Jackfic Fiction Archive Story

 

The Hell Series Part One:

Hell Remembered

by JodiMarie aka Shootem




Hell, Remembered

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 her assistant.

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.

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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 them.

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.

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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 to see.

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 living room.

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 sight.

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 right now.

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 unconscious.

When he woke he noticed it was morning again but he had no idea what day it was.

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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 Colonel O'Neill?"

"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 ago."

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 behind it.

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 God.'

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 this.

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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.

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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.

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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 shaking.

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 the drug.

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 Coke."

"Why not finish him off with Horse, I mean we've still got plenty."

"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 door.

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.

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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, "Carter."

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 the line.

"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 to.

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? Jack!"

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 be needed."

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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 her out.

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 man.

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 the SGC?"

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 hospital."

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, we can."

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.

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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 to death.

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 asked.

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 bed."

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 back."

Janet had a thought. "Do you know any specifics about that time before?"

"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 translated.

"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 the bed.

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 over."

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 the SGC.

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.

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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 for her.

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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 is."

"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.

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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 with surprise.

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?"

"No problem."

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 you'll see."

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 here.

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 so.

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 some rest."

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 we?"

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 several pairs.

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 him."

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 lucky.

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 completely obscured.

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 room.

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 within, 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?"

"Everything."

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 'blended'?

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 move."

Teal'c nodded his head and smiled, "Indeed, I discerned your appreciation."

"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 to shiver.

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. It's over."

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 of Hathor.

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 anymore."

"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."

Epilogue

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 them.

~fin

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