Daniels Diaries. Stargate SG-1 Fanfiction by Scribe
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By SpeedNN (Cindy)

 

All publicly recognisable characters and places are the property of MGM, World Gekko Corp and Double Secret Productions. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes and no infringement on copyrights or trademarks was intended. Previously unrecognised characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

 

 

Introducing a first for Daniel's Diaries - a story by SpeedNN (Cindy). After reading my story True Foundations, Cindy felt inspired to raid Daniel's Diaries for herself to get the low down on what went on during the week Jack and Daniel were staying at Janet's cabin. Here's the result of her research.

Note: Read True Foundations first otherwise this story won't make any sense<g>

Rated: PG

Feedback can be sent direct to Cindy at: SpeedNN@aol.com

 


Day One-Afternoon

Jack carried the last of their suitcases and Daniel's research books into the cabin's spacious combination living and dining room. He deposited the books on the sturdy log picnic-like dinning room table beside the other tomes and the golden 'Goa'uld bedpan', the artifact Daniel had liberated from his lab at the SGC before the two men had left. Jack shook his head thinking Daniel will never change, and headed toward the ground level bedrooms. He went to the room Daniel had selected and entered quietly through the open doorway. Jack set the suitcase down by the open door and tiptoed over to the sleeping form lying prone on the bed. Just as he had suspected, Daniel had gone into full-fledged nap mode with his glasses still on, which Jack carefully removed and set on the nightstand, and without covering himself. Jack unfolded the comforter from the foot of the bed and spread it over the sleeping man pausing to feel Daniel's forehead. No fever. Satisfied his friend was sleeping soundly, Jack knew he could make that quick trip back to the village store a few miles distant to get fresh groceries. He shouldn't be gone more than an hour. Jack walked back into the living room and retrieved the car keys from where he had laid them on the kitchen table. Now that he and Daniel had cleared the air and established their friendship had survived the two friends could focus the remainder of their weeklong vacation on healing, physically, emotionally and mentally. But more importantly, they could begin to rebuild and repair the once solid foundation of their battered friendship.

****

It was the pleasurable aroma of cooking food wafting into the bedroom which succeeded in prying Daniel's eyes open, but only to mere slits. Then he squinted and placed his left hand protectively over his midsection as his stomach growled. Guess he was hungry. Following that thought, guess it was time to get up. And finally, realization dawned--guess not in the infirmary anymore. After a few failed attempts, Daniel eventually rolled over onto his right side, slid his legs over the edge of the bed, and using his right arm, levered himself up into a sitting position while keeping his other arm clutched protectively over his lower left abdomen where the sutured surgical incision was hidden under his baggy sweater. Daniel sat hunched over, his pale face wincing at the slight pain and discomfort felt all over his healing body. Guess the pain medication from the infirmary had worn off too. Finally realizing his eyesight was, indeed, fuzzy due to the lack of his glasses, Daniel peered around in the murkiness and finally spied what he suspected were his glasses. His right hand fumbled around on the nightstand, searching, and found them. Spectacles placed securely on his nose and face, Daniel mused on whether he had the strength to actually get up and hobble over to the open doorway which lead into the combination living/dining room of Janet's mountain cabin. The faint clinking of metal told him someone, most likely Jack, was in the kitchen doing what Jack had threatened to do, cook him the best meal he'd had in over a month.

Stomach rumbling again and his never satiated curiosity winning out, Daniel got vertical, and managed a slightly bent shuffled walk through the bedroom door into the larger room beyond. The shadowed dimness and slanting rays of the sun through the west facing room windows suggested it was much later in the day, maybe even early evening.

Daniel continued his slow journey to the bar chairs aligned along the open faced kitchen counter. When he reached it, Jack turned from the stove and noticed him for the first time. He smiled, covered a large pot of whatever he was cooking on the stove with a lid and came over to stand on the opposite side of the counter.

"Hey," Jack greeted the younger man, smiling.

"Hey," Daniel replied, slowly and gingerly settling himself into one of the chairs.

"Have a good nap?"

"Guess so. Hungry. What's cooking?"

"Ahh," Jack beamed, turning back to the stove. "Grandma O'Neill's homemade chicken noodle soup, guaranteed to cure whatever ails you," he answered, removing the lid and ladling out a small amount of the steaming liquid from the pot on the stove. "Try it," he offered, handing over the ladle to Daniel.

The younger man took the offering and sniffed at the aromatic steam. It did smell good. He blew on the hot liquid before taking a cautious sip. It was good. He took another sip and emptied out the ladle before handing it back to Jack. "That's delicious. But, you didn't make it. You had someone else make it and bring it here, right," Daniel stated with skepticism.

"Daniel, you wound me," the older man said, a hurt expression on his face. "I'll have you know, I can cook. One of the reason's Sara married me."

"Really? Then why don't you cook, aside from barbecuing, when we're at your house?"

"Why bother when there's take out," came Jack's flippant answer, as he set out two soup bowls near the stove. "I've been busy while you were napping. But, we did have visitors. Carter and Teal'c stopped by. Carter left you cookies." Jack pointed to a large paper bag sitting on the counter top. "They just wanted to make sure you were settling in and doing okay. Carter commented on how adorable you look when you're asleep. Again."

Despite the healing bruises on his face, Daniel felt himself blush at the comment as he opened the paper bag and drew out a cookie.

"Give," Jack demanded, holding out his hand after he set a glass of water and two pills on the countertop. Daniel obediently handed over the generous sized chocolate walnut cookie and withdrew another from the bag. "You have to take those now," Jack ordered, pointing to the pills before biting into his cookie.

Daniel's face scrunched up in annoyance. "Why?"

"Doc's orders. Antibiotic and painkiller. Twice a day. You don't want me to call her and tell her you're being uncooperative, do you?" Jack's threat implied dire consequences for the archeologist if he was forced to do just that.

Daniel sighed loudly. "Blackmailer," he muttered, then dutifully swallowed both the pills and drank the water. He munched on the cookie watching as Jack ladled out the steaming soup into the bowls and set them on the counter top along with spoons, a box of soda crackers and two more glasses of water.

"Coffee?" Daniel asked, hopeful.

"No. One mug a day is all I'm willing to bend on this." Jack's stern look clearly conveyed this was a non-negotiable issue. "Now, eat as much of this as you can." He pointed to the steaming soup. "Doc's orders are for you to sleep and when you're awake, I'm to get as much food into you by any means necessary."

"Well, if all the food tastes as good as this, eating shouldn't be a problem," Daniel said, as he stirred the soup with a spoon. "At least, it' not greasy orange with white lumps," he commented, dryly, lifting his full spoon upward. "And, I'm hungry," he confessed, before the spoonful of warm, flavorful soup disappeared into his mouth.

"Good ." Jack did the same.

The two men ate in companionable silence for a while. As Daniel neared emptying his bowl, he looked over to his friend. "Jack, thanks for bringing me here. This is what I needed."

"Yeah, well, I'm just glad we got things out in the open, and settled. We did, right?"

"Yeah. I'm sorry I yelled at you earlier today, you know the kidnapping thing," Daniel apologized, as he slid his empty bowl over the countertop toward Jack.

"Well, I did kidnap you," Jack confessed. "More?" he asked pointing to the empty soup bowl.

"Yeah, about half a bowl."

Jack refilled the two bowls to specifications and returned with them to the counter top. Daniel began spooning his second helping of Grandma O'Neill's chicken noodle soup relishing the feel of warmth radiating from his stomach as he ate. "Jack, do you mind if we pass on the chess game tonight? I think I should take a shower and go back to bed. I'm really tired."

"Not a problem. You're here to rest and recuperate. I'd be more than happy to give you a sponge bath," Jack offered, smiling when he saw Daniel actually looked horrified at the suggestion. "Of course," he amended, "sponge baths not being part of an Air Force colonel's training, it won't be as enjoyable as the ones doc's nurses give, but I'm willing to make the effort."

Daniel, realizing he was being teased, glared at Jack. "No, I can manage the shower by myself."

"Hey, I'm just offering. Whatever, I have to check out your incision and stitches. Doc's orders."

"Are not."

"Are too."

"Are not."

"Are too." With a flourish, Jack pulled out a manila file folder filled with papers from a nearby leather case and laid them on the counter. "See, here." He pointed. 'Need to check out incision and stitches daily' was clearly typed out on the middle of the page.

Daniel frowned in defeat. "This is worse than staying in the infirmary," he grumbled, then pushed the again empty soup bowl across the counter top toward Jack.

"More?"

"No." Daniel held up his hand. "I'm full. Thanks, it was good."

"You did good, Daniel. Doc will be happy. You don't get Grandma O'Neill's homemade chicken noodle soup in the infirmary, let me tell ya."

Grinning, Daniel slowly stood up. "Did you happen to pack me some pajamas?"

"Oh yeah. In your suitcase. In the bedroom. And, in case you didn't notice, your books and the Goa'uld bedpan are sitting on the table over there."

"I saw, and thanks," Daniel tossed over his shoulder, as he shuffled back toward the bedroom.

"Now that you have a full stomach, a nice shower and bedrest, will do you a world of good," Jack offered to Daniel's retreating back before he busied himself with cleaning up the kitchen from his culinary escapade.

****

Daniel eased backward into the fluffy pillows of the bed and sighed with contentment. He set his glasses on the nightstand. He pulled the sheets and bed covers over himself then stilled, just relishing the fact he was sleeping in a normal, comfortable bed, not those concrete slabs covered in starch stiffened sheets which passed for beds in the SGC infirmary, or those threadbare, dirty, smelly---Nope, don't go there, Daniel told himself focusing again on the here and now. Evesa was over, it was done, and he had survived. Time to live in the present, not dwell on the past. The after effects of the steaming shower, the first he'd had in weeks, had eased most of the tension and hurts in his body. He felt warm and relaxed from his head to his toes. Grandma O'Neill's chicken noodle soup had hit the spot, although Daniel still doubted Jack had actually made it. Most importantly, Jack had given him what he had wanted to hear since the 'no foundation' fiasco so long ago--an honest apology. More than one apology, Daniel reminded himself, as he began to feel sleep coming on. Everything was okay now between himself and Jack and it was time to move on.

"Oh, Danny boy," came the teasing soft call.

"Wha... Jack." Daniel mumbled, protectively pulling the covers closer to his chin.

"Are we forgetting something?"

"Hmmmmm?"

"Incision check?"

Daniel's eyes opened to mere slits. He hoped he was glaring at Jack in the early evening twilight, as the older man sat down beside him on the bed.

"C'mon, only take a second," Jack encouraged. The bedside lamp clicked on then Jack tugged the bed covers out of Daniel's clutching hands and pulled them down.

"Jack," Daniel whined, as his pajama top was lifted up revealing his lower abdomen. Just as quickly, the top was back on his skin and the covers were being pulled up and tucked under his chin.

"Now, that wasn't so bad, was it?"

"You really do have a scar fetish, don't you, Jack," Daniel groused, closing his eyes again. When he realized Jack was still sitting on the bed he reopened his eyes to see sorrow and guilt expressed on his friend's face and how the muted light from the bedside lamp really highlighted the etched worry lines evident on Jack's face. Startled, Daniel realized Jack looked old, worn out, and guilty? How long had he been feeling like that he wondered, as he pulled his hand from under the covers and clasped Jack's forearm. "Jack?"

Like magic, the haggard Jack metamorphosed to once again become mother hen Jack. "Get some sleep, Daniel," he said patting Daniel's hand. "Good night," and he stood, turned off the lamp, and walked away.

Daniel watched the fuzzy silhouette of Jack leave and disappear into the connecting bathroom. It suddenly dawned on Daniel, as he felt sleep beckoning to him, that Jack probably needed this week in the mountains more than he did. //Why didn't I see this before now? Right, just like I told Brell, Jack's family. I just forgot that for a time. The troubles of the recent past couldn't have been easy for him, either. I was so wrapped up in feeling sorry for myself, then being really pissed with Jack that I never saw... Oh, god, this afternoon was only a beginning. We've got a lot of work to do. Okay, Jack, we'll get through this, both of us, together. I promise.// Resolution firmly in place, Daniel succumbed to the first real sleep he'd had in a long time.

 

****

The high pitched whining echoed around the confining metal walls and floor of the Evesal prison. The chute had been activated. Even in his agony, Daniel felt the fear gripping him anew as he heard the pounding of many feet running past where he lay, tied to the floor. He tried to rise to his knees, but the agonized pain in his lower left back and side forced a moan as he fell back to the cold, metal floor. He saw through his right eye only, the left swollen shut from the beating Shotak had given him earlier, a pair of booted feet coming toward him. It must be Jack, he thought. Jack has come to get me. Heartened, Daniel tried again to raise his head, only to freeze the movement. The approaching legs did not belong to Jack, they belonged to Shotak. His evil face was smiling in anticipation, his large knife held out before him. "I'm going to kill you, you shintak." He came closer to the bound and injured man, his face leering over him.

"No,... no,... Jack," Daniel heard himself whimper, then repeat in a scream as Shotak reached down toward him.

 

"Jack!!! Jack!!"

"Hey, hey, I'm here, I'm here."

Daniel weakly fought off the hands holding his arms thinking it was Shotak attacking him.

"Daniel, it's okay. It's me. You're home, you're home. Stop struggling before you hurt yourself."

Hearing the familiar voice, Daniel opened his eyes."...Jack?.."

"Yeah, Danny, I'm right here. You were just having a bad dream. PTSS, remember? It's okay, it's normal. But, I'm here, I'm here," Jack repeated softly, pulling Daniel into a protective embrace.

Daniel finally relaxed and was drawn into Jack's encircling arms drawing comfort in the reality of the physical presence of his friend. Jack had come for him, Jack had come for him, Daniel silently repeated over and over as he clung to his friend, his forehead resting on Jack's right shoulder.

"Its okay," Jack continued murmuring, rubbing Daniel's trembling back in reassurance. "Want to tell me about it?"

Daniel was going to say no, then changed his mind. If not Jack, then whom else could he tell this to? "Um, I was,... was back in the prison. Shotak was,... was coming. He was going to,.. to kill me," Daniel choked out between gasps of breath.

"No, he's not. He's dead, remember? Carter and Teal'c got him before he could hurt you anymore. He's gone. He won't hurt you ever again. It was just a bad dream."

Daniel shuddered and let out a long sigh. "God, I'm sorry, Jack. I must have woke you."

"It's not a problem, Daniel. And don't apologize. You're just reacting to the hell you've been through. It's normal. And it will get better. But, you need to go back to sleep, even though you don't want to. It's only 3:30 in the morning."

"No," Daniel refused, trying to get free of Jack's encircling arms and not succeeding.

"I can get you a sedative," the older man offered, keeping Daniel in his hold.

"No," Daniel refused again, unsuccessfully trying to quell the shaking that seemed to have taken over his body.

"Daniel," Jack said, "you need to sleep. I'll stay here with you if you want."

Daniel pulled back his head to look at his friend. "Um, you, you won't mind?"

"No, course not," and Jack loosened his embrace, then stood. "I'll go get the sedative. Be right back."

Daniel watched as Jack's shadow form moved from the bedroom into the larger living/dining room beyond the open doorway. A few moments passed before he saw Jack return carrying two pill vials and a glass of water. "Here, the sedative and the pain pill," he identified, shaking a pill out of each of the two vials. "Take 'em both." Daniel dutifully obeyed. "Good. Now, should I take the right or left side of the bed?"

"Right?"

"Okay."

Jack crawled into the small bed then helped Daniel lie down. Fussing with straightening the sheet and blankets over both of them, amid some muttered curses, Jack then laid down himself, and stilled.

The two friends lay side by side, crammed into the bed made to sleep only one person comfortably. After a few uncomfortable minutes, Daniel finally spoke.

"This isn't going to work, is it?"

"Well, it'll be cramped. We'll get a chance to get real up close and personal, probably more than we've ever wanted to. As long as we don't move much, we'll be okay." Jack shifted the pillows under his head, then stilled. "You're not a kicker, are you?"

"No."

"Good. Just relax, Daniel. Let the sedative do its thing. I'll be right here the whole time, I promise."

"Look, Jack, I'll be okay. You can go back to your own bed."

"Daniel, haven't you figured out by now that you can't lie to me. You need me to stay, so I'm staying."

A few more quite minutes passed. Daniel had to admit he did want Jack nearby, he felt safe knowing his friend was this close. And, no, he could never lie to the older man. "Thanks, Jack," Daniel sighed, relaxing.

"No problem. But we'd better not let this get out or we'll have to become engaged."

An amused snort came from Daniel before he stilled again. "I don't know why I'm so scared," he confessed.

"You've been through hell, Daniel. You're entitled to be scared. You'll need to talk about what happened, what was done to you, what you're feeling. You can't go on as if it never happened. You can come to me anytime, you know that. Or Carter, she's more than willing to be the comforting big sister where you're concerned, or even Teal'c. But talk to someone. Don't keep it bottled up inside, like I once did."

"You mean, from Iraq?" Daniel inquired with great hesitation. When Jack didn't answer at once, Daniel thought he may have crossed the line and trodden on forbidden ground.

"Yeah," Jack finally said, releasing a pent up breath. "When I finally got home, Sara tried, God she tried, to get me to open up. You can't hide the physical scars, especially from your wife. But you think you can hide the emotional and mental scars. Mainly because you're embarrassed and ashamed that you let the bastards do what they did to you even though you couldn't prevent it."

There was a long silence as Daniel considered the wisdom of Jack's words. "On Evesa, I just didn't want to let you down, Jack. That's why I didn't confess. Why should I confess to something we didn't do? And I didn't believe them when they told me you had. I know I'm the weak link on the team---"

"Whoa, hold it right there," Jack interrupted, the fingers of his left hand moving to wrap around Daniel's right forearm covering the area where the implant had been removed. "The weak link on the team is my right knee. Once that baby goes, it's all over for your colonel as far as the Air Force and field ops are concerned. And you can never disappoint me, Daniel. Never. Got that?"

"Yeah, okay."

"Good. Like I told you earlier today, I totally screwed up on Evesa, and you paid the price for my screw-up. And I swear, Danny, I'm never, ever going to let anything like this happen to you again. Never."

"I believe you, Jack." Both men fell into silence again.

Daniel was beginning to feel the combined sleep-inducing effects of the sedative and the painkiller. However, he recalled the thoughts and promise he'd made to himself earlier in the evening. Now, might be a good time to test his theory.

"Jack?"

"Yeah?"

"If you ever want to talk about Iraq, you know you can talk to me, don't you?"

"I know, Danny. But for now, I want you to do as I say and not as I do. Don't keep Evesa bottled up inside. It'll gnaw at you and gnaw at you until there's nothing left. Accept help from those who offer it. It won't be easy, I know. I know most of your life you've dealt with shit on your own, Danny. You still tend to hold things in, but you're getting better at letting us help you."

"Okay," Daniel said, feeling his eyes closing. Jack's evasiveness pretty much proved his theory. Daniel gave up fighting the drugs and surrendered, knowing Jack would stay beside him, keeping him safe until he woke again.

**** Day Two*******

Daniel slowly roused himself to awareness. The first sensation he noticed was something soft and warm in contact along the full length of his body. His second sensation was realizing his face was mashed into something equally warm but not as yielding as his pillow. Opening his eyes to mere slits, he saw only a blurred field of vision. Lifting his head, he opened his eyes further to see Jack's dark brown eyes, full of amusement, looking back to him. Relieved to solve the riddle of what he was propped against, Daniel lowered his head only to have his nose bump into Jack's left shoulder. Scowling at the contact, he shifted his head onto his own pillow, the urge to go back to sleep warring with the physical need to get up and use the bathroom.

"Well, he wakens at last. I was beginning to think, like Sleeping Beauty, I had to kiss you to wake up."

At Jack's teasing comment, Daniel re-lifted his head and peered at Jack's grinning face. "Jack." Blinking owlishly, and becoming more awake, Daniel realized that sometime during the night, he had rolled over onto his right side, the full turnover impeded by Jack's body. Just as his fuzzy brain began asking why Jack was in his bed, the events of the night flooded his memory. True to his word, Jack was still here. He had remained all night, watching over and protecting Daniel. Becoming more awake, Daniel propped himself up on his right forearm and elbow and saw a closed book lying on Jack's chest. Frowning, Daniel again directed his gaze to Jack. "Are you reading one of my reference books?"

"Yeah. Hey, I've been awake since six. Had to do something."

"Like it?"

"Don't understand a word of it. But it's got great pictures of---"

"Jack," Daniel interrupted, automatically prepared to correct his friend.

"Statues," Jack completed. "Naked Greek statues. What did you think I was going to say, huh?"

"Never mind. Time?" Daniel asked, yawning.

"Just past 1130 hours. Feel like getting up and eating, or do you want to snooze some more."

"Have to use the bathroom," Daniel confessed.

"Okay, then getting up it is." Jack tossed the covers aside and moved away from Daniel and exited the bed. Daniel sat up, hung his legs over the bed and hunched over rubbing at his eyes.

"How do waffles sound?" Jack asked, while handing Daniel his glasses.

Daniel took the offered glasses and put them on. "You can make waffles," he said, not hiding his disbelief.

"I can. And not the kind you pull from the freezer and put into the toaster either. Tell you what, I'll even wait for you to get out to the kitchen so you can watch a master chef at work."

Daniel looked at Jack, thinking it over. "Coffee?" he begged, while favoring Jack with his best pouting look.

"I'll make you coffee as long as you drink juice with your waffles. And take your antibiotic."

"Okay." Satisfied with the deal, Daniel stood, then hesitated.

"Thanks, Jack," Daniel offered with gratitude.

"Hey, no problem," Jack answered, working the kinks from his neck. "But, I think we need to work on the sleeping arrangements. If I recall, Janet has a roll away in the hall closet. I'll bring it in here in case we need it. How's that sound?"

"Fine. I'm hoping we won't need it," and Daniel shuffled to the bathroom closing the door behind himself.

Late that afternoon...

The screeching of an eagle, as it rode the thermal updrafts over head, drew both Daniel's gaze and attention from the book lying open in his lap to the crystal azure sky heavenward. Squinting, he finally saw the dark speck of the eagle as it slowly drifted away. Daniel continued to gaze at where he last saw the eagle content in the reality he was back home on earth, something that seemed near impossible not long ago. Nope, stop it, don't go there. He laid back into the cushioned recliner, stifled a yawn, and closed his eyes. He was situated on the back deck of the cabin, the recliner set in the perfect shaded spot. The warm, pine scented mountain air wafted around him. It was late afternoon, he was still full from the waffle brunch he had watched Jack make from scratch, and still didn't believe he'd witnessed, and was quite happy to enjoy the healing, serene tranquility that surrounded him.

"Ahh, shit, damn it!!"

The shouted expletive startled Daniel from his dozing, his curious blue eyes snapping opening and shifting over to gaze at the source of the cursing. Jack had commandeered the picnic table for his afternoon entertainment. The entire wooden planked surface was covered with what Jack declared to be fishing stuff, none of which Daniel had any idea as to what they were or their purpose. However, Jack assured, he would be enlightened when they went fishing in a day or so, something Daniel was still uncertain he even wanted to attempt. Jack was pulling and tugging at a tangled mass of fishing line. From what Daniel could see, the more his friend tried to untangle, the worse the mess was becoming.

"Damn it!!" Jack swore again, yanking on the line. This in turn pulled the reel portion of a fishing rod off the table to clink on the deck. "Ahh, hell." Jack bent over to retrieve the reel, then straightened. When he did so, he saw Daniel watching him with an amused grin on his face. "What's your problem?" he groused.

"I don't have a problem, Jack. You seem to be the one with the problem." Daniel covered his mouth with his hand to hide the grin that had become a smile.

"Very funny." Jack tossed the reel and its attached tangled mess back onto the table. He "hurmphed" then glared at the offending mess. "So, how's your translation coming?" he asked, turning to face the seated archeologist.

"Ahh, well, slow," Daniel admitted. "Of course, it would help if I had some peace and quiet to do my work."

"Ya think? This ain't peaceful and quite enough for you." Jack waved his arm around to encompass the beautiful mountain view that surrounded them. "Of course, not getting anything done also happens when you don't turn any pages in that book for the last hour." He favored Daniel with that don't-even-try-to-lie-to-me look. "You've been watching me while pretending to read. So, what'cha doin'?"

Looking away, Daniel felt his face blush, even behind the stubble and fading bruises on his left cheek, and closed the book. When he looked back to Jack he was very serious. "Well, it occurred to me that I haven't asked you once, since we got home, how you were feeling."

"I'm good."

"Umm, knife wound all healed up?"

"Yeah." Jack pulled up his tan tee shirt so Daniel could see the neat red line of healed skin, all that remained of the near fatal stab wound. Then, the older man yanked the shirt back down covering the scar.

"Oh, okay. Sleeping okay?"

"Yeah, especially when I don't have someone drooling all over my PJ top."

"I did not drool," Daniel denied. Then he added, embarrassed, "did I?"

Jack smiled warmly. "No, I'm just teasing. Really, Daniel, I'm fine. I didn't have it nearly as bad as you did, believe me."

"You spent more time in the prison than I did. You managed to take care of yourself okay before I got sent there."

"Yeah, I did what I had to do to survive." Jack returned to working on sorting out his fishing lures essentially ending any further discussion on his experiences in the Evesal prison.

// Okay, Jack. Do as you say, not as you do.// "Jack."

"Daniel."

"I realize now I never would've survived through the first night there, or whatever, if it hadn't been for you."

Jack ceased in his lure sorting to look at Daniel. "You managed to pull your own weight. But regardless, you're my teammate and my friend. In those situations, you do whatever is necessary to ensure the survival of yourself and your teammates."

"Well, as I recall, I wasn't exactly appreciative of your efforts on my behalf."

"Implant."

"Implant."

The two friends smiled at the stereo wording before Daniel looked away. "Jack, even though I was pissed off at you, some part of me kept saying how relieved I was that you were there with me, that I'd be safe as long as you were nearby."

"Danny, all things considered, you took care of yourself pretty well. You survived and, well, you never lost your boots to Migra. You did okay."

"And?"

"And what?"

"No lecture about the stupidity of trading myself to Kai and nearly getting myself killed?"

Jack paused in his lure and hook sorting and stood. He came over to sit in a chair close to the recliner and its occupant. His brown eyes held Daniel in their intense gaze. "Okay, that was a stupid thing to do. My life is not worth yours. But, I understand why you did it. It's part of who you are, part of what makes Daniel Jackson such a unique person. And makes me ask myself why you would want to be friends with a jerk like me."

"After all you've done for me these past four years, you have to ask?" and Daniel looked down to the book folded in his lap. "Like I said yesterday, Jack, you're not perfect, but I trust you in the things that matter." He looked back up. "I want you to forgive yourself for what happened. I do. You made a few bad judgment calls. We all do. Just proves you're human, like you said."

"Can't do that, Danny. Don't ask again. Just, let me take care of you this week, okay?"

Daniel thought of protesting further but at the patented hardass colonel glare he was getting from Jack, warning him, he knew to let it drop. He sighed in resignation. Okay, he thought, his theory was now a proof and a fact. Jack was punishing himself for what had happened to him. Taking care of him was Jack's way of making penitence for the torture, the imprisonment, everything. "What's on the menu for dinner tonight?" Daniel asked, changing the subject.

"I thought another helping of Grandma O'Neill's chicken noodle soup and some sandwiches."

"Sounds good. Feel up to getting beaten in that chess game tonight?"

"Sure. Feel up to some company tomorrow?"

"Who?"

"Carter and Teal'c. They'll come up in the afternoon, spend the night, go home the next morning. They just want to see for themselves that you're doing okay."

"Okay. I'd like to see Sam and Teal'c." Daniel rubbed at his right cheek. "Guess I'll have to shave though. Look presentable."

"Good. Now, I've got lures to sort and you have a bedpan to play with," and Jack stood, his mood brightening. "Why I let you bring that thing here, I don't know," he mumbled, moving back to where his fishing stuff awaited him.

Daniel smiled and picked up the golden artifact. //Just to annoy you, Jack, of course.//

********* Day 3 ************

"Colonel, sir?"

The call came from the front porch of the mountain cabin.

"Carter. Come on in. I'm in the kitchen," Jack hollered, replying to the summons.

He kept busy preparing the food for their late afternoon barbecue. The screen door to the cabin opened and slammed a few times as the other two members of SG1 entered the cabin, traveling bags in tow.

"Hi, Carter, Teal'c. Glad you could make it. Why don't you take your things to the upstairs bedrooms? We'll start the barbecue in an hour or so."

"Yes, sir, in a minute," the blond woman replied, as she and Teal'c set aside their luggage. "First, how's Daniel?" Sam asked, walking with Teal'c into the kitchen. She set another paperbag of cookies on the countertop.

"He's doing okay. Still can't sleep through the night without having nightmares. We had a little PTSS incident last night at dinner with a butter knife but he's been eating and resting and giving me hell about taking his meds and the skimpy coffee ration."

"Ah, I thought Janet said no coffee," Sam said.

Jack looked at her. "This is Daniel we're talking about, Carter. If I don't let him have his mug a day the sneaky archeologist will get it some other way."

"I suppose you have a point, sir. Where is Daniel?"

"He's outside on the deck, supposedly watching the coals in the barbecue so we don't burn down the forest. I know he'll be happy to see you, Carter."

"I will carry our belongings to the rooms then assist you here, O'Neill," Teal'c announced. The muscular Jaffa put action to words carrying all of their luggage toward the staircase leading to the upstairs bedrooms.

"Sir, has Daniel been talking to you about what happened?"

"Some," Jack admitted. "But I think he may open up more while you and Teal'c are here."

"Well, guess I'd better get started." Sam exited the kitchen and walked through the living/dining room toward the cabin's deck.

"Daniel."

At the calling of his name, Daniel turned around slowly, mindful of the tugging on his incision, to smile a greeting to Sam as she walked out onto the cabin deck. She sat down beside him on the step and enfolded him in a loving hug, which Daniel returned. Hug given, Sam leaned back, grasping Daniel's right hand in her left one.

"Oh, you look so much better. This mountain air agrees with you," she said, smiling while giving him a critical once over.

"Well, it's either that or Jack's cooking. I can't believe he's making all of this food. And it's actually good."

"The colonel still has some surprises for us, I guess. How are you feeling?" Sam asked, squeezing his hand.

"I'm fine. Still a little sore," and Daniel lightly patted his sweatshirt-covered incision. "Tired. Ohhh, thanks for bringing the cookies the other day."

"You're welcome. We brought a fresh batch today. And about the other day," Sam began, "actually, Teal'c and I were here because we were the backup plan," she confessed. At Daniel's puzzled look, she continued explaining. "Well, if you decided you just didn't want to be here, Teal'c and I were supposed to take you home and look after you. The colonel was going to stay here regardless."

"Oh." Daniel looked away to the mountain scenery beyond. "Well, Jack and I resolved a lot of the problems between us that first afternoon, so... He actually apologized to me, Sam, three times. Used the "s" word, more than three times." Daniel became silent then turned back to his friend. "But he needs to be here. Not only that, I realized the first night, he needs to be here taking care of me."

Sam grinned. "The colonel's in full mother hen mode?"

"You have no idea. Think mother hen mode on steroids." They both chuckled then Daniel became serious. "He's not going to forgive himself, Sam, for what happened to me on Evesa."

"I thought you said he apologized."

"He did, and I accepted. I also forgave him. But..." Daniel shrugged his shoulders. "Now, I have to tolerate being coddled, fed, swallowing those damn pills like clockwork and Jack insisting he has to see my incision everyday. And, worse yet, when you and Teal'c leave, Jack is going to take me fishing down to the lake, there." He pointed in the general direction of the fishing hole.

"The fishing might be fun, you know. So, have you been a grouchy patient?"

"Oh, yeah, Jack wouldn't want it any other way." The two friends laughed again.

Sam was the first of the two to become serious once more. "As to settling things, Daniel. The colonel and I had a long talk while you were in the infirmary. I know now you were upset about certain things. The colonel and I have decided to keep our relationship a strictly professional one, military regulations aside, and be good friends. You know I love you, well, all three of you, like brothers, like family." Daniel nodded. "That I respect you. I would do anything for any one of the three of you, you know that, right?" Again Daniel nodded his understanding. "And I'd never, ever do anything to harm any one of you."

"Yeah, Sam, I know. The feeling is mutual." Daniel squeezed her hand.

"I feel guilty about what happened to you as well. All the Evesals did to me was not feed me for a few days. Then Teal'c and I were released and sent home through the stargate."

"Lucky for Jack and me they did. Or else you wouldn't have been able to come back and rescue us, in the cliched nick of time. By the way, I don't think I ever said thank you for the rescue and saving my life."

"There's no need, Daniel. Two of our teammates were in trouble. Nothing else mattered. And remember, no one gets left behind." She smiled again as Daniel chimed in with her on the latter.

"I have to apologize to you as well, Sam," Daniel continued again becoming serious. "After I arrived at the prison and Jack told me he had confessed in exchange for freeing you and Teal'c..."

"And you, Daniel," Sam reminded him. "You were to have been included in that exchange."

"Yeah, well, we had a few arguments, I thought some unpleasant things about you, which were totally untrue, and I'm ashamed now to admit I ever thought them. Then, I threw a real temper tantrum."

"Wall kicking kind?"

"Oh, yeah, walls, things, yelling at pathetic prisoners, tearing those dwellings apart, throwing stuff. It was embarrassing. That damn implant." Daniel absently rubbed over the small scar on his right forearm where the implant had been removed. "But it cleared my mind for a moment, and I realized what a self-centered idiot I was being. Jack was dying. Despite all the bad stuff that had happened between us, did I really want Jack to die? No. Did I really dislike you? No. It was very clear. I had to do whatever was needed to save Jack. So I did."

Sam sat silent for a moment, rubbing her left hand along Daniel's right forearm. "I'm just so sorry you had to endure all that suffering, Daniel. If only we'd been able to get to the prison sooner..."

"Don't, Sam. You and Teal'c got there, that's all that matters. It's over, we survived, we're alive, and we can go on. All of us."

"As SG1?"

"As SG1," and Daniel squeezed Sam's hand tightly and smiled at her. "So, tell me exactly how you pulled off that rescue. I'm a little fuzzy on the details."

"Okay, kids. Be prepared to have the best damn barbecue you've ever had," Jack announced loudly, as he came bustling onto the deck and set a platter of skewered vegetable and meat shiskabobs next to the grill. Teal'c followed closely behind, his arms full of bowls of salad and other condiments which he sat on the picnic table.

"How about we talk about it after dinner," Sam suggested, rising to her feet. She kept her hold on Daniel's hand and elbow helping him to stand. Then, she guided him over to the recliner and helped him sit down. "Now, you stay here with Teal'c. We all know the colonel can't barbecue unless I'm there to supervise."

The two friends shared a conspirator's smile then Sam walked over to start offering suggestions to O'Neill as he stirred the orange red coals in the barbecue. Shortly thereafter, the two officers were squabbling good-naturedly over every little detail.

"DanielJackson."

"Yeah, Teal'c, you're probably safest staying out of the line of fire. Here." Daniel patted the empty chair next to him, "sit and be entertained."

"As you wish." The Jaffa sat in the proffered chair.

For a few moments Daniel was distracted by the Jack and Sam show at the barbecue. He was quite content to sit and watch, reveling in the camaraderie of his friends. Things were definitely getting back to normal. When Teal'c's large, strong hand came to rest lightly on Daniel's upper chest, he turned to look at the Jaffa, confused.

"What?"

Teal'c did not answer at once. He looked at Daniel, his dark eyes and face clearly expressing sorrow and regret.

"What, Teal'c?" Daniel asked again. It was rare for his friend to express anything much less enhance that by physical touch.

"I regret I have once again failed in my duty to protect you, DanielJackson."

"Teal'c, please, you haven't failed. Didn't you rescue Jack and me and save my life? I'm very grateful."

"I offered to take your place but the Evesals refused."

Now this was news to Daniel. He laid his right hand on top of Teal'c's. "You did? Well, umm, that means a great deal to me. Thank you."

"I swear to you now, DanielJackson, I will not fail you again." Teal'c nodded his head in a slow reverent bow of respect.

Daniel knew better than to argue with Teal'c when he did his Jaffa swearing thing. After many past arguments over this same topic, arguments Daniel had lost, he finally accepted the warrior considered it his sacred duty to watch over and protect him. And, Daniel admitted, knowing Teal'c was always watching his back gave him a sense of great security.

When Teal'c raised his head, he lifted his hand away and his face reverted to the familiar impassive one.

"O'Neill has told Major Carter and myself that you have resolved the troubles between you."

"Yes, we have, Teal'c. We're all going to be okay."

"I am pleased to hear this, DanielJackson."

The rising voices of Jack and Sam bickering over something, drew their attention.

"You know, Teal'c, I'm thinking if you go over there and tell Jack I'm really hungry, maybe you can referee those two and get the meal cooked before night fall." With a definite twinkle in his dark eyes, Teal'c stood to carry out the request. "Ohh, can you give me the veggie tray before you go, please." Teal'c handed Daniel the tray of mini carrots and sliced celery. "Thanks."

Daniel munched on a stick of celery as he watched Teal'c in action. After a few hushed, shared words, three sets of concerned eyes turned to look at him. Daniel smiled and waved another celery stick before chomping on it. Immediately, the skewered shiskabobs were set over the rising heat of the coals and the bickering resumed as to the amount of sauce to brush on. Daniel continued his munching. How he seriously could have ever wanted to give up this family of his, well, he had come close but it wasn't going to happen, ever.

That evening...

The comforting buzzing of his friend's voices in muted discussion enveloped Daniel as he momentarily lost the battle to keep his eyes open.

"Hey, Daniel."

"Umm, what?" Daniel asked, opening his eyes and blinking. Slowly, Jack's nearby fuzzy face came into focus. "I'm sorry, must have dozed off for a minute," the younger man apologized. "What was the question again?" he asked, straightening in the chair.

Jack grinned. "Dannyboy, you've been sleeping on us for almost two hours."

"What?"

"C'mon. Time to go to bed," Jack insisted, standing and offering a helping hand.

"Umm, no, I'm not tired, really."

Sam joined in the fray, smiling. "Daniel, you were snoring," she stated, supporting the colonel.

Daniel flushed in embarrassment, then surrendered. He was tired. But it was a relaxed tired. He was stuffed again from the barbecue, and had shared a bonding afternoon and evening of humorous and witty conversation with his teammates and closest friends, and had been regaled in minute detail all about the great escape from the Evasa prison. Maybe, he could sleep through this night and not dream of the terrors of the recent past. Sighing, he took Jack's offered hand and was gently pulled to his feet. Sam and Teal'c stood as well.

"Loud?" he asked Sam.

She grinned. "No, more like a purring kitten," and she gave him a sisterly hug and a goodnight kiss on the cheek. "Good night, Daniel."

"Good night, Sam, Teal'c." The Jaffa bowed his head as Daniel allowed Jack to guide him into the bedroom.

"Go get your jammies on and I'll be waiting here with your pills," Jack instructed, in his best commanding mother hen voice.

Daniel waved him off, muttering something about overbearing, dictatorial mother hens disguised as Air Force colonels, and disappeared into the bathroom. Five minutes later he wondered back out, now dressed in his pajamas. He stopped before the waiting Jack and dutifully lifted his PJ top and pulled his waistband down exposing his incision.

"Well, not even a word of protest tonight," Jack commented, handing over the pills and a glass of water. "You must be tired." Pills swallowed, Jack took the empty glass and waited as Daniel got into bed. Jack helped cover him up then sat on the edge of the bed. "How you doin'?" Jack asked, as he removed Daniel's glasses.

"I'm fine. This was nice. Thanks for having Sam and Teal'c visit." Daniel snuggled deeper under the bed covers.

"Hey, I couldn't beat 'em off with a stick any longer." Jack smiled, then set Daniel's glasses on the nighttable and switched off the lamp.

"Jack, you can leave the door open," Daniel said.

"Sure our talking won't keep you awake?"

"No. I'll know you're all nearby."

"Okay. Good night."

Daniel lay shivering, his naked beaten body curled into a tight protective ball. The metal floor of the holding cell was cold against his bare skin. The darkness surrounded him. But he could hear the muffled sound of booted feet marching closer and closer. The guards coming to get him. Stifling a whimper, Daniel tried to squeeze his body into yet a smaller ball. They were lying, he told himself, Jack did not confess. We didn't kill anyone. They were lying. And he would not confess either, not let Jack down, or Sam or Teal'c. No matter what they did to him. He heard the metal key scraping in the lock and the cell door swinging open, squealing on rusty hinges. They were coming for him, they were.....

Daniel bolted upright in the bed, his heart racing, his breath panting equally fast, his body drenched in sweat, plastering the pajama material to him, the silent scream gurgling in his throat. It was dark. Where was he? In the cell? No, in the cabin, in Janet's cabin, in the mountains. Here, with Jack. Jack. Where was Jack? Daniel looked over to the rollaway bed. It was empty. He had to find Jack. In a panic, and struggling to untangle himself from the bed covers, Daniel tumbled from the bed. Righting himself, he hitched a breath as a sharp pain lanced through his left side. Hunched over, he walked to the door opening into the adjoining bathroom, moved through it to the second door opening on the bedroom Jack had been using. Daniel hurried as fast as his pained side and blurred sight would allow through the dark room to the bed. When he got there, he fumbled for the bedside light, clicked it on. The bed was empty. Jack was gone.

"Jack?" Daniel called, barely above a whisper as his fear enveloped him. "Jack!!" he shouted louder, stumbling backwards from the empty bed. "Jack!!" only to bump into someone immobile behind him.

Irrationally thinking it was the Evesal guards, Daniel spun away and fell to the bedroom floor. Scrambling to his hands and knees, Daniel tried to crawl away. He was prevented from doing so as strong hands grabbed him.

"DanielJackson."

"Don't hurt me, please don't hurt me," Daniel begged, cowering on the floor, his arms raised to protect his head.

"DanielJackson, it is I," the soothing deep voice said.

"Teal'c?" Daniel asked, his voice trembling.

"Yes. You are safe here with me."

"Where's Jack?"

"He is outside viewing the sky with his telescope."

"Have to see Jack, have to see Jack," Daniel mumbled, as he allowed Teal'c to help him stand and guide him from the bedroom into the living room. There, a disheveled Carter, stumbling down the stairs met them, still only half awake, trying to put on her robe.

"Teal'c, I thought I heard Daniel yelling...." Her voice trailed off as she realized Teal'c was assisting an obviously distressed Daniel to the couch. Military training taking over, she did a quick assessment and hurried over to her two teammates. "C'mon Daniel, let's sit down on the couch. Here we go." She guided him to the couch and sat beside him, holding her shaking friend close in a protective embrace.

"I will inform O'Neill," Teal'c offered, hurrying toward the sliding glass door opening onto the deck.

A moment later, both O'Neill and Teal'c came inside. Jack went over to kneel before the seated Daniel. The archeologist had his arms crossed before him, legs folded up on the couch rocking back and forth, still within Carter's embrace. Daniel's eyes stared, unblinking at the floor.

"Daniel?" Jack softly said, laying his hand on the bowed head. Instantly the rocking stopped and Daniel looked to the kneeling older man.

"..Jack.." he choked, his placid face crumbling. "I couldn't find you," he whispered. "They, the Evesal guards were coming for me. I couldn't find you." He began to weep.

Jack rose to sit on the couch adding his embrace to Carter's. "Its okay, I'm here now, I'm here. You're safe, Daniel, you're safe."

The scene remained unchanged for many minutes. Finally, both Jack and Sam could feel Daniel's soft crying cease and he relaxed in their combined embrace.

"Okay, that's better," Jack said, breaking the long silence. "I'll get the sedative so we can get you back to sleep."

"No."

"Daniel..."

Daniel fought to sit up and red rimed eyes glared at Jack. "I said, no, damn it!!" he yelled. Then, realizing what he had said, and how, and to whom, Daniel became immediately contrite. "Sorry."

"Don't apologize," Jack said, loosening his hold. "Being angry is good, it's normal. It shows you're fighting back."

"I hate this," Daniel spat, then fought to calm himself. "I don't want to go to sleep, I don't want a sedative. I just, I just want, to, to,.."

"Talk about what happened, tell the three of us, what happened," Jack encouraged.

Daniel nodded. "You're the three people I trust the most. Who else would I talk to?"

"Okay," Jack said, falling into colonel-in-command mode. "Carter, Teal'c, Daniel wants to stay up and talk, so that's what we're going to do." Jack stood. "Daniel, why don't you go and take a shower, change into clean clothes. Teal'c will help you. I'll heat up the leftovers, and, Carter.."

"I'll make the coffee, sir," she added, standing.

"Allow me to assist you, DanielJackson," Teal'c offered, helping Daniel to stand.

"Teal'c, let's just be clear on this," Daniel began, as the Jaffa escorted him into the bedroom. "I can take the shower by myself, okay."

O'Neill and Sam didn't hear if the Jaffa replied as they headed to the kitchen.

As Sam poured the measured coffee grounds into the instant maker, she said, "This is what you hoped would happen if Teal'c and I came, isn't it sir."

"Ah huh," Jack affirmed, as he set uncovered leftovers in the microwave to heat up. "Daniel needs to get this out. And you and I know there's no way in hell he'll talk to McKenzie, or any other shrink, about this. Only us. Once he does, the healing can really begin."

"Yes, sir," Sam agreed, getting out three coffee mugs.

A half-hour later, SG1 was reassembled in the living room. Food sat on the low table before the couch, coffee steamed from the mugs. Sam, Daniel and Jack were once again sitting on the couch as before and Teal'c was sitting in the nearby chair. Daniel leaned forward staring at the dark coffee swirling in the mug clutched between his hands. They had been sitting this way in silence for five minutes. He inhaled slowly and began speaking.

"Okay, this is what happened. After the banquet on Evesa, I woke up, alone, stripped except for my underwear, in a cold, dark cell. Then the Evesal guards came for me the first time....."

********* Day Four

Daniel opened his eyes slowly, blinked rapidly then stared. It was sometime during the day, judging by the sunlight illuminating the interior of the mountain cabin. It took a moment longer for Daniel to realize he was lying on the couch, pillow under his head, blanket covering him. Lifting his head, he saw Teal'c sitting cross-legged on the floor, obviously in Kel-nor-reem. Snoring drew his attention to one of the two chairs before the fireplace where Jack was sleeping. The other chair held Sam, her body curled into a tight ball, also asleep.

Daniel struggled for a second and managed to sit up, the blanket falling away to the floor. He rubbed his eyes wondering where his glasses were then decided he could maneuver just as well with out them. His gaze floated from one of his friends to the other, to the other. They had been awake long into the night previous, that much Daniel clearly remembered. Jack, Sam, and Teal'c listening patiently, as he narrated the torture he had endured on Evasa. When he was finished, he felt free, in control, victorious for as Jack had said, he was alive, and had survived. Daniel yawned. What he needed right now, was coffee, screw the fact he technically already had his rationed one mug for the day.

Rising, Daniel moved stiffly, but quietly, into the kitchen. He filled the coffee maker with water, and frowned when he saw the coffee can was empty. He began a thorough, but quiet, search of the cabinets until he found another can, still sealed. Setting the coffee can on the counter top, he searched for the hand held can opener. He finally saw it and picked it up. Suddenly, Daniel was overcome with a feeling of cold dread, and the can opener slipped from his numb fingers to the floor.

"Do you need assistance, DanielJackson." This offer came from Teal'c as he moved to stand beside his comrade.

"Yeah, could you give me the can opener, please," Daniel said, his hands clutching the edge of the countertop to still their shaking.

Teal'c wordlessly bent over and retrieved the device. "Perhaps, I should...."

"No," Daniel cut him off. "No." He held out his quivering hand. "It's only a damn can opener. I can do this."

Teal'c placed the device in Daniel's open hand. After several failed attempts, Daniel stilled his shaking hands long enough to put the device on the can and began the process of opening the metal container. Once his nostrils were assailed with the sharp aroma of fresh ground coffee, the horrid memories of existence in the Evesal prison, were forgotten.

Jack, who had watched this little scenario from the living room, nodded his head in satisfaction before he turned to rouse Carter from her slumber.

********** Day Five

"Okay, here we go. This will be fun," Jack crowed with enthusiasm. He carefully guided Daniel as the two men walked down the trodden, narrow dirt path leading from the cabin to the deep blue mountain lake. Jack had already carried down the fishing rods, the tackle box, the creel, a cooler of iced water and sodas, and two lawn chairs and set them up in a small cleared patch of ground along the lakeshore. "Now watch your step, big root in the path," Jack mothered, as he lead Daniel on by holding his right elbow and wrist.

"Jack, I can walk," Daniel complained, stepping gingerly over the root.

"I know you can. But I'll not face a livid Doc Fraiser if you fall and pull your stitches. I'd rather take on a Goa'uld mothership solo. Believe me, she would make my life a living hell. Worse yet, she'll never let us play together again. Watch it, slick rock coming up."

Daniel again made to protest then choose to remain silent. It would be useless. Just go along with it, he told himself. Jack had been practically salivating all morning about taking this little excursion. Besides, after tomorrow, their week-long vacation would be over and both men would have to return to the SGC, Jack back to being on active duty and tackling a mountain of paperwork and Daniel, unfortunately, back into the clutches of Janet and her platoon of infirmary nurses. He had to enjoy what little freedom was left. And, if Jack wanted to spend it fishing, well, Daniel told himself, as they finally arrived at the spot, this is what they would do.

Jack guided Daniel over to one of the lawn chairs. Releasing his hold, he turned to pick up one of the two poles. "Here you go." Jack handed the fishing pole to Daniel before bending over to open the tackle box. He pulled out a jar of yellowish looking berry-like bait, unscrewed and removed the lid, and held the opened jar toward Daniel. "Time to bait the hook."

Daniel scrunched up his face scrutinizing the yellowish stuff. Since Jack was, patiently, waiting, Daniel reached in and fingered out a blob of the circular bait. "Please tell me again I don't have to wear one of those silly hats," he said, staring at the lumpy glob on his fingers.

"What's wrong with my hat," Jack groused, tugging on the floppy head covering. "It's no worse than what you insist on wearing on our gate trips. Now, quit stalling, Put the bait on the hook like I showed you earlier today."

Seeing he had no choice, Daniel baited the hook, carefully sliding several of the small, soft balls over the barbed metal then flicking away the remaining mass. With great reluctance, he wiped his fingers clean on his sweatshirt.

"Not bad," Jack commented, taking the pole from Daniel. "Better let me cast." He quickly cast the rod, the baited hook and red cork bobber plopping far out into the placid water of the lake. "Okay. Sit down." Daniel eased himself into the shaded lawn chair, and Jack handed over the pole. "You're all set." Daniel took the offered pole and eyed it dubiously.

Jack busied himself with following the same procedure with his own pole and when two bobbers floated on the breeze rippled water, Jack sat in the second lawn chair, legs splayed out before him, and issued a loud sigh of contentment. "Oh, yeah. Life don't get much better than this."

"So, we just sit here and wait for a tug on the line," Daniel said, eyeing his friend's totally relaxed form.

"Yep. And enjoy the serenity, the scenery. Remember, it's not about catching fish..."

"It's the act of fishing. Right, so you've told me, repeatedly, all morning."

"Daniel, not to use cliches, but it's time to smell the roses, see the forest for the trees, relax, do nothing. Down time." Jack leaned over toward Daniel. "That includes no brain activity. No thinking." He settled back into his chair, his eyes closing. "And don't think you can fool me into thinking you're not thinking. I'll know," came the ominous warning.

//Okay// Daniel thought, relaxing his healing body into his own chair. //Down time. I can do that. Besides, I doubt there's any fish here anyway. I'm doing this is for Jack.//

Several hours later...

The gentle pulling on the fishing rod almost went unnoticed. Daniel found himself lightly dozing when he felt the pole slide in his lax hand. Startled awake, he sat up, grasping the pole tighter. The jerky pull came again, harder this time and the tip of the pole began to bend downwards.

"Ahh, Jack," Daniel said, trying to sit up straighter without tugging on his sutured incision. The soft snores of his sleeping friend was the only response. "Jack," Daniel said louder, now trying to stand and hold the pole at the same time. He finally managed to get vertical, grimacing at the twinge the motion caused in his lower abdomen, and side shuffled over to the sleeping Jack. He patted his friend's floppy hat covered head. "Jack, wake up. I think I have one."

The touch roused the sleeping colonel at once. Startled, but then quickly alert, he jumped up to his feet, his own pole clattering to the ground in the process.

"Daniel? What?" Jack asked, Black Ops instincts taking in the scene.

"I think I've hooked a fish."

"Not a snagged stick, like last time?" Jack asked, disbelieving.

"Not unless snagged sticks have learned to make the line move." To prove Daniel's statement, the line from his curved pole began to angle to their left.

"Hot damn, Daniel, you've hooked one," Jack exclaimed, truly excited as he came over to stand behind his friend and resting his hands on Daniel's shoulders. "Okay, I'll talk you through it."

"Wouldn't you rather just take over," Daniel offered hopefully.

"Nope, you're landing this one yourself. You can do it. Start reeling in the line at a steady pace while keeping a firm hold on the rod. That's it, you're doing fine. See, Daniel, you're a natural at this. Bring him in."

For the next few minutes, neither man spoke as Daniel concentrated on reeling in the ever taunt line, the resistance from the hooked fish becoming more evident. "Ah, Jack, I don't think I can," Daniel finally admitted. Due to his low stamina, it was becoming harder to hold the pole, crank the rod and fight the fish all at the same time.

"Okay, here, let me help." Jack reached around Daniel to grasp the pole allowing Daniel the freedom to wind the reel. A few more minutes passed as the hooked fish was being drawn closer to shore. They could see the flash of the silver scaled fish flopping about in the water surface as it tried to escape. It was now about ten feet from the shore.

"Oh, damn," Jack swore. "I forgot the net. Just hold it steady, I'll go out and get it."

"Be careful, Jack," Daniel advised, fighting to hold the pole and keep the rod locked into place.

Jack waded into the shallow water, reaching for the line as the struggling fish jerked it back and forth. "Hold the line steady, Daniel."

"I'm trying, Jack".

Jack took another step and the hooked fish suddenly darted to the right. Jack moved over quickly to intercept it, and lost his footing as he stepped into a hidden hole. With a yell, he found himself floundering in chest high water.

"Jack, you okay?" Daniel yelled from the shore, as he began to move forward to offer assistance.

"I'm fine. Stay where you are. Don't lose the grip on the pole," Jack yelled back, as he tried to corner the elusive fish. Splashing and cursing, he finally grabbed the flopping fish with both hands and began wading back to the shore with the prized trout. He finally hauled himself out to stand on the shore, dripping wet, and glaring at the large, wiggling fish dangling from the line. "Nice fish. Fourteen to sixteen inches easy."

"I'd say, more like twenty," Daniel estimated.

Jack looked at him. "Twenty?"

"Well, aren't you supposed to over-estimate the size of the fish you catch?" Daniel asked innocently.

"Not that much," Jack scolded, then smiled. "Keep or release?"

"Oh, let's put him back where he belongs," Daniel decided. "He earned his freedom."

"Yeah, he's fighter and a survivor, like some one else I know." Nodding his agreement, Jack worked out the hook freeing the fish. He leaned over and allowed the trout to swim from his open hands to disappear into the murky brown water.

"Way to go, Daniel. Teal'c will never believe it."

"Jack?"

"What?"

"Umm, you're all wet."

"Ya think," Jack glared, at Daniel as he waded from the water. He stood on the shore, water dripping from sodden clothes. Then, he began to chuckle and the chuckles became laughter. It was infectious, as Daniel joined in, plopping exhausted into the lawn chair.

"Oww, stop, Jack , stop, laughing, ow," Daniel pleaded, but his own laughter only became louder.

Jack loomed over Daniel, flicking dropping water on the seated man. "So, you think this is funny, eh, Daniel? Want to go for a swim, hmm?"

"No, no," Daniel weakly protested, still laughing, "I'm sorry, but you look, so, so, well, wet," and he started laughing anew with interspersed "ows" and Jack resumed his own laughing, plopping down on the grassy ground beside the seated laughing Daniel.

The surrounding forest echoed with the long overdue joyous guffaws of true happiness and companionship shared between two best friends.

Later that evening....

The fire crackled in the cabin's fireplace. The sun had set on another glorious mountain summer day. Jack walked over to sit in the second chair set before the fire, placing a whiskey bottle and two shot glasses on the wooden end table situated between the two chairs. Daniel remained reclining into the cushiony softness of his own chair, not bothering to open his closed eyes as he heard Jack sit down. Then he felt something knocking against his right hand.

Rising his head, Daniel opened his eyes. "What?"

"Here, take," and Jack held out the shot glass full of amber hued liquid.

"Whisky?" Daniel asked sitting up to take the offered drink. "What would Janet say?"

"We won't tell her. Bottoms up." Jack swallowed his portion and watched as Daniel cautiously did the same in several smaller sips.

"We're celebrating?" Daniel asked, setting the empty glass on the table.

"You bet we are. You caught a fish."

"Ohhh, I did, didn't I."

"Yep, and last night you slept straight through, alone, and with no nightmares."

"I did, didn't I? I thought maybe you were trying to get me drunk so you can look at my scars."

"Naw, we'll do the drunk thing tomorrow afternoon, and empty this bottle. But, what makes you think I haven't already seen your scars while I've had you doped up on doc's sedatives," Jack implied wickedly.

Daniel, horrified, sat up straighter. "You didn't." At Jack's evil grin, he continued. "Please, tell me you didn't. Jack, please."

"Okay, I didn't, I swear. Really. Your scars are safe from my prying eyes."

"You're not lying to me, are you."

Jack's face became somber. "No lies between us from now on, I swear. No secrets, no deceptions."

"Okay." Both men were silent, staring at the dancing flames in the fireplace. Daniel was the first to turn away and look at the man sitting beside him. "Jack?"

"Daniel?"

"Thanks, for being here for me. For helping me through this recovery thing."

"No thanks necessary. I'm the one thanking you for letting me do this. I had to recover, too. You've been a proper grouchy and pissy patient all week."

"Good. You didn't think I was going to make it easy on you, did you?"

Jack looked at Daniel, still somber. "No, and I deserved it. There was a moment a week ago, in this very room, when I feared I'd lost you, your friendship, your participation on SG1, everything. Then, you told me you trusted me to be your friend. I swear to you now Daniel, that I'll do anything and everything to earn the faith you've put into this friendship thing."

"I know, Jack. I've always known that." Daniel paused, thought for a moment, then decided to move ahead. "So this whole week has been your way of offering penitence, right?"

"Yeah, you could say that. Should have known you'd figure it out."

"Okay, but why the incision check everyday?"

Jack's brown eyes were haunted and pained. "So I'll never forget the pain my stupidity cost you, Daniel. So I don't repeat my mistakes. If I start to slide, all I have to do is remember that scar, and I know I'll do the right thing."

Daniel held Jack's gaze, then said, "Jack, I want you to forgive yourself."

"Danny, I can't forgive myself," Jack replied with great emphasis. "Just, let it go, please."

Daniel continued his beseeching look at his friend, then relented. "Okay, I'll let it go for now. But I won't give up on this, you know."

"You never do."

"I did--"

"Ah, ah, ah," Jack interrupted, his index finger waving. "You only thought you did. You never give up, on anything, or anyone. Remember when you told me you trust me to never give up on you, even when you think you've given up on yourself?" Daniel nodded that he did. "Well, I trust you to never give up on me. Deal?"

"Deal," and Daniel smiled.

Jack returned the smile, then turned to apparently become mesmerized by the flickering flames in the fire place.

Daniel continued to watch the older man. They had both come a long way these past six days in repairing and re-establishing the foundation of their friendship. They were going to be okay, Daniel decided. He should do something nice for Jack, he mused, wondering what would make his friend really happy. Wait. Jack said they were going to get drunk tomorrow, right? Yeah, that would work. Perfect. Satisfied with his plan, Daniel leaned back into the comfortable chair and tried to imagine Jack's expression when he put his plan into action. This was going to make it all worthwhile.

 


 

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