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Stargate SG-1 fic: Seven Sins

Seven Sins
by jennickels (aka Jen Connelly)
Stargate SG-1
team
7650 words
rating: PG-13
WARNINGS: a little language

Jack is hit by a blast from an alien device and begins to act very strangely. Can his team figure out what is wrong with him before he does something he’ll regret?

don’t own… wish I did, but I don’t. No infringement intended.

The gate burst open, the water-like substance representing space-time shooting out in a swirling funnel and lighting the dark valley before stabilizing into the event horizon. Daniel used to see the formation of a wormhole as magical and beautiful. Now he just thought it slow.

He readjusted his half of the deadweight he was carrying while Sam punched in their Iris code. He glanced over at Jack’s head as it lolled against his chest. He was deathly pale and that scared Daniel more than he wanted to admit. The lack of any movement from his friend on the entire mile trek back to the ‘Gate didn’t help his anxiety any either.

Sam nodded to them, not waiting before walking through the ‘Gate. She was already calling for medics when Teal’c and Daniel dragged a still unconscious and very heavy Jack through. Thirty minutes later they were as close to Jack’s bed as Janet would allow.

“What’s wrong with him?” Daniel asked when Janet finally appeared, tugging the curtain closed behind her.

“I’m not sure. His white blood cell count is elevated and there were larger than normal amounts of antibodies detected but I can’t find a cause.”

“So he’s sick?”

“In a manner of speaking.” She rubbed at the bridge of her nose. “I won’t know more until the rest of the test results come back.”

Just then a harried looking Airman poked his head around the corner. “Ma’am, General Hammond would like to see you in the briefing room. Dr. Fraiser, too.”

Sam dismissed the kid with a reassuring smile before sighing and heading for the door. Daniel and Teal’c fell in step on either side of her as they walked in silence to the elevator.

“I know you’re all tired,” Hammond said in way of greeting, “but the sooner we get this done, the sooner you can all get a shower and head back to the infirmary.” He nodded at Sam and she slid into Jack’s normal chair. Daniel nearly collapsed into his seat, every muscle in his back and shoulders aching. He rubbed at a particularly intense spasm in his neck. “Let’s start with what happened on P2R-247.”

Sam took a deep breath. “We gated in as scheduled. The clearing was just as the MALP showed so Colonel O’Neill ordered us to move out towards the temple. Approximately six hours into the mission the colonel called for a break. We gathered in the ruins to have lunch. The days on the planet are much shorter than Earth’s so it was beginning to get dark.”

“That’s when we got into the argument.”

“Dr. Jackson?”

Daniel sighed—might as well come clean from the start. “Jack wanted us to leave right away. I didn’t. We argued.” He finally pulled his eyes from the table to look at Hammond. “It happens a lot.”

Much to his relief the general’s lips curved into a small smile. “So the colonel tells me. What happened after that?”

“I’m not really sure, sir.” Sam drew Hammond’s attention back to her side of the table. “One minute Colonel O’Neill was yelling at Daniel and the next-”

“There was a bright flash of light and Jack was flat on his back in the middle of the temple,” Daniel finished.

“It happened quite suddenly,” added Teal’c.

“Any ideas on the cause?”

“We didn’t really have the time to consider it. When we couldn’t wake the colonel I ordered us back to the ‘Gate.”

“Dr. Jackson was there anything in this temple to indicate it was dangerous or why Colonel O’Neill was attacked?”

Daniel frowned. “I didn’t have much time to analyze anything. If I could go back-”

“Out of the question. Until we know what happened to the colonel the planet is on lockout. I don’t want to hear any arguing, Doctor.”

Daniel’s gaze slipped back down to the table. “Yes, sir.” He was saved from any further admonishment by the arrival of Dr. Fraiser.

“Any news, Doctor?”

Janet lowered herself into the seat next to Sam and placed a file folder on the table. “Nothing since he arrived in the infirmary. I waited until a few test results came back but I can’t find anything wrong with them.”

“Nothing?” Sam asked with a frown. “Earlier you said his antibodies were elevated.”

“That’s the strange part. When we first treated him he showed signs of an infection but we couldn’t detect any foreign bodies, viruses, bacteria… nothing. His latest blood work came back normal.”

“So he’s okay now?” Daniel felt relief momentarily flood his system.

“I have no idea. Frankly I’ve never seen anyone recover this quickly from the counts he had.”

“But he will be fine?”

Hammond put a hand up to stall the conversation. “Is he contagious in any way?”

“No, sir. As far as I can tell there was never any illness to pass on. I can’t explain it.”

“Then perhaps whatever caused the flash of light in the temple is the cause of O’Neill’s mysterious ailment.”

“And that brings up the question: why was the colonel the only one affected?”

“And what was the purpose?” Daniel realized he asked the question out loud when the general turned to him.

“That’s your department, Dr. Jackson. I want you to go through everything you brought back. Hopefully there will be some clues.” Daniel nodded absently, his mind already organizing and cataloging the information he gathered in the temple.

He didn’t notice their dismissal until Sam tapped his shoulder. “You coming?”

He followed the others down the hall letting their conversation wash over him without hearing the words. His mind was busy puzzling out the meaning of the temple. They were almost to the elevator when the PA speaker squawked.

“Dr. Fraiser to the infirmary. Dr. Fraiser to the infirmary.” The four only glanced at each other before hurrying to the elevator.

Daniel could hear the racket before they even got to the infirmary. The doors suddenly swung open in front of him as a disgruntled nurse charged out. Daniel barely had time to side stop.

“Guess he’s awake,” Janet said with a chuckle.

Inside, the other nurses were trying to ignore the grumbling colonel while still fulfilling their tasks.

“You seem to be feeling better,” Janet said to him as she yanked the curtain back.

“Doc, thank god. Can you tell these little vampires that they’ve nearly bled me dry.”

Janet sighed and moved around the bed to check his monitors. “We need to run a few more tests-”

“Then I can get out of here?”

Janet narrowed her eyes at Jack but it was Daniel that answered. “Jack, you got knocked out by some alien devise just a couple hours ago.”

“But I feel fine.”

“Yes, well, we still need to run more tests.”

Jack threw his head back into the pillow.

“You were hit pretty hard, sir.”

“Et tu, Carter?”

Daniel watched a smile slide across Sam’s face. Jack covered his eyes with an arm and groaned dramatically. Daniel had never seen a grown mad act so childish when stuck in a hospital. He was almost tempted to tell Jack to suck it up. Almost tempted. He valued his life far too much to actually say the words.

“Any idea what happened?” Jack mumbled from the crook of his arm.

“What do you remember, sir?”

“Arguing with Daniel then a bright light. Then I woke up here.”

“That’s about the gist of it,” Daniel told him.

“I’m out for a couple hours and that’s all you got.”

“We’ve been busy.”

Jack sighed, rubbing at his eyes.

Janet put an end to the conversation. “The colonel needs to rest. Why don’t you guys go get washed up. Get something to eat-”

“I could go for some pie. Preferably chocolate cream.”

“-get some rest,” Janet continued, ignoring Jack’s interruption. She patted Sam on the arm as she exited the exam area.

The non-injured members of SG-1 continued to stand at Jack’s bedside. “Well, what are you waiting for?” Jack asked.

“Are you sure you’ll be okay?”

“I’m a big boy, Daniel, I think I can handle a nap. But if you want to stay and sing me a lullaby…”

Sam snorted, getting Jack to finally peer at them from under his arm. “I’ll have the commissary send up some pie, sir.” Sam gave him a huge smile.

Jack returned it, his eyes twinkling. “Chocolate cream, Major,” he called after her. Daniel took one last glance at Jack as he pulled a pillow over his face then followed the others out.

* * *

Daniel woke with a start, his head shooting up form its spot on the desk. He yawned and rubbed at his eyes.

“Anything?” He turned to see Sam standing in the door.

“How long?”

“I didn’t want to wake you.” He glanced at the clock on the wall—nearly 7AM. When did that happen? Sam entered the room and eyed the scattered notebooks, journals and photos on the table. “So-”

Daniel took a moment to stretch then joined her with a sigh. “Nothing really. I’ve never seen this writing before.”

“Alien maybe?”

“I really don’t know.” He picked up an enlargement of one of the temple walls then tossed it down with a frustrated huff. “I could spend the rest of my life trying to decipher this and get nowhere.”

Sam came around to pat his shoulder. “You’ll figure it out. I have faith in you.”

“As do I, Daniel Jackson.” Teal’c’s large frame nearly filled the doorway. “Dr. Fraiser has requested our presence in the infirmary.”

“The colonel?” Sam asked as they headed for the nearest elevator.

“Yes. O’Neill is most anxious to leave this facility. I believe he has finally fractured Dr. Fraiser.”

“Cracked,” Sam corrected. Teal’c merely nodded.

“That didn’t take long.”

Sam snorted. “You know the colonel.”

They arrived in the infirmary just as Jack was buttoning up his pants. “Ah, there they are… can I go now?”

Janet let out an agitated sigh. “I swear, Colonel, you are worse than a three year old.”

Jack stopped with one arm in his over-shirt to glare at her.

“What’s up, Janet?” Sam asked once Jack was again occupied with dressing—this time attempting to get his socks on while still standing… unsuccessfully.

“You guys are gonna spring me.”

“What does a spring have to do with your leaving the infirmary, O’Neill.”

Jack nearly fell over at Teal’c’s words. Daniel was sure Teal’c said those things on purpose just to mess with them.

“I have agreed to release the colonel.” Jack beamed at them all. “If one of you agrees to stay with him at his house for the next forty-eight hours.” Jack’s brow knit together—whether from frustration over Janet’s orders or his socks Daniel wasn’t sure.

When no one answered right away Jack shot each of them a glare. “Don’t everyone volunteer at the same time.”

Daniel sighed in defeat. “I’ll do it. I can just as easily not understand that text from Jack’s house as from here.”

“We can take turns.” Sam gave him a commiserating smile that had Jack glaring again.

“Fine, then it’s settled.” He clapped his hands together and looked around the bed. “Now where are my boots?”

He seemed to decide against waiting for his boots to mysteriously appear—as they tended to do after a stay in the infirmary—and bolted for the door as soon as Janet nodded her approval.

She shook her head after the departing colonel. “He’s like a kid just let out of detention early.”

Sam giggled. “No offense, Janet, but I think that’s exactly how he sees it.”

Janet joined in their laughter. “Just watch him. His blood work still looks good but something doesn’t add up and around here you can never be too careful.”

* * *

Several hours later Daniel pulled into Jack’s driveway. His friend had been sullen since leaving Cheyenne Mountain. He grumbled the first five miles about being able to drive himself. The last few were dedicated to a diatribe about taking Daniel’s car over Jack’s truck.

He slammed the door when he got out, the glass jiggling with the force. Daniel cringed at the abuse of his vehicle. It was going to be a long night, he thought. Jack was still unlocking the door when Daniel approached the porch.

Jack whirled on him. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“Coming inside,” Daniel said, slightly confused. “Unless you expect me to sleep in the car.”

“I expect you to sleep in your own bed in your own home.” Jack’s eyes narrowed at him.

Daniel drew himself up to his full height and crossed his arms over his chest in defiance. He wasn’t going to let Jack bully him. “Janet said you needed supervision.”

“Janet’s paranoid. There’s nothing wrong with me; I feel fine. Great even.” He continued to physically block the door.

“Janet said you could leave the infirmary if someone stayed with you for the next forty-eight hours. If she finds out I didn’t-”

“She won’t find out because we won’t tell her. And you can go about your happy life without my foot up your ass for trying to force your way in this door.”

Daniel rolled his eyes. “Frankly, I’m more afraid of what Janet will do to me.” He dug his heels in and refused to budge. Jack put a hand on either side of the door, blocking it completely. Several minutes passed with each man glaring at the other in a stalemate.

Finally Daniel sighed. “Fine, I’ll go, but if anyone asks it was under threat of bodily harm.”

Jack smiled triumphantly. “I’m a big boy, Daniel, remember? I’ll be fine.”

“You’ll call if you need anything,” Daniel said as he descended the stairs. “Or if you start feeling strange or anything.”

“Yeah, sure.”

Jack was still standing in a defensive position in the doorway when Daniel got to his car. He had a bad feeling about leaving Jack but short of calling General Hammond he didn’t know how to get Jack to let him in. He sighed and pulled the keys from his pocket.”

“You’ll call, right?”

“Yes, Dad. If I need anything. Or feel strange.”

Daniel took a deep breath. Dealing with Jack was sometimes like dealing with a petulant child. “I’ll be by in the morning.”

Jack just waved him off in reply before disappearing into the house. Daniel slid into the driver’s seat and watched the lights come on in the house—first the hall then the kitchen and, finally, the soft flicker of the TV in the living room. He sat staring at the house trying to convince himself this was the right thing to do.

His cell phone rang suddenly startling him so bad he dropped the keys to the floorboard. Somehow he managed to dig his phone from his pocket while simultaneously finding his keys under his feet.

“Hello?”

“Go home, Daniel. I’ll be fine.”

His phone went dead with a little beep. Daniel sighed. One last glance at the house and he started the car.

* * *

The next morning Daniel pulled into the driveway just as a red van slowed out front. A woman tossed a newspaper at the stairs and drove off. Daniel picked it up as he climbed to the porch.

Glancing at the headlines through the clear plastic bag, he knocked on the door. After a moment he realized no one was answering. He knocked louder and waited. Momentary panic gripped him as he wondered if maybe Jack took off in the night.

He dialed Jack’s cell, peering through the windows. Inside he could hear Jack’s phone ringing—The Simpson’s theme song. He could see the TV on in the corner. He tapped at the living room window. A bulky form shifted on the sofa. Fear flooded Daniel as he raced back to the door searching for Jack’s house key on his ring as he went. He knew it was a bad idea to leave him along. And now something happened. He just knew it. Janet was going to kill him.

The door clicked open; Daniel rushed into the living room. Jack was slouched down in the couch, his legs stretched out under the coffee table, arms limp at his sides. He wore the same clothes—khaki pants and a tan sweater—that he left the SGC in the day before except there was a large red stain on the sweater.

“Jack, what’s wrong? Are you hurt?”

Slowly Jack turned unfocused eyes up to Daniel. He blinked and yawned, the remote falling from his lap. “Daniel, what are you doing here?”

Daniel gaped at him. Jack barely registered Daniel’s existence. He went back to yawning as he rubbed at his eyes.

Fighting back a yawn of his own, Daniel dropped into the chair across from Jack and waited for his heart rate to return to normal. “Why didn’t you answer the door? I thought something happened.”

Jack shrugged. “Figured it was you.”

Daniel glared at him. “Then why didn’t-” He gave up on the question at the blank look Jack gave him. He wasn’t really listening anyway. With a sigh he slumped back in the chair, rubbing the ache forming behind his forehead. Jack continued to stare at the TV as if Daniel wasn’t there.

After a moment the scene started to register with Daniel. He frowned as he took a hard look at his friend. Jack’s eyes were bloodshot and puffy around the edges. Dark circles were forming under them and he had the distinct imprint of the sofa fabric on one cheek. He kept rubbing at his eyes and yawning.

Several beer bottles littered the coffee table—the last one half full. An empty bag of nacho chips was sticking out from under one pillow, the jar of salsa on the floor next to the couch. Jack’s shoes were tossed near the stairs up to the hall and he had his jacket draped over his lap like a blanket.

“Jack, are you okay?”

“Huh?” His eyes never left the TV.

“What are you watching that is so interesting?” Jack just shrugged so Daniel got up to get a better view. The TV was muted and appeared to be on some infomercial selling kitchen gadgets. Daniel looked from the TV to Jack back to the TV. “Why are you watching this?”

Another shrug. Daniel picked up the remote and shut off the television. Jack’s stomach growled loudly.

“Jack-”

“Why’d you turn off the TV?”

“What? Jack, are you okay? You’re acting strange.”

“Am not.”

“Yes, you are.”

Jack sighed, his head pressing into the couch cushions. “I’m hungry.”

“So get something to eat.”

“Eh.” He fell over, his head now resting on the arm of the couch. After a moment he pulled his feet up to rest on the other arm.

“Eh? Jack-”

“Hungry.”

“Oh, for crying out loud,” Daniel yelled, throwing his arms up in defeat. He heard Jack snort as he headed for the kitchen.

“That’s my line.”

Daniel came back a minute later with reheated coffee and some cold pizza. Jack just picked at the toppings, ignoring the coffee completely. Daniel watched him for awhile, concern growing with every minute Jack didn’t actually eat. He yawned wide again.

“Have you been up all night?”

“I dunno. I guess. What time is it?”

“8:30.”

“Huh,” he snorted with little enthusiasm.

“Why didn’t you go to bed? You’re obviously tired.”

He shrugged again—it was almost becoming a tic. “Too much effort.”

Daniel frowned at him, dragging his fingers through his hair. “Jack, I’m going to call Sam.” He reached for Jack’s phone on the end table but Jack snatched it away.

“Why?”

“Because you’re acting weird.”

“I’m fine, just couldn’t sleep last night. Last time I heard that isn’t a team problem.”

“And you didn’t eat because?”

He shrugged again. “I had chips.”

“Jack-”

A horn honked out front and Jack suddenly launched from his spot on the sofa. He pulled down a slat in the blinds to peer out.

“That damned idiot again.”

“What?” Daniel joined him at the window. “Who?”

“The guy across the street. He thinks he’s so perfect with his big house and fancy car and gorgeous wife.” Jack let the slat slip off his fingertip. “And his garden is always perfect. I hate him.”

“Okay.”

“Someone needs to put that guy in his place.”

“Jack-”

“I’m just saying he shouldn’t be strutting around so much.” Jack wandered off down the hall. Daniel glanced back outside a second before following Jack. He found the bedroom door open, the bathroom inside partially shut to the sounds of Jack grumbling as he relieved himself.

“He bought a brand new Mustang last week,” he said as he snapped off the bathroom light. “I always wanted a Mustang. Cherry red. Rag-top. It’d be so sweet. And his yard… It’s always perfect. I wish I could have a yard like that.”

“Your yard’s nice, Jack.”

“But it’s not like his. His has lush green grass and colorful flowers. Mine’s half dead. He’s got those cool topiaries. Of course mine would look cooler—maybe spaceships. Or pyramids,” he said with a snort.

“Maybe you need to get some sleep.”

“Maybe you’re right.”

Jack’s head hit the pillow and moments later Daniel heard soft snoring. He rolled his eyes and tossed the blanket over his friend before closing the door and tip-toeing back to the kitchen. He debated calling Janet while he cleaned up the house but in the end opted to call Sam instead.

* * *

“How is he?” Sam asked when she arrived an hour later.

“See for yourself.” Daniel moved aside and pointed towards the kitchen. Jack was sitting at the table polishing off the rest of the pizza, the newspaper spread out in front of him.

Sam watched for a moment then shrugged. “He looks okay.”

Daniel gave her a grim smile. “Wait for it.”

Several seconds ticked by before Jack leaned back and belched loudly. “Damn that was good.” He started rummaging through the refrigerator. “I know I have some leftover pie in here.”

Sam cast a curious look at Daniel. Daniel sighed. “He’s already eaten all the leftover take-out from our last team night, that entire pizza, four jelly donuts and a full box of Oreos.”

Sam’s eyes widened. “All that in one morning.”

“All that in the last thirty minutes.”

The shocked look on her face confirmed his suspicions. She moved past Daniel to stand by Jack. “Sir?”

“Hey, Carter, when did you get here?”

“Just now, sir-”

“Ah, there it is.” Jack pulled a foil container from the back of the fridge along with a can of whipped topping.

“Uh, sir, that doesn’t look very good,” Sam said, eying the pie that even Daniel could see was past it’s expiration date.

Jack stared down at the apple pie. “It’s fine, Carter. A little whipped cream and good as new.”

“I don’t think it works that way, Jack.” Daniel snatched the pie from him before he could take a bit and tossed it in the trash. For a second he though Jack might actually dig it out. Instead he glared at the overflowing garbage can.

“Great, now what am I going to eat.” He dropped into the chair, popping the lid from the whipped topping. It clattered to the floor and rolled to a stop next to Sam’s foot.

“How can you possibly eat any more?” Daniel asked with disgust.

Tilting his head back, Jack discharged the canister directly into his mouth. “I’m hungry,” he answered. Or at least that’s what Daniel thought he said.

“Sir, are you feeling all right?”

Jack wiped the back of his hand across his mouth. “Why does everyone keep asking me that?”

“Maybe because you’re eating everything but the kitchen sink and acting really weird.”

“I am not.” Jack finished the can and chucked it at the trash can.

“Are to. And this morning-”

“You know what you’re problem is, Daniel? You worry too much. I feel fine. All I needed was some sleep.”

Daniel threw his arms up in exasperation. “You only slept for thirty minutes.”

“Haven’t you ever heard of power napping?”

Sam snorted, her hand coming up to cover her mouth. Daniel frowned at them both. “Maybe the colonel just needs to get out of the house. Some fresh air will do him good.”

Jack clapped his hands together and pointed at Sam. “I like her, she has good ideas.” He pushed past Daniel into the hall and headed for his bedroom. “And she doesn’t nag,” he called from behind the door.

Daniel rubbed at his eyes. “You’re not helping.”

Sam giggled. “What do you want me to do? He’s a grown man. If he wants to eat whipped cream from a can he can.” She chuckled at her own choice of words. At Daniel’s continued frown she smiled and started cleaning up. “He says he’s fine.”

“He always says that. And I don’t think he should be going out. Janet said to stay with him at home.”

“It’ll be fine. We’ll be with him If he starts acting strange… stranger, we’ll bring him home.”

“Yeah, relax, Danny. You’ll live longer.” Jack stepped into the kitchen dressed in worn jeans and a green t-shirt. “Come on, let’s go.”

* * *

“You don’t think he’s acting strange?” Daniel asked Sam as they followed Jack through the crowded fair market.

“He does seem a little… odd.”

“Come on, Sam. What about all that food he ate?”

“You did say he hadn’t eaten all night.”

Daniel sighed. “But you didn’t see him this morning. He was just sitting there like he didn’t care about anything in the world. Then he went all crazy about the neighbor’s garden.”

“That doesn’t sound like the colonel.”

Ahead of them Jack stopped to buy a plate of funnel cake. Daniel eyed the food. So far Jack had stopped at almost every stand. “He’s going to explode at this rate.”

“I’m sure he’ll stop eating if he is full.”

Daniel didn’t answer. Jack took his new treat and headed back into the crowd. A stream of moms with strollers chatting animatedly with each other cut across their view. Daniel smiled as they passed. He looked over in the last direction Jack went but couldn’t see him.

“Sam, where’s Jack?”

She frowned at the growing number of fair goers. She gave Daniel a look and they both headed into the crowd, Daniel already dialing Jack’s number. He listened to it ring, his eyes tracking Sam as she made a circuit of the area.

“He’s not answering his phone,” he told her when she made her way back.

“I didn’t see him.” She ran her fingers through her hair.

“He couldn’t just disappear.”

“Daniel, he’s special ops trained; if he wants to disappear, he can, and no one will find him unless he wants to be found.”

Daniel groaned. “I told you something was wrong.”

“Let’s not panic. Maybe he’s just looking in one of the shops.”

They split up and combed the stores and booths on either side of the street. Daniel shook his head at Sam’s silent question when they met back together.

“What now?” he asked.

“He’s got to be around here somewhere.”

Just then an angry looking woman pushed by dragging a crying kid. “Unbelievable,” she muttered as she passed. “What’s the world coming to when grown men steal from little kids.”

Daniel shot Sam a knowing look. She ran after the woman. “Ma’am, I couldn’t help overhear, did you say a man stole from your son?”

The woman looked Sam up and down then glared at Daniel when he approached. “You the cops on something?”

“No, ma’am, but we’re looking for our friend and he’s…”

“Mentally handicapped.”

“Like retarded?”

Daniel grimaced at the crude description. “Sort of.”

“Can you describe the man?”

The woman pushed the kid forward. “Tell ’em what happened, Chase.”

The boy wiped tears from his eyes. “This big meanie took my cotton candy. Just came up and grabbed it from me. That’s not nice.”

Sam squatted down next to Chase. “No, it’s not. Can you describe this man?”

“He was tall. Really tall. And he had gray hair like my Papa. And an Army necklace.”

Sam pulled her dog tags from her shirt. “Like these?”

Chase nodded. He pointed them in the last direction Jack went and they spent the rest of the afternoon scouring the fair for any sign of him. After several hours they gave up and headed back to Jack’s house hoping he made his way home.

Flashing blue and red lights greeted them as they turned the corner. Daniel slowed the car. Several squad cars blocked the driveway so they parked on the street.

“What’s going on?” Sam asked one of the neighbors gathered in front of the house next door.

The elderly woman pulled her glasses down her nose to peer at Sam then seemed to recognize her. “Major, so good to see you. It’s a mess; someone stole Bill’s car.”

“Really? In this neighborhood?”

“Oh, no, dear. The car was stolen downtown.”

“Then why are the police here?”

“That’s the crazy part. When Bill got home someone had dug up all his prize roses. They did an article on his garden in the paper last week. I guess some people just have jealous souls.”

“That’s really… strange.”

Daniel grabbed Sam’s arm and hauled her into Jack’s yard as the lady started retelling the story to two joggers passing by.

“What?” She looked irritated.

“Remember, I told you Jack was complaining about his neighbor. The one with the Mustang.”

She made an “O” with her mouth and followed him inside. The hall was dark and quiet but the mail had been placed on the little table next to the door.

“Sir?” Sam called. “Sir, are you home.” There was no answer.

The kitchen and dining room were likewise empty. Daniel nearly stumbled to a stop when he spotted Jack’s clothes laying in a dirty pile in the center of the room in the middle of the living room floor. Muddy footprints covered the carpet from the clothing to the French doors to the deck. They followed the footprints outside

“Oh, my god,” Daniel whispered. Jack’s yard was a mess of mud, uprooted bushes and transplanted flowers.

Sam gasped, covering her mouth with her hands. “I can’t believe…” she trailed off, apparently unable to finish the sentence.

Daniel felt another headache coming on. He didn’t wait for Sam as he headed around the house to the garage. He cracked open the door to peek inside and immediately slammed it shut again in confirmation.

“What was he thinking?”

“You were right, Daniel. There’s something wrong.”

Daniel nodded. “We need to call Hammond before this gets out of control.”

While Sam contacted the general Daniel made his way back into the house. He could hear the gentle hum of the shower when he entered Jack’s bedroom. “Jack, it’s Daniel.” No answer. A few seconds later the water snapped off. Daniel waited for what felt like forever before the bathroom door opened.

Jack was wrapped in a towel and still slightly wet. “Daniel, why are you in my bedroom?”

Daniel gaped at him. “Jack, have you lost your mind?”

“Not that I know of.” The older man began to pull various articles of clothing from his closet, holding them out to look at.

“You stole a car!”

Jack placed a pair of slacks on the bed next to a crisply ironed shirt. “I always wanted a Mustang.”

“You are crazy. That device caused you to finally lose your mind.”

“I’m not crazy, Daniel, I just finally realized what I wanted. And why shouldn’t I have a nice car and a perfect garden?” He slid the dark gray pants on, leaving them undone and began to pull on the shirt. He glanced up at Daniel as he did the buttons. “I’ve saved the world enough times. I deserve it.”

“Jack-”

“And doesn’t the yard look great? I worked all day on it. I think I’ll enter one of those gardening contests. I deserve to win and I have the best yard on the block.”

Daniel’s jaw dropped. He didn’t even know what to say anymore—clearly Jack had lost his mind. He watched as Jack tucked his shirt in, sliding a black leather belt through the loops. The pain behind Daniel’s eyes grew. Jack spent a full minute picking a tie, asking Daniel’s opinion several times. Daniel only stared back with wide eyes.

Sam entered just as Jack pulled on a suit jacket, smoothing the arms and tugging at his shirt cuffs. “Sir, why are you wearing a suit?” She gave Daniel a puzzled look but Daniel couldn’t speak. He was pretty sure his jaw was on the floor somewhere near his feet.

“What’s wrong with a suit?” He straightened his tie and collar then slipped into very shiny shoes. In front of the mirror he combed and flattened his hair with great care.

“Well, for starters,” Sam said, moving to his side, “you hate suits.”

Jack made a noncommittal sound as he picked lint from his jacket. After a moment he seemed satisfied, turning to face Sam. “So I want to look nice. So what. It’s good to take pride in your appearance. First impressions and all that.”

“Sir-”

“Now you’re starting to sound like him, Major,” he said, jabbing a thumb over his shoulder at Daniel.

Sam took a steadying breath. “Sir, you’re sick. Something happened on that planet and you need to go back to the SGC.”

Jack’s eyes narrowed on her. “I am fine,” he said very slowly.

A loud knock sounded on the front door. Daniel tensed as Jack’s eyes went deadly black.

“What did you do?”

Daniel swallowed hard but before he could answer Sam moved between them.

“I called the general, sir. You need-”

“I need! I need! How the hell do either of you know what I need?” Jack shouted, his face turning bright red.

The sound of heavy footsteps in the hall seemed to enrage him further. He lunged at Daniel just as several SFs burst through the open door. Sam, caught in the middle, tumbled to the door as the SFs tried to restrain Jack.

Ten minutes and six SFs later Jack was subdued in cuffs, plastic zip ties securing his feet.

“I’ll kill you all,” he screamed.

“Sir, please.” Sam looked tired—emotionally and physically.

“You little back-stabbing bitch,” Jack nearly spat. “I thought you were on my side. Should have known-”

“Colonel, if you don’t shut your mouth I’ll be forced to gag you,” said one of the SFs.

“I’ll bust your ass down to Airman if you even try. Right after I knock all your teeth out.” He started struggling against his restraints again.

“We better get him to Janet before he hurts himself,” Daniel said with a sigh.

* * *

Teal’c met them at the entrance to the mountain. “General Hammond asked that I escort O’Neill to the infirmary.”

“Sorry we didn’t call you earlier,” Sam said with a sad smile. They wheeled the hogtied and gagged Jack past. “We were kind of preoccupied.”

“No apology necessary, Major Carter.”

Sam tried to give him a real smile but it failed to reach her eyes. Daniel sighed and rubbed at the bridge of his nose again.

The infirmary was chaos when they arrived. Janet had the SFs attempting to hold Jack down so she could administer a sedative. One Airman was already on the floor, blood gushing from an obvious broken nose. A nurse cried in the corner, hands over her face. She looked up when they entered and Daniel noticed a dark bruise blooming on her cheek.

Teal’c pushed past Daniel to secure Jack’s lose arm—the other already cuffed to the bed. Finally they managed to hold him still long enough for Janet to stick him with the needle. He screamed and cursed her right up until his eyes rolled back in his head.

* * *

“What’s the news on the colonel?” General Hammond asked, coming into Janet’s office where Daniel sat cradling a cup of coffee.

Janet set her own mug down and started to stand. Hammond waved her back into her seat. She sighed, shuffling some papers. “I don’t know, sir. His numbers don’t make sense.”

“How so?”

“We’ve been testing his blood every hour but his counts keep fluctuating.”

“Doesn’t that mean his body is trying to fight the infection?”

“That’s the thing… I still can’t find any trace of infection—viral or bacterial. No parasites or fungi. Nothing. Other than his white blood cell count he’s perfectly healthy.”

“Besides his behavior,” Daniel said.

“There’s that. We did an MRI but it came back clean.” She handed the general a film and leaned back in her chair to sip on her coffee. “I’m at a loss, sir. We need more information about the device. Maybe then…” She trailed off with a shrug.

Hammond scanned the MRI image then returned it to the desk. “What can you tell me about his behavior?”

Janet look another deep breath. “When he arrived he was very violent, screaming and shouting obscenities. When the SFs undid the cuffs to secure him to the bed he smacked a nurse so hard she smashed into the next bed. Then he headbutted Airman Kelley. Broke his nose in two places.”

Hammond cringed. “Will he be okay?”

“He’ll live.” She straightened her pile of folders before speaking again. “I know Colonel O’Neill has a violent side. I’ve been on the receiving side of his anger more times than I can count but I’ve never… This isn’t him. He would never say those things. It was like he took pleasure in hurting us.”

The general sighed. “Dr. Jackson, you spent the most time with him. What’s your take?”

Daniel rubbed his fingers over his lips as he considered how to answer the question. He decided the truth was the best option. It took longer than he cared to describe the day’s events.

“I told you to stay near him.” Daniel ducked his head at Janet’s scolding but Hammond stopped her with a upheld hand. The general frowned. “Sir?”

“You said he was acting very violent when he arrived?”

“Yes, sir.” Janet and Daniel shared the same exasperated look as they nodded.

“And you said he stole a car?”

Daniel nodded again.

“You have an idea, sir?” Janet leaned forward, hope filling her eyes.

“Just…” He pursed his lips then seemed to come to some internal conclusion. “I spent the day with my daughter and grandkids.” He smiled at their confused looks. “We went to church this morning. The sermon was about the Seven Deadly Sins.” Janet frowned but something clicked in the back of Daniel’s head. “One of the sins is wrath,” Hammond continued. “Anger, rage, violent outbursts.”

Daniel pushed his glasses up and rubbed at his eyes. “Envy and greed.”

“Huh?” Janet asked, still confused.

“This morning Jack was ranting about his neighbor’s new car. He sounded down right jealous… envious. Then this afternoon he stole the car. He seemed very sure he deserved to have it-”

“Greed.” Realization dawned on Janet’s face. Daniel and Hammond nodded. “He’s acting them out.”

“Apparently,” the general said. “But why?”

They turned to Daniel. “I’m not sure. The research is slow going. So far I’ve only been able to translate a few words. ‘Challenge’ is one of them. Or it could mean test.”

“Maybe a test of character,” Janet offered.

Daniel shrugged. “I’ll keep working at it.”

“Any ideas on how to cure him?”

“Without an actual infection all I can do is treat the symptoms. With his outbursts the best thing we can do is keep him sedated.”

“Dr. Jackson?”

“From my research these things tend to wear off once the person completes their task or learns their lesson. But that’s just a theory.”

“So he should get better once he’s acted out all the sins.”

“You’re guess is as good as mine, General.”

Just then a nurse ran in looking alarmed. “Dr. Fraiser, he’s gone.”

They all hurried into the exam area. Jack’s bed was empty, the monitors turned off, leads tossed on the bed. Daniel heard Janet mutter a few choice words under her breath.

“We need to figure out which sins he’s expressed. Dr. Jackson, how was he acting again?”

Daniel thought hard about each strange behavior. “He was oddly lethargic this morning, not caring to even change the channel on the TV when an infomercial came on.”

“Sloth,” Hammond said, bending one finger to his palm.

“Then he got all envious of his neighbor.” Another finger down. “Then he started eating. A lot.”

“Gluttony,” said Janet, catching on. “That’s three.”

“After that we went to the fair and he took off. We found out later he stole the car.”

“Greed,” they all said at once.

“He took a long shower, shaved and put on a suit.”

Hammond gave Daniel an incredulous look before pushing a fifth finger down. “Vanity… pride.”

“That’s when he went crazy and we brought him in.”

“Wrath.”

“What’s left?” asked Janet.

Hammond ticked them off. “Sloth, envy, gluttony, greed, pride, wrath and…”

“Lust,” Daniel nearly shouted. They exchanged looks. Daniel heard the general barking out orders as he bolted from the infirmary. In the hall he passed a couple of nurses sporting disgusted expressions. Teal’c met him at the end of the corridor. Janet joined them a moment later.

“One of my nurses said the colonel came through here a minute ago leering at them.”

“Which way did he go?” Daniel looked both directions down the intersecting hall. A startled shriek from the right had them moving again.

They found one of the civilian lab techs holding herself tightly, tears streaming down her face. She confirmed the colonel had made a move on her.

Daniel rubbed at his chin. “We have to find him before he does something he’ll regret.”

“I think he was looking for someone,” the scientist said. “He kind of implied I was ‘close’ but not what he wanted.”

Janet’s head shot up, her eyes going wide. “Where’s Sam?”

“I saw Major Carter heading for the locker room earlier. She said she needed to change into her uniform.”

SGC personnel hurried to get out of Daniel’s way as he rushed through the halls of the complex. The door to the locker room loomed in the distance but time seemed to slow down the closer he got, the hall stretching out to eternity. Sam probably had some scientific name for the phenomenon. Behind him he heard the pounding of heavy feet—Teal’c.

“Sam!” he shouted, slamming through the door. The locker area was empty but steam billowed from the shower room. “Sam!”

A moment later the water shut off. A perturbed and very wet Sam stomped out wrapped in a towel. “What’s going on?”

Without warning a shadow moved from the right and Jack was pinning Sam to the wall. She gave a startled squeak before Jack’s lips crashed against hers, his hand already snaking up her thigh.”

“NO!”

“O’Neill, desist at once.” Teal’c easily pulled Jack away from Sam.

The look in his friend’s eyes sent shivers down Daniel’s spine. He hurried to put his body between Jack and his prey.

Sam clutched the towel tightly to her chest. “What’s-”

Jack brought his elbow up, connecting with Teal’c’s throat. The Jaffa went down with a loud thud. Daniel didn’t have time to prepare before Jack tackled him. He held his breath waiting for the fist to hit him but Jack just scrambled over him to get to Sam. Daniel grabbed him around the waist and used his body to roll them into the shower room.

Water instantly soaked his clothes as they wrestled around. Finally Jack got the upper hand, pinning Daniel to the floor with two hands around his throat. Daniel struggled, pulling at Jack’s fingers but slowly the room began to fade away. Then suddenly he could breathe again.

Jack’s grip went slack and the man slumped to the floor next to Daniel. He twisted out from under him, coughing and rubbing at his throat. He glanced up to see Teal’c holding a hypodermic needle in one hand.

“Doctor Fraiser said to use the sedative if needed,” he explained.

“Thanks,” Daniel croaked. “Sam?”

“I’m all right.” She knelt down next to Daniel. “What’s going on?”

Daniel tried to swallow but his throat still didn’t want to cooperate. His voice came out raspy and weak. “It’s complicated, I’ll tell you later.”

* * *

Two days later Daniel stood at the foot of Jack’s bed and watched his friend’s eyes flicker slightly. “I think he’s waking up,” he called to the rest of his team. Sam and Teal’c joined him with Janet not far behind. She started to take his vitals. Jack twitched away from her touch.

“That’s a good sign.”

Next to him, Sam gave an audible sigh of relief.

Jack stirred again, his right hand moving up to cover his eyes. “What’s going on?” His words were slightly slurred.

“You’re in the infirmary, sir. You’ve been sick.”

“I kind of got that.” He pulled his hand away and squinted at them. “What happened?”

“You don’t remember?” asked Daniel, shooting Sam a look.

“It was bad?”

Daniel grimaced.

“What’s the last thing you remember, Colonel?” Janet just looked concerned.

Jack pressed the balls of his fists into his eyes for a moment. “We went to P2R-whatever. There was a temple. It was getting dark.” He grew quiet then shook his head.

“That was five days ago,” Daniel told him.

Jack groaned. “So, what happened.”

“What do you know about the Seven Deadly Sins?”

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