Summary: After a mission, Daniel falls ill. 

In Sickness and In Health

Daniel closed the door to his apartment and, with a tired sigh, leaned against the frame and closed his eyes. He was tired. Bone tired. Filled with a fatigue that should've resulted from days without sleep. But he'd gotten sleep -- three hours last night and four hours the night before. Okay, so it wasn't a lot of sleep, but he'd functioned on a lot less without feeling nearly as drained.

They'd just completed a mission. Two days off-world scouting an uninhabited part of an alien planet. They'd found a cave, and he'd spent the last forty eight hours copying and analyzing the drawings on the rock walls. Most of the etchings were pictographic, which always took a combination of common sense and imagination to decipher. 

He imagined what an alien explorer might think of some of the ancient earth cave drawings. For instance, how would an alien observer make sense of the rabbit drawings on terrestrial caves and pottery? How would they realize that many cultures depicted earth's moon as a rabbit? Assuming they even knew what a rabbit was... After all, common sense didn't automatically equate a rabbit with something as celestial as the moon... not until you looked up at the night sky and, utilizing a bit of imagination, saw the vague shape of a rabbit on the surface of the full moon.

The cave drawings he'd studied off world were like that. Some of the images seemed random, but there were so many things they could be that it'd take days and maybe even weeks of studying the local star patterns and, of course, the moon in the night sky to even begin to hazard a guess, not to mention the planet's topography and geography, as well as the more ephemeral culture and folklore of the simple society that had created the drawings.

So, he had days and weeks of work ahead of him to look forward to, but right now all he wanted to do was crawl into bed. He opened his eyes and glanced at the clock hanging on his wall. It was only eight p.m. After the mission, he and the rest of SG1 had gone out to dinner, but his appetite had left him as soon as he'd looked at the menu. He'd ordered a light salad and some water, while Jack had ordered the steak sandwich and washed it down with two beers, all the while commenting on Daniel's choice in "rabbit" food. 

Bad joke, Jack. He'd stifled the groan while Sam put forth a polite chuckle. Okay, so at least Jack had been listening to his mutterings on earth's moon and the rabbit. 

Scrubbing a hand over his face, he pushed off the frame, removed his glasses, and tossed them on the coffee table as he headed to the bathroom. Caught off-guard by the sudden revolt of his stomach, he made it just in time to empty his meager dinner into the toilet.

~~~~~~~

Jack glanced at his watch, then looked up and scanned the familiar faces seated around the table -- Sam, Teal'c, Janet, and Hammond. It was 0930 hours and, after getting one day off, they were all there for the detailed mission briefing. Janet had already given her medical report of the SG1's routine, post-mission check-up, Sam had delivered her spiel, and Jackson... 

Well, Dr. Daniel Jackson was late. 

"I'll call his apartment," Sam offered.

Jack nodded. "Thanks, Carter." He looked at Hammond, reading the disapproval on the older man's face. "I'll make sure he's sufficiently chastised when he gets his ass in, sir."

The General nodded. "Well, why don't we recess until you round up the good doctor?"

"Yes, sir."

~~~~~~

Jack ran into Sam in the hallway. "Any luck?"

She shook her head. "No, sir. No answer, and I contacted the front gate. He hasn't checked in yet."

He frowned. Something was wrong. Daniel wasn't a flake. He was now over an hour past due, and Jack was beginning to worry. Perhaps Daniel had gotten into an accident on the way to the base this morning.

He sighed and looked at Carter, seeing his own worry reflected in her eyes. "I'll go check out his apartment. If he calls or shows up, ring my cell phone."

"Yes, sir."

~~~~~~

Jack rang the doorbell. Then waited. Then knocked three times. Then waited some more. Then rang the bell again. And again. And again.

Finally, he just tried the doorknob. To his surprise, it turned easily, and he pushed it inward, peeking his head inside.

"Hello? Daniel?"

No answer. 

Slipping inside, he closed the door behind him. The apartment was quiet, and Daniel was nowhere in sight, but his glasses lay on the coffee table, and Jack had seen Daniel's car parked out front.

Jack frowned, his gaze hovering over the glasses and the implications they represented. Daniel wouldn't leave the apartment willingly without his glasses. 

Okay, so try the bedroom... He probably just overslept. First time for everything, right?

He headed to Daniel's room, passing the bathroom on the way. The bathroom door hung open, and he glanced in as he passed... Then stopped suddenly, took a few steps back, and turned to look at what had caught his eye.

"Daniel?"

Daniel lay huddled on the floor in front of the toilet, curled into a ball, shivering and damp with perspiration. He gave no response, and he was as pale as the tile floor he lay on.

"Shit." Jack hurried inside and dropped next to the young man, placing a palm on Daniel's forehead. 

Not good! Daniel was hot. Very hot. 

"Daniel?" Jack grabbed the young man's shoulder and shook. "Come on, give me something here."

Daniel moaned, and his eyelids fluttered open. He turned his head and blinked up at Jack, but no recognition dawned in his expression.

"Daniel? You with me?"

Daniel blinked a few more times, then jerked forward, his arms clutching his stomach, and spasmed as he gave into several dry, deep heaves. Tears escaped from beneath his clenched eyelids, and he broke out into a renewed sweat, making the cotton Dockers and T-shirt he was wearing stick to his body.

"Okay, that's it." Jack patted Daniel quickly on the arm, then rose to his feet and hurried to the phone.

He'd call Janet, tell her to expect a new patient, and then drive Daniel to the base. Janet would no doubt send a biohazard unit over to the apartment, and he and Daniel and the rest of SG1 would be put into quarantine until she figured out just what was making Daniel sick.

He made the phone call quick, only giving Janet the bare details, then rushed back to the bathroom. Daniel was unconscious again, still shivering on the cold tile.

"Okay, Daniel, I'm gonna get you back to the base."

Daniel gave no sign that he'd heard. Still, Jack continued to talk, just in case some part of Daniel was listening.

"I'm gonna lift you up." He dropped to one knee, slid his hands beneath Daniel, and with a grunt and a lot of straining, managed to heave Daniel over his shoulders. "You're no lightweight, Danny boy," he muttered between clenched teeth.

Daniel moaned, stirring and threatening to send them both crashing to the floor.

"Quit moving, Daniel."

Daniel's struggles became more fierce until Jack came to a horrible realization just as Daniel began heaving.

"Oh shit." He all but dropped Daniel to the floor in front of the toilet, managing more of a controlled crash and then holding Daniel upright so the young man could throw up in the toilet.

Daniel gagged for several seconds, but nothing came out. By the time he finished, collapsing back against Jack, tears were streaming down his cheeks.

"Okay, let's try this again." Jack patted Daniel's shoulder, studying the young man as his tears subsided and, moment by moment, he relaxed into a fevered sleep.

Once again, Jack lifted Daniel over his shoulders, and this time, Daniel seemed content to stay unconscious. Taking a deep breath, Jack hobbled out of the apartment, trying not to let worry consume him about the extreme heat pouring off of the body he carried.

~~~~

Jack resisted the urge to pace as he waited for Janet to finish scribbling notes on Daniel's chart. She stood over the sleeping young man. Daniel was hooked up to oxygen and an IV, sleeping peacefully, his face still far too white for Jack's liking.

Finally, Janet looked up and walked over to him. "Well, near as I can figure, he just has a bad case of bronchitis."

Jack's jaw dropped. What? Bronchitis? No alien viruses? Nanites? Bugites? Other... alien stuff.

"Uh... It's caused by an alien bug, right?"

Janet smiled. "Actually, I don't think so. We've had a few cases of the flu on the base, and it is that time of the year. He was probably exposed to the flu virus before he went off-world. It incubated a couple of days, and he became symptomatic when he got back. Got hit pretty hard, too. He's dehydrated, so I'm guessing he went all day yesterday without food or water."

"He was dressed in the same clothes he was in when he went to dinner with us." Jack gave into a frustrated sigh. "He probably spent the whole day in the bathroom attached to the toilet. Why the hell didn't he call anybody?"

Janet shrugged. "He probably didn't know what hit him. Maybe thought he was getting the flu, but by the time he would've realized it had progressed passed that, he'd have been too feverish to really think rationally... and probably feeling too weak to make it to the phone."

"Why'd it hit him so hard... And why so fast?"

"How much sleep did he get while SG1 was off world?"

Jack shrugged. "Maybe three hours a night. He was busy studying the scribbles on the cave walls."

She nodded. "Lack of sleep depresses the immune system."

"So you don't think he picked up an alien bug?"

"All his blood work is normal. Still, I'll keep him here for a couple of days just to be safe. Then he can be released," she smiled up at him, "but he'll need someone to look after him."

Jack raised his eyebrows. "I get to play nurse-maid?" He tried to sound annoyed, not wanting Janet to see the incredible, bone-jarring depths of his relief. When he'd found Daniel, he'd been convinced the kid was dying of some exotic, alien bug.

"For at least a week. And I'll give you and the rest of the SG teams flu shots."

"I'm gonna get it, aren't I?"

Janet smiled brightly. "Maybe. Maybe not. The next couple of days should tell, but you have already been fully exposed, so you're the best person to take care of him. If you get sick, give me a call."

"Great. Just great."

~~~~~

Daniel was hot. Something soft surrounded him, trapping the heat and stifling him. He shifted, his arms flailing, and pushed the offending item off.

He was laying on something soft. Rolling onto his side, he brought his legs up and tried to find a comfortable position. Now he was cold and shivering.

A warm hand pressed against his forehead. He leaned his head into the gentle touch. "Shau're?"

"Not quite."

Jack? Daniel opened his eyes, and Jack's slightly blurry face swam into view.

The colonel smiled. "It moves." He leaned to the side momentarily, then brought up the blanket and draped it over Daniel. "How are you feeling?"

"Thirsty." He swallowed, but his saliva felt like paste. "Whu happ'ned?"

"You got the flu. It turned into bronchitis. Janet put you on antibiotics and fluids and you were just released a few hours ago. You're in one of the VIP rooms on the base... Hang on."

Jack disappeared from Daniel's view, then returned a few moments later with a cup in his hand. "Here's some OJ."

Daniel tried to sit up and became aware of just how weak and tired he felt. He felt like an old man who could barely lift his own head.

Jack slid his hand beneath Daniel's back and helped him sit up, taking several of the pillows and propping them against the headboard to support Daniel.

"Here ya go." Jack placed the cup in Daniel's hand, then wrapped his own around Daniel's to secure the hold. "Small sips."

"Thanks." He took a couple sips of the tangy juice, looked over the rim of the cup at his friend, then drained the remaining liquid in three big gulps.

"Well, I suppose those count as small sips," Jack took the empty cup from Daniel, "if you're a Jaffa."

Daniel opened his mouth to give a reply, but his chest was seized by a coughing fit that brought tears to his eyes. After several seconds of trying to get air into his lungs, dots of light danced in his vision and, before he realized what was happening, the orange juice came back up, along with a decent amount of mucous, and soiled the blanket Jack had draped over him.

"S-Sowwy," he gasped, wiping the tears from his cheeks as the coughs died.

"Don't worry about it," Jack said gently, peeling the blanket away from Daniel and rolling it into a ball. "I'll get you another blanket... and more orange juice." He waggled a finger at the sick man. "This time... small sips."

"'Kay." Daniel closed his eyes and leaned back against the pillows, focusing on breathing steadily past the congestion in his chest. His nose was stuffed up, so he breathed through his mouth, something he hated doing.

Actually, he hated everything associated with being sick. The fatigue. The coughing. The vomiting... especially the vomiting. And throwing up all over himself, with only a blanket for salvation, hadn't been his most dignified moment.

A few moments later, he felt a soft weight descend upon him, and he opened his eyes to see Jack tucking a fresh blanket around him. Yes, Jack was actually tucking the blanket around him. His eyes stung with a new warmth, and he blinked quickly. It had been a long time since anybody had actually taken care of him.... a long time since anybody had been around to care.

Daniel gave into a shy smile. "Danks." He realized he sounded like Elmer Fudd, but the mucous in his chest and nasal passages was making it hard to talk.

"Don't mention it." Jack gave a lopsided grin and leaned over to retrieve the cup from the nightstand. "Here. More OJ. Slow this time. No Jaffa gulps."

"No guwps. Got it." He took the cup and sipped tentatively at the liquid, pausing in between sips to breathe.

When he was finished, Jack took the empty cup and set it on the nightstand. "You think you can hold some food down? We got apple sauce." Jack grinned and waggled his eyebrows. "Good stuff."

Daniel managed a ghost of a smile. "As temp... tempthing as dat sounds, I dink'll pass."

Jack patted Daniel's leg. "Well, you try to get some sleep and we'll see about food when you wake up."

Daniel nodded and closed his eyes. "Danks, Jack."

As fatigue pulled at him, he felt Jack fidgeting with the blanket, tucking it more tightly around him and making sure it covered his feet.

A smile found it's way to Daniel's lips as he succumbed to sleep. Yes, it had been a really long time since anybody had taken care of him. He didn't realize he'd missed it until now...

"Danks, Jack."

"Just call me Jack Nightingale."

~~~

The End.
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