A Small Dose of Courage  by babs
Slash:  Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.
Rating: PG-13
Category: Angst.  Established Relationship.  Emotional Hurt Comfort.
Season/Spoilers: Post season 4/a small one for The Light.
Synopsis: Daniel's perceived failure on a mission has him doubting his abilities.
Warnings: A few bad words, some mention of off screen violence.
Length:  25Kb

  A Small Dose of Courage  by babs

"Doctor Jackson?" General Hammond was growing increasingly concerned at the dazed condition of the man standing before him in the Gateroom. He took in the blood spattered uniform, the face pale underneath the red streaks of blood. "Daniel, son, how about you come with me? We'll go to the infirmary. Get you looked at." He was rewarded by a glance of confused blue eyes before those same eyes closed a moment later.

He reached out and put an arm around Daniel's shoulders, relieved that Doctor Jackson was for once compliant and scared for the same reason.

Daniel seemed to become aware of his surroundings when they entered the infirmary. General Hammond felt the muscles under his arm tense, the tremors that had been increasing on their walk to the infirmary giving way to shivering. General Hammond could see Doctor Frasier's back as she directed people around Major Carter, heard her voice giving strident orders as they moved the gurney towards another room. He heard Jack's voice from an exam room insisting that he was fine, that he could walk, dammit.  Curtains were pulled around a bed, Doctor Warner's voice floating out as he ordered tests on Teal'c. 
Hammond led Daniel toward an exam table and helped him sit.

"Daniel?" General Hammond asked softly as Doctor Jackson's gaze seemed to be fixed on the far wall. "Are you hurt?"

Daniel's head shook slowly. "It's not mine. None of it." He gestured at the blood. "It's my fault, General Hammond. It's my fault," he whispered painfully.

"We'll talk about it later, son." General Hammond unbuttoned the cuffs of Daniel's shirt, easing it off over hands reddened with blood. "Let's get you cleaned up." He wet some towels he found in the small cabinet by the bed. "They're going to be fine." He murmured as he wiped the towel over Daniel's arms and hands.

"It's my fault, General. I..." Daniel stopped as a massive shudder overtook him. "It's my fault. I mistranslated. They nearly killed us."

"I know, son, but you're safe now." General Hammond hoped that Doctor Warner soon finished with Teal'c. He wrapped a blanket around Daniel's shoulders, holding it closed when Daniel ignored it. Daniel leaned into him, and Hammond knew just how far into shock Daniel was by that simple gesture. Doctor Jackson only ever seemed to reach out for physical contact to one person and that person was Jack O'Neill.

"My fault, " he heard Daniel whisper again. "My fault."

General Hammond brought a hand up to pat Daniel's shoulder awkwardly. "I'm here."

He looked up in relief when Doctor Warner appeared. Doctor Warner gave a sympathetic smile to the general before speaking.

"Doctor Jackson?" Doctor Warner put a hand on Daniel's shoulder easing him away from General Hammond. "I need to check you out."

Daniel looked at Doctor Warner and started to get off the table. "I need to check on Jack and Sam and Teal'c."

Doctor Warner tightened his grip keeping Daniel seated. "Colonel O'Neill is having his ankle wrapped. Teal'c is sleeping. Major Carter is getting stitched up. They are all going to be just fine. And you are staying right here, understood?"

Daniel nodded. In another setting the look on his face would have made General Hammond smile in amusement, but he was worried about the boy. He'd felt the trembling beneath his hands, seen the look of terror that had been on Daniel's face when they'd come through the Gate.

"Doctor...Daniel," he said softly as Doctor Warner began his exam, "can you tell me what happened?"

Daniel closed his eyes wearily. "My fault. It was my fault, General. I mistranslated." Daniel stopped his tormented whispering and watched detachedly as Doctor Warner worked on his knee.

"This is going to sting a little," Doctor Warner apologized as he cleaned the scrape and applied antibacterial spray.

Daniel gave a brief smile. "It's okay."

His gaze drifted away then, that distant look scaring General Hammond. "It was my fault, sir." Daniel yawned before closing his eyes again. "I'm sorry. I can't remember." He let General Hammond and Doctor Warner ease him back to lie on the narrow bed. "I'm really..."

Doctor Warner put a finger to his lips and motioned for General Hammond to follow him.

"Doctor Jackson appears to be uninjured," he whispered, "although he seems to be suffering from exhaustion. They'll all be fine in a few days, General."

General Hammond nodded as Doctor Warner left to attend to another matter and nearly ran into Jack O'Neill as he left the infirmary. He put out hands to steady Jack on his crutches.

"Thanks, General." Jack grinned. "I'm just going to find Daniel."

General Hammond shook his head. "Doctor Jackson is sleeping. You are <<not >> going to disturb him."

Jack gave a glance that bordered on dumbfounded. "No, I'll just sit with him until he wakes up."

"No. That's an order, Colonel," General Hammond said. "You are going to come with me and tell me exactly what happened on that planet and why Doctor Jackson is convinced that he nearly killed his teammates."

"Colonel?" Carter called to Jack as he stopped to unlock his office door. "Sir, it's Daniel. Janet wants you to come to the infirmary."

Jack's keys nearly fell from fingers gone suddenly numb. What the hell could have happened? Daniel had been fine when Jack had left the base last night. Hell, Daniel had been fine the past week, a little more soliticious than usual but essentially fine. Not that he'd actually seen Daniel all that much, what with Jack being tied up in meetings  and Daniel working long hours helping draft a treaty with their newest allies. Although, Jack thought in alarm, Daniel had been quieter than usual, coming home late and not doing much more than falling into bed and sleeping a few hours. Daniel had been gone before Jack woke up each morning and last night had called at midnight to tell Jack he wouldn't be home at all since they were so close to finishing the treaty. Jack took off at a half limping run, vaguely aware of Carter at his heels, babbling something about listening to her.

"Doc, what the hell is..." he trailed off at the sight of Daniel sitting on a gurney, Janet spreading some antibacterial cream over the knee that had been scraped open on their last mission and holding an ice pack to his left eye.

"Hi, Jack," Daniel said in evident relief.

"What happened?" Jack demanded. He heard Carter catch her breath beside him.

"I tried to tell him, Janet," Sam said in an apologetic whisper. "but he just took off."

Janet nodded in sympathy and watched Jack move closer to Daniel and reach out a hand to touch the bruise.

"You okay?" Jack asked softly.

"I'm fine, Jack," Daniel murmured. "I just fell down some stairs."

"And you wouldn't have fallen if you had gotten some sleep, would you, Doctor Jackson?" Janet asked, clearly expecting the correct answer.

"No, Janet," Daniel said with resignation, as if he'd been hearing the lecture for the past hour or so.

"Colonel O'Neill, I've already spoken to General Hammond. He's agreed to your taking Doctor Jackson home and making sure he comes back well rested and fed by the end of next week." Janet stared pointedly at Daniel. "And you will eat, won't you, Doctor Jackson? Hopefully a diet that consists of something other than caffeine and chocolate." She waited for Daniel's subdued 'yes,' before turning to face Jack with an expression that warned if Daniel came back less than fully restored it would be the colonel's fault.

"At least that leaves pizza and beer, huh, Daniel?" Jack joked. Big mistake, he decided at Janet's glare.

"You can come back to pick him up in an hour or so," Janet said. "Since you're already here, Doctor Jackson, we may as well do your physical."

"Boy, she's really pissed," Jack said as he left the infirmary, Carter still at his heels. Jack didn't bother to add that he was pissed too. 'Oh boy, Daniel, are you and I ever going to have a talk.'

Jack looked over at a sleeping Daniel. It seemed that all of Daniel's reserves had left him as soon as they'd left the Mountain, Daniel's body finally giving in to the strain its owner had been placing on it.

"Ah, Danny, why do you do this to yourself?" Jack whispered. He'd seen the behavior before, Daniel working himself to the point of exhaustion, stubbornly ignoring Jack's orders to stop before he collapsed. Jack reached over and closed his fingers over Daniel's fingertips, alarmed at how cold Daniel's hand was. Daniel muttered something in his sleep in some language known only to him and turned his head to look sleepily at Jack. Jack moved his hand to pat Daniel's cheek llightly.

"We'll soon be home,Daniel. It's okay. Just go back to sleep," he whispered and then was silent until Daniel closed his eyes again.

Jack thought back to the talk he'd had with both Janet and General Hammond before they released Daniel to his care. Jack had read Daniel's report from the mission. It had been written in Daniel's usual concise but thorough style, relating the facts in a straightforward manner. Daniel's theory that he had inadvertently caused the team's capture by an emphasis on the wrong syllable when translating was the final clue explaining Daniel's behavior over the past several days. Jack had thought Daniel was fine. Daniel was the one who had rescued the rest of them after all, managing to somehow talk his way out of the situation, telling their captors that the gods would be angry if they didn't allow their emmisaries to return through the Hole of the Heavens.

Jack didn't remember much of that journey back to the Gate. His ankle had been killing him and he'd been more concerned with staying on his feet and moving than anything else. What he did remember was Daniel encouraging all of them, tugging at his arm when he wanted to stop and rest. He remembered Daniel watching the sun and urging them to move faster and Carter finally collapsing in a heap. Daniel was the one who'd carried her, not listening to Jack's orders to leave them and simply go through the Gate for help. "No, Jack. I can't," was all Daniel had said a little breathlessly. "We go together or not at all."

He had listened to General Hammond's concerns about Daniel's behavior when they'd first returned and chalked them up to Daniel's exhaustion when his archaeologist had seemed to behave normally the next few days. After all, Daniel had gone almost forty-eight hours without sleep  before they'd come home. Jack muttered a curse under his breath. He should have picked up on it, all the warning signs of a full blown case of guilt and misplaced blame. He should have listened more closely to Carter when she complained to him of Daniel's hovering, she had called it, and Carter never complained about Daniel's behavior, least of all to him. He should have listened when Teal'c reported that he'd overheard some of Daniel's research assistants complaining about Doctor Jackson's finding fault with every report they'd handed in in the last week. But dammit it all, Daniel had seemed perfectly fine. And that of course was why Janet had raked him over the coals for Daniel's collapse.

"I don't know exactly what's going on with Daniel," Janet had said in her office, "but it needs to be taken care of, Colonel. Did you know he's been averaging about three hours of sleep a night or less, if I go by the times he's signed in base? If we don't get this straightened out soon, Colonel, I'm not allowing Doctor Jackson on any missions. His health is at risk." That had scared Jack as much as Carter's telling him Daniel was in the infirmary at the start of his day.

Jack sighed as he pulled in front of his house. He didn't even know where to start with Daniel. What the hell could he say? Hey, Daniel, tell me what's going on? That didn't seem to work with Daniel at the best of times and the fact that Daniel hadn't said a word about it meant that Jack needed to wait for Daniel to make the first move. What he could do though was what he seemed to do best with Daniel, provide a safe place until Daniel was ready.

Jack came in from taking out the garbage and collecting his mail to find Daniel typing away on his laptop.

"Daniel," Jack said using his most reasonable tone, "exactly what part of Janet's 'rest and eat' instructions didn't you understand?"

"Janet didn't know how important that was, Jack," Daniel replied, his eyes never leaving his laptop screen. "Besides I did eat."

"One pancake, Daniel. I hardly call that a meal," Jack argued.

"Look, all I need to do is finish double checking this translation of LeeAnn's for SG-3's misson." Daniel tried his usual 'bat the eyelashes at the colonel and see if he'll fall for it' trick.

"Uh-huh," Jack said. He wouldn't push it now. Jack knew when to save his battles. "Twenty minutes, Daniel. That's it."

Daniel waved him away and kept typing. Jack went in the kitchen and set the timer on his microwave, listening to Daniel typing and muttering away under his breath, a habit Jack had always found particularly endearing. When the timer went off, twenty minutes later, Daniel was still typing.

"Daniel," Jack warned as he approached.

Daniel looked up, startled. "I, uh, started checking another report. I just need a little more time."

"Sorry, Danny," Jack said, reaching over Daniel's shoulders and hitting save and the power key.

"Damn it, Jack," Daniel exploded, "that was important." He pushed Jack's hands away to try to power the laptop back up.

"It's saved, Daniel. It'll keep." Jack caught Daniel's hands in his. "Now, come on, it's time to relax. No work, no worries." Daniel stiffened under his hands a moment, his shoulders rising as he took a breath to argue, but then Jack felt the breath go out of Daniel in a long whoosh as if Daniel recognized the futility of his plan.

"It's not that easy, Jack," Daniel finally muttered.

"Never said it was," Jack replied softly. He moved his hands to Daniel's shoulders, massaging gently. God, Daniel's muscles were tight. Daniel tilted his head back and closed his eyes.

"That feels good," Daniel murmured. He gave another long drawn out sigh.

"C'mon, Daniel," Jack said, patting his shoulders. "I'll give you a real massage."

"Umm,  Jack, I really don't... I mean, I'm not..." Daniel said, flustered.

"What, Danny? In the mood? Ready to tango? Don't worry," Jack bent down and placed a kiss on Daniel's hair, "your virtue is safe tonight, Danny. When I said a real massage, I meant a real massage, nothing extra. Besides," Jack added with a grin, "Janet'd kill me if I bothered you in any way, shape or form."

Daniel gave him the first smile he'd seen in days and followed Jack to the bedroom.

Minutes later, Daniel was stretched out on top of their bed in all his naked glory, lying on his stomach, head turned to the left.
Jack turned away, taking a deep breath, "Give me strength," he muttered before taking a quick glance at Daniel's face. One look at the shadows in Daniel's eyes reminded him what Daniel needed more than anything right now.

"Your knee okay, Danny?" Jack asked.

"Mmmm-hmmm," Daniel mumbled. "I think Janet used that spray that kind of numbs everything."

"How's this?" Jack touched the black eye gently, feeling the heat under his fingertips.

"Hurts a little," Daniel admitted which told Jack that Daniel was well and truly exhausted.

That was the only time Jack knew Daniel to admit he was in pain.

"You want some Tylenol?" Jack asked, one foot off the bed, ready to get some if Daniel desired.

"Nah, feels better than it did when I had my glasses on." Daniel's voice drifted off as Jack placed a hand on the back of Daniel's neck. Jack smiled as a shudder went down Daniel's spine.

"Just relax," Jack whispered. "Let me take care of it." He knew it wouldn't take long for Daniel to fall asleep. By the time he'd finished his slow rubbing and kneading of Daniel's shoulders, Daniel had fallen into a deep sleep, not responding to Jack's soft calling of his name. Jack continued the massage anyway, sweeping his hands down Daniel's spine, pressing fingertips to each side of the vertebrae, something that Daniel loved.

It was a strange thing to love, Jack thought, Daniel's spine. But Daniel's spine was perfection. Jack loved to run his hands down Daniel's back whenever he got a chance, the skin silken smooth. Jack bent over and kissed the three small freckles on Daniel's left shoulder. Daniel had always been embarrassed that he had freckles, not many to be sure, just those three perfect ones on his left shoulder, and the occasional ones he got on his nose when he forgot to use sunblock.

 "Don't you know freckles are where the angels kissed you, Danny?" Jack remembered teasing.

"Mustn't have gotten them from you then," Daniel had teased back before Jack had pounced on him and shown him that Jack wasn't even remotely an angel that night.

Jack smiled and traced a finger around Daniel's ear then bent over and planted a row of kisses down Daniel's spine, one for each vertebrae. Jack shook his head as he sat back up. Daniel was totally zonked, not even moving at the light caresses. Jack pulled the covers over his sleeping lover and settled down next to him. Maybe Daniel was okay, after all.

The bed was shaking, that was the first thing Jack noticed. The second thing was that Daniel was no longer stretched out  comfortably next to him, but was instead, sitting against the head board, knees drawn to his chest and wrapped tightly by his arms.

"Daniel?" Jack sat up in alarm, reaching for the bedside lamp.

"No, Jack," Daniel said in a hoarse whisper. "Just leave it off."

Jack nodded and scooted up next to Daniel pulling him close. "Nighmare?"

Daniel gave a brief nod and just held on for long moment, his shivering slowly easing.

 "How do you do it, Jack?" Daniel finally asked in a tortured whisper," How do you find the courage to keep making the decisions? How do you keep going when you know that any moment your decisions could cause any one of us to die?"

Jack took a deep breath, wishing he had some platitude, some words of wisdom, some magic answer. "I don't know, Danny. I really don't. I just know what I need to do, which is keep you and Carter and Teal'c safe."

"I don't think I can do it anymore," Daniel whispered, still shivering against Jack's body.

"Do what?" Jack encouraged.

"I don't think I can go through the Gate anymore. I've been thinking about it ever since the mission." Daniel pushed himself away from Jack. In the murky light, Jack could see Daniel wiping at his face. "I can't be responsible for any more..."

"Daniel, you are not responsible for what happened on our last mission. You made a mistake. I've made mistakes, Carter's made mistakes, Teal'c's made mistakes, hell,
 you have too. What makes this so different?"

"My mistakes never almost got all of you killed before," Daniel said in a small voice.

"That's what this has all been about, isn't it?" Jack whispered, reaching out to cup Daniel's cheek in his hand. "None of us blame you, Daniel. Besides we're all fine."

"This time," Daniel turned back to face Jack, his voice breaking, "this time, you are. But what about the next time I screw up Jack? What about the next time? The next time, you or someone else trusts me to know what I'm doing and I screw it up? How many more deaths will I be responsible for?"

It hit Jack then. This was more than a simple mistake to Daniel. This was his definition of himself: someone who couldn't make a mistake because if he did bad things happened. At that revelation, Jack knew exactly what Daniel had been like as a child. The boy who beat himself up because he had a ninety-eight percent on the test instead of one hundred. Jack could still remember Charlie coming home from his first spelling test in first grade crying because he'd gotten one word wrong. It had taken Jack and Sara most of the evening to calm him down and explain that he couldn't go through his whole school career never making a mistake. But Charlie'd had Jack and Sara to reinforce that idea again and again. Daniel, probably a born perfectionist, had lost that reinforcement the moment his parents had died. What was Daniel to think after all as he was passed from foster home to foster home? There was no way a child, no matter how smart, could comprehend that it wasn't he who was lacking.

Jack gave a shudder as he remembered finding Daniel standing outside the rail on his balcony, Daniel's voice so sad and desolate saying, "I try so hard."

Daniel had been right of course, even in the midst of withdrawal from that damned light. Nobody ever worked or tried harder than Daniel to make things right, to find the answers.

"Daniel," Jack said. "you're not responsible for any of the deaths. Not for Rothman's, not for Sha're's, not for your parents. None of them at all. You know that, right?"

The nod Daniel gave was miniscule as if he were only agreeing because he knew it was what Jack wanted to hear.

"I want to make sure it doesn't happen again," Daniel whispered. "That's why I've been double checking all the translations and reports. I think maybe that my people might be a little pissed off at me."

"I think they're worried. There's a difference." Jack stroked Daniel's hair feeling Daniel relax slightly.

"It's why he didn't want me you know," Daniel said. "I was all messed up. He didn't want to deal with a kid like me."

'Oh shit,' Jack thought, thoughts of choking Nick Ballard with his bare hands coming to the surface. "Danny," Jack put a hand on Daniel's chin, forcing his lover to look at him, "my God, do you think that somehow that's your fault? That Nick didn't want you because you weren't perfect?"

"I was really messed up, Jack." Daniel pulled away from Jack. "I wasn't talking much to anyone, and when I did manage it, I stuttered. I wet my bed." He placed his head on his raised knees.

"And you had seen your parents killed in front of you, Daniel." Jack ended. "He should have been more worried if you didn't have problems."

"I guess," Daniel finally said. He made a furious wipe at his face. "I'm sorry, Jack. Guess I'm still screwed up, huh?"

Jack pushed himself further up in the bed and pulled Daniel into a fierce embrace, Daniel's face hot against his chest. "Don't you ever say that, Daniel Jackson. You are the strongest, most courageous person I know. I don't know anyone else who could have come through the shit life's thrown at you and still be so decent."

Jack felt Daniel take a deep breath and then another. Jack looked down to see Daniel's head tilted back watching him. Jack moved in to capture those lips beneath his.

"You are so beautiful," Jack whispered. " And anyway, you're <<my>>  messed up archaeologist . Who cares what anyone else thinks?" He gave Daniel a small shake and relaxed at Daniel's chuckle. Jack looked up to see the first pale light of dawn peeking through the curtains. "You know, Daniel, I gave you that wonderful massage last night and I never even got a thank you."

A slow smile lit Daniel's eyes as he pushed Jack flat on the bed. "I think I can figure out a suitable reward, Jack."

"I'll take it in installments if you can't pay all at once." Jack grinned and felt Daniel's hands giving their own massage, " Or maybe you'd better pay me in full." Jack gasped. God, he loved the man.

Jack watched Daniel as the sun rose even higher, filling the room with light. "You're a good man, Daniel," Jack whispered into the sleeping man's ear. "You're everything I ever dreamed and I love you so very, very much. Believe that, sweetheart."
Somehow, they'd work it out together, Jack knew. And if at the end of all of it, Daniel still decided he couldn't go through the Gate, they'd go somewhere else, Jack by his side.

Courage, Jack mused, wore many disguises. There was the courage of someone fighting injustice, the courage of someone willing to give his life for another, the courage of someone overcoming the obstacles put in their path. And then there was the courage standing next to him in the guise of a blue-eyed archaeologist. Daniel's arm bumped against his and he gave Daniel's hand a quick squeeze, not caring if Carter or Teal'c saw it.

"You okay?" he whispered under his breath.

Daniel looked at him and smiled shakily. "Yeah, yeah, Jack. You know what? I really am."

And Jack watched as Daniel stepped away from them on an alien world, approaching the natives with his trademark shy smile, hands open and still.

"Hello," Daniel's voice floated back to him. "I am Daniel Jackson and we are peaceful travelers from the planet Earth."

Sometimes, courage was simply doing your job.


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Daniel Jackson was written out of Stargate: Click here to help get him reinstated
babs, 2002.
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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