Surrogate Father (Ship Version)
Categories: Angst, Hurt/Comfort, Romance, Drama
Content Warning: Mild Profanity
Spoilers: Thor's Hammer, The Light, Exodus, Double Jeopardy, Between Two Fires, Desperate Measures
Author's Notes: This is a Daniel/Sam Ship fic. This story was written for Father's Day and as a thank you to Carmen Argenziano (Jacob Carter) for his statements favoring a Daniel/Sam pairing. It takes place a few weeks after Desperate Measures. In this "universe," Meridian does not happen.
Jacob Carter exited Earth's Stargate and walked down the ramp, smiling upon seeing his daughter.
"Hey, Sam." he gave her a hug, then held her at arm's length. "How are you?"
"I'm doing good, Dad. How about you? Oh, and, by the way, happy Father's Day."
"It's Father's Day? I'm afraid it's not easy keeping track of what day of the year it is here on Earth."
"Yes, it is, and I hope that doesn't mean that you're going to start losing track of my birthday," Sam replied teasingly.
"Never happen, kiddo. And if it did, Selmak would be sure to remind me."
Jacob greeted the other members of SG-1.
"So, what brings you here this time, Jacob?" Jack asked.
"Well, the Tok'ra have a little problem. Actually, it's a bit embarrassing."
Jack's eyebrows rose. "Oh? Do tell. Anything that embarrasses the Tok'ra is something I wanna hear."
Everyone joined Hammond up in the briefing room.
"A few weeks ago, a Tok'ra named Lontar was critically wounded on a mission," Jacob began. "The host was too badly injured for Lontar to heal. He found a person on the planet who was willing to be his new host and transferred to him. The thing is, though, that his former host, Karshel, didn't die. Just moments after the transference, the people's equivalent of a holy man showed up. It turned out that he had some pretty extraordinary healing abilities and completely healed Karshel of his injuries. Lontar was delighted, of course, but this posed a bit of a problem. Should he leave his new host once he was able to do so and go back to Karshel or should he remain in his new host? Lontar and Karshel had been blended for several months, but hadn't formed a close bond yet, whereas Lontar's new host felt like a much better match for him, and they were already sharing a strong rapport. Lontar was planning on speaking with Karshel the following day, but he never got the chance. Karshel snuck away during the night."
"Why?" Sam asked.
"At the time, Lontar didn't know. It wasn't until a short while ago that we found out. It seems that Karshel perceived Lontar's actions as a betrayal. He felt as if he was abandoned and left to die."
"Well, he was," Jack said.
Jacob looked at him. "What was the alternative, Jack? Lontar staying where he was and dying along with Karshel? They didn't know about the holy man. Every human who is made host to a Tok'ra knows that a time will come, whether because of old age or a mortal injury, when his symbiote will have to leave him for another host. Lontar did everything he could to heal Karshel before he resorted to leaving him."
"Okay, so Karshel was pissed about Lontar jumping ship. What's the big deal?"
"The big deal is that, now, Karshel is planning on selling all of the knowledge he has about the Tok'ra to the highest bidder, even if that highest bidder is a Goa'uld."
"Uh oh," Sam said.
"Uh oh is right. It isn't the location of our base that we're worried about. We can just move it to another planet. But Lontar and, by extension, Karshel, possessed a lot of sensitive information, information that, in the wrong hands, could threaten the Tok'ra."
"So, what do you need us for?" Daniel asked.
"We've tracked Karshel to a planet with a primitive society. The problem is that it's an Asgard protected planet with a device similar to the one on Cimmeria."
Jacob nodded. "If any Tok'ra set foot on that planet, they'd meet the same fate as any Goa'uld that did. Those devices can't differentiate between a Goa'uld and a Tok'ra any more than they can between a Goa'uld and a Jaffa."
"So, you want us to go get the guy, right?" Jack asked.
"Right. But there's another problem. According to our intel, the Stargate is guarded at all times, and these people don't take kindly to strangers."
"Didn't Karshel come through the Stargate?" Sam asked.
"Yes. He must have befriended them somehow, which is another reason why we think that going through the Stargate would be a bad idea."
"He's probably told them that enemies of his will come through the gate, searching for him," Daniel surmised.
"So, we're talking about going there by ship," Jack guessed. "How long would it take?"
"Four days, three if we push the engines."
Jack grimaced. "Those Goa'uld cargo ships aren't exactly built for comfort, Jacob. I assume that's what we'll be taking."
"Yes, and I am intimately aware of how uncomfortable they are, Jack. We wouldn't ask for your help if it wasn't important. We have clothing for you to wear that will allow you to blend in with the natives. In that way, you'll be able to go in, get Karshel, and get out without anyone being the wiser."
"Even when he starts screaming bloody murder?"
"This will take care of that." Jacob handed Jack a vial. "It's a type of sedative. It will make Karshel quiescent enough that he won't put up a fight. In fact, he'll probably be quite happy since it also has a slightly narcotic effect."
"Well, you guys seem to have thought of everything. But then, we all know that these missions never go down like they're supposed to."
"Now, you do realize that Teal'c can't go down on that planet any more than I can, so it will have to be just you, Daniel and Sam."
"Which brings up the question of how we're going to get down to the planet."
"There's a ring platform."
"How very convenient."
Everyone turned to General Hammond to see what he'd say.
"It's your call, Colonel," the general said. "The Tok'ra are our allies, so we do have a responsibility to help them, but if you don't want the mission, I'll assign it to another team."
"No, we'll do it, sir. At least this time, they're not asking us to go to Hell," he paused, "and I don't think we'll be blowing up any suns . . . will we? If so, tell me now so that I can put the dog out." No one pointed out the fact that Jack didn't have a dog.
"No, Jack. Blowing up a sun is not on the list of planned activities," Jacob answered.
"Well, it wasn't the last time either," Jack grumbled.
The following day, Jacob and SG-1 were on their way. They set up the cargo hold as the bunk room, putting cots and folding chairs in there to make things a bit more comfortable.
Sam and Jacob used the time together as an opportunity to catch up on things.
"So, how have you really been doing, Sam?" the former general asked. "I'm sorry that I couldn't come see you after that whole incident when you were kidnapped. I was on a mission and didn't even find out about it until around a week later."
"That's okay, Dad. I understand. I don't expect you to come running here every time something happens."
"You weren't hurt, were you?"
"No, just drugged to the gills and strapped to a table. Colonel O'Neill got shot, though."
"Well, he looks like he recovered okay."
"Yes," Sam smiled, "although he's insisting that they put sleeves on the bulletproof vests now."
Jacob smiled as well. That smile grew slightly mischievous. "So, any boyfriends I should know about?"
"Dad," Sam responded, slightly embarrassed. "You act like I'm still a teenager."
"No, but you are my daughter, and it would be nice to see you find somebody."
Sam gave a sigh. This was not the first time they'd had this conversation. "No, Dad. There's no boyfriend." Her expression grew sad. "I had a . . . a friend who died a while ago. If things had been different when we first met, we might have become more than friends."
"I'm so sorry, Sam. Who was he?"
"His name was Narim. He was a Tollan. He died when their planet was attacked by Tanith. At least we're pretty sure he's dead. He was on one of the ships that were escaping, and they were all being fired upon. We suddenly lost contact, and we've heard nothing from him since then."
"I'm sorry. You must have cared about him a great deal."
Sam nodded. "He was a good man, gentle, compassionate, intelligent and very courageous."
"Did you love him, Sam?" Jacob asked gently.
"No. We never got a chance to know each other well enough for that. I was attracted to him, and I cared for him a great deal, but there was nothing more than that."
Sam's eyes drifted over to Daniel, who was over in the corner, writing in his journal, his face a picture of concentration. Jacob didn't fail to notice the subject of his daughter's attention.
"So . . . how's Daniel been doing?"
Sam's gaze snapped back to him. "What?"
Jacob smiled again. "Daniel. Your teammate."
"Oh. Um, fine. He's been fine, at least I think he has. We haven't really spent any time together outside of work these last few months."
"We've all been really busy, and, to be honest, our leisure time has been pretty scarce. Daniel tends to stay on base even when he has leave."
"And you do likewise. Don't bother denying it, Sam. I know you too well. You're a workaholic, and it appears that so is Daniel."
"Yes, I'm afraid that we do have that in common."
"You two have a lot in common. It didn't take me long to see that. You're like two peas in a pod."
"We're not that much alike, Dad. Our interests aren't all the same. In fact, there are quite a few things I like that Daniel doesn't and vice versa."
"I didn't say you were clones, Sam, just very compatible. You have a great friendship."
Sam smiled softly. "Yes, we do." The smile faded. "I didn't tell you this when we saw you last time. We almost lost him last year."
Sam told her father about the time when Daniel and SG-5 became addicted to the device on P4X-347 and how the withdrawal caused them to become suicidal, then grow ill, all of them dying except for Daniel.
"I'm glad I wasn't there when his heart stopped on the way to the Stargate," Sam said in conclusion. "I'd have been just about freaking out."
Jacob looked back over at the archeologist. "Daniel does seem to have a habit of dying and coming back, doesn't he."
"Yes, and it's not easy on the rest of us." Sam smiled. "The colonel claims that his grey hair is because of Daniel."
Jacob chuckled. "I can believe that. Those two have an interesting relationship."
Father and daughter chatted for a while longer, then Jacob took over the controls of the ship from Jack. After a while, Sam went over to Daniel and sat next to him.
"So, what are you writing?" she asked curiously.
"Oh, just some thoughts."
"That's your personal journal?"
"Uh huh. The field journal will come later," he smiled a little, "after we actually do something other than trying to kill time."
"Yeah, the Goa'uld don't design their ships with entertainment in mind. I brought a stack of technical journals that I've been meaning to catch up on, but I'm not really in the mood for that right now."
"I brought some issues of archeology magazines that I'm behind on reading and a few books. Jack didn't bring anything. He's going to go nuts . . . and drive the rest of us nuts right along with him."
Sam smiled at the comment. "Well, maybe Dad will let him do most of the driving."
Daniel looked over at the Tok'ra. "You're lucky to have a father like Jacob."
Sam's gaze rested upon her father. "Yes, I am. There was a time when we weren't very close. We've had our ups and downs. Funny thing is that we get along better now that he's a Tok'ra than we did before." She smiled again. "Selmak's been good for him." Sam turned back to Daniel. "What was your father like?"
"The memories I have of him are good. He was a little bit on the stern side when it came to discipline, but he was always fair." Daniel's face lit with remembrance. "Mom and Dad used to take me out on their digs, and I remember dad patiently teaching me the proper way to excavate artifacts. There was this one time that I found a perfectly preserved funerary jar. I completely excavated it myself and presented it to him. He was so proud of me." The smile faded. "He told me that I was going to be a fine archeologist when I grew up and make him and Mom very proud."
Sam rested her hand on Daniel's arm in comfort. "How old were you?" she asked gently.
"Um, seven, I think. It was about a year before the accident, a couple of months before I became ill."
"Yeah. A fever hit our camp pretty hard. People were dropping like flies. I got a bad case of it. As it so happened, Mom was gone at the time, getting supplies, so it was Dad who took care of me. I don't remember a whole lot since I was pretty delirious and in and out of consciousness, but I know that he stayed right at my side throughout the whole thing, trying to keep my fever down as best as he could. I remember his voice talking to me constantly. I held onto that voice and his hand so tightly. I really think that's what saved me. Several of the men who got sick died, and I found out afterwards that I nearly did, too."
"It sounds like he loved you a great deal."
"Yeah. They both did. I often wonder what they'd think if they could see me now."
"They would be very proud of you, Daniel. I have no doubt of that."
Daniel gave her a little smile. "Thanks. Actually, it was my dad that I was writing about in my journal. You mentioning that it was Father's Day yesterday made me start to think about him."
"Well, I'll let you get back to it, then."
"No, that's okay. I can get back to it later. It's not like we don't have plenty of time to kill."
"That's for sure. I'd much rather be in my lab, working, than sitting around."
Sam got an amused smile on her face. "Dad said that we're both workaholics. He called us two peas in a pod."
A real smile graced Daniel's face, making Sam realize how seldom she saw that nowadays.
"I wouldn't go that far," he said.
"That's basically what I told him."
"Although you have to admit that we're a lot alike in some ways."
"Yes, that is true."
"Which drives Jack insane at times."
Daniel looked at something behind her. "Speaking of Jack. . . ."
"Hey, kids. Whatcha doin'?" asked the object of their conversation as he came up to them.
"Talking," Daniel replied.
"What about?" Jack settled on the floor to the left of Daniel.
"Oh, different things, mostly about fathers."
"Fathers? Oh, is it because it was Father's Day yesterday?"
"Partly, sir," Sam answered.
"I remember as a kid that that day was always a challenge for me, trying to figure out what to get my dad," Jack reminisced. "Mom was easy, but Dad was tough. You wouldn't believe some of the stupid things I ended up giving him. I think that the smoking pipe shaped like a fish was the dumbest."
Daniel smiled again. "I take it that your dad liked fishing, too?"
"Oh, yes. It was his favorite thing in the world to do."
"Like father, like son," Daniel murmured.
Jack frowned at him. "I bet that if your father was a fisherman, you'd have loved it, too."
"Maybe so, Jack, but fishing generally isn't a popular pastime in the middle of the desert."
"No, instead, you and your dad went fishing for artifacts."
"Like I said, Jack, like father, like son."
Just then, Teal'c came up to them, having heard part of their conversation. "I hear much about this Father's Day during this month each year but have never inquired about its significance. Why do you set aside a day to give gifts to fathers?"
"It's more than just giving gifts to them, Teal'c," Daniel explained. "Father's Day was set aside as a day to honor fathers and all they give to us, just like Mother's Day is for honoring mothers. Giving gifts is just a way of expressing our appreciation for them."
Teal'c nodded, understanding. "I have many fond memories of my father. He was a good father and a good husband. He helped teach me that strength of spirit was of greater importance than physical strength. I saw much of my father's spirit in Master Bra'tac."
The four talked for a while longer, then went off to do other things. In the case of Jack, it was to pester both Jacob and Teal'c.
And thus it was that the four days passed. They were all happy when they finally reached their destination. Daniel, Sam and Jack changed into the native garb, hiding their weapons underneath the abundant folds. They ringed down to the planet a couple of miles outside the village where Karshel was reported to be living.
When they came within sight of the village, all thoughts of Karshel vanished at the terrible sight before their eyes.
"My God," Sam murmured.
Bodies were lying everywhere. The sound of weeping women and children came to the trio. As they drew closer, they saw that all of the dead were males. The reason for their deaths soon became apparent. There were a lot of other men and teenaged boys who were very clearly ill, their flushed faces indicating extremely high fevers. Women were caring for the sick, but the grim looks on their faces spoke of the hopelessness they felt.
"Jack, these people need help," Daniel said, stepping forward to give aid. Jack grabbed his arm, halting him.
"Don't get any closer, Daniel. It's pretty clear that this is some kind of disease, possibly contagious."
"We can't just leave them like this."
"It wouldn't do them any good if we expose ourselves to whatever they've got. Look, we'll go to the Stargate and dial home. Fraiser can send a medical team through. That's the best that we can do."
"What about Karshel, sir?" Sam asked, saddened by the sight before her.
"If he's still here, chances are that he's sick, too, perhaps even dead. I'd say that our mission has changed."
The teammates headed in the direction of the Stargate. They came to an abrupt halt when they saw it. The gate was lying on the ground, partially buried with rocks. The ropes still attached to it showed that the natives had pulled it down. The DHD was a mess, the center crystal smashed to bits.
"Why did they do this?" Sam wondered.
"What if this illness came through the gate?" Daniel suggested. "Someone might have come through who was sick. It's possible that the native people did this hoping that it would stop the illness. Or it could have simply been an act of anger."
"You think it was Karshel?" Jack asked.
"According to what the Tok'ra know, Karshel has been here for nearly two weeks. I suppose it's possible that the incubation period of the disease could be that long. Janet would probably be able to figure that out."
"Well, regardless, we're obviously not going to be able to contact the SGC that way."
"What are we going to do, sir?" Sam asked.
"Head back to Earth."
Daniel turned to him in shock. "We're just going to leave them like that?"
"Daniel, we're not doctors. The only medicine we have is what's in the first-aid kits. I honestly don't see how we can help them. And, like I said before, we can't risk exposure. Do you want to take a disease like that back to Earth?"
Daniel knew that Jack was right, but the thought of leaving those people to suffer and die turned his stomach.
"Maybe Jacob can contact the Tok'ra, and they can send somebody," he said.
"Maybe. Come on, let's go."
"What happened?" Jacob asked upon seeing the three return without Karshel.
Jack explained what was going on at the village. "If Karshel is there, it's likely that he's got whatever that disease is, and, judging by how many were dead, I'd say that the mortality rate is pretty high."
"You said that only males were sick?"
"It must be some bug that women have a natural immunity to or that attacks something unique to men."
"Well, men and women do have a lot of differences in their body chemistry," Sam pointed out. "There were a lot of young male children about, and none of them were sick. The youngest victim I saw was around twelve."
"Then maybe it only effects males who have gone through or are entering puberty. All right, let's head back to Earth. I'm afraid that you three are probably going to have a nice long stay in the isolation room when you get back."
"Why should Carter have to go into isolation?" Jack asked.
"Because, even though she's a woman, she could still be a carrier of the disease."
"Wonderful," Sam muttered, not looking forward to a week or so in isolation with the colonel. Daniel she could handle since they could both find things to occupy their time, but Jack was a different matter. She suspected that she and Daniel would be ready to kill him by the time they were let out.
A couple of hours later, Sam sat down beside Daniel, who was staring off at nothing.
"You okay?" she asked.
"Yeah. It just really bothers me that we had to leave them like that."
"I know. It bothers me, too. But the colonel was right. There really wasn't anything we could do. Dad has contacted the Tok'ra and told them what's happening. They might be able to help in some way."
"I keep thinking about what we were talking about a few days ago, about fathers. How many of those children we saw on that planet aren't going to have a father anymore? How many of those boys aren't going to get the chance to be fathers? Sha're and I wanted children, but it never happened."
"You would be a great dad," Sam told him.
Daniel looked at her. "You think so?"
"I know so."
"Thank you, Sam. It means a lot to me that you would say that."
Sam gave his arm a squeeze. "Try to get some rest, Daniel. We've got a long trip back."
Daniel rose out of sleep, feeling hot and achy. Touching his forehead, he realized to his dismay that he had a fever. He knew what that meant. Whatever that disease on P9R-523 was, he'd caught it, which probably meant that Jack had, too.
Keeping his voice calm, he called to the others. "Um . . . guys? I, uh, think we have a problem."
Sam looked up from the paper she was reading. "What's wrong?"
"I think I'm sick."
Sam was at his side in a flash, feeling his forehead.
"Daniel, please tell me that you mean you've got a case of motion sickness," Jack said.
"He's got a fever, sir," Sam announced.
"Crap. This is so not good."
Teal'c took the controls of the ship so that Jacob could come over. "How do you feel, Jack?"
"Okay, though I have felt better."
Ignoring Jack's protest, the Tok'ra touched his forehead. "You feel slightly warm, but that doesn't mean that you've got it, too." Jacob turned to Daniel. "What are your symptoms?"
"I feel hot, tired. My muscles are achy and kind of weak. Actually, I feel a lot like when I have the flu, except that my chest and throat don't hurt, and I'm not coughing or sneezing, although I don't always have the coughing, sneezing or sore throat when I get the. . . ."
"What? What is it?" Sam asked anxiously, seeing the way that Daniel's expression had changed.
"All of a sudden, I feel really, really hot," he replied, clearly very uncomfortable.
Sam noticed moisture on his forehead. "You've broken out in a sweat." She touched his face again. "You feel a whole lot hotter than you did a moment ago, and you're very flushed."
Daniel struggled out of his shirt, stripping down to his T-shirt. He wanted out of it, too, but was too self-conscious to go that far. God, he felt so hot!
"Sir, we need to contact the SGC," Sam said to Jack, really starting to get worried. "Janet may be able to help us out."
They dropped out of hyperspace, and the major contacted Earth. When she explained the situation, Hammond immediately called for Janet, who asked about what they'd witnessed on the planet and then questioned Daniel thoroughly on his symptoms. The archeologist's sweating and sudden increase in temperature had disappeared after just a few minutes, but he was still feverish and still had all of the other symptoms.
"I am concerned by how quickly the symptoms appeared," Janet said. "Eight hours is a very short incubation period. This disease, whatever it is, apparently moves very fast. Is there any way that you can get back here through a Stargate?"
Sam, Jack and Teal'c looked at Jacob, who replied, "The closest Stargate that we could use is even further away than Earth. I've been running the engines at a hundred percent. I think I can get a little more than that out of them, but not much, not without risking damaging them. We should make it back there in about two and a half days, maybe a little more."
"All right. In the meantime, try to keep Daniel's fever down as much as possible. I don't know how much the Tylenol's going to help, but it's all you've got."
"Um, I hate to bring this up," Jack said, "but, uh, I think I've got it, too."
Sam touched his forehead. "You do have a fever, sir, though it's not as high as Daniel's."
"Keep me updated as much as a you can," Janet instructed. "Keep track of all of the symptoms. Without blood tests, those are the only things that I'll have to go on to figure out what this might be."
Over the next several hours, Sam, Teal'c and Jacob watched as both Daniel and Jack grew progressively sicker. Both men had experienced more episodes of profuse sweating and severe temperature increase. They were also both experiencing heart palpitations. Daniel, however, was in a lot worse shape than Jack was. His fever was much higher, and he was getting alarmingly weak. He'd had a couple of bouts of anxiety as well, while, Jack, on the other hand, was very irritable and suffered occasional moments of depression.
Jacob and the other members of SG-1 were extremely worried about their companions. Sam couldn't put out of her mind the sight of the dead and dying on that planet. Was that the fate in store for her two teammates? That thought made her heart clench painfully.
Sam sat beside Daniel and wiped a wet cloth over his hot face.
"How's Jack?" the archeologist asked in a weak voice.
"His fever's not as high as yours. He is being especially . . . difficult, however."
Daniel smiled slightly. "Yeah, I heard him complaining about the lack of a nice, soft bed." The smile slipped away. "How close are we to home?"
"A little over two days. Dad's pushing the engines as hard as he dares. We'll make it, Daniel. You just have to hang in there."
Daniel's eyes caught hers. "Sam . . . if I don't make it—"
"Don't," she interrupted angrily. "Don't say it. Don't even think it. You're going to be okay, Daniel. We are not going to lose you. Now, you get some sleep. You need all the rest you can get."
Sam watched Daniel close his eyes. She stayed with him until he fell asleep, then she rose to her feet, quickly wiping away the tears that had filled her eyes.
Jacob came up to Sam and took hold of her arms. "How are you hanging in there, Sammie?"
"I'm scared, Dad. They're both really sick, but Daniel. . . . His fever's up to 105, and it just keeps climbing."
"Daniel's tough, Sam, they both are. If anyone can make it through this, it's those two."
Jacob wasn't going to admit it to his daughter, but he was getting scared, too. He'd seen people die of fever before, and looking at Daniel's face was like looking into the face of one of the desperately ill people he had seen in third world nation villages struck by some deadly sickness.
The Tok'ra looked over at Jack. By comparison, Jack didn't look too bad. His face was flushed from fever, but he didn't look nearly as ill as Daniel. Why was this disease hitting the younger man so much harder?
About three hours later, Sam took Daniel's and Jack's temperatures again for what seemed like the hundredth time.
"The colonel's temperature isn't getting any higher," she announced. "It's been holding steady at around 104.6 for the last hour or so."
"What of Daniel Jackson's?" Teal'c asked from his position at the helm of the Tel'tac.
Sam hesitated before replying. "It's up to 106.2. He's getting dangerously dehydrated. I can't seem to give him enough water."
Daniel's outcry had Sam and Jacob running to his side. The archeologist was thrashing about. He was soaked in sweat, his damp clothes clinging to his body. Beneath the flush of his fever, his skin was terribly pale, almost translucent.
"So hot, Daddy. Mommy!"
"He's delirious," Jacob said as he sat beside Daniel's cot. "Daniel, can you hear me?"
Daniel's hand abruptly clamped onto Jacob's arm. Fever-bright eyes latched onto his. "Daddy? Daddy, so sick. I'm hot. Daddy, make it go away."
At a loss for words, Jacob looked at his daughter, whose face suddenly lit with comprehension.
"Daniel told me that, when he was seven, he got very sick with a high fever. His mom was gone, so his dad took care of him, didn't leave his side the whole time. The fever must be making him relive that experience." Sam's eyes brightened with tears. "He said that having his father there was what saved him."
A weak whimper made both of them look back down at Daniel.
"Daddy," he whispered. "Want Mommy."
Making a sudden decision, Jacob took hold of Daniel's hand. "Daniel? Daniel, I'm here."
Daniel's eyes opened again, glazed and unfocused, yet looking right at him. "Daddy?"
"Yes, Son, it's me. I'm right here."
"I know you do, Danny, but Mommy's gone right now. She'll be back as fast as she can. But I'm here, and I won't leave you."
"So hot. Sick."
"I know you are, Danny. You're very sick. But you're a strong boy, and you're going to be just fine."
"No, I won't leave. I'm staying right here." He tightened his grip on Daniel's hand.
Daniel's eyes closed, and he slipped into a restless sleep. Jacob looked up at his daughter and saw that she was crying.
"Thank you," she said.
"I'm doing this for Daniel, Sam. If what he needs is a father right now, then that's damn well what I'm going to give him. I may not be his real father, but I can be a surrogate for a while."
Sam nodded and smiled through her tears. Then she gave her father a hug around the neck. She stroked Daniel's sweat-beaded brow, then went to check on the colonel. Jack was awake and completely lucid.
"How's Daniel?" he asked.
"Not good, sir. His fever is very high. He's delirious, and he's getting weaker by the hour."
Jack attempted to sit upright, his weakness making him clumsy. Sam put her hands on his shoulders, keeping him down.
"Don't try to get up, sir. You're still very ill."
"Not as ill as Daniel is."
"No, but falling flat on your face while trying to go to him isn't going to help him any."
Jack relaxed and sunk back down on the cot. "Have you been taking lessons from Fraiser, Carter? You sure do sound like her."
Sam gave him a weak smile. "Did you miss that class, sir? It was Janet Fraiser Bedside Manner 101."
"Funny, Carter." Jack's expression changed. "What does the doc say about this?"
"I haven't contacted the SGC again. Every time we stop, it delays us that much longer in getting there. But we're going to have to stop soon anyway to give the engines a break. They're being pushed beyond the safety limit."
Sam left the cargo hold and went to the cockpit, telling Teal'c to drop out of hyperspace and contact the SGC.
"How are they doing?" Janet asked the instant she got on the radio.
"Colonel O'Neill is doing better. His temperature's leveled out a 104.6. He's still very weak, but he seems to be okay otherwise."
"It's not good, Janet. His temperature's up to 106.2, and he's badly dehydrated. He's also suffering from delirium. He's reliving something that happened back when he was a little boy."
"I believe this confirms a suspicion I've had. I think this disease is connected to testosterone. As you know, at puberty, testosterone levels in males go way up, which would explain why there were no victims below the age of puberty."
"What about Colonel O'Neill? Why isn't he being hit as hard?"
"At around middle age, testosterone levels in men begin to fall. Normally, it's a very gradual process. Even though there is a thirteen-year difference between Daniel and the colonel, the difference in their levels shouldn't be all that great, but it's possible that this virus needs a certain level of testosterone in the body in order for it to thrive. Now, several of the symptoms you've been describing match those of Andropause, which is a condition caused by low testosterone levels. Muscle weakness, tiredness, palpitations, anxiety, irritability and depression are all symptoms of Andropause, as are hot flashes."
"Hot flashes? You mean like what women in menopause get?"
"Exactly like that. My guess is that this virus is feeding off the testosterone in their bodies, and the resulting low levels are causing those symptoms. However, the high fever, extreme weakness and other serious symptoms have nothing to do with low testosterone, and those are the things that have me worried."
"So, what can we do?"
"I'm afraid that there's nothing you can do there. When we get them back here, I can try starving the virus out by reducing their testosterone to the bare minimum."
There was a long pause before Sam responded. "Janet, I don't think that we're going to make it in time for Daniel," she admitted in a scared voice. "He is so sick. Nothing I'm doing is making his temperature go down. We've even lowered the cabin temperate several degrees. If we had some ice or-or something like that, I could try that, but there's nothing. I feel so helpless."
"I know, Sam," Janet said in a soft voice. "I wish I was there. I feel helpless, too. But Daniel's strong. He's survived things that would kill a lot of people. You can't give up."
"I'm not giving up, Janet. I would never do that."
"I've got a nurse sitting right here in the control room at all times, Sam. If you need to call us, she'll relay the message."
Sam said goodbye and returned to Daniel and her father. Jacob was stroking Daniel's brow and murmuring to him soothingly. It made Sam think of the times when she was sick as a child and her father would sit at her bedside. That thought made her tears return.
"Daddy? Daddy don't leave me," Daniel mumbled, his voice sounding even weaker than before.
"I'm not leaving, Son," Jacob replied. "I'm staying right here." He wrapped both hands about Daniel's lax one. "Feel my hands, Danny. They're holding on. You hold on too, you hear?"
"So tired. So hot."
"I know, Danny, but you keep fighting. Don't you let go."
Sam was surprised to hear a tremor in her father's voice. She looked at his face. Seeing the unguarded emotions there, Sam realized that, at that moment, he was Daniel's father and was experiencing all the grief and fear that a parent would when faced with the possible death of their child.
At that moment, Jacob met her eyes. "I'm not helping him, Sam," he said helplessly.
"Yes, you are, Dad," Sam declared. "I know you are."
"Thank God you and Mark never became seriously ill when you were kids. I never realized how hard this would be to handle. To watch your child die—"
"He's not going to die!" Sam shouted. "He can't die!" She started crying again.
Suddenly, a hand grabbed hold of hers.
"Sam, I'm sorry. I'm sorry," Jacob said. "I shouldn't have said that."
"Daddy!" Daniel screamed then abruptly went limp.
"Daniel!" Sam cried, terrified.
Jacob frantically felt for a pulse. "He's alive, Sam," he said in relief. "He's still with us."
"God, Dad. I-I thought. . . ." Sam's voice caught.
"I know. So did I." He studied his daughter's stricken expression. "You love him," he murmured.
"Of course I love him. He's my best friend."
"Sam," Jacob chided. "You know what I mean."
Sam's eyes dropped from his, then closed tightly. "Yes," she whispered.
"I don't know. I think that part of me fell in love with him the day I met him. He was so amazing, so brilliant, and passionate, and. . . ."
"But he was married."
"Yeah. He was off-limits, so I put my attraction to him aside, ignored it. In time, as we became friends, my feelings for him changed. He became my best friend, my . . . my confidant."
"When did you realize that you were in love with him?"
"It was what happened on Juna, P3X-729. We found out that our robot doubles had been going through the gate on missions. They ended up tangling with Cronus, and Daniel's robot double was executed, beheaded."
Jacob nodded. "I heard something about that. The Tok'ra like to have the details of exactly how a System Lord died."
"Daniel wasn't with us on that mission because he was off with another team on an archeological mission. At one point, we saw . . . we saw the robot Daniel's head. God, it was like I was looking at the real Daniel's head lying there. And since our Daniel wasn't with us. . . . It hit me so hard I almost threw up. During the whole rest of the time we were there, I was so scared that something would happen to Daniel, that we'd find out that he was dead, too. When we finally saw him, I just grabbed hold of him and didn't want to let go. I realized that, if he died, part of me would die, too. And that's when I knew."
"What about this Narim that you told me about?"
"There was a time when I felt something for him that was more than friendship, but, at the time that he died, I already knew that I was in love with Daniel."
"Does Daniel know?"
Sam shook her head. "I never told him. We're teammates, Dad. He may be a civilian, but it would still cause a lot of problems."
"Sam, don't let the military get in the way of your happiness," Jacob said gently. "Love is a wonderful and special thing that shouldn't be thrown away when you find it. If I'd had to choose between my career and your mother, I'd have picked her in an instant."
Sam stared at him. "You would?"
"You'd better believe it."
Jacob gave her a little smile. "Hey. What are fathers for?"
The next three hours passed with glacial slowness as Daniel's temperature continued to rise. Everyone's hopes fell with each point that their friend's temperature went up. Jack's temperature, on the other hand, was gradually dropping, his other symptoms slowly easing as well. He was now sleeping on a cot just a few feet away from Daniel. He was still too weak to sit with his friend, but at least he was nearby.
Daniel's delirium was getting worse. He was babbling incoherently most of the time, tears sliding sluggishly down his face. With the exception of bathroom breaks, Jacob hadn't left him for a moment, keeping hold of his hand the entire time, talking to him often. Sam, too, stayed with Daniel whenever she could, leaving his side only when she spelled Teal'c at the controls so that he could visit with Daniel and rest for a while. On that occasion, Teal'c sat down at the archeologist's side opposite Jacob and watched as the Tok'ra cared for Daniel with all the love and tenderness of a father caring for his own child.
"You have told Major Carter that you do this because you feel it is what Daniel Jackson needs, but I believe that you also do it because you care for him a great deal," Teal'c commented.
Jacob looked up at the Jaffa, then back down at the desperately ill man on the cot. ""I guess that is part of the reason. Once I got to know Daniel and saw the friendship that he had with Sam, I became very fond of him. In a way, I thought of him as another son."
Teal'c looked at him more closely. "You wish for him to be your son."
Startled, Jacob looked at Teal'c. "You heard my conversation with Sam?"
"Yes, but I suspected before today that you would be pleased if Daniel Jackson and your daughter were to marry. I, too, believe that they are well-suited to each other and would . . . make a good couple. I hope that, when my son marries, he finds a woman who can give him the love and friendship that I see between Daniel Jackson and Major Carter."
The two fathers shared a long look, both of them thinking of the hopes and dreams they had for their children.
Jacob returned his gaze to Daniel, wiping the younger man's face again with the wet cloth. "I'm just afraid that what I'm doing for him isn't enough."
"You are doing all that is within your power. We can do no more than that."
A short while later, Teal'c went off to perform Kel'no'reem. Afterwards, he returned to the cockpit. When Sam came back, she took Daniel's temperature again, her heart plunging upon seeing the reading.
"What is it?" Jack asked, having just awakened to hear what he already knew was bad news.
"107.5. God, he's burning up, and I can't get him to drink any more water."
"Lower the cabin temp down more."
"Sir, it's already at fifty degrees Fahrenheit. I don't think that dropping it a few degrees lower is going to help. We'd have to take it down to below freezing, and we don't have any cold weather gear onboard."
"So, we get a little cold," Jack snapped. "It's a hell of a lot better than the alternative."
"We might have problems with some of the onboard systems if the temperature gets too low, Jack," Jacob told him.
Any further arguments were halted by Daniel, whose fever-induced ranting suddenly grew louder.
"Mommy! Daddy! It's falling!"
Sam gasped, knowing what memories Daniel's fever had brought forth this time.
Jacob tightened his grasp on Daniel's hand. "Danny? Danny, I'm right here. Danny, look at me."
Daniel's eyes wavered a little before coming to rest on Jacob's face. "Daddy?"
"Yes, Danny. Daddy's here."
"I love you, Daddy," Daniel said in a little boy's voice that brought tears to more than one pair of eyes.
"I love you, too, Son," Jacob replied in a rough voice. "We all do, which is why you have to hang on. We don't want to lose you."
Daniel's gaze drifted away from Jacob to look at something over his shoulder. His eyes took on a frighteningly distant look.
"Mom? Dad? You're here?" he said in a strangely peaceful voice.
"Daniel?" Sam inquired, getting scared.
"I've missed you," Daniel continued, not having heard her. "I've wanted to see you again so much." A dreamy smile filled his face. "You want me to go with you?"
"Oh, God," Sam choked out. He was dying. Daniel was dying, and she never told him that she loved him.
"Daniel, no!" Jacob shouted, grasping hold of the younger man's shoulders. "Don't you go with them. You stay here with us! You hear me?" He gave Daniel a little shake. "You are not going to leave us. You are not going to leave my daughter!"
Jack struggled to an upright position. "Dammit, Daniel, you heard him," he yelled. "Don't you even think of going anywhere! That is an order you are damn well going to obey!"
"Daniel, please!" Sam cried, sobbing. "Please don't leave us."
Teal'c was suddenly with them. "Daniel Jackson, you will not go with them," he said in a firm, booming voice. "You must stay with us and continue the fight against the Goa'uld. We do not want to continue without you."
For a long, terrifying moment, Daniel appeared to balance between life and death. Then, all of a sudden, his eyes left that distant place and focused on them.
"Jack? Sam? Teal'c?"
"We're here, Daniel," Jack instantly answered.
Sam grabbed the archeologist's hand and held it against her chest. "We're right here, Daniel. You stay with us."
"We are here, Daniel Jackson," said Teal'c.
Daniel's gaze fell upon the other person there. "Jacob?"
"I'm here, Danny. And so are you. You're not going anywhere. Your mom and dad are just going to have to wait another few decades."
Daniel gave a soft sigh, his eyes sliding shut and his body growing still.
"Dad?" Sam quavered, so scared that she couldn't breathe.
Once again, Jacob felt for a pulse, afraid that he'd find none, and, once again, he was rewarded with a steady thumping beneath his fingertips.
"It's all right, Sam. He's still with us."
"Damn," Jack cursed softly, running a slightly trembling hand over his face. He had really thought they were going to lose him.
"Daniel Jackson will be well," Teal'c stated with finality. He then returned to the controls of the ship.
Jacob looked at his daughter's pale face. "He's going to be all right, Sam," he stated. "I think he beat it."
The next few hours saw a gradual reduction in Daniel's fever. He remained unconscious, but everyone was now confident that he was going to be all right.
It was two full days from the moment that Daniel started getting sick when he at last awakened. Sam was asleep in a cot just a couple of feet away, and Jack was on the other side in another one.
"Jack?" Daniel's voice came out in a hoarse whisper, but the colonel still heard it. He was instantly sitting up and looking at his friend.
Jack gave a little laugh. "That is so like you, Daniel. You just about shake hands with the Grim Reaper, and you're asking everyone else if they're all right. I'm fine, Daniel. I didn't get nearly as sick as you."
"Really bad, huh?"
"Oh, yeah. For a moment there, we really thought we were going to lose you. But you're on the mend now. By the time we get home, Fraiser probably won't have a thing to do, well, that is except for sticking a bunch of needles in us so that she can take a gallon of our blood to look at."
"Oh, joy," Daniel murmured. He turned to look at Sam.
"She's okay," Jack assured him. "Just tired. This is the first sleep she's gotten in two days. She barely left your side throughout the whole thing. Neither did Jacob."
"Yeah. I'll tell you all about it later. Actually, I should tell him that you're awake. He'll probably want to see you."
Jack got up, clearly a little unsteady on his feet, and left the cargo hold. Jacob entered a minute later.
"Hey there, Danny," he said with a smile.
Daniel's eyebrows rose. "Danny?"
"Oh. Sorry about that. I kind of got used to calling you that."
"You did? Jacob, what happened? Everything's really fuzzy. The last thing I remember clearly is talking about Jack's crankiness and Sam saying that we'd be home in about two days."
Jacob sat beside Daniel's bed. "You became very sick, Daniel. You almost didn't make it. You were delirious for a long time."
Daniel's eyes moved away from him. "I have this weird memory of my dad sitting with me and talking to me, holding my hand. It's kind of like when I was sick as a child, but things don't match up."
Jacob smiled. "That was me, Daniel."
The archeologist's gaze returned to him. "What?"
"Like I said, you were delirious. You mistook me for your father, and I . . . well, I sort of filled in for him."
Jacob shook his head. "Don't apologize, Daniel. You have nothing to apologize for. I'm glad that acting as your surrogate father brought you some comfort."
"Thank you for being there, Jacob," Daniel said, deeply touched by the man's actions.
"Any time, Danny." He paused. "Sorry. I mean Daniel."
"No, that's okay. I don't mind 'Danny'. Except for Jack, nobody's called me that in a very, very long time."
Daniel's gaze went to Sam again.
"She loves you a great deal, you know," Jacob said.
"I love her, too. She's one of the best friends I've ever had."
"Is that all there is to it?"
Daniel turned back to him. "What?"
"Daniel, do you love my daughter as just a friend or something more?"
Daniel instantly looked away. "I-I, um. . . ."
Jacob smiled, the younger man's stuttering voice telling him all he needed to know. He patted Daniel's hand.
"Relax, Daniel. You have my blessing."
Daniel's eyes snapped up to his. "I do?"
"I have always thought that you and Sam would make a good couple, that you were the right one for her. You are a good match for my daughter and someone who could truly make her happy, give her everything that she needs in a partner, intellectually, emotionally . . . and physically."
Daniel blushed faintly at that last word.
"Though love is very important in any romantic relationship, you need more than that to make it last," Jacob continued. "You and Sam have more. You're very compatible, have great respect for each other, and you have a deep, rock-solid friendship. Those are the things that make a relationship last a lifetime."
Daniel's gaze returned to the sleeping Sam. "I was always afraid to tell her."
"Well, don't be. I can tell you right now that, if you were to ask her out, she'd say yes."
"You think so?"
"I know so."
A little smile played about Daniel's lips. "Thanks, Jacob."
"Think nothing of it." Jacob paused a moment. "What are fathers for?"
A little surprised and more than a little pleased by the statement, Daniel smiled more widely.
Jacob rose to his feet. "Get some more sleep, Daniel. We'll be back on Earth in a few hours."
Daniel closed his eyes. A moment later, he drifted off to sleep, a smile still on his face.
It took almost a week for Daniel to regain his full strength from the disease that nearly killed him. It had turned out that Janet was right about the virus. It did, indeed, feed upon testosterone, but it needed a certain level in the body to remain alive. Jack being the age that he was, the virus apparently caused his levels to drop more quickly than they did in Daniel, resulting in the virus starving to death before he got to the point where he became dangerously ill.
Unfortunately, by the time help arrived on P9R-523, the disease had already decimated the male population of the village. Only a small handful in the affected age group had survived. Among the dead was Karshel. One good piece of news was that the disease had not spread to other villages in the area.
They learned from one of the women of the affected village that Daniel's guess had been right. A stranger had come through the Stargate three days before SG-1 got there and grew sick shortly afterwards. Where the man came from was something nobody knew.
At that moment, Daniel was sitting in his car outside Sam's house. He'd been there for the past ten minutes, trying to get up the nerve to go up and knock on her door. He'd visited Sam's house many times in the past four and a half years, but this time was different. This time, he was there to ask Sam out on a date.
Drawing in a deep breath, Daniel finally got out of his car and walked up to the door. His knock was answered by Sam a moment later.
"Hey, Daniel. How are you?"
"I'm good. I finally got a clean bill of health from Janet."
"That's great. Come on in."
Daniel walked past Sam and into the house.
"So, are you here for a particular reason or just to visit for a while?" Sam asked.
"Um . . . I'm, uh, here for a particular reason."
Sam frowned at the way Daniel was acting. She couldn't ever remember seeing him so nervous. "Is something wrong?"
"No. I just, uh. . . ." Daniel's voice faded off. Then what he wanted to say abruptly came out in a big rush, all the words blending together. "Samwillyougooutwithme?"
Sam blinked a couple of times. "Daniel, what. . . . Did . . . you just ask me out on a date?"
A brilliant smile lit Sam's face like sunlight. "I would love to go on a date with you."
Daniel stared at her, a little stunned. "You would?"
"Yes. Very much so."
An equally brilliant smile brightened Daniel's features. "That's . . . that's great."
"There's one thing, though."
Sam stepped forward slowly, coming up to within a few inches of Daniel. She leaned in closer and whispered, "I want my good night kiss before the date."
Startled, Daniel gazed at Sam for a long moment. Then a slow smile curved his mouth. "I think I can handle that, Doctor Carter," he said before pulling her into his arms and bringing his lips to hers. With a sigh, they sank into the kiss, knowing that this was exactly where they both belonged.
'Another Father's Day on Planet Earth,' thought Jacob Carter as he looked up into the blue sky of the world of his birth. He had celebrated many Father's Days here in the past, but none of them were as happy as this one.
Turning, Jacob saw his daughter coming toward him with a brilliant smile.
"You look beautiful, sweetheart," he said, giving her a kiss on the cheek.
"So, you ready for this?"
"As ready as I could ever be."
Jacob took her arm in his. "Then let's do it."
Father and daughter stepped out into the sunlight, accompanied by the sound of music. The eyes of friends and family watched as they walked side by side. But there was only one pair of eyes that either of them were looking at, a pair of brilliant blue orbs filled with deep and unquenchable love for the woman walking beside Jacob.
As the pair came to a halt before the man, Jacob looked at him. "I give my daughter into your care, Daniel," he said in his most serious voice. Relinquishing his hold on Sam's arm, he placed her hand in Daniel's, then stepped back and watched the union that he had been hoping to see for years.
A while later, as the minister spoke the final words that joined Daniel and Sam in marriage and the couple then kissed, a happy smile came to Jacob's face. A moment after that, as the applause from the crowd faded, he stepped forward to embrace his daughter and the man to whom he was now far more than just a surrogate father.
"Welcome to the family, Son," he said.
"Thanks . . . Dad," Daniel responded.
Jack stepped up to them, grinning broadly. "Let's hear it for Daniel Jackson and Samantha Carter Jackson!"
As all the guests cheered, Daniel smiled down at his new wife, then met the gaze of the man whose strong presence he'd held onto as death came knocking at his door almost exactly one year ago today, the presence of a surrogate father, who, in that moment and from that day onward, became as much of a real father to him as the man who sired him.
"Happy Father's Day, Dad," he said.
Jacob beamed at him. "Thanks, Danny, for giving me the best Father's Day present I could ever want," his smile became a bit wicked, "except perhaps for another grandchild."