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Never Leave Your Wingman Chapter 5/11

Jack tapped his pencil against the briefing room table with increasing force.  Tap—tap, tap, tap—TAP—tap, tap, TAP.  

 “Sir.”

 His hand stilled as he looked up at Carter.  “What?”




 She grimaced, shook her head, and glanced at the window separating them from Hammond’s office. 

 “Your repetitive tapping is most… annoying,” Teal’c stated from his seat next to Jack. 

 Oh.  “Sorry.”  He glanced at his watch again, wondering when Fraiser was going to show up.  They’d been waiting fifteen minutes to hear her update on Daniel. 

 Footsteps on the stairs heralded her arrival.  Jack tried to read her face for any clue as to whether this was going to be good news or bad news, but she managed to keep it neutral.  She took the seat next to Carter just as Hammond exited his office and joined them.

“Doctor Fraiser,” he said as he took his seat, “What do you have for us?”

 Still no smile and Jack was starting to get a bad feeling.

 “Well, sir, as I stated before, Daniel’s condition isn’t due to a virus. Our tests show that there’s been an alteration of his DNA.   We don’t know how this happened; our best guess is that some type of alien technology was used on him.”

“Can it be reversed?” Hammond asked.

“Changes have been made in a number of his genes. We can bring in a specialist and try gene therapy, but frankly, sir, without knowing how this was done, I’m not sure any of it will be effective.”

 “But you’re going to try, right?” A hint of worry crept into Carter’s voice.

 “I assure you I’ll use any means I think will help.  He’s not being the most cooperative patient, though, which is making anything we do difficult.”

“What’s his current condition?” The general asked.

 “He’s still changing,” Fraiser stated.  “His wings now measure six feet each, and his skeletal structure has changed to accommodate them; his muscles have continued to develop, although I think that is beginning to slow, the protrusions on his nose and jaw line appear to have reached their full development, and he’s grown two inches in height.  His temperament has also continued to… deteriorate—it’s as though he has no control whatsoever over his emotions.  We’re keeping him sedated a good part of the time, but he’s fighting it.”

 Jack was having a hard time believing what he was hearing—it was as though Fraiser was describing a monster, not his friend.  Jack wanted to punch something or someone—preferably one of the creatures who caused this.  He didn’t like being manipulated and he especially didn’t like having one of his closest friends—one of hisfamily—used as a pawn. 

Jack glanced at Fraiser, distress clearly written on her face.  He remembered her tireless work when the base was infected with the Touched virus and knew she would do whatever it took to fix things—to fix Daniel.  Only this was different; this wasn’t a virus that would be cured by some antihistamine-based antidote.  Daniel’s DNA had been changed; he had no idea how they could fix that.  But maybe, just maybe, there was someone who could—the gargoyle people.

 “What do you recommend?” Hammond was asking.

“Sir,” Jack interrupted, “I have a suggestion.”

Hammond gave Jack his full attention.  “Go on.”

“Let us go back to gargoyle-land and get them to tell us what they did to Daniel.

“I thought you were against having any dealings with these people.”

“I’ve changed my mind.”

 “It’s what they wanted in the first place, sir,” Carter added.  “If we can bring back whatever technology was used on Daniel, we might be able to figure out how to reverse it.”

 “If a cure is found, they would be willing to trade their naquadah for it,” Teal’c stated. 

“I couldn’t care less if we get any naquadah from them.”  Jack was not in the mood for trade negotiations, especially with people who resorted to extortion.  “I only care about finding a cure for Daniel.”

 “We’re all concerned with Doctor Jackson’s welfare,” Hammond reminded him.  “But if we can gain access to a supply of naquadah, then I think we need to pursue it.”

Jack’s anger was steadily rising.  “Like we can trust anything these people tell us?”

“I think they were just desperate, sir,” Carter countered. 

 “That’s no excuse for what they did to Daniel!”  The pencil in Jack’s hands snapped as he clenched his fist. 

 “Colonel, I’m ordering you to return to the planet and negotiate for whatever technology was used on Doctor Jackson.  I am authorizing you to offer to share any and all information regarding our attempts to find a cure in return for naquadah.  Is that clear?”

 “But sir—”

“Is that clear? Or do I need to send another team?”

No way was Jack going let another team go to the planet.  If anyone was going, it was him.  “SG-1 will go, sir.”

“Take SG-2 with you. You leave in one hour. Doctor Fraiser, keep me advised of Doctor Jackson’s condition.”

 “Yes, sir.”

“Dismissed.”  Hammond returned to his office and Janet stood, gathering her files. 

 “Doc, I know you’re doing everything you can,” Jack said. “Thanks.”

She gave him a tight smile.  “Our biggest problem is where to keep him.  His wings are so large they get in the way; he’s even knocked over two of my nurses.  We’ve tried strapping them down, but he’s been able to break free every time.  I think his strength has about reached its peak, but he continues to surprise us.”

 “Can we talk to him?” Carter asked.

“I don’t know if he’ll respond to you, but you can try.”

 “We’ll come now, before we leave on the mission.”  Jack wanted Daniel to know they were doing everything possible to fix this.

Fraiser smiled and nodded before leaving the briefing room.  The three members of SG-1 stood silently; Jack knew the others were thinking the same thing he was—what would happen to their friend if they couldn’t fix it?

 “We will be successful,” Teal’c stated, reading his thoughts. 

 “I hope so, Teal’c, for Daniel’s sake.”

 ~oOo~

 Jack entered the isolation room where Daniel was being held.  It had been cleared of any unnecessary equipment and looked sparse, except for the contraption in the center that held his friend.

 He heard a choked gasp from Carter as she entered behind him. Teal’c moved silently into the room and stopped next to Jack; he could see the muscles in the big guy’s neck tensing as he took in Daniel’s situation.

The ‘bed’ was standing vertically with Daniel strapped face down to it, his arms stretched on the extensions and also strapped down.  A circular area was open for Daniel’s face, giving Jack a flashback of Kawalsky fighting the Goa’uld that had invaded him.  Some kind of net covered Daniel’s… wings, holding them in place so he couldn’t spread them.  That’s something he would never in a million years thought he’d see. 

 Daniel was bucking against the restraints, muscles straining, face flushed—which made it sort of a pinkish-gray.  His eyes snapped open when Jack stepped in front of him, and Jack was momentarily thrown by their intense shade of blue.  They were like ice crystals against a clear winter sky, light playing off their many facets, each movement causing new shapes to appear in…

 “Colonel!” 

Janet’s voice snapped him back from… wherever he’d been.  He looked at Daniel again and found him staring back with a cold smile, sending a chill down his spine. 

“Don’t look him in the eye,” Janet was saying.

 No kidding.  Jack’s memory of staring into Baronen’s blue eyes came with a new understanding; this was how they’d gotten into this mess in the first place.  It explained how they’d had time to change Daniel—why they couldn’t remember the details of what had been said at that table.  Of all the changes that had happened to Daniel, this was the most dangerous. 

 Jack took a step back and turned to Janet.  “You didn’t tell us about this part.”

“I didn’t know until I got back here a few minutes ago; apparently he ‘convinced’ one of my nurses to release him.  One of the guards realized what was going on and stopped it.”

 “Sir, that must be what happened to us on the planet,” Carter reiterated his own thoughts. 

 “Yep.  Looks that way.”

 “This is a most formidable ability,” Teal’c added, sounding impressed. 

 “Let me go!” Daniel shouted, rocking his body in the restraints. 

 “Not gonna happen, Daniel,” Jack said, risking a glance at his friend. “At least, not until we figure out how to change you back to your old self.”

 “What makes you think I want to change back?” Daniel spat the words, struggling against the thick leather straps that bound him to the gurney.  And then he growled—loud and deep and full of pain and anger, causing all of them to take a step back.

It was like facing a wild animal.  Jack felt a knot of fear forming in his stomach at the thought of what would happen to his friend if they couldn’t fix this.

Janet stepped to Daniel’s side and injected him with something.  “A sedative,” she explained.  “It’s taking an increasing amount to keep him calm, so we let it wear off until his behavior poses a risk to himself or everyone else.  I’m afraid to give him too much.”

Daniel continued to struggle until gradually his efforts were less intense.  Finally he calmed, his body still shaking with each heaving breath he took.  The lines on his face smoothed out and his eyelids began to droop. 

 Jack moved closer, waving off the protests that he should keep his distance, until he was within a foot of Daniel’s face.  The blue eyes struggled to focus on him as Jack reached out and placed his hand on Daniel’s head.  “We’re going back, Daniel.  We’ll find out what they did to you and we’ll fix it.  Just hang in there.”

The corners of Daniel’s mouth turned up slightly, but there was no malice there.  “Don’t… shoot… anyone… ‘K?”

Relief flooding through him, Jack huffed as he shook his head.  “I’ll try, but I’m not makin’ any promises.”

~oOo~

The knot in Jack’s stomach had begun to loosen with the confirmation that Daniel—their Daniel—was still in there somewhere.  But as he stepped out of the ‘gate onto the mist-shrouded world where this mess had started, it began to twist and tighten again.  It had given him the creeps the first time they were here, but now, knowing just who occupied this place, he was even more on edge.

Leaving two members of SG-2 at the ‘gate, Jack led the rest of the group down the path into the forest.  He glanced overhead, seeing only an occasional glimpse of gray sky through the thick branches. He caught Carter and Teal’c doing the same, keenly aware that they had more to worry about than being attacked from the surrounding forest. 

They reached the ruins without incident and, briefly checking inside, found them empty. 

“Let’s head for the village,” Jack ordered as he exited the ruins. 

On his first step, a voice sounded from above him.  “You have returned.”

Jack spun on his heel, bringing up his P-90, finding Trestin standing on the roof of the entrance hall.  “Yeah.  We need to talk.”

“I do not see the one you call Daniel.”

“That’s what we need to talk about.”

“He is well?”

 “Depends on your definition of ‘well’.”  What little patience Jack had was quickly evaporating.  “In my book, that’d be a ‘no’.” 

“But he survived the transformation?”

“Survived?  You mean there was a chance he wouldn’t—”

 “Sir,” Carter cut him off, “Shouldn’t we focus on the reason we’re here?”

 Letting his anger get the best of him wasn’t going to help Daniel. “Right.”  He turned back to Trestin.  “We’d like to meet with your elders again.”

 “Very well.”

A whooshing of wings filled the air as six more of the gargoyle people appeared, flying over the ruins.  Jack swung his weapon up as he watched them land surrounding the SGC personnel.  “What’s goin’ on?”

“You bring more of your people and all of you carry weapons.  It is a precaution.”  Trestin extended his own ebony wings and glided to the ground in front of Jack.  “I will lead you to the elders.  Follow me.”

 He turned and headed down the path while the other six winged men waited for them to move.  “Okay, let’s move out,” Jack said, “but stay sharp, and whatever you do, don’t look into their eyes.

~oOo~

TBC



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