The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes
Dr. Daniel Jackson carefully dabbed his red, swollen nose with a tissue which he then tossed onto the growing pile that surrounded his trash bin.
"You really should call Base Services to come and empty that for you." General Jack O'Neill ambled into the room and paused to look down at the overflowing bin. "Jeez, Daniel. This is a biohazard. Wait any longer and I'll have to call in a Hazmat squad." Jack took in the cluttered array of artifacts that littered Daniel's worktable. Picking up what appeared to be a small chunk of stone, he began to toss it from hand to hand. "How do you find anything in here?"
Daniel put down the photograph he was studying. Removing his glasses with one hand, he pinched the bridge of his tortured nose with the other. "Jack, did you come down here for some useful purpose, or are you conducting base inspections now?"
Jack's eyes narrowed as he took a closer look at his friend. Daniel's face was flushed, his eyes reddened and watery. Although he was sitting on a stool, he leaned against the workbench and gripped the edge as though he might fall over any minute. And he didn't even seem to notice that Jack was juggling one of his precious rocks.
"Teal'c said you were a bit under the weather." Jack's face mirrored his mounting concern. He placed the forgotten stone back on the table. "From the looks of things, you're just about down for the count. You should be at home, in bed, Daniel. If I don't miss my guess, you've got a fever to go along with those rosy pink cheeks and that pale, sweaty brow. And probably a whopping headache, too. Which would explain your snippy little comeback. I'm guessing you were somehow too busy to stop by the infirmary for your flu shot last month."
"It's just a cold, Jack. Nothing I can't handle. Besides, I need to get back to Maybourne's planet and get another look at those temple ruins." Daniel retrieved the photo and waved it weakly. "Some of the writing isn't clear in these photos, and there's a passage that's partially hidden by overgrowth that seems to hint at additional information buried elsewhere. I think it might contain clues to the location of a planet that served as a base for the Ancients in this galaxy - one where we might find a lot more technology."
Daniel's voice grew progressively weak as he spoke, finishing in a fit of coughing that nearly knocked him from his precarious perch on the stool. Jack hurried around to the other side of the table and held the other man up as the coughing subsided.
"I don't think so, Daniel. If you go through the gate now, you'll walk out dead on the other side. And I happen to think that your skills are a bit too valuable to let that happen. Besides which, we can't risk having you export our nasty Earth germs to those nice villagers. Maybourne would never forgive us if one of his wives died from influenza. Not that I'm that concerned about Maybourne's feelings, but any poor woman married to him doesn't need any more trouble in her life."
Jack kept a supportive arm around the archeologist's shoulders while he surreptitiously moved one hand down to grip Daniel's wrist, checking his pulse. As he suspected, it was fast and a bit thready. Abandoning any pretense, he placed his open palm against the other man's forehead, not surprised to find it burning with fever.
"That's it, Danny. You're burning up. You've earned yourself an all-expenses paid trip to the infirmary."
Jack shifted the younger man's weight in order to reach across the table and grab the phone. He jabbed a few buttons while Daniel continued his protests.
"You don't... <cough> ...understand... <cough> ...need...to get... <cough> ...back... <cough> ...finish... <cough> ...transla...<cough><cough><cough> ...ugghhhhhhh..."
"Daniel, shut up. The only place you're going is...Hello? This is O'Neill. I need a medical team to Dr. Jackson's office right away." Jack shifted Daniel's weight once again to position the phone so that he could hear better. "No, he's not injured, he's falling off his chair with fever. I'm guessing flu."
Moments later Jack stood by as two orderlies helped Daniel up onto a gurney and wheeled him out of the room. He followed behind. The new doctor was ok, but she probably didn't know just how stubborn some of her charges could be when they had fancy whatchamacalits or thingamabobs to study. He wanted to be sure she kept the good doctor from escaping before he'd recovered fully. Then maybe he would sneak down to his quarters for a quick nap. Suddenly, he felt drained. Daniel was the latest in a long list of base personnel laid low by the virulent flu bug that was going around. Jack hoped he wouldn't be next.
Two hours later Jack hadn't managed to get as far as the level where his personal quarters were. The nap he thought longingly of was still just a dream. With so many of the base staff on sick leave, off world missions were suspended. But there was still paperwork and administrative duties to deal with, and Jack was elbow deep in them. Even the seemingly indestructible Sergeant Harriman was home sick. Mrs. Harriman called Jack every morning precisely at eight to inform him that Walter was too ill to come to work. Without him, Jack was at the mercy of every form-pushing, signature hound on base.
While most of the base personnel who were ill had the sense to stay home, a few insisted on bringing the bug with them. Others, like Daniel, simply worked so long and so single-mindedly that they didn't notice their illness until they wound up in the infirmary. And the crowded conditions there both shocked and worried Jack. Doctor Brightman's reports only hinted at the extent and severity of the near epidemic.
"It's just the flu, for cryin' out loud!" No one in the empty office heard Jack's frustrated exclamation.
It was difficult to grasp that a disease so commonplace could, in fact, be a serious threat. Despite shortages, most of the base got the flu shot, if they wanted it. But this strain was not included. At best, the vaccine kept some from experiencing the worst of the symptoms. Those who hadn't been vaccinated were subject to the full force of the disease. Doctor Brightman stressed that, if it weren't for the excellent health and physical condition that most of the staff enjoyed, there would have been deaths. As it was, the nurses were working double time shifts and patients filled every available bed and cot.
Jack stayed some time in the infirmary checking on every patient. He held straws for those who could barely raise their heads high enough to take a much needed drink. He pressed cool cloths to foreheads burning with fever. It certainly wasn't the smartest thing Jack had done since becoming base commander. Despite his own flu shot, he was really beginning to feel pretty lousy. Raising the back of his hand to his own forehead, he was surprised to find it cool and dry in spite of the slight frisson of feverish chills that periodically disturbed him.
Earlier, when he returned from the infirmary, Jack spent several minutes hunting through the piles of papers on his desk looking for Doctor Brightman's most recent report. It included an Emergency Staff Requisition form that Jack intended to sign immediately and walk up to Personnel Management himself. There was still time to get it through channels today so that a crop of fresh medical staff could report day after tomorrow. They needed the extra staff now, but the form, like so many others, had disappeared under the pile of similar forms and reports that Walter normally screened for him. Maybe he'd add a request for a tireless organizational genius to that requisition. And as soon as he dropped off the form, he was *definitely* heading for his quarters for that little nap.
Jack punctuated his last thought with an enormous sneeze.
Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance. ~Confucius
Jack couldn't remember the last time he'd gone to sleep before dinner and not woken up until morning. Blinking in the dark of his quarters, the clock on the bedside table was gleefully chattering away, telling him that it was 0600 and time to wake up. Although he didn't sleep on base often, Jack kept the clock set to alarm at six, just in case. The talking alarm clock that Daniel had given him years ago as a gag gift would have long since been smashed against the nearest wall if he had to listen to it every morning. So it was perfect for his base quarters, where he rarely actually had to put up with it.
A hand snaked out from under the covers and fumbled to find the button that would shut off the annoying voice. After a number of attempts, sweet success was punctuated by blissful silence. Jack groaned and flung the covers off as he rolled over to lie face up on the big bed. It wasn't the first time he'd slept in BDUs, which were now twisted and bunched up rather uncomfortably around his knees and chest. Add to that discomfort, his bladder was sending emergency messages up to his brain that would have to be answered soon.
With a heave, he sat up and turned to set his feet on the floor. He stood, shook out the twisted trousers and unbuttoned the rumpled shirt as he walked toward the small bathroom. The long sleep had done wonders. He was feeling much better. With luck, he might avoid the flu after all.
"Get up! Get up! It's six-fifteen, time to get up!"
Jack nearly tripped on his half-shed trousers, startled by the sudden reprise of the alarm. He was sure he'd hit the off switch, not the snooze button.
"Get up! Get up! It's six-fifteen, time to get up!"
Kicking his pants off the rest of the way, he strode back to the bed, turned on the light and picked up the clock. Sure enough, the switch was firmly set in the "Off" position. He flipped it back and forth several times. No dice. It continued to happily spout its message. Resorting to one of man's time-honored methods in the face of recalcitrant technology, Jack shook the clock vigorously several times. Still it proclaimed the time over and over. Finally, Jack reached behind the small table and yanked the plug from the wall. Still it droned, on and on.
"Get up! Get up! It's six-twenty, time to get up!"
He starred, dumbstruck, at the clock. "Oh for cryin' out loud, don't tell me it's got battery backup!" Jack turned the clock over, looking for a battery compartment door, but there was none. Much more of this and the clock would be meeting that nearest wall after all. Jack glanced around the room, trying to think of something that he could do to shut the stupid thing up, short of smashing it to bits. Spying the small closet, he grabbed the blanket from the bed, wrapped it tightly around the clock and placed the bundle on the closet floor. When he closed the door, he could still make out a faint, muffled "Get up! Get up! It's six-twenty-two, time to get up!" A few steps away from the door and it was barely noticeable. With luck, the battery power would run down after a few hours. Annoying as it was, he hated to throw Daniel's gift in the garbage. Maybe he could ask Siler to take a look at it. If nothing else, a wire or two snipped here and there would disable the alarm and it would still be a nice clock.
The problem with the clock dealt with, Jack showered and dressed and headed to the cafeteria for some coffee. After which, he intended to stop by the infirmary to see how things were going there. He also wanted to assure Doctor Brightman that he had requisitioned the extra medical staff and they'd report no later than tomorrow morning.
Daniel blinked and looked around, taking in the familiar sights and even more familiar smells of the infirmary. He'd been there enough to recognize it from the sounds, even before he opened his eyes. A broad back stood beside his bed, apparently pouring water from a pitcher into a small cup.
The back turned to reveal the face of the Jaffa, who smiled and inclined his head in a brief nod before offering the cup of water. "Daniel Jackson, I am pleased to see you awake. Are you still feeling unwell?"
Daniel took the cup of water and drained it thirstily. "Unwell?" He paused to take a mental inventory. "I feel a bit groggy, but I'm not sick. I thought I might have been coming down with a cold, but I feel much better now. How long have I been here? Come to think of it, *why* am I here?"
Teal'c retrieved the cup and turned to refill it. "You were brought here last night by General O'Neill. Like many others, you have been ill with influenza. You collapsed in your office. The tretonin protects me from this illness, so I have been assisting the nursing staff as they have been overwhelmed by the number of personnel who have succumbed to the disease. There is, however, one thing I do not understand." He turned and handed the refilled cup to Daniel. "Doctor Brightman informed me that influenza generally keeps its victims ill for several days. Most have been here only a day, two at most, and they wake this morning, as you have, feeling quite well. I am, of course, pleased that this illness is not as serious as I was told. Still, I am puzzled that Doctor Brightman would so misinform me."
"Don't sweat it, Teal'c. What she thought was the flu may have just been a twenty-four hour bug. Humans get a lot of those, too. Same symptoms - fever, cough, aches, sometimes upset stomach - but it only lasts a day or two."
Daniel sat up and moved to get out of bed. Teal'c raised a hand to hold him.
"I do not believe you should attempt to leave before the doctor can review your condition, Daniel Jackson. You have been extremely ill. Your fever was over 104 degrees when you arrived and the doctor indicated that this was extremely serious. She indicated that I should watch for convulsions and delirium. And that I should under no circumstances allow you to leave your bed. Are you delirious, Daniel Jackson?"
Daniel starred at the big Jaffa. He grasped Teal'c's wrist and tried to move the hand that kept him firmly in the bed.
"Teal'c, I'm *fine*. I just want to go to the bathroom."
"You have been fitted with a device that allows you to relieve yourself into a small bag that hangs beside your bed. If you require relief of your bowels, I have been trained to assist patients in the use of a bedpan. There is no need for you to leave the bed, Daniel Jackson."
Daniel quickly reached under the sheet with one hand, dismayed at what he found. "You mean they put a catheter in me? For a cold?" He starred back up at his friend, incredulous. "And they've had you doing bedpan duty?"
"Indeed. While it is a most disagreeable task, in times of need, a warrior does what is necessary. If you require assistance, I am prepared to help."
Daniel settled back against the pillows, pulling the sheet and blanket tightly up to his chin. "Uh...that's ok, Teal'c. If it's all the same to you, I'll just hold on for a bit."
"As you wish, Daniel Jackson. If you are comfortable, I shall go attend to some of the other patients."
Keeping firm hold of the sheets with one hand, Daniel made a shooing gesture with the other.
"Yeah, sure. You go ahead and do what you gotta do."
Teal'c inclined his head, turned and swept out of the curtained off area. Daniel craned his neck to look at the clock on the wall behind his bed, which read six-thirty. There was no hope of escape if Teal'c was on guard, of that he was certain. Besides which, even he wasn't stupid enough to try and remove an I.V. and a catheter by himself. He knew the doctor generally reported in at about eight. He could only hope that the flu outbreak, or whatever it was, might bring her in earlier so that he could get a reprieve. Now that he was fully awake, he was feeling fine. Better than fine - in fact - he felt really terrific. And he was anxious to get back to his translations and more importantly, back to Maybourne's planet so he could get a better look at some of the passages on those columns.
It was just before seven when General O'Neill walked into the infirmary. By the time he got to the fourth bed, it was becoming apparent that the dire influenza epidemic that Doctor Brightman had warned him of had, in fact, not materialized. Every patient protested that they felt fine, and it was only the tubes and such, along with the threats of a very diligent Jaffa nurse, that kept them in bed. In the fifth bed he found a very impatient Doctor Daniel Jackson.
"Jack, thank goodness you're here! Teal'c is a tyrant. He won't let any of us out of here until the doctor gets in. Maybe you can convince him. He's even got the nurses on his side."
Jack stepped back a moment at the tirade coming from a man who had been carried in the night before.
"Good morning to you, too, Daniel. I'm glad you're feeling better. I guess a little dormata does a body good." Jack pulled a chair up beside the bed and sat down. "But in this case, I agree with Teal'c. You were in bad shape yesterday. Couldn't even hold your head up. It'll be safer to wait until the doctor can look you over. There's no point in getting you out of that bed just to slap you back into it later."
Daniel propped himself up on one elbow and looked keenly at the general. "Dormata, Jack? Have you stuck your head in anything lately?"
Now it was Jack's turn to look puzzled. "What are you talking about? Did I say something?"
"Yes, Jack, you said 'dormata' - sleep - in Ancient. The only time you speak Ancient is when you've had it downloaded into your brain. I don't remember seeing a head thingy on Maybourne's planet."
Jack shook his head and stood up, patting Daniel on the arm. "You've been ill, Daniel. I think you might be hearing things. Doctor Brightman should be here any minute now, and she can check you out. In the meantime, rest. I'll check back on you later, ok?"
Slipping through the curtains, Jack went on to the next bed, leaving a somewhat confounded archeologist, who muttered, "I know what I heard. He said 'dormata'" Daniel lay back again on the pillows, wondering what was up with his friend now, and hoping, with little confidence, that he had just been hearing things.
Jack continued through the infirmary, meeting the same situation at each bedside. A disgruntled patient lay in each bed, waiting for the doctor to confirm what they themselves knew. They were completely free of the disease that had ravaged the base and were ready to return to duty, if only Teal'c would allow it.
He lost count of how many he visited. Coming to another curtained area, he parted the curtains, but immediately backed out. "Yow! Sorry!" The vision of Teal'c, gently washing the exposed backside of an airman was not one that would leave him quickly. Nor was it something he would have believed, had he not seen it with his own eyes. "Uh, Teal'c? Is everything ok?"
"All is well, O'Neill," came the voice from behind the curtain, "However, unlike many of the others, this airman came into the infirmary last night and is still quite ill. He is, I believe, in a coma. I am assisting the nurses with duties which do not require medical training."
Teal'c parted the curtain and ushered Jack inside, where a clean white sheet covered the unconscious airman. Jack's surprise at hearing that Teal'c had been playing nurse's assistant evaporated in his concern for those who served under his command. It may have seemed comical except for the seriousness of the circumstances.
"How long has he been like this?"
Jack advanced toward the bed and laid a gentle hand on the airman's forehead,
feeling the damp heat that seem to radiate from the inert body.
"He was in the cafeteria and fell unconscious while sitting at a table. He has not woken since. I am informed by the nurses that his fever is extremely high." Teal'c picked up a pan of water from the bedside table and walked to the sink where he emptied it. "They have asked me to bathe him twice each hour with cool wet cloths to try to reduce the fever. So far it seems to have had little effect."
As Teal'c continued to tidy the area, Jack checked the airman's chart, which hung at the foot of the bed.
"A hundred and four point two. And it's been steadily climbing all night. Why is this man different, Teal'c? Why is he still so sick when everyone else is practically cured?" Jack returned the chart to its place and gripped the foot of the bed, anger and worry and frustration vying for control of his features.
"I, too, am unsure as to the reasons for his illness, O'Neill. Perhaps he simply contracted the disease later than others, and will return to health in due time."
The curtains parted to admit Doctor Brightman.
"General, I heard you were back. And Teal'c, the nurses tell me that you made an excellent assistant. I really appreciate your help. Patient care is demanding work for a dignified warrior such as yourself."
Teal'c nodded acknowledgement of the doctor's thanks. "On the contrary, Doctor Brightman. There is no more dignified duty than caring for a fallen comrade. It was my honor to assist."
The doctor reached for the patient's chart. It slipped out of her grasp as the chart, along with the entire bed began rising. Within seconds the airman's feet were at eye level. When the bed reached its maximum level, it lowered a few inches, then rose up again, as if straining to go beyond its limits. The effect was repeated twice, three times.
"What the hell?" Jack's hands, still gripping the footrail, were being hauled up and down with each effort the bed made to free itself of it's manufacturer's limitations. After the third round, he released his grip. The bed took one final surge upwards and was still.
"Is everything here going derentis? Or is it just me?" Jack felt a sudden wave of weakness wash over him, and reached up to grab the footrail once more. This was not working out to be a terrific morning.
"Are you unwell, O'Neill?" Teal'c moved to stand beside his friend, ready to lend support if needed.
Jack released the footrail again and grasped the Jaffa's shoulder instead. "I'm ok, Teal'c. Could be I'm coming down with a touch of the flu myself. I thought I'd licked it this morning - woke up feeling fine. Now I'm not so sure." He gave Teal'c a half smile.
He made his way to a chair and sat down, while Doctor Brightman quickly grabbed the thermometer and stuck the probe in Jack's mouth before he had a chance to protest. While she waited for the machine to beep, she checked the general's pulse. A few seconds later, she stepped back, not sure of the results.
"Well, your temp is perfectly normal, and your pulse is fine, too. You say you were feeling ill yesterday?"
Jack's strength was returning with every deep breath. "I was feeling kinda crappy when I left here yesterday. I went to my quarters to grab forty winks before dinner, but wound up sleeping through the night. Woke up this morning feeling fine until just a few minutes ago." He stood to punctuate the validity of his next words. "I'm much better now, though. Maybe I'm just allergic to all this medical stuff." Jack turned his attention back to the airman. "Whaddya say we deal with the real patients. Maybe we should get this poor kid transferred to another bed. One that doesn't try to go flying off into orbit?"
"Of course, sir," answered Doctor Brightman, "but I'm still concerned about this weakness you've been feeling. If you're feeling okay now, I suppose it could be nothing, but if you experience any other spells of weakness, I want you back in here immediately."
There were times when Jack was thankful that the new doctor didn't know him as well as Janet Fraiser had. The SGC's former CMO would never have let him off with a warning.
"You got it, doc. First sign of the woozies and I'm on your doorstep." Jack ignored the eyebrow that was trying to meet Teal'c's new hairline. "I'd like a report on this flu situation later this morning, once you've had a chance to check things out. Nothing formal, just stop by the office - we'll chat." Flipping the curtains back, he escaped before the doctor could think better of it.
We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself. ~Lloyd Alexander
Later that morning Jack was plowing through yet another pile of paperwork. He had just finished speaking with Carter, who was working on yet another project at Area 51, when Doctor Brightman appeared at his office door.
"Doc, come on in," Jack stood to usher the doctor into the office, then gestured for her to precede him into the next room. "Let's go into the briefing room. I never seem to have any extra chairs in here. Before I forget, those reinforcements should be here first thing tomorrow morning." Jack turned to the coffee maker on the credenza and poured two cups.
Doctor Brightman carried a large pile of files and charts into the room and set them down on the big table. "Actually, sir, I don't think we need them after all. I've discharged almost everyone. I just released Doctor Jackson a few minutes ago. The only patient left is Airman Stewarts - the young man whose bed did the levitation act this morning. And he's made a miraculously sudden improvement in the last hour. His fever dropped to nearly normal; he's conscious and like everyone else, he's nagging us all to release him. Which I plan to do in another hour or so unless something changes drastically."
Jack sat down at the head of the table and gestured for the doctor to sit as well. He placed a cup of coffee in front of her, and sipped some from his own cup. "So is this really the flu, or is it just some really nasty twenty-four hour bug that has us all upset for nothing?"
The doctor blew across the top of the hot liquid, not daring to take a sip just yet. "It's definitely the flu, sir. What is really confusing is that only the people in the infirmary have experienced this sudden improvement. I had the nursing staff call several of the personnel who stayed home yesterday. Almost all of them are still quite ill. One or two have been admitted to the hospital." Doctor Brightman hazarded a quick sip. "And yet I'm sure it's the same disease. I can't explain it, sir."
Jack stood and began to pace around the table. "Is there any chance this is something that was brought back through the Stargate? Any chance we're dealing with an alien disease that simply acts like the flu?"
"I don't think so, sir. Influenza is a quickly mutating disease. Several new strains appear each year, around the world. And I'm sure you've heard the news reports. Colorado and the rest of the western states have been hit hard. It's not just us, sir. The only thing that seems unique to us is the handful of patients who spent one night in the infirmary and are completely well when they should still be very ill. If I knew what did it sir, believe me, I'd bottle it and make a fortune."
Returning to his seat, Jack sighed with relief. The last thing he wanted to hear was that he had allowed an off world disease to spread off base. The SGC walked a fine line were that was concerned. Teams who returned from off world got thorough medical exams, but in reality, did the medical staff even know what to look for? Or how to guard against what was unknown? And they couldn't keep the base under quarantine all the time. Staff needed to come and go, to live their lives on the outside.
"How are you feeling, sir?"
"What?" The question had startled him. "Oh - fine. I've got a little fronache, but that's an occupational hazard." He took another gulp. Sometimes a good, strong cup of coffee would banish the annoying throbbing behind his eyes.
Doctor Brightman was looking at him strangely, her eyes narrowed. He was sure if she had brought a thermometer he'd be sprouting it right now. "What? Have I turned green, doctor?"
"No. You said you've got a 'fron'-ache. 'Fron' - that's an Ancient word, isn't it?"
"So Daniel tells me. I guess they still slip in from time to time. Especially when I'm tired. I don't think it's anything to worry about, doctor."
Doctor Brightman wasn't entirely convinced. She was well aware of General O'Neill's history with Ancient knowledge, and with the fact that a tendency to throw a word or two of Ancient into his speech was the first sign of the Ancient knowledge downloaded into his brain. But that hadn't happened in quite some time. Perhaps, as he said, it was just a remnant of previous encounters with the Ancient technology. Still, her concern for the General's health was mounting. She'd read all of Janet Fraiser's notes on then Colonel Jack O'Neill. She knew better than to tip him off with too many questions. She had no intention of letting him know that she would be keeping a close eye on him. If push came to shove, she intended to pounce before he knew what'd hit him.
She rose to leave.
"Very well, sir. If there's nothing further, I should get back. I've got a ton of charts to complete. And one more impatient patient to release."
Jack stood up and followed her to the door. "Thanks, Doc. Keep me posted if you find anything else. Maybe we should bring those folks in that have stayed at home. One night in your infirmary and they'll be back on duty!"
"I wish I could say that we discovered a miracle overnight cure for the flu," she responded, "but this has us all baffled."
After she'd gone, Jack wandered over to the window. One of the few small perks of his job was the view from this window, looking out onto the Stargate. He still thought it was perhaps one of the most amazing things he'd ever seen. When it stood silent, as it did right now, it spoke of a majestic strength unmatched by anything man could create. The undulating currents of an active wormhole only added more depth and beauty. They cast wavelike shadows on the normally drab dark grey walls within the depths of the mountain.. The beautifully detailed glyphs arranged around the ring gave it an artistic flare and mystery. It gave off an aura of power that was almost palatable. Still, gazing on it was not nearly as wonderful as stepping through it. His little trip to Maybourne's planet had driven home to him how much he missed going offworld. What he would give to go back about three or four years. But the military could really stick it to you. When they offered you a promotion, they expected you to take it. He could have refused, but chances were good that he would have been quickly ushered into retirement if he had. The military figured that a man who wasn't interested in advancement didn't have the leadership qualities needed. At least by accepting promotion, he had been able to keep the Stargate program going in the right direction, despite Kinsey and the Russians and any number of other political buttinskies. But oh, how he missed going offworld.
"Jack, are you in there?"
Daniel. Jack sighed and walked back into the office. Daniel would beg to go back and Jack would still have to tell him no. It didn't matter that Daniel was all better now, the SGC and the whole planet was full of flu bugs and he wasn't about to let any of them get off world. They took a risk with that anytime they let teams go through the gate. But he didn't intend to be reckless about it. Daniel's pillars weren't going anywhere. They would wait until it was a little safer to send teams out.
Before he had a chance to explain all this to Daniel, he heard the unmistakable kawoosh of an engaging wormhole. If someone wanted to come visiting, he'd have to try and discourage it. He raced down the stairs to the control room, Daniel following close behind.
"Sergeant, what's up? Who's calling us?"
"No one, sir." The young sergeant sitting in for Walter was frantically typing. "It's not incoming, sir. It's outgoing. But we're not dialing. I don't know who's controlling the Stargate, sir, but it's not us."
"Well, where is dialing *to*?"
"I'm not really sure about that, either, sir. The address isn't listed in our database. And sir - it includes an eighth chevron. It's not even in our galaxy, sir."
Jack sat down, another wave of dizziness washing over him like a tidal wave. "See if you can...shut it down." he managed to whisper. He was so tired. Maybe if he just put his head down for a second...
It is sweet to let the mind unbend on occasion. ~Horace
He was in the infirmary. He could tell. The incessant beeping, the smell, the whispered conversations - they all added up to one thing. The thing he couldn't quite figure out was why. The last thing he remembered was running down the stairs to see who was dialing in on the Stargate. Hopefully, they hadn't let in any hostiles who decided to take potshots at him. As far as he could tell, nothing hurt badly enough for him to have been shot. But then, painkillers these days were wonderful things.
"Jack, are you awake?"
Daniel. Daniel was sitting beside the bed. There was something he had to talk to Daniel about. Something important. He opened his eyes and blinked. They felt like someone had kicked sand into his face.
"Indeeo dictio, Daniel. You know I can't concedo for you to go offworld until this flu season is over."
"Oh, boy. Jack, you're doing it again. You're speaking in Ancient. Doctor Brightman mentioned that you told her you had a 'fron'-ache. And I'm sure I heard you use the word 'dormata' yesterday morning when I was in the infirmary. Jack, you may be having a relapse."
Jack forced himself awake. Daniel wasn't making any sense. He hadn't been near one of those Ancient head grabbing machines. He couldn't be infected with the Ancient knowledge again.
Daniel leaned forward in his chair. He was concerned, that much Jack could read from his face.
"Jack, there's more to it. You've been unconscious for twenty-four hours. You passed out in the control room yesterday when an outgoing wormhole was triggered. We still haven't figured out how that happened. But when you passed out, the wormhole disengaged immediately. Sam is back from Area 51. She wasn't able to find any mechanical or systems cause for the anomaly. She was the one who reminded us all that the Stargate is an Ancient device. She believes that you may have somehow triggered the wormhole using the Ancient gene."
Daniel's didactic mode was taking over. He stood up and began to pace, speaking in the quick, clipped cadence that meant he was thinking double-time. Those speeches always amazed Jack. But they could be so hard to follow. And right now his brain was fried. He wasn't sure he could understand a simple 'Hello, how are you?', much less one of Daniel's diatribes.
"It makes sense, Jack. You're able to control the Ancient ship with your mind. You can control the chair in Antarctica and the weapons. It only makes sense that you would be able to control other devices, including the Stargate. The only question is, why is it happening now, and why are you doing it? You don't seem to be aware that you're doing it, so how can you control it? I don't think we can afford to have you dialing up gate addresses indiscriminately."
Daniel stopped pacing and turned to face Jack. He may have been waiting for a response. But Jack wasn't able to give him one. He didn't remember trying to open a wormhole. All he remembered was wishing that he could go offworld more often. And if wishes were horses, as his grandma used to say...
"Daniel, wait a minute. How long did you say I've been here?" Jack sat up and swung his legs off the bed, realizing at the last minute that he needed to keep the sheet for cover.
"You passed out in the control room yesterday morning, just before noon. You've been out ever since. Doctor Brightman had to remind Teal'c several times that, with all the flu patients gone, the nurses were perfectly capable of attending to your personal hygiene needs. Sam returned yesterday afternoon, when we still thought the glitch in the Stargate was some sort of mechanical bug. But all the systems check out. Until she brought up the theory that you might have somehow inadvertently started the dialing sequence."
Jack gripped the sides of the bed. If Sam was right, this Ancient gene was really turning into a big pain in the mikta. The Stargate wasn't the only piece of Ancient technology on base. There were any number of weapons and other gadgets, many of which they hadn't yet figured out the workings of. If he was setting them off unknowingly, that couldn't be good. He would have to distance himself from the base. There was no guarantee that distance would prevent him from controlling the devices, but it was the only thing he could think of at the moment.
"Get my clothes for me, Daniel. I'm going home. I can't stay here if I'm going to be setting off Stargates and ships and who knows what else."
Daniel tried to talk Jack out of leaving, but his efforts were half-hearted. Part of him believed the answer would be found sooner if Jack stayed on base, where they could all work and brainstorm together to find a solution. Another part knew that the dangers of Jack setting off something were too great. He insisted, however, that Jack not drive himself home. In the end, it was agreed that Teal'c would take the general home. Teal'c didn't get much opportunity to drive since he had moved back on base, and he enjoyed the chance to use his big SUV, even as he regretted what made it necessary.
Jack settled in at home, trying to wait patiently while Sam, Daniel, Teal'c and others at the SGC worked on the problem. Sam contacted both the Asgard and the Tok'ra for their assistance. So far, they had been unable to help. Even the Asgard did not know enough about the Ancients to know how they were able to regulate their control of the devices. The Tok'ra were quick to suggest that the superior mental control and abilities of a symbiote might take care of the problem. No one bothered to mention that possibility to Jack.
After several days, it became apparent that Jack could not continue hiding out. He needed to resume command of the SGC. Big things were brewing with the Russians that he needed to handle. He arranged for as many items as possible to be removed from the SGC storage rooms and transferred out to Area 51. He kept the blast doors to the gateroom closed at all times, in the hopes that the thick steel would somehow block his thought waves - or whatever it was that he emanated that controlled Ancient technology. He considered having power to the gate shut down while he was on base, but that might prevent their off world allies from contacting them, and he could not authorize such an action.
When he met Joe Spencer, Jack realized that he had been unknowingly controlling Ancient technology ever since he returned to the SGC so many years ago. He just hadn't realized what it was.
Several weeks later, when Daniel suggested that he purposefully use his abilities to engage the time travel device to go 3000 years back in time to Ancient Giza, Jack had been both intrigued and reluctant. And when Teal'c commented, '...you have demonstrated an exceptional ability to control ancient devices', Jack gained a new appreciation for the Jaffa's knack for understatement. In the end, he had agreed. The mission had been ultimately successful, and he had finally managed to get Carter to visit the cabin.
There had been no further incidents. At least, nothing major.
It's what you learn after you know it all that counts. ~John Wooden
Sam hesitated before knocking on the dark wood. What she was about to do was a major breach of military protocol. General O'Neill was her commanding officer. And even though they occasionally socialized together, and she had finally consented to spend a week at his cabin, she could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times she came to his house alone. But so many things had changed in her life over the past year. The fiasco of her relationship and ultimate break-up with Pete, the death of her friend, Janet and the equally great loss of her father, Jacob. And although she was proud of her new rank as Lt. Colonel and her position as head of SG-1, she felt a lingering uncertainty in her abilities and her worthiness for either title. She was badly in need of some emotional support and comfort, and her sources for either had dwindled.
This was one of those times when she needed to think of her own needs, and to heck with regulations and protocol. She knocked firmly on the door three times and waited. Within moments she was rewarded with a somewhat grumpy "Just a minute". Seconds later, the window blinds stirred, and a somewhat cheerier, if puzzled voice said, "Oh, Carter? Wait just a minute - I need to go grab a shirt."
Sam smiled, thinking of the many times she had seen the then Colonel O'Neill shirtless while on missions offworld. But the innate gentleman that he was would not allow him to receive a woman in his home without being properly dressed. It was part of the conundrum that was Jack O'Neill.
As she stood cooling her heels on his porch, Sam thought of some of the life and death situations they had been through. No matter what, they always managed to make it. And she had grown to respect the man whose impeccable honor was keeping her waiting in the cool darkness of a Colorado evening. She hoped they would both survive what she was about to do.
The door opened. "Hey, Carter, what brings you to this neck of the woods?" Jack gestured for her to step inside, and closed the door behind her.
Moments later they were seated comfortably on his couch. Sam had declined the beer he offered, opting instead for spring water. She sat on the edge of her seat, fidgeting with the paper label on the bottle. Nothing ever changed at Jack's house. There was the same photo of Charlie on the wall near the door, the same simple, comfortable furniture, the same understated decorations. She was glad that Kerry Johnson hadn't changed things in her brief sojourn. Jack's house was still...Jack.
"C'mon, Carter. Out with it. You're not in the habit of just stopping by, and it's not hard to tell you've got something on your mind, spit it out."
Sam looked at Jack, still wondering how to begin, and wondering how Jack would respond. She needed to get it over with. As much as she needed to unload in an emotional way, she opted for the formal approach. It had the advantage of familiarity.
"General, sir, it is my duty to inform you that I may be unable to continue in my present position as commander of SG-1 due to medical reasons."
Jack was stunned. He set the beer down on the coffee table and focused his full attention on Carter.
"Sam, are you trying to tell me that you're sick? What's wrong, Carter? What would keep you from command of the team?"
Sam was having a hard time holding her emotions in check. This was the first time she had mentioned this to anyone. Of course she'd had lengthy discussions with the doctors, but she hadn't even talked to her brother yet. And with Pete out of her life, and her father gone, there was no one else.
"Jack, I have lymphoma. It's the same disease Dad had before he was blended with Selmak."
Sam saw the concern in Jack's face and suddenly knew that, as much as she had come to him for comfort, she needed to comfort and reassure him.
"They've caught it early, and I'll be getting aggressive treatments. With luck, the disease will go into remission and I can continue working and live a long life yet. But I won't be able to go offworld. Chemotherapy will probably weaken my system - including my immune system. I can continue to do R & D, but my days of leading missions are over. I'm sorry, sir."
Jack shook himself mentally, realizing that he should be lending his support, not being reassured. There was one thing he knew. Carter was undoubtedly one of the strongest people he had ever met. If anyone could beat cancer, she could. But losing her leadership on SG-1 would effectively end the team that had once been such a force to reckon with.
He shifted himself closer to Carter and put an arm around her shoulder. He would give anything to make it all go away. He knew how to fight enemies with guns and zats. He didn't know how to fight this.
"I told you before that I would always be here for you, Carter. And I meant that. I don't want you to worry about SG-1 or anything other than fighting this with everything you've got."
"Thank you, sir. I want you to know, I considered a Tok'ra, a symbiote. And as much as I am grateful to Selmak for giving me those extra years with my father, I really don't want to go that route myself, assuming they would even have a symbiote to offer. It was great having Dad around when he was able to be, but the Tok'ra insisted that he remain with them. I don't want to spend the rest of my life with the Tok'ra, sir. Even if it means my life won't be as long. I care too much about my life here on Earth, and at the SGC."
Jack hugged her a little tighter. "I don't blame you Carter. It seemed to work out ok for Jacob, and I know the Tok'ra claim the blending is mutual. But it does seem that the Tok'ra has more control over the where, when and how of their lives and the host is more or less along for the ride."
Sam took the hand that was casually draped over her shoulder. Jack had held her in much the same way when her father lay dying. She had realized then just how much the SGC had come to be her family. She could almost feel the strength of that bond flowing into her. It was true that there would be big changes in her life in the future, but she knew she could depend on the team to help her get through whatever might come, even if the team as such no longer existed. She lay her head against Jack's shoulder, wondering why she had been so nervous about coming. She should have known better.
The two sat for about an hour. Sam told Jack everything the doctors had told her about the disease, and what treatments would be used, and what she could expect. When Jack failed miserably at stifling a yawn, she realized how late it was, and that she had probably dragged him out of bed.
"I'm sorry, sir, I got you out of bed and I should be going. I guess my timing needs a bit of work, huh?"
Jack was dog-tired. But he wasn't about to let Sam think that she couldn't come by anytime.
"It's not a problem, Carter. I want you to feel that you can stop by anytime - daytime, nighttime - Saturdays, too." Jack grinned at the little joke, then realized that Sam might not know the commercial jingle. It didn't matter. He hoped it had gotten the message across.
"Thank you, sir. I can't tell you how much that means to me."
Carter got up and walked toward the door, Jack following behind. When she opened the door, he grasped her hand and pulled her into a bear hug.
"We're going to beat this, Carter," he whispered into her ear, "me, Danny and Teal'c - we've all got your back, you know that?"
Sam felt the first tear begin to fall down her cheek. Jack was not normally a demonstrative guy. It touched her that he was moved to such an exceptional display.
"I know, sir. I know." She gently pulled out of his embrace, and turned to leave. Turning back, she remembered one last thing she needed to say. "I've got to go to the hospital in the morning for a battery of tests, sir. But I should be in around noon. I hope that's ok?"
"Of course, Carter. You take whatever time you need. And be careful driving home, it's late."
"I will, sir, and thanks again."
Jack watched as Sam walked down the walk out to the street where her car was parked. He stood and watched until her brake lights disappeared around the corner at the end of his street. He closed the door and crept back to bed. He felt dead on his feet.
When the student is ready, the master appears. ~Buddhist Proverb
Daniel charged into the locker room, a man on a mission, but stopped short when he encountered a very wet Teal'c coming back from the showers. Daniel was pleased to note that the Jaffa was wearing the bath sheet that Jack had given him last Christmas, wrapped firmly around his waist. It had taken some effort to convince Teal'c to use it. The Jaffa evidently did not use towels but simply allowed their bodies to air dry. But the miniscule little things the Air Force passed off as towels weren't large enough for use as a tea towel let alone dry a grown man.
"Teal'c, finally! Have you seen Jack this morning?"
Teal'c stopped in front of his locker, removed the towel and began to fold it neatly. "General O'Neill is not in the showers, nor in the gym. I have been no where else this morning except my quarters. He was not there, either."
Daniel paced in front of the bench. "I guess that means you haven't talked with him."
"I have not, Daniel Jackson." Teal'c had stopped momentarily to follow Daniel's pacing, but turned to resume dressing. "Have you inquired about O'Neill's whereabouts with Walter Harriman? He is generally quite knowledgeable in that regard."
Daniel stopped pacing and sat on the bench. "That's the first place I went, Teal'c. Walter hasn't heard from him, and he's worried. Which has me worried. I wanted to talk to him about going to Atlantis when the Dreadnought is ready. But now it's almost nine-thirty and no one has seen or heard from him."
Teal'c finished buttoning his shirt and turned to face Daniel. "I believe you may be - - overreacting. O'Neill may simply be encountering difficulties with traffic. Perhaps you should attempt to call his cell phone."
"Tried that. Left a voice message."
"Perhaps O'Neill is taking leave."
"Nope. Walter would know. Even if Jack decided to take a mental health day, he would have called in. Face it, Teal'c, this just isn't like him."
"Perhaps you are correct, Daniel Jackson."
"Teal'c, I think we should go to his house, see if he's alright. If we don't find him there, we can travel the most logical routes back to the mountain, see if maybe he's been in an accident." Daniel stood. He had a plan now and was eager to put it into action. "Better yet, you take your truck and I'll take my car. We'll travel by different routes and meet at his house. That way we can cover more ground."
"Very well. I shall inform Walter Harriman of our intentions. In the event O'Neill arrives, he can inform us so that we may discontinue the search."
Daniel sprinted toward the door. "Ok, Teal'c. I'll take route 115 - you go through Broadmoor. Take your cell phone. If either of us finds anything, we call the other one right away. Otherwise, we meet at Jack's house. I've got the key, so if you get there first - break in if you have to."
"I do not think that is wise - " Teal'c shouted down the hall, but Daniel had already run around the corner, out of sight.
Twenty minutes later, Daniel stood in front of Jack's house, working the key into the lock. It wasn't cooperating. And his impatience, fueled by concern, had not helped. Jack's truck sat in the drive, and Daniel could see the motorcycle parked beside the house. Unless Jack had decided to walk the several miles to the base, he should still be inside. Daniel knocked several times, banging on the door until it shuddered. He had also shouted, but nothing in or around the house had stirred. After a few more futile attempts, the key slid in and turned, and Daniel shoved the door open.
As he was about to step inside, he heard Teal'c's truck rumble to a stop and the end of the drive. He paused long enough to make eye contact, and then walked in, leaving the door open.
"Jack! Jack! Are you home?"
Daniel stepped into the living room. He noticed an empty beer bottle, along with a half-empty bottle of spring water sitting on the coffee table. A discarded magazine lay across the arm of one chair. The sofa cushions were a bit rumpled, but the room was otherwise neat and undisturbed. Turning, he met Teal'c coming in the door and led the way to the other side of the house, to Jack's bedroom.
Daniel approached the half closed door and peeked into the room. Sprawled face down across the bed was a soundly sleeping Jack O'Neill, shirtless, but still wearing sweatpants. Daniel pushed the door open and entered. Suddenly aware that he might be about to interrupt something, he surveyed the rest of the bed, to make sure that Jack was alone.
Teal'c walked up behind Daniel and stood with his hands clasped behind his back. "Do you believe we should awaken him, Daniel Jackson?"
"You already have!" came a rumbling voice from deep within a pillow.
Jack turned his face up and blinked one eye open. "What's the big emergency? And have either of you heard of this nifty invention called the telephone?"
Daniel stepped closer to the bed. "Walter's been calling you all morning, Jack. You haven't answered your phone or your pager. We figured something must have happened to you."
"I was sleeping, Daniel. It's what I do until the alarm goes off in the morning. And sometimes for a few minutes afterward. What was so important that it couldn't wait until then?"
Teal'c approached the bedside table and peered at the brightly illuminated numbers on the clock radio. "Perhaps this device is not working properly, O'Neill. You should have awakened some hours ago. It is now well over two hours past the time at which you normally arrive at the SGC."
"Yeah, Jack. You really should get up now. I don't think Walter wants to have to report you as AWOL."
"Daniel," mumbled Jack, "I've been trying to get up ever since you broke into my house. I can't seem to move anything but my head."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, Daniel, I can't move my legs or my arms. I can barely move my head. I feel like three elephants are sitting on my butt, holding me down."
Daniel picked up the phone and dialed 9-1-1.
"Daniel, what are you doing?" asked Jack.
"I'm calling 9-1-1. What do you think I'm doing?"
"Daniel. Hang up the phone. Trust me on this, we don't want the Colorado Springs paramedics dealing with this."
Totally puzzled, Daniel turned slowly, lowering the phone from his ear. "What are you talking about? What exactly is - 'this'?"
Jack sighed, "I think I have a nasty case of Post-Ancient Syndrome. I don't suppose anybody reported any unscheduled gate activations last night?"
Daniel pressed the off button on the phone and set it back down. "Nooooo. Not that I know of, Jack. What makes you think they would have?"
"I've felt this way before, Daniel. Not this bad, but that time I spun the gate with my head, and then conked out in the control room, I felt a lot like this when I woke up. It only lasted a few seconds that time, so I didn't bother mentioning it to anyone. Kinda hard to keep it quiet this time."
Jack shifted his head on the pillow, trying to scratch the itch on his nose against the linen. This was not the best time to have soft, 300 thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets..
"I just really wonder what I've done, though. I assume the base would be on alert if there were any nasty Ancient weapons set off."
"Yeah, I guess we would." Daniel's mind was in overdrive as he tried to decide what he should do.
Teal'c approached the bed, reached a hand down and deftly scratched the bridge of Jack's nose. Jack's eyes nearly crossed in his effort to focus on the fingers that were bringing such blissful relief.
"Thanks, T. I guess it's times like these when a guy really learns who his friends are."
"I have been your friend for many years, O'Neill. I would render any service which is in my power. Of this you should be well aware."
"Yeah, Teal'c. I know."
Daniel picked up the phone and dialed again. "I'm calling the SGC. You need a doctor, Jack, and if we can't take you to a civilian hospital, we'll get you to the infirmary."
Half an hour later, Doctor Carolyn Lam stood ringing the doorbell of General Jack O'Neill's house. She found it hard to believe that on her first day at the SGC she would be paying a house call on the base commander. The outgoing CMO, Doctor Brightman, had postponed her briefing with the new doc thanks to the Alpha Site. They'd requested Brightman's expertise to handle a medical crisis. Lam had managed to get an airman to drive her out to the General's home so that she could at least spend a few minutes reading his impressively thick chart. The man had certainly been through more than his fair share of injuries, some of them downright incredible. Civilian doctors had not seen anything like the types of injuries that the CMO of Stargate Command had seen. An alien orb had impaled this man on the Gateroom wall with long barbed spikes. He'd been host to a Goa'uld - although the snaky alien had been killed when a Tok'ra placed Jack into cryostasis. And by playing temporary host to another Tok'ra, he'd been cured of a fatal disease..
She had known when she accepted this job that she would be dealing with some very bizarre situations. But now she was reading that Jack O'Neill was one of a small minority of humans who possessed a gene linked to a civilization of Ancient beings. Twice he had downloaded a library of Ancient knowledge into his brain, which had ultimately overloaded his neural synaptic capacities, nearly killing him.
They didn't teach this kind of stuff in med school.
A blond haired man wearing wire rimmed glasses answered the doorbell.
"Doctor Lam, I presume?" he said, reaching out to shake her hand. "I'm Daniel Jackson. I'm the one who called you. Come on inside. Jack is considerably better. The paralysis seems to have gone and he's sitting in the living room now. But don't let him fool you. Whatever is causing this is getting progressively worse."
As he spoke, Jackson led her down a short hall to a sunny room, comfortably furnished with a sofa and chairs. Beautiful oak book cases lined the walls and displayed a number of awards, interspersed with books and framed photos.
Sitting on the sofa was General Jack O'Neill, wearing a t-shirt with the Air Force logo, and a pair of sweat pants. He looked tired and drained, as if he'd been very ill and was just beginning to recover. This was a far cry from the General O'Neill who had convinced her to come work at the SGC. This man looked old beyond his years.
She put on her best noncommittal doctor smile.
"General, it's good to see you again. I hear you've experienced some difficulties recently."
"Carolyn, don't believe everything you hear and only half of what you see. And what's more important, if that's my file you're holding there, don't believe everything you read. I'm a model patient." Jack's smirk belied his words.
"Well, we'll see." She turned to Daniel Jackson and the other man who had been standing quietly beside the coffee table. "I'd like to speak to the general in private, please."
As the two men walked out of the room, Carolyn sat down in a comfortable armchair. "So, why don't you tell me what happened. When did you first notice these symptoms, the tiredness and paralysis? Start with what you were doing last night, and what time you went to bed."
Jack relayed the story, indicating that he'd had a visitor for a short time, without mentioning any names or the subject of conversation. He admitted to finally getting to sleep at an unusually late hour, his mind preoccupied with concerns. The next thing he remembered was waking to the sound of someone unlocking his front door, while he was unable to move from the bed. After Daniel and Teal'c appeared in his bedroom, the paralysis gradually eased until he was able to sit up in bed a few minutes after Daniel called the base. Moments later, he was up and walking, although he still felt very tired.
"I see. And you've had episodes of sudden sleepiness, even passed out once in the middle of a crisis with the Stargate?"
"General O'Neill, have you ever undergone a sleep study?"
"I think I majored in sleep in college, Carolyn. But I didn't study." He gave her another classic smirk.
Carolyn laughed. General O'Neill's twisted sense of humor was well known. "I'm talking about spending a night or two in a sleep lab. A lab technician attaches electrodes to your head and body so that monitors and cameras record your quality of sleep. A sleep therapist will determine if any sort of sleep disorder affects you. I suspect what you are experiencing may be a form of narcolepsy. In addition to falling asleep suddenly and unexpectedly, some sufferers also experience sleep paralysis - periods of sudden paralysis of the legs, arms or torso that can occur just before or just after sleep. They usually last only a few moments, but are understandably disturbing."
"Sleep paralysis? What causes it?" Jack picked up the half empty bottle of water from the table. He looked at it a moment, shrugged, and took a sip.
"In many cases, it's believed to be caused by stress. Given your position, I'd say that's likely. For right now, I'd say the best thing you can do is take a few days off and do your best to relax. I see where Doctor Brightman has noted that your white blood count is subject to severe fluctuations, which may indicate that stress is affecting your immune system as well. We can schedule a full physical and a sleep study in a couple of weeks."
Carolyn rose to leave. She motioned for Jack to stay seated, but he was already standing to see her out when a sudden thought stopped him.
"Doc, wait a minute. Have you *read* my file?"
"Honestly, sir, I haven't had time to read the whole thing. I did skim through it on my way over here."
"Does it happen to mention anything about brain overloads - about me spinning the gate just by thinking about it?"
"Sir, if you prefer to believe that your problem is caused by some sort of residual effect of using the Ancient gene you possess, that is your prerogative. But I happen to believe in Occam's Razor, which tells us that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. While I don't dispute that you have unusual abilities, I believe what you're experiencing is a normal, very human condition brought on by somewhat abnormal stress levels. And the treatment is relaxation, stress management, and perhaps a brief course of medication. I'm going to prescribe 3 days leave. Take the rest of the week off, sir, and relax. Come see me on Monday."
Carolyn let herself out. She was hoping that she hadn't somehow been bamboozled into a position in the intergalactic loony bin. Maybe space madness wasn't just a science fiction fantasy.
Jack sat back down on the sofa. "Daniel! Teal'c! The coast is clear, you can come on back in here."
Daniel brought Jack a glass of orange juice while Teal'c carried a plate of sandwiches. They all sat and ate while Jack reiterated what the doctor had told him.
Daniel bit into his second sandwich and swallowed quickly. "I suppose it's feasible, Jack. And there is something to be said for the simplest explanation being the right one. But we are dealing with factors here that are unprecedented. Still, we don't have any evidence that you actually used your - - talents - - recently."
The doorbell rang. Jack moved to answer it, waving Daniel away impatiently. "I'm fine, Danny. I can answer my own doorbell."
"Sir, are you ok?"
Sam's voice came through the door before Jack could open it. He did so and gestured for her to come in.
"As I was just telling Daniel, I'm fine. We're just having some sandwiches. I'm sure Teal'c made plenty if you want to have some."
Sam looked at him quizzically, but continued into the living room and sat on the couch, momentarily forgetting why she had come to see him.
"I stopped by your office to talk to you, but Walter said you stayed home today and that Daniel and Teal'c were over here. He said Daniel called the new doctor - something about you passing out again?"
"Not exactly passed out. I slept pretty hard last night and missed the alarm this morning. When I did wake up, I couldn't move a muscle. Lasted a few minutes, but now I'm fine. Our fine new doctor seems to think I've got sleeping sickness."
"But you think this is related to the Ancient gene?"
"It seems the same - felt the same. But so far, we can't figure out what 'power' I might have exerted to knock me on my ass. You said you came by to see me. Business or...?"
Sam leaned back in the sofa and looked at each of the team in turn. She turned to Jack and asked, "Have you mentioned what we spoke about last night to Daniel or Teal'c?"
Jack looked slightly hurt, "No, of course not. I assume when you want them to know, you'll tell them."
"Thank you sir, I appreciate that." She noticed the concerned look on Daniel's face and turned to face her team. "Daniel, Teal'c. I came here last night to talk to General O'Neill about something. I had every intention of telling both of you today, but for professional reasons, I had to tell him first. The strange thing is, now I can tell you all that it was all apparently a big mistake."
Now Daniel looked totally confused. Teal'c's face was impassive - which usually meant he was keeping his features tightly controlled.
"You see guys, I came here yesterday to tell General O'Neill that I would have to resign my position as commander of SG-1. I haven't felt up to par lately and went for a checkup. The doctors diagnosed lymphoma, the same disease that Dad had. I told the general that I would be dealing with a bunch of tests and probably having chemotherapy. It would be impossible for me to continue conducting off world missions."
Daniels face was somewhere down around his knees. Teal'c looked as close to crying as she had ever seen. She needed to cut to the chase quickly.
"This morning I went back in for a bunch of tests to determine the best course of treatment, and they can't find any trace of the disease. They ran the tests several times, and doctors being doctors, they want me back in a few weeks to check again. But, as of now, it looks like it was all some colossal mistake. I'm fine, and I'll be sticking with SG-1." She turned back to Jack. "With your permission, of course, sir."
Jack was stunned by Carter's revelation. The sudden turnaround gave him mental whiplash. "Let me get this straight, Carter. Yesterday you had cancer, but today, nada? How is that possible? They goofed?"
"It looks that way, sir. Although it's really odd. It's not like they hadn't already checked and rechecked the tests. But suddenly, today, it's as if I was never sick at all."
"Wait a minute." Daniel had a look in his eyes that was usually reserved for particularly fascinating artifacts. "Jack, this all started a few months ago when half the base was sick with the flu. And all of a sudden, overnight, everyone in the infirmary is miraculously cured. And I remember you said something about going to sleep before dinner and sleeping through until morning. And even so, you were tired. And there was that one airman who was still sick when the rest of us were fine. But he'd come in to the infirmary late at night, after you left. A few hours after you visited him, he was fine, too. You nearly collapsed by his bedside."
Jack was beginning to see where Daniel was going, and he wasn't sure he liked it. Spinning Stargates was one thing, but he didn't see himself doing the laying on of hands thing.
"Jack, do you remember Ayiana, the Ancient woman you found buried in the ice in Antarctica? She was able to cure people. She cured several people, but it made her progressively weaker and she finally died because she did too much."
"Daniel," Sam interrupted, "that happened while you were ascended. Are you remembering something about that time?"
"What, you think I didn't do any catching up? I read most of the mission reports from the time I was ascended. I had to find out what you all were up to while I wasn't looking." Daniel returned to what he'd been saying. "Don't you see, Jack? You have the Ancient gene. You apparently also have some ability to heal. And it may be that you healed Sam last night. That would explain why you were affected this morning. The downside is the affect appears to be cumulative. The first time, you just slept a bit longer than usual. Then next time you nearly collapsed, and this morning you not only overslept, but the effort exerted healing Sam paralyzed you. And you don't even remember doing it. I think it's imperative that we find out how you're doing it so that you can stop."
Jack looked at Daniel as though he'd sprouted wings. In moments, the import of what he had said sank in. "I can *heal* people?"
"Yes, Jack, you can. The problem is you shouldn't. Healing is hazardous to your health."
"Well, that's a bummer."
Sam had been trying to absorb everything that Daniel had been saying. It seemed incredible. But it also seemed to be a logical explanation. It certainly made more sense than the idea that all of the dozens of tests she'd had before today had been wrong. But if it was putting Jack in danger, she had to help him stop it.
"Jack, think, think of everything you were thinking and feeling and doing last night. We have to figure out what triggers this. Then maybe you can learn to control it."
Jack sighed and tried to relive the night before. "Well, obviously, what you told me was upsetting. I was concerned. I - - I - - I - oh hell, I wanted to comfort you so I put my arm around you. I wished I could do something more, but I felt helpless. All I could do was hold you and try to somehow give you some of my strength."
Daniel interrupted, "Wait a minute - could it be that simple - just that you wanted to help her, and by thinking it, it happened? Try to remember, Jack, when you brought me to the infirmary during the flu epidemic. What did you do and feel then?"
"Well, of course I wanted to do something for you. I wanted to do something for everyone in there. After you were settled in, I spent some time checking on the other folks. I wanted to do something, but there wasn't much I *could* do, other than give them some water. But Daniel, I *want* to help anyone who gets sick. Not everyone I hear about is suddenly cured."
Daniel still felt there was a key here. "Jack, Janet's report from Antarctica indicated that she touched the people that she cured. How many of the people in the infirmary did you actually touch?"
Jack sat back for a moment and thought. "Well, just about all of them. I went from bed to bed. I remember I was so shocked that something as mundane as the flu could have so many people so sick. I'd heard of flu epidemics, but it never seemed to register that the flu could actually *kill* someone. But there were all these people - people I know - and some were in really bad shape. I couldn't believe that there was nothing that could be done for them, except to keep them comfortable and hope they would be able to fight it off themselves."
"...and you probably wanted to do something, but felt there was nothing you could do."
"So, what you're telling me, Daniel, is that I have to stop caring?" Jack stood up and went to look out the window. "Stop wanting to help? Why don't you just cut out my heart and shoot me!" He turned and looked directly at Daniel. "I think you know, Danny, I'm not going to be able to do that."
"Well, when you made the Stargate dial, you were wishing you could go off world more. I don't think you were actually touching the gate then, but that may be different. I think one of the keys here, is touching. You don't have to stop caring; you just have to be conscious of times when your emotions are overwhelming. Do what you can to keep them in control. And try to avoid touching sick people."
Jack raised one hand and tried to mimic a well known hand signal. "Live long and prosper, just call me Mr. Spock. Maybe I should try meditating until I can achieve Koh-li-nar."
Teal'c had been quietly listening to this exchange. "O'Neill, I believe I may be able to assist you. I have heard of this Koh-li-nar, but I do not believe there is a Stargate on Vulcan, so it is unlikely that you will be able to study with the masters. However, I would be willing to instruct you in the techniques of Kel'no'reem. If you practice diligently, you may gain some ability to control your emotions."
Jack stopped in his tracks. "You want me to sit around contemplating my navel, and what is *not* behind it - no thanks to Hathor - and somehow this is supposed to keep me from caring enough to actually help anyone. And this is a good thing - why?"
"Sir," Sam said, "if I have you to thank for this, well, I can never thank you enough. But if I thought for one minute that it would hurt you in any way, I'd never want you to do it. We can't go back now, what's done is done and I can only hope that any ill effects are only temporary. You can't sacrifice yourself just because you care so much. We're not asking you not to care. Just to learn to control it so that you don't go overboard and hurt yourself."
While Sam spoke, Jack wandered over to the picture beside the door. He reached a hand up and touched the glass. His voice became a choked whisper. "Why couldn't I save him? I held him. I wanted to help him so badly. More than anything I've ever wanted. Why didn't it work for him?" He turned back around and looked at his friends. "I would gladly have died if it would have helped him. And you want me to learn to control, to hold back? You want me to care - just not too much. I can't do that. I won't do that. If it kills me, then it kills me. I appreciate that you guys want to protect me - to save me from myself. But if I become *not* myself in the process, then what am I saving? Sorry, kids, no dice."
Jack stepped back into the living room. He felt as if a weight had lifted from his shoulders. He felt free. "And besides, maybe this is all hooey and all I've got is a case of sleeping sickness."
Time frame: After "It's Good to be
King" in Season Eight
Plot: In the episode 'It's Good To Be King,' Jack is forced to concentrate
on bringing his Ancient 'skills' to the forefront of his mind. What were the
affect-effects of Jack's efforts? By consciously using those powers, will
they now remain with him until he learns to force them back into his
But here's the twist: the powers of the Ancients turn against Jack. For
instance, in 'Lost City' and in 'Frozen,' we see that the Ancients have
healing powers. So, perhaps in this story, people around Jack who are
suffering from mundane/daily illnesses and aches and pains begin to feel
better. Meanwhile, Jack begins feeling worse. Maybe Jack begins having what
seem like flashbacks but they're about events in which he was never
involved. And perhaps he occasionally thinks or speaks in 'Ancient.' There
could be random power surges and technical problems at the SGC.
In other words, it needs to be a "cumulative effect," a slow build-up of
physical, psychological, and environmental 'symptoms. The problems are
subtle at first but eventually Jack is rendered virtually incapacitated.
There can be no Jack/Sam ship or UST, and there can be no alien or SuperSam
to the rescue (i.e., no miracle cure). The problem must be resolved by Jack
and/or other members of the SGC.