A Coming Stormby devra and JoaG Note: This story first appeared in Annie's zine Pretense 6
The slight sound of falling pebbles announced the approach of one of Daniel's team mates as he or she made their careful way along the ravine to the dig site situated just beyond. He listened closely, straightening up from his hunched position and stretching his painfully cramped muscles. Removing his glasses, Daniel absently wiped the sweat dripping down his nose with the back of one mud-encrusted hand. Other than the occasional dislodged rock, there was no sound of footsteps. Daniel deduced immediately that this time it was Teal'c who had been sent to drag him back to camp. Yep, Jack was pissed.
He sighed as he squinted in the now dimming light at the remaining work needing to be done; they were scheduled to leave this planet late tomorrow afternoon, giving him very little time to finish up. He had had to rush the excavation, something that he had been critical at times of other archaeologists in their zeal to locate unknown treasures from a variety of digs on Earth. But in this case it was a necessary evil. He'd been working feverishly trying to find the secret chambers that he knew had to be here, but hadn't yet had any luck, and time was ticking down.
Heavy storms were forecast within the next twenty-four hours, and if the site continued to reveal nothing of importance, he'd have to abandon it to the mercy of the weather. It might be months before another SG team would be sent to this particular planet, if at all.
He watched as Teal'c's dark bulk threaded its way through the shadow of the trees while Daniel automatically stored his tools away. Jack had been around earlier this evening, essentially ordering him back to camp and supper. Daniel had argued with him once again, trying to make his ill-tempered lover understand that he didn't have the luxury of taking a break. They'd fought over the inordinate amount of work Daniel had put in, which began at the break of dawn until he dragged himself to his bedroll when it was too dark to see.
Daniel loved Jack with all his body and heart, but when Jack pulled the military commander on him, refusing to listen to Daniel's side of the story, Daniel usually dug in and obstinately did the opposite of what he was told. That trait had not helped endear him to some of his stricter foster parents as a child; and as an adult, although able to control his stubbornness, it was usually what helped him get through the setbacks in his life.
As Daniel reached behind him for his discarded tee shirt, his hand came into contact with the now cold supper that Sam had brought for him after Jack had left. He looked at it guiltily, realizing that he'd totally forgotten to eat it. He pulled the mud-streaked tee shirt over his filthy body, aching for a hot shower. The dirt where he was working was very fine and clung to his sweat-soaked body like a thin film. He stood up with difficulty, his thigh muscles protesting the change in position, his back and shoulders aching from his earlier activity of moving heavy rocks. He wiped his hands on his pant legs, seeing the dust fly everywhere even in the low light.
"Come to walk me back?" he asked Teal'c as he approached. Daniel slowly bent to pick up his backpack and slung it over one aching shoulder. He uncapped his canteen, taking a few swallows of warm water before joining his friend.
"Indeed," Teal'c's deep voice answered pleasantly. "O'Neill is not pleased," he continued a few moments later as Daniel tried not to stagger towards him. The constant muggy heat, little sleep, forgotten meals and hard physical work of the past four days were beginning to take a toll on him. Daniel had been working nearly single-handedly at this site while the others had been busy with other duties. Sam had found a few potential sites for mining several sought-after minerals and she and Teal'c had been busily checking them out.
Daniel and Jack had barely spoken a civil word to each other after their second day here. Jack had accused Daniel of working too hard, and Daniel had accused Jack of not wanting to get down and dirty hauling rocks. He wondered if the inscriptions at the site had hinted at a deposit of weapons rather than a collection of ancient manuscripts, whether Jack would have been more willing to lend a hand. Daniel had hoped he'd found a library of sorts, but he was beginning to think that the place had been destroyed years ago. He'd been making absolutely no headway towards finding any promising signs of a treasure of any kind except for vague references to hidden chambers.
As he forced his tired legs to make their way through the now dark woods, his Maglite illuminating the way ahead of him, he knew that he was being unfair to Jack. There had been signs of a large predator and Jack had spent much of his time making sure it didn't bother them. It wasn't nocturnal, which was why Daniel was left alone in the evenings, much to his delight and dismay. He'd rather have had Jack's company, albeit silent and moody, than having his love sulking away at camp.
Daniel lurched into a tree as he lost his footing, tired muscles unable to keep him upright. He hit his shoulder hard and swore as he rubbed at the aching joint. Probably would have a bruise there in the morning.
"Are you well?" Teal'c asked from ahead of him. He stopped and shone his light back towards Daniel.
"I'm fine," Daniel answered, his shaking legs trying to make a liar out of him. He could see the campfire through the trees, and knew they were almost there. He pushed his exhausted body onwards and went directly to his bedroll. Trying to make it look like a controlled squat, Daniel was surprised when his legs buckled beneath him and he sat down a little harder and faster than expected. He pushed his pack behind him in a jerky movement, and reached for his canteen once more. He swallowed the last few sips, too tired to get up and refill it at the stream, his thirst still unquenched.
Glancing up at Jack, he could see his lover's face watching him sternly across the campfire. By the set of his mouth, Daniel could tell that Jack was angry. He sighed; he was just too tired to deal with Jack. He lay back against his sleeping bag, trying to relieve his throbbing muscles. He'd get up in a moment, fill his canteen... wash up...
He was asleep in seconds.
The hard ground wasn't conducive to a restful sleep, no matter how tired and exhausted Daniel's body was. The unforgiving earth was no match for abused muscles and sore shoulders and back, and their protests woke Daniel within a few hours. It was close to midnight, the numbers on his watch revealed, and Daniel rose as quickly, or as slowly, as his aching body would allow. He stiffly made his way over to the figure sitting by the campfire.
"Jack," he stated succinctly, prompting the older man to pull his attention away from the glowing embers.
Jack sighed heavily. "Go back to sleep."
"It's my turn for watch... go to bed. I'll take second watch," he offered as he poured a cup of coffee from the ever-present dented pot. Daniel swallowed the hot liquid, grimacing at the bitter taste, feeling it land heavily in his empty stomach. In retribution, Daniel's stomach growled loudly, announcing its need for food as opposed to liquid nourishment.
Jack picked up a stick and prodded the glowing embers, never lifting his eyes towards the man standing in front of him. "Why do you do this to yourself?"
Jack poked the fire hard enough to cause sparks to fly into the midst of the trees. "This... working to exhaustion, hardly able to think or walk straight. Barely eating…" Jack threw the stick into the fire, standing to face Daniel.
Confusion reigned over Daniel's face. "It's my job, Jack. The reason why the military pays me, the reason the SGC keeps me around. I'm an archaeologist... and an anthropologist. I study…"
"What a load of bull! Answer me this. Do you believe the artifacts you're losing sleep over are gonna help us in our battle against the Goa'uld? Save lives …"
"Who the hell knows!" Daniel exclaimed, squaring his shoulders. As he took two steps forward, his annoyance began to match Jack's. "I may be …"
"Just go back to bed," Jack said, dismissing Daniel with a wave of his hand.
Daniel made a show of checking his watch, tapping its face for emphasis. "I may not be able to complete my archaeological duties in the limited timeframe allotted, but I'm not shirking my responsibilities as a member of SG-1."
"You can barely keep your eyes open. No way am I allowing you to take watch."
"Allowing me? Allowing me?" Daniel's voice rose in pitch as he stared at Jack in stupefaction. "Why am I even on the team? Answer me that, Colonel. Why? In your opinion, it's not for my archaeological capabilities," he snorted in contempt. "And it's not for my military strengths, obviously." Daniel tossed the remainder of his coffee into the fire, eyes following the rising steam.
Jack shook his head. "I'm not even going to justify that with an answer. Go to bed... go to sleep."
"… Get outta your face, Jack? If you kick me off the team... you've kicked me out of your bed? Not willing to sacrifice one for another. Want me in your bed exclusively... barefoot and... and... and... pregnant?"
Furtively, glancing around the camp, Jack hissed, "Keep your voice down, will ya?"
Daniel placed the cup gently on the ground, his movements exaggerated by stiff muscles and angry comments. Smiling sadly, he offered no words of explanation to Jack before he straightened carefully and walked into the moonlit woods.
Glad that Jack knew him well enough to honor his need for solitude, still Daniel felt Jack's eyes boring into his back as he made his way into the thickly wooded area. He mentally calculated how long before Jack would feel the need to hunt him down and finish what they... what he had started. Damn, he was tired and hungry. Walking was an effort, putting one foot in front of the other taking all his concentration. He stopped and leaned against the nearest tree, rubbing his palm across his forehead. He chalked the blossoming headache up to lack of nourishment and dehydration, as well as his own stupidity. He pushed off the tree and stepped around the protruding roots, the need to apologize to Jack his last thought before pain and darkness enveloped him.
Knowing Daniel's need for solitude, Jack reluctantly watched his lover depart, biting back words that weighed heavily in his heart. He noted the time on his watch, mentally giving his lover twenty minutes before going after him.
He sat back down heavily, keeping half an eye in the direction Daniel had gone. Before the allotted time had elapsed, Jack found himself impatiently shaking Carter awake for her watch and heading out after his moody archaeologist.
Jack walked in the general area he thought Daniel had taken. The moons shining through the leaves shed enough light to show him the trail leading to the ruins, but not enough to make out the roots trying to trip him up.
Fortuitous timing or mental intuition, he never knew exactly what caused him to turn his eyes downward at that particular moment. Jack furrowed his brow as his attention was drawn to the broken branches scattered around his feet. He pushed the debris aside with the toe of his boot, then called Daniel's name in a panic when the movement revealed the glint of broken glass. He knew they were Daniel's glasses, but he needed actual tactile confirmation that his lover had passed this way. As he bent down, Jack's balance was compromised and he grabbed a tree for support when his foot began to slip into a crevice, partially hidden by the underbrush.
Holding on to a branch, he pulled his foot back from the muddy soil and onto solid ground. He peered carefully into the ravine, seeing a dark form lying on a ledge several feet below him. He pulled out his Maglite and pointed it down, confirming that it was Daniel lying there.
"Daniel!" Jack called out once more. He was relieved to hear a groan, and saw his archaeologist begin to stir. "Stop! Don't move!" he yelled, instinctively leaning forward to prevent the man from rolling off the narrow outcropping.
"Yeah, big guy. Stay still, okay?"
"Where am I?" Daniel lifted his head, squinting up into the light.
"On a ledge just a few feet below me. Just lie still. I'm calling Carter and Teal'c. They'll be here in a few minutes."
Keeping his eyes trained on Daniel below him, he let go of the tree to grab his radio and key the mic.
"Carter," Jack said as he watched Daniel push himself shakily into a seated position, leaning against the stone wall for support. As he waited for her to respond to his call, Jack felt his foot slip in the muck once more. Jack teetered on the edge, pinwheeling his arms in an attempt to retain his balance. Losing his battle to the pull of gravity, Jack felt the loose scree and mud give way beneath his feet as he began his untimely descent towards Daniel.
Yelling a warning to the man below, Jack felt his body first make contact with Daniel and continue on down as the ledge collapsed beneath their combined weight. The sharp scrape of rocks grabbed and tore his outer garments as he made futile gestures to stop his plunge by digging his feet into the shale.
The warmth of the body under his, in direct contrast to the surrounding dampness, was enough to pull Jack through the varying levels of unconsciousness.
With a low moan of discomfort, he rolled his sore and bruised body away from Daniel. His breath hitched at the usual, though extremely intensified, pain in his right knee. Sliding himself carefully alongside his downed companion, he instinctively checked Daniel's pulse, finding it rapid but strong, his breathing deep and unhindered. Jack patted Daniel's cheek gently, worried when his fingertips came away sticky with the warmth of Daniel's blood. Groping along the ground in their immediate vicinity, he cursed when his search revealed neither his radio nor his Maglite. He apologized to Daniel as he carefully maneuvered the unconscious man's body, giving Jack easier access to search Daniel's pockets. Daniel's radio had been smashed in their fall, but the Maglite was both undamaged and in working order. Jack switched it on, blinking as the bright light reflected off the surrounding walls.
He played the light over his lover's body, swearing as he spotted the blood oozing from a cut on Daniel's temple mixing with the mud splattered over his face. He quickly ran his hands over the familiar form, ignoring the many scrapes as he checked for broken bones. Daniel moaned softly when Jack gently pressed against his ribs and raised his damp shirt, the light revealing massive bruising on his right side. Further inspection revealed multiple bruises all over, but none appeared serious or life-threatening. Jack was concerned over the numerous cuts that Daniel sported from the sharp rocks, accompanied by his overall filthy condition.
Jack tapped Daniel gently on the cheek and called his name softly, smiling when he was rewarded with a grunt of discomfort. "Open those eyes for me... okay?" Daniel flailed his arm, batting Jack's offending hand away from his injuries.
"Easy... easy," Jack whispered, grabbing Daniel's hand, alarmed by his answering whimper of pain. Turning the light so it reflected off the hand he held, Jack apologized when he noticed the swelling around the wrist area. "Crap. Sorry 'bout that."
He placed Daniel's hand across his chest and stood, using the wall for leverage and testing his abused knee's ability to hold his weight. Hopping, using the toe of his right leg for balance, Jack rotated slowly, taking stock of their situation. They had no radio, but he had managed to at least alert Carter before he took a header down the ravine. He shone the light up the steep cliff, noting that there were no handholds or footholds. No plants or vegetation grew along the sheer rock face; nothing that would aid them in climbing back up.
"Carter, Teal'c!" Jack yelled, hoping that they were in the vicinity.
"Not so loud," Daniel grumbled.
"Hey," Jack said as he turned back towards his team mate.
Daniel lifted a hand towards his temple, wincing as he jarred his wrist.
Jack kneeled down, placing a restraining hand on Daniel's injured limb and replaced it back against Daniel's chest. "Daniel… careful..."
"Sir?" Carter's voice echoed within the confines of their prison.
Jack carded a hand through Daniel's dirt-streaked hair, offering words of comfort before he drew a breath, straightened awkwardly, and turned to address the remainder of SG-1, who were fast approaching the edge of the ravine.
"Don't get too close!" he yelled up at them. He heard them slow their pace and saw their lights as they illuminated the edge of the ravine.
"Are you okay, sir?"
"Carter... the ground up there is far from safe. So I'm going to make this fast and you're just going to listen. I'm okay... but Daniel's hurt."
"I'm fine, Jack."
Jack silenced Daniel with a wave of his hand, scowling at the man who was pulling his knees under him while trying to balance himself with his good hand against the hard-packed soil.
"Sir …" Carter's voice floated from above and Jack was able to see by the beam of the Maglite that she was closer to the precipice than before.
"Carter... damn it... don't come any closer!" Jack had no time to deal with either of his team mates who were refusing to obey orders. "Daniel... stay put. Carter... just listen. Send down some supplies," he said, the unspoken 'hurry' sitting between Jack and his 2IC. Jack's mental calculation of the eighteen hour trek in each direction to and from the gate didn't sit well... with either the constant ache of his knee or the condition of Daniel's wrist or ribs... add to that the sickening tilt of the world when he looked up at Carter. Jack felt Daniel lean against him, the weight of his hand on Jack's shoulder almost offsetting the older man's precarious balance.
"Sir, maybe we can pull you up, Teal'c has rope in his pack and..."
"I don't think Daniel would appreciate being hauled up the side of this cliff with possible broken ribs," he snapped as Daniel swayed suddenly against him. "I told you to stay put," he hissed as Daniel grabbed at him, then quickly regretted his words as his lover's knees buckled. He grabbed him by the armpits, gritting his teeth as he took Daniel's weight. He tried to ease their descent to the ground and attempted to stay away from the bruises covering Daniel's body, many of which were caused by Jack's use of Daniel to break his fall down into the ravine.
"O'Neill, I will endeavor to climb down. I shall carry Daniel Jackson to safety," Teal'c offered.
"Have you even looked at the sides of the cliff?" Jack asked, taking his attention away from Daniel for a moment and shining his light up the side of the cliff. Loose rocks and mud made the attempt very dangerous, even if the climber was tied securely. That and a ten foot sheer drop... damn but they were lucky they hadn't broken anything... well, maybe other than Daniel's ribs. He raised Daniel's tee-shirt once more, prodding gently and suspecting that Daniel might also have internal injuries.
Daniel's only reaction as he tried to curl onto himself, holding his ribs carefully, was a hiss that turned quickly into a cough. Jack rubbed his arm and shoulder gently, trying not to aggravate the raw skin and bruises that he knew lay beneath his hand.
"Carter, Teal'c, you're gonna have to go to the SGC and get some help. There's no way Daniel's getting out of here on his own." Daniel slammed his hand into the ground in frustration and Jack realized he'd used his injured limb when he began swearing softly.
"I'll get supplies from camp," Carter said.
Jack heard her hurrying away, and he and Teal'c spent the next thirty minutes looking for a way out. By the time his second had returned, they had established that there was no discernible escape. Not with his bum knee and especially not with Daniel injured.
They lowered the supplies down to him and left, promising to hurry and bring help. Jack sat down heavily, careful not to put weight on his sore knee. It was throbbing painfully and had already swollen to twice its normal size.
He dragged himself closer to Daniel, taking one of the blankets from the pack and placing it beneath the younger man's head. He cleared most of the rocks lying under Daniel's body, but realized that with the extensive bruising, he must be horribly uncomfortable. He rummaged through the pack, finally finding the first aid kit. He popped three Tylenol tablets from the blister pack and helped support Daniel as he swallowed them down.
"Try to sleep," he coaxed as he gently carded a hand through Daniel's sweat-dampened hair.
"You're kidding, right?" Daniel asked through clenched teeth.
Jack could see how each breath he took was painful and shallow, so he slid underneath him and maneuvered them both until his back was against the wall and Daniel was lying against his chest. The position appeared to ease his lover's breathing slightly.
"Thanks," Daniel said as he relaxed in Jack's arms.
Jack awoke with a start, the sudden movement causing the sleeping body in his arms to moan in response. He wound his arms tighter around Daniel as the injured man burrowed deeper into Jack's embrace. In the quiet of the fading night on this alien planet, Jack's hands strayed to Daniel's chest, smiling in satisfaction as the lungs beneath his palms seemed to be functioning better. He kissed the top of the head tucked under his chin, Jack's lips coming away tasting of dirt and grime.
Jack cursed at his stupidity and forgetfulness of the first line of medical defense Fraiser always instilled into all the SGC teams. Cleanliness... disinfecting and bandaging wounds prevents secondary infections. Prohibiting the growth of bacteria saves lives… secondary infections sometimes worse than the actual injuries. It had been hours since their tumble into the ravine and lord knew how many germs were traveling through Daniel's or his bloodstream.
He slid Daniel to the ground and adjusted the blanket around the still slumbering man. There was no need for Daniel to be awake until Jack set up what was needed. He stood cautiously, testing his weight out on his injured knee. He grimaced at the stiffness and forced himself to stifle a moan as Daniel's injuries took precedence over his own. He hobbled around collecting what amounted to a minute amount of firewood and started a fire from the supplies Carter had left him. Jack used the light of the fire and the approaching dawn to visually aid him in setting up the required medical paraphernalia.
Jack eased himself to a sitting position and began the job of awakening his lover. Daniel hadn't moved when Jack checked the sleeping man for fever. Gratefully finding none, Jack slid his hand over Daniel's face until his fingers rested on the pulse point under the jaw line. Counting and measuring the beats on his watch, Jack smiled at the normal strong and steady pulse. Simultaneously, he called out Daniel's name as he tapped Daniel's cheekbone, mindful of the blossoming bruises.
Jack gave a low chuckle as Daniel mumbled something about the "fuckin' sun hasn't risen... let me sleep." The amusement died in his throat as Daniel moaned in pain when he tried to pull away from Jack.
"Careful …" Jack placed a restraining arm on Daniel's shoulder, tsk-ing in sympathy when a mere touch to Daniel's shoulder brought forth a hiss of pain. He pulled back, allowing the younger man to move into a more comfortable position of his own volition. Daniel maneuvered onto his back and exhaled loudly, the puff of air condensing into smoke in the coolness of the dawning day. There was a pause; the only noise was the dry timber popping and cracking in the heat of fire. Jack leaned over him, rubbing a thumb across Daniel's cheek. Daniel moved into the touch, smiling before cautiously opening his eyes. He squinted, making a concerted effort to assess their situation.
"Deluxe accommodations?" Daniel asked, making an effort to right his body.
"Only the best," Jack quipped, moving forward to help Daniel to a sitting position, trying to keep his face neutral as a bolt of pain shot up his injured leg.
Jack knew that Daniel hadn't missed his hesitation and grimace of pain. The younger man shook his head adamantly in protest at Jack's attempt to assist him. Jack waited impatiently for Daniel's stubborn streak to get the better of him and by the time Daniel had scooted his body against the ravine wall, his face was covered in a fine sheen of sweat. "Got it, Jack. I'm just a little sore."
"Jeez, Daniel. Ya think maybe that's the understatement of the year?"
Jack could see Daniel open his mouth to argue, but instead he offered a smile, stating succinctly, "Better than yesterday... umm, last night." Jack knew that statement was akin to Daniel's perfunctory, "I'm fine." He wasn't going to argue; getting Daniel to admit to obvious injuries was worth neither the time nor the effort. Jack placed a pot on for coffee, broke open two MREs and moved to begin medical treatment of his obstinate archaeologist.
Daniel closed his eyes, tipping his head backwards until it rested against the shale wall. He hadn't lied to Jack, he did feel better than last night, his various injuries making themselves known only by a dull ache as opposed to the gut wrenching pain he had experienced when Jack's body slammed into him.
The pounding in his head had settled down, taking with it the overwhelming nausea that had followed Daniel into sleep. He cracked his eyes open to check on Jack's whereabouts, furrowing his brow in concern as he watched his lover hobbling around. Daniel waited until Jack turned before he began to assess his own injuries under cover of the blanket that still covered his body. Inching fingers over his bruised chest, he swallowed his groan of pain as he felt at least one rib move under his probing fingers. Quietly, he shifted body position under his covering, gratified that the only pain he felt in either of his legs was stiffness from bruising and the hard dirt floor of their accommodations.
Flexing the fingers of his right hand, he opened and closed his fist numerous times, a tired smile gracing his dirt-lined face with the simple effort.
In a knee jerk reaction, Daniel flung his head back, stifling a whimper as unmitigated pain flowed through his whole body at his foolhardy attempt to wiggle the fingers of his left hand. The back of his head impacted painfully with the hard rock and for a moment Daniel's vision began to gray out. He chewed on his lower lip, drawing blood, the pain of that ministration forcing Daniel to concentrate on his breathing. In and out, keeping it under control and willing his pounding heart to return to a normal rhythm.
Shifting his right hand, Daniel cradled his injured wrist to his body, prodding the area, manually unbending each furled finger. Daniel closed his eyes against the throbbing that coursed through him from his now pounding head, to his ribs, his arms... down to his legs, which only minutes before had been fine. All of his body parts now seemed to throb in sympathy with his ribs and wrist.
The stomach that had lain dormant began churning at the sight and smell of the heated MRE that Jack shoved under his nose. Not trusting his voice, he pushed the offensive plate away, shaking his head, only to have it replaced moment later by a canteen of water and a power bar. Slowly he snaked his right hand from its position of support, gratefully latching onto the canteen.
Daniel nodded in agreement when Jack reprimanded him regarding the need to drink slowly, but his thirst overcame his normal caution and he took several large gulps. "Hey!" Daniel yelled, making no qualms about hiding his annoyance as Jack took the canteen.
"I know... and I'm sorry," Jack stated as he laid a comforting hand on Daniel's shoulder. "But we gotta ration."
Rationing water, an injured Jack... and Jack apologizing to him felt wrong as memories of his childish tantrum came flooding back to Daniel. "I'm sorry. My fault..." Daniel faltered in his attempt to remember the previous night.
"Our fault... we need to remember to keep our arguments at home, Daniel. They don't belong on missions with us, or with Carter and Teal'c. Both of us should have known better than that."
Daniel hung his head in shame, his silence the answer to Jack's statement. He heard Jack sigh and couldn't help but smile as Jack tapped the unwrapped power bar against his cheek. Without any arguments, Daniel mechanically chewed the unwanted sustenance, followed immediately by two painkillers and a sip of water from the canteen.
Daniel fought the feeling of lethargy that began in conjunction with the rising sun. He could hear Jack's soothing voice as he treated Daniel's injuries, the words indecipherable to his drugged mind. Daniel just took comfort in his lover's presence, all thoughts of guilt that had settled in Daniel's mind beginning to dissipate as the meds pulled him further under their influence. Through hooded eyes Daniel watched Jack as he set a splint on Daniel's injured wrist. Daniel pushed down a burst of laughter, unable to understand how such a swollen and discolored limb wasn't even causing him to grimace in pain... wonder drugs, he surmised. He tried to share his joke with Jack, but his tongue seemed too thick to form words and the effort sapped his remaining strength.
He moaned as Jack's hands ran over his chest, enjoying the coolness of Jack's callused fingers against the heat of the bruises that peppered his skin. He awkwardly moved his body in sync with Jack's comforting ministrations. Callused, yet gentle hands cupped Daniel's cheeks followed by a murmured apology as Jack began to wrap Daniel's ribs.
Daniel tried to snag the stray thoughts that were skimming through his brain, prohibited from taking root by the combination of painkillers and the shot of morphine Jack had given him. Vague ideas and images of an ancient language made a fleeting pass through Daniel's already fuzzy mind before darkness took him.
Daniel and Jack were soaked, their clothes sticking to them like second skins. The rain enhanced their headaches, which were probably concussion-related. The storm front, the reason that Daniel had been shoring up the excavation site, had hit hours before. There was one flash of lightning that had burned through Daniel's closed eyelids, followed by the rolling sound of thunder as it echoed loudly off the walls of the ravine. Daniel and Jack had only seconds to take in the changing environment before the heavens poured down on them. They had forgotten the weather... a mistake that was going to cost them their lives... if Daniel couldn't remember the cryptic messages from his excavation.
Daniel battled the effects of the drugs, cursing their hold on his slowly functioning brain. At this point, he had limited patience for the man who had him in a death grip as they splashed along the soon to be flooded ravine bottom.
The water had, at first, pooled sluggishly in the center of the chasm, but soon became a raging torrent. The edges of the flood began creeping towards them and within a few more hours, would reach the wall where they had been sheltering.
The arguments had begun when they first began their trek to find alternative shelter and Daniel had jerked his body from Jack's grip, sliding against the now slippery walls. He bent painfully, running his uninjured hand along indentations... searching blindly.
Daniel had yelled when Jack forced him upright, trying to make his voice understood and heard over the omnipresent storm. Jack refused to listen to the scattered segments of Daniel's memory regarding a set of underground tunnels that had been represented in the temple. The rain, the walls, their trekking along the sodden ground had become the trigger to the recollection of portions of the temple etchings.
They'd stood and exchanged harsh angry words, mouths moving, limbs gesturing as much as injuries would permit. For a moment Jack had drawn a breath, pausing his tirade, the rain slowed, and Daniel had shouted a plea of "Why the hell can't you just trust me?" Daniel's eyes widened as his spoken words echoed off the walls as the curtain of rain drew itself around them once more. He had been fuming, an overflow from the anger of their last argument. Daniel could feel his breathing deepen painfully, cracked ribs grinding, as he held back hurtful words. He turned and walked away, berating himself as the world twisted, thankful that Jack grabbed his arm before he landed face first in the mud.
Jack whispered in Daniel's ear, and Daniel's heart dropped, not from the words, but from the tone. Resignation, as one would placate a child, not really believing them but agreeing nonetheless. "What exactly are you looking for?"
They were walking in silence, Daniel's anger and the rain precluding conversation. He felt the accident before it happened, the stiffening of Jack's body as his knee give way, his feet sliding sideways, taking out Daniel's precarious balance. Jack cursed, unable to regain his footing, apologizing to Daniel before they landed hard on the mud floor, limbs entangled.
He awoke to Jack's bitten-back groan, a mouth full of mud, and searing pain in his chest. Daniel spit the mud out and tilted his head back, letting the continuous rain wash the muck from his eyes. Shivering, he ran his hand over Jack's body, apologizing profusely as he made contact with the injured knee.
"Damn it, be careful!" Jack's pain-filled voice cut through the rain. "We shoulda just stayed where we were... I never should have…"
Daniel tuned out the rest of the tirade, too tired, too cold, too exhausted, his own body filled with too many aches and pains to listen to Jack. He loved the man lying under his hand, but at the moment he was more concerned with finding some type of shelter than getting into an argument… so he sealed his mouth, bit back words, acquiescing to the argument by his silence.
A blinding flash of lightning lit the walls of their soggy prison; a strobe light effect that burned behind hastily closed lids. Daniel stopped, no longer conscious of the pelting rain, or Jack's voice, or his own discomfort. Instead, he concentrated fully on mentally "seeing" a design etched into the wall to their right. An etching whose twin, he suddenly recalled, was on the temple wall somewhere above them and which had just reflected when the lightning bounced over it.
Daniel swallowed his own protests of pain as he bent to drag Jack to his feet. "On your feet, Colonel …" he growled. He softened the order by following it with a hastily mumbled "Found it, found it, found it," reiterated over Jack's protests of their sudden movement. He didn't even take a moment to apologize as he hauled Jack to the spot, adrenaline powering his movements. Daniel patted Jack's sopping shirt as he leaned him up against the wall, planted a kiss on surprised lips and stepped back after pushing a cuneiform symbol that outlined a hidden doorway. Creaking and protesting against years of being unused, the door slowly opened, revealing a dark, empty-but-dry chamber not ten feet from Daniel's position.
A deafening roaring sound caught their attention and looking back the way they came, they saw a huge wall of water and debris bearing down on them. Daniel didn't have time to follow procedure, to check out the safety of the beckoning room. He grabbed his injured lover and manhandled him into the seductive dryness and safety that waited through the open door.
They found darkness, complete and utter darkness, blacker than the dead of night, along with total silence. The first thought to come to Daniel's mind once the door closed behind them was "sensory deprivation." The sheer absence of light and sound served to make the whole moment between the abrupt onset of quiet and Jack's switching on his Maglite incredibly surreal.
Jack ran the light around the area they entered, void of any exit markings. They'd just gone from one prison to another and Daniel's heart sank at his failure. There was nowhere to go. Jack said nothing as he slowly lowered himself to the ground, keeping his hand on his injured knee as he straightened it out. He opened his arms in invitation and Daniel slid down beside him. His body was enveloped by strong arms before he became wrapped in darkness as Jack switched off the light.
Although they were out of the rain and wind, both were shivering in their sodden clothes. The room they were in felt damp and cool. Daniel couldn't seem to get comfortable; the numbing effects of the pills and morphine he'd been given earlier had worn off long ago. Both were exhausted, and although Jack hadn't said a word, Daniel could feel his pain through the tenseness of his body. Giving up on sleep, he patted his uninjured hand on the ground made muddy from their dripping clothes, searching for the light. He clicked it on and fumbled in the pack until he found and then took out a dose of painkillers for each of them.
A sip of water each did nothing to assuage their thirst. Stupidly, neither had thought to refill their canteen in the downpour... too much water on the other side of the stone door, and not enough on this one.
As he settled down once more in Jack's arms, Daniel thought maybe he'd rest up a bit before seeing if he could open the door again from this end. Hopefully the storm would end in a few hours and the flood would have dissipated. He refused to think what might happen if he couldn't get the door open. Sam and Teal'c would have no way of knowing where they were; they'd probably think they'd been swept away by the flood waters.
Daniel shivered, his involuntary movement causing the muscles around his cracked ribs to protest. Biting back a moan, he twisted around, trying to make himself comfortable. Jack's arm tightened around his shoulder, and he murmured sleepy words of comfort. Daniel plastered himself against Jack, trying to find some heat to absorb into his chilled body, but Jack seemed to be as cold as Daniel was.
From the sound of Jack's deep and rhythmic breathing, Daniel knew that he had fallen asleep. He wished that he could do the same, but the cold and the throbbing of his ribs and wrist were keeping him awake despite the painkiller. He tried to remember if there had been anything in the chamber that he could use for a fire, but quickly dismissed the idea, not knowing if there was enough ventilation for the smoke to escape through.
Not wanting to disturb Jack with his restlessness, Daniel carefully disentangled himself from his lover's arms. He sat up against the wall, trying to figure out where he'd gone wrong.
With a groan, Jack pushed himself into a seated position, being absolutely careful not to jar his throbbing knee.
"Jack?" He heard the worried voice coming from his right. The click of the Maglite was warning enough for him to shut his eyes before the light blinded him, but Daniel had cupped his injured hand in front of the lamp, effectively shielding their sensitive eyes.
He looked around, memory crashing back as he recalled the accident, the storm, the flood and their stumbling into this chamber. He glanced back at the stone wall, seeing what he'd suspected—there were no glyphs on the wall that could be used as a doorknob.
"Don't tell me there's no way out, Daniel," Jack said irritably, not meaning to, but unable to help himself. He'd slept, but he still felt exhausted; his knee was more than happy to let him know that it wasn't pleased with its current condition, his clothes were still damp, and he was cold.
"I checked the door; I can't open it from this side," Daniel confirmed in a soft voice.
Jack swore; their situation kept on going from bad to worse to impossible.
"I guess those damned chicken scratchings of yours didn't mention a way out, huh?"
"I'm sorry, Jack," Daniel said in that same soft voice. "I was so sure I'd found a way to get us out of that storm, I never thought that we might get trapped in here."
"You asked me to trust you, and look where you got us," Jack snapped, regretting the words the instant that they'd left his mouth. He was cold and in pain, but there was no reason to take it out on Daniel. He remembered suddenly that Daniel had also been injured and that he had to be feeling just as bad as Jack. He wanted to get up and pace, but there was no way he could manage to walk on his leg at the moment.
"Daniel, I'm sorry," Jack said quickly as he took in Daniel's slumped shoulders and hanging head. "I shouldn't have said that."
"No, you're right. I did ask you to trust me, I was so sure …" He laughed that self-conscious little chortle that Jack hated as he lifted his head to look at him. "Just like when we first went to Abydos. I assumed I could get you back home, just like I assumed that this place would take us back to safety."
"But you found the seventh symbol on Abydos. It took a little while, but you did it. We'll just rest here for a little longer and then we'll have another look around, okay?"
Daniel nodded, his body language still conveying misery and dejection.
"There must be a way out. It doesn't make sense that they'd make a room without any exits, unless it was a prison of some kind?"
Daniel shook his head. "No. I was positive this was a chamber leading back up to the ruins." He laid his head back against the wall, his eyes closed.
"Hey, what are you doing over there?" Jack asked in a gentle voice. He raised his arm, inviting Daniel to join him. The younger man stared at him a moment, probably trying to gauge his mood. "C'mere," he said, waggling his fingers. He saw Daniel slide himself over to him, his face scrunching up in pain as his ribs must have been jarred by the movement.
Realizing that they should conserve their batteries, Jack took the flashlight from Daniel's unresisting grip and turned it off. He wrapped an arm around Daniel's shoulder and pulled his head down to his chest. He was relieved to see that Daniel's skin didn't feel hot to the touch. Maybe they'd get out of this with simply a few cracked bones and twisted knee. He was feeling a little better now... he wasn't so cold. Actually, he was feeling a little warm.
Daniel dreamed of circles and etchings and hidden meanings. Games and teasers overlapped within his fevered brain as his exhausted body twitched against Jack's arms. "The light!" He bolted upright, patting the surrounding area for the discarded light source. Daniel squinted as the brightness blinded him when Jack shone the beam into his eyes. He grabbed it with his uninjured quaking hand, leaning on Jack's shoulder, his feet finding purchase on the now slippery and wet dirt floor he stood on. He pulled Jack with him, wrapping his arm around Jack's waist, forcing the man to accompany him as he made his way back to the chamber's entrance, counting and stepping forward with each number. Daniel leaned his hand against the smooth wall to the right. He cried out in relief, the noise coming out between a hoot and a sob as the familiar sounds of rings filled the chamber.
Raindrops again impaled their bodies, causing them to shiver. Fresh, albeit damp, air filled their lungs and the sight of the Stargate not fifty feet in front of them filled their vision. The gloomy day was illuminated by a streak of lightning, followed swiftly by the boom of thunder.
Both men placed an arm around one another and limped/staggered to the DHD. Daniel began dialing the gate, the rain falling so hard that he had trouble seeing the symbols. As he placed his hand on the fourth symbol, he heard Jack ask, "Do you have a GDO?"
He looked up at Jack in bewilderment. Jack had their backpack open with his hand still fumbling inside of it, obviously searching for the necessary piece of equipment. Daniel had assumed Sam had left one with them... but they had been trapped in that ravine, they hadn't been planning on going anywhere. Both Sam and Teal'c had one GDO between them and Daniel had the other. He lifted his uninjured hand to his vest pocket and awkwardly removed what he knew was now in several pieces. Jack threw the pack down in frustration at the sight of the ruined GDO.
"When the hell were you going to tell me about that?" Jack snarled as he began limping heavily to the dais on which the Stargate stood. Water streamed down Daniel's face and into his eyes, blocking his sight momentarily. When he managed to blink the liquid away, Jack was sitting down, his leg held stiffly before him.
"I …" Daniel began, his energy failing him as cold, pain and exhaustion began to overwhelm him. Dropping the broken transmitter, he held on tightly to the DHD as the world began to sway alarmingly.
"We don't even know if Teal'c and Carter made it to the Stargate yet," Jack yelled over the sound of the pouring rain. "Or if they did, how long it'll take Hammond to send out a rescue party in this," he said with a wave of his arm. A loud clap of thunder answered him as lightning forked down from the sky, blinding and deafening him.
Through the fog in his clouded mind, Daniel knew that they should distance themselves from the Stargate in the midst of this storm, it being the highest thing around and a superconductor. He wanted to tell Jack that he should get off the dais, but his tongue didn't seem to want to obey him. All he could do was blink the water out of his eyes and try to remain upright. Maybe Sam would tell Jack to move away, he could hear her voice calling faintly in the distance.
No, that wasn't right, he must be hearing things. Sirens called out to sailors, maybe he should ignore her voice. But they weren't at sea... they were on land. There was enough water around to substantiate there being a siren, though. Curious, he wanted to turn around and look but he could barely keep his head up. His shivering was so intense that he could barely breathe, the cold of the rain beginning to seep into his overheated body.
Strong hands suddenly grabbed his shoulders and he heard the sound of the gate dialing up. He wanted to tell Jack it was useless, that he was sorry. He stood there with Jack's arm around his shoulders and lifted his head with effort to watch the chevrons light up uselessly around the Stargate.
Jack was standing slightly to one side of the gate, Sam beside him, an arm around his waist supporting him. Wait, if Jack was there, then who was …? He looked up and saw Teal'c staring at the DHD as he punched in the last glyph. He activated the gate and looked down at Daniel with concern.
When the vortex erupted with a loud kawoosh, the rain evaporated into steam as the water in its immediate area was burned away.
"Let us leave this place, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said as he gently pulled Daniel away from his anchor. Daniel let go of the edge of the DHD and allowed Teal'c to steer him up to the stairs of the dais. He saw Jack turn his head towards him just as he stepped through the gate. Seconds later, Teal'c pulled him into the sanctuary of the wormhole, which spit him out interminable seconds later.
For a moment Daniel thought he'd gone deaf, the roar of the rain no longer reverberating in his ears. Then he heard the clang of his footsteps as he took first one step, and then another on the SGC's metallic ramp, reassuring him that he could still hear. He didn't register a next footstep, as his legs suddenly were unable to support him. He felt Teal'c grab him, squeezing his injured ribs. He heard someone yell out in pain as his vision faded, his last sight was that of the iris closing before him, seemingly in slow motion.
Jack grimaced as he tried to pull himself into a sitting position, his knee complaining at the movement. The painkiller he'd been given earlier was starting to wear off, and each little scrape and cut that Fraiser had treated burned and stung whenever his hospital gown brushed against those that weren't bandaged. Damned minor wounds hurt almost as much as his knee and head.
A nurse quickly appeared by his side, elevating the head of his bed and adjusting the pillows beneath his knee, keeping it elevated. He pushed another pillow behind him with his IV-free hand, wedging it under his shoulders. Nodding his thanks, he turned his head to the right, trying to get a better look at Daniel.
Daniel was still sleeping; after he'd passed out on the gate ramp and nearly given Jack a heart attack, he came around for a few minutes until Fraiser's meds kicked in. Jack still couldn't figure out how he hadn't realized that Daniel had been so close to crashing. He'd gotten them into the cave, saving them from imminent disaster. Then somehow, somewhere, Daniel had activated the transport rings and had brought them back to the Stargate. Was it simply coincidence that they'd arrived there at almost the same time as Teal'c and Carter, or had Daniel managed to time it just right?
The fever-ridden man sleeping on the bed next to him constantly amazed Jack. He had been so full of energy in his efforts to get them to safety. Jack had thought that he'd been the one taking care of Daniel when it was actually Daniel who had saved their lives. Twice. Jack had been so single-mindedly caught up in trying to get them to safety that at first he'd ignored Daniel's entreaty to let him find a way out. It had been Daniel's words questioning his trust in him that had finally shaken Jack to the core and made him listen.
It was only now that Jack realized Daniel had been running on adrenaline and had used up the last of his reserves. He'd been working himself into the ground from the time they'd arrived on the planet, despite first Jack's nagging, his anger, then his outright antagonism. In retrospect, Jack cursed himself for not getting down and dirty with Daniel but his lover's stubbornness had rubbed him the wrong way from the first, and he'd become as prickly as a porcupine in retaliation. He knew that if he'd given Daniel a hand, his lover wouldn't have worked himself into such a state. He'd used the excuse of wild animals... yeahsureyabetcha. Any idiot could have placed an alarm around the perimeter of the dig.
And it was all for nothing. The storm had arrived earlier than expected and he was pretty sure that most of Daniel's work had been swept away as they never had had a chance to properly shore up the place.
Hot and achy, Jack irritably pushed the sheet down past his thigh. His injured leg wasn't covered up and Jack used his good leg to kick the blanket even further down the bed. He was uncomfortable and he knew that he was still feverish. Both had been infected by micro-organisms from the mud of the chasm's floor. Although Jack had disinfected their wounds as best he could and they had both been under a deluge for hours on end, he had failed to clean all of the mud from their wounds. A resulting infection and fever assailed them both; Daniel's being more critical due to his pre-exhausted state and injuries.
Fraiser had confirmed that Daniel had two cracked ribs, a mild concussion, a broken wrist and an assortment of bruises and scrapes. She was surprised that neither of them had come down with pneumonia. Daniel lay very still on the bed, his head turned away from Jack. His casted left wrist lay elevated by his side and twin IV lines snaked their way to his uninjured hand. Jack could see the edge of an oxygen mask, but he'd overheard the nurses talking earlier that he'd be losing that bit of equipment very soon.
He was frustrated that he couldn't even see Daniel's face clearly, let alone hold his hand, when what he really wanted was to take Daniel and gather him in his arms. Jack rubbed his fingers through his hair before pressing his palms against his temples, trying to alleviate his fever-induced headache and ignore his throbbing knee.
When a nurse came around and injected something for pain into his IV, he didn't complain. By the time his bed was lowered, Jack was already feeling the affects. His last thought was that he was going to have some major apologizing to do.
Daniel could hear them talking from far away; Sam's soft tone permeated through his fever-haze as a comforting sound, and Teal'c's melodic rumble implied safety. He was too comfortable and sleepy to try and open his eyes, but could tell from their voices that there was no urgency to do so. He was content to lie there cocooned in their presence.
Drifting in and out of sleep, each time he woke he became more and more aware of the discomforts of his body. The general pain he felt eventually split up into more precise points: his wrist and ribs. Not all-encompassing, but just enough to remind him that he'd been injured.
Frowning, he lifted his uninjured hand to his forehead, trying to remember what had happened. After moments of coming up blank, images quickly flitted through his brain. Jack throwing angry glares at him; stumbling to camp, so exhausted he could barely walk straight; Jack hurtling down a cliff, coming straight for him; lying in the dark in Jack's arms while they waited for rescue; rain, thunder, a flood, trapped in a dark room; helping Jack walk with his injured knee...
Pain exploded in his ribs as hands pushed him back down onto the bed. Gasping with pain, coughing from the sudden changes in position, Daniel ground his teeth together, waiting for the agony to subside.
"Jack," he called again, this time through clenched teeth.
"It's okay, Daniel." Sam's voice came from his left so he forced open his tightly-shut eyes and turned to look at her. Her face swam into focus as he blinked tears of pain from his eyes.
"Shhh, he's sleeping right beside you," she said in a soft voice. "Don't wake him."
Finally able to take a breath without the sharp agony in his chest, Daniel tried looking over Sam's shoulder. He could make out someone lying on the bed, the hairy leg with the bandaged knee resting on a multitude of pillows at once familiar and reassuring.
"He's fine. A slight concussion, a badly sprained knee, and a bit of a fever from the germs you guys picked up from all that mud." Sam's cool hand stroked his forehead and hair, and he turned his focus back towards her. "He's only sleeping. Janet's giving him something for the pain and it makes him sleepy."
Daniel nodded, reassured that Jack was okay and allowed himself to relax, closing his eyes once again. Sam continued to card her fingers through his hair, letting him know that both he and Jack weren't alone. He felt someone approach his bed from the other side and after a few moments, a buzzing in his ears told him that he'd been given some Happy Juice. He allowed himself to tumble into oblivion, secure in the knowledge that they were safe.
Jack sat on the bed, feeling much better. His fever had broken earlier that morning, the swelling in his knee had dropped considerably, and he had even managed to force down most of the swill that Fraiser had called lunch.
He had a game of Solitaire spread on the rollback table before him, but he was only giving it his partial attention. Teal'c had brought the cards earlier and they had played a variety of games until Jack had gotten sleepy. He'd napped awhile, and had woken up bored.
Daniel was showing signs of waking up, and Jack impatiently kept casting glances over towards the bed, hoping that this time, instead of sighing and falling back asleep, he'd finally open his eyes and wake up. Jack brought his attention back to the cards and swore when he saw he had erroneously placed a seven on top of a nine. Irritated, he gathered the cards together and began shuffling them.
Almost dropping the cards, Jack quickly turned to the bed next to him. Sleepy eyes, hair spiky from the hours spent on the pillow, stubbly skin not quite as sallow as it had been earlier but still sporting a fever-bloom, and a smile greeted him.
"About time," Jack grumbled as he placed the cards back into their box. "I was getting tired of hearing you snore."
"Don't snore," Daniel mumbled as he tried to turn onto his side. Jack heard him hiss as his injured ribs were jarred.
"Stay still, will ya?" he warned, wanting to jump out of his bed to give Daniel a hand but knowing his knee wouldn't permit him. That thought and the look he caught Fraiser giving him from across the room kept him in his bed.
"Gotta move, my butt's asleep," Daniel stated as he finally made it onto his side, facing Jack.
"Want me to go over there and give it a massage?" Jack asked quickly before Fraiser got into earshot.
Daniel's only reply was rolling his eyes heavenward.
Jack watched as Daniel patiently succumbed to Fraiser's examination and questions, his eyes constantly traveling towards Jack, as if in confirmation that he was really there. Jack alternated between watching Fraiser's face and Daniel's. She had a good poker face, able to hide her emotions as she examined patients. But Jack had played with the best and was able to read her like a book. Their good doctor was radiating pleasure at her findings, which went a long way in relieving Jack of the nagging worry he'd had during the past forty-eight hours since they'd returned home.
"Well, you still have a fever but it looks like the worst is over," she stated as she clicked her pen shut and placed it in her pocket. I'll just take a blood sample and see if the numbers confirm my diagnosis," she added with a smile.
By the time she finished playing vampire, Daniel's eyes were heavy-lidded. As Fraiser walked away with the vial of blood, Jack whispered, "Go to sleep." Daniel was trying to keep his eyes on Jack as his lids kept closing. Jack watched as he forced them open again, only to have them shut. He smiled when sleep finally won the battle.
Jack limped quietly into the bedroom, stopping by the bed as he watched Daniel sleep. Finally released from the infirmary, they'd both headed for Jack's house to recuperate on the agreement that Carter would come every morning and night to check up on them.
Daniel spent most of the last two days sleeping; Jack wasn't complaining because he had also spent a lot of that time curled up sleeping alongside Daniel. This morning he had woken up to the smell of coffee in the house. Carter, as usual, had let herself in with the key he'd given her and she had caught him sleeping in during her morning check in. She had started the coffee and had taken the dishes out of the dishwasher for him, a chore that he was very grateful for because he still had trouble standing for periods of time.
As she had neared the open door of their bedroom on her way out, he had called out to her in a loud whisper. He had heard her footsteps pause, and then approach the door even more quietly, as if she'd been unsure whether she had truly heard him.
"Remind me to take you out for supper at a very expensive restaurant as a thank you," Jack had said in a quiet voice when she had cautiously popped her head around the doorjamb. She'd smiled, her eyes taking in the sight of the lump that was Daniel using Jack as a body pillow.
"I will, sir," she had answered in as quiet a tone. "Coffee's almost done, and I brought some fresh muffins if you're interested."
His stomach had rumbled at the thought of breakfast and he'd nodded his thanks.
"How are you doing?" she had asked, leaning her shoulder against the door frame.
"Good. You can tell Fraiser we've been sleeping and eating as per her orders," he had replied as he felt Daniel stir against him.
"I will, sir. I've also got your grocery list and I'll do that on my way here tonight."
"Thanks, Carter," Jack said, truly grateful that she had taken on most of the tasks that he was unable to do. "I'll spring for supper, okay?"
"Only if you make it Thai," Daniel had mumbled as he turned onto his back. "Hi, Sam," he'd said with a wave of his uninjured hand before bringing it up to rub at his eyes.
"Hi, Daniel. Bye, Daniel," she had chirped. "Gotta go, sir. I'll see you tonight."
Jack had waited until he heard the door close and the faint sound of her car motor turn over before shifting to give Daniel a good morning kiss.
Another rumble of his stomach had Daniel pushing at him to go and get them some breakfast. He smiled at the memory of their shared breakfast in bed.
"You gonna just stand there or are you going to join me?" Daniel asked him, his eyes still closed.
"Sorry, didn't mean to wake you," Jack apologized as he sat on the bed beside his lover. Daniel pushed the blankets aside and Jack slipped beneath them. Daniel turned slowly to face Jack, obviously being careful of his ribs. He reached over and pulled Jack to him, and Jack relaxed as he snuggled up against Daniel.
"I've missed this," Daniel sighed, his hand gently caressing the back of Jack's neck.
"We've been doing nothing but sleeping together for the past two days, how could you have missed this?"
" 'Sleeping' being the operative word, Jack. At least I'm awake now."
Jack chuckled. He closed his eyes and appreciated the moment, reveling in the feel of his lover's body lying against him. No life threatening incidents, a warm bed, no pressures... what a difference from just a couple of days ago.
"You know, you constantly amaze me, Doctor Jackson," Jack teased after a few minutes.
"Huh?" Daniel's puzzled, wide-eyed look made Jack smile.
"On the planet... I'm still amazed at how that brain of yours managed to figure out the entrance to that room and then find the transport rings. Considering that you were doped up and in pain and feverish …"
"And that it was all my fault that it happened in the first place," Daniel's breath tickled the hair on top of Jack's head. "If I hadn't wandered off in the dark and lost my footing …"
"Which I ended up doing too, so can it," Jack said as he pulled back to look at the man whose arms were holding him close. "No guilt, no blame, y'hear? You had an accident, I had an accident, you got us out, end of story."
"It's not that simple." Daniel's earnest eyes stared into Jack's, and he could see the hurt that his lover was still feeling.
"No, it's not," Jack agreed. "But if we're laying blame here, then maybe if I hadn't been so bull-headed from the start I would have given you a hand with the excavation, you wouldn't have been so tired, we'd have finished sooner …" He laid his head on Daniel's shoulder once more, loving the feel of Daniel's hand holding him close. "I'm not even sure why I got mad in the first place," Jack confessed. "Maybe it was just knowing that it was going to be a wild goose chase. I mean, you had to suspect there would have been nothing preserved after all these years even if you had managed to find the opening to the library."
"Yeah," Daniel agreed reluctantly. "But there's always the hope. One never knows, sometimes you find that the impossible has been achieved."
"Like having you in my life? Making me happy? Making me make you happy?"
"So you're saying that you found your impossible dream?" Daniel asked.
"Maybe," Jack said and smiled when he heard Daniel snort. "Well, you have to admit that sometimes you are impossible," he teased.
"And that would be whose fault?" Daniel countered.
"You're saying that I'm the one who makes you so stubborn."
"You certainly don't help," Daniel replied as he bent his head to kiss Jack's temple. Jack raised his head and claimed Daniel's lips. Each expressing forgiveness, apology and love in the act. Their hands slowly began to wander over each other's bodies, careful of the scrapes and bruises they each sported.
"Show me the impossible dream, Jack," Daniel murmured against Jack's mouth as his hand wandered to the waistband of Jack's pants.
"Yeahsureyabetcha, Danny," Jack replied as he reached for his lover, having every intention of showing Daniel that this wasn't a dream.
Strangely enough, this story was written for babs, who wasn't able to make it to a first-time get together where a handful of overly-excited and giggly women were invading DebiC's home in order to watch Daniel Jackson descend to Earth "nekkid".
To make her feel better since she was staying home, babs had asked us for a fic where Daniel was dirty and exhausted and since that kind of scenario was right up our alley, devra and JoaG first began plotting the story in the plane (whenever JoaG wasn't being pulled aside as being a suspected terrorist), and thinking back we have to wonder what the people sitting around us thought about two middle-aged women talking about beating up some poor guy named Daniel. :-) The story, soon known as DED (Dirty Exhausted Daniel), began taking shape in DebiC's kitchen on devra's laptop. The plot continued to be discussed on the plane ride home and many emails and clippies later, we crossed our fingers and sent it to Annie for her slash zine, Pretense. She happily accepted it, and it's lived there for the past year.
Thank you, Annie and babs.
We hope you enjoyed.
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