Salvation by JoaG

I had been certain that Daniel was dead. He’d gotten separated from us during a storm from hell as we were running for the Stargate, and he had been stuck offworld, alone, for over 48 hours. I’ve been sitting by his bedside now for over eighteen hours, watching him sleep. A sleep so deep that I was certain it was aided by Janet’s treasure trove of medication, and not due solely to his exhaustion. His skin is nearly as pale as the pillowcase beneath his head, emphasizing the dark smudges around his eyes. I’d been holding onto his hand all this time, watching each breath he took, listening for each sound he made.

It had been two unendurably long days before we finally managed to get a lock on that damned Stargate address. We found him unconscious, huddled beneath the DHD, the only shelter around for miles. That he had survived the storm, well, I’m still thanking God for that. Survived, but barely. Teal’c had carried him back through the ‘gate, limp, sodden, and chilled. He had woken up for a moment as he was carried down the ramp in the embarkation room, maybe the heat of the place registered on his abused body. I saw him look around incredulously, I think he believed that he was dreaming. I remember him turning away as his eyes met mine. My heart nearly ripped in two as I wondered at the time, if he blamed me for leaving him behind.

I swear that I didn’t know that he wasn’t with us. I was sure he’d been ahead of me, with Carter. She thought he was with Teal’c. Otherwise I would never have gone through the ‘gate without him. I don’t think I could go on living without him, he’s become my sole purpose for living. My friend, my lover, my life.

I had ordered everyone to drop all of their gear, to lighten the load so that we could move faster. Everything was so waterlogged that it was dragging us down. We could barely see anything in the wind-driven rain, and Daniel must have become separated from us as we neared the ‘gate. We barely escaped the flash flood as we ran through the Stargate, towards safety.

When the gate shut down behind us and I had seen that only three of us had made it through along with half a creekbed of water and debris, Teal’c had had to physically remove me from the dialing computer. I had been pounding on it in helpless fury and desperation when the seventh chevron continued to refuse to engage. Carter said it had to do with flux of energy due to the storm, and that we had to wait it out. We had never expected it to last this long, we thought a few hours, tops.

Janet assured me that he was going to be fine. He was suffering from exhaustion and exposure mostly. He had a slight fever, but she was keeping a watch on that. She was surprised that he hadn’t come down with pneumonia, being exposed to rain, wind and cold for such a long time. I was grateful that Daniel had been in such good health before we’d stepped through the Stargate, that was probably one of the main reasons he had survived those two days of hell. My doing actually, making sure that he ate routinely and got quality sleep.

Soft mumblings bring my attention back to my lover, and I stroke his face, trying to ease him through the nightmare. He’s gone through several since he’s been lying here, and the fact that he never woke up reinforced my suspicion that Janet was helping him to ‘sleep’. The sound of my voice seems to calm him, and as he settles down, I think I hear him whisper my name.

I lean my head onto the back of the chair for a moment, closing my eyes. I haven’t slept for the past three days, and my exhaustion is catching up to me. A hand on my shoulder startles me awake, and I look up in alarm to see Janet’s expressive brown eyes looking down at me in concern.

"Colonel, why don’t you lie down on the bunk next to Daniel. He’s not going to wake up anytime soon, and it’s no use making yourself sick waiting for him to do so.”

I don’t want to leave him, I really don’t. But she’s right, he’s going to need me when he wakes up, and if I don’t sleep soon, I won’t be in any shape to be there for him. I reluctantly let go of his hand, and climb onto the bed. I lie there facing Daniel, keeping my vigil from a slightly different position. I’m asleep before I know it, and the next thing I’m aware of are low voices nearby.

I force my eyelids open and see Carter and Janet standing by Daniel’s bedside. I raise my head, trying to see my lover, but their bodies hide him from me. “Daniel?” I manage to croak. My mouth is dry, my eyelids still heavy. They turn in surprise, and Janet rewards me by a bright smile.

“He’s doing fine, colonel. He hasn’t woken up yet, and his fever hasn’t gotten any worse.”

I clear my throat, and ask, “How long was I asleep?”

“Nearly twenty hours, sir,” she says with a bit of a smile. I glance over at Carter, and notice that she’s trying to hide a grin. I rub my hands over my face, sitting up with a groan. From my new vantage point I can finally see Daniel again. He looks the same as he did before I’d fallen asleep. Carter suggests that I go and take a shower, change my clothes, get something to eat. She promises to stay with Daniel until I get back.

“He’ll probably be waking up in a few hours,” Janet tells me. Which leads me to believe that she’s finally stopped pumping him with her happy juice. I nod, and hop off the bed. Well, more like a controlled tumble, actually. Shower, clothes, then food. Sounds good.

I make it back to Daniel’s bedside in under an hour, feeling almost like a new man.

He’s stirring slightly now, his breathing not quite as deep and rhythmic. Yep, his eyes are opening, and he’s looking around. I wish we had more privacy so that I could take him into my arms, but the most that I can do is squeeze his hand lightly, letting him know that I’m here. His head turns towards me, his eyes meeting mine. I can feel my face splitting into a silly grin as he focuses on me. And then turns his head away, as if he didn’t care.

“Danny?” I ask questioningly, my heart thudding loudly in my chest. I hear him sigh softly, as he turns his head to stare straight up at the ceiling.

“I’m dreaming,” he says simply. “You’re not real. You’re dead.”

The hell with privacy! I lean over him slowly, my hand clutching at his in dread. I stop when my face is only an inch away from his, and as my other hand strokes his cheek, I say to him, “Does this feel like a dream?" I can feel his breath on my face, and suddenly he’s gasping, his eyes meeting mine in desperation. “Jack?” he says in disbelief. I nod, unable to form words past the lump in my throat.

He throws his arms around me and holds onto me for all that he’s worth. As I grab him and squeeze him back, I realize that I had never thought that he might have believed we hadn’t made it through the wormhole. He must have spent those two days thinking we were dead. That I was dead. Oh god, Daniel!

Exhaustion finally claims him, as his arms now lack the strength to keep holding onto me. He slackens in my grasp, and I lay him back down gently onto the bed. I see that he can barely stay awake, the emotions coursing through him having worn him out as completely as the time he spent weathering the storm.

“Get some sleep, Danny. I’ll be right here, okay love?” I caress his face gently, easing him into sleep. I watch as his eyes close, and he travels the way of the sandman once again. A slight rustle brings my focus beyond Daniel, and I see Janet standing there watching us.

“He thought we were dead,” I explain to her. She had obviously witnessed our emotional reunion, and I thought it required an explanation. “Shit, I never even thought he hadn’t realized that we were safe.” Once the floodgates were open, I couldn’t stop. “I thought he was going to blame me for leaving him behind. I didn’t think…I didn’t know…” Suddenly I can’t go on, and she pats my shoulder understandingly.

When my emotions are under control once again, she say says to me, “Are you up to taking Daniel home?” I look at her eagerly. “All his tests came out okay. All he needs now is rest, food, and more rest. And someone to look out for him for the next couple of days.”

I nod my agreement, anxious now to get Daniel home and into my arms. And into my bed. Desperately wanting to show him how much I missed him, and how much I love him.

- - - - - -

He’s been quiet the whole length of the trip down the mountain. He’s just sitting there staring out the window, while I drive my precious cargo home. He hasn’t said much to anyone since he woke up again a couple of hours ago, except to reiterate that ‘he’s fine’. I know that he’s not, not really. He’s too quiet, and the haunted look is back in his eyes. I wish that I could speed up and rush us home, but I don’t dare take any chances on these icy roads.

I spoke quietly to Janet before leaving, mentioning that I thought something was still wrong with Daniel. She agreed, but felt that familiar surroundings would help him overcome the despondency that seems to assail him when his focus lapses. Stress, she diagnosed. Rest, she prescribed.

I finally pull up in my driveway, and I walk behind him as Daniel makes his cautious way up the icy walk to my front door. As soon as the door shuts behind me, I reach for Daniel and pull him into my arms. I hug him close for a moment, and then pull back and gently kiss him. As my hands course down his body and gently massage his ass and fondle him through his jeans, I come to the realization that Daniel is not responding. Zip, nada, nyet.

I take my hands off my lover, and bring them up to grip his face. His attention is definitely not in the here and now, he’s looking past my shoulder, seeing nothing. I peel his jacket off and steer him towards the couch. He sits down automatically, hands clasped, hanging between his knees. I sit on the coffee table before him, my knees on either side of his. I reach down and grasp his hands, noting that they’re freezing. I bring them up under my shirt, warming them against the heat of my chest.

That small action finally causes him to focus on me. His eyes meet mine, and I smile tenderly at him. "Wanna talk about what happened out there?" I prompt. I don't think he's quite ready to spill, but I want him to know that I'm here for him when he is. I was right, a slight shake of the head, a touch of a smile. "Okay, that's cool," I assure him.

I look at him intently, see the fatigue reflected on his face. “Janet said you have to rest. Let’s get you into bed, hmmm?” He doesn’t say anything, but gets up at my prompting and follows me into the bedroom. I help him undress and change into his sweats, and pull the blankets back, inviting him to get into bed. He slides in tiredly, and as he settles, he looks up at me questioningly.

“Want company?” I ask, unsure of what exactly he’s feeling. I usually can read his body language, but today, he’s got me totally stymied. He nods slightly, and I think that he’s almost as unsure of me as I am of him.

I toe off my shoes, and he turns onto his side, facing me, as I slide into bed beside him. He lies there staring at me, looking so forlorn, so alone. I scoot in a bit so that we’re just touching, and tentatively place a hand on his hip. He leans into me slightly, and extends a leg over mine, nuzzling his face into the juncture of my neck and shoulder. I feel him begin to relax slightly as I gently stroke his back.

- - - - - -

I wake up with a start, my arms empty, my heart heavy. I open my eyes and turn to see Daniel lying on his side, staring off into space. He's curled up into a ball, almost in the same position as when we found him unconscious, sheltering under the DHD. I call his name, but he doesn't respond.

I reach a hand out to him, stroking his cheek. His skin is a little warm to the touch, but Janet said that was to be expected. I call his name again, and this time he blinks, and raises his eyes in my direction.

"Hey, you're supposed to be sleeping," I say.

"Can't," he replies.

"Nightmares?" He looks away at my question, an action that depicts more than words to me.

I reach my arm to him and say, "C'mere, I'll chase 'em away." He unfolds his body and reaches out to me, almost like a child needing comfort. I lay my length against him, while taking him into my arms. He buries his face against my shoulder, his arms wrapped around me.

“I gave up,” I thought I heard him say against my neck.

“Danny?” I ask, bringing my hand up to card through his hair, stroking down and massaging his nape.

“I gave up, Jack. I thought you were all dead,” he says a little more loudly. Before I can say anything to him, he continues. “At first I thought you had made it through the Stargate, but when I found…” I can feel his breathing start to speed up, and I can only hold onto him, waiting for him to go on. I won’t say anything at the moment because I can’t trust my own voice not to break.

After a minute, Daniel continues to speak. “I toughed it out beside the DHD for a long time, it helped break the wind somewhat. But at one point I was cramping, I had to move, tried looking for some other form of shelter. I found your hat, Sam’s pack…” His voice broke at that point and I could feel that he was holding everything in. “I couldn’t bear it after that. I crawled back to the DHD and waited.”

I just couldn’t help myself, I just had to ask. “Waited for what?”

“I don’t know…death, salvation…anything,…that would stop the pain I was feeling. I wanted to join you, I didn’t want to go on…without you.” I feet him relax after that confession, and I hold him quietly in my arms, until I know he's fallen asleep.

- - - - - -

When I wake up later, Daniel is doing wonderful things to my body. Considering the state of mind he’d been in earlier, I ask him, “Danny? Are you up to this, love?”

He takes my hand and brings it down on himself. “Does it feel like I’m up?” he teases. The thin material of his sweats leaves no doubt to my imagination as to how much he wants this. “Love me, Jack. Show me that I’m still alive. That you’re still alive…”

Bringing my mouth down on top of his, I do my best to prove how alive I was.  


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