The Hell Series Part One:
Colonel Makepeace was surprised to feel his hands being forced
behind his back. "What the hell? What are you doing?"
O'Neill had a firm grip on him and tightened down the plastic strip.
"That would be 'my job'." When the band was secure, he
took a few steps to the left and stood beside Hammond.
"Ladies and Gentlemen" Hammond began with a smile, "I
am pleased to announce that you are all under arrest for high crimes
against the United States and it's allies." He nodded to the
large gate room door as it opened to admit Counselor Travell and
Makepeace realized he'd been had, but he wasn't about to let O'Neill
rest on any laurels. "You really blew it O'Neill."
"Oh, I think it came off quite nicely. Don't you General?"
Hammond smiled back at his 2IC, "Yes, I do."
Makepeace ignored him and went on. "You have no idea how high
up this goes. You've pissed off the wrong people."
"Like the Tollan, Tok'ra, Asgard, Nox. Those folks?"
O'Neill asked smugly.
"They refuse to give us the things we need to defend ourselves
against the Goa'uld."
"We don't need their stuff, Makepeace." O'Neill countered.
"We do need them."
Hammond waved his hand, "Get them out of here."
In the corner of the room an average-looking airman shook his head
and thought, 'Yeah, O'Neill, you sure did piss off the wrong people.
Your ass is history.' The man quickly left the room to make his
report. They were expecting to hear from Makepeace but it would
be all right, there would be a great reward for diligence like this.
O'Neill was glad to get out of the mountain. He was given a respite
on paperwork until Monday morning and he was going to take it. Hammond
had been well pleased at the outcome of their little game and so
was he. The only sore spot was the unease with his team. They had
a short debriefing and things did not go well. Usually everyone
gave some input but today it was like pulling teeth; even the overly
talkative Daniel was quiet.
He knew they were still mad at him. It wasn't like he could help
it though; did they expect him to say 'no' to all those people?
Well, he could have lived with saying 'no' to the Tollan and the
Tok'ra, but he liked the Nox and Thor had made it a personal request.
How could he deny that? There was just too much at stake here, and
besides, didn't his team get the meaning of Black Ops? At least
Carter should have been able to understand why he couldn't involve
He drove all the way home thinking about his team. He tried to
get them to agree to come over or get together somewhere over the
weekend but they all declined. He was kicking himself for not coming
up with a reason to enlist the help of the whole team, surely if
he pushed it Thor would have given in; and maybe he could have convinced
the Nox. He was still deep in thought as he climbed the few steps
to his door and inserted the key.
The door swung open and he entered. He was immediately aware that
something was wrong. The door slammed shut behind him revealing
a man dressed in dark clothing behind it. O'Neill took one step
back to better assess the danger and felt a presence behind him.
He ducked and rolled off to one side just escaping their hands
reaching for him. When he came to a stop he kicked a lamp over between
them and scrambled up to his feet. Now would be a good time to have
a gun on him, too bad he didn't and they did. As he moved around
the room trying to get away the three men split up and blocked his
exit routes. He'd have to go through at least one of them.
He made his move knocking one man down and a chair in the process
scattering some papers and magazines from the low coffee table.
When the man hit the floor he made a terrible thud and several pictures
fell off the mantle. O'Neill made for the opening but a fourth man
showed up and grabbed his arm. Before he could get off a swing with
his free arm one of the other men had moved in and grabbed him.
The first man behind the door joined his comrades and together
they were able to hold him effectively. They were as well trained
as he was and they watched out for his feet and countered every
move he made to get away. The man on the floor was grumbling and
cussing about all the trouble they were going through for this bastard
and got up to his feet. He produced a small amber bottle from his
pocket and a piece of cloth. He doused the material with the smelly
liquid and came up behind O'Neill. As he reached to cover O'Neill's
mouth with the cloth the Colonel jerked his head back and bloodied
the man's nose. Now he really was cussing. He stepped back and then
came forward with a powerhouse punch to O'Neill's right flank. The
Colonel grunted with pain and involuntarily arched back. When he
did so the man grabbed his head and forced the cloth into his mouth
and held it there with a beefy hand. He pinched O'Neill's nose shut
so he had to breathe around the cloth. He got enough of the vapor
to realize he was being drugged only seconds before he lost consciousness.
O'Neill rolled over and groaned, shit, his back was killing him,
felt like he'd been kicked by a mule. He reached one hand back and
rubbed the sore spot. As he did he opened his eyes and looked around.
This was definitely *not* his house. Even if he *had* fallen asleep
on the floor, this was not a rug and the place smelled of hay and
horses, not the lemony furniture polish he used at home.
There were no windows and the only light coming in was from between
a few loose slats in the wall. It wasn't enough to illuminate the
room at all. He pushed himself to a sitting position and dusted
off his hands. He could make out a few large shadows against the
wall which were probably barrels but that was all. The room was
completely vacant otherwise. One thing he did notice was a dim red
light high up in one corner of the room. He sat perfectly still
and watched the red glow. It didn't waver. So, not a motion detector;
it was a security camera. He made a face; of all the things that
could have been in here that was something he really didn't want
His movement must have alerted someone. He heard muffled voices
and then footfalls approaching from a distance. There was no point
in moving when he heard the door latch opened. He was expected to
wake up sooner or later and they obviously were waiting for him.
He drew one knee up and wrapped his forearms around it in a relaxed
pose. Whoever these people were, he was at the disadvantage, but
he didn't need to show it, besides he was just as able to take down
a man from a sitting position as standing.
Two men entered. One was the big guy with the beefy hands. He circled
around to one side, "You don't look so tough now, flyboy."
O'Neill hadn't recognized the man's face but he did remember that
voice. The last time he heard it, it was making obscenities in his
The second man circled around to the opposite side. O'Neill didn't
move. He was fully aware of their positions relative to his own
and was prepared to spring like a cat at their first move against
him. He loved getting people to underestimate him. He could feel
the first man directly behind him and figured he was either about
to be hit with something or kicked or possibly knocked out again
with that chemical soaked cloth.
He guessed it would be a kick, and aimed right at the spot on his
back where he'd been punched. Hearing the small crunch of straw
under the man's foot as he shifted his weight O'Neill spun around
and rolled. As he did he reached his hands out and grabbed the foot
he knew would be there in mid flight toward his back. He grabbed
the boot securely and continued to roll, taking it with him.
The man yelped as his ankle was twisted and he lost his balance
and fell to the ground, swearing loudly. His comrade laughed out
loud. "You stupid shit. Didn't you learn your lesson back at
the house? That's what they make guns for."
O'Neill froze not needing to turn around to know a weapon was pointed
at him. It was verified when he heard the safety switched off. He
slowly took a breath then rose to his feet and turned to face his
captors. "Look guys, I don't know what you want or what your
Boss wants but this is not the way to get it." He held up his
hands with his palms toward the man with the gun. "Why don't
you tell me what's going on and we'll talk about it?"
"Shit, old man. We're not here to talk. Haven't you figured
that out?" He waved the gun around in a haphazard manner. "You've
made a nuisance of yourself. So we're just here for pest control."
O'Neill decided these men might have had some training but they
were still amateurs; and they were making the most common mistake,
they were overconfident. He played along; if they were going to
just kill him they'd have done it already. There was something they
wanted, maybe information, maybe just to see him grovel a little,
but whatever it was it was his lifeline for now.
O'Neill straightened up and relaxed his arms, "So Bert, you
and Ernie don't have anything better to do than play games today,
huh? Why don't you tell your Boss I want to see him; might as well
go straight to the top."
The beefy-handed guy spoke up. "There's no 'Boss' here, we
take our orders from-"
"Hey!" He was cut off by the gunman. "Jerk! What
are you doing? *He* answers questions, not us." He returned
his glare to O'Neill, "And we don't have any questions today,
so I guess we'll just have to play one of our games." He motioned
to the camera and in a moment another man entered the room. "Leave
the door open." He motioned for Beefy and the new man to take
up positions to either side of the opening. "Okay, Colonel.
Door's open, take your best shot."
O'Neill's eyes lowered to the 9 Mil and back up to the man's face.
The man clicked the safety back on and slid the gun into the back
of his pants. "Don't worry, I won't cheat. Go ahead, if you
can get past them, you're free."
The Colonel licked his lips, he knew this was a farce but then
he was sure he could take 'Beefy'; the guy was the weak link in
this chain. He didn't know the other man but didn't think he was
one of the men from the house. He stood kind of slumped and didn't
make eye contact. He was either of the same caliber as the Beefman
or he was very good at getting people to underestimate him. Either
way, there was the door, and it was open.
Beginning with a slight sway in the opposite direction O'Neill
made a fast dash at the doorway. He intended to mow down old Beefy
on the way and squeak past the grip of the unknown man. It was a
good plan and almost worked. Almost.
Mr. Unknown was fast, really fast. He shoved Beefy out of the way
himself and swung his body so his right shoulder impacted O'Neill's
hard. At the same time he used his left fist to come around and
punch quite accurately where O'Neill's back was already sore.
O'Neill groaned and dropped right there in the doorway. The man
had a set of brass knuckles on that hand and if the impact had been
just a little harder it would have cracked a rib. O'Neill rolled
to his left side and tried to cringe to protect his right. He spat
out a curse when he got his breath back.
The two doormen picked O'Neill up by his upper arms and dragged
him back into the room while the gunman moved behind them and shut
the door. O'Neill was shoved against the far wall hitting his sore
back again and when he opened his eyes he saw Beefy's face with
a wide grin. He grimaced internally, oh, that was *so* not a pretty
The two men took turns pounding at O'Neill. Beefy really could
punch hard when he set his mind to it and had found himself a set
of those brass knuckles the smaller man was using. It was like being
pummeled with steel rods. O'Neill couldn't recover from one blow
fast enough to counter or protect himself from the next. He fought
back as hard as he could but it wasn't enough and soon he passed
out from the abuse.
Beefy removed the knuckles and rubbed his hand where it had become
sore. It was worth it to see the red welts and cuts all over the
exposed areas of O'Neill's body. He was bleeding in several places
and by tomorrow he'd be swollen and purple too.
The gunman approached and regarded the beaten form at his feet.
"You weren't supposed to kill him, you know. Not yet."
He knelt down confident he was in no danger and grabbed O'Neill's
arm. Instead of reaching for his gun he produced something out of
his pocket. Out of habit he flicked an air bubble to the top of
the syringe and forced it out with the plunger. He knew it didn't
really matter; a little bubble was the least of O'Neill's worries
The drug worked fast after being injected directly into his vein.
Still unconscious, his body relaxed as the pain from the beating
subsided. His breathing eased and his heart rate slowed as the drug
flowed through him.
It was the next morning before he stirred. There was still enough
drug in his system to make his head swim and he didn't even try
to get up. He looked around the enclosure and wondered where he
was. He hurt all over it seemed and he touched several tender spots
on his face and felt the swelling. He could barely open his eyes
and his lower lip was split and bloody. There were several places
where he'd been punched hard enough to break the skin and bleed.
They were now crusted over with dried blood and dirt.
He rolled onto his back and just lay there, concentrating on breathing
evenly. He'd only been awake a few minutes when the door creaked
open and three men entered. He recognized their voices at once.
They didn't bother beating on him again; it caused enough pain just
handling him roughly as they held him down and one of them injected
him again. As soon as he felt the prick he realized they weren't
going to let him wake up enough to fight back.
In a few minutes he didn't care but he *was* awake enough to feel
the intense rush from the drug. The pain in his body disappeared
in a surge of pleasurable sensation. After the immediate skyrocketing
high, the euphoria he felt dropped off a bit but was still blissful.
He relaxed into the warm comfort of the drug, too overcome by it
to realize they were 'speedballing' him; giving him a mixture of
Cocaine and Heroin that allowed them to increase the Heroin dose
more quickly. Another reason for using the combination was that
it was highly addictive; he should be 'hooked' within a few days.
That afternoon they gave him another injection while he was still
When he woke he noticed it was morning again but he had no idea
what day it was.
Monday morning came far too soon for Carter. She was anxious to
get back to her lab and projects but she wasn't looking forward
to dealing with her CO again. Oh, sure she understood mentally why
he'd given up on being rescued on Edora but as soon as he got back
he undertook that Black Ops mission. Even after what they all went
through to bring him home he still couldn't trust them enough to
tell them about it? He didn't even just leave them out of it; he
shoved them away.
She drove slower than normal to the base and was almost late for
the briefing because of it. Even walking in she didn't have the
usual spring in her step.
The briefing was supposed to be a short one just to make some decisions
regarding an upcoming mission they wouldn't actually go on for several
more days. She plopped her notebook down on the table and gave a
half smile to the others at the table, might as well get it over
with, then she could hide in her lab for a day or so.
Hammond was already there speaking quietly with Daniel. When she
entered he turned to her. "Morning, Major." He looked
back to the doorway expecting O'Neill to have followed her in. "Where's
"When did *I* become his keeper?" She unintentionally
let the harsh words slip out. "Sorry, Sir. I haven't seen him."
Hammond noted the tone of her response but moved on. "Has
anyone talked to him over the weekend?"
Daniel and Teal'c both shook their heads. "Sorry, no, we were
busy." Even Teal'c's eyes were downcast, staring at the table.
It was obvious none of them wanted anything to do with the Colonel.
The General took a breath and blew it out; he hoped the Colonel
was planning on dealing with this personnel issue. He stood up and
strode back to his office where he had his secretary page O'Neill
and try his home phone. While he was waiting Hammond considered
what Jack might have been up to sans his team. One of the possibilities
included large quantities of alcohol and the more the General thought
about it the more he guessed the Colonel might have had a two day
drinking binge. The idea pissed him off royally.
After several minutes and no responses anywhere from O'Neill, Hammond
returned to the briefing room irate. He leaned forward on the table,
"I have an idea what is going on between you people and I imagine
your CO is dealing with it in his usual manner; badly. If he is
home and hung over I swear I'll- Just find him, wherever he is."
He turned and stalked back into his office, pausing at the briefing
room door. "SG-1, you have your orders."
Teal'c and Daniel opted to sweep the base and some well-known O'Neill
hiding places while Sam got the job of going to his house. She was
far from pleased but Daniel had done it last time so she gave in.
When she pulled up in front of the Colonel's house she was muttering
to herself. His truck was in the driveway so he must be home. Hammond
was probably right; O'Neill was feeling sorry for himself and got
drunk. She knocked on the door and stood impatiently tapping her
foot on the ground. When there was no response she pounded on the
door and called out to him. "Colonel! Colonel O'Neill! Do you
know what time it is? We were supposed to have a briefing an hour
The door stayed shut and she heard no response from inside. She
grumbled to herself and opened her wallet taking out a single key.
She swore she'd never use it but he made her take it, 'just in case'.
She opened the door and immediately saw the broken lamp and chair
on its side before she even took a step in. Some bender he must
have been on. She took a few steps in and shook her head at the
mess. There were papers strewn everywhere and picture frames and
things knocked around.
She noticed his keys on the floor and bent over to pick them up
getting a whiff of something odd. There was a cloth on the floor
and a small brown bottle. She picked it up and sniffed it making
a face at the chemical smell. She made a mental note to find out
what it was and what the Colonel was doing with it.
She set the keys and bottle on a small table in the entryway and
moved further into the house. The front room was indeed a mess but
the rest of the house looked like he never came home; even the shower
was bone dry and there was no trash in the wastebaskets.
She stood in the bedroom with her arms crossed thinking about where
he'd gone. Well he certainly wasn't here. She shrugged and headed
back to the front door. On the way she had a thought and went to
the kitchen and opened the fridge. Her heart sank when she saw the
cold bottles of beer, waiting to be drunk.
Not even one missing from their cartons.
She cringed and at once felt guilty for the way she'd been thinking.
Of course O'Neill wasn't averse to drowning a few sorrows every
now and then, but neither was she, or any of them for that matter,
except Teal'c and she was sure he Kel-no-reemed sometimes when he
didn't need to.
She stood at the kitchen doorway and surveyed the room again trying
to put her thoughts in order and mentally picture what had happened.
She imagined the scene; O'Neill drove home, pulled up in the driveway
and turned off the ignition. It was warm on Friday so he wouldn't
have been wearing his black leather jacket but he had it at the
mountain so he would have been carrying it in. She glanced toward
the door and saw the heap of rumpled black leather on the floor
She quickly walked over and picked it up, smoothing out the wrinkles
as she did. He wouldn't have dropped it like that; he really liked
this jacket. She laid it neatly over the back of a chair and looked
back at the small table and the keys. They were on the floor too.
She pictured him coming through the door with his jacket draped
over one arm and his keys in hand. What would make him drop them?
She glanced at the bottle and the piece of white cloth. 'Oh my
Hammond's office number was one of her speed dial selections on
her cell phone and she was glad of it, she'd never have been able
to remember the number right now. When he answered she explained
her findings to him with a quiver in her voice and listened to his
response. "Yes, Sir. Positive. Yes, I'm sure he is. I'll wait
until they get here."
She clapped the cell shut and looked around again, this time seeing
the room in a whole different light. He must have fought with someone,
right here, and probably more than one. But who? She hoped the team
from the SGC would arrive soon to gather what evidence there was.
She sat on a chair in the kitchen and folded her hands in her lap,
not wanting to touch anything more than she already had; she couldn't
wait to get back to the SGC and talk to Daniel and Teal'c about
When he woke up they returned and this time they wanted to play
some more. He couldn't fight back though with his muscles stiffening
up and the drug making his head hazy. One of them held him up while
the other used his abdomen for a punching bag. He forced himself
to stay as limp as possible which wasn't too hard given the amount
of drug still in his system. Since he wasn't offering any resistance
they quickly tired of their fun.
Actually he was more alert than they gave him credit for and he
knew the beating would be over sooner if he didn't fight back. Before
they left his arm was extended and he felt the familiar pinch of
a needle. He actually welcomed it this time and with that realization
he became aware of what they were doing to him. They weren't keeping
him sedated to control him more easily, although that surely was
a by-product of their efforts; their real aim was introduction of
the drug itself. They were getting him 'hooked' on something and
the most likely candidate was Heroin.
Carter couldn't keep her mind on any of her projects back at her
lab; the reports from the team sent to O'Neill's house didn't find
anything that would help find him. There were no car tracks to find,
no fingerprints and the bottle was a common anesthetic that could
have come from anywhere, even a Veterinary office. Given the circumstances
and the professional handling of the abduction, Hammond was leaning
toward accusing the NID.
He had all the people questioned who were a part of the operation
O'Neill was responsible for shutting down. They were cocky and quite
pleased to hear something had befallen O'Neill.
The General was pretty much out of options. If they didn't get
a lead soon he'd have to involve those higher in the chain of command.
The last thing he wanted was to have to deal with the people at
NID headquarters or explain to the Joint Chiefs how his 2IC was
kidnapped. It would be best if Command wasn't made aware of O'Neill's
absence just yet. He didn't know just how far the NID may have gone
or how high up their contacts went. After discussing the options
with Major Carter, he had his secretary put through paperwork for
O'Neill to be on leave. He officially put SG-1 on indefinite stand
down until this situation was resolved.
Over the next few days all possible places O'Neill could have been
taken were discussed. Carter was even able to check out a few NID
safe houses. Unfortunately she could only find out about a few of
them; she knew there were many more.
With Hammond's permission she went through O'Neill's email and
voice mail messages to see if any of those were suspicious. She
even went back to his house and got his keys and went through his
truck, something the initial team didn't do. There was nothing to
find; the man had simply vanished.
As the days passed and his periods of relative alertness decreased,
O'Neill became less and less interested in escape. His tormentors
still batted him around occasionally when they found him awake but
for the most part he was left to the oblivion of the drugs. Soon
they were injecting him four times a day; and the doses he was given
were more concentrated. They gave him food and water at first but
as they days passed he had little interest in eating. He would take
a little water but then throw it up almost immediately.
The 'rush' was still there every time they gave him more, but it
wasn't ever quite as much as that first day. The more insidious
effects were increasing unbeknownst to him. He did notice the nausea
and abdominal cramps but that was about all.
After several days they didn't come at the usual time. He awoke
in pain; not so much from the scrapes and bruises which were trying
to heal despite his poor nutrition, but from something else. He
ached all over. His eyes and nose were runny and his hands were
Finally two men entered the room and walked around him slowly.
They were enjoying seeing the 'Great Colonel O'Neill' groveling
in the dirt. They taunted him and then beat him without mercy almost
as badly as before but this time left without giving him any drugs.
The pain was beyond unbearable and he writhed and shook in its
wake. His stomach began to cramp and since he hadn't eaten anything
he could only dry heave. At last a single man entered and squatted
down in front of the Colonel waving a syringe before him.
"You want some of this?" He taunted.
O'Neill knew he shouldn't and really didn't want it but he had
no choice, he nodded and held out his arm.
The crouching man smiled, this was easier than he thought it would
be. He stuck the needle in and pushed the plunger to the bottom
then withdrew it, leaving blood to ooze from the puncture and run
down O'Neill's arm.
This time he felt the 'rush' again. After the just slightly prolonged
time without it, his body basked in the pleasurable feeling of the
drug's return and he fell into an exhausted sleep.
They had gotten him up to six doses a day but now cut him to just
two large ones. In effect they could give him just as much drug
but make him wait longer to get it, thereby increasing the time
he had to suffer with withdrawal symptoms.
He awoke to the cramping pain again in his stomach and now his
legs. He felt cold at first then became uncomfortably hot and sweaty.
He tried to get up but couldn't and when no one came he crawled
over to a corner of the filthy place on his hands and knees and
cowered there to wait for someone to come.
As the pain grew worse and worse he began to moan and sob. He was
shaking so badly he could barely wipe the moisture from his eyes
to see the men when they walked in. His only thoughts were of getting
This time they made him beg for it; cry for it. One of them smiled
back at the camera recording all this for the enjoyment of his superiors.
O'Neill took the opportunity to lunge at the guy. The guard only
laughed and let O'Neill have the syringe. The three stood by and
watched as O'Neill crawled over against the wall and injected himself
with the drug.
As he sat there allowing the drug to infuse his body, he heard
the men talk.
"Just look at him, serves him right for what he did."
"Yeah, this guy isn't so tough, he's nothing but a pain in
the ass if you ask me. How much longer do we have to keep him?"
"We've got everything we need. That tape is worth gold, I
wouldn't doubt we get a commendation for this."
They all left through the doorway but O'Neill could still hear
them. "He should have died already anyway, considering how
much we're giving him. Next time should do it, I'll give him straight
"Why not finish him off with Horse, I mean we've still got
"Nah, nobody ever dies from Junk, they just get miserable,
but Coke him up and he'll have a heart attack or a stroke. Pack
your bags boys, we're outta here tomorrow,"
He was on the verge of passing out again but understood what he'd
heard. This was it. The next time they came it would be ended either
by them or by him. He resolved it would not go down as they planned.
For the moment the drug overtook him and he wallowed in its effect.
The next time he woke he remembered what they said about overdosing
him. As per routine, no one came to the room until he was groaning
from the pain. They kicked him around a bit, just for a last bit
of fun then he was approached by the man with the lethal syringe.
He was shaking badly and held out his arm begging for the injection
once more. He watched closely as the injection was delivered and
swatted the syringe away before even half the dose could be given.
The stimulation of the pure Coke was vastly different from the highs
he'd been experiencing. The exhilaration was still there but it
wasn't tempered and he felt as if he was reeling out of control.
He had to hang on and use this advantage while it lasted. He grasped
at every bit of his Special Forces training and found it was still
there, buried and waiting to be used.
He threw himself at one of the men and kicked another, hard. In
seconds he had one of them unconscious and the other staggering
from being kicked in the gut. The man pulled out his gun intending
to shoot O'Neill and get it over with but the Colonel was too fast
and knocked the gun away.
The gunman found another weapon; there was a thick board sticking
out of a pile of straw just within his reach. He grasped it and
swung as hard as he could at O'Neill's head.
The Colonel went down from the blow but amazingly didn't pass out.
In fact it only made him wildly angry. He got to his feet and after
a brief struggle knocked the second man out then headed for the
As he went he noticed something shiny in the straw, a cell phone.
Without thinking he picked it up and pocketed it.
Before he got to the door another man showed up, probably the one
watching on the monitor. O'Neill spotted the gun and dove for a
pile of straw just as the man fired. He felt a blaze of white-hot
pain in his side as the bullet grazed him and let out a yelp. He
tumbled to the floor in a heap.
The man went over and nudged him with his foot; he thought he got
off a clean shot and had put an end to the O'Neill problem.
The Colonel was far from done. He sprang to life grabbing the man's
foot and twisting it making him lose his balance. Once on the ground
O'Neill quickly snatched the gun and slugged his opponent with it
knocking him unconscious like the others.
O'Neill stuck the gun in his pants and headed for freedom. The
fourth man was nowhere to be seen. Hopefully he was off somewhere
and was unaware of what had happened. At the edge of the clearing
O'Neill stopped and took a single look back at the place of his
torment: a simple barn next to an average-looking farmhouse. Who
could have guessed what had transpired here?
He kept moving as long as he could putting as much distance between
himself and danger as possible. When he finally stopped he was exhausted.
The drug was wearing off and his head was really killing him. He
was in for a serious crash anytime now. He slumped down beneath
a large tree and rested. He'd stayed near the road thinking he would
find a way to get help sooner but there had only been a few houses.
He wasn't ready to trust just anyone and knew he'd have to keep
going to find a public place, maybe a gas station; somewhere he
could make a call and get help.
He suddenly remembered picking up the cell phone and checked his
pocket. There was only one person he could think of to call. He
flicked it open and quickly dialed Sam's cell number.
It was almost two weeks since the day Makepeace and the others
were arrested. Hammond was ready to list O'Neill as missing and
have SG-1 go back to work with a stand-in CO for the time being.
Even though they were dealing with the NID, he was inclined to involve
Federal Authorities. There was just too much ground to cover using
the limited resources of the SGC. Carter wholeheartedly disagreed.
When it all first started she managed to set up phone monitoring
on O'Neill's home phone, cell, and the SGC main in case some call
came in related to the Colonel. She was also able to verify O'Neill
wasn't being held at any of the NID safe houses of which they knew.
She was sure Makepeace could be more helpful and she implored Hammond
to consider making a deal with him, but so far he declined.
As to the matter of going back to work without O'Neill, none of
them were thrilled with idea but least of all, Sam. She sat in her
lab fiddling with a device SG-11 brought back from P3C 779. She
didn't study it or turn it on or even think about what it was used
for, she simply turned it over and over in her hands fondling it
like the Colonel would have done if he were there. She set the item
down with a thud as her cell rang. Her voice was harsh as she answered,
The voice she heard seemed far away and shaky but she knew at once
it was him. As soon as she heard it she was on her feet running
toward Hammond's office. Without a thought of knocking she went
right in and stood in front of the General, still talking to her
CO on the phone.
"Yes, I know it's bad, are you still with me? You have to
listen to me, Sir. You have to trust me. Yes, Sir, I know, me too.
Do you know where you are? Okay, look around. Is there anything
that might indicate your location? Yes, I'm sure there are a lot
of trees in Colorado."
At this point she was gesturing to Hammond with her eyes wide and
momentarily covered the microphone with her hand. "Trace."
The one word spoken in Hammond's direction was all he needed. He
picked up his phone and started barking orders at some airman on
"Yes, here's the number, it's Major Carter's cell, get a trace
on it now. I need a location, and I mean yesterday, understand,
son? Good." He slammed the phone back in its cradle with force.
He turned his attention back to Carter and the man she was speaking
She was pacing back and forth in the small office, scrubbing the
fingers of one hand through her hair and staring at the floor. "Yes,
we're coming as soon as we can. Bleeding? You're hurt? What? No,
no, don't hang up. You have to keep the connection open. Sir? Colonel?
She momentarily held the phone away from her ear and gave Hammond
an exasperated look then tried again. "Colonel O'Neill! No,
Sir, sorry I didn't mean to shout. No, it's Okay if you can't talk.
Just don't hang up. Sir?"
She huffed out a breath and turned to Hammond again almost tearful
now. "General, he's not responding anymore. He's been hurt,
he doesn't know where he is."
Hammond held his hands up toward her, "It's all right Major.
We've got a trace on it. We'll find him. Or more accurately you'll
find him. I don't want anyone more involved than needs to be. Get
Teal'c and Daniel and go get your CO. I'll call the infirmary and
have Dr. Fraiser meet you topside, sounds like her services will
The trace was fed into the GPS system and gave them the longitude
and latitude of a location to the far side of Colorado Springs out
away from the city. Carter fed the coordinates into her own portable
GPS and marked the spot. In her short conversation with O'Neill
she'd ascertained he was out in the country somewhere, away from
any houses or buildings. Since they were headed the same direction
as O'Neill's house they decided to detour and pick up his truck,
they'd likely need the extra room and if they were going off-road
a backup vehicle would be a good idea.
Teal'c drove O'Neill's truck while Carter kept an eye on the GPS
and Daniel drove Janet's SUV while she double checked her medical
supplies and prepared for what she might find. She was irritated
that all of SG-1 had been unnaturally closed mouthed about what
was going on for the past several days and now when she was *needed*,
they came running to her. Normally she was privy to most goings
on at the SGC and she couldn't believe no one had told her about
the Colonel's abduction. Daniel had only informed her after they
were already on their way. When she left the base she'd been given
some flimsy story about O'Neill getting injured out fishing somewhere.
Now that she knew better she was going to make them pay for leaving
They followed the road as far as they could then turned off where
Sam indicated. It wasn't very long until she told Teal'c to stop.
There didn't seem to be anyone at the location and they all got
out to scout around.
In a few minutes Teal'c spotted a figure hunched up under a large
tree. Fraiser was horrified. Daniel didn't warn her how bad this
might be. She knelt down beside what at first glance was a dead
All she wanted to do was gripe at SG-1 for not preparing her for
this but realized they were in as much shock as she was. She turned
her attention to the man before her. He'd obviously been beaten
several times over the course of many days, some of the bruises
were fresh and others were a sickening yellow and greenish color.
His face was swollen and covered with bruises and small cuts. She
knew something more than a fist had done this. His filthy T-shirt
was caked with dried blood and when she pried it loose from his
side she saw where the bullet had grazed him.
With a little help she got him stretched on his back so she can
see if there are any more serious injuries. He awoke and it was
then they saw the gun in his hand. It took all of them jumping on
him and holding him for Teal'c to wrestle the weapon from his grip.
He thrashed only for a minute then passed out again.
Fraiser noticed blood caked in his hair on one side of his head
and had Daniel hold him over so she could get a better look. There
was a great deal of swelling and since the wound had stopped bleeding
she really couldn't tell exactly where all the blood had come from.
If there were any coming from his ear it would be a good indication
of a severe head injury.
She leaned back and gave them leave to move him. He needed and
ICU bed and at least several x-rays and a CAT scan and then hopefully
just a few stitches and plenty of time to recuperate.
As she spoke she noticed Sam and Daniel weren't looking at her.
She followed their eyes and saw where they were looking. O'Neill's
left arm fell out straight beside him and she saw the same thing
they did. The skin was badly bruised but she could clearly see the
numerous needle stick marks tracking up his arm.
Carter looked at Fraiser and said, "We can't go back. Not
yet. Someone really wanted him dead. They got to him a couple hours
after he got back, what's to say there isn't an NID operative at
Fraiser griped back. "The Colonel needs a CT or an MRI to
determine if there's a serious head injury. We've got to go to the
That idea was even worse than going back to the SGC. Carter winced
at the thought of NID men hovering around the Emergency Room just
in case a beaten up John Doe was brought in. She offered a compromise.
"We'll get him cleaned up. If the blood is coming from his
ear like you said, then we'll go, we'll have no choice."
Fraiser couldn't believe Carter was balking at getting her CO medical
help. "And what about those?" She gestured to his arm.
"He needs detox. We can't do it ourselves."
Daniel had been quiet until now but spoke up softly. "Yes,
Carter looked at him and nodded. They'd been through worse, and
she'd seen how the Colonel stuck by Daniel when he was going through
withdrawal from the sarcophagus. She looked back at Janet. "We
can do it. If you'll help us. I swear if it becomes life-threatening
we'll do whatever you say."
The Doctor still wasn't convinced so Carter continued. "The
day all of this got started Colonel Makepeace made a threat, he
said Colonel O'Neill had 'pissed off' the wrong people. He said
we had no idea how high this goes. What if it wasn't an idle threat?
Who knows how many people at the SGC are working with the NID? Please
Janet. He's only safe if no one knows where he is." She couldn't
believe the words coming out of her own mouth; she was practically
begging her friend.
Fraiser knew why Carter was being so insistent. It wasn't just
that O'Neill had been beaten, and in a way she could have handled
it better if he'd just been killed outright. This was something
more, he'd been tortured, and why had they drugged him so many times?
Were they trying to get some information out of him? She had the
awful feeling it wasn't that at all. They wanted to destroy him,
make an example of him. Everyone knew what he meant to the SGC,
Daniel might be its soul but O'Neill was its warrior heart.
Janet sighed and let her shoulders droop. She knew she'd never
win this argument, and after listening to Sam she was beginning
to agree with them. Maybe they could care for him on their own.
She took Sam's hand and squeezed. "Okay. I'll help. So where
are we going?"
Carter was glad they'd decided to use the Colonel's big truck.
He'd kept the shell on it so the whole back of it was enclosed.
He always kept extra gear stowed in there as well. There were blankets,
pillows, an empty cooler and a large first aid kit in addition to
the usual toolbox.
Janet let Daniel help her up into the back and settled herself
while Teal'c carried O'Neill over. He was dozing off and on and
was still mumbling when he was awake. She was sure it was because
he had so much of whatever drug it was still in his system. The
first order of business would be to get O'Neill somewhere so he
could be cleaned up before they had to deal with the after effects
of his drugged state.
Teal'c slid in behind the steering wheel and turned the key. He
waited a moment then turned to Carter, "What is our destination?"
She made a face. They couldn't go back to the Colonel's house or
to *any* of their homes as a matter of fact. They had to find some
place where they could be inconspicuous. Oh, right. Two uniformed
women, an obvious long-haired geek, and a big guy with a gold tattoo
carrying someone who obviously needed an Emergency Room instead
of a Motel Room.
That gave her an idea. She quickly gave directions to Teal'c who
listened intently then put the vehicle in gear and drove. He found
the place easily without having to ask her to repeat a word. The
Motel was in a shabby part of town on the outskirts of Colorado
Springs. Daniel didn't dare ask how Sam even knew about it. Janet
just grimaced when she realized they were stopping.
"Sam, honey, I'm not questioning your judgment, but are you
sure about this?"
"What? Not seedy enough for you?" She grinned knowing
what Janet was thinking. "I had a flat tire one night and my
cell was dead. This was the only place open. It's run down but it's
clean and the people who own it are honest. There's a shelter down
the road and when they run out of space sometimes they send folks
here. They told me nobody would bother me if I stayed in my room.
It's safe enough and it's the only place I can think of where no
one will ask any questions."
"Even of Teal'c?" Daniel asked.
She nodded back at him, "Even Teal'c. But I think we should
use that other name. Murray, was it? And we should probably not
use any titles when we're out of the room either."
Everyone nodded their agreement. Carter was surprised to hear a
familiar voice. "Does that include 'Sir'?"
Janet smiled down at her patient. "Colonel. How are you feeling?"
"Breaking the rules already? I feel like shit. Day old rancid
shit. Head. Hurts." He started to shiver and pulled the blanket
up closer around himself.
Carter was so glad just to hear him talk; everything was going
to be Okay. "C'mon Daniel let's get checked in. One room with
a hot shower coming right up." Little did they know those would
be the last coherent words O'Neill would speak for quite some time.
There wasn't a single room large enough so they settled for two
rooms adjoined through a common bath. It was on the ground floor
and they could park the vehicles right at the door. O'Neill wasn't
alert enough to be of any help so Teal'c carried him in and straight
to the bath. Daniel got him out of the filthy clothes then immediately
threw them away. As soon as he was laid down, O'Neill passed out
so Daniel proceeded to bathe him like he was a small child. He was
shocked by the condition of his friend's body. The bruising was
horrible but as he washed he noticed the graze from the bullet wasn't
bad at all, it wouldn't need stitching, just some clean bandages.
The gash in O'Neill's head was a different story, with the soap
and water it began to bleed profusely again. He had to hold a dry
piece of towel on it to get it to stop.
When they were done he realized they didn't have any clothing for
O'Neill so he asked the women to stay put in one room while he and
Teal'c got the Colonel into the other and in bed under warm blankets.
Janet was displeased to note the Colonel didn't wake up through
the whole process of bathing and being put to bed.
Carter and Daniel decided to do some shopping while Janet got a
good look at the now clean Colonel. Teal'c would stay with her in
case she needed help moving him or he woke up and was disoriented.
Janet opened her first aid box glad she'd decided to take the big
one from the infirmary. She had all the bandages and suture she'd
need. She only wished for IV supplies; even if she didn't have any
medications to give him, he badly needed fluids. She went to work
with what she had. First she stitched up his head and mentioned
to Teal'c it would be a good idea to put some ice on it for the
swelling. There was an ice machine a few doors down the walkway
and Teal'c went at once to get some in a plastic bag for her use.
Before he got the door open on his return he could hear the doctor
yelling the Colonel's name. He slammed the door shut behind him
as he ran to assist her. The still naked Colonel had her pinned
down on the floor with one hand on her throat and the other on her
arm and was near breaking it. She'd gotten done with the suturing
without a hitch but then she pulled the covers down and was examining
some ugly bruises on his chest.
She was sure he had at least one broken rib. When she pressed on
it he woke with a start. She kind of expected that but didn't expect
him to attack her and yell at her in some language she didn't understand.
Teal'c drew close and hovered over the pair on the floor. "O'Neill!
You will desist!" The Colonel ignored his comrade's booming
voice. Teal'c had no choice, he leaned down and grabbed O'Neill
around the shoulders and wrapped him in a bear hug. O'Neill immediately
released his grip on the doctor as waves of pain went through his
chest. His screamed in pain and tried to writhe away from his captor.
Janet sat up and rubbed her throat. She forced herself not to look
away from the sight before her; Teal'c was still holding the Colonel
tightly, to the point where his feet did not touch the ground, and
the Colonel's strength was waning, he was barely thrashing anymore.
His breathing was harsh and when he exhaled it came out in great
sobs. He was still trying to speak, half in a foreign language and
half in English. She gasped at the words. He was begging to be put
She helped Teal'c put their charge back to bed and pulled the covers
over him again. Enough examinations for the present. She still wanted
to bandage the bullet wound but it could wait. She picked up the
ice bag from where Teal'c had dropped it and held it to her own
head momentarily. What had she gotten herself into? This man needed
a hospital; a nice hospital with lots of orderlies and restraints
and monitors and drugs and- what was she saying? No he didn't need
any drugs. With the head wound he shouldn't be sedated at all unless
he was put on a ventilator in the ICU. He actually needed to stay
awake. Unfortunately *the* treatment of choice for detox was to
heavily sedate the patient to get through the worst of the withdrawal
symptoms. The head injury would have to take precedence; there would
be no sedation.
She didn't know how long ago he'd been hit in the head but if his
confusion was from that and not the drugs it must have been very
recent; less than 24 hours anyway. She sat at the head of the bed
and very gently held the ice on the wound. All she asked for was
a simple CT scan, you'd think she could talk SG-1 into that or even
pull rank on them, but noooo, she had to be a friend, she had to
give in to this ridiculous plan. It might have been Okay if he wasn't
physically hurt, but now she was regretting her decision. Well really
she could pull rank at any time and they all knew it.
She was brought out of her musings when the door latch clicked
and Sam and Daniel walked in. "How's the patient?" Daniel
Janet forced a smile and said, "Okay."
"That's all, Okay?"
Teal'c let them in on the tale. "It is at present 'Okay' however
it would be better if O'Neill would consent to staying *in* the
Carter looked at Janet then back at Teal'c. "He's been up?"
Janet rubbed her neck again, "Oh, yeah. He's been up."
She waved her hand to forestall any more questions. "So did
you find him some clothes?"
Carter's eyes grew wide and she bit her lip realizing what must
have happened while they were gone. She opened a plain brown sack
and held out their purchases. There wasn't any underwear but they
found some nice thick socks and sweatpants and T-shirts at a nearby
thrift store. The stuff was second-hand but it wasn't much of an
issue at this point.
Daniel took the pants out of her hand. "We had an awful time
finding some that I thought would be long enough for him. He looks
like he's really lost weight, we'll have to tie these up or they'll
fall right off him."
"You do that." Janet was on her feet and heading for
the other room. She wagged her finger at Sam, "Come on, let
the boys fix him up."
Once in the other room, she sat down and told Sam what happened.
It wasn't breaching confidentiality she figured, Sam needed to be
aware of what could happen now that they'd started down this path.
"I'm so sorry, I should have let Daniel stay too."
"No, Hon, it's my fault. I let my guard down and sent Teal'c
on that errand. It was stupid. There I was in a room with a disoriented
Black Ops man! He could have easily killed me, actually I wonder
why he didn't."
Sam huffed out a breath. This wasn't a case of cleaning up some
run-of-the-mill junkie. The Colonel was a man of many special skills
not the least of which was how to kill silently and efficiently.
"Well from now on, no one stays with him alone, including Teal'c.
And any time some wound needs to be dressed or something, you'll
do it when we're all present. Agreed?"
Janet nodded. "Agreed. I still feel just a little like a rag
doll. You know there wasn't one single thing I could have done to
get free. He had me, he really had me." The fear was evident
in her voice and her eyes started to tear up. Sam reached over and
gave her a hug.
"I don't think he would have done it, Janet. Despite the confusion
and everything else. He's trained to deal with being drugged and
he's been through it before. I honestly think he'd be able to hold
Janet had a thought. "Do you know any specifics about that
"Not really, just that when he got out of that prison camp
in Iraq, he was an addict. I don't know how it happened, but I think
sometimes he's still paying for those four months of hell."
"I don't think I'm breaching anything then when I confirm
what you've been told. He was an addict. A bad one, very violent.
I suppose that's why he dislikes Dr. Mackenzie so much. He was treated
by doctors who only wanted to pump him full of more drugs and put
him in a little white room. Most of the Special Forces guys got
raw deals like that; a lot of the doctor's felt they were too violent
to treat with more conservative methods. Colonel O'Neill pretty
much did the whole cold-turkey withdrawal by himself. He refused
treatment and cleaned himself up."
She stood up. "Daniel? Everybody decent in there?"
Daniel answered in the affirmative so they rejoined the 'boys'
in their room.
Janet pulled up a chair and began to speak. "If we do this,
you all must be prepared for what will happen. First of all he's
going to be sick- a lot. The bed is going to get messed up, if not
from profuse sweating then from some other bodily function. He's
going to be in terrible physical pain. There will be abdominal cramps,
difficulty breathing and muscle spasms in his arms and legs. It
will be awful on top of his other injuries. He will have severe
mood swings, all on the bad side; he'll be angry one minute then
sad the next, and he might go catatonic on us and not respond at
all for periods of time."
"Detox is hard enough but I'm really worried about his head
injury. A little while ago he was shouting at me in some foreign
language. That's not a normal symptom of withdrawal. I think he's
having a lot of confusion, maybe even memory lapses. If he doesn't
know who we are he'll be that much more difficult to deal with."
Daniel was thoughtfully stroking his jaw, "Arabic."
"What?" Carter asked.
"Arabic. Jack was mumbling in Arabic back in the truck. I
bet that's what he was speaking to you, Doctor Fraiser."
"I didn't know he spoke Arabic."
"Well, he was in that prison for several months, he must have
picked up some just to survive."
"So why would he be speaking it now?"
On cue O'Neill started to twitch in the bed and wrestle with the
covers. He started to mumble in English. "No. Don't. I don't
know." His speech changed to something unintelligible and Daniel
"He's saying he can't help them, he doesn't know what they
want." Daniel's head dropped and his voice grew quieter, "He's
begging them to stop. I don't know what they did to him but-"
His voice trailed off. They were all looking at O'Neill who now
had stopped thrashing. His chest was still heaving but with great
sobs of pain. He began to shake all over and Daniel was first to
Despite what Teal'c said happened to Janet he sat right next to
Jack and laid his hand on his damp forehead. "It's all right.
Jack, you're with friends. You're not back there. You're home. It's
The sobbing eventually quieted with Daniel's continued soft speaking.
In a few minutes Jack was asleep again.
Carter mustered a bit of courage and sat on the edge of the bed
opposite Daniel. She lightly grasped O'Neill's hand and squeezed.
There was no response at all.
They all retired to a small round table in the same room. While
she and Daniel were out she'd checked in with Hammond and spoken
with him rather cryptically by phone. He understood what she was
trying to tell him and gave all of SG-1 and Doctor Fraiser extended
leave. Hammond's daughter would pick up Cassie and have her as a
guest at their home until Fraiser was back. He wasn't thrilled with
Carter's plan but agreed with her assessment of danger, even at
Carter outlined her plan for the group. They'd alternate four-hour
shifts. Teal'c could do more as he wished. They'd also have to take
turns in the bathroom and going out for food. Neither room contained
a refrigerator so Teal'c was given the task of bringing in O'Neill's
large cooler from his truck and stocking it with ice. They did have
a coffee pot so they would be able to heat water for coffee or tea
or bullion, which would probably be all O'Neill would be having
for the next few days at least. Janet suggested keeping some apple
juice and maybe a sports drink with added electrolytes in the cooler.
They all needed changes of clothing and some personal items since
this was bound to be a long haul. Teal'c maintained he did not need
rest and was well able to watch O'Neill even though he'd already
been there for several hours. It was decided Daniel and Janet would
go back to the SGC and pick up what they needed while Teal'c and
Sam settled themselves in for the first watch.
O'Neill hadn't stirred again and Fraiser voiced her worry to the
team. She didn't like him sleeping so much with the head injury
but every time he was awake it seemed he was stressed in some way.
It was probably worse for him than the sleeping.
Hammond's daughter was already at the mountain with Cassie to give
Janet a chance to see her and maybe explain a little of what was
going on. Janet took Cassie with her to her on-base quarters and
talked to her while she packed her bag. Before going to the infirmary
they went to Sam's quarters and packed a bag for her as well.
Meanwhile Daniel went to Hammond's office and brought him up to
date on Jack's condition, then went to the living quarters and packed
bags for himself and Teal'c. He went to the Colonel's quarters to
pack some things for him but it seemed inappropriate to bring very
much. He settled on a single change of regular clothing for when
the Colonel was able to go home.
He then went to the infirmary and met Janet and Cassie. Janet put
together a box of items she might need such as medicines for nausea,
and antibiotics; she also included supplies for starting an IV and
three bags of fluid. Cassie stayed with them all the way to the
surface and Janet gave her a big hug and kiss goodbye. Cassie still
didn't know where Janet was going or why but she understood it was
important and involved SG-1, in particular Jack, that was enough
Daniel and Janet returned to find a fairly disheveled looking Sam
sitting at the table and Teal'c standing facing the corner of the
room with his arms crossed looking rather defiantly at the Colonel
who was curled up on the floor in a fetal position.
O'Neill was asleep when they left; apparently he had not stayed
that way for long. Sam told them what had happened.
"I was wiping his face with a cold washcloth and he grabbed
me. Started speaking in 'Arabic' I suppose and half in English.
He had me by the throat and was trying to bargain with Teal'c for
his freedom." She glanced at him and shook her head. "Is
he having flashbacks or is it something else? I mean I don't think
he even sees us for who we are."
Fraiser sat across from her and nodded. "It's possible. If
certain parts of his brain were affected it would change his perception
of the world around him. He may see us but not be able to understand
what it is he's looking at. It can get very complicated."
Daniel waved his hand in the direction of the Colonel, "Well
can we get him back in bed at least?"
"That would be unwise, Daniel Jackson." Teal'c only took
his eyes off the Colonel for a second. "Colonel O'Neill is
quite intent on escape. For the moment he is contained where he
"You're saying he could get away from you?"
"I am not. I am saying he would possibly acquire additional
injuries in the attempt."
The man on the floor squinted his eyes up at the new arrivals
then rubbed his hands over his face. Those people looked 'normal'
it couldn't be though, he knew exactly where he was: in a prison
in south central Iraq. Was this a dream or some twisted game the
Iraqis were playing to gain his confidence?
He remembered being beaten and drugged over and over, never being
allowed to wake fully. Now they seemed to be withholding the stuff
and he was feeling the early effects of withdrawal. He rubbed his
face again; his eyes and nose were watery and he was feeling a little
cold. It was normal for him to be restless and fidget but this was
something much more. He twitched and moved just for he sake of moving,
with no point to it at all. He would have scratched and rubbed even
more if his body wasn't so sore all over.
His head ached most of all; he had the absolute mother of all headaches.
It felt like a freight train was going around in his head.
One of them noticed him shivering and laid a blanket over his shoulders.
He ignored the kind act and did not move until the person was well
away from him; then he clutched the blanket around himself tightly
still shivering though he wasn't that cold.
Fraiser stepped back to the table. "Sam, why don't you go
get some rest. You, too, Teal'c." She looked back at the Colonel,
"We'll be all right."
Sam gladly relinquished her watch duties and made a beeline for
the other room taking her bag with her. Teal'c followed her and
set himself against the far wall where he could meditate.
The night was spent with no overt actions by O'Neill; he simply
sat in his corner and rocked back and forth. By morning he was well
on his way into withdrawal.
It was still very early and Daniel was sitting in a chair and reading
by the glow of a small lamp. Janet was at the table writing some
notes; occasionally glancing over to her patient, still wondering
if she was doing the right thing for him. She got up and checked
on him just before the end of their watch.
She managed to get close enough to touch him and found he was burning
up. "Daniel, I'm going to have to get some IV fluids into him.
How soon 'til Sam and Teal'c are up?"
Her question was met by the bass voice of the Jaffa. "Major
Carter will join us momentarily. How is O'Neill?"
"Not well, I'm afraid. He's not been violent but he has a
fever and I'm still worried about the head injury. He's just not
acting right, something's off."
As soon as Sam joined them, Janet made her wishes known to start
an IV on O'Neill and give him a bag of fluids and a dose of antibiotic.
She was sure it would take all of them and she was right.
As soon as he was approached he knew something was up. He'd anticipated
this, they were going to drug him again, he was sure of it; and
somewhere he remembered hearing talk of an overdose, enough to kill
him. Given there was no open route of escape he held as still as
the tremors would allow, letting his enemy underestimate him. In
a moment he'd unleash the full measure of his Special Forces training
right in their faces.
Teal'c and Daniel planned to lift him over to the bed and hold
him on either side while Sam helped Janet place an IV. He let them
pick him up and get as far as the side of the bed before he made
his move. Without warning he pushed up with his feet and spun around
immediately throwing Daniel several feet away; as he turned he swung
at the big man before him with an uppercut to his jaw and a knee
to his groin at the same time. Teal'c expected the punch but not
the knee and he grunted and doubled over at the impact, eyes wide
The path to the doorway was open and O'Neill dashed in that direction
with Sam and Janet both close on his heels. "Colonel! Stop.
You can't go!" Janet was too afraid of what he might do if
they got too close but Sam made her mind up he wasn't going anywhere.
She remembered a little of that Special Forces hand to hand combat
the Colonel had taught her and she made a move on him, leaping on
him from behind and immediately ducking her head for the head butt
she knew he'd give her. When he threw his head back and didn't impact
anything the added weight on his back threw him balance off and
he tumbled to the ground.
By that time Daniel was there and grabbed for any part of the man
he could get a hand on. O'Neill began cursing and shouting at them.
"No, you can't! I won't go back! No, don't!" His speech
changed to broken Arabic and he thrashed every which way. Teal'c
joined their efforts and soon they had O'Neill situated still on
the floor but tightly in the Jaffa's grip. Teal'c was in a comfortable
enough position he could hold him indefinitely.
Daniel and Sam forced out his arm and held it while Janet started
the IV. The whole time O'Neill yelled at them and writhed. Sam noticed
the blush on Daniel's face and inquired. "Daniel? What's wrong?
What's he saying?"
"Oh, you don't want to know, let's just say he knows some
very colorful slang."
"But you know what he's saying."
The blush deepened. "Well, I know some colorful sayings myself."
Janet completed her task and commented. "And those sayings
shall go unspoken, correct?"
After using much more tape than she'd ever want on her own arm,
Janet plugged in the IV tubing and opened the clamp. Might as well
let it run wide open, there was no telling how long they'd be able
to keep O'Neill subdued. She hung the bag on the corner of a light
fixture on the wall.
After checking the drip rate she went to the table she produced
a small bottle and drew the yellow-tinged liquid contents up into
a syringe. She wished it was a lot more than an antibiotic.
When she approached O'Neill with it he became much more frantic;
Daniel had to help Teal'c hold him.
O'Neill watched and yelled as she slowly injected the solution
into the flowing IV.
He was amazed he didn't feel giddy or warm or anything remotely
like a 'rush.' Whatever drug they used either didn't work or maybe
just wasn't what he was expecting. Maybe they weren't going to overdose
him; maybe it was a poison of some kind. Whatever it was was in
him now. His yelling changed to sobs and he slumped in Teal'c's
arms. "O'Neill, it is all right. I have you. All will be well."
Despite his inability to recognize this man O'Neill felt strangely
comforted. He let exhaustion claim him and fell asleep.
When he awoke some time later he was flat out on the bed under
a light cover. The IV bag was no longer connected but his arm was
still securely wrapped where the plastic catheter was still in his
skin. He was surprised that he felt a tiny bit better; at least
he wasn't so hot.
"How are you feeling, Colonel?" He heard a soft voice
coming from beside the bed.
It didn't sway him, he knew he was a Captain, not a Colonel; this
was just another part of their mind games. "Better, a little."
"Ah, he talks!" She smiled back at him. "I know
you don't understand much of what I say but try, Okay? You have
a head injury and were drugged. The combination is a pretty bad
one, there's not a lot we can do about your head for now but wait
and as far as the drugs, well, your symptoms are just getting started."
He nodded like he understood her gibberish and noted the layout
of the room and who was there. Only the other smaller man was present,
sitting at a round table near the door. There was another doorway,
leading probably only to another room, but there may be a way out
from there. He lurched forward and grabbed the Doctor by the neck
forcing her down then jumped over her and ran for the door.
Unfortunately by the time he got there it was blocked. Teal'c was
no longer putting up with any nonsense from O'Neill, ill or not,
and engulfed him in a bear hug. Carter heard all the commotion and
came running from the other room; with Daniel's help they wrestled
O'Neill back to the bed.
"Doctor Fraiser," Teal'c offered, "I do not believe
talking will be effective in O'Neill's current condition, if you
permit I will acquire a Zatnikatel to subdue him."
She shook her head, "No sedation, that mean's no knocking
him out, much as I'd like to right now."
She rubbed her sore neck, choked for the second time in as many
days, "That man is a menace! If he was in Iraq, I don't know
how there's still a country left!" She stalked into the bathroom
to see what bruises he'd caused this time. Carter followed her in.
Fraiser looked in the mirror at the reflection of her friend, "It's
not bad, really. He just scared me again. You handled him pretty
well before though."
"Oh, it wasn't me. He taught me that trick himself. When we
get back I could show you."
Fraiser held up her hand to decline. "I'll pass. Fighting,
not my forte."
"Okay, self defense?"
"Maybe." She smiled weakly.
Their conversation was interrupted by a groan from the other room.
Daniel and Teal'c were beside the bed but not restraining the Colonel,
both looked worried. He was curled up on his side clutching his
stomach and grimacing. Fraiser immediately went to him and took
him by the wrist to feel his pulse. When she grasped him she noticed
how cold and clammy his skin felt.
Carter watched as she assessed him. "It's starting isn't it?"
Fraiser nodded. "It will get a lot worse from here; I doubt
if we have to worry much about him trying to run away again."
He felt as if his skin wasn't attached to his body; it was something
foreign, crawling all over him. It wouldn't have been so bad but
it was cold, it chilled him to the bone. He was barely aware of
his surroundings, he was in a dark room, and he was lying on a mattress;
that in itself was astonishing. It must not be a regular part of
the prison, maybe they'd run out of room and he'd been moved to
some special accommodations for important people who were arrested.
Yeah, right, Very Important Prisoner, VIP. He chuckled under his
breath at the idea.
That was a mistake, the movement set off a round of abdominal cramps
leaving him gasping for breath. He was so sick he could barely move;
escape was out of the question now. If some overpaid diplomat somewhere
didn't strike a deal to get him out it was over, he couldn't do
anything more to help himself.
He was still having frequent flashes of freezing cold to the point
where nearly his entire body was covered in 'gooseflesh' followed
by episodes of intense heat during which once he'd ripped off his
T-shirt and tossed it away. He was having severe abdominal cramps
followed by equally intense leg cramps. When the first one hit he
thought he'd positively die; it couldn't be worse if they'd amputated
his leg without anesthesia. He yelped and rose up out of the bed
but didn't even try to go anywhere. His captors came rushing to
the bedside but didn't have to worry about him getting away. They
stood by and watched him until he settled back down.
A small woman took his wrist again; holding it for a moment then
ran a hand across his damp forehead. He didn't know why, but something
about her touch was not unfamiliar to him, he allowed her to wipe
his face with a wet washcloth, removing some of the salty perspiration
that had dried on his skin.
He tried to doze but if the cramps weren't keeping him awake then
it was the constant shift from being too hot to too cold. At some
point he must have slept because he started to dream.
Sarah. She was there. But how could she be? Of course, the drugs,
the delirium, and did someone say 'head injury'?
She was sitting on the side of the bed sponging off his face and
chest. He was constantly twitching and thrashing about but he wasn't
making any moves to get up so she had stayed by him. He knew it
was only a dream but it was so real. He reached out and when he
took her arm he could even feel warm skin. "Sarah."
Her hand stopped moving the washcloth and she looked at him. He
forced himself to sit up, slowly, up on his elbows first then pushed
himself up with both hands, trying to avoid any strain on his stomach
muscles. He slouched forward and took a few harsh breaths; his entire
chest hurt, you'd think someone had pounded him with brass knuckles.
She turned slightly toward him and switched the washcloth to the
other hand and began to move it over his back. "It's all right,
you're safe now."
He drank in the words and slipped one arm across her waist and
leaned lightly on her shoulder. She continued to wipe his back,
stopping occasionally to dip the cloth in a pan of water and squeeze
out the excess moisture.
"Sarah, I'm so sorry." He began to speak to his dream.
"It'll be better I swear. If I make it back, no more Black
Ops, you'll see, just you, me and Charlie." He could feel her
body stiffen under him, "I know you don't think I will, but
Sam sat still for a moment and blinked back the tears. She knew
it was wrong to pretend to be someone she wasn't but she couldn't
bear to pull away from him. Ever since Antarctica she knew how much
he depended on Sarah. He really truly loved her. Janet appeared
in the bathroom doorway and stopped dead in her tracks at the sight
before her. Sam caught her eye and brought one finger up to her
mouth to ask her to not speak then waved the Doctor in.
Miraculously the IV was still in place and functional so all Janet
had to do was hook up the second IV bag. This one contained some
vitamins and potassium as well, not much but it might help the leg
cramps a little. She silently went about her work trying to not
listen to the private one-sided conversation going on.
He felt the manipulation of his arm and the cool sensation of the
fluid flowing through his vein and started to yank his arm away.
A firm hand restrained him and he relented. He was so tired, and
so sore; he had no fight left in him. He leaned more heavily on
the soft shoulder and began to sob.
"I'm so sorry Babe, I can't stop them. I'm too tired. Got
to find a way out. See you again."
She stopped the washing and pulled up a cover over his bare back
and hugged him, gently rocking him. She didn't release him until
the IV was done and Janet disconnected it. Together they lay the
now sleeping man down and covered him. Even in his sleep he twitched
and jerked his legs as the spasms continued, and just washed, he
was already breaking out in a cold sweat again. The bed would be
soaked in minutes.
The reprieve from O'Neill's condition was short-lived. When he
woke this time he would not rest again for more than a full day.
It started with severe cramps again, this time accompanied by vomiting
mostly only spit, and diarrhea. He was thrashing and shaking so
badly he had to be carried to the bath again. This time it took
both Teal'c and Daniel to relieve him of his clothing and clean
him up. The women were left to handle the bedding, which they simply
discarded and replaced with some from the Motel linen stores. The
innkeeper gave them a plastic sheet in addition to their other needs
to save the bed from as much destruction as possible. Janet gave
the man some credit, he could have just asked them to leave; Sam
was right, this was not a completely unheard of occurrence around
They finally got O'Neill settled in bed again but he was completely
restless. He'd roll one way then the other, sometimes sobbing, other
times cursing, frequently not in English. Because of the bath, the
IV was out and Janet didn't even think about trying to put in another
one at this point.
The cramps continued and they managed to get him into the bathroom
a couple times rather than soil the bed again. The leg cramps and
back spasms were another story; there was simply nothing that could
be done. He had to suffer through them; when he got to the point
he was screaming and begging for relief Daniel decided to try to
do something about it.
He sat on the side of the bed where he could rub O'Neill's back
and began to speak to him in Arabic. So far he'd only responded
minimally to English so it was worth a try even if it did only feed
into his delusions.
He started with kind words, which didn't seem to help at all. The
response was more cursing and O'Neill shoving his hands away.
Teal'c came over and stood close with his hands clasped behind
his back. "Your words do not seem to be having the desired
effect, Daniel Jackson."
Daniel shrugged, "No. Guess not."
"Perhaps you should say something else. Often a warrior only
overcomes when he is challenged to do so."
"Challenge him? You mean aggravate him on purpose?"
The Jaffa only nodded his head.
Daniel took a deep breath and turned his attention back to O'Neill.
He thought for a moment then stood up and began to pace with his
arms folded across his chest. Presently he began to speak in Arabic
once again. "You stupid American! Look how easily we have subdued
you. We will do the same with the rest of your people."
He paused and stole a look at O'Neill. He was turned away from
Daniel and was still shaking with the tremors, but his head was
turned to the side as if he might have been listening.
"You give in so easily. Look at how you cry like a child!
Shall I find a woman to nurse you as well?"
Carter tapped him on the shoulder, "What are you saying?"
He turned to her quickly and whispered in English, "Not now,
I'm on a roll!" then continued to O'Neill. "Or a she-goat.
Perhaps that would be more to your liking."
He should have known it was coming; O'Neill launched himself off
the bed and at Daniel. The two men tumbled to the ground tangled
and grabbing at each other. Teal'c allowed them to wrestle for a
minute and only stepped in when Daniel looked like he was in dire
need of help.
O'Neill crawled away from them and back to his corner drawing his
knees up and wrapping his arms around them. He bowed his head with
an expression of utter pain but did not let out a sound. He refused
to give the bastard the satisfaction anymore. When any one of them
came near he kicked and yelled and fought until they left him alone
in his misery.
Carter shoved a wisp of hair back from her face, "That was
some 'roll', Daniel."
He looked sheepishly back at her then grimaced. If O'Neill hadn't
been so ill and the circumstances had been different, it would have
been hysterically funny. For now all he'd managed to do was get
O'Neill to be quiet. His pain was far from relieved.
When the waves of pain and nausea came O'Neill could think of nothing
else, but in the few moments between them he waffled from being
angry to severely depressed. He kept thinking of Sarah and how he
was letting her down; instead of wallowing in the depression he
allowed it to fuel his anger.
He decided he had to make it, for Sarah, for Charlie.
He spent the entire night curled up in the corner waiting for some
'Towel-head' to come aggravate him again. Every time one of them
got close he was ready to fight again, but no one bothered him.
Toward morning he slept a little but his dreams were far from pleasant.
He was hot, extremely hot even though he was in a dark place; it
must be shaded somehow he thought. Then he remembered being dragged
kicking and cursing across the small courtyard of the prison. They'd
come to get him early, before sunrise and with no warning dragged
him outside. The guard who was in charge addressed him and told
him something about teaching American scum some lessons.
They took him out to a large open area where there were three large
wooden boxes painted black. He thought they were large anyway until
he realized they were going to put him inside one of them. Even
though he'd lost weight due to the meager portions of food they
were given, he was still over six feet in height; he would have
to literally cram himself into the tiny space to fit.
They shoved and prodded at him until he got the idea, there was
no way out of it, he was going in the box. Once situated more or
less, lying on one side with his knees pulled up to his chest, they
slammed down a lid and bolted it in place. He remembered hearing
about the Iraqis doing this as a means of torture, but it usually
turned out to be a slow form of execution. All they had to do was
forget to come back.
By late morning it was already hot and his muscles were cramping
as much with their position as the lack of water and sodium. Funny,
how when the body got dehydrated, one of the things it needed was
salt. He stretched as best he could but could only wiggle an inch
here and there. Toileting was out of the question and he thought
hard about a way to recycle the water he was about to lose. When
he couldn't hold it anymore he urinated right where he lay, soaking
his clothes. It wasn't *the* most degrading thing he'd ever done
but it was getting there.
As the day wore one he got hotter and perspired profusely losing
more precious water from his body. He felt nauseated but through
sheer force of will stopped himself from throwing up. He had to
pant to be able to breathe and his left side was going numb from
not being able to shift his weight even for a few minutes.
When evening came he barely noticed since there was little change
in temperature within the crate. It had to have reached a hundred
and twenty outside, which meant it was a hundred and fifty in the
box. The black paint had absorbed plenty of that solar energy and
was doing its job; keeping the occupant inside nice and warm. He
gave them credit for ingenuity; they'd come up with a way to ensure
maximum unpleasantness for a minimum of effort on their part.
Through the night the temperature did eventually drop and he was
able to sleep a little. By the time the first bit of light showed
in the sky he was shaking from the freezing desert night. He didn't
complain; at least it wasn't zapping the moisture out of his body
and it did make his muscles move even if it hurt like hell to do
By the time noon arrived he couldn't even remember being cold.
That day was turning out to be worse than the day before. First
of all, he couldn't believe he had to pee again, how could that
be? He hadn't had anything to drink in more than 24 hours. He let
it go and immediately turned his head at the strong smell. He only
passed a small amount but it seemed his body was trying to rid itself
of all the wastes accumulated in a whole day. It burned too, not
cross-your-eyes-and-hope-to-die burning, but it hurt, and he had
the feeling it would only get worse, whether or not there was any
more pee to be had.
That afternoon someone came along and jostled the box. He thought
if he kept quiet they might open it to have a look and prepared
to make the most of it if they did. He was most displeased they
did not seem to want to gloat over the condition they'd put him
in; they left without a word. He screamed and pounded on the wall
when he realized they were leaving but got no response. The temperature
continued to rise back to that 'bake in a slow oven' one hundred
and fifty plus.
When nightfall came he was so dry his tongue was getting hard and
the corneas of his eyes were being scratched with every blink. His
lips were cracked in several places and had swollen to the point
he couldn't adequately close his mouth if he'd wanted to. This must
be what it's like to be microwaved, he mused. The thought was funny
in his electrolyte-unbalanced delirium and he laughed outright.
The laugh would have turned to a sob if there'd been one tear left.
He'd passed out and then come to again several times throughout
the day but with the abatement of the heat he relaxed enough to
actually sleep again. He dreamt of crazy things; being sick with
a fever, getting a 'brain freeze' from eating an ice cream too fast,
playing on the beach and getting too hot, a hockey match on a frozen
lake where he'd fallen in and nearly become a Popsicle, burning
his hand on the barrel of a just fired M5 in training. At least
there was a theme.
In the morning he barely stirred except for the shivering. His
body gave up its last bits of energy to keep his internal organs
alive. He really didn't wake up again; just became less unconscious,
to the point where he could moan and try to move with short jerking
motions; stopped at every attempt by the tight enclosure. As the
day wore on and he was literally cooked alive, his body began to
give up. Parts were slowly shutting down. His kidneys had long ago
stopped trying and now his lungs were cooking from the inside out
from breathing the super-heated air. His core temperature was well
over one hundred and five, signaling the point at which brain damage
would occur. If nature were allowed to take it's course his heart
would be the last to go, still trying to pump though his blood would
be too thick to force through his veins.
Before that happened providence intervened. Or an angel or a demon,
O'Neill didn't care which, all he knew was he'd awakened in an Army
Hospital somewhere in the outskirts of Kuwait City.
He now felt himself being a little too cool and forced an eye open.
It wasn't an Army Hospital, though he was certain of the memory.
He was still in Iraq. For some reason they'd given him a respite
from the box.
He was too weak to wonder why or to put up any struggle against
what they were doing to him. He was in an average white tub, and
strong hands were moving over him in some kind of washing ritual.
He wondered if he were being prepared for death. But why would they
go to the trouble?
Teal'c held the near unconscious man up out of the water to finish
the washing. O'Neill had spent several hours in his 'corner' and
subsequently vomited and urinated on himself. He was at least not
fighting and actually opened his eyes, or one of them anyway.
They got him back in the bed and Janet thought she'd try something
a little different since he was being docile. She held out a cup
with a few ounces of water to O'Neill, touching his hands with it
to let him know where it was. He grabbed for it like a man who'd
been in a desert for a week and swallowed it greedily. She smiled
at the positive response and took it back when he held it out to
her. This time she filled it half full with juice.
He thought he was in heaven. Whatever possessed these enemies to
be merciful was welcome. He didn't know what kind of juice it was,
only that it was cold and sweet and slightly tart and it was wonderful.
If he got home he was going to buy an orange grove. He held out
the cup for more but it was taken and no more came.
Janet patted his arm gently, "Can't do too much at once, Sir.
It will just make you sick after being empty for so long."
He slept deeply under a light cover and allowed himself to stretch
out completely for the first time in it seemed days. He noticed
that he was feeling a little better. They must have given him more
nourishment then he thought; the effects of the dehydration were
already reversing themselves. Even his head was clearer. He'd be
able to watch and plan and with a lot of luck, escape.
His caretakers allowed themselves to relax a bit, too. They gathered
around the single small table and watched him sleep.
"It's not over yet. There will still be some of the same effects
we've seen but I think we're past the most severe phase."
"That's good to hear." Daniel replied. "I don't
think any of us could take much more of that."
Carter touched his arm briefly, "You and Teal'c have had it
the worst, I think. You've had to do all the cleaning and man-handling."
"It is simply what had to be done; what O'Neill would have
done for any of us." Teal'c added.
"We'll he did it for me after that sarcophagus thing. Was
I this bad?"
Carter blushed and glanced at Janet. Janet responded, "You
were pretty bad, but then we had you in the infirmary and plenty
of drugs and back up. I'm still not convinced we're doing the right
thing for the Colonel."
"We were correct to not return to the SGC." Teal'c said.
"I have been in contact with General Hammond. He tells me he
has identified one infiltrator. He requests we continue with our
current plans if there is no danger to O'Neill."
Janet nodded. "Well as I said, we're past the worst part.
Might as well tough out the rest. However, all of us need rest.
Teal'c, you've been awake for more than two days, I'm ordering you
to Kel-no-reem, understood?"
He smiled slightly and nodded. He would never give an indication
of the exhaustion he was feeling.
"And Daniel, you look like hell, go to bed."
"Well, thanks, was that a medical observation? If you don't
mind, I'm starved. I'm going out for a hamburger or something, I'll
sleep when I come back, deal?"
"That will leave only Doctor Fraiser and Major Carter to tend
to O'Neill. That is not wise."
Carter smiled at Teal'c's worry for them, "Look at him, he's
calm, quiet, he'll probably sleep for a day. We'll be fine. Go get
Teal'c opted for meditation before food and excused himself to
the other room as Daniel left. He was going to make a quick run
to his apartment while he was out.
They did have an hour of peace and quiet before O'Neill made his
presence known again. At first there was some shaking and moaning,
but Janet wasn't too concerned until he sat bolt upright in bed
clutching his stomach.
"Ooh, spoke too soon, did I?" She went to his side and
put a hand behind his shoulder for support.
"Should I wake Teal'c?"
"Not, yet. He was exhausted. Let's see how it goes, shall
Carter fetched a basin and a damp washcloth and sat on the opposite
side of the bed. Between the two of them they were able to keep
him upright while he retched and brought up most of the juice he'd
drank. They thought they were in the clear when they both noticed
a familiar odor.
Carter looked at Janet who looked back with a glare. "No,
you will *not* bother Teal'c with this. He's had to deal with it
a lot more than we have. You've just been drafted as my nurse, and
part of any nurses job is cleaning up poop."
Carter grimaced and let her head fall back. Nononono. No. No way,
no how, not gonna-
Janet grabbed her hand and gave it a hard shake. "Yes, you
will. We will. Come on." She let go of Sam and grasped the
Colonel's near arm, pulling and pushing until she'd gotten it out
of his shirt and then the shirt over his head. "Get his socks,
would you?" Carter complied then came around the bed and as
the Doctor swung O'Neill's legs out, she caught his arm and hoisted
it over her shoulder. Fraiser got his other arm as they stood him
up. The differences in their heights made it awkward but they did
get him into the bathroom and standing in the tub.
"It will be easier if he can stay standing. Can you get a
hold of his pants?"
The look on Carter's face was priceless and Fraiser let out a giggle
in spite of the situation. "Okay, okay. You hold him up, I'll
get the pants."
Carter had to stand in the tub with him to do it and as soon as
she was set Fraiser disrobed him. All he was wearing were the hospital
issue scrub pants she'd thought to bring along. Luckily she'd brought
As Fraiser turned on the spray and got to work O'Neill slumped
more heavily on Carter. She was painfully aware she was standing
front to front with and hugging her buck-naked CO. As he leaned
on her she realized it would be more efficient to hold him lower
down but she absolutely refused to move her hands. She was *so*
glad there'd be no mission report to write on this one.
He knew what they were doing, these Iraqi women, they were cleaning
him up to not 'offend' some higher official who would be seeing
to his execution. He let them do as they wished. No point in taking
out his anger on a couple of innocent women. He even assisted them
to get him dressed when they were done. A simple pullover shirt
and tie up pants like he'd worn in the infirmary back home.
He let them walk him to the bed. They gave him something hot to
drink sweetened with a little honey. He sipped it slowly then handed
the still half full cup back to them. They didn't insist he drink
more so he was relatively sure it wasn't poisoned. The one with
short blonde hair helped him lie down and pulled up a sheet to cover
him. She didn't leave right away but sat on the edge of the bed
for a few minutes looking at him rather sadly, he thought. He wondered
if she did really look a little familiar to him or if he was just
imagining it. She did have blonde hair like Sarah after all. He
took her hand and quietly thanked her in Arabic.
"No, Janet, I'm telling you he is still having flashbacks
or something. He spoke in Arabic again. The drugs might be working
out of his system but something else is wrong." Carter stood
her ground. The two women were outside conversing while Teal'c stood
guard. He had completed his meditations and already eaten the fruit
Daniel brought for him.
"The only other thing it could be is the head injury. Maybe
he's got a kind of amnesia. It's possible he's forgotten everything
that's happened since Iraq."
"Wow, that's a lot to forget! You mean about the SGC and everything?"
"Unfortunately, yes. That would explain at least some of the
way he's acted, if his memory is gone."
"So how does he get it back?"
"There are lots of treatment options, but it is really dependent
on the amount of damage that is there. Truthfully, he either will
remember or he won't. We can help a little by providing him with
things that might jostle his memory, but it will still be up to
Carter lowered her head until her chin was resting in her hand,
"Little things, huh. Okay."
Daniel had been let in on Fraiser's assessment of what may be going
on with Jack and was now sitting quietly reading while Jack slept.
He immediately lifted his head when he heard the soft snoring stop.
Every time O'Neill awoke it had been an adventure; he was still
sorry he missed the shower scene with Carter and Fraiser, if there
ever was a Kodak moment that was it. He could have blackmailed Jack
for a decade with it.
He smiled to his own thoughts and walked over to the bed, sitting
down beside his friend. He knew he was awake though the Colonel
gave no real indication of it.
"Jack. It's Daniel. I know you're awake but if you don't want
to talk it's Okay. You've been through hell the past few days; but
if you don't mind I'll talk to you. We've been friends a long time,
want to hear about it?" With that Daniel proceeded to tell
Jack about the first Abydos mission. He condensed it severely for
the sake of time and to not bore the Colonel but he did make sure
to dwell on the parts he knew had made an impression on Jack. He
talked about Skaara and the Abydosian people and the first time
they met up with the Jaffa.
At this point he noticed O'Neill was watching him intently. Every
now and then it seemed a flicker of recognition would cross his
face, but it didn't last. O'Neill was only partially listening to
the tale, he was still shivering and his legs would twitch involuntarily.
When he rolled over and hunched his arms around his stomach Daniel
thought maybe it was enough for now. Janet had said small steps,
one thing at a time, don't push too hard.
When O'Neill woke again he was alone in the room with Carter. She
was sitting at the small table typing on her laptop. She noticed
him sit up and nodded to him but didn't get up or stop what she
was doing. He had a vague memory he'd seen this many times before
and slowly got up and made his way over to her. He was very wobbly
on his feet but finally made it and sat in a chair facing her.
She looked at him but didn't say a word. She stopped typing and
smiled at him then slid an object across the table in his direction.
He looked at it thoughtfully. It was blue and round and flattened,
like a pulley. He picked it up and turned it over in his hands several
times. He liked it. Something about it made him wonder if he'd done
this before. He glanced up at Carter and then back at the 'doohickey'
and smiled. Yeah, he *had* done this before. He knew it. This woman
typing, and him toying with some object, it felt right.
He nodded to her and staggered back to the bed, his yo-yo in hand.
He didn't go back to sleep but lay down and curled up facing the
wall. He had to figure this thing out. He was still sure he was
in Iraq but nothing tracked anymore. This room for one thing, it
was unfamiliar but he knew there should have been bars and chains,
and no soft bed like this, if he got a blanket on the floor he was
These people didn't fit either; for one thing none of them were
middle-eastern looking. Even the big black guy looked like the only
way he'd fit into the scenario was as the Genie in Aladdin's lamp.
All of them were familiar in some way. He looked down at the object
in his hand and grimaced as he fought off a stomach cramp. He absent-mindedly
began to massage his right knee where it ached from all the spasms
he'd gone through.
Fraiser entered the room and was glad to see him awake, though
not interacting. She sat lightly on the edge of the bed and touched
his shoulder. "Colonel."
That was something else, why did it sound so comfortable for them
to call him that; was he a Captain or not? He turned over and looked
up at her. When she offered him a cup he sat up and accepted it,
next she held out her hand with two Tylenol. "These will help
the sore muscles and won't be too hard on your stomach." He
hesitated a moment, vaguely wondering about being drugged but took
them anyway and swallowed them with a sip of juice.
He slowly finished the juice and thanked her for it. She grinned
when he spoke in English.
"I was wondering when you'd finally let us know what you were
saying. You know the only one of us who speaks Arabic is Daniel,
and you had him blushing."
O'Neill raised an eyebrow at her, he did remember using some rather
strong language of late.
"Sir, I'd really like to check your wounds, lets start with
your head." She gently touched a very sore sport on his head
and mumbled to herself. "Good. No infection. Looks pretty clean,
in a couple days I'll be able to take the sutures out." She
lowered her gaze to his eyes, "Can you lie down for me? I'd
like to check that graze on your side."
He did as she asked and she pulled up his shirt to get a better
look. She ran her fingers around the area. "It would have been
better if we'd been able to keep a bandage on it, but that didn't
work did it?"
She actually winked at him! He was amazed she was being so informal.
Her hands slid across his chest and pressed lightly over one of
the still dark bruises making him jerk and grimace at the pain it
evoked. "Hmm, just as I thought."
"Doc?" The word was out of his mouth before he could
think about it.
She smiled at the hint of recognition. "It was broken, I'm
sure of it. We should have had your chest wrapped now for over a
week. I'm so sorry. The pain must have been unbearable whenever
we moved you or you had a cramp. You're going to have a healthy
knot there for a while."
He nodded. She was right; he'd been in misery, that's for sure.
Daniel had slipped in the room and was sitting at the table with
Carter and now approached the bed, hands in his pockets.
"So, any time off for good behavior?"
Fraiser eyed him carefully, "Somewhere you need to go?"
"Oh, not me. I meant Jack. How about a walk outside?"
Janet glanced at the door and then back to O'Neill. "Okay,
outside it is, but Colonel, don't go too far. You'll be surprised
at how tired you'll get."
O'Neill's eyes brightened at the prospect of a change of scenery,
that and the opportunity to determine once and for all in his mind
whether he was in fact still in Iraq. He fully expected to see the
sand colored stone walls and arched doorways so common to Middle
Eastern culture. Even if they were in the center of a large city
the architecture would be largely the same. The ground would be
hard packed clay and if there was any pavement it would be stone.
He stood astonished only three steps outside the door. The buildings
were brick or wood-sided, no stone, adobe or stucco, and there was
plenty of gray concrete; the walkway, a small narrow parking lot,
and the street with cracked sidewalks on either side with bits of
grass and weeds poking through anywhere they could.
Across the street was an abandoned building. Every window had been
broken out and the once well-manicured landscape plants had gone
wild and overgrown to the point where parts of the building were
No sand, no rocks, no overwhelming lack of any color except beige
or tan. It was the middle of the day and yet the air was cool. Perhaps
the most amazing thing to him were the trees. There were a few scraggly
uncared for deciduous ones but the vast majority were conifers of
every size and shape. Well known for being long-lived and able to
survive adverse conditions; they were thriving even with the lack
of human attention. That was one thing he didn't expect to see;
fir and pine trees.'
He considered he might be in a far northern province but quickly
changed his mind. No, he wasn't in Iraq anymore. He suddenly felt
the need to see as much as he could and took off walking at what
he thought was a brisk pace, until he stumbled and had to make a
grab for Daniel's arm to keep from falling. With an encouraging
look from his friend he continued to walk at a substantially reduced
pace still clutching Daniel's arm.
After fifteen minutes he was exhausted, luckily Daniel had already
turned them back toward the room several minutes ago. Sam joined
them at the end of the walkway and took O'Neill's arm opposite the
one Daniel had so they supported him between them.
Once back in the room he took the opportunity for an un-chaperoned
bathroom break. When he was done he took a look in the adjoining
It was dark, lit only by several candles but he could easily see
the cross-legged figure against the far wall.
Teal'c was aware of the intrusion and opened his eyes. He spoke
with an incredible softness in his voice, "It is god to se
you, Colonel O'Neill. You are much improved."
He stepped forward into the room a short distance, not willing
to venture in too far. "I've been better."
"You may join me if you wish. You have performed Kel-no-reem
before, do you not remember?"
At once O'Neill had a flash of actually being *in* the massive
body before him. He backed up against the wall. "I, uh, I'll
pass on that."
He turned and quickly fled into the bathroom and flattened himself
against the wall trying to slow his breathing. His mind was full
of images and feelings; candles, warmth, relaxation, healing from
He clutched the center of his stomach with both hands. A Goa'uld!
In him? No, it was in the other man, but he had been in the other
man as well. He distinctly recalled the sensation of something alive
writhing around in his gut. Once he composed himself he moved his
hands and lifted the shirt to inspect the area still half expecting
to see the crosshatched pouch opening of a Jaffa.
He broke out in a sweat at the relief it was not there and allowed
himself to slide down the wall to the floor.
When he didn't return Daniel went looking for him and found him
sitting in the dark on the bathroom floor. "Jack? What are-
Are you all right?"
O'Neill raised his eyes to the now familiar face; he paused then
raised his hand asking for a hand up. As soon as their hands clasped
each other's forearms he felt the strength and surety of the younger
man infuse him. When he was on his feet again he squeezed the younger
man's arm and spoke his name for the first time. "Daniel."
He was met with a broad-faced grin and got a bear hug to boot.
He was feeling better about this whole affair. Now if he could just
finish putting the pieces back together.
That evening the whole group pow-wowed over Chinese take-out. Janet
swore if she ever told Cassie about it she'd be in trouble for letting
her miss out on a 'slumber-party'.
Teal'c took a spot on the floor and sat in his usual cross-legged
pose. The bed had been shoved against the wall and Daniel and O'Neill
were sitting crossways on it backs against the wall and legs stretched
out, and the girls were seated at the table. Daniel and Teal'c had
chosen the fare, which was mostly seafood and vegetables. Janet
insisted O'Neill go easy on the food and fixed him a plate of only
rice and a bit of sautéed chicken.
He complained loudly that he would never get his strength back
if he couldn't *eat*, but she wouldn't relent. In teasing she wondered
aloud if the Chinese weren't the inventors of Jell-O. He glared
at her but got the meaning, it was this or nothing. He secretly
knew he probably wouldn't finish the little bit she'd given him.
As the evening passed in quiet talking and reminiscing, O'Neill
was remembering more and more, but he felt there was something missing,
some gaps that weren't being filled in and he said so.
Sam refilled her cup of hot tea and poured another and handed it
to O'Neill. She crawled onto the foot of the bed and scooted so
she was seated beside O'Neill and stretched out her legs along side
his. "So, what do you want to know?"
Janet grinned. "You think you could narrow that down a bit?
We've been talking for an hour already."
He frowned. "Okay. Tell me about the last time we saw Hathor."
Daniel raised his eyebrows and gestured in Carter's direction.
Her eyes fell. She knew what O'Neill was asking. Had he ever been
They spent another two hours recounting events of the past few
years; O'Neill was able to remember more and more and soon was adding
in pieces of his own.
"Wild horses. I said, 'wild horses, Teal'c' and then I realized
you'd made a joke. Was that the first joke I ever heard you tell?
I wanted to laugh, to slap you on the back or something but I couldn't
Teal'c nodded his head and smiled, "Indeed, I discerned your
"You didn't leave me."
"I did not."
The two warriors held each other's gaze for several moments, exchanging
once again a measure of brotherly fondness for each other.
After a while O'Neill's eyelids were getting heavy; it had been
another long day of recovery for him. Teal'c excused himself to
the other room and Sam made herself comfortable curled up in an
upholstered chair while O'Neill stretched out on the bed to sleep.
Janet had finally decided it was safe to give O'Neill a bit of
slack in their constant attention since he now seemed to be well
on his way to full recovery. He was almost back to his old self
except for being more quiet than normal. Considering all he was
dealing with it was understandable. She and Daniel went out to a
tiny café down the street for some very early morning coffee
and something sweet.
The cell was hot, not unusual since the only movement of air came
through one tiny window and the space under the heavy wooden door.
He'd been relieved of his shirt and boots some time ago but the
exposed skin only seemed to be even more affected by the dry air.
They gave him a small scrap of cloth they referred to he thought
'loosely' as a blanket and he used it more as a barrier between
himself and the dirt floor than as a cover.
He tried to sleep but was restless; whether it was from his own
injuries or from hearing the others on the receiving end of their
own, he didn't know.
Just after midday the heavy sound of booted feet stopped just beyond
his door. As it opened he squinted at the sudden exposure to bright
light. Two men entered and grabbed his upper arms and dragged him
out, making no allowance for him to get to his feet and walk, they
simply dragged him, twisting and flailing still trying to get up.
He was taken to a much larger room, bare except for the chains
suspended from the ceiling. They shackled him in then forced him
to stand on a chair. Once there the chain was pulled until his arms
were tight above his head. He knew what was coming next. One of
the men gave the chair a firm kick and it flew out from under him.
He was now dangling like a fish on a hook.
Being held up and stretched out his pants seemed suddenly very
loose; he wondered if they even might slide off, he'd lost so much
weight while here. Should have cinched up the belt a little tighter.
A moment later it was a moot point. One of the guards undid his
belt and the buttons on his BDU's and yanked them down and off along
with his underwear. He knew they only wanted better access to any
part of him they wished to torture, but it was quite unnerving even
just to be left to hang, naked.
They did leave him alone for what seemed like hours. Every now
and then he'd pull himself up to take a little pressure off his
sore shoulders but it wasn't enough, and soon his arms were too
numb to do it anymore. The sun went down and as the chill of the
desert air filled the room through a large open window he began
Some time well into the night his keepers returned. They turned
on the dim single bulb overhead and wheeled a cart into the room.
He grimaced as he realized what it was; several large batteries
cabled together and an assortment of wires and clamps.
The first shock wasn't of electricity; it was from being doused
with a bucket of cold water. His shivering reached painful proportions
as they set up the equipment and prepared for the main event. "Bastards."
He cursed at them under his breath as they began.
Sam was jostled from her sleep by the gasping breaths coming from
the bed. She ran immediately to the Colonel's side to see what was
wrong. He was shaking horribly and his skin was ice cold to her
touch. She grabbed for the blanket he'd thrown off and tried to
wrap him in it most unsuccessfully. He flailed and kicked and shoved
at her effectively tangling himself up in the coverings.
As he became more entangled and she held on to him tighter, he
fought back more, thrashing and rolling from side to side. She grabbed
his face in her hands, "Colonel! Wake up!"
His eyes momentarily opened then rolled back in his head. He gasped
and cried out in an increasing volume, becoming more frantic by
the moment. He shook loose from her but she captured his head again.
"Sir! It's Carter!"
When he pulled away from her again she held on with one hand and
with the other gave him a hard slap across the cheek. When he stilled
for a second, she wrapped her arms around his shoulders and pulled
him into a tight hug.
By this time Teal'c was standing at the doorway prepared to do
whatever was necessary to assist. The Major held up one hand to
him and leaned her head back to look at O'Neill. He was blinking,
trying to wake up, and though he was still shaking, he wasn't fighting,
just hugging her in return with all his strength.
She turned back to Teal'c and waved her hand at him and nodded
at him. He nodded back to her once and after some hesitation departed
to the other room. He would not meditate again tonight.
As the Colonel woke his breaths became more even and quiet. Sam
stroked the back of his head with one hand. "It was a nightmare.
A flashback. Janet said to expect them. It's Okay, it's over now.
He relaxed against her shoulder and let her words sink in. So real.
It was so very real. He could feel every single shock he'd been
given. He took in a deep breath and let it out in a long sigh. He
was struck by the sudden intrusion of another memory, a waking one.
One Carter had left out of the story she'd related about the death
He was cold and sitting on the floor hugging Carter, almost exactly
like this. "Carter?"
"Sir? Are you all right now?"
He paused before answering. "I'm me. I'm me."
She felt the corners of her mouth rise up. "Yes, Sir. You
are." She recalled the first time he spoke those words and
figured he must have dreamt about being taken as a host. At least
it wasn't Iraq again.
She leaned back, "Think you can go back to sleep?"
He looked down and shook his head. "Doubt it."
"You're exhausted. Come on, lie down." She grasped his
shoulder and firmly guided him down to the bed. When she saw he
was avoiding looking at her she continued, "There's no reason
to be embarrassed, we've been through worse before."
She heard her own words as she spoke them. They *had* been through
worse before, was *she* too self-conscious to offer him support
now when he needed it? She shook her head and pressed her lips together
tightly. Certainly she could handle this.
She lay down beside him and slipped her arm under his neck so she
could pull him closer. "Come here. If you can't sleep, just
rest. I'll be here."
"Carter, I don't want to put you in this position."
"I know." She nodded then looked deep into his eyes.
"Just rest, for a little while."
He let the moment of their eye contact hold for several seconds
before relaxing his head against her and allowing one arm to drape
across her waist. He was asleep almost as soon as his eyes closed.
As he slept she watched him for a while, then with a sigh and an
uncanny feeling this was one of those *so* bad ideas, she scooted
down a little to make her head more comfortable and allowed herself
to doze off.
When Janet and Daniel returned they opened the door and crept in
to not disturb the Colonel. Daniel halted suddenly several steps
into the room and threw his arm out to stop Janet from moving forward.
"Shh! Look!" He whispered and pointed at the bed.
She looked at the two asleep in the bed and grinned. Daniel grinned
back, "Come on, let's see if Teal'c knows." He took her
shoulder and pointed to the connecting bathroom doorway.
The next morning everyone was much refreshed. Janet made a quick
assessment of O'Neill's condition and removed the stitches from
his head wound. "As far as I'm concerned Colonel, its time
we got back to the SGC. It's been over a week and you're remembering
more all the time. You haven't had any relapses or shakes for two
days except that last nightmare. There's no reason to stay out here
"What about the NID and their moles?" Daniel asked.
"There will always be some compromise of base security. They
*are* working under our own government you know." Carter told
him. "As long as there *is* an SGC there will be some dangers
from within our own ranks. We just need to remember that. I spoke
with General Hammond this morning and he believes the base is as
secure as it can be."
They all gathered up their things and O'Neill dressed in the clothing
Daniel had provided, finally feeling completely like himself in
his own garments. He knew Fraiser would keep him off duty for another
week or so, but for all intentions he was back. When he emerged
from the bathroom Carter was just zipping up her bag on the bed.
He moved over close to her.
"Carter, about last night-"
She stiffened then stood up and faced him, "Yes, Sir?"
He tried not to wince at the formality. "Just thank you- for
everything." He paused and added "Major."
She felt a touch of moisture behind her eyes and lowered them for
a moment. She really was glad he was getting better; he was once
again the image of her CO. When she looked up he hadn't moved; he
was still looking at her with a gentle but sad expression on his
face. She managed to smile, just a little, and he responded with
a nod and blink of his eyes. "Time to go."
Fraiser met with General Hammond early the next morning, she'd
insisted O'Neill remain in the infirmary overnight but was now ready
to send him home for a week to get his bearings and recuperate.
"You understand this is going to be a long-term recovery.
Colonel O'Neill will be fit for duty soon but this is not something
he will just 'get over'. He's had a serious relapse of the PTSD
he had when he first got back from Iraq. He will continue to have
nightmares and possibly momentary flashbacks for some time yet.
I'm recommending weekly psych evals for a month, then we'll go to
monthly for awhile if he's handling it Okay."
"With Mackenzie? If you think that's best. Colonel O'Neill
will not be pleased."
"Actually I thought he might have an initial assessment by
Doctor Mackenzie and then I could do the follow up. It's not directly
related to work here at the SGC and it *is* just follow up. If there
were any problems, of course I'd defer to Mackenzie."
"Doctor Mackenzie would agree to this?"
"Given the-" She paused, "somewhat adversarial relationship
between them, yes, I think he would."
Hammond leaned back in his chair, he knew how much O'Neill hated
psychiatric care but he wanted the best for his 2IC. He leaned forward
and steepled his fingers on the desk. "Doctor, you're certain
this is best for O'Neill?"
"Sir, I have seen some amazing things over the past ten days.
I've seen a man so drugged, disoriented and broken he didn't know
which way was up being cared for on a minute-to-minute basis by
people who are much more than friends. Not once was there a refusal
to help or even a lack of patience on their part. And believe me
there were times it was warranted. There may have been a tiny bit
of hesitation occasionally, but they came through for him. I'd say
with the continued interaction with his team Colonel O'Neill has
an excellent prognosis. I doubt he really even needs the week off
but for his physical injuries. And, I am prescribing he is frequently
visited by his team while at home. They've already decided what
to use as an 'excuse'. They're going to tell him I won't let him
back on duty until he's gained his weight back and they're intent
on 'fattening' him up."
Hammond was grinning so she continued on a slightly more serious
note. "General, support is probably the most key ingredient
to recovery other than personal resolve and the Colonel has the
strongest support system I've ever seen- SG-1."
Hammond nodded and dismissed her with his approval. He stood at
his window overlooking the Stargate and clasped his hands behind
his back. It would be good to have SG-1 back in the fold, all of