Sunrises in Minnesotaby devra
Well, you could knock me over with a feather. I travel the universe and sometimes little things still surprise me, like the fact Daniel's a chicken. The man who doesn't have a healthy fear of staff weapons, Jaffa, Goa'uld, the NID, Kinsey, Hammond or even me, is apparently terrified of people in white coats sporting the initials DDS after their name. I've never known that, after all these years, and it's sort of an interesting facet of his personality to watch the man visibly quake as I drive him to his appointment.
* * *
I hold open the passenger door for him, waving it back in forth. "Contrary to popular belief, a visit to a dentist is much more effective if you get *out* of the car."
Opening his mouth to spout his typical "I'm fine," I give a little "I told you so" nod when Daniel involuntarily clamps his hand to the side of his mouth. Just around the jaw line. Right about where a problem wisdom tooth is playing havoc with his oral nerve endings.
"Hurts like a sonofabitch, doesn't it?"
"Shut up," he hisses through a barely opened mouth.
"You do know that you're a little old to have wisdom tooth problems."
Awkwardly, Daniel unbuckles his seat belt with his left hand, keeping his right hand clamped to his face. "Thanks for the lift," he mumbles as he slides out the seat and pushes past me. "I'll call Sam for a ride home."
I grab his arm and pull him away so I can slam the car door. "No way. I promised Fraiser I would see you door to door. So think of this as a way of protecting my ass and not doing you a favor, okay?"
"You're such a good friend," he growls sarcastically.
"Thanks," I state, looping my arm around his shoulder, gently guiding him in the direction of the main entrance.
* * *
Daniel's pacing is ruining my concentration as I'm trying to read a six month old Sports Illustrated. "Sit down, Daniel." In frustration, I close the magazine.
"If the dentist is busy, I can make another appointment."
"He's a doctor, they're always busy."
"And I sympathize. Doctor here also, and I'm always busy. Too busy for this." He checks his watch.
"Being too busy almost killed you when your appendix burst."
"I'm not going to die from an impacted wisdom tooth."
"I'm not so sure about that. When you're in pain, *you're* a pain in the ass and I may have no choice but to kill you due to the annoyance factor. So by degrees of separation you might well die from an impacted wisdom tooth."
"You're not funny."
"I wasn't trying to be funny. I was just warning you." I flash Daniel a quick smile, pick up the magazine and flip through the pages, trying to find the article I was reading.
Daniel rewards me with a two-second glare then goes back to his pacing. Admittedly, all his nervousness and jittery energy isn't from fear alone, but also from his lack of caffeine and sustenance since twenty hundred hours yesterday per the oral surgeon's instructions.
Behind the ruse of article reading, I steal a glance up at Daniel as he makes a circuit past my chair. I'm not sure if it's the fluorescent lighting in the waiting room or the fact that I know exactly where it should be, but I can pinpoint the soft blurred lines of the bruise on the jaw line caused by the butt end of a staff weapon that had been the culmination of a really bad day on our last mission and the beginning of Daniel's dental woes.
"I don't know what you're so upset about, it could've been worse." I think I sound supportive, putting things in perspective for Daniel, who doesn't seem to process my good intentions that way.
He comes to a screeching halt, eyes wide as he stares me down. "Worse?" Daniel's voice has this incredulous, whispery, high-pitched tinge to it as if the thought hadn't even occurred to him. "How could it have been worse? Janet's refusing to allow me to—she's being really stubborn about this. Unwilling to accept that I'm okay and that it's just a toothache. I've had enough x-rays to glow in the dark. I haven't had a cup of coffee. I have a headache. The doctor is late. My wisdom tooth, which had been living very quietly in my mouth up until a week ago, bore the brunt of someone's anger 'cause I couldn't shut up. You're being a total ass and I'm here in this office *waiting* to go under the knife. Explain to me how *worse* fits into this scenario?"
Crooking my finger at him, he hesitates then gets the idea and bends down to listen. "The big bad man could have used the other end of his stick on you, and then you wouldn't be worrying about dentists… or anything else, for that matter."
He puffs up then deflates, plopping down in the chair to my left.
"Here, have a magazine. Try to take your mind off of—"
"Dr. Jackson?" The nurse is standing there, holding Daniel's chart, a big, inviting smile on her face.
"Do you want me to come with you and hold your hand?"
* * *
Okay, now it's my turn to pace. I was okay passing my time with the magazines. I did the Sports Illustrated. Today's Fisherman… even skimmed PC World. I laughed at a few jokes in Reader's Digest, but I drew the line at Ladies Home Journal.
People have come and gone through the waiting room, seeing other dentists, but Daniel's gone in and not done the out thing yet. Dr. Steinbach, the SGC's approved DDS had refused to touch Daniel after viewing his x-rays, proclaiming with a sympathetic nod of his head that Daniel needed an oral surgeon, so he had recommended this guy to Fraiser who had done some investigating and given this surgeon her medical thumbs up. Hammond got him clearance then Fraiser stepped in, pulled some strings and got Daniel an immediate appointment. She then moved from empathetic to Napoleonic when Daniel refused. Fighting dirty, she took him off rotation, refusing to allow him 'gate travel until he complied, shoving the papers with her signature in his face. It took Daniel two seconds to make his decision. Fraiser smiled. Daniel cursed. And I looked the other way.
My stomach growls. Loudly. I smile apologetically at the receptionist when she looks up from her computer.
"I'm sure your friend will be done soon. Can I offer you a cup of coffee in the meantime?"
Daniel had spent the night at my house, as a precautionary move just in case he changed his mind about this morning's appointment, and since he hadn't been allowed food or drink, even *I* wasn't that evil to eat in front of him. Coffee would be great, but I can't take the chance of Daniel finishing and finding me in the waiting room with my hands wrapped around a steaming cup of coffee. Heads would roll. Namely mine. "Thanks for the offer, but no. It just wouldn't feel right me enjoying a cup of coffee while he's—"
"I understand. Let me know if you change your mind. Maybe this will help." She disappears from view for a moment, then pops back up, slapping a folded newspaper on the ledge in front of her. "I picked it up for my boyfriend this morning on my way to work. I'm sure he wouldn't mind sharing."
Bless the woman. It's the newest, hot off the presses Hockey News. "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."
* * *
I'm deep into the article discussing the new General Manager of the Islanders when Daniel makes a return appearance. Problem is, I'm engrossed in the story and don't even realize he's standing, glaring at me until he steps on my foot.
"Ow!" I rub the offended area. "Whatcha do that for?"
"I'm thorry. Dith I interuth you?"
I shake me head. "No, I was just passing the time until you were finished."
"I'm finithed." Daniel's tongue blindly searches for a teardrop of saliva hanging onto the corner of his mouth for dear life.
Rather unsteadily, he turns and heads off towards the receptionist, with me following closely behind. She hands him a card. "This is for your next appointment. Dr. Thorenson wants you back in three days to check you."
I intercept the card and slip it into my pocket, ignoring Daniel's hrmpf of protest.
"The doctor spoke to you about the do's and don't's?"
Slowly, Daniel nods.
"Here's your prescriptions." She slides the two pieces of paper along the counter, both of which I also take for safekeeping. "One's for pain. One's for antibiotics," she explains to me. She makes a big red circle around a paragraph at the bottom of a sheet of paper. "Here's the list of instructions and I've circled both the office number and the emergency number. One thing Dr. Thorenson stresses is to please contact him should Dr. Jackson run a fever over a hundred degrees."
I exchange the Hockey News for the numbered list. "Thank you so much." I fold the doctor's information and stick it in the pocket with the prescriptions, tapping it for good measure. "See ya in three days."
* * *
I pull into the parking lot and turn off the truck. "I'm going to fill the prescriptions. Want to come in?"
"No," he whispers. "I'll sthay in the—here." He pats the console. "Sthay here."
Daniel's as white as a sheet and I'm not sure if leaving him here alone is a good idea. But the thought of dragging his ass into the store seems to be the worst of the two evils. "Are you okay?"
His eyebrows answer the question.
"Stupid question, sorry."
"Yeth, it wath." Unbuckling his seat belt, he slides down in the seat. "Juth go. Geth me thome ith cream. Coffee. Tharbuckth. A big conthainer. Noth the poths." Daniel dismisses me with a wave of his hand just before he closes his eyes.
* * *
I flirt with the older woman behind the pharmacy counter who now promises the drugs in fifteen minutes compared to the thirty she first pronounced when I handed her Daniel's prescriptions. Fifteen minutes gives me more than enough time to go into the grocery store right next to the drug store in this strip mall. Glancing towards the truck, I stop and weave back and forth on the sidewalk, trying to and finally succeeding in seeing Daniel's outline through the passenger window. One can never be too sure with Daniel that he stays put, but for now, he's safe and exactly where I left him.
Unfolding the list of instruction from the doctor, I scan down towards acceptable food items, nodding my head. I buy ice cream. Pudding. Whipped cream. I add a dozen fresh eggs for good measure. Topping it off with some milk. Yogurt. Fraiser will be happy that at least Daniel's getting his calcium quota for the year.
* * *
We drive to my house in silence. Daniel's out of the truck the second I put the gearshift into park, waiting impatiently by the front door as I ungracefully maneuver up the walk, trying not to drop any of the bags. He offers his help by way of plucking the dangling keys from my fingers and shoving the key into the lock, pushing open the door then leaving me standing on the step with my arms still filled with brown bags. It seems chivalry is dead when one needs a pain pill.
* * *
Daniel's on the recliner, the lines of pain have eased a bit and he's fighting to stay awake. Bless the doctor for strong relief because twenty minutes after taking the pill, he's feeling no pain at all.
He turns to me and gives me a lopsided smile. "Hmmmm?"
"The bed in the spare room is still made up from last night, why don't you go lie down there?"
His one-sided smile deepens; he nods, but doesn't move.
"Just so Fraiser doesn't kill me, and you come away from this unscathed besides just missing teeth, how about I help you reach your destination?"
* * *
Daniel's sleeping. This has got to be at least the thirtieth time I've checked in thirty minutes. But I'm really not mother henning. Nope, I'm just making sure that there's no blood on the pillow or around his mouth as per the doctor's instruction sheet. Because that's warning sign number four—excessive bleeding. The list doesn't mention excessive drooling, which Daniel is definitely doing, a small rivulet of saliva is running down the side of his face, soaking the pillow under his head. At least Daniel doesn't appear to be in pain and he's still sleeping, so I slowly back out of the room and make a promise *not* to check on him again for at least another twenty minutes.
* * *
I swear, I was gone for less than twenty minutes. I went to bundle up the newspapers for tomorrow's recycling and bring them to the curb when I got ambushed by sweet, I-haven't-seen-you- for-ages, eighty year old Mrs. Hannon, who needed me to tie up her year's worth of papers and drag them to the curb. Okay, I'll admit, maybe I was gone thirty minutes. Thirty-five tops, but Daniel *had* been sleeping.
Now Daniel's up, swaying by the sink, holding onto the counter for support while he tentatively sips a glass of something. "Daniel?"
He salutes me with the glass before sipping some more. The smoothed out pain lines from sleep are gone, replaced by cavernous creases around his eyes and the corner of his mouth, coupled with a swollen jaw and cheek and bruised lips.
"Weren't you just sleeping?" I accuse.
"Thwobbing." Tentatively, he reaches out and touches the puffy skin.
"Want a Tylenol?"
Daniel places the glass in the sink, slowly shaking his head.
"Tylenol might take the edge off. Advil? Motrin."
"Thook one?" I echo.
"What are you saying?"
Picking up the bottle of prescription painkillers, Daniel waves it in front of my face. "Thook one," he hisses adamantly, using his shoulder to catch the drool sliding down his chin. "Thook one."
"Ahhh. You took one already."
"Thath wath I thed."
"Sure ya did."
Frustrated, he tosses the bottle onto the counter, where it rolls and takes out the bottle of Tylenol and antibiotics.
"I thook a pill."
"I know, I gave you one." I check my watch for confirmation. "A little over an hour ago."
Daniel blinks at me. "No. Juth now. Thook a pill juth now."
* * *
No way am I allowing Daniel to lie down, so he's sitting in the recliner giving me the evil eye every time I kick him when he starts to drift off. With two elephant sized painkillers barely an hour apart in his system, I won't have to worry about calling the dentist for bleeding, instead I'll be dialing 911 to resuscitate him.
"This is your own fault, you know."
"Want some coffee?" Caffeine might help, though I'm not even sure I can leave him alone to run into the kitchen and flip on the coffee maker.
"I wanth to theelp."
Daniel slaps his two palms together and mimics resting his head on his hands.
"Ahh." I finally connect the dots. "You want to sleep?"
Lethargically, Daniel nods.
I wink. "No."
He huffs, sending a shower of drool flying, then begins to hum. An annoying sound like an errant fly buzzing around the room. I ignore him, flicking on the TV and making the volume a bit louder, only to have Daniel's humming increase, as well.
"Okay, you win." I turn off the TV.
"Hey!" Daniel points to the TV. "I wath wathing thath."
"I bet." Daniel's eyes are crossing in the middle and at this moment, I'm not even sure if *he's* sure where the TV is.
Daniel pouts. An honest-to-god preschooler pout complete with furrowed brows, and don't-you-feel bad for me eyes.
"How old are you, Daniel?"
He begins to count on his fingers while I sit back, more than a bit amused as the doctor makes a futile attempt to count past twenty. After the third try, he giggles. Not a chuckle. A giggle. A high pitched, oh-if-he-remembers-this-I'll-tease-him-until-his-dying-or–ascended-day, giggle.
Oh, boy, the drugs have slammed into his system and it's gonna be a wild ride.
I laugh. A hearty chuckle. Not laughing with him. No siree. I'm laughing right at him. The laughter bubbling up in my chest is at the ridiculous picture Daniel is portraying. He's giggling even harder, shoulders up to his ears, bobbing with each laugh. Daniel's bonelessly relaxed.
He presses his finger to his lips and shushes me. "I've goth a thecret, you know?"
Daniel nods. "Yup. A thecret." He looks over his shoulder to make sure the whole SGC isn't in my living room.
"A secret? Really?" This is fun.
"A thecret, thath whath I thaid."
He taps his lips, contemplating my request. "Then it wouthn't be a thecret. Woulth it?"
I make a little cross over my heart. "I promise I won't tell anyone."
Daniel's eyes are huge behind his glasses. "Are you thithing down?"
I pat the couch to the right of my ass. "Yes, Daniel," I explain slowly. "See. I'm sitting."
"I'm in wuv."
"Twu wuv?" Damn, I just couldn't resist, though I am a bit miffed that my comment soars right over his head. "Who's the lucky person? Carter? Fraiser?" I waggle my eyebrows at him.
Oh, this is getting better. "I bet it's that cute infirmary nurse that always wants you to drop your pants so she can give you that welcome-home needle." I give him an exaggerated wink. "See, you tell me you're working, but I'm betting it's you and—"
"Nope." Daniel slurps up some drool, then settles on the hem of his tee to mop up the rest.
"Well, then who?"
Confused, Daniel owlishly blinks at me as if he's forgotten what we're talking about. I sigh. "Secret. Sharing?" I offer a roll of my hand. "Any of this sounding familiar? You were going to tell me who you love."
"No. You. Thack O'Neill." And he smiles at me, in a manner, even though one cheek resembles a chipmunk's, that I can only describe as downright sexy, inviting and lascivious. The smile slowly fades at my lack of response. "Ith there a problem?"
I try to get my mouth to shut, but it's unresponsive, so I go for the simple act of shaking my head no.
"You won'th thell anyone my thecret?"
"No, I promise I'll carry it to my—"
"Dith I menthion you have a thexy atth?"
This is one of those moments where it takes a second or two to actually process the words. "Oh," I manage when Daniel's sentence sinks in. "You think my ass is sexy?"
Enthusiastically, his head bobs up and down. "Damn thraight. Do you think mine ith thexy?"
I give an audible gulp. "Think your *what* is sexy?"
"I really haven't—"
"Ith okay, I—" His face contorts mid word and he holds his swollen cheek as he yawns, then winks at me. "I'm gonna go to thleep now."
"There's no sleeping just yet, buddy. It's way too early for bedtime." I grab the remote and flick to the History Channel. "Look, you can't go to sleep. Check this out, the History Channel is playing Footwear through the Ages, you can't sleep through that." I toss the remote to the farthest end of the couch and clap my hands to draw his attention. "Daniel, do you think—" I stop and look. The SOB is *really* sleeping; passed out might be a more apropos analogy. "Daniel," I try in a louder tone. Using my foot I nudge his shin, but in response he mumbles something about klaxons, alarm clocks, leather sandals and slaps my foot aside with his knee.
Eventually, his head tilts to the side and his mouth opens and I sit, concentrating on the stream of drool dripping from the corner and staining his tee. I shake my head and warn him, "You're gonna have a hell of a stiff neck if you sleep like that."
I get up and cover him with the afghan. He's going to wake up stiff and sore with a drool spot on his shoulder. My comment isn't going to do him any good. He's so deep in a drug-induced slumber that even getting him to wake for a platoon of Jaffa would be questionable, so I guess now it's safe to share my secret. This is a perfect time to share and share alike, cause Daniel's never going to remember an iota of this afternoon.
"Ya got a very sexy ass, Daniel." He doesn't hear me, but I heard him. Loud and clear. And that's okay, because the time's not right to really let our guard down. Not yet, anyway. Maybe in the near future. Someday, when we're older and retired, and waking up to sunrises in Minnesota, I'll tell him how much I love him.
This fic was written in response to a challenge on the Ancient Obsession list to write a fic about "Daniel's Secret". As always, a big thank you to my beta extraordinaire, jo, who helped me mangle the English language, though any and all mistakes are mine.
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