We walk down the corridors of SGC, my hand on Daniel's elbow to prevent him from literally bouncing off the walls. Daniel is tired and hurting and quiet. Very quiet. Too quiet. Neither one of us slept at all last night. Note to self: must remember that painkillers, muscle relaxants and Chinese food are a lethal combination. The number of hours that Daniel spent getting up close and personal with the porcelain throne can attest to that. I sigh, that is just going to be another reason why Fraiser is going to have my head. I called her at home before dawn, telling her to expect a visit from us today. The fact that Daniel listened as I spoke to the doctor and did not protest, was a true gauge of both his mental and physical state. I could feel her voice tighten with anxiety as I explained to her why.
"Bring him in now. Give me 45 minutes, no make that 30, and I will meet you in the infirmary," she orders.
"Thirty minutes will make it 0600 hours. Don't you want ..."
"Now." I am left holding a receiver that is giving me a dial tone for an answer.
I tighten my hold as I feel him sway during our elevator ride to the infirmary. "Daniel?"
He turns to smile at me, acknowledging that he is in there somewhere. "Tired, Jack. Please, stop asking, I'm fine. I'm walking around, living, breathing ... better than ..."
"Don't go there, Daniel. Do ... Not ... Go ... There." I am barely containing my anger. Sometime during the night, Daniel had called the hospital, and bless his little head considering patient confidentiality, he was able to obtain information on the guy in the other car.
"He was driving drunk, Daniel. He ran the red light. He was speeding."
"I know that, Jack. I really do."
I can tell by the look in Daniel's eyes, that he really doesn't know that.
"But I hit him, my car hit his. Me ... behind the wheel of a car ... I put him in the SICU ... twenty years old Jack. He's breathing with the aid of a ventilator."
"You didn't put the drinks in his hand, Daniel. Whoever served him the alcohol holds more responsibility in this matter than you."
"Please, stop it, Jack. Stop trying to sweep this under the rug."
I can see by the look on Daniel's face and his body language, that my archeologist has hit his proverbial brick wall. He is past understanding or comprehending the point I am trying to make him see. Daniel's insight into this matter was reduced to tunnel vision after that phone call.
Daniel is going to become mired in guilt over this ... over something that truly wasn't his fault. This wasn't caused by him touching an alien artifact, disobeying an order, or smart-mouthing the wrong person. Daniel is truly an innocent victim in this, but how am I to make him see that?
Fraiser is standing by the infirmary door, waiting. I can plainly see the anger on her expressive face when she makes eye contact with me, but it softens immediately when she sees Daniel.
"I'm fine, Janet." Daniel reiterates for, like, the thousandth time in less than 24 hours.
"Just let me check you out, okay?"
He offers her a small smile of reassurance as she takes his arm from me and leads him into the infirmary and to a gurney for examination.
I follow like the hopelessly in love, sappy Colonel I have become. Afraid, after yesterday, to let Daniel out of my sight.
Doc Fraiser takes note of my attachment to Daniel, sliding her eyes between the two of us. "Want to tell me what happened?"
So I tell the doctor the story, of course, leaving out the part of the confrontation in the ER and my epiphany upon seeing the Mustang. I especially make sure that "Napoleon" Fraiser is well aware that the hospital wanted to keep Daniel in for observation, but he refused. Bad move. She turns accusatory eyes in my general direction and proceeds to blame me for not bringing Daniel to her last night. I'm standing there silently begging for Daniel's assistance, but he is just letting me dig my own grave. Then she finishes with the coup de grace ... Hammond wants to see me.
"Now? ... It's only," I glance at the clock on the wall. "0610 ... what is he doing here?"
I swear, Janet saves that wicked smile only for me...no one else sees it. "I called him," she purrs.
I scrutinize her through narrowed eyes. How the hell did she get showered, dressed and manage to call Hammond ... and be ready and waiting for us in a matter ... Shaking my head, I am convinced that underneath her pristine uniform and blindingly white lab coat, she is really wearing a Wonder Woman costume.
She continues, "You go up to talk to the General, and I will examine Daniel."
His shoulders slumped and his head hanging, he answers with a resigned, "I'm fine, Jack."
I wonder how many more times Daniel will have to say that before he convinces himself. I exit the infirmary, leaving Daniel in the capable hands of our CMO.
I silently thank Janet for sending Jack on his way. His hovering was only adding to how badly I felt. How do I feel, I ask myself? Anything but fine. Tired, sore, stiff, nauseous, overwhelmed, responsible, alone. I feel very alone ... even with Jack occupying my personal space, I can't shake that feeling. Jack cannot understand my feeling of responsibility in this and he believes that, given time and a good night's (day's?) sleep, I will see his point of view. The problem is, I do see his point of view ... logically he is 100 percent right. Morally, in my eyes, he is 100 percent wrong. I drove that car, I made the choice to drive that street, that time of day, that speed ... the old Jackson saying of "being in the wrong place at the wrong time" seems to fit. Except this time, I took someone down with me.
I look up into Janet's concerned eyes.
"I need to examine you." She hands me a set of scrubs. Bless Janet for never expecting us to wear those "open in the back" hospital gowns. "Can you put these on?"
I nod yes and make a halfhearted attempt to raise my arms. I can't ... they refuse to respond and I drop them back to my lap releasing an expulsion of breath in frustration. I hate the sympathetic eyes she gives to me as she helps me out of the sweatshirt I am wearing.
"Oh Daniel," she cries softly, her control lost for a moment. I know how bad it looks, I know how bad I look. I saw in the early morning hours after I called the hospital ... I locked myself in the bathroom and saw the angry marks all over my body. My penance.
Janet clears her throat and slowly assists me in maneuvering the scrub top on. She draws the curtain around the bed, pushing my body gently into a prone position. Janet removes my sweatpants and throws them over the chair by the side of the bed.
I laugh to myself, it is amazing how Janet and Jack can say my name and in that one word, convey a bevy of emotions. Right now, Janet is angry over the condition of my right knee. She touches it, prodding it ... I'm biting my lower lip to keep from crying out. I try to wiggle from her grasp.
"Not good, Daniel."
"Ow ... alright Janet, you made your point. Can you please stop now?" I beg. I am not above pleading. "Okay, I'm sorry, I didn't stay in the hospital, I'm sorry, I didn't call, I'm sorry, I waited until today ..." I'm losing my control. I stop and take a deep breath. "Sorry."
She helps me slip on the scrub pants. She is as familiar with my body as Jack is, which is why I chose to come to Janet, rather than stay in the hospital. She lifts the head of the bed up, sits on the edge and begins to question me.
The usual. Again, the familiarity making this easier. I tell her the story of what happened ... feeling, again, the annoyance when Jack spoke for me earlier.
"On a scale of 1 to 10, Daniel ... where are you falling?"
"I don't think so, Daniel."
Okay, now this familiarity thing with Janet is working against me.
"Do you remember the pills the doctor from the hospital gave you?"
"In the pocket of the sweatpants, I have the prescription bottles."
"Bottles?" She retrieves the bottles, reads the dosage labels. "Got sick on these, Daniel?"
I'm not sure if the medication or the green tinge under the bruises on my face is the giveaway. Instead of vocalization, I offer her a smile in response. She responds by rattling off the lists of tests that she is going to subject me to.
What seems like hours later, I have done a complete 360 and am sitting on the infirmary bed right back where I started, Janet at my side examining my test results.
"Okay Daniel, the only thing I'm not really happy with at the moment is that right knee of yours. The rest is just a matter of time."
Janet starts to talk about ligament damage and a regimen of physical therapy. I'm trying to stay awake ... but the shot she gave me a few minutes before is pulling me under. I need to ask her one more thing. I call her name. "Janet ... please," I pause to collect my thoughts, "the boy I hit, ummm ... Remsen ... he's in SICU ... could you ... please?"
I can feel her gently rub my arm, her hand warm against my goose-bumped skin. "I'll call and find out how he's doing. Sleep Daniel, we'll discuss it when you wake up."
I feel the weight of the blanket being placed around my shoulders. I turn on my side, letting sleep overtake me ... again glad for the familiarity of this friendship.
As I sit in the General's office, I'm aware that this lecture is turning out to be everything I thought it would be and more. We started with confidentiality ... to liability ... to governmental protocols ... touched on the NID ... my responsibility as team leader ... as 2IC to SGC ... back to confidentiality. The General leans back in his chair, tenting his fingers. "Jack, how is Dr. Jackson?"
"Physically, at the moment, sir, he's hurting. Stiff, sore." Daniel is my lover, but I'm also his team leader and the man sitting in front of me commands my honesty. "Mentally, I'm not sure. The kid he hit was 20 years old and drunk. There was a complication during his surgery and he's now in the SICU breathing with the aid of the ventilator. Daniel, being Daniel, blames himself."
"I will make Dr. Jackson aware that the SGC will take care of this for him."
The General will have his work cut out for him. Daniel certainly does not want anyone but himself to take care of this. I won't burst the General's bubble. I'll let the General convince the stubborn archeologist to let others help him. I'm dismissed and head down to the infirmary.
I locate Daniel, glad to see that he is sleeping. Resting comfortably. I adjust the blanket and he moves into my touch. Never opening his eyes, he says my name. A small smile lights his face and I have to restrain myself from leaning over and kissing his bruised cheek. I settle for gently squeezing his shoulder, mentally kicking myself as a grimace of discomfort appears on his sleepy face. "Sorry," I whisper. Shaking my head in wonderment as he mumbles, "'k, Jack. I'm fine."
I find Janet in her office on the phone. She motions me to a chair, and I sit patiently waiting for her to finish her conversation. Fraiser hangs up the phone, leans back in the chair, and faces me with troubled eyes.
"I just got off the phone with the doctor that treated Daniel last evening. He concurred with my findings."
"Which are?" I ask anxiously. With Janet, who is aware of our relationship, I can let my true concern show through.
"The bruises on his body will heal in time." She shakes her head. "Daniel's right knee is in bad shape. He's gonna be sidelined for a while Colonel."
"He's not gonna be happy."
"No he's not ... and he certainly is not going to be happy about the condition of the Remsen boy."
"Doc, he is not a boy, he's a young man. An obviously irresponsible, young ..."
"I know ... but he's still in a coma, using the ventilator."
As horrible as this sounds, my only concern is for the man in bed in the other room. I cannot think beyond how this will affect Daniel. He is the one I worry for.
"Colonel, Daniel is going to be sleeping for quite a while. I think you should do the same. Then, believe it or not, I am sending him home ... your home, his home, I don't care. I am going to put him on a regimen of medications for about four days, and I would prefer that he not be alone. Then he can come back to light duty and intensive physical therapy for that knee."
Fraiser must have seen the look that was dawning on my face as she issued me this warning. "No strenuous activity. No pressure on that knee. He is to be involved in nothing that would even make him break a sweat ... Am I making myself clear here, Colonel?"
"Yes, ma'm." I resist the urge to salute her.
I stand in the cold wetness of the Colorado afternoon, looking at the Mustang. The insurance adjuster was here, looked her over, made a couple of notes and left. Left me and the car standing here contemplating each other. I run my hand over the ruin of her hood, fondly. Although she nearly took another's life, she protected mine. It's an inanimate object, yet I feel the sting of tears burn my eyes. I'm not too sure what she represented to me, only that I am truly bereft as I look upon the ruined metal that she has become.
I jump as Jack puts a jacket around my shoulders. "Come on in, Daniel. It's time for your daily dose of pills."
I accept the jacket, but not the proffered assistance into the house. Jack's reaction to the accident and to me is suffocating. "Here's your meds, Daniel."
I take them without question, get up and leave the room. Even though he hasn't said a word, I can feel Jack's eyes boring into me. I have been at Jack's for two days and I need my space. Jack has, everyone has, a tendency to forget that I lived the majority of my life alone. Having a family, or someone who cares is a new experience to me. I am used to my independence, and I will not give it up without a fight.
Even before the pills take effect, I go to the bedroom to lie down. Sleep is a good way to escape, and I have been doing enough sleeping and escaping in the past 48 hours to last a lifetime. I know what needs to be done. I need to face the young man lying across town in a hospital bed.
Jack comes in and sits on the bed. I feel so guilty over everything. The car, the accident, Jack ... he was worried, is worried. I know if the situation were reversed I would feel as he does. But I can't acknowledge him, years of being on my own, depending only on myself ... old habits die hard and I need to work this out on my own. Doing what I believe is right. So I lie on my side, harboring my feelings within, falling asleep as Jack gently rubs my back.
Janet no longer eyes me with compassion. Her glances in my direction are filled with anger and annoyance as she confers with my physical therapist, Jenn. I am laying on the infirmary bed ... my right leg stretched out and throbbing. I try not to fidget ... fidgeting will show these two women how much I screwed up. I smile in their direction hoping for a pain pill and my release. Neither of which will be forthcoming if Janet has her way. I close my eyes, relaxing against the uncomfortable pillows. I must have drifted, because I have trouble focusing when Janet calls my name. I come to immediate attention as my therapist begins to manipulate my knee.
"See Dr. Fraiser, he had more mobility even yesterday," she moves my knee in a direction I don't believe it would go in even if it wasn't injured. I stifle a moan ... I may fool my therapist, but Janet knows me better and begins prodding. I will not cry out in pain, I will not cry out in pain ... "Janet ... that hurts ... could you stop?"
"Jenn said it looked better yesterday ... now you have swelling here." I jump as she prods at the swelling. "And here." Now I moan. "What did you do, Daniel?"
"Nothing," I reply, using my shirt sleeve to wipe the fine sheen of sweat from my forehead.
Janet raises her hand above my knee. Didn't they teach her in college that torture is not part of the Hippocratic Oath. I squirm as Jenn applies a cold icepack to my knee. "Walking ... I went walking last night."
"In the rain? In the cold? Five, ten ... thirty minutes?"
"Three hours," I mumble.
We had exchanged heated words, I'd left, I left Jack in my apartment and went out ... making sure he would be gone by the time I got back. And he was ... gone. Left me two slices of pizza and a bottle of beer. I promptly threw the pizza in the garbage and smashed the bottle of beer on my floor. Let it never be said that Dr. Jackson does not have a temper.
I won't tell Fraiser that I spent an hour on that knee, cleaning the remnants of splattered beer from the linoleum kitchen floor and cabinets. But that still didn't bring Jack back. Still couldn't take the words back. He was gone from my loft and gone from Earth with the rest of SG1. No goodbye ... he just ... left on his mission ... left me watching him from the observation window in the General's office. He had gotten mad, I had gotten defensive, he got madder and I left to walk off my anger. I feel like I got left behind in more ways than one.
I had limped to physical therapy this morning ... and Jenn dragged my sorry ass to Janet's office like a prized show and tell item. Now she stood to the side, arms folded across her chest, smiling smugly in my direction.
"Three hours on that knee."
Janet has not asked a question, she has made a statement ... and I know I should not divulge to Janet how I slipped in a puddle, landed on my knee and hobbled all the way home.
I listen as Janet hands in her verdict, Jenn nodding in agreement. The outcome: Off my feet for a while, back to muscle relaxants ...
"Can I go to Abydos?"
I don't know where that idea came from ... really, it just popped into my head. I guess I just decided that I'm tired of the cold, I need some warmth in my life and I smile at the thought of my desert home. Janet looks at me in surprise. I shrug, turning my tired, pathetic blue eyes in her direction. "Please?"
Janet's eyes widen in surprise ... "Gate travel? I don't think so, not with your knee in that condition."
"Kasuf would love to take care of me ... I'll stay off my feet."
I can see her contemplating the idea, of all the people that know me and know Kasuf ... well, my father-in-law is one of the few people who can keep me in line. And he makes sure that it is common knowledge. I start the begging. "It's warm there, Janet ... I won't work." What I'm really saying, that she cannot hear is ... I need to be away, where I don't have to wait for Jack ... counting the minutes till he comes home. Being afraid that he won't be coming home to me. "I'll take the pills ..."
"Five days." I counter.
"Four days, is all I am going to medically recommend. General Hammond has to approve."
"Of course, Janet, I'll go ask him now." I move to slide off the gurney, only to be stopped by Janet.
"Back to bed. I want x-rays and an MRI before I go to Hammond. And you will leave tomorrow."
I begin to protest.
"I'll tell the General two days."
I look into her eyes. "It's gonna be a long day isn't it Janet. You are going to make me suffer aren't you?"
She doesn't answer, but I think I see a glimpse of that evil grin that Jack is always talking about.
I have always hated second watch. Falling asleep, knowing someone is going to drag you from REM sleep to sit in front of a fire on a cold, dark alien planet, then going back to sleep, only to awaken to begin the day. We usually give Daniel first watch. Once he's asleep, SG1's archeologist is a terror to rouse. So for the sanity of all concerned, we keep him up later, and let him sleep uninterrupted.
But Daniel isn't with us on this mission. We left Daniel back in Colorado, deep in a mountain, recovering from a car accident. I left Daniel angry over our last spoken words to each other. The point was, I left Daniel, grateful for the separation ... hoping my leaving would make him see what's been in front of his nose all along ... that Colonel O'Neill is right ... and Dr. Jackson is wrong.
I get up, stretch my legs. This is a boring mission ... a mission made for scientists. SG1, minus one, will be on this deserted, cold planet for another 48 hours as we continue our search for minerals.
Warming my open palms one last time by the fire, I begin my perimeter walk. My boots and the crackling fire the only sounds in the stillness of the night on this alien planet. My memories of our parting words keep me company.
It's the night before this mission, three weeks to the day since the accident. The physical bruises are fading, the Mustang has been scrapped, and Peter Remsen is out of the SICU and on the mend. Everything and everyone is getting on with their lives, except Daniel. He is distant ... an ingrained distant, something he is unable to help.
I had gone to his apartment, bearing peace offerings of pizza and beer. A good bye party, when I really didn't want to go. I place the dinner on the counter and a legal paper thrown haphazardly down catches my eye. I read the contents and yell for Daniel.
He enters the kitchen, his jaw clenched in anger when he realizes what I am holding in my hand.
I shake the documents under his nose. "Care to explain?"
"Daniel, don't do this."
Daniel snorts, making the noise sound as contemptuous to me as if he'd spit on me. "It's too late, it's been done."
"It's an admission of guilt, Daniel. You are not guilty. He is ... he drank. You paid the price, you are sidelined for at least six weeks. Shit, Daniel you paid the kid money ... Jesus, for someone with so many degrees, you have a tendency to be stupid."
I have crossed the line, at that moment, in the heat of anger, I don't see it. What I do see is the look in Daniel's face. A reflection in his eyes that I've never seen before. Anger. Anger at me. "Leave. Just leave. Take the pizza and beer and just go. But understand, Jack ... This is not about you ... not about what you feel is right. This is about what I feel is right. I really don't care if you or Hammond, or even the President agrees with me ... I needed to be able to sleep at night. "
"So you paid the kid money." I glance at the papers, totally taken aback by the dollar amount I see glaring out at me in black and white. "A lot of fucking money to go to out and drink again ... probably with a new car ... hey Daniel, how's your guilt gonna be when he gets in that new car and kills someone while drunk driving. Maybe a family ... a family with a little kid. Huh ... tell me that. Better yet, kills the family and leaves the kid an orphan ... how's that?"
Daniel leans over and grabs his jacket off the chair. "So quick to judge me, Jack." He lunges for his wallet and keys from the counter. He walks over to me and shakes the papers I hold in my hands.
"Read them." At the doorway, he turns, anguish apparent on his features. "Take the pizza and beer and leave, Jack. When I get back ... please be gone." He exits, slamming the door behind him.
I do what he wants, shaking with anger and frustration at his stubbornness. I read the papers in my hands. Legalese wording ... I skip to the sentences that make sense. Stipulations ... stipulations regarding the release of monies. Lots of money for a twenty year old. Counseling, family counseling ... drug and alcohol rehabilitation ... visits to schools, community service. The list is extensive ... sums of monies to be released from a trust fund when and only when each step of the stipulations is met. I check the last page, signed sealed and delivered by the guardians of Mr. Peter Remsen, Mr. Peter Remsen himself, and one Dr. Daniel Jackson.
I throw the papers down in disgust. Daniel lives in a dream world ... thinking he is responsible for correcting all wayward things. At 37, with all that's happened to him, you'd think he would have thrown his rose colored glasses away. That kid is never gonna collect ... and that money is going to sit gathering dust. I repeat to myself, the words I'd said to Daniel earlier ... in the matters of the world, Daniel is just plain stupid.
I take two slices of pizza and set them on a plate for Daniel, along with a beer. I take the remainder of my dinner offering and leave, locking the door behind me.
I adjust the collar of my jacket, protection against the dampness on this cold world. Thankful for the fire at the camp, I look forward to finishing my perimeter walk. Surprise registers on my face when I see Carter sitting in front of the fire.
"Am I late?"
"No, I'm early, couldn't sleep." I take the coffee she offers me and sit.
She looks at me, turns up her eyes, and I know she knows. From that one glance, I know she knows, and I know she is okay with it. I smile to acknowledge her acceptance, but the smile on my face freezes at her expression. "Say it, Carter."
"Why do you want Daniel to be something he's not, Sir?"
"Huh?" Okay ... that is not the witty retort I was hoping for. "Carter, not that it's any of your business, but this thing between Daniel and me ... it was consensual. I didn't force him, as a matter of fact, when I ..."
"Stop, Sir. That is way to much information for me." She shakes her head in disgust over my ignorance. "I'm talking about the accident. The legal papers ... your anger."
"Carter ... you knew? Of all the stupid things that Daniel ..."
My 2IC stands, shaking out the stiffness in her legs. "Go to sleep, Sir. It's time for my watch. I was out of line when I asked you that question. Forget I mentioned anything." She maneuvers her weapon, zips up her jacket and walks away from me to begin her watch. I realize that in less than 48 hours I have had two very important people in my life walk away.
I watch her departing back, heading towards my tent and a good night's rest. I smooth the sleeping bag, get undressed and slide between the cold covers. I miss the warmth of another body ... of Daniel's body. We have a "no sex" on missions rule, but I miss the physical closeness of him. I try to find a comfortable position, the ground is hard, and Carter's question reverberates in my mind.
I close my eyes ... sleep will not come, but hopefully the answer to her question will.
Earth is my home ... it has been for the past five years. But Abydos brings not only memories of Sha're, but of my parents. Memories ... I bask in the remaining heat of twilight, lounging outside the dwelling of my good father. The heat permeates both my mind and soul, and I feel myself drifting somewhere between consciousness and sleep, letting Kasuf and Skaara's voices lull me. Comfortable in my place here, no matter how long I have been away.
"Do you wish to come with me, Dan'yel?" Skaara asks before leaving to spend time with friends.
I crack open my eyes, surprised to see twilight has progressed to darkness. I start to stretch, grimacing as my knee lets me know I have been in one position for too long. Skaara looks down on me with an indulgent smile on his face, offering me his hand. "Getting old?"
I stand awkwardly, using a nearby bench for leverage. I begin to protest his remark, but in actuality, I am getting old, and I was never one to argue the truth. He leaves with a promise to be home before dawn. I laugh at his impudence and watch my young brother leave ... Kasuf tolerates this behavior from his surviving child.
"Are you happy my son?" Kasuf asks of me, now that we are alone.
Am I? If he would have asked me that question before the accident, the answer would have been yes. Now, not knowing what I am going home to ... I cannot answer him truthfully. And I refuse to lie to Kasuf. So I offer no response at all.
My good father traces the shadow of the bruise on my face and looks down at my knee. He pulls me forward and gently kisses my forehead. Emotions surface quickly, and I abruptly turn away so he would not be witness to my lack of control. He truly loves me, will accept anything I tell him. But I cannot tell him what I am not sure of myself.
"Sleep ... we will talk."
He walks inside, leaving me to contemplate the silence and stars as they appear in the Abydos sky. I reach into the pockets of my BDU's removing the pill containers Janet has forced me to take. I take the prescribed ones, throwing in a pain killer for good measure. Gate travel has played havoc on my knee, I realize, as the throbbing intensifies. I retrieve my journal and write until me eyes drift close. I head for the blankets and pillows Kasuf has laid out for me, falling asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.
Shivering in the coolness of the room, I gratefully accept the blanket that is offered to me. Involuntarily, my body moves into the hand that is rubbing my shoulder. In my drug-induced sleep, I thank Jack for the additional warmth, murmuring that I love him, forgetting that he is light years away from me in more ways than one. To the man standing over me, the whisper of that one name has given my father-in-law the answer he was searching for.
The room is dark when I when I open my eyes, but not because of the time of day. Abydos is experiencing a sandstorm and Kasuf is just beginning to light the candles within the room. I push back the covering of my watch, squinting at the numbers. He hands me my glasses, and putting them on helps the numbers come into focus.
Embarrassed, I offer my apologies, stammering about the effects of the pills. I slept through breakfast and was working my way through lunch. I need coffee, caffeine, something to rouse me from the residual effects of the pills.
Skaara enters the room, sitting across from me. My caffeine in human form, he immediately starts to gossip about the people that had once been so much a part of my daily life. The day passes quickly, the storm does not. The wind buffeting the walls, makes a backdrop to the lazy conversation between us all day. The candles burn low as we consume the afternoon meal. I sleep again after another dose of medication ... Janet was able to ensure a lack of physical labor because I cannot stay awake long enough to do anything. I curse her as I rise again in time for dinner.
Skaara laughs about how the "elderly" require their naps. My good father shushes him ... I smile and tell the story of the car accident and the need for the medication. Skaara immediately becomes humbled and begs forgiveness for his callous behavior ... I tell him the "elderly" have short term memories and I do not remember what he said. The evening passes, as the day, and a feeling of contentment washes over me. Skaara and I play a game of gin with a pack of cards I'd found in my backpack. I sleep a dreamless sleep that night, aided again by Doc Fraiser's medication. Jack never enters my thoughts.
"SG1 ... you're home early."
I open my mouth but my 2IC speaks for me. "General, nothing panned out. I have some samples, but I don't believe it is what we hoped for."
"Alright, debriefing at 1100."
I look toward the observation window, wondering where Daniel is. Concern, overrides my simmering anger for the moment.
An hour later, I'm the last one sitting on a gurney, waiting for Fraiser to finish her examination. "Um ... how is Daniel?" I blurt out.
"Ow ... could you be a little more careful with the nee ... not here as in not in the infirmary?"
"No, Colonel, please hold still. I mean not here as in not here."
"Not in the mountain, in his office ...?"
"Come on Doc, could you be a little more specific?" I know she's enjoying this game ... but I am not.
"As in earth ... Colonel, your blood pressure is a little elevated."
"Ya think ... he went through the Stargate ... and went where? Help me out a little with this one, Doc."
"Abydos. All finished, Colonel."
The snap of her gloves brings me back to reality. "Abydos?"
"Yes, he went to Abydos. He wanted to ... and General Hammond sanctioned it, and I medically cleared him, so he's gone."
"Gone." I can barely speak around the lump in the throat.
Fraiser must see the confusion in my face. "Not gone, as in gone, Colonel. Gone as in he will be back tomorrow."
"Why? He couldn't go on the mission because he needed daily physical therapy. How come Abydos?"
"Patient confidentiality, Colonel."
Shit, there's that smile again. "A team member, Dr. Fraiser."
"The General will tell you ... or Daniel will tell you. He'll be home tomorrow." She begins to write on my chart, a sign that she is finished.
The debriefing is one of those wham-bam thank you ma'am meetings. I stay after Carter and Teal'c have left to inquire about Daniel's departure. The General gives little information, just that Daniel will be home tomorrow. I leave his office, feeling no better than when I went in.
I walk the hallways, eventually finding myself by Daniel's office. I enter, hoping to find an answer here, why Daniel ran off to Abydos, and why Fraiser and Hammond let him.
Teal'c enters the darkened office minutes after me. "Teal'c?"
"You have come in search of DanielJackson?"
"He is not here, O'Neill." He pauses before reopening his mouth. "Mak'ger kree fra'der almec," Teal'c says softly, staring right at me.
"What?" I reply, shifting my stance under Teal'c's intense scrutiny.
"It is an old Jaffa saying, O'Neill ... its meaning you may not want to hear."
"But you're going to tell me anyway, aren't you, Teal'c?"
"I am your friend. I am DanielJackson's friend ... and for that reason, I will tell you. O'Neill, you have the mind and body of a warrior, but your heart and soul are forged and fired by a passion deep within you. It is not something with which the warrior within should do battle, but something he should embrace. That heat you feel deep inside is as much a weapon as the knife or gun you carry, but also has the power to heal the wounds that scar you. O'Neill ... why do you not use this power to heal yourself and to heal the man you love?"
Two simultaneous thoughts run through my mind. The first being, I need to go to Abydos now, and the second is ... does everyone know about Daniel and me?"
"Teal'c, I think I need to get Daniel from Abydos."
"I believe that would be a prudent course of action, O'Neill. He has been sorely missed these past weeks."
"Weeks?" But Teal'c is right ... Daniel has been here ... a shell of Daniel has been here, but his soul had been missing. And I knew that ... "I need to see the General. Umm ... thanks, Teal'c."
SG1's Jaffa bows in acknowledgment of my gratitude and I rush to the General's office.
"No ... MALP readings show a severe sandstorm."
"But General ..."
"Sandstorm, Jack. Tomorrow, when and if the MALP telemetry shows that the weather is clear. Tomorrow, you can go retrieve and bring your archeologist home. Bright and early ... okay?"
I am dismissed, aware that by now even the General knows of our relationship. Now I just have to figure out how I can pass the time until I see Daniel. I pick up the phone and ask for outside information.
The sandstorm has not abated ... but the pain in my knee seems to have. I move around today freer than I have in a while. Blessing Janet's meds and my ability to do nothing more than sleep for the past two days. Today, our conversation is muted, making the wind sound stronger, but the feeling of contentment is still present.
Skaara reminds me to take my medication and becomes insistent when I refuse. "Why won't you take it?"
"I miss your company when I sleep."
"But you are better today ... because you took them."
I have to swallow past a lump in my throat, his concern for my health and his mannerisms are so reminiscent of Sha're. In a flash of anger, I cannot look at this man so strong is his resemblance to my dead wife, his sister. I feel claustrophobic ... I want to go home, to Jack. I take the pills to escape these feelings. I spend the remainder of the day, as I spent the previous one. Sleeping, eating, taking my medication ... Avoiding.
The heat of Abydos hits me like a wave as I exit the great pyramid. The sun beats down on me and sweat rolls down my back ... without a shadow of doubt, I dislike the heat as much as I hate trees on missions.
I hear my name being called; a wide smile develops on my face. "Skaara!" I step forward and envelope the man in a bear hug.
"Come, my father wishes to speak with you."
He avoids looking at me.
"Skaara, where is Daniel?"
"He left to meditate by my sister's grave."
Skaara escorts me to his father's house, and leaves me to speak to Daniel's father-in-law.
"Come inside, it is cooler."
He is right, it is cooler, and darker. It takes a few moments for my eyes to adjust to the darkness of the interior of this dwelling. Kasuf gestures toward a large cushion on the floor, and I nod, taking a seat across from him. Kasuf offers me a drink, but I decline ... I want to see Daniel. Whatever Kasuf has to say, I need it to be quick ...
"Do you love my son?"
For one insane minute, I think he is referring to Skaara. "Excuse me?"
"Daniel. Do you love him?"
I hesitate before answering. "He told you?"
"No ... not in many words. But do you love him?"
To the man who probably loves Daniel as much as any father could, I admit the truth. "Yes ... I do love him."
Kasuf smiles. "He is an almana ternan."
Before I have time to question, Kasuf continues. "A gentle soul. Daniel has a gentle soul."
I nod my head in agreement.
Kasuf's eyes darken with emotion. "O'Neill, you must recognize Daniel for his strengths. He has had many tragedies in his life and he would not have been able to survive without being a strong person. People around him see only the tragedies and pity him. With the pity they see weakness. But there is no weakness in Daniel, that is an illusion in their minds. Remember that, O'Neill ... and love my son long and well. Sha're would want him to be happy. Make him happy."
He stands and I follow. Kasuf embraces me ... "Daniel is at Sha're's gravesite on the hill ... take him home, O'Neill. With you ... where he belongs. Make him understand that is where he needs to be."
This time I do not feel the heat as I go to find Daniel. A tiny smile lights my face when I see him in the distance, legs splayed in front of him, staring into space. I sit behind him when I reach him, mirroring his position, I pull his body against mine, wrapping my arms around his waist.
He answers with a sigh.
"Whatcha doing, Daniel ... here by Sha're's grave?"
"Talking ... thinking. She told me you would come ... you needed to find your way back. I needed to think before I could speak to you."
I feel Daniel shudder with the effort of withholding a sob. "She always was a smart woman. I love you, Daniel."
"Are you sure, Jack? Are you sure we are not too fundamentally different from each other ... that ..."
"I love you because you're not me."
"Is that linguist terminology for asking what the hell I just said?"
"Yes." Daniel begins to trace designs on my jeans. I feel the heat of his hands through the heavy material. Distracting me ... I don't want distraction ... I want him to understand. I grip his hands in mine.
"When I saw the agreement you had drawn up with Peter Remsen ..." At the mention of the name, I feel Daniel stiffen. "I was furious. I expected you to act like me ... and not care, you were hurt, your car was gone ... let the bastard suffer. But you are not me ... you do care. I forgot that ... I'm sorry Daniel. You wouldn't be the person I love ... if you hadn't done what you did. I'm sorry I couldn't see that , I'm sorry I hurt you."
"I should have told you ..."
"No Daniel, you were right ... you did what you needed to do. That's is why I love you. That is what makes you ... Daniel." I take a breath and continue. "I called the Remsen family yesterday ... and spoke with the mother."
Daniel hangs his head and a feel a drop of water touch my hand. "Aahh Daniel." I kiss the top of his head. "You saved her son's life. His father is an alcoholic and the other brother is on his way down the path. Peter is in rehab, and the family is in counseling. God, Daniel, don't ever lose your ability to see the good in people. Don't ever become jaded and cynical as me."
I release his hands, and they again pick up their intricate design drawing on my legs. I pull him closer to me, tightening my hold around his waist.
"Jack ..." he leans his head against my shoulder ... I kiss his exposed neck. "I love you, Jack. I need you to keep me grounded ... I need to ..."
"What do you need, Daniel? Need this ..." I run my tongue down his neck ... he moans.
"I need a car."
"A tank, Daniel ... a Hummer. Something even a weapon of mass destruction can't damage."
"I was thinking more along the lines of a '56 Thunderbird ... red with a white top. An antique ... as old as you ... unique. Powerful, wonderful lines, sleek ..."
"Convertible ... Daniel?" I feel him quiver as I slip my hands under his shirt.
"Yes, Jack, convertible." He begins to moan as I slide my hands down the front of his pants to gently rest on his groin, feeling him through the denim.
I swallow, and lick dry lips. I'm getting those visuals of riding with Daniel with the top down ... "Sounds like a good idea, Daniel."
"I'll pick you up on a warm summer night with the top down ... and get you from your house ..."
"You'll keep the motor running for me, Daniel, until this old, tired body gets ready."
He presses my hand against his burgeoning erection, straining against the material of his pants. "Jack ... In case you haven't noticed, my motor is always running for you."
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