Sorrow Knows no Voiceby JoaG
The numbness, which had been all-encompassing since Daniel had woken up from the surgery, was fading. Still, he clung to it like a drowning man clinging to a sinking dingy; the moment it was gone, he'd have to acknowledge Jack's death.
The sobs were there, right below his breastbone, and it took all of Daniel's strength to hold them at bay as Hammond finished his speech. The interminable military funeral, which he'd dreaded attending, but had been dragged to because everyone thought this was what Daniel had wanted, was finally drawing to a close.
He hadn't been able to bring his gaze upon the flag-covered casket as yet. But the ceremony was coming to an end, or so he thought, but he jumped, startled, when the bugler began playing Taps. He stared at the ground, keeping his gaze on Teal'c's feet, which looked huge in the dress shoes he'd somehow gotten to go along with the dark suit he was wearing.
Someone coughed once the bugler finished, bringing Daniel's attention back to the silence. Sam and Ferretti were performing the traditional flag-folding ceremony. He'd lost a few minutes; he hadn't noticed them walk up to the casket and remove the casket's pall. He concentrated on Sam's face. Her soldier's face. The one which she held, he knew, by keeping a hard bite to her inner cheek to keep all emotions from surfacing.
Ferretti, however, was close to tears. Even from where Daniel sat, in his wheelchair, on the lawn just a foot away from the well-maintained path in the cemetery, he could see the brightness of the soldier's eyes as he kept his gaze averted from Daniel.
He wished with all his heart that he could just get up out of this wheelchair and walk away. That he didn't have to have the responsibility of accepting the flag, the military's way of presenting their appreciation for Jack's services. As if a piece of material could take his place. As if anyone could ever know what Jack had meant to the world. To him.
On their last missions, he'd lost not only his best friend, but his reason for living. His love. His partner. His life. Why hadn't the Jaffa taken him, instead of Jack?
Sam looked at him, just a passing glance, but the anguish in her eyes was so similar to the fear in those few seconds, just a couple of days ago, when they'd seen the Jaffa turn and aim his super charged staff weapon towards Jack. That simple, fleeting look, however, threw Daniel back into the throes of a flashback.
He knew that the Jaffa was going to fire. Jack was directly in the enemy's line of sight. Screaming, Daniel threw himself at Jack, intending to push him out of the way. He was fast, the Jaffa was slow, but the energy bolt was faster.
The heat of the strike burned right through Jack's body, killing him instantly. The bolt continued on, much of its energy dissipated within Jack, but not before it continued on into Daniel and severed his spinal column.
He returned slowly to the here and now, his breath loud and shaky even in his own ears.
"DanielJackson? Are you ill?"
He saw Sam pick up the now compact flag, position it stiffly in her arms, and turn towards him.
"Get me out of here," he said, his hands gripping the edges of the wheelchair with such an intensity, he was surprised he didn't shatter the plastic or break the bones in his hands. He knew he was on the verge of losing it and this was the last place he wanted it to happen. Because if that occurred, he'd never be able to bring himself to visit Jack's grave, ever again.
He jerked harshly at the suddenness of the three gun salute. The wheels of his wheelchair were loud on the gravely path and he tried to calm himself by keeping his gaze on the lush lawn. Instead, pain-filled brown eyes came to him, eyes which stared sightlessly up at an alien sky, superimposed by anguished blue eyes, which Daniel knew blamed him for leaving their owner alone in her grief. He'd have to worry about Sam later. Right now, he had his own sorrow to keep at bay.
Soon, the only thing he heard was the sound of birds and Teal'c's feet on the gravel, and his own uneven breathing. He had no idea where he was; the trip from the car to the gravesite hadn't take more than a few minutes, and Teal'c had been pushing his chair for much longer. He felt tears slide down his cheeks but wiping them away would just take too much energy, so he let them fall. Daniel lowered his head, staring at his useless legs, wondering at the irony that he felt absolutely no pain where the blast had burned and charred his body.
Teal'c brought the wheelchair to a stop, and his footsteps crunched loudly, then faded as he stepped onto grass. A moment later, Teal'c crouched down next to him.
"This inaction will do you ill, DanielJackson. You must begin to heal, and allowing your sorrow to surface will facilitate the process."
"I am healed, remember?" Daniel threw back, grief making his words sound full of anger. "Sam used the healing device on me. It didn't work." Much of those minutes after his being injured were missing, but he definitely remembered begging Sam to heal Jack instead. Despite the gaping, charred hole in the middle of Jack's torso, he'd pleaded to both Sam and Janet to help Jack, to bring Jack back to him. That, he remembered very clearly, thank you. Embarrassment now mingled with his grief and his diaphragm froze for a moment, then released his breath in a loud, hitching sob.
As if that one sob was the leading edge of a rainstorm, it gave permission for his traitorous body to cave in on itself in an outpouring of emotions. Strong arms took hold of him and held him close, and a beloved voice spoke softly in his ear.
"It's okay, Danny, I'm here. Just let it all out."
"J...Jack?" He couldn't get his breathing under control and even that one word had to be forced out through hitching sobs.
"Just a nightmare. Shhhh." Hands nudged his head forward and he took the hint, leaning his face against Jack's neck, breathing in his scent. Jack wasn't dead. Oh God, Jack wasn't dead!
"Wanna talk about it?" Jack asked, his breath tickling Daniel's ear.
Mortified, Daniel shook his head, wrapping his arms around Jack to help keep his balance. Sitting awkwardly, his paralyzed legs splayed ungainly in the bed, he trusted Jack to keep him from falling; his reason for holding Jack close was so that he wouldn't put him back down and walk away, leaving him there, helpless.
"This is the fourth nightmare in four nights. It might help to talk..."
Teeth clenched together as he forced his emotions back, Daniel remained silent. How could he tell Jack that his demons kept reliving those unforgettable moments where he'd nearly been a fraction of a second too slow, and Jack had almost died from the staff blast which had hit Daniel instead. It was bad enough that Daniel's actions had curtailed his own career with SG-1, but they had almost cost Jack his life. Too close, it had all been just too close.
He sniffed through clogged sinuses, his throat sore and tight with emotions. For four nights, he'd woken up a quivering, sobbing idiot. This had to stop. Right now. Enough with the tears. They were ending, now.
Drawing a shaky breath, Daniel tried to pull away and compose himself, forgetting for a moment that he was paralyzed from the chest down. He slid to the side, only to be caught by Jack and repositioned on his side. Hating this weakness, the only thing Daniel could do was close his eyes.
He was too weak still to start any therapy, was reliant on others to push him around in a wheelchair. He was now a useless piece of flesh, and even though he was grateful his body had shielded Jack from the Jaffa's attack, he felt a flash of anger at himself, for having gotten into this situation in the first place.
His life, as he'd known it, was over.
His job would now be a desk job, altered so that his wheelchair would fit before it.
His daily companions would be ancient treasures brought from planets all over the galaxy for him to examine instead of stepping through the 'gate and discovering them himself.
And worst of all, he would spend the rest of his life lying alone in bed, with a body that no longer responded to the man he loved.
"You're going to have to start talking to me one day." The chair squeaked as Jack moved off the bed and settled back onto it. "May as well be now."
Again Daniel silently cursed his weakness. He'd hoped by ignoring Jack, the man would give up, go away. Instead he'd sat with him, day and night, had been there when Janet had given him the news that the spinal cord injury was irreversible. The only time Daniel allowed Jack to comfort him was during these nightmares.
Damn his body.
He tried not to flinch when he felt hands touch his face, but he did so anyway. Pain erupted in his back and legs, and he couldn't help but cry out in agony.
"Doc, he's awake."
Daniel forced gummy eyelids open and blinked the strange scene around him into focus. An oddly orange sky shifted, and was replaced by trees whose leaves weren't quite green. Janet, wearing BDUs, knelt and filled his field of vision. She smiled at him, looking out of place without her white lab jacket.
"Hey, there." She reached out and picked up his wrist and held it between her fingers. "How are you feeling? How's the pain?"
Daniel licked dry lips, trying to figure out why his back and legs hurt so much if he was paralyzed. He tried to look around but couldn't seem to roll onto his back; this wasn't the infirmary, they weren't even indoors.
"Daniel?" Grass rustled and Jack moved closer to Janet. His face looked odd in the strange orange glow, there were lines around his eyes and forehead, and his mouth was clenched tightly. "You with us?" Jack's mouth moved into a parody of a smile.
"Um..." He felt spacey, his thoughts disjointed. Was he talking to Jack? He couldn't remember why he was supposed to be angry at him. "Wha..."
"You were shot." Janet put his hand back down, tucking it under a blanket. "You're very lucky, you know." She smiled at him again, and instead of putting him at ease, it just made him uneasy. Remembering the wheelchair, he tried to move his legs, and couldn't.
"I can't... I can't move my legs." Desperate to prove to himself that it all wasn't true, he tried to push himself onto his elbows so he could get to his feet. Something slid off the stretcher and landed on the dry grass with a plop.
"Easy, easy." Jack reached down and pressed on his shoulder, keeping him on the ground. Janet picked up the fallen IV bag and placed it back onto the stretcher.
"Your spinal cord was injured, Daniel. Sam was able to repair the actual damage, but you're still suffering from shock and blood loss, not to mention the wound itself." There was a needle in Janet's hand, and she injected its contents into the tubing affixed to his forearm. "You were a little delirious there for a while. Just take it easy and don't try to move around."
"S...spine?" So it hadn't all been a dream. He was paralyzed. "Not a dream?"
Jack and Janet exchanged looks, and that damn smile was back. "No, it's not a dream, and yes, your spinal cord was damaged. But Sam got the Goa'uld's healing device and she managed to heal your spinal cord. Look." Janet shifted and, walking on her knees, moved closer to his feet. "Can you feel my hands on your leg?"
Daniel closed his eyes, concentrating, and yes, there was pressure, near his right knee. And on his left calf. On his thigh, his left knee.
"This is probably not the place to try this but... can you move your feet?"
Suddenly terrified, Daniel opened his eyes and met Jack's. For a moment, they reflected his own fear. Then Jack blinked, and all he saw was support and encouragement. He dropped his gaze and tried to look at his feet, but his knees were bent, hiding them from view. He concentrated, and through a haze of pain, managed to move first his toes, then his feet. He not only felt the movement, but heard his boots scraping on the stretcher. Panting from residual fear and the pain the movement caused, Daniel clutched the edge of the stretcher with a hand that barely had enough strength to grasp.
"Good, that's great, Daniel." The smile had turned into a grin, and Janet moved back closer to him. "You just need a bit of time to heal and you'll be good as new."
"A Goa'uld along with a battalion of Jaffa surprised us. We fought back, thought we'd disarmed them all when one of the Jaffa overpowered Carter, got her weapon and tried to shoot me. You," Jack said, his voice deepening, "jumped in front of me and took the bullet. This is something we are going to be discussing as soon as doc here says you're up to a tongue lashing."
Daniel couldn't help but snicker at the visual of Jack's tongue doing the lashing in places he couldn't mention in front of Janet. The tension in Jack's face seemed to ease, and his smile, this time, seemed more natural. Then a whisper of memory teased Daniel, Jack had died... or would have died, if he'd been a fraction too slow. Intense relief struck him, and left him feeling even more exhausted. He had a feeling that if he'd been standing, he'd have fallen to his knees.
"You're going to be fine, Daniel. Just relax, sleep if you can. We'll be home before you know it." Janet adjusted the blanket around his chest and squeezed his hand through the material.
The stretcher shifted and tilted slightly as they began moving again. Lulled by the rustle of footsteps and whatever drug Janet had injected into his IV, Daniel drifted. The sound of Jack's voice chased away the last vestiges of his nightmares.
"He's going to be fine, sir," was the last thing Daniel heard before he drifted off. Yes, he was. Jack was alive; everything was going to be fine.
Author's Comments: Thanks and hugs to devra, for dropping everything to give the fic a read through, and also to babs, for waving her pom poms along with dev's while I dropped everything to get this fic written.