"Go fish," Jack says.
I reach for a card unthinkingly. Then Jack's words finally penetrate my brain and the cards are startled from my hand.
"I thought we were playing gin," I say, staring at my cards which are now scattered across the coffee table.
"We were," Jack says, casually gathering all of the cards in. "But I don't think your mind is on the game."
I get up and pace the living room, just to get some blood flowing. I've reached the stage of exhaustion where I feel fuzzy headed. Not surprising, given that it's the wee hours of the morning. And given that I haven't had more than two or three hours of sleep at a stretch in way too many days.
I tried to sleep earlier, I really did. But even after a hot shower and some food I just couldn't settle down. It's like my mind panics every time I even think about sleep and skitters away from the idea as fast as it can. And it's not like I don't have these flashbacks occasionally when I'm awake, too. But the ones that come in my sleep are always stronger...and scarier.
"Why don't you go to bed?" Jack suggests quietly as I open the balcony doors to let in some fresh air.
I just shake my head. He gives a resigned sigh and goes to the kitchen to get himself a beer.
"Well, there's nothing on TV. You're too tired to play chess," he continues when he returns to the living room. "Guess we'll just have to talk."
"About what?" I ask apprehensively.
Jackmetalk: what's wrong with this picture?
"What do you want to talk about?" Jack asks.
"Not the flashbacks. It's bad enough they've taken over my sleep. I don't want to spend the rest of my time thinking about them."
"I know what it's like," Jack says seriously. "I know what it's like when a part of your brain takes over and you lose control of your own actions. Andas much as I hate to admit ittalking about it is something you have to do."
"I hate shrinks."
"They have a purpose, though," Jack says reluctantly.
"Did you talk to a shrink?"
"Sort of. He played his head games," Jack says with a vicious grin. "And I played mine."
"So what did you do?"
"I'd schmooze the shrink, get drunk, go home and scare the bejeezus out of Sara," Jack says bluntly.
"You should've talked to someone," I insist.
Jack hates what he did to his family, and himself, after he got back from Iraq. It still sneaks up on him from time to time even now.
"Of course, but talk to someone else. You should never have had to deal with all that alone. You shouldn't have to keep dealing with it." I hesitate. "You know you can talk to me, don't you?"
"Your plate's a little full right now, Daniel. Why don't you try unloading some of your own crap before taking on any of mine?"
"I can't talk to MacKenzie."
"Okay, then you can just talk to me," Jack says.
"Hoist on my own petard," I respond bitterly. I should've seen that coming.
"Touché," Jack says, taking a swig of his beer.
"You sure you want to hear this?" I ask.
"How bad can it be?" Jack says flippantly. He looks at me and his expression sobers. "Okay, that was.... Go ahead."
"I take Teal'c's symbiote and kill it," I say bluntly. The only way I can say this is to just do it. "But I leave him alive so he can watch you and Sam die. Teal'c doesn't care about himself. He tells me it's okay because we're even now."
"Fuck," Jack says vehemently before belting back half the bottle.
"And SamI use the ribbon device on her. Cook her brains right in her skull," I confess. "She just keeps trying to talk to me. Trying to get through to me." I swallow hard. "Her body keeps twitching even after she's dead."
Jack grimaces and I close my eyes. I can't look at him and tell him the rest.
"You.... I slit your throat," I whisper. "Use your knife to do it."
I open my eyes again and look over apprehensively. Jack sits as if frozen. I think he's afraid that if he so much as blinks I'll stop. Or maybe he's afraid I'll go on.
"Before I...before I do it you look at me and tell me not to blame myself."
"How very gallant of me," Jack jokes feebly.
I'm not fooled. His hands are shaking almost as badly as mine.
"Jesus, Daniel," he mutters, wiping his hand across his face.
"Tell me about it."
"Bottom lineit didn't happen," Jack finally says. He raises his chin and pats his throat. "Still unblemished. Well, a little wrinkled maybe, but no scars. Teal'c and Junior are both fine. And Carter's brains are still in working order. Trust me on this."
His vehemence on this last topic takes me by surprise. I give him a questioning look.
"You know that new assistant of hers?"
"Lewis," Jack agrees. "She's driving him fucking nuts," he continues in a "better him than me" tone.
"I doubt it," I say. "Lewis is a geek, too."
"Yeah, sure he's a geek. But Carter's an uber-geek."
"Don't laugh," Jack says, pointing the beer bottle at me. "You're the reason I had to create subdivisions within geekdom."
"Yeah. I always thought there were two basic kinds of geeks: science geeks and the other ordinary all-around geeks," Jack explains. "You acted kind of like a science geek but you weren't a normal science geek."
"You didn't have a pocket protector."
"That is such a stereotype," I complain.
"Once I got called into the stargate program and had to spend lots of time with science geeks, I realized there were whole subsets in geekdom," Jack continues, ignoring my protest. "You and Carter, though, you two had taken geekiness to a whole other level. You went beyond geekiness. You're uber-geeks."
"The way your mind works is really very frightening at times."
"Back atcha," Jack says amiably.
"This is not helping."
"You can't beat yourself up over these nightmares, Daniel."
"I know but...."
"It's what the Goa'uld wanted, Daniel. Not you."
"I know. I'm working on it."
"I'm hungry," Jack says abruptly, grabbing the empty beer bottle and striding toward the kitchen. "You got anything to eat in here? Besides fruit?"
"It's 3:30 a.m.," I tell him.
"What's your point?" he asks, pausing in the doorway to give me a bewildered stare.
"I have no idea," I tell the now empty room.
"You know what's frustrating?"
"Aside from the obvious?" Jack asks dryly.
I'm making a flying visit after one of my mandatory sessions with MacKenzie. The other three members of SG-1 have spontaneously congregated in my office. At least I think it was spontaneous. You can never be sure about these things when Jack's gone into mother hen mode.
"Yeah, aside from that. I think there's a way to stop these visions, or whatever they are, but I just can't put my finger on it."
I pace around the office, exhausted and running on nothing more than fumes.
"It's like when you're trying to remember the name of a song or an actor and you know you know it but you can't recall it consciously."
"On the tip of your tongue?" Jack asks.
"In a manner of speaking." I clench my hands in frustration. "It's there. I know it is."
"Maybe we should try asking the Tok'ra for help again," Sam suggests.
Jack makes a disgusted snort.
"The Tok'ra have already indicated that they have no knowledge of this type of mind control," Teal'c points out.
Yeah. The Tok'ra we'd 'captured'the one I'd assaultedresponded to the question very indignantly. He said that implanting destructive images into a host was something they had never and would never do.
"Right," Jack says with blatant skepticism. "Either they already know or they can't find a way to use it."
"What's that supposed to mean, sir?" Sam asks sharply.
"I'm just saying that if these 'memories' or the method of sticking them in Daniel's head were of any value to the Tok'ra, they'd be all over it."
"Look, it doesn't matter," I interrupt before Jack and Sam can renew their long running debate over Tok'ra motives. "For whatever reason, the Tok'ra aren't going to be any help. I just need to figure out how to get rid of the flashbacks myself."
"How?" Jack asks.
"I'm not sure but I think maybe I have to stop fighting them."
"Whoa, Daniel. I'm not sure that's such a good idea," Sam says, throwing a concerned look at Jack.
"You have already suffered physical injury while resisting the Goa'uld's thoughts," Teal'c points out, staring blatantly at my bruised and stitched forehead.
"Maybe that's the problem," I suggest. "Maybe resisting the memories is counter productive. Look, I know this may sound a little 'out there'." Jack rolls his eyes but manages to keep his mouth shut. "But I think I may have, somehow, gotten more from the Goa'uld's mind than he knew. I think there's a way to eliminate or at least block the artificial memories. It's there in my mind. I just have to find a way to consciously remember it."
"We'll take turns spending the night," Jack announces after a moment of thought.
"What? WaitI told you. I have to let the nightmares play out," I insist.
"Fine. So we'll let them play out," Jack says curtly. "But one of us will be there in case you get attacked by a homicidal end table again."
I stare at Jack's knife, turn it slowly in my hand and watch the light glint off of the polished steel still visible between the blood stains.
"Do you truly wish to stop this?" the Goa'uld asks.
Wha...what? Then there is a way. There is. I know it. I can stop this if I just...just....
I shudder to abrupt awareness. Blinking, I see Sam in front of me, her hands held up in a defensive position as she stares intently at me.
"You awake now?" she asks, relaxing her stance a fraction.
"Okay, then why don't you put the knife away?"
Knife? What knife? Even as I ask myself the question, I realize I'm holding a steak knife in my hand. Shocked, I drop it to the floor. Sam quickly bends to retrieve the knife while I look around and realize that we're in my kitchen. I have no idea how I got here.
"Maybe you should sit down," Sam suggests.
"Yeah," I mumble, plopping down on the chilly linoleum.
"Okay, I didn't mean here exactly," she says with mild exasperation, but she sits down next to me anyway.
"What happened?" I ask apprehensively.
"You were talking in your sleep. I couldn't make out exactly what you were saying but I got the feeling it was one of the Goa'uld dreams," she tells me. "You were wandering around. I just followed you at first, but when you got the knife out of the drawer.... I had to stop it."
"This is why it's a bad idea for any of you to stay here," I insist. I had askeddemandedthat if they were going to stay with me they had to let the nightmares play out. "I could have hurt you!"
"We're more concerned about you hurting yourself," Sam says firmly. "Daniel, we're all trained soldiers. No offense but we can handle you."
"Hey, I can fight," I say, indignant despite the fact that I'm well aware that Sam could whoop my ass if she really wanted to.
"Yes, you can and I'd trust you fighting beside me any day," Sam says sincerely. "But you haven't had the kind of intensive combat training we've had."
I shrug an agreement.
"Honestly, Daniel, you're in more danger than I am. Walking around in your sleepin a nightmarewith a weapon in your hand? That scares me."
Scares me, too.
"Any more sharp weapons in here?" Jack asks curtly.
Once again he's sounding both tired and angry. And once again, it wasn't my idea to call him.
"My wit?" I shoot back in a surly tone.
Sam lets loose with a sigh we can hear clear across the room. I don't know what she's got to sigh about. It was her idea to call Jack.
"It's for your own good," Jack says.
Isn't it always? He walks over to my wall safe with his hands full of my kitchen cutlery.
"Don't tell me," he cuts me off. "Come over here and do it."
I marchwell, it's really more of an exhausted staggerover to the safe and dial. As soon as he hears the click of the tumblers falling into place, Jack nudges me away. I slump down onto the couch while Jack rifles through the contents of the safe. I don't know what he thinks he'll find. It's just a few personal documents, some classified work from the SGC....
"Daniel." Jack turns to look at me. "You keep chocolate in your safe?"
Oh. That's where it went.
"No, of course not. I keep coffee in the safe," I say sarcastically. "The chocolate was an accident."
Jack tosses the chocolate bar at me with a disgusted look. I quickly test it. A little dusty maybe, but still edible.
"I found a small flaw in your plan," I say around a mouthful of melting chocolate.
"I know the combination to the safe. What's going to stop me from just opening it if I want to get a knife?"
"Well, for startersmy ass planted on that couch," Jack says. "If you want to get to the safe you'll have to go through me. I'm going to know where you are and what you're doing every minute. I'll be on you like white on rice, Daniel."
"Christ, Jack, why don't you just tie me to the bed and be done with it?"
"Because I'm not allowed to," Jack says sullenly.
"Janet's the only one who gets to tie Daniel to the bed," Sam adds.
Spots of bright color appear on her cheeks as Jack and I both turn to stare at her.
"That...that didn't come out quite right."
"You didn't tell me you had something kinky going with Doc," Jack says.
"I didn't know," I say. "I was probably drugged or unconscious at the time."
"Aren't you always?" Jack asks.
"My point exactly."
"Is it any wonder that you drive me absolutely nuts?" Jack says.
I'm pretty sure I hear Sam mutter "short trip" but I'm probably mistaken since Jack doesn't immediately shoot her.
"All part of my Dr. Evil plan to get my hands on your yo-yo," I tell him.
"Don't toy with me, Daniel," Jack chides.
"Sir," Sam says with another exasperated sigh. "Permission to make my escape?"
"Yeah, clear out, Carter," Jack says with a wave of his hand.
Sam walks over and gives me a quick hug.
"Night, Sam. And thanks."
"You're welcome. But I'd rather not do it again, you know?" she says.
"I'll second that."
"Do you truly wish to stop this?" the Goa'uld asks.
What kind of stupid question is that?
"You have the means...."
Jack is still kneeling in front of me, his head pulled back by my hand. I'm still holding his knife. The exquisitely sharp, lethal blade that I...it will use to cut Jack's throat. Use unless I....
I turn the blade in my hand, staring at it, willing it to give me the answer. I reverse my grip on the blade and the Goa'uld laughs.
"Hurry," it says, directing my eyes to Jack's grim features.
"Hurry," Jack says.
I tighten my grip and thrust. Pain flares in my hand.
"Daniel! Judas fucking...goddamnit, Daniel!"
Jack is swearing loudly and creatively. This is nothing I haven't heard before, but it usually isn't directed at me. Usually. What I really don't understand is why I'm on the floor, crouched over on my knees with Jack wrapped around me from behind.
I slowly come to the realization that I'm fighting Jack. He's got me nearly immobilized, his arms pinning mine, his fingers biting into my wrist. One of my fingers throbs dully until Jack shifts his grip. The increased pressure drives the throb to an intense flare of pain.
"Ow! Shit.... What the hell are you doing?" I yell at Jack.
"Daniel?" he gasps, breathing heavily into the back of my neck.
What the.... Oh, hell. I've got a knife in my hand again. A knife that Jack is desperately trying to push away from me. My brain sluggishly recognizes another source of pain, a small puncture on my chest. It's not bad, barely bleeding, but....
I did that.
I tried to kill myself?
Jack's voice is urgent as I go slack in his grasp. The knife drops, forgotten, to the floor. Jack shifts around so that he's facing me.
"Come on, Daniel. Stay with me here," he urges, slapping me hard when I don't respond.
I barely feel the blow. Jack grunts and cusses as he maneuvers me into a more stable position, pushing my head down between my knees.
"Don't move," he says threateningly.
No worries there. I seem to have lost control of my body, not to mention having absolutely none of the mental capacity necessary for initiating activity of any kind.
I'm not sure how long it is before I'm dimly aware of Jack's presence again. His hands grasp the sides of my head and pull it to an upright position.
"Talk to me, Daniel," he says quietly as he pats my cheek firmly.
His thumb moves to tug at my eyelid, staring intently into my eyes. Swear to God, if he shines a damn light in my eyes I'm going to hurt him. I will.
Then again, maybe I'll just go...somewhere quiet...and dark...rest....
"Ow!" I swing angrily at the light shining in my eye. "Stop it."
"I believe Daniel Jackson is awake now."
"Shut up," I mumble, trying to bury my pounding head in my pillow.
Crap. I know that voice.
"Go away," I tell Janet.
"Daniel," she says with professional patience. "Do you need a little something for pain?"
"Need a big something."
And not just for the head. I've got a finger that seems to be throbbing in counter point to the pounding of my brain.
"Gonna be sick."
"No, you're not," Janet says authoritatively.
"How would you know?" I ask with supreme annoyance, finally opening my eyes so I can glare at her. And thank you to whoever thought to turn the infirmary lights down. That really would've been the last straw.
"I'm a doctor. I'm trained to know these things."
"Uh...Daniel," Jack calls from where he's standing just behind Janet. He nods meaningfully at Fraiser. "You might want to be careful who you're dissing right now."
"Why?" I ask stubbornly.
"Oh, no reason. Just needles. And catheters."
"I don't need a catheter!"
"Doesn't mean you won't get one," Janet says curtly.
"That's a violation of my Constitutional Rights."
"Yeah, yeah. Write a letter to your congressman," she says, completely unmoved.
So much for the Hippocratic Oath.
"Why do you wind him up when you know he's in pain?" Jack asks Janet.
Then he turns to me.
"And why do you wind her up ever?"
Um...I like living dangerously?
"Because as soon as he stops acting like you, sir, I know the pain meds are working," Janet tells Jack matter-of-factly. She ignores his insulted glare and rechecks my IV. "Feeling any better now?"
"No," I growl, rubbing fretfully at my head. "Yes. A little better. What happened?"
"You had a little episode," Jack says, exchanging worried looks with Sam and Teal'c.
"Episode? You mean another Goa'uld flash.... Oh, shit." All of a sudden the memory of my "little" episode comes crashing back. "I, uh...I tried to...didn't I?"
"You broke my finger."
Don't ask me why that particular detail is first and foremost in my brain at the moment.
"I did," Jack admits. "Sorry about that. Didn't mean to."
"No, under the circumstances.... I can hardly hold it against you, can I?"
"Jury's still out on that one," Jack says. "You can be a vindictive little bastard when you get hold of a grudge."
Yeah? Right back atcha.
"And I'm telling you right nowno more with the 'allowing the nightmares to play out' crap," Jack says belligerently. "One close call was enough."
"Oh. That's it."
"What is?" Sam asks.
"That's what I was trying to figure out. I told you I had the feeling that there was a way to stop the nightmares and flashbacks. Well, that was it."
"Suicide?" Jack says angrily. "That's the great idea you've been trying to remember?"
"No! I meanI didn't know that's what it was. Remember? I thought I had some information that I'd unknowingly taken from the Goa'uld." I slap myself on the forehead in disgust...right on the stitched cut. Yeah, that hurts. "But I didn't take it. The Goa'uld had deliberately left it in my mind."
"Sort of like a post-hypnotic suggestion," Janet says, catching on to my reasoning.
"Fearing that we would be able to find a way to destroy him while still saving you, the Goa'uld found a way to force you to destroy yourself," Teal'c says.
"The Goa'uld probably planted the suggestion while he was showing you his memories," Sam theorizes. "Your mind was being subjected to such a huge download of information, it's doubtful you would've been aware of what he was doing."
"He must have realized that you would be so disturbed by the false images that you would accept any possible solution, not realizing until it was too late that it would be a truly final solution," Teal'c concludes.
"Not to mention that after weeks of fighting off the nightmares, Daniel was suffering from sleep deprivation. He wasn't thinking clearly," Fraiser adds.
"Yes," I agree, sickened by the knowledge of what my own weakness and desperation had nearly led to.
"Well, thank God the colonel was there," Sam says.
I glance over at Jack just as he grimaces.
"Damn near wasn't enough," he says, obviously disgusted with himself. "And I'd really like to know where that knife came from."
"Um...." The morphine is starting to really kick in now, making it even more difficult to concentrate. "The knife?"
"Yes, Daniel, the knife," Jack says sharply. "You knowthose sharp things we supposedly had all locked up in the safe?"
"Oh!" Recognition dawns finally. Jack is not going to be happy. Not at all. "Uh oh."
"Uh oh?" Sam prompts.
"That knife is one I used to use on digs," I explain. I chance a look at Jack...who's this close to blowing a gasket. "I'm sorry. I completely forgot about it. I've got some of my old gear packed away at the back of my closet and I...I just forgot."
"Damn it, Daniel," Jack says in frustration.
I can't blame him. Sometimes it really does seem like I just ask for trouble.
"Sorry," I mumble, closing my eyes. God, I'm tired.
"All right, that's enough for now," Janet orders. "Daniel needs to rest and I'm sure the three of you have other things you could be doing."
I force my eyes open just long enough to see Sam give me a quick smile. Jack and Teal'c shake their heads at me. Well, Teal'c doesn't actually shake his head. It's just that look he gets that lets you know that he's shaking his head on the inside.
The room is quiet and dim when I wake. The only light comes from a desk at the other end of the room. My bed is surrounded by shadows. One shadow, however, is impressively solid.
"It is I, Daniel Jackson." Teal'c shifts forward a bit in his chair. "Do you require anything?"
"No," I say waving him back. "It's just...I've developed this bad habit lately of waking up in places I never intended to be. Doing things I never intended to do. I just needed to make sure it really was you there. And that I'm actually in the infirmary."
"It is and you are," Teal'c confirms.
"Yeah...by the wayhow did I get here?"
"After O'Neill halted your attempt to harm yourself he called Dr. Fraiser," Teal'c explains. "The two of them brought you to the SGC."
"I think I scared the crap out of Jack," I confess.
"O'Neill did indeed profess the need for fresh undergarments."
Teal'c's deadpan delivery has my mouth flapping in a mixture of both shock and amusement. He has to be the galaxy's best straight man.
"I think he was exaggerating, Teal'c."
"Perhaps," Teal'c says cryptically.
"What time is it?" I ask. Not that I'm trying to change the subject or anything.
"Almost 4 a.m. Your sleep appeared to be undisturbed so I thought it best to allow you to rest."
"Thank God for narcotics," I mutter.
And speaking of which, my finger's throbbing like a rotten tooth.
"We have received word that Jacob Carter will make a brief visit later this morning."
"You are not pleased to see him?"
"I'm always pleased to see Jacob, but the Tok'ra were pretty insistent that they couldn't help."
"Jacob is not like the rest of Tok'ra," Teal'c observes.
He's got a valid point. I just don't know that it's going to make any difference.
"Sounds awful Zatarc-y to me," Jack says, slouching back in his chair.
"Different methods, similar results," Selmac agrees from across the briefing room table.
SG-1, General Hammond and Dr. Fraiser are all in our usual seats, listening intently to Selmac.
"Then there may be a self destruct connected with the suggestion," Teal'c says.
Oh, that's a nice thought.
"I do not think so," Selmac says. "In the case of the Zatarcs, the aim of the mind control was to force the subjects to carry out a pre-programmed mission. The suicide trigger was the completion of the missionsuccessfully or not. In Dr. Jackson's case, the suggestion itself is the self destruct."
"And that helps us how?" Jack asks sarcastically.
"Dr. Jackson, do you feel any compulsion to kill yourself?" Selmac asks bluntly.
"No!" I say hastily, glancing to Jack at my side. "God, no."
"In fact, when Daniel consciously realized what he'd almost done, he went into a state of psychological shock," Janet adds.
"I suspect that the suggestion could only work as long as you were unaware of it," Jacob explains. "I think that's why the Goa'uld buried it not just in your subconscious, but within a false memory. I don't think it'll be able to compel you to act against your own nature now that you know about it."
"You think?" Jack asks pointedly.
"It's my best guess," Jacob admits with a shrug.
Um...excuse me? Life or death here. My life or death. Could we try to be a little more definite?
"Hey, it didn't take me long to realize that Daniel is one of the most stubborn people I've ever met," Jacob adds dryly. Jack smirks his agreement. "This Goa'uldwhoever he wasmust have recognized that, too. He was in Daniel's head, after all. He had to know that Daniel would fight any compulsion he was aware of."
"Do the Tok'ra have any method of removing this programming?" Hammond asks.
"Not really. Not without knowing exactly how the suggestion was implanted," Jacob says firmly. "Not without a high risk of causing Daniel more harm."
"More harm than dead?" Jack asks pointedly.
"So what do we do now?" Sam asks, frustration evident in her voice.
Just imagine how I feel.
"Well, my best guess isnothing."
"Excuse me?" I blurt out.
"I'm sorry I don't have more definite answers but honestly, I think the danger is past."
"How do we know if you're right?" Sam asks.
"Isn't it obvious? We wait a few days and, if I haven't killed myself, then I'm okay," I say sarcastically.
"How very anti-climatic," Jack observes.
"You know, all things considered, I think I'd settle for anti-climatic."
Jack just tilts his head in a sort of offhand agreement.
"But how long before we can be sure Dr. Jackson is safe from further destructive tendencies?"
You have to hand it to the general. He always finds a more delicate way to phrase things.
"I would suggest confining Daniel to the infirmary for at least three days," Janet says.
"Is that really necessary?" I whine.
God, I'm so sick of that place. I'm liable to kill myself out of sheer boredom.
"Couldn't we just make sure someone stays with him at home?" Jack asks, sympathetic to my plight.
"Someone was with him last time and he still nearly succeeded," Janet says bluntly.
Jack's expression darkens. Oh boy. Jack already feels guilty. He's going to be beyond pissed at Fraiser for reminding him of his near failure.
"Nearly being the operative word," I say quickly.
Jack and Janet actually like each other...they just have this talent for pissing each other off. Like Jack and me. And Jack and Hammond.
I'm sensing a trend here.
"Jack was there and I'm fine," I conclude.
"Still, I tend to agree with Dr. Fraiser," Hammond says. "I think it would be best if you stayed on base, Dr. Jackson."
I drop my head with a groan.
"It'll only be a few days, Daniel," Sam says in an attempt to console me.
"That's probably what Custer told the 7th Cavalry at Little Big Horn," I grumble.
"Daniel," Jack sighs in exasperation. He elbows me and nods at Janet. She's glaring at me.
"You okay?" Jack asks, pausing at the top of the ramp.
"Yes, Jack. For the 263rd time, I'm fine."
To be perfectly honest, I find it a little difficult myself to accept that it's all over. But it's been a week since Jacob's visit and I haven't had any more flashbacks or nightmares. I'm aware of those images, but they no longer have any power over me. At this point I just have to accept that Jacob was right and move on.
"Yeah, okay.... So anyway, like I was saying," Jack continues, his gaze still a little suspicious. "There's less than a minute in the third period, we've got a power play, and...."
I step into the event horizon with Jack's replay still droning in my ears. It's my first time through the gate since Jack dragged me back from P7Z. There's still nothing like it in the world. That brief moment of total disorientation and then opening your eyes to an alien landscape.
"And a killer body check took him out right...." Jack steps out of the gate without having paused in his commentary.
However, the scene that greets him cuts his monologue short.
"Damn it," Jack complains loudly. "Tell medoes the SGC have a different definition of 'uninhabited' from the rest of the English speaking world?"
"Well, we don't normally refer to the indigenous wildlife as 'inhabitants', sir," Sam explains. "These are just... They're...."
"Space monkeys?" Jack asks.
"Actually, I was thinking more in terms of rodents," Sam says.
"Space rats?" Jack shoots back. He stares at the creatures. "Big, honking space rats."
No, Sam's right, they aren't primates. But I'm not getting a rat vibe either. The creatures, all seven of them, are fair sized, probably around forty or fifty pounds, and covered in a creamy mocha colored fur. They're all squatting on their haunches, watching us intently. They remind me of something. I just can't put my finger on....
"What?" I turn to Jack.
"I said get your butt back through the gate," Jack repeats.
"Because we just got you off of sick leave and I really don't want you back in the infirmary because you tangled with a bunch of space rats," Jack snipes.
"It's your turn to tangle with the aliens," I point out.
"Nah, can't be," Jack argues. "Carter?"
"No, sir. I got smacked around a couple of missions before Daniel," Sam says with just a hint of smugness. "It's definitely your turn."
Jack turns to stare at Teal'c, but doesn't risk suggesting that he take this turn.
"Damn it, people. You're supposed to remind me when it's my turn," Jack says with exasperation. "I would've taken some aspirin before I left home. Packed an extra clip," he adds, tightening his grip on his gun.
One of the creatures suddenly bounceshighoff its powerfully built hind legs. It snatches the cap off of Jack's head with its mouth before any of us can react. All the animals turn and bound away across the open plain, following the bouncing cap.
Yes! That's it.
"Rabbits!" I exclaim. Big honking rabbits.
"Rabbits?" Sam asks skeptically.
Jack just stares at me, his hand clamped onto his now hatless head.
"That's what those animals remind me of. Rabbits."
"Space bunnies?" Jack says incredulously
. I just shrug. Like that's any worse than space monkeys? Although I am getting a vaguely disturbing image of Thor in a Playboy bunny outfit.
Jack takes off, striding briskly after the creatures and muttering angrily.
"O'Neill," Teal'c calls sharply.
"No damn space bunny is getting away with my hat," Jack tosses back over his shoulder.
"It's just a hat!" I shout after him.
"It's my hat."
"I suppose we have to go after him," I sigh as I turn to Sam and Teal'c. "Don't we?"
"We've only got an hour and we're also supposed to be getting samples," Sam reminds us.
Teal'c holds out his fist. Sam and I copy the movement. Teal'c gives us a three count. I show scissors. And Sam and Teal'c show rock. Damn.
"Have fun, Daniel," Sam says sweetly as I adjust the straps of my pack more comfortably and set out after Jack.
"Don't I always?" I mutter. "Don't I just always."