Signed, Sealed and Deliveredby devra
"I'm sending you a package." No hello, no introduction, General Hank Landry just dived into the conversation with both feet.
Jack shoved the phone against his shoulder, tilted his head to keep it in place, signed the paperwork in front of him and handed it back to his personal assistant, with a short dismissal wave of his hand. Multi tasking was an ingrained habit since taking this job. "Ohhhh—is it my birthday?"
Jack wondered which of them would tire of this game first.
"No, this present isn't for anything special. Not your birthday, nor any holiday known to man on this world or the next. It's bigger than a breadbox—"
"Damn! That was my next question," Jack teased as he pulled another folder from his in box.
"I just need one favor," Hank amicably requested.
"Is it arriving postage due?"
Jack smiled at Landry's laughter. "Then what's the favor?"
"I need it returned to me in better condition than how I'm sending it to you."
"You want me to repair something?"
"That's one way of putting it."
* * *
Jack paced the living room impatiently. Ever since Hank's mysterious phone call this afternoon, he felt like a little kid on Christmas Eve. His friend had refused to divulge any further information, just an approximate arrival time and the warning to be home to accept delivery. Like a watched pot, an anticipated package was obviously never delivered so Jack dropped into the well loved, much worn, somewhat ugly and very out of place recliner he had brought from home. No, Washington was now home, he reminded himself, Colorado Springs was where he *used* to live.
The pacing began anew at fifteen minutes past the allotted time. Thirty minutes later, he had his phone in his hand and was punching in Hank's number when the doorbell rang.
"Well it's about time," he shouted, throwing open the door and coming face to face with an extremely young, nervous airman who saluted on sight.
"Sorry for the delay, sir. The weather out of Colorado Springs—"
"Was horrific, Jack."
Jack stepped into the hallway and peered around the still saluting airman right into Daniel's exhausted face.
Daniel waggled his fingers at Jack. "Hi."
Jack glanced both ways up and down the hallway and Daniel slowly followed his gaze. "Whatcha looking for?"
"Maybe it really should be *who* am I looking for." Jack shook his head. "At ease, soldier. Care to explain to me why—"
The airman's movements were crisp and precise as he reached inside his jacket and pulled out an envelope. "This is for you, sir. General Landry—"
"Daniel's… Doctor Jackson's my package?"
Jack shushed him with a stern glance.
"General Landry explains it all in here, sir." The envelope was held out for Jack to take. "Begging your pardon, but they're holding the transport for me and I need—"
With a sigh of resignation, Jack took the envelope then looked into the face of the flustered, incredibly young airman. "Dismissed."
Jack returned the crisp nod, the even crisper salute.
"No, Jack," Daniel said sluggishly, "you were never that young."
"Every grey hair is from you," Jack complained good naturedly, until he really looked at Daniel. "Are you sure you should be here instead of stretched out on an infirmary bed?"
"Nice to see you, too," Daniel yawned.
He waved the envelope under Daniel's nose. "I'm not going to like this, am I?"
Daniel shrugged, then bent down to pick up his carryall. Standing, holding onto the wall for support, he gazed at Jack with a depth of sadness so uncommon for his usually sequestered emotions, that for a second, Jack was speechless. "I fucked up," he said softly, and turned, his right hand hugging the wall and stepped into the apartment, leaving Jack standing in the hallway, mouth agape.
* * *
Jack closed the door, locked it and nearly bowled over a Daniel who was standing in the vestibule, his carry on luggage still gripped in his hand. "Whoa," Jack said, grabbing onto Daniel's elbow to keep him upright.
"I need to sleep." The carryall slipped from Daniel's limp grasp and thudded to the floor.
"Daniel?" Jack slowly turned him around until he was facing him. Daniel was literally asleep on his feet. Eyes at half mast, head hanging below his shoulders.
"Not now," he pleaded, sliding out of Jack's grasp. "Bed."
Jack guided Daniel down the hallway and he didn't even have time to pull down the covers before Daniel literally crawled up the mattress and dropped heavily onto the pillows. "Thanks," he breathed, wrapping his arms around the pillow and pulling it sideways. "Missed you."
Jack wasn't sure if it was him that Daniel missed or his ability to get horizontal on something semi soft with a pillow, but he answered with a truthful, "missed you, too," as he removed Daniel's shoes and glasses and covered him up with the other side of the quilt.
* * *
Angrily, Jack tossed the unopened letter on the table, grabbed the phone and punched in Hank's direct number. "Speak to me," he ordered the second he heard Landry's voice.
"Ahhh, I see my package has arrived." Landry paused. "*And* why do I have the feeling you haven't even opened my letter? Go read the letter, then—"
"I don't want to *read* the letter, I want you to tell me. Now."
"Read the letter, Jack" Hank replied softly. "It explains things much better than I can over the phone."
* * *
Jack meticulously refolded the letter back into threes, then thoughtfully tapped it against his thigh. He stood with a sigh, walked into the kitchen and turned on one of the gas stove's burners, allowing the corner of the letter to catch a flicker of flame. He sidestepped to the sink and with mixed emotions, watched it burn.
Hank knew about him and Daniel; that much was obvious from the tone of the letter. Not judgmental, just a friend allowing another friend to know he had his back. Jack gave a nod of appreciation for the depth of Hank's understanding. Vala was gone, Jack had known that, being in Washington *did not mean* not having his finger on the pulse of the SGC. What he hadn't known, and what the letter had inferred, was the repercussions her departure had dealt Daniel.
The two had been in a love/hate relationship. Jack had heard it in Daniel's voice and seen it in his eyes when he'd spoken her name or when Jack had read between the lines of his mission reports.
Had he been jealous? Yes, he had, for reasons, in light of her disappearance, now seemed both infantile and stupid. Daniel had never given him a reason to feel that way, but while her appearance had kept Daniel in this galaxy, it had also kept Daniel and Jack apart. A double edged sword--one Jack was never sure if he should have knighted Vala with or used it to stab her.
What he hadn't known was the physical meltdown Daniel was experiencing. The chronic fatigue, the sleeping, the lethargy. And while Hank had assured Jack, which he agreed with whole heartedly, these symptoms were better than the dying alternative if the links had been stronger, Landry had been concerned over the effects on Daniel's psyche.
In the letter, he recommended Jack call Dr. Lam for a better description and the moment the letter dropped into the sink as blackened ashes, Jack picked up the phone.
* * *
"Carolyn." Hank's daughter. Jack's goddaughter. Sometimes being *the man* was so very nice and made the world a very small, microscopic place to live in.
"General O'Neill," she paused. "It's late. Is everything—"
"You called me at work. The SGC. I'm thinking it would be inappropriate to call you… Uncle Jack."
Jack couldn't help but smile at the soft echoey sound of her voice when she called him by her childhood name for him, she obviously had stuck a hand over her mouth and receiver to mask her voice. "I think it would be kinda cute."
"I'm the CMO, I don't do *cute*."
"Alright," Jack said with an exaggerated sigh. "Though I am a general and I can order you to…"
"But you won't," she insisted, a pleading edge to her voice.
"You're no fun."
"You didn't recommend me for this job because I'm fun, sir."
"No, I guess I didn't," Jack agreed. "I'm calling about Daniel."
"I received him from your fa… General Landry sent him to me today special delivery, complete with an airman and a pretty damn cryptic letter regarding his condition. He hinted that I should give you a call."
Jack walked down the hallway, peeked into the bedroom door to check on Daniel and was back in the living room by the time Carolyn came back on the line. "Sorry," she apologized. "I just needed to—"
"Do your job," Jack finished. "If this is a bad time—"
"No, it's fine."
Jack heard the familiar squeak of Fraiser's office chair as Carolyn sat and as much as he was glad Dr. Carolyn Lam occupied her office, he wished it hadn't even been necessary to fill that chair. "So what little present did Vala leave Daniel with?"
"Actually, from what I've been able to ascertain, considering we were working with an alien technology, and any sort of background information—"
"Carolyn, the answer?"
"Oh, sorry. Probably the most succinct way I can think to describe it is that the fatigue is the body's way of healing."
"Practically passing out in my hallway is healing?" Jack scrubbed a hand through his hair. "I'm not buying it, Carolyn."
"Look, compared to what his blood work was, take my word for it, Daniel's doing better. Think of the alternative."
"I would rather not," he replied testily.
"Daniel's managing to stay awake, which wasn't the case a week ago."
"What was wrong with his blood work?"
"His cell count was low. Bodily functions were behaving lethargically, as if one was recovering from a virus. The best correlation I can come up with would be the virus from the Tok'ra armbands."
"Yes. But double, triple, quadruple the exposure time."
"Not that I'm not glad to see Daniel, but, and don't take this the wrong way—why isn't he in the infirmary?"
"He was. But he's—"
"Not sick was really the answer I'm going for."
"So, not being sick you released him, to remain on base but—"
"He's difficult," she sighed.
"Ahhh, he doesn't exactly follow your instructions?"
"Basically he *needs* to sleep. The longer he ignores his body's needs, the harder the recovery is going to be. So instead of just going to take a *nap*, per se, he would—"
"Let me guess… fall asleep in his office, during meetings, the commissary… stop me when I've hit the nail on the head."
"There was that and the fact that by just ignoring his *body* he would pass out, where he stood, then end up right back in the infirmary." She sighed again and Jack heard the squeak as she leaned back in the chair. "It wasn't pretty."
"So let me get this straight. Daniel's recovering, but he's not sick?"
"I know it sounds strange, but yes."
"This is the SGC, Carolyn, you will learn that nothing sounds strange."
"I am. Slowly."
"Good. It also helps to have a great imagination."
"Science fiction has lost its appeal, you know?"
"Yeah, one of the downsides of the job," Jack agreed. "So back to Daniel? Care? Feeding? Instructions?"
"Let him sleep. Wake him up occasionally. Force him to eat and drink. Nothing heavy. You'll find as the days go by, he'll be able gain an hour here and there. He just needs to be patient."
"Daniel doesn't do patient very well."
Carolyn snorted. "I've noticed. Oh, and if he starts to exhibit anything like a fever, give me a call and we'll take it from there. Not that I expect anything, but just as a precaution."
"So why is he here? You could have just sent him home or to Carter's or Teal'c's, then he would have been minutes from the SGC—"
"We could have," she admitted. "But I think he needs to be away from here—"
"So you sent him to me?"
"Look, sir, if it's an inconvenience—" her voice took on an icy chill.
"No, not at all. But I work, I'm not home all day to babysit."
"He doesn't need a babysitter. Daniel needs a safe place," she sighed deeply. "He needs to forgive himself, and he can't do that here."
"Forgive? What the hell does he have to—"
"Survivor's guilt, *sir*. He and Vala, well, they—"
"Never mind," Jack said with a shake of his head that Carolyn wasn't privy to. How stupid of him to even wonder *why* Daniel felt guilty.
* * *
Jack yawned and reached for this third cup of coffee of the morning. Twenty four hours. Daniel had been at his house for less than twenty four hours and Jack was exhausted. Daniel had slept, unmoving, just until the time Jack was locking up for the night and then he had awoken, bright eyed and bushy tailed, cornering Jack in the kitchen, pushing him up against the fridge with hunger in his eyes.
After the hunger had been satisfied and they had showered, Jack foolishly had expected to sleep. Ha! Daniel had talked, nudged Jack every time he'd nodded off, until he himself had passed out mid-sentence and Jack was left staring at the taunting number on the alarm clock which informed him he had twenty minutes to spare before the alarm sounded.
Daniel's actions reminded him of Charlie as an infant, when he had napped too late in the day and would be up, energized in the wee hours of the morning. Jack yawned again, hoping that Daniel didn't have his days and nights mixed up. Cause he was way too old for this.
* * *
The phone rang just as Jack's fingers were inching towards it.
"You wanted me to call when I woke up." The familiar voice was slow and lethargic.
"You don't sound awake." He had wanted Daniel to call. He had left Post-Its on every flat surface that Daniel would encounter when he rolled out of bed.
Jack had visuals of Daniel taking a header while on the kitchen phone. "Where are you?"
"*Where* in the apartment."
Okay, dealing with Daniel like this was like communicating with him when he was functioning on painkillers. Been there, done that. Piece of cake. He just needed to remember that Daniel was going to answer a whole measure behind him asking the question. "Are you in the kitchen?"
"Daniel, that requires a yes or no answer."
"Yes, kitchen. Thirsty."
"Did you drink anything yet?"
"I have a bottle of water in my hand. Sleep. Me. Going. Bye."
Jack sighed at the receiver, grunting at the dial tone. Maybe this wasn't going to be such a piece of cake.
* * *
The limp hand fell to the mattress with a thud. Jack lifted it, then dropped it again, calling Daniel's name in the process. He didn't stir. There wasn't as much as a hitch in his breathing. Nothing. Jack bent over Daniel and stuck his face into Daniel's, allowing the latter's warm breath to wash over his face. "Just checking you're still breathing," Jack explained. He gave Daniel a quick peck on the cheek, multiplying the kisses down the length of his jaw line. Nada. No reaction. Daniel slept on, his breaths deep and even. "You could give a guy a complex, ya know?"
* * *
By the time Daniel shuffled into the kitchen, Jack was working his way through a bowl of vegetable soup and the sports section of the newspaper.
"Smells good." Daniel sniffed the air and sat in the chair across from Jack. He yawned and blinked.
Jack pointed to the counter with his spoon. "In the bag. I bought a container of soup for you also."
* * *
Daniel pushed the half eaten container of soup away and focused instead on the accompanying fresh slice of bread. "So you don't take in Greek or Chinese any more?" He pulled the soup back over and dunked the crust into the liquid.
"Thought you would like something different."
"Oh, Dr. Lam told you my diet should be light, huh?"
"Well, there's that, too." Jack shrugged.
Daniel picked a carrot out of the vegetable soup, stuck it in his mouth and sucked the liquid off his fingers, then wagged his eyebrows at Jack. "Soup and bread, throw in a glass of water and I'll be happy."
Jack rose to retrieve a bottle from the fridge. He kissed the top of Daniel's head before he placed it in front of him. "Always said you were a cheap date."
"Cheap and easy."
* * *
"Are you falling asleep?"
Daniel laughed and Jack's head, resting on his bare stomach, bounced comfortably with the motion. "I thing the more apropos question would be 'are you awake'?"
Jack turned his face and blew a raspberry on Daniel's skin.
Daniel chuckled and squirmed. "Stop it, Jack," he hissed good naturedly.
"Oh." Daniel shifted under Jack's weight, his fingers threading themselves among the strands of Jack's hair. "And you're telling me this because—"
"I'm off the weekend." Jack found himself head butting Daniel's hand when his fingers stopped stroking, amazed that he had forgotten he was such a slut for Daniel's touch.
Daniel picked up the hint and began a soothing, mindless petting motion to Jack's head. "Wow! Saturday and Sunday? Off. Like a normal person? Any plans?"
"Yeah?" Daniel echoed.
"It involves a naked archaeologist and the testing of various locations of the apartment to check for their conduciveness for sexual activities."
"Oh really? I sorta had the same plan except mine called for a naked air force general—"
"As long as we're both on the same page."
"I was thinking as long as we were in the same room," Daniel quipped, then yawned.
* * *
This time when Jack crawled into bed, Daniel stayed asleep. It was a bit disconcerting, Jack realized as he adjusted the covers around both of them, how Daniel managed to go from awake to sleeping in all of sixty seconds, counting the yawns and goodnights. Daniel turned into his warmth even before Jack got settled despite Jack's whispered pleas. In the darkness, he rolled his eyes heavenward as he attempted to adjust his arms around a heavily slumbering, coma-like sleeping, Daniel.
* * *
Daniel was sitting in the darkened living room, the light from the TV casting a ghostly hue on his features.
"Hey," Jack said softly, sinking into the recliner.
"Hey," Daniel echoed, the one word sounded inexplicably sad and confused. "What are you doing up?" He pointed to the TV with the remote, muting the sound. "Sorry if it woke you."
"No, actually, you not being in bed woke me," Jack admitted.
"Sorry. Like I can't control when I sleep, I can't control when I'm done sleeping." He snorted and angrily tossed the remote to the far end of the couch. "That's why I'm here and not at the SGC. Or offworld."
"You make it sound like being here is a punishment." Jack could feel his defenses prime for an argument.
"Not a punishment. A restriction. A reminder of—I don't want to talk about it." He leaned his head back and threw his arm up to hide his face from Jack.
"I didn't bring anything up. You began the conversation."
There was no answer forthcoming and Jack waited patiently, tapping his foot. "One-Mississippi, two-Mississippi... he made it to fifteen-Mississippi before he got up and stepped over to the couch and lifted Daniel's arm up with a sigh. Sleeping. Out cold.
"Healing my ass."
He rested his cheek on Daniel's forehead. No matter what Carolyn said, no one fell into la la land like that they unless they were burning with fever, but there was nothing. If anything, Daniel seemed cooler than he was, so he felt his own forehead, just to make sure he wasn't hallucinating all of this with a raging fever of his own. Nope. Jack was fine. Which meant that Daniel was... healing.
* * *
Jack left Friday morning after spending the remainder of the night on the recliner watching Daniel sleep. He was exhausted and grumpy and his poor aide had already borne the brunt of his pissiness forty-five minutes into the start of the day.
Once again he had left Post-Its all around the apartment for Daniel to call him when he woke up: but, as of fourteen hundred hours, Jack had heard zip. He had begun calling around eleven hundred hours, dialing both Daniel's cell and the apartment phone, getting voice mail on both each and every time.
Daniel had still been sleeping on the couch when Jack left. He hadn't been cruel enough to leave him snoozing sitting up, so before he had tucked himself into the recliner he'd maneuvered Daniel's very dead weight into a horizontal position. Where he had stayed the remainder of the night and actually hadn't moved one iota before Jack left, which in and of itself, was very un-Daniel-like.
Daniel was normally in constant motion, whether awake or asleep, and to see him stretched out on the couch, with the only movement being the rise and fall of his chest was not only disconcerting, it was downright scary.
So by fifteen hundred hours with a million different, not very nice scenarios running through his already befuddled mind, to the relief of his staff, Jack called it a day. And by sixteen hundred hours he was placing an irate phone call to Carolyn.
"He's sleeping," Jack barked into the phone without a hello.
"Carolyn—" Jack sat on the coffee table in front of Daniel, stuck the cordless between his shoulder and chin, then poked Daniel in the shoulder with no response. "He's *sleeping*."
"Fourteen hours." It was really thirteen hours and fifteen minutes but fourteen was close enough. Made more sense to round up and not down. "And he hasn't moved an inch. I'm thinking of holding a mirror up to his face to see if he's even breathing."
"Explain to me again how this is healing?"
"He needs an IV or something. I mean the guy's going to…"
Okay, that shut him up. "Sorry."
"No, you're not. You want an answer I can't give one to you. Believe it or not, Daniel's fine. Healing. Recovering. F. I. N. E."
"But I can't wake him up," Jack complained.
"You just did," Daniel moaned, flipping from his stomach to his back.
"Never mind, Rip Van Winkle has awoken."
"Told ya so," Carolyn said, then hung up the phone without waiting for Jack's answer.
"Snot," Jack responded to the dial tone, then clicked off the phone and flung it onto the recliner. "Rise and shine."
Daniel pushed himself upright, stood, and swayed for a second. "Whoa." He blinked at Jack in confusion. "I think I need to pee."
"Ya think?" Jack moved his legs to the side and stood, then shadowed Daniel to the bathroom.
Daniel bounced off the hallway wall until Jack grabbed his bicep. "I can pee by myself," Jack."
"Yeah, I'm sure you can, it's the walking you seem to be having problems with."
"I'm going to pee on the floor if you don't let me go."
Jack released him. "I'm going to wait right here, okay?"
"Whatever floats your boat."
* * *
Slowly, Daniel walked out of the bathroom, his hands on his lower back, moaning. "Your couch sucks, you know that?"
Jack grabbed the front of his shirt, pulled Daniel within of inch of his body and planted a sloppy kiss on his lips. Daniel dropped his head onto Jack's shoulder and exhaled a loud sigh of appreciation.
"That almost makes up for your lumpy couch."
"Bed's not lumpy." Jack pushed Daniel away from him when he felt the warm air of Daniel's yawn against his neck. "You really can't still be tired?" The man had slept half a day away, yet, with darkened smudges of shadows under his half lidded eyes, he looked as if he was ready to go another round with Mr. Sandman.
Daniel didn't answer, his stomach did. Jack laughed as it growled loudly. "Hungry?"
"More hungry than tired," Daniel agreed.
"Wanna go out for dinner?"
Daniel slowly shook his head. "No."
"No? I could show you the sights."
"Sights? The only sight you'll probably be guaranteed is an archeologist falling asleep face first in his soup." Daniel yawned then blinked rapidly at Jack. "Been there done that, and take it from me, it's not pretty."
"Okay, I have a plethora of menus, what would you like? Chinese? Italian? Greek?"
"Grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches."
Jack's eyebrows took flight. "Cheese and tomato sandwiches?" He smiled and kissed him again. "You are such a cheap date."
"No, I'm not. I want the deluxe platter with chips and pickles."
"Chips are a bit soggy, though the bread's fresh and so are the tomatoes."
* * *
Cheese and tomato sandwiches were a learned comfort food. Learned from Jack long ago when both he and Daniel were a little less hardened and a lot more innocent. Two plates were on the counter filled with chips and pickles, the coffee maker was going and the Sara Lee Dutch Apple Crumb pie was warming in the oven. Jack smacked Daniel's hand with the spatula when he tried to steal a chip. "Go sit."
Daniel rested his chin in the hollow of Jack's shoulder. "Don't want to sit. " 'Fraid if I do, I'll snooze."
"Okay, you can stay. Just behave yourself," Jack warned, enjoying Daniel's presence. The body pressed against him. The warm puffs of breath on his neck. The annoying pressure of the point of Daniel's chin digging into that sensitive part of Jack's body. All good.
* * *
Daniel ate two sandwiches, drank a glass of milk, skipped the pickles, actually giving them to Jack in exchange for his share of chips, devoured a nice sized piece of apple pie and for the first time, Jack didn't even blink an eye at Daniel's coffee consumption. Carolyn hadn't said *not* for him to drink coffee. And coffee had caffeine which could/would/should keep Daniel awake. They talked about nothing in particular, Daniel holding his own and remaining upright and awake the entire time.
* * *
"I need a shower."
"A bath?" Jack volunteered. "I'm not sure about that because I have a visual of you showering, passing out and hitting your head on the tiles."
"Really? I'm thinking of bath, falling asleep, slipping under the water and drowning. Recovery from concussion is less time consuming than drowning."
"You got a point. How about we shower together?"
Daniel smiled lasciviously as he handed Jack the plates from the table. "So you can catch me when I fall?"
* * *
For someone who had spent the better part of the day sleeping, eating or looking exhausted, Daniel was doing a damn good job keeping certain parts of Jack's body up. Jack's hands easily traveled up Daniel's soapy torso and wound around his ass. "Still awake?"
"Take me to bed and I'll show you just how awake."
* * *
Daniel was true to his word. Jack got a mind numbing, toe curling, think-I've-died-and- gone-to-heaven blow job.
Daniel hooked his right leg over Jack's, flung his right arm over Jack's stomach then slid his body over. "I sorta like this staying awake."
"Pretty novel, isn't it? You should do it more often."
* * *
Jack dragged the blanket up and over their naked bodies. Daniel mumbled his appreciation and grabbed the majority of the blanket. "Hey!"
Daniel draped his whole body and the blanket over Jack. "You were saying something?"
He gave Daniel a quick peck on the lips. "Me? Saying anything? Not at all."
"Oh, for a second I thought you were complaining."
* * *
Jack stared at the ceiling. The only thing worth complaining about was the fact that the conversation had lasted another two seconds before Daniel's body became dead, very heavy weight on him. "Love you," he sighed, gently rolling Daniel off. He did have to admit with a nod of satisfaction that Daniel had managed to stay awake almost seven hours. Carolyn would be proud and what would make her even prouder was that Daniel was not sleeping the sleep of a man bitten by the tsetse fly. This was true Daniel-sleep. Hogging the covers, mumbling in his sleep, so smashed up against Jack that in actuality his additional body heat didn't require Jack to *need* the blanket. He couldn't help but give himself a mental high five. All Daniel had needed was a home cooked meal, a shower, and Jack and he was on the road to recovery.
* * *
"Damn it." Once again, Jack woke up to an empty bed. He rolled over and checked the clock. Daniel may have been awake for seven hours, but he'd only slept for two. "Worse than a baby," Jack grumbled, throwing on a pair of sweats.
He found Daniel uncomfortably curled up on the recliner, hugging a couch pillow, the afghan haphazardly thrown over him.
"This cannot be comfortable."
Drowsily, Daniel opened his eyes and blinked at Jack. "I keep waking myself up." Daniel rubbed his eyes, then pulled the blanket up to his shoulders.
"Waking yourself up?"
"Snoring. Moving around. I'm usually sleeping like I'm—"
* * *
Jack tucked Daniel into the bed, finally convincing him that he was going to have to relearn how to be comfortable once again with *normal* REM sleep, and what better place to be comfortable, but in bed. With him.
Daniel kept them up half the night tossing and turning, talking in his sleep, scowling and fighting against nightmares until daylight crept through the blinds at which time, Daniel crossed over into the souvenir sleep Vala had left behind.
* * *
Jack overslept and raised his body over Daniel’s, blinking in unabashed amazement at the digital readout on the bedside alarm clock. Early afternoon. Fourteen thirty to be exact; therefore, oversleeping was the understatement of the century. Daniel was doing the sleep of the dead at the moment so there wasn’t a chance in hell that Jack was going to be able to wake the guy up.
"Narcoleptic," Jack growled as he crawled over Daniel's body then headed straight towards the bathroom to shower and brush his teeth. Maybe sandblasting his mouth would be a better idea as he blearily eyed his haggard face in the mirror.
Daniel rolled out of bed ninety minutes later, bypassed the pot of coffee Jack had put on, ignored Jack's sarcastic "morning" and opened the fridge, snagged a bottle of water, then drank half of it before coming up for air and slamming the door shut with his hip.
Silently, Jack watched as Daniel opened the cabinet, withdrew a box of cereal, leaned against the counter and downed three handfuls of sugar frosted Cheerios while washing them down with the remainder of the bottle of water. He waited until Daniel had stepped out of the kitchen before he went after him, shouldered past him and blocked the hallway. "Going somewhere?"
Lethargically, Daniel lifted a head that appeared to be too heavy. "I need to sleep."
Jack chuckled. "You don't."
Daniel listed sideways and leaned his shoulder and head against the wall. "I do," he whispered. "Please." He extended a lazy hand towards Jack. "I'm almost there."
Jack grabbed his hand. "Almost to the bedroom?"
Daniel smiled slowly as he squeezed Jack's hand. "Yeah, that too."
"Daniel?" Jack drawled the name. "Something you want to share?"
"I need to pee?"
* * *
Jack spent a good portion of the afternoon drifting in and out of the bedroom. He was a patient man, but as Daniel lay stretched out across the mattress, face buried in Jack's pillow, he could feel his patience wearing thin from this coma-like sleep.
He was still lifeless and fairly warm when Jack tried to rouse him for dinner. Jack picked at his dinner, threw more than half of it away, then began to obsessively check and recheck Daniel for fever which, based up his years of experience, settled around low grade somewhere around nineteen hundred hours. Okay, that was a rough estimate, considering he was using the back of his hand because short of sticking a rectal thermometer up Daniel's ass, his hand was going to be as accurate a reading as they were going to get.
Jack drew the blankets tightly around Daniel's shoulders and tucked them in. "I'll make you a deal," he whispered into the sleeping man's ear, "as long as your fever doesn't go any higher, I won't call Carolyn." He planted a kiss on the warm temple. "Deal?"
* * *
It was exhausting watching Daniel sleep and Jack was shocked that by twenty three hundred hours, considering how late he actually had gotten out of bed this morning, he found himself untucking the covers, pushing Daniel back to his own side of bed and slipping in under the blankets.
* * *
Jack woke up momentarily when a sweaty body latched itself onto him. Blindly, he reached out and patted the slick face.
"Go sleep, 'ack," Daniel replied, grabbing Jack's hand before it could do any damage.
"Just checkin'," Jack drawled then drifted back to sleep.
* * *
"When did I change?"
"Change. Me? When?"
Jack drew a deep breath. He was home. In bed. That much he could wrap his just-woken brain around. Daniel was with him. In bed. And he was talking. And sweaty. "Give me a minute, 'k?" Quickly, Jack filed all the thoughts in the appropriate order. "You're awake?"
Jack chuckled. "Awake-awake?"
Daniel slipped a slick hand under Jack's shirt. "Probably as awake-awake as you are."
Jack bent his head and kissed Daniel's forehead. "Eww. Sweaty but cool. Feel better?"
"I had a fever?"
"Not even worth calling Lam over. We had a deal."
"Who had a deal?"
"We did. You and me."
Daniel lifted his head up and blinked, confusion written all over his features. "You made a deal with a barely conscious, feverish man?"
"Yeah, you got a problem with that?"
* * *
Even though Daniel was sweaty, smelled disgusting and had draped himself heavily over Jack's torso with his head stuck under his chin and errant pieces of short, slick hair sticking against his chin, Jack could feel himself begin to drift back off into slumber. Sappily enough, this was a little bit of heaven on good old mother Earth.
"You never answered my question."
"You asked a question? When?"
Jack was going to ask 'before when' but that would just prolong this inane question and answer period and find that comfortable place again. "I may have missed the question. Would you care to repeat it?"
Daniel sighed and Jack could just picture the eye rolling exasperation. "When did I change?"
Jack hated middle of the night loaded questions. Those were much better in broad daylight or dim lighting over a six pack of beer. "Change? Would it be possible to be a tad more specific? Long hair/short hair change? Bulk versus skinny geek change? You having sex with your commanding officer change? Me going to Washington—you can stop me when you—"
"When did I start to discount other people's opinions?"
"How long have I known you? Ten years... you've always discounted mine. That's not a change."
"Not true. I always listened to you, *then* discounted your opinion."
"Thanks for clarifying that." Daniel's fingers under Jack's shirt were starting to become a distraction.
"On the Prometheus, I told Vala to shut up."
Daniel flopped onto his back, removing his wonderfully distracting fingers from under Jack's tee. "And? And? Shut up? Do you remember when you—"
"I remember," Jack said gruffly.
"Me, too. And I recall how I felt and how I—I said the same thing to Vala. When she was screaming my name, tied to the stake, with the fire..." Daniel faltered, then cleared his throat. "I promised God and every ruling body up above to not do this. In seconds I swore I would never say another derogatory thing to her if she would just be saved."
"And she was saved."
"And I told her to shut up," Daniel said softly. "She was right, and I didn't listen. And she paid for it with her life."
"Nope. I read Carter's report. Vala is still around in the Ori territory, probably giving them hell. She's probably waiting to give *you* hell when they kick her ass outta there."
"When did I stop listening?"
"Daniel. You cannot say you've changed based on this one incident. Have you become more attuned to the military world? You had no choice. Survival, Daniel, makes strange bedfellows." Jack paused and rolled the statement around in his brain. "Oh, bad analogy."
"You really haven't changed. You're still the same person as the Daniel who saved Shyla, Shifu, and gave your life so a god damned planet would live. You're still you. You're angry at yourself because by not *hearing* Vala, she snatched away your capacity of self-sacrifice to save the galaxy."
"Score one for the general?" Jack said softly.
"Maybe. She gave her life—"
"There was no time, Daniel. No time for discussion. She did what she needed to do."
"No, it should have been—"
"Who? Tell me who it should have been? Carter? Hell, she was in command of the mission, it was her *duty* to go. Teal'c? You? Answer me."
"Maybe there was another way."
"And maybe Vala should never have come to Earth and slapped those bracelets on your wrists. This is the SGC, Daniel. There's no turning back. Oh, don't get me wrong, there're plenty of sorry's, shoulda's, coulda's, woulda's, and second guessing oneself. But you're flying by the seat of your pants. Sometimes it works and sometimes it works and lives are still lost. And sometimes lives really aren't lost, they're just displaced. Or misplaced. So, when you *see* Vala again, just make sure to tell her you're sorry."
"Okay," Daniel said softly. "I can do that."
"Good." Jack yawned.
"I'm not really tired."
"Really?" Jack's eyes widened as Daniel's fingers once again worked they way under his shirt.
Yeah, maybe Daniel was going to tell her he was "sorry" when he saw her. Jack, on the other hand, was going to sweep that woman off her feet and thank her for keeping Daniel in this universe with the bracelets and her bravery.
Thank you to Jmas for always believing.
Thank you jo for the pillows in the corner, for understanding and for always going above and beyond the call of duty.
This fic first appeared in AncientsGate's ezine Devotion and has since timed out. If you want to see more of Jmas' ezines, here's her link:
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