Between a Ribbon and a Crashby devra
Discreetly, Daniel stepped to the side, as close to the tree line as he could possibly get without drawing attention to himself and puked up his guts.
"Dr. J, I hate to interrupt you, but your ride's here."
Unable to speak or nod his head, Daniel curled his fingers into an okay sign and flashed it over his shoulder to Ferretti before spitting on the ground.
"Thanks," he whispered to the leader of SG-2 as they walked towards the Stargate. "Good timing."
"Good timing, doc? You were on your knees with a goddamn ribbon device plastered to your—" Ferretti's hand shot out and grabbed Daniel's elbow when he stumbled. "Are you sure you don't want a stretcher?"
"No." Inhaling deeply through his mouth to prevent another attack of nausea, he tentatively touched the burgeoning red burn across his forehead, wondering for the first time what the hell had happened to his glasses. "Ribbon device. Been there. Done that. I'll be fine," he lied.
"Sure ya will," Ferretti replied, giving Daniel the minutest of shoves when he hesitated in front of the shimmering blue.
* * *
Daniel sat in the corner of the infirmary, eyes closed, head bent over an emesis basin he had the foresight to secure before finding a space out of the line of fire. Triage found him mobile enough and told him to wait because, at the moment, the SGC's medical staff's attention was focusing on the team Daniel had been offworld with.
Daniel had been with SG-14. Newbies. Mere babies, who had put up a good fight but paid the price when a surprise visit by a minor goa'uld had caught them unaware and cut them off from the 'gate. Two missed check-ins and SG-2 had shown up, guns blazing just like in the Westerns.
The smell of blood, layered with the urgency of barked orders was overpowering and his stomach churned sickeningly, but he painfully regurgitated nothing but bile. He groaned in annoyance when someone tugged the basin from his grasp. "Hey! That's so not a good idea."
"Try this." Gentle hands wrapped Daniel's fingers around a Styrofoam cup.
"General Hammond." Daniel squinted sideways, grateful that the general was blocking a portion of the infirmary's florescent lighting. He tried to force the cup back into the general's hands. "Thanks, but the basin is really a much better idea."
"What's the worse that could happen, son?" In deference to Daniel's headache, the general picked up, rather than dragged a chair in front of Daniel, and sat.
"I could puke on you, sir?"
"I'm a grandfather and a father. Nothing I haven't seen or dealt with before." He pushed the cup towards Daniel. "It's just ginger ale."
Keeping his head lowered, Daniel sipped the soda. Swallowed. Sipped again then shoved it back so fast towards Hammond that a fair amount of the liquid ended up on the floor and Daniel's hand.
Tapping his fingers to his lips, Daniel cautiously shook his head.
"Do you want me to get someone to help you?"
Testing his muscles, Daniel managed a half smile. "No. I'll wait my turn." Slowly, he peered around the general's bulk, feeling guilty. "How are they doing?"
"They're doing okay. Doctor Patrizio and Doctor McCarthy—" General Hammond stopped, his brows scrunching in concern.
Drifting, the cacophony of infirmary sounds had faded into background white noise. Fearing that he was going to pass out, Daniel bit the inside of his mouth. This pain, different from the band tightening around his head, forced him to focus. "I'm sorry, sir. There were no signs of any goa'uld visitation—"
"We'll debrief when you feel up to it." He patted Daniel's knee then stood, dropping the cup into the nearest garbage. "Major Ferretti filled in some of the blanks."
"Thank him for me, will you?"
"Can I get you something before I leave? Maybe having your glasses..."
Pointing to the red mark spreading across his forehead and down his nose, he gave a tight lipped smile. "It's a bit uncomfortable. When I can focus a bit more, I'll put in my contacts. For now—thank you anyway, General."
"I'll stop in on you later."
"I'm sure I'll still be here."
* * *
Doctor McCarthy was working on his year anniversary at the SGC and he guided Daniel to an empty gurney and gave him a perfunctory look see before heading out to monitor SG-14 in the ICU.
"Enjoy," he said to Doctor Patrizio as he handed over Daniel's extensive chart to the other doctor on call. Doctor Patrizio was new and today's experience had been a baptism by fire. He looked exhausted and Daniel noted as the doctor flipped through the file, if he played his cards right, he could be out of here and horizontal within minutes. Daniel needed to sleep. Now. The desire to close his eyes had taken precedence over vomiting.
Daniel grabbed the doctor's hand as he went to examine the burn. "I'd rather you didn't. It's more than a bit—"
"Yeah, I imagine it would be." Patrizio nodded while stepping into Daniel's space, tilting his head every which way for a better look.
Daniel knew he stank of vomit and sweat and his impression of the doctor went up a notch when the man didn't even wrinkle his nose at Daniel's odor. "The burn is a residual effect of the ribbon device, as is the nausea, the sensitivity to light, the intense headache and the even more intense desire to sleep. You'll find my blood pressure on the low side, my temperature slightly elevated, otherwise my heart rate and respirations are normal. I'm bordering on dehydration. I need a shower, a glucose drip, a pillow and a place to lie down. I've learned that painkillers, either oral or IV, don't do a thing for a ribbon device headache, they just step up the nausea, making sleep impossible. That goes for a dose of Tylenol for the headache as well." Daniel stuck out his arm. "Here, take my blood pressure, temperature, note it in my file, stick me with an IV..." Groaning, Daniel slapped his hands over his ears as the sudden klaxon blare reverberated in the infirmary.
"Medical team, stat to the gateroom."
Daniel gazed up under lowered lashes and watched Doctor Patrizio shove his chart into a passing nurse's midsection, mouth off some orders and disappear.
* * *
Daniel adjusted the temperature of the shower and cautiously stepped under the stream, careful to keep the water focused only on the neck down. In the confusion of the moment, he'd managed to talk the nurse out of the IV with a smile and before she'd been able to put up an argument, the med teams came charging into the infirmary with a very vocal, very rash-covered SG-9, which had given him the distraction he'd needed. And he slipped out.
Painkillers would help, oh - they made him sick to his stomach, but they would have helped. The only problem, ribbon headaches called for the heavy duty stuff. They required the type of drugs that would kick your ass into unconsciousness, leaving you groggy and disorientated for days. So he had told a white lie to the doctor and Janet was probably going to crucify him for it.
Not that anyone really asked, but in his opinion, sleep was the best remedy and he could only hope SG-14's injuries and SG-9's mysterious rash in unspeakable places would hopefully be enough to hold Janet's attention and give him enough time to allow him a few hours of shut eye under his belt.
Cupping his hands, he allowed the warm water to pool and he took a tentative sip, wetting his dry throat. The sensation of pleasure lasted a minute before the water made a return appearance. He tried again, the seductive need of having his throat moistened winning out over aching stomach muscles. This handful stayed down a while longer. The third stayed down even longer, but by the fourth his stomach muscles burned and he admitted defeat.
* * *
Dressing as slowly as an old man, he still nearly landed face first on the locker room floor when an intense wave of dizziness snuck up. Breathing through the disorientation, for the first time the thought that maybe his ass *should* be in an infirmary bed crept into his brain, but as the world righted itself, Daniel knew the answer. Sleep. All he needed was sleep. During slumber, the headache and nausea would run their course. The fever would burn itself out and his blood pressure would gradually work its way back to normalcy. Same old, same old. He'd been ribboned enough times to remember the drill. Enough times, according to Jack, that Daniel should be teaching Ribbon Survival 101 to the new recruits.
Instinctually, he was able to maneuver from the locker room to his office, hugging the walls in the corridors and the elevator to keep himself grounded and upright. Daniel's intentions of driving home and passing out in his own bed until the next century were circumvented by the siren call of his office's couch. He closed the door, then as an afterthought, ran his pass key through the slot, nodding as the lock clicked into place. Flicking off every light in the office, a grateful sigh escaped his lips and he slowly walked to the couch, stepping over and avoiding the files and boxes littering the floor.
Grabbing the blanket from the back of the couch, he wrapped it around his shivering body. It took all of two seconds to find a comfortable spot on the well-worn piece of furniture and another three seconds for his body to react to finally being horizontal before sleep overtook him.
* * *
Pulling the blanket over his head did nothing to cut out the shrill ringing of the telephone. "Shush," he begged from under his makeshift tent, sighing in relief when the phone stopped, then cursing when his cell phone, buried somewhere in his pocket, took up the slack.
Mewling in discomfort when he flipped onto his back, he patted his pants in annoyance. He had been sleeping, the pain of the headache still dancing around the edges of his subconscious, but Daniel had been sleeping. Damn the interruption and the screw the fact that he was a creature of habit. Cell always on his person, courtesy of lecture number three hundred and two - 'you must never be without your cell'. Repeated ad nauseum, until it was ingrained no matter how sick, tired or annoyed Daniel was. Thank you, Jack O'Neill.
Without opening his eyes to check the caller ID, Daniel flipped it open. "This had better be good."
"Hello to you, too, Daniel."
Focus. Regroup. Daniel could do it. "Jack?" He rubbed his stomach, calming its need to rebel. "Where are you?"
"Daniel?" Jack's voice took on a different tone. Concern. Confusion. "I'm home. Washington let me out on good behavior."
Caller ID, right. "I don't have my glasses on."
Understatement of the year. "Yeah." Daniel shifted on the couch, trying to find a warmer spot. "Home, huh?"
"Home. And you?"
"Base." One syllable words he could handle.
"Daniel, why are you at the mountain?"
Why was he at the mountain? Pregnant pause before the dim light bulb went off over Daniel's head. Right. Jack was in Washington presenting budget proposals. He was supposed to be offworld. "The mission was a bust."
"Me, too." That was probably the first entirely truthful thing Daniel had admitted to. "But things don't always go the way you plan."
Jack's sigh was deeper. "Is this going to be one of those read-between-the-lines conversations?"
"No, it's not."
"I'm not believing you."
"How can I prove I'm fine?" Jack's laughter pierced through Daniel's headache and he held the cell phone away from his ear for a second with a grimace of pain. Pressing the fingers of his left hand to his temple to counteract the pounding, he replaced the phone.
"I'll give you a hint. I'm at my house. Alone. A fire in the fireplace—"
"You need a visual inspection?"
"That could work."
Something wasn't making sense. "Jack, why did you call me if you didn't think I was on Earth?"
Jack paused. Cleared his throat, and Daniel could hear distinct nervous tapping through the phone lines. "Why did I call you?"
"Yes, Jack—" Daniel stopped and breathed through the wave of nausea, swallowing convulsively. "Why did you call me? If you thought I was still offworld?"
"There was no answer on your home or work phone."
"I wasn't supposed to be home." Using the back of the couch, Daniel levered his body into a sitting position, hoping that upright would make him feel a bit better.
"I know that," Jack replied with an indignant huff.
"If you knew that, why did you call?"
" 'Cause I missed you, damnit!" Jack cleared his throat and recaptured some dignity. "I was going to leave you a message."
"Yup. A gooey, sentimental one," Jack whispered into the phone. "It was even going to say how much I love you."
"Bullshit." In spite of how lousy he felt, Daniel couldn't help but smile. "We don't do gooey or sentimental. You're a man of action, not words, Jack O'Neill. Not that I mind the action—were you really going to say the "L" word on my voice mail?"
"Don't have to now. You're home."
"I could hang up."
"You could come over."
"If you didn't think I was home, why is there a roaring fire in your fireplace?"
"Don't worry, I can get the fire roaring by the time your car pulls into the driveway."
"Did you lie about being alone?"
"No, I didn't lie about being alone," Jack mimicked.
"I just thought you lied about the fire—"
"Okay, I lied about the fire, but I didn't lie about the aloneness. Which I am. Very. Alone. Big bed. Warm shower. Roaring fire as soon as you hang up and tell me your ass is on its way over."
God, it sounded tempting. Warm shower. Fire. Warmer body to take the chill from Daniel's bones. A pain pill or two. He'd deal with Jack's reaction to the ribbon device markings once he got there. And got naked. In the shower. Yeah, he could do this.
"I'm on my way."
* * *
Cranking the heat up another notch, Daniel cupped his hands around his mouth and blew warm air onto his frozen fingers. Damn. He didn't remember it being this cold before he'd gone offworld, thankfully there was no snow, but that didn't stop his teeth from chattering or his toes curling inside his shoes. Squirming for comfort, he buckled his seat belt, wrinkling up his tender nose to anchor his glasses in place. Shaking hands had forced Daniel to abandon the idea of contacts. Wearing the glasses sucked, but at least he didn't have to worry about torturing his corneas with his trembling fingers.
Ten minutes out of the mountain, the wave hit and for a second, Daniel wasn't driving to Jack's house, he was on an alien world, kneeling before a snake who was trying to suck his brain out of his skull. With slow precision and exquisite pain.
He was released from the flashback as fast as it had enveloped him, but the time he had been under its spell had already sealed his fate and he stamped on the brake pedal and pulled hard on the wheel, but there was no way to avoid the tree in the car's path.
* * *
Jack tried not to worry. Daniel was distractible and rarely punctual and he calculated the breakdown in his mind. Ten minutes for Daniel to gather up his things. Fifteen minutes to walk down the hall to the elevator, make it more if someone stopped him. Add another ten to that if he was stopped by someone in his department. With a question. Or a scan. Add in the minutes traveling to the outside world, Daniel's perfunctory hello or goodbye to any airman that he passed. Starting the car. Warming it. The twenty minute drive to Jack's house, give or take Daniel's need for coffee fortification on the drive over which left Daniel—Jack checked his watch for the thousandth time—way overdue.
Jack picked up the phone and dialed Daniel's home and office phone and got the answering machine. No answer on the cell phone, just a quick send off to Daniel's voice mail.
He actually contemplated calling Walter and having him track down one errant archeologist, an errand usually assigned to Carter or Teal'c, both of whom were taking care of family business. SG-1 had scattered to the wind these past two weeks and even though Jack hated to admit it, he was suddenly more lonely than he had been sitting in is hotel room in Washington.
"Where the hell are you, Daniel?" Jack threw another log onto the fire and paced. He wasn't good at waiting. As much he hated waiting, it came in second to worry. And he was worried. An inexplicable sense that something was wrong. That he, himself, had tempted fate by luring Daniel to the house.
"Ridiculous," he snorted, pulling back the curtain to the side window and peering into the darkness.
Then his phone rang.
"Shit." Jack and the phone had a Mexican standoff for a second before he stomped to the table, scooping up the cordless. "You better not be calling to tell me you ran outta gas *again,* Daniel."
The voice was unfamiliar, hesitant, and Jack's heart froze when he pulled the phone away and examined the caller ID. Memorial Hospital. "Daniel?" Saying Daniel's name spurred him into action. "What happened?" Coat.
"My name is Alice Hayes, I'm a nurse at Memorial Hospital's Trauma—"
"What happened?" Jack repeated, searching for his keys among the mail and papers that had accumulated from his trip to Washington.
"There was an accident, Mr. Jackson—"
Jack wanted to correct the nurse. Point out to her that Daniel wasn't just a *mister* but this wasn't the time or place. He needed to shut up his internal voice and listen. Pay attention.
"… was involved in a vehicular accident."
He shoved the keys into his jacket pocket. "And?" Daniel better be alive, so Jack could fuckin' kill him. Offworld was understandable. On Earth, getting a call from a hospital, even *being* in an Earth hospital, was unacceptable. He needed Daniel alive so he could make sure the man understood that.
"We retrieved your number from Mr. Jackson's address book in his cell phone, and we need you come to the hospital."
"And?" Jack angrily ground out, one hand on the front door.
"Due to HIPA laws, until you arrive at the hospital and show us some type of identification, I'm not at liberty to divulge—"
"All I want to know is if he's alive. Damn it, can you answer that one question?"
"I'm on my way."
* * *
He drove one handed, using his free hand to hit the speed dial numbers on his cell.
"There's been an accident. Daniel. Was driving—I'm on my way to Memorial, now—"
"Driving? What in Sam Hill was he doing behind the—I'll contact Dr. Fraiser and we'll meet you there." Hammond shouted orders away from the receiver, sharp words. He came back on the phone, his voice much softer. "Doctor Jackson will be fine."
"I have no doubt, sir." Jack shut the phone, tossed it onto the passenger seat and concentrated on driving. Focusing on nothing but getting to the hospital as fast as he could.
* * *
At the reception desk, Jack asked for the nurse who had called him, produced his ID and didn't move. He refused to sit in the proffered chair the tired woman offered after placing a call, standing instead, at parade rest, staring her down, as if his angry, anxious glance would help the situation.
Shaking her head, she ignored him and went back to her paperwork; obviously on-the-edge colonels didn't faze her one iota.
Jack snapped to attention. "Yes. I'm Colonel O'Neill." The tall, grey haired woman wore a name badge identifying her as the person who had telephoned him. "You're Ms. Hayes."
She pursed her lips, nodding at Jack, a hint of annoyance tugging at the corner of her mouth. "Colonel O'Neill." Hayes continued nodding as if Jack's rank made some strange puzzle piece fit. "Mr. Jackson's been asking for you."
Relief. Asking was good. Asking meant awake. Awake meant conscious. Conscious meant no tubes sticking down his throat to help him breath.
"Follow me, please."
All the formulated questions Jack was going to grill the nurses and doctors, he put on hold because now he could happily ask them of Daniel, who was alive and more than a bit vocal as his voice carried above the din of normal hospital noises.
Nurse Hayes turned and stopped Jack just before they approached Daniel's cubicle. "He regained consciousness right after I called you and has been quite eloquent about expressing his desire to leave."
Jack tapped his ear. "He's a linguist, eloquence is his middle name."
"Doctor. It's Doctor Jackson," Jack replied inanely.
"Oh, I'm sorry. He never mentioned that he was a doctor—"
"Daniel doesn't usually go waving his doctorates around." Jack abruptly shut up, unsure of why he was babbling. He really never babbled. Babbling was more Daniel's forte. "I'm sorry," he apologized, "please, continue."
"Mr… Dr. Jackson sustained bruising to the left side of his face where he impacted the driver's side window and he has a mild concussion." She touched her forehead. "He has what appears to be a burn mark across his forehead and down his nose."
"A burn mark?" Which could mean only one thing, Daniel had lied how he'd spent his time offworld.
"I'm sorry," Jack apologized profusely.
"Thank you. About that burn mark, at first, Dr. Jackson, had no memory of receiving it, and now, honestly, Colonel, his excuse is more than a bit—"
"Confused would be a better word." She smiled gently at Jack. "His temperature is elevated, and his blood pressure is low and as a precaution the doctor would like to keep him overnight and run some tests, but he's—"
"Refusing," Jack finished with a tilt of his head as Daniel's voice increased in volume. Pushing back the curtain, he whispered, "It's show time."
"I'm fine. If you would just—" Daniel tugged at the blood pressure cuff on his arm. "Just get me the necessary papers, so I can sign—"
"Jack!" He whipped his head around so fast his center of gravity shifted and if it hadn't been for Jack and nurse Hayes, Daniel would've taken a tumble off the gurney. He glared at the nurse, then turned his attention on Jack. "Would you please tell them—"
"How impossible you're being? Daniel, please, just let them do their job." Jack jabbed his chin in the direction of the other nurse still trying to take Daniel's blood pressure. "Be quiet, it'll just take a second, then we'll talk."
With a huff, Daniel jerked his arm from their grip then turned his attention to the nurse wearing the stethoscope.
With Daniel busy snarling at the nurse, Jack was able to study the results of the accident. His face was a mixed pallet of colors. The visible bruises on his face were only just beginning to bloom and no doubt would reach their full potential in a day or two, though it didn't make them any less impressive at the moment. Blood was pooled in the corner of his lip and his tongue kept flicking out, worrying the spot, but it was the burn mark, the tell tale sign of Daniel's run in with a ribbon device, that absorbed his attention.
* * *
Jack turned his charm on Alice Hayes when the nurse taking Daniel's blood pressure exited the curtained area. "Dr. Jackson and I both work at Cheyenne Mountain and our commanding officer and Chief Medical Officer have been notified and are en route to the hospital. General Hammond and Dr. Fraiser. Would it be possible for you inform the woman at reception to let me know when they've arrived?"
"Certainly, Colonel. I'll personally escort them to Dr. Jackson when they arrive."
"Thank you," Jack replied with a humble bow, holding one hand on Daniel's forearm to keep his ass on the gurney.
* * *
Jack's fingers tightened their grip the second the nurse snicked the curtain closed. "What the hell were you thinking?"
Daniel looked at Jack's hand, blinking in confusion. "I'm tired."
Releasing his fingers, he began to rub the skin he had just been squeezing. "I'm sure," he replied softly.
Looking overhead, Daniel squinted at the overhead lights. "I have a horrible headache."
"I can only imagine."
"Tomorrow's gonna be worse."
Daniel's glance slid sideways. "Oh, thanks."
Jack shrugged. "No problem."
"I was really stupid." Daniel closed his eyes, swaying slightly.
"We both were. Though it would have been nice to have had all the facts, Daniel."
Daniel fidgeted. Swallowed. His eyes popped open and his breathing hitched. Frantically waving his hand he motioned to Jack, his pale, bruised skin taking on a greenish tinge. "I think I'm going to—"
Jack picked up the garbage pail and shoved it in Daniel's lap. "Barf to your heart's content." Rubbing his back, Jack tsk'd in sympathy as Daniel fought an empty stomach to try to relieve the ribbon/concussion-induced nausea. He ended up groaning in frustration and spitting out a mouthful of bile before pushing the pail back towards Jack.
Shaking his head, Jack peered into the plastic lined pail. "Best you can do, huh?"
Daniel flopped backwards, tentatively covering his eyes with his forearm. "Shut up, Jack, and just let me die in peace."
The curtain flicked back and Fraiser entered, followed by General Hammond and someone clutching a chart to his chest for protection. "No one's dying on my watch unless I give them permission," Fraiser warned.
"Pssst. Daniel. Open your eyes and say hello to your visitors."
Slowly, he lowered his arm, blinking at the crew crowding the cubicle. "Janet. General Hammond." Daniel gazed at the third person. "Do I know you?"
"This is the confusion I mentioned to you before, Dr. Fraiser."
Daniel leveled himself up onto his elbows. "Whoever the hell you are, I'm not confused." Swiftly, he turned his head to Jack. "Go on, tell him, whoever the hell he is, that I'm not confused."
"I'm Dr. Wilder, I introduced myself to you when—"
"What? When I was unconscious?"
With a look of innocence, General Hammond cleared his throat. "Dr. Jackson."
Daniel looked at Jack for help. "Sorry," he replied, suitably chagrined. "I'm just not feeling—"
"Well?" Jack finished.
"Confused," Wilder added.
Stocky, short of stature, but cock sure of his place in the trauma unit, Dr. Wilder probably had taken a personal interest in Daniel's case of confusing symptoms. Jack could see him salivating at the burn mark on Daniel's forehead, thinking of medical journals and accolades. Protectively, Jack grabbed Daniel's elbow. Hammond was going to have to pull some strings and Fraiser was going to have to accompany it with some damn fancy footwork to get Daniel out of the hospital and away from the clutches of Dr. Wilder.
"Can I please just get out of here?" Daniel whined.
"Yeah, can he please get out of here," Jack agreed.
"You're whining, Jack."
Jack pointed the garbage pail by the side of the bed. "Should I tell them you—"
"Don't you dare," Daniel warned.
Fraiser shouldered past Wilder, walked up the gurney and wagged her fingers at Jack and Daniel. "Enough! Both of you."
Daniel cringed, bringing his shoulders up to his ears. "Sorry."
Gently soothing his hair back, Fraiser's soft voice took the bite from her words. "You should be."
Jack leaned over and whispered, "You're in trouble."
Fraiser nodded. "Damn straight he is." She wrapped her hand around Daniel's wrist, taking his vitals.
"He's got a fever," Jack volunteered smugly.
"Oh, he's got more than a fever. Excuse me." Wilder pushed past Hammond, much to the older man's consternation. The doctor ruffled through the paperwork attached to the clipboard in his hands. "The patient presented with—"
"The patient has a name, doctor," Hammond replied gruffly, pulling the paperwork from the doctor's hands. The man struggled for a second to maintain his hold, but in the wake of the face of anger Jack had rarely seen from the general, he meekly released the clipboard and watched longingly as it passed to Fraiser. "His name is *Doctor* Jackson."
Jack smiled smugly and offered the general a nonchalant wink of appreciation on Daniel's behalf.
To the annoyance of Wilder, Fraiser tucked the clipboard under her arm. "On a scale of one to ten—"
Daniel paused, closed his eyes and bent forward. "Before or after the accident?"
"Humor me, honey. Give me an average."
"Twelve. Can I go home now?"
Fraiser opened the chart and flipped through the paperwork. "I need a copy of all the papers here," she ordered, handing the clipboard back to Wilder. "And copies of Dr. Jackson's x-rays."
"For what purpose?"
"I'm Dr. Jackson's personal physician and he's going to be coming with me—"
"Moving Dr. Jackson is against my better judgment and I highly—"
"Too bad. So sad," Jack waved at the doctor. "Daniel's coming with us."
* * *
Easier said than done. The hospital didn't give a crap that Daniel was being released into the care of his own physician and produced paper after paper for Daniel to adhere his John Hancock to. By the time Daniel signed for his personal effects, his hand was shaking so badly, his name was more illegible than usual.
Jack peered over his shoulder. "That doesn't even look like your signature."
He quirked a 'bite me' raised eyebrow at Jack before dumping the bag of effects on the gurney, rifling through them. "Oh." He picked up his glasses, looked through them then tossed the twisted frames back into the pile. "I'm sure my car looks just as bad."
"Discussion for another time, okay?"
"I loved my car."
Jack did a quick scan of the room before bending down, his lips passing by Daniel's ear with a whispered, "and I love you."
* * *
Daniel was asleep before Jack pulled out of the parking lot. He looked uncomfortable and cramped beyond belief, but the muscle aches from this little snooze were going to be nothing compared to tomorrow's wake up call. He cranked up the heat, just because Daniel looked like he needed warmth and because Jack felt the need to do something. *Anything* to alleviate the guilt keeping him company in the pit of his stomach. Logically, he shouldn't feel guilty, okay, he had basically lured Daniel to his home, but in his defense, Jack had been clueless. Which was definitely a subject to be discussed when Daniel was a captive audience in Fraiser's clutches.
* * *
It never failed to amaze Jack how Daniel always managed to sleep on his side on the infirmary beds and not tangle any part of his body in the leads. He guessed that practice makes perfect.
"Go home, Colonel."
"Nah." Jack shrugged, looking up at the CMO from his infirmary chair. "There's nothing on TV tonight. Daniel-watching is much more entertaining than repeats."
"I can tell you, sir, you can go to sleep, have a shower and breakfast and the only thing that'll change will be the IV bag."
Jack tapped the lead into the IV. "Good stuff?"
"Of course. This is a four star hotel." She patted Jack's shoulder and walked to the foot of the bed, picking up Daniel's chart.
Standing and stretching, Jack walked next to Fraiser, making a show of 'hmming' and 'ahhing' over the medical jargon. "So..." Jack paused for effect. "All this scribble means—"
"He's been ribboned. He's been in a car accident. He has a low grade fever, low blood pressure, bruises and a headache that's probably off the scale. He's dehydrated, drugged to the gills and incredibly stupid." Fraiser closed the chart. "But on an up note, did you know Daniel saved Lieutenants Griffin and Halloway?"
"Jed Halloway woke up before, frantically searching for Daniel. It seems our intrepid archeologist distracted the Goa'uld away from the two of them."
Jack touched his own forehead then pointed to Daniel. "It would seem the Goa'uld took exception to Daniel's interference."
"Ya think?" Fraiser tucked an errant hair behind her ear. "Go home, sir. Everyone's safe."
He waved at the chair. "In a few minutes."
She glared at him.
"Honest. Few minutes." He yawned. "I'm going to bunk on base, just in case you—"
"Of course, you are, Colonel," Fraiser replied with a smug smile. "Repeats and all. I understand perfectly."
* * *
Daniel awoke with a start, jerking to an upright position with arms flaying. There was a low moan, a resounding crash and a sharp pain in his right arm. Monitors began ringing, their sound reverberating harshly inside Daniel's skull. Harried footsteps, then someone calling his name. Yelling. Touching him. Probing fingers skimming across his slick skin assessing him. Daniel shirked from their inventory, wanting a chance to focus. He managed a weak "ow" when hands slowly straightened his injured arm.
Opening his eyes in response to the gentle tapping on his check, he groaned at the brightness of the infirmary lights. He heard a hurried apology and the overhead light was snapped off. "Sorry, Daniel."
Tentatively, he reopened his eyes, exhaling when his nightmare slowly receded under the ministrations of the infirmary staff. Watching under half hooded lids, he squirmed uncomfortably as Janet cleaned up his arm and restarted his IV line.
"Must've been a humdinger of a nightmare."
"Stupid, really," Daniel admitted in the sanity of the infirmary. "Something to do with a tree with a ribbon device on one of its branches."
* * *
His body had stiffened in sleep. Not only was he slow moving but he ached down to the muscular level, thanks to his own stupidity. His car was probably history and the thought of dealing with the insurance company was like a dagger piercing his already tender, over abused brain.
"Relax," Janet admonished as Daniel struggled to lift his butt off the bed and help them change the sweat-soaked sheets, "Let us do the work. Time enough to fight us when you're feeling better."
Daniel obeyed, feeling totally useless.
"Are you sleeping?"
"No," he answered without opening his eyes.
"Headache still off the scale?" she asked.
"Ten. Down two points."
"Considering you have a slight concussion, have been ribboned and wrapped your car around a tree, I'd say a two point loss is excellent. As a reward, how about I fix you up with a bedtime cocktail, complete with hydration."
"Works for me."
Daniel watched as Janet expertly hooked up the IV as easily as he got dressed in the morning. "Second nature, huh?" He cocked his head at the pole.
"Once upon a time it wasn't. I think there are still victims sporting bruises from my inexperience."
"How's Halloway and—"
"Fine. Complete recovery. Both of them. All thanks to you, from what I heard." Janet sat at the edge of the bed.
"Teamwork," Daniel answered, yawning.
Janet adjusted the drip. "That's not what I heard." She straightened the tubing, nodding at the monitors. "Why did you leave the base?"
Daniel tried to wrap his mind around her question. "Leave?"
"Yeah. Leave. Get in the car." She mimicked putting her hands on a steering wheel and driving.
"It seemed like a good idea?" Daniel gazed at the IV, wishing it would drip faster, not only to put him out of his misery but to put an end the conversation with Janet. He hurt. He ached. There wasn't a part of him that didn't feel the sting of his recklessness, and truth be told he'd rather die in peace, without an audience.
"I'm going to talk and you're going to listen."
Worked for him. Conversation at the moment was just too hard. He gave Janet a thumbs up as a go-ahead.
"You were very lucky, Daniel."
He didn't feel very lucky, but if his doctor thought he was, who was he to argue? Daniel gave a slight nod.
"But you're an asshole."
Janet just called him an asshole? "Lucky asshole?" he asked, his words sounding as if he'd OD'd on Novocain.
"No. The lucky and the asshole are two separate entities."
"Sorry." Daniel really was sorry, but today's events had become too muddled in his brain to fully comprehend which incident he should be apologizing for.
"Ribboned and a car accident. All in one day."
Capable hands fixed the blanket around his body, trapping the warmth and he sighed in appreciation.
"You're welcome, but you screwed up."
He should protest. Argue with her, but that would mean talking. He couldn't muster up enough energy to talk. He could barely manage listening, but at least listening didn't require formatting thought processes. Nod. He would nod at Janet.
"Good, I'm glad you admit it."
A cool hand touched his cheek.
"Fever's up. What a way to get out of a conversation. You're driving me nuts, Dr. Jackson, do you know that?" Janet admonished. "I'm going to be as grey as the colonel if you keep this up."
* * *
Daniel wondered how it was possible to be hot and cold at the same time. The weight of the blanket was oppressive, heavier than an infirmary blanket had a right to be, but he was freezing and the damp cloth performing gentle swipes across his cheeks wasn't helping.
"No," he insisted, weakly batting at the cloth, trembling hands missing their mark.
"Yes. Doctor's orders," Jack said, applying less pressure to the bruised side of Daniel's face.
Pressure was pressure, it still hurt. "Go away."
Jack leaned in, his breath warm against Daniel's skin. "I went away," he whispered. "Down a few floors to my bed and look what happened."
"What happen'd?" Daniel struggled. "Fever?"
"Understatement of the year. I'll give you a hint. Fraiser went out to get a dozen eggs," Jack's hand was heavy on Daniel's stomach. "She's gonna fry them on your belly for breakfast."
Jack chuckled. "I told her I wanted bacon with my eggs."
"Hot." He tried to force Jack's hand down so he could remove the blanket.
"I don't think you better do that," Jack commented, moving the blanket back to its original position. "Especially because… ahh, Daniel, look, here comes Doc Fraiser with the eggs."
* * *
Daniel felt marginally better. The worse seemed to be over and he was left with the residual 'hit with a Mack truck feeling' which he supposed was an improvement, though from the way Jack kept looking at him, he would have thought otherwise.
"Please, do me a favor?" Daniel threw his hand out to stop his forward motion as Jack slammed on the brakes as a car cut him off. "Keep your eyes on the road and *not* on me. One car accident a week is more than my body can handle."
Daniel didn't catch what Jack mumbled under his breath. "Look, Jack. Janet said I was okay to go home. Leave the infirmary. Leave the mountain. I spent forty eight hours under her guiding light and I would prefer not to be back in that bed any time in the near future."
"Don't you dare say you're fine."
Daniel threw his right arm up in defense; his bruised left shoulder, at the moment, didn't allow for too much mobility. "I wouldn't think of it. Right now, I want nothing more than a bed without a plastic mattress, a pillow that isn't a block of cement. Hey—" Daniel tapped his temple. "I remember a promise of a roaring fire."
* * *
Daniel woke up. He didn't even recall going to sleep, so waking up on Jack's couch was a complete surprise, as was the crackling fire, the regular pillow under his head and the afghan spread over his body. The couch in Jack's living room was comfortable to sit on, but not conducive for sleep unless one was drunk enough not to notice the couch's imperfections. After the bed, Daniel's horizontal position of choice was the den couch. Which left only two options as to why he was sleeping here. One was that he'd passed out just a few feet from the front door and two would be Janet had given him something in the handful of pills she had forced on him before he left which would have caused him to pass out a few feet from the front door. Either way, the choice of him sleeping on this couch had been out of his hands.
Tentatively, he stretched and muscles that had been stiff and sore on the ride to Jack's now bent and extended freely, which kind of directed him to door number two, Janet drugging the crap out of him before he'd left the mountain. He yawned. Worked for him. At the moment sleep was sleep, no matter how it was obtained. The end justified the means.
* * *
The pills wore off and the couch's shortcomings slowly gnawed into Daniel's sleep until the only option was to get up and beg for mercy. He opened one eye.
"How're you feeling?" Jack drawled, raising a beer bottle in salute from his perch on the couch across from him.
Daniel groaned, shut the one eye then made a concerted effort to open both eyes at the same time, bringing Jack into a slightly clearer focus. "I've been better."
"Yeah, I thought so." He waved the bottle along the length of Daniel's body. "I was watching you sleep. Ya didn't look too happy."
"Watching me sleep? You need to get a life, Jack."
"Nah, I really don't. I don't think I could survive a life outside of keeping an eye on you. It would be too boring."
"Ouch." Daniel grimaced and moaned his way into a sitting position. "I'm going to ignore that remark."
"Go right ahead." Jack finished his beer then put the empty on the table separating the two couches. "How's the—"
"Body? Stiff and sore."
"I can see that, I meant the—" Jack touched his forehead.
Daniel wrinkled his forehead and squinted upwards. "It's there. Actually I forgot about it—"
"I didn't. And that doctor in the hospital, *he* probably didn't forget it either. The burn mark is one of those things that doctor's wet dreams are made up of. The stories the Enquirer pay big bucks for."
"You know." Jack made air quotes. "Aliens caused my car accident."
Daniel paused. "Well, in a round about way, that's true."
Jack held up a finger. "Ah, Doctor Jackson, on face value, that's what it would appear to be. But we—" Jack's finger rocked between the two of them. "We know better, don't we?" He winked at Daniel.
"Yeah, stupidity caused my accident."
"I helped a little," Jack admitted.
"Your invitation. Roaring fire. Bed. Warm body. Alone. Hard to think straight with those distractions."
"You should have said something—"
"Like what, Jack? Oh, by the way, we spent our day getting our asses kicked and towards the end of our wonderful stay, I met up with an unhappy Goa'uld with a hatred for Tau'ri archeologists?"
"That would have worked."
"You would have dragged my ass back to the infirmary."
"Oh, instead of chasing your ass in an ambulance?" Jack narrowed his eyes at Daniel. "I'm sorry. There's a difference?"
"Not if you say it like that."
"Fraiser's pissed at you."
"I know. Protocol procedures. The general's not pleased with me, either."
"Oh goody. Let's go for three out of three. Just for the record, neither am I."
"But you made me a fire."
"Better to burn the evidence after I kill you."
"The pillow and blanket?"
"To smother you and wrap your body in." The smile that had been playing at the corner of Jack's lips fell away. "Don't do that again. Ever. Omission of the facts is a lie, Daniel. You were foolish and selfish and I made a decision without having all the intel." Jack dug the heel of his palms into his eyes. Dropping them back into his lap, he sighed heavily. "It would have been a stupid way to die."
"I thought any death would be stupid."
"Any death connected with *you* is stupid. Though some of the ways you have died are stupider than others."
"You rate my deaths?"
"Yeah. Where we *both* die has the lowest stupidity rating. Where you die trying to save Earth has the next lowest. Killing yourself in a car accident has the highest."
"What if the car accident wasn't my fault?"
Jack shuddered. "Do me a favor. I'm getting the willies just talking about you and death in one sentence. Let's say we drop this conversation."
"I didn't bring it up," Daniel replied indignantly.
"Well, I'm officially changing it now. Can your stomach handle some food?"
"I ate in the infirmary with no problem."
"That's not food, Daniel."
"You want French toast?"
"Yeah. But if you don't have—"
"No, I have everything and you're in luck, the bread's not even green molded."
"Ahh," Daniel said, "Today's my lucky day."
* * *
Daniel managed two slices before his stomach protested. Wiping his mouth, he threw down his napkin on the table with a well-timed burp. "That was delicious."
"That's it? I made enough…"
"To feed the entire SGC. Wrap it, I'll eat more later." Daniel yawned, "I think the painkiller you crushed into the egg is taking effect."
"Honest, no pain killer. Maybe you just need to sleep." Jack made a shooing motion with his hand. "You know the way to the bedroom. I'll be in after I clean up and please don't hog the pillows or the blanket."
* * *
He peed, washed up and shuffled to the bed, the fact that Jack had already turned down the bed was an appreciated blip on his groggy radar. Cautiously, he lowered his body down onto the mattress, giving into the desire to sleep with a sigh of appreciation. Daniel nested all the pillows around his body, pulled the covers up to his nose, tossed and turned slowly until he found a position that he deemed semi-comfortable, then closed his eyes.
* * *
Warm hands skirted across his bruises and Daniel hissed in annoyance. "Weren't you doing the dishes? Putting away the French toast? Cleaning the table? Being domesticated?" A chuckle from an impossibly close, tee shirt and boxer clad body vibrated against him.
"And didn't you promise not to hog all the covers?"
"No, you asked," Daniel replied sleepily, "I never gave a yes or no answer."
"My ass is cold."
"You should have kept your pants on," Daniel huffed.
"Funny, I've never heard that complaint from you before. Ever."
"Always a first time." Daniel made a feeble attempt to bat at Jack who was blowing warm puffs of air along his nape. "Stop," he ordered, followed immediately by an "ow" and a hissed "shit" as Daniel tried to shove Jack away with his bruised shoulder.
"Serves you right." Gentle kisses, replaced the air.
Daniel relaxed. "Better."
"Good. Now move your ass so I can have some blanket."
Daniel rocked back and forth a few times and Jack threaded the blanket from under his body.
"Much better." Jack reached over Daniel's body and grabbed a pillow.
"I'm glad you think so." Daniel picked up his head and peered out the window. "It's still early. I know why I'm in bed. Why are you in bed?" He tugged on the blanket, then gave up, laying back down.
"Because you're in bed?" Jack kissed his shoulder. "Because I need to know you're sorta okay."
"Well, Daniel, I don't mean to insult you, but have you looked in the mirror lately? You look like—"
"I've been ribboned and in a car accident."
"Yeah, exactly. So sue me if I want to be up close and personal with you."
"Just like this," Jack agreed, carefully draping his arm over Daniel's midsection.
"Like watching me sleep?"
"Give a kewpie doll to the bruised archaeologist."
Daniel relaxed. Sinking into the mattress. Into the pillow. Into Jack. Cursing that he hadn't taken a pain pill before lying down, 'cause waking up was going to be the payback from hell, but he was too way to comfortable to even ask Jack to go get it for him.
"So a few days late, but you got your roaring fire. A bed. Me."
"Nope, still missing something," Daniel replied smugly.
"You got your French toast."
"I recall you mentioning something about you leaving a message with the "L" word."
"The "L" word? Nah, you must have had ribbon delusions. Heck, even that doc in the hospital thought you were confused. I never said—"
"I love you, too, Jack."
"You do, huh?"
"Yup." Yawning, Daniel fanned his fingers over Jack's hand, still resting on his stomach.
"Then can I have some more blanket?" Jack begged.
Jo, owner of the ever sharpened red pencil, the halo and the bottomless well of patience, thank you for your beta, though any and all mistakes are mine. To those closest to my heart, thank you.