"Code Seventeen!" Jack yelled on setting foot on the platform. "We've been compromised."
He kept a hand on Daniel's shoulder and led him down the stairs despite his obvious distress at seeing rifles pointed at them.
The General shouted above the wail of the sirens from the security of the observation room. "What happened, Colonel O'Neill?"
"Daniel's been messed with. We need a medical team."
"You've got it."
True to his word, Janet Fraiser's team rushed into the 'gate room, pushing gurneys before them. Jack nudged Daniel forward, hoping he would get the hint. He stood still, staring wide-eyed at the two solid nurses who were coming their way.
"Everyone's mobile," noticed Janet. "What's wrong, and who?"
"It's Daniel," said Carter. "He seems to."
Daniel shook Jack's hand away and walked out of the room, pushing back the nurses who were trying to detain him.
"Don't stop him!" Jack ordered the armed soldiers who were aiming at him.
"Good God, what's wrong with him?"
"You tell me, Doc."
One of the nurses retreated to the back of the room. Kicking the door open hadn't made a very good impression on the young woman, obviously. Daniel jumped on the first infirmary bed.
Janet finally caught up with him with Jack, Sam and Teal'c on her heels. They were talking, the nurses were talking, everybody was talking, and he didn't understand a word. Either this was the biggest practical joke ever and they had all decided to learn a foreign language -- one he had no clue about, at that -- or he had a real problem.
Ah, great, the lovely shine a bright light-in-the-eyes moment. Daniel cooperated with the usual examination as well as he could. He followed Janet's pen. He mimicked her actions when she wrinkled her forehead, shut her eyes tight, or smiled. He moved his chin against her hand, shrugged, and stuck his tongue out in a very professional manner. All was fine and dandy, except for the things that mattered.
Janet asked him questions, none of which he could answer. He'd achieved better in the temple while dazzled and scared. He wasn't dazzled any more -- though he was still scared -- so why was it so hard? Janet barked, not at him, but at all the other people buzzing around the place. She'd probably asked them to shut up, because suddenly Daniel couldn't hear anything but the doctor's voice.
He caught a word. "Name?"
Daniel rolled his eyes and engaged in the difficult task of uttering his first name. Two syllables, three if he pronounced it the Abydonian way. He settled on "Dan". Short and to the point. Good think he hadn't tried his last name. It would have come out as "Jack". He didn't want them to think he was delusional, on top of it.
He couldn't tell them where he was, though he understood the question. He pointed at the bed and at various torture instruments laid out on a stand, and pulled at Janet's medical uniform. The word for the place wouldn't come. Jack had to find a seat at this point. Daniel looked a message at him, hoping he would get the right expression across. It would have been so much easier to just say, "I'm sorry," followed by a confident "I'm fine". If only.
Daniel hadn't learned twenty-three languages without getting to know the areas of the brain involved in the process. He could picture them easily. While Janet talked more nonsense, he painted a nice schema with vivid colours. He put names on the three significant parts of the drawing, and picked up the easiest one.
He sent the two syllables to the tip of his tongue. He made them roll in his mouth. This word had a bitter taste.
When he felt ready, he hushed Janet with a finger, and spoke. From the look on her face, his first try hadn't been coherent. So he said it again, taking a deep breath to fight his welling tears. "Broca."
She averted her eyes.
Janet Fraiser held up one of the x-ray scans on the light board. "An MRI would have been a very bad idea."
"Why?" asked Jack.
"See that little white dot, here? This is an implant. It might be ferromagnetic."
"If it is, the magnetic field of the MRI would have caused the implant to move in Daniel's brain," said Carter.
"Exactly. I've heard it happen with aneurysm patients, before they created titanium clips to repair the arteries. Some. died."
Jack looked at his feet. He'd been the one to ask Janet to shove Daniel in the magnet box. Slowed by guilt he moved to Daniel's side. The latter had decided to stay as far from the scans as he could without actually leaving the room. As was often the case when he withdrew from people, he was sitting on a table, not on a chair. He shivered despite the robe he was wearing.
"What function does this implant fulfil?" asked Teal'c.
"It is located in the arcuate fasciculus, so."
Jack whispered, "You probably understand all this stuff more than I do, buddy." He shrugged, just to get his point across. Daniel shook his head.
"Let me show you, it will be easier." Janet disappeared behind a gurney to search in a low cabinet against the wall. When she straightened up again, she was carrying a brain in her hand. "This is Oscar's brain."
"Oscar?" Jack shifted closer to Daniel. He trusted Janet, of course. But the picture of this poor Oscar's plastic bean was just a bit creepy. The guy used to stand in a closet in Janet's office. He wasn't supposed to send parts of himself to vacation in other rooms.
Janet placed the brain on the gurney and rolled it towards the two men. She removed one part of the left hemisphere, and poked at a purple apricot located on the side. "This is the Wernicke's area. In layman's terms, it allows to us to understand words. This," she continued, pointing at a strawberry located above the former zone and nearer the front, "is Broca's area. It adds grammar to the words."
"Boke," said Daniel.
Jack frowned. "That rings a bell."
"You remember when you were turned into primitives?" Janet explained. "Daniel wanted to study the Broca divide. But that's something else. Pierre Broca dissected the brain of a man who suffered from aphasia. He could only say one word. It was Tan. That's what Broca called him. After Tan died, Broca found that this area was damaged."
"What has it got to do with Daniel? The implant is not there, it's in this green whatsit. I saw it on the scan!" Jack tapped a candy cane plugged in the areas Janet had shown.
"Well spotted, Colonel. This neural pathway connects Wernicke's area to Broca's. I'll need to carry out further tests to be sure, but I think that the implant filters all information travelling through those two areas."
"So that's what prevents Daniel from talking or understanding what we say?" asked Carter.
"That, and reading too."
For a long minute, nobody dared saying anything. Carter trembled fighting back tears. Teal'c shared his strength with her by standing so close to her that they were almost touching. Jack knew she needed to hug Daniel, but he wanted to do it first, as well as he dared to inside the mountain. He eased onto the table near his friend, and placed one hand on his thigh.
It was Daniel who finally broke the heavy silence. "Why?"
"The aliens disabled you to prevent you from deciphering their writings, Daniel Jackson."
Jack interpreted Daniel's frown as a sign he hadn't understood. He gently tapped his friend's temple. Not the left one. "You're smart, Danny. Too smart for them. That's why."
Daniel bent, grabbed the brain and threw it across the room.
"Yeah, uh, the footage is a bit dark, but." Robert Rothman pushed his glasses up his nose.
"There's no but, Rothman. Figure out that crap, starting now!"
Sam paused the video. She would have to keep tabs on the three men if they were to stay in the same room for much longer.
The Colonel had plastered a young airman to a wall for bumping into Daniel. The corridor was narrow and busy; things like that happened everyday. But dear God, did the poor boy apologize! Sam had hoped this display of power would allow the Colonel to calm down. Obviously, it hadn't been enough.
Sam granted Rothman a smile. He uttered a weird, strangled sound before wobbling to the back of the lab. The printer was churning out impressions of the wall. Daniel was already shaking one dry. He stopped Rothman before he could get to the other prints. "I shall not try again."
Rothman startled. "What? He, he just spoke!"
"He gave us that line already." The Colonel grabbed a seat. All hopes Sam had about him leaving Rothman alone vanished.
Daniel put the print back on the table and pushed Rothman out of his way to retreat in a corner. Maybe now was the right time for Sam to claim the comfort they'd been denied, when the Colonel had pulled rank on her before. And what for? A squeeze on the leg, and a fit of temper afterwards? That was not what Daniel needed.
Daniel -- Sam -- needed a hug. Which she would give him, if only he allowed her to. He'd wrapped himself in a self-protective stance, and there was not much room left for an embrace.
Despite his sullen look, Sam strode to him, decided to plant a kiss on his cheek. She expected him to pull back. He didn't. Instead he opened his arms, grabbed Sam in a tight embrace, and buried his head in her shoulder.
The shrink asked him to sit, or so Daniel assumed by the way he pointed at the chair. He slumped into it and waited for MacKenzie to finish his welcome chat, which he delivered at high speed.
Janet had tried to explain him why she'd sent him here. She'd shown him Oscar's brain again, but Daniel had only noticed that parts of the right hemisphere were smashed. He'd gladly switch his broken areas with the skeleton's to recover his speech.
MacKenzie snapped his fingers, riveting Daniel. The head-shrinker had placed two pictures on the table. They were almost identical, both showing a horse and a cow.
Daniel sniggered. He knew how to solve this problem before MacKenzie could state its terms. When he'd studied Broca, he had read about Tan. His curiosity had then taken over, and he had learned more than he wanted to know about aphasia and how to diagnose it.
The horse kicked the cow. The horse was kicked by the cow. To Daniel it all sounded the same.
MacKenzie spoke slowly. ". image. Jackson. horse kick cow."
Daniel let his hand hover above the pictures. He took a deep breath and picked up the one with the kicking horse. It was wrong, and he knew it. But it was what he had heard.
"No." MacKenzie put the images back in a drawer. He slammed it, and kicked the foot of his desk to propel his black leather office chair, and himself, backwards. "You. aphasia. learn."
Daniel's heart stopped. So, he had to start all over again. Every syllable, every word. It would take so much time, and he'd probably never be a linguist again. Was it worth the pain? He wasn't so sure. This or dying. He would have to think about which was preferable. Ask Jack, somehow. He was about to pronounce a laborious "maybe" when unwanted words took the decision for him. "I shall not try again, or they will kill me."
Jack followed the squad of scientists, comprised of MacKenzie, Janet, and the SG-1 evil twins who would become Siamese if they clutched each other for much longer, from the shrink's waiting area down to the briefing room.
Teal'c was standing guard. He stood strong as a pillar, still as a statue. Shadows rimmed his eyes.
He bowed and motioned them in. Jack was the last one to enter. He took the last seat available, opposite Daniel.
Hammond cleared his throat. "What are your conclusions, Doctor MacKenzie?"
"He presents all the symptoms of silent aphasia. As you've probably noticed, he can't speak. He only understands basic sentences and is unable to read or to write. Basically, he's lost the ability to communicate."
"But can't he use signs, or physical demonstrations?" asked Carter.
Jack nodded at her. Way to go, girl.
"Aphasia comes with another disorder that affects movements called apraxia. His symptoms are not too acute, fortunately, but he won't be able to do much more than point at an object, or pick it up, or."
". throw it across the room." Jack clenched his fists. "How long is it going to be before he's normal again?"
"I'm sorry, Colonel. I have yet to tell you the really bad part, and."
"What bad part? It can't be worse than that! Use your degrees and fix him, for cryin' out loud! I don't know, remove this piece of shit from his brain, or."
"Colonel O'Neill, that's enough. Please go on, Doctor."
"Thank you, General. Believe me, I'm really sorry. He's been, uh, programmed not to learn to speak anymore."
Jack closed his eyes. "He gave you his 'I shall not try again' line."
"So you heard it already?"
"Yes. He said it in the temple, and then to Doctor Rothman when he had another look at the writings," said Carter.
"The aliens do not wish to take any chance with Daniel's ability to decipher their language."
Teal'c had a way of summing things up without letting anger corrupt his words. Jack didn't have this skill, so he said nothing.
"Thank you, Doctor. Doctor Fraiser has already informed us that it would be too dangerous to surgically remove the implant." Hammond turned to Janet, who was too busy fiddling with her fingers to notice. He stood, and walked to the back of Jack's chair. "I have contacted the Tok'ra to see if we can learn more about what happened."
Jack leaped forward, nearly flying across the table, and reached out to his friend. "Yes, Daniel, what is it?"
He shook his head. "Jacob."
"Yes, son," said Hammond. "Jacob is coming."
|©2005 Tefnut||Home • Fanfics • Articles • Fav'Fics • Links • LJ|