While Daniel Was Sleeping
by Suz suzvoy@tesco.net

Disclaimer - MGM/Gekko/Double Secret own them.

Spoilers for 'Absolute Power' and 'The Light'. Though set after the events of 'The Light', it is effectively an addition for both episodes.

Use of {} indicate memories.

Yet another story started a long time ago in a word document far, far away...


So, the start of day three. In a Goa'uld palace - whoopee.

Chuckling to himself at the rhyme - and he really needed to find some amusement - Jack sat up in the bed he'd sequestered and yawned loudly. He cast a tired eye around what would serve as his bedroom for the next two weeks or so. It had the same tacky red and gold design as the rest of the place.

Deciding that décor really wasn't that big an issue he threw the covers aside and reached for the clothes lying across the chair next to his bed. Once he changed into his BDU's and freshened up in the en suite bathroom - this place had *everything* - he headed out into the rest of the palace.

The others were close by. Carter's room was to the right of his - a quick check confirmed that she had already risen - and Daniel's was to the left. As expected, the archaeologist was still soundly asleep. Since going through a far more serious case of withdrawal than the rest of them, Daniel had been doing almost nothing but sleeping. But, he was getting better. Carter was keeping close tabs on him and sent twice-daily reports to Fraiser.

Mumbling in his sleep, Daniel turned over and hugged his pillow.

Smiling, Jack headed towards the 'gate room'. They'd set up their base of operations there for the duration of their stay, although Hammond had made it obvious that their little detour here was a vacation more than anything else. Fat chance. Carter was already getting jumpy. If he didn't find something for her to do soon it wouldn't be pretty. Thankfully, monitoring Daniel's listlessness had given her some responsibility, but as he was getting better every day it wouldn't be long until both scientists started getting on his nerves.

Scientists. Two of 'em.

Teal'c was a lucky man.

Not that Jack would ever swap those two to have a symbiote of his own that would protect against nasty addictive stuff...but there were times when he wished his two scientists weren't quite so...scientific.

Well, at least there was Loren. He and kid seemed to get along pretty well, most probably because they'd both been through some horrible stuff. And - as it turned out - he loved ice cream. It was clearly fate.

Entering the gate room, he wasn't in the least bit surprised to discover Carter tinkering with some doohickeys and Loren leaning over her shoulder. He wasn't surprised by any of it. It took him a while to realise it, but once he had it was plainly obvious Loren had a crush on the Major. Well, it was understandable. She was brilliant, intelligent, and attractive.

No one could deny any of that.

Of course what Loren didn't have was the memory of her smile as she walked away, of grabbing her on the sand, of the absolute surprise on her face when Aldwyn had appeared on the base carrying-

There was that thing he was trying not to think about again.

"Good morning campers!"

They looked up simultaneously.

"Morning sir."

"Morning Jack," Loren had stopped asking what 'campers' meant two days ago.

He paused a few feet away from them, his hands shoving into his pockets. "Whatchya doing?"

Carter nodded towards the doohickey she was holding. "Loren's helping me improve the accuracy and efficiency of my instruments."

He nodded. "Uh hu." Glancing around the room, he frowned. "How long have you two been up?"

She shrugged, then shared a guilty look with Loren. "Oh...I couldn't sleep sir. When I saw Loren was awake I thought he might like to help me organise things."

'Organise things' was putting it mildly. Hammond had sent through supplies, and she and Loren had apparently separated the supplies into different categories and even sub-categories. He was surprised she hadn't started labelling things. "I see."

"Later we're going to start compiling-"

"No you're not," Jack interrupted.

She lifted her eyebrows. "We're not?"

"Nope. As I recall, Teal'c was smart enough to sneak a certain board game in amongst the supplies. Now where is it...?" He tried to understand their category system but got completely lost.

Carter cleared her throat and pointed to a small, unruly pile of things in the corner. "Uh...that's with your stuff, sir."


"You're the only person I know who would describe chess as a board game."

O'Neill raised an eyebrow at his subordinate, and gestured towards the chess set Loren was currently tinkering with. "Is there not a board? Is it not a game?"

It was worth it just to see her smile and roll her eyes. "Well if you want to get pedantic..."

They were sitting on the top step leading to the Stargate. He and Carter had the chessboard between them as they sat on the edge of the step, while Loren was nearer the gate, sitting with his legs crossed as he examined the chess pieces.

"Always thought that was your job Carter, but if you wanna swap roles for a while I'll stare at one my doohickeys while you force everyone to have fun."

Again with the rolling eyes. "Fine. I'll leave morale in your capable hands."

Loren paused his tinkering, then looked at her and spoke. "I don't understand."

"Understand what?" Carter asked, regrettably breaking their banter.

"How can morale be held in someone's hands?"

Ah. That kind of question came as a result of something that Jack liked to dub 'The Teal'c Syndrome' - the kind of question Teal'c would have asked a few years ago. Though they had the same common language, there were enough differences for confusion to reign - not to mention the fact that judging by those skeletons, Loren's parents had been dead for quite some time. Though he was a bright kid, there wasn't much chance for further education without anyone else around.

Carter took charge of this one. "Actually, that's what we call a metaphor. I was basically saying that - most of the time," She gave Jack a quick, deliberately evil grin "The Colonel knows how to keep the team in high spirits. In a good mood."

Jack feigned indifference to her comments, when he was actually feeling rather smug.

Until Loren responded.

Nodding, he spoke. "He makes you happy?"

Where was a hazmat mask when you needed one?

He looked at her, she looked at him, and then they both avoided looking at anyone.









"-not what she meant," Jack forced out eventually, wondering if he should see a speech therapist to deal with the stutter he'd suddenly developed.

"No!" She agreed loudly, before lowering her voice. "No, what I meant was that in *general*, he keeps the team running smoothly. He helps to make it a good working environment. I certainly wasn't suggesting that he specifically keeps any particular one person hap-"

"Or vice versa," Jack felt compelled to add.

After that they both fell silent, but continued nodding. Still not looking at each other.

Loren was frowning. "I was not talking of 'any particular one person'. I meant your team as a whole."




"Hey guys,"

"Daniel!" Thank God. Jack tried to stand up to escape, but Carter had beaten him to it. Made sense. She didn't have his knees.

"How are you feeling?" She asked, skidding to a halt next to Daniel on that damnably slippery floor.

Rubbing his eyes and not doing a bad impression of a five year old kid - all that was missing was the blanket clasped in his right hand - Daniel frowned, no doubt confused by this overabundance of concern. "Fine..." Finishing his rubbing he shoved his glasses on, and blinked several times. "Admittedly, I still feel a little sleepy, but I figured I should face the world. Such as it is." He shrugged.

"Great," Jack announced. "That's just great. Isn't that great Loren?"

"It is," Loren agreed truthfully. His feelings of guilt over the fact that he didn't initially warn them away from the room were still clear - though they were lessening with every day.

Finally pulling himself up, Jack slapped Loren on the shoulder. He still wanted to get out of there. "Well, I need some fresh air. Be back in a few minutes." Or hours.

Carter spoke as he brushed by. "Don't be out too long, or-"

"-I'll feel the urge to do something nasty again." He paused just long enough to meet her gaze. "I know."


Stupid, stupid, stupid.

He'd been doing good, he really had been. He'd managed to force those particular memories to the back of his brain - for the most part - and it was only rarely that they really came out.

Yet just like that...with one simple, innocent comment from someone who didn't know better, he'd turned into a stuttering idiot.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Resting his back against the big statue behind him he threw the clump of sand he was holding onto to the ground. Sighing, he brushed the few clinging grains from his hand.

This proved without a doubt, of course, that he hadn't been doing good at all.

Still, at least the weather was looking up. Though nowhere near summer temperatures, it had brightened up considerably since their first sojourn into the outside world. Warm enough, at least, so he didn't have to wear his jacket.

He became aware of someone else's presence long before they spoke.

Jack actually hoped for once that he was going to say something boring about studying the various statues; looking for proof of age, inscriptions, anything of interest at all, even though SG-5 had performed their own investigation before he joined them.

Jack knew better.

And he knew what question would be coming first.

"You okay?"

Yep. As predicted. "Fine."

"Really?" Definitely a rhetorical question. "Because I saw your little double act in there."

Typical: something he *should* have noticed but was too self-absorbed to pay attention to. The Daniel reaction when he'd announced his presence had been a Daniel reaction from four years ago - a cover. He'd seen and heard everything.

Not that there was much to see and hear, really. "We're thinking of going into show business." It was lame, he knew it, but there was nothing else he could say.

"I don't think you'll do very well," Folding his arms and firmly clasping his left upper arm with his right hand, Daniel mimicked Jack's position a few inches to his left.

"It was just a thought," Jack responded, very carefully studying his feet. Silence persisted, but it was only a matter of time before Daniel spoke again.

Eventually, he did. "It was Aldwyn, wasn't it? He was the reason for the bet."


"I'll take that as a yes."

"Look," Angrily pushing himself from the statue, Jack rubbed a hand through his hair. "You've never talked about this stuff before. Don't start now." Suddenly it seemed a lot colder than it had been earlier. "I gotta go."

With that he marched across the sand, away from the statue, and away from Daniel.


He knew it was childish, but he spent the rest of the day in his room. Sulking.

Not that he'd admit that was what it was. And if they did need him for something really important outside of his room...well then he'd make the necessary appearance, before retreating once more into the comfort of his disgustingly decorated bedroom.

Come tomorrow morning he'd emerge as normal, and act as if nothing had happened. A new day, a new disposition. But right now...

Right now he was going to sit in his room and think over that thing he was trying not to think about.

{With a growing sense of unease, he jogged up the stairs that led to the observation area. He knew that Hammond was already there, and that the General was looking down on Carter, Shifu and Aldwyn as they were getting prepared...and he paused.}

{On the top step, just before he would have been visible in the doorway to Hammond, he paused.}

{And heard her voice.}

{“It’s just a precaution. I had this done to me once, and I had to wear them too.”}

{She sounded...normal. Like this was an everyday occurrence.}

{Like it didn’t mean anything.}

{His own mind had been preoccupied with trying to not be preoccupied with the memories this damn situation was making him concentrate on. Yet she...though she may have looked a little fazed when she first saw the device, now it was nothing at all.}

{Okay, Jack decided as he moved into the observation area. He could do that too. He could do normal. And he would.}


What he couldn’t do was sleep.

The day had ended, as usual a bit faster than it did on Earth, and he was lying across the bed still fully dressed and staring up at the red and gold ceiling.

His mind wouldn’t stop thinking. It wasn’t a problem he usually suffered from. Heck, even he knew he wasn’t really as dumb as he pretended to be, but most of the time he’d resolved and come to terms with his thoughts on any particular subject long before he went to bed.

With few notable exceptions; one of which he’d tried and obviously failed not to think about.

Growing increasingly impatient and agitated with his inability to sleep, Jack got up and did the only thing he could:

He went for a walk.


The temperature had definitely gone down with the sun.

Shuffling through the murky halls and corridors of the palace – and he still couldn’t believe he was actually living in a palace – he’d eventually emerged from the exit into the outside world. A few degrees below comfortable even with the jacket he’d brought with him, he nonetheless remained where he was – at the top of the steps leading from the huge palace doors, staring into the night.

The reflected light from this planet’s moon lit up the sea/ocean/whatever the hell it was enough to give him a fairly decent view of the area. He couldn’t see much of the sand, but hey – sand was sand. He could make out hints of the statues a few hundred feet away on the right hand side and...

He wasn’t alone.

Someone was sitting at the bottom of the steps.

He knew who it was; Jack suspected he would have known who it was even if he hadn’t been able to see a thing, but now here was his dilemma: should he ignore her and go back to bed, or should he say something?

He suspected she already knew he was there and had said nothing, in which case that probably meant she wanted to be left alone. But, as he slowly walked down the steps towards her, he realised his body had already made up his mind for him.

Sure, a part of him thought this probably wasn’t so wise, but another part had decided that maybe this was needed. Maybe he’d been doing too much thinking and not enough acting. Maybe he’d been inspired by her example.

She didn’t seem surprised when he sat down next to her, yet she didn’t say anything either.

So. Up to him then. “Couldn’t sleep?”

“No,” She shook her head, still looking out towards the sea. “Maybe it’s an effect of the withdrawal.”

Even for her, that was some wild theory. “Daniel’s been out cold almost since the day we brought him back.” Case in point: to get outside, Jack had to pass Daniel’s room and as he’d done so he’d heard Daniel snoring to new decibel levels.

Or maybe that had been an act, just like earlier. Maybe he was watching them now.

That was creepy.

“I guess,” She murmured, folding her arms across her chest, sounding as though she didn’t know where the hell she was.

So he did it. Jack did it. He asked the question that he never, ever asked when they were alone together anymore.

“You all right?”

Her gaze finally moved, but not towards him. Instead it moved down, until it was either focused on the sand or her boots. Jack couldn’t tell.

“I’m all right.”

That was telling. “*Just* all right?”

Sighing, she closed her eyes before a vague hint of a smile appeared on her face. Opening her eyes again, she finally looked at him for the first time since he’d sat down next to her. “Why did you do it?”

“Do what?”

“The bet.”

Oh. That. He had a feeling this was going to turn into one of those heart-to-heart talks that he *sucked* at, so Jack tried to go for a vague enough answer that wouldn’t really say anything. “It just seemed like-”

“If you say it seemed like the thing to do, I’ll tell Teal’c that it was you who shaved his beard off while he was kel’no’reeming.”

Jack’s words died on his mouth, but were immediately replaced by new ones. “I’ll have you know I was doing that for facial hair lovers everywhere. That wasn’t a beard, that was a moustache that slid down his face!”

She wasn’t amused.

Sighing, he began to find his own boots fascinating. “It just seemed like...something I would have done three years ago. Something regular. Something normal. So I did it.”

She was so close; he swore he could feel her breath on his neck. “But why did you feel the need to do that?”

Good condition black boots. Standard issue, usual size, black laces, sturdy grips on the bottom. “You.”

Absolute shock. “Me?”

Green BDU pants. Standard issue, usual size, last worn yesterday. “When Aldwyn brought through the za’tarc thingy and you helped him set it up, you were...normal.”

Silence. For a while. “Is that what you really thought?”

Carter’s hand. Pale, graceful, capable. Touching his.

She pulled away, as if surprised by her own actions.

Jack kept staring at his own hand. “What are you...?”

“Did you really think I was unaffected?”


“I was doing what needed to be done; that was all. I was following your example.”

She was following *his* example? Not the other way round?

Go figure.


He wanted to ask exactly what she meant. Was it what he thought it was? Did it mean he wasn’t alone in struggling to get through this? Was he more effective in looking like he was without even knowing it?

But that was a question too far.

She didn’t say anything else; at least not about that, and he hoped to God that she wasn’t disappointed in him.

Her gaze had again returned to the sea and she shivered, resuming her earlier pose with her arms folded across her chest. “Cold.”

Jack finally looked away from his hand. She may not have worn her jacket outside, but he had. Not able to do what he really wanted to do, instead he shifted out of his jacket and placed it over her shoulders as she murmured her thanks.

The Carter of four years ago probably would have objected to this treatment, insisting that she could face the cold as well as anyone. This Carter knew when to shut up and say thank you.

He didn’t linger over the job of putting the jacket on her shoulders. He didn’t brush his fingers against her skin, touch her hair, or take in her scent. He simply put it on and moved away.



This story came as a result of the fact that I was always a bit narked (annoyed) over the fact that there was no reaction from either Sam or Jack about the za’tarc machine in ‘Absolute Power’. Sam even makes a direct reference to ‘Divide and Conquer’ for crying out loud! And nothing.

Then I got thinking. Maybe there was a reaction, but it was so subtle that I didn’t put two and two together...or maybe I’m reaching.

sign my guestbook

back to fanfic