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Category: episode tag, angst
Season/spoilers: Season 2 – Serpent´s Lair
Summary: A shower scene for Serpent's Lair
Burning! He could still feel it burning. God!
Propped up against the wall, Daniel could hear the wheeze in his breathing and the unnatural pitch of his voice as he desperately tried to maintain his tenuous hold on consciousness.
//"You're just going to blow up with the other ship anyway… What difference does it make ? Go! Just go…"//
He'd said it. As if the fact that they wouldn't have to live with themselves after leaving him behind would make everything right. It was the only thing he could think of to make Jack move.
His left side already numb and useless, he blurted out the words. Strung them together into some kind of logical argument to make sure the mission would succeed and to absolve his friend of his guilt. This wasn't about him surviving, it wasn't about the team surviving - though he was sure there was some way for them to escape, it just wouldn't come to mind at the moment. No. This was about giving Earth another chance.
And now by some miracle *he* had another chance, everyone did…
He swayed a little, the motion only stopping once Daniel managed to snap his eyes open and the corridor of Klorel's ship became the locker room once more.
Jack was unusually quiet, he thought.
God, he needed a shower. The earlier change of clothes had been welcome, but he hadn't felt like doing anything else at the time other than put them on. The locker room was their place to unwind… to come down off mission heightened alertness… together. He hadn't been ready to do that upon his return from P3X 984, with his team still unaccounted for. And now that they were home, safe and he thought he could finally allow himself to relax, he found he wasn't able to. His muscles felt tense. His thoughts racing as memories from the ship bombarded his mind.
Daniel shucked off his T-shirt and dropped it on top of the jumble of clothes on the bench in front of him.
Hooking his thumbs into his boxers, the last item that stood between him and the long awaited shower, he noticed Jack was still fully dressed and was staring intently at him. No... correction... not at *him* exactly but at his left shoulder. The one that now sported perfect skin, not the charred, bloody mess it had been just a few hours previously.
Suddenly understanding the scrutiny, he probed the area with his fingers, only just appreciating himself how well the injury had been healed. When the sarcophagus had opened, the only thing he could think about was getting to the Stargate as fast as he could. His legs had felt like jelly and his heart had been pounding so hard, he was sure a marching band had taken up residence in his chest. He had thought that if he could just make it to the gate, there might be a chance to do something to help his friends. He had no idea what, but...
A shake of his head dispelled the image of the DHD wavering as he steadied himself and concentrated on the symbols to dial the beta site. "Look," he said, catching the older man's eye. "Good as new."
When Jack didn't answer and continued to stare, a pained expression ageing his features considerably, Daniel moved around the bench and put a hand on the colonel's arm. "Jack ?"
"Damn." O'Neill sighed and rubbed a hand through his short hair. He dropped his head forward to massage the back of his neck. "I thought we'd lost you… again..."
"Hey," Daniel said softly, surprised by the obvious distress the colonel was showing, "I'm okay."
//"What difference does it make ?"//
A hell of a lot of difference, apparently. Jack looked haunted.
Eventually, the colonel lifted a sorrowful face to the younger man. "I should never have left you alone to watch our backs."
"Why ?" Daniel was puzzled.
"You're a civilian. It's *our* job to watch out for you. I screwed up. I'm sorry."
Daniel removed his hand and took a step away from Jack with some indignation. The same old argument had reared its ugly head. Just because he only wore their uniform to blend in and save his own limited wardrobe from the rigours of off-world exploration, didn't mean he needed babysitting. "I can look after myself."
"You got yourself killed, Daniel... near as dammit, anyway," Jack reminded him soberly.
"I'm here… I survived..." the archaeologist protested. "I'm fine. Better than fine, actually," he claimed glibly, but wondered how that could possibly be. He decided to put it down as an adrenaline rush, probably some kind of high after escaping death once again. The feeling was fading though, more so now that Jack was deflating his sails with apparent distrust of his abilities.
"But how many more times can you cheat death like that, huh ?" Jack exploded, taking the thought right out of Daniel's head. "What am I supposed to tell Sha'uri when we finally catch up with her and you've been and got yourself killed on some 'I can save the world' crusade." He dropped his hands to his hips in an exasperated stance.
"We did didn't we ?" Daniel remarked, an almost apologetic grin twitching the corners of his mouth. "Well, you guys did..." he added and his teeth anxiously sought out his bottom lip.
"Couldn't have done it without you," Jack replied with a strained smile. "You were the one who talked me into it, remember ? You were the one who had the co-ordinates and it was you who only just made it back from that alternate reality thingy where you supposedly got them from."
"And you couldn't have done it if you'd dragged me around half dead." Daniel shivered and wondered how much of the coldness creeping into his bones was from standing all but butt naked in the icy locker room or the memory of the staff blast disintegrating a sizeable chunk of his body.
Both previous times he'd been shot he'd been dead before the pain and shock of it had registered, but the events on Klorel's ship were startlingly vivid. He could remember falling, crying out; the heat in the wound, the cold in every other part of him. Jack had reached out his hand and with it so much more... and then he was alone. He could still feel each agonizing tremor that had rippled through his being as he dragged himself to the sarcophagus. His heart thumping loud and fast, too fast… then slowing, slowing, until each beat was a solitary drum… and darkness came.
O'Neill grimaced, the vision obviously still raw in his mind too. "But I promised you… promised myself… after Nem that I'd never leave you behind again."
"I don't blame you, Jack. I'm a member of this team as much as you, or Sam, or Teal'c and I should be able to pull my weight, militarily speaking, I understand that. Why do you think I've let you show me how to use weapons that I wouldn't have even touched a year ago ? Okay, I was as scared as hell when you told me to watch your backs up there, but I was glad that you asked me to do it... that you *trusted* me to do it. It felt a bit like graduation - that I'd somehow come of age."
Jack snickered. "I've read your file, remember ? You graduated long before you were of age."
"Academically, yes, but some things can't be learnt from books." Daniel's brow wrinkled as his eyebrows raised. His face betraying the inner turmoil of determining whether to proceed with revealing a truth buried so deep he could hardly give it credence himself. "Like friendship. You and Sam and Teal'c - you're probably the closest I've been to anyone in… well, in quite a while ... on Earth, anyway."
Daniel absorbed Jack's sympathetic gaze. He had rarely spoken about his life before Abydos, not that Jack had given too much away of his pre-SGC existence either, but he felt compelled to explain his hesitance on thinking of them as friends. "My so called friends soon found other things to do when I began my researching the possibility of alien influences in ancient cultures. Those that didn't leave me of their own accord I pushed away. I couldn't risk their careers with my theories. No one's ever had to rely on me… even Sha'uri… she was the one who was always looking out for me and the one time I could have made a difference…" Daniel drew in a shaky breath, swiping at the sudden wetness of his eyes.
"I'm rambling here…" he snorted lightly. "I guess what I'm trying to say is that it was just as hard for me seeing you walk away thinking that you were all going to your deaths in Apophis's ship as it was for you to walk away from me dying." Sometime during his speech Jack's hand had found his shoulder and he allowed himself to lean into the touch. "And if you ever do find Sha'uri and I'm no longer around, I hope you'll tell her the truth. I love her and I always will, but I won't jeopardise my friends, or a planet full of strangers for that matter, in order to live a little longer myself. She'll understand, she knows I couldn't live with myself if I didn't do all I could to prevent someone else's death."
Daniel took a long look at Jack and hoped the older man would accept his words. "We'd better hurry up. Sam'll be ticked off if she doesn't get to hit the showers before the party starts." He quickly stepped out of his shorts and grabbed his towel before heading for the row of showers, relieved to see Jack finally getting undressed.
Hanging his towel on the rail to the side of the cubicle, Daniel caught sight of his reflection in the mirror and once again marvelled at the pristine skin on his chest and left shoulder.
He was just about to walk away, when he saw the large bandaid on his other arm. Was that still there ? He'd forgotten all about the injury he'd received on P3R 233 courtesy of the alternate reality Teal'c. Was that really only two days ago ? It seemed like a lifetime. Carefully, he peeled away the sticky strips holding the pad in place, wincing as the fine hairs on his arm were unceremoniously ripped from their follicles.
Daniel prodded the tender shiny pink remnant of wound, interested in how it was not nearly as well healed as the newer injury had been. Either it required more time in the sarcophagus to repair older injuries, or maybe it had no effect on something that hadn't only just occurred. There was no way of telling without further investigation. Too bad Hathor's magic box had been destroyed.
If they came across one again, they might get the chance to find out. However, he thought next time he would try to leave any practical demonstrations of the sarcophagus's powers to someone else. The curiosity wasn't strong enough to deny how uneasy being inside that thing made him feel.
He peered closely at the reflection of his face. Was the scar on his chin still there ? Yes, unchanged, as was the kink in his nose from where it had been broken many years ago. He wondered if they would eventually disappear with more uses of the Goa'uld device and could it correct his eyesight ?
The sound of water slapping on tiles disturbed his pondering and he was amazed at how quietly Jack must have slipped past him to get into the showers first.
Daniel stepped into his and turned the faucet on. He stood back and let the jets beat a rhythm on his chest. As the water got gradually hotter, the tumbling spray became less refreshing and he was assaulted by the feel of it. The regenerated flesh began to tingle from the pressure and heat.
Steam swirled around reminiscent of the smoke curling up from his wound. It invaded his nostrils until he could almost smell the burnt cloth and the sickly sweet odour of cooked human flesh. He closed his eyes and dipped his head under the spray hoping that it would cleanse him of the ghastly images of his most recent mortal wound.
It didn't work. Finding it more and more difficult to breathe, he realized he had to get out of the enclosed space. The hum of the fan kicking in was the final straw. Although it sucked the cloying atmosphere away, the noise was too much like the drone of the sarcophagus as it had worked to restore his body.
Daniel hastily exited the cubicle and immediately regretted moving so fast. It felt like the blood was draining down from his head and a flood of nausea assailed him. Reaching out shakily, he grabbed for the towel rail to steady himself, but the spots dancing before his eyes caused his judgement of the distance to fail and his finger tips brushed lightly over the cloth as blackness swamped him and he slipped gracelessly to the cold hard floor.
* * *
Jack gave his hair a vigorous rub and wiggled a finger in each ear to dislodge the water causing his temporary deafness. As he emerged from his cubicle he began wrapping a towel around his waist and almost fell over Daniel's inert body. "Christ," he exclaimed, struggling to remain upright. Looking down at his friend's unmoving wet and naked form he called, "Daniel ?" Then more concerned when there was no response he leaned over and tapped the young archaeologist's cheek, "Danny ?"
"Go..." Daniel stirred, his head tossing restlessly from side to side. "Just go..."
Jack froze at the words. Anger at his helplessness back on the ship caused him to swat Daniel's face a little harder than he had intended.
Daniel's eyes flew open, struggling to focus. "Wha...?"
The colonel tossed Daniel's towel over him. Feeling the awkwardly positioned arms and legs for possible injury, he patted the expanse of cloth to dry the archaeologist as he went. His relief at the younger man's return to consciousness was tempered by worry as to what had caused it. "I thought Fraiser checked you out already..."
"Um, yeah," Daniel replied. His voice was a little slurred, but at least he was looking in Jack's general direction.
"So, what's this all about ?" Satisfied that nothing appeared broken, Jack helped Daniel to sit up and fetched his robe to drape around his shoulders.
"I don't know. I..." Daniel frowned, blinking owlishly and shivered. "I guess I had some kind of flashback."
As he lightly rubbed Daniel's hair dry, Jack nodded sympathetically, he knew all about those. He winced when the bump he discovered under his hands, drew a hiss of discomfort from the archaeologist. "Come on," he said. "Infirmary."
"That's n-not necessary, J-Jack," Daniel protested, his teeth chattering as involuntary shudders continued to rack his body. "Really. I j-just got too hot in the shower."
O'Neill wasn't going to be swayed. "You passed out. You've got a lump on the back of your head the size of a goose egg, you're as white as a sheet, you still feel hot and you're shaking. At the very least, Daniel, you're in shock. You need to see the doc."
"I'm okay." Daniel pushed Jack's hands away from him.
"The hell you are," Jack retorted.
"You were the one in a trance before," the archaeologist accused.
"*I* haven't just had my ass fried…"
Daniel lapsed into a fit of giggles. "Your biology sucks... it wasn't my ass that got fried."
Jack joined in with the laughter at the younger man's joke, but when Daniel's stomach gave a long grumble and he had to ask, "When was the last time you ate ?"
"Just after I got back. Janet made me have breakfast."
"That was hours ago and I bet you didn't have anything more than just coffee," Jack reprimanded.
"Janet ordered me the works." Daniel stuck his chin out as if challenging the accusation, but after receiving Jack's glare of disbelief, admitted sheepishly, "I did eat it... but at the time we had no word on you guys and... and I, er, let's just say it didn't have time to digest."
"Swell." Jack could just imagine it. He'd felt the same on too many occasions, though little necessities, like saving the world, were usually pretty good reasons to quell rebellious stomachs.
Something in Daniel's countenance abruptly changed and with it came a question Jack had secretly been dreading, because for the life of him he couldn't think of a logical answer to it. "Why did you call me 'Spacemonkey' ?"
He stumbled, trying to lend credence to a spur of the moment, tension-relieving spot of silliness. "Well, I don't know exactly… it was just the first thing that came to mind."
"Do you have any idea what SG3 are going to make of that ?" Daniel asked grimly as he climbed unsteadily to his feet.
"Hey, you have any trouble with those jarheads, you send them straight to me..." Jack moved to lend the archaeologist help in righting himself.
"No, I won't." Daniel laughed humourlessly.
"Huh ? I thought..."
"No you don't... that's the whole point." Daniel flew at him uncharacteristically, side-stepping O'Neill's attention. "You don't think, do you ? I wouldn't send some bozo to you just 'cause they were giving me a hard time. That's what they'd expect me to do and it would just lead to more abuse. I've dealt with bullies before."
"Okay, okay…" Jack held up his hands in placation.
"My god…" Daniel muttered loudly as he started to pace. "You don't trust me at all…"
Geez, he didn't need that kind of attitude thrown at him. What the hell had gotten into Daniel all of a sudden ? Moving to his space on the bench, Jack steeled himself to ignore the accusatory ranting and began to get dressed.
From the corner of his eye, the colonel watched as the younger man wound down. Jack was thankful that his withdrawal from any possible confrontation had apparently doused Daniel's fiery mood. As brief as it had been it had burned ferociously. The venom had dripped from the words as Daniel had said them. It was scary. Everyone knew or was coming to know just how passionate the archaeologist could expound on just about anything, but this… rage… was something completely new.
Jack thought he caught a mumbled, "I'm sorry," as Daniel too started to put on fresh clothes.
After Daniel huffed a heavy sigh for the fifth time, yet again being unsuccessful at negotiating the buttons on his shirt, Jack could stand it no more. He walked round the bench and took hold of the trembling hands. Daniel kept his head down, long hair hiding his all too expressive eyes.
Jack put a hand on the archaeologist's forehead and determining that it was still too warm, declared, "No arguments, Daniel. Infirmary, now."
Ready to handle another denial of his condition from the young man, Jack was thrown for a loop when Daniel brought his face up. He looked like he hadn't slept for a week. No prize for guessing that he probably hadn't, he knew Daniel was prone to prolonged spells of insomnia and hell… none of them had had time for rest over the past couple of days, save for the unconsciousness induced by the Goa'uld's stun grenade and Jack didn't count that. Daniel didn't usually look quite so affected by lack of sleep though. His eyes were bloodshot and rimmed red, his cheeks showed further signs of an abnormally high temperature, contrasting sharply with the dreadful paleness of the rest of his face and although Jack had seen him towel it off just a few minutes ago, Daniel's forehead was once again damp.
"I shouldn't have yelled at you, Jack. I'm sorry." Daniel's voice was thick with remorse.
"Don't worry about it." Jack placed both hands on the archaeologist's shoulders. "I'll live."
"I don´t know what came over me, I…" Daniel fleetingly ducked his head before continuing, "I think the same thing happened on Abydos, after you left…" He sniffed away a tear. "Sha'uri wasn't impressed, I can tell you," he almost chuckled, but cut it off with another hasty snuffle.
"It's forgotten already," Jack lied. He really wanted to know what this was all about.
"I don't feel so good…" Daniel's pallor had slipped toward an unhealthier greenish shade.
"Can you walk ?"
Daniel nodded slowly.
"I'll take that as a maybe." Jack said sarcastically and he shifted his grip to have an arm around Daniel's back to guide him.
He just heard the soft groan and looked up in time to see the blue of Daniel's iris's disappear as they rolled back. Luckily, Jack interpreted the warning and adjusted his footing to stop them both falling. With his arms suddenly full of limp archaeologist, he bent to heave the unresisting body over his shoulder and made for the infirmary.
* * *
Glancing at the wad of papers in her hand Janet addressed the four anxious faces that turned from watching the sleeping figure in the bed toward her as she approached. "His blood chemistry's been a little off and his temperature and blood pressure are elevated, but everything's gradually getting back to normal."
"Any idea what could have caused Doctor Jackson's collapse, Doctor Fraiser ?" General Hammond asked.
"Not really, Sir. The most likely explanation is delayed reaction from the injuries he sustained on the ship. His system took a tremendous shock. It's not uncommon for victims of severe trauma to suffer flashbacks." Janet looked back at her notes. "There are too many different things Daniel has been exposed to in the last couple of days… the quantum mirror, the ribbon device, the shock grenade, the near fatal injury, the sarcophagus… any one of those, or combination of them could be to blame."
She turned her attention back to her patient and the monitors indicating the archaeologist's current peaceful state. "At least this time the sedative seems to be working. I don't know how he made it up to the 'gate room for your return earlier. He should have been out of it for hours with what I gave him to calm him down."
"But he's gonna be okay, right ?" Sam gently traced the vein on Daniel's forearm as she spoke.
"I don't see why not," Janet assured her. She looked at her watch. "Now, you get yourselves to the 'gate room. You can't go saving the world and not be there at your own victory party."
"It won't seem right without Daniel," Sam mused. "None of us would be here if it weren't for him."
"I concur," added Teal'c, his face locked in an expression of admiration for his young friend.
Jack nodded. "We'll have our own celebration when he gets out of here, Carter. I think a little down time would be in order, don't you, Sir ?"
General Hammond beamed at his 2IC, "Most definitely, Colonel."
An amused smile played on Janet's face as she noticed that not one of the quartet had made any move toward the door. "He's not going to be waking up anytime soon, you might as well go and enjoy yourselves… relax, unwind…"
"Is that an order, Doctor ?"
"If it has to be, Colonel. Daniel will be fine. I'll watch out for him."
"Make a better job of it than we did, Janet," Sam said quietly, her eyes twinkling over-brightly.
The others looked at her and she did a double take of them as she realized that she must have voiced a thought louder than she had meant to.
Janet saw how Jack suddenly found interest in his feet, his lips twisted and tight. Teal'c's expression had altered too, like there was something smouldering inside. Even the general's face was grim. 'Oh dear,' she thought. The chances of any of them putting this behind them any time soon were slim to minuscule.
It looked like she would have to resort to low tactics to make them shift.
Janet tapped her foot impatiently. Almost comically, the four figures straightened themselves, bade her goodbye and left.
She allowed herself a satisfied grin as she checked her only patient's vitals. "Though they may not realize it, you're not the only one who needs looking out for, Doctor Jackson," Janet whispered and she gave the young man a tender pat on the shoulder before retreating to her office.
Just time to catch up on some paperwork, she told herself, knowing that despite the party it wouldn't be long before one, if not all the members of SG-1 and probably General Hammond too would be back up to check on things.
And when they did, Janet fully intended to be a willing ear for each of their guilt trips, founded or not.
She had become a mother to one stray… what were five more ? This 'family' needed all the tender loving care she could provide.
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