Bouncing Back

by Erique

Disclaimer: The characters and the Stargate Universe aren't mine. No money is being made of this.

Rating: R for language, violence (happens offscreen) and homoerotic overtones (slash). If that's not your cuppa, turn back now. You have been warned.

Category: hurt/comfort (pre-slash, pairing: J/D)

Spoilers: Need, Legacy, New Ground, Shades of Grey.

Warnings: Abject misery. Smarm. Jack thoughts. Team Hugs. Snuggling. And if you don't like Danny-whumping, you probably won't like this story. There's not even much of a plot.

Notes: Takes place in S4, sometime following The First Ones. Only posted on this site. Currently unbetaed. Feedback is always welcome. There might be a sequel someday. If you flame me, I'll print it out and take it to my friends to snigger over. Or not.

Summary: A collection of hurt/comfort clichés. Daniel gets hurt, and then he gets comforted. That's all there is to it, really.

Part I - Captured

45 Minutes.

Damn. A lot can happen in 45 minutes. I'm trying to act as though I'm not worried, but I can tell I'm not fooling anybody. Hell, even Teal'c's looking concerned.

Why does it always have to be Daniel who has to go through this shit?

This is the second time we gate to a planet, and some shithead takes one look at my team and decides Daniel's our weak link. That he'd be the first to break under pressure. It doesn't matter what the questions are; military, scientific, ideological, religious. Daniel has the words "scholar" and "compassionate" stapled to his forehead, and so, thus, therefore, he gets singled out to be "questioned". He looks like he has all the answers, and like he'll crack and spill as soon as they tell him what they're about to do to him. Must be that boyish face or something.

Well, I can rest assured on that score: Daniel will tell them squat. Despite appearances, he is anything but weak. He never was, and he's toughened up even more during the last five years. There is a core of naquadah-reinforced steel inside of him, or whatever. Something that will bend, and then spring right up again. He'd protect Earth's secrets with his life. To get them out of him, these bastards will have to invent some special kind of Daniel-torture first. Something no stranger would think of. Like burning his books in front of him.

Or killing his friends.

Fortunately, they haven't thought of that yet. So far, they're working on Daniel to get things out of him, and that won't work. They won't learn a thing. All they will achieve is damage Daniel.

The scenario is a bit strange this time, though. For one thing, we never once got a look at a face that wasn't masked. There never was one word spoken by anyone except Daniel. He didn't get much further than "we're peaceful explorer from the planet Earth, I'm Daniel Jackson" when we suddenly lost consciousness and came to in this cell, stripped of our weapons and gear and one archaeologist short.

Damn. That was 50 minutes ago.

Carter has caught me checking my watch again. I smile at her reassuringly, but I can see she's not buying it.

Okay, so we don't really know Daniel's being tortured for information or anything. For all we really know, they could be sitting cosily somewhere discussing meaning of life stuff. But still.... Call it a feeling. Masked faces in my book always mean trouble (except when it's carnival, but since we weren't handed any drinks so far somehow I don't think that's what this is). And I can tell my 2IC and the Big Guy are on the same page as me.

Hey, the cell door opens. We jump up, assuming strategic positions. Two big masked guys in armor step in, dragging Daniel between them. Shit, they gagged him. So they won't have to listen to him scream? It means, though, that they aren't after information. Well, then what?

Before anyone can get a word out, the two goons let go of Daniel, turn around and close the door, locking it. Daniel just collapses.

I can barely prevent him hitting the stone floor hard. He doesn't react as I turn him over and remove the gag. Shit. He's out cold. His glasses are gone. There's blood on his lips and in the corners of his mouth; probably was gagged the whole time. Other than that, I can see no blood on him, but with some torture thingies we've had the misfortune to come in contact with that doesn't mean a thing. Carter runs her hands over him, checking for internal injuries, her expression pinched as she tries to remain detached. Me, I feel like killing someone.

Finally, she shakes her head. "I can detect no injuries, but he's in shock. Body temperature low, breathing shallow, pulse fast and faint. We need to get him warm and..." She trails off. Nothing we can do for him here. We don't even have any goddamn water.

I raise Daniel up against me to drag him into the corner, away from the door. Teal'c helps. Daniel's skin feels clammy; he's barely alive. I sit down with my back against the metal wall, Daniel limp in my arms, and I can feel the rage burning through me.

He passed out from the pain. Only explanation. They kept at him until he passed out. It took them almost an hour. I know how much our surprisingly tough civilian can take. And they gagged him, so he couldn't talk to them, try to reason. That must have been worse for him than the pain. They silenced our Voice.

I sit there holding Daniel while the rest of my team gathers around us, wordlessly taking off their jackets to drape around our archaeologist. I use them to wrap him warm in my arms, and then I just hold him, my mind a seething blank.

Carter rests her hand against Daniel's neck. "Sir, we need to wake him up. This is deep shock."

Dammit, Carter, what's wrong with letting him stay for a while longer in that safe place he's escaped to? Now, at least, he doesn't feel the pain -

But I know she's right. I pat Daniel's cheek where his head rests heavy against my shoulder. I can feel his fast breath against my neck, and its rhythm takes a while to change as he comes to gradually.

At last I can hear him make a soft, wounded sound, then he weakly presses his face deeper into the hollow between my neck and shoulder, obviously still out of it. All he knows is that he's somewhere warm and comfortable. I admit I like to think that maybe he associates my scent with being safe. After all, when he went cold turkey after that sarcophagus thing, we've been here too - both of us on the floor, Daniel in my arms, and my proximity calmed him down enough then to fall asleep in that storeroom with sirens blaring and SFs all around us.

I stroke his hair and his back like I did then; Carster still has her hand on his neck, and even Teal'c's joining our team hug by placing both paw-like hands on Daniel's shoulders.

Then Daniel raises his head to look at me out of eyes pinched with pain. "Jack...?"

"Yeah, Danny. It's me." I relax my hold, letting my arms rest around him, reluctant to let go of him. His eyes look even more startlingly blue now they're bloodshot.

He takes a deep breath, exhales sharply, shudders once. Then he makes to move out of my arms, and I let him, although the lack of contact makes me feel strangely bereft.

When he's hurt or in emotional distress, Daniel's first instinct has always been to move away and isolate himself. For all his bookish and non-military demeanor, he's a proud man, and he hates to appear weak. Must be that intellectual overcompensation stuff he's had to do since his parents died. Oh, he's not afraid to admit he doesn't know everything and he can talk about feelings like no man I've ever met - as long as they aren't his. Try to get him to talk about personal stuff and he'll clam right up. Same thing with discomfort of any kind.

"I'm fine, Jack."

Right on schedule. Everyone can see how fine he's not. "Sure you are." I can see Carter giving him another worried look, and Teal'c's frown is downright scary. "So - what'd they want?" Hey, he wants to play it cool - I can do cool.

He frowns. "Nothing." His arms move around his chest in his familiar self-hug. "They didn't talk to me."

"Daniel." Carter moves closer to him, hesitantly placing a sisterly arm around his shoulder. She looks less at ease with this physical comfort thing than I am, and still she can't resist a Daniel in need of comfort. "Are you injured? What did they do to you?"

His face assumes that rigid I'm-not-fine-but-I-will-be expression, the one that always cries "hug me, please" in spite of his efforts. It was never more difficult to ignore than now. "I'm not injured - I think. They didn't break the skin. I doubt there's even bruises." He gives a quick, slightly distorted smile which totally fails to reassure us.

I can practically see the echoes of whatever was done to him still reverberating through him, his un-geekishly broad shoulders hunched up and his fine hands trembling. "Well", I say gently, "take it easy for a while, okay? Nothing much to do except wait to be rescued, anyway."

He nods, letting his head fall back against the wall behind him and closing his eyes.

I exchange another worried look with the rest of my team. This is not a Daniel who's fine. A Daniel who's fine would be crawling around the damned cell by now looking for squiggles on the wall trying to get us out of here.

"So, Daniel", I say, hating to have to keep bringing it up, "what did they do that for - whatever it was they did." Talk to me, Danny. I need information here. "Any ideas?"

Daniel's self-hug tightens, and he draws his legs up to his chest. His eyes open, and he gives one of those grimaces he uses to keep from crying. My gut contracts. Carter, next to me, shifts closer to him in response. "I'm sorry, Jack", Daniel says softly. "I can't tell you anything. I - I couldn't see them. They wore masks. They didn't talk, not to me, not to each other. There were three of them, as far as I can tell. I tried talking to them, but they just... gagged me. They kept putting that - thing - on me, I don't know what it is. Some kind of device. It hurt like hell." His voice is very steady, almost flat. He keeps averting his gaze, so we won't see his eyes. They are the one thing he can't disguise, and he knows it.

"Goa'uld technology?" Carter asks.

Daniel shakes his head, grimacing. He doesn't know.

I can feel the urge to put my arms around him almost like a physical ache, but I keep back. He's too brittle right now. As long as he's "fine", any attempt to comfort him wouldn't be welcome.

"Damn!" The blind need to kill someone is back. Daniel was needlessly tortured, there's no other way to put it. They weren't after anything except hurting him. Hurting Daniel, who just wants to be a peaceful explorer. How sick is that? Why? WHY?



I lower my hands, surprised to find them balled into fists. Gotta get a grip.

"Jack, it's okay." Daniel gives smiling another try, this one more successful. "It's over. They didn't really injure me. Whatever it was supposed to accomplish, they got what they wanted." He smiles again and almost looks like he means it. "They didn't use hot pokers or anything."

I relax, marginally. Danny's always bounced right back from whatever shit happened to him. I have to hope this time will be no different. "Well, thank God for small -"

The door opens.

Yep, it's the two masked goons again. One of them gestures towards Daniel and beckons.

Daniel's face goes white.

No way.

"Ah, excuse me?" I rise to my feet. "You guys have a problem with one of my team, you can address it right to me." Out of the corner of my eye, I can see Carter and Teal'c assume defensive positions.

The goons ignore me. One of them advances towards Daniel, who's scrambling into the farthest corner.

The goon's met by a wall of SG-1 as we close ranks before our civilian.

The other goon, the one by the door, takes something from his belt. Still not saying a word, he presses a button.

Then the world switches off.

32 minutes.

Teal'c turns away from the obstinately closed door. He doesn't quite rub his shoulder as he faces me, but I can see he's tempted. "This is most difficult, O'Neill." He doesn't just mean the fact that he can't get the door open.

Oh, yeah, Big T, tell me about it. If I had a hat, I'd be eating it by now. But my cap was confiscated along with everything else, well, everything except for my watch. "Never mind, Teal'c. Guess that door stays closed."

"It just doesn't make sense!" Carter, next to me, explodes. She's been saying that a lot.

"He's tough, Carter." I've been saying that a lot, too.

She just gives me a look.

Yeah, I saw him the last time, Carter. I know how much that first round took out of him. They may not have broken the skin, but they damn near broke something else in him.

"Sir, there has to be a reason. I mean, why would these people go to the trouble of locking us up here and subjecting one of us to pain if there was nothing to be gained from doing it?"

I give her a look. Maybe they just get a kick out of it. I don't say it out loud, though. If I'm right, then there's no way reasoning or logic will get us out of this one. No way for Carter to apply her mind. No way for Daniel to persuade them to let us go. No way except the hard way, and without weapons, locked up in this fucking cell, I can't see that happening.

We've been over this cell with fingers, eyes, ears and even noses, and it's official: the only way out is through the door. No cracks between stones - hell, no stones; the damn thing is completely covered with some sort of dullish grey metal. No windows, claptraps, skylights. There is a number of tiny holes in the ceiling, probably for ventilation. Otherwise, there's just the door, and even Teal'c throwing his full weight and strength against it just now didn't so much as jar its hinges. If there are hinges. The two times it was open, I could see no opening mechanism, neither on the inside nor out. Carter says it's probably remote-controlled. There's a sealable slot near the bottom of the door, but we can't open it from the inside. If we're gonna be in here much longer, sanitation's gonna be a problem.

We even tried shouting, but there was no response.

I refrain from looking at my watch, but I'm guessing it must be about 35 minutes now. "Okay, here's the plan. Next time that door opens, you, Carter, go for it like a bat outta hell, while Teal'c and me take out the goons."

"Sir, what if they bring back Daniel?"

"Then we do nothing. We don't know what kind of condition he'll be in. We can't escape if he can't hold up his end. Chances are he'll be unconscious. We'll wait until he recovers, and then we leave." Simple as that.

Of course, there are tons of 'ifs' in this equation, but neither Carter nor Teal'c mention them. They know me well enough by now that this was the pep talk, the "where there's a will there's an or" O'Neill optimism.

None of us voices the thought that when they bring Daniel this time, he might be dead.

Turns out he's not dead, but it's close.

With fine disregard for my orders, the three of us tried to jump the goons dragging in our forth, which earned us a painful zap from some sort of energy weapon, throwing us clear across the cell and against the wall. By the time we'd sorted ourselves out, the door was closed again, Daniel lying in a crumpled heap, unmoving.

Again, they'd gagged him, and again, Carter's found no injuries. "Sir, his pulse is thready, respiration rate elevated. He's in -"

"Shock, I know." I can feel his panting breaths against my neck where I'm once more holding him in a protective embrace, our jackets wrapped around him, Daniel tugged so tightly against me that I can feel the shivers coursing through his chilly body. My insides are one tight knot and my jaws hurt from grinding my teeth. I keep moving my arms over his back, my hand again and again cradling the back of his head, stroking his hair. His face feels cool against my own.

I'm aware that I should probably leave the touchy-feely stuff to Carter, or even Teal'c. This is no way for a hard-assed colonel to behave. I've even tried to lay Daniel down and detach myself, but my gut started screaming at me as soon as I lifted his head off my shoulder. I can't. I simply can't. The mere thought of not having him close to me - as close as physically possible - causes me acute distress. And from the way Carter and Teal'c are hovering almost on top of us, it seems I'm not the only one.

Almost 25 minutes of increasingly frantic patting of his cheek and calling of his name later, Daniel comes around.

Like before, the first thing he does is burrow deeper into my shoulder, making that wounded sound. I tighten my arms around him while Carter and Teal'c make with the team hug. Unlike before, Daniel makes no attempt to extract himself. His breathing is ragged as he fights for control. He can't stop the shivering either, and I whisper his name over and over, my lips close to his ear. It'll be okay. If I can just hold him close to me, warm him with my body heat, reassure him with words and hands, he'll recover. The certainty is ingrained into my bones.

For a long time, we simply sit there in that damned cell listening to Daniel's stuttering breaths. I keep telling him his name and what we're gonna do when we get back, how we're going to have a nice team event with lots of beer, tequila and stupid videos. Teal'c rumbles statements like "I will not allow this to repeat, DanielJackson" while stroking Daniel's shoulders, and Carter strokes the backs of her fingers over Danny's face in tiny movements as if she were petting a very small kitten, telling him that it'll be okay and that she's gonna get him his favorite cookies as soon as we get back. And all the way we're trying to suppress a rage more murderous than any we've ever felt. Well, at least I do, and I think I know my team well enough to speak for them there.

"Jack", Daniel murmurs against my neck after a while. "Jack..."

"Yeah, Daniel, I'm here. It's okay. You're safe. It's over." For the moment. Damn. Don't need a PhD to realize that this probably wasn't the end of it.

Of course, he knows it too, being the one with the PhDs. "Please... Jack..." His voice is barely audible. "Please don't let them take me again..."

My guts tighten even further. "They'll have to go through me first", I state, fighting to keep my own voice steady.

He's still panting. "I couldn't", he chokes out, "... not again..."

He's scared to death. God! He's possibly the most courageous man I know. Snakey lords and stinky Unas can't phase him, and here he's so scared he can barely talk! "Shh." I hug him more tightly, although that's hardly possible. Any closer and he'd be inside my skin. "You know I can't promise you they won't take you again", I admit. Damn, damn, damn. He needs to be able to trust me, and if I make promises I can't keep, how the hell is he supposed to believe me ever again? If we get... WHEN we get out of here, he'll need to be able to rely on me and my word to get him through the aftermath. That's more important. I was forced to lie to him once, and we both paid dearly for that. Hell, he needs constancy in his life after everything he's gone through. I will never again be made to undermine his bedrock.

"Oh God, please, Jack..."

Oh, Daniel. "But I'll do my damnedest to keep them from taking you again, Danny. That I promise."

Finally, the three of us helping him all the way, Daniel ever so slowly stops shivering, stops clinging to me, starts breathing normally. I check my watch. Damn. This time, it took him more than an hour.

The door opens.


I'm still sitting there with my armful of archaeologist while Carter makes for the door like a rabbit and Teal'c goes for the goons. Gotta love this team.

There is a discharge of energy, and my 2IC and Teal'c have a high-speed interface with the wall next to me while the goons come for me. Or rather for Daniel.

"God, no!" Daniel forces out. His face distorts. And then our peaceful scientist, Dr. Daniel let's-ask-questions-first-and-shoot-later Jackson, gives a scream of rage mixed with fear that makes my blood curdle, rips himself out of my embrace and hurls himself at the goons, teeth bared and fists flailing.

I'm right behind him, and Teal'c and Carter already scramble back to their feet while Daniel actually manages to reach and hit goon one.

Then, of course, everything goes black.

So here we are again, SG-1 minus our archaeologist. Silence reigns as we're all lost in thought.

I've never heard anything even remotely like that scream out of Daniel's mouth before, nor seen him go so out of control. Daniel never loses it physically. Not like that. If provoked, he'll get waspish, in a purely verbal way. In a heated discussion, he'll wave his arms a lot and raise his voice a bit. If truly angered, his jaw will set, his voice'll go all soft and toneless, and he'll go completely still. Seems that's just the calm before the storm.

Note to self: Now that genie is out of the bottle, be sure to make Tiger Boy take up meditation.

I'm aware that I'm avoiding the real issue here, but I'm not alone in that. None of us cares to point out that when they bring back Daniel this time, he might not recover. It took him too damn long the last time.

Crap. So much for my promise. Seems my best is never good enough where Daniel's concerned.

So I'm back to surreptitiously checking my watch. 52 minutes. Double crap. This is the longest they had him in their grips so far.

"Damn you, let us go!" I shout at the walls. "We've come in peace, for cryin' out loud! Give us back our friend and let us go!"


"They will not answer, O'Neill", Teal'c states the obvious, and I wait for Carter to put in her two cents.

She doesn't. Her blue eyes are even rounder than usual while she bites her already bloodless lips.

I hunker down next to her, close enough for my shoulder to touch hers. "Carter? You okay?"

She shakes her head without looking at me. "I'm sorry, Sir. I have no idea what to do, how to help Daniel, how to get us out... I'm just so sorry."

Whoa. That's a first. Carter's babbling. "Relax, Major. No one's blaming you. It's not your fault that we're stuck here. It won't be your fault if we don't get out. You tearing yourself up over this isn't gonna help anyone." I keep my tone gentle but firm. Can't have her give in to hysterics now.

I'd never expect Carter to crack under pressure of any kind, but this may be a little too close to the bone. She loves Daniel like a brother, and it must be hell for her to have no answers. She always has the answers, and if she doesn't, Daniel does. And if neither does, they work them out together. She's probably feeling amputated without him.

Well, I can sympathize. I feel like someone reached into my guts and gave a good hard yank. There's not enough air and it's an effort to keep my hands from trembling. I can practically feel my hair go white. Dammit, is he even still alive?

Carter tries to smile. "Yes, Sir."

I know she's responding to my earlier little speech, but this unintentional affirmation of Daniel's continued existence gives me a boost anyway.


Teal'c's heads-up coincides with the door opening again.

Same shit, same day. Only this time, when Daniel after an awfully long time finally comes to in my arms, he starts to scream.

No broken words or anything, just full-throated, agonized screams. He doesn't respond to anything. He shakes like a leaf, his body slowly moving in my hold like a dying thing. He's weak, has no coordination at all, his eyes are wide open and focussed on nothing. And no matter what we do, he just goes on screaming, the kind of sound no human being has any business making, let alone a close friend, with sobbing breaths in between, shuddering and writhing.

Carter finally can't stand it anymore and puts her hands over her ears, tears streaming down her face. Teal'c looks as distressed as I've ever seen him.

Daniel screams himself hoarse, his wet face buried against my neck, spasming icy hands fisted into my sweater. When he finally quiets, seemingly more from exhaustion than anything, the better part of two hours has passed.

Ever heard your best friend screaming his lungs out for two hours?

He goes on giving low moans on each shuddering exhalation, still doesn't respond to his name or anything I say or do. I wipe sweat and tears from his face, then from my own - so that's why my throat hurts so much. My butt's long since gone numb, but I'm only noticing it now that my insides stop cramping, after the awful screaming has stopped. I realize I'm rocking my civilian specialist and cultural advisor like a child, mumbling things like "it's okay Danny please stop it's over Danny you're safe now you can stop crying now it's okay" and other embarrassing stuff, so I make myself shut up. Or maybe my throat just closes up.

He lies still now. I wrap him up in our jackets so he can hide in the warm darkness, and then I put my arms back around him. I swear I'll never, ever, let go of him so he can be hurt again. No way. Next time, they'll have to cut off my arms or drag out both of us. Four of us, if the way Carter is clinging to Daniel's arm and the way Teal'c's glaring is any indication. Yep, SG-1 has gone back into team huddle mode.

"Take your time, Danny", I say softly into his hair. "Come back to us. It's okay. It's over. You can come back now." He still doesn't respond, just goes on with the soft moaning that has serious heart-shredding potential. "Carter, could he still be in pain?"

She wipes at her face with the back of her hand. "Don't know, Sir." Her other hand moves back and forth over Daniel's arm and shoulder in slow, hypnotic movements, and I realize I'm rocking him in the same rhythm.

"Then what's wrong with him?"

"I don't know, Sir!" Damn. She's close to losing it. And I shouldn't be doing that to her; wrong kind of doctor.

I give her a smile by way of apology, and we go back to doing what little we can do for Daniel.

He still hasn't stopped shivering, and it's almost three hours now since he woke up screaming. He's at the end of his tether.

One thing is abundantly clear to all of us: The next time they take Daniel, whatever it is they're doing to him will kill him.

The door opens.

Suppressing varying sounds of dismay, my team huddles closer around our civilian, literally linking arms. But this time, no one comes in to drag out Daniel. There is just the door, open invitingly.

I meet Teal'c's and Carter's eyes over the top of Daniel's bowed head. Trap?

"It is done. You may leave now." It's a disembodied voice, in English, no less. Could still be a trap, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. For now, the door's open, and Daniel needs to get out of here ASAP.

I disentangle myself from various archaeologist, astrophysicist and Jaffa limbs and try to get Daniel on his feet. "You heard the man. Thing. Whatever. Let's go!" Dannyboy evinces a marked lack of cooperation. Damn. He's still out. We'll have to carry him.

Carter, of course, needs answers first. "What is your purpose?" she asks the empty air in our cell. "Why did you do that to our friend?"

Well, I suppose I have a slight interest in that one as well, so I wait a beat. When no one answers, I shrug. "Guess they won't tell."

Daniel's still shivering and gives a plaintive moan when I shift him, so I haven't the heart to hoist him over my shoulders like a sack of potatoes. He's gained some muscle during his time with us, too, which makes it doubtful I'd be able to carry him all the way to the stargate in my arms. It's almost five miles away, after all. "Teal'c, wanna give me a hand here?"

The big guy inclines his head gravely, and I actually have to fight to make myself let go of Daniel. For crying out loud, when did I become such a cuddler?

"Earth's debt to this people is paid. There will be no more retribution. You may go."

Teal'c straightens, both bear-like arms wrapped around Daniel who looks like a child in his cradle, carried like this by our favorite hulk. My own arms feel cold, and I have to suppress a sharp surge of envy.

Carter's not satisfied. "Retribution? For what? What debt? And why Daniel?"

"The crime to one of our people was paid by one of yours. Justice is served."

Neither am I. Satisfied, I mean. "What crime?!"



I shrug. "We'll find out. Move."

Part II - Recovery

We get back to the SGC without incident, although I'll remember that hike back to the gate for a while.

Turns out even Teal'c's not strong enough to carry 180 pounds of buffed-up archaeologist for five miles, so we had to rest a few times. Daniel started thrashing and fighting as soon as no one was touching him. I guess he thought he was back with the masked goons. We couldn't rouse him enough to walk on his own, either. So me and Teal'c took turns, and when we finally reached the gate, my arms were dead, and I won't even go into the state of my knees and back.

As soon as we hit the ramp, sirens blaring and lights flashing, Carter and me huddle close to Teal'c, who's carrying Daniel. The big guy sits down on the stairs, obviously having a hard time holding on to his burden who's squirming in his arms like a python.

"Stand down", Hammond orders behind us.

"Shut off those damn klaxons!" I yell over my shoulder, both hands on Daniel's shoulders, trying to get him to calm down.

"Colonel, Major, let me have a look." A tiny bundle of iron will inches between us, her attention already fixed on our ailing archaeologist.

Daniel averts his face and wraps himself around Teal'c, who bears this seeming indignity with his usual stoic demeanor. Indignity? Hell, I only let him do the carrying through the wormhole because my knees just couldn't take any more. Fraiser, meanwhile, tries to get Daniel to look at her, but he only chokes out a moan and snuggles closer into Teal'c's neck.

"DanielJackson was taken by a group of aliens and subjected to an unknown treatment", Teal'c reports, stroking Daniel's back. I keep forgetting our Jaffa warrior's also a father.

"They took him right out from under our noses, three times", I add.

"They used some sort of energy discharge to knock us out", Carter puts in.

"Unknown treatment?" Fraiser echoes.

"Yeah", I growl. "After the first time, he said something about some 'thing' being 'put on him', and that it hurt. It 'hurt like hell', he said."

We go on taking turns telling her how he was worse each time he was brought back, and how it took him longer to recover.

By the time we arrive in the infirmary - George took one look at us and said something about the debriefing being able to wait - Daniel's still not with us enough to respond. He clings to Teal'c as the big guy tries to lay him onto the bed, and when Doc gently pries his hands loose, Daniel just transfers his grip to her hands. Fraiser's eyes soften. Then a nurse appears with a blanket which Daniel snuggles into and literally hides under, still gasping and shivering.

We look at one another, then at Daniel lying alone on his bed, but it seems he's too exhausted to do his python impression any longer.

"So", Fraiser picks up the conversation again, "you have no idea precisely what it was he was subjected to, then?"

We shake our heads no. Even Carter's too subdued to speculate.

There's really not much we can do while Doc does what little she can do. She pokes and prods him, and fortunately doesn't find any hidden injuries. Some diagnostic doodad states he's in pain - we knew that - but Fraiser can't find any physical cause, she just mumbles something about residual nervous reactions that has me thinking she just won't own up to the fact that she has no clue. All the while, Daniel's still out of it. He shivers and stares at nothing out of enormous blue eyes and whimpers when Fraiser finally succeeds in shining that annoying pen light thing into them. At last, when she apparently can't take our silent nagging anymore, she gives Daniel something for the pain.

"I'll have to do some scans to check for brain damage, but I can't do that until he's conscious enough. As for chemical influences, we'll have to wait for the test results. Pupil reaction and reflexes are a bit sluggish, but that may be due to shock. We'll just let him rest for now."

Huh. So we're supposed to leave him here alone, while everyone can see from the way he's clutching that blanket that what he really needs is physical contact? I don't think so. Our team hug brought him back twice, after all. He'll think he's back with those bastards if he's left alone too long.

I exchange a look with Teal'c who hasn't budged from Daniel's bedside, then with Carter whose eyes are, incredibly, still close to spilling over. Damn. I'm a colonel with a reputation for being a hardass. A rugged, manly man. I can't possibly suggest what I'd love to suggest.

Fraiser has watched us. "But", she says slowly, "I can have that bed curtained off with another one put alongside it." She pauses, eyeing us speculatively. I suppose I keep forgetting that she's a surrogate mother. "We will let him REST", she emphasizes.

Behind a closed curtain with a second bed. Right. Fraiser's obviously still making up for the time when she did nothing to keep Daniel from being committed to Mental Health. Good for her.

"I'll give orders you're not to be disturbed for the next four hours."

I nod, relieved. Four hours should be enough for Daniel to do his famous bounce back thing.

I look around the infirmary as the orderlies bustle around preparing Daniel's bed. Barren room, dim lights, beeping and humming of medical doodads. So, what was it I missed most whenever I was laid up here, apart from decent food? Right. "Carter, go get a portable CD player, and..." I hesitate. Do I want to leave Daniel? No. "And drive over to Daniel's place and bring some of his CDs." Much as I hate the idea of ordering her to poke around his stuff, right now I hate the thought of leaving Daniel even more.

She nods, and, after a last glance at Daniel, turns to leave.

"I will get the device", Teal'c offers.

So they both embark on their respective missions, leaving me alone with my blanket-covered, shivering archaeologist.

I walk over to the second bed and sink down on it, my hand automatically moving towards Daniel and closing around one of his. God, sometimes it seems I spend half my life in this infirmary, either flat on my back myself or waiting for one of my team to recover. And more often than not, it's Daniel who's laid up.

Fraiser comes up to us. She gently lifts the blanket from Daniel's face. "I'm going to give you one more shot, Daniel. You'll feel better, I promise. It's something that'll help you rest." One hand strokes his hair while she exposes his arm with the other.

It's always a source of amazement to me how that iron-willed power monger can be so gentle, especially around Daniel.

"Just a mild sedative", she answers my unspoken question. "I don't dare give him any strong drugs, and it doesn't seem to be necessary, really."

He cringes, trying to draw away from the slight pain the injection obviously causes him.

"Doc... why is he like that?" Words fail, so I gesture eloquently. After all, this is Daniel, the original Rubber Boy. It's just not natural for him to still be so affected. By rights, he should be up and doing his archaeologist/linguist/anthropologist stuff and giving us hell for annoying him with constant inquiries after his well-being.

Shot administered, Doc goes on stroking. "It's hard to say. We're dealing with the effects of an unknown treatment here, Colonel. I can't say anything for sure right now except that whatever it was caused him extreme pain, enough to make him pass out. Beyond that it's speculation. I do know that if you repeat something like that often enough, it can cause the mind to shut down for a while, simply to protect the person's sanity. In that case, he'd be unaware of his surroundings except on the most basic level, like knowing he's not in pain anymore and he's warm and comfortable. If that doesn't change for a while, he'll decide it's safe to come back, and all we'd have to do is give him psychological counselling."


She squirms. "Or we may be dealing with de facto brain damage, caused by unknown means. In that case, it's unlikely there'll be any improvement."

"Well, Doc, that's unacceptable."

She returns my look. "I quite agree."

"Where do you wish me to place the device?"

I turn around to Teal'c carrying an enormous ghetto blaster.

"That all you could scare up?" I ask sarcastically. Hell, they'll be able to hear that thing up at NORAD.

Carter turns up a little later, apologetically carrying a bag full of CDs. "I couldn't decide, so I just grabbed something. Sir, you know him better than any of us. Maybe you should do the selection."

Me? Hell, I got no taste at all. I like opera, and that's one thing I know Danny doesn't like. He's polite about it, but he smirks when he thinks I'm not watching. Must be something to do with understanding all the words.

While I'm still staring at the various covers trying to look like an expert, she reaches into the bag and takes out one CD. "This one lay on top of the stereo, the CD still in it. It looks like it's been handled a lot. I guess he's had it a while, and he listened to it recently."

I take a look. A-ha. 'Hunting High And Low.' Yeah, that's Danny all right. Could be his personal hymn or something. I even remember him playing that album at one time I was at his place. "'There's no end to the lengths I'd go...'"

"As would all of us, O'Neill."

Huh? Oh, that was out loud, was it? I shrug. "That one's perfect, Carter."

It is a strange vigil, but then again, the SGC's a strange place. A middle aged colonel with creaky knees, an alien warrior and an astrophysicist who's as brilliant as she's pretty, all draped around a no less brilliant (and no less pretty) unresponsive archaeologist cradled in an unashamed group cuddle, eighties music playing in the background. We're much more relaxed now that Daniel has stopped shivering and is simply lying in our arms, but there's still a lot of stroking going on. Hell, is Danny gonna be embarrassed about this when he comes to...

Fraiser's been in a couple of times to check on him, giving us approving little nods, but we're still avoiding looking at one another. I swear, if it wasn't the Spacemonkey, no way in hell would I be caught doing something like this. Cuddling a team member for warmth in a survival situation is one thing, but cuddling a team member who's clinging to me like I'm the only thing anchoring him to sanity makes me feel strangely... I dunno. Special. Humble. Whatever. I mean, this is Daniel Jackson, PhD PhD PhD we're talking about here. He can think circles around every single person I've ever met and not break a sweat. What's he doing depending on ME, for cryin' out loud?

Carter's fidgeting, and I'll bet any minute now she's gonna come up with some excuse about being needed elsewhere to investigate the decay rate of something or other. No way. You can leave when Daniel stops clutching my arm and goes back to hugging himself, not a minute sooner. Preferably when he starts blushing and asking us what's going on. Then I'll be able to make a stupid joke about foursomes under controlled conditions, we can all have a good laugh, and everything will be back to normal. This is a team effort, Major, and you'd better remember it.

Strangely - or maybe not so strangely, come to think of it - Teal'c seems least embarrassed about our current situation. He's moving his paw-like hands over our archaeologist's back carefully and deliberately, like he's performing some kind of ritual. Big T's on a mission here, that's obvious. Mission Make Danny Better At All Costs. You have a go, Big Guy.

Then, something changes.

Daniel somehow seems more tense all of a sudden. I try patting him to get him to relax again, but no good. Then he makes a choked sound, and I realize what's the problem.

Uh oh.

I meet Carter's huge eyes, then Teal'c's somber ones. And then, while Carter struggles with her own composure and I search for words, T takes the initiative.

"There is no shame, DanielJackson", he intones. "I have seen seasoned warriors display more distress following battle situations similar to those where you comported yourself with honor. You may rest assured I will not think less of you now that you have been treated so cruelly."

Daniel's only response to this remarkable speech is to curl in on himself even more, his sobs audible now. My hand happens to be close to his face, so I can feel his hot tears and the gusts of his breath.

Carter, fighting tears of her own, bends down to him and kisses his hair while something contracts painfully in my chest. I swear that something only makes itself known when Daniel's in pain. A part of me that hurts when Daniel hurts. I'll have to ask Fraiser about that sometime.

"It's okay, Daniel", Carter whispers. "It's okay to cry. It's okay."

Slowly, he raises his wet face to look at me. "J'ck", he chokes out, "over?" He draws a shuddering breath. "Is it - over?" His pleading eyes bore into mine as if my answer will make oder unmake him.

"Oh f'r cryin' out loud." I fold him close to me, guide his head to my shoulder, let him hide his face against my neck. "It's over, Daniel", I tell him. "We're home. We're safe. It's over." I keep repeating it, my hand softly stroking his warm, wet face as he finally, finally lets it all out.

Oh God. I've seen Daniel cry before, but never like this. Never this helplessly, this brokenly. Not even when he was addicted.

Carter's crying too, now, something's trickling down my own face, Teal'c's blinking rapidly. God, this is one for the records. Team hugs, team cries. What next?

No, it's no good. Not even sarcasm can make my insides stop cramping.

Fraiser pokes her head in, a worried expression on her face, but I motion for her to book. This is not her place. Daniel's an intensely private man, and three witnesses to this breakdown is already bad enough.

"Over...?" he asks again through his sobs, so plaintively.

Argh. Another cramp. "Yes, Danny. It's really really over. I swear. They'll never get their hands on you again. Promise, Daniel."

He nods with his face still buried against my neck. "Over", he whispers. I can hardly hear him through the sobs still wracking his whole body. "It's over. Over."

He keeps repeating it. And then, SG-1 is witness to the amazing resilience and inner strength that resides within Daniel Jackson as he makes himself calm down, breathing through the tears with deep, even breaths, still repeating his mantra. At last, he moves out of my embrace to wipe his hands over his face. Carter and Teal'c move back at the same time Daniel raises his still bloodshot eyes to look at me sheepishly. "Sorry." He looks around, sees his adopted big sister and his silent guardian, and - blushes. "Sorry, guys."

I grin, relieved. He can take it from here, simple as that.

An amazing man, Daniel Jackson.

Well, there still is that team event with pizza, beer and tequila in his future. Long before that, he'll make himself tell us and the general what happened to him, using that unemotional voice. He'll apologize for being weak or even for letting us down somehow, we'll tell him to shut up about that, there'll probably be a few residual nightmares, but on the whole, the crisis is over.

Which means there'll be no more touching and hugging him till the next crisis. Damn. I find myself actually wishing Danny weren't so resilient, just so he'd need me a bit longer.

God. I think I've got a problem.


Comments? Suggestions? Let me know!
Story Index Erique's SG-1 Page Home