"You're sure about this?"
Squeezing his butt cheeks tight against the oncoming cramps, Daniel tried not to wince as Jack pulled up in front of his apartment building. He nodded quickly while he fumbled with the seat belt. "I'm sure."
"Despite what Fraiser said, I don't think you should be alone right now. You've had a rough few days what with being dragged all over kingdom come by a hulking Unas and then getting the runs from drinking pond water over there."
"It's not like I had a choice at the time." Daniel opened the door and slid out of the truck. He held onto the door for a second while his legs adjusted to his weight.
"You still look like shit."
Daniel let go of the door, cursing that the Imodium had to stop working *now*. "And speaking of shit, Jack, I gotta go."
"Oh - okay. But I can come up and stay with you, you know, or there's always my place. I can change the sheets on the bed and—"
"Look, I'd just rather not have to worry about you being in the bathroom when I—" Daniel winced as another cramp cut through his abdomen and the pressure increased in his ass. This was embarrassing enough in the infirmary, the last thing he wanted was Jack having to watch him trot back and forth to the toilet. Especially not now, not since they'd talked about notching their relationship up another level. The lube and the condoms would just have to wait a few more days. "Jack, I gotta go, or I'll be changing my pants in a minute."
"Okay. I'll call later, see if you need anything."
Daniel simply waved as he turned around and ran as fast as he could with his butt squeezed tightly against the impending pressure.
By the time the elevator reached his floor, he had his keys in his hands and he was inside his apartment running all out for the bathroom while undoing his pants.
"Oh God," Daniel groaned as his body crudely and noisily purged itself. He'd thought he was getting better; hell, Janet had thought he was better. The Imodium had seemed to be working and he hadn't had a bout like this since yesterday morning.
Cramps tore through his guts but his body had nothing left to eject. He cleaned up, washed his hands and swallowed another dose of the medicine. As he walked back into his living room, he picked up his keys off the floor where they'd landed when he'd aimed for the couch. He shut and then locked the door which, in his rush to get to the bathroom, he hadn't closed behind him.
He sat down on the couch with a heavy sigh. Jack was right; the past few days had been awful. It wasn't bad enough that the scum-filled pond had infected both his guts and his bloodstream with bacteria, one of the other, larger inhabitants of that pool from which Daniel had barely escaped had infected his friend, and Robert had died as a result of *that* infestation.
Daniel gently fingered one of the bandages circling his wrists. His little escapade into that pond had infected the lacerations caused by Chaka's bindings, and the water he'd drunk to slake his thirst had given him one helluva case of the runs. The two together, on his return back to Earth, had been enough to lay him up for three days.
He'd wanted to help with the arrangements for Robert's funeral, but Janet wouldn't let him out of bed except when he needed to dash to the bathroom. He spent so much time in that little toilet that he barely made it to the memorial held by the SGC.
Daniel sighed as he let himself slide sideways on the couch, bringing his legs up and curling around the continuing cramps. As embarrassing as his affliction had been in the infirmary and his wishing he'd had more privacy, now that he was alone, he missed Jack's company. Maybe he'd made a mistake in not letting Jack stay with him—
Then again, thoughts of sex or cuddling or anything that might impede a straight flight between him and the toilet wasn't exactly a welcome idea at the moment. Daniel shut his eyes and waited to see if the building pressure was going to be another cramp or a pressing urge to—
The urge hit with a vengeance and Daniel ran out of his sunken living room just as the phone rang. He scrambled to the bathroom as his answering machine picked up and he groaned, half expecting to hear Jack's voice after the sound of the beep.
To his surprise, it was a woman's voice. Too intent on his own misery at the moment, Daniel couldn't focus on anything but the cutting cramps.
A few minutes later he trudged to his answering machine on shaky legs and was surprised to see several messages waiting for him. He checked the caller ID and realized that three of the calls had been made from Robert's home. He blinked, confused, until he realized someone must be cleaning out his apartment and had called from there. The other number appeared to be a hotel.
He activated his voice mail and listened to the first message.
"Doctor Jackson. My name is Natalie Rothman. I'm Robert's sister. I'm sorry to be bothering you but he spoke very highly of you and—"
The voice broke off as she fought to control her emotions. Daniel's heart clenched, reminding him that although he'd lost a friend and colleague, she'd just lost a loved one. Just like he'd lost Shau'ri last year. If it hadn't been for Jack and… God, what if it had been Jack who'd gotten snaked instead of Robert. Daniel didn't know how he'd cope losing someone he loved once again.
"I'm sorry." She sniffed and composed herself. "I have some questions concerning Robbie's death. Some things just don't seem to make sense and I know the two of you were working together. I'd like to meet with you, if it wouldn't be too much of an inconvenience. I'm hoping you have some answers. Maybe lunch? Or coffee. Coffee would be fine. I just want to talk. Call me back at Robbie's home, I'll be here the rest of the day."
The last thing Daniel wanted was to deal with Robert's grieving family member. He had enough to deal with himself at the moment, trying to come to terms with the way Robert had died, plus the fact that he was feeling far from well at the moment. Maybe he should have stayed at the infirmary despite Janet's assurances that there was nothing she could do until the bugs worked their way out of his system.
He couldn't remember Robert talking much about his family; he knew he had a living sister but they hadn't gotten along very well.
The next message was also from Natalie, informing Daniel she was returning to her hotel and leaving her cell phone number.
The next three calls were from the hotel, the last one containing more of an edge to her voice.
"I understand you're a busy man, Doctor Jackson. I appreciate that but I don't understand why you're trying to avoid me. I know my brother died in an unfortunate accident, or so the military have said, but I'd like to know why his body was cremated without my giving consent. You do know our religion doesn't consent to cremation. The military won't give me an answer. I'd been hoping as Robert's friend you might have at least been able to shed some light on that for me.
"And maybe explain to me why I've been informed that Robbie died while on a dig for the military outside the country? I found his passport, Doctor Jackson. It was in his house, and the last time he used it was over a year ago. Don't you think that's a little funny? Outside the country without a passport?"
This last was said sarcastically, making Daniel's teeth grind together in frustration. Of course Robert hadn't needed his passport. One didn't exactly need one to go through the 'gate.
"I don't know what you and your superiors are trying to cover up, but let me assure you that you will not get away with this. Robert is – was – my brother and I'll get to the bottom of this with or without your help."
Leaning his butt against his desk, too shocked to react, Daniel listened to the next several messages which were all in the same vein, each one laced with hurt and anger. Like a child, he desperately wanted someone else to deal with this while at the same time, he felt he owed it to Robert. He didn't like the tone of her voice; it sounded too much like a threat. But he figured she was grieving so he reluctantly picked up the phone and dialed her cell.
"Natalie Rothman?" Daniel asked when the now-familiar voice answered. "This is Daniel Jackson. I'm sorry I—"
"I see you finally decided to call me," Natalie interrupted. "Oh wait, don't tell me. *You* were out of the country and just got back," she said with a sneer.
"Actually, yes, I was," Daniel said shortly.
"With my brother," Natalie stated.
Daniel thought quickly, wishing he wasn't feeling quite so light headed. "Robert and I were working together, yes."
"On a dig so far away that he couldn't even send me an email to wish me happy birthday?"
"It was pretty isolated," Daniel said slowly. "Look, I'm sorry for your loss. I don't know what questions I can answer – I'm sure if you got in touch with—"
"I've spoken to the military and all I've gotten is the run-around. They wouldn't even tell me why they decided to 'take care of the arrangements' without consulting with me. It's all damn fishy, if you ask me."
And with that statement, Daniel remembered Robert telling him his sister was a reporter. Pushy, temperamental and know-it-all, totally opposite from his friend, but very successful at what she did.
Shuddering at the thought of a loved one insisting on having an autopsy performed on a victim who'd been Goa'ulded and the reaction of the outside world at discovering the alien symbiote wrapped around the victim's spinal column, Daniel stuttered the first thing that came to mind. "I'm sorry, Miss Rothman. From what I understood, Robert's body was badly mutilated and it was the only way they could bring it back—"
Okay, even in his befuddled state Daniel could tell this was the reporter talking, and not the grieving sister. "I'm sorry?" Daniel rubbed his abdomen as cramps started up again, frowning at the feel of now too-loose pants.
"I know when people are lying to me, Doctor Jackson. Robbie never could fool me and even over the phone, I can see you're trying to pull the wool over my eyes."
Daniel bit back a gasp as his intestines gurgled and churned. "I'm sorry, Miss Rothman, I have to go."
"What about the passport, Doctor Jackson? You can't make me believe that—"
"Robert lost his passport a while back," Daniel quickly blurted out. "The military replaced it and he must have since found the old one. I have to go," he added quickly, slamming the phone down and running for the bathroom once again.
He sat on the toilet in misery, waiting till the cramps passed. He grabbed the box of Imodium and swallowed another pill, wondering if the stress was making his symptoms worse. As he stepped out of the bathroom, he heard a key in the lock.
"Knock, knock." Jack peered around the open door into the living room, then grinned when he spotted Daniel. "Sorry, I know you want to be alone but figured you probably didn't have anything on hand to eat so I stopped at the Chinese place down the street." He held up a large brown bag.
Suddenly relieved Jack was here, Daniel nodded. He wasn't really hungry but he appreciated the gesture. And he realized he truly didn't want to be alone. Not now.
"I could eat."
As Daniel got dishes and cutlery out, Jack removed the boxes and containers from the bag.
"Got you some white rice and chicken. I made sure it wasn't spicy. There's vegetables, too," he added as he pointed to the white cardboard box. The smells coming from the food on the table actually set his mouth to watering despite the discomfort of his intestines.
Jack dished a bit of everything onto a plate and slid it over towards Daniel. The food was good and he dug in.
"I think we might have a problem, Jack." Daniel scooped up some rice and chewed.
Jack simply raised his eyebrows, waiting for Daniel to go on.
"I got a call from Robert's sister, well, actually, several calls. She's asking questions about his death."
"Guy's dead, what else is there to know?"
"Jack." Daniel glared at his partner. "Her brother just died and she's got questions which the military aren't answering." When Jack looked down at his plate, Daniel continued. "I'm having a hard time dealing with it myself and I know what really happened, I can't imagine what she's going through." Daniel hung his head, his appetite waning. "I should have been the one to break the news to her. I knew Robert and—"
"You weren't in a condition to do much of anything."
"I know, but Robert was my friend and—"
"*And* you couldn't have told her anything more than what she's already been told."
Daniel put his fork down. "It's not necessarily *what* you say as *how* you say it." He clamped his lips together in anger as he watched Jack continue to fork food into his mouth, apparently unconcerned.
"Bottom line, Daniel, Rothman's dead. There's no easy way of telling people that. Civilians *or* military."
"They cremated him, Jack. Geez, he was Jewish. Didn't anybody think of that before getting rid of the evidence? Couldn't they just cut the damn snake out of his neck and send the body back?"
"I think a surgical wound in the back of the neck might be a little hard to explain. You're not eating."
"I'm not hungry. And you could pass that off as surgery."
"Fraiser said you had to eat or else she'd haul your butt right back to the infirmary. And believe me, if the sister had insisted on an autopsy, they'd have discovered the surgery had been done after Rothman died. Things can't always be cut and dried, Daniel. We still have to think of National security and that will cause people some pain. It's part of the job, and you know it."
"She's a reporter. She can stir up trouble if she wants. And you remember what happened to the last reporter who began digging into the Stargate—"
Jack stopped chewing and stared at Daniel. "Yeah. Yeah, I do."
"I think I need to go talk to her. I can try and convince her that—"
"You're not going. If anything, I'll speak to her."
"Because you're not in any condition to go traipsing around town right now. Besides, you're too close to Rothman and you might say something you shouldn't."
"Me? I'm a linguist. I'm the one who usually talks our way out of a tight spot."
"Right," Jack responded sarcastically.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Usually you talk, and then we end up fighting our way out."
"We do not."
"Remember the 'nyet' incident?"
"Oh, good comeback."
"Jack, I speak fluent Russian. What the hell are you—?"
"Remember when we went back in time and they thought we were Russian spies? That didn't go down all that great, did it?"
"That was one time and nearly two years ago. You can't tell me since then I haven't—"
"Yeah, that's true. You have."
Daniel frowned, trying to see if Jack had actually grudgingly complimented him or not. He decided not.
"But there are still times you just talk too much when more aggressive action should be taken. Talking doesn't always fix the problem."
Obviously not a compliment. "Shooting everything that moves doesn't always fix the problem either. There is often more than one solution to everything, Jack. You just have to make your choices."
"That's your problem, Daniel. You *don't* give me choices."
"How the hell did this conversation become about me instead of Robert?"
"Because you want to do the *moral* thing instead of the *right* thing."
"There's a difference?" Daniel spat back acerbically.
"You're not going to talk to this woman. You said she's a reporter. Are you even sure she's Rothman's sister? It sounds more like she's trying to cause trouble than find out about Rothman's death. I'll inform Hammond and I'll deal with her. If she tries to create a problem—"
"What, the SGC will make sure she walks in front of a speeding car?"
With controlled movements, Jack put down his fork and stood. Without a word, he walked out of the apartment, shutting the door softly behind him and leaving Daniel staring at his cooling supper. He dropped his head to his chest, wondering how the hell had everything gone from bad to worse.
- - - - - -
"What the hell did you think you were doing?"
Daniel looked up wearily as Jack stormed into his office.
"Trying to find you another solution, Jack," Daniel said softly. After their argument of four days ago, Jack had kept his distance. The only emotion Jack had shown towards Daniel since then was when he'd angrily asked him to give him another option to blowing up the Gadmere terraforming ship, and again when he'd discovered Daniel was on said ship which was on the verge of being blown up by a naquada bomb.
Jack stopped opposite Daniel's desk and leaned both hands against it. Daniel thought Jack looked tired.
"Thank you," Jack said, closing his eyes wearily.
Daniel looked at Jack expectantly. He'd wanted to try and talk once he'd felt more human, but Jack hadn't been answering his phone. It had only been this morning when he'd reported for work that he'd found out Jack had been helping Natalie Rothman organize Robert's belongings and had smoothed things over on that end.
"So, I hear you did some talking of your own?" Daniel raised his eyebrows, waiting to hear what Jack had told the reporter.
"Ye who hath so little faith." Jack planted his butt on the edge of the desk. "I can talk my way around things, y'know."
Daniel merely raised his eyebrows higher in disbelief. "Then why do I picture Jaffa and Goa'uld striking out at us whenever you open your mouth?"
"They bring out the best in me. Women, that's a whole other matter."
"I'd hate to see what brings out the worst in you." Daniel smiled softly at Jack.
"You do." Jack's voice was soft and his eyes shined brightly.
Daniel gazed at Jack for a moment, feeling himself grinning like an idiot. "So, what did you tell Robert's sister?"
Jack shrugged. "Told her he'd been infected with a potentially contagious disease and Customs and Immigration wouldn't let us bring his body back unless it had been cremated."
"And she believed you?"
"She did once she got her hands on his *new* passport which had still been in our possession."
Daniel inhaled deeply, feeling some tension of the past few days leave him.
"And, in case you're wondering, she's still hale and hearty. Not even a stubbed toe or a hangnail."
"You're having her followed?"
"Just for a little while, to make sure she really did believe my story and doesn't start making waves. But I don't think she will. She's gone back to work and hasn't even tried digging into the cover story I gave her.
- - - - - -
Jack struggled ineffectively at the chains holding him to the wall once their captor left the room. He swore under his breath as the rattling sounds they created disturbed Carter, who made a valiant effort to raise her head. She uttered a small moan and her head fell back onto her chest, the movement causing her sagging body to sway.
"Sorry," Jack said softly as Teal'c took up his own attempts to free himself. Jack could only assume the guy was going back to the cell for Daniel; Jack had been the first to be forced into this room of fun-filled torture devices. Their captor had gone relatively easy on him compared to Teal'c and Carter, using some kind of electrical prod that had quickly knocked him into unconsciousness.
Upon waking, he'd found Teal'c chained across the room from him. He'd gone after Teal'c with a vengeance, obviously intrigued at the Jaffa's endurance. Even now, the cuts and bruises marring Teal'c's face, chest and arms were beginning to heal and fade thanks to Junior. The mad scientist whose lair they'd stumbled into hadn't yet noticed that and from his reaction with Teal'c, Jack was pretty sure he hadn't come across Jaffa before.
"Any luck?" Jack asked as he continued pulling on the heavy metal chains. If only one of them could free themselves and surprise the guy when he came in with Daniel...
"Unfortunately, no." Teal'c was leaning forward as if he was trying to pull the wall itself away from the room, his muscles bulging as he strained desperately.
Jack glanced at Carter, still half lying on the stone ground, half suspended by chains which must be pulling painfully at her shoulders and wrists. Their captor had had a field day with her. Both Jack and Teal'c had remained quiet and tried not to react to the pain he'd put her through. It had been hard, biting his tongue from cursing the guy out. He'd caught Carter's gaze at one point and had held it, trying to give her encouragement to hold on. She'd latched onto him until she passed out a few minutes ago.
The worst thing was – the guy wasn't even questioning them. Unless that would come later. At this point in time the only reasoning Jack could figure was that he was enjoying himself. And the bulge in their captor's pants was more evidence than Jack would have liked to see.
Already there were footsteps approaching. Jack pulled harder, his fingers going numb as he strained against the heavy metal links. He stared at the pins holding the chain to the metal wall. They hadn't loosened or bent in any way. Who was he kidding? If anyone had any hope of getting them out of here, it would have to be Teal'c. Or Daniel.
He abandoned his struggles and cast a hopeful glance at Teal'c. Even from across the room, it didn't look like he was having much luck. The door opened, and even Teal'c had to admit defeat. He allowed the chains to fall free as he turned to face the door.
Daniel came in first, the small pain-giving device held in warning against his ribs. Jack had had first hand experience with that innocuous looking weapon and two zaps from it had had him walking docilely into this room. He didn't doubt Daniel hadn't had a taste of it.
Despite being slightly hunched over as he tried to protect his injured arm, Daniel looked around alertly. He caught Jack's gaze, then his eyes narrowed when he spotted Carter unconscious against the wall to Jack's right. He turned his head, found Teal'c, then looked at the empty chains on Jack's left.
"Over there." A not so gentle push against Daniel's shoulder prodded him in the direction of the chains. Their captor met Jack's steely gaze with a widening grin as they both approached him. He was of Daniel's height and build, slicked back dark hair and a goatee. Just a normal Joe, no super powers, no super Jaffa-strength, no Goa'uld tricks; any of them should have been able to take this guy one on one. And it wasn't like they hadn't tried.
But he'd had the element of surprise from the start, knocking them out as they'd been walking from the Stargate towards the village. He had an arsenal of weapons and enjoyed using them. Which was how Daniel had hurt his arm – the bastard had hit him with some energy gun and Daniel had been flung against the cell's wall when he'd tried talking to him. With lightning speed he'd zapped them all before they'd had a chance to jump him.
It was embarrassing to say the least that the guy constantly had the upper hand over them. All the times they'd managed to escape from the clutches of Goa'uld and their armies of Jaffa, or bounty hunters, crafty aliens or angry villagers – here was one man, holding them hostage without any opportunity of escape.
It was all up to Daniel; he was the last man standing, so to speak. Daniel slowed slightly as he neared Jack, his eyes hard, his mouth and chin set in a determined mien. Jack tensed, unsure of what Daniel was planning.
But before Daniel could put whatever plan he had into motion, their captor triggered the device and Daniel cried out in pain. He fell against the weapons-strewn table, gasping as he hit his broken wrist against the wood.
"Son of a bitch." Jack struggled helplessly as Daniel weakly tried to push away from the table.
"Hey, there's an etiquette to all of this that you're sorely lacking," Jack called out sarcastically, hoping to draw the man's attention from Daniel.
"Really?" With a cruel smile, the man hauled Daniel up onto his feet and he was half dragged, half thrown against the wall where he huddled over his injured arm.
"Yeah. Since we'll all be kind of intimate, seeing we'll be spilling blood and other not so nice stuff really soon, we should at least know your name."
"Yeah, the better to curse you for it," Carter mumbled. She was glaring at their captor, who laughed at her comment.
"You may call me Guemby. Although my name is of no consequence as soon you will be calling me for mercy."
Cruelly, he grabbed Daniel's broken right wrist and slammed it up against the wall and with a smooth move, affixed the manacle to it. Daniel screamed in pain, the sound of it shocking Jack. Even Teal'c looked on in horror as Daniel continued to scream; this wasn't a normal reaction from Daniel, broken limb or not.
The quality of pain in Daniel's voice seemed to surprise even their captor, who paused before grabbing Daniel's other arm. Which was the first and only mistake he made.
Face contorted in pain, Daniel's free hand came up, wielding a small, sharp knife. Without hesitation, Daniel sliced through the man's throat. Blood spurted as their captor stumbled backwards. He dropped the weapon as both hands came up to try and staunch the flow of blood. But Daniel had cut his jugular and he stumbled to his knees.
Daniel dropped the knife he'd somehow secreted from the table and twisted so that he was leaning forward huddled over in pain, his injured hand clutched to his chest as he swore loudly.
"Daniel, what's wrong." Ignoring the sounds of the dying man at his feet, Jack was more worried about Daniel's pain.
"Oh God, it hurts." Daniel looked up, face ashen and sweat-streaked. He'd stopped swearing but seemed to be having trouble catching his breath.
"Look, Gumby here must have a key to these things." Their captor had fallen onto his side and was still weakly trying to stop the blood from flowing from between his fingers. "Daniel, can you reach his pockets?"
Moving slowly and carefully, his hand still affixed to the chain, Daniel bent his legs and reached sideways. As the shackle tightened around his wrist, Daniel yelled again in pain and lost his balance, falling to his knees. Breathing harshly, he straightened and managed to grab onto Guemby's shirt sleeve.
The dying man was no longer moving; he breathed his last breaths as Daniel took hold of the shirt and pulled him closer with a loud exclamation. He uttered a few more curses and then began patting the man down, one handed.
After what felt like an eternity to Jack, Daniel pulled back with a loud wheeze. He fell against the wall, eyes closed, breathing heavily.
"Daniel?" Jack asked worriedly.
"Got it" Daniel raised his hand and showed him the small copper key. "Just give me a second."
Jack nodded. It wasn't like there was an army of Jaffa bearing down on them and time was of the essence. A long minute later, Daniel turned and pushed off onto his feet. Jack could see his legs and hand shaking as he struggled to fit the key into the lock. Finally there was an audible click and the manacle fell from Daniel's arm.
Immediately Daniel clutched the arm to his chest, still breathing heavily. He took a few seconds to recuperate then moved to Jack.
Daniel was shaking so hard, he was having trouble getting the key into the keyhole. Finally when that hand was free, Jack grabbed the key from Daniel and quickly got himself out of the chains.
He moved on to Teal'c and then to Carter. Jack supported her as Teal'c unchained her. Jack slowly eased her the rest of the way onto the ground. "I'm all right, sir," she said weakly.
"I will assist MajorCarter." Seeing that the major was in good hands, Jack turned to Daniel, who was still hunched over his arm.
"Daniel?" Jack motioned to Daniel's arm. "We should try and splint that." He reached over and moved one of Daniel's fingers. The skin was cold and his hand looked pale, as if blood wasn't flowing into it.
"No!" Daniel's cry of pain surprised Jack. "It's... there's something wrong, Jack. My fingers are tingling, they're going numb."
"You can walk?"
"It's my arm that's broken, not my leg." With that, Daniel straightened while keeping his injured arm close to his chest.
"I can walk, sir." Even as she spoke, Teal'c bent down and helped her up. He placed a hand around her waist and they took a few steps forward. Jack grabbed a knife off the table, tossed it to Teal'c who caught it easily, and grabbed another for himself. He hurried to the open door and took point.
- - - - - -
The moment Jack got the phone call stating that Daniel was out of surgery, he left his office without taking the time to shut down his laptop. He didn't quite run to the infirmary, but he was moving fast enough so that anyone in the hallways was forced to move away from him.
Teal'c must have been sitting with Carter because both of them were already grouped around Daniel's bed when he got there. Carter gave Jack a small lopsided smile, the bruises on her face probably making even that little motion painful.
Daniel's heavily bandaged and splinted wrist rested on a pillow. He was pale but then that could have been the lighting in the room. Jack stood beside his teammates and together, they silently watched him sleep.
Fraiser's footsteps approached, their gait fast and swift, but softening as she neared the bed.
Jack glanced at her and she smiled. "He'll be fine."
Daniel's sleepy voice drew Jack's attention back to the bed. Daniel was blinking up at them, obviously under the effects of whatever painkillers Fraiser was feeding him through the IV.
At Jack's question, Daniel glanced down at his injured limb. He winced, then looked back at Fraiser expectantly.
"You were suffering from something called compartment syndrome. There was bleeding into your arm and the buildup of blood put pressure on your nerves – that's why it hurt so much. We've drained the blood, relieved the pressure and set your broken wrist. Don't worry, the colonel got you back in time and there shouldn't be any permanent damage."
"I remember it hurt. A lot. I..." Daniel looked at his injured hand once more. "I can't move my fingers."
"You will. You just had surgery, give it time. Four to six weeks for the bone to set, some PT, you'll be as good as new." She smiled, then turned to leave. She paused a moment to touch Jack's arm. "Don't tire him out," she whispered.
Daniel closed his eyes as Jack stuck his hands into his pockets. He felt uncomfortable suddenly. He wanted to talk to Daniel, alone, but it didn't look like Carter and Teal'c were leaving anytime soon. He studied Daniel's face, thinking that he didn't look very peaceful.
"I didn't think I was going to be able to get us out of there," Daniel suddenly said.
"I had no doubts." Jack took a hand out of his pocket and reached for Daniel's shoulder. He squeezed the warm flesh beneath the hospital gown.
"Well, okay, maybe one or two."
"You were right." Daniel looked up at him, his eyes hugely dilated in the low light of the infirmary.
"I knew it." Jack smiled, then frowned. "About what?"
"There always are choices. You just have to recognize them and be ready to take advantage."
"Indeed." Teal'c took a step closer towards the bed. "You used your weakness to seize the opportunity to strike back at our captor. Well played."
"He didn't leave me a choice." Daniel's voice suddenly turned cold. "I couldn't take a chance of not getting him on the first try."
"Every situation is going to call for a different approach," Carter added as she carefully sat at the foot of Daniel's bed. She placed a hand on Daniel's blanket-covered toes. "Words worked with the Gadmere." She glanced at Jack and he knew his orders still rankled her. "But you tried that with this guy and got hurt." She waved at Daniel's arm. "Violence isn't always the solution, but sometimes it is the only one." She gave Jack a small nod, and he nodded back.
"Well, it's not my preferred choice of action," Daniel said around a yawn, "but I'm just glad it worked."
Carter got up off the bed and moving carefully due to her bruised body, leaned over and kissed Daniel on the cheek. "I'll see you later. Sir," she added as she glanced at Jack.
"I will leave you to your rest." Teal'c inclined his head and stepped away from the bed. Jack took a moment to lean over as Daniel looked at him heavy-eyed.
"Thanks for saving our butts out there."
"Anytime." Daniel swallowed a yawn. "Sorry."
"Don't be. I'll let you sleep, I just wanted to know if..." Jack glanced away a moment, a little nervous about asking the next question. "Should I change the sheets on my bed, or..."
"Not much of a choice to make." Daniel's smile was answer enough for Jack.
I remember clearly, two years ago, when several of us gathered at devra's house - stepping onto her porch to relax and DebA turning to me and telling me, "Hon, I've got the perfect whumping idea for you." Now, how can you not love someone like that? So many hugs to Deb, for giving me this idea. I hope I did you proud.
Many thanks to Jmas, for trusting in me and publishing this story in her E-zine 'Ancients Gate XI - Horizons'
If you want to see more of Jmas' ezines, here's her link: