Jack threw his weight across Daniel's shoulders, straining to hold his friend down as the archaeologist convulsed, arching his back, heels digging into the soft grass of Jack's back yard. "What the hell? Summers...!" he gasped.
Daniel's protégé and new right hand in the SGC's linguistics department, Dawn Summers, dropped to her knees on the other side of Daniel, long fingers prying at Daniel's clenched right fist. A loop of fine chain, flashing with the brilliance of untarnished metal in the afternoon sunshine, protruded between Daniel's fingers; Jack had been paying more attention to the grill than to the geeks when Summers handed over the pendant, but he'd seen enough to dismiss it as ordinary, unimportant. He should have known better.
"I don't know, it's never done this before!" she responded, then hissed and pulled back as a flare of brilliant energy lashed out from Daniel's hand. Nothing inert that size could possibly build up that level of static charge-- which meant whatever Daniel was holding was probably tech, and probably offworld in origin. Nothing alien that came in jewelry form was ever good news.
"Not what I want to hear, Summers. What the hell is it?" Jack growled, flinching as Daniel yelled in his ear, a garble of unintelligible words in Abydonian and Ancient. "Carter!" he roared, summoning the rest of SG-1, who were still inside setting up the movie choice of the evening.
"It's just an amulet!" Summers cried, prying at Daniel's fingers again. "I mean, yeah, it was supposed to have some kind of cleansing or purifying properties, but that was before! We already used it! And it never did anything like this to Spike!"
Daniel's body finally went limp beneath them, but his grip on the pendant did not loosen. Summers flinched again as another livid flash of light blazed out from Daniel's fist, but this time she did not let go, clenching her teeth as she rode out the pain. Jack swore and sat back on his heels, grabbing his cell phone from its belt clip and snapping it open.
Somehow, he had the feeling that "cleansing" and "purifying" in this case weren't referring to the energetic equivalent of scrubbing bubbles. And given everything Daniel had been through in the last couple years-- twice Ascended, possessed by another Ancient, infected with whatever it was Adria had used to turn him into a Prior, just to name a few of the highlights-- he was more than a little worried about what some random alien bauble might classify as "dirty". They'd just got him back; they couldn't lose him again.
"At least tell me your friend survived whatever it did to him," he growled as he attempted to dial.
"Sort of?" Summers swallowed audibly, looking up at him with huge, terrified blue eyes. "Eventually?"
Jack swore and tossed the phone over to her as Daniel began thrashing again, more purposefully this time-- as though he were fighting against something the others couldn't see. "Eventually?" he said, incredulously. "And you just brought it over here without any precautionary measures? This is Daniel we're talking about!"
Not that that would mean much to her, he realized, a sick weight of fear dragging at the back of his throat as the exposed skin on the back of Daniel's hand began to take on the same bright glow as the jeweled disk trapped in his hand. She was new at the Mountain; she didn't know how these things tended to go-- always the worst place they possibly could.
The glow spread up Daniel's arm, cresting above the collar of his shirt to sweep over his face, then showing on the other hand, and from the slice of skin exposed where the cotton fabric rode up above the waistband of his jeans. He'd seen Daniel backlit this way before, and he really didn't want to think about what that might mean.
Third time was supposed to be the charm, after all. He might have known Daniel's most recent return to them was too good to be true.
"But-- there was a prophecy," Summers replied, weakly. "About a final battle. Which already happened. We thought that was all it was good for! I just wanted to know what it said!"
Jack had all kinds of issues with that series of statements-- starting with 'prophecy', which tended to translate to time-traveling Ancient bullshit in his book, and ending with 'we', as in where the hell this girl really came from that a new college graduate could talk about final battles in such a blasé way-- but there wasn't time for any of them. "Just dial the base, tell the general what the hell's going on!" he barked at her, then shook Daniel's increasingly luminous form by both shoulders. "Don't do this to us, Daniel! You stay here, do you hear me?"
The rest of the team had gathered around them while he was busy haranguing the oblivious man; four other voices were echoing his as the rest of SG-1 reached out to help anchor Daniel to their reality.
But it was too late-- had probably been too late the moment Daniel had touched that poisonous piece of jewelry, Jack thought, as Daniel went still again under his hands. The archaeologist exhaled one last, heavy breath-- then dissolved under Jack's hands into a tendrilled mass of light.
"Damn it, Daniel," Mitchell swore fervently, somewhere behind him.
Jack grunted in black amusement at the all-too-familiar tone in the colonel's voice. "I said we're not through with you yet!" he scolded the radiant Ascended form.
The light seethed, roiled; it looked something like an octopus, or an Escher painting, or the tangle of Carter's handwriting when she got all enthused about the equations for the hyperdrive. It also gave off the impression of being-- thoughtful, somehow?
"Shouldn't he be going up, up, and away by now?" Vala asked, a pained hitch in her voice.
"Perhaps the device has anchored him to this place?" Teal'c asked, reaching down to pick up a loose stick fallen from a nearby tree. It was just long enough for him to probe at the amulet that still lay where Daniel had fallen-- where it had dropped under Summers' hand when Daniel's had dissolved in her grasp.
"God, I hope not," Summers said plaintively, lowering the phone at her side. She glanced up at Jack again from where she still knelt in the grass; starkly lit by Daniel's glow, she looked years older. "Getting Spike back from that was a bitch and a half. But I still don't understand how this is even possible. It's only supposed to activate for someone with a soul who's more than human. And only for one, special occasion."
"One class of special occasions," Daniel's voice corrected her--
And there he was again, irritating bastard, suddenly wearing that damned white sweater.
Jack blew out a long breath, refusing to feel relieved. "Are you saying...?" he asked his friend.
"I'm saying," Daniel nodded. "So, it turns out the Ascended pretty much all thought that one Anubis-class being was more than enough, even my so-called fans, but while they were able to contain my power and make me forget-- it didn't change what I am." He smiled briefly, an uncharacteristic flash of teeth all sharp corners and dark satisfaction. Daniel's sinister side didn't come out to play very often, but when it did, it usually inspired Jack with the urge to duck and cover.
"The amulet removed all their blocks; and since I've regained my former knowledge and abilities without assistance this time," Daniel continued, "the rules are finally on my side. Tell Landry to keep a candle in the window; I'll be back, but first I've got an appointment with Adria to keep." Then he dissolved into light again, and streaked upward toward the stars.
"Well," Jack said, feeling a little shell-shocked, rocking back on his heels. "Some first barbeque, huh, Summers?" he said.
She choked out a watery laugh. "Yeah," she said. "Even considering where I grew up, and the whole alien thing you guys have going on, that was a little…"
"All in a day's work?" Vala quipped.
Carter snorted, shaking her head as she stared up after their yet-again wayward team member. "Welcome to the SGC."
Jack shook his head, then stood, carefully straightening creaking knees.
"So, about that prophecy," he prompted, offering Summers a hand.