What's up, doc?
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Spoilers for The Curse.
Great! He was rabbiting to a rabbit. He really was in trouble now.
Daniel glanced at his watch and then back at the rabbit which was sitting barely three feet away from him. "Six hours," he muttered to it. "Where the hell are they?" His ill-temper worsened as concern for his teammates combined with pain, the latter now returning with a vengeance from its morphine-dampened sanctuary.
The rabbit seemed oblivious both to his mood and the whereabouts of his teammates. It had settled itself beneath a broad-leafed fern and was apparently quite happy to sit and watch him as though he was some kind of entertainment provided specifically for the amusement of the local lapine population. Of course, that was pretty much all he was fit for at this particular moment. Then again, perhaps the steady stare was rabbit-ese for 'Hey! Would you mind shifting your butt from right in front of my burrow? The missus is waiting, and she'll give me an earful if I'm late.' Daniel sighed. Sorry, Bunny, but no can do. Guess we're both out in the cold tonight.
Damn it! Ill-temper flared into anger as he contemplated his helplessness. He loathed being a burden on his teammates. Being able to do nothing except lie still, keep quiet and wait for rescue did not sit comfortably with him. Knowing his team had deliberately put themselves at risk to lead the Jaffa away from him dampened his spirits even more. He glared at his broken and bloody leg, the cause of all his problems, and swore colourfully.
The rabbit blinked its disapproval of his Anglo-Saxon linguistic skills, and Daniel shot it a sour look. "You should be grateful I'm the one who set off that trap. You'd be nothing but rabbit stew if you'd tripped it."
That earned him a contemptuous nose twitch; it was obviously thinking itself too smart to ever do something as dumb as stick its foot in an animal trap. "Yeah well, I was running from a pack of Jaffa," Daniel commented defensively, the memory of steel-toothed jaws snapping closed around his calf viciously clear. One moment he'd been sprinting full pelt behind Jack, the next there had been the sickening crack of a breaking bone as the trap halted his forward momentum with cruel violence.
Things had been pretty blurred after that. He remembered gripping Jack's hand and biting down on a piece of mould-flavoured wood to prevent himself screaming as Teal'c opened the trap's jaws. Jack had muttered something about there now being two team members with broken bones, but Daniel was sure his hair had been ruffled by that same hand so he couldn't have hurt Jack that much. Could he?
An inaudible conversation had then been held several feet above his head while he concentrated on convincing his brain the fire in his leg really nothing to do with him, and that screaming wouldn't make it hurt any less and would probably result in his team-mates getting captured, killed or worse. He'd just stuffed his fist into his mouth in a last ditch attempt to swallow the pain when Jack's face had swum into view, brown eyes filled with concern. "We'll be back for you as soon as we can." The words were hissed into his ear with determination. "Just lie still and keep quiet. We'll lead the Jaffa away."
Daniel had swallowed hard. He knew Jack would only leave him behind if there was no other option. That realisation banged up hard against the understanding they were in serious trouble and momentarily drove the pain away long enough for him to manage three coherent words. "I'll be fine." Ah - he remembered now - that was the point at which Jack had ruffled his hair, right before Sam had stabbed him in the leg with a hypo full of morphine. Then they'd hidden him in the undergrowth as best they could before running out into the open to draw the Jaffa away from him, risking their lives while he sank into a guilt-ridden morphine-induced fog.
Stop it, he told himself severely. It wasn't as though he'd stepped into the trap on purpose. And, given half the chance, he'd rather be dodging Jaffa than lying on the wet forest floor, cold and damp seeping through his clothes, and pain gnawing a hole in his belief his team-mates would be back for him any time now.
Motion caught his attention and he started, only to realise it was just the rabbit deciding it needed a snack. Grateful for the distraction from his dark thoughts, Daniel watched as it took a dainty hop towards him and then stopped to nibble the head off a small white flower not unlike a daisy. The rabbit was quite large by Earth standards, almost the size of a North American jackrabbit. Daniel snickered at the name and called to it softly, "Hey, Jack Rabbit, what do you think of your new name?"
The rabbit sat up on its back legs at the sound of his voice, the size of its twitching ears confirming it wasn't a hare. Daniel held his breath, not wanting to frighten it further. Any companionship was welcome right now, even if it came with short dark brown fur and very large brown eyes, which Daniel noticed, seemed to relay an intelligence he would not have normally associated with rabbits. Not that he knew much about them other than the fact they had a sharper taste than the bland meat of chicken. In fact most of his knowledge came from a comment Jack had recently made after one beer too many.
His rabbit education had occurred when Jack had masterminded Daniel's escape
from Janet's clutches following his run in with Osiris, and the pair of them
had hightailed it to Jack's cabin for a weekend of peace and quiet. The highlight
of Saturday evening had been sitting out on the deck watching the sun set
behind the lake. For some reason the conversation had turned to reincarnation,
and Daniel, who had been happily medicating his bruised and battered body
with a generous helping of whiskey, had barely been listening to Jack waxing
lyrical on the benefits of coming back as a rabbit. He had almost fallen out
of his chair as his attention was jerked back by Jack suddenly demanding,
"So what do you think, Daniel? Nothing to do except eat, sleep and have
Despite the fact that in the four years since he'd known Jack, the colonel had only ever engaged in casual sex when drugged out of his mind, and had sworn he wouldn't ever make that mistake again, Daniel's eyes had darted around the shadows looking for unexpected company. Jack had responded to his startled look with an inebriated and somewhat exasperated, "Rabbits, Daniel. I'm talking about rabbits."
Speaking of which, Jack the rabbit had just hopped to the right, out of view. Without thinking, Daniel twisted round to follow its movements. It was, after all, only fair that the rabbit repay him in the amusement stakes. His meagre enjoyment lasted all of ten nanoseconds as his ill-thought movement sent fresh pain up his leg as if a meat skewer had pierced him from foot to hip. He barely muffled an agonised cry with the sleeve of his jacket, the taste of damp, muddy khaki momentarily a welcome distraction from the burning heat now reaching his groin, bringing a red haze to his vision. Oh God. What he wouldn't give for another shot of morphine right now.
His right hand fumbled along his left shoulder for the release strap on his pack, but his fingers found nothing except the cloth of his vest. Oh yeah. Stupid, Daniel. He'd left his pack behind when that troop of Jaffa had appeared out of nowhere and started blasting the village apart. The best he was going to get in the way of painkillers was a couple of Tylenol he had hidden away--
Wait a minute! He began to fumble through the pockets of his vest. One of the village elders had given him a piece of root from a local plant to take back to the SGC for Janet to analyse. From what he'd managed to translate of the local dialect the elder had been explaining the root had analgesic qualities. God, how could he have been so stupid? He was lying in pain when all the time he had the answer right here in his pocket.
Hah! His fingers folded on his prize and he pulled it out into the fading daylight. Hmmm . didn't exactly look digestible, but then what did he expect - a silver-foil-wrapped pop-out capsule labelled Herbalists-R-Us? He peered at the dirt-covered fibrous tuber uncertainly, then painfully and very, very slowly manoeuvred his hips so he could reach the knife secured to the back of his belt. By the time the blade was safely in his hand, sweat beaded on his forehead and his breath came in short, pain-filled gasps. He counted fiercely to ten through gritted teeth, by which time his desire to scream was once again under control, then slowly set to work on the root, stripping the dirty outer layer from it to reveal a cream-coloured, fibrous inner.
The smell was vile. Daniel's eyes watered at the strong scent, an unwelcome mix of pungent pepper, rotting meat and a sharp astringency he couldn't quite place. The thought of putting anything that unpleasant in his mouth nearly made his stomach rebel, but the promise of reducing the agony in his leg to a bearable level made him determined to ignore what would hopefully be a few moments of gourmet disgust. He dashed the tears from his cheeks, taking care not to get the plant extract in his eyes - a moment of carelessness while chopping a chilli some years ago had taught him herbaceous respect - and then began to scrape at the fibres with his knife. Moments later he'd released enough of the creamy pulp to scoop it up with the tip of the blade and lift it towards his mouth. Oh God! It really did smell disgusting. He held the blade at arm's length for a moment, took a deep breath then, before his nerve failed, popped the pulp into his mouth.
Heat exploded along his taste buds and with it the overwhelming sensation that he had just filled his mouth with putrid offal. Desperately he fought the urge to spit out the offensive mess, forcing himself to chew once and then swallow. Oh God - he was going to puke. As mind and body battled for supremacy he rolled onto his side, this time giving voice to the pain tearing through his nerve endings like electricity racing to earth. Desperately he tried to hold the nausea at bay by concentrating on breathing deeply, a second more-muted groan escaping him as his stomach muscles spasmed painfully. The torture worsened by the minute as the insides of his mouth seemed to sear and a dark, heavy cloud began to press the air from his lungs. Oh God - what if he'd misunderstood? What if he'd muddled up his Latin and medieval derivatives and confused his potares with his potions. Shit!
His last conscious thought was that Jack was going to be really pissed at him for poisoning himself.
Daniel opened his eyes to find himself being scrutinised. He blinked, trying but failing to clear his blurred vision. He could see enough to make out whoever was watching him had brown eyes, but any other detail failed him. "Jack?" he asked again, wondering why his voice sounded as though someone had sandpapered his larynx.
Jack didn't respond, but Daniel was unconcerned. All that mattered was he wasn't alone anymore. Jack was with him and everything was going to be fine. He couldn't quite remember exactly why it was important to him that Jack was here - other than the fact he welcomed the older man's company despite the fact the guy frequently annoyed the hell out of him - but he accepted the comfort of his presence with welcome arms. His relationship with Jack was quite a conundrum, but not one he intended to think about now. There were more important questions to pursue.
"Where are we?" he asked, somewhat embarrassed to give voice to the question but finding his short-term memory was alarmingly blank. He breathed in a lungful of cold, damp air, gazed up at the sky, and before Jack could reply, managed to reach the amazingly logical conclusion he was outside somewhere. Not only outside, but apparently lying flat on his back on damp ground. Odd, very odd.
"We're in Minnesota." Jack supplied the information in a bored monotone.
Daniel twisted his head to the right, meeting those familiar brown eyes with his own blue ones. "Oh." He contemplated the announcement for a few minutes. "Don't remember travelling to Minnesota."
"You were asleep most of the way," Jack explained. "Osiris treated you to a little one-on-one with her hand device, remember?"
Yes. He remembered now. Sarah, magnificent and beautiful in a white flowing outfit, towering above him with the promise of death in her eyes. A shiver crept down his spine that had little to do with the icy cold seeping from the ground beneath him. Surely, though, that had happened a couple of weeks ago. Professor Jordan's death, Steven Rayner's display of near-fatal self-interest - that had all happened while Jack had been on vacation.
"You went fishing." The words escaped Daniel's mouth before he could stop them. Damn it! He'd promised himself he wouldn't mention that. He hadn't mentioned it before - had he? Everything seemed hazy, his memories tantalisingly out of reach. And he felt dizzy. He really shouldn't let Jack ply him with whiskey, especially after a run in with a goa'uld hand device. Janet would be ticked with him.
"With Teal'c," Jack commented, snapping him to the conversation.
"Yeah - with Teal'c." Daniel breathed the words out, the memory of an overly abrupt phone conversation flooding back. Goodbye, Daniel. Click. To his surprise and dismay he found himself suddenly and painfully aware of feelings of abandonment. How ridiculous - he was a grown man. He hardly needed Jack O'Neill to hold his hand whenever life got a bit difficult. Why shouldn't Jack take time off? He certainly deserved the break. And if he chose to go fishing with Teal'c, that was his affair.
Jack's monotonic contribution to the conversation continued. "I think Teal'c likes fishing."
Daniel snorted. "Yeah, right. It's right up there on his list of favourite Tau'ri pastimes, along with paying taxes and writing reports."
"You're just upset I went fishing with him instead of you."
What? Daniel rolled cautiously onto his right hip so he could get a better look at those staring brown eyes. He was vaguely aware the action should've hurt, but he couldn't remember why, and he dismissed that thought along with the mysterious discovery he was in Minnesota. Jack was watching him - waiting for a response.
"I'm not upset," he said petulantly, determined to deny the emotions threatening to break loose.
"Arsehole." Daniel felt a moment of schoolboy delight in twisting Jack's response into something vulgar. He really didn't want to have this conversation. The memories were too painful - betrayal on so many levels, by so many people.
"See!" There was triumph in Jack's voice. "You're mad at me. You just wouldn't admit it."
"I'm not mad at you," Daniel protested. "You can go fishing with Teal'c whenever you want. We're not joined at the hip."
"What does that mean?"
"Nothing. Other than I've noticed we're not joined at the hip. Which is just as well because that leg must hurt like hell, and I can live without experiencing that, thank you very much."
Daniel looked down at his leg, surprised to see the ripped and torn fabric of his pants and the bloody gashes on his calf. When had that happened? He wriggled his toes inside his boot. Everything felt perfectly normal despite his eyes telling him otherwise. He frowned in confusion.
"You really should learn to watch where you're going," Jack taunted. "I won't always be there to pick up the pieces when you get into trouble."
Daniel blew out an exasperated breath. "As I recall, you weren't there the last time, and I managed perfectly fine without you."
"Sure you did. Getting your brain fried is an everyday occurrence for you, right?"
Irritation washed through Daniel. "Why didn't you come with me?"
Eyelids shuttered the brown eyes in a slow, questioning blink. "To Egypt?"
"No, to the dentist!" The sarcasm was spat into the air. Daniel sighed as Jack raised an eyebrow at him. "Yes, to Egypt."
"You didn't ask."
"You didn't ask me to go to Egypt with you." Jack's gaze was hard and accusing.
"I didn't get a chance." Daniel met his look straight on. "You threw the phone in the lake. Teal'c told me."
"And you called in the middle of my vacation and demanded to talk to Teal'c without so much as a 'how's it going, Jack?'"
"I didn't demand "
"Not that I should be surprised by that. After all, it's all work, work, work with you, isn't it, Daniel. If it weren't for me your social life would exist entirely of trips to the local store. What's more - you never ask me to do anything with you. Ever realised that? I'm always the one doing the organising - getting the tickets for the game, dragging you out to the movies or for pizza. You know what, Daniel, I'm getting a little tired of being taken for granted. And more than a bit ticked off with you always assuming I'm going to be there for you."
Daniel stared at Jack, stunned by the sudden rant. "I don't assume--."
Jack cut him off again. "I'm tired, Daniel. Tired of pulling your butt out of the fire. Take now for instance."
"What about now?" Daniel's dizziness was worsening, and no matter how hard he tried he couldn't seem to bring Jack's face into focus, just his eyes. Those dark brown, long lashed eyes filled with an anger that was undeserved. Jack had apparently returned with the sole aim of haranguing him for imagined slights.
"What did I tell you to do?" Jack complained. "Lie still and keep quiet, right? And what did you do? You swallowed some goddamn native plant and now you're going to die unless I get back here in time to save you."
Daniel frowned, his confusion deepening. "Unless you get back?"
Jack, however, was still in full flow. "Well, it ain't going to happen Danny-boy. Not this time - you're on your own."
"But Jack - "
"Don't 'but Jack' me. I've had with you. You're always rushing head first into trouble and then you expect me to bail you out. Not only that this time you've managed to get yourself right in my way."
"You're in my way, Daniel! Get your goddamn butt out from in front of my burrow."
"Hey! Get off me!" Daniel yelled as Jack suddenly lurched at him, tugging at his hip in an effort to roll him out of the way. "That fucking hurts, Jack!"
"Language, Daniel," Jack twitched his nose in disapproval, scrabbling at Daniel's legs with hands that were unnaturally hairy.
"Get the hell off me!"
"Move your ass, Jackson."
"My leg is *broken*, you asshole."
"No, Daniel. Your ass is stuck down my hole."
"Arrrggghhh!" Daniel screamed as Jack began to climb up and over his legs, nails digging into his thigh and weight sending fresh messages of pain along his abused nerves.
Then suddenly Jack was gone. Daniel caught a brief flash of brown eyes in the dark and then an echoey farewell. "So long, Doctor Jackson. It was nice knowing you."
"No!" He rolled himself over, hissing with pain and scrabbling at the hole. How the hell had Jack fitted through there anyway? "Jack, please! Come back. Don't leave me!"
"Jack! Don't leave me here to die!"
"Daniel. It's okay. I'm here. I'm right here. Daniel!"
"Jack?" Daniel's eyes flew open as two strong hands pressed down on his shoulders, pinning him to the bed.
"The one and only." Jack was looking down at him, his expression worried. "Take it easy, okay? You're safe. In the infirmary and safe."
"In the infirmary?" Daniel's head jerked up, his gaze sweeping the familiar surroundings. He flopped back onto his pillow, wanting to believe Jack, wanting to believe the evidence of his own eyes but still confused. "You came back."
A flicker of a frown crossed Jack's face. "Of course I came back. C'mon, Daniel. You know I never leave anyone behind."
"But - " Daniel swallowed his protest as his brain finally accepted he was no longer lying on the floor of a forest, but was quite definitely warm, dry and safe in the infirmary. "Not Minnesota?"
The lines edged across Jack's forehead deepened slightly. "What?"
Daniel licked his lips, trying to drive the fog from his mind. His eyes darted around the infirmary and then back to Jack who was looking at him expectantly. "What?"
"Not Minnesota?" Jack asked quizzically.
"Ummm oh.. yeah. Good"
"What?" Daniel pinched at his nose, beginning to wonder if Jack shouldn't be the one lying in the bed.
"You said, not Minnesota."
"Yes," Daniel elongated the word as though speaking to a particularly awkward child. "So did you."
Jack shook his head, clearly exasperated. "Daniel! What about Minnesota?"
"Oh. This, umm, this isn't Minnesota, right?"
"Good!" Daniel exhaled the word with another relieved sigh. It had all been a nightmare, then. Except - he craned forward. No, the broken leg was real enough. White plaster covered his right leg from ankle to knee. He squinted at it and then turned an accusing look on Jack. "You've written on it already."
Jack shrugged. "I was bored. You've been out of it for quite a while. In fact you were beginning to worry the doc."
Daniel felt his lips switch at the poorly disguised attempt to channel feelings onto Janet and felt strangely relieved Jack had been concerned about him. The memory of Jack - or rather some hybrid nightmare Jack Rabbit - telling him he'd had enough of him was still clear and painful.
"Something wrong?" The concerned look was back on Jack's face.
"No, nothing," Daniel said hastily. Jack gave him a look that clearly showed he didn't believe him. "I-- ummm--- had a bad dream," he offered cautiously.
"A bad dream." Jack rolled the words around as though trying them for size.
Daniel went for nonchalant. "I dreamt you were a rabbit."
"A rabbit?" Jack's eyebrows danced.
"I was lying in front of your burrow and " Daniel stopped. "Never mind."
"No, go on. This is the kind of thing that gives McKenzie wet dreams. I dare you to put it in your report."
He shot Jack a sour look. Great! Why did he even think to start this conversation? One stay in a psychiatric hospital enough. He changed the subject. "Thanks. For the rescue."
Jack rewarded him with an 'it was nothing' look.
"So I was thinking," Daniel went on, still uncertain that the edges of reality and dream had unmeshed. "I'd really like it if maybe you and I could -- go fishing."
Astonishment registered on Jack's face. "I thought you hated fishing."
"I never said that. What makes you think --"
"Hey, welcome back, Daniel." Janet Fraiser appeared beside his bed, her cool fingers brushing his forehead, before she ran through her usual set of questions, asking him his name and birthday and shining that annoying penlight of hers in his eyes. She finally straightened up from her exam looking satisfied. "Quite a little trip you went on there, Daniel."
Daniel frowned as Janet and Jack exchanged a look that suggested he was on the wrong side on an in-joke. "Trip?" he asked, suspecting from the way Jack was smirking he wasn't going to like the response to his question one little bit.
"Uh-huh." Janet said non-committally.
"Jack?" Daniel eyes swivelled to his teammate.
Jack's smirk widened. "Remember self-medicating with that root the village elder gave you?"
"Yes," Daniel said slowly. "My leg was broken--" He glanced down the bed at the white plaster cast. "Is broken," he corrected himself. "And the morphine wore off, so I figured --"
"You figured you'd dose yourself up with the local happy juice plant, right?"
"It seemed a good idea at the time," Daniel said defensively. Janet was definitely trying not to laugh now. "Why? What did I do?"
"That dream you mentioned?" Daniel winced involuntarily as Jack continued. "Actually you were holding a conversation with an invisible rabbit when we found you."
"Hey, there was a rabbit. And it was damned better company than you were when you came back--" He stopped, confused memories washing over him. He was sure there had been a rabbit. He'd named it Jack. But then there was that conversation he'd had with the Jack who had the ability to squeeze down impossibly small holes.
Janet smiled sympathetically. "Daniel, the plant extract you ingested had hallucinogenic properties. Some of it's still kicking around in your system. Don't worry if you're feeling a bit confused. I've run some tests, and I'm fairly confident there won't be any long-term side effects."
"Fairly confident?" Daniel sighed. "I just thought it might help with the pain."
Janet nodded. "It is a powerful analgesic, one which I'm sure will prove of benefit if we can eliminate its other less useful properties."
Daniel felt heat creep into his cheeks. "So when you found me, I was ---"
"High as a kite," Jack finished his sentence for him as Janet motioned that she had things to do and moved away. "And very enlightening it was too, although I'm not sure Carter appreciated your offer of making her head bunny of your warren harem. As for your suggestion to Teal'c - well as he so succinctly pointed out, that particular position is physically impossible with a broken leg - rabbit or no rabbit."
Daniel groaned. "I'll never be able to face them again."
"Don't worry about it," Jack said. "I'm sure they both understand it wasn't really you talking."
"It wasn't!" Daniel said hurriedly.
"So you really want to go fishing." Jack glanced at his watch and stood up. "Look, I'm really sorry, but I've got to run. Hammond wants me to attend some meeting with the recruitment guy from the Pentagon."
"Sure. And Jack, the fishing trip - I'll arrange everything, okay?"
"You'll arrange everything?" Jack looked surprised. "Okay. Just tell me where and when."
"Right." Daniel leaned back into his pillows, feeling the strain of the past few hours beginning to drain away. He was home again, and everything between him and Jack was sound.
"Oh, Daniel, just one thing before I forget," Jack paused at the
infirmary door. "Next time you call me Fluffy Bunnykins in front of SG-3-I'm
going to have to shoot you."
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