The impossible had happened - not that anybody else on his team knew that - Doctor Daniel Jackson couldn't have cared less about the ancient site he and the rest of SG-1 had been sent to investigate! It was more than likely a site that had been occupied at one point or another by the Ancients, and his reaction... so what.
Why? Why did a site that should have had his blood pulsing in his veins and his mind afire with the possible discoveries it held, leave him feeling irritated and anxious to be home? Jack. Something was 'off' with Jack... He could see it, hell, he could practically feel it... and what did Colonel Jack O'Neill have to say for himself?
Nothing! Absolutely nothing.
In the two weeks since they'd returned from the ceremony the Tok'ra had held to honour their achievement in destroying Apophis' new ship, Jack had grown 'silent', for lack of a better term. Teal'c and Carter had noticed it too, but they had put it down to 'the Sentinel thing'. The Colonel no longer seemed to want to laugh or enjoy life. He did his job with quiet efficiency and looked after his team as much as was necessary, but he was cutting himself off from them away from work.
Daniel bit back a small moan. Something was wrong with his Sentinel, and he felt that hurt as though it was his own. What hurt more was the fact that Jack - in spite of recent promises to the contrary - wasn't talking to him. How could he help him, how could he 'guide' him, if Jack wouldn't tell him what was wrong?
Daniel winced as another related thought sprang to mind. Doctor Janet Frasier had torn a strip off both Jack and himself four days ago - which was when they had finally had to tell her about the Sentinel senses. It had been necessary - he still shuddered at the thought of what a full dose of that pain-killer would have done to Jack, a quarter dose had knocked him out for four hours!
They'd spent the next two days undergoing a rigorous series of questioning and tests before she was happy enough that she could treat Jack without accidentally killing him. She'd spun Hammond a tale about tests due to the Colonel's unusual reaction to the pain meds. The General had bought the explanation for now, but it was just a matter of time before things came to a head. It looked like they had.
Daniel squared his shoulders and took a deep breath. Enough was enough. He caught Sam's eye and his plea was clearly visible in his eyes. Almost imperceptibly she nodded, and then she turned to Teal'c and said, "Teal'c, I need to get some footage from the far side of the ruins. I could do with your help."
She then turned to O'Neill saying, "If that's all right with you, sir?"
He waved them off, saying, "Fine, whatever. Check in an hour."
Five minutes later, Daniel and Jack were alone. Sighing softly, Daniel sat with his back leaning against one of the ruins that they had been sent to investigate, saying, "Damn it to hell, Jack! Why won't you talk to me?!"
Jack flinched at the abject pain and worry that he heard in Daniel's voice, but knew he only had himself to blame. Ellison had told him what he'd feel like if he shut out his Guide. The tone in Ellison's voice, pain and grief, was now so easy to understand. By shutting out Daniel's concern, he felt like he'd torn his own heart in two.
Slumping to sit next to Daniel - but not quite touching - he whispered a heartfelt, "I'm sorry, I just... I don't... Oh, hell! Danny, I'm scared."
Before he'd even finished saying the 's' word, Daniel had wrapped a reassuring hand round his wrist, murmuring, "It's all right to be scared, Jack. You're going through a lot. Whatever it is, I will help you. I need to help you."
Jack sighed, but he made no move to break Daniel's gentle hold. Using his free hand, he rubbed at his short cropped hair and admitted, "I don't quite know how to say this."
Daniel rolled his eyes in friendly exasperation and said, "You say, 'Daniel, the reason I've been acting so weird lately is that I'm scared about...'" and made a gesture that could be clearly read as 'and you fill in the rest'.
Jack closed his eyes and let out a long breath. He could do this. They were only words. True, they were going to reveal a great deal, but they were only words. He trusted Daniel with his life, with his heart...
In a rush, he said, "Daniel, the reason I've been acting so weird lately is that I'm scared about the fact that I haven't had a decent night's sleep in the past two weeks and I'm not sure that I'm ready to deal with the reason. I'm not sure that we're ready to deal with the reason."
He opened his eyes to see Daniel's expression of utter confusion. Blushing, Jack muttered, "You'reheartbeatismissingandIcan'tseemtosleepwithoutit."
Daniel's eyes widened as he sorted through that garbled explanation and he murmured, "You can't sleep without the sound of my heartbeat close by?!"
Jack shrugged inwardly, he'd gone this far. "Jim said that Blair's heartbeat grounds him. He hears it and he feels at peace and centred. I'd dismissed it as 'new age influence' from Blair. I didn't fully understand how literal he was being."
There was a moment of silence before Daniel said, "Jack, how long have you felt that my heartbeat grounded you? I thought your central focus was my voice."
Eyes firmly fixed on the toes of his combat boots, Jack admitted, "Since the day you and Blair both fell asleep at the campfire after exploring the caves.
"Your voice pulls me out of zones - well, that and the fact that I can focus my other senses on your physical presence.
"At night, though, I need to hear your heartbeat. Knowing that you're within the boundaries of my protection, if needed, makes me secure enough to sleep...
"I know it's idiotic. I mean, we're both grown adults here. I'll learn to cope."
There was a long spell of silence after that statement. Jack fidgeted. He knew he should have kept his mouth shut! All he had done was embarrass his best friend. He frowned, instinctively monitoring his Guide with his senses. Respiration even, pulse normal. Daniel wasn't upset...
He jumped when Daniel began to speak; he hadn't really expected a response to his revelation. Realistically, there wasn't a lot that could be done about it. Was there?
"Well, the way that I see it, this problem can be easily rectified."
"It can?" asked Jack in a stunned tone.
"Sure," replied a calm-eyed Daniel Jackson.
"How?" half growled/half pleaded Jack.
Daniel shrugged. "It's easy. I move in to your spare bedroom."
"Makes sense to me, Jack."
"But what about your apartment? Your solitude? Your space?!" demanded Jack, though inwardly he asked himself why he was fighting this suggestion so vehemently.
"Do you want me there?" asked Daniel in a tone that demanded an honest answer.
"No 'buts', Jack. All my apartment is really used for is a place to store my accumulated stuff and a place for me to sleep.
"You're my best friend. You're a newly awakened Sentinel, and you need your Guide close by. That's me.
"I need to take care of you. It's an instinct that seems to reach bone-deep. My apartment is just a place that happened to be convenient for where I work.
"You are more important. I'll move some stuff to your house when I get back - you can help me - the rest can go in to storage. I'm not saying this is forever. I'm just saying that this is for 'now'.
"That is, if you don't mind having me share your house?"
The tentative tone in that last statement had Jack instinctively reaching out to place his hand over the one on his wrist that still anchored him to his Guide. He said four words.
"Please stay with me."
That emotional moment was broken when their radios crackled to life with Carter calling for help. There were natives here and they weren't friendly.
Jack and Daniel scrambled to their feet and rushed off to help their team-mates.
Cascade Police Department, Major Crimes Division.
It was a quiet afternoon in Cascade; at least, as quiet as it normally got. Detectives Ellison and Sandburg had captured a serial bomber that had been targeting city centre book shops. The suspect was in custody and, as always, after Ellison and Sandburg closed a 'big' case, a lull had seemed to fall over Cascade. At least until the next psycho came along...
The usual post-investigation bantering and quiet congratulations cut off as abruptly as though someone had thrown a switch. Horrified, Detectives Brown and Rafe watched as Ellison and Sandburg literally collapsed to their knees.
A growl sounded deep in Ellison's throat before he curled up into a ball, eyes tightly shut, blocking everything out. The one man that would normally be at his side and pulling him back together was even worse off. Whatever it was had caused Sandburg to emit a low pitched scream before his eyes had rolled back in his head and he had succumbed to unconsciousness.
Megan Connor dropped to her knees beside Blair as Joel rushed to Simon Banks' office to fetch him. She ignored everything going on around her as she focused her full attention on the man in front of her. Nobody touched Jim. They had all learned that much. The safest thing to do for a Sentinel 'out of control' was to get his Guide to him. His senses could be spiking, and the only person that could safely deal with Jim in that condition was Blair. Megan began to rub soothingly along Blair's arm and she kept up a constant reassuring murmur as she waited for Blair to 'come back'.
In that time, Simon had cleared the Major Crimes bullpen of all non-essential personnel. The only people left were those that Ellison and Sandburg trusted implicitly: Rafe, Brown, Connor, Taggert, Banks and his assistant Rhonda; she was currently manning the door and making sure that no prying eyes witnessed whatever was going on.
It was a few minutes before Blair came round, groaning as he did so. He murmured one word - and, surprising all those listening, it wasn't Jim. He said 'Daniel'. The rest of Major Crimes looked at each other. Who the hell was Daniel?!
Blair's blue eyes fixed on his partner and he scrambled to his side, murmuring, "Jim, come back to me, man. We've got work to do. They need us. I need you to come back to me, big guy." Blair's melodically soothing voice kept up that litany until he brought his friend back. They shared a few moments of wordless communication, shutting out the prying eyes of the rest of Major Crimes.
Jumping to his feet and startling the rest of his friends in the process, Blair turned to their commanding officer - as always forgetting to address him as 'captain' - saying simply, "Simon, we need an immediate leave of absence."
"What?!" demanded Simon Banks, worry and anger warring for control as he contemplated what could possibly drive both Blair and Jim catatonic at the same time.
Rafe and company split their attention between their angry captain and the determined Guide, and Ellison.
He had left his partner to deal with Captain Banks and had instead collapsed at the nearest desk, hand automatically reaching for the phone. Their eyes had widened when they listened to his side of the conversation. Why was he calling Cheyenne Mountain and asking to speak to a Colonel Jack O'Neill. Why was he calling the military?!
Ellison's frown had deepened when both this O'Neill guy and Doctor Daniel Jackson had both been unavailable. He'd asked for a Major Samantha Carter next. He identified himself and then barked out, "What happened to Daniel?!
"Because we know. For god's sake, I thought Daniel had shown you Blair's dissertation!
Ellison's eyes grew noticeably concerned at whatever response he got to that question.
"Have they told your CO yet?... OK, you're going to have to tell him... Major, you need to do it.
"Blair and I will leave on the first available flight. We'll be at the mountain as soon as we can. Can you arrange clearance for us?"
Ellison smiled a strange smile at whatever she said. His eyes locked on his partner's and you could have heard a pin drop when he said, "Yes, I know it means that we'll effectively be telling the military that Blair's dissertation was true. Jack and Daniel need us. That's the most important thing.
"Right... We'll see you soon, Carter."
Ellison and Sandburg turned their gazes to their captain, eyes intense. Simon Banks sighed and said, "I'll clear it. Permission granted. Just be careful. Clear?"
"Yes, sir," replied the Sentinel and Guide as one. Quickly, they shut down computers, grabbed jackets, waved goodbyes to their friends and co-workers and stalked from the bullpen.
In the SGC, Major Samantha Carter put down the phone receiver she was holding and took a deep breath. Teal'c and Janet were still with Colonel O'Neill in the infirmary. That left it up to her to do this.
She walked through the corridors of the SGC, smiling wanly at the reassuring whispers offered to her, and made her way to General Hammond's office. She knocked, walked inside and stood at attention, saying, "Sir, there's a lot of stuff I have to talk to you about. It's about the colonel and Daniel..."