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I was already in bed when Daniel came in. He had his blue robe on, and a journal in his hand. The scene was so absurdly normal that I wanted to pinch myself. I felt weird, like I wasn't there under the covers while my lover - hair damp, chest bare beneath the robe, glasses slipping down his nose - prepared himself for bed. I'd felt tired when I first got in, but all traces of fatigue were gone.

I wanted to run away, to get as far from Daniel as I possibly could.

I watched him as he sat, opening his journal to scribble something down. His head was ducked down, and the image flashed before my eyes of him going down on the Jaffa. I could see him there, naked with his arms tied behind his back and his skin flushed from the nishta. At any moment, he was going to be impaled on another Jaffa's huge cock. I felt my own cock harden and across the room, Asura leaned forward in anticipation of the cry that would force its way out of Daniel's muffled throat.

"Jack?" His voice brought me back to my senses. The journal was closed in his lap, and he had turned to face me. "Are you all right?"

I forced a smile. "Yeah. Why?"

"You made a sound."

"No, I didn't," I said, though I wouldn't have been surprised if I had.

"Yeah, you did." But unlike our usual bickering, Daniel was totally serious. He was frowning at me.

"So what if I did?" I wasn't in the mood for trading stupid lines like we did when I felt stubborn. Daniel looked too concerned, so I reached for his hand. He was warm, and as his fingers clasped mine, I hoped that would be the feeling I would always remember - not the limp, cold hand I'd felt before. "I'm glad you're home, Daniel."

"Me, too, though I'm surprised I've got any blood left after all the tests Janet did." Any lingering traces of concern seemed to vanish from his eyes, at least for the moment. He brought my hand up to his lips, kissing the back of it.

The gesture made me want to tear up, a funny tingling in my nose as I blinked a few times. I wasn't going to cry. No way.

Daniel didn't see. He'd let go of my hand, getting up long enough to take off his robe and dump it on the nearby chair. He had those old sweats on that clung to his hips and legs. Normally my favorite thing to do was slip them down just enough to get a handful and tease, but tonight the idea of even touching him there turned my stomach.

I closed my eyes, listening and feeling him getting in beside me. The sheets were moved, with cold air brushing up against my body before Daniel was in. He shifted around a few more times, and up against my side. He made himself comfortable, one arm across my chest with his head on the pillow next to me. I tried to stay relaxed, and I was almost about to succeed, when his hand began to brush against my side in a very suggestive way.

"Don't," I said.

He stilled for a moment, but finally he spoke. "I thought we could celebrate my coming home with..."

The topic I'd been avoiding since he'd entered the front door. "Yeah, well, not tonight, okay?"

"Are you that tired?" The troubled look was back.

"Yeah." He was giving me an easy out, so I grabbed it.

Then again, Daniel is always full of surprises. He kissed my cheek and whispered, "You don't need to do anything. I can just make myself at home..."

His hand moved down to cup my groin. I was still hard from the sick fantasy from before, and he wrapped his fingers around it and my underwear. I slapped my hand down on his before he finished the first stroke, and I had to force myself to stop from digging my fingers into his wrist.

"Don't." This time, I know my voice was soft.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"Just don't." I couldn't tell him, I didn't want to.

"Jack, you're beginning to worry me," he said. "Sam said something happened on the planet while we were both missing."

I didn't want to say anything, but I had to ask. "What did she say?"

"Just something about how a Goa'uld was experimenting on me and SG-11."

Just the basics. I could work with that. I edged Daniel's hand back toward him, but kept holding it. "Yeah, I came in on it. It wasn't pleasant."

"I don't remember anything," he said.

And that was the kindest thing about the entire experience. I only wished I could be so lucky.

**

Three days earlier

Daniel grinned as he knelt over me. I wasn't offering much resistance, but that didn't mean I wasn't watching for an opportunity to move. The second Daniel showed his weakness, I planned to take him out.

Like when he bent down to take a kiss. I let him lead, to set the pace and get exactly what he wanted. And just as he found a rhythm, I started. I coaxed his tongue, and let him open to me. Getting him just where I wanted wasn't hard, Daniel tended to lose himself in a kiss if the going was good, and I wasn't exactly a slacker.

So I watched, waiting until Daniel's eyes drifted closed and he'd zoned. I struck - withdrawing with a final peck, wrapping myself around his solid body, and twisting so I was on top and he was the one sprawled on the bed.

Just as nature intended.

He huffed. "Not fair."

"Poor Daniel," I teased, planting a kiss between his furrowed eyebrows and reaching for the lube. I waved it at him. "Consolation prize?"

"I'll give you..." And he grabbed me by the back of the neck and hauled me down for another kiss. I didn't mind. The pace was fiercer, but I stayed on top as I forced my fingers through his, pushing his hands down next to his head.

Getting the tube open one-handed wasn't easy, and enough was squirted on Daniel's stomach to coat probably a hundred erections. I swiped my hand through the mess, smeared my cock and aimed myself for Daniel's hole. The kiss got sloppy as I concentrated, and I felt Daniel's grip on my hand tighten. He moaned, the vibration tickling my mouth and just registering as I forced my way in.

He felt so hot, so tight... I had to stop, to collect myself. I planted one kiss on Daniel's lips, panting for a moment as I looked at his face. His eyes were screwed shut, his mouth open and gasping in pleasure. I waited for him to open, to relax. He was fine a moment later, smiling with his eyes still closed.

"I'm good," he said.

So I moved. I set an easy pace, feeling him respond with nudges of his hips. His free hand smoothed down my chest, the palm resting flat over my sternum. I finally grabbed it, my fingers still sticky with drying lube. I had him pinned down, picking up the pace. His arms were flexing, the biceps twitching as he tried to move against my weight.

I liked that. I sped up more, feeling him respond in time to me. The sweat broke out on our bodies, and one of his legs hooked up, the heel nudging against my ass. I didn't want to do anything about that, but the little gasps he was making as I pounded against his prostate was something I could control. I had a little kink about covering his mouth near orgasm, so I held both wrists with one hand as I put my palm over his mouth.

Daniel's no wimp. He could have broken away, but he didn't. I felt the heat of his breath on my skin, and the tip of his tongue. I began to lose control, getting whatever leverage I could to put all my energy into driving myself into Daniel's ass. He finally broke my grip, grabbing me by the shoulders and holding on tight - leaving little finger marks that faded within the hour.

And we came hard.

I saw the edge of blackness around my vision, and after the heart-stopping pleasure faded to leave a warm lethargy in my bones, I sank down onto Daniel's sticky body. I liked his stickiness. I put my face into the curve of his shoulder, breathing in his damp smell. His hands ran gently across my back, his breaths slowly returning to normal.

"That was a consolation prize?" he asked a few minutes later. I was half asleep, dreaming of his warmth. I liked dreams that were real.

"Mmm... maybe not," I said, knowing my words were muffled by his skin. I was too content to care, and I think he was, too. "Round two might be..."

He sighed. "Just one tonight, Jack. I have to be in early tomorrow, remember?"

"I'm trying to forget. You'll be off playing with rocks while I'm stuck in a meeting." I huffed, but it ended as a yawn. "How did SG-11 get to be so lucky?"

"If you call a jungle in summer heat with one hundred degree humidity a good time, then sure. SG-11 are lucky," he said.

"Antarctica this time of year sounds nice," I said. "Anything except that classroom and the workshop on 'improving your team leadership skills' with Major 'I've never been in the field' Shaw from D.C."

"Ah, but just think," Daniel said, as he pressed a kiss to the side of my head. "No trees, no big bugs, no collections of rocks for you to be bored over... and all the coffee you could want right at your finger tips."

"It's always the coffee for you." But I was too comfortable and sleepy to argue. I snuggled against him, dozing off. I had a nice dream of being a gofer on the dig, working between the Greek columns and hauling dirt at Daniel's beck and call. That would be better than the Air Force's updated personnel protocols.

Anything would be.

**

The day had gone by slowly, with Hammond deciding to add a few meetings with the senior officers in addition to Shaw's workshop. My ass felt numb, even with the breaks we could have every ninety minutes or so. Even the fresh coffee wasn't enough to keep us all awake and focused on the monotonous speaker up front.

I doodled as I kept one eye on him. He wasn't telling me anything new, and I was half-listening in dying expectation that he'd have something interesting to say. Did he have a suggestion to help deal with alien teammates who had strange vengeance issues and questionable motives? Or how to deal with technobabble in the field? That was useful. Shaw... wasn't.

But at least I was still awake. The newly promoted Colonel Ferretti dozed on my left, knuckles against his cheek. I was tempted to nudge him, and probably would at some point - if anything came up that was relevant to what we dealt with through the Stargate. Why couldn't the Pentagon adapt a program to deal with the realities of our missions? Too much effort, probably.

Lou snorted, not too loudly, as he woke up. He started, checking his mouth for drool and looking around. There were still pink marks along his cheekbone. He finally glanced my way, eyebrows raised in question. I was glad we were sitting at the back of the lecture hall, away from Shaw's notice.

"My god, isn't he done yet?" Ferretti whispered.

I angled my notepad toward him, where I'd sketched a few representations of Shaw squashed flat - by a hatak, a Stargate, and a house. Lou rolled his eyes, then straightened up as the door opened. I did the same, pulling back the paper.

It was Sergeant Davis. He glanced around the room, his gaze finally reaching me a few seconds later. He beckoned to me, and murmured an apology to Shaw. Something about Hammond's orders.

"Take notes," I said in a loud whisper to Ferretti as I made my way out. I was free!

Davis didn't say anything until we were in the hallway with the door closed behind us. "Sorry to interrupt your class, sir."

"Divine intervention, airman," I said. "What's going on?"

"General Hammond wants you to gear up and meet the rest of your team in the control room," he said, walking quickly. I had to stride to catch up.

"Why? What's gone down?" I called after him.

"The general will explain when you get there," he said, a little too nervously.

That got me on edge. "Why, what's happened?"

"SG-11 missed their scheduled check-in." He turned to face me, looking anxiously up over his wire-rimmed glasses. "They didn't respond to our hails when we called to check up on them. From what we can tell, they're not there at all."

I felt chilled. "I'll be there in five minutes." And I ran to the locker room.

**

Carter and Teal'c were waiting with Hammond by the time I got there. The wormhole was opened, and the image from the MALP played on the screens. I glanced at them, getting a feel for the planet. There were ruins leading up to the Stargate, something vaguely Greek-like - in this job, archaeology 101 is learned by osmosis - with the columns but that was it. It was the perfect place for an ambush, or worse.

"What do we know?" I asked.

"At the moment, not very much," Hammond said. "SG-11 made every report on time since they went off-world yesterday. An hour ago, they failed to make the scheduled report."

"Well, they're there to help Daniel dig, right?" I searched the screen for the sign of disturbed earth, but any excavations were beyond the MALP's view. "Maybe they're in the middle of this incredible discovery."

"We did give them that leeway," Hammond said. "When the hour went by without any word from them, we contacted them."

"And nothing." It wasn't even a rhetorical question. "A standard S&R, sir?"

"We also have a UAV standing by in case we need it, Colonel," Carter said.

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," I told her, really hoping we wouldn't even get to that stage. My hope was that Daniel and SG-1 would show up the moment we arrived, all of this a wonderful misunderstanding. "Maybe there's something in the air that interferes with radio...?"

"Then we wouldn't have had those earlier communications," she said.

"Right." So much for the simple explanation. I looked at Teal'c, and noticed his expression was stonier than usual. That wasn't good. "Teal'c? What do you think?"

"I am gravely concerned." Teal'c stepped up to the nearly empty screen, placing a finger along the lines of the path that stretched away from the ruins. The Greek bit was especially visible there, with broken pillars lining the road. Near the Stargate itself there were tall rocks that could've had writing on them, but the image was too grainy. "These are pey'aunac."

Fancy Goa'uld technology with long names were never good news. "And those are...?"

"Weapons designed to prevent travelers from arriving through the Stargate, and to keep those wishing to leave from reaching the Stargate."

"Like a booby trap?" I felt a shiver down my spine.

"In a sense, O'Neill. The pey'aunac are equipped with sensors. Once a life form approaches and comes into range, they are destroyed." Teal'c traced the broken columns, a frown beginning to twist his lips. "Much time has passed since they were placed on this world."

"Obviously. So they don't work." And yet, the fact they were present wasn't exactly good news, either. "But if they're broken, that's okay... right?"

"I am uncertain," Teal'c said, and he looked at Hammond. "Had I seen these images, General Hammond, I would not have recommended that SG-11 embark on this mission."

"Doctor Jackson didn't notice anything out of the ordinary when he viewed the footage," Hammond said, a little too defensively.

"Daniel Jackson is not aware of the existence of all Goa'uld technology."

Carter moved to the dialing computer, motioning to the coordinates. "Do you recognize this planet, Teal'c? Maybe you can tell us about what to expect?"

I held my breath as Teal'c ambled over, and let it out as he shook his head. "I regret I do not. Pey'aunac are technology outdating my time. They were used primarily to punish minor Goa'uld who had betrayed their masters. I cannot tell you the name of this Goa'uld, but as SG-11 are not replying to our hail, I have reason to suspect he did not flee once the pey'aunac ceased functioning."

"Why wouldn't the snake get outta Dodge the moment he could?" I asked.

"It might not even be a Goa'uld we're dealing with," Carter said. "Maybe it's simply the matter of an accident or -"

"Or maybe we could find out for ourselves?" By that point, I just wanted to go. I had my P-90, and I was set. "General, request permission to embark on the S&R."

Hammond nodded. "Proceed with extreme caution. I'll order SG-2 to gear up in anticipation of joining you, just in case. Report back as soon as possible."

I barely heard the last of the sentence. I went down the stairs two at a time, knowing Carter and Teal'c would be at my heels. I tried to tell myself we'd find SG-11 in perfect condition, ignoring my gut instinct that told me this wouldn't be good.

**

The camp was set at the back of the ruins, on a rise the MALP couldn't detect through the building. There were three tents, a campfire, and a latrine. SG-11 weren't there. The dig was nearby, a set of four squares - one a good foot deeper than the others - scattered around a larger building. Someone, probably Daniel, had also cleared the floor of that room. I could see a rough mosaic of circles radiating out from a central point.

A guy could get dizzy looking at that.

I had Teal'c circumnavigate around the camp, as Carter and I explored the tents. I could see signs of activity - unmade sleeping bags, a half-filled pot of coffee on the smoldering fire, a single boot flopped on its side - but nothing from the team. And around the dig site, there were little flags sticking up next to things like broken bits of pottery.

Where the hell was Daniel? A fist began to squeeze my guts, and when I looked at Carter, she looked the way I felt. This wasn't good. Where the hell were they?

A glint of silver near the psychedelic floor caught my eye. I walked over, and noticed another set of boot prints going the same way. They were roughly same size as mine, and I had the feeling they were Daniel's. I knew I was right when I spotted his digital camera, lying on its side and reflecting the sun hanging low on the horizon.

"Let's see..." I muttered, brushing off the dust from the slightly scratched surface. I wasn't a pro with these kinds of cameras, but I knew how to review the pictures. Given it was Daniel, the card was almost full. I ignored the oldest ones, all the buildings and things in such minute details I didn't see the difference between the different shots. Instead, I looked at the last ones. I didn't know what I was looking for, just that I'd recognize it.

And there it was. In the second to last shot, as Daniel took the picture of the floor and a part of the wall, there was a flash. And in the very last picture, off-centered and blurred, was a big bulky figure with a gold tattoo.

Fuck.

"Teal'c, where are you?" I said into my radio, tucking the camera into my vest pocket.

He replied a moment later. "I am returning to the camp. I have not discovered anything out of the ordinary."

"Well, I think I've bought a clue," I said, heading back out toward the tents. Carter was just leaving the third, a curious look on her face. She had a notebook in her hand, and as I approached she held it up. Someone had scrawled "JAFFA" in block letters. "Um, okay, that one's a little less subtle."

"It's Major Kerr's notebook, sir," she said.

I took it from her, flipping through the pages. The warning looked like it was written in a different hand than the rest, but it didn't really matter. Teal'c came around the corner about then. I held out the camera to him. "Take a look at the picture, will you?"

He studied the image for a long moment before handing it back to me. "I am unable to identify the mark."

"Let me see." Carter took it this time, along with the notebook. "I can't even tell what the tattoo is supposed to represent."

"Bad news," I said. "Carter, did you see Daniel's papers lying around anywhere?"

"No, sir."

I sighed, not that I'd expected to learn much from the notes about the crumbling bits of civilization. But the whim was to learn something about the uniqueness of the site. That might tip Teal'c off about who we were dealing with. "Which one was his tent?"

She pointed to the one on the left. "That one, sir."

"Okay. Teal'c and I are going to keep looking around. Major, contact General Hammond and tell him what we're dealing with. He said SG-2 could be ready to go. I want them here five minutes ago." I wasn't finished yet, but already Carter was looking at me expectantly. "And yes, we'll need that UAV."

"Yes, sir." She threw me a quick salute and rushed back down the path.

Satisfied for the moment, I headed into the tent not really sure what I expected to find. Teal'c followed me in. I found a few notes lying on his sleeping bag, and glanced through them. The writing reminded me of a stream of consciousness, most of it meaning nothing. I handed each page to Teal'c when I finished, hoping he'd catch something that went over my head.

One phrase, with two underlines and a big question mark, jumped from the page. Architecture is unique despite Grecian influences; may be Harappan? but no examples exist in modern India. That seemed promising. I held the paper to Teal'c.

"What do you think?" I asked.

"I am uncertain," Teal'c said. "I am aware of only one Goa'uld with an identity originating from that area of your world."

"Who?" I had a bad feeling. "Nirrti?"

He nodded. "But that was not Nirrti's symbol the Jaffa carried."

"Phew..." I set the paper down and glanced around the tent. Daniel's backpack lay nearby, and I could see some of the contents through the open flap. The supplies, the clean clothes... and what the hell was that noise from outside?

I bolted out of the tent, squinting as the sunshine dimmed my vision for a moment. I'd heard something definitely unnatural, like a lot of the technology we experienced. Not like a Stargate, or a ring transporter... but something alien.

But I didn't see anything different. The camp remained still, and as I turned around, searching for something - anything - to explain the noise, I began to wonder.

"Tell me it wasn't just me who heard that," I said, looking at Teal'c.

"You are not." Teal'c took a few steps forward, walking around the dig pits toward the building with the funky floor. His steps sped up until he was striding, almost jogging. "O'Neill!"

I took off after him, skidding to a halt just short of trampling over the perfectly arranged body of Major John Kerr. He lay on his back, uniform not quite in place, but he was arranged almost like a body in state. The presentation was creepy, and I did note the lack of his weapons or any other equipment. I knelt next to him, and felt for a pulse. His neck was cold, the veins still, and his skin the gray color of death. I couldn't see any reason for his condition - no blood, bullet holes, staff weapon wounds, nothing.

"Damn." So that was one member of SG-11 accounted for. I just needed four more. I reached for my radio. "Carter, request a body bag and tell Fraiser to get ready for an autopsy."

Her voice sounded scared, even over the radio. "Colonel, is it...?"

"No." At the moment, I was relieved. It wasn't Daniel, and I didn't want to imagine tripping over his pale corpse. "Major Kerr."

"I'll pass on the message, sir."

"Thanks." I got back on my feet, wincing as my knee popped. I flexed it, leaning against the wall so I wouldn't fall over. I eyed Teal'c, who was standing over Kerr's body with a neutral look on his face. "Penny for your thoughts?"

"I do not request payment." Teal'c walked around the body, and turned his intense gaze on me. "This body was transported here, O'Neill. This will not be an easy task."

I deliberately kept the body out of my line of sight. "It isn't already."

"It would be prudent -"

And he didn't finish his sentence. I lost my vision, as a flash of light blinded me. I staggered, suddenly losing my balance and jarring my knee further as I took a few awkward steps. What the hell?

I rubbed my eyes with my left hand, keeping the right on the P-90. I could see a few moments later, although a residual spot or two drifted along. I glanced around the room, and grimaced as I found another body - Lieutenant Jarvis. His condition was definitely worse than Kerr's. Although arranged the same way, Jarvis's skin was a mottled blueish red and his face had an expression that communicated clearly he hadn't died happy. I didn't want to touch the body - what killed him, some kind of alien bug? - and a moment later, I didn't have to worry.

The body disappeared with a short-lived burst of light. Since I was alone, I imagined Teal'c was having a very unpleasant surprise back in the temple... wherever that was in relation to me.

I needed to try my radio. Once I clicked it on, I tried to call my team. "Teal'c? Carter? Do you read me?"

Nothing, not even static. I decided to keep walking.

The room - decrepit-looking with crumbling plaster and a dirt floor - had one door. The good news was that it was on my end of the room, away from the area where Jarvis had lain. I quickly backed away, holding onto my gun and peering into the hall. It was narrow and dimly lit, almost like a tunnel. There were several rooms along the way, and I did a quick search of each one. A few were empty, but most were filled with broken pieces of furniture and who knew what else. But the further I got from the first room, the more the place began to revive. The rooms began to look like they were maintained, with just a hint of opulence. The effect was plain compared to the gold-plated rooms Apophis and the other Goa'uld tended to like, but it was still in the same vein.

This had the feeling of an underground bunker, but how big was it? When would I run into opposition, and would I be able to find my way back to that room once I had Daniel and the others? It didn't matter. I just would.

The door to the fourth was open, but a red curtain hung in the entrance. I pushed it aside, having a quick look. I saw more curtains, a chair, an empty fireplace, a bed... and Daniel.

I felt dizzy with relief, but I was at his side in a second. He lay on his back, and he was alive. His chest rose regularly, like a normal sleep, and he was also... naked.

What the hell?

"Daniel!" I gave him a moment to answer, glancing around the room one more time. I didn't need anyone sneaking up on me while I was engaged; what I really wanted was backup. Luckily, we were alone, but Daniel wasn't moving yet. I reached for his shoulder and shook. "Daniel, come on. Wake up!"

The room wasn't cold, but Daniel's skin was clammy beneath my hand. He didn't respond to my touch right away, and that added a new worry. What would I do if he didn't wake up? I'd have to go look for the rest of SG-11, bring them back here, collect Daniel, then leave. Or something like that.

But his eyelids fluttered just as I was about to shake him again. A soft moan escaped his throat, the kind he made on weekend mornings when we fumbled sleepily in bed. It was weird to hear it in this context, and a fist clenched my gut even more as I moved my hand to his forehead.

"Daniel," I repeated. "Come on, wake up. Please?"

That had to be the magic word, but as his eyes opened any hope I had died. There was barely any blue visible around his hugely dilated pupils. The effect made him look exotic, even vaguely alien. He fixed that intense gaze on me, and a slow smile grew on his lips.

Daniel was stoned.

I had to work with that information, hoping he'd follow my lead. I let my hand cup his face, feeling the slight rasp of whiskers against my palm. I was used to that feeling. It helped my determination in not being weirded out by his smile and that stare. "Listen to me, okay? We've got to get moving. Can you get up by yourself? And do you know where your clothes are?"

"But I'm comfortable here, Jack." He closed his eyes, and stretched his arms out.

"You can lie down when we get home," I said, keeping my tone easy. This wasn't a rational Daniel. I didn't know what to expect. "So please, for me?"

He turned his face, and nuzzled my palm with his lips. A shiver ran through my body, and I wished we were somewhere else to take up that invitation.

"Not here, Daniel," I said.

"Why not?" And he grasped the front of my jacket, hauling me down. I didn't catch myself in time, landing awkwardly with my face smushed against his. Daniel didn't seem to mind, and he immediately stuck his tongue into my mouth and did the moves that made my toes curl.

He was strong, keeping me in place for five seconds. I was stunned enough not to move, and I couldn't help appreciating the kiss. In another context, it might have been an interesting go at foreplay, but I forced myself away. "Daniel!"

"Okay," he said, his lower lip beginning to jut out petulantly. But his fingers were still wrapped in my coat. He used my body to haul himself up, and then the hands began to wander down to seek ways into my BDUs.

"What the hell?" I slapped his cheek.

His hands dropped away, and for a stunned moment he sat there. When he finally met my gaze, there was a new look on his face - something a bit more rational, I hoped. There was also a thin layer of blue appearing in his eyes. "Jack?"

"Yeah?" I didn't move, yet.

"You hit me." He rubbed his cheek.

"Sorry," but I didn't mean it. I put an arm around his shoulders, guiding him off the bed. His legs were shaky, but I hoped they would hold. I started to check him for injuries. "Are you okay?"

"Um..." He nodded, and tried to balance his weight. He ended up toppling against me, and only putting my arms around him and just holding on kept him in place. "Hi."

I sighed as I felt his grip tighten, especially as he pressed his face against my shoulder. This still wasn't Daniel. Mine was aloof, didn't do the cuddling, and wasn't one to reach out to touch someone. If we were home, this clingy Daniel might have been fun, but right now I would have gladly traded him for the level-headed man I knew.

"Hey," I said, adjusting my grip. One of my hands accidentally brushed against the top of his thighs, and my fingers encountered a tacky resistance. I froze, recognizing that feeling and hoping it wasn't what I thought it might be. That wasn't dried semen on his skin... right? "Um, Daniel?"

"I don't feel so well," he said.

"Are you hurt anywhere?" I pressed, keeping my hand in place.

He nodded.

"Where?" I continued. I wanted to be clinical and detached, but I couldn't.

He reached behind, taking my hand and letting it rest just over the crease between his ass cheeks.

I clenched my eyes shut and moved my hand to the small of his back. "Okay. Anywhere else?"

"No...." His grip on me began to lax.

"Hey, no sleeping on me." I patted his back, trying to keep him with me. "Talk to me, Daniel. Do you know where SG-11 are?"

"Um..." Daniel lifted his head, and squinted at me. His pupils were shrinking more, and I suspected he was getting a headache. "I... saw them last in the camp. When..."

"When what?" I asked when he didn't finish.

"I came here, and..." His expression hardened, even as what little color he had in his face blanched. His head went back to my shoulder. "Can we go home now?"

I couldn't help a sigh. That's exactly what I wanted to do, but I still needed to find SG-11. If I got him back to the room where I first arrived, could I just dump him there until I returned? That seemed to be the transportation point. Hell, maybe I could get him back to Teal'c. I felt comfortable with that idea, more so than dragging his drugged ass around.

"Yeah, we can go." I turned us around, waiting for Daniel's feet to pick up the pace. His steps were careful and staggered, but he wasn't falling. Hoping I could support the both of us if he tripped, I looked at the door and stopped. "What the hell?"

The curtain before the doorway wasn't a curtain anymore. The red fabric was now solid, completely blocking the exit. How did that happen?

I took a step toward it, wanting to see how screwed we actually were. We didn't get far - Daniel was sliding out of my arms as his legs gave way and his arms lost their grip. I caught him around the shoulders, easing him to the floor. Once we were down, I leaned him back against me, his head just below my chin. I put my hand up to his forehead, not sure what to expect.

His temperature felt a little more normal, but I wasn't ready to breathe easy. I tapped his cheek, hoping to rouse him. "Daniel? Come on, work with me here..."

Daniel's nose wrinkled a moment later, and he let out a soft groan. "Did I pass out?"

"Yeah." I pressed my cheek to his head as I fumbled for my canteen, managing to unscrew the lid and aim it at his lips. "I don't mind, we're not going anywhere for a minute."

Or more.

He took a few sips, bringing up a hand to help me support the canteen. It was something, and when I glanced at his face, I could see that he was beginning to look normal. Whatever it was that had drugged him, it didn't seem to last long. I just hoped it was out of his system for good.

"Better?" I asked when he pushed the water away.

He nodded, closing his eyes for a moment. "Jack?"

"Yeah?" I busied myself with putting the canteen back on my belt.

"Why am I naked?" Daniel sounded really perplexed.

"Couldn't tell you," I said. "And honestly, I don't think I want to know right now."

"Oh..." He sat there for a moment, then shook his head. "Okay, the floor's cold."

My Daniel was back. Smiling, I moved to get up, hoping my own knees wouldn't give out. "Let's blow this popsicle stand."

Together, we got to our feet, though Daniel was still wobbling. He also moved carefully, clearly not up to snuff just yet. I took off my jacket and tied it around his waist to protect his dignity. He smiled at me, then frowned at the door.

"There was a curtain..." he began, indicating the barrier with a finger.

"Yeah, I noticed." I glared at the red material, almost a perfect rectangle inserted in the wall. "Too bad Carter isn't here. She'd love to see how that worked."

"Asura," Daniel said, his voice flat.

"Huh?" That made no sense.

"That's Asura's doing..." Daniel glanced around, over our shoulders. "He's here. Watching us."

"Who?" He had to mean the Goa'uld, and that was the news I didn't want to hear.

"He's... Jack!" Daniel jerked us back, his fingers digging painfully into my shoulder. His gaze was fixed on the closed door, but when I went to look... it was open again.

And three Jaffa were barging in.

I had time to shoot at one, nicking his armor at the chest and taking him down. I didn't get to aim for the others. One Jaffa grabbed the P-90 out of my hands, and the other tore Daniel away from me. The one with my gun aimed his zat at me, and I held up my hands in defeat.

"Kneel," the Jaffa manhandling Daniel demanded, as he shoved Daniel back down to the floor.

"Oy." But I did.

Someone new walked in, wearing plain dark clothes and carrying a ribbon device on his right hand. The face was handsome, dark and well-kept with heavy brows and perfect skin. He looked very... assured, determined, and more than a little power hungry. I also immediately hated the way his gaze fell on Daniel. An amused smirk twisted his lips at the sight of my jacket around Daniel's waist, and there was something that made my blood boil.

And when the snake looked at me, I saw something new. He was sizing me up, and he looked genuinely interested.

"I welcome you to my home," he said, his voice annoyingly pleasant despite the Goa'uldy tones. "I regret not being able to greet you immediately, but I wished to watch your progression before I met you."

"Well, you know, just passing through." I tried an easy smile, but it felt tight on my lips. I wanted to scowl. "So we'll be off..."

"I hardly think so." The Goa'uld advanced on us, and I spared a quick look at Daniel. He looked spaced out, staring past Asura like he wasn't even there. I had a quick jolt of deja vu before I found myself face-to-face with our host. "Who are you?"

"You mean you don't know?" If Aris Boch was an authority on things, we were pretty famous faces in Goa'uld-town. I wondered if Asura wasn't totally up to date and if that would work to my advantage somehow. "I'm hurt."

"I hardly imagine it would matter," Asura said. "But you are Jack."

"Only to my friends," I shot back. "That's Colonel O'Neill to you."

"And I am well acquainted with your friend," he said, and reached to touch Daniel. I stiffened, staring at his hand as it caressed Daniel's cheek. I wanted to tear that hand away - and off - but suspected my Jaffa friend would stop me before I even flinched. I could endure... for a little while. But Asura continued, grating on my nerves. "A responsive specimen, this one."

Daniel pressed his cheek into the touch, his eyes beginning to drift closed.

"Yeah, nice way you've got him totally drugged up," I said.

"Curious, it is not?" Asura let his fingers tangle in Daniel's hair, and then pulled his head back. His neck was exposed, too vulnerable for comfort. "This is my favorite part of my discovery. The first two specimens died, my nishta was too potent for their weak bodies."

I bit my lip. Of course, it was nishta. The goop Hathor and Seth had used to get their snakey little ways. Remembering how Daniel - hell, every non-alien man in the SGC - had behaved definitely rang a bell with Daniel's current behavior. Just worse.

"They don't make nishta the way they used to, huh?" I asked, laying on the sarcasm, but it was wasted.

"That is precisely the point. I found an organism in the soil of this planet that complements the nishta so perfectly I simply had to investigate the potential." Asura let go of Daniel, then bent down to jerk away my jacket from Daniel's waist. Daniel didn't even move and didn't seem bothered by his renewed nudity. "And this is my first curious success."

"Well, congratu-fucking-lations," I said. "There's nothing curious about a walking vegetable."

"I agree, the formula requires refinement. I believe I know precisely how I can achieve my desired affect." Asura waved his hand at Daniel. "I would have no desire to create this reaction in any normal circumstance. For the moment, I find it merely amusing, and it keeps my Jaffa occupied."

I looked up at the henchmen. They were big, burly, dirty and despite the gold symbols on their foreheads, their stomachs had no X marring the rippled muscle. I stared at them for a long moment, ignoring the leer one sent my way. "They're not Jaffa."

"One cannot have symbiotes without a source," Asura said, "but these men are as loyal to me as any Jaffa. In fact, I believe more so. They are bound to me by choice, not custom."

"Whatever." So they were the ones responsible for Daniel's... condition. I promised myself I'd get them both before this was all over. "Still not impressed."

"No?" Asura motioned his Jaffa to get Daniel to his feet, and pointed to the bed. The Jaffa nodded, dragging his charge before him. "I may give you an example then, Jack Colonel O'Neill. Watch his docility."

That was one word for it. Daniel walked along, a little unevenly, like a lamb to the slaughter. The Jaffa grinned at me, as the tip of his friend's zat dug into my shoulder. Facing me and keeping my gaze, the Jaffa shoved Daniel forward onto the bed and pulled his hips up.

The threat couldn't have been more blatant. I swallowed hard and voiced my complaint loudly. "Okay, this isn't really necessary!"

Asura smiled. "But it is. See, what you see as obvious does not even occur to him. Do you see a struggle?" I didn't; Daniel lay there quietly. "He has no idea or even a care about what will transpire."

"No." And I became aware of Asura suddenly at my side. He had a strange scent, like a spicy warmth that invaded my senses. I felt a little nauseous. "Don't. Please."

He held up his hand, but gave no command. "Please... what?"

"Well..." I recognized a chance when presented with one. "He's not healed from your last... test." What else was I supposed to call it, playing along with his words? "You tore him the last time you fucked him, for crying out loud!"

"Then it will be painful," Asura said, and gestured to the Jaffa. "Continue."

"Don't!" I ignored the zat, not caring about myself - I had to stop this stupidity. I lunged forward, determined to grab Asura, the Jaffa, or even Daniel. Anything to stop the inevitable.

And found myself falling forward as my ankle stayed in place. Something had it connected to the floor, but I didn't know what just yet. My knee protested, my hands stopped my face from meeting the floor. I looked up to see the Jaffa stroking himself with one hand as he kept the other on Daniel's ass to make sure he stayed still. I could see just the edge of Daniel's profile. He looked flushed, but totally blank.

I hoped that meant he wasn't going to feel what would happen as the Jaffa shoved himself into Daniel's ass.

It didn't. Daniel reared his head back, grunting loudly in a way that made my blood chill. His hands, which had been lying at his side uselessly, moved to grab the edge of the bed in a white-knuckled grip. But he didn't fight or protest.

He just endured, his face a grimace of pain.

But I felt it. I imagined every thrust into an already sore ass, the pain building and wanting release. My breath was ragged in my chest, making my mouth dry as I panted in sympathy. It had to hurt, Daniel had to be in agony.

And he didn't make a sound. The Jaffa did, moaning like the soundtrack to a bad porn movie, and there was the sound of the bed creaking with the regular, hard thrusts. And Daniel just lay there.

Fuck.

All I wanted was my P-90. I glanced at it, lying useless against the wall. How far was it? I tried to move, but I wasn't going anywhere. I glanced back, wondering what was restraining me. I didn't expect to see something like a shackle that had literally grown out of the floor and wrapped itself around my ankle. I stared at it, reaching back to touch it but I couldn't find a beginning or an end. It was seamless, and I was positive there was nothing on the floor except the stone just a few minutes before. The fit was tight, almost cutting off the circulation and causing a tingling to start in my toes.

I gave a pointless tug, looking at my gun again. I wanted it. I would give anything to take it and shoot them all in the head. No, they'd have to suffer first, and then I'd kill them. First Asura, and then the Jaffa. I would do it, if I had the chance.

I promised myself I would.

The other Jaffa moved to the other side of the bed, his stiff dick sticking out of his pants. I caught a whiff of his arousal as he passed, the muskiness of it making my stomach twist. I watched as he grabbed Daniel by the hair, lifting his head to shove his cock into Daniel's open mouth. His fingers cupped Daniel's head, keeping him in place as he built up to a rhythm to match the other Jaffa. They grunted with effort, grimacing as they neared their orgasms, the sweat beginning to run down their bodies.

In any other context, it might have been hot. I felt a quick stir of arousal stirring in my guts, for a moment losing myself into the experience. Daniel's ass was hot and tight, and he loved it when I angled my thrusts for his prostate with enough friction to make him come without even touching his dick. And his mouth was an experience in itself, especially when he focused on teasing me before completing going down on me...

What the fuck?

I shook my head, and glared up at Asura. He watched the rape with apt interest, like a scientist waiting to see the results of an experiment. But he must have seen me watching. He turned his head just enough to see me, looking down with a smirk. His eyes were a pale color, almost a hazel green that stood out against his darker complexion. I hadn't noticed that. When our gazes met, the green flared into the white glare of a Goa'uld.

"As you can see, there is no self preservation," Asura said, his voice a silky tone not even marred by the sound of the Goa'uld distortion. "No attempts at escape or defiance. When I saw the effects my nishta had over him, I knew I was coming close to achieving my goal."

I clenched my fists. "Yeah. Nice."

"I have learned so much from him," the Goa'uld continued, and he ran his hands down his front. I spotted the unmistakable bulge of an erect cock beneath his clothes, but the view disappeared when his clothes fell back into place. "And be assured, this has been an enjoyable experimentation."

"I can tell."

In front of us, the Jaffa behind Daniel reached completion with a final brutal slam into Daniel's ass. That had Daniel twitching at last, like a shock traveling through his body. The Jaffa at his head gripped him tighter, driving into his mouth so hard I worried about teeth being knocked out of place.

I winced in sympathy, especially as the first Jaffa pulled away and I saw blood trailing down from Daniel's ass. "Oh, for fuck's sake..."

Asura put a hand on my shoulder. I looked down at the hand - not manicured - and shrugged away. "I will repair him."

"Letting us go would be nicer," I said.

"And lose my experiment?" Asura clicked his tongue. "Hardly."

"You already have what you want," I argued. "He's a fucking vegetable. Great, it's over."

"But it is only beginning," he said, just smiling. I wanted to wipe it off his face with my fist.

"Yeah, well, fuck your beginning." I turned my attention back to Daniel, just in time to see the Jaffa pull out and come all over Daniel's face. At least he had the common sense not come in his mouth, I didn't want Daniel choking to death on his come.

Asura ignored me, instead going up to Daniel's body that was lying still again, and ran his hands down Daniel's sides. I made another aborted lunge for him, but the bond around my ankle was still there - this time it felt like it was cutting into my flesh through the boot.

After a few moments of stroking, Asura removed his hands and fished in his pocket for the healing device. He made a show of removing the ribbon device, depositing it on the bed next to Daniel and slipping the other piece of faux jewelry onto his palm. A yellow beam shone down on Daniel's twitching ass, and while I couldn't see what was happening, I hoped it meant Daniel's tears were healing.

"It is done," Asura said when he finished. I could've sworn he looked tired, but it was only a passing impression. He moved away from the bed, his two henchmen flanking him with mirroring sneers. "He will rest for a while. I will send my Jaffa to collect you when it is time for dinner."

"Oh, we're your invited guests, are we?" I asked, not impressed.

Asura smiled. "Of course."

"And if we pass?" Because I really wanted to tell him where he could stick his invitation.

"Why should you?" Asura said. "Until dinner, Jack O'Neill."

They walked out the door, grabbing my P-90 on the way, and this time the curtain - still there - changed shape before my eyes. The fabric sunk into the frame and solidified, creating the same solid barrier that had trapped us earlier.

And my ankle was free. The pressure on my joint was gone, and when I looked back, I couldn't see anything around my boot that had acted as a restraint. More than a little freaked by everything, I got to my feet and limped to the bed. The walk was slower than I wanted, since my foot was filled with pins and needles. But I finally got there and parked my butt on the bed.

"Daniel?" I put my hand on his shoulder and gently shook him.

I got a moan in response, softly from the base of his throat, but that was it. His eyes were halfway open, but were staring blankly past me toward nothing. I tried waving my hand in front of his face, but he didn't blink. As he stared, his eyelids were slowly drooping down. He was on his way to a nice nap.

"Great." I ran my hand over his hair, feeling the angle of his neck. That would hurt if he slept on it. "Come on, big guy..."

Daniel didn't offer resistance as I moved him onto his back. There was a sheet off to the side, so I got it and spread it over Daniel's body. Covered with fabric, he almost didn't look vulnerable, except for the drying crustiness over his face. I scowled at that, and ripped a piece of the sheet away and dampened it with water. I wiped away the worst of the crud, then threw the cloth across the room.

"There." I put my hand on his bare arm, hoping I could act as an anchor for him. I wondered if touch would bring him back to me sooner than doing nothing at all. "Hope that's better."

There was a tiny smile on Daniel's lips as his almost-closed eyes glanced at me. He reached for my hand, turned over on his side, and guided me to lie down behind him. I didn't mind as I put my arms around him. That kept me from falling, and more importantly... I felt a little more secure.

But it wouldn't last for long.

Somehow I managed to doze off during the time Asura left us alone. The warmth of Daniel's back and the sound of his even breathing was enough to lull me into short naps. But I woke each time with a start.

I found my erect cock rubbing very pleasantly against Daniel's ass. The friction of my clothes wasn't too appealing, but it was good enough to fuel dreams... I didn't really want to think about that. Dreams where it was me in the Jaffa's place, taking what I wanted from Daniel even as he protested and fought beneath me.

I could taste it in my mouth; desire, heavy like iron. I swallowed hard, hoping it would go away, and moved my groin from Daniel's backside. If I kept it a few inches from its usual target, maybe I'd survive the next few... hours. I hoped it would be hours. I needed to find the first opportunity to get the hell away from this planet and get Daniel to safety.

And I still needed to find SG-11.

I sighed, pressing my cheek to Daniel's shoulder and forced myself to stay awake. I had to plan... but with no information I had nothing to go on yet. I wish I knew how Asura's fancy technology worked, and if I could figure out how I could stop this nishta from taking over Daniel's brain that would be another bonus.

Then we might have a fighting chance.

Over an hour after Asura's departure, Daniel began to stir. I felt his grip tighten as he woke up, and his body became very still. I didn't move, waiting to see what he'd do. I didn't know whether to expect him to be rational or still high as a kite.

"Daniel?" I whispered.

The hold on my hand tightened.

"You okay?"

A long silence, then he shook his head.

"All right." I put my free hand on the back of his neck, gently massaging the tension. We weren't in a hurry, yet. We could lie still for a bit and hope the worst of the nishta would work its way out of his system like it did before. "Are you sick?"

"A little," he whispered.

"Anything I can do for you?" I asked, hoping this would be enough. I couldn't work miracles.

"Um..." Daniel twitched for a moment, then took the hand he held and placed it on his erect cock.

"Shit!" The skin was hot under my palm, even as I snatched my hand away. My own cock stirred again in interest. "No, Daniel, that's not a good idea."

"Have to..." he insisted. He shifted away, moving onto his back so I could see how his cock jutted up. With his legs spread, he started to stroke it with a shaking hand, his eyes squeezed shut and his mouth grimacing. It didn't look comfortable, and he groaned in frustration after jerking for a few strokes. "I can't..."

"Can't what?" I watched, not moving. The scent of his arousal was heavy in the air, the familiarity causing my guts to twist. I still had the lingering memory of Asura in my nose, and mixing it with Daniel just didn't feel right.

Daniel jerked his hips as his strokes became desperate. "I need it, Jack! Please... can't do it myself..."

I glanced at the door, which was still shut with Asura's fabric trick. We were alone for a few more minutes. What was the harm? Maybe this would be good for Daniel, and as long as I didn't do anything - but damn, I wanted to! - this couldn't be a bad thing.

"Okay," I said, trying not to sigh. I put my hand over Daniel's, bringing the frantic movements to a halt. I waited until he met my gaze, and a second later, I found myself staring into his weird eyes again, this time reddened. That sucked the fun out of everything. "But once you're done, we need to talk."

Daniel nodded his head so fast I thought it might fall off. "Please, Jack."

Hoping this wouldn't be a mistake, I wrapped my hand around his cock. The skin felt so hot, I was tempted to see if his shape was branded on my palm. I could feel his pulse - fast and intense - and the speed increased as he moaned. His skin, already rosy from arousal, darkened even further along his face and chest. I'd never seen him so ready for sex, not even when foreplay had him wound up and ready for me to work my cock into him.

But not this time.

I didn't have to work to get him off. A few strokes, and he was gone. There wasn't much by way of come, but all the tension in Daniel's body had vanished. I let go of his cock, settling it against his thigh, and reached for Daniel's face. He stirred a few moments after I started stroking the hair off his forehead.

"You awake in there?" I said, and I couldn't help the tease.

"Mmmm." He sounded blissful.

"Still got some brain cells left?" I asked.

"Possibly." His eyes opened, hooded and content. His pupils were still enormous, but he was calmer. I took that to be a good sign, especially as he moved onto his back. If I weren't stretched out in my BDUs, it might have been one of our morning pillow talks. "Thank you."

"Just lending a hand," I said, but Daniel just looked at me. It wasn't his "I'll pretend I didn't hear that" look, but the confused "I didn't quite get that" expression. I let out a sigh and put my hand on his chest. His skin felt warm, not clammy like it had been earlier. "Never mind. Daniel, what can you tell me about Asura?"

He frowned. "Well... an asura is a type of demon in the Hindu belief system."

"Sounds appropriate," I said. "What else?"

"But they could do good, too. It just depended on their mood." Daniel frowned, glancing at me. "But Asura is just one."

"Or maybe he's the last one left of a group," I suggested. "There was some intel you guys missed earlier. Looks like Asura was trapped on the planet a while back, and somehow got freed."

"I wonder what he did..."

"To get put here in the first place?" I put my hand on his upper arm, and ran my fingers over his bicep. "Nothing good."

This time, it was Daniel's turn to put his hand over mine. "Maybe you shouldn't do that."

"Right." But I kept my hand in place. "How are you doing now?"

Daniel licked his lips and made a face. "Could I have some more water?"

"Sure," I said, trying to sound casual as I got up. I found my canteen, forgotten on the floor. When I returned to Daniel, he was sitting quietly and reached for the container. As he took a few gulps, looking pretty steady, I watched him. "You seem spry."

He squinted at me. "Jack?"

"Never mind, just drink." I knew Daniel wasn't his usual self, but he wasn't as bad as he'd been earlier. A decent orgasm did the body good, apparently. I went to get my discarded jacket and brought it back to the bed, waiting until he'd finished the water before continuing. "You still don't know anything about SG-11?"

Daniel's frown and his overly dilated eyes were a disconcerting mix. "No, not since -"

"You got here," I finished, knowing I was getting snippy. "Okay. So, we've got two men who are unaccounted for, Jaffa who are human, and a Goa'uld with nifty drugs and some kind of ability to make things change shape. Sweet."

"What do you mean, change shape?" Daniel asked.

I pointed at the closed-off doorway. "You know, our not-curtain?"

"I never noticed..." he said, when I clearly remembered him making a comment about the lack of a curtain earlier. Just what the hell was the nishta doing to his memory?

But for the moment, I let that slide by. "And earlier, something grew out of the floor and grabbed hold of my ankle."

"That sounds crazy," Daniel said, rubbing his face with his hands.

"There's going to be a bruise, too," I said as I became aware of the vague ache inside my boot.

"So we can't get out of here?" Daniel asked after a moment.

"Unless we can walk through walls, no. We're not going anywhere." I kicked the leg of the bed with the foot that didn't hurt. "And they've got my gun, too."

"But we..." Daniel stiffened, and pointed behind me. "Jack?"

I whirled just in time to see the curtain reverting to its fabric self. I expected to see the Jaffa barging back in, or even Asura. Instead, an older man dressed in simple clothes came in. He held some folded fabric - a soft shade of green - in his arms and without looking perturbed, he came over and set it down on the bed.

"I am to escort you to dinner," the guy said.

"And what's this?" I asked, picking up the cloth by one corner.

"Clothing for the naked one," the servant said.

"Nice." I moved it closer to Daniel, then turned to our visitor. "So, are we the only guests for dinner?"

"There are only two place settings, yes." The servant watched as Daniel fumbled with the clothes, his hands not entirely steady. From where I stood, it looked like a long, single robe.

"And I'm sure he's got the best silverware out and ready for us," I said, stepping over to Daniel to help him get everything through the right holes. Once his head and arms were free, I edged away from the bed and closer to the servant.

"Indeed he has," the servant said, bowing slightly.

I struck him at the back of the head. He toppled down to the floor like a sack of aging potatoes.

"Come on," I said, satisfied the servant was out cold. I pulled Daniel off the bed, only to discover he had jello legs. I sighed, putting my arm around his waist and hoped he'd be able to keep up. I didn't wait for him to say anything, just willing him to stay with me as we hurried into the corridor.

The hall was empty. I debated for a moment whether to take Daniel back to the room where I first arrived, or to take him with me as I looked for SG-11. I decided on the latter. So far, he was still upright and moving under his own power. I hoped it would last. I would worry less with him at my side, instead of in a room all by himself.

"Where are we going?" he asked a moment later as I directed us to the nearest doorway.

"We've still got two soldiers unaccounted for," I said.

Daniel frowned. "Oh, SG-11?"

"Yes, SG-11." The memory thing was really beginning to get on my nerves. "Work with me here, Daniel, okay?"

I felt him stiffen. "Right."

We checked two rooms, both of them empty of anything or anyone. I was going to give us another ten minutes, maximum, before we headed back to my entry point. We were heading for the third door when Daniel pointed at a faded mark on the wall.

"I know that," he said. "It's...."

I waited for a moment. "A what?"

The hand not gripping me pointed at the symbol. "That represents Nirrti."

"What?" I stared at it, not that I expected to recognize or understand what it meant. It was only a squiggle to me, like just about every kind of alien writing I'd ever seen. "And so?"

"I have no idea, but it's interesting." Still with his arm around me, Daniel reached to open the door.

We were hit by the smell of food - cooked meat, spices - a second before we were dragged inside by the guards flanking the inside of the door. I yelped as Daniel was pulled in the opposite direction. Asura sat at a table in the center of the room, with a small ensemble of servants standing near the walls.

"I worried you were lost," Asura said.

"You know, shitty directions," I said, glancing at Daniel. He wasn't exactly fighting against his captor, but he wasn't back to his zombie self either. I felt hopeful at that. "Besides, we're not really hungry."

I chose to ignore the gurgle coming faintly from Daniel's stomach.

"Of course, but please, join me." Asura's politeness went only as far as his words. He gestured at his Jaffa to drag us to the other side of the table where two chairs were waiting before two place settings. "I am famished."

"Oh, yeah," I said as my ass hit the seat, "I can see you're just dying of hunger there."

Asura smiled, and I was suddenly restrained in the chair. The arm rests had grown out, encasing my thighs against the cushion.

"I trust you are comfortable?" the Goa'uld said, leaning forward in his seat to inspect us.

I stopped struggling, looking over at Daniel. He sat with his hands on his thighs, staring at the plate with an uneasy expression. He didn't look up at either of us, so I hoped that if he was under the nishta's influence again, it wasn't strong. I wanted to nudge him, to get his attention and make sure he was okay for the moment.

But Asura settled back in his chair, drawing my attention back to him. We stared at each other, and I held his gaze. I wasn't going to be the one who would look away first.

He finally broke the contact, turning his gaze instead to one of his servants. A kid came forward, holding one of the Goa'uld tele-ball things. Asura took it, waving his ribboned hand over its surface. The silver surface flickered, and an image of SG-11's abandoned camp appeared. Little images of Teal'c and Carter walked about, directing the search effort.

"So why'd you get stuck here?" I asked, deciding to be the one who'd ask the questions. "We know you were banished here, somehow. What did you do?"

Asura looked a little taken aback at the question, and I scored one point for myself. "My brothers and I were in opposition of Ra. For our impudence, we were trapped on this world."

"How many were you?" I pressed.

"We were three," he said, turning his attention to Daniel.

I wasn't about to let the conversation end, even though the tele-ball went dark. "I'd imagine that having two other snakes in this tiny little place would get crowded after a while. Where are your buddies now?"

"They perished years ago," he said, "doing my bidding."

"That's a shame," I shot back. "So how did they go?"

Asura's light gaze focused back on me. "The first died exploring our prison."

"Shame," I said. "Hey, this place wouldn't have happened to belong to Nirrti once upon a time?"

That threw him for a moment. "It was."

"And... did the other Goa'uld know this base was there when they dropped you three off?" I asked.

"Of course not," Asura said. "It was fortuitous for me."

"Don't you mean 'us'?" I shot back.

"No, O'Neill. Fortune was strictly mine." Asura smiled, one that didn't reach his eyes. "My last companion sacrificed himself to destroy the pey'aunac."

"For which you're eternally grateful." I let the sarcasm out full strength.

"I miss his presence," Asura said, as sincere as a snake. He gestured at his retinue. "He provided me with the means to bring my servants to my side. They came willingly."

"I'm sure they did." And who knew? Maybe they were from a starving village and the offer of food - and servitude - was an offer they couldn't refuse. I couldn't judge them on that. "So, about Nirrti. Her labs came in handy, huh?"

"You are a curious one," Asura said, looking amused.

"Oh, I'm not that curious. Nothing like Daniel, anyway," I said. "Not that you'd know. Daniel doesn't usually stare at his plate and say nothing."

"I am not surprised," he said, and considered Daniel for a few moments. Asura gestured to one of his servants, who came up behind Daniel and forced him to sit up by pulling his head back. Daniel did, his chin up too high and his body limp, but I saw his eyes. Daniel was staring straight at Asura, and their gaze met. "I see I have reached the threshold of the nishta's usefulness."

"That's really too bad," I said. "I guess that means we can get going before dessert. We're really not that hungry."

"Do not be so quick," Asura said. There was a staring match going on, and Daniel looked like he was determined to win. Asura reached for his goblet with breaking their gazes. "There are other uses for your friend here. You care for him greatly, do you not?"

"Yeah, friends tend to do that. I don't think snake heads understand that part," I said.

"Perhaps not, but am I to understand friendship among your people includes sexual behavior?" he asked.

Daniel looked away, and the servant backed off at a signal from Asura.

"Only certain kinds of friends," I began, not sure where he was going with this. "And those kinds of friends don't take kindly to the people they care about being abused. We tend to get rather... possessive about them."

"I see, although I find it interesting that you profess to care for this one, when you are as interested in the proceedings as myself," Asura said.

"Oh, I don't think so," I shot back. "Not a bit."

Asura shrugged. "Very well, if you insist. This is not a proper dinner discussion. Eat, Colonel O'Neill. You will need your strength."

As if the situation couldn't get more ominous.

I didn't have an appetite. The food looked okay, if you were looking at a diet low in everything including flavor. I didn't know what half the stuff was supposed to be, except for one meat dish that might have been mutton. I didn't touch my plate, and neither did Daniel.

I turned as best as I could in my seat, aware of the restraints digging into my thighs, and reached for him. I put my hand on his arm, feeling the beginning of a cold sweat breaking out on his skin. I made a face.

"Drink some water," I whispered to him.

He didn't turn to look at me, and didn't move to follow my instruction.

"Daniel," I said again, a little louder. "Drink some water."

From the corner of my eye, I saw Asura nod at one of his Jaffa. The guard came forward, took the pitcher from the table and forced Daniel's mouth open.

"Hey!" I yelled, but the Jaffa was out of my reach.

"You are correct, dehydration occurs easily under the nishta's influence," Asura said, watching as the Jaffa poured the water into Daniel's mouth. The Jaffa definitely lost points on his bedside manner. Most of the water overflowed past Daniel's lips, soaking the front of his tunic. I don't know how much he swallowed, but when he started to cough and jerk out of the Jaffa's grasp, Asura motioned for the Jaffa to stop.

"For crying out loud..." All I could do was watch as Daniel hunched forward, trying to get his breath back. But then a thought occurred to me. "Self preservation, huh? Looks like your nishta's worth shit right now, Ass-boy."

Asura waved his hands, and the servants rushed forward to collect the dinner plates. "You assume too much, Colonel O'Neill."

"That so?" I was distracted suddenly by Daniel leaning toward me, and I could put my hand on his back. He wasn't coughing that much by now, but as I indulged in rubbing, his breathing seemed to get a bit easier. "Daniel, you okay?"

He gave a slight nod.

"Come to me, Daniel." Asura's voice drifted across the table, a little more lyrical than it was before. "I wish to see you, my beautiful one."

My hand pressed against Daniel's back. "You don't have to do anything you don't want to do."

Daniel glanced at me, his pupils almost back to their normal size. His look said that as long as he had control over himself - whatever degree that might be - he planned to stay put. I wanted to believe him.

But Daniel's immovable force wasn't a match for a Jaffa. The one who'd almost drowned Daniel earlier stepped forward and hauled Daniel up by his upper arm. I was happy to see Daniel keep to his feet, and even more to see him pull against the grip. The last thing I expected was resistance, so when Daniel threw a solid punch at the Jaffa's jaw, I was delighted.

His fist landed true. The Jaffa staggered back, his hands clutching his jaw. I nearly cheered, heartened by what I was seeing, but my joy turned into alarm.

"Daniel, behind you!"

He didn't see the Jaffa on Asura's other side taking out his zat and firing. The shot hit him in the back. Daniel collapsed into a heap, just missing Asura's chair. I could see his body twitching from underneath the table.

The second Jaffa grabbed Daniel by the shoulder and dragged him to his knees. The table was high enough so I could only see his shoulders and head from my chair. Daniel's eyes were slit open, his face contorted from the zat's energy.

Asura leaned toward him, an intent expression on his handsome face. He ran his fingers through Daniel's hair, and as he toyed with the strands just framing his forehead, the snake turned his attention to me. There was one thing he wanted to get across, and it came across very clearly.

He owned Daniel.

And I hated him even more.

"You are fortunate to be present, Colonel O'Neill," Asura said, still holding Daniel in place and bringing him even closer. There was a soft moan coming from Daniel, just drifting in on the tense silence. Daniel's knees were probably taking a beating, and Asura finally took pity - or not - on him by shoving him back into the Jaffa's hold. "Tonight is a special event."

"Yeah, I'm sure," I said.

Missing my sarcasm, Asura gestured to a servant to come forward. This one was a young guy, barely out of his teens, who didn't bat an eye at the scene before him. Either he was used to it, or he knew better than to react badly when his master was at play.

The kid held a brown bottle, a bit smaller than a beer bottle. He handled it carefully, probably well aware that its contents weren't something he wanted to encounter. As he transferred it to Asura, the kid's hands shook briefly and his eyes widened. Asura didn't react, but I was holding my breath until the snake had it and was ready to pop the lid.

"In my experimentation, I have different grades of nishta," he said. "This one I had not planned to use, but for our dinner, I wish entertainment."

I didn't reply, my gaze fixed on the bottle.

Asura wasn't fazed by my silence. He smiled, and held the bottle up so it glistened in the light. "I wish you to observe carefully."

"Right," I drawled, but verbal resistance was useless. I'd be watching every detail. Whatever the bottle held, I needed to see everything if we were going to get out of here. I just knew, with a nauseating certainty in my gut, that our situation was about to get worse.

Daniel knew it, too. His movements were still weak, but he jerked away from the Jaffa. He got out of the hands of one, but the other Jaffa still held on tight. Daniel turned his head to the side, toward me, and I knew by the set of his mouth and the wideness of his eyes that he was trying... and about the fail.

I swallowed hard, wanting to tell him it would be okay... but all I could do was steel myself for the worse.

The first Jaffa twisted his hand in Daniel's hair, forcing him back toward Asura. The snake reached out with the bottle, and uncorked the mouth. A thin purple mist escaped, reminding me of our brief little visit to Seth's lair. The Jaffa kept their faces away, and the nishta went up Daniel's nostrils.

A second later, Daniel's resistance died. He slumped back, caught by one Jaffa, and lay still for a few moments before Asura leaned forward to slap Daniel on the cheek.

That roused him a bit, but as Daniel opened his eyes, a flush began to stain his cheeks, darker where he'd been struck. Carefully, Daniel began to kneel on his own, and his expression took on a hungry look - one I recognized from nights when Daniel wanted me without frills, without foreplay.

I settled back in my chair, feeling constrained by the restraints and uneasy at the latest change.

Asura smiled widely, pleased with the effect on Daniel. He reached for him again, running hands along Daniel's shoulders and to his chest. Daniel's nipples were a hot spot, and even from across the table I could see their hardness. Asura teased a circle around the left one, gentle as he saw Daniel's features slacken for a moment with pleasure.

But when Daniel clamped a hand to Asura's, seeking more stimulation, I saw surprise cross the Goa'uld's face.

I didn't want to react, freezing in my chair as a new hope began to squirm in my chest. If Asura wasn't expecting something from Daniel, especially that aggressive passivity - Daniel was always a pushy bottom - then maybe this would be good for us. I didn't know how, but the moment I had an advantage, I'd act.

Asura's shock lasted only a second. Before the Jaffa could rip Daniel's hand away, Asura took it and stood up. He helped Daniel up, too, and for the first I saw the two of them standing together. Daniel was a few inches taller, but under the nishta's influence he wasn't standing straight. His shoulders were slumped, his back curved, the way he stood when tired and it lost him a bit of height.

That was something Asura used to his advantage. Daniel's eyes were downcast, though his mouth was open and he was breathing a bit heavily. He was waiting for a touch, anything. The Jaffa were just a foot away, waiting for a command and to catch Daniel if they had to. Asura motioned them to back off, then took Daniel's robe by the hem and eased it up his body.

Daniel went along with it, lifting his arms obediently moving at the slightest nudge from Asura. Daniel's skin was a pale pink, getting darker toward his chest, and his cock was beginning to show definite interest in its surroundings.

Tossing the garment aside, Asura looked my way again. "You should sample this, Colonel O'Neill. I would like to offer my guest the first taste of my experiment."

And he pushed Daniel over to me after murmuring to him. I straightened up, putting my hands on the armrests to get more comfortable - how I wished I could take advantage of this - and prepared to fend Daniel off. But my hands were stuck, fused into the material.

"Daniel," I called as he approached. I was determined to be firm, and to get the message across that despite the nishta, this wasn't the time for anything resembling a kiss. "Listen to me, Daniel, I don't want you to -"

He shut me up by easing my face toward him and claiming my mouth. The last of my words were crushed by his tongue, even as I tried to force myself back. But kissing Daniel, especially at a good angle, is something I can't fight against. He coaxed me open, like he tried to do earlier, and I started to lose myself to him...

But I could feel Asura's gaze on me. I wanted to give everything to Daniel, and if I could've moved my hands and gotten out of my chair, I don't know if I could have stopped myself from taking him. Asura's eyes, though, were a distraction, a way to bring me to my senses, enough to pull away from Daniel - dry-mouthed and excited - and wonder just what the fuck was happening.

Daniel licked his lips, watching me with heavy-lidded eyes as I took a deep breath and tried to regain control. There was arousal twisting within me, but it had to be habit. A fully sexed Daniel upping the ante was a definite turn on, and I was reacting normally, as any red-blooded guy might do.

"Dammit," I whispered, eyes fixed on Daniel's lips as they curved, glistening, into a smile that reminded me a little too much of when I first found him in Asura's room.

I finally looked up, and above that smile those widely dilated pupils considered me calmly. I felt transfixed, trying to understand what Daniel was thinking as he stared. But I couldn't tell. There wasn't desire there, just a blankness and an expectation that... what? How much of Daniel was really there?

"I'm sorry," I mouthed to him.

He blinked, slowly, then moved away. I wasn't expecting that. I glanced at Asura, and saw that he was gesturing Daniel toward the side of the room. The servants were leaving, with the dishes still on the table and the food drying out in the dry air. The Jaffa ambled over, and the usual decorum I was used to - the stoic faces, the restrained behavior - was out the window. They were eager for whatever their master was going to let them do, and since they were headed for Daniel I knew very well what they were doing.

They didn't need to force Daniel. For effect, or just for kinks, one took a wrap and tied Daniel's hands behind his back. I watched, desperately wanting to do something, as the first Jaffa tapped Daniel's shoulder and he sunk to his knees. The Jaffa grinned at his partner as Daniel went down on him, methodically and willingly doing everything with his mouth and tongue that would drive me to the brink of orgasm.

I forced down a groan. This was too much. Daniel being drugged was one thing, and I knew this wasn't him consenting to any kind of activity, but I'd never seen Daniel giving head from any other angle except down at my crotch level. He was good, efficient and obviously aroused as his skin flushed a darker pink in the light.

I wanted to be there, to feel him holding me firmly as his mouth took me in all the way and then out as he licked my length then sucked firmly on the head before fisting and...

"Is he not a sight to behold?" Asura asked, his voice taking on more of a human tone as he watched the activity. I welcomed the distraction, focusing on the snake as he looked longingly at Daniel.

"Why watch when you can do it yourself?" I shot back, intending to be crude, but my mouth was too dry and the words didn't fall right. "He's right there, you just need to -"

"I cannot," Asura said, shaking his head and looking more than a little regretful. "The fruits of this particular labor are not mine to partake."

The Jaffa groaned, a gutteral noise. I didn't look over.

"What's the point of all this?" I demanded, wanting the conversation even though my tongue was nearly plastered to the roof of my mouth. "Why bother?"

"Because this will buy my freedom." He waved his hand at me, and my wrists suddenly felt cool. They were on the armrest, like nothing had been holding them down inside the actual chair. "My many toys will win me the favor of a System Lord and I will be forgiven for my past sins. I may not know everything about my fellow Goa'uld, but I do know Ra no longer exists. The Goa'uld have short memories when they are wishing to gain conquest, and that will be my advantage."

The plan sounded good, if you were using snake logic. "You're welcome."

Asura raised a brow. "Welcome?"

"Well, we had something to do about Ra," I said. "We kind of blew him out of the sky a few years ago."

And for the second time, I saw a Goa'uld look surprised. "You did not."

"Oh, we certainly did. Both Daniel and me, as a matter of fact," I said. "So you might want to think twice about doing... what you're doing."

The Jaffa's noises were louder now, and I glanced over to see him pulling out of Daniel's mouth, gasping and denying him release. But the second Jaffa was there, cock erect and ready to plunge into Daniel's body. Asura ignored my comment, intent on seeing what would happen next, because at the same moment the cock went back into Daniel's mouth - deep, from his reaction - the Jaffa impaled Daniel from behind.

Over the pleasure of the Jaffa, I heard Daniel - a low, desperate and muffled cry. His eyes widened, his hands struggled for freedom, but he couldn't move. The nishta wasn't lasting, and the added pressure and friction of his struggles would've been sweet for the cock inside his body. I palmed myself, squeezing the sudden erection and stopped just as suddenly.

What was I doing?

"I do not believe you, Colonel O'Neill," Asura said a moment later, his composure returned and looking pleased at the entertainment off in the corner. He gestured to me. "Your mouth, it seems very dry. There is wine before you, drink. You will see what other pleasures I have in store."

Earlier there'd been water, but that was gone when the pitcher was poured down Daniel's throat. Desperate to ease my discomfort, if only to yell at the Goa'uld a bit longer, I took a quick sip. The wine burned my throat, but my mouth was wet again. I looked down at the cup, a nice solid piece of pottery. I contemplated aiming it at Asura's head, or at the very least at the Jaffa who seemed intent of cramming every inch of cock into Daniel's throat.

God, why was I so turned on? I squirmed, unable to find a position that didn't rub against my cock. On the hand other, the discomfort was a good distraction, just like the disjointed conversation with Asura. But neither of us were talking, because something had changed. Daniel's back arched, his knees widened, and what I could see from his face told me everything - the Jaffa ramming into his ass had slowed and was working Daniel's prostate.

If I could, I would've gone up, shoved the Jaffa aside and gone in myself.

The Jaffa finished, both groaning out their completion with a satisfaction I envied. Their chests heaved, glistening with sweat as they pulled away from Daniel's body. He fell to the floor, knees first with his forehead against the stones. I could see his cock, still erect and just visible past his thighs. His fingers twitched behind his back.

"Daniel?" I called.

His head may have turned, but it was hard to tell. I put my hands on the covers over my thighs, wishing they would just disappear so I could get to Daniel and... do my thing. I coughed, and spared a glance at Asura. The snake sat watching me again.

"Is it uncomfortable?" he asked.

"What?" I could think of a good dozen things wrong with the situation. Daniel, my cock...

"My restraints," Asura said. "I wish them only to be secure, but not to the degree where they impede with your comfort."

I traced the extended arm rests as they curved over my thighs. They were tight, but I could feel everything below my knees... not that my attention was going that far down. My erection was throbbing insistently, past the point of distraction. "They're fine, I really appreciate the natural wood finish."

Goa'uld don't get sarcasm. Asura smiled. "And now I will share the final part of my presentation."

"You know, I think I've seen enough," I said, even though I was quite aware I was Asura's captive audience. I didn't get why he wanted my approval, unless he just wanted to wow someone who wasn't one of his minions. That was possible, if annoying.

"My last invention," Asura said, ignoring me again, "is the fruit of decades of labor."

"And that invention is... this?" I rapped my knuckles against my restraint. It sounded just like wood, too. "Neat trick."

"I am pleased with it, yes." Asura reached for a statue, a gaudy little thing made of gold or something equally tacky, and held up for me to examine from my seat. I noticed some kind of human-animal mix that would make more sense to Daniel, and then as I watched, the object's outline blurred and reformed into a goblet, just like the one in front of me. No gold, just the pottery. "This required much effort."

"I'll bet," I said, still a little in awe of Asura's trick. What else could I say? There was still some shit that surprised me, no matter what I thought I knew after SG-1's missions through the Stargate.

And Asura could tell I was impressed. He set down the goblet and leaned forward. Whatever he wanted to say, he meant it only for me. I glanced at Daniel and saw he hadn't moved. Asura's voice drew me back.

"This is not simply a manipulation of the molecular structure," he said. "This is a substance I have created, that is more than mere matter. I prefer to consider this as an artificial organism that obeys my commands implicitly."

"And you've covered the entire base with it, is that it?" That explained a lot, especially how the floor managed to grab my ankle back in the other room. That also made things trickier, and I shifted uncomfortably in my chair, feeling like the restraints were inching up my thighs toward my groin. I didn't really want to think about that at the moment. "Nice job."

Asura smiled again, pleased at my apparent praise. "The abilities of this substance are truly amazing. I call it kirna."

Daniel usually stepped in with explanations for weird words, but when I heard nothing from him, I glanced over. I wouldn't get anything from him, Daniel was still in place on the floor, but a lot quieter. I wasn't sure how much of the conversation he was processing.

"And kirna is...?" I asked, drawing out my phrase.

Pushing back his chair, Asura stood and took one last sip of his wine. After a

moment, he spoke. "Magic."

"Don't believe in it," I said.

"But you will believe in this, Jack," Asura said.

I wasn't going to let that one go by without comment, but as Asura walked across the room, I forgot about his slip. The snake came back with a brown mat, somewhere between the thickness of my welcome mat and something I might find in the gym. He dropped it on the floor near Daniel's heap, causing a puff of dust to rise into the air.

Daniel sneezed. Asura stepped back and waited for his Jaffa to haul Daniel up by the arms, and deposit him onto the mat. Daniel's face was still red from the sneeze, eyes watery and he couldn't rub his nose. Once the Jaffa were done, Asura moved in and did a bit of arranging.

He nudged Daniel's legs apart, until his knees were just wider than his shoulders. The hands were kept tied behind his back, and his face was lowered. This wasn't bad, compared to the more compromising positions Asura's Jaffa had Daniel in earlier, but I admired the view just the same. I had a certain pride in Daniel's physique, knowing I had a hand in bringing Daniel to the condition he was in now, and I never did look enough. I knew how those muscles felt under my hands when we were together, but to see them in stark relief in his current position... my cock hardened with my interest.

Asura stepped back, but not before running his hands over Daniel's shoulders. "Now the magic may begin."

I opened my mouth to give a retort, but Asura put his finger to his lips. Something was happening, the surface of the mat glistening under the light. The material shifted, then gathered closer to Daniel, covering his calves and flowing up his thighs. Daniel's head shot up, the surprised expression breaking through the nishta. His blue eyes fixed on me, wide and uncertain, as tendrils of brown climbed his body like a vine and locked him into place.

"Oh, God," Daniel gasped, a living statue.

He was beautiful.

Asura circled around him, trailing fingers over skin and restraints, before walking toward me. The snake was still smiling, but he was content and a little excited. The look made me apprehensive, but not enough to take the edge off the appreciation I had of Daniel's condition. If I could, I easily would've knelt behind him and thrust myself in.

I clenched my fists on the arm rests, and stared down at my cock straining against my pants. How hard would it be to jerk myself off, to just get it over? I couldn't, not on a mission, but the way things were going, I wouldn't be able to think.

And we'd never get out of here.

I swallowed hard, looking up when I realized Asura was just beside me. He leaned down, hands on his thighs, until we were nearly face to face. He examined my face, staring deeply into my eyes, and he could've been almost human until his eyes flared with that damned white light.

"Why do you not enjoy yourself?" he whispered, and waved a hand over my lap.

I gasped. The thing holding my thighs had moved, going to prod and caress my cock. The pressure wasn't strong, but enough to get me interested and before I could object I felt myself opening to the touch and slouching back in my seat.

"Hey, hey, hey!" I said, trying to back up again away from the kermit or whatever the hell it was. I couldn't get away from it, but then Asura had his hand touching me. His fingers circled around the back of my neck, dry and cool on my hot skin. "Hands off, asshole."

But Asura just whispered in my ear. "Allow yourself the pleasure."

Just to spite him, though I really wanted to, I tried to work my fingers between myself and the restraint. As I did, Asura drifted away and my attention was drawn back to Daniel. He writhed in his bonds, eyes drifting close as his hips jerked back and forth. He was screwing himself on something, Asura's little contraption must have flowed into him as it wrapped itself around his body.

The little dance he made was mesmerizing, twitching around as far as he could. I used to like watching him on my cock, my hands at my side as he took his pleasure on me. How could this be different? And what was the possible harm in allowing myself my usual voyeuristic kink?

At least Daniel seemed to be enjoying it.

So I slipped my cock out and squeezed myself. The kirm-whatever withdrew from my crotch, allowing me to cup myself and then I heard a noise from Daniel. I knew that sound, when I had my cock or my fingers stroking Daniel's prostate, with the firm pressure that got him off. That was the noise, and I felt a rush, tightening my hands around myself as if I were sheathed in Daniel's body. When he got going, he was tight and hot, and damn... this was good.

I felt hot, tingles going through my body. My cock hardened even more in my hand, and all the while I kept an eye on Daniel. He was further along than me, his mouth gaping open and his face flushed a deep pink. Any second, he was going to grimace and come.

The vine began climbing again, restricting his movements until he came to a halt. I faltered, uncertain about what was happening and even Daniel was jarred from his pleasure. The brown tendrils came to his shoulders, holding his arms right against his body before moving to his face.

"Jack?" Daniel called, and then was silent. The kermy stuff filled his mouth, gagging him completely, and then it overflowed to his nose.

He couldn't breathe.

"Oh, fuck!" I looked for Asura, and I couldn't find him at first. He wasn't at his chair, and he wasn't looming around me like a vulture. Instead, he stood off to the side, quietly watching with a neutral expression. "What the hell is this? You're suffocating him, let him breathe, dammit!"

Asura just stood there, patiently. "I will do no such thing."

"You're going to kill him!" I said, sparing a glance back at Daniel. He was staring at me, eyes wide and panicked. His cheeks and forehead were turning red, the rest of his skin beginning to darken as well. He looked like he was struggling, but he wasn't getting anywhere.

"Perhaps," Asura said, nodding. "This will be his final performance. Can you not see the power of the kirna?"

"Forget your fucking toys!" I said, fighting against my own restraints. If I could get out, I could get to him in time. "I don't care!"

I wasn't going anywhere, the kern-stuff holding me tightly to my chair. My thighs were bruising, and before I had the chance to put my quickly wilting cock away, the wood-colored material flowed up my lap to engulf my dick. It felt like a big warm hand had me, and I glared at Asura.

"Let us go," I ordered.

He let out an amused sigh. "Perhaps my experiment is not as successful as I thought."

"You won't have an experiment if this keeps going!" How much time had passed, a minute? Or three? I'd lost count, but time was running out. After five minutes, maybe six, the brain damage would be... and I could barely think with the unwanted pleasure coming from my cock.

If I could have cut if off, I would've.

And Daniel kept suffocating. His body was rigid, a deep flush descending from his face to his neck and chest. His eyes were open but beginning to roll back. His cock was still hard, the only thing not wrapped in brown, drooling precum on the floor. I could see him shudder, shaking from the lack of oxygen and each time he was stimulated inside.

Each shudder matched each squeeze of my cock. I took deep breaths, trying to fight the impending orgasm that was building inside me but I wasn't going to make it. I refused to look at Asura, forcing myself to watch Daniel - it had to be five minutes now? - as he came.

The orgasm was violent. Daniel's body spasmed, twisting in his bonds. His cock spurted come a few feet away from his body, and maybe it was force of habit but I came too. It wasn't satisfying, and didn't even take the edge of anything. I forced myself away from it, gasping for air as Daniel's body began to still.

And then, there was nothing. I sat in my chair, Asura stood to the side, and Daniel slumped against his bonds. No one moved, not even the Jaffa standing quietly by the door.

"Let me go," I said, my voice harsh. "Let me go to him."

Asura didn't say anything. He walked around to Daniel's body, brushing fingers through his sweaty hair and over his closed eyes. I grit my teeth, feeling my blood pressure rising and the edges of my vision darkening.

Asura had minutes to live. I was going to tear his throat out, and I didn't care if the Jaffa killed me. The snake had to pay.

And he would.

I had to take a deep breath as the Jaffa walked over, both of them staring at me. So they knew what I had planned. Big deal. I stared at Asura as he felt at Daniel's throat, nodding to himself before walking away.

"You may have him." And he left the room.

My thighs were free. Ignoring the Jaffa and the temptation to kill Asura, I hurried to Daniel's side, just taking the time to tuck my soft cock back into my BDUs. I caught him just as the kirna unraveled from his body and returned to the original mat.

I had an armful of limp Daniel.

I pulled him from the mat, lying him on his back and tilting his chin up. I could do CPR, the first aid, anything to bring him back. I had to try, in case there was a chance, and there had to be. Daniel wasn't just going to die. My Daniel hadn't just been snuffed out by a Goa'uld just because he wanted to. There was no brain damage, and Daniel was just sleeping. His body was still warm, and his chest rose with each breath. Each thrust to his chest would work, Daniel would come back to me, Asura wasn't going to win.

No way.

But hands pulled me back, away from Daniel.

"No!" I fought, swinging at them, and realizing it was the Jaffa dragging me away. I got one with a right cross but the other ducked before I could connect. He threw me at the floor, and blocked the path to Daniel with his body.

"Leave the dead alone," he said.

"Get out of my way," I said, getting to my feet.

The Jaffa I hit had his hand on his jaw. "Let the crazy hassack have it."

"True," the other one said, contemplating something. "There is nothing left for us, is there?"

"Not with a corpse."

And I lost it. I didn't know which was which, but I went at the Jaffa with full intent to main or kill. Preferably kill. Something broke, one of the Jaffa crying out in a way that just spurred me on, and then there was the zat.

I fell, just a foot from Daniel's face, and my last thought was that at least he looked peaceful...

**

"Colonel O'Neill?"

A gentle hand on my shoulder brought me back. Before I could get one eye open, I realized I was lying on the floor. There was someone looming next to me, slight and apparently wearing BDUs in the faint light. They were lucky I didn't go for their throat, but that's the zat for you. I never felt right after being shot.

"Who's there?" I asked.

I heard a relieved sigh. "It's Captain Escobar, sir. SG-11's second in command."

"Escobar?" I repeated, sitting up slowly. My head wasn't too bad except for a pounding behind the eyes. That would go away, eventually. "Just you?"

"Lieutenant Hagerman, too, sir," said a new voice. "What's going on?"

I peered into the poor light, and finally recognized the missing members of SG-11. Escobar knelt next to me, a worried expression on her face. Hagerman sat across from us, knees drawn up to his chest. They both looked okay, and they still had all their clothes. That was a bonus, right?

"A whole lot of shit," I said, bringing a hand up to my head. "What's happened to you?"

"We were ambushed by Jaffa," Escobar began, painting the picture we'd already assumed from the campsite what felt like eons ago. "They transferred us here, and took Jarvis first. He hasn't been back. After that, they look Major Kerr, and then Doctor Jackson. That must have been yesterday. We haven't heard anything since."

"And they haven't touched you?" I asked.

"Nope," Hagerman said. "We just see the one servant every now and again, bringing us some water. Well, and the two Jaffa who dumped you in here."

The news seemed good, at least so far. "How long ago was that?"

Escobar shrugged. "Maybe an hour ago. You were out cold."

"Are you the rescue party, sir?" Hagerman wondered, and I could just make out a rueful grin.

"Something like that. Got any of that water left?" I desperately wanted something to drink.

"Yes, sir." Escobar got up and made her way across the cell. It wasn't that big, but there was plenty of room for three people to be comfortable. "Did you see any sign of our missing personnel, sir?"

I didn't say anything until I had my water. My tongue wasn't sticking to my mouth anymore, but the water on my stomach made me feel nauseous. I swallowed a few times before speaking. "They're dead."

"Damn," Escobar sighed.

"And what about the Goa'uld?" Hagerman asked. "Who is he?"

The first memory of Daniel's dead body flashed before me. I squeezed my eyes shut, the nausea building and making me want to retch. I could do this, I could keep myself together and get these two people home safely before losing it. And I would, right after making sure Hammond sent a nuke to turn this hell hole into ashes.

But, first I had to puke. I rushed to the corner and splattered the water into the corner. I coughed at the end and hoped it was over. There's nothing worse than vomiting in front of junior officers, especially in a context like this. At least I felt better.

"The snake's name is Asura," I finally said, wiping my face clean. "And he's bad news. He used Jarvis, Kerr and Jackson as guinea pigs for his experiments. I saw their bodies before getting put in here."

"You okay, Colonel?" Escobar asked.

"Not really," I said.

Hagerman got up and moved away from the stench of my puke. "How did they die, exactly?"

"Not too sure, exactly." I didn't want to talk about it, but they wanted to know. I'd be the same way if they were asking about my teammates, if I wasn't falling apart at the seams. "Jarvis and Kerr probably from whatever Asura gave them. Some kind of nishta."

"And Doctor Jackson?" Escobar prompted after a few moments, her voice soft.

I looked away. "Doctor Jackson died in front of me."

"I'm sorry," she said, sounding weary. She sat down with the wall against her back. "So we're waiting until he decides it's time to experiment on us?"

"Over my dead body," Hagerman said. "Colonel, are you the only one up here?"

I nodded. "Yeah. The rest of SG-1 are at the temple. I'm not sure how I managed to get up here, actually."

"But you remember where you arrived?" he pressed.

"Yeah." I liked how he was thinking. "Overtake the guard the next time there's water?"

Hagerman nodded. "Exactly."

"Good thought," I said, crouching down and winced as my thighs throbbed from the bruises I'd inflicted on myself, and my knees popped loudly. I didn't know how long we had, but I didn't want to doze off. If I did, I wasn't sure what I'd see. Would I see Daniel, twisting in his bonds and wondering why I wasn't going to help him?

And why had I found any of that arousing in the first place? If I were still much of a Catholic, I might have considered going to confession, but to have seen what I'd experienced in a lifetime... there was no hope for my soul. I was going straight to hell.

Getting off on the torture of the person I held dearest, that was probably the least of my sins.

God, I missed him already. I covered my eyes with my hands, and tried to think of anything but Daniel. The only thing that worked was contemplating the many ways I could kill Asura. I would. Barehanded, the snapping of his neck... the Jaffa revenge thing Teal'c indulged in made sense. Hell, if he were with me, he could help.

"Sir." Escobar nudged me later, drawing me out of my thoughts. Her expression was determined as she motioned at the door. "Someone's coming."

We got ready, but what hopes I had were flagged as I realized there were two sets of footsteps approaching. I signaled Escobar and Hagerman to stand down for the moment, until I could reassess the situation when the door opened.

I didn't need more dead people on my watch.

It was the old servant who had escorted Daniel and me to Asura's feast. He looked at me with the faintest of smiles, while the Jaffa at his side - the one who'd referred to Daniel's corpse - had his staff weapon ready and pointed at my chest.

"Nice to see you," I said to him, glaring at him. I could sense the two members of SG-11 behind me, tense and ready to jump at my command. "Time for tea, is it?"

"No tea, I am afraid," said the old guy. "I am charged with seeing to your return."

"We're going home?" Escobar asked.

The servant beamed at her. "Yes."

There had to be a catch. I wasn't ready to believe anything they were telling me. "Why?"

The Jaffa sneered at me. "Our master sees no harm in releasing you."

"Yeah?" I took a step forward. "Let me see Lord Asshat so I can thank him, personally."

"Colonel?" Escobar didn't like me challenging the Jaffa. Too bad.

Instead of being provoked, the Jaffa smiled and I could see teeth of questionable quality gleaming dully in the light. "Our lord will see you as you pass."

"Great," I said. "Wouldn't want to leave without a proper goodbye."

The big goodbye. I couldn't predict what I would do. I knew I had to get these two out safely, and I couldn't do that by going whacko at Asura. But I wanted to.

The three of us were herded out by the Jaffa, and I discovered we weren't far from the room where I'd first found Daniel. If we had missed the room with the banquet, we'd be scott free by now, and with a living archaeologist at my side. As we walked, Asura approached us from the far end of the hallway.

Our gazes met, but Asura didn't stop as we walked by. Our shoulders brushed, and I stopped and grabbed the snake by the shoulder.

"You're going down," I said, using my height to loom down at him. My voice was quiet, this was just for us, even as one of the Jaffa started for me. "You're going to be sorry you ever messed with me, you scum sucking motherfucker."

The Jaffa hauled me off, but not before I had the pleasure of seeing Asura cringe.

I liked that.

A few minutes later, we were back in the ruins. I shielded my eyes against the bright light, and realized we were surrounded by five soldiers pointing their P-90s at us.

"Do not fire!" Teal'c bellowed, his voice echoing in the ruins. He strode in, quickly followed by Carter and Ferretti.

"Colonel!" Carter said, a relieved expression on her face that quickly faded when she realized there were only two other people with me, and neither of them were Daniel.

"How long was I gone?" I asked.

"Eight hours and twenty-seven minutes," Teal'c said.

And Carter asked the question I didn't want to answer. "Where's Daniel, sir?"

For the moment, I ignored her. "Okay, everyone get your gear. We're heading out now!"

Only a few people jumped into motion. Ferretti and the remainder of my team stood where they were. I left them there, going to help people pack up the gear left from SG-11's survey, and directing one of Ferretti's men to take Escobar and Hagerman directly to the SGC. Fraiser would want to see them, just in case Asura did have something in mind for them as they waited.

"Jack." Ferretti finally followed me, with Carter and Teal'c tagging behind. "What the hell happened? Where's Daniel?"

I was in his tent, gathering Daniel's gear. When I spoke, I knew I was being a prick. "He's dead. The Goa'uld got him, just like Kerr and Jarvis. If we don't get the hell out of here, we're goners, too."

Ferretti and Teal'c both nodded, leaving me to Daniel's things. Carter lingered at the door, her eyes wide and looking like she'd been punched in the gut. I ignored her, preferring the silence as I prepared for the debriefing when I faced Hammond.

"How did it happen, sir?" Carter asked a few moments later.

I glanced back at her. "I'm not talking about it, Carter. Go help with packing."

She hesitated for a moment, and then nodded. "Yes, sir."

And I was alone. I packed Daniel's notebooks, his camera, and his extra things brought for a three day long mission. I wanted to do it slowly, methodically, to build up my defenses enough for the next few hours until I could be alone again. It was a good start, because this was the way things would stay for the rest of my life.

The Stargate was open by the time I finished packing. I dragged out the contents and started collapsing the tent. Teal'c came over to help. That was fine with me. The big guy didn't talk unless I started a conversation, and he respected the fact something horrible had happened and that he'd hear about it when I was ready.

"They took the bodies over already?" I asked, focusing on the task.

"Before your return," Teal'c said. "Do you believe Daniel Jackson's body will not be returned to us?"

"I don't know." I jerked at the tent's supports, almost breaking them. "We're contacting the Tok'ra once we get back."

"For what purpose?"

"Need to tell them what happened," I said. "There's a genuine threat here. They need to know about it."

Teal'c paused for a moment and gave me a look, one eyebrow raised. "What was the name of the Goa'uld, O'Neill?"

"Asura," I said.

"I regret I do not know of his identity," Teal'c said.

"You're not missing much," I told him.

The sun gleamed off the metal bars, making me squint as I leaned down to pick up the pieces and put them away. I had my head down when Teal'c put his hand on my shoulder.

"O'Neill, did you not see that?" he asked, and there was a hopeful note in his voice.

"What?" I was tired, irritable, and just wanted to go home.

"I believe there was another - "

"It's Daniel!" Carter nearly screamed. "Colonel, Teal'c, Daniel's here!"

I dropped everything and took off for the ruins. Teal'c was next to me, outpacing me as I stumbled over debris and the uneven ground. As I ran, I prayed it wasn't a body I'd find, that it would be Daniel alive and well, wondering what he'd missed.

Daniel lay on the ground with Carter crouched next to him. I stopped, leaning against a pillar, out of breath and dreading to come closer. Daniel wasn't naked anymore. Someone had hurriedly dressed him, not bothering with details like belts, laces, or even his fly. His jacket was missing, his boots flopping open, and his hands lay limply on his stomach.

"Carter?" I was whispering.

She had her fingers pressed to his throat, and she beamed at me. "He's alive!"

I swallowed hard, the urge to hurl coming over me. I had to see for myself, the feel of Daniel's dead body against my hands still too vivid. I crept forward and put my hand over Daniel's slightly parted lips. A soft gust of warm air brushed past my palm, but that wasn't enough. I felt for his pulse, and found a slow rhythm.

"He's alive," I repeated, not believing it, and wondered why he was blurry. I leaned over him, feeling his face, and noticed drops of water on his cheeks. They hadn't been there before. What the hell?

"Sir?" Carter held out a tissue to me.

I stared at it. What did she want to do with it?

She looked extremely uncomfortable. "You're, um... you're crying, sir."

"Oh." I felt my face heat up, and I grabbed the kleenex away. "Just really happy to see him, Carter."

She murmured something that sounded like "me, too," but she really had no idea. None of them did.

**

I didn't see Daniel again for another four hours. Fraiser's team took him from me the moment we stepped through the Stargate, and then they were running so many tests on him we didn't get to see our teammate until much later.

At first, it didn't matter. Hammond was in my face, wanting a report the minute after I showered and had something to eat. I wasn't that hungry, but a hot shower made me feel a bit more human. The delay also gave me time to figure out my story.

I was going to stretch the truth. Hammond did need the broad details of my encounter with Asura. I could talk about the nishta, the kirna, Nirrti's old base and Asura's plans to rule the world. I'd share about how Asura killed Jarvis and Kerr, and that Daniel died as a part of his experiments.

I'd just skip the part about how Daniel died, and my role in participating.

Thankfully, Hammond seemed to buy it. He sat at the head of the briefing table, listening intently and taking a few notes. Carter and Teal'c sat across from me. Carter was giving me an odd look as I spoke, but that was probably more because she saw me cry earlier and that was just something I didn't do.

"So Asura wanted to show off his newest nishta," I said, leaning back in my chair and keeping my eyes on my clasped hands. If I met someone's gaze, I wasn't sure what I'd do. I just spared the odd glance at everyone. "He said it was doctored with some local organism that made it more effective. I don't know how effective a total vegetable could be, because when he used it on Daniel, that's all I saw. It just zapped the will out of him."

"Didn't you try to help him?" Carter asked, the first time anyone had spoken.

I made a face. "Of course I did!"

"And?" She was bordering on insubordination, but I let it pass.

"I was restrained, Carter. Plus there were two Jaffa in my way. I didn't have a snowball's chance in hell." Apt description, I thought. "And Daniel couldn't fight until it was too late. Asura had him killed right in front of me."

They didn't know how to answer right away. Hammond finally shifted in his chair. "I know this is difficult, Colonel, but you mentioned something about a material this Goa'uld had under his control?"

"Yeah, it's called kirna," I said, making sure I said it carefully. "I don't know how he controlled it, but it was everywhere. I couldn't get away from it. That's what had me restrained when he killed Daniel."

"Should these materials become available to the System Lords, this may change the balance of power," Teal'c said.

"Yeah, that's what he wants. He's the Goa'uld the security system was supposed to keep imprisoned. He and two of his buddies were scheming against Ra, so they were placed on this planet," I continued, "but here's the irony. Nirrti used to have this planet, and she left behind a secret base. I think Asura located it and used whatever she'd abandoned."

"They set themselves up for it," Carter said.

"Yeah, something like that." I waited for a moment, debating how to word my two recommendations. "General, first of all I think we should contact the Tok'ra and tell them about Asura. It would be for the best if they know what's going on so they can keep an eye out for his shit."

"I concur with O'Neill," Teal'c agreed. "While it is unlikely the nishta may be used against an individual with a symbiote, it is possible it may be used to influence those humans in a Goa'uld's court."

"Like a lotar?" Carter asked. "That would be the key person to influence."

"Yeah, screw up the mind of the Goa'uld's personal slave, and who knows what you can do," I said. "And throw in that wacky material of his, someone's sure to make Asura his pet. Or her pet. You know."

Hammond nodded. "I'll have a message sent immediately."

"Thank you, sir," I said. "And one more thing, General. I recommend we nuke the crap out of that planet."

Everyone blinked.

"Colonel O'Neill?" Hammond narrowed his eyes, a perplexed look on his face.

I sighed. "Okay, maybe not the entire planet, but at least we knock that Stargate out of commission. Just to make sure Asura doesn't make it out of there. The Goa'uld tried once with their peg-things years ago, and that didn't work. I want it to be permanent this time."

There was a pause for a moment, then Teal'c spoke up. "I agree with O'Neill's assessment."

Carter nodded. "I can see what I can come up with. It's a tall order, since Stargates are pretty much indestructible."

"All right, I'm taking both recommendations under advisement, Colonel. Major Carter, give me your recommendations on taking out the Stargate on -" Hammond paused when light footsteps made their way up the stairs from the control room. When Doc Fraiser appeared with a clipboard in hand, the general smiled. "Doctor! How's our boy?"

Fraiser smiled briefly at us before sitting in Daniel's empty chair on my left. "He's awake and comfortable, sir. So far, his exam results are showing several unidentified chemicals in his bloodstream."

"Compare it to the tests you did after Hathor's little visit," I suggested.

She nodded. "Yes, Lieutenant Cooper said you'd mentioned nishta during your post-mission exam. I sent a sample to the lab for comparison."

"Great." I'd been holding still, not twitching or fidgeting, but at that point, I could feel the nervous energy building inside me. I didn't want to lose control, so I found my usual outlet. I took my pen and scribbled. I didn't care what came out, as long as nothing recognizable appeared on the paper.

"How about his physical condition?" Hammond asked, picking up on the questions.

"He's in perfect condition physically, although I understand that's because he was placed in a sarcophagus." Janet waited for me to nod, which I did as I drew a big bomb exploding. "I don't anticipate any withdrawal symptoms, due to addiction occurring only when a subject is healthy and exposed to the sarcophagus."

"But it's an alien technology," Carter said. "One dose, even a legitimate one, might cause more harm than good."

"And there is the issue Daniel Jackson was unconscious when returned to us," Teal'c added.

"That's true, but that was due to Daniel being sedated." Fraiser smiled at us, trying to put us at ease. I wasn't buying it, but Carter and Teal'c did seem to relax. Carter looked less anxious and Teal'c's seriousness went down a notch or three. "I have him under observation at the moment, but if everything goes all right, I don't see why I shouldn't be releasing him tomorrow morning."

Before I could let out my own sigh of relief, I had another question. I tried phrasing it the most delicate way possible. "Doc, what does he remember?"

She pursed her lips for a moment. "At the moment, Daniel doesn't seem to have any memory of what happened to him while he was captured. The last thing he says he remembers is working with SG-11 on the dig."

I felt cold, the urge to fidget completely gone. "Excuse me?"

"It's not unusual for drugs to affect the areas of the brain involving short term memory, or preventing those memories from being stored as long term memories," Fraiser said. "In that instance, it's not a surprise Daniel wouldn't remember what happened to him."

I didn't know whether to cheer or cry. I just nodded instead. "Oh."

"Can we see him?" Carter asked, in a tone of voice that said maybe Daniel's amnesia was for the best. If she only knew.

"For a few minutes," Fraiser said, nodding with a smile. "He's still groggy from the Goa'uld sedative, but I think he'd welcome the visit."

Carter looked to Hammond for his permission to leave.

"All right, you're dismissed." That was the nice thing about Hammond, he understood what SG-1 meant to each other, a quality I admired in a commanding officer. "SG-1 is on stand down until Doctor Jackson is cleared for active duty. Dismissed."

The moment Hammond pushed himself away from the table, Carter and Teal'c were both up and heading for the stairs. They paused to wait for me, but I waved them on.

"I'll catch up with you in a few minutes," I said. "Just need to talk to Hammond. Go ahead."

Without waiting to see their reply, I stood in place until Fraiser wandered off after my team. Hammond looked at me, not reacting until I spoke.

"Can I borrow you for a moment, sir?" I began.

"Come in, Jack." So he was using my first name. He realized this was serious.

"Thank you, sir." But I didn't want to sit. I walked in, waiting by the desk until the door was closed, and then watched as Hammond made his way to the comfy chair. "I'd like to request a leave of absence, sir."

He wasn't surprised. "Of course. I can understand how difficult this last mission was for you."

"Yeah, well..." I almost wished he did.

"Seeing a teammate and friend killed in front of you, well... it's never pleasant." Hammond gave me a sympathetic smile. "I'd suggest you talk to someone about it."

I shrugged and tried for a crooked grin. "It's Daniel. This must be the fifth time he's done this to me."

"How much time would you like?" Hammond asked, after chuckling briefly. No one laughed long about Daniel's frequent brushes with death, that was tempting fate.

"A week, maybe." That sounded good, but whether it would be enough... I wasn't sure.

"You've got it," Hammond said. "Don't worry about the paperwork, I'll take care of it. If you need more time, give me a call."

"I'll do that, sir." I inched toward the door. "Thank you, sir."

He waved me off, and I made my way to the infirmary.

**

Daniel didn't look like death warmed over anymore.

While he still looked like he'd gone forty-eight hours before crashing, he at least had some pink in his cheeks. His eyes were heavy lidded, not quite alert as he endured his short visit with Carter and Teal'c. I hung back, gauging the scene before coming close. I didn't know about the sedative Fraiser mentioned, though it made sense, but a part of me wanted to make sure it wasn't the nishta still in his system.

It wasn't. While Daniel looked like he could sleep for a week, his eyes looked normal. That was good enough for me. I still didn't quite believe he was alive.

"Jack." Daniel smiled, interrupting Carter but she didn't seem to mind.

I finally approached. "Daniel, how're you feeling?"

He shrugged, leaning back against the raised mattress. "I'm fine. Just tired."

"Uh, huh." That was Daniel-code for saying he felt like shit. I wasn't surprised. Knowing my teammates wouldn't think it unusual, I took his hand and played mother hen. I felt his pulse, noting his skin felt warm and dry, and there was life in his body. It eased the memory of him from before, in Asura's lab, when - I didn't want to think about it. I wasn't about to let him go either. "I don't know about that..."

Daniel rolled his eyes, but he didn't pull away. Instead, he yawned. "Sorry."

"It is quite all right, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said from the foot of the bed. "I find O'Neill's imitation of a maternal fowl equally tedious."

I glared at him. "Not fair."

"No, it's not too bad," Daniel protested, eyes drifting shut for a moment. "At least he's not coming at me with a needle."

"No needles here," I promised.

"Thinking of charging for my blood," he continued, opening his eyes for another few moments. "Ugh. Sorry. Not good company, am I?"

"That's okay," Carter said, leaning across to place a kiss to his temple. "We'll let you sleep it off. I'll come back with chocolate walnut cookies."

"And I will assist you in consuming them," Teal'c said.

"God knows how you keep that wonderful figure at the age of one hundred whatever," I told him, but Teal'c just gave me his version of an innocent face - the expression where he wondered if I'd gone off my rocker.

"Thanks, guys..." Daniel said, just this side of awake

And, feeling more than a little constrained at being in public, I put Daniel's hand down at his side and patted it awkwardly. "I'll see you later, okay?"

Daniel tried to nod, but only ended up nodding off.

Ushering Carter and Teal'c away, I glanced back to watch Daniel for another moment. For a moment, I saw him the way I found him in Asura's lair - naked, vulnerable and unconscious. I had to blink and focus to see reality. Daniel was mussed, exhausted, but safe.

Eventually, I would believe it.

**

The routine of housekeeping and yard work kept me busy that night. I paid a few bills, raked the lawn, mowed the grass, all the little things that made me feel like a part of normal suburbia. It wasn't until that night when I sat in front of the TV with a beer that it started.

I felt uneasy, picking at the label wondering why nothing really got my attention. The Simpsons were on but it was a rerun, one I didn't really feel like watching. I flipped around, watching one channel for a few minutes then going onto the next. I finally gave up in disgust and shut off the tube.

The silence was good, and I sipped my beer contemplating my life. So Daniel didn't remember what Asura made him do, or what the snake inspired me to do, either. As far as Daniel was concerned, it was just another bad mission and while he'd grieve for the dead members of SG-11, he didn't really know why they'd died.

And that was a detail I could live without him knowing.

In fact, I envied him completely. At the moment, I could shove aside certain parts of that whole experience to the back of my mind - but eventually, I knew it would come out and bite me on the ass.

I had a dreamless sleep, and made my plans for the day. I needed groceries, and I could run a few errands I'd been meaning to do. In the hardware store checking out stains for the deck, my cell rang. Daniel's office.

"So they let you out?" I asked, checking my watch. It was just before noon.

"Yeah, Janet says my blood test is coming up clear," he said. "And hello to you, too."

"That's good news," I replied, genuinely meaning it. "How are you feeling?"

"A little groggy but that could be the lack of caffeine." The sound of stuff moving came over the line. "But I can't drive yet."

"Okay. You want to come over?" I asked, contemplating a darker finish than I already had for my deck. "I can cook."

"I'll have someone drive me home and then maybe you can pick me up?" Daniel suggested.

I loved how normal the conversation was. "Seventeen hundred?"

"Sounds good to me."

"And Daniel?" I waited for a moment, glancing around to make sure there was no one overhearing me. "I'm glad you're okay."

His tone was warm. "Yeah. Likewise."

I wasn't okay. At the moment, I was in a good mood despite the slight nausea in my gut, and it lasted for the rest of my intended errands. I was beginning to think I'd overcome the worst of the experience when I pulled up in front of Daniel's apartment building and watched him get into the cab next to me.

He was dressed in his usual casual fare, brown cords and a blue oxford shirt. The sleeves were rolled up, and he had his jacket with his bag. When he reached up to adjust the sun visor, I saw him in Asura's control - with the snake's voice crooning about his newest accomplishment.

I swallowed hard, a stirring in my pants.

"Jack?" Daniel fixed me with a look.

"Buckled up?" I said, trying to smile and look normal. "There's a steak with your name on it."

**

"Jack, you're beginning to worry me." Daniel pouted at me, his attempts at sex aborted. I had his hand pinned against my stomach, a safe distance from my cock, and I wasn't about to let go. This was his bluff. By forcing me to show my hand, so to speak, he was trying to force the truth from me. "Sam said something happened on the planet while we were both missing."

So I played along. "What did she say?"

Daniel measured his words carefully. "Just something about how a Goa'uld was experimenting on me and SG-11."

"Yeah, I came in on it." I knew Carter could only give him the basics, and that was something I could work with. Still holding his hand, I shifted my grip so our hands would rest on him. I squeezed for emphasis. "It wasn't pleasant."

"I don't remember anything," he said, sounding regretful.

I turned on my side and stared into his eyes. The blue was shadowed in the lamplight. "You should count yourself lucky, Daniel."

"How bad was it?" he asked, bringing our hands up to brush my cheek.

I closed my eyes for a moment. His skin felt warm and I pressed his hand close. "I really don't want to talk about it, Daniel."

"That bad." Not a question.

"You died," I said, opening my eyes again. "That bad."

"And -"

I turned my face to kiss his hand. "Goodnight, Daniel."

He smiled at me before sitting up to turn off the bedside lamp. A few minutes, and he was on his side and dead to the world. I lay there for a while, trying to stop thinking, and finally fell asleep.

And in my dream, it was me - hot, excited, determined - behind Daniel, whose body was stretched in a taut X, wrapped in the brown vines of Asura's invention. I thrust myself into Daniel's body, feeling the heat and pressure, my hands grasping Daniel's hips and anchoring myself. I put my face against his shoulder, tasting his sweat and the salt of his skin. I bit him, the thrill going through me and directly to my cock.

I didn't want it to end. I forced myself to last, keeping a pace that kept me on the edge. My hands slipped in Daniel's sweat, leaving fingerprints and running along his tense muscles. I moved my lips to his ear, whispering little nothings, and felt myself beginning to come. I reached to turn Daniel's face, wanting a kiss as I coasted... and found his blank, glassy eyes staring at me.

I was fucking a corpse.

I was awake and out of bed before the dream completely ended. I had a quick visit with the porcelain god, throwing up whatever remained from dinner, and then staggered my way to the kitchen for water. I checked on Daniel as I passed by the bedroom, but he was still dead to the world.

Staring out of the window into my pitch black backyard, I made my decision. I had to get a grip. I needed help, or I'd go nuts.

The rest of the night I spent in front of the television, watching old movies and whatever else was on. Around dawn, my eyes felt like sandpaper and I couldn't stop yawning. I didn't want to go back to bed, but my body was making the decision for me. With a sigh, I flicked off the boob tube and made my way back to the bedroom.

Daniel was still asleep, hijacking most of the blankets as he slept on his side. I watched him for a moment, the sunrise just beginning to lighten the room. His face twitched as he dreamt, his body shifting a bit, his chest rising and falling.

I rescued the blanket from his clutches, and slid between the sheets. The bed was warm from Daniel's body heat, and I listened to him breathing again. His sinuses were a little stuffed, so there was a faint snore every other breath.

"I love you," I whispered, "but I don't know if I can be around you right now. It's probably for your own good."

He just snored.

**

When I woke up again, it was ten o'clock. I'd slept past my normal oh-six-hundred internal alarm. Daniel was already up, his side of the bed cool. The sheets were also tucked up over my shoulders, Daniel's usual touch on the rare occasions whenever he was the early riser.

I smiled, closing my eyes again. The smell of coffee drifted in, heavy and enticing. I let the scent draw me out of bed, the cue to start my day.

After a quick trip to empty my bladder, I headed for the kitchen. Daniel sat at the table, already working on his laptop and still wearing his sweatpants. He looked up for a moment, glasses sliding down his nose and looking perplexed with his ruffled hair. But then his face relaxed.

"Hey," he smiled.

"Morning." I was in morning grump mode, but I did smile.

"Sleep well?" he asked. By his coherency, I assumed he was on his second cup, at the very least.

"Meh," I said, noncommittal and not wanting to get into further detail. I focused on the coffee pot, pouring myself a healthy dose. I usually drank it black and cutting back on the milk to spare my waist, but I wanted something extra that morning. I ambled to the fridge and poured a big splash. "What's that you're working on?"

"A headache," Daniel grumbled. "I'm trying to pull my notes together from the work I did on PX7234."

"Which one's that?" I asked, putting the milk carton away and heading back to the counter.

"The one we just came back from, that's ruled by Asura."

I froze, the coffee hot in my mouth and a chill trembling through my body. I forced myself to swallow and slowly turned to face him. "Oh. What's wrong with it?"

"The problem with Goa'uld sites is that they're always a mix of cultures from Earth's past," Daniel began, leaning back in his chair. He took a sip from his mug and began to use to punctuate his sentences. "This one's a mix of pre-Aryan architecture and Greek, but right now I wonder if there isn't a third because while we don't have any examples of -"

"Harappan, right?" That was one word I wasn't going to forget. I could still see Daniel's handwriting in his notebook. When I was treated to Daniel's surprised face, I couldn't help smiling. "I read your notes."

"Oh. Right. Yes, Harappan." His composure back, Daniel kept talking. "The Greek came later than the Harappan materials."

"The planet used to belong to Nirrti," I interrupted again. "The Greek must be the snakehead who beat the snot out of her."

"Right." Daniel nodded. "Anyway, like I said there aren't any examples of Harappan architecture here on Earth."

"So how'd you know it was Harappan?" I asked.

Daniel blinked. "Um... because it resembles the architecture used later in India under the Brahmans, and..."

I held the coffee pot up and waved it at him. "Want a refill?"

"Sure," he said, holding up his mug. "Look, if you didn't want an answer, why did you ask in the first place?"

I shrugged, coming up behind him and pouring the coffee into his offered mug. I put my hand on his bare shoulder and felt him lean into the touch. I wanted to snatch myself away, but forced myself to stay in place. "Because you sound sexy talking about artifacts."

Daniel rolled his eyes. "Sure I do."

I gave him a pat and headed back for the counter. "Hungry?"

"I had toast earlier," he said.

"Good." I wasn't that hungry.

The coffee pot back in place, I went to get the paper. Daniel had brought it in, leaving it on the nearest table. I picked it up and brought it back to the kitchen. I rummaged for the sports section, pulling it free and unfolding it just in time to realize I was being watched.

"Daniel?" I didn't like the way he was watching me, like he was focusing on one of his more unusual artifacts.

"Nothing." He looked back down at his laptop, then abruptly closed the lid. "Jack, are you sure you're okay?"

I sipped my coffee and acted cool. "Yeah. Why?"

"You're a little... off," he said. "Actually, make that very off."

"What am I, milk?" I smiled faintly before drinking more coffee.

He frowned. "Jack."

"Daniel?" I held up my mug. "Good coffee."

"I'm sure."

After another minute of Daniel staring, I sighed. "Post-mission stress, okay?"

"Was it that bad?" Daniel asked.

"You asked me that last night," I said.

"And you sort of answered my question last night," he countered.

I set my mug down and leaned forward, elbows on the table. "What part of 'you died' don't you understand? It's not exactly my favorite thing in the universe to watch you get killed and then pull a fucking Lazarus on me."

"But I'm alive," he said.

"That's not what I see," I said, and clammed up. I couldn't say anything else. No way. If I opened my mouth again, I might let the truth slip out and I wasn't ready for that. I wouldn't ever be ready.

Daniel's lips thinned and his eyes narrowed. A second later, he shoved himself out of his chair and stormed around the table. He yanked my chair back, put his hand on my neck and kissed me. The strength of his moves bruised my lips, and as I opened my mouth to protest, his tongue slipped in.

It wasn't romantic, but it did stir some kind of interest. I kissed him back, pissed off at his action and that he just wasn't getting my moodiness. But kissing Daniel was always good. I forgot what I wanted to say for a minute.

"Not dead, Jack," he murmured as we parted. His glasses were squished against his face, and our foreheads were pressed together. His eyes were intense, the blue staring right into my soul. "I'm what's real."

"I know," I said, my voice hoarse and almost a whisper.

He brushed his fingers against my cheek. "I'm sorry for whatever happened."

"Dammit." I looked away, unable to meet his gaze. "You're not apologizing for what happened, Daniel. You had nothing to do with it."

"Whatever it is, it's coming between us," he protested.

I glanced back at him. "I know."

"And it scares me to know I've no memory of it," he said.

Oh, God. I got out of my chair and put my arms around him. I squeezed him, pressing my face into his shoulder and felt him hugging me. His arms were strong, keeping me in place and stopping me from running away. Daniel was real, solid and present. It was more than I deserved.

"And I'm scared to think you might remember," I whispered.

**

I escaped to the bathroom, saying I wanted a shower. What I really needed was a bit of time alone. I left a confused and very worried Daniel at his computer, and to make sure he didn't follow me in, I locked the door. I didn't want him walking into something he wouldn't be prepared to understand - not that I understood it myself.

I stood beneath the hot water with my eyes closed, trying to clear the images swimming in my mind. I tried to focus on the memory of Daniel's strength and the support he'd offered just a few minutes before. He'd done it willingly, just knowing I was on the verge of... something. Probably losing my mind and losing Daniel in the process.

I took a deep breath, forcing myself to relax. I needed to get control of myself.

But I still saw Daniel's face, red with exertion and a lack of air, his eyes rolling back into his head.

"Damn." I thumped my forehead lightly against the tiles, the coolness a shock against my skin. I knew this was PTSD - I'd had it before, enough times to recognize the symptoms but never like this. I felt for my cock, and I sighed in relief when I realized I didn't have an erection.

Thank God. I didn't think I could stand that stimulus again.

I took my time, feeling the need to get everything doubly clean. I scrubbed my skin until it was pink and tingling, and when I got out the air was thick with steam. I wiped the mirror with my hand, staring at my image for a few moments before the glass fogged again. I looked tired and haggard, even by my usual cranky standard.

"You look like shit," I told myself, wiping away the moisture again.

"Jack?" There was a knock on the door before Daniel tried the handle. He jiggled the knob for a few seconds, and then rapped the door again. "Come on, Jack. Open up."

I rolled my eyes, figuring he needed to use the toilet and couldn't wait. I took off the lock, and went back to the sink. But instead of barging in like I expected, Daniel opened the door just enough to stick his head in. He squinted at me through the steam, then made a deliberate gesture to turn on the fan. "You're going to make the paint peel. Anyway, Janet's on the phone."

"Doc?" I grabbed a towel and did a quick dry. "What does she want?"

Daniel shrugged, and dropped his gaze. "Just to talk."

I narrowed my eyes. "Talk?"

"Yeah." Daniel opened the door completely and gestured to the bedroom. "She's waiting."

"Right." I wrapped the towel around my waist and squeezed past Daniel. Once in the bedroom, I closed the door behind me. After making sure the door stayed shut, I picked up the phone. "Doc?"

"Good morning," she said, and I thought I heard a cautious tone in her voice. "How are you today? Daniel sounded good."

"My little rubber ball," I said, walking with the phone over to my dresser. I took out clean clothes and tossed them toward the bed. "He still doesn't remember anything."

"But you do." Fraiser wasn't asking a question.

"You think?" I finally sat down, running my hand through my hair. "Is he ever going to remember?"

Fraiser cleared her throat, and I heard her moving papers. "I'll be honest with you, Colonel. I don't really know. This might be a temporary amnesia, or the nishta really did block his memories. He might remember today, or when he's eighty."

"That's a comfort," I said, starting to put on my socks. I cradled the phone on my shoulder with my chin.

"Daniel's worried about you," she said after a moment. "He thinks you're acting strangely."

"Yeah, about that." I glanced at the door, rubbing at my goosebumps. "Doc, you wouldn't happen to know someone with the proper clearance I could talk to?"

"Of course," she said.

"Great." Not that I intended to tell the whole truth to any shrink, or even Fraiser. Something close without the damning details would do. "So Daniel called you?"

"You've got a good friend, Colonel. He's worried about you."

"Right." I sighed. "Well, thanks. Let me know -"

"I was actually about to call you when my phone rang," Fraiser interrupted. "I have an interesting finding from your blood tests."

"Really?" I lay back on my bed and stared at the ceiling. "Like what?"

Fraiser didn't mess around. "You were infected with nishta, too, sir."

I held the phone away from my ear and stared at it. I was affected, too? How the hell did that happen? But I wasn't. Daniel was the one walking around that place like a zombie. I'd been myself.

"Your test has to be wrong," I said a minute later.

"It isn't the same kind of nishta that affected Daniel," Fraiser continued. "So in that way, you're correct. I'm sending a sample of both organisms to the bio team to get a better analysis, but there was definitely nishta in your blood when you can home from PX7234."

"That's impossible." I sat up, gripping the phone. "Daniel was the one without the free will. He did whatever Asura wanted him to do. I was myself the entire time."

"Were you?" she asked. "I read the transcript from your debriefing. The details are vague..."

I swallowed hard, closing my eyes. "How do you think this nishta worked?"

"I don't know for sure, but I'd hazard a guess by suggesting the effects were more subtle. You might have thought you were under your own control, but I'd suspect if you'd look back at the events, you might think differently now."

"I have another idea," I said. "What if it just made it easier for Asura to control what was already there?"

"Yes, that's entirely possible."

"Right." I didn't want to talk for a moment, not sure what I might say. Asura took my dominant streak and played with it. He used it to his advantage.

The perfect weapon.

"Based on the short lives of the nishta Daniel was exposed to, I'd expect this strain to be out of your system by now," Fraiser said. "But I'd like you to come down to the base just to make sure."

"Yeah, of course." I sighed. "Thanks, Doc."

"What happened on that planet, Colonel?" she asked.

"Hell." I clicked off the phone and tossed it onto the bed before getting dressed.

Daniel lingered in the kitchen, watching me intently as I walked past him to the fridge. He didn't say anything, so I didn't either. Even though my stomach felt sick, I wanted something to eat. I'd need the energy for the day.

"And how was Janet?" Daniel began as I made my sandwich.

"You would know," I shot back.

"I'm sorry. I've just never seen you like this before." He kept his distance from me.

"I'll be fine," I lied.

"I wish I could say I believe you," Daniel said.

"Believe whatever you want, it's a free country." My ham sandwich made, I tossed the makings back into the refrigeration and took a bite. I eyed Daniel, wondering why he was still in his drawstring sweats. I spoke through a mouthful. "Get dressed."

"Why?" he asked, arms crossed over his chest.

"Because I said so." I crammed half the sandwich into my mouth and went to get my coat.

Daniel followed me. "What did Janet say?"

I took my time chewing. It gave me the chance to focus on finding the keys to my truck. I finally turned back to him and swallowed the halfway chewed sandwich. I needed water. My voice sounded strange. "The snaked fucked around with me, too."

"Jack?" He looked perplexed.

I pushed past him to get back to the kitchen. I poured myself a tall glass of water and gulped it down. I felt a little better, but a thirst awoke in me. I poured another and downed it, too. "The nishta, Daniel. I had nishta in me, too."

"And what did..."

"What part aren't you understanding?" I slammed the glass on the counter and turned on him. "I don't want to talk about this!"

Daniel's face hardened. "You're under the mistaken impression that whatever happened just happened to you, Jack. I was there, I think I have the right to know what's making you so upset and why you're so determined not to tell me."

"Why can't you just let it go?" I demanded, taking a step toward him.

He held his ground. "Because!"

"Not good enough," I said, wanting to jab a finger against his bare chest. I kept my hands at my side, clenched into fists. "Nothing you say is good enough, Daniel."

He stared at me, lips pressed tightly together as he considered his next tactic. I met his gaze head on, and imagined knocking him across the table and shutting him up by stuffing my cock in his mouth.

Fuck. I backed away and pointed at him. "I can't be around you right now, Daniel. Call Carter and get her to take you home."

"Why, what's going on?" Daniel followed me to the front door.

"Just do it, Daniel. I'll talk to you when I'm ready." I had to get away from him.

"Dammit, Jack!" Daniel grabbed me by my upper arm.

I acted. I found myself pinning Daniel against the wall, my arm across his throat, and he was gasping for breath. What was I doing? I couldn't move, staring into Daniel's surprised eyes, and the aggression made my cock hard.

"This is why," I said, easing my forearm away. Daniel didn't move, but he coughed. I kept him against the wall, until I could be sure he wouldn't slide down in a heap, and then leaned in to press a chaste kiss to his lips. "I love you, but I'm sorry."

"Why?" Daniel's voice was rough.

"Because I watched you die," I said, "and I got off on it. I need to get my head back on straight, okay?"

"Jack..." He coughed again, then nodded. "The nishta. Not your fault."

I took his hand and forced him to feel my erection. Daniel's eyes widened, and I let his hand drop away. "Still so sure of that?"

Daniel didn't reply.

"Do me a favor?" I smiled, but there was nothing behind it. "Don't be here when I get back. Please."

I walked out the door without waiting for his answer.

*fin*