Author: JOANA DEY

 

Feedback: Doylebabe@yahoo.com

Author Website: http://brothersinarms.tvheaven.com/joana/joana.html

Rating: PG for language, I guess

Pairing: Gen or pre-J/D, depends on how you read it.

Category: Angst, Drama, H/C, Fix-it Fic

Date: April 11, 2002

Status: complete

Series: Not at this point in time.

Season/Spoilers: Massive spoiler for Meridian. The Nox, Enigma, movie, Need, I think that's it.

Archive: Alpha Gate. Anyone else please ask.

Synopsis: Fix-it fic for Meridian because I refuse to lose Daniel. Jack is unhappy and wants a miracle. But when It Arrives, does Daniel really want to live?

Notes: For Judy, Brenda, KC and PamR. You know they'll live forever in our hearts. Thank you to Brenda Anders, Sharon G and joey.

Warnings: Um. None, I guess

 

Second Chance

By: Joana Dey

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

He knew this feeling, recognised it. It had crushed him when his son died; the second the doctor had said, "I'm sorry, there's nothing we can do."

It was sucking him into the same suffocating oblivion now, choking him, tossing dying stars in front of his eyes, filling his ears with the rushing noise of an angry ocean.

Now another doctor, standing in front of him, tears in her eyes as she choked out the same words, the same helpless, hopeless statement: "I'm sorry…"

He didn't want to hear it. He tuned it out, trying not to listen, to make it all go away, to make it Not True.

"…radiation…lethal dose "

This is Not Happening.

"… sorry. Nothing…"

No.

"...organs will disintegrate… drugs to help with the pain…"

Daniel.

Someone had a hold on his arm, was guiding him into a chair. He moved mechanically, he couldn't see, couldn't hear, couldn’t breathe.

"Colonel…"

No.

"Sir…?"

God, Charlie. Damn it to hell, Daniel.

"Jack."

He recognized Hammond's voice, ignored it, his head turning sluggishly towards his 2IC. "Carter. A sarcophagus…"

"There aren't any, sir. I'm sorry. Sorry, Colonel, I'm…" her voice choked, off and Jack tried focusing his blurred gaze on her face. Tears. She was crying. Not hiding it, her face was distorted with grief; Carter was in full-blown crying mode.

Must be true then. He lowered his eyes, staring blindly at nothing. Daniel's dead. Dying. Not dead, yet. He remembered all the times Daniel had died, every single one of them, how each episode was worse than the last. It had happened so many times it stopped being real.


Almost.

Something, somebody knocked against his knee and he focused again: Carter, stumbling past him, out the door, hand over her mouth.

This time it was real.

Teal'c. Where was Teal'c? Jack slowly looked around the room, his head barely moving. God, his neck hurt. Hammond was standing beside him, looking worried. For Daniel? Or him? Must be for him, no need to worry about a soon-to-be dead Daniel. It's real…

Ohmygodno. His stomach knotted, and he fought against whatever was working its way up his throat, screaming to be heard. He choked it down, reluctant to add to the noise in the room. Someone was already crying out, the dully repetitive no no no no breaking through his clogged ears and his dumb, blind despair to ricochet mindlessly around in his head.

It wasn't until he sucked air into his starving lungs that he realized the mantra was coming from himself, and he clamped his mouth shut. Strong hands were digging into his shoulders, encouraging him to sit back down in the chair. Back down? When had he stood up?

The grip on his shoulders belonged to Teal'c. Jack didn't turn around; he didn't want to see the look that had to be on the Jaf'fa's face. Knowing Teal'c, it would be an expressionless mask, with one exception: every painful emotion would be showing in his eyes. That's the way it was every time Daniel died. Each time, more pain appeared in those dark eyes.

How many times had it been? Jack couldn't remember now, not exactly. That first trip to Abydos, blasted saving Jack's miserable, useless life. In no particular order, each death slowly wound its way through his mind as clear as though they'd happened today. The day he had to leave a dying Daniel on the ship. The time in the mines when the rocks buried him—was he dead or dying that time? It didn't matter. The mission to find the Frenri on the Nox's home world; they all died then. Would have been the end of SG-1 if the Nox hadn't brought them all back from the dead the way they had. And then there was the time…

"The Nox. Teal'c? We can find them … somehow. Maybe the Tok'ra…" The hands on his shoulder tightened, and he stopped.

"We have no way to contact them, O'Neill. Nor do the Tok'ra. I am sorry." The last three words choked off, and Teal'c was silent. His hands stayed where they were.

Daniel.

They'd come to expect miracles around Daniel. He was always bouncing back from whatever fate—or the freaking Goa'uld—handed out to him. Shyla and the sarcophagus: that was a trip to hell for them all, but Daniel especially. But if they had one here, he'd put that suffering body inside, he wouldn't hesitate at all, anything to keep Daniel alive. If only they… God, Danny….

This was useless; it wasn't helping Daniel, wasn't helping anybody. All those times before meant nothing anymore, not now. This time, it was really going to happen: Daniel was going to die.

There wasn't a thing Jack could do about it. He was helpless.

He knew he could save the world, had, but he couldn't save one man. He had to sit here, totally useless, and just wait for it to end.

********

He wanted to touch, to reassure himself that the man he'd grown to respect and admire…and love was still here. Daniel was covered in so many bandages it was hard to see the body underneath. Jack grimaced, closing his eyes, not wanting to even imagine what the skin beneath the gauze looked like.

Or felt like. The pain—even with the drugs—must be unimaginable. Not something he'd want to endure; he even less wanted Daniel going through this.

Then again, if suffering it himself were to spare Daniel, then he'd trade places faster than Daniel could count to ten in English, let alone any of the other twenty-three-plus languages he must know by now.

How many languages did Daniel know? Twenty-three when he joined the Stargate program. Add Goa'uld and Unas-speak; did Nem have a language? How many different variations of ancient Egyptian did he know now? And did they each count as a separate language? Who knows how many languages he'll learn before he's done travelling through the 'gate with…

He jerked his head back, eyes opening, unseeing.

Jesushe'dforgotten. Sitting right here in front of… and he'd forgotten.

A soft moan, and Jack looked down. Daniel's eyelids slowly rose, and the cloudy blue gaze focused. His lips moved, and Jack leaned in closer to hear.

"Hey, Jack."

"Hey. I, uh, I just wanted to... I'm really bad at this." Where did that lump in his throat come from?

"Yes, you are. I hear that Sam thinks the Naquadria might be an important discovery."

You're dying, and we're talking about Naquadria. "Yeah, apparently. If we can get some. For what it's worth, I tried to get your point across to Jonas."

"He's in a tough position."

Christ, Daniel, just for once can you not be so understanding? "You're not gonna take the fall for this. I don't care what's at stake.

"Why do you care?"

"Because, despite the fact that you've been a terrific pain in the ass for the last five years, I may have, might have, grown to admire you a little, I think."

"That's touching."

Did he imagine it, or did the corner of Daniel's mouth try to grin? He's dying, what's amusing about that? He's fucking in pain and dying.

And there was nothing Jack could do about it. Nothing.

"It was… wasn't what I meant to say anyway." He clenched his jaw; he was so not going to do tears.

"So you don't respect me?" That corner of his mouth jerked again.

"You know I do. You want me to get all mushy here? Tell you how much you mean to me? How much I've learned from you? How much I'm going to…" his voice cracked, and he cleared his throat, "…miss you?"

"Be a relief for you." Daniel protested, swallowed, continued: "No more…having to say: Daniel shut-up. Damn it Daniel. Daniel, don't touch—" a panting breath punctuated each statement.

He wondered if Daniel was aware of the irony of that unfinished sentence.

Of course, he was, that's why he didn't finish it. Suddenly, Jack couldn't tolerate sitting here a moment longer, listening to the sounds of the machines beeping and clicking in tune to Daniel's ragged, pain-filled breathing.

Goddammit. He's going to die.

"I'll be back, Danny, I've got to…got to go…"

He stood so quickly his chair fell over with a clatter that brought Dr. Fraiser running into the room. He pushed past her, not really noticing she was even there and stumbled into the bathroom, closing and locking the door behind him.

Control. He had to keep control. Air Force colonels do not have hysterics in public. They were fighting a war here, and in battle there are casualties. He'd been there, done that, and buried his comrades-in-arms more times than he could count. This was just another fellow soldier he needed to say good-bye to.

Danny.

So not a soldier. So blasted na´ve at times, although less so as the years passed. He'd begun to learn that some things just had to be done the military way, whether it was morally right or not. Jack turned his thoughts away from the Enkarans and the debacle on that planet. Was this his punishment for being so quick to push the button on that bomb? He hadn't killed Daniel then, so… No, that was just plain stupid.

Daniel. Idealistic, insatiably curious, eager to learn anything he could about everything they found. Meaning of Life stuff.

Except one of the most important people in Jack's life was dying. His hand clenched, and he pounded it against the wall. Daniel was going to die, he was going to die, in agony and there wasn't a fucking goddamn thing he could do to stop it. Nothing. Bam. Nothing. Bam. Nothing. Bam.

God, Daniel.

Someone was banging on the door and calling his name. They'd break it down if he didn't open it. Right now, Colonel.

Hammond.

Jack fumbled unsuccessfully with the doorknob; his hand hurt. He didn't remember getting injured the last time they were off planet, so how…? Need to open the door.

Try using your other hand, idiot.

Control. Keep control. He casually sauntered out into the other room, nodding at the group of people standing around. Teal'c, Carter, Hammond, Fraiser and assorted nurses and SFs.

"What's up?"

"Colonel, are you all right?" Dr Fraiser pushed past the General.

"Just peachy, doc." Not.

"Uh-huh. So how did you hurt your hand?"

"My hand?" It was bloody. No wonder it hurt. Jack grinned. "You should see the other guy."

"Sir, there are cracks in the wall." Carter stuck her head out of the bathroom. Jack hadn't even seen her go in there.

"It attacked me."

There was a rather loud silence as everyone studiously avoided looking at anybody else.

Finally:

"Come on, Colonel, let me bandage your hand for you." Janet took him gently by the arm and led him slowly over to a chair. "Sit down, sir."

He sat. Whatever she was doing, hurt. It stung. He could handle it. The pain in his hand was nothing…

Was nothing compared to the agony being inflicted on his heart as a Daniel-sized hole was ripped out.

**************

Janet had come in earlier and told them it wouldn't be too much longer. They were all standing around the bed now, waiting for the inevitable. It was really going to happen.

Damn it, Daniel. What part of 'don’t touch' do you not understand? Then again, there really hadn't been another option. He knew that. Knew also that, if it had been him standing there with Jonas Quinn rather than Daniel, Jack would have done the same.

Which didn't make him feel one bit better.

Beating the living crap out of Quinn might, just might, improve his mood, maybe. That's who should have gone flying though the window. Who should have separated the bomb. Who should be lying here on this bed covered in bandages, in unimaginable pain, dying.

Not Daniel, who embodied everything that was good about the universe. Who'd had nothing but grief handed to him from the day his parents were killed. Who…

Control. Deep breath, O'Neill, you're losing it here. Get a grip.

The klaxons sounding surprised the people standing quietly around the bed, bringing them rudely back from wherever their memories had taken them.

Off world activation?

Guess who's coming to dinner? Sorry, but the guest of honor is dying, here. Whoever you are go away and let us grieve in peace.

Peace.

How many times had he heard Daniel use some form of that word? Hello, I'm Daniel Jackson. We're peaceful explorers… and you're dying because of a weapon of mass destruction. Oh, Daniel.

"…now, Colonel!" Hammond disappeared out the door.

Jack looked around. The room was empty except for Janet who was looking at him sadly, compassionately.


So much for a stoic outward appearance. Clenching his teeth, he walked quickly out of the infirmary to see who was knocking at their door.

In the Control Room people were milling around, talking excitedly among themselves.

"Unauthorized access, sir. No code." Sgt. Davis punched the keyboard. "Iris is malfunctioning, sir; I can't keep it closed."

Jack watched as the iris opened, and the shimmering wormhole appeared. Remembered Daniel's fascination the first time he saw it. How those wide, curious blue eyes shown, the silver of the wormhole reflecting off his glasses…

Suddenly Jack knew who was coming through. Remembered the last time the gate had been taken out of their control, exactly like this, and the Tollens had been spirited away. He knew it was her even before she appeared and looked around, her gentle mannerisms at odds with the armed men surrounding the gate. Others followed behind her: Antaeus, Opher, some he didn't know.

"Sir, how did they …?" Carter's voice disappeared as Jack dashed out the door and down the stairs into the gateroom.

"Stand down." He waved a hand in the direction of the ramp. "She can just make your guns go 'poof,' anyway. Hello, Lya." He smiled. Just when you needed one, here was a Nox; eight of them if his math was up to speed. "How's the kid?"

"Nefreyu is fine. We have come for Daniel."

"Uh, to fix him? Or take him?"

"To heal him, if it is his desire."

"What do you mean 'if'? Of course he wants to be healed; you think he's enjoying dying?" Be nice, O'Neill, these people can give Daniel back to us. Change the subject. "How did you know he was dy…sick?"

"The Asgaard."

"Really? About time they did something to help us."

"Daniel is special," was Lya's response.

Well, she had that down right, sureyoubetcha. "Come on, I'll take you to him."

It was almost a parody of the earlier scene, only now the people gathered around Daniel's maybe-not-death bed were barely four feet tall with big eyes and moss in their colourful hair. Carter was over in the corner with Janet, explaining what they were here for.

Jack couldn't help but remember what Lya had said: they'd heal Daniel, if it were his desire. How could it not be? Why would he want to die, if he could live?

Memories he couldn't stop bled through his mind. Charlie. He'd kept his stone face during the funeral, at the gravesite, unable to cry. The tears had come later, in private, where no one could see.

Forced out of retirement and sent to a dangerous planet, planning not to return. If it hadn't been for Daniel… Jack blinked as Lya raised her head and looked into his eyes. She knew. Suddenly he felt ashamed, although he didn't know why.

Lya smiled kindly and shook her head slightly before turning her concentration back to Daniel. Her fellow Nox stood by silently; Antaeus had his hand on her shoulder. Support? What was she doing anyway?

"I must speak with him," she explained.

"He can't talk—" Janet began.

"No. I must speak with him," Lya repeated as she stepped closer to the bed and oh-so-gently laid one hand on Daniel's head and the other on his heart.

Nobody spoke.

 

Daniel?

Lya?

Hello, Daniel.

What…?

We've come to assist you, Daniel.

Are you going to take the pain away? It hurts, Lya. It really hurts.

We can do that for you. Why do you not ask if we will heal you? You know that is something we can do.

I… I'm tired.

Is it your wish to die, Daniel?

NO. Of course not. I just… I am so tired. Everything is so…wrong. It's all changed, and I don't think we're doing any good. Nobody will miss me anyway, and I'm so tired.

You are wrong, Daniel. You would be missed. Your absence would change many lives.

For the better.

No.

Everything has changed. WE'VE changed. I thought they were my family, Jack and Sam and Teal'c. I thought they cared about me as much as I do them. But they don't. Jack…I don't think…Jack won't miss me.

You are wrong.

Am I?

Yes. Even now, they gather around you, their hearts crying tears. I feel them, their… emotions…tearing at me. Their pain is strong; I am not able to keep it from me, even with Antaeus helping me.

Jack…

Jack is the loudest, the strongest, the one most in pain.

Jack. Jack is why I'm tired, Lya.

Tell me.

He won't listen to me, he doesn't trust me, I don’t think he even likes me anymore. After all these years, he should trust me, believe me when I try to tell him things. It's bad enough to fight the Goa'uld, I can't fight Jack, not anymore. I'm too tired.

 

Jack watched silently as Lya and Daniel "talked." He couldn't even begin to imagine what there was to decide. Live or die? Shouldn't be taking this long..

"If you had to make the choice for him, what would you choose?" Antaeus asked the question; he was looking at Jack.

"To live." That was a no-brainer.

"Is that what you think he wants, or what you want?"

Remembering that hard-assed, angry, let-me-die man on Abydos all those years ago. And the young man who died for the first time saving that no-good's life. It was hard to admit, but: "What I want."

It was the first time he'd ever seen Antaeus smile. Jack raised an eyebrow. "Right answer?"

No reply. Okaaaay. So heal him already! Lya looked up at him again and took her hands off Daniel. This wasn't good.

"He is tired," Lya said softly.

"He's in pain; that tires him," Janet commented.

"His soul is tired," Lya clarified.

"He wants to die," Jack said, feeling suddenly bitter and a little angry.

Lya put her hands back on Daniel.

 

He thinks you want to die.

No. Yes. No. It hurts, Lya. I can't think anymore; I just want it to end.

I can stop the pain. You must decide; do you want to live or die? It is your choice, Daniel.

It hurts. I can't think.

We will stop the pain.

 

Daniel's glasses were sitting on top of the heart monitor. Jack picked them up absently; Daniel was going to need them if… no, when they took the bandages off his eyes. What the hell were they discussing in there?

The heaviness in his stomach lightened as Jack watched the Nox move closer to Daniel. "You're going to heal him?"

"We are going to remove his pain," Opher said.

"Heal him."

"No. Make the pain go away. He must decide for himself if he wants to live. The pain is making it hard for him to choose. We will take pain away, and he will make his choice," Antaeus explained.

He has to think about it? Yeah, right. Daniel wants to live. What's to think about? Surely Daniel knew how much they cared about him. Hell, he was part of their family. The most important part; he had to know that.

His importance to the SGC aside, Daniel was the focus of their team. The person who kept them… human. Their conscience. How could he even think about wanting to die?

Pressure on his arm brought his attention up and away from the scene around Daniel's bed. It was Teal'c's hand on his arm that Jack was feeling.

"What?"

"You have broken DanielJackson's glasses," Teal'c said softly.

Jack glanced down at his hands. Yes, Teal'c, I have broken DanielJackson's glasses.

"It's not like he's gonna need 'em," Jack muttered. His head hurt. His stomach ached. Damn it, everything hurt. Wonder if the Nox would take away his pain, too. Could they fill the hole Daniel was going to create when he died? Take away the…emptiness?

The Nox shifting, breaking up their healing pattern brought his attention back to the bed and it's dying occupant. That's right, don't think of it as Daniel. It's just a dying body.

Like hell it was. Daniel.

He carefully tucked the broken glasses into his pocket.

"Now he will choose," Antaeus said.

"Can he hear us?" Sam asked. "If we talk to him? Janet?"

"No, the necrosis is pretty advanced. There isn't much left under the bandages, Sam," Dr. Fraiser said softly.

"Oh, Daniel." Sam turned away.

Jack patted her back as she moved past him, his attention focused on the "discussion" in front of them. Lya's hands were once again touching Daniel's head and heart.

Lya?

Yes, Daniel?

Thank you.

You must choose now. You are giving great pain to the ones in this room.

I'm sorry. Would it really make that much difference whether I live or die?

You are special, Daniel. You have learned much, you are still learning. You are needed to teach the others.

Why? How? They don't pay attention to me.

They do. You do not see it. We see, the Asgaard see. You are important, Daniel.

So what—if I choose to die, the world will end? Nobody is that important.

Your death will change the lives of many. You must choose now, Daniel, before we grow too tired to help you live.

Daniel?

Do it.

Lya took her hands off Daniel and looked at Jack. "We will heal him, but he is tired. When he speaks to you, listen, if not with your ears, then with your heart. He is special. You must remember this when we've gone."

He chose to live. He was going to live. God, Daniel. Why was it so hard to make that choice?

I broke his glasses.

Without another sound, the Nox gathered together into their healing formation and it began.

************

Jack and Daniel sat on the roof, shoulders and arms touching lightly. Daniel's head was back, his eyes gazing around at the stars. Jack was watching him.

"So. How much of almost-dying do you remember?"

"They took away the pain, Jack, not my memories."

"You remember talking…um, thinking with Lya?"

"Yes."

"You had to decide if you wanted to live or die? You had to actually think about it? Talk to me here, Daniel; help me understand, because it really doesn't make sense to me that you'd actually considered dying."

"I was tired, I'm still tired. It feels like I've been walking uphill for the last five years, up an extremely steep hill, and each time I get to the top, I find a brick wall named 'Jack' that I keep beating my head against."

"You're saying I don't listen to you."

"Uh, yes."

"You don't listen to me." Well, that was a mature response, Jack. Way to go.

"I always listen to you, I just don't always do what you say. I do have a brain, I can think for myself, and you're not always right."

"Daniel…"

"It's bad enough, Jack, that I have to fight the NID, our government, the military, the fucking Goa'uld. I shouldn't have to fight with you."

"No. You shouldn't. I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry, Jack, just listen to me when I talk. Sometimes what I say is actually important."

"I can't promise to change overnight."

"You can promise to try."

"Yeah. I can do that." He glanced over at Daniel. "So, all the stuff I told you about Quinn and the Naquadria, and him bringing us some, then skipping off his planet just ahead of the traitor's noose, and all that, you remember?"

Both corners of Daniel's mouth curved into a smile. "And the mushy stuff."

"What mushy stuff? I don't do mush."

"Do, too. I distinctly recall you telling me you were going to miss me."

"Hell, Danny, you were dying. What did you think I was going to say? Bon voyage, it's been fun?" He was surprised at the anger in his voice.

So was Daniel. Eyebrows shooting up, he took his eyes off the stars and looked at Jack. "I'm sorry, but... I would do it again, you know, without a second thought. I couldn't not do it anymore than I could stop myself from jumping in front of you that day on Abydos."

Heavy sigh. "I know, Daniel. It wouldn't be you otherwise. I still have some hair that hasn't gone grey, so…have at it."

The End.

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