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Stay in Touch

by Tefnut

Part 6 (Jump to: 1 •  2 •  3 •  4 •  5)



Jack woke to the warm touch of fingers clasping his hand. It wasn't hard to guess who it was. Jack opened his eyes to the gray ceiling. The light had been dimmed, probably a good thing, too. He remembered the pain he'd suffered on entering the bright Gate room a few hours? days? Well, some time ago.

The infirmary was quiet. Night time, then, which was good -- Jack was in no hurry to see a nurse, or even worse, a doctor right now. He felt fine. The happy juice leaking through the IV was working great and… He wriggled his toes. Yes, he still had the right number of legs. There was nothing to worry about, then.

Jack turned his head to peek at his silent companion. Daniel was half sitting on a chair, half sprawled on Jack's bed. An IV protruded from his left wrist. A little sun-shaped pendant shone on his hospital scrubs. Jack was certain his friend was asleep. He was proved wrong an instant later, when Daniel raised his head to look at him.

Jack gently freed his hand to tousle Daniel's hair. "Hi, Danny."


His eyes were unsettling. The pupils were so dilated they almost entirely masked the blue of his irises. Jack doubted that Daniel could focus on anything. He followed his finger when Jack moved it in front of him, though.

"I can see a bit, you know. It's just the poison."

"They've found out what it was?"


Jack sighed. "Of course. Astro-whatever. I should have guessed."

"Belladonna, St John's Wort. Same thing."

"It's a kind of plant, isn't it?"

"Yep. It belongs to the devil, or so they say. It's been used to stop armies in the past -- against the Danes in Scotland, and before that against Marcus Antonius’ troops during the Parthian wars. Its names comes from…"

"Stop it, I give up!" Jack held his hands up. "In a way, I really liked it when you didn't talk."


"You're fine, then? No more hallucinations?"

"Oh, yes. They are still going strong. Janet says the symptoms could last for up to two weeks."


Someone coughed. Jack glanced at the doorway to discover a pissy Doctor bearing down on them. Jack braced himself for the incoming torture. A sermon, a big needle or a poking and prodding, Janet always had something in reserve to make this place a living hell. "Why didn't you call me?" she growled.


She stopped at the head of the bed and pointed at Daniel. "He should be in bed! Even you should realize that."

"Bugs," Daniel whispered.

"There are no bugs in my infirmary."

"Yeah, Daniel. Bugs wouldn't stay here willingly."

"Colonel O'Neill!" Oh dear lord. That was Janet's Impending Doom voice. The effect was slightly hampered by her chuckle and smiling eyes. "Daniel, you can stay here for now, but as soon as the tactile hallucination stops, you hop back into bed. Do we agree on that?"

"We do, we do." Daniel laid his head on his arm. Jack could tell that, bugs or not, he would soon fall asleep wherever he was.

"Good. Now, Colonel, Doctor Warner and myself haven't been idle during your thirty hour nap. I'm happy to inform you that your thigh is now tooth-free."

"How many stitches?"

"You don't want to know."


Janet grabbed a chair. "I had to kick Sam and Teal'c out of here. They were exhausted."

Jack simply nodded. He had spotted the discarded science book on his side table. Even if he hadn't, he knew his teammates had been here, keeping watch.

"It's nice that you're back." Janet’s voice was barely above a whisper.

"It is." He noticed that Daniel had grabbed his hand again. "Old habits die hard," he said, mostly to himself.

"He'll need that for a few days. Did he tell you about the Atropine?"

"You were listening, so why do you bother asking?"

"Oh, no, Jack O'Neill has unmasked the evil doctor!"

Jack chuckled. "So, yes, what about the weed?"

"He's been intoxicated by a variant I have never seen before. It affects his brain patterns: the way he thinks, the way he deals with input from his environment… At times he may sound almost normal, but his behavior is badly affected by this substance. His sense of touch has heightened, and..."

"I noticed that. So what you’re saying is that this Agrippina stuff has changed him into a cuddle monster?"

"Hey! I heard that," complained a muffled voice.

"Basically, yes."

All right, that was scary. The rumor mill would be going wild. Jack was a touchy-feely kind of guy, and he was the first one to admit it, but he wasn't going to hold hands with a friend at the SGC. Or outside the SGC. Or wherever, really. No way. "But tomorrow he'll be fine, right? Right?"

"As I said, couple of weeks."

Great. Colonel Jack O'Neill was a dead man. As Janet left him on his own with a slightly deranged roommate, he buried his head in the pillows.


Leader was asleep, but Nightbird wasn't. He was scared. His fever had gone up a notch, and he knew he should call for the short female he named the Keeper. He didn't, for she would manhandle him to the creeping, crawling bed.

Leaving Skoukla had been a mistake. This place was bad. The Keeper had wrapped his body with a weird fabric. It itched. He'd torn it off at the beginning, only to have it put back on. She was more stubborn than he. She also seemed to have an unlimited supply of the stuff. One last time, he tore if off. He didn't think the Keeper would come back tonight.

He squeezed Leader's hand, worried about losing the memories of all the crevices and calluses he'd learned. He knew his body was changing. Patches of color danced before his eyes, blurry but real. He didn't understand them. That was bad, but the worst part was his skin. It was getting blind. Rough and primitive, like Leader's skin.

Hedlir was nowhere to be touched.

Only Leader was. "Tomorrow you'll be fine," he felt.

"No. Tomorrow I'll be blind."

Blind, and naked, and out of Skoukla.



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Part 6 (Jump to: 1 •  2 •  3 •  4 •  5)

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