Summary: Daniel discovers there's more to diplomacy than just talking.
The attack had come out of nowhere. Two SG teams caught completely unaware, heading for the gate, home, and safety, now lay scattered on the ground like broken dolls, blood soaking the earth beneath their shattered bodies, the air deathly silent.
Jack O’Neill raised his head cautiously and looked around. The movement caused pain to jag along his spine, and he groaned with the agony of it.
“Jack?” The whisper came from his left. Jack turned his head and saw Daniel Jackson lying on his stomach a few feet from him, a gun gripped firmly in his slightly shaky, bloodstained hands. “You okay?”
Jack swallowed hard against the pain and shook his head. “Something’s wrong with my back,” he muttered. “What the hell happened?”
“Raiding party, I think,” Daniel said. “They used some sort of stun weapon then shot us with our own guns.”
“She’s gone. So is Major Dobrowski,” Daniel said, climbing slowly up to his hands and knees, casting a wary look around as if ensuring that their attackers were gone.
“You all right?” Jack asked as Daniel made it to his side.
“Yeah, I guess they thought we were all dead so they grabbed the women and left,” Daniel replied. “Shit, this looks bad.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a packet of Kleenex, extracting the whole lot to use for pressure on Jack’s back.
“Christ, take it easy!” Jack snapped.
“Sorry, got to stop the bleeding,” Daniel murmured contritely though he pressed down even harder. “Can you move your legs?”
Jack swallowed again at that, but he concentrated on moving his feet and sighed in relief when he found he could. “What about the others?” he asked. “Teal’c?”
Daniel looked to his right. “I think he got hit in the head. He’s unconscious. Let me get this bleeding under control, and I’ll go check him out. His symbiote should take care of him if he’s not too badly hurt.”
Jack turned his head to the side and rested his cheek on the hard ground. Pain throbbed along the length of his spine and down into his legs, making him feel light-headed and queasy. “Colonel Grey? Feretti?”
Daniel was quiet for a long moment then said, “I haven’t had a chance to check them out yet, but I think the colonel’s dead. He hasn’t moved at all. Feretti was moving a little before, but I think he passed out again.”
“Go check them out,” Jack ordered.
“All right, but you need to stay still. God only knows what sort of damage that bullet’s done to your spine,” Daniel said harshly. He turned and grabbed a backpack: Carter’s, the one with the medpack. “I’ll be over there.”
Jack nodded and closed his eyes. It had just been a standard meet and greet, for crying out loud! Nothing about the townspeople they’d met had given any clue they’d be attacked on their way back to the gate. Jack bit his lip as the pain surged up through his back and tried to focus on the here and now. They needed to get to concealment and then think about getting back through the gate to organize a search party to find Carter and Dobrowski, but right now weakness was pulling him down into darkness. He barely heard Daniel moving around before succumbing and letting it drag him under.
“Jack? Come on; wake up for me.” Daniel patted Jack’s shoulder hard, sighing in relief as Jack’s eyes opened slowly. “Good, that’s good. Ah-ah!” He pushed Jack back as he tried to sit up. “Just lie still. I finally got the bleeding stopped. Don’t want it starting up again. How are you feeling?”
Jack blinked up at him, looking sleep-hazed. “Where are we?” he asked, his voice sounding rusty.
Daniel held a water bottle to his lips and let him take a few sips. “In a cave not far from where we were attacked. Teal’c helped me get you and Feretti here. We weren’t sure about moving you, but Teal’c thought the raiding party might come back. He was right. They did, just after we got you all in here.”
“Teal’c’s okay?” Jack coughed as water regurgitated up his throat, making him choke, causing a sharp jab of pain down his back.
Daniel helped him sit up a little more, shoving a pack under his shoulders for support. “Teal’c’s fine,” he replied. “You’re not though, and neither is Feretti. He’s got a gunshot wound to the chest. I stopped the bleeding, but he’s still unconscious.”
“You?” Jack asked.
“I’m okay. I got nicked in the arm. It’s nothing.” Daniel gave him a faint smile. “It’s a flesh wound. Bleeding’s already stopped. Hurts like hell though.”
“I bet.” Jack tilted his head back and closed his eyes for a moment. “Any sign of where they took Carter and Dobrowski?”
“Yeah. They’ve tied them up in front of the Gate,” Daniel replied flatly. “Said they’ll let them go if we give ourselves up.”
“Yeah, sure they will. They say why they attacked us?”
“They want more weapons like the ones they took from us. Apparently the guys who attacked us are a resistance movement trying to overthrow the government we met with. Until we came along, their weapons were rudimentary at best – bows and arrows and knives. They seem to think if we’ve got guns back home like the ones we carried with us, there have to be more where we came from, and they want us to give them to them.” Daniel ran a hand over his sweaty face.
“Well, that’s not going to happen,” Jack said firmly. He gave Daniel a closer look. “You sure you’re okay? You look pale. Did Teal’c take a look at your arm?”
Daniel turned so Jack could see the bandage wrapping his arm. “Yep, told you it’s just a nick. Difference was I got hit with an arrow, not by one of our own bullets.” He winced as he took the water bottle and took a long drink. “It’s burning a little, but I’ll live. I’m more worried about working out how we’re going to get those guys to release Sam and Dobrowski, or at least being able to get through the Gate so we can organize reinforcements.”
“Where’s Teal’c?” Jack asked, pushing himself upright again, shrugging off Daniel’s restraining hand.
“Keeping watch outside. Making sure Carter and Dobrowski are okay,” Daniel replied. “Jack, you have to stop moving around-“
“I’m fine,” Jack said quickly. “I am,” he said again in answer to Daniel’s dubious look. “Daniel, get Teal’c back in here. I need to talk to him.”
Daniel nodded. “I’ve been thinking that maybe I could talk to these people, negotiate with them-“
“We don’t negotiate with terrorists, Daniel,” Jack interrupted, his voice harsh. “Not on Earth and not here.”
“We don’t know that they’re terrorists,” Daniel protested. “They may have legitimate complaints…“
“Legitimate enough to justify killing Colonel Grey, kidnapping Carter and Dobrowski, shooting the rest of us with our own weapons?”
Daniel closed his eyes, then opened them and shook his head. “No, nothing justifies that but-“
“Just get Teal’c back in here,” Jack said, his head falling back to rest against the pack behind him. “We need to work on strategy.”
“Okay.” Daniel gave Jack a searching look. “Will you be all right while I…” He nodded at Jack’s frown. “Going,” he said, standing up and almost stumbling as he did so.
“Daniel? You sure you’re okay?” Jack asked worriedly.
“Yep, fine. Just tired.” Daniel turned and headed for the cave entrance at a shambling run, one hand over the wound in his arm.
“I still think that I should talk to them,” Daniel said firmly. He was good with words, at negotiating. Surely he’d be able to find some common ground, give some reason for these men to let them all go.
“No,” Jack snapped, his eyes boring into Daniel’s. “We do not negotiate with killers.” He almost spat the words out, and Daniel recoiled a little from the venom in his voice.
Feretti moaned, and Daniel glanced over to see the major tossing restlessly, his sleep obviously disturbed by the noise. “Um, I should go see to Feretti,” he said. “We’re down to the last shot of morphine, but if I give him a half-dose then there’ll still be some for you-“
“Give him the half-dose for now,” Jack replied sharply. “But keep the other half on standby for him. I don’t need it.” His pallor and the lines of pain around his eyes and mouth belied his words, but Daniel kept silent, going over to Feretti instead and giving him the shot. He spent another few minutes trying to pull the sleeping bag Feretti was in into a more comfortable arrangement.
“Daniel?” Feretti’s voice was tinged with pain and exhaustion.
Daniel patted his shoulder. “Hey, Feretti, you’re supposed to be sleeping.”
“Everyone okay… Colonel Grey, the others?”
Daniel winced inwardly at the memory of Grey’s body left lying outside the cave, but he nodded as he helped Feretti take a sip of water. “Everyone’s gonna be fine. We’ll be heading back home soon.”
“Yeah, home,” Feretti whispered, his head dropping back to the ground, eyes closed once more. “Sounds good, Daniel.”
“Daniel, get over here.”
Daniel shuffled to his feet, feeling sweat break out on his face as he almost hit the ground again.
“Are you all right, Daniel Jackson?”
Daniel forced his knees to hold him up as he heard Teal’c’s voice in his ear, felt the welcome strength of Teal’c’s arm beneath his elbow. “I’m okay,” he managed to say, but he knew he wasn’t. His arm was burning fiercely, the pain ratcheting along nerve endings. “God.” He let himself be pushed down to the ground.
“What’s wrong?” Jack sounded worried, and Daniel glanced sideways at him then frantically pushed Teal’c away as he saw Jack rolling to his side. “Teal’c, stop him! Don’t let him move around!”
“Daniel, listen to me. I’ve got feeling and movement in my legs. There’s no damage to my spine. Must have been some sort of shock, that’s all. Look!” Jack wiggled his foot, his face contorting with pain at the movement.
Daniel let his head tilt forward as the pain in his arm gradually eased somewhat. “You still shouldn’t move around,” he got out between clenched teeth.
“We must find a way to get to the Stargate,” Teal’c said. “I do not have my staff weapon, but I do have this.” He held Daniel’s side arm in his hand. “There is, however, only a small amount of ammunition left.” He looked at Daniel searchingly. “Do you believe you can talk to these people, perhaps convince them to move away from the DHD?”
Daniel nodded. “I can try. I was trying to tell Jack that but…“
“No, you weren’t,” Jack replied heatedly. “You wanted to negotiate with them. I told you…“
“We don’t negotiate with terrorists. I know,” Daniel said wearily. “Look, if part of my distraction means I find out what their grievances are, is that such a bad thing? Kill two birds with one stone?”
Jack had dropped back to the ground, his eyes boring into Daniel’s. “No, I guess not. Just... be careful. They already have two of our people out there. Let’s not hand them another hostage. Okay, Daniel?”
Daniel nodded as Teal’c helped him up. “Believe me, that’s definitely okay,” he said.
Teal’c helped him out to the mouth of the cave and left him sheltered behind an outcrop of rocks. “Do not expose yourself unnecessarily, Daniel Jackson,” the Jaffa warned. “You will be of no use to Major Carter or Captain Dobrowski if you yourself are dead.”
Daniel nodded wearily at him. “I know. Just be ready to move, okay?”
Teal’c smiled grimly. “I am always ready to move.”
“Of course you are.” Daniel grinned and patted his friend’s arm. “Let’s hope this works, Teal’c.”
“Indeed. Good luck, Daniel Jackson.”
Daniel inched forward till he could peer out around the rocks. “Um, hello, anyone out there?” he yelled.
“Come out, and we will release your women,” a voice called back.
“Well, you know, I’m not going to come out there and just get shot down the minute I do,” he called back.
“If you come out, you will not be harmed.”
“Yeah, try telling that to the rest of my team,” Daniel snapped back, unable to help the bitterness and disbelief lacing his voice.
“We simply wanted to get your attention,” the man said.
“Well… you’ve got it. Let’s find a neutral place to talk and discuss your grievances.” Daniel waited a moment then shouted. “Look, I’m unarmed. We just want to get our wounded home with as little more bloodshed as possible.”
“How do we know we can trust you?”
“You have two of my friends as your hostages,” Daniel replied. Heart hammering, he pushed himself slowly to his feet, knowing Jack was going to rip him a new one for the little stunt he was about to pull… if he was still alive at the end of it, that is. He held his arms out from his sides, wavering a little as dizziness assailed him. “Let me come and speak with you, see if there is anything we can do to help you. Let me exchange myself for my friends.”
Inside the cave, Jack was struggling to get to his feet, swearing at the pain that coursed down his back as he finally made it to his knees. “Damn you, Daniel!” he yelled as loud as he could. “Don’t you dare!”
Daniel heard the shout and forced himself not to look back at Jack. “Well?” he asked their captors. He sighed with relief as Carter and Dobrowski were hauled to their feet and shoved at gunpoint toward the cave.
“Meet them halfway,” he was ordered, and he obeyed, his legs barely keeping him upright until he reached them.
Sam flashed him a tight smile as he walked past her. “I hope you know what you’re doing, Daniel,” she murmured.
He nodded then forced himself to keep walking till he stood in front of the man who seemed to be in charge. “My name is Daniel Jackson,” he began formally, ignoring the pain jolting a fiery path down his injured arm. ‘What can I do to help your people?”
“You are a brave man, Daniel Jackson. My name is Elar. I am of the Kayvar. You met with our ministers in the city.” He gave Daniel an assessing look. “You’re injured.”
“I know. You injured me.”
Elar shook his head. “We didn’t attack your people.”
“Look, I hate to start this negotiation off by disagreeing with you right off the bat, but you were holding two of my team hostage,” Daniel replied.
“We simply found them where the Malachites had abandoned them in their retreat and brought them back here in order to negotiate with you for their release.”
“Why would the Malachites have just abandoned them?” Daniel asked, trying to keep track of what was becoming a rapidly confusing conversation.
“They had no use for them once they had your weapons.” Elar sneered. “The Malachites do not consider women worthy opponents. I, however, felt they might be of some use to us.”
“And that use would be...”
“The Malachites,” Elar said. “They are members of the Resistance. They wish to overthrow our government.”
Daniel put a hand to his head as he was suddenly overcome with dizziness. Elar grabbed his uninjured arm and kept him upright.
“You have been poisoned by the Malachites’ arrows,” Elar observed.
“Poisoned?” Daniel felt his heart jump at the words.
“Come, sit before you fall down, and I will tell you what you need to know.”
“Wait!” Daniel resisted being pulled over to the large outcropping of rocks on the edge of the clearing. “Let the rest of my team go back through the gate, and I’ll stay and help you, see if there’s some way we can broker some sort of truce with the Malachites.”
Elar shook his head. “We want no truce with them. We merely wish weapons with which to fight them. They have weapons they have stolen from other places they visit through the Stone Ring. Our weapons are no match for theirs. Even that poison you carry in your wound is from some other world.”
“We can’t do that, can’t just give you weapons.” He stopped and wiped his hand over his suddenly too hot face. It was becoming harder to think clearly, his vision was increasingly blurred, and he felt nauseous. His wound throbbed dully, the beat echoing in his ears. “We can help you work out a dialogue with the Malachites, find out what their grievances are too...”
“Is this how you do things on your planet?” Elar asked. “Do you not wage war on your enemies?”
“Um, we try not to. We’re not always successful at avoiding war, but we try,” Daniel replied. “Look, you can come back with us, tell us what’s going on here and…“
“Do not move!” Teal’c’s voice sounded menacing, and Daniel closed his eyes in relief then opened them and saw Teal’c with both of Elar’s men in front of him, a knife and Daniel’s gun in each hand. “Daniel Jackson, take this man’s weapon from him.”
Daniel reached out and plucked the knife from Elar’s hand. “Look, we can still help you,” he said. “Let us get our wounded home first then we’ll come back, help you set up discussions with the Malachites.”
Elar nodded. “Very well, go.”
“Just like that. You’re letting us go?” Daniel couldn’t help the surprise tingeing his voice.
Elar nodded at his arm. “The poison will kill you in three days without the antidote.”
“And only the Malachites have it?” Daniel replied wearily.
“I am sorry.”
“Daniel Jackson, perhaps we should attempt to find these Malachites.“
Daniel cut Teal’c off with a shake of his head. “We need to get Jack and Feretti back to Earth. Maybe Janet can come up with an antidote anyway. If not, I guess we’ll be back.” He handed the knife back to Elar. “Let’s get our people home, Teal’c.”
There was a cacophony of sound assaulting Daniel’s eardrums from the moment he stepped from the wormhole onto the gate ramp – people yelling orders, running feet, the whoosh as the gate shut down behind him.
“What the hell happened?”
Daniel looked around to find General Hammond at his side, worry darkening the man’s eyes. “We were ambushed on our way back to the gate,” he said. He frowned, trying to get the sequence of events straight in his head, but his arm ached fiercely, as if the tissues within had been crushed and bruised. He wrapped his other hand around the wound, watching as Jack and then Feretti were carried down the ramp on gurneys, Sam and Dobrowski behind them, stumbling as if in sheer weariness.
“You’re injured, Doctor,” Hammond said, and Daniel nodded distractedly. “An arrow,” he said. “The wound itself isn’t too bad.“
“The arrow tip contained poison,” Teal’c broke in, and Daniel looked around, finding the Jaffa at his other side, one big hand on Daniel’s shoulder.
“What? Get him to the infirmary!” Hammond barked. Daniel let himself be ushered down the ramp and out of the gate room.
In the hallway, the walls took on a life of their own, the floor buckling beneath him as he fought to keep his feet. He careened into the wall, and Teal’c grabbed him, holding him firmly around the waist while Daniel fought to keep his feet moving forward.
“Do you wish me to carry you, Daniel Jackson?” Teal’c asked softly. Daniel shook his head then wished he hadn’t as bile flooded his mouth. He stopped, putting out a hand to the wall for support, bent over, resting his other hand on his knee as he tried to breathe through the nausea. The next thing he was aware of was of being pulled over Teal’c’s broad shoulder in a fireman’s carry then darkness descended.
“I want to see him.”
“Colonel, you’re in no condition to stand up, let alone walk anywhere. As I told you, you’re very lucky not to have permanent spinal damage. However, you have suffered spinal shock caused by swelling of the spinal cord and nerves. That will take some time to settle, and you’re not long out of surgery yourself. Besides,” Janet softened her tone, “Daniel’s unconscious. He won’t know you’re there, and I know he didn’t get you off that planet in more or less one piece just so you could turn around and make your injury worse.”
“Tell me he’s going to be okay then, and I’ll stay in bed and be the ideal patient,” Jack said flatly.
“I can’t. I don’t know that until we can identify the poison they used. Sam’s contacting the Tok’ra as we speak to see if they have any information on the Malachites and what this toxin might be,” Janet replied.
“Okay. How’s Feretti?”
“He’ll make it. The bullet missed any vital organs, and apart from losing a lot of blood, he’s in pretty good shape.”
“Thanks, that’s good news at least.” He closed his eyes and let sleep carry him away.
It seemed like only moments later he was being gently shaken awake. He opened his eyes to see Jacob Carter standing beside his bed.
“How are you feeling, Jack?” Jacob asked.
“Been better. How’s Daniel?”
Jacob sighed and shook his head. “Unfortunately the Tok’ra haven’t come across the Malachites before, and because we don’t know what planet they got this poison from, there’s not a lot we can do for him.” He bowed his head and the next time he spoke it was as Selmak, his Tok’ra symbiote.
“I am sorry, Colonel,” Selmak said gravely. “I did use a healing device on him, but while it appears to have strengthened his condition, it was not a cure.”
“Damn,” Jack muttered. “I want to see him.”
Jacob bowed his head again, and his own voice answered Jack. “I’ll talk to Dr. Fraiser.”
“Just help me over there,” Jack said.
“Not unless you go in a wheelchair,” Fraiser’s voice interrupted, and Jack grimaced, turning a sour look in her direction.
“I feel much better,” he said. “I can even bend my knees now.” He did it, hiding the pain that swept down his back and legs at the movement.
Fraiser parked the wheelchair at his bedside. “It’s true the spinal swelling has receded, thanks partly to the anti-inflammatory drugs, and also to the use of the Tok’ra healing device. However,” she held up a hand as Jack opened his mouth, “you are less than a day post op to remove that bullet from your back so you go in the wheelchair over to Daniel’s bed or you don’t go at all.”
“Fine,” Jack replied grumpily, allowing Jacob to help him sit up and swing his legs over the side of the bed, swallowing down the pain the movement caused. He permitted himself to be helped into the chair then pushed over to Daniel’s bed, steeling himself for what he’d see when he got there.
He was surprised to see Daniel looked as if he was resting peacefully though his face was flushed with fever still. He was breathing on his own at least and there was only one IV in his hand through which fluid dripped slowly from a bag on a stand next to his bed.
“Hey, Daniel.” Jack leaned forward enough to grasp Daniel’s hand in his and gave it a squeeze. “Hang in there. You’re going to make it.” He waited, hoping Daniel might open his eyes, but when nothing happened, he let go of Daniel’s hand and sat back in the wheelchair. “I’ll just stay with him for a while,” he said softly.
“Thirty minutes, Colonel,” Fraiser said gently. “Then you need to get some rest too. You’ll be no good to him if you keel over.”
Jack nodded at the undeniable sense of that. “Okay.” He turned his head to look at Jacob. “Try to find out whatever you can about the bastards who did this to us, will you?”
Jacob nodded. “Teal’c and Sam have already gone back with SG-5,” he added. “As soon as there’s any word, you’ll be the first to know.”
“He doesn’t have a lot of time,” Fraiser said. “The poison is supposed to be fatal within seventy two hours without the antidote, and the hand device will only help for a short time before his body weakens beyond it being able to continue to revive. I’m sorry. I wish there was more I could do.”
Jack turned back to the bed and took Daniel’s hand in his again. “Fight, Daniel,” he whispered. “You’ve been through tough times before. You need to hold on.”
Sam sat down on the steps leading down from the Gate and looked up at Teal’c. “Guess there’s no welcoming committee this time.”
Teal’c scanned the horizon, his face impassive. “Perhaps not yet. We will wait. I have asked SG-5 to maintain a perimeter watch but to take no action should we be approached. I believe it is best to give the Kayvar and the Malachites the impression we have returned alone.”
Sam nodded agreement. “I wonder how Daniel’s doing.”
“I do not know, but I do know that he is in capable hands.”
Sam thumbed her radio on as it clicked. “Major Gerritson? Anything?”
“There are two men approaching your location. They’re armed with bows. Can’t see any guns on them.”
“Okay, hang back unless I tell you otherwise. Carter out.” Sam stood . “Here comes the welcome wagon.”
Teal’c nodded and tightened his hand around his staff weapon. He would not fire upon these people unless he was forced to. To do so would mean almost certain death for Daniel Jackson. However, neither would he stand by and allow Major Carter to be harmed or taken prisoner.
“Do not fire upon us,” a voice called from just beyond the tree line. “I am Elar of the Kayvar. Do you bring Daniel Jackson back with you?”
“No!” Teal’c called back. “He is gravely ill. We came to negotiate with you for the antidote for the poison.”
Elar stepped out into the open then bent and placed his bow and arrow sheath at his feet. Straightening, he held his hands out from his sides. “We do not have the antidote, but if you arm us, we will help you get it from the Malachites.”
“Yeah, right,” Sam muttered sourly. “Give you guns so you can turn them on us again.”
Teal’c nodded but stepped down from the dais and approached Elar. “How do we know we can trust you to do that?” he asked. “We know you want weapons to fight the Malachites. If we give you weapons now, how do we know you will not turn them on us and not help us obtain the antidote Daniel Jackson needs.”
“You can’t know for sure,” Elar said gravely, stepping forward to meet him, “but Daniel Jackson said on your world you try to avoid wars by negotiating first. He said he would return and help us do that with the Malachites. My people are willing to try.”
“Why?” Sam stood and followed Teal’c over to where Elar stood. “You told Daniel you just wanted weapons to fight them. Why are you suddenly willing to try to negotiate a peace with them?”
Elar turned and pointed into the distance. Smoke was rising on the horizon. “We are already losing this war,” he said. “We have nothing more to lose. Our town is in ruins; many are dead.”
“If you wish to negotiate peace with your enemies,” Teal’c said, “you do not need our weapons. If the Malachites see you are armed as they are, the fighting will simply continue until one side or the other is decimated. Will the leaders of the Malachites agree to a meeting with your leaders?”
“Our leaders are dead,” Elar said.
“Then we will ask them to meet with you. Have you a way to contact them?” Teal’c asked.
“If I send a messenger offering our surrender, they will come soon enough,” Elar replied, bitterness lacing his tone.
“Does it matter why they come as long they do?” Teal’c asked quietly. “We both have lives at stake here. Daniel Jackson’s life depends on us being able to convince the Malachites to give us the antidote. For you, your people’s lives rely on some kind of truce with the Malachites.” He held out his hand to Elar and grasped Elar’s firmly when it was offered. “I am a warrior,” he stated, meeting Elar’s eyes with a steady gaze, “from a warrior people, but I have learned in my time with the Tau’ri that there is a time to fight and a time to lay down weapons and talk.”
Elar nodded. “It will not be easy. The Malachites have many grievances with the Kayvar. They were once our slaves. We freed them years ago, but they demand more and more privileges and freedoms.”
“Then you need to listen to their grievances,” Sam put in, stepping forward to stand next to Teal’c, “and find a way to meet them half way.”
Jack jolted awake as a hand gripped his shoulder. He looked over to the bed. Daniel was still unconscious, his breathing now aided by a ventilator. “Damn,” he muttered. “Didn’t mean to fall asleep. How’s he doing?”
“Teal’c and Sam are back,” Fraiser said softly. She held up a syringe filled with amber fluid. “This is what they brought back. The Malachite leader swears it’s the antidote.”
“And if it’s not?” Jack asked.
“If it’s not, it won’t make a difference. We have to try it because otherwise he’s going to die anyway.” Fraiser walked around the bed and injected the syringe into the IV port in Daniel’s arm. “Now you should go get some rest. Daniel’s going to want to see you when he wakes up.”
“If,” Jack whispered. “I’d rather just wait here… just in case he…“
Daniel thrashed restlessly, his hands curling into fists, his head tossing back and forth on the pillow.
“What’s happening?” Jack demanded, clumsily pushing himself to his feet.
Fraiser pressed the call button. “I’m not sure,” she snapped. “I need you out of here, Colonel.” She turned to the two nurses who’d entered the cubicle. “Lieutenant Evans, help Colonel O’Neill back to his bed. You!” She pointed to the second nurse. “I want epi, adrenaline, and diazepam on standby.”
Jack allowed himself to be led just outside the curtains but refused to move any further, standing instead with his hands clenched around the back of a chair for support as he listened to what was happening on the other side of the cloth barrier. The injured muscles in his back tightened as if in sympathy with his tension and he bit back a groan as pain washed down his legs. He forced himself to remain on his feet, keeping himself upright by sheer force of will, not able to allow himself to give into the weakness until he knew Daniel would recover. His hands shook as he clenched them tighter and tighter, his knuckles white with the effort of holding on.
After what seemed an eon of nerve-stretching time, Fraiser came out of the cubicle. She was smiling. She nodded at Jack and patted his arm as she walked by. “It worked,” she said. “He’s sleeping naturally now.” Her fingers tightened around Jack’s arm as he let go of the chair back and moved toward the curtain. “No, you don’t. I said he’s sleeping, and that’s what you’re going to do too.”
Suddenly Jack felt unutterably weary. “You’re sure he’s going to be okay?” he asked. At her nod, he turned and limped over to his own bed. “Let me know when he wakes up,” he added as he climbed onto it. He was asleep almost before his head hit the pillow.
Daniel scooted up in the bed and suffered through Sam fluffing his pillows till she was sure he was comfortable. He gave her a grateful smile as she sat back down on the foot of his bed. “So,” he said, “Teal’c actually brokered a truce between these people on the planet.”
Sam nodded enthusiastically. “Yep, he was terrific and all without even raising his staff weapon.”
“I believe the two tribes were sufficiently cowed by my words that using a weapon was unnecessary,” Teal’c said gravely. “However, I believe they also knew that should they have refused to give us the antidote for the poison, I would have had no qualms in using physical coercion.”
Jack leaned forward from his chair, snorting a laugh at that. “Daniel, you’d better watch out. Teal’c might be after your job as the SGC’s resident diplomacy expert.”
“Yeah, well, there are times he’d be welcome to it,” Daniel replied around a yawn.
“We’re gonna go and let you get some rest.” Sam stood and leaned forward, pecking him on the cheek. “Take care of yourself, Daniel. I’ll stop by tomorrow and bring you some cookies.”
“Thanks, Sam.” Daniel waved goodbye to her and bowed his head toward Teal’c. “Thanks for everything, Teal’c. You saved my life twice on this mission.”
“As I should,” Teal’c said, inclining his head in response, “though I should be grateful to limit doing so to only once per mission in the future.”
Jack shook his head as Teal’c left. “The big guy’s got a point, Daniel. You could have been dead when you decided to make like a hero and go out and talk to those guys.”
Daniel sighed and rested his head back against the pillows. “I’m just as much a combat team member as the rest of you guys, these days, Jack,” he said.
“I know,” Jack replied. “I’m not saying you can’t take care of yourself out there. Hell, you pretty much saved Feretti’s and my life by doing what you did. You kept your head and got us back safely.” He leaned forward and ruffled Daniel’s hair. “Just go easy on the risking your own life to save everyone else’s for a while, will ya? Teal’c may have learned a few things about being a diplomat from watching you work, but you’re still the best hope we’ve got most of the time for peacefully resolving things with aliens.”
“Is that a compliment?” Daniel asked in mock-shock.
“Sure. Just don’t expect another one for at least another year.” Jack stood up carefully and limped back over to his own bed. “Get some sleep, Daniel. Tomorrow’s a new day.”