Guardians of the Heart by babs and devra

Jack looked at the bedraggled archaeologist sitting across from him at the commissary table. Daniel's eyes were fixed on his pancakes and he was slowly pushing a deteriorating piece around in the syrup.

"Daniel," Jack began. When there was no response to his quiet voice, he spoke louder; loud enough that an airman new to the SGC dropped the coffee he was carrying and looked about for someone to salute.

"Daniel!" That did it. Daniel dropped his fork and raised his eyes to Jack's.

"You bellowed, Jack?" The effect Daniel was going for, mildly sarcastic, was ruined by the nasal tone of his voice and the cough that followed the comment.

Jack shook his head. "When are you going to go back to Doc Fraiser? I think this cold is hanging on entirely too long." Jack pushed his cereal bowl away and watched Daniel go back to playing with his food.

"I saw her last week when you were in Washington." Daniel grabbed a napkin and blew his nose. "She said it has to run its course."

"Too damn long a course if you ask me," Jack muttered. Of course Daniel's stuffed up ears prevented his lover from hearing that comment.

"Besides, I'm hardly sneezing anymore now." Daniel searched for an appropriate place to put the napkin and settled for stuffing it in his pocket.

"No sneezing and lots and lots of coughing; not good, Daniel," Jack said. He didn't like the dark circles under Daniel's eyes which indicated he wasn't getting enough sleep, nor did he like the way Daniel's entire body shook every time he coughed.

They hadn't had time together other than on base for the past three weeks. Budget time meant Jack spent his time shuttling to Washington or locked up in sessions with bean counters on base. The recent death off-world of two of the SGC's translators and archaeologists had Daniel's department working hard to keep up with the workload. And Daniel unfortunately never really understood the word delegate.

As Jack watched another cough shook Daniel's frame and Daniel pulled out a small bottle of cough syrup. His hands shook as he tried to open the bottle.

"Give it here." Jack took the bottle from Daniel's hands, noticing the chill in them. He opened it and handed it back. He so did not like that wheezing sound that he was hearing more and more frequently in Daniel's breathing.

"Thanks, Jack." Daniel saluted Jack with the bottle before taking a swig. He swallowed hard and coughed once more.

"Look Daniel, do me a favor. Go to Doc Fraiser one more time." Jack nudged Daniel's foot with his. "I don't like the sound of your breathing."

Daniel sighed. "I will. Later. I have a report I have to get ready for SG-9 and then we have to catalog the items that SG-3 was given on…" Daniel paused to cough and sat panting a moment when the bout was over.

Jack nodded. It had to be good enough. He was leaving on a training mission in less than two hours and wouldn't be home for the next three days.

"I'll be fine, Jack," Daniel said. He grabbed his tray and swayed when he stood.

"Yeah sure you will." Jack placed the plate containing Daniel's uneaten breakfast on his own tray. He lowered his voice. "Look, Danny, humor me. I'll just feel better knowing that the doc's checked you out."

"I said I'd see her, Jack." He looked at his watch.

"I've got to get back to my office. SG-9 needs that report by ten and I have to double check my sources."

Jack frowned at the breathlessness that Daniel exhibited at the end of his little speech. He glanced at his own watch. There wasn't time for him to march Daniel down to the infirmary and make sure the other man got checked out. He had his own briefing to attend.

"I'll see you in three days, Daniel." Jack hoped that his eyes and the tone of his voice could convey what his words could not. Saying goodbye in the middle of the commissary wasn't the send off he'd hoped for.

"Three days." Daniel gave a brief smile. "Have fun playing GI Joe, Jack."

Jack let out a gusty sigh as he took their trays to the dishwashing window. He closed his eyes and stood a moment after handing their trays to the airman behind the counter. Then he squared his shoulders and walked to the briefing room becoming Colonel O'Neill and leaving Jack behind.

* * * *

"Daniel?" Sam Carter knocked once and then opened the door to Daniel's office. She was hoping that after Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c left on the training mission to P9Z-000 Daniel and she could begin analyzing the writings on an apparent shielding device that SG-3 brought back from their last mission. The last time she'd actually managed to speak to Daniel earlier in the week she'd been worried about the cold that seemed to be lingering, but Daniel assured her that Janet said everything was okay, that he just needed time to let the cold run its course.

The shielding device could wait Sam decided, as she stepped into Daniel's office. First thing she was going to do was to take Daniel to the commissary and enjoy a cup of coffee or two with him. If the colonel wasn't around she doubted Daniel was going to remember that food, drink, and rest were important. She smiled to herself. Daniel didn't always remember that even when Colonel O'Neill was around. The colonel was just a little more vocal in dealing with it than she was.

"Daniel?" Sam frowned when there was no response to her entrance. She shook her head when she spied Daniel at his work table, head down on its book-covered surface. Sometimes Daniel was worse than a little brother, she mused.

She touched Daniel's shoulder, wanting to wake him and felt her heart begin to pound as she registered the heat pouring from him. As Sam leaned closer, her heart sank at the sound of his wet raspy breaths.

"You hang on, Daniel. I'm right here and we're going to get you to the infirmary," she muttered, reassuring herself as much as her friend as she reached for the phone to summon a medical team.

* * * *

Opening and closing the cabinets in Daniel's kitchen, Sam shook her head in exasperation at their condition. Empty, devoid of any edible foodstuffs, the Old Mother Hubbard scenario ran through her brain. Sighing, she grabbed an errant grubby pencil from the counter, turning over a stained menu from the local Chinese restaurant that had been shoved into a corner and began a list. Tapping the pencil against the countertop, Sam concentrated so intently on what needed to be purchased to keep Daniel fed during his enforced medical stand down that she jumped when she felt a light touch to her shoulder.

"Jeez, Daniel!" Sam whirled around, eying the sleep deprived man who was using the table for support…red eyed, barefoot, sniffling, and breathing heavily. She silently questioned Janet's logic of discharging SG1's archaeologist to home after 48 hours in the infirmary. The goody bag of medicines from the CMO had been emptied and now lined the kitchen counter, as well as the two page list of instructions from Janet; a testament to how sick Daniel had been and still was.

Tucking the pencil behind her ear, she leaned against the fridge and pointed an accusatory finger at Daniel's bare feet. He waved away her concern, his answer of, 'I'm fine,' was punctuated by wet, ragged coughing. Backing him into a chair, she made him sit before she filled a glass with water.

"Drink," Sam commanded, shoving it under his nose. Sam waited patiently for Daniel to stop drinking and for his breathing to return to normal before continuing. "Bed? Why aren't you in bed?"

Placing the empty glass on the table with more force than necessary, Sam bit back a smile of amusement at the annoyance on Daniel's face. " I'm fine. Janet wouldn't have sent me home…"

Sam placed a hand on his forehead, the heat registering on her fingers before Daniel jerked his head away. "Janet wouldn't have sent you home, if I didn't promise to look after you Daniel."

"Not a child. I can look after myself." Daniel slid his glasses off his face and laid them on the table, massaging temples that Sam was sure ached with a fever induced pain.

Sliding the chair out across from Daniel, Sam took a seat, leaning until her hands sat gently on his knees. "Hey," she called softly. Resting his right elbow on the table, setting his chin on his cupped palm, Daniel squinted slowly at his friend. "I know you can look after yourself, but this is a guilt thing."

"Guilt?" was his whispered response.

"Janet, me…hell I'm sure even the colonel and Teal'c if they were here…"

"Oh," Daniel replied, a half hearted attempt at a chuckle rumbling deep in his throat. "Something about not getting my sorry ass to the infirmary sooner followed by Janet's 'oh shit' when she listened to me breathe."

Sam tapped her index finger to her nose, laughing. "Got it in one Daniel.

"We care." Frustrated, Sam found it hard to comprehend that even with the passage of years Daniel still had problems getting the big picture of family. "I care…we care about you." Sam was unable to keep the harsh annoyance from her voice. "Why is me wanting to help you, take care of you, maybe shop for you, such an alien concept, Daniel?" Sam tried to imagine how this simple proclamation of familial concern was making her angry, wondering if it could be her own feeling of guilt at not seeing what had been before her. Believing it was just cold, not questioning…maybe * she * was the one who didn't understand the meaning of family.

Sam was taken back by the culpability that was written all over Daniel's face at her declaration; shocked that her harsh words were upsetting the person she came to take care of. The emotions on Daniel's features stripped away the hands of time, remembrance of her relationship with Mark and arguments that had taken years to mend. "Damn it, I'm sorry, Daniel."

"It's okay, really." Daniel's warm hand gave Sam's a gentle squeeze. Clearing his throat he inquired tentatively, "Shopping?" This single word was wheezed out between harsh exhalations followed by a sneeze.

"Shopping," Sam stated succinctly as she slid the box of tissues the length of the table.

"Thanks," he mumbled, before blowing his nose and coughing into the tissue. Sam waited patiently as Daniel seemed to contemplate options he really didn't have. "I need to…."

"Bed or couch Daniel, TV or DVD, stereo or radio. Those are your choices."

Sam watched as he worried the tissue into tiny pieces. "I promised Jack I would take in his mail while he was off world, it's already been two days and…damn, Mrs. Henderson, I had to check on Mrs. Henderson because her husband is visiting his sick brother…"

"I can do that. Honest."

Daniel answered Sam with a slight smile conveying that maybe he was willing to be taken care of, and that maybe he was glad to relinquish the burden of responsibility to family.

* * * *

She stood in line at the grocery story mentally running down the list of requests that Daniel had asked for. Some Sam had vetoed on the spot, others she placated with an 'of course' and didn't put them anywhere near the cart. Coco Puffs were exchanged for Frosted Flakes, Saltines for Oreo's, Chicken Noodle soup for Cream of Broccoli. She did acquiesce on his desire for the fresh oranges, cantaloupe, and ice cream, knowing that the archaeologist was going to be slightly annoyed that plain chocolate sat in the cart as opposed to the concoction that he wanted that was laden with coffee, nuts, and caramel. Hopefully he would accept the container of pistachio pudding as a peace offering.

Sam wasn't sure what had taken longer, listening to Daniel's lecture instructions about Jack's tricky front door lock and Mrs. Henderson, or her trying to ascertain the order of Daniel's medication. Staggered times forced her to make a list, and the small print regarding side effects didn't ease her nervousness about leaving Daniel home. For the second time since beginning this shopping mission she pulled out her cell and dialed Daniel's number.

"Sleeping,." Daniel muttered answering on the third ring. 'Head on pillows, tucked in…under cover sleeping."

Cringing as his coughing carried over the phone lines, Sam was prepared to leave the filled cart and rescue poor Daniel with a step by step breathing treatment. "Have you been coughing since I left? Maybe I should get …."

"I don't know if I was coughing, Sam, I was sleeping. The operative word being *was*."

Sam was positive that Daniel concluded the conversation with some Goa'uld curse before the hum of the dial tone echoed in her ear.

* * * *

In the end Mrs. Henderson helped an embarrassed Sam open the lock, a secret the elderly woman promised she would keep between "us girls." Sam could just imagine the jokes the colonel would have circulating around the SGC at her ability to turn a key versus her ability to reverse engineer new technology.

Sam watched as the woman walked across the street, thankful that at least one of her friends had such a person watching their six in their daily lives. The solitude of her commanding officer's house was unnerving, a feeling of emptiness and seclusion that Sam wasn't accustomed to. To her the colonel's house should be alive with smells, laughter, and friendship; not this stifled feeling.

Per Daniel's instructions, Sam placed the colonel's unopened mail in the bowl on the dining room table. Her eyes caught an object to the left of the bowl and on a whim, she grabbed it, tucking it under her arm as she beat a hasty retreat from the house.

* * * *

Daniel's behavior reminded her of a spoiled child's, which was the reason Sam was in the kitchen counting to 10 wishing she could lock herself in the bathroom to get away from his whiney, hoarse, annoying voice. Since stepping through the threshold of his doorway, and after watching her make 6 trips to the car to retrieve the bags of groceries, Daniel had done nothing but complain.

She was so annoyed that she didn't see his inability to stay in one place, the pacing, or the nervous energy of his body; the finger tapping, leg swinging, or the eyes that squinted against the headache. Sam only heard him. The complaining, the questioning, the coughing all grating on her nerves.

Daniel bent down and pulled out the item Sam had taken from the colonel's house.

"Want to fill me on the necessity of this?" he asked waving the stuffed camel in her direction.

The words spewed forth from her mouth before she could stop them. "Figured since you were behaving like a child that I should…"

"…this is how you show you care?" he countered.

The two of them faced off under the lights of the kitchen, Daniel gripping his stuffed toy from months ago and Sam holding in her outstretched hand a can of Campbell's soup, the two teammates ready to do battle surrounded by appliances and cabinets.

Suddenly, Daniel buried his face in the soft fur of the camel, better known as Lumpy, his shoulders heaving.

"Sorry, sorry, sorry." All anger dissipating at the forlorn sight before her, Sam dropped the can, barely registering it rolling and coming to stop under the kitchen chair. Two steps were all she needed before she was able to envelope Daniel in a comforting embrace. Her apologies turned to stunned silence as she pulled the toy from Daniel's face. "You sonofabitch! You're laughing."

Stepping back, she grabbed the toy from his hands and hit him with it.

"Hey, careful of my Lumpy," Daniel exclaimed with indignation. Laughter turned to a round of coughing, back rubbing and water drinking before Daniel continued.

"Did you listen to us?" his scratchy voice ringing incredulously to Sam's ears. "We sounded like siblings when their parents aren't around…" Sam couldn't be sure if the reflection in Daniel's eyes was from unshed tears or from his latest bout of choking but she felt her own eyes fill at Daniel's simple words of ,"Thank you for caring, Sam."

* * * *

Sam checked on Daniel one more time before she lay down. Quietly adjusting the blankets around his sprawled form, she removed his glasses and turned off the TV. She stood rooted to the spot as the sudden silence in the room echoed a moan from the bed as Daniel coughed and shifted positions. Cautiously, Sam backed out of the room, not wanting to disturb Daniel's precarious grasp on sleep.

Tiptoeing over the wooden floorboards, stopping at every creak and noise her footsteps made, tilting her head in the direction of the bedroom, she waited for a hoarse call of her name. By the time she got to the kitchen area, Sam was breathing a little easier and began washing out the cups and bowls that sat in the sink.

Janet had stopped by earlier. A guilty doctor bearing gifts was a frightening sight to behold. The more Janet smothered, the more agitated Daniel appeared. The pacing increased twofold, and the annoyance had begun to again grate on Sam's nerves; bd. The pacing increased twofold, and the annoyance had begun to again grate on Sam's nerves; but to Janet, Daniel's distraught attitude brought concern. The doctor had threatened Daniel with bodily harm if he didn't stay on the couch, under the covers. Ignoring his protests, she threw him the remote, told him to entertain himself, and dragged Sam in to the kitchen.

The medication on the counter told the doctor what she needed to know and Sam watched as Janet rewrote the dosage on some of the bottles and readjusted the time frames on Sam's corresponding slips of paper.

With a flourish, Janet clicked her pen closed, shoved it in her pocket and leaned against the counter, explaining to Sam the reason for Daniel's agitation was due more to the effects of the medication than to Daniel's inability to be ill like a normal, human being. The two women had chuckled, but sobered when Janet apologized.

"I readjusted his meds and their dosage, which will help. But for the next 24 hours he needs them round the clock. Two options…I can take him back to the infirmary for the night or you can…"

"Get up. I can do that," Sam had assured the CMO.

"You're going to have to…"

"Janet, no problem. None at all," Sam said. "Just show me what needs to be done."

* * * *

"Sure, no problem," Sam muttered to herself hours later.

The alarm she'd set had first gone off 20 minutes after she went to sleep. Bounding from couch, Sam had approached this medication run as she would a military objective. Go in, do what you need to do…pull out…return to position. She forgot one important factor: Daniel was not military. Waking SG1's archaeologist when he felt 100 percent was hard enough, waking a sick Daniel to a state where he would be coherent enough to use an inhaler, and take his antibiotic, was almost impossible.

Spent, Sam had fallen back to position on the couch forty five minutes after the first run feeling like she'd just battled it out with a contingent of Jaffa.

Thirty minutes after that, Sam had awoken to the sound of Daniel in the throes of a nightmare…fifteen minutes to comfort before she was back under the covers, adjusting the pillows on the couch, checking the reset alarm before her eyes closed. Ninety minutes later, the blaring sound pulled her from sleep. No longer bounding, she staggered to the kitchen to gather up the necessary items. Squaring her shoulders, she readied herself for the next skirmish with the recalcitrant patient.

A sleepy hello greeted her as she entered the room.

"Hey," she countered softly, putting the pills and the water on the night table before switching on the light. Daniel pulled back against the brightness, making a feeble attempt to shield his eyes. Sam sat on the edge of the bed, gently guiding Daniel's hand away from his eyes, placing it atop the comforter. The touch of their hands and a passing glance of her fingers across his forehead was all the confirmation that Sam needed.

Sam helped Daniel into a sitting position bunching the pillows behind the small of his back, the heat of the fever warming her fingers but causing Daniel to shiver as the blanket pooled around his lap. She shook out two Tylenol, handed them to Daniel, noting the shaking hands and the lack of vocal objection from her teammate. Sam stood ready with a glass of juice as Daniel grimaced at the vile taste of the cough medicine. Medication dispensed, Sam lifted the quilt and encouraged Daniel to slide back under their warmth. He grabbed his pillows during the descent arranging them below his head.

"Feeling horrible?" she asked, placing a touch of comfort on his shoulder.

Daniel shook his head in quiet agreement, wrapping the blanket around his body. "Night?" he questioned plaintively.


Exhaling, coughing slightly, he asked for the television to be turned on.

"You need your sleep, Daniel. It's late. The only thing on is infomercials."

"Please…too quiet," he whispered, his eyelids descending even as he spoke.

Acquiescing to his demands, she turned the TV on, lowering the volume. Not even offering him his glasses, she gathered up the tray with the meds and turned off the bedside lamp.

* * * *

Noting the times on the sheets and calculating the next dosage, Sam again prepared the alarm clock and tried to find a comfortable spot on Daniel's couch. Unable to find a place, her eyes not willing to close, she rose stiffly, got a drink of water and went to the bathroom.

Before returning to her futile attempt to sleep, she went to check on Daniel. The light of the TV allowed her to see that his eyes were close, and his breathing, though raspy and filled with the occasional cough, was regular. "Daniel?" She adjusted the blanket around his sleeping form.

"Jack? 'at you?" he questioned, a hitch in his breathing at her touch. A pause followed by a, "Missed you."

"Oh. Soon Daniel. The col…Jack will be home soon."

Turning off the television, bathing the room in total blackness, she left to sleep until her friend needed her again.

* * * *

"All the children have been returned safe and sound, none the worse for wear," Jack stated, following the incredibly young marines and Teal'c down the metal ramp.

"Glad to hear that Colonel." Nodding his head in place of a salute, the general graced his 2IC and Teal'c with a smile in the early morning hours of the SGC.

Jack wearily scrubbed his face, hating these planetary shifts that madefor the worst case of jet lag anyone could ever experience. Dialing the DHD, destination early morning earth, leaving a planet in the dead of night to step through the gate and down the ramp into the beginning of a new day. While he was ready for bed, the morning shift at the SGC was just kicking into gear.

His eyes quickly panned the gateroom, trying to locate the person he needed to see, the man who had occupied his thoughts for the past 72 hours. Under loudly inflicted sarcastic remarks to the personnel he had spent the last three days training, Jack hid his disappointment of no Daniel.

"Colonel, *Colonel*!"

Jack stopped short, realizing that the general had called for his attention not once but twice, noticeably saying his name louder the second time. "Sorry, sir," he muttered, embarrassed at his lack of protocol.

"Understandable, Colonel." Jack saw the general physically soften as he stood before them.

"Rough bunch?" General Hammond inquired, his blue eyes taking on a conspiratorial twinkle.

"Many factors, sir," Jack replied wearily, mentally recalling his three days with these men and women. So much younger than he, too much energy, and too much worry for the archaeologist Jack had left behind. That uneasiness was what put the circles under his eyes that Hammond was referring to. "Planetary shift thing, sir," he responded, waving his hand towards the Stargate. "0200 hours there and here its…its…its…way too early morning, sir. The start of a new day, people just beginning…"

"Jack, " Hammond replied sympathetically, "shower, visit Dr. Fraiser, and we'll go over your recommendations at 0830."

* * * *

Jack had checked out the bed occupancy upon entering the infirmary. Empty. No one except for Teal'c and he was receiving their post mission medical. 'That's a good thing,' he mentally assured himself. 'No Daniel lying prone in one of these beds, under the doc's care…'

Fraiser stood before him, scribbling her findings on her clipboard, head bent over the papers. Without looking up, she sighed and said, "Ask me, Colonel. Okay…just ask."

"Um…where's Daniel?"


Opening his hands in surrender, Jack tried to rein in his annoyance at this game. "Home as in home, he worked late last evening and he overslept this morning, or home as in too sick to be here?" He exhaled loudly. "Doc, what happened? The cold kinda got sidetracked while running its course? Hmmm."

Blushing at hearing her words to Daniel come from the colonel's mouth, she paused before answering. "The cold became walking pneumonia, Colonel…"

"Pneumonia…why isn't he…."

"He was, for 48 hours…"

"So he's better now?" Jack questioned hopefully.

"I called Sam..."

"Daniel's with Carter?"

Exasperated, she began to tap her foot impatiently. "Sir, I can understand your concern, but if you would let me finish at least one sentence I think your questions will be answered.

"Sorry," he replied sheepishly, his peripheral vision noting Teal'c's patient stance by the end of his bed.

Hugging the clipboard to her chest she began with the incident of Sam finding an unconscious Daniel in his office the same day that Jack had departed. Jack had to make a concerted effort to keep his face neutral. Fraiser updated on with Daniel's run down condition, his lack of sleep, and his obvious inability to ingest anything more nutritious than liquid caffeine for the past week as the reason this 'run it's course' 7 day common cold turned into walking pneumonia. Jack never even had a chance to speak or question as the doc went right into his course of treatment.

" A month?" Jack asked incredulously.

"Sir, give or take a week or two. It depends on him and how well he takes care of himself."

* * * *

Jack glanced at the clock on his office wall, gritting his teeth in frustration at the movement of the hands. Shower, physical, debriefing, and now he was finishing the last of his recommendations in writing for the general. He had needed to leave this mountain like 2 hours ago but his nervous anticipation of seeing Daniel was slowing down his usually adequate typing skills.

He picked up the phone to call Daniel again, but he pulled his hand back after his fingers made contact with the receiver. Jack felt his features subconsciously pull back in a grimace as second thoughts about calling his 2IC forced him to reconsider.

Carter had been annoyed and peeved by Jack's third phone call, all civility departing from her voice. Jack hadn't even had time to say her name before her litany of accusations began.

"Sir, if that is you…Daniel is still sleeping. No…I will not wake him up so you can hear for yourself if I've done an adequate job of keeping him alive. And for the final time, he has not cajoled me into giving him caffeine or chocolate. Bye sir."

Jack drew on all his resources, concentrating on the screen in front of him, giving a silent word of thanks to the general for granting Jack five days downtime if the recommendations from his off world training exercise were in his hand before the colonel departed the base. The promise of five days with Daniel, sick or not, was enough to goad Jack into tackling the task before him.

* * * *

Jack balanced the coffee and box of fresh pastries, along with the bag of fresh fruit, as he rode the elevator to Daniel's apartment. Though Daniel couldn't partake in the coffee, there was a piece of pastry with his name on it that could take up residence in the freezer until Daniel felt better. As the elevator doors opened, Jack admitted to himself that the coffee and pastry was really a letter of apology to Carter for not believing that she was more than capable to being entrusted with the care and feeding of SG1's archaeologist.

Turning his key and stepping over the threshold, he called Carter's name, only to be reprimanded by Teal'c to keep his voice down. Placing his purchases on the counter, he stepped into the living room. "Teal'c, is Carter sleeping?"

From his perch on the chair, Teal'c leaned over to get a better view of his teammate. "It would appear so, O'Neill. From my observation of both DanielJackson and MajorCarter, it would seem that DanielJackson kept Major Carter awake most of the night. Though she did seem extremely agitated when I first arrived by a telephone call she had received."

Carter mumbled in her sleep and two pairs of eyes were drawn to her sleeping form. "O'Neill, you would not know of that phone call that upset Major Carter?"

With a shrug of his shoulders, poker face in place, Jack deadpanned, "Nope, not me T; I was busy typing reports for the General."

Jack gave a quick glance in Carter's direction and motioned in the general direction of Daniel's bedroom. "I'll know…go check him out." He toed off his shoes and entered the bedroom, observing the exhausted form of his lover. Daniel's breathing was congested and every so often he gave a little cough. Jack began reaching out to touch Daniel's forehead and froze at the voice.

"Don't you dare wake him up." It was half-threat, half-complaint.

He turned to see a familiar pair of cornflower blue eyes regarding him with a look that was a mixture of anger, hurt, and disappointment.

"Geesh, Carter, don't do that. You nearly gave me a heart attack."

How did Carter wake up so damn fast anyway? She was standing by the door, arms folded over her chest, then she moved closer to the bed, regarding Daniel silently as she stood at Jack's side.

"He doesn't look too bad," Jack offered as apology.

Carter raised a finger to her lips and motioned for him to follow her out to the living room.

"Doesn't look too bad?" Carter hissed in a whisper. "Begging your pardon, sir, but what did you think I was going to do to him?"

Jack opened his mouth but was stopped at her upraised hand.

"I know I'm not you, sir. I know I may not have your so called 'magical touch' with Daniel, but perhaps you should remember that Teal'c and I love him too."

"I know, Carter." Jack studied his socks. "You're right. I'm sorry."

"In addition..wait…did you just say I was right and you were wrong?"

"No, I said you were right and I was sorry," Jack corrected.

He watched as Carter's mouth opened a few times with no sound coming out, then she collapsed onto Daniel's couch, grabbing a pillow and bending over it. Jack heard strange sounds coming from her and wondered if the strain of the past few days had gotten to her. He ignored Teal'c's dirty looks and sat down next to her.

"Carter?" He held his hand in mid-air, not sure if he should touch her or pat her shoulder or something, anything to stop the sobs he was sure he was hearing.

She looked up at him then, tears coming from her eyes… and laughing so hard she couldn't catch her breath.

"Oh you two so deserve each other," Sam gasped out between laughs. "You and Daniel." She clutched the pillow tighter and doubled over again.

Jack looked at Teal'c helplessly and shrugged his shoulders.

"Uh, Carter? You think you could keep it down a little? We don’t want to wake up Daniel," Jack ventured when the laughter dwindled down to a few hiccupped giggles.

Nodding, Carter drew in deep breaths and then regarded her CO with the same serious demeanor she exhibited when she gave a presentation at the SGC.

"I'll go over his medications with you, sir. I've made up a schedule and Janet has a list of possible side effects. If anything seems out of the ordinary, well, you know her number." Carter led the way to the kitchen, pointing out the various medications and the schedules she'd prepared.

She grabbed a sponge and began wiping out Daniel's sink. Jack wasn't sure why exactly because it looked pretty much spotless to him, but maybe it was some female thing that he couldn’t comprehend.

"Okay, Carter. Got it." Jack glanced at the schedules she'd so carefully prepared and pointed to the table. "Sit. Coffee, strawberry danish and then you can go home and get some rest."

"Fine, sir." Sam took the offered chair and sipped at her coffee slowly, cutting the danish into small pieces.

Jack poured Teal'c a glass of milk and then sat down with the two of them, watching Teal'c demolish four pastries to Carter's half-hearted attempt to eat one.

"You feeling okay, Carter?" Jack pointed to the demolished, but mostly uneaten, danish.

"Fine, sir." Sighing, Sam got up and placed her plate and silverware in the sink, along with Teal'c's glass. "I'll just do these dishes before I go."

"I think I can manage them a little later, Carter." Jack turned off the water, placed his hands on her shoulders and began steering her towards the front door.

"Maybe I'd better go check on Dan.." She ducked out from his grip and started towards Daniel's room.

"Maybe you'd better go home and get some real sleep, Carter." Jack snagged her arm and pulled her back.

"I hate to just go and leave him." Jack didn't miss Sam's glances towards Daniel's bedroom door. "You know all the medicines, and sir, if you need anything, just call. His temperature usually seems to go up a bit around mid afternoon and Janet said it's okay to give him Tylenol. Oh, and he's wanted to sleep with the TV on. I don't think it's very conducive to rest, but Daniel seems to rest better when it is on. And Janet said that the humidifier should…"

"Carter," Jack interrupted her monologue. Years of military training stopped Carter's speech immediately.


"Thanks for taking care of him when I wasn't here." Jack rested his hands on her shoulders and kissed her forehead. "Thank you. I know that Daniel appreciated it too."

The worried look that had dogged Carter's expression for the hour since Jack had arrived home disappeared and she gave him a brilliant smile.

"Teal'c, you want to make sure Carter gets home safely?" Jack nodded at his friend.

"It will be my pleasure, O'Neill," Teal'c nodded. "Providing MajorCarter does not object."

"Not at all, Teal'c." Sam hid a yawn behind her hand. "And sir…"

"No more, Carter." Jack shook his head. "I'll call you later tonight. Let you know how he's feeling."

Sam waved at him as she left with Teal'c close on her heels.

Jack closed the door behind them, leaning against the door in relief and relaxing at the sudden quiet.

"Sam?" a hoarse voice called from the bedroom. "Sam?" followed by coughing.

"Will I do instead, Doctor Jackson?" Jack asked moments later as he sat on the bed beside Daniel.

Daniel's eyes were still closed as Jack sat down but slowly slitted open at Jack's comment. He said nothing more, just pulled his arm out from under the blankets and rested his hand on Jack's forearm.

"I'm glad to be home. Missed you," Jack whispered. He reached up to stroke Daniel's forehead. "Feels like you've got a bit of fever."

Daniel was quiet, watching Jack in the semi-dark room, his fingers slowly tracing patterns on Jack's arm.

"Carter said your temp usually goes up a bit. How about if I go get you some Tylenol?"

Nodding at Jack's words, Daniel turned over onto his other side. Jack gave a pat to the blanket covered rump that faced his way and went to the kitchen to get the things he needed to make Daniel more comfortable.

* * * *

Checking his watch and Sam's carefully prepared schedules one last time, Jack picked up the tray he'd prepared and made his way to the bedroom.

"Hey buddy," Jack called as he placed the tray on the night table. "You awake?"

Daniel rolled over to face him, giving Jack a small smile. "Yeah, I'm awake."

Jack sat down on the bed, resting one ankle on the opposite knee. "I have your meds here."

Daniel nodded and groaned as he tried to push himself up. "Stiff."

"Here." Jack slid a hand under Daniel's shoulder, helping him sit and tucking a pillow behind his back. He handed Daniel a tissue as his lover started coughing.

"Better?" Jack kept his voice soft, knowing that Daniel most likely had a headache to go with the other nastiness.

"Yeah," Daniel's voice had a deep, hoarse quality to it that Jack found strangely sexy.

'Don't go there,' Jack admonished himself and turned his attention back to the tray. He placed Daniel's pills in one hand, holding them out as he gave his lover a glass of water.

"How much more?" Daniel asked, pointing to the paper on the tray.

"Fraiser said she's coming over tomorrow to take a look, Daniel. And you are definitely on these until they are finished."

"I wanted to go back to work tomorrow," Daniel said, the whole sentence setting off another round of coughing.

"Oh, guess Fraiser didn't tell you, huh?" Jack turned and placed his back against the headboard, pulling Daniel into his arms.

"Tell me what?"

"A month, Daniel." Jack began a slow massage of Daniel's temples. "No work for a month."

"What?" Daniel pushed a hand against Jack's chest as he sat up. "She can't do that."

"She can and she's going to, so you may as well get used to the vacation, Daniel." Jack rubbed at his chest. Even sick, Daniel packed quite a wallop. "Besides, I thought you wouldn't want to go back to work so soon."

"Busy, Jack. I have work that needs to be done."

"Ah, too bad. I was kinda hoping we could enjoy our time off." Jack tried to look sorrowful, but Daniel's confusion had him grinning.

"Wait, did you just say * our * time off?" Daniel's energy left him in a rush and he settled back against Jack's chest.

"Yep. Our time off. Hammond gave me a week at home." Jack resumed his massage.

"Sounds nice." Daniel murmured, his own hands begin a massage of Jack's thigh.

Jack reached over and picked up the damp washcloth beginning to wipe Daniel's forehead, smiling at the sigh that escaped his lover's lips.

"Feel good?"

"Feels good," Daniel echoed. "Sam was great, Jack, but she didn't do this for me."

Chuckling, Jack leaned forward and placed a kiss on Daniel's nose. "I certainly hope not."

"What?" Daniel closed his eyes again. "You think Sam shouldn't wipe my fevered brow?"

"Nope." Jack continued his slow stroking motion, feeling the rasp of Daniel's whiskers catch on the cloth. "No wiping of your fevered brow except by me."

"Tell that to the nurses and Janet the next time you see them, Jack." Daniel wiggled a little, lifting his head into Jack's hand.

"Make sure you don't wind up there anymore." Jack placed the washcloth aside and ran his fingers through Daniel's hair, noting the slightly greasy feel to it. "Hey, did the doc say anything about you being allowed to take a shower?"

Daniel shook his head and yawned. "It would feel good though. Sam offered to supervise but I said no."

"She so did not, Daniel." Jack pushed Daniel away, urging him to put his head on the pillows. "I'm going to call Fraiser and ask her if it's okay."

"What? Are you saying I stink?" Daniel opened one eye.

"I'm saying that a shower would probably feel really good for you, and I'd be willing to supervise." Jack patted Daniel's shoulder once and crawled out of the bed. He stopped to pull off his socks and walked barefoot into Daniel's living room, snagging the phone off the coffee table as he passed. He wandered into the kitchen grabbing a leftover strawberry danish and then leaned against the refrigerator waiting for Fraiser to answer her phone.

Minutes later, his question answered to his satisfaction, Jack walked back into the bedroom only to see that Daniel had once again fallen asleep. Jack sighed, knowing that much as he wanted to get in bed with Daniel, Daniel would wake up at Jack's movement despite the exhaustion. He pulled the sheet over Daniel's shoulders, checked the humidifier and went back to the living room to settle down with the remote and another danish.

Fraiser has assured him that a shower would be okay as long as Daniel felt up to it. Jack grinned. He'd make sure that Daniel had plenty of support as he took his shower. After all, he had the perfect excuse…doctor's orders.

Jack turned on the TV, flicking through the channels and pausing when he found a documentary on the Aztec. He took a huge bite of the danish and made a comment to the narrator. Daniel was such a bad influence. The gate lag and the long days of worry and work caught up to him and he stretched out on the sofa, closing his eyes for just a moment.

* * * *

Jack turned over on his back and smiled up at the man currently looking down at him.

"Hey there," Jack reached up a hand to touch Daniel's which was resting on the back of the sofa. "How you doing?"

Daniel shrugged, walking around the sofa to sit by Jack. "Been better, but been worse too." He grabbed a pillow and held it to his abdomen.

At Jack's raised eyebrows, he shrugged again. "Janet said that the coughing works all the muscles. It helps to add support."

Jack nodded, remembering Janet's explanation of that the coughing was really the worst part of the pneumonia, that the cough was going to probably be lasting most of the month and that Daniel would be too tired to do much of anything. "Wish I could do something for you."

It was Daniel's turn to raise his eyebrows. "You are. You're here."

"How's your fever?" Jack asked.

"Just took my temp when I took my medicine. Back to normal for now." Daniel leaned back, breathing hard for a moment.

Jack leaned back too, propping his feet on Daniel's coffee table and turning his head to watch Daniel.

"What?" Jack grumped at Daniel's frown.

"Jack?" Daniel pointed. "Um, Jack, why is your toe red?"

"What are you talking about? Are you sure your temp's back to normal?"

"I'm not delirious, Jack. You have a red big toe."

Jack followed Daniel's pointing index finger and looked at his right big toe, which was indeed red and now that he noticed it, itchy and sticky too.

"Ah shit. I must have dropped some strawberry filling on it when I was eating my danish."

Daniel wrinkled his nose at that comment. "That's disgusting."

"For crying out loud, Danny, it's not like I'm gonna bend down there and lick it off." Jack held up his hands in frustration then got a devilish glint in his eyes. "Unless * you'd * like to lick it off for me."

"Jack, at my best, I'm never very gung ho to lick strawberry filling off your big toe." Daniel looked at Jack over the top of his glasses.

"You sure?" Jack couldn't resist teasing, especially when it meant that Daniel was looking a little more alive than he had since Jack had arrived at his apartment.

"I'm sure," Daniel nodded, his eyes never leaving Jack's. "Now on the other hand, if you spill that strawberry filling some…" Daniel pulled the pillow tighter against his chest and leaned over, coughs erupting from him in harsh bursts.

There was nothing Jack could really do except sit there, speaking soothing words, handing Daniel a tissue, and rubbing Daniel's back.

When it was over, Daniel leaned back, letting his head rest on the cushions. He rolled it to the left to look at Jack. "Damn."

"Yeah, damn," Jack echoed. He watched as Daniel closed his eyes in weariness. "Hey, I talked to Fraiser earlier."

"You told me," Daniel muttered.

"No, earlier but later." Jack squeezed Daniel's knee.

"Was I supposed to understand that comment?"

"Nah," Jack shook his head. "But she told me you can have a shower if you feel up to it."

"Good," Daniel whispered.

"So you feel up to it?" Jack pressed. "A shower that is?"

"Yeah, sounds nice." Daniel made no effort to move from his current position.

"The act of showering requires one to take one's self to the actual shower, Daniel."

"Uh huh." Daniel remained where he was, one hand resting palm up on his thigh. "Being around Teal'c for three days really rubs off on you, doesn't it Jack?"

Jack ignored the comment and leaned down to grasp Daniel's arms. "Let's go, Danny boy. My toe is sticky."

"You're such a romantic, Jack. Anyone ever tell you that?"

Jack knew just how wiped out Daniel was from his illness as Daniel leaned into his embrace, letting himself be guided to the bathroom without once opening his eyes.

Jack turned on the water, stripped out of his own clothes, and then urged Daniel to remove his T shirt and sweat pants. Jack wasn't happy with what he saw. The illness had taken its toll and Daniel had lost some weight. Sam and Janet had both told him that Daniel's appetite was nearly non-existent, caused by a combination of the pneumonia and the medications, and Jack cursed himself for not insisting that Daniel be checked out sooner. At Daniel's shiver, Jack stepped into the shower, guiding Daniel in before him.

There was a small breath of a sigh as Daniel stood motionless beneath the spray.

"You just stay still, Daniel," Jack spoke into Daniel's ear, resisting the urge to press his lips against the soft skin behind it, to taste his lover in a way he hadn't been able to for weeks. Daniel just nodded and Jack brought up his hand to caress the line of Daniel's neck, his callused fingers sliding over Daniel's wet skin.

"Feels good, Jack. Nice." When Daniel was reduced to words of one syllable, Jack knew he was in the throes of ecstasy.

"Good. I'm glad." Jack kept one hand on Daniel's shoulder as he reached for the shampoo with the other. "When I came through the gate and you weren't there.." Jack didn't finish that thought. Daniel was sick, he didn't need added guilt. "God, it's good to be home, Danny."

Jack rubbed the shampoo into Daniel's wet hair listening to Daniel's little moans of pleasure at the relaxing sensation. Jack smiled. There were only two times that Daniel allowed Jack to wash his hair for him: when he was sick or when he was so exhausted that he couldn't stand up straight. Sure they showered together, but Daniel's hair in the shower was strictly off limits. Actually in Daniel's current state, Jack doubted that Daniel was even going to feel like holding a wash cloth. He scrubbed a little harder then slipped his hand down to the base of Daniel's skull and kneaded the tight muscles there for a few moments.

"Thanks, Jack," Daniel murmured as Jack used the hand held shower to quickly rinse out the shampoo.

"You're welcome, Daniel." Jack let go of Daniel's shoulder. "You gonna be okay while I grab some soap?"

"I'm fine." Daniel's voice did sound slightly less raspy and congested. The steam and humidity in the bathroom must have been helping, Jack decided.

"You want to do this yourself?" Jack finished soaping the wash cloth and held it up before Daniel.

There was a slow deliberate shake of Daniel's head. "You mind?"

"My pleasure, Daniel." Jack began washing Daniel's back, noting the fine muscles, the beautiful body that Daniel only allowed him to see. He swept the cloth down the length of Daniel's legs and then turned Daniel to face him.

"I love you, Daniel." Jack cupped Daniel's chin in his hand before concentrating on washing Daniel's chest and abdomen. He paused when he felt a spasm under his hands and dropped the cloth to rub at the tight muscles.

"Better?" Jack asked as Daniel leaned into him.

"Yeah. Much. It happens sometimes."

"I know. Pneumonia's a bitch." Jack bent to pick up the cloth and resumed his gentle washing of his lover's body. He shook his head as he washed Daniel's genitals where there wasn't even a twitch at Jack's handling.

Jack looked up to see Daniel frowning down at him. "Sorry, Jack."

"What? Sorry for what?" Jack tossed the cloth over the rail in the shower and moved his hands over Daniel's hips, up the line of his body bringing them to rest on Daniel's shoulders.

"You know," Daniel said, pointing downward. "Sorry for that."

Jack looked down between them. "I don’t think you have anything to be sorry for. I like your little guy very much. He's cute."

Daniel let out a snort of laughter and rested his head on Jack's shoulder. "That's not what I meant."

"I wasn't expecting to come home and jump your bones once I heard you had pneumonia, Daniel. We've got plenty of time. Now how about I get clean, we get out, get dressed, and get something to eat?"

Daniel let his hand rest on Jack's cheek, his thumb tracing the scar on Jack's eyebrow. "I…thanks, Jack."

Jack smiled back seeing the 'I love you' that Daniel spoke with his eyes.

* * * *

"Yeah, Carter. He's sleeping again." Jack kept his voice low as he sat on the bed beside Daniel. "Nah, I got him to eat half a bowl of chicken noodle soup and drink a couple of glasses of water." He rubbed at the lines that appeared in Daniel's forehead as he frowned in his sleep, smiling as they disappeared under his touch. "Of course I gave him his medication. No, no complaints." Jack shifted in bed, wondering what was so uncomfortable. He didn't remember Daniel's mattress being this lumpy last time he was here. "Hey Carter? You know I really appreciate what you did? I know that Daniel isn't the easiest person to get along with when he's sick." He gave a chuckle at Carter's pithy comment to that remark. "But I know you love him and I can't think of anyone else that would have done a better job. Ah crap, Carter, don't cry. Get some sleep, okay? Yeah, I know, Carter, I know."

Jack placed the phone on the night stand and got out of bed to find the cause of his discomfort.

"Lumpy? What are you doing here?" Jack smiled at the stuffed toy and walked over to put it on Daniel's dresser, giving it a little pat on the head before walking back and crawling in bed next to Daniel.

Jack turned off the light and lay back on his pillow, listening to the slightly less congested breathing of his lover. He turned on his side, touching Daniel's chest with the palm of his hand and feeling the strong beat of his lover's heart. They couldn’t be together all the time. It was part and parcel of their jobs and their relationship. Maybe that was a good thing. Maybe it made them appreciate the time they did have. Maybe situations like these were the wake up calls to make the most of the time they did have. Daniel's heart thumped under his hand, a strong heart, a good heart, a heart guarded with love by Sam, Teal'c and Jack.  

The End!

Authors' Comments: Thanks to Sharon who as usual has corraled our commas and found the missing words. Dedicated to Helen who requested a birthday fic and gave us the inspiration. Special thanks to Jo, Jenn and Darcy for their encouragement/nagging. We love you all.


to contact me