All I Want for Christmas
"I'm sorry." The look I receive in return reminds me that my fiftieth apology isn't being received any better than my first. "I'll make it up to you. Just tell me how."
"You can shut up."
"That's a bit harsh." I soften his words with a smile.
"Jack!" Daniel furtively points out the front window of the truck.
Hurriedly, my attention snaps back to the road and I slam on the brakes.
Daniel lurches forward then back against the seat where he sorta bounces a few times.
I understand the "shit" but all the other words he spews after that are pretty much classified by SGC standards. "Sorry."
"No, you're not," he growls.
"Honestly, I am."
"Okay, you know what you can do for me?"
"You name it. You got it."
"Take me home—"
"I thought maybe you'd want to go to my house."
"No, I do not want to return to the scene of the crime."
"You make it sound like there's going to be a chalk outline in my living room."
He's got that controlled, teacherish don't-make-me-send-you-to-the-principal voice. "Yes?"
"I. Want. To. Go. Home."
"Home," he repeats.
"Home it is." I make a quick right, ignoring the honking horn and the not so nice gesture the man in the car I cut off is waving at me.
"Just one more thing."
"Anything, you name it."
"I know you're trying your damndest not to make this happen, but I'd like to be alive when you pull into my driveway."
"That's so not fair, Daniel."
All is quiet from the passenger seat, so at the next light, I experimentally whisper his name. No answer, so I sneak a glance. Based on the fact that his head is bent at such an awkward, uncomfortable angle and there's a string of drool dangling from the corner of his mouth, I'm pretty damn positive the painkiller the ER doctor stuck him with has finally kicked in.
I use the drive thru window and drop off his pain meds and antibiotic at the local twenty-four Walgreens, then swing by my house to quickly pack an overnight bag. I don't really do a look-see of my living room until the bag is packed and I'm ready to head back out to sleeping beauty.
Sorry. I can't help but be drawn to the scene. The flat screen, immensely huge LED HDTV is lying face up on the floor with a crack crisscrossing all of her fifty-two inches. My baby. Reverently, I reach out and touch it, thankful that I had taken the extended warranty which covers everything short of a tsunami hitting the house.
"What's the bag for?"
Shouldn't a painkiller work longer than a few minutes? "What do you mean, what's it for? It's for me." Quickly, I toss the bag into the back seat.
"No, I meant why is it for you?"
I stick the key in the ignition, but don't start the truck, instead I turn to face him. "Your arm is in a sling—"
"And that's thanks to?" His eyebrows finish the rest of the sentence.
"Eh, let me finish."
"Go ahead, feel free, because this should be damn interesting."
"Your mobility is compromised." I ignore his disparaging snort, and continue. "Your right eye is swollen shut, which means your sense of depth perception is shot to shit and Christmas Eve is tomorrow." I check out the clock on my dashboard and amend what I just said. "Today's Christmas Eve."
"You should've thought of the consequences before you got the bright idea that two people—"
"Who've saved the world," I blurt out. Okay, so saving the world doesn't give one superhuman strength unless, that is, you're Teal'c.
"We’ve been incredibly lucky, Jack."
"So, you're saying that our saving the world is just dumb luck?"
"I don’t ever remember saying the word dumb, and stop changing the subject."
"Yeah, you keep saying that."
"Look, I'll admit, twenty-twenty hindsight is that we shouldn't have thought that we'd be able to install the television without help."
"Okay. Okay," I quickly amend. "In retrospect, I shouldn't have thought that you and I—I mean, think about it—"
"I didn't think, which is why I'm sitting here with my arm in a sling and a black eye and—"
"My glasses are bent. My new glasses."
"You wouldn't be able to use them now, anyway."
"Thin ice, Jack. You're treading on thin ice. Janet is just a phone call away."
"What? You're going to go crying to Fraiser now? What's that going to do?"
He shrugs, then quickly clamps his hand over his shoulder. "Ow." His head drops to his chest, and he immediately rights it as the pull against abused ligaments must be damn painful. He compensates by flopping his head backwards against the head rest.
I know that look. He's reached the painful end of his rope. "Take me home," he whispers. "Just take me home."
"I will," I promise. "Just as soon as we pick up your medication. My treat," I add.
"You're a real sport, Jack. Thanks."
Sometimes I truly hate that my words come out of Daniel's mouth.
I know better than to help him out of the truck. I can look but don't touch but when he nearly takes a header, instinctually I reach out to grab him. "Whoa, careful."
"I was," he snarls. "You were the one who dropped the TV."
I want to kick his butt from here to eternity, but it's really hard to argue and return fire when you're in the wrong. So I decide to travel the other route. "You're right. I dropped the television. I was wrong thinking we could do it ourselves. I was stupid."
Daniel stares at me. "You forgot one. Asshole."
"Never said I wasn't." I'm hot and suddenly ready for an argument. Shit happens, Daniel should know that. Look what the hell we do for a living. Expect the unexpected is what we always say. And I'm ready to go at it here in the walkway leading to his house. "Hey." All the wind goes out of my sails under the porch light. "You look like shit."
"That's nothing compared to how I feel."
This is bad. Daniel admits to not feeling well, well never. If his words didn't turn the dagger of guilt imbedded in my chest, the fact that he's now waiting for me to help him, does a damn good job.
"Daniel?" Daniel had volunteered to have Christmas this year. Well, maybe volunteered is the wrong word. He'd never done it. I've had it, Fraiser, Carter, then we'd been off world on occasion. Hell, even Teal'c had it one year using the commissary. But Daniel, he'd never hosted our annual thank-god-we've-made-it-another-year-Christmas party, so by process of elimination, this year was his, which was why I expected some type of Christmas ho-ho's among his ample artifacts. "Where's your Christmas spirit?"
"In the boxes."
He takes the two steps down into his living room, turns on the lights and shocks the shit outta me. Daniel's not kidding. There are boxes. Boxes upon boxes of Christmas stuff.
"Care to explain?"
"We haven't even been offworld for two weeks, Daniel. You must've had some time in your busy archaeological schedule to at least open the boxes."
"What part of 'no I don't care to explain' don't you understand?"
"That would be the 'no' part."
"I'm going to bed." He gives the couch a one-eyed glare.
Nope, not going to happen, but I figure if I give Daniel enough rope, he'll hang himself. "Sleep well." Turning quickly, I plant a peck on his cheek. "Call me if you need anything."
Based on the shocked expression on Daniel's face, sometimes, when he least expects it, I can be such a bastard.
I err on the side of caution and give him fifteen minutes before I slowly make my way down the hall to the bedroom. I figure that Daniel's been staring at the bed like I've been staring at the boxes for the past quarter of an hour. He's still dressed. There's pain and exhaustion evident in the not so tiny furrows lining his face and he’s clutching his injured arm against his chest. "Maybe the bed isn't where you should be lying down."
He sighs. "I wouldn't know, I can't even figure out how to get horizontal. Even peeing was an adventure."
I grab an armful of blankets and snag two pillows. "Follow me."
The couch is made up, pillows are propped up against the bolster and I stand there proudly surveying my handiwork. "Try this. This should work better than your bed."
"I'm sorry." This time my kiss is a tad longer than just a passing peck on his cheek.
Maybe there's something in my voice. A tone that hadn't been there before because even though all he says is 'I know', there is forgiveness in his.
We manage, between the two of us, to get him horizontal. An antibiotic, a cup of tea and two slices of toast with grape jelly get eaten without a comment. There's some griping over the painkiller but as soon as he begins to shift, trying to find a comfortable position, he's singing a different tune.
"Two?" Daniel asks after swallowing the first even before I can hand him the mug of now cold tea.
"Two? What do you want to do, sleep through Christmas?"
He gazes around me at the pile of boxes. "Maybe."
I check the label, just to make sure two is an approved dosage, before tapping the second out onto his opened palm. One usually knocks him on his ass. Two? I wasn't kidding when I asked him if he wanted to sleep through Christmas.
I awake - stiff, sore and momentary confused. Then my whereabouts come back to me in increments, the last thing being squishing myself into the end of the couch, feet propped up on a box, stealing a corner of the covers.
What woke me? Daniel's nasal snoring. Deeper and way more congested than normal, I'm only hoping that it's due to the pain pills and not to any nasty germs he's picked up in the ER.
I push myself up with a groan and stand there, work out the kinks then lean over and cover Daniel's feet. It's light outside, mid-morning light, and I definitely need a pot of coffee for a kick-start.
"Want to run that by me again, Colonel?"
I’m a masochist, I knew I shouldn't have called Fraiser, at least not before I'd had a gallon of coffee. "Daniel and I attempted to install my new flat screen—"
"The one you haven't shut up about for the past two weeks?"
"Yeah, that one."
"What happened to the professional installation?"
"They had to cancel, as a matter of fact, I rescheduled for next Thursday—"
"Thursday is after Christmas."
"You couldn't wait?"
"You make it sound like I'm a spoiled brat."
"No comment, sir."
"Well, Daniel was over. And one thing led to another."
"Not exactly. More like Daniel caught it when it slipped."
"Maybe caught it is the wrong terminology. Stopped it would be more appropriate. With his shoulder. Did a fine job of it, too. I think he—"
"And that's how he dislocated his shoulder?"
I skip mentioning the bruising on his face. "Yeah. I made arrangements for the ER paperwork to be forwarded to you. It should make a wonderful addition to Daniel's chart."
"Thank you, sir, but I really want to check Daniel out for myself."
"It's Christmas Eve, Doc, cut the man a break. He's sleeping." I also forget to mention the possibility of Daniel's holiday germs. "You'll be able to see for yourself tomorrow—"
"He's still doing Christmas dinner?"
"He wouldn't miss it for the world. Has the house in the throes of being decorated." Okay, maybe that was just a little white lie. I open the fridge and notice a package of red and green stuffed Oreos on the second shelf. "And he has dessert all ready to go. It even came up in discussion and he'd be devastated if people backed out."
I get the 'don't bullshit a bullshitter' moment of hesitation before she answers. "I'll be here but if you need me or Daniel needs the infirmary before then, don't hesitate, Colonel."
It’s not an invitation, and I see it for what it is, a warning not to screw up any more than I already have.
Daniel is fighting for purchase with the pillows along the back of the couch and from what I can see, the pillows are winning.
"Hold on." I grab his feet, swing them slowly off the couch and their momentum guides him upright.
His first attempt at speech is futile and it takes a few sessions of throat clearing to produce a croaky "Thank you."
Daniel nods and answers in a voice that would make a pre-adolescent proud. "Tylenol. Antihistamines. Pain meds."
I laugh then stop suddenly when I realize he's serious. "You weren’t kidding about sleeping through Christmas."
His snarl turns into a sneeze and he fumbles around one handedly, trying to find a place to wipe his nose, settling on the edge of the blanket to do the deed.
"Hold it!" I order. I zip into the kitchen, grab a handful of paper napkins then zip back, shoving them under his nose.
Daniel wipes, blows then stares at them as if they’re made of C-4. "Napkins?" he croaks.
"Desperate times call for desperate measures."
The remark earns me a half-smile.
I smile back. "So, tea, toast and you get to choose two out of three on the meds."
He sneezes, once again grimacing as he blows his nose with the napkin. "I'm guessing this isn’t allergies."
"I’m thinking no, it’s not. Sorry."
"Let's just go for the three T’s."
"Tea. Toast and Tylenol. Gotcha."
Daniel eats the toast, drinks the tea but I’m thinking the Tylenol isn’t making a dent in how he feels as he groans and shifts on the couch, eventually getting up with a slow huff of air.
"Daniel?" The last thing I want is to pick up pieces of a shattered archaeologist when he hits the ground, 'cause I’m sure, even now, Fraiser's cutting down the net worth of my Christmas goodies.
"Just going to pee, Jack. Brush my teeth. Then find a nice hole and crawl into it."
"Do you need me to help dig the hole? I figure it’s the least I could do considering—"
"If you value your life, I wouldn’t go there."
I don’t ask, 'cause maybe I don’t wanna know how he managed to get out of the shirt he was wearing into a plaid flannel shirt over a pair of sweats that have seen better days. The flannel is closed, buttoned haphazardly but Daniel’s right, I value my life too much to draw attention to it.
Without asking, as he settles into the couch, I go into the kitchen and get him a glass of juice, a green filled Oreo and one pain pill. I find a package of tissues on the window sill and add that to the little impromptu tray.
I sit next to him, give him the pill, then the juice, taking back the empty glass when he finishes. He then gets the cookie, and I remember to separate the Oreo, giving him the crème filled side first. Daniel is a creature of habit, if nothing else. I put the box of tissues on his lap and as he licks the crème filled center off the chocolate cookie, I ask the question that’s been bugging me. "What’s with the boxes?"
"It's Christmas stuff."
"Well, no duh, Daniel. I can see it’s Christmas stuff. It looks like virgin Christmas stuff also. Items that have yet to see the light of day."
"I’m having Christmas,” he replies indignantly, reaching for the other half of the Oreo. "Christmas calls for Christmassy things."
"Which you have in abundance."
"I was in a rush the day I went shopping. I just picked out—"
"Whatever would fit in your car?"
"Me? The original Father Christmas? Don’t insult me. I was just curious, that’s all."
"Okay, it just sounded like you were being a tad judgmental."
"Not me. Honest. Though I do have one other question."
He holds up his hand, sneezes three times in quick succession, blows his nose then looks over at me, the tissues plastered under his nose.
He coughs. "Food?"
"Yes, as in people eating Christmas dinner."
"Taken care of. Delivery. Catered. Tonight, I think. Tonight's..." Daniel looks at me, confused.
"Tonight’s Christmas Eve."
"Then everything is being delivered tonight. Around… later. Yeah. It’s just…" He looks at his living room. "This mess that needs to be taken care of."
"Well, you’re in luck, Doctor Jackson. It would appear that you have your own handy dandy Santa’s helper."
The pain lines have slid off his face and now Daniel's watching me with more than a slightly dopey smile. On occasion, I walk by, hand him a tissue and remind him to wipe his runny nose.
"Music," he blurts out. "Don't we need music? And… and… and." He looks at me and blinks.
"And what?" A medicated, sick Daniel's train of thought isn't the easiest to follow.
"Chocolate. Hot chocolate. Maybe I'll go…" He starts to get up.
"No!" I shout, jumping to attention, my knees giving me a not so gentle reminder that I'm not as young as I'd like to think I am. "I'll do it. And I'll find music for us. You just stay there."
He winks at me, then blows me a kiss.
Ahh, the power of pain meds.
I put the mug of hot chocolate in front of him on the table. "Just like you ordered."
He leans over and stares into the chocolately liquid. "There's no marshmallows."
"You have no marshmallows." Which is a lie. He does. They're in the fridge, way in the back, but they were hardened to the point of being deadly weapons.
"I don't want it without marshmallows."
"You don't have to drink it."
He coughs, his left hand holding his right shoulder in place. "I think I need to lie down again."
I'm by his side in a second, levering him back onto the couch. "Not feeling so great?"
"Been better," he admits with a smile.
I smile back.
Honestly, Daniel has been better but he's also been worse. On a scale of one to ten, having a TV fall on you might rate a four.
He sneezes loudly in quick succession, holding onto his shoulder to offset any movement then mumbles under his breath.
Okay, I'll give him a six. Four for the TV and two for whatever germs he's getting up close and personal with.
"It's going to be a good Christmas."
I can't help the smile that takes root. "Yeah, it will be. Good friends. Good food. Decorations."
"Sorry about the TV."
What would an injured Daniel be without guilt? "Shouldn't that be my line?"
"You're sorry about the TV?"
One should never get into it with a linguist. Injured, doped up on pain meds or not, Daniel always manages to leave me in dust. "No, I'm sorry about what happened to you. The TV was just collateral damage." Collateral damage with an extended warranty.
"Think Janet's going to yell?"
"Think?" I sit down on the couch next to him. "I know she's going to yell. Loudly. But it's Christmas, and I'll just position her under the mistletoe and silence her with a kiss."
"Really? You believe you can silence someone with a kiss?"
Daniel bends his head to face me, and bruises with a red nose and bleary eyes have never looked so great.
"It's always worked before."
"With anyone I know?"
A coy Daniel is a wonderful thing. A coy Daniel who's flirting warms my heart. A coy Daniel who's flirting and not feeling any pain from medication is such a waste of a good libido. I kiss him lightly on the corner of his mouth. "How about I finish putting up the decorations?"
"My own personal Christmas elf."
"Yeah, that's me, Santa's right hand man. Too bad I left my tights at home."
Daniel drops his head onto my shoulder. "I think I need to go to sleep because I'm finding that visual oddly erotic."
"That's because you love me and probably find me oddly erotic at the best of times."
Daniel snorts. "If you say so."
"Go to sleep," I order. "I have things all under control."
"I trust you implicitly."
He really doesn't, but that's the drugs and contentment talking so I'll take that any way I can. "Merry Christmas Eve, Daniel."
He sighs deeply, coughs then settles back into position. "I hope Santa brings you everything you want."
"He already has, Daniel. He already has."
I know this is a few months early for the 'tis the season, but actually this fic had been buried in my plot bunny folder for a year or so. Took it out, dusted it off, made some changes and sent it to my bestest beta babe, jo, for her to work her magic. As always, jo made my words sing and there really aren't enough words to thank her for all that she does not only in fandom but in RL.