|Slash:||Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.|
|Category:||Angst. Drama. Holiday. Hurt/Comfort.|
|Synopsis:||No one should ever be alone for Christmas.|
|Warnings:||Sentimental, but that’s the kind of gal I am.|
General Hammond spied the figure standing at the large window overlooking the Gate Room. He picked up the phone and dialed the extension to the infirmary.
"Dr. Frasier?" he said in a low voice, not wanting to disturb the man standing so dejectedly at the window. "I've found Dr. Jackson. No, no, he looks fine. I'll make sure he comes back to you."
He hung up the phone and crossed to stand next to the young man who'd somehow managed to worm his way into even a tough old general's heart. He knew what Jack O'Neill would do in this situation, faced with a Daniel Jackson who stood with hunched shoulders and arms wrapped around himself. Jack O'Neill would pull the younger man into a hug, rub his back and find the words that would take away the pinched look of despair on Daniel's face. When he'd first met Dr. Jackson all those years ago and had seen the behaviors before him now, he'd chalked it up to Daniel leaving life on a desert planet. He simply thought Daniel was always cold, but now, years later, he was able to read it, never close to the way Daniel's teammates could read it, but he could read enough.
"Son?" He placed a paternal hand on Daniel's shoulder. "Dr. Frasier was worried about you.I promised her I'd take you back to the infirmary."
Daniel shook his head stubbornly. "They said they'd be back. I have to wait for them." His voice was hoarse, and General Hammond could hear the wheezing behind the words.
"We're doing everything we can, son." General Hammond gave the thin shoulder a gentle pat, frowning at the fever heat he could feel through the material of Daniel's T shirt. "Let's go back to the infimary. I promise I'll tell you the moment there's any news." He let out a small sigh of relief as Daniel took a step away from the window, but he had no words when lost blue eyes turned on him.
"It's Christmas soon," Daniel said bewildered. "Jack promised they'd be home for Christmas."
Dr. Frasier smiled reassuringly at General Hammond 20 minutes later as they both looked down at a sleeping Daniel. "He's not any worse for the excursion. The stress is just delaying his recovery a bit." She reached out and stroked Daniel's hand a moment before placing it under the blankets. She motioned for General Hammond to follow her. He did reluctantly, feeling that he had to guard Daniel when his teammates weren't there to do the job.
"So, " she said, pouring a cup of coffee and handing it to the general, "what's the situation with the rest of SG-1?"
"Vasquez is guessing that that the storm activity on P2X-443 is either interfering with their ability to open the gate or that they're under cover until the storms pass." He sipped his coffee thoughtfully while looking across the room to Daniel's bed. "We'll get them back, Dr. Frasier."He placed the mug back on the counter. "Is it okay if I stay with him awhile?"
Janet smiled. "I think that's a very good idea, General. I think he needs someone nearby."
"Gen'ral?" A hoarse, sleepy voice roused Hammond from his doze. "They home yet?"
Hammond sighed and looked into Daniel's slightly unfocused gaze. "Not yet, son. Not yet."
To his dismay, a tear tracked its way down Daniel's cheek, balancing on the tip of his nose before falling to the bed sheet. "J...j..jack promised," Daniel gave a little hiccup before more tears started to overflow.
Hammond grabbed a tissue and wiped at Daniel's face, feeling totally helpless in the face of Daniel's despair. He had an uncomfortable feeling that this reaction was more than just the fact that the rest of SG-1 was off world. He couldn't help wondering how many Christmases Daniel Jackson had spent alone.
"His emotions are a little closer to the surface with the illness and the stress," Dr. Frasier said in a quiet voice by Hammond's side. She reached around to take Daniel's wrist to feel his pulse.
"How are you feeling, Daniel?" Dr. Frasier asked in that same quiet voice that was even calming Hammond's jangled nerves.
"Better," Daniel's voice quavered. "I need to help, Janet." He started trying to get out of the bed. "Please."
"Daniel," Janet said, her voice even and calm, "your temp's elevated again. "General Hammond's promised you that he'll let you know as soon as there's any news. I don't want to have to sedate you, but I will if you don't rest. Colonel O'Neill isn't going to be very happy if he comes home and finds you in worse condition than when he left."
"She's right, son," Hammond agreed. "Just lie back and close your eyes. Try to get some rest."
Daniel glared half-heartedly at both of them, but he was too tired to really argue with either of them. He closed his eyes, listening to Hammond and Janet holding a whispered conversation. If only he hadn't picked up that alien bug three weeks ago, he'd be with Jack, Sam, and Teal'c. It had kept him in intensive care for a week, and he was still feeling the effects of it. The fever came and went along with bouts of severe exhaustion. Damn, it was just supposed to be an overnight misson for the rest of his team. Instead, two days later, SG-1 still hadn't made it home, evidently unable to activate the Gate offworld.
It wouldn't be the first Christmas he'd spent alone. It wouldn't even be the first Christmas he'd spent in the hospital. It had been foster family number 8, and he'd been an awkward thirteen. He'd been trying to defend one of the younger foster kids from the foster mother's drunken rage. He still had no memory of the actual beating he'd taken. All he remembered twenty odd years later was pushing Keisha behind him, then yelling at her to run when he saw he wasn't going to be able to protect her and then waking up in the hospital three days later. He was the only child in the pediatric ward for Christmas and had been fussed over by the nurses on duty. For a brief time, he had remembered what Christmases with his parents had been like, and he'd felt that someone cared.
He'd always loved Christmas, even when things were bad, and he was alone. He hadn't had anyone to share it with for so long. When he'd been a college student, he used to go to the malls, wander in and out of stores pretending he actually had someone to buy for, trying to absorb the spirit, pretending that the families he saw were his. He'd use some of his meager cash to buy presents for the children on the angel trees, hoping that maybe, just maybe, a Christmas would be a little brighter for someone. He'd volunteer to serve Christmas dinner at the homeless shelter and felt a little happier himself, but he still had to go home to an empty apartment or dorm room at the end of the day. Christmas night was the loneliest night of the year when you had no one to share it with. Now that he'd come to have Christmas with people who loved and cared about him, he didn't think he could go back to surviving it alone. Maybe if he was lucky he could sleep through the next two days. He was starting to wish Janet had given him a sedative when he fell asleep again.
"Hey there, buddy," Jack called softly to Daniel. He smiled as Daniel's eyes opened then widened in surprise. His smile quickly faded as Daniel's eyes filled with tears. "Shhh, it's okay. We're all fine." Jack reached out and brushed the tears away with his thumb. He moved to the side so that Daniel could see Carter and Teal'c.
"Hey guys, " Daniel said. "I'm glad you're home." He tightened his hand around the warmth of Jack's.
"We've got to debrief, Danny, but we'll be back soon," Jack promised. "And then, Janet says you can come home with me."
Daniel turned to look at Janet and smiled. "Really?"
"Really, Daniel," Janet smiled back.
"Is General Hammond here?" Daniel asked her, searching the room. "I need to see him."
"He just stepped out for a moment when Jack and the others came in to see you," Janet answered. "I'll get him for you."
General Hammond knew to expect the change in Daniel Jackson from the moment his teammates had stepped into the room with him. Daniel's eyes, that hours earlier had been so lost and sad, were now smiling. The boy even looked healthier, some of the color returning to his cheeks.
"Thank you, General," Daniel whispered, ducking his head as if he was now ashamed of showing any emotion. "You know, for staying with me when..."
"Glad to do it, son," General Hammond said. "I'm glad you'll have your Christmas after all."
"General?" Daniel looked up and met his eyes almost shyly. "I know that you probably have plans for Christmas Day and everything, but we, SG-1, we'd be happy for you to spend the day with us."
Hammond broke into a wide smile. "That's a very nice invitation, Dr. Jackson. You know, this is my daughter's year to spend Christmas with her in-laws, so if you're sure that the rest of SG-1 won't mind..."
Daniel grinned back. "No sir, I know they won't. No one should be alone for Christmas, sir. No one."
Hammond shook his head as he met Jack's amused glance. Daniel Jackson was currently stretched out on the sofa, sound asleep, his head resting on a pillow on Jack's lap.
"He looks like a kid," Hammond said softly. He watched the way Jack's fingers stroked the short hair. And he knew, with a certainty that he'd never known before, just how deep the relationship between these two very different men went. Not that it mattered. He had no reason to ask, none to tell.
"Yeah, well, at Christmas, I think Daniel is a kid," Jack chuckled. He liked this part of Christmas Day best, the end of it, when all the gift giving was over, the meals eaten, and the pressure gone, the time to just enjoy the company of people you loved and who loved you back. Carter and Teal'c had left a few hours ago. Carter driving to a ski resort to meet Janet and Cassie for a few days of skiing, Teal'c going back to the base to relieve some of the workers so that they could enjoy what remained of Christmas with their families. Jack had seen George's surprise at the sight of their normally very adult archaeologist opening presents with the abandon and joy of a child. And certainly, George had not expected that they would spend the afternoon watching "Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer," "Frosty the Snowman," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," "A Charlie Brown Christmas," and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." Jack knew that Daniel knew every one of them by heart and recited them word for word, further astonishing the general.
"We need him, George. Sometimes we forget, I forget. But we need, I need, him," Jack murmured.
"I know, Jack," George said. He stood and stretched. "I'd better be heading home. Kathy said they'd try to stop by later tonight."
"Thanks for coming, sir," Jack said. "And thanks for taking care of him while we were off world. It can't have been easy."
"It wasn't easy, but it was a pleasure, Jack," George smiled. "I think you're breaking down those walls, son."
"God, I hope so, sir," Jack said. "Sorry I can't see you out." He gestured towards Daniel.
"That's fine," Hammond said. "I can let myself out. Oh, and by the way, I don't expect to see you or Dr. Jackson back on base until after the New Year, Dr. Frasier's orders."
"Thank you, George, for everything," Jack said softly, already turning his attention back to Daniel.
"You're very welcome, son," General Hammond said, but he doubted that Jack heard. He paused before heading to his car, stealing one more glimpse into the house before leaving. He could see Jack on the sofa, his mouth moving, probably talking to a restless Daniel, the glow from the fire, the love from the house spilling out into the cold December night.