"I'll do better, Daniel." I gently maneuver his body closer to mine, tucking his head under my chin. I tighten my hold around his waist, placing my hands under his shirt.
He sighs into my neck, "Thanks...better."
The heat from his rising fever warms me, but save for my body, there is nothing for Daniel. There is no blanket to cover him, no soft bed, no light, and definitely no window to close.
I have lost count of the number of days we have spent in this prison. Four walls, no light, dirt floor, horrific odors, emanating not only from the waste in the cell, but from Daniel and me.
Our abductors have recently deserted us, leaving us here to die of our injuries, starvation or dehydration. There is no more mush that they referred to as food, and the last of the pure water...well I used that to try to clean Daniel's injuries. The way Daniel's fever has been rising the past...hours, days, without a watch or a window...the passage of time has become meaningless...all it does is bring us one step closer to death.
"Almost home, Daniel...When we get home, I'll make you a big glass of iced coffee." I gently rub his back while I blatantly lie. I started to play this game with him when the elevation in fever brought on delirium. My answers to him would bring a quiet contentment to his rest until the next time.
"Hot coffee...too cold for iced." I am surprised that he is coherent enough to participate in this little *game*.
"Sure, whatever you desire, Daniel."
"You," he counters as he draws a ragged breath. "I desire you, Jack."
I laugh, "Daniel, that's the fever talking." But for the moment, I wish it wasn't the fever, I wish it was Daniel. God, I had wanted him in my arms for...well forever. We entered this prison as friends and teammates, in all truthfulness, barely friends. Now we find ourselves lying in a darkened room, with no apparent means of escape, no food, no water, and obviously no inhibitions.
I had been in prisons before, but my self-imposed prison was the worse. I've lived the past years with my desire for Daniel deeply hidden, locked away...destroying me, destroying Daniel. Until I hated him for making me feel this way and hated myself for my lack of courage. My prison.
"No fever...me talking." He runs his tongue over cracked lips. His exertion to draw a deep breath brings on a fit of coughing. I help him sit up, to ease the congestion.
"Listen," he croaks..."Look at me Jack, please." He reaches with shaky hands to latch onto the front of my shirt. I place my hands over his....and lean in to kiss him. And I imagine...I imagine how it should be away from this place. Daniel would taste like coffee as I kiss him, his lips soft and pliant under mine. Every kiss, every movement an exploration. In reality...we are dirty and bruised and malnourished, we smell and our 5 o'clock shadow is days old. And reality is great.
We move apart and Daniel whispers, "Thank you."
I lift his chin and look into his eyes, though bright with fever, there is an additional burning of want and desire...and desperation. "Too late, Jack."
"Teal'c and Sam...." I want to continue our little game. Pretending that all will be well, that the cavalry will come through the Stargate and rescue us.
"...Will never find us, Jack." He grimaces in discomfort as he moves closer to me, intertwining our fingers. "After our initial capture from the temple on PX1024, we were forced through the Stargate a few times. No path, no clues...nothing to track us." Daniel explains this to me patiently as he had the thousand other times I asked. I had been rendered unconscious due to my effervescent personality and didn't awake until we ended up in this cell. Here is where the fun began...there was no rhyme or reason as to why and how we were tortured...no questions asked, no information was sought, they just gained perverse pleasure in causing pain.
"Sorry, Daniel," I whisper.
"Not your fault, just entering the temple set off a type of alarm system...we were sitting ducks. Not my fault either...I didn't ..."
I yell his name louder than I intended. "Sorry that it took so long for me to see... to really ...see you."
"Well the accommodations could be better...I could, we could, smell a little better."
"No Jack, *I'm* happy...so long, it took you so long. I waited..."
With a stab in my heart, that hurts more than I believed possible, I see Daniel is losing his battle to stay alert. I pull him down to the ground, spooning up against him, my hands holding his across his chest. "Stay with me Daniel," I plead softly into his ear.
* * * * *
I awake, to find Daniel now facing me, his head resting on my chest. He moves and then stops. He tries my name a few times, before any sound appears. "Jack, listen..." he says urgently. Daniel uses his arms to push into a sitting position. "Sam?"
"Is not coming, Daniel."
"No, Jack...listen." At Daniel's insistence, I play along. The only sound in our cell is Daniel's breathing..."See Daniel...I to..."
I hear other familiar voices, Ferretti? Tomlin? As I jump up and pound on the door...Teal'c and Sam's voices are still some distance away...advancing as the noise I am making draws their attention. Footfalls, I hear footfalls coming down the passageway...our cavalry.
"Yes, Sir. Is Daniel with you? Are you okay?"
I glance at Daniel, his knees are drawn to his chest, his head turned sideways resting on them, away from me. I am puzzled by his posture...but now we have all the time in the world to fix it.
"We could both use a look see by Fraiser and a nice hot shower. And some water, and some food, and...."
"We get the idea, Colonel." The happiness in her voice is evident. "It may take us a while to get this door open, Sir. Any ideas?"
"I think it was some type of fingerprint scan, Carter."
"Oh...hummmmm. Definitely gonna take a while." She reiterates.
"Daniel and I will be here."
"O'Neill, I am pleased we were able to locate you and Daniel Jackson. "
"Teal'c, my man...so am I."
I hear Carter give orders for supplies needed from SGC. I walk over to Daniel and lower my body, careful of the ache in my knee and lower back. "Daniel?" I reach out and tentatively touch him...
"Sam and Teal'c, they found us."
"I know, buddy." I am confused by the expression on his face.
"We get to go back...you get to go back."
"Daniel, we are both going back. Back to the SGC, to home, our friends, our..." Daniel's line of thought suddenly dawns on me. "This *thing* between us, you believe..."
"It's not real, Jack. This wasn't reality. We are going back to the military...you are going back. We will go back to what we were."
"Unhappy Daniel? You want to return to being unhappy? I love you...and I'm sorry it took almost losing you for me to see that. Both you and I know how fast life changes...us of all people. We've wasted so much time already. In anger, in ignorance... in self- denial. " I grab Daniel's hands in my own, holding them, crushing them.
"If I knew you were going to tell me when that door opened, you wanted to go back to just being friends...Hell, I would tell Carter to shut the door and go and leave us alone."
"Jack...you don't really mean that, do you?"
"What, the part about loving you...of course I mean that." I watch his face and see a sick and injured Daniel have a smile on his face that I don't think I have ever seen before. "Oh you mean the part about telling Carter to shut the door...nah, I just did that for effect."
Daniel starts to laugh, which progresses to coughing. "God, Jack...I feel like shit. I just wanna go home...even the infirmary is starting to look appealing."
I cup his chin and bring him to me, into a kiss filled with hunger and want. The heat of his fever warms my hands, the heat of his desire warms my body. The ragged breathing and congested lungs fuel my need to return him home. The continued ache in my knees drives my need for a pain killer.
"Sir...this wasn't as complicated as I first through" Carter yells. We break apart reluctantly at the sound of her voice. "Sir, are you ready to come out?"
"Been ready for quite some time Carter."
I look at Daniel and smile. My prison. My self-imposed prison to which Daniel had always had the keys, no longer holds me captive.
Author's Comments: Thanks to jo...for her read through. Thanks to debiC for that picnic picture...still making me smile at a time when I needed it most! And to MajelB...for words spoken and unspoken, telephone calls across the USA that make me smile, and for beta'ing this little fic at a moment in real life when my own prison walls were closing around me.
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