A natural reaction
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.
Category: Episode tag, h/c, angst
Season/spoilers: Season 4 - Watergate
Warnings: Nudity, adult themes
Summary: First contact can be a headache
Author's Notes: Hopefully you'll be relieved to know that Harry Maybourne remains fully clothed throughout this story.
There were some parts of the job Jack O'Neill would never get use to. Rolling his shoulders to try and ease the tension in them, he ran through a mental list of things he hated doing. Without a doubt clean-up operations sat right at the top.
Jack blew out a long breath and poured himself a second cup of coffee. It was going to take a while for the memories to settle on this one. SG-1 had just spent a gruelling nine hours cleaning up the Siberian base that now housed the second Stargate. Even though Jack didn't know any of the casualties, the task of moving all the dead bodies into cold storage had been as emotional draining as washing their blood from the walls and floor had been physically hard. And if it was bad for him, it had to worse for the others, particularly the Russian scientist, Svetlana Markov.
God! What a nightmare it must have been for her. She had insisted on helping with the clean-up despite Jack gently suggesting she give it a miss. He could still see her face as she held his gaze and repeated her earlier comment that some of the dead were her friends, before grimly setting to work. Such determination. Such grief. He kind of regretted the fact they'd got off on the wrong foot. Perhaps, over the next few days, they could work things out - at least start to be civil to one another. After all, chances were she would be working closely with the SGC in the future, depending of course on the outcome of the diplomatic talks now going on behind the scenes.
She wasn't here now, though. With the clean-up complete, the team, including Maybourne, had rendezvoused in the galley aware they should eat and drink even though they had little in the way of appetite. Carter and Markov had quickly excused themselves, though, claiming 'ladies first' on the shower room. Jack had been relieved to watch them head off together. The two women had an open respect for each other's scientific abilities, and he was trusting Carter to provide a sympathetic shoulder to the Russian should she wish to talk.
He glanced round at the rest of his team, automatically assessing them. Teal'c's sombre face was even more granite-like than ever. The Jaffa had tackled the task with brisk efficiency as with any other job, but Jack could tell from the visible tension along his jawline that Teal'c wanted to do nothing more than escape to the solace of Kel Noreem.
Then there was Daniel. He was standing by one of the counters, his hands curled around a coffee mug as though to ward off the cold. His face was pale, the expression haunted. It had been a tough few hours for all of them, but perhaps more so for Daniel. Parachuting from a military plane, coping with scenes of carnage, facing imminent death in a submarine on an alien world and then getting spat back through a Stargate was hardly routine stuff, even for an SGC archaeologist. He looked like he could use a stiff drink… or three.
Jack sighed as he sipped his coffee. Daniel wasn't the only one who could use a little memory numbing. In fact, right now, they could probably all benefit from a large bottle of Russian vodka. Well, everyone except Teal'c of course, but then Teal'c had Kel Noreem to help him get through tonight.
Jack's gaze fell on Maybourne. Of course, there was always one slimeball who was so self-centred he remained untouched by the human misery around him. Maybourne had already cleared his own plate and was now cheerfully demolishing the scrambled eggs and toast Daniel had left virtually untouched. For a man who had been deep frozen by a bellyful of microscopic aliens he certainly had a good appetite.
"So Maybourne.." Jack began, feeling slightly nauseous at the sight of the colonel shovelling eggs into his face. "Any booze stashed away in these storage units?"
Maybourne chewed and swallowed. "No. That'd be against regulations." He forked up more egg. "You could check out some of the private quarters."
Daniel spluttered into his coffee mug. As Maybourne glanced at him, he very carefully set the mug on the counter, apparently trying to decide whether or not to throw up. "You mean like… steal from the dead?"
Maybourne didn't even blink. "Well it's not like they're going to have any need for it."
Whoa! Jack saw Daniel's jaw set in a rigid line as he moved from around the counter and strode over to the table where Maybourne was sitting. For one wild moment he believed Daniel was actually going to hit Maybourne. Instead the plate of eggs was suddenly swept from the table, smashing to the floor.
"Hey!" Maybourne looked up and found himself nose to nose with one very irate archaeologist.
Daniel didn't give an inch as he ground out angry words. "You need to learn to respect people."
Jack reined in his shock at Daniel's behaviour and began to move. As much as he would love to see Daniel give Maybourne what he deserved, this was the not the time nor the place. Besides, he wouldn't put it past Maybourne to have Daniel up on assault charges. In one smooth swift action he rounded the counter and was at Daniel side, his hand resting gently on a tense shoulder.
He spoke softly. "He's not worth it, Daniel."
Blue eyes flared in his direction and then back at the round face of the astonished NID colonel. Very slowly Daniel straightened up, his eyes never leaving Maybourne's face. "You're right. He's not."
Relieved Jack gave Daniel's shoulder the lightest of pats, before stepping away. "I'm hitting the shower. How about you?"
Daniel finally dragged his eyes away from Maybourne. Turning towards Jack he gave a small nod.
Jack moved towards the door, calling over his shoulder, "Maybourne, get that food cleared up. Teal'c, keep an eye on him."
Maybourne's voice, the tone a contemptuous sneer, followed Jack and Daniel through the doorway. "Enjoy your shower, boys."
Out in the hallway, Daniel's anger dissipated as quickly as it had appeared. He wrapped his arms around his chest, his face apologetic. "Jack. I'm sorry. I… I don't know what came over me."
"Hey, it's okay. Perfectly natural reaction to a slime ball like Maybourne. Hell. I wanted to hit him myself."
Daniel gave a small smile. "Thanks."
Jack gave Daniel's back an affectionate slap. "Come on. A shower. A decent night's sleep. Things'll seem better in the morning."
That elicited a snort of laughter. "God. Jack O'Neill the optimist. We must be real trouble."
"Hey, I'm trying, " Jack protested. "Don't knock it."
Moments later Jack pushed open the door to the showers. "Welcome to the pleasure dome," he said sarcastically as he took in the stark white tiles and stainless steel fitments.
"Linen closet," Daniel announced, pointing at a Russian sign on a large locker situated against the far wall. Crossing the room, he threw open the closet door and produced two towels, sniffing the top one suspiciously. Almost immediately he sneezed.
"Bless," Jack said automatically, catching the towel Daniel threw at him.
"Fabric conditioner," Daniel muttered, before peering back in the close. "No soap by the looks of it."
Jack moved to the nearest sink. "I have soap." He picked up a small bar of green soap, snapped it in two and tossed half to Daniel. "All the comforts of home."
"Yeah, right." Daniel gave a soft laugh. Turning his back on Jack, he began to strip off his clothes. "Let's just hope the showers aren't Swiss."
"Swiss?" Jack shot Daniel a puzzled look as he also began to undress. Kicking off his boots he wiggled his toes, relieved to finally be out of SGC footwear.
"The minisub was Swiss. I made some joke about it keeping perfect time but occasionally catching fire. Doctor Markov didn't appreciate the humour."
Jack chuckled. "Sounds like you've been hanging around me too long."
"Funny. That's what I said." Daniel shot Jack a quick smile.
"You could try picking up some of my more redeeming habits," Jack retorted, his gaze going pointedly from his own neatly folded uniform to the untidy pile of discarded clothes at Daniel's feet.
"What? And let you get to the hot water first?" Daniel replied, snatching up his towel and heading for the nearest shower cubicle.
Relieved that Daniel's mood had lightened somewhat, Jack pulled off his tee-shirt, folded it neatly and added it to the pile. Finally he stepped out of his boxers. The sound of running water filled the air, reminding him he needed to use the other facilities before hitting the shower.
"So Daniel…" he called as he relieved himself. "Never got a chance to ask you if you enjoyed the jump today?" He turned his head away from the urinal and called louder. "Daniel?"
Still no response.
Jack shook his head, unconcerned. What with the pressurised cabin in the aircraft and then the underwater journey in the sub, Daniel's hearing was probably still less than brilliant.
He stepped into the cubicle next to Daniel's, closed the door and tossed his towel over its top. Turning the water on, he quickly tested the temperature and then cranked the flow to maximum.
"So Daniel…" he began again.
A sound that could only be described as a groan came from Daniel's cubicle. Jack's head jerked from under the flow of water. "Daniel?"
Shit! The distinctive noise of bare flesh hitting unyielding tiles jarred through Jack.
Jack was out of his cubicle in a flash. He hesitated just long enough to get no response to a loud rap on Daniel's cubicle door before pushing it open. Double shit! His stomach lurched at the sight of Daniel slumped unconscious on the shower floor, his right shoulder jammed into one corner and his head twisted awkwardly towards to the left. Reaching out, Jack shut off the cascading water, noting as he did so the angry patch of red on Daniel's hip where the main power of the shower had been directed.
Crouching over his unconscious team-mate he hurriedly felt for a pulse under Daniel's chin. To his relief, he found it almost instantly - it was strong and steady.
A voice from behind startled him. "Don't mind me."
Jack whirled to find Maybourne sneering down at him.
"Daniel's sick!" he snapped. "He passed out."
"Really?" Maybourne apparently found the situation somewhat amusing.
Jack clenched his fists, resisting the urge to physically wipe the smirk off Maybourne's face. "Don't just stand there. Help me move him."
"Kind of cramped in there," Maybourne observed.
Jack turned back to Daniel. Maybourne had a point. There was barely room for him to manoeuvre, let alone for a third person to try and squeeze into the small space. He was going to have to get Daniel out on his own. Taking care not to do anything that might risk a neck injury he began to ease Daniel out of the corner and into a sitting position, propped against the side of the cubicle. Dropping onto his knees, he was just about to slide his head and right shoulder under Daniel's right arm when he heard the scientist give a soft groan.
"Daniel?" Jack backed up so he could see Daniel's face.
For a moment there was nothing, but then Daniel's eyelids fluttered.
"C'mon, buddy." Jack gently tapped Daniel's left cheek.
More fluttering of lids, then suddenly Daniel was looking at him. "Jack?"
"Right here." Jack stood up, snagged the towel off the door and wrapped it around Daniel's shoulders, before barking at Maybourne. "Get some more towels in here."
Daniel's fingers curled tightly around Jack's left wrist, drawing his attention back. "Jack. I remember."
"Remember what?" Jack was trying to assess Daniel's condition. Skin too pale, eyes overly bright, pupils almost fully dilated.
"What happened," Daniel continued, his voice tremulous. "After the sub window imploded. The aliens they… they were everywhere. All around me. Flowing up my arm. Under my clothes. Getting… getting inside me…"
"Daniel?" Jack's voice was full of concern as the small amount of colour in Daniel's face leeched away.
Abruptly Daniel pulled away from him. "Gonna be…" He rolled to one side, his right hand pressing hard against the tiled floor as he locked out his arm to take his weight.
"Sick?" Jack ruefully finished Daniel's sentence as the scientist started to retch.
As Daniel concentrated on emptying the contents of his stomach, Jack hollered for Maybourne.
"Right here, Jack." Maybourne reappeared with an armful of towels. His gaze drifted to Daniel, something that just might have been genuine concern in his expression. "Is he okay?"
"What do you think?" Jack snapped. Standing up again, he grabbed a towel and wrapped it around his own waist, shivering as he suddenly became aware of the coolness of the shower room.
"C'mon. Let's get you out of there." Jack offered his stricken team-mate a hand.
Drawing in a deep breath, Daniel accepted the help, allowing Jack to not only pull him to his feet but to swaddle him in clean, dry towels. As Jack slowly led Daniel out to the changing area he glared at Maybourne. "Do something useful and clean up that mess. I'm going to get Daniel to somewhere warm and dry."
"Thanks,""Give me all the fun jobs."
Really, I feel fine now," Daniel protested. He was sitting on a bunk bed in one of the crew quarters wrapped in a thick, woollen blanket that was making his skin itch and being fussed over by both Carter and Jack.
"So Daniel, let me get this straight," Jack said. "You stepped into the shower remembering nothing about what happened in the sub, then you turned on the water and boom…"
"I know it sounds crazy," Daniel said, scratching his forearm irritably. "But yes. That's exactly how it was. Only it was… well, it was pretty overwhelming. Like having a hundred people in my head all at once and all jabbering at me in some language I didn't understand."
"Really?" Carter's eyes lit up. "Can you still remember it? We might be able to learn something useful."
Daniel shook his head. "I don't think so. It was more just an impression of their curiosity. I think they were fascinated because our bodies are mainly water, but physically we're nothing like them."
"Can we get back to the point!" Jack interrupted. "What I want to know is why you were fine one minute and looking like a corpse on the floor of the shower the next."
"My theory is it was repressed memory," Carter said, holding out a mug of instant hot chocolate to Daniel. "Here. This'll help warm you."
Jack's gaze shifted to her. "Repressed memory?"
"If Daniel's memories of what happened when we were in the sub were repressed in some way - maybe because they were so overwhelming - all they would need is a trigger to bring them back."
"A trigger like the shower," Daniel said, quickly. "That makes sense."
"No it doesn't," Jack protested. "Both Carter and Doctor Markov were in the showers before you. And neither of them passed out."
Carter nodded. "Right. But…"
Jack sighed. Carter had that look on her face that always meant she was about to reveal something he probably wasn't going to want to hear. "Is this a but I'm going to like?"
Ignoring him Carter went on. "Svetlana and I probably weren't in contact with the aliens to the same extent as Daniel. After all, he was the one who stuck his hand into the water when the window blew."
Jack shook his head. There it was - the but he didn't want to hear. He fixed Daniel with an admonishing look, his tone scathing. "You stuck your hand in the water?"
"The aliens were trying to communicate," Daniel replied defensively.
"They were trying to communicate." Jack repeated the statement as though it was perfectly reasonable. He nodded and then let rip. "And what exactly tipped you off to that, Daniel? The dead bodies in the labs?"
"No…" Daniel began. "But when the sub window imploded and we didn't drown, I figured they were more curious than hostile."
Jack made an exasperated sound. "So you stuck your goddamn hand right into the middle of them?"
"Don't Jack me!" He turned away, pulled in a deep breath and then whirled back to Daniel. "You do know you scared me shitless in that shower room, don't you?"
"Yes. And I'm sorry. But really, I'm fine now." Daniel held Jack's gaze. "Like Sam said, it was just repressed memory."
"Yeah, well. We'll leave the diagnosis to Doctor Fraiser shall we?" Jack replied. "Now if you'll excuse me I have things to do."
Daniel shook his head as Jack stalked away. "Sometimes… I just don't understand him!"
Sam smiled. "He's just worried about you."
"Well he doesn't need to. I'm fine."
Janet Fraiser didn't make many house calls. This one, she decided, probably set a record for distance. To get to the Russian Stargate from the SGC 'Gate had involved careful timing and a trip to a convenient stopping off point, in this case, the Land of the Light. The journey of several million light years had only taken minutes, unlike the housecall itself, which had involved several hours of tests, much to the disgust of her patient. For a linguist he had a severely limited vocabulary when it came to his opinion of medical examinations.
Still the tests were over now, and she and Daniel had headed back to the galley, which had become the unofficial meeting ground of the team. She glanced round at the expectant faces of her audience as she entered the room. Teal'c wore his usual inscrutable expression, Sam and Doctor Markov both looked serious, and Colonel O'Neill was fidgeting with the sugar bowl. As for Maybourne - Janet had the uncomfortable feeling he was hoping Daniel was infected with some alien virus. She really didn't like the NID colonel.
Okay, time to put them out of their misery. She set her notes down on the table. "As far as I can tell Doctor Jackson is fine."
"Thank you," Daniel commented, his mood still sour.
Jack's gaze flicked from Janet to Daniel and back again. "So this whole passing out in the shower thing was what? Just a natural reaction to an unpleasant experience?"
Janet nodded. "I think Sam's theory about repressed memory is correct. The water - either the sound of it, or the feel of it - was the trigger."
Jack blew out a relieved breath. "A trigger. Right. So he's fine?"
"Yes, Jack. I'm fine!" Daniel was clearly exasperated by all the fuss.
"And Carter and Doctor Markov?" Jack asked.
"It's possible they may experience something similar in the future," Janet said. "But I suspect any reaction they might have would be less severe than Daniel's given the circumstances."
Jack favoured Daniel with another dark look. "You mean given they had the sense not to go sticking their hands where they didn't belong."
"Okay, okay." Jack cut off Daniel's protest. "Back to work everyone. General Hammond is organising a technical team to support Doctor Markov while the politicians argue. Now it's official Daniel isn't harbouring some alien virus we can get on with handing over the base to them."
Moments later the galley was empty except for Jack and Daniel. The colonel studied his team-mate for a long moment, trying to gauge how he *really* was. While he was somewhat pissed with Daniel for acting rashly, he hadn't missed the fact that something else seemed to be bothering the archaeologist.
"So…" Daniel broke the awkwardness between them by moving to the counter and pouring himself a large mug of coffee. "You got something for me to do?"
"Two things actually," Jack replied, moving to Daniel's side and holding out an empty mug. "Number one, tell me what Fraiser did to get you so ticked off."
Head lowered, Daniel slid an embarrassed look at Jack as he filled Jack's mug. "It was nothing."
"Nothing my ass," Jack retorted.
Daniel sighed. "You'll just think I'm stupid."
Jack merely raised his eyebrows at that.
An exasperated noise escaped Daniel's lips. "Fine. You want to know. Okay. She made me take another shower. Wanted to check it was a one-off reaction."
"Oh?" Jack was totally bemused by Daniel's obvious annoyance.
"It was embarrassing, Jack!" Daniel put down his mug and spun away, arms wrapped tightly around his body. Almost immediately, though, his right arm escaped the confinement as he started gesticulating. "I mean, I know she's my doctor and all, but… hell…Do you know what it's like to shower with a… with…" He shook his head, apparently at a loss for words
Jack blinked, his mind racing with different scenarios. Surely Daniel wasn't suggesting…? He had to ask. "She was in the shower with you?"
"No!" Colour rushed into Daniel's cheeks. "Of course not! But she was right outside. And… God, Jack. I thought it was bad enough having Maybourne see me without a stitch of clothing. But showering with Janet right outside the door taking notes?" He blew out a long breath.
For a moment, Jack couldn't see why that was such a big problem. Then it hit him. The parachute jump, having the minisub window implode, being invaded by aliens - Daniel had coped with a dozen potentially fatal experiences. It was only natural for his survival instincts to be on a high. And there was one survival instinct that tended to run amok the moment the tension eased off - perpetuation of the gene pool. Daniel was only human after all and Janet Fraiser was a very attractive woman, doctor or not. The question was… how could he let Daniel know he understood?
"So… you found it a bit hard?" he asked, trying to sound casual. "Being in the shower with Janet outside, that is."
Daniel's jaw dropped open. Oh yes, thought Jack, he'd hit the bull's eye with that one.
Daniel's eyes narrowed suspiciously and he licked his lips nervously before slowly admitting. "My concentration may have been a little off."
"Hey, it happens." Jack shrugged. "It's a natural reaction."
"Right." Daniel said, looking relieved. "Doesn't mean I have a thing for…"
"No," Jack agreed quickly. "Doesn't mean that at all."
"Not that she isn't…"
"Oh, she's very…"
"But I'd never think…"
Jack shook his head, his expression neutral. "Me neither."
"So all it means is I'm…"
"Absolutely. You're just…"
They finished the conversation together. "A guy."
They stared at each other for a long moment, then Daniel snatched up his coffee mug and took a long swallow, before asking, "So… there was something else?"
"Something else you wanted me to do?"
"Oh yes." Jack picked up his own mug. "Next time we're on a mission…"
"Yes?" Daniel asked warily.
"Tell me you won't stick your hand where it doesn't belong."
"Just say it, Daniel."
Daniel sighed. "Okay. Next time we're on a mission I won't stick my hand where it doesn't belong."
"You do know…"
"Yeah, I know. Maybe we'll see a flying pig on the next mission too." Jack pinned the archaeologist with a serious look. "I worry about you, okay?"
"You don't need too," Daniel protested softly.
Jack gave a soft laugh. "Can't help it. It's a natural reaction." He reached out and ruffled Daniel's hair. "Now get to work, Waterboy. There's a hundred and one things around this base that need translating into English."
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