I hate rain like this, mist more than actual droplets. It doesn't help that my eyes are tired and burning, that my body aches, or that my mind is going to go into shutdown mode the second I become horizontal, which should be, as I check the clock on the Avalanche’s dashboard, hopefully in less than ten minutes.
If I time this right, I should be able to get about five hours sleep before I have to return to the mountain. Honestly, when the airman dropped me off from the airport, I had been a little bit annoyed that I didn’t find Daniel at my house, but a call to the SGC revealed that Dr. Jackson had signed out early this afternoon and my annoyance sped right over to worry at those words.
The Thunderbird is in the driveway and I exhale gratefully as I park next to it, making a mental note to remind Daniel not to take up so much space with his car. I can feel a little bounce in my step as I go up the walk, despite the lateness of the hour as the weight of finding one missing archaeologist lifts from my shoulders.
I use my key, enter the house and manage to call out half of his name before I stop, puzzled. The house is in a state of ... what could be the word I’m looking for? Untidiness? From the living to the kitchen, the lights are ablaze and there is a project started on the living table, a similar one on the dining room table and an open bottle of medication sits right next to a half eaten meal on the kitchen counter.
I pick up the bottle and study it at arm’s length, thanks to age and eye deterioration. Pain meds, the date coincides with Daniel’s injury, and guilt slams into my gut. I put the bottle right back where it was, and then go to check out the bedroom.
I stand against the doorframe leading to the darkened bedroom, giving my eyes a moment to adjust to the darkness of the room.
Slowly, I begin to make out that Daniel’s asleep in what I can only imagine as being an uncomfortable position. But then, based on the size of his so-called bed, any position to me in it is uncomfortable. He’s flat on his back, his head propped up on two pillows. His legs are in constant motion, the blanket twisted around his hips, but my gaze is drawn and locked onto the upper half of his body. He’s not wearing the sling and his right arm is flung across his chest, holding his injured arm tightly to his body. Restless, his legs seem to search for purchase on this small bed and either he took the pain pill a while ago or it doesn’t seem to be helping him sleep. Me, I’m wishing for the former as opposed to the latter, only because it would alleviate my guilt just a tad.
Daniel doesn’t even open his eyes as he calls my name, his light sleep interrupted as I try to pull the twisted mess of blankets from around his legs.
“Yup, right here.”
“Ahhh.” I see his brow scrunch in concentration as all synapses aren’t firing in sync. “How was ummm ... Washington?” At the last word he opens his eyes, and even in the dim light I can see how bleary they are. “Hi,” he whispers with a crooked, dopey smile.
That’s all it takes, and I’ve stripped down to my boxers and my tee in seconds flat, not caring that I leave my clothes where they lay, sliding into bed next to Daniel.
“Can you move to your side ... your right side?”
“Back is better. Side hurts too much.” His admission is definitely drug-induced. “Both sides.”
“No problem.” I squash my body next to his -- on my side -- my
ass just fitting on this narrow bed. I hook one leg over his constantly
in-motion limbs and I place my arm over his chest, joining his in holding
his left arm tightly to his body.
“Washington?” he reiterates once I seem to be settled.
“Had to report to the principal, you know how that is.”
His chuckle is followed up with a moan and I ease him just a bit closer to me.
“Did you get yelled at?”
“I got detention.”
“At least you didn’t get expelled.” Daniel yawns and his eyelids begin to slowly close.
“No such luck, the President gave me another chance.”
“Good ... glad,” he mutters.
“And you? What were you up to while I was gone for a mere twenty-four hours?” He doesn’t answer, but I give him a gentle shake, I want to know why he’s in pain days after the shooting in the gateroom.
“What did you do while I was gone?”
“I saw that ... all over the living room and dining room table.”
“Yes, Daniel, you left a trail. What else did you do?”
“Lunch ... maybe dinner. I um, ate.”
“And you took a pain pill, why? Does Dr. ...”
“X-rays, MRI and physical therapy today.” Daniel takes a deep breath and settles into me, his face falling lopsided against my head. “Ached, couldn’t get comfortable ... comfy now.”
“I’m sure you are.” I wiggle my ass closer to him, the blanket barely covering my back, but Daniel’s relaxed and for a moment I don’t dare shift positions.
“Did I thank you? Don’t think I did ... thank you, Jack.” He turns his head a little more and manages to plant a kiss in the vicinity of my nose.
“My pleasure.” I return his kiss with a better aimed one of my own.
“Pfffttt ... not for this, for shooting me. Did I thank you
I’m dumbstruck and worried again that maybe he took more than the one prescribed pain pill. “Daniel?”
“I would have hurt more people ... hurt you or Teal’c.” Hurt that has nothing to do with the pain in his arm is etched around his eyes. “You shot me ... I would have ... I could have killed you.” His Adam’s apple bobs and a tear sneaks from underneath the closed eyes at the horrific possibilities “... Thank you.”
“You wouldn’t have hurt anyone ... you didn’t hurt anyone,” I drum into him. “It wasn’t you, it was Anubis,” My own eyes blur with the “could have beens” in the gateroom.
“Say you’re welcome,” he orders.
“I love you.”
“Okay, that’s acceptable.”
I allow Daniel the last word and lay squished up against him, watching his face relax and the legs under mine slow until eventually their movement stills. The Daniel who I share my life with knows why I fired that shot, the man he has become knows I would have killed him to save him. I snort at how that sounds, even to me. But Daniel understands completely.
As uncomfortable as it is, I move my hand up and finger Daniel’s silly cowlick, wishing his hair was a bit longer, and for a second, wishing maybe he was who he had had been. He’s changed, I’ve changed. I like to think for me, the change is for the better. For Daniel, for a time, just before he ascended, I would have argued that who he had become had been a step backwards, maybe because he had been unhappy with himself.
Now, he’s back, a mixture of what he had been before, a wonderful blend of strength and conviction, honor and consciousness, prowess and innocence and finally, I believe -- hell, I can only hope, he’s achieved a comfort level with the military trappings he’s surrounded with, his friends and especially with me. And if Daniel would have died, I wouldn’t have retired, as harsh as that sounds, because that would have made his fight, our fight, seem to have been in vain, and he deserves more than that.
“You’re welcome, Daniel,” I whisper, settling in for what remains of the rest of the night.
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