Fog Boundby JoaG
Barely able to see his feet, Daniel made his careful way over to where Sam and Teal'c were kneeling, trying to gather a variety of samples to determine where the UAV had detected signs of rare minerals that the SGC was always on a lookout for. But the constant fog and mist had been hampering their efforts, and had dragged what should have been an easy twenty-four hour mission into what was going onto forty-eight.
As he packed his own efforts at sampling in the appropriate container, Daniel acknowledged that he was bored. Rooting through slimy, rotting vegetation wasn't his idea of fun, especially if there weren't any artefacts or ruins as a goal. But if he felt this way about the work, he couldn't imagine what poor Jack was going through. At the thought of his lover, Daniel turned around to look at him.
Jack had his back to the group, staring out into the unchanging scenery. Daniel and Jack had been lovers for two months, and although they'd been friends for years, Daniel still couldn't believe his luck that Jack actually loved him back. Their reluctance at admitting their feelings for one another had created a huge rift between them for a while, one that had been transmitted to the team dynamics itself. But thankfully they'd managed to talk one night, and both had been shocked to learn that each had been in love with the other.
As if feeling Daniel's eyes on him, though, Jack turned to look at him.
"Hey, come here a sec," Jack said, motioning with a twist of his head. Daniel wiped his damp hands on equally damp pants and made his way through knee-high mist. Jack handed Daniel a pair of field glasses and pointed off to his left.
"Wait for it," Jack advised as Daniel trained the binoculars in the direction Jack had indicated. After a minute, a small puff of wind cleared a space in the mist and Daniel saw what he was sure was a small obelisk. It was quickly hidden once more, but had been visible long enough for him to know for sure that it had been made by human hands.
Daniel lowered the field glasses and turned to Jack, a hopeful look on his face. Jack grinned.
"Feel like taking a walk?"
"Do you think it's safe?" Daniel asked. He turned back to look at his two teammates, their backs barely visible in the permeating mist. The Stargate was even less visible behind them, nearly a mile away on higher ground, a dark, round shadow ghosting in the vapours.
"Thing's due south from here," Jack said, taking his compass out and showing Daniel. "And it shouldn't be more than a ten minute walk, fifteen at most."
"Let me get my camera," Daniel said with a grin. They both made their way to their gear, and as Daniel reached for his backpack, he heard Jack talking to Sam.
"Carter, how much longer?" "An hour, maybe less," she said with a sigh. "I can't wait to get home and change into some dry clothes."
Daniel silently agreed with her as he slipped the small digital camera into a pocket. The video camera was useless, the amount of humidity in the air was preventing it from working.
"We spotted something out there, some kind of rock," Jack said.
"An obelisk," Daniel corrected.
"We're gonna go out and take a look."
Sam stood up and looked in the direction Jack had indicated. Daniel turned to look also, and seeing nothing but a grey blur, hoped they hadn't imagined it.
"It's due south, not far. We'll be there and back before you and Teal'c finish here."
"We could finish faster if you two helped," she complained. But she winked at Daniel and he could have hugged her then and there. Not that Daniel had shirked any of the onerous duties, but he couldn't quite get excited about the mineral contents in the soil.
"We'll stay in radio contact, so keep your ears on," Jack advised as he turned his radio on. They all did the same, making sure they were all on the same frequency before Jack began walking away from their camp.
The going was slippery and treacherous, slimy growth and hidden twigs and roots catching them unawares. Everything from their knees down was cloaked in thick fog, and occasionally they'd hear wet slaps as they stepped into hidden puddles.
Thoughts of quicksand and deep unseen ponds flitted through Daniel's mind and he quickly pushed the alarming ideas away. He concentrated on Jack's ass before him, enjoying the view while making sure he kept up and didn't end up falling on his own.
A glance at his watch showed they'd been walking for nearly ten minutes, and there was no sign of the obelisk anywhere.
"Jack, are you sure we're going the right way?" "Due south," Jack said, turning to show the compass in his hand. Daniel fished through his pockets for his own compass and opened it, stopping a moment to get his bearings. He couldn't believe what he saw."
"Jack, we're not going south, we're heading east."
"For crying out loud," Jack said, turning back to join Daniel, "we're going south."
"Not according to this," Daniel said, holding his compass towards his lover.
"Now that's downright weird," Jack said as he placed his own next to Daniel's, which clearly indicated south.
They both turned and stared in the direction they'd been walking, hoping to see the stone looming before them when the fog broke. After several minutes, they were rewarded with a fairly clear view. Only vegetation and an occasional tree were apparent, there was no obelisk anywhere in sight. Then the mist thickened, like a curtain closing on stage. Show's over, people. Go home.
Daniel looked at Jack, who looked back at him with a shrug. "Guess we turn back," he said. Daniel nodded, disappointed but anxious now to get out of the fog. It was rising, no longer up to their knees. As he looked down, the mist had risen almost to his waist.
"Carter," Jack said into his radio while his other hand tried to wave the mist away from his body. When she answered, he continued. "There's no sign of the obelisk, and we're turning back."
When Sam replied, Daniel pivoted, checked his compass and took the lead. Several steps later he glanced down and noted the instrument was reading east once more. He stopped, and Jack bumped into him, forcing Daniel to take two steps to the side to keep his balance.
"What's wrong?" Jack asked as he leaned against Daniel's back, his body heat permeating Daniel's chilled skin after a moment.
"Either we just went in a tight circle, or we're in very big trouble. We're going east again."
"Mine reads south. Damnit."
Daniel turned in a circle, watching the compass needle turning as he moved. When he faced the same direction as before, it still read east.
"Okay, we just go in a straight line. We'll see the Stargate once we reach high enough ground."
Daniel had no other suggestions, so he kept walking. Ten minutes later he stopped. There was still no sign of the Stargate.
"Carter," Jack said into his radio. "We have a problem."
- - - - - -
Jack could hear Carter and Teal'c calling out to them, but the mist muffled their voices so it was hard to tell which direction their voices were coming from. By now he and Daniel were chest deep in the stuff. His clothes were soaked through, and he was getting more annoyed than worried.
Their compasses were useless. Carter suspected there was some kind of electromagnetic component to some rocks beneath the surface which were throwing the readings off. There were no landmarks of any kind in this fog; even the Stargate wasn't visible to her and Teal'c anymore.
A loud burst of sound and a bright light arcing through the sky to their right brought them both to a stop. Jack looked up as he followed the blazing trail into the sky, recognizing the blast of a staff weapon. Suddenly Daniel gasped and stumbled against him.
"Daniel?" Jack said, taking in the fact that Daniel quickly leaned down into the mist, his body almost invisible. He had a death grip on Jack's arm, and Jack used his free hand to try and pull Daniel back up.
His lover finally straightened, a grimace of pain evident on his face. Water dripped off his hair and face, his glasses fogged up and useless.
"Colonel," Carter's voice said through the radio. "Teal'c just shot his staff weapon into the air. Were you able to see it?"
"Daniel, what's wrong?" Jack asked as Daniel pulled away. Jack maintained a hold on Daniel's arm, but other than the slight strain around Daniel's mouth, he seemed fine.
"I stepped on something," Daniel said, leaning back down into the fog. "Gimme a sec, I'm stuck," his voice came back eerily from the mist.
"Are you okay?" Jack asked him worriedly. "Daniel," Jack repeated when Daniel didn't answer. Jack could feel him struggling with something as he kept a hand on Daniel's arm.
"Ow!" Daniel cursed in several languages as he straightened.
"Colonel, do you read?"
Daniel hopped around on one foot for a moment, then nodded at Jack. Daniel keyed the radio's mic and said, "Yeah, Sam, we saw. Thanks. We're heading towards you now."
Daniel took off his fog-dampened glasses and turned, walking in the direction of Teal'c's signal. Jack could see he was limping. "Daniel, what did you step on? What the hell happened?" he asked as he rushed to catch up with him.
"I don't know, just be careful, okay? There might be more, and whatever it was, it's pretty sharp."
"Daniel," Jack growled in frustration, then swore when he nearly tripping over some unseen vegetation. He finally reached Daniel and took his arm, pulling him to a stop. "Sharp? You mean it pierced your boot?"
"Yeah," Daniel replied after a second's hesitation.
"For crying out loud, let me see!" Jack scolded. Whatever was sharp enough to pierce the tough soles of their jungle boots had to have done some damage to Daniel's foot.
"The fog's too thick, you won't see anything. Let's just keep going, okay?"
"Are you bleeding?" Jack asked, knowing the answer just by the way Daniel was favouring his foot. "How bad?" he asked before Daniel could answer.
"I don't know."
Feeling helpless and cursing himself for having dragged Daniel out into this miasma, Jack followed closely behind Daniel, watching as his limp became more pronounced as they kept moving. They were going uphill, that much was evident. But the mist was following them, dogging them despite the higher ground. Visibility was limited to four hazy feet around them.
"Teal'c! Carter!" Jack yelled, then listened attentively for their answer.
"Colonel O'Neill!" Teal'c's strong voice came to them from their right. They turned and adjusted their direction.
"Carter, you and Teal'c watch your footing!" Jack warned as he walked blindly, hoping that neither he nor Daniel came into contact with whatever had hurt Daniel. "Daniel stepped on something and cut his foot."
"What was it?" Carter yelled back, her voice now to their left.
"Daniel, stop," Jack said. He placed a comforting hand on Daniel's shoulder, and yelled back.
"We don't know, Daniel couldn't see. Teal'c, how about giving us another marker?"
The noise from the shot seemed to come from everywhere, but the blast was directly in front of them. Ten more steps and their teammates' shadowy figures appeared. The fog was worse here than it had been down below, or had it just risen so quickly that he hadn't noticed?
"Sir." Carter rushed towards them, then put a hand out to Daniel. "How bad is it?"
"It's bleeding a lot," Daniel said, his teeth clenched. Teal'c led them a few feet to the right and Jack nearly tripped over something. He reached down and felt the plastic container holding the samples they'd been gathering.
"Here, sit," he told Daniel. As Daniel did as he was bid, he all but disappeared into the mist. Jack knelt down before him, seeing nothing but white. He blindly ran his hands down Daniel's right leg. When he reached his foot, he lifted it and cradled it on his thighs. He began untying the boot, the laces damp and refusing to come undone easily. He swore, then finally got the bow unknotted. Gently, he pulled off the boot, feeling Carter's fingers alongside his helping ease it away. Despite their care, Daniel gasped as the boot twisted and rubbed against his injury.
The socked foot in Jack's hands was soaked, either with perspiration, the mist or blood, he couldn't quite tell. He raised a hand to his nose and sniffed. It held the distinct coppery smell of blood.
Carter was pulling Daniel's sock off and he cradled the bare heel in his hands, secured against his thighs. He felt the warm stream of blood flow down onto his hands and onto his pants, and he knew this was more than a scratch. Daniel jerked as Carter tried to feel the damage; their eyes were useless in this soup.
"Sorry," she said, her disembodied voice near Jack's ear. "It's bleeding freely but I can't tell if there's anything inside the wound. As far as I can tell, it's a puncture wound about an inch wide in the arch of your foot, but I don't know how deep it is. I'll try and disinfect it the best I can, until we can get to the Stargate."
Carter poured water over the injury, which flowed over Jack's hands and onto his pants. Daniel grabbed onto Jack's jacket, pinching Jack's skin before he found purchase on the material. Jack flowing ignored the liquid; he was already soaked from the humidity in the air.
"Hold onto this," Carter ordered, her fingers fumbling on his hands, then placing one of them over a bandage wrapped around Daniel's foot. It became saturated in seconds. He heard Carter fumbling beside him, the sounds of paper tearing as she removed pre-medicated wipes to disinfect their wounds.
"This is going to hurt," she warned as she took Jack's fingers away. Jack wrapped one hand around Daniel's calf, the other still holding his foot securely against his him.
"Shit!" Daniel yelled, his body tensing beneath Jack's hold. Jack could picture his lover's face, eyes tightly shut, furrowed lines marring his forehead, teeth clenched as he forced his breath through them.
"Carter…" Jack said as Daniel continued to tremble.
"Almost done. I'm sorry, I know. I can't see anything and it's taking longer than I'd like." He felt her brush his arm as she moved away. "There, all done. I just need to bandage it up."
Jack eased his hold on Daniel's calf and ran his fingers up his pant leg, rubbing the clammy skin. Daniel relaxed slightly, either because of Jack's touch or because Carter had finished her ministrations. Daniel let go of Jack's jacket, and Jack could hear him taking deep breaths.
When Carter finished and she had placed Daniel's foot onto a pack back for support, Jack stood up, ignoring the fact that his feet were nearly asleep from his kneeling position. He was surprised to see that the fog was now up to their shoulders, and everything around them had disappeared into the eerie grey landscape.
He couldn't see Carter or Daniel at all, and only Teal'c's shoulders and head were apparent. He looked all around, there was no sign of the Stargate.
"What?" Daniel's voice floated up to him.
"The Stargate's disappeared."
"I believe it is in this direction," Teal'c said, his disembodied hand seeming to float in the air as he pointed off to their left.
"Daniel, think you can walk?"
"I made it this far, didn't I?" He felt Daniel's hand on his leg, then move up to his waist. Jack grabbed onto it and pulled, helping Daniel stand.
"Stay off of your foot," Carter warned as Daniel hopped slightly to keep his balance.
"I will assist DanielJackson," Teal'c said as he placed his arm around Daniel's waist. Jack bent back down into the fog, feeling blindly for their rucksacks. He shouldered two of them while Carter picked up the others, and then he grabbed the sample case, tucking the awkward-sized container beneath his arm.
"Okay, everyone grab hold of someone. I don't want to lose anyone in this… stuff."
Carter grabbed Teal'c's belt and he grabbed Carter's. They began walking slowly, blindly, towards what Jack hoped was the Stargate. The going was hard; Daniel forced to hop along on one foot, and the fact that the fog hid all obstacles from them. Jack almost walked into a tree, seeing the dark shadow seconds before and having to twist his body in order to miss it.
They were moving uphill, but still the fog thickened. Soon all he could see was a vague shadow which he knew to be Carter. Daniel and Teal'c had all but disappeared and Jack knew that if he let go of her, there were good chances they'd never find one another again.
Jack wasn't sure how long they walked, he couldn't see his watch, and time seemed to have lost all meaning. But after a while, Teal'c called a halt.
"O'Neill, we should have arrived at the Stargate by now. We may have passed it, or I may have been mistaken and have led us astray."
"Hell, Teal'c," Jack said. "We could have walked right through the damned 'gate and we'd never know it." He put the container down, which had been growing heavier by the minute.
"We've got no choice but to camp out here," Jack said, rummaging through the packs. "There's no use walking around blind, chances are we'll just go in the wrong direction." He removed two blankets and began spreading them out on the ground between them. "We're not due to check in for another couple of hours, so we'll just sit tight until we're overdue and Hammond opens the 'gate. Hopefully we'll be able to see it from here."
"Here, Daniel, sit," Jack ordered.
- - - - - -
Daniel felt Jack's hand fumbling against his chest and his strong fingers latched onto his arm. He hopped forward, his injured foot throbbing painfully and with his friends' help, he was soon sitting down. Sam elevated his foot on one of the packs while Jack sat beside him. He could feel the heat of Jack's hip and leg against his own, and he shivered in the damp. Was it getting colder, or was it his imagination?
"You okay?" Jack said softly. Daniel nodded before he realized Jack couldn't see him.
Everything was gone, the fog having enveloped the world, with SG-1 along with it. Every time he inhaled, he imagined the damp, clingy mist entering his body and he hated the feel of it.
"I'm fine. Is the temperature dropping?" he asked as another shiver wracked him.
He felt Jack's hand touch his chest, then move to his chin, to finally alight on his cheek. His callused fingers remained there for a few seconds before they caressed his skin.
"No, but you've got a fever," Jack finally said. "Carter, can you find the antibiotics? Teal'c, can you get more blankets?"
He heard the sound of Sam rifling through the packs, then heard her mumbling to herself. He found himself leaning against Jack, looking for the heat generated from his body. Jack placed an around him and pulled him closer, then shifted so that Daniel was actually supported against Jack's chest. He closed his eyes, trying to ignore the continuous throbbing in his foot and the now-increasing shivers.
"Here," Sam said. He felt her hand fumble against his leg, then like Jack did earlier, she followed his body up till she reached his chest. "Take these," she ordered, lightly tapping his chest with her knuckles. He raised his hand to hers and she tipped the medication into his open palm. "Antibiotics, Tylenol and Darvocet," she explained. As Daniel popped the pills into his mouth, she handed a canteen to him. He gratefully washed the medication down.
"I have blankets," Teal'c said, and soon he was wrapped with damp coverings. It didn't so much as warm him up as place a slight barrier against the clammy dampness. Jack's arm came around his chest, holding him close. Despite being injured, lost in the fog and thus unable to get home, Daniel felt safe with Jack's comforting body against him.
"I'm gonna look at your foot, Daniel," Sam warned as she moved her hands down his leg. He felt her fingers gently feel his injury, and a moment later, he felt her place another bandage around it, and he assumed he was still bleeding.
"It's gonna be fine," Jack whispered against his ear. He felt Jack's lips brush against his temple and he stiffened. Never did they show signs of affection to one another when offworld, even though Teal'c and Sam knew about their relationship. "Relax," Jack said again, his fingers brushing through Daniel's hair, causing water to drip down his face. He raised a hand and wiped the drops away, and tried to do what Jack had suggested. He was tense from his exertions and the pain in his foot.
Darvocet always made him dizzy and sleepy, and soon he was feeling the effects of the pill. Despite the chills still wracking his body, he felt himself begin to loosen as the medication eased the worst of the pain. He hadn't realized he had a headache until the pressure around his temples eased also. He turned his head and snuggled his face against Jack's throat, hoping to chase away the scent of decomposing vegetation with that of Jack's more familiar smell. But the clamminess covered them with the alien bouquet, and Daniel felt that it would take several showers to rid himself of the clingy stuff.
He must have dozed off because he woke up coughing. His chest was heavy, and the air felt thick, harder to breathe. He cleared his throat, then shifted when he realized that his butt was asleep.
He turned onto his side, swearing once when his injured foot caught on something and the pain flared. He slid down onto the blanket, using Jack's lap as a pillow. He felt colder and he curled up into a ball. But he couldn't stay in the previous position, he was too uncomfortable.
Jack's hand moved to his nape, gently rubbing. Daniel dozed on and off, sitting up once to swallow more pills, time becoming distorted by fever, pain, drugs and the continuing miasma muddled his senses. Breathing was becoming more difficult, and he felt like he were trying to breathe underwater. It was as if the oxygen was being replaced with something else, something that was heavier and more difficult to inhale. For a while he thought it was a dream, until he realized that the others were also coughing occasionally.
"How much longer?" he asked, pushing himself into a sitting position. Jack didn't let go of him and he gratefully leaned back against his familiar bulk.
"It has been approximately seven hours," Teal'c answered from Daniel's right. "We are two hours overdue. General Hammond should be contacting us soon."
"We hope," Jack added. "How you doing?"
"Dizzy," Daniel replied, laying his head back against Jack. "Hard to breathe," he added reluctantly.
"I know," Jack said. "Me too. It won't be much longer. Hang in there."
Daniel nodded, his dripping hair rasping against the wet material of Jack's jacket at the movement. Right now he just wanted a warm, dry bed where he could stretch out his length and luxuriate in Jack's arms.
He was dozing again when a strange noise permeated his fever dream. Blinking into the grey fog, he forced away the visions of a Goa'uld in a tutu and turned towards the sound. A blue light shone through the whiteness, and a familiar voice came through their radios.
"SG1, do you read?"
- - - - - -
Damn, when had Daniel gotten so heavy? Jack was supporting one side of Daniel with Teal'c on the other, and both were holding onto Carter, who was slowly leading them to the bright glow that was the Stargate. All of them were breathing hard, and Jack could feel sweat pouring down his back along with the cloying humidity. There was a pressure in his chest, as if his lungs had to work around a lump in the center of each.
Daniel no longer had the strength to hop, and Jack knew he was walking on his injured foot by the way he lurched against him with every second step. God, Jack was so tired, he couldn't imagine how Daniel felt. What the hell was in this stuff anyways to make them feel this way?
He kept his eyes glued to the blue-lit fog before them, afraid that if he looked away, it would disappear and they'd be unable to find their way to the 'gate. It couldn't be that far, they'd clearly heard the chevrons turning as it had activated.
Jack pulled up just in time to prevent Daniel from walking into Carter, who had obviously, painfully, found the DHD.
"General Hammond," Carter said into the radio. "You can shut the Stargate now. We're at the DHD."
"Major, how can you dial if you can't see the glyphs?"
"By touch," Daniel wheezed in Jack's ear.
"I can feel them, Sir. It'll take longer, but since we know the symbols, we just take a little longer to dial."
"Very well. If you don't make contact within fifteen minutes, I'll dial the planet again."
The 'gate winked out, leaving them alone once more.
"Teal'c, I might need your help," Carter said.
Jack braced himself to take all of Daniel's weight as Teal'c gently disengaged the man's arms from around his neck. "I've got him," Jack said as he pulled Daniel against him. He encouraged the younger man to lean against him, feeling the tremors as his weakened muscles tried to hold him up.
He could hear Carter and Teal'c discussing the glyphs and the faint glow whenever they identified the correct one and pressed it. He tuned them out, listening instead to the gurgling sounds coming from Daniel's chest. Jack coughed, and realized he was producing part of the sounds himself. The sooner out of here, the better.
Daniel lowered his head onto Jack's chest, and for a moment Jack thought his lover was going to pass out. "You okay?"
Daniel simply nodded. Jack held Daniel securely and brought a hand up to Daniel's nape, caressing the soft hair that grew there but got trimmed every time he went to the barber. Jack thought to himself that Daniel needed a visit soon.
Another chevron got pressed and Jack realized he'd lost count. Was that five, or six? Come on, hurry up. He felt Daniel sag and he held on more tightly.
"Almost there, Danny," he whispered. "Hold on."
Daniel raised his head, his nose rubbing against Jack's neck. Both were panting now with the effort of breathing. He knew that as soon as they reached the Gateroom, Daniel would be whisked away from them, so he decided he had to remind Daniel now about how he felt.
He whispered the words in Daniel's ear. "Don't forget, Danny. I love you."
"…you too," Daniel managed to whisper back.
The vortex activated loudly at that moment, the backwash burning off the mist and exposing the surrounding area for a few seconds. Carter and Teal'c were already moving towards them, and by the time the wormhole stabilized, Daniel was already being supported by Teal'c's strong arms.
"Code sent," Carter informed him.
"Let's go home," Jack said. They moved towards the shimmering light, stumbling slightly as they walked up the rise, towards home.
- - - - - -
The warm, dry air of the Gateroom felt great against Jack's face. The 'gate winked out behind him, cutting off the few tendrils of mist that had come through along with them. He took a step forward, easing Daniel along the ramp. He took a deep breath, ready to call for a medic when his lungs suddenly filled with fluids. Unable to help himself, he began coughing. Helplessly he fought for breath as his body tried to expel the remnants of the planet's mist. Thick streams of phlegm ran out of his throat and mouth, hindering his ability to inhale. Spots danced before his eyes, he became lightheaded and stumbled to his knees.
Belatedly Jack realized he'd let go of Daniel when he'd been unable to draw a satisfying breath. Panicking, he reached forward, fighting off the hands that had suddenly appeared and who were trying to hold him back from his lover.
Someone placed an oxygen mask over his mouth and after a moment, his vision cleared. He noted that Carter, who was a little further ahead on the ramp, was having the same problems he was. She was lying on her side with a medic attending her. Daniel was lying on the Gateroom floor, also on his side, and Fraiser and two other medics were taking care of him. He saw Teal'c braced against the ramp, arms locked, head down, coughing but in much better shape than the rest of them were in.
His stomach suddenly rebelled and he pushed the mask aside just in time as his last meal splattered over the cement floor. He could hear Carter and Daniel retching, and he suddenly felt sorry for the maintenance crew who would have to come in and clean up their messes.
He closed his eyes once his stomach settled. His lungs were burning, but the pressure he'd felt on the planet was gone. His breathing, although noisy, was a little easier.
"Colonel?" A hand was pressed against his cheek and he opened his eyes to see Doctor Warner looking at him. "Do you think you can sit up now?"
Jack nodded, and Warner helped him sit up. He looked back down the ramp and realized that Daniel and Fraiser had left the Gateroom. Carter was still lying on her side, a gurney waiting nearby, Teal'c kneeling beside her.
He moved the oxygen mask aside and said, "Better."
"That's good. Do you think you can walk? At least down the ramp?"
Jack wasn't sure he could, his legs felt like rubber but with the doctor and the medic assisting, he made it down the ramp and onto another gurney which he hadn't seen, waiting beside the ramp. As they wheeled him out, the medics were lifting Carter onto hers.
He shut his eyes, wondering how Daniel was doing as he was pushed down the corridor. They stopped, waiting for an elevator.
"What happened?" he croaked as Warner joined him in the elevator.
"I don't know, Colonel," he answered. "But it's obvious you had some kind of poisoning on the planet."
"The fog," Jack said, needing to force his words between panting breaths. "Was getting hard to breathe."
"Don't try to talk," Warner cautioned.
Jack shook his head. "Daniel? Carter?"
"Doctor Jackson was breathing on his own, Colonel. I don't believe Doctor Fraiser needed to intubate him." The elevator stopped, and they pushed him out of the car. "Major Carter is right behind us."
As he was wheeled into the infirmary and moved onto a bed, Jack got a glimpse of the curtained off area where he knew Daniel to be. A moment later, Carter was transported and situated onto a bed beside him. Her eyes were closed and she looked to be unconscious. Teal'c, on the other hand, entered under his own power but he was obviously shaky and looked pale.
While the medical staff performed the usual exams, Jack lay back and tried to relax. His lungs continued to burn and when he spotted a nurse injecting something into his IV, he knew he'd been given something for the discomfort. True to form, he felt a fog of wellbeing surround him several minutes later. He wanted desperately to ask about Daniel, about Carter, but the effort to do anything more than mumble was too much and soon, even keeping his eyes open was impossible.
- - - - - -
Daniel stirred restlessly, mumbling something that Jack couldn't quite make out. He eased his chair closer to the bed, feeling the tug on his IV and pulled the IV stand closer to ease the pressure. He stroked Daniel's cheek with his untethered hand, feeling the heat of fever raging upon his lover.
Daniel's face was a chalky white; the pillowcase looked healthier than he did. He was breathing quickly, the puffs of air misting the clear plastic of the oxygen mask placed over his mouth and nose. His skin felt dry to Jack, all sensation of humidity gone, dried up by his high temperature.
At his touch, Daniel moaned, shifting restively once again. He raised a hand to bat at the oxygen mask on his face. Jack quickly grabbed the errant hand and pulled it down to the bed. He felt Daniel try to tug it away, then relaxed as Jack stroked his palm with his thumb.
He kept his gaze on Daniel's face and was rewarded with a sliver of blue.
"Hey," Jack said softly as he leaned over to make sure he was in Daniel's line of sight. Daniel tracked him and Jack smiled at his lover. He shifted his hold on Daniel's hand, and once again raised his IV-free hand to Daniel's face. He felt Daniel squeeze his hand.
"You don't look so hot," Jack said sympathetically.
"…n't feel 's hot," Daniel mumbled.
"You hurting? Want me to get a nurse?"
Daniel shook his head, his eyes closing once more. The slight pressure he'd kept on Jack's fingers lessened as Daniel slipped back into sleep.
Jack sighed, then stifled a cough. The effort hurt his head and chest, and he pushed his chair back, intending to go back to bed. As he stood, he glanced over at Carter, who was curled up on her side in a bed next to Daniel. He stood watching her a moment, then glanced over to Teal'c, who was on the other side of Jack's bed. The serene look on his face was indicative of a state of kel'no'reem, and Jack hoped that Junior was doing his best at helping Teal'c cope with whatever that fog had done to them back on the planet.
He shuffled tiredly back to his bed, but before he could sit, Fraiser was by his side.
"He's holding his own," she informed Jack without his asking as she helped settle him back under the covers. He glanced at Daniel once more as he lay there quietly, waiting as the doctor replaced the pulse oximiter onto his finger. She then put a hand on his wrist to time his pulse, then listened to his chest.
She straightened up and smiled at Jack, wrapping the stethoscope around her neck. "You're doing better, but I'd like to keep an eye on your oxygen levels for a little while longer. We're treating you all with steroids and you might need another couple of nebulizer treatments if your airways clog up again."
"Daniel?" he asked.
"His foot's infected, but that's no surprise. We've also identified an alien micro organism in his blood stream, we're giving him antibiotics and we're hopeful that it'll do the trick. Of course, whatever it was on that planet doing a number on his lungs didn't help. He's weak enough as it is."
"What exactly did happen to us?" he asked tiredly.
"Again, we're not sure. There was something contained in the fog that settled in your lungs. But when you came back, exposure to the oxygen content in the Gateroom killed it. There's no permanent damage to lung tissue, but the residual effects are asthma-like and you're all going to feel a little tired for several days. So what did happen to Daniel's foot? Did he step on something?"
"Yeah, but we have no idea what. We couldn't see the ground. Damned fog. Will his foot be okay?" Jack cleared his throat, the pressure seeming to build in his lungs.
"Whatever it was he stepped on appeared to be very sharp. There was some minor ligament damage, which I've fixed. He should be fine, with a bit of time. But the wound is deep and it's infected, so I haven't sutured it. It'll heal in a few weeks, but I don't foresee any problems."
She smiled down at Jack, and he relaxed. He was tired, his muscles ached, he had a headache and it was a bit of an effort to breathe. He knew he shouldn't have gotten out of bed the moment he'd woken up but he just had to go check on Daniel.
"Sam's doing about the same as you, and Teal'c… well, his symbiote's taking care of everything, as usual."
"Go Junior," Jack said softly, then turned onto his side as his chest seized and he began coughing. He waved Fraiser away after a moment, the pressure easing. He cleared his throat and forced a few coughs, feeling better except for his headache.
"Try to sleep," she suggested.
Jack nodded, wishing his bed had been situated beside Daniel's so he could have kept an eye on him. When Fraiser left the room, Jack raised the bed's head a little higher, settling for being able to see his lover over Carter's form. This way, he could see both of his ailing team members. He kept watch until his eyes closed, and he fell asleep.
- - - - - -
"So the officer manages to stop Paddy's car and walks up to him," Jack said as he brought the joke to a close. He kept a watch on Daniel, who was staring expressionlessly at the wall before him. "An' jes what do ye think ye're doin', laddie?" Jack continued with an Irish brogue. "Officer, there's a forrest out there on the road," Jack said, slurring his words as if he were drunk. "Oh fer the luv of God, Paddy. That's yer Pine air freshner."
Carter snorted, then averted her face as if she was ashamed to be caught laughing at one of his jokes. She was sitting at the foot of Daniel's bed, legs crossed in a manner that Jack knew would cause his joints to seize up if he sat that way for too long. Jack grinned; it felt good to hear her laugh. He waited for Daniel's reaction, but all he got was a wan smile.
"It's the accent, isn't it?" Jack complained. "I always lay it on too thick."
"It was quite believable, O'Neill. But I believe this Paddy should have been immediately arrested due to driving under the influence."
"That's not the point, Teal'c. Everyone knows Irish jokes have to do with drinking. You see…"
Daniel turned away again, and Jack sighed, letting the subject drop. His lover had been depressed for the last day, and Jack knew it was due to the fact that everyone but him was being released from the infirmary today.
"Hey," Jack said, "you'll be home in no time."
"I feel fine now." He waved towards his bandaged foot. "My lungs are just as clear as yours, and I've been home with worse injuries than this," he complained.
"But Janet's reluctant to release you while you still have a fever," Carter said.
"I don't have a fever."
Jack bit the inside of his cheek to keep from smiling. Daniel had so sounded like Charlie with that comment.
"No, not at the moment," Carter continued. "But you've had one for the past three nights, and you know that she's worried about the germs you picked up on the planet."
"Don't sweat it." Jack leaned over and punched Daniel lightly on the shoulder. "I'll come and keep you company."
"Not unless you plan on staying here on base, Colonel." Jack jumped at Fraiser's words. How did she manage to sneak up behind him, the little…
"Come on, doc," he whined. "It's only a short drive."
"And I told you that I'd release you and Sam on the proviso that you get plenty of rest for the next three days. Rest, meaning no driving, no riding in cars, and no coming to the mountain."
"Three days?" Daniel looked up at Fraiser, then slid his feet off the bed and reached for the crutches that were leaning against the wall.
Jack recognized that look, all right. The one where Daniel closed himself off from everyone and told himself he was fine all alone. Damn.
Daniel hobbled several steps, the rubber tipped crutches nearly slipping on the linoleum floor in his rush to get away from them.
"Daniel, where are you going?" Carter asked, straightening her legs and shifting to the edge of the bed as if she were going to go after him.
Daniel stopped in the middle of the infirmary, right leg bent, bandaged foot held a few inches off the ground. He turned to look at his friends, who were still sitting around his bed. "Just going to the bathroom, or do I have to wait three days for permission to do that, too?"
He continued on his way, his speed slowing considerably as his body told him he wasn't as well as he wanted them to believe he was. Jack knew how weak Daniel still was; the nightly fevers were taking a toll, keeping him from sleeping deeply and stopping him from gaining his strength as quickly as the rest of them had.
"Come on, doc," Jack whined as Daniel disappeared into the nearest bathroom. "You so much as said his fever wasn't due to an infection. His blood tests looked good this morning, why can't you let him come home?"
"Because of the alien organism still in his blood. I couldn't in good conscience let him leave until we've cleared that up." She sat down beside Carter, sighing wearily. "I know he's anxious to get out of here, but I can't take the chance that something could happen…"
"I understand. Daniel understands. But he's gonna be here alone, without any of us except Teal'c to keep him company. And Teal'c's slated to go back to that fog planet tomorrow with SG-7 to pick up the soil samples that we had to leave behind. Daniel's feeling better, he's looking a lot better. You said he was better. Don't you think he'd sleep better in his own bed? Eating something other than commissary food?"
And Jack had to admit he was begging here not only for Daniel's sake, but for his own. Somehow the idea of catering to Daniel, bringing him food, cuddling up with him on the couch in front of the TV, sleeping with him in his arms, was something that he desperately wanted to do. He remembered a few times when Sara had been sick and it had pleased him to no end to take care of her. Hell, he'd taken care of Daniel before, but that had been before they'd been lovers. He was anxious now to be able to do that for Daniel now.
Fraiser rubbed her face with her palms and Jack realized she was tired. He knew she'd been spending a lot of time in the lab, trying to figure out exactly what this bug was that Daniel had picked up. She had ascertained it came from the cut on his foot, probably something in the vegetation, or even the stagnant water they'd stepped in. Teal'c would be getting several more specific samples tomorrow on his trip back to the planet, and they all hoped that something fruitful would come of it.
"I know, Colonel. I know," she said softly. "I'm sorry about this, I know how hard it is on Daniel, and on you." She tried to smile, and Jack sighed. "In any case, I'm here to tell you I've done the paperwork; both you and Sam are free to leave. I've arranged for a car to take you both home in an hour's time."
They were all sitting quietly when Daniel returned. Fraiser got up off the bed and took the crutches from him once he was settled. Jack could see the sweat beading on his face, evidence of the effort the short trek across the room had taken him.
"Sorry about that," he said, using the action of sliding back under the covers to avoid meeting their eyes.
- - - - - -
The doorbell startled Jack, waking him where he'd been dozing in front of the TV. Damn, he hadn't meant to fall asleep, he knew Cassie wouldn't take long running the errands she'd offered to do for him.
He got up and made his way to the front door, staggering slightly up the stairs as sleep-stiffened muscles protested. He opened the door, and stood there confused as Fraiser grinned up at him.
"Colonel, feel like a bit of company?"
"Uh, yeah, sure," he said, stepping back to allow her entry into the house. But instead of going in, she stepped back and Jack's jaw nearly dropped to the ground when Daniel appeared before him.
"Hi Jack," Daniel said, giving Jack a somewhat shy look as he made his unsteady way inside.
"Daniel," Jack managed to say as he reached to touch Daniel's arm, careful not to overbalance him. He looked over at Fraiser, who came in behind Daniel and shut the door. "When? How? Why?"
She laughed, and he realized it wasn't often that he was relegated to single word questions.
"Let's get Daniel comfortable and I'll fill you in," Fraiser said.
"Right. Danny, bed or couch?" Either way, Daniel would have to manoeuvre some stairs, he just wanted Daniel comfortable and settled.
"Couch, I'm tired of beds right now."
They helped Daniel down the few stairs and onto the couch. Fraiser grabbed a pillow and elevated Daniel's foot while Jack took the crutches and set them nearby. A couple more pillows behind Daniel's back for good measure, and Jack grinned down at his lover.
Daniel looked tired, but as he sighed in contentment, Jack knew he was glad to be home.
"I can't stay long, I have to get back to the infirmary," Fraiser said as she handed Jack a small plastic bag. He peeked inside and saw three containers of pills. "Instructions are inside. Pain killers, steroids, and antibiotics. Daniel's next dose is at 12:30. And someone, either a nurse or myself, will stop by in the mornings to change the packing in Daniel's foot and take a blood sample. And I want Daniel to do nothing but rest and eat. Same goes for you, Colonel."
"Hey, I've been good," Jack protested.
"I know, Cassie told me," she replied with a smile.
Cassie, bless her heart, and stopped by earlier that day, asking if Jack needed any groceries or other supplies. She'd stopped by earlier to visit with Carter and had realized the poor woman hadn't any fresh food in the house. So after doing the good Samaritan thing with Carter, she'd come by to Jack's to see if he needed anything.
Mostly Jack was fine food wise, he usually had lots stuff in the freezer to tide him over. But fresh fruits and vegetables were always nice to have, and he'd sent her off to the grocery store with a list.
"There's just one more thing," Fraiser said, giving Jack a serious look. "As you know, this organism causes Daniel to experience a recurring fever each night. I want you to keep an eye on it, if it goes above 101, I want you to get him into the infirmary or the Academy hospital right away. Or if it doesn't break in the morning, same thing."
Jack nodded. He knew they'd been worried with the fever, which was the main reason Daniel hadn't been allowed home two days ago.
"Teal'c brought back samples from the planet, and we found traces of the organism in puddle water." Fraiser smiled at Daniel, then began walking out of the room. "We've ascertained that the antibiotics are keeping the organism in check, and they're slowly killing it off. But a high fever might be an indication that the antibiotics stopped working, so that's why I need you to keep a careful watch on that."
"Sure, no problem," Jack said as they reached the door.
"He'll sleep for most of the day," Fraiser warned in a low voice. "The painkillers I prescribed pack quite a punch. I'll give him something a little less strong in a few more days. Also, the drive here wore him out and he didn't get much sleep last night, he kept having fever dreams."
"I'll make sure he gets some quality sleep," Jack said.
"Bye Daniel," Fraiser yelled. "Be good."
"Bye Janet. I will."
Jack shut the door behind the doc, and made his way back to his lover. He sat on the coffee table and looked down at the man lying comfortably before him.
"Welcome home," Jack said, leaning over to give Daniel a welcoming kiss.
"Mmmm," Daniel murmured into Jack's mouth. He reached a hand up to caress Jack's cheek, when suddenly the doorbell rang.
"Damn," Jack said as he reluctantly pulled away. "Hope she didn't change her mind," he teased as he went back up the stairs to open the door.
"Cassie." For a moment Jack couldn't remember why the teenager was standing there with plastic bags hanging from her hands, when he suddenly recalled she'd done his groceries. He stepped aside, letting her inside.
"Hey, I just saw mom driving down the street. Is everything okay?" she asked as she whizzed inside, heading for the kitchen.
"Hi Cassie," Daniel called from the living room.
"Daniel!" she shrieked. She ran back down the hall, thrusting the bags at Jack, then rushed into the living room. Jack shook his head as he tried to hold onto the bags without spilling their contents onto the floor. He went to the kitchen and began putting the fruits and vegetables away, listening to the soft conversation coming from his living room.
He'd finished unpacking when suddenly Cassie's footsteps warned him of her approach.
"Damn, I'm sorry," she said as she swept by him, grabbing the bunch of bananas from him and looking for a place to put them. "I should have done this for you."
Jack took the fruits from her hand and placed them on the countertop. "That's okay, sweetie, I'm sure Daniel was happy to see you."
"Is there anything else you want me to do? Maybe make a salad? It's almost lunchtime?"
"Sure, if you want to." He smiled, the conscientious young lady standing in his kitchen was a bundle of energy, needing to be useful. "You wanna join us?" he asked as she went to the fridge and began removing the vegetables he'd just put away a few minutes ago.
"I'd love to, but I'm going to the movies with Dominic." She straightened, arms full of greens. "You don't mind, do you? There wasn't anything else you needed?"
"Of course not," Jack said, catching a package of celery as it slipped from her arms. "We'll be fine, and if I need anything, I'll give you a call."
Her smile lit up her face and she nodded. Quickly and efficiently, Jack watched as she put a small salad together, then placed it in the fridge, ready for their consumption later.
"I gotta go," she said as she wiped the kitchen countertop clean. Actually, his kitchen hadn't been this clean and orderly in quite a while. Cassie had done his dishes for him earlier, teasingly calling him a slob. "And I think Daniel's sleeping," she whispered, looking through the halfwall into the living room. Jack moved aside and stood beside her. Yep, Daniel was sleeping, totally out for the count.
Jack walked Cassie to the door and stood watching as she got into Jack's old Ford truck and carefully pulled away. He shut the door and made his way to the living room, taking a seat in the LaZBoy by Daniel's head. He reached out and rested his hand on Daniel's upper chest, curling his palm around Daniel's chin. He gently stroked the edge of Daniel's jaw a few times, then relaxing his hand enough just to keep in contact, he put his head back and closed his eyes.
His contact with Daniel over the past two days had been solely through a few telephone calls, and even then, Daniel's end of the conversation had been stilted, as there had always been someone around within hearing distance.
God, he'd missed Daniel. Never mind he'd been worried like hell about him. But Fraiser had entrusted Daniel to him now, so that meant he had to be getting better, or he'd been so miserable in the infirmary she'd taken pity on him.
Either way, Jack was thankful that he was home now. And now Jack would get a chance to show Daniel how well he could care for him.
Jack sat there, content and comfortable, until his stomach reminded him it was lunchtime. He got up reluctantly and went to the kitchen, prepared two sandwiches with the roast chicken Cassie had bought and took out the salad. He put their meals on trays and brought Daniel's to the living room and placed it on the coffee table. He went back for the second tray, added two glasses of orange juice, and doled out their meds.
He squeezed the edge of his butt onto the bit of space left on the couch by Daniel's thighs, and leaned over to gently shake him awake. The younger man shifted, coughed, then opened his eyes. Jack saw Daniel look at him, then close his eyes again. A moment later Daniel's eyes flew open, and he looked up at Jack like he was a ghost.
Then he smiled and his face lit up with pleasure.
Jack smiled back. "You hungry? I've got lunch."
Daniel nodded, and sat up, wincing slightly as he moved his leg over the edge of the couch. Jack traded the pillow with one of the trays on the coffee table. While Daniel repositioned his foot on the pillow, Jack placed the tray on Daniel's lap.
"Here, this first," he ordered, handing Daniel his medication. Jack took his own pill, swallowing half the orange juice in the process.
"It's good to be home," Daniel said, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.
"It didn't feel like home until a short while ago," Jack said softly. Daniel glanced at him, smiled, then picked up a sandwich half and bit into it.
They ate in comfortable silence, and although Daniel didn't finish the sandwich or salad, he'd at least eaten more than half of it. When they were through, Jack dumped everything in the kitchen sink, silently apologizing to Cassie.
"Wanna go sit out on the deck and catch some rays?" Jack suggested. It was a warm late spring day, the sky was blue and there was hardly a cloud in the sky. Knowing that Daniel had been underground in the infirmary for days, and prior to that they'd been offworld working in the fog, he figured Daniel would appreciate the sunshine. He heard Daniel moving around, and hurried to the stairs to help him up.
As Daniel made his way to the deck, Jack grabbed a couple of pillows and a blanket. His lover was already sitting on one of the deck chairs, his injured foot stretched out before him.
"Here," Jack said, placing another pillow beneath his foot. Jack then straddled the space behind Daniel on the chair, and eased down carefully so as not to jar him. He picked up the blanket and spread it over both of them, then relaxed into the chair with his legs splayed on either side as Daniel leaned back against his chest.
It was one of their favourite positions together. Jack wrapped his arms around Daniel's chest, hooking his hands together.
"Foot hurt much?" Jack asked sympathetically.
"Throbbing right now, but the pill should kick in soon."
"You gonna sleep?" Jack asked, knowing without a doubt that Daniel would be sleeping in less than ten minutes.
"Mmm hmmm," Daniel murmured.
"Would you rather go sleep in our bed?"
"No, this feels nice," Daniel sighed. "I missed the sun."
Daniel yawned and shifted slightly so that his weight was on his left hip and he could turn his shoulder and snuggle his face into Jack's shoulder. Jack raised a hand and played with the short whorls of hair at the back of Daniel's head. He felt Daniel slip into sleep, his breathing heavy and slow. Jack held the man he loved more than life itself in his arms, thanking whatever force out there in the universe that Daniel loved him back.
- - - - - -
It was the chill running through him that finally forced him to open his eyes. He looked up at the sky; the sun was still shining brightly, but it was much lower than it had been when he'd stepped, or make that, hobbled outside. Daniel vaguely remembered Jack sliding from beneath him a while back, urging him to get up and go to sleep in their bed. But he'd been so comfortable, so sleepy, so lazy, that he'd mumbled something about staying here and had curled up alone on the padded deck chair. He remembered the feel of Jack's lips on his temple, and had fallen asleep before the patio doors had slid shut behind Jack.
He shivered and pulled the blanket closer, bringing his knees up to his chest and then winced as the movement aggravated his injured foot. He peeled the corner of the blanket away and looked at his watch. Nearly suppertime, which meant he'd been out here for most of the afternoon. Sleeping.
He sighed. Now that he was half awake, he became aware of the usual nausea on top of chills and aching joints. Which meant that he had a fever. Plus the pills he was taking weren't agreeing with him, but it wasn't like that was anything new. So long as he wasn't puking, he could live with the discomfort.
He'd slept for most of the day, which meant that he probably wouldn't sleep tonight. Janet's nurses never let him sleep for that long in one shot. And his fever had started up a couple of hours earlier than had been the norm. Usually he'd start feeling this way after supper, not before. And speaking of supper, he didn't think he'd be able to eat anything, not the way his stomach kept sending waves of nausea throughout his body.
Another shiver and the need to pee caused him to sit up and look for his crutches. He took a deep breath and forced himself up, balancing himself on one foot and swaying until he managed to get the crutches properly positioned. He turned carefully and started hobbling towards the door. Jack must have seen him because the doors were sliding open as neared.
"Hey sleepyhead," Jack said as he moved aside to let Daniel pass. The second he entered the house, the smell of something cooking set off his nausea again.
"Why didn't you wake me up earlier? Now I won't sleep tonight," Daniel groused. He was sorry as soon as he said the words, and the smile on Jack's face quickly faded. "Sorry," he whispered to Jack's back as his lover closed the doors.
Jack turned away from the doors, leaning his hip against the counter. "Doc said to let you rest, I didn't realize…"
"I know, I'm sorry, I didn't mean for it to sound the way it did. The pain killers make me sleepy during the day, but at night the fever keeps me up." He began moving out of the kitchen, aiming for the bathroom. He knew there was Tylenol in the medicine cabinet there.
"Supper's almost done," Jack said as he began taking plates out of the cabinets.
"I'm not hungry," Daniel called out as he entered the bathroom. As he was emptying his bladder, Jack came to stand in the doorway.
"It's just beef stew," Jack said. "Would you rather something lighter? An omelette, toast?"
"Maybe toast," Daniel said, knowing that bread would be easier to force down than something meaty. "My stomach's a little queasy."
"Toast, okay. How about a soft-boiled egg?"
"Whatever," Daniel said, wishing Jack would stop pushing. He pivoted to the sink and began washing his hands. Jack turned around and went back to the kitchen and Daniel took the opportunity to use the running water to mask the sound of his opening the medicine chest. Quickly, he found the Tylenol and downed three of them before joining Jack in the kitchen.
He sat down at the table, and before he'd managed to balance his crutches on the wall behind him, Jack was there with a pillow and was lifting his leg onto the chair facing him. His pills were set on his plate, all lined up in a row, a glass of juice next to them. He sighed, wishing he could skip them but knew they were more than essential in his getting better.
He hadn't told Janet how badly the pills were making him feel. He'd been afraid she'd have postponed his being released. He knew it wasn't right on his part, but he'd just been too miserable to care at that point.
But he was home now, and he'd try to not be too much of a burden on Jack, especially considering that he himself wasn't quite recovered from their ordeal. But how hard could it be? A few naps during the day, eat a few meals, and pray that tonight the fever wouldn't come back. Okay, too late for tonight, make that tomorrow night.
He listened to Jack puttering around behind him, and he lowered his head, waiting for the Tylenol to kick in. Maybe he'd have more of an appetite when his fever went down, although that wouldn't be before Jack was ready for him to eat, considering he just heard the toaster pop.
"Butter?" Jack asked, placing the bread before him.
Daniel shook his head, knowing that anything greasy at this point would just come back up. He reached for the pineapple jam and spread it lightly over the toast. He sat there trying to postpone the time he'd have to put the food into his mouth, watching as supper cooked too quickly, and soon there was a peeled and chopped up boiled egg sitting on the plate beside his cold toast.
Jack took the seat beside him and began digging into his steaming bowl of stew. Daniel reached for the toast, pulled a small piece off, and stuck it into his mouth.
He chewed until there was nothing left to grind, and swallowed. The food went down, hit his stomach, floated around uncomfortably a moment, and settled. Okay, he could do this.
He managed to eat half the egg and most of the toast before Jack reminded him to take his pills. Daniel knew he really hadn't eaten enough to buffer their effects, but he swallowed them anyways. He stood and out of habit, reached for his dirty plate, and then belatedly realized he wouldn't be able to manoeuvre to the sink with it.
"Leave it," Jack said, taking the plate from Daniel's hand. Daniel was usually the neat freak, needing to clean up after their meal whereas Jack, if left to his own devices, would postpone washing up until there were no clean dishes left. "I'll do them later," Jack promised. Daniel raised an eyebrow, then shrugged. To be honest, he didn't feel like cleaning up. What he really wanted to do was crawl into bed, but at this point that would be admitting that he was feeling lousy.
He went to the living room while Jack went outside to retrieve the blanket and pillows. Daniel managed to get down the few stairs by himself before Jack had realized what he was doing. Feeling pleased with that little bit of success, he made his way to the window, manoeuvring carefully between the coffee table and sofa.
By now, the Tylenol had helped a bit and he was feeling a little better, although his stomach was still roiling. When he became bored with looking outside, he sat down on the sofa, glad to put his foot up once more to ease the throbbing.
Jack came to join him and they sat shoulder to shoulder, Daniel idly rifling through a few monthly periodicals that had come in the mail, Jack flicking through the whole gamut of channels, and back again. Daniel couldn't concentrate enough to read, so he put the magazines down. Jack finally settled on an old war movie and Daniel let the images and sounds float over him.
He felt a hand tug him closer and he nestled sleepily against Jack's warm bulk. He hadn't realized he'd nodded off again, but he enjoyed the feeling of contentment just being by Jack's side. He could hear Jack's heartbeat thudding comfortingly beneath his ear, the drone of the planes in the movie lulling him further into sleep.
// Daddy, it hurts. //
// I know, Daniel. Now hold still so I can put a bandage over it. //
Daniel squirmed as his father finished cleaning out the deep slash along his arm and wrapped it up in a white bandage.
// Now, when I tell you not to go play in a certain area, will you listen to me next time? You do know that you could easily have stepped on that piece of broken shard, don't you? //
Daniel swallowed, knowing the damage the sharp pieces of broken clay could cause since one of his father's workers, Alam, had stepped on one a few weeks ago. It had gone straight through his foot, the edge of it poking through the top of his foot. Daniel remembered the screams of the other workers, the injured one being strangely silent. He'd been rushed off to the hospital and Daniel hadn't seen him since. Daniel pointed his bare toes and shifted his feet beneath the chair, hiding his dirty feet from his dad's sight.
// This is going to need stitches, I'm afraid. We'll go straight to the hospital and I'll leave word for someone to tell your mom what happened when she gets back. //
Daniel panicked at the word ‘hospital'. Alam hadn't come back, and Daniel was afraid that he'd never see his mom again if they left without her. He kept his fears to himself, though. He'd disobeyed his father, slipping into a newly discovered room of a tomb that had been partly buried in sand. He'd sat before the painted walls, knowing better than to try and touch anything, but nonetheless attempting to translate the hieroglyphs that had been hidden from human eyes for thousands of years.
He'd reached forward to catch the light more easily, leaning on the sandy floor, when suddenly a sharp pain had gone through his forearm. He'd lifted his arm to see blood, mixed with sand, pouring down his arm.
Daniel coughed, and his father's arm tightened around him. The waiting room in the small hospital was packed, and Daniel wasn't feeling well. He felt sick to his stomach, his head hurt, he was cold and his foot was throbbing.
// Shhh, Danny, // his father said as he brushed the bangs from Daniel's eyes. Daniel opened his eyes at the touch, and saw that he was no longer a child. But he felt safe, his father's strong arms would protect him always.
// I don't feel good, // Daniel whined.
// I know, it'll be over soon. // His dad rubbed Daniel's back, and pulled Daniel's face back close against his chest. Daniel could hear his heartbeat thudding loudly, and he relaxed against the secure haven of his dad's hug.
He opened his eyes again, and realized he couldn't see the floor. Fog had risen up to his knees and more was coming in through the open doors and windows. To Daniel's horror, the people in the room soon became vague shadows, only an occasional cough or sniff indicating that someone was there.
// Daddy? //
// It's okay, you're safe with me. //
Daniel felt the cold, clammy mist touch his face, and he couldn't help but breathe it in.
// The fog, Daddy. //
// I won't let it hurt you, Daniel. //
Daniel coughed, the mist tickling its way down into his lungs.
// But the fog, it'll make us sick. //
It touched his stomach, and he felt a wave of warm heat as nausea assailed him.
// It's only a dream. Wake up. //
// Daddy? //
// Daniel. //
Daniel started awake, seeing his father staring at him as he pulled away. The image remained for a few seconds before Jack's familiar face replaced it. Daniel stared around him, disoriented, trying to figure out how the room had changed from the hot, airless hospital to Jack's living room.
"You were dreaming," Jack explained, reaching out and touching Daniel's face. "You have a fever." Jack's hand remained on his cheek for a few seconds while Daniel sat confused, still trying to clear the cobwebs of the lingering dream.
The nausea and headache had remained, though, and the way his stomach was churning, he knew he needed to head for the bathroom, now.
He stood, forgetting about his foot until it brushed against the floor. He gasped, then swore, the pain escalating the throbbing in his head. He grabbed for his crutches, ignoring Jack's questions and moving away from his attempts to help. He hobbled awkwardly towards the stairs, silently cursing at the layout of the house. He had barely made it to the first step when his stomach finally revolted.
He fell to his knees and the tip of one crutch caught the edge of his injured foot. Gasping in pain, retching and choking, his body expelled the remains of his last two meals. A warm hand rubbed his back as he helplessly convulsed, unable to move as he fought to bring his stomach under control.
Finally, breathing rapidly and heavily, he sat back, hoping there wouldn't be any dry heaves. He met Jack's worried gaze, and then closed his eyes against the mess he'd just made on the stairs. He wished he could ignore the smell, his vomit-spattered clothes reeking almost as bad as the puddle.
"Sorry," he finally whispered.
"Don't be. Think you can get up?"
He nodded, and shifted onto his knees. Jack helped pull him and led him back to the couch.
"Here, take this off," Jack said, grabbing hold of the bottom of Daniel's tee shirt. He pulled the soiled article of clothing off and bundled it up. He pulled the afghan from the back of the sofa and placed it over Daniel's bare shoulders. "Stay here, I'll go clean that up."
"No, that's okay, I'll do that," Daniel said quickly. "Just get me some soap and water and—"
"Daniel. Sit, stay here and relax. I've cleaned up puke before. Remember, I used to be a father?"
Jack's words suddenly reminded Daniel of his dream, and how he'd dreamed of sitting in his father's comforting arms only to wake up in Jack's. He sat there staring at the darkened yard out back while his lover began cleaning Daniel's mess.
He took the clean tee shirt Jack handed him and put it on, then pulled the afghan back up over his shoulders against the chill he still felt. He didn’t resist when Jack stuck a thermometer into his mouth, and he took the Tylenol Jack handed him without complaint. His thoughts kept churning back to the sanctuary of his dad’s arms in his dream; arms that had meant security and love. The same feelings that were evoked when Jack had been holding him.
Security and promise of safety.
Not the arms of a lover.
The arms of a parent.
Damn, he was so confused.
- - - - - -
Jack had watched Daniel slowly withdraw from him. Ever since he'd had that little dream on the couch earlier that evening, he'd physically started pulling away from Jack. Oh, Daniel was compliant, taking his medication, coming to bed when Jack urged him to, drinking juice and water when Jack pushed it into his face, answering his questions but not participating in any conversation. Jack had put it down to his fever. It wasn't that high, just enough to make him uncomfortable and miserable. And obviously Daniel's stomach wasn't doing that great. But once Daniel had been medicated, hydrated and tucked into bed, he'd turned onto his side, facing away from Jack, and was now pretending to sleep. They'd shared tents for way too long for Daniel to be able to fool Jack, even before they'd become lovers.
And Daniel was restless now; that was also due to the fever.
Normally Daniel would be happy to let Jack or one of his teammates care for him when he was sick or injured. During the first years, he'd always been surprised at their offers to come and stay with him until he was well enough to be up and about on his own. Of course, Daniel had done the same for them, and Jack had always looked forward to Daniel's visits.
Daniel had appeared to be plenty happy to be home today. This was the first time one of them was sick since they'd become lovers, but Jack hadn't expected this change in temperament tonight.
So he let Daniel lie there miserably on his side of the bed, his arms bereft, his heart aching. He longed to make Daniel feel better; if he couldn't ease his pain or fever, at least he could try and offer comfort and love. But Daniel wanted none of it, and Jack, as much as he hated to, allowed Daniel his 'space'.
Jack remembered those times when Sara had been sick, how he'd enjoyed being the caregiver, her fevered body lying snuggled in his arms and knowing how much his touch and care meant to her. He'd hated seeing her sick, just like he hated seeing Daniel sick right now, but the feeling of being needed, wanted, had made his heart swell with love.
And he wanted Daniel to 'need' him right now, and he felt guilty with those thoughts because it shouldn't be about him, it should be about Daniel. About making his lover feel better. And if it meant leaving him alone, without comfort, then that was what he'd do.
Jack thought maybe Daniel would be happier in the impersonal care of the infirmary rather than here at home with him.
But then why had Daniel seemed happy to be home? He'd very obviously enjoyed sleeping in Jack's arms earlier this afternoon out on the deck? Of course, he hadn't been running a fever at the time and he hadn't just puked up his supper… but Daniel had always been comfortable with Jack, even sick.
He remembered many occasions when they'd simply sat side by side on the couch and Daniel would fall asleep, his head cushioned on Jack's shoulder. They'd been friends then, and Daniel had never pulled away from Jack's offer of comfort.
So why now?
The mattress dipped each time Daniel turned restlessly. Jack remained still, not wanting to add to any guilt Daniel might feel if he suspected he was keeping Jack awake. But when the bed began to shake with Daniel’s shivers, Jack reached over and turned on the lamp. He glanced at the clock and saw it almost 4 am. Neither of them had slept much this night.
“You okay?” Jack asked, raising himself up on his elbows, putting a hand on Daniel's shoulder.
“Sure,” Daniel replied, "I'm fine." The shivering stopped as Daniel tensed his body.
“Look, if you’re cold, why not just tell me.”
“I didn’t want to wake you,” Daniel said after a pause, turning to look at Jack.
Jack shook his head and picked up the thermometer from where he’d left it beside the bed. Daniel squinted up at him and turned onto his back. He opened his mouth without a word, allowing Jack to slip the small instrument under his tongue.
Jack got up and went to get a spare blanket, water and Tylenol. Keeping the blanket doubled, he spread it over Daniel’s trembling form, then placed the back of his hand against Daniel's cheek, feeling the slight scrape of stubble and the dry heat of his skin. He climbed back into bed and shook out two caplets, putting the pills beside the bottle of water, ready to administer once Daniel's temperature had registered.
Again, the fever was within the parameters that Fraiser was comfortable with, but high enough to make his lover miserable.
Daniel took the proffered pills and downed half the water before handing the bottle back to Jack and turning onto his side, again presenting his back to Jack.
Jack reached for a novel he’d been reading since he knew he wouldn’t get any more sleep that night. As he made himself comfortable, he decided to broach the question that had been lying heavy on his mind.
“Would you rather I took you back to the infirmary tomorrow?”
“No!” Daniel said, surprise evident on his face as he turned to stare at Jack. Then his face closed up, and he spoke in a very quiet voice. “Unless, you’d rather not have me here. I mean, you’re still recovering yourself."
"That's not what I meant."
"I can go back first thing, if you'd rather."
"Daniel, I don't want you to go. It's just that you seem a little – off."
"How about sick?"
"Well, yeah, but—"
"I'm fine. I just… don't want to be a burden."
"You're never that. A pain in the butt, maybe, but never a burden." Jack smiled to show he was joking.
"I want to stay. I… if you don't mind."
For a moment, Jack thought Daniel had been going to say something else. "Try to sleep," Jack said as he turned back to his book and giving Daniel the privacy he seemed to want.
Daniel nodded and pulled the blankets over his head, effectively telling Jack he didn't like the glare of the lamp. Jack waited till Daniel settled and began reading, hoping to lose himself in its pages.
- - - - - -
Jack rushed to the phone, hoping he could answer it before it woke Daniel up. It was almost 8 am, and Daniel had finally fallen asleep just after 6 when his fever had broken. Jack had been sitting at the kitchen table, reading the paper and sipping his third cup of coffee when the shrill ring of the phone had disturbed the quiet of the house.
"Yes. Who is this?" The female voice sounded vaguely familiar, and when she introduced herself as one of Fraiser's nurses, Jack was able to put a face to the voice.
"Doctor Fraiser asked me to stop and change Doctor Jackson's bandages," she said. "I can be there in fifteen minutes or so, if that's okay with you."
"Sure," Jack said. "You know how to get here?" He gave her directions to his home and decided to make some fresh coffee. It was the least he could offer her since she was going out of her way to do this for Daniel.
He'd just turned the coffee maker on when he realized that Daniel was still asleep. In their bed.
"Damn," he muttered as he hurried to the bedroom.
"Daniel, wake up," Jack said as he pulled the blankets off his lover's form. Daniel opened his eyes and looked at Jack blearily.
"Come on, you've gotta get up," he said as he reached for the crutches and held them to the still horizontal form in the bed.
"What time is it?" Daniel asked, finally sitting up and rubbing at his eyes. Jack could see the shadows beneath Daniel's eyes and the paleness of his skin. He hated doing this, but he had no choice.
"It's just after eight and Fraiser's nurse is gonna be here any second to look at your foot."
"Oh. Okay," Daniel said, lying back down.
"Daniel, get up," Jack ordered.
"Jack, it's easier for her to change the dressing if I'm lying down."
"Yes, of course it is. But try and wake that lovely little brain of yours and think what exactly you're lying on."
"Your bed," Daniel said after a pause, looking at Jack in confusion.
"Yes. *My* bed, and how, pray tell, would we explain the fact that you were sleeping in my bed when I have a perfectly good spare bedroom?"
"Oh. Shit." Daniel sat up and slid to the bed's edge just as the doorbell rang. He grabbed the crutches and stood up as Jack went to answer the door. Jack heard the bathroom door close as he opened let the tall redhead in, and he ushered her into the living room while they waited for Daniel.
- - - - - -
The routine task was more painful today; probably due to the fact that he had no painkillers in his system. The packing in his foot had been removed and the open wound was being carefully examined before Janet's nurse began replacing it.
He grit his teeth at the sensation of the medicated wadding being pushed into his foot. Previous times he'd been lying on the bed and didn't have a bird's eye view of the procedure. When she picked up a long stick and began pushing the packing in, Daniel had to avert his eyes.
He looked wildly around the room, searching for something to distract him from the necessary pain and discomfort. Finally he met Jack's gaze. His lover had been leaning against the wall, hands stuffed deep into his pockets, a look of indifference on his face. But when Daniel looked to him for encouragement, his expression changed to one of worry and concern. Quickly Jack skirted the coffee table and came to sit beside Daniel.
Daniel hated himself for needing his support. He'd always been self-sufficient. When had he become so dependent on Jack? He squirmed slightly in discomfort and looked away, ashamed now to look at Jack and instead concentrated on the patterns of the wood floor.
At his movement, the nurse looked up at Daniel. "You appear to be in pain, Doctor Jackson. Didn't you take your medication?"
"Um, no," Daniel said as he looked at Jack's legs. "I just got up."
"Colonel," the woman reprimanded as she continued working. "According to Doctor Jackson's chart, he's two hours overdue for his meds."
"I know, but he had a bad night and he finally fell asleep I didn't want to wake him…"
"You know, there's usually a reason to keep to a time schedule. Had you done so, he wouldn't be experiencing this level of discomfort." She turned gentle eyes towards Daniel. "I'm nearly done," as she gave the packing a few more final pokes.
"Why isn't the wound sutured?" Jack asked. "Wouldn't it have been easier to stitch it together?"
"Yes, if Doctor Jackson had been brought to the infirmary soon after his injury, that's what Doctor Fraiser would have done. But because it was several hours later, his foot swelled and it made it too difficult to meet the edges of the wound. So this way it gets to heal from the inside out. And I'm happy to say that there's no sign of infection, and everything is looking good."
She finished up by wrapping an ace bandage around his foot, and began putting her stuff away.
"Doctor Fraiser wanted me to remind you that even though your three days' enforced rest restrictions are almost over, Colonel, you are to continue taking it easy."
"Yes, ma'am," Jack said as he stood up to escort her to the door.
"I'll see you tomorrow," she said to Daniel with a smile as she left the room.
Daniel thanked her and sat there, trying to ignore the throbbing in his foot.
He heard Jack go into the kitchen and a few minutes later, he returned with a tray. Daniel looked at the bowl of oatmeal, juice, cheese and sliced apple.
"I figured the oatmeal might be easier on your stomach," Jack said as he placed the tray on Daniel's lap. Daniel smiled his thanks, picking up his spoon. "I put brown sugar on it, just the way you like," Jack pointed out. Daniel stirred the dark, melted sugar into the oatmeal and took a bite. It was good. He ate as quickly as he could just so that he could take his pills.
"Hurting bad?" Jack asked when Daniel swallowed the medication.
"Throbs, kinda like a toothache. Just so long as it doesn't get poked, it's fine."
Jack smiled. "Sorry about that. I didn't think. I should have woken and fed you earlier."
Daniel took several bites of the cinnamon-sprinkled apples and then sat back, sated. He'd actually been hungry this morning, despite the overall-feeling of fatigue and nagging headache due to lack of sleep.
"Thanks, that was good," he told Jack when the older man took away his tray.
"Glad to see you're appetite's back."
Daniel heard Jack puttering about the kitchen, and he let his head fall back onto the couch. The sounds faded, and he drifted, until Jack shook him awake gently.
"How about you go back to bed," his lover suggested. Before Daniel could object, Jack raised his index finger. "I should have said *we* go back to bed. Just for a couple of hours. I'll set the alarm."
Daniel remembered his words of the previous day, accusing Jack for having let him sleep too much and he ducked his head a moment. "Sure," he agreed, lifting his foot off the coffee table and holding his arm out for a hand up. Jack smiled and pulled Daniel up, then handed him his crutches.
He made it up the stairs without any problems, proud that his strength seemed to be returning. Yesterday he'd felt like the few steps were unending, today they were just a small obstacle to be overcome.
He slid under the covers while Jack took his clothes off before joining him. He realized belatedly that he'd never even changed out of his sweats before the nurse had arrived, then shrugged mentally. He'd get dressed later, when they got up again.
He turned onto his side and felt Jack spoon up behind him after a moment. As much as he hated to admit it, he welcomed Jack's presence, and took hold of his hand when Jack placed his arm around Daniel's chest.
"Alarm's set for two hours' from now," Jack said into his neck. He could feel Jack's breath puffing against his nape and he smiled, feeling content despite his misgivings.
- - - - - -
The noise was coming from far away, insistent and shrill. Daniel tried to force it away from his mind, but it kept on. Then the bed dipped and the noise stopped, and continued. This time it was of a more musical tone, but just as unrelenting in its insistence to be noticed.
"Hello. Hey Carter."
It took him a few more seconds to register that both the alarm clock and the phone had been ringing at the same time. He rolled onto his back, missing Jack's warmth in the bed. As Jack continued talking to their friend, Daniel glanced at the clock and saw it was just past eleven. He debated staying in bed today, he felt he could probably sleep another couple more hours.
"Sure, pizza sound okay to you?"
On second thought, it looked like he was going to have to get up.
As Jack hung up, Daniel asked, "Company?"
"Yeah. Teal'c just called Carter and he wanted to know if she was up for a visit. She wanted to check with us first, though. They'll be here in about forty minutes."
"Then I'd better get dressed."
- - - - - -
The sun had moved while Daniel had slept, and he shifted his head to bring the sunlight back onto his face. He stretched sleepily. He could hear Jack, Sam and Teal'c talking softly together. Their conversation had kept him company as he'd dozed on and off on a deck chair throughout the afternoon. He felt content, his family was here, they were safe and well, and had he mentioned that the sun's heat felt good?
"Sleeping beauty awakes," Jack teased when Daniel opened his eyes and canted his head to look over at his friends. He ignored his lover, and sat up, a little stiff and groggy from his nap. He saw the unfinished game of The Hound and the Jackal sitting on the little table beside his chair and he realized with a pang that he'd dropped off mid game. He stretched again, yawning, and apologized.
He realized he would fall asleep once more if he stayed where he was so he sat up and reached for his crutches. As he moved off to wander around Jack's back yard, he heard Jack asking, "Where you going?"
"I need to stretch my legs a bit," he answered, heading for Jack's rose garden, careful with the crutches in the spongy ground.
"Leg, you need to stretch your leg," Jack called back.
"Fun-ny," Daniel replied. - - - - - -
Jack watched as Carter walked across the yard and joined Daniel near his flowerbeds. She offered the younger man a glass of juice which he downed willingly, her hand lying on his back in friendly support.
Jack was glad their friends had stopped by. It had distracted Daniel and had placed a buffer between him and Jack. He wasn't sure what had happened last night… maybe Jack had pushed just a little too hard? But Daniel seemed to be himself again, laughing and joking with his friends.
But Daniel looked better today, stronger, happier. Maybe last night had been a combination of fever, fatigue and pain.
"Hey, you guys are staying for supper, right?" Jack said as he stood up. He had some chilli in the freezer, he could zip off to the bakery and get some bread. He could get a cake or something at the same time since there wasn't much of the pie left that Carter had brought over.
"Sir, I wouldn't want to impose," Carter started, but Jack merely waved her worries away.
"No imposition, besides, Daniel's enjoying your company."
Daniel snorted. "Right, considering I've slept most of the time you guys have been here."
As Carter leaned forward to talk with Daniel, Jack entered the house. He was a little surprised to find Teal'c following him. He skipped down the stairs leading to the basement where he kept his large upright freezer.
"DanielJackson appears to be recovering slowly," Teal'c said as Jack rummaged through the freezer. Spaghetti sauce, curry, stew… damn, where was the chilli?
Arms full of frozen goods, Jack turned to look at Teal'c. "Yeah, actually if it weren't for the nightly fevers, I think he'd be getting better even faster. And thanks, Teal'c, for going back to the planet for those samples. Without them, Danny might still be stuck in the infirmary."
Teal'c simply inclined his head, his eyes expressing his pleasure. "I do not know if anyone has mentioned this to you, O'Neill. But the container that held the samples we had collected had been placed on top of something which I believe to be similar to what DanielJackson stepped on."
"Come again?" Jack said as he found the elusive chilli at the bottom of the pile. He turned to glance at Teal'c before returning the Tupperware containers which Daniel had so carefully marked.
"The sample case had been pierced through the bottom by a small razor sharp stone. Had you not set it down in that exact position, it is possible one of the team might have injured themselves further during the night.
"That container's made of metal," Jack exclaimed, thrusting the frozen bowls at Teal'c and wiping his chilled hands on his tee shirt. He shut the door and stuck his hands beneath his armpits to try and warm them up.
"There wasn't any fog when you went back, was there?" Jack waved Teal'c to precede him up the stairs.
"There was not. Visibility was not hampered in any way. The rock that pierced the container was not the only one in evidence, although they had been well hidden by the fog. I believe we were extremely lucky that night."
"Yes, we were," Jack said, visions of one of them rolling in their sleep onto something sharp enough to stab through metal. He took the containers from Teal'c and placed the chilli into a bowl and stuck it into the microwave.
"I did manage to break off a piece and return it to DoctorFraiser. She has concluded that it was not the origin of the organism that is in DanielJackson's blood. That came from the water DanielJackson stepped in with his wounded foot."
"Yeah, she told me that."
"The rock, however, did contain significant traces of the minerals we were searching for. General Hammond is sending SG-8 for further analysis.
"That, I didn't know." Jack looked at his watch and decided he had plenty of time to go get the bread and dessert. "Go on back outside. I have to run a short errand, I'll be back soon."
- - - - - -
Dirty dishes and coffee cups, crumbs and smears of icing littered the coffee table, testament to four full, sated stomachs. They'd been having a good discussion over the past hour about the various movies they'd seen, or not seen, when Jack noticed that Daniel had gotten quiet. He continued describing the plot, using two spoons to represent planes, and how they strafed the coffee cup, er, boat, in their attempts to sink it. All the while, he kept glancing at Daniel, who had gone from leaning forward in interest to sinking into the corner of the couch.
Jack brought the climax of the story to an end and glanced at his watch. It was after eight, the sun had gone down more than an hour ago and Daniel's fever was only kicking in now. He noticed Teal'c and Carter looking Daniel's way and Jack got up, handed Carter the afghan while he went to get the Tylenol and thermometer.
"Really, I'm fine," Daniel was saying as Carter tried to get him to lie down. He waited till she covered him with the blanket and then he sat on the couch beside Daniel. When Jack went to put the thermometer in Daniel's mouth, though, Daniel waved it away.
"Jack, I'm fine. Let's just do this later."
"I need to know if your fever goes down with the Tylenol. You know that, so why the big deal?"
"Just give me the pills. I'll take my temperature later."
"We'll take your temperature now." He handed Daniel the medical implement, and Jack felt his irritation rise when Daniel placed it on the coffee table.
Jack grabbed the thermometer and snapped, "Daniel, put this thing under your tongue now or else I'm gonna stick it someplace where the sun don't shine. Makes no difference which end gets the reading, so long as I get one."
Daniel glared at Jack and he grabbed the thermometer, thrusting it into his mouth with enough force that Jack was sure it must have hurt. As Daniel lay there with the three of them watching him expectantly, Jack suddenly realized the reason for Daniel's reticence. Daniel reminded him of Charlie lying sick on the couch, and both he and Sara fussing over him.
It was one thing to be in the infirmary where it was expected to have your body functions examined and recorded, but it was quite another lying in your home with friends watching as you professed to being sick and vulnerable. And of course, Jack's words hadn't made the matter any easier.
Jack leaned over and kissed Daniel's jaw, whispering 'sorry' before straightening up. He kept a hand on Daniel's chest while they waited for the beep indicating the reading was ready.
His fever was higher tonight. 100.8. He handed Daniel the Tylenol and water, wondering if there was any kind of pattern to the illness. It had started later tonight, but was higher than the previous night.
"I think it's time we leave," Carter said as Daniel handed Jack the empty glass. She smiled at Daniel. "I'm feeling a little tired myself, and I guess if I'm tired, then the Colonel must be also."
She kissed Daniel's cheek. "Feel better soon," she said softly before nodding at Jack. "Thanks for lunch and supper, Sir."
"Indeed O'Neill, I enjoyed this day immensely. I am glad you are all recovering." Teal'c turned to look at Daniel. "You will be well soon, DanielJackson. The micro organism will soon be destroyed and you will return to work in no time."
"Thanks guys," Daniel replied. "It was fun, even though I slept through most of it."
"That's why they enjoyed the day so much," Jack teased. His words were met with silence and Daniel didn't look at Jack.
He walked his friends to the door and locked up behind them. He picked up the dirty dishes and washed them, going to check on Daniel occasionally through the half wall. Every time he went to look, Daniel had turned or shifted, obviously unable to rest.
"Come on, you'll be more comfortable in bed," Jack said gently as he came down the stairs. Daniel pushed the afghan aside and accepted Jack's help to stand. But once they reached the bedroom, Jack had another idea.
"In here," he said, steering Daniel to the bathroom and flicking the light on. He lowered the toilet seat cover and indicated that Daniel sit.
"Take your shirt off," he said, stopping up the sink and running some hot water. "People kept dropping in today so you never had a chance to get a proper wash." He soaped up a cloth and stood before Daniel, waiting for him to throw his dirty tee shirt aside on the floor.
"I can do this," Daniel said, holding his hand out for the soapy cloth. "I'm not a child."
"No, you're not, but sometimes you sure act like one." Jack ignored Daniel's out held hand and began washing Daniel's chest, moving down and under his arms and across his back. He felt Daniel shiver and Jack rinsed him off quickly. He rubbed him dry and then handed Daniel a stick of deodorant while he went to retrieve a clean pair of sweats.
When he pulled the tee shirt over Daniel's head, Daniel mumbled once more, "I can dress myself, Jack, I'm not a child."
Okay, this was twice he'd referred to not being a child. Jack kissed Daniel's nose when his head popped out of the tee shirt and said, "I know. And I'm not your father." The startled look on Daniel's face confused Jack, but Daniel lowered his head moments later and Jack almost thought he'd imagined it.
He helped Daniel take off his pants and began washing the lean legs and groin. Daniel's cock remained flaccid at Jack's touch, but Jack had expected this; fever and medication were sure to do a number on his libido.
He finished quickly, not wanting Daniel to feel a chill, but hoping nonetheless that the water might help bring down his fever. He eased the sweats over Daniel's injured foot, then the other leg, and had Daniel stand while he pulled them up. His face was close to Daniel's cock, and he couldn't help but lean over and kiss it before pulling the sweats up and over it. "Definitely not your father," he said softly, looking at Daniel intently.
Daniel stared at him, eyes wide behind his glasses. He handed Daniel his toothbrush and waited while he brushed his teeth.
"Come on, let's get you comfy," Jack said when Daniel finished. Daniel hobbled to the bed and Jack pulled the blankets over Daniel, watching as his lover turned onto his side, watching Jack. He was tempted to get into bed with Daniel, but if his lover had wanted him there with him, he would surely have asked. Instead, Jack turned out the light and went to watch some television.
- - - - - -
For a moment Daniel had thought Jack was going to join him in bed, but instead he left him alone and turned out the lights. He felt alone and misunderstood, although he knew the latter was due to his own rejection of Jack's comfort last night. And why had he reacted so childishly to having his temperature taken in front of his friends? It wasn't like it had been the first time they'd watched him register a fever. But for some reason, compounded by the confused feelings he kept getting the moment his fever returned, he had felt vulnerable and had become stubborn.
Of course Jack had ended up with getting the last word in. 'I'm gonna stick it someplace where the sun don't shine'. And he'd have done so, also. That was one thing Daniel knew about Jack, he might tease but he'd always be ready to carry out his threats. And Teal'c would probably have given Jack a hand, too.
Damn, but this was so stupid. He wanted rid of this fever, his foot to be better, and Jack in his bed, and not necessarily in that order. Instead he shifted once again, trying to get comfortable. He was afraid it was going to be a long night.
He turned restlessly in bed, miserable and stiff and unwilling to admit that he was tired. He could hear the faint drone of the television, and wondered if Jack would be willing to give up whatever he was watching and come join him.
He never expected Jack to come running into the room.
"What is it? Are you all right?" Jack asked, turning on the light and rushing to the bed.
Daniel put a hand up against the glare. "I'm fine. I was just hoping… wondering if you were… coming to bed soon?"
Jack froze, then smiled gently.
"Give me ten minutes to lock up and shower." He turned the overhead light off, turning on the softer bedside lamp instead.
Daniel nodded and smiled back. He listened as Jack closed up, shutting the lights behind him, then whistling softly as he entered the bathroom. The water ran for a few minutes and a short time later, Jack walked into the bedroom, naked.
Daniel watched Jack as he walked across the room to the bureau. There was no doubt in Daniel's mind that he loved Jack. How could he have mistaken this man as a father figure? Sure, Jack was older, but that was just his body. Daniel loved all of Jack; the snarkiness, the tenderness, the humour, the predator, the courage, the lover. He felt he'd been lost in the fog of his mind, and the sun had just come out to burn it away. He was no longer fog bound, and his way was clear.
When Jack slid under the covers, he looked over at Daniel a little uncertainly. Once Jack had turned the light off and was in the process of settling himself, Daniel slid towards Jack's side of the bed. He placed a tentative hand on Jack's chest and immediately, strong arms were pulling him towards Jack's warmth. He gladly turned to the comfort, raising his head and finding Jack's mouth unerringly.
After a moment, he pulled away and nestled into the curve of Jack's shoulder. "I love you," he said to Jack.
"I'm sorry about what I said earlier," Jack said, brushing a hand across Daniel's forehead.
"No you're not. But that's okay, I deserved it. Sort of."
"Now I know you're sick," Jack chided. "It was uncalled for, especially in front of Carter and Teal'c."
"I don't know what came over me. I think this fever's affecting my thought process."
"Then stop thinking and go to sleep." He felt a touch on his hair and realized Jack had kissed the top of his head. He closed his eyes, and tried to relax.
"I always loved doing this for Sara," Jack said after a moment. "Whenever she was sick, it was nice to feel needed, to be the caregiver. I guess maybe I expected you to feel that way, too. I'm sorry I pushed that on you, and didn't give you any space."
"I like this. More than you know. I've been so used to being alone and taking care of myself when I was sick that it's a relief to let someone else take over. It's just that… I had a dream… and I remembered my dad… and for a while I—"
"What?" Jack prompted when Daniel didn't go on.
He shrugged. "I feel safe with you. It's different when you're sick, you know? To admit you're vulnerable, to allow someone else to take care of you. That dream reminded me of being a little kid, safe in my dad's arms, and then there you were, holding me, and…"
"You didn't like feeling safe?"
"No. I didn't like feeling the way I'd felt with my dad, with you."
"I'm not your father."
"Thank God, no, you're not," Daniel replied, snuggling closer and pressing his uninjured leg between Jack's. He was tired and sleepy now, and he felt safe. And loved.
- - - - - -
"I have good news," Janet said with a grin as she walked into the infirmary. "Your last blood work shows no sign of the organism."
"Hey, that's great," Jack said as he sat down on the bed opposite where Daniel was lying. "That's probably why Daniel's fever broke in the middle of the night and didn't come back."
"Jack didn't trust the thermometer. He kept waking me up every hour to take my temperature."
"Did not," Jack said. "I just tried all three thermometers to make sure I was getting the same reading on all of them."
Janet began unwrapping the ace bandage around Daniel's foot and he looked away, meeting Jack's gaze. Her hands were gentle and deft, and soon the packing had been changed and the foot rewrapped.
"This is healing very well," she said as Daniel sat up.
"Doesn't throb quite as much," Daniel admitted.
"If this keeps up, I think I can release you to light duties in a week."
"Sweet," Jack said. "Daniel's been climbing the walls at home."
Which was true. He was bored, and he was also frustrated at not being able to move about easily.
- - - - - -
Jack stood looking down at Daniel who was sprawled on his back, snoring lightly. Jack admired the way the early morning sun highlighted the blond strands in Daniel's light brown hair. Since Daniel's fever had broken two nights ago, he no longer looked pale and weak.
With a smug smile, Jack placed the tray he was carrying onto the bed and leaned over and laid his lips over Daniel's. The slight snore ended suddenly, and Jack felt the mouth beneath his spread into a smile.
"Morning," Daniel said as Jack pulled away.
Daniel yawned and stretched, looking sleepily at Jack. "What time is it?"
"Just after seven. I was hungry and I thought you might appreciate breakfast in bed today." Jack waved at the tray on the bed and Daniel grinned.
"You know, I could eat," Daniel said as he sat up. "I just gotta—" he pointed towards the bathroom and Jack handed him his crutches.
"I'll be right back with the coffee," Jack said as he pushed the tray out of Daniel's way as the younger man slid off the bed. Jack returned quickly and put the coffee mugs down on the bedside tables. By the time Daniel returned to bed, Jack had placed the pillows up against the headboard for Daniel and was lying on his side, head resting against upturned palm.
"What did you make?" Daniel looked at the tray with interest.
Jack sat up and placed the tray on Daniel's lap with a flourish. He was happy to see Daniel looking at food with an appetite. He'd hated seeing him simply picking at his meals, eating only to ensure Jack didn't nag.
"French toast, fresh squeezed orange juice, bacon, hashed browns, fruit, and coffee." The tray was nearly overflowing with the food, several plates having been balanced carefully in order to fit.
Jack took a folded tissue from his pants' pocket and displayed Daniel's meds. With a grimace, Daniel accepted them and washed them down with the juice.
"This looks delicious," Daniel said as he took a bit of bacon. "But I'll never be able to eat all this."
"Who said it was all for you," Jack said, stealing a slice of bacon. He picked up a strawberry from the bowl and dipped it into the sweetened whipped cream he'd prepared. When Daniel swallowed what he'd been chewing, Jack held the piece of fruit to his lips. Strong white teeth bit into the firm flesh, and Jack continued to hold the remaining piece of fruit until Daniel teased the remaining bits from around the stem, his teeth nibbling at Jack's fingers in the process.
Daniel then cut a bite of French toast and held it out towards Jack. A drop of syrup fell onto the sheets as Jack stretched forward to accept the mouthful.
He then fed Daniel a slice of pineapple after dipping it into the whipped cream. As Daniel ate the fruit, Jack leaned up against Daniel and licked the small dab of cream that had smeared on the side of his mouth.
"Mmm," Daniel said, turning to offer his mouth to Jack. Jack kissed him soundly for a moment before taking another slice of bacon. He lay back onto the bed as Daniel sighed.
They continued to eat, feeding one another bits of food, or Jack stealing from Daniel's tray, until Daniel pushed the near-empty tray away.
"I'm stuffed," he complained with a happy sounding sigh.
"No room for dessert?" Jack teased. He took the tray and put it on the floor, and then pulled Daniel until he was lying more than sitting, and drew Daniel's head towards him for a kiss.
"I always have room for dessert," Daniel answered when Jack allowed him to pull up for air. "Can I have seconds?" He lowered his head and kissed Jack soundly, while his hands made their way down Jack's torso and skimmed the waistband of his pants.
- - - - - -
With his pulse still thudding in his ears, Jack quickly pulled his pants back on, hopping first on one foot and then the other. The doorbell sounded again and Jack cursed, mentally berating himself for having lost track of time. He kicked his foot into his slipper as he glanced at the clock, the damn nurse was early!
He was aware of Daniel slipping into his sweats and reaching for his crutches as Jack left the bedroom. Jack opened the door and greeted the nurse, whose duty it was to visit this morning. He greeted her and escorted her to the living room, then ran off to get her a cup of coffee while Daniel made his awkward way to her. As Jack was coming back down the hall, he nearly burst out laughing when he heard her words.
"You're quite flushed, Doctor Jackson. Are you sure you're feeling all right?"
"I'm fine, thanks," Daniel stammered.
"You're sweating. Maybe you have a fever?"
"No, no," Daniel protested as Jack made his careful way down the stairs so as not to spill the two mugs of coffee in his hands. The nurse had her hand on Daniel's wrist and she finally looked up at Jack as he put the mug down on the table before her.
"His pulse is racing, Colonel."
Jack smiled at her as he sat down in the armchair beside them, sipping at his own coffee before replying.
"He's fine. It's my fault, actually. Daniel complained that his bedroom was cold last night and I turned the heat up. I just forgot to go turn it down after he'd fallen asleep. It's like a sauna in there now. Plus I lost track of time this morning, so Daniel had to hurry out of bed. It's no wonder his pulse is racing. You're out of shape, big guy. You just wait till Janet gives the all clear, you and I are gonna hit the gym and get you back into fighting shape in no time."
She looked at Daniel again, and Jack could see that the sexual rush was fading. Jack didn't know whether to laugh or worry at the partly relieved look and partly irritated look Daniel threw Jack's way. Laughter finally won out and he bit his cheek to stop the sound from bursting forth, hiding his face in his coffee mug.
"Don't I get any coffee?" Daniel asked as he watched Jack take another sip.
"Fraiser said one cup a day. You've had your quota."
Jack smiled at the pout that appeared on Daniel's face. While the nurse was busy changing Daniel's dressing, Jack leaned over and handed Daniel his mug. Daniel took a long drink before handing it back.
The nurse finished in a very short time, eliciting only a few grimaces from Daniel before she was rewrapping his foot in an ace bandage.
"You're healing quite nicely, Doctor Jackson," she said as she gathered her supplies. "You'll be good as new in no time."
After Jack escorted her back outside, he returned to the living room to see Daniel finishing off his coffee. Jack sat down beside him and took the now empty mug away from him. Suddenly Daniel leaned against Jack and began giggling.
"What?" Jack asked as he wrapped an arm around Daniel and drew the snorting archaeologist closer.
"You have great timing, you know that? A few minutes earlier and…"
Jack laughed. "She came early," he complained.
Jack snorted and kissed the top of Daniel's head. "That would have solved part of our problem, wouldn't it?"
Daniel giggled helplessly against Jack, wiping tears from his eyes before pushing a hand underneath Jack's tee shirt, trailing a path along Jack's abdomen.
"How about we go back to the bedroom and you can feed me some more dessert?" His mouth nibbled Jack's neck and he gently bit down near his shoulder.
"You sure? Wouldn't want to spoil your appetite for lunch."
"Actually I was hoping on working up an appetite? You up for it?"
Jack grinned as he stood and pulled Daniel onto his feet. "Oh yeah, in more ways than one."
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