The Word is Stay  by babs
Slash:  Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.
Rating: PG
Category: Angst.  Hurt/Comfort
Season/Spoilers: Post FIAD.  No Spoilers
Synopsis: Daniel needs an operation. Jack is there for him.
Warnings: None, nada, zilch.
Length:  42Kb

The Word is Stay by babs

"I'm sorry, Daniel, but you're going to have to sit this mission out." Doctor Fraiser placed her clipboard on the exam table next to him. "I'd like to have Doctor DiCarlo take a look at you a little later today."

Daniel nodded, rubbing the bridge of his nose. "I'll be in my office when he's ready." He pulled his jacket tighter around him, wishing that they'd turn up the heat in the infirmary. Janet might be saying he had a fever but he was cold.

"We're going to give you a shot of penicillin, Daniel. Hopefully that'll have you feeling better in a little while. Cathy's getting your prescription filled." Janet smiled at him apologetically and motioned for him to remove his jacket. "I'm sure you know the drill by now. This is the fifth bout of tonsillitis you've had in as many months."

"Fluids, rest, take the antibiotics until they're gone, and more fluids," Daniel rasped out. "Jack is so not going to be happy about this."

"He doesn't really have a choice, Daniel." Janet finished the injection, rubbing Daniel's arm. "We can't have you spreading a contagion off world."

Daniel nodded and slid off the exam table. "See you in the briefing room at 1400?"

Janet nodded. "Go pick up your prescription and try to get some liquids in you." At Daniel's open mouth, she held up her hand. "I know it hurts, Daniel, but you can't risk getting dehydrated."

Daniel sighed. It was embarrassing, that's what it was. Grown men were not supposed to get tonsillitis. He was sure Jack was going to have some comment about it, probably blaming this bout on Daniel's insistence on going to the arts fest downtown over the weekend and spending their day off walking in the rain trying to find the perfect birthday present for Sam. He'd known he wasn't going on the mission from the time he woke up this morning with an all too familiar scratchy throat and fever.

He was sure Jack knew too, especially since Jack found him gargling warm salt water in the kitchen when he came to pick him up. To his surprise, Jack hadn't made one comment, just looking at Daniel and giving a sympathetic smile. He even stopped at the grocery store to buy Daniel apple juice, the only juice he could stand when his throat was so sore.

"Oh Daniel, glad I found you." Sam caught up to him as he made his way down the hall to his office. "Would you be able to go over these latest videos from P2A-112 with me?"

Daniel rubbed at his forehead, not surprised at the heat he felt under his fingertips. "Sure Sam."

She stopped him in mid stride by placing her hand on his arm. "Daniel, you sound awful." She tilted her head and studied him. "You don't look too well either. Did you go to the infirmary?"

Daniel nodded and pulled out his bottle of medications offering it to Sam. "Tonsillitis again."

"I'm sorry, Daniel," Sam said, her voice filled with sympathy. She winced as Daniel swallowed. "You need to rest, Daniel. Why hasn't Janet sent you home?"

"Have to see DiCarlo later on," Daniel explained. He wanted nothing more than to get to his office and shut the door.

"We'll get this done some other time." Sam held up the tapes she was carrying. "Take care, Daniel."

He nodded and smiled as he heard her muttering about calling Janet as she walked away.

Daniel sank into his chair and turned on his computer. Maybe work would take his mind off the throbbing in his head and the nails in his throat.

At least Jack wouldn't be able to bother him this morning. He knew that the other man was tied up in important meetings until SG-1's briefing later in the day.

He studied the file he pulled up, digital photos he'd taken on his last offworld mission two months ago. Daniel sighed and propped his head in his hand. He wondered when he was going to get to step through the gate again. He no sooner got over one bout of tonsillitis when a few days later he was back at square one. Daniel took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. Not to mention it was putting a serious dent in his love life. By the time he got home from the base most days, it seemed all he could do was eat a little bit of supper and fall asleep on Jack's couch or his own.

To be fair, it wasn't as if Jack was turned off by Daniel when he was sick. Jack was kind, considerate, and at times over-bearing with his ideas of how to deal with a sick Daniel. But Jack couldn't understand Daniel's desire to be left alone when he was ill. It was easier, Daniel had discovered long ago, to take care of yourself because no one else was going to do it for you. Wanting people to care, and then discovering they didn't, just plain hurt you down to your core, no matter how much you told yourself it didn't.

Daniel shook his head at his maudlin thoughts, regretting the motion as it reminded him of his headache. He had work to do, Daniel sternly reminded himself. He turned his attention back to his monitor and pulled a pencil and legal pad closer, beginning the painstaking task of translating.

The phone's ringing had Daniel looking up from his notes in confusion. He swallowed before answering, grimacing as pain shot down his throat.

"Doctor Jackson," his voice came out in a croak. He listened a moment before replying. "I'll be there, Janet."

Daniel shut down his computer. Despite his reputation as a workaholic, Daniel knew he wasn't going to be coming back to his office to work. All he wanted right now was to get DiCarlo's exam over with, the briefing for a mission he couldn't go on completed, and then go home so he could curl up and die.

Daniel dragged his aching body into the briefing room and sat down, smiling wanly across the table at Sam and Teal'c.

Jack leaned closer to speak quietly in his ear, "You look really rough,  Daniel. Fraiser scrubbed you from the mission, didn't she?"

Daniel nodded and stared at his folders, trying to avoid swallowing. He was acutely aware of the sympathetic looks he was receiving.

Janet came rushing into the briefing room and sat down beside Daniel.

"Doctor Fraiser?" Hammond nodded at her to proceed.

"General, sir," She nodded at both Hammond and Jack, "I've had to remove Doctor Jackson from this mission. We can't risk spreading a contagion off-world."

"Sorry, General Hammond," Daniel croaked. He wanted to close his eyes to block out the light but kept them open despite the pain.

"Daniel?" Janet asked, her voice soothing.

"You tell them, Janet." Daniel waved a hand at her. He wondered how he was going to be able to drive home.

"As you know, Daniel's had five bouts of tonsillitis within the past five months. I requested that Doctor DiCarlo review his case."

"Let's face it, Danny, you may as well just go under the knife and let them yank your tonsils out. At the rate you've been going, you're not going to get off-world until you're old and gray." Jack nudged Daniel's shoulder.

Daniel wished he could summon sufficient anger to glare at Jack but it would just take too much effort. Uh oh, sounded like Hammond and Fraiser would take up the slack. Two outraged, 'Colonel's,' echoed in his ears.

"Actually, Jack, Doctor DiCarlo did recommend a tonsillectomy," Daniel tried whispering, hoping it would help the pain. He shook his head in disgust when it didn't work.

The joking look on Jack's face faded to be replaced with warm concern in the brown eyes. Daniel lowered his eyes at his lover's scrutiny. He didn't want Jack's pity or sympathy, or anyone else's for that matter.

"Doc?" Jack seemed to sense Daniel's unease and turned his attention to Doctor Fraiser, "A tonsillectomy? Isn't that kind of unusual for someone Daniel's age?"

For his part, Daniel rested his arms on the table and put his head in his hands.

"It's not rare, Colonel O'Neill," Daniel heard Janet say. "At any rate, the operation won't be scheduled until Daniel is free of this infection. Doctor DiCarlo is tentatively scheduling it for three weeks from today."

"Mmm-hmm." Jack gave an odd little hum barely loud enough for Daniel to hear. Daniel could almost see the wheels turning in Jack's head, strategizing Daniel's pre op and post op phases.

"Colonel O'Neill," General Hammond spoke, "although Doctor Jackson will not be able to accompany SG-1, this mission to Requeza is of strategic importance. You have a go at 1600 hours."

"Understood, sir." Jack pulled Daniel's folder closer, opening it and distributing the reports Daniel had prepared. Daniel gave him a small tight smile and watched as his teammates read his report silently to let him save his voice.

Daniel stood in the control room watching his teammates prepare for departure without him. He felt a twinge of envy for them. He enjoyed SG-1's two previous missions to Requeza and wanted to be with them. Sam shifted her weight, obviously less comfortable in her dress pumps than combat boots. Teal'c wore his usual uniform, and Jack was wearing his dress blues. He could see them talking to one another and wished he was down among them. Ridiculous that a child's disease would keep him earthbound for most of the past five months.

The wormhole formed and Jack turned back to look up at the control room. Daniel raised his hand, placing it against the glass. Jack smiled up at the room, giving a thumbs up. Daniel smiled back and returned the gesture.

He turned as his team, his family, and his lover disappeared through the Gate only to find General Hammond and Doctor Fraiser looking at him with concern.

"Guess I should be getting home now." Daniel couldn't suppress a shiver as his fever began rising again.

"I'll drive you, Daniel," Janet offered. She motioned for him to precede her from the room.

Daniel knew he was sick when he didn't even have the energy to argue with her. The  apartment, he thought, not home. Home was with Jack.  He followed Janet through the complex in a daze thinking only of his bed and sleep.

Jack gently sat on the bed beside a sprawled, sleeping Daniel. The comforter was twisted around Daniel's body but Jack didn't touch it, unwilling to risk waking his lover.

Looking at the night table, Jack noticed a half empty water bottle sitting beside a bottle of pills and a notepad with checkmarks beside a list of times. Jack toed off his shoes and pulled his tee shirt from the waist band of his khakis.

The two day mission from Requeza had been successful, a treaty signed, sealed, and delivered to the SGC. The elders of the planet had expressed concern and dismay that Daniel Jackson wasn't with SG-1. Jack's explanation of Daniel's plight had them nodding their heads sympathetically.

Jack stretched out beside Daniel, propping himself up on one elbow to watch Daniel sleep and wondering why the man was just so damn stubborn.

At least Daniel hadn't given him the usual 'I'm fine' speech. Come to think of it, Daniel hadn't said much of anything before Jack and the others left for the mission. It had been that last look Jack had from Daniel before they stepped through the Gate that had haunted his dreams for the two nights they'd been off-world. Daniel was alone, Jack realized. He was in the control room with at least five other people and yet Daniel was alone.

Jack was sure that Daniel would prefer the phrase self-sufficient to describe his insistence on taking care of himself when he was ill or injured. Personally Jack preferred the phrase bull-headed but he knew better than to argue semantics with Daniel.

This time Daniel wasn't going to be alone Jack decided. He was Daniel's lover, for crying out loud; Daniel's life partner. Jack almost snorted as that term came to mind. Made them sound like some new age groupies or something. Jack couldn't repress a smile and put his head on the pillow knowing exactly what would happen next. He closed his eyes as Daniel moved closer, still asleep but somehow sensing that Jack was there. A familiar weight settled over him as Daniel hooked one leg over both of Jack's and threw one arm over Jack's chest. Who would have thought that Daniel was a snuggler and hugger in bed? Hell, even before they'd been lovers Daniel had a habit of somehow managing to get his sleeping bag tight up against Jack's when they were off-world.

Jack sighed and stroked the arm that now rested across his chest glad to notice that there was no fever. Daniel sighed in his sleep and tensed a moment before relaxing against Jack.

"Sleep, Daniel. I'm home," Jack whispered. He placed a kiss on Daniel's head and closed his eyes.

"I don't need you to stay after the operation, Jack," Daniel argued three weeks later. "You can drop me off here at the apartment. I can take care of myself."

Jack said nothing for the moment, only raised one eyebrow as he watched Daniel pacing the living room.

"It's not that I don't appreciate you staying tonight though." Daniel was now running a hand through his short hair. He stopped, pushing up his glasses and pinching the bridge of his nose. "I mean, it'll be easier in the morning when you take me to the Academy Hospital and all. Did I tell you we have to be there at 7, Jack?"

"You told me, Daniel." Jack nodded. He didn't move from his position on the sofa although he was itching to grab Daniel and force him to sit. But he recognized the signs of fear even if Daniel didn't. 

"No coffee in the morning," Daniel was continuing, seemingly oblivious to Jack's presence. "Not that it will matter. I'm going to be asleep soon enough anyway. It's a simple operation, nothing to it. That's what Doctor DiCarlo says anyway."

Daniel started another circuit of the room and Jack could stand it no longer.

"Sit down, Daniel."

"Huh?" Daniel stopped and turned to face Jack, his arms in a protective self hug. Jack had never quite figured out where the hug came from; if it was a left over from not getting enough touch after his parents died, if it came from not wanting to be touched and was Daniel's way of shutting others out, or if it was Daniel's way of keeping himself from splintering when things got rough. All Jack knew was that Daniel needed him even if he didn't know it yet.

"You heard me. Come here and sit down." Jack stood and took a step towards Daniel before Daniel gave him a nervous half-smile and came to the sofa.

Jack gave Daniel's knee what he hoped was a comforting pat. Daniel was squinting despite wearing his glasses: a sign of a tension headache.
Jack tugged at Daniel's shoulder.

"Relax, Daniel," he said softly as he began massaging the tight muscles of Daniel's neck.

"Uh huh." Jack smiled as Daniel dropped his head forward and closed his eyes.

"Everything's going to be fine tomorrow," Jack continued. "No problems."

"I really can take care of myself," Daniel murmured. "I've been doing it for years, Jack."

"I know you * can *, Daniel. But you don't * need * to. Let me do this for you." Jack let his hand rest a moment on the back of Daniel's head.
"Let me take care of you."

Daniel raised his head and twisted on the sofa facing Jack. "It's hard, Jack."

"I know, Danny." Jack didn't break his contact with Daniel. It was harder for Daniel, harder to put himself in the care of someone else than it was for Jack. "But you need someone with you. Didn't you read the brochure that DiCarlo gave you?"

"Of course I read it, Jack." Daniel smiled half-heartedly. "It's no big deal."

"I didn't mean that part." Jack moved his hand to Daniel's shoulder beginning a slow kneading motion. "I meant the part that said that hospital stays are rarely necessary for tonsillectomies unless the person is unlikely to take care of himself once the operation is over."

"That part, huh," Daniel leaned towards him as Jack continued his massage of tight muscles.

"Yeah, that part." Jack gave a slight tug, pulling Daniel even closer. He frowned as he discovered a knot in Daniel's right shoulder. Oh yeah, Danny, try to convince me you're totally fine with this whole operation business.

"I had my tonsils out when I was nine, you know," Jack began, feeling the muscles under his fingers tighten slightly.

"Yeah?" Daniel arched into Jack's touch, "Do that again. No, not there. Yes, there."

"Yep," Jack continued evenly. "Saint Cecilia's Hospital. Of course then it wasn't outpatient surgery. I got to spend a week in the hospital along with all the other kids. Got to eat all the ice cream I wanted."

"Were you..." Daniel hesitated and made a little gesture with one hand, seemingly unable to finish.

 Jack smiled. Luckily he'd become well versed in translating Danielspeak. "Yeah, I was scared. It was the first time I had to go to the hospital. And my mom and dad couldn't stay with me. I'd never spent a night away from home before with people I didn't know."

"It's just a simple operation. I know that." Daniel gave a sigh under Jack's hands.

"Daniel, have you ever been in the hospital for something that wasn't an emergency?" Jack already knew the answer, but he hoped it at least got Daniel thinking and realizing that being a little afraid wasn't a sign of weakness.

He looked up at Jack in surprise and then shook his head. "I've never had time to think about what was going to happen to me before."

"And sometimes you think way too much, Daniel." Jack grinned. "How many scenarios have you come up with?"

Daniel took off his glasses, placing them on the coffee table. "More than I can count." He looked at Jack and Jack was struck by how naked and vulnerable Daniel appeared without them. "I, uh, was going to tell know, where I had all my copies of my important papers."

"You're gonna be fine, Daniel." Jack placed a hand on Daniel's cheek, stroking the fine lines near Daniel's temple with his thumb. "And if you want to go over your papers and stuff tonight, I'm here."

"Thanks, Jack." Daniel turned his head slightly, kissing Jack's palm. "I'm just not used to this, you know. People caring; people wanting to be here for me. I'm glad you're here. It's just.."

"I know, Danny." Jack felt humbled by Daniel's admission of need. "If you want me to leave after tomorrow, I will. I promise," he continued, giving Daniel back some measure of control over the situation.

Daniel nodded and then stood up, holding out his hand to Jack. "You coming to bed, Flyboy?"

"Coming, Rockhead." Jack smiled back. "It's gonna be okay, Daniel. All the ice cream you can eat."

Daniel pulled on the collar of Jack's shirt, starting to unbutton it. "I don't want ice cream tonight, Jack."

Jack leaned in, letting Daniel's hands roam his body, letting Daniel's mouth fill his hungrily. No, it didn't look like Daniel was very hungry for ice cream at all.

"Daniel...come on Doctor's time to wake up." Daniel tried to swat at the annoying voice.

He was tired; he wanted to sleep. A hand was on his shoulder, a heavy weight that he couldn't get off.

He opened his eyes because the voice kept insisting he wake up.
The room was dimly lit and he wasn't in his bedroom.

"Unnghh." He tried talking and wondered why his throat hurt.

"Doctor Jackson?" The voice had moved and Daniel turned his head to follow it, looking up and seeing a figure dressed in white.

Was he dead? Had he been hit with a staff blast and was now being escorted into the hereafter?

"The operation went fine, Daniel."

Daniel watched the unfamiliar man in white and then his sluggish brain began to work. Operation. His tonsils. He was alive and he had just had his tonsils taken out.

He moved his arm and stared at the bandaid in the bend of his elbow.

"You're in recovery, Doctor Jackson," the nurse continued.  "We're going to keep you here just a little  longer and then Colonel O'Neill will be able to take you home." He patted Daniel's shoulder.

Daniel nodded and kept his eyes fixed on the nurse as he moved away from the bed. He wondered if Jack was nearby; if they'd told Jack the operation was over and that Daniel was okay. But thinking took too much effort and Daniel closed his eyes once more.

He didn't * want * to wake up. Why couldn't they just let him sleep?

"Doctor Jackson?" It was a new voice this time, a different one from the others that had been disturbing his rest.

Daniel blinked and saw Doctor DiCarlo smiling at him and right beside him, just as he'd promised he would be, was Jack.

"Go home?" Daniel managed to croak.

"Yes, we're going to let you go home in just a little bit," DiCarlo nodded and started talking about medicines and post op care. Daniel's mind drifted and he watched Jack, trusting the other man to listen for him.

"...kay? We'll see you in six days. Do you have any questions?" Doctor DiCarlo looked at him expectantly.

Daniel shook his head slowly. "Home?"

"Just take it easy, Daniel." Jack slipped a hand under Daniel's shoulders helping him sit up. "Let's get you ready to go home." Jack's hand felt warm on his shoulder and Daniel allowed Jack and the nurse to guide his arms into the sleeves of a sweatshirt.

"Sleepy," Daniel said, thinking that he should apologize for his lack of cooperation.

"You can sleep once I get you home." Jack's voice sounded muffled as if he was talking from far away or over a bad phone connection.

But Daniel was absurdly grateful for the comfort it offered. He stood hesitantly and then sat in the wheelchair that had miraculously appeared by the bed. The nurse said something to Colonel O'Neill and even though he didn't know what was said, Daniel wanted to laugh except it hurt. Jack's hand was on his shoulder now, squeezing gently, a thin tether connecting him to reality. The squeeze turned into a pat and Daniel had to blink to keep away tears.

The next thing he knew he was in his apartment and Jack was by his side, speaking quietly and helping him with his sweatshirt and sweatpants that he couldn't seem to get off by himself. Jack urged him to lie back on the pillows and Daniel did so, sinking into the down, the cool cotton of the pillowcase soothing. The bed dipped as Jack sat down beside him, pulling the covers up to Daniel's chin. A tear leaked from his eye even though he didn't want it to, even though Daniel told himself that he shouldn't cry. A rough thumb caressed his cheek, rubbing the salt water away and warming his skin.

"It's just the meds, Daniel. Don't worry about it." Jack's voice was low and filled Daniel's heart with an ache.

He didn't want to speak so he just nodded once and tried to pull the blanket closer. Jack understood how hard it was and smoothed them over Daniel's body.

"Go to sleep," Jack continued, his hand now stroking Daniel's head. Daniel closed his eyes and savored the sensations, the warmth of the blankets, Jack's thigh pressing against the length of his, the smell of Jack's aftershave, and the weight of Jack's hand in his hair.

It felt good to be loved. Daniel was sorry he'd doubted Jack. He wanted to tell Jack that but the words dissolved in his brain before they could find their way to his mouth.

Daniel turned over, unable to ignore the pressure in his bladder any longer. He opened his eyes and began pushing himself up, dreading leaving his warm cocoon of blankets. And then Jack was there, an arm over Daniel's shoulders, a hand underneath his elbow, helping him to stand, guiding him to the bathroom.

"You okay?" Jack asked as he positioned Daniel in front of the toilet.

Daniel nodded afraid speaking would make his throat hurt worse than it already did.

"I'll be right outside the door." Jack closed the door behind him, leaving just a crack open.

Daniel took care of his business and stood at the sink washing his hands. He looked in the mirror. His hair was standing on end and he had a crease on one side of his face from a wrinkle in the pillow case. Jack hadn't said a word about it.

He opened the door, not surprised to find Jack exactly where he'd said he'd be. Jack smiled at him and placed a supporting arm around Daniel once more. Daniel didn't think he needed it but it felt right. He smiled back at Jack and wondered how he'd been so blessed to be put in Jack's path.

"You hungry?" Jack steered him towards the living room of the apartment. At Daniel's shrug, he continued. "How about a little bit of Jello?"

Daniel sat on the sofa and accepted the small container of Jello Jack handed him minutes later.

He hesitated, looking at Jack.

"It'll help, Daniel. Soothe your throat."

Daniel took a cautious spoonful and let the substance dissolve in his mouth, conscious of Jack's watchful eyes on him. Jack was right. It hurt, but the cool treat was soothing and Daniel found the next spoonful easier to take.

He ate the whole dish and handed it back to Jack. "Thank you."

"I'd offer you some more, but I don't think you should eat a whole lot yet." Jack stood with the bowl in his hand. "Maybe in an hour or so? You don't want it coming up on you."

"It's okay." Daniel looked at the pillow on the sofa longingly. "Full."

"Go back to sleep, Daniel. You want to stay out here or do you need some help getting to your bedroom?"

Daniel stretched out on the sofa in answer and closed his eyes, listening to Jack in the kitchen, the sound of water running, the refrigerator door opening, all those little sounds that reminded him he wasn't alone.

He turned his face further into the pillow, hoping the tears he felt would be soaked up by the fabric and wouldn't embarrass him in front of Jack. Intellectually Daniel knew the tears were just a side effect from the drugs in his system. He remembered being in the infirmary after his appendectomy and Janet blotting away some tears with a tissue, telling him he'd be okay. He'd been embarrassed by it anyway, just another sign that Doctor Daniel Jackson had no business being part of the SGC, another sign of weakness.

Daniel kept his eyes closed as he sensed Jack crouch down by the sofa. A callused hand stroked back hair from his forehead, resting there a moment as if checking for fever.

"I'm here, Danny," Jack murmured. "Think you can take a few sips of water?"

Daniel lifted his head slightly and took the straw Jack offered. A few sips were all he managed before lying back down.

"I'm going to read for a while, Daniel," Jack said before removing his hand from Daniel's forehead.

Daniel didn't want Jack to leave, but he'd told Jack he wanted to be left alone. He felt his lower legs lifted and then put on Jack's lap. Jack began a slow massage of Daniel's right ankle, his hand rubbing small circles. Daniel sighed and slept once more.

A golden glow highlighted his coffee table telling Daniel it was evening. He stretched his arms above his head feeling stiff from remaining in one position so long.

"Hey there." Jack ran a hand up Daniel's calf and squeezed his knee lightly. "How you feeling?"

Daniel held a hand up to his throat and swallowed cautiously. He spied the glass of water still on the coffee table and reached for it, conscious of Jack's eyes on him as he took a few sips.

"You stayed," Daniel said, speaking in low tones.

"I said I would. You only need to put up with me until tomorrow at noon, Daniel." Daniel studied Jack's face, all concern and no impatience. "You're doing fine, but you need someone with you for the first twenty four hours."

Daniel turned his attention to his own hands rubbing at a small bandaid on the back of his left hand, suddenly interested in the black and blue mark that surrounded it. He nodded, unable to speak.

He'd gotten himself in quite a bind, Daniel mused. He'd argued with Jack to leave; now he wanted Jack to stay and it seemed Jack was ready to give him his space. It made his head ache to think about it. He had no idea what he was going to do.

Daniel's stomach rumbled and Jack laughed softly.

"Want some more Jello?" Jack stood up, offering a hand to Daniel.

"I want ice cream," Daniel mumbled. "You promised I could have all the ice cream I wanted."

"Want to sit at the table?" Jack let go of Daniel's hand and Daniel nearly reached out to grab Jack's again even though he was far steadier than he'd been a few hours previously.


Daniel walked the short distance and sat down, his stomach making a gurgling noise once again. He watched Jack in the small kitchen digging in a drawer for spoons before gathering up two bowls, the ice cream scoop, and bringing the container of vanilla ice cream to the table, placing it in the middle of the table with a flourish.

"Your wish is my command," Jack grinned as he began scooping out the ice cream.

"I wanted chocolate or Rocky Road," Daniel complained as he looked up at Jack wishing he was wearing his glasses. He knew they were back on the coffee table but he just didn't feel like getting up to get them. But Jack must have read his mind in that strange connection they always seemed to have and he was soon handing Daniel his glasses.

"Thanks." Daniel turned his attention to the dish of ice cream Jack had placed before him, taking his spoon and beginning to stir the frozen treat. "No chocolate?"

"Sorry, Daniel. This was what Doc Fraiser recommended." Jack pointed to Daniel's dish with his spoon. "It's not so bad."

Daniel took a spoonful, letting the ice cream melt in his mouth and slowly trickle down his throat. He placed the spoon by the dish and rubbed at his forehead.


Daniel nodded and then took another spoonful. He hated being sick and he could feel what he knew was irrational anger building at Jack. He didn't want vanilla ice cream, he wanted chocolate. He needed to get Jack out of his apartment before he said or did something he'd regret.

"..niel?" Daniel looked up from his study of the melting ice cream to amused brown eyes.


"You want some more?"

Daniel looked at his dish surprised to see it empty. He shook his head and forced himself to take a few deep breaths.

Jack returned in seconds, placing his hands on Daniel's shoulders and kneading the tight muscles.

"You gonna tell me what's going on in that brain of yours, Doctor Jackson?"

Daniel was silent keeping his eyes fixed on the small scratch he'd noticed on his dining room table just a week ago. He wondered how it had gotten there. He was going to have to go to the home improvement store and get one of those little cover up sticks.

"Daniel?" Jack's hands tightened.

"You should leave, Jack," Daniel finally whispered. "I'm not good company."

"No shit, Danny. I didn't expect you to be good company. Hell, you've just had surgery."

Daniel stood up and Jack stepped back to allow him room.

"You don't understand, Jack." Daniel put a hand to his throat, ignoring the pain.

"I understand more than you know, Daniel." Jack's reply washed over him and Daniel pulled his arms up to hold the anger in.

"I know that you're upset and angry and it doesn't have anything to do with me," Jack continued. "I know that right now you want to yell or scream that anger and your throat hurts too damn much to do it."

Daniel raised his head and glared at Jack. "I want you to leave."

"And I'm not going to, Daniel." Jack walked to the sofa and sat down. "I'm going to tell you a bedtime story."

Daniel stood by the table wanting to go to the sofa and unable to move his feet from where he stood.

"Once upon a time, there was a little boy. He was born to two parents who had dreamed for a long time of having a child of their own."

Daniel sat down on the chair he'd recently vacated, crossing his arms on the table and putting his head on them.

"When he was born, they were very happy. They took him with them everywhere, no matter where they traveled. They taught him the secrets of ancient civilizations; they guided his hands over the ancient treasures they studied. And they were all very happy."

Daniel concentrated on the sound of his breathing, trying to ignore Jack's insistent voice.

"The boy grew as children do and one day his parents told him they were going on a great adventure. The boy was happy, very happy, because he loved to go on adventures with his parents. And he knew they loved him very much."

Jack's voice was closer now and hands rested lightly on Daniel's shoulders.

"And then one day, on the start of their new adventure, the boy's parents made a mistake; a mistake that cost them their lives. And the boy who had never been alone was now very much alone in the world."

Daniel had an insane urge to cover his ears with his hands, make himself a child again, shut out the pain of not being a part of someone's life anymore.

"That little boy was alone. He thought no one loved him and he decided that he was going to make sure that he didn't need to depend on anyone again because they would leave him alone and he didn't want that to happen."

Daniel felt hot tears burning in his eyes and squeezed them tightly shut. 'Shut up, Jack,' he wanted to say, but he couldn't because he knew it was the truth and Jack needed to say it because he, Daniel Jackson, linguist, couldn't bring himself to use those words.

"Even though the boy wanted the world to stop, the world just kept right on spinning and the boy grew up. It wasn't easy because people did leave. But the boy was very brave and as the world spun the boy grew and grew until he was a man."

The hands stopped their massage and Daniel cautiously sat up. He turned in the chair and looked up at Jack.

Jack was smiling, a sweet gentle sad smile that Daniel was sure had only been gifted to Charlie and Sara and now Daniel.

"I understand the why, Daniel. I understand that for now you can't let me in. You only have to put up with me for eight more hours."

Daniel nodded and got up. He walked the few steps to the kitchen and pulled a container of Jello out of the refrigerator. Jack stood beside him, leaning a hip against the counter, watching him eat the Jello.

Daniel couldn't speak. It wasn't the pain of his sore throat. He didn't know what to say. His throat hurt, his head was pounding, and his eyes were scratchy with fatigue. There was too much to deal with, too many hurts this night.

"I'm going to bed." He tossed the empty container in the trash and washed his hands at the sink while watching the red blob of Jello on the spoon melt to nothing in the  hot water, dissolving just like the pieces of his life.

"Want me to..?" Jack made a little curling motion with his fingers.

Daniel looked at him and saw only concern, no anger, no pressure. He nodded. He would be safe with Jack. Jack would stay the night and if Daniel asked him to leave in the morning, he would, no questions asked, no recriminations later on.

"Go ahead. I'll be in in a few minutes." Jack rested a hand on Daniel's.

Daniel was warm, the comforter pulled up around his shoulders. There was a small rush of cooler air as Jack slid into bed behind him.

"Daniel?" Jack asked softly as if he was afraid of waking Daniel.

"Awake," Daniel muttered. He wondered if he was going to be able to sleep tonight, not liking the truth Jack had forced him to see.

A heavy arm was placed over his waist and Daniel scooted back in the bed until he was spooned up against Jack. He could feel Jack's heartbeat against his back. Jack's breath tickled the hair near his ear.

Jack sighed as he fell asleep within moments, the only habit of Jack's Daniel envied: the ability to fall asleep quickly and easily.

His hand was resting over Daniel's heart and Daniel brought his own hand up to interlace with Jack's. Jack had given Daniel his heart, his trust, his total commitment. Daniel wondered if he had it in himself to do the same for Jack.

He was dreaming and he knew it even though it seemed real. His parents were there, arms entwined around each other as a little boy watched them dancing in the desert night. Daniel crouched down to the boy and smiled as the young child looked up at him.

"Mom and Dad said we're going to New York in the summer," the boy said.

"I  know," Daniel whispered back.

"I'm going to miss Egypt," the boy sighed but then brightened. "But maybe once we go there, we'll be like the other families. The ones in the storybooks and Mommy and Daddy won't be busy so much."

"Maybe," Daniel sighed. He reached out to touch the boy and the tent dissolved and he was alone.

A crowd of people stood in the distance and Daniel began walking through the sand towards them. He grunted with the effort of fighting the wind that came up and pulled the robes he now found himself wearing closer.

There were voices in the wind, long forgotten voices. Nick, Sha're, his mom and dad, Sarah, Steven. Some promised shelter, some made no promises at all. When he looked up, the crowd was gone and only three small figures stood in the distance.

He had to get to them, a sense of urgency overtaking him. Daniel began to run, his breath coming hard as he stumbled in the sand.

He was close enough to see them. Sam, Teal'c, and Jack, all smiling, all beckoning him closer.

"Wait for me," he gasped out but they were further away. Daniel nearly sobbed his frustration.

"You need to keep up, Daniel," Sam said. He looked up in surprise wondering how she'd gotten there.

"SG-1 is not a place for scholars, DanielJackson," Teal'c intoned. "You need to pull your weight. Succumbing to a child's disease. You are not a warrior."

Daniel struggled to his feet once again knowing that Sam and Teal'c would be gone.  Where was Jack? Why wasn't Jack here? He knew it; he knew that Jack would leave. People always did.

"I'm here, Daniel," Jack called. Daniel looked around, unable to see his lover.

He was on the edge of a cliff, the wind whipping at his robes until it blew them away and he stood naked and shivering.

"I'm here."

Daniel took a step and looked over the edge. It was a long, long way down and Jack stood at the bottom.

"Come to me. I'm here."

Daniel shook his head, stepping back. "I can't get down there, Jack. There's no way down."

"There is," Jack called back, insistent. "Jump, I'll catch you."

Daniel backed up further. "I can't."

"Can't." The word echoed in the wind.

"You can. Just trust me, Daniel. Trust me. Give me your trust, Daniel."

Daniel was pulled to the edge once more, Jack's voice sure and calm.

He took one step and felt himself falling, falling... and then he was swept up in the air and Jack was beside him smiling.

"Told you so." Jack grinned.

"Yeah you did." Daniel smiled back and floated in the air beside Jack as the wind changed to a gentle breeze.

Daniel turned over, reaching out for Jack before opening his eyes. The pillow beside him was slightly warm, but there was no familiar body there.

There was a niggling of fear before Daniel's brain kicked online. Jack wouldn't leave unless Daniel told him. Daniel rolled over and looked at the clock. There were still fifteen minutes to go of the eight hours at any rate. Jack was as stubborn as Daniel. Daniel shook his head as he sat up. His throat was dry and still sore, but Jack had placed a glass of water on the night table and Daniel drained it dry.

He scratched at his belly as he walked to the bathroom, took care of his business. Daniel figured he could get a shower in five minutes. He started the water running and heard a knock on the door.

"Daniel? You okay?"

"Need to get a shower, Jack." Daniel kept the door closed. "I stink."

"I wasn't going to say anything, but.." Jack's dramatic sigh made Daniel laugh despite the slight pain it caused. "Hey, what do you want for breakfast?"

"Applesauce," Daniel decided and stepped under the warm water.

Daniel was out of the shower in less than the five minutes he allotted himself, feeling alert and sure of what he needed to do. He dressed quickly and paused while pulling on his socks.

The sound of his rarely played piano drifted into the bedroom. He stared at his shoes, his fingers frozen in the act of tying his shoelaces.

Fish or cut bait time, Jack would say, although it really wasn't. If Daniel walked out of the bedroom and told Jack to leave, Jack would. No hesitation, no arguments, no questions, and no holding it against Daniel later. Jack wouldn't lose anything and Daniel would lose everything. Oh, he and Jack would continue to be lovers, of that Daniel was sure. But he would miss the chance to give his love fully, to share his life with someone as he'd once shared one brief year with Sha're. Daniel closed his eyes, letting the music wash over him. Jack's fingers fumbled on the keys, hitting a wrong note, and then repeating the same phrase, this time perfectly.

Daniel took a deep breath, opened his eyes, and walked into the living room.

Jack didn't notice, his attention fixed on the sheet music as he played. Daniel sat on the bench next to him and Jack scooted over a fraction while continuing to play the music. Daniel glanced at the sheet music, a simple minuet by Bach that had come with the piano when he'd bought it.

Daniel looked at the clock. Jack still had three minutes of his twenty-four hour duty with Daniel.  Daniel shifted slightly and studied Jack's face intent on mastering the music.

"There's soup in the fridge. I bought you some cottage cheese and stuff too," Jack murmured without stopping  his playing or removing his eyes from the music.

"Thank you."

Jack nodded, his fingers faltering as he glanced up to the clock and then back to the piano.

Daniel placed his own hands near the keys and as Jack's right hand moved up the scale, he gently covered the hand with his own. Jack froze, his hands stilled. Their fingers were intertwined, Daniel noticed, not even remembering when or how. Intertwined like their lives. He studied their hands and even though he knew which fingers were Jack's and which were his, it seemed as though they were simply an extension of one another. He felt a pulse beating and was unable to tell if it was his or Jack's.

He glanced at the clock, watching the second hand sweep towards the eight hour deadline, towards a moment that Daniel knew would be a defining one for them both.

Jack turned to him. Daniel knew Jack would say nothing, giving Daniel  total control and total freedom.

He knew twenty three languages, knew countless words, but when the time came, he could only find one to show his overwhelming love.


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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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