Deliverance by JoaG

An antiseptic smell assails my senses as I dream that I'm safe and sound, back at the SGC's infirmary. Dreaming that I'm finally out of the storm; warm, dry, well-cared for. Someone is holding my hand, squeezing to get my attention. I turn my head slightly, knowing who it is that's sitting next to me and dreading to have to look. I can't help myself, and I see Jack grinning down at me. I don't acknowledge my lover, it hurts too much to know that he's dead. Why aren't I dead too? How long does it take to die of exposure?

I hear him call my name, hear the hurt in his voice. I don't want to do this, I don't want to dream anymore. I'd rather face that cold, wind-swept planet where I know I'm dying, than be tormented by visions of safety, comfort, and love. I'd seen him earlier in yet another dream, one where Teal'c was carrying me to safety. I still had his baseball cap clutched in my hands in that dream, that was probably why I was dreaming of Jack now.

Maybe if I tell this apparition to go away, I'll be left in peace. So I tell Jack that he's dead, and this is all a dream. The hand holding mine suddenly squeezes painfully, and I'm surprised that I can feel physical pain in my nightmare.

Jack looms above me, and I can feel his warm breath on my face as his hand strokes my cheek. It must be a dream, Jack would never dare touch me openly here on base. My dream is so vivid, I can almost imagine it being reality. I feel the heat of his hand, and suddenly I'm not so sure, maybe this isn't a dream after all. Could it be? I can't catch my breath all of a sudden, and I look at him frantically, hoping…could I have been wrong? I call his name, and he nods at me.

I clutch him desperately, feeling his body against mine as he pulls me up into a hug. I can smell the mixture of shampoo, soap and aftershave on him, confusing me further. Are all dreams this accurate? He rocks me gently, and that motion, combined with my exhaustion, begins to lull me into sleep. I feel my strength begin to wane, and Jack lowers me back onto the mattress. I try to stay awake, still wondering if I’m dreaming, or hallucinating. Can I be dreaming if I'm so sleepy?

- - - - - -

I'm lost in my thoughts as we drive down the mountain. I remember so vividly the wild run towards the Stargate, being separated from my team when the soil eroded at my feet and I tumbled down an embankment. I was disoriented when I finally made it back up to where I'd last seen them, I wasn't sure which way to turn. Throwing caution to the wind, I chose a direction and by some miracle, came across the DHD. I tried punching in Earth's coordinates time and again, but the wormhole would never engage.

Where was Jack? Sam? Teal'c? They had to have made it back to Earth. With the ferocity of the storm, they wouldn't have been stupid enough to wait for me, would they? And why wasn't anyone from the SGC trying to dial in? Surely Jack would try to see if the storm was over, and come looking for me then. I had a simple plan; to survive until Jack returned.

Night fell. I thought that it couldn't get darker, but I was mistaken. I was freezing, the wind kept shifting and I couldn't stay sheltered from the strong gusts that assailed me constantly. I was curled into a ball, trying to conserve heat. I don't know how I survived the night, but when the sky began to brighten slightly, I decided that I had to get up. My muscles were cramping, I needed to move in order to keep warm. I began searching in another direction for better shelter, when suddenly I tripped over Sam's backpack.

I couldn't grasp at first what I had just found, until my unbelieving eyes found yet another pack, and slightly beyond that, Jack's baseball cap. That's when my world came crashing down around me. They hadn't survived, they weren't coming back for me. I picked up Jack's cap with frozen fingers, and slowly stumbled back to the DHD. I sat leaning against its pedestal for the longest time, my head on my bent knees. What was the use of even looking for shelter, when there was no reason to go on living. Eventually I looked at my watch, registering that I had been on this god forsaken planet for over a day.

Not long after that, everything becomes a blur. I was in and out of consciousness, I must have been hallucinating. I kept dreaming of Jack, visions of what ifs, could have beens, and promises. After a time I tried to push these memories back, they were too painful. At that point, I wasn't aware of the storm anymore, only that Jack was gone. I'd lost my parents, my wife, my team and now my lover. I just wanted for everything to end, for the pain to go away. Had my frozen fingers been able to do so, I probably would have injected myself with the morphine I knew to be in Sam's pack. As it was, all I could do was clutch numbly at Jack's baseball cap.

I'm dreaming now that Jack is urging me out of his car, and I'm walking up the icy walk to his front door. As soon as we've entered the house, he's taking me in his arms. He wants me, I can tell. But all I want to do is wake up from this nightmare, to return to the reality of the storm. I can't take this torture, I'm feel as if I'm ready to crack.

I'm aware of heat on my hands, and I look to see Jack sitting inches away from me. My hands are in his, held against the heat of his chest. I feel as if I've just woken up, I'm a little disoriented. I concentrate on his face, his smile making his eyes crinkle in the way that I love. He asks if I want to talk, but I refuse. I'm still not sure whether I'm awake or dreaming, safely at home, or still on that planet. Maybe I'm dead? But no, my heart wouldn't be aching so much if I were.

Jack brings me to his bedroom, and settles me in his bed. I see him hesitate, normally he'd jump in beside me in a flash. He asks cautiously whether I'd like company, and I nod, almost shy. If this is a dream, maybe I should embrace it. But what if it's real? I want, no…I need Jack right now, more than I've ever needed him before.

Jack slides in beside me as I watch, and approaches me so that we're just touching. Tentatively, I lean into him, nestling my face against his shoulder, my leg overlapping his for balance. He rubs my back soothingly, and I start to feel finally like I've come home.

- - - - - -

I'm back on the planet, battered by the storm. Jack is dead, I was dreaming of him again, of comfort, safety, and love. I don't know what's real anymore. Which is the dream, and which is reality?

Jack touches my face, stroking my cheek. He asks if I've been having nightmares. What an understatement, my nightmare is still ongoing. Why am I so confused? He offers to chase my nightmares away, and I take the chance. I'll tell him what happened, that I was waiting to die. Still am, actually, if this isn't real.

I manage to gasp out my story, without breaking down. He holds me throughout my tale, never criticizing, simply accepting. I fall asleep in his arms, and this time, I don't dream. When I wake up sometime later, I finally know where I am. Safe, warm, loved, and alive.

I need to prove it to myself once and for all, as my hands move down my lover's body. As my fingers skillfully tease a response from him, he wakes up, surprised. I bring his hand down to my own erection, asking him to show me that it still isn't a dream. He eagerly joins me in my deliverance, and into our celebration of life.



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