The Returnby JoaG
My return through the Stargate to Cheyenne Mountain was disappointing, to say the least. I had been half hoping that he'd be there, waiting to greet me in the embarkation room. SG1 had left four days ago to undertake an important rescue mission, and General Hammond had needed Daniel to remain on base to finish an important translation for SG9. We had all missed Daniel on this trip, but myself particularly more than the others.
As I stepped off the ramp, I asked the general where Daniel might be, making it sound as if I really didn't care. I think he saw through my guise, knowing that I had been searching for Daniel's beloved face amongst those who had gathered there to greet us. Hammond knows that weíre close, I just hope he doesn't realize that weíre more than mere friends.
My heart leaped into my throat as I was informed that Daniel had been ordered home earlier this morning. It shouldn't have come as a shock, as Daniel does it each and every time we're separated from one another for a good length of time. You see, my dear and beloved archeologist misses this grumpy old colonel whenever Iím not around. Daniel admitted to me not so long ago that he couldn't sleep whenever I was gone. He'd immerse himself in his work, and usually by the time Iíd get home, he had ended up making himself sick.
I was told that he had nearly passed out from exhaustion in the commissary this morning. Seems though, that heís worked his usual charm in avoiding an enforced stay in the infirmary. Janet, good friend that she is, told me that she'd driven Daniel home herself. An airman had followed them and brought her back to base, so Danny wasn't without his wheels. He'd come and see me when he was ready, that is, if I was able to resist the urge to go and check up on him before then.
So this is why Iím patiently sitting here, waiting my turn for my usual post-mission medical exam. If Daniel were sleepingÖas much as I miss him and want to see him, he needs the rest right now more than he needs me. I can wait to see him, at least for a little while longer. So I finish the medical, do the usual debriefing, type up the expected reports, and catch up on my never-ending emails.
I suddenly ask myself, why did I think that Daniel was asleep right now? He hadnít slept for Lord knew how many days up until this morning. Just because heíd been sent home, and unless the doc had drugged him, there was no reason to think that heíd followed her orders. I fiddle with my phone, debating whether to take the chance. In the end, afraid that Iíd wake him after all, I decide against making the call.
Iím anxious to get some rest myself, so late that afternoon I mange to leave the base and make my way home, resisting the urge to turn in the direction of Daniel's apartment building. I have to trust that heís asleep, not sitting there waiting impatiently for me to come over. As I approach my house, my pulse starts to race when I glimpse a hint of red and white parked in my driveway. Smiling widely, I pull in behind Daniel's '56 Thunderbird convertible. Then I frown, realizing that he shouldn't have been driving if heís as exhausted as Janet had proclaimed him to be.
I enter my home, noticing Daniel's jacket thrown carelessly on the couch, his shoes lying haphazardly under the coffee table. As I throw my own jacket on top of his, I hear shouting coming from upstairs. Daniel is screaming my name as I rush up the steps, towards my bedroom.
Heís lying on his side, fully dressed; his arms clutching something grey. I realize that heís having a nightmare, and it seems to be quite a bad one. As I grab his shoulders to shake him awake, he opens his eyes and looks at me. The look of pure terror on his face compels me to take him in my arms, murmuring soothing words to try and calm him down.
I can feel him shaking, gasping for breath. I wonder suddenly if this might be the reason why he wonít allow himself to sleep when I go offworld without him. Heís always had a tendency towards having nightmares, it comes from having had such a difficult childhood. He clutches at me with a poignancy that nearly breaks my heart. Is this the reason why he never wants to be left behind? Afraid that something will happen to meÖand that he wonít be there to protect me?
As he finally starts to calm down, I notice that heís barely able to keep his eyes open. I feel that itís safe now to lay him back down. He knows that Iím home; he should sleep soundly from this point on. As I watch, he curls up on his side. I smile to myself as I see my old grey sweatshirt still clutched in his hand.
A single golden sunbeam from the late afternoon sun come pouring through the open curtains, its gentle radiance illuminating my lover as if he were lying on a pedestal. As I gaze down upon him, I can see dark shadows smudging the smooth skin beneath his eyes. I tenderly caress his cheek, and notice the stubble on his face. Daniel is always meticulous in his appearance; that he hadn't shaved during the past few days attests to how tired he must be. I donít know how long I sit there watching him sleep, but when I lean over to kiss his temple, the sun is just beginning to set.
Itís getting cold in the room, so I get up to find a blanket to cover him with. I didn't mean to wake him this time, but he stirs as I stand up. Raising his head slightly, he squints as he looks around to see what had disturbed him. Heís obviously slightly disoriented, but when his bloodshot eyes finally focus on me, the smile on his face seems to light up the room more brightly than the sunbeam had.
"Hey," I said, by way of greeting.
"Jack," he breathes. "What time is it?" He turns his head, trying blearily to look at the clock.
"Nearly suppertime." Suppertime it may be on Earth, but my body was telling me it was the middle of the night. Being offworld for an extended length of time certainly threw off one's circadian rhythms. "You hungry?" I ask.
He drops his head back down heavily onto the pillows. "NoÖ" he replies, closing his eyes. I sit down beside him once again, one hand carding through his hair. I feel guilty, seeing him lying there so exhausted. Although my mission had been a physically grueling one, I had managed to sleep whenever the occasion permitted.
"Daniel, you have got to stop doing this to yourself," I scold.
He doesn't answer; weíve been through this time and again. I know something bothers him when weíre apart, but I wonít push. Heíll tell me when heís ready, I know him that well. Hopefully itíll be soon, because I canít bear to see him this way.
Deciding I had better get him under the covers before he falls asleep once more, I gently urge him to sit up. Sighing softly, he pushes himself up and slides his legs over the side of the bed. He permits me to pull his sweater over his head, and tug his jeans down his long legs. I fold back the covers, inviting him to share my bed.
Undressing quickly, I slide in beside Daniel. As he turns to face me, I reach over and pull him close against me. He happily nestles his head onto the side of my neck, his breath teasing my skin, sending goosebumps coursing throughout my body. One hand lays alongside my thigh, its weight a warm comfort in its familiarity.
"I missed you, Jack," he whispers. I squeeze him gently as I reply, "God, I missed you too, Danny. I love you." At that moment I wish that we could celebrate my returnÖbut Daniel desperately needs to sleep. With my love soon lightly snoring in my arms, I close my eyes, contented. Tomorrow will be soon enough.
Jack is due back today, at least thatís what I had written down on my calendar several days ago. At this point, Iím so exhausted, Iím not quite sure what day it is. All I know was that sometime today, Iíll be seeing my colonel again. Dejectedly sitting in my car, I desperately try to listen to what Janet is saying. Sheís not happyÖI can tell by the tone of her voice, but the words she speaks are just gibberish to me.
I had really done it this time. Of all the times to experience a dizzy spell! I had to go and do so in the commissary in front of half the SGC. Iíd only been gone from my office a few minutes, why couldnít this have happened while I was alone, working? I was escorted red-faced to the infirmary, where Janet ordered me, in no uncertain terms, to get some sleep. I somehow convinced her that I needed to go home. I donít remember exactly what I told her, but I must have been quite eloquent in my appeal. I didnít quite plead, but she must have realized that I was desperate not to stay under her care as sheís driving me home herself.
Somehow I even managed to contrive to get my car home with me, although maybe Janet just wanted an excuse to drive it herself. An airman is following behind, prepared to take her back to the base. Embarrassing enough that my doctor drove me home, sheís also insisting on escorting me to my door.
I putter around for a bit, too restless now to finish anything I start. Realizing that this isnít the home that I want to be in, I quickly exit the building and jump into my car. I drive very carefully, fully aware that my reflexes arenít quite as they should be. I make it safely to Jackís house, and with my key, let myself in.
I throw my jacket onto the couch, intending to sit on the sofa and wait for Jack to come home. I kick off my shoes, making myself comfortable, and turn on the TV. After a few minutes when I find myself nodding off, I jump off the couch. I canít go to sleep! I canít take those nightmares again, not without Jack.
Before we became lovers, I never experienced this awful terror that I might lose Jack. Now whenever weíre separated, I fear for the worse. Afraid that because Iím not there with him, I wonít be the one who might make the difference in my teamís survival. His survival. I know that itís not logical, but my subconscious doesnít agree with me. Every time I close my eyes, the nightmares cause me to wake, screaming in terror.
I wonít sleep on the base nor in my own home; there are just too many people around to hear my cries. I know that I must sleep, and soon; I feel that my body is about ready to give up on me. Feeling strangely melancholic, I decide to try and lie down in Jackís bed. Perhaps the memories of happy times there might help dispel the dreams. For a time.
I pad up the stairs to the bedroom in my stocking feet. As I enter, I spy Jackís old sweatshirt, which heíd thrown on the chair the morning he left for this mission. I pick it up and sit on the bed, rubbing the soft jersey over my face and inhaling his scent.
Thinking that Jack may be back on base by now, I reach across the bed for the cordless phone. As my hand touches the cradle, I realize that itís not there. I curse when I remember belatedly that my cell phone is also downstairs in my jacket pocket. I let myself fall onto the bed tiredly, thinking Iíd rest for a moment before going back down to find a phone. I bring the sweatshirt up to my face again, thinking that Iíd have to speak to Jack soon about my nightmares.
Heís asked me on several occasions why I do this, but Iím too terrified to tell him the truth. If he knew of my fears, Iím afraid he might think weíve become too close to remain together, to be on the same team. Iíve lost too many people in my life: my parents, Shaíure, Sarah, just to name a few. I donít want to lose Jack, neither as a teammate, nor as my soulmate.
I hadnít meant to fall asleep, but I must have done so, because I wake up screaming for Jack. I can still see his broken body from my dream lying on the metal ramp, as my other two teammates bring him back for me to bury.
The next thing I know, Iím being pulled into Jackís arms. I canít comprehend where heís come from, but Iím too relieved to find his warm, hard, living body next to mine. I hug him as hard as I can, desperately trying to convince my tired mind that itís not still a dream.
I feel worse physically at this moment than I had earlier. Sometimes too little sleep is worse than none at all. I think I dozed off for a moment or two. I feel Jack kiss my temple, and force myself awake once again.
We speak for a bit, and he helps me get ready for bed. As I settle myself against his warm body, I thank God for returning my love to me.
ďI missed you, Jack,Ē I murmur against his neck. I know that the words arenít enough to convey my feelings at this moment, but itís all that I can manage in my current state. He squeezes me in return, affirming his love for me. I wish I werenít so weary, so I could show him without words, how much I love him. But there will always be tomorrow, and the rest of our lives.
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