More Precious Than Gold by babs
Friendship:  Gen stories about the friendship between Col. Jack O'Neill and Dr. Daniel Jackson, with a team focus.
Rating: PG-13.
Category: Angst.  Drama.  Hurt/Comfort.  Meridian Fix-It.
Season/Spoilers: Season 5. Meridian.
Synopsis: Daniel’s surviving teammates are falling apart without him: They need him back. 
Warnings: "Meridian" fix, containing the name of He Whose Name May Not Be Spoken. ;) A few bad words. 
Length:  14Kb

More Precious Than Gold by babs

"Dr. Frasier," General Hammond said as Janet remained in the briefing room after the senior staff meeting. "Did you have another concern?"

Janet looked at the file folders in front of her before meeting General Hammond's gaze. "Actually, sir, I have three."

Hammond rubbed at his temples, feeling a headache build.  He knew exactly who it was: SG-1 or rather what used to be SG-1. He'd noticed that for the past eighty-four days, people avoided referring to the team of Colonel Jack O'Neill, Major Samantha Carter, Teal'c and Jonas as SG-1 except in an official capacity. Anyone referring to SG-1 those first awful days after Daniel's, what was the term O'Neill had used, 'ascension' had received a murderous glare from Daniel's surviving teammates. So people had simply learned to stop referring to the team as a team.

O'Neill, Carter, and Teal'c had gathered close to themselves, allowing no one else to speak of Daniel in their presence. Within three days, Teal'c had moved his quarters into Dr.Jackson's former office. Anyone wishing to use any of Daniel's reference materials became used to the presence of the large Jaffa watching them intently.

After two weeks Hammond had sent them on a mission hoping that some life would return to them, that they would begin to function as the unit they had always been. Jonas had been eager to go on the mission. They'd walked back through the Gate with their newest teammate and left him standing alone in the Gate room while they went for their post mission checkups.

"I am quite concerned about Colonel O'Neill, Major Carter, and Teal'c," Janet's voice cut into Hammond's worried thoughts. "I've placed Major Carter on anti- depressants; however it was with the understanding that she would see Dr. Bayley for counseling. She canceled the two appointments she scheduled. Teal'c has reported to me that he is unable to achieve a proper state of Kel-no-reem." Janet opened the third file folder. "And Colonel O'Neill, well, Colonel O'Neill's blood pressure is higher than it should be. He should also be on anti- depressants but he is refusing to even consider that option."

"I could order..." Hammond began and stopped at Janet's raised hand.

"I know you could, General Hammond, and believe me, if I thought it would help I would ask you to. But it won't. We can't give them what they need."

"Daniel," Hammond whispered.

"Exactly," Janet agreed. "Right now, I'm recommending that they all be put on leave. At least for a week or two."

"I'll talk to them, Dr. Frasier," General Hammond said softly as he walked her to the door. "I don't want to lose them too."

General Hammond looked at the three surviving members of SG-1 and gave an inward sigh before beginning. "Dr. Frasier is quite concerned about all of you."

He stopped, expecting a denial or some sort of argument, at least from Jack, but they all sat just watching him. "She has asked that I put you all on leave." That got a reaction, Major Carter sending a swift panicked glance to her CO and reaching out to put a hand around Teal'c's forearm, her nails digging into his skin.

"Sir, you can't," Carter whispered. "You don't understand. I need to be here, to work."

"I do understand, Major Carter," Hammond said soothingly.

"No, I'm sorry sir, you don't." Jack stood up. "You don't understand a fucking thing. Do you know what it's like having to walk through the Gate with him, with Jonas? Do you have any idea?"

Hammond was relieved in a strange sort of way that Jack was yelling. At least it showed there was some emotion in a man he'd thought had buried all feeling. "Son, I know he's not Dr. Jackson. I know no one can ever take Dr. Jackson's place."

"No, he's *not* Daniel! He won't ever fucking take Daniel's place." Jack ran a shaking hand through his hair. "Every time we turn around, every time we look at him, we remember Daniel because he was there when Daniel..."Jack sat down abruptly, his legs seemingly unable to hold him any longer, his breathing harsh.

"Pineapple broccoli pizza, " Jack whispered. Hammond heard Carter give a soft sob, Teal'c murmuring a quiet word. "We tried to have pizza together last night. You know, like old times. And I ordered the large cheese pizza for Teal'c and Carter and the half pepperoni/sausage, half pineapple/ broccoli for me and Daniel. I used to tease him about it, George, tell him that you weren't supposed to eat fruit on a pizza." Jack leaned forward, his head in his hands.

There was silence in the office for a long time until finally General Hammond spoke once more. "I think you all need the leave."

"Then let us go offworld sir," O'Neill said, after a glance at his teammates.

"Off world?" Hammond asked. "Where?" He was pretty sure they were going to say Abydos, perhaps the place they would feel closest to Daniel, and he knew he would give them what they wanted if it meant he'd have his best team back in the end.

General Hammond would never be able to explain it later, that quick look all three gave each other before saying in unison, "Kheb."

Jack sat cross legged and alone in the room where an amazed Daniel had once shown him he could make fire with just a thought. He knew that Carter and Teal'c were somewhere outside. Carter probably wandering in the overgrown garden, saying she felt closest to Daniel there,Teal'c probably watching her from a respectful distance.

"Oh God, Danny," Jack whispered, the pain of loss still as raw as it had been three months ago, "we.. I miss you so much."

He turned his head back and screamed his anger and grief into the silent room."Dammit, Daniel! Why?" And then as quickly as the anger appeared, it left him, to be replaced by cold emptiness. "Oma?" Jack asked in a quiet voice. "Oma Desala? Please?" Jack found himself almost begging. And then he just sat, letting himself be numb.

Jack wondered if he had fallen asleep because it seemed that a long time had passed, but now the room was filled with a warm glowing presence that coalesced into human form. "Danny?" Jack said, getting to his feet, hoping against hope for one more moment with his friend.

"No," a voice said softly, a woman's form. "I would not allow him to come."

"Oh, " Jack said, looking at the floor, wondering if she knew his disappointment. He looked at Oma Desala then, needing to know, to reassure himself if nothing else. "Is he okay? Is he happy?"

Oma gave a small smile. "I believe you would say he is content." Then she gave a small frown at Jack's expression. "What troubles you?"

"We miss him. I miss him," Jack choked. "I need him more than I knew, more than I ever realized. I love him," Jack stated with simple finality.

"Ah," Oma said, "So you wish him to return to you for your own selfish reasons."

Jack felt suddenly ashamed of his need. "If that's what you call it, then yes." He took a step towards her. "Why won't you let me see him? Why wouldn't you let him come?"

"If Daniel decides to return to you, to reclaim his human form, would it be fair for you to influence him? To make him see your need?" she asked.

Jack shook his head immediately and knew this was true. If Daniel didn't want to return, if Daniel was happy, then Jack vowed he would accept it, because he realized with sudden clarity, that was what Jack wanted, to see Daniel happy and loved and free of all the pain he'd experienced in his short life. Then Jack sat once more on the floor and remembered Daniel in this place and smiled and waited.

The voice came on a whisper of wind, warm tendrils of a spring-like breeze caressing Jack's neck and face.  "He wishes to return to his mortal form. He is aware of the cost."

"The cost?" Jack felt his heart pound. Please let it not be to return to the awful pain Daniel had felt those last days.

"We cannot allow him to retain the memories of his time with us. We must remove them," Oma said gently.

"He won't remember anything?" Jack whispered.

"Human memories are a wondrous and fragile thing. What matters is that Daniel chooses, not you, Jack O'Neill, but that he chooses. You loved him enough to let him go once when he was in great pain. That was a gift you gave him. He knows this. The cost to him does not seem so great," Oma's voice whispered. "Now, let your heart find him. He is a precious treasure. Take good care of him."

"I will," Jack heard himself whisper to the empty room, and then he found himself running outside into the overgrown garden, startling Carter and Teal'c.  He heard them following him, all of them silent except for the sound of their clothes brushing against the grasses and flowers. Jack stopped at the center of the garden, his mouth dry. A man lay there, naked and curled into a small ball. He stepped closer and stopped, afraid for the smallest instant. But then love overtook fear, and he felt Carter and Teal'c with him as they moved as one.

Jack knelt by the man, reached out a hand, wishing he could stop its trembling, and the man's head turned towards him.

Blue eyes opened and a hand came up to touch Jack's face, brushing away tears Jack didn't even realize were there. "Jack?" Daniel asked and then he swallowed  before an small smile spread from his mouth to his eyes, eyes filled with love and said in a stronger voice, "Jack." His eyes moved past Jack and fixed on the others. "Sam. Teal'c."

And then there was no need for any other words as they gathered Daniel into their embrace.

General Hammond stood, stunned, as not three but four figures appeared in the event horizon. His heart began pounding and he felt his mouth go dry. It couldn't be, it just couldn't be. He remembered the first mission after...well, after Dr. Jackson was gone. For just an instant when SG-1 had returned through the Gate, he'd seen them as they had been. Not that Jonas looked anything like Daniel. It had just been habit, expectation of what he'd been seeing for five years. But now Jonas was standing off to the side, and Hammond swore that he was seeing things. A familiar figure stood between Colonel O'Neill and Major Carter, his hands tightly holding one each of theirs. Teal'c stood behind the figure, his hand on the man's shoulder. Hammond vaguely noticed someone on the phone, calling Dr. Frasier to the Gate room no doubt.

He'd taken a step forward before he even realized it. "Dr. Jackson?" he whispered.

Jack O'Neill was grinning, at odds with the tears that had frozen on his cheeks in the utter cold of Gate travel.

"Look who we brought home with us, General Hammond," Jack tried to joke before a sob overtook him.

Daniel Jackson looked at his friend and frowned, shaking his head, and then gave a sigh of relief when Jack pulled himself together and smiled back at him.

"Daniel?" Janet Frasier squeaked beside General Hammond and then she rushed to them, her hands touching his face. "Daniel! How...what..." And then her doctor persona took over. "We need to get to the infirmary."

General Hammond watched them follow her, the team still moving as one, all of them touching Daniel in some way. It was only then he noticed the entire room was completely silent.

"They are fine," Janet assured Hammond some two hours later. "Daniel appears to be in excellent health although he has no memory of the past six months, certainly none of what happened to him when..." She stopped, clearing her throat, wishing she could get rid of those memories as well. "They're all sleeping. I think this might be the first decent night's sleep any of them have had for months." She smiled broadly then and gestured to General Hammond. "Come here," she motioned with a hand, "I have something I want to show you." She led the way into a small room.

Hammond smiled at the sight before him. Daniel Jackson lay in the hospital bed, Jack O'Neill squeezed sideways on the bed beside him, his back tight against the bed rail. Daniel's head rested on Jack's chest, one of Jack's arms snaking around him. Teal'c sat near the head of the bed, deep in a meditative state, one large dark hand clutching Daniel's free hand tightly, the other resting on Daniel's chest. Major Carter was down at the foot of the bed, blond head pillowed on one arm on the bed, her other hand curled around Daniel's ankle.

"They can't be comfortable like that," General Hammond whispered.

"That's what liniment is for," Janet whispered back. "This is what they all need right now." She moved closer, brushing her hand over Daniel's forehead. "He seems to need their touch. They need to touch him. I think they're all a little afraid that this is all a dream." She gave a low laugh. "I had to examine him with all the others holding on to him."

As if Janet's and Hammond's voices had disturbed him, Daniel lifted up his head a little and looked out of sleepy blue eyes.

"General?" he asked.

"Yes, son?" Hammond moved closer.

Daniel smiled at him. "I was far away, I think. I wanted to come home. I missed.." He stopped to yawn and put his head back on Jack's chest.  "Home. Good to be home," he whispered before dropping off to sleep again.

"Amen to that, Dr. Jackson," General Hammond said, stroking Daniel's head once before stepping away from the bed. There would be things to take care of, but that could wait until later. For now all that mattered was that Dr. Daniel Jackson was back where he belonged.

FINIS
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babs, 2002.
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Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. These stories are for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. These stories may not be posted elsewhere without the consent of the author. Copyright on images remains with the above named rightsholders.
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