . . went down.  Without any warning.”

“Residual headache?” the doc parroted. “Bracelet?”  He fit the cervical collar around Daniel’s neck and snugged it tight.  “Some kind of alien technology, I presume?”

“Goa’uld,” Jack informed him tersely, “used for transporting prisoners.  The head bad guy would clap one on his chief Jaffa, along with the prisoner.  Kept the Jaffa honest and the prisoner in tow because they both died if they got separated before the cuffs came off.”

The doc shot a glance at Caldwell, immediately checking both the archeologist’s wrists.

“No one said anything to me about this,” he snapped.  “Why is he even on this ship?  How long do the effects last?  Craigor, Reikes, let’s roll him and get this backboard under him.” 

“He had a clean bill of health from Dr. Lam at the SGC.  They had no reason to believe the effects were lasting.  The party who introduced them indicated that as soon as the bracelets off they would both be fine.”

“How long did he have it on?”  Simic helped buckle the archeologist to the backboard and glanced quickly at the gash as the airmen hefted him to the stretcher outside the door.  “It’s ragged and will leave a nasty scar, but it doesn’t look too deep.  Let’s get an MRI, though, head and spine, just to be on the safe side.  I’ll be there shortly.”

“Forty eight hours – give or take a few, maybe.”  Jack levered himself up off the floor and leaned down to pick up the sacrificed blanket, using it to wipe his hands.

“How long has it been off?”

“What time is it?” 

“Mountain Standard Time, it’s 22:30 hours,” Caldwell responded, glancing at his watch.

Jack had boarded at 16:30, just prior to launch at 16:45.  “Maybe twelve hours,” he replied.

“Sir,” Dr. Simic turned to Caldwell, “I recommend we turn back immediately.”

Caldwell, impassive, stated calmly, “That’s not possible, Doctor.  Keep me posted.”  And was gone in a stream of light.

Jack swore savagely.  “If he thinks . . .”  He closed his eyes and reined in his temper.  “You need to get a message to the SGC immediately.  See if there’s been any word from a woman by the name of Vala.”

“We’ve made the jump to hyperspace, sir.  Until we make another jump, we have no communications access.  In the meantime, we have a limited capacity in the infirmary, I’ll let you know . . .” Simic trailed off.

General O’Neill merely raised an eyebrow and made an ‘after you’ gesture toward the door.

“Sir, you will be in the way,” the man said bluntly.

“You have a working knowledge, at least, of chain-of-command, Captain?”

“Yes, sir,” Simic sighed.

“And presumably you can count?”

“Yes, sir.  This way, General, sir.”

“Thank you,” Jack offered graciously, once more indicating the door. 

He hovered; he fidgeted; he paced the hallway outside the very limited triage space; he fidgeted some more and took a moment to send up thanks that there appeared to be no other casualties requiring attention because it was taking a damned long time to do whatever tests they needed to do with their solo patient. 

By the time the doc finally reappeared, followed by the Hardy Boys and Daniel, still unconscious but minus the backboard and the cervical collar, Jack was stretched pretty thin.

He slumped against the nearest wall and held his breath.

Simic eyed him warily.  “If you’re going to pass out, please do so out in the corridor where you’re unlikely to hurt yourself, sir.  Should I get you a paper bag?”

Channeling Frasier? Jack chuckled internally, his brain tugging his lips into the shape of a wry smile. 

The doc captured a rolling stool with his foot, lowered the tray table set out with equipment, and sat down.  As he pulled on a new pair of sterile gloves and began opening various packaged instruments, he glanced again at O’Neill.

“Are you capable of helping?”

Jack moved immediately to the foot of the stretcher, wrapping a hand around Daniel’s booted ankle.

“What do you want?”

“The gash is in an awkward place to stitch, I need you to hold his head.”

“No neck or spinal injuries, I presume?”

“He’s probably going to have a stiff neck when he wakes up, but nothing serious.  Hold him like this, sir.”

Jack slid a hand into Daniel’s hair and cupped his chin gently.  “You’re just going to stitch this up without benefit of any kind of anesthetic?”

“Since he’s in a coma, I can pretty much guarantee he’s not going to come around in the twenty minutes it will take to clean and stitch up this wound.  So I have no qualms about promising he won’t feel a thing.”

“Coma?  Why the hell is he in a coma?”

“Not because he hit his head, sir,” Simic stated calmly.  “And we can’t contact the SGC until we exit hyperspace.  They’re making the calculations for a jump, sir, but it may take awhile.”

“About the coma,” Jack said quietly, glancing over at the doc before returning his attention to the unnaturally still face between his hands, “nothing to indicate that kind of trauma on the MRI?”

“Some bruising, looks mild compared to the gash he gave himself, concussion certainly, but nothing serious enough to induce a coma.”

“So, then, the damn bracelet thingy hasn’t worn off?”

“Seems the next logical assumption, sir.  Had Dr. Jackson experienced anything like this previously?” 

Dr. Simic, finished prepping the wound site, set to work closing it with tiny, neat stitches.

“Yeah, Laundry mentioned he’d passed out twice, but both times the bitch – sorry, witch - had been separated from him, and they were both wearing the bracelets at the time.  She told him specifically it only affected them while they had them on.”

“And you think they were only linked for a period of less than 48 hours?”

“I’m positive it wasn’t more than three days.”

“As you can see, we haven’t had to put him on life support and his vitals are relatively normal.  I have no other explanation for it, General, other than to guess there must be some residual effect from the alien technology.  He doesn’t appear to be in distress, sir, merely sleeping deeply.”

“Except if he were just sleeping, we could wake him up.”

“Exactly, sir.

It took 19 stitches to close the gash and Daniel never moved a muscle throughout the entire ordeal.  He was so not going to love the bald patch the doc had shaved.

Jack ground his teeth down several millimeters, birthing an ache in his jaw that nearly matched the ache boring like a wood beetle into his left eye. 

“We’re going to get him cleaned up and move him to a bed, sir.  Why don’t you take a few minutes to get cleaned up as well?”

“Yeah, change clothes.” 

Firmly quelling an absurd urge to drop a kiss in the blood-soaked hair and whisper un-dying devotion in the bloody ear, Jack eased the head between his hands into a more normal position and stepped back from the stretcher so the airmen doubling as orderlies could move in.

“You were going to change, sir?”  Simic reminded.

“Right.  And see what the hell is going on with those jump calculations.”

“Sir, it could very well be Dr. Jackson may drift out of the coma into sleep, there’s really no need . . .” Dr. Simic trailed off again, recognizing defeat.  “Of course, if you wanted to stay with him . . .”

“I’ll be back.”

The smell of blood assailed him as he opened the door and stepped over the threshold.  He hesitated, debating whether to call someone to clean it up, or do it himself.

Figuring he could probably use the extra few minutes to calm down, he knelt and gathered together the pieces of eviscerated blanket.  The wool absorbed great, but left muddy trails in its wake so he had to resort to paper towels in the end. 

Jack washed his hands again, changed his bloody shirt, and shoved the entire mess of clothes, blanket, and paper towels into a plastic bag to dispose of on the way to the bridge.

He’d been retrofitted with the locater chip implant as well, but decided it would be wiser to walk off the rest of his steam before he faced off with the ship’s captain again. 

Caldwell was waiting.

“We’re making the jump momentarily; however, we can only stay long enough to send and wait to receive any message back from Stargate Command.  This is not a friendly part of the galaxy, sir.  My orders are to get this ship to Atlantis in one piece.  With all due respect, sir, you have no jurisdiction here, you are nothing more than a passenger on this ship.”

General O’Neill let his look speak for itself, schooling his voice to nothing more than polite inquiry when he spoke. “How long until the jump?”

“Thirty seconds, sir,” the tech at Carter’s normal console announced.

For the space of twenty-five seconds there was dead silence on the bridge. 

“In five, four, three, two, one.”

The slipstream blurred briefly as the ship straddled hyperspace and reemergence into the normal space-time continuum. 

Jack swayed automatically with the gentle heave as the Asgard propulsion engines disengaged.

“Message sent, sir.”

“Just out of curiosity, what did it say?”

“We told them it appears Dr. Jackson has fallen ill from the after-effects of the alien technology he recently encountered and asked if there’s anything we can do for him, sir.” 

“And if there’s nothing we can do except take him back?”

“If Stargate Command believes it to be a matter of life and death, I will query my superiors, sir.  I understand what a valuable resource Doctor Jackson is, but he made the choice to board this ship of his own free will, and I have equally valuable cargo to deliver to Atlantis on a timely basis.  Our people there are battling for their lives as well, sir.”

If he’d stayed on Earth, the message would have reached him within minutes of reaching Stargate Command.  He might have had some say in whether or not the Daedalus turned around.

The futility of his quest hit Jack square in the face.  If Daniel dies . . .

That was the latent pessimist in him snarling to be let out. 

Daniel never dies, the optimist responded promptly, he doesn’t have the right genes.

“I assume you’ll have the courtesy to let me know their response.  I’ll be in the infirmary with Dr. Jackson when you figure out what you’re doing.”

General O’Neill walked off the Bridge without a backward glance.  The silence trailed him all the way back to the infirmary.

If the Goa’uld had healing devices, surely the Ancients must have something similarly technologically advanced.  Perhaps that genetic mutation that had allowed him to activate the Ancient defense system in Antarctica would come in handy after all. 

In the meantime, he was linked to Daniel, too, more powerfully than any alien artifact.  If it came down to it, he would keep him alive by sheer force of will if necessary.   

*           *           *

“Listen up, Dr. Jackson, two days of this crap is far more than enough.  This is weirding me out now.  You’re never quiet for this long at a stretch.  You need to wake up and smell the coffee.” 

Jack removed the lid from the plastic cup one of the airmen had supplied. 

“It’s not Sumatra Manderling, but its drinkable at least, and you’ve got to be going into withdrawal after two days without any.” 

He waved the coffee under Daniel’s nose, sighed, and leaned back in the chair he’d appropriated from the triage area of the infirmary.  So far, there’d been no other causalities, not even an ensign in need of a band-aid.

A milk run for the pseudo physician; Frasier would have run rings around him.  Daniel would have been awake and begging to be released from her tender mercies by now if she’d been in charge.

“You know, if you’re not awake by tonight, I’m going back to the room and get a decent night’s sleep.  So, why don’t you wake up so I won’t have to feel guilty about it?”

Jack put the coffee aside.  Daniel had had far too much influence in that area of his life; he only drank the good stuff now.  Maybe if he found the archeologist’s stash, he could entice him back to consciousness with a whiff of it.

“So, I guess if you’re not gonna talk, it’s up to me, huh?  All right, Sleeping Beauty, here’s a news flash for you.  I’m gonna tell you why I’m here, so listen up, okay?  I don’t want to have to repeat myself.  And save your questions until I’m done, because if you interrupt, I don’t know that I’ll get through it.  Okay, you ready for this?  Are you sure?  This could be a life changing experience for both of us, so I want to be sure you’re ready to hear this, Daniel.  If anything is gonna wake you up, this should do it.”

If I could only have you near, to breathe a sigh or two, I would be happy just to hold the hands I love, and to be once again with you. 

“Are you a Sarah McLachlan fan?  ‘Cause, ya know, I blame this whole thing on her.  She does this song . . . it’s different, not your usual run-of-the-mill pop song.  I’ll play it for you sometime, I brought it along.  Anyway, I was standing in the kitchen of that lovely new condo I’ve told you about – before I bought the place - and I’d poked a couple of buttons on the front of the stereo – yeah, yeah, before you give me a hard time, they weren’t alien buttons.  Anyway, I’m standing in the kitchen opening cabinet doors, wondering what the hell I can possibly fill up these fancy things with, when this song comes on.  Now, I just have to throw in here, the stereo system is to die for, sound like you wouldn’t believe.  So, this song comes on, and I’m really just listening to the acoustics of the place when the words start to sink in.  And all of a sudden it’s like there’s this video running in my head . . .  it was like the pieces of a puzzle I hadn’t even realized I was trying to put together, suddenly rearranged themselves and fell into place.” 

The sound of footsteps had Jack sitting back in his chair again and reaching for his coffee.

Dr. Simic tapped softly on the open door as he entered the four-bed ward.

“Hmmm, I was hoping that was a two-sided murmur I was hearing,” he said, checking the monitors before rewrapping the cuff around Daniel’s upper arm.  “Since you’re in here, sir, and obviously paying attention, I’m a little concerned his blood pressure seems to be dropping.”

“Yeah, I noticed that and what about this number?  I know it’s attached to this thingy.” Jack lifted Daniel’s right index finger.  “But what’s it supposed to be?”

“As long as he’s breathing normally, his oxygen saturation should consistently be between 95 and 100.”

“And the other number, then, is his heart rate?”

“Yes, sir, which is fairly consistent for a healthy, sleeping adult.  If it drops below 40, you should let me know immediately.”

“And his blood pressure?”

“The top number is what we pay the most attention to, if it drops much below 90, I’d like to know.”

“What’s much?” Jack inquired, sipping his coffee.

The doctor frowned.  “Anything under 90, or above 160, could become dangerous quickly.  So let’s say if it drops below 90, you should let me know immediately.  Sounds like you’ve had more experience than just with your family doctor, General.”

Jack grunted.  He’d spent eight years watching over Daniel; that alone should qualify him for an M.D.

Dr. Simic checked the IV site, eyeballed the urine output in the drainage bag, and hung a new round of the saline solution keeping his patient hydrated. 

“If this continues, sir, we’ll need to put in a feeding tube.  I don’t want to wait another twenty-four hours to get some nutrients into him.”

“Yeah.”

It had been forty-eight already. 

Caldwell had come to inform them, shortly after the jump, Lam was monitoring an unconscious Vala, who’d reappeared at the SGC shortly after the Daedalus’ departure. 

Simic had gone to consult with her, and come back to report Lam was experiencing the same things with Vala they were seeing in Daniel. 

Vitals all appeared within normal ranges, on the low end for the most part, but still within normal range.  Neither had high white blood counts - no retrovirus appeared to have been triggered by the bracelets, just a deep coma; an indication that the bracelets had somehow suppressed their central nervous systems. 

Lam had thought it would probably wear off; postulating their exposure to the communication stones might have boosted the effects of the bracelets.  She did not think proximity to each other would reduce the effects.

Caldwell hadn’t bothered contacting his superiors, though he had agreed, grudgingly, to drop out of hyperspace long enough to collect any messages from the SGC on a daily basis.  The two updates so far had again reflected the same thing they’d seen in Daniel – no change. 

“General,” Dr. Simic began as he withdrew the chart from the pocket at the foot of the bed, “I understand your concern for a teammate, but you’re not doing him any favors staying in here around the clock, sir.  You need to eat and sleep yourself.  Running down your own health is neither productive nor helpful.  I can’t order you to rest, since, as Colonel Caldwell succinctly pointed out, you’re only a guest this trip.  However, I can and do strongly recommend you pay attention to your own physical needs.  I only met him briefly, but I suspect Dr. Jackson would not thank you for wearing yourself out, sir.”

Jack snorted.  “He has that quality, doesn’t he?  I hear ya, Doc.  I’ve already told him I’m going to bed tonight.”

“Good.  Well . . .” Simic sighed.  “Call me if there’s any change.”

“Right.” 

Jack swallowed down the rest of the cold, bitter brew still in his cup and waited for the footsteps to recede.

“So, where were we?”  He rose and pitched the cup into a nearby trashcan.  “Oh, yeah, I was just getting to the part where I tell you I have unresolved feelings for you.” 

Jack shoved both hands in the small of his back and stretched backwards, then bent to touch his toes. 

“Oy.  I’m too old for this.”

He sat back down beside the bed, propped his elbows on his knees, and took Daniel’s hand between both of his own. 

I would be happy just to hold the hands I love, on this winter’s night with you . . .

“I need more than your hands to hold, D.J.  I need you to wake up, okay?  I need you to wake up so I can tell you to your face, somewhere over the last nine years I fell truly, madly, deeply . . . in like?  Oh, crap.”  He slumped over so his forehead was resting on the edge of the bed.  “That sounds as ridiculous out loud as it did in my head.  You better get this right, O’Neill, before he does come around.”

He threaded his fingers through Daniel’s cool, pliant ones. 

“I need you to wake up so I can get this over with, Daniel.  This whole idea of being – you know, in like with another guy – is kinda squicking me.  I’m counting on the fact that you have an old soul and even if you’re not as far down this garden path as I am, you won’t hold it against me.   It took awhile to get here, if you must know.  I wanted to think  it was the team thing I was missing.  SG-1’s been together a long time.  Longer than anything else in my career, though for the most part I always worked with a team.  Hell, even in Iraq I had a team at my back.  Fat lot of good it did.”

Memories, twisted and tangled with the bitter taint of anguish only lightly glossed over with anger, assaulted the newly opened tenderness he’d recently rediscovered in his soul. 

With the sojourn in an Iraqi prison, and then the death of his son, he’d thought he’d clamped the tourniquet on that emotion long enough for it to die of atrophy.  Until a couple of months ago, he would have scoffed in the face of anyone accusing him of sensitivity. 

“Took awhile to get used to the fact that it was really you I was missing.  I miss Carter and Teal’c, too, but not like I’ve missed you.”

If I could know within my heart, you were lonely, too, I would be happy just to hold the hands I love, on this winter’s night with you.

“I do miss you guys at my back, especially at the Pentagon.  It’s beyond my comprehension why anyone would want to work there.  But, Daniel, I’m having a hard time functioning without you around.  Kinda weird, huh?  ‘Cause when you are around, you pull stupid stunts like this that make me crazy.  It’s a bit of a ‘can’t live with you, can’t live without you’ scenario, grant you; but I’ve finally figured out that living without you is worse than putting up with this shit.”

Sighing, Jack sat back but scooted the chair around so he didn’t have to let go.

“So, whatta ya think?  I know Sha’re was the love of your life.  Any chance you’d even consider putting up with an old codger like me?  You already know all my bad habits, not that I have any to speak of, naturally.  And I have to admit I am a little concerned about co-habitating; you’re not the most fastidious person I know when it comes to picking up after yourself, but I can probably get used to that.  And we can always hire a maid, right?”

Experimentally, he propped one booted foot on the lower rung of the not-in-use bed railing.  It held, so he crossed his other ankle over the first and leaned back.

“If you agree to this, I guess I’m really gonna have to retire for good.  I don’t want to stop you from going through the Gate – if that’s what you want to do – although we could always go to Minnesota.  It’s a little like going through the Gate – wild; uninhabited, for the most part; unfortunately there are trees, but I’ve gotten used to them; tons of unexplored territory; probably even some artifacts you could dig up.  You’d get a kick out of studying the history of the state.  Did you know the Dakota’s were the first people to populate the area?  You could always teach, or start a dig; between us we could probably find folks to finance it.  Hell, we probably have enough money between us to finance it ourselves.”

Unconsciously, he began to rub his thumb over the back of Daniel’s hand.

“On the other hand, I’m perfectly willing to move back to Colorado.  Did I ever tell you Colorado Springs was the longest I’d ever lived in any one place?  We moved off the ranch when I was seven, into St. Cloud when Dad took a job at the metal foundry.  Moved to Chicago when I was thirteen and by the time I was eighteen I was at the Academy.  I did an internship at NORAD while I was in school there.  It never occurred to me I’d be back in twenty years, let alone traveling to other galaxies from a facility under NORAD.”  He laughed softly at the thought, then sighed again.  “Come on, Daniel, I know I have a lot of one-sided conversations with you, but this is getting old.  A grunt?  A mumble?  I’d settle for a ‘shut-up, Jack’, right about now.”

He waited expectantly. 

“Yeah, right, like you were ever good at following orders.  All right, how’s this?  I would like to be your life partner, Dr. Jackson, if you would consider it.  While the advantages to me certainly outweigh the advantages to you, I’ll do everything in my power to compensate for those shortcomings.  I promise to do all the laundry if you’ll take care of the dishes.  I’ll even cook if you want me to.  We’ve already agreed to get a maid . . . What’s that?  You didn’t agree?  Fine, I’ll pay for it.  Maybe she’ll do the laundry, too, and the dishes.  Sweet.”

General O’Neill shifted his ass uncomfortably.  It was not a chair conducive to long periods of time sitting still.

“So, let’s talk about what life together will look like.  I’ll get up and cook you breakfast in the morning.  What?  Pancakes every day?  Oh, come on, Daniel, you should branch out a little.  What about omelets with hash browns?  Or eggs over easy with a side of bacon?  All right! Okay!  Fine!  Sheesh, pancakes it is, and waffles on the weekends.  You know, kid, sometimes you’re more of an old maid than I am.  Could we at least think about Belgian waffles on the weekends?  . . . Daniel?  Are you paying attention to any of this?”

Jack abruptly dropped his feet to the floor and leaned forward. 

“Daniel?”

He’d thought for a moment there had been a response, the slightest pressure exerted against his palm, though nothing else indicated change.  The digital read-outs all showed the same numbers; the monotonous beep of the heart monitor had neither slowed nor sped up, and no ripple of awareness marred the relaxed features.

Just to be sure the archeologist was still breathing, Jack moved their joined hands across Daniel’s chest so he could feel the slow, steady rise and fall.

If I could only have you near, to breathe a sigh or two . . .

Reassured, he sat back, rearranging their hands so neither of their arms were uncomfortably stretched, and resumed his monologue.

“I’m gonna be a little stir crazy having been home all day, so don’t plan on bringing work home, okay?  I promise never to make you watch sports, unless its bocce ball played by ancient Incans.  No, really, I promise; cross my heart, hope to die.  I will not ever make you watch sports.  You can read while I watch hockey; I hope you’ll grant me that one concession.  Chess is always good.  I could learn to play Jackals and Hounds.  Have you ever played Mancala?  Did you know there’s some evidence that game was played in ancient Egypt, too?  You know, if you think about it, it’s really not so different from what we do regularly.  Well – at least, what we used to do fairly regularly.”

Sighing again, he rolled his neck and dropped his head against the back of the chair, staring unseeing up at the ceiling. 

“Think I’m crazy?  To even imagine you might feel the same way?  If I thought for a second you’d be pissed and cut me out of your life forever for sharing this, I’d keep my mouth shut and live with the occasional sound-byte email you condescend to toss my way.”

Jack sat up abruptly.

“For cryin’ out loud, Daniel.  Listen to me.  This is what you do to me.”

He eased his numb fingers from between Daniel’s, flexing them automatically as he rose to pace the cramped space. 

“You’re the one good with words.  What would you say if you were in my position? . . . What?  No advice there either, Dr. Jackson?”

He’d come aboard the Daedalus, his intentions set, expecting emotional resolution within a few hours at the most.  Ecstasy or misery – he’d have taken either in an effort to be rid of this antsy, not-wanting-to-live-inside-his-own-skin feeling.

Given the reports from the SGC on Vala’s status, he wasn’t particularly worried the kid was going to snuff it, but that left him with a lot of time to think about the gigantic leap he’d taken. 

He’d done a Daniel – rushed headlong into a situation he knew little or nothing about, on  no more than an assumption that his best friend might feel the same way. 

“Okay, so I’ve bared my soul here, it’s your turn, so wake up and put me out of my misery, would you?  Right now I could probably handle it if you turned me down flat, just to get past all this emotional stuff.  I may go home and blow my brains out, but at least I’d know.” 

Ten steps forward, smack the boxes, ten steps back to the head of the bed.  Stop and make sure the archeologist was still breathing, kick the wall, ten steps back to the boxes.  The doc hadn’t been kidding when he’d said the space was tight.

Jack rubbed the knuckles of his smarting hand against his other palm.  He was so bad at this shit.  He wouldn’t be able to get half of it out to an awake Daniel.  He would stumble over every frickin’ word, dying a slow death of mortification, while Daniel stood and watched him make a total fool of himself.

He’d had five months to work this out in his head. 

And for most of those five months, he’d been trying to analyze what had kept him from this step.  It was something of a toss up which he was more squicked by - the whole guy thing, or the emotional neediness he’d been constantly trying to beat back since the realization had snuck up on him with such startling clarity.

Standing outside the airlock waiting to board, he’d still been hunting for the fortitude to cross the threshold onto the ship. 

If I could only have you near, to breathe a sigh or two, I would be happy just to hold the hands I love, and to be once again with you. 

Jack O’Neill did not do emotional stuff, period.  He could do the touch thing easily; the hand on the back of the neck, the hair ruffle, the elbow to the ribs in jest or companionable agreement, even hugging was acceptable in his framework. 

But the whole talking side of this – acccck! 

Actually communicating feelingsin words?  And he knew without a shadow of a doubt Daniel wasn’t going to make it any easier on him than Hammond had.  Though if George hadn’t made him put his feelings into words, he might still be sitting in his Arlington condo, grooving that cut deeper and deeper into the CD. 

If I could know, within my heart, you were lonely, too, I would be happy just to hold the hands I love, on this winter’s night with you.

It was so not fair that he’d managed to scrape together every bit of courage he possessed in order to walk onto the ship, only to have it sucked out by the typical Danielness of the whole situation.

He should have just sent the damn email -  Miss the Daedalus for me – and waited safely in Washington to see if it garnered any reply. 

An archeologist at his front door would have been a satisfactory response and wouldn’t have required all this drama. 

If there had to be drama, Jack preferred it confined to the Simpsons, or at the very least, Stargate missions. 

When it crept into his personal life, he cut it out with the precision of a surgeon cutting out an unwanted growth.  To be unable to do so now had him constantly on edge. 

He gave up the pacing as a bad impulse fifteen minutes into the circuit.  The tight space was only making him more tense. 

This was a working class ship, a mule for the most part, built to ferry supplies and personnel from galaxy to galaxy. 

There was no wasted space on this trip, crates and boxes were stacked to ceiling height in every nook and cranny not already housing some piece of in-use equipment, the infirmary being no exception.

Jack moved back over to the bed and bent to pat Daniel’s cheek lightly.  He’d lost track of the number of times he’d tried this over the last forty-eight hours. 

“Wakey, wakey.  It’s almost time for supper and the doc says he’s gonna shove a tube down your gullet if you don’t wake up real soon.  So how about you wake up and try a little macaroni and cheese that tastes like chicken?  If you’d wake up long enough to tell me where your stash is, I’d even promise to smuggle in some real coffee.  Whatta ya think?”

Not even an eye roll rewarded his efforts. 

He was really missing Teal’c and Carter.  One or the other would have turned up by now with real food, armed with orders from Frasier to take his place at Daniel’s bedside while he ate and slept.  He couldn’t remember the last time he’d sat one of these vigils by himself.

“All right,” Jack straightened, “enough of this emotional crap.  I’m collecting a book on the way back from supper and I’m going to eat sitting down in the Officer’s Mess - as long as Caldwell isn’t in there.  And,” he added, clasping his arms over his chest, “I’m going to sleep in a real bed tonight, too.  So there.”

The verbal taunt ricocheted off the silent archeologist, bouncing back like stray shrapnel. 

“Right.  What made me imagine threats might work on you when they never did before?  Okay, you win this round too.  Don’t you dare wake up while I’m gone and that’s an order, Dr. Jackson.” 

He strode out, purposefully not looking back, knowing if he did he’d never make it out of the room.

“No change,” Jack informed the physician scribbling away in long hand on something that didn’t appear to be a chart.  “Any further news from Lam or the SGC?”

“Nothing, sir.  Colonel Caldwell won’t start the jump calculations for another two hours.  Just out of curiosity . . .”

“Surely you haven’t forgotten curiosity killed the cat, Doctor.”

Simic smiled, a rare look for him, and raised an eyebrow. 

“Who is this Vala?  And why would she do something like this to Dr. Jackson?  I’ve heard he has knack for attracting trouble, but what was with the bracelets?  And how would she have acquired them?”

“Excellent questions, Doc, all of which you should probably ask Daniel when he wakes up.  A year or so ago, madam Vala, posing as a Kull warrior, hijacked the Prometheus and ditched all of the crew but Dr. Jackson.  You’ll have to get the rest from him, I don’t know how much of that story he shares.  I do know the bracelets were introduced when she brought him a treasure map and wanted him to find it for her – and with her – therefore the bracelets linking them together until he took her where she wanted to go.  No one expected the effects to last beyond the wearing.  I’m sure Daniel’s gonna be pissed as hell when he finally wakes up.”

 

Part 2

 

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