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22 June 2009 @ 05:55 pm
SG-1 Fic: A Loose Bolt in a Complete Machine (PG-13) (4/5)  
Fandom: Stargate: SG-1
Title: A Loose Bolt in a Complete Machine (4/5)
Author: Em
Rating: PG-13 for language and violence
Word Count: ~50,000 (in 5 parts)
Pairing: Jack/Daniel
Summary: SG-1 returns to Tekhne to extract Gerard, the inventor of the Vinculum (in Jack-speak, "internet in the brain"). But the mission goes south when Daniel is captured. Unable to remember where he is or what mission he was on, Daniel faces mental and physical abuse that threatens to break him. Can SG-1 rescue him before his mind completely cracks? Why is it Daniel they're after? And won't anyone believe that Jack's receiving messages from him?

Continued from Part 3.

* * *

Daniel found the main computer room and amazed the guards when they saw all the crystals shining and reflecting the torchlight. It was all Daniel could do not to collapse in giggles. He hid his amusement by cursing in Ancient. He kept his tone light, but called his captors morons and children and apes and other things that he wouldn't normally say in English . . . even about Jack.

"Thanks for that." Jack encouraged the taunts. Some of the insults sounded more like things he would say and that almost made Daniel smile.

He ran his hands over the crystals that were once completely familiar. They tinkled as they clicked together, the sound as light as Ascension. He couldn't repair a mother ship, but Sam had taught him enough that he could reroute power and bring the sub-light engines online. She had tried to teach him to bring up life support, but he could never quite remember the sequence. He told her not to worry because if he died he'd just come back anyway.

"It was funny at the time," Jack said.

Daniel agreed; it wasn't so funny any more.

The guard slapped his hand when Daniel reached for a crystal. He bit back his retort, tried to remember that he was a prisoner and not overseeing some dig with a bunch of first-year doctoral students who could barely order a beer in Arabic. For some reason the slap tugged at him the wrong way and all his frustration rushed to the surface. The guards barely let him explain anything and they wouldn't understand regardless. They were too stupid to understand.

"Why don't you try holding your breath?" This time Jack's voice was too real and Daniel remembered it as an echo of something Jack actually said one time.

The memory cracked him open like an overripe melon.

He felt his face twisting, tried to fight back against it, but gave in to the pain, to the anger. His lips pulled back over his teeth. "I need this!" He pulled the crystal out of its place and waved it in front of the guard's face.

The crystal was knocked out of his hands and shattered on the floor. Daniel dropped to his knees. This was the one he needed. He'd need it to open the glider bay if the control crystal was broken. He knew it and the guards didn't because they didn't ask him what he needed (not that they would be inclined to give it to him if they knew).

Amelia was suddenly beside him, her hands clutching shards of the broken crystal. She looked up, her eyes asking, "Is this important?"

The backhand across his face stirred him.

He rose, standing straighter than he had in a long time (weeks? months? he couldn't track time any longer).

He looked over the bank of crystals again, spotting one that would do as a replacement. The size and shape might be close enough.

"Size matters?" Jack asked. "And you told me it didn't."

Daniel hid his grin, narrowing his eyes at the guard. He lowered his head and went back to work, leaving Amelia to pick up the broken shards.

"Smart. Play it smart." Jack followed Daniel, taking up a casual position next to him. "And you should be smart about her, too."

Daniel rolled his eyes at Jack. He wasn't about to run off with some girl for any reason other than helping her get out of here. Though Jack was right about Gerard and Jacob. There wasn't any reason to leave them behind. If he could take them with him, he would. He'd take all of them. He'd save them all. If he could, he'd take the chance.

"You could come back for them all," Jack pointed out.

"Oh, you mean the way you're coming back for me?" Daniel hissed in Spanish.

"I am," Jack said. He pressed one offended hand to his chest. "You wound me. Like a rescue is something I can just pull out of a magic pouch."

Daniel wrote the words on the ground: You usually do.

Jack read the message and then brushed at it, the words obscuring only after Daniel had also scrubbed at them.

"Well, some nuts are trickier to crack."

Daniel snorted; he had certainly become a nut. He looked up at Jack, wondering if Jack would still be with him if he didn't recover from this. He'd been on the edge before, he'd had voices in his head before, he'd been committed before, but that had always been the result of aliens messing with his brain. This wasn't because of any alien technology—


Why did that sound familiar?

He remembered saying, "I agreed to having my brains messed with." Why had he said that? What had he agreed to do? Oh god, had he agreed to this? Was that why he couldn't remember anything? Was he not allowed to remember? Was he an experiment?

A hand touched his shoulder, solid and reassuring. Daniel looked up and saw Jacob, his face clear and unscarred. He wore round glasses and had a sharp nose, but his closed-mouth smile was friendly and calming.

"You're nearly there," Jacob said.

"No!" Amelia screamed.

A blow hit the back of Daniel's head and he slumped forward. He thought he saw Jack watching the scene behind him, but Jack didn't tell him what he saw.

* * *

He almost let Carter lead the recon. It wouldn't have been his first choice, but there was something in her eyes—some uncertainty about him—that made Jack question himself. If Carter wasn't sure of him, his priorities, his capability, then maybe he was compromised. But Jack couldn't relinquish command on this one. Carter didn't quite believe that he knew where Daniel was, so he had to keep command and see it through. He'd promised Daniel he was coming for him, even if it was only in a shared dream.

Jack put his hand on Teal'c's shoulder, pulling him back while Carter and Gerard got a little ahead.

"You don't think I'm losing it, do you?" He tried not to put too much weight on Teal'c's answer.

"No more than usual, O'Neill." Jack almost caught the hint of a smile. "I believe you are distressed and that Major Carter is perhaps not aware of all that is happening."

"So I'm not losing it?"

Teal'c frowned, like he was trying to prevent himself from smiling. "No, you are not."

"Hmm." Jack turned to check their six. "All right."

"Sir," Carter's voice crackled over the radio. "You should see this."

Jack looked ahead and saw Carter and Gerard crouched behind a crumbled statue. They were actually in the middle of what used to be a fountain. The marble wall surrounding the fountain had crumbled, parts of it probably washed away when the basin emptied. Angel wings stuck up out of the rubble at odd angles, providing decent cover. A pair of arms rose towards the sky, the open palms cupping a shattered book.

Jack looked up the name of the statue on the Vinculum because he thought Daniel would have wanted to know it. The translation of the Tekhnen name meant, "The Knowledge of God is in Man's Hands." Appropriate, Jack thought. He might enjoy Dawes's sense of irony if Dawes hadn't captured his boyfriend.

Gerard arched his eyebrow at Jack.

"Can you forget you heard that?" Jack muttered as he crouched beside them.

Gerard smiled behind his hand, and then squinted, and Jack knew he was accessing the satellites through the Vinculum.

"Patrol." Carter pointed and, sure enough, there was a group of four soldiers moving through the shadows on the other side of the square. Carter passed over a pair of binoculars. "Look at what's strapped to their hips."

Jack held up the binoculars, adjusting them and zooming in on the rectangular shapes dangling from their belts. "Damn it. That explains a lot," Jack said.

"What?" Gerard looked between Jack and Sam, his eyes wide and worried.

"They have radios," Carter explained. "They must have reverse engineered them from the one Colonel O'Neill left behind last time."

Gerard shook his head. "We had radio technology before the Vinculum. It just . . . it's been a long time since we considered using them for personal communication."

"Well, Dawes is clearly reconsidering it." Jack passed back the binoculars. "All right, no radios from here on out—they clearly were listening in on our channel when we attacked the capitol. Gerard, is the Vinculum secure enough that we can communicate through it?"

Gerard nodded. "I doubt Dawes will have any Open Networks around his base. It would be too much of a risk with his troops. Plus, hooking into the system would alert Henley to his whereabouts."

"Carter, stick with Gerard. I'll stay with Teal'c." Jack held out his hands. "Say hello to your new radios." Gerard waved awkwardly, a confused look on his face.

"Sir, are you sure it's not too dangerous to continue checking this area. If Dawes has a patrol. . . ." Carter scanned the area, probably looking for a second patrol.

"It's not going to let up, Major. This is his base of operations. We go in or we go home without Daniel."

Gerard sucked in a breath—going home without Daniel meant going home without Jacob.

"Sir, there just isn't much to support your," Carter cleared her throat, "theory." Jack chuckled, he could hear the air quotes in the careful way she tried not to offend her superior officer.

"If another patrol passes in a few minutes, it's a perimeter check, not recon." Jack got a little more comfortable in his squat. "All we have to do is wait." He turned to Gerard. "We're clear on satellites, right?"

"We were clear when we arrived." He looked at Carter. "Dawes would keep the satellites retasked nearly constantly. That there weren't any satellites already watching the area . . . it's highly likely that this really is Dawes's base."

Carter bit her lip and looked through her binoculars again.

Jack stretched his neck, earning a satisfying pop, counting the seconds until the patrol came back around. There was a slight breeze and the scent of decay caught in Jack's nostrils. Despite the ruin and the way Gerard talked about the impoverished and destroyed Lower City and South City, they hadn't run across many bodies. The Tekhnens must have cleaned up at least some of their messes. They'd still found a few, though, in areas of the city that were harder hit. Gerard barely gave them a second glance, stepping over the remains and moving on.

"Looks like I owe you an apology, sir. They're coming back this way."

"Security check." Jack was more than a little excited to be right; especially when it meant that Carter was wrong. How often did that happen? "So, shall we sneak around and figure out the best way to bust out Daniel?"

Carter smirked. "You don't have to rub it in."

"Would never dream of it, Major." Jack grinned. "Teal'c and I will take the east side of the complex, look for possible entries, take note of their defenses and patrols, the usual."

"I have the maps." She pulled out her laptop.

"I have them here," Gerard said tapping his head. "Would you care to follow me?"

Carter gave Jack one pained look and then gestured for Gerard to lead. Apparently the Vinculum was starting to wear on her. Which was funny since Jack was only just now starting to like it. Anything that kept him connected to Daniel—anything that brought Daniel back to him faster—he liked.

"Come on, T. I think I've got a bead on a back way in. It might be heavily guarded, so we'll try to keep this no contact, but, well, no promises." Jack grinned and saw Teal'c nod. Teal'c lead the way around the building, ducking the security patrol, and they found the crumbled entrance Jack saw in the photos he was certain had come from Daniel.

"There's a statue just past this initial debris." It was exciting to be this right about a place he'd never been before. He felt a little psychic, or like he could predict the future.

When they slipped past the unguarded entrance, Teal'c turned, stiffening slightly when he saw the statue.

"This is Ma'at. Daniel Jackson pointed out a statue of Ma'at near the Stargate the last time we were here. He surmised she must have once ruled this planet, but found no archaeological evidence when he searched the Tekhnen records."

"What's the Ma'at-ter?" Jack earned a pointed glare from Teal'c for his bad pun.

"I find it unusual that there is an intact statue of a Goa'uld on a liberated planet," Teal'c said, the muscles in his jaw clenching in that way that indicated he was getting annoyed. "Perhaps you should let Major Carter know that we've found a way in."

"Hmm? Right." Jack sent a message to Gerard through the Vinculum, sending their position and a rough explanation of how to get there. A moment later and Jack received a confirmation from Gerard that they were coming to rendezvous and would be there shortly.

"It seems odd that a man as careful as Commander Dawes would leave an opening such as this unguarded." Teal'c hadn't stopped assessing the situation, looking around and staring into corners. Of course if this place was guarded by something through the Vinculum, neither of them would ever find it.

"I'd agree with that. Which is why we're holding our position until Carter and Gerard can arrive. The two of them can work their techno magic and tell us if it's surveilled in any way."

"We may have already triggered security and waiting here could be allowing their troops to surround us."

Jack raised his eyebrows. It was pretty unusual of Teal'c to be paranoid. "Then I guess they'd take us to Daniel."

Teal'c clenched his jaw again, so Jack backed off, falling back to the statue of Ma'at, examining her face closely. She was the only piece of statuary that wasn't crumbling. More than intact, her face looked polished, like she was well cared for or recently cleaned. There was a patch of whiter stone patching her cheek where there must have once been a hole. She was wildly out of place given the surrounding crumbling marble.

"T, you notice anything unusual about this statue?"

Teal'c squinted one eye—oh yeah, he was annoyed. "I have already commented on that which is unusual. That it is, in fact, intact."

"The other statues aren't." Carter's voice came from behind Jack. "I think you're on to something, Teal'c. Gerard, is there anything about this statue on the Vinculum?"

"It's of Ma'at," Jack said sagely.

Gerard gave him a weird look and then was quiet for a moment, clearly looking up something more useful. "There's no public record of it. It's not original to the building."

Carter smirked, pulling out one of her handheld doodads and checking the readout. "There's a low-level energy signature coming from the stone."

"An energy signature?" Jack tilted his head, looking over Ma'at's arm and down her body. The stone tunic folded around her legs, gathering in a puddle so that her feet were entirely hidden.

"Mmhmm." Carter pursed her lips and pulled out her laptop, fiddling with it. She leaned closer, typing in some numbers. "Just a second, sir." After a moment she grinned.


"Sorry sir. Just . . . it's the kind of energy signature that might be used to power one of these." She clicked her radio.

Gerard snapped his fingers. "Of course. No one else on this planet is going to use radio waves—we don't even broadcast any more."

"So no one is going to accidentally figure out how to get in," Carter continued.

Gerard looked the statue up and down, looking like he might ask Ma'at out on a date. "Derek is smarter than I give him credit for being."

Jack gestured a bit impatiently. "If you get us inside, you can patronize him to his face."

Carter grinned. "Just give us a few minutes, Colonel. We'll figure it out."

* * *

Dragged back to the main excavation site, Daniel tried to make his legs move in the right direction. They'd moved beyond the peltac, opening the halls as they went. Daniel had spent days away from the peltac and control room—trying to maintain his patience. It was their first day back in the control room and the guards finally let Daniel touch the crystals. He wasn't sure if they'd been given orders to allow Daniel to study them or if the guards had just gotten over their initial reaction of possessiveness.

It took time, patience, and waiting for the right distraction (he'd had to shove Gerard into a guard, start a fight and get pushed into a console), but Daniel snagged the crystal he needed to open the glider bay doors, slipping it inside his pocket.

He'd decided that maybe Jack was right—not necessarily about Amelia, Daniel still figured Jack was just irrationally jealous about her—but about the fact that it would be easier for him to save himself and then come back with the SGC. They'd still be able to rescue Amelia, Jacob, and Gerard, but first Daniel needed to save himself.

He motioned that he was going into the next room. One guard followed him, but just one. Just one wouldn't be a problem.

The door to the glider bay was sealed. None of their tools had been able to wedge it open, but given the proper tools, Daniel knew it would be easy.

When they turned the corridor—far enough away that a single yell wouldn't alert the guards—Daniel just turned and pushed the guard, knocking him off balance. His staff weapon swung up and Daniel grabbed it by the middle, quickly flicking up on the switch to activate it and then he pressed the trigger. The weapon was loud and bright, hitting the guard at close range. The guard slumped forward, his grip on the weapon slack.

Daniel left the staff, hurrying down the hall to the doors. He pulled off the control panel with his fingernails, nearly ripping one off. He didn't stop though, he only had a few minutes; this could be his only chance. He had to work quickly.

"Come on, Daniel. Come on." Jack's voice was at his shoulder, bothering him while he was trying to concentrate—how very Jack of his hallucination.

He wiped his brow. One of the crystals—yes, it was broken—he slid it out and put in the replacement. There was a surge of power, the control panel lit. He did it!

The glider bay doors gasped open. They were just wide enough for Daniel to pass through. Rocks and other debris prevented them from opening farther.

"Doesn't matter," Jack said. "We're in!"

Daniel moved to the railing, looking down into the ship and feeling vertiginous. His mind swooned, but Jack held him upright.

"Come on. We need to get to a glider."

Daniel turned and ran to a ship—there were four remaining. He didn't actually know how to fly one; he'd never had to.

"I'll talk you through it; just get in."

A quick inspection of the outside and everything looked okay, from what Daniel remembered anyway. He climbed into the cockpit. Again, the visual inspection checked out. Daniel reached out, trying to remember which switch would ignite the engine, which button would bring him freedom.

"Jack, I don't know what I'm doing." His voice was hoarse, desperate. The guards should have realized their mistake by now; they'd come looking for him soon.

"You can read Goa'uld," Jack said.

Daniel nodded, thankful that Jack was here even if he was overly sarcastic. He found a power button. He pushed it.

The glider powered up.

"Yes!" Jack punched the air, nearly dancing.

Daniel started flicking switches like it was second nature. Something else was guiding his hand, and he wasn't sure how or why he remembered, but these were the right switches, the right sequence, and everything was going according to plan. It was like Jack had planned it, was really helping him, was in Daniel's head and telling him not just what Daniel wanted to hear, but what he needed to know.

"Maybe I can save myself this time."

Jack laughed and ruffled Daniel's hair. "Sure thing, spacemonkey." Jack hadn't called him that in five years. The name jarred him, sent his mind reeling, careening, tumbling over the roller coaster and under the tracks, looking up as the cars passed over—clack-clack, clack-clack, clack-clack.

"No. Daniel. No." Jack slapped Daniel; he could feel it. His face stung, his head lolling to the side.

There was shouting at the door. Louder than ever, like it was happening right next to his head, or like he was a fish in an aquarium with people standing outside and pounding on the glass.

Amelia slipped through the narrow gap in the door. She was running towards the glider, waving her hands. Daniel remembered thinking he could save her. A glider seated two.

"The guards are behind her. There's no time," Jack said. "Even heroes can be pragmatic."

Daniel bubbled with laughter, like a croaking toad. "Pragmatic. That's my word."

"Daniel, focus!" Jack barked.

But Daniel couldn't focus any more. He wasn't going to escape; he knew that now. He didn't think this through. He wasn't the tactician Jack was; that was why Jack always beat him at chess; that was why Jack was the CO. Daniel may be the brain (and that he was starting to lose his mind, how useful could he be?), but he wasn't the one who saved people.

"Daniel, you've saved plenty of people. You've saved me. Today you just need to save you." Jack was pleading. It was weird. The last time Daniel heard Jack's voice like that was just before he died—Ascended—that time he died.


Daniel fired up the engine without thinking. He heard a scream. The glider rocked, feeling like maybe the inertial dampeners were damaged, but they were still operational. He turned the glider and mashed the button that would open the glider bay doors, forgetting they were underground.

The door slid open and dirt rushed in, an avalanche. Daniel's mouth opened in a surprised O. He had to think of something else. There had to be another way out.

He turned the glider back the way he came. Amelia was lying on ground, but Daniel pushed his worry aside. If she was hurt, she was already hurt; he had to save himself. He had the opportunity; he could save himself, save Jack the trouble of hauling his ass back through the Stargate.

"I'd do it if I have to," Jack said. "I'm fond of your ass."

"I know."

The doors were still only cracked open, but Daniel primed the weapons system, pulled the trigger, and blasted through them. The ha'tak wasn't made for gliders to fly through it and the wings scrapped against the walls. Daniel shut out the sound as best he could, but it grated into his skin until he was humming with it, the sounds vibrating in his teeth. The right wing clipped off first, then the left; remarkably there was still enough of the wings for maneuverability, for flight.

Daniel laughed, feeling absurd. "Bet you never thought we'd be doing this," he told Jack.

"There are lots of things I never thought we'd do." Jack's voice sounded free.

Daniel turned the glider around a corner. He didn't think he could get to the surface, but there was a ring platform on every level. If the doors were shut, Daniel could open them with the glider; he could blast the doors in if he had to.

"Where's the ring room?" Jack asked, craning his neck.

It was past his cell—in some part of the ship he'd never seen, but knew was there. It was Daniel's knowledge of Goa'uld architecture that was guiding his hand, not his memory of being brought into the ha'tak. He didn't remember being brought into the ha'tak. It was almost like he'd always been here. He'd had a life before this, right?

"Daniel, you're coming home. You had me before this, remember? Daniel?" Jack's hand was hot and solid on his shoulder, like a recently fired P-90. "We're close." The words didn't sound like they were meant for Daniel.

"Jack? Is someone else here?"

The glider dipped suddenly, pulling Daniel back to the ha'tak, to the moment, to his escape. The ring room was close. The next corridor, he thought. He was sure the planet had a Stargate. He just needed to make it to the 'gate, dial out, dial home.

"No GDO," Jack reminded him.

"I only know about fifty 'gate addressees, Jack; we can pick one."

"Pick one with a beach."

Daniel laughed, turning the corner too tightly. The right stub of a wing dipped down too far and hit the ground, making solid contact; the rest of the glider kept going forward. The ship spun, the cockpit smashing into the wall, turning; Daniel saw the other wall whip past. Metal crunched against metal, like tin cans collapsing, and an explosion started in the back of Daniel's brain with a rhythm that felt like a spray of bullets from an M-5.

The rocking stopped and Daniel felt the straps of his seat come loose. "Daniel. Daniel, you have to get out of there." His brain barely registered that it wasn't Jack's voice.

"Yeah." Daniel's head lolled a bit, but he blinked and everything straightened, the watery vision draining away as his eyes found Jacob's sharp nose and round glasses. "Jacob?"

Jacob nodded. "You have to get out of there, Daniel. Stand up."

"What about you?" Daniel stood. His right leg was soaked red with blood and he stumbled, gripping the death glider controls for support.

"You're not hurt, Daniel," Jacob said. There was something about his voice—it was commanding, believable. Daniel trusted him instinctively.

"There's blood," he protested.

"No," Jacob said, staring at Daniel hard. "See past it. Do you feel hurt?"

Daniel put his weight on his foot, finding that there was no pain. It was like wearing movie makeup, playing pretend and forgetting it was pretend.

Jacob smiled, his lips upturning only slightly. "Good. Now get out of here. You know where to go."

Daniel got out of the glider, feeling better than he had in ages. All of his aches seemed to be gone; he couldn't feel the bruises any more. It was like everything had magically healed . . . or like he'd never been hurt in the first place.

He moved towards the doors to the ring room. Somehow they were already open, waiting for Daniel. He turned back to the glider when he realized Jacob wasn't following him, but Jacob was already gone.

He didn't have time to look for Jacob, so he kept moving toward the ring room, feeling more solid with each step. The air was hotter and heavier; it smelled like ozone. He hit the controls for the rings and he'd barely made it inside the circle when everything went black again.

* * *

It took a while (read as: longer than Jack liked), but they were in. The floor just ahead of the statue slid open, slate tiles scraping against each other, revealing a set of descending stone stairs.

"I didn't know there was a basement," Gerard whispered.

"You said Dawes is good with the Vinculum?" Gerard confirmed Jack's memory with a nod. "I'd erase them from the plans." Jack shrugged as he slipped past Gerard, taking point.

The ceiling height was abysmal, and so was the lighting. Jack flicked on the flashlight mounted to his P-90. "Any thoughts on which way we should go?"

Carter had her energy-signature reader doodad out again. "There's a massive signal coming from off to the right—I'd guess the power generator for the underground facility." Carter checked the reader again. "We can move towards it, but I don't know." Her face was lit from beneath by the monitor, the glow making her skin pale, the shadows stretching her face into worry.

"Following energy signatures has never let us down before." Jack gestured for Teal'c to take the passage to the right.

"Actually, sir—"

"Carter," Jack warned.

Carter smiled tightly and then followed Teal'c. Gerard moved forward without a word, his eyes wide, and overly alert. Jack touched his shoulder. "You going to be all right?"

Gerard turned, slowly. "Y-yeah. Just . . . there's nothing on the Vinculum about this substructure. It's . . . it's been a long time since I was blind."

Jack patted his shoulder. "Welcome to being human." And what life will be like on Earth, he thought. He pointed ahead. "Go on, I'm bringing up the rear."

They moved farther into the complex, Carter guiding them towards what was probably the power generator. Maybe they could blow it, cause a distraction or something. Jack wasn't quite sure; honestly, he hated making things up as he went. Carter moved into a junction, pausing for a moment to consult her computer.

"Sir, I think—"

Teal'c grabbed her pack and pulled her back in the nick of time. A volley of bullets impacted the wall where she'd just been standing.


"Lock down the facility!"

The words were shouted and they echoed over the radio intercom through the halls.

"Shit. There's just two of them. Move!" Jack put his hand on Teal'c's back, pushing him forward, and he raised his staff, advancing. "Carter, see if you can't find their frequency so we can listen in on them!" It was difficult to give orders over weapons' fire, but when Jack glanced back, Carter was on it, messing with the frequency of her radio.

"They have been subdued." Teal'c advanced down the hall. One of the guards was still alive, clutching his leg, which was burned and bleeding from a staff blast. It did not look pretty.

"Where is Daniel Jackson?" Teal'c was in the soldier's face, but his voice was calm, that menacing voice that Teal'c used whenever he wanted to make hardened soldiers piss themselves.

"I-I . . . shit." The solider curled over himself, his hands clutching his thigh just above the burned flesh.


Jack looked over his shoulder. Carter and Gerard were still in the other hallway. Gerard was on the radio, Carter making adjustments on her laptop.

"Where is Daniel Jackson?" Teal'c repeated.

Jack's head twitched to the left, his eyes snapping closed as images popped up in his brain: a hallway, a map, a room, a chair with wires, Daniel. "I know where he is." Jack turned and shouted back across the hall to Carter and Gerard. "I know where he is!" Jack took off down the left junction, trusting the others to follow him. There would be guards on the way there; they were essentially heading towards the prison block—there were always guards in the prison block.

He fired his P-90 as soon as he met guards, a staff blast sailing past along the open left side of the hall. This would be easier if they had some cover, but that just meant they needed to move faster, shoot first.

"Gerard, any activity on the radios or through the Vinculum?"

"Lots of chatter," Gerard reported, like he had been a member of Jack's team for years. "Mostly positioning. Going to be hard to get out of here." Gerard looked around, like they were walling up the area directly around him.

"Can you find another way?" Jack tapped his temple.

"Already working on it."

"Sir." Carter looked back as she passed the downed bodies. "You're certain Daniel is this way?"

"Certain," Jack said.

He led them on, felling soldiers as they passed. Dawes didn't have much in the way of forces it seemed, unless they were all off elsewhere. Either way, aside from the initial two guards who spotted them, they only met a handful of other guards, each in groups of two or four.

"Here," Jack finally said. "Daniel's in here."

* * *

A hand touched Daniel's face, his eyes fluttering open. The room was dark, it was warm for once though, and Daniel didn't feel any aches in his arms and legs, on his back. The hand stroked down his cheek, the fingers long and thin, coming to a rest on his neck. It felt nice, like he was safe.

"Daniel," Amelia whispered. His whole body came alert quickly. Amelia was in his cell with him. Why was Amelia in his cell? The only people ever in his cell were the guards.


Daniel turned his head, realizing the room had low lighting, but it wasn't as dark as his cell, his nothingness. He was in a chair, wires attached to his skin like he was in the infirmary. Amelia was wearing a military jacket with a red bar over her right shoulder, her hair was pinned back at the nape of her neck. She suddenly didn't look weak or innocent.

"Daniel," Amelia said again. She tapped her fingers on his neck. "You can say something."

"What." Daniel's voice was weak, like he hadn't spoken in awhile. "Where am I?"

Amelia tutted and shook her head. "You know that. You should definitely ask something more interesting."

Daniel's head was swimming. There was something he knew . . . things were getting less muddled—or more, he couldn't tell. There was a second set of memories in his head, not of being trapped and beaten for weeks, but of being put in a chair, being gagged, watching as he couldn't move, knowing something was coming, but not knowing what.

"Why were you in my dream?"

Amelia's lips turned up slightly. "It was supposed to be easier if you trusted me."

"I did," Daniel coughed. He tried to move, but there were wires everywhere, his shirt was open with wires attached to his chest and arms.

"I was touched that you thought of saving me," Amelia said. "Though less so when you killed me." She frowned.

"Did I?" Daniel relaxed back in the chair. "Maybe I would have done a jig if I'd known you were doing . . . whatever it is you've been doing to me." He smirked, trying to be a smart-ass in the face of danger never worked if you let them know you were scared. "Did Dawes get what he wanted?"

"We got what we could," Amelia said with a shrug. "But you broke out." She tilted her head. "I understand now why Derek was so fascinated by you."

"I'm pretty fascinating," Daniel said. He moved his hand carefully, testing the tension of the wires.

Amelia's head snapped up, her eyes going towards the door.

"What?" Daniel's eyes flicked between the door and Amelia's face. Her eyes narrowed. The door did nothing.

"I'm sorry, Daniel," Amelia said quickly. "I really was beginning to like you despite all of this." She pulled a knife from her belt and held it to his neck. "Tell me about Ascension."

This was about Ascension? Daniel closed his eyes, drawing a slow breath through his nose. "It's not all it's cracked up to be."

"You were energy," Amelia said. "You could go anywhere, know anything."

"You have the Vinculum for the knowing."

Amelia shook her head. "It's limited. Besides, it's nothing like what Ascension is."

"No," Daniel agreed. "It's much easier. Look." He wanted to hold up his hands, show he was non-threatening. "There's more involved to Ascension. It's not . . . free. I know you don't understand, and I can't explain it in a few seconds. You just. . . ." Daniel widened his eyes slightly, trying to put on his most open of expressions. "I trusted you; you should trust me."

Amelia pressed the blade against Daniel's neck. "You killed me," she reminded him.

"Not on purpose," Daniel said. "I was a little out of my mind. Hell, I was hallucinating my friend."

Gunfire sounded just outside the door. Amelia turned to look, and Daniel moved, grabbing her knife hand and yanking up, pulling some of the wires from his arms. He growled against the pain, focusing on trying to disarm her.

The door slammed open.


Daniel rolled, more of the wires pulling out as he fought with Amelia. "Busy!"

Teal'c came from behind her, grabbing each of her wrists and pulling her up and back, Daniel's hands falling away.

"Daniel." Sam was there, carefully detaching wires. Jack was at the door, the nose of his P-90 poised to fire if they were interrupted.

"Who's she?" Jack nodded towards Amelia.

"Amelia Spencer. Second in command, now?" Gerard asked. He pointed to her shoulder with the red bar. "It's a sign of rank."

"Nice to see you again," Amelia said. Teal'c had her arms behind her back now, binding her wrists with zip ties.

Gerard snorted and turned away from her. "We can use her to get out of here."

"Yeah, I was thinking the same thing." Jack looked back out the door, but Daniel could feel Jack with him. A moment later a message come through the Vinculum. Are you all right?

All right enough, Daniel replied. He felt like his insides were sloshing, the initial rush of adrenaline from grappling with Amelia still pounding in his veins.

Can you walk out of here?

I think so. Sam was nearly finished disconnecting the wires, just undoing the last ones along his leg. Daniel moved his arms, just testing his motility. Feel like I haven't moved in days.

It's been a few, Jack said. Do me a favor? Stop nearly dying.

Daniel chuckled, and Sam looked up sharply. Daniel shook his head.

Sam helped Daniel from the chair, making sure he was steady on his feet before releasing her hold. He flexed his arm; it felt a little sore where some of the wires had been attached, but even that was beginning to fade.

"Please tell me we're leaving," Daniel said.

Teal'c pushed Amelia forward and then Jack took over as her escort. "All right, best way out of here?" Jack asked. "And I'm being polite so you might consider doing the same."

Amelia glowered at Jack for a minute and then twitched and very slowly said, "There's a back door. . . . Minimal guard. . . . It's . . . hidden."

"That wasn't so hard," Jack said with a smile.

Gerard coughed from behind Daniel. "Uh, actually."

Amelia turned her glare on Gerard. "And you complain about us abusing the Vinculum."

Jack shook his head. "I asked nicely after you stole and interrogated my archaeologist; I think it's your turn to be uncomfortable." He pushed her forward, his P-90 pressing into her back as a reminder. He nodded to Teal'c who took point, leading them to the right, following Amelia's directions when Jack demanded them and Gerard forced her to respond. They fought pockets of guards—though in slightly larger squads of five and six—but the hidden door had few guards as Amelia promised. Daniel always preferred the less violent escapes to the ones that ended in explosions.

They emerged into tunnels Gerard recognized, and he stopped them, holding up his hand. "Dawes is smart enough to be able to track her."

Amelia shrunk back in Jack's hold, shaking her head, her eyes wide. "Gerard, don't. Please. Gerard."

Jack looked between Gerard and Amelia, putting it together much more quickly than Daniel, and narrowing his eyes.

"She'll give away our location." Gerard drew his pistol.

"Whoa!" Jack said, holding up his hand. Daniel took a step in front of Gerard, trying to block his shot.

"Daniel!" Sam raised her weapon, leveling it at Gerard. Her eyes flicked to Daniel, imploring him to step out of the way—which probably was smart given that Gerard was prone to following through on his convictions.

"It's safer for us," Gerard said slowly. "I know it seems cold."

"It is cold," Jack snapped. He leaned closer to Gerard, hissing quietly. "She's a prisoner and we—" Jack gestured to SG-1. "—don't tend to shoot prisoners."

"You're not on your planet; your rules don't apply."

"It not laws that keep us in line, Gerard." Daniel stepped towards Gerard, his hand outstretched, the bruises on his arm from the wires standing out like pockmarks even in the low lighting. "There's another way."

"Yeah," Jack said. "That thing they did to Daniel. We couldn't track him, either."

Gerard looked between Daniel and Jack, his eyes flicking rapidly. "This would be easier." He stowed his pistol, though, and Amelia sagged in Jack's grip—knocked out immediately—Jack stumbling with her weight.

"A little help?"

Teal'c moved forward and picked her up in his arms, carrying her as Gerard led the way. Daniel could feel Jack watching Gerard more closely, though, keenly aware that their loose cannon was becoming a problem.

Gerard led them through the tunnels, taking a rather circuitous route to one of the apartments he kept. Stopping, resting, breathing easy—all were on Daniel's list of things to do. When they arrived, Teal'c made sure they weren't followed, running a perimeter check and returning a few minutes later.

Jack hustled Daniel into one of the bedrooms, shutting the door and giving Daniel a cursory medical check, just to make sure there weren't any serious injuries or any wires or connectors or things Sam had missed.

"You're sure you're all right?" There was a hint of worry in Jack's voice, the kind of hint that usually didn't eke into his words unless they were alone and on Earth.

"All right enough." Daniel scratched the back of his head, which caused Jack to check there next, parting his hair like a chimp. Daniel waved him away. "Yes. I'm still . . . foggy on what happened, but I'm, I'm all right. I was . . . It was pretty confusing."

"What exactly did they do to you?" Jack stared hard at Daniel, like he'd been trying to figure it out on his own and finally just needed to know the answer.

"I was in . . . I don't know, something like virtual reality, I guess." Daniel bit his lip. He wasn't sure how much he wanted to tell Jack. He'd nearly lost his mind and he wasn't sure he wanted Jack to know exactly what happened.

"Gerard said that if he'd been interrogating you he would have done something to distract your conscious mind."

Daniel licked his lips. "I'd call it a distraction."

Jack looked like he wanted to ask, but he didn't push. He did put his arms around Daniel and hug him.

Daniel flinched at first—they were on a mission and there was a strict not-during-missions rule they'd discussed after the last time they'd been to Tekhne—but then he relaxed and hugged Jack back, turning his head and smelling Jack's neck.

"I was scared," Jack confessed quietly.

"I knew you were coming for me," Daniel whispered.

Jack nodded. "Yeah." He pulled away and patted Daniel's shoulder. "I think you're okay, then."

Daniel smiled, just like Jack to gloss over the emotions.

"Do you remember, um, talking to me?" Jack asked.

Daniel did a double take. "What?" How did Jack know about what happened in the VR world? He couldn't know that Daniel had been talking to a Jack there—maybe even one Amelia didn't know about since the Jack in the VR hadn't ever trusted her.

"I kept—" Jack pressed his lips together and looked away. "I thought I was hearing you. Sometimes. In my dreams. Not like that," he clarified. "Just, one time I woke up and I knew where you were. That's how we found Dawes's base."

"How—? I didn't—I mean." Daniel scratched his head. "Was I . . . was I talking to you?"

Jack's eyes shifted uneasily. "Um . . . what?"

Daniel sighed. "There was a Jack. In the VR whatever. I . . . you. . . ." Daniel sighed. "You kept me sane." He held up a finger. "I don't think that has any bearing on reality."

Jack snickered.

"I talked to you, and, and, and I don't think anyone else could see you." Would Amelia have given Daniel a construct to keep him sane? There were also the other prisoners . . . Daniel called them Gerard and Jacob. He could never see their faces until Jacob spoke to him. Wait. If Jack had actually been speaking to him. . . .

Daniel looked eagerly at Jack and then darted from the room, annoyed when the door took so long to whoosh open. "Gerard. Gerard!"

Gerard and Sam were sitting on the couch, Sam's laptop open between them. Teal'c was keeping an eye on Amelia to make sure she didn't wake up unexpectedly. Gerard looked up, his mouth slightly parted.

"Would Henley have shut down your brother's connection to the Vinculum?"

Gerard raised both eyebrows. "Yeah. I mean, it's the first thing I would do to a prisoner."

"But." Daniel raised a finger. "The connection can't totally be severed, right? I mean, the Vinculum is tied into brain function. As long as there are electrical impulses in your brain, it's functioning."

Gerard nodded slowly, Daniel could see he was putting a few things together slowly. "What . . . why?"

Daniel glanced at Amelia's sleeping form, thinking of the way she'd been able to get inside his head, build an entire reality. "Because I think Jacob was in my head." Gerard's eyes widened so much they seemed in danger of falling out of his head so Daniel hurried on. "There was someone with me and I didn't know his name, but I named him Jacob. I wasn't—I didn't know it was him, but I, I think it was."

A picture popped up in Daniel's mind—a black-haired man with glasses and dark eyes; a similar look to Jacob, but not Jacob.

"Um, that's not who I saw," Daniel said in response to the picture. "Is that your brother?"

Gerard squinted, looking at Daniel hard, and then he relaxed. "No, it's not. Sorry. Had to test you." He sent another picture and this was the same sharp-nosed man who'd been a prisoner in Daniel's world with him.

"That's—so he's out there." Daniel turned to Jack. "He was in my head."

Jack was standing by the bedroom door and he nodded once. "Getting him out is still going to be a pain in the ass."

"You're going to do it, though," Gerard said, looking skeptical and dangerous.

"Yes," Daniel said, cutting off Jack and earning a huff. "Because we're going to talk to him and get as much information from Jacob as we can."

"But Gerard hasn't been able to reach him through the Vinculum," Sam cut in. "That you could was just a, a fluke."

Gerard pinched his lip. "No . . . what if . . . what if Jacob's being held the way Daniel was? And he found a way to reach out through—into—that world. That . . . that's plausible."

Sam pursed her lips, sliding back in her seat.

"No," Gerard said, holding up his hand. "We just need to get Daniel back there. Or me. Put me there."

Daniel glanced at Jack, knowing he'd be in agreement—they needed Gerard alert in case something went wrong.

"I think . . . I think I should do it," Daniel said. He felt Jack bristle, but he seemed to hold his tongue. "And I think Amelia's the one who can get me back in there."

"We'll have to wait," Sam said softly. She looked over her laptop, giving Daniel a level look. "She could be out for hours still, right?"

Gerard shrugged. "It's different for different people."

They all looked at each other, none of them comfortable with waiting—they were all usually pretty bad at it. Finally Daniel's stomach growled and everyone looked at him.

"So, um, is there anything to eat?"

He and Jack poked around in the kitchen—Jack nearly burning everything that got near the stove—but making dinner and eating it took time, and when they were finished, Amelia had finally roused. They made their demands—that she put Daniel back into that dream world, and she shrugged them off.

"It's your head," she said.

"It's a world you created," Gerard said. "It's a dream that you constructed. You're the one who knows how to take him back there."

Amelia shrugged. "I built it out of stuff already in his head. Goa'uld, artifacts, loneliness, pain—that was all already there, I just put it together."

Daniel shifted uncomfortably. All of that was there. It had been there for seven years, but knowing that someone else had rooted around in his head and pulled it out was . . . uncomfortable.

"So put him back there," Gerard practically growled. He advanced on her. "You actually managed to do something with the Vinculum I didn't imagine."

Amelia sneered. "You never gave Derek the credit he deserved."

Jack rolled his eyes. "Yeah, yeah, yeah. We all underestimated you, your mother didn't hug you enough as a child, etcetera. Either way: no."

"No?" Jack had been a little reluctant but he hadn't said anything over dinner, hadn't given Daniel one clue that he was going to veto the idea. They'd barely talked and when they did, Jack made a stupid Simpsons reference and gave Daniel a smile. Everything seemed okay, not like, well, not like Jack was going to say no.

"You're not doing it, Daniel. She could mess with your head more or trap you there, or whatever. You're not doing it."

Daniel turned so he and Jack could have a somewhat private conversation. He whispered, "I got out on my own, Jack. I heard your voice and you helped me get out." He touched Jack's sleeve.

"That's not what I'm worried about," Jack said.

"Sir." Carter stood up, stepping closer. "I don't like the idea either, but it might be our best bet."

Jack caught Daniel's eye and took a step back. He rubbed his brow and leaned to his left around Daniel. "You have to monitor the whole time."

Gerard raised his eyebrows. "I want to be the one to do it."

"No way. If something goes wrong, we wouldn't know how to help you. Daniel's already got a world, anyway." Jack gestured like he was putting together a block tower.

"I know what we need. We'll get your brother back," Daniel said. "Trust me."

Amelia snorted. "Trust is big with you, isn't it?"

Daniel sat on the coffee table across from Amelia. "I'm going to have to trust you now, aren't I? You'll be in my head again. I know what you could do in there."

Amelia glanced over Daniel's shoulder and it didn't take the Vinculum for Daniel to know Jack was putting on his most threatening look, making it clear that she wouldn't be doing anything with Daniel's brain that she shouldn't.

"I don't see why I should help you."

Jack pulled his berretta and cocked it. "Just because we don't normally shoot prisoners, doesn't mean we won't."

Amelia narrowed her eyes and even Daniel could feel the way Jack pushed his thoughts to the forefront—the times they had shot prisoners.

"You should lie down," Amelia said, her voice tight. "And it would be easier if you could untie me." She glared at Teal'c, unwilling to lose all her power.

Jack nodded to Teal'c, and Teal'c did it. Daniel lay down on the couch, putting his head down awkwardly.

"I'm going to be watching you the whole time," Jack warned. "If I see anything hinky. . . ."

"Right." Amelia rolled her eyes. "Close your eyes. Relax. . . . Gerard? Can you knock him out please; it'll go faster."

There was a long pause that sounded like Jack and Gerard staring at each other until Gerard said, "Yeah," and then everything went black.

* * *

He was back there, in his cell. Fear spiked through his spine for a moment—a remembered fear of this place and what had happened—but he shook it off easily, able to hold in his mind that this wasn't real, that he was still in Gerard's apartment and that Amelia had put him back into this place for one purpose.

Low light spilled in from around a corner and Daniel followed it, passing through the hallway. Flashes of being dragged down the hallway, wearing manacles, never able to stand on his own two feet, filtered through his mind like bad playback on a reel-to-reel projector, but he kept it together, walking down the hall as the light grew brighter, leading him to the excavation site.

Amelia was there, the guards, Jacob, and Gerard. Daniel sagged a bit—Jack wasn't there. Maybe that was a good thing (maybe it meant Daniel wasn't going crazy), but he wasn't sure if he'd need Jack to keep him steady . . . or to help him find a way out when he was done.

As Daniel walked farther into the room, he realized everyone was sort of . . . paused. Like a computer game with lag, their motions were slowed and Daniel was the only one moving at full speed. When he touched Jacob's shoulder, though, said Jacob's name, his focus narrowed to only Jacob's face.

"Daniel," he said. "You're back."

Daniel took a deep breath. "Yes. But I escaped, so. . . ." Where should he begin? Jacob had been elusive before, would direct questions even work? "Um, your brother says hi."

The corners of Jacob's mouth turned up slightly. "You've figured it out, then."

"That you're actually Jacob and being held in some prison by Representative Henley? That you've been trapped in the Vinculum? Yeah, we figured that out."

Jacob scratched the back of his head and then pushed up his glasses. "Then have you also figured out that you can't save me?"

Daniel shook his head. "I know it probably seems that way, but my friends and I have faced situations that were . . . much more impossible." He hated bringing up that they had a tendency to cheat death, but when it came down to it, yeah, armed guards were kind of nothing.

"No," Jacob said. "It's not that I doubt your success at getting to me; I can't be saved. Please. You're here to take Gerard to another planet, right?"

Daniel tilted his head. He hadn't mentioned anything about other planets.

Jacob seesawed his hand back and forth. "I picked up a few things." His tone shifted, getting more serious and intense. "Just take Gerard. Take him from this planet and tell him you couldn't reach me. Please."

"What happened to you?" Daniel finally asked.

Jacob shook his head. "It doesn't matter."

"It will to Gerard." Daniel's eyes lit, leaning slightly towards Jacob, finally latching on to an idea. "He won't leave without knowing, I'm sure you know that. If you tell me. . . ."

Jacob's lips tightened, his face closing off. It was a long moment before he replied. "I wasn't dead, but. . . ." He licked his lips. "Finally they uploaded me to the Vinculum. They didn't want to lose my . . . knowledge."

Daniel furrowed his brow, trying to read between the lines. "Are you saying . . . ?" That would be bad. That would be very bad if Jacob was saying what Daniel thought he might be saying—that the Tekhnens hadn't been able to do anything other than save Jacob's mind.

"They couldn't fix me," Jacob said matter-of-factly. "You're familiar with our technology—you know that's saying something."

"So, what, you're . . . completely virtual?"

Jacob shrugged. "I don't know what I am any more. I'm here in the Vinculum, but I can't even use it properly now."

"Why didn't you tell Gerard? You can talk to me like this; why didn't you, I don't know, come, come to him in a dream or something?" Daniel was gesturing wildly. He felt like he was pacing, but his body wasn't moving; he was still standing in front of Jacob, their conversation in a kind of tunnel.

"You think he'd listen to me? Are you even?" Jacob narrowed his eyes, and Daniel felt like he was looking through Daniel, seeing that Daniel was listening but not hearing what Jacob was saying.

"We can try," Daniel said. "All we have to do is try."

"There's nothing to save," Jacob said. For the first time his temper ignited, his eyes growing dark as his brow furrowed. "I wish it were different, but there's nothing, all right? Nothing."

An image flashed into Daniel's mind, Jacob strapped into a chair similar to the one in which Daniel had been strapped. Computer equipment behind him flashed, screens with line graphs and bar graphs, and other charts to monitor electrical impulses and life support. His body breathed.

"That's not nothing," Daniel snapped. He pushed towards Jacob with his mind, trying to dig in through the Vinculum and find the truth. "Let us save you."

Jacob pushed back against Daniel's invasion. He didn't put up a wall the way Dawes and Gerard did; he just pushed back at Daniel, a steady force. He was strong, but Daniel was betting that he hadn't been doing this much lately and that Daniel could be stronger.

"Please," Jacob said.

Daniel kept pushing, and he started to break through in cracks, seeing Jacob and Gerard as kids, Gerard talking with Dawes before everything fell apart, Jacob falling down with an intense pain in the back of his skull. Daniel tried to follow the last thread, the pictures coming through in dribs and drabs that Daniel thought made linear sense and felt entirely too familiar as Jacob was put in a chair, hooked into machines, and physically connected to the Vinculum. It was different than what had happened to Daniel—Dawes didn't have access to the Hardline—but too similar.

Jacob pushed harder and threw Daniel out. He was panting; they both were.

"You're still there," Daniel said.

"I'm not," Jacob insisted. "Please. Just take Gerard and go."

"I can't," Daniel said. "I'm sorry."

Jacob closed his eyes, lowered his head, and suddenly everything went black. Daniel opened his eyes to Jack hovering over him. The instant switch between fiction and reality was jarring and Daniel jerked away, his arm flailing into the back of the couch.


"Well, he's back." Jack looked up, squeezing Daniel's hand. Jack was holding his hand; Daniel almost smiled, glad that Jack had been with him the whole time after all.

"You talked to him?" Gerard said, pressing forward.

"Yeah, um, yeah." Daniel sat up slowly, straightening his glasses on his face. "I don't think you're going to like it."

* * *

~Concluded in Part 5.
akasha_lilianakasha_lilian on June 23rd, 2009 05:51 pm (UTC)
"I'd do it if I have to," Jack said. "I'm fond on your ass."

fond of his ass I presume! ;-P

Daniel glanced to Jack

That should be at, shouldn't it?

And damn, I should have known you wouldn't torture Daniel physically, but be even meaner. That's not nice feeding of Daniel's misery and build up a world on that...no that's very evil in fact!
But damn, poor Jacob...=/ This reminds me a bit of Tad Williams' Otherland. Have you read it?
akasha_lilianakasha_lilian on June 23rd, 2009 05:54 pm (UTC)
Oh and Sam hugging her P90 like a teddybear? Now that was an awesome imagery and great characterization all at once in a simple sentence. Beautiful!
Em Dash: SG-1 Samtheemdash on June 24th, 2009 01:37 am (UTC)
Hee. I liked that image.
Em Dash: Daniel Bandanatheemdash on June 24th, 2009 01:36 am (UTC)
Thanks for catching those pesky typos. In 50K, it's hard to catch everything even with the best beta readers. ;)

I am notoriously mean to my favorite characters. I like angst.

This reminds me a bit of Tad Williams' Otherland. Have you read it?

Oh, no I haven't. I feel a book rec coming on, though. ;)
akasha_lilianakasha_lilian on June 24th, 2009 11:54 am (UTC)
No prob, I figure that 50K is a lot to check even with the best beta readers.

I love angst myself, but you seem to enjoy being mean to your characters. Just saying! ;-P

You felt right! ;-)
Em Dash: Daniel Eviltheemdash on June 24th, 2009 12:18 pm (UTC)
LOL! I do love being mean to them, I admit it!