The bedside lamp casts an unflattering hue on Daniel, accentuating the darkened shadows under his eyes and unhealthy pallor. In sleep, the lines that indicate the harshness of his life usually fade away and he looks truly at peace. Not this time....awake or asleep...Daniel is haunted. Shattered by friends that lost faith and belief...shattered by his loss of control.
He moans in his sleep, muttering words that are undecipherable. By his tone, Daniel is pleading. Using words to hold onto his life, his sanity--pleading for his release...for his friends, I'll never know. Who am I kidding...I know. He wanted out, he wanted confirmation that he was safe, he wanted me to believe...and I did none of that.
Muscle spasms again cause his body to jump, and I allow myself permission to touch...to sooth the agitation that still inhibits his body from the drugs that Mental Health saw fit to pump into him. My hand gently cards through his hair, stiff and greasy to the touch, but that's okay. A shower and shampoo can remedy that. Next my hand moves-- without thought--moves to trace the shadows that darken his eyes...not so easily taken care of... maybe sleep will remove the darkness, but not the haunted look in those eyes...the windows of Daniel's soul... profoundly clichéd as that may sound. Only time will remove that look. My thumb traces the strength of Daniel's jaw line...strength to overcome all that life throws at him.
I gently adjust the blanket around his shoulders, pausing to squeeze the shoulders that bear the brunt of the world's problems, and mine, and Carter's and Teal'c's. His family's burdens.
I run my hand over the dip in the blanket, my callused fingers catching the cotton weave. Daniel moves in slumber and I remove my hand, holding it inches from his moving form...hesitating to touch. Only when his breathing has returned to its deep, even state will I resume my pattern of touch.
Only when he sleeps or when he is injured will I touch Daniel now. I need to rein in my tactile faculties...there is still Sha're to consider. Apologizing in the hospital for being a head case... I wanted nothing more than to take him in my arms to show him that he could fight this...that we could fight this. But I'm a coward, and if I touched him...he would know. That his commanding officer, his best friend... is in love with him. I'm not ready to reveal that...he's not ready to hear it...there's still Sha're to consider.
So instead of giving Daniel what he needed in that padded cell, I turned tail and ran. I shut down...I yelled...He wanted comfort, touch, reassurances...and I could offer him none of those. So I left him to suffer instead of showing him how much I loved him. Because I was afraid that the power of my touch would convey what I was unable to admit, Daniel was left confused and upset...I was left unfulfilled and angry.
I drove him home. Words were exchanged, but those are only empty platitudes when not accompanied by human contact. While he slumbers in his bed, though, I will touch. My back rests uncomfortably against the headboard and my legs are stretched out, the warmth of Daniel's body heating the outside of my leg. My hand absorbing the warmth of his hip and rejoicing in the rise and fall of his regular breathing. He acknowledges my touch and quiets before another nightmare begins. He sighs in gratitude, my echoing sigh tinged with frustration.
Tomorrow, when he awakes, I will not touch. My feelings will be hidden behind banter and sharp retorts, short words and occasionally anger. Words...not touching. Never touching... because I love him to much to force the issue...to make him choose...because there's still Sha're to consider.
Author's Comments: See Tickling the Ivories for the second part to "Consideration"
After finally seeing Legacy-not on squinty vision-I needed closure of Jack's behavior when he visited Daniel in Mental Health...this is what the muses came up with. Thanks as always to the people on my porch.
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