To Sleep, Perchance to Dream!
They had been travelling steadily now for over nine hours, and had almost reached the Stargate. SG1, along with Jacob Carter, slowly crept up the small hill in order to take cover behind a few low bushes overlooking the 'gate itself. Jack looked back worriedly at Daniel. His friend appeared to be moving along purely on willpower.
These days, Jack didn't usually worry overmuch about Daniel. He definitely wasn't the geeky archeologist who had first joined SG1 five years ago. He had finally become a soldier, perfectly capable of taking care of both himself and his teammates during a battle. The fact that Jack had trusted him to go on a mission alone with Jacob/Selmac proved how much Daniel had changed in Jack's eyes.
But at the moment, exhaustion was evident in every movement of Daniel's body. Sure, none of them had slept any since going offworld, but Jack figured that Daniel probably hadn't slept since before he left for this mission. Knowing Daniel, he'd probably been holed up in his office at night making sure he was up to date with every nuance of the Goa'uld tongue. They had all been through some very stressful times in the past many hours, Jack himself being witness to SG17 and most of the Tok'ra being decimated by a fleet of motherships. Jack had no idea what Daniel himself had gone through, they hadn't had time to talk much about their adventures since reuniting on Ravanna. But Jack figured that the adrenaline that Daniel had been riding on after Jacob's cargo ship had been shot out of the sky had disappeared many long hours ago.
Jack put out a hand to steady Daniel as he stumbled while climbing up the small hill, and was shocked to feel cold flesh beneath his hand. Damn, he realized belatedly that Daniel wasn't even dressed properly for the weather on this planet. His shirt was sleeveless, and the material of both shirt and pants was very thin. It just proved how very tired and preoccupied all of them were, nobody had noticed, and as usual, Daniel hadn't complained. Add a nine-hour march with inadequate clothing on top of a very stressful day and fatigue to boot, Jack could see that Daniel was ready to crash. Jack hadn't seen Daniel this vulnerable-looking and exhausted in a very long time.
Daniel had initially thought when they had started out for the Stargate that they were only a couple of hours' away from it. It was on their third hour when he finally thought to ask Teal'c how much farther they had to go, and was shocked when he had replied 'at least seven more hours'. His teammates were already exhausted, they had already tramped through the forest for nine hours to get to the transmitter, with a wounded comrade, no less; and now they’d had to walk another nine to get back! He himself had started feeling his fatigue after the first hour. He shouldn't be feeling this tired, he hadn't been in as active a role as his teammates. And the fact that his damned clothes were too skimpy to do much in keeping him warm was frustrating. He was cold, he was tired, and he was fed up. This whole mission had been such a waste, all it had done was bring home the fact that the Goa'uld were stronger than before, assembling under the mysterious Anubis. And the Tok'ra! He couldn't believe they'd nearly been wiped out. He hoped that many had been able to escape. At this point, nothing was known for certain.
Daniel hoped that the 'gate was just over the hill. He just kept plodding one foot after the other, like he'd done for the past interminable several hours. His tired legs caused him to stumble as he climbed the hill, and the sudden feel of Jack's warm hand on his chilled arm caused him to look up at his friend. He saw the look of shock on Jack's face, Jack must have just now realized how cold Daniel was. Great, it just proved how much his friend actually thought about him, he'd never noticed in the past nine hours that Daniel's shirtless sleeve was totally inappropriate for the weather here on Ravanna. Here was Daniel, on his way home with the people that he considered to be his family, and it still he felt like he was all alone. It was an all too familiar feeling that he thought he'd never have to experience again.
They finally reached the top, and all crouched down to spy at the enemy line below. Cautiously peering through the bushes, Jack looked down in satisfaction at the desolation spread out before him. The hordes of dead Jaffa clearly indicated that Elliot had done his duty, he had released the poisoned gas after they had captured him and brought him back to their base camp by the Stargate. The look of horror on Daniel's face as he saw the hundreds of dead Jaffa scattered in the valley revealed to Jack that Daniel hadn't quite turned into a hardened soldier like himself. He felt relieved somehow, at the revelation. Carter, Teal'c and Jacob simply stared at the massacre with mostly impassive faces.
Daniel couldn't believe he had actually handed the poison to Elliot without even considering the price of his actions. Shouldn't he have spoken up and asked if they could try and find an alternative solution? When had he become so uncaring? Sure, it was one thing to allow the poison to kill the System Lords, hadn’t that been their plan in the first place. But all of these dead Jaffa, they had had no choice in the matter. In a sense they were all slaves to the Goa'uld. They all had families out there somewhere, they had lives outside of their service to their lord god. How many of them could Teal'c have eventually turned over to their side, persuade them to rebel against their gods? Shit, what a waste of lives. And Elliot/Lantesh, they had both given up their lives to save those of their teammates/friends. Was this what serving in SG1 was coming to? Daniel realized that they hadn't been on a peaceful mission in a very long time. One where they simply encountered friendly, new or ancient civilizations, where things hadn't had a damned military bent to it.
Selmac had assured Jack that the poison Elliot had discharged into the air had fully dissipated by now, and that it was safe for himself and Teal'c to descend to the 'gate. Picking their way down carefully, they searched the bodies until they found that of Elliot. Teal'c took the young man in his arms, carrying him back to the Stargate.
- - - - - -
Blessed warmth and the lack of a cold wind were the first things Daniel became aware of upon rematerializing in the depths of the Cheyenne Mountain complex. The warmer air caused him to shiver slightly, his body attempting to warm itself in the generated heat of the underground complex. General Hammond had entered the embarkation room just as they came through. Daniel leaned wearily against the sides of the railing of the metallic ramp leading down from the 'gate, waiting to see what the General's orders were.
The General could see that his men were exhausted. Making up his mind quickly, he said, "Welcome back, SG1. Report to the infirmary, and get some sleep. We'll debrief tomorrow at 09:00 hours." Jack nodded thankfully at his Commanding Officer, and they all followed him out of the embarkation room, Daniel lagging behind slightly.
- - - - - -
Leaning back tiredly against the wall, feet planted on top of the infirmary bed, a blanket pulled up to his chin, Daniel waited for Janet to give him the all clear. All he wanted to do was go and bury himself in his bed, and sleep for a week. He was so tired that the last few days were nearly a blur. Thoughts of Sarah/Osiris kept going through his head, he had tried, he had tried so very hard to bring Sarah back. He'd been so close to getting her home, one step closer to getting that snake out of her head. But he'd failed, miserably. He felt that failure appeared to be the continuing theme of his life lately.
Daniel thought he ought to go speak to Teal'c, to see how his friend was doing after seeing the wasteful deaths of his fellow Jaffa. But not right now, he didn't think he could move even if he wanted to. Anyway, if he went to see Teal'c, he'd probably have to deal with Jack, and he didn't care to see his Commanding Officer at the moment. Not very long ago, Daniel would have also sought Jack out, knowing that Jack was probably upset about Elliot’s death. They had both liked the young recruit, and his death would probably have hit Jack hard. Daniel would have tried to coax Jack to talk about it, help him get it out of his system. But not anymore, they rarely talked anymore. And Daniel was too tired to think much about Elliot at the moment.
Jack watched Daniel dozing on the infirmary cot. The fact that Daniel had chosen a bed apart his colleagues bothered Jack. Not that long ago, they'd have all been sitting or lying one beside the other. Even if too exhausted to talk, they'd be there for each other, for moral support if nothing else. Was this what things had come to now? How had they fallen so far apart? Had he pushed Daniel to be something he wasn't meant to be? If so, Jack found that payback sucked.
Janet's words startled him out of his reverie. "Okay, everything checks out. You're all cleared to go, but don't go off base. I haven't gotten your blood results back." They slowly got up off their respective cots and slowly made their way out of the infirmary. Looking back at his team, Jack realized that Daniel hadn't moved. Waving the others on, he turned around and made his way back to Daniel. As Jack gently shook his shoulder, Daniel's eyes shot open.
"You planning on spending the night here?" Jack teased.
"Oh, we can go?" he asked wearily, wondering if he had dozed off. Swinging his legs off the bed, he got up unsteadily, looking around belatedly for Sam and Teal'c. Daniel finally figured that they'd already left.
Following Daniel out of the room and into the elevator, Jack raised his eyebrows as Daniel punched the button for the floor to his office. "Hey, your bed's that way," Jack said, pointing towards the number he himself had punched.
"Um, I know, I just have to pick something up in my office."
Jack nodded at Daniel as he pushed himself off the wall of the elevator when the doors opened on his floor. Daniel slowly made his way to his office. He entered the room, turned on the light, shut the door, and stood for a minute before gathering the energy to make it to his chair. He sat down heavily, the movement triggering a headache he hadn't had a moment before. He was so tired, the cold on the planet seemed to have leeched all the energy from his body. He couldn't think straight, and his eyes were irritated and itchy from having worn his contact lenses for far too long a time.
Clumsily removing the contacts, he rubbed his eyes as he took his spare glasses from his desk and put them on. Spotting his wife's photograph sitting on his desk, he picked it up and with a hand shaking with fatigue, he slowly traced her face. Not having the energy to do anything else, he lowered his arms to the desk, and laid his head on them, the picture falling from his hand onto the desk. He instantly fell asleep.
- - - - - -
Shau're placed a hand on her husband's shoulder, shaking him awake. She thought that he shouldn't have come here, he should have gone straight to bed. She could see he was very tired as he opened his eyes and looked up at her blearily. Smiling, she straightened his glasses, and then tugged at his hand to indicate he should get up. He shook his head, and lay his head back down on the desk. She leaned over him, realizing he was too exhausted to get up. She stroked his face, allowing him to rest a while longer. As her breath puffed gently over his face, the memories began to flow.
- - - - - -
Shau're had hidden herself in the small curtained enclosure the moment she heard the Chaapa’ai whining in preparation of an incoming wormhole. She knew that Daniel would come as soon as he heard. Skaara's militia was scampering to take their places, quietly hidden, well armed. The wormhole activated, and several individuals popped out. Shau're knew that she was well hidden behind the curtain, and she watched carefully as the invading soldiers quickly spread out throughout the pillared room.
Her brother's men popped out of their hiding places and pointed their guns at the soldiers. The soldiers raised their weapons in an instant. No one spoke. Then her beloved came running into the room, telling them to lower their guns, repeating the command in his own tongue. The stalemate was over.
Once the soldiers moved closer to her hiding place, Shau're recognized three amongst those who had just come through the Chaapa’ai. One was O'Neill, whom her brother worshipped. The others were Kawalsky and Ferretti, both of whom had been very polite and kind to Shau're on their first trip to Abydos nearly a year ago. Her husband and brother had talked about O'Neill for ages after he had returned to his world, and Shau're could tell that Daniel was very happy now to see his friend again. She could see he was a little shy about greeting his friend, uncertain of his reception. She herself felt a little ambiguous towards O'Neill, she remembered how he had not treated Daniel very kindly when she had first met them. Daniel had later explained how O'Neill had then lied to his superiors about him staying behind with her, so she had decided to think more kindly of him. Until now.
Apparently O'Neill still did not care very much for her husband. He walked right by Daniel and went straight to Skaara. Could he not see how happy Daniel had been to see his friend? Shau're was ready to go tell him a piece of her mind, and she exited the alcove at the same time as Daniel turned around to look for her. As she walked towards the men, Daniel reached over and put his arm around her waist. Obviously Daniel wanted her close. She would do that for her husband, extend her support, her love. It was for that reason only, she offered her hand in greeting to O'Neill, following Daniel's custom.
The female soldier took off her head cover, and Shau're was shocked to see sand-yellow hair, pale skin and blue eyes much like Daniel’s. Daniel’s similar exotic looks were one of the things that had made him so popular at first with her people. But slowly as they came to know him, her husband gained the respect of her people with his gentle ways. Her husband was now a very popular and much beloved man, much to her delight.
Shau're didn't like the attention this female soldier was giving her husband. She had a bit of difficulty following their conversation, but she was not too pleased with the zeal this woman was speaking with Daniel. They were talking of the Chaapa’ai, and how it worked. Shau're had never paid much attention to Daniel's explanations, now she was sorry because he was paying way too much attention to the woman soldier.
- - - - - -
SG1’s test results were sitting on Janet Fraiser's desk when she arrived in her office early the following morning. Picking up the files, she sat down and started looking them over while sipping her coffee. As she reached Daniel Jackson's file, she noticed something not quite right with the results. She wasn't sure, but she thought that Daniel might have picked up a virus. She quickly got up and left her office, making her way to Daniel's assigned room.
- - - - - -
Shau're recognized the mischievous look on her husband's face when he sent Skaara for the firewater. She enjoyed watching O'Neill's surprise at the potency of the drink. Too bad he didn't choke on it. She made sure that she was very attentive to Daniel. Neither O'Neill, nor this woman, would find fault with her care and attention to her husband.
When Daniel informed Shau're that he was taking O'Neill to the cartouche room, she had no intention of letting that woman get a chance of being alone with Daniel. She immediately informed him that she was coming along. That obviously surprised Daniel, she rarely showed interest in his archeological pursuits. She allowed him his fun of puttering about, she had more important things to do, like maintaining his household. Not that it was any hardship. Daniel enjoyed helping her with the work, to the envy of all of her friends. Not one had a husband who would lift a finger to help.
Everyone had thought it hilarious as Daniel attempted to learn their ways; he was always trying to do things himself, even the women and children's chores. But when he had shown them better, safer, more efficient ways of doing things, the elders soon realized what a treasure Daniel was.
Daniel was the most attentive, caring, loving husband a woman could ask for. She would do anything for him, but she was also extremely jealous, and had no shame in showing it. So Shau're followed the group out into the storm-swept desert and then into the cartouche room which her husband had discovered a few months ago. It was because of this room that he had ordered the Chaapa’ai unburied. He and Skaara had spent hours trying to dial out to different worlds, to no effect. Oh wonderful, this huge and dusty room had gotten the woman soldier excited also. She and her husband had hit it off too well. Shau're was a little concerned that she should have perhaps shown more interest in Daniel's forays into this room.
Daniel and the woman were excitedly chattering on, oblivious of Shau're's glares, when one of Skaara's men came rushing in. The news was bad, Skaara and Willema, her best friend, had been taken by the false gods. They all rushed back to the Chaapa’ai, only to find that most of the warriors had been injured or killed, including the soldiers who had accompanied O'Neill.
- - - - - -
Jack was making his way to the commissary when he heard his name called. Stopping in the corridor, he turned back and saw Doctor Fraiser hurrying towards him. "Have you seen Daniel this morning?" she asked as she got close enough to speak without raising her voice.
"Daniel? No, I just got up. Is there a problem?"
"I'm not sure. I just got your blood results back and there seems to be an anomaly with Daniel's. I need him to come to the infirmary so that I can check him out and redo the tests."
"Did you check his room?"
"Yes, it looks like he didn't go to bed."
"Oh for crying out loud. He told me last night that he was heading off to his office. I betcha he fell asleep there. Come on."
Opening the door to Daniel's office, Jack's first thought when he saw his friend sprawled over his desk was that Daniel was gonna have one heck of a sore neck and back when he woke up. Walking up to his friend, he put his hand on his shoulder to shake him awake, but pulled it back quickly as he registered the heat emanating off Daniel's body. "Shit, Doc, he's burning up," Jack exclaimed, putting his hand down on Daniel's exposed cheek. Janet rapidly assessed Daniel's condition, and rushed to the phone, declaring a medical emergency.
- - - - - -
Jack was sitting on the bed next to Daniel's, keeping out of the way of the flurry of activity around his unconscious friend. He knew that Janet was worried, they couldn't seem to get Daniel's fever down. The nurses were in the process of giving him a sponge bath in an attempt to lower his temperature, he'd heard them mention his temperature was close to 105.
Jack had completely forgotten about his debriefing with General Hammond until the man himself came down to the infirmary. Standing beside Jack, also remaining out of the way of the nurses, he listened to an abbreviated version of Jack's recent mission. Jacob had already given the General his version, it looked like they'd have to wait a while before Daniel could give his. General Hammond informed Jack that he would postpone the official briefing till later that afternoon, he'd send someone to inform him and his team when he'd decided on a time.
Finally satisfied with Daniel's condition for the moment, having lowered his body temperature by nearly three degrees, the nurses left Jack alone with his friend. Jack moved off the bed and pulled up a chair beside Daniel. It seemed to Jack that during the first years with SG1, he had found himself sitting by Daniel's bedside at least once every couple of months. He realized suddenly that it had been quite a while since Daniel had been in the infirmary as a patient. Was that just because SG1 had been lucky lately, or had Daniel become that good a soldier so that he now knew how to keep out of trouble?
How good a soldier Daniel had recently become had been revealed to Jack several weeks previously during a training session with Elliot and several other cadets. Daniel and Sam had been at a standoff, and once the cadets had incapacitated Sam, Daniel had been outnumbered four to one. Wincing in expectation of Daniel getting shot at least once with the cadets' intars, Jack was stunned to see Daniel easily shoot and disable all four cadets, and thus take control of the situation. Even a year ago, Daniel would never have managed to do that.
Taking his friend's limp hand in his own, Jack realized that he'd pulled away from Daniel in the past year, both physically and emotionally. It seemed to Jack that he now spent more time with Sam and Teal'c during downtime. Ever since the time of the Zatarc episode, when he and Carter had admitted that they cared more than they should for each other, he had gravitated more towards her and spent less time with Daniel. The worst thing was, he did care for Carter, but not in that way. He cared for all of his team. During the testing, he had admitted that he couldn't leave Carter when they'd been trapped in the Goa'uld ship. But the fact was, neither Daniel nor Teal'c had left the ship without them either. They all cared for each other, they were more than teammates. They were family.
He didn't remember the last time Daniel had been over to his house, whereas before last year, they seemed to always be together on weekends, or got together after a really bad mission. How had things gone so wrong, and why did it take Daniel's illness to make him realize what he'd done to his friend. He sighed and squeezed Daniel's hand slightly.
He was surprised when he felt Daniel squeeze back. Glancing at his face, he saw Daniel's eyes flutter open. "Daniel?" he said quietly.
Daniel looked at Jack, then looked around him, confused. "Where's Shau're?" he asked weakly. He thought he had heard her voice just a second ago.
"Daniel, she's, um, not here right now," Jack told him.
"No, she was there. She's probably gone to bed, must be still asleep," he mumbled.
"Danny, you're in the mountain, you're not on Abydos."
"I know that, Jack. I might feel like shit right now, but I still recognize the infirmary." He smiled slightly at Jack. He smiled back, then watched as Daniel's eyes drooped as sleep claimed him again.
- - - - - -
Shau're's first impression of Daniel's world had been the cold. She was aghast at being told that it would get colder still. She remembered sitting and shivering in the healing rooms that first day for what seemed the longest time, until the woman with sand-colored hair took pity on her and lent her some of her own clothing. She had showed Shau're how to use the running water to wash. Shau're couldn't believe the waste of water, the amount that had flown into the floor would have kept a family of four alive for several months. And to immerse one's whole body in water! It was unthinkable. What a rich world this was. Perhaps Shau're had been too quick with her jealousy; this woman, Sam, seemed to want to be her friend.
The man in charge of the soldiers was very angry with her husband. Although Daniel tried to explain to her that he had every right in being angry, and that he himself was in the wrong because Daniel had deceived him, she had not appreciated the manner in which the man had greeted her husband. Of course, he had been polite to her, but that was of no matter.
The resident healer spent much time with Shau're and Daniel. Shau're wasn't too keen on his methods, which included sticking sharp tiny bits of metal under her skin in order to remove her blood. What barbaric ways this world had! She would have thought that they'd have more advanced methods of healing people here. After all, they destroyed Ra, they had mastered the Chaapa’ai, they should have less painful and primitive methods of healing.
She also amended her opinion of O'Neill after their first night on Daniel's world. Daniel had attempted to find lodgings for them in the underground caves, and nobody seemed either willing or able to help. It was when Daniel was sitting dejectedly on one of the healer's beds that O'Neill spotted him when he came to visit his injured teammate Ferretti, and took both Daniel and Shau're into his own home that night.
Shau're was intrigued by the abode of this man, and she permitted the two men to talk together as she happily explored its interior. O'Neill had made a fire in the house, she suspected it was mostly for both her and Daniel's benefit, because he did not appear to be suffering from the cold as they were. She assumed they would soon grow used to it. Daniel had tried to explain snow, but she could not believe that frozen water fell from the sky, it was rare enough that water itself fell to the ground on Abydos.
Shau're did not care for the beverage the two men were drinking. It was not as potent as the firewater, but the taste was awful. O'Neill had given Shau're something colorful to drink, it was sweet and tart, very refreshing. He called it orange juice. She could live off this beverage forever.
The bed she and Daniel shared that night was another strange thing to get used to, it was much larger and softer than the pallets that they had shared at home. And she had to admit, this was much warmer and comfortable. She lay there giggling with her husband, snuggled under the blankets, feeling warm and toasty and safe. She could see that he was happy to be on his world once again. He had been happy on Abydos, but she sensed that he had missed Earth at times.
The next morning, O'Neill gave Shau're and Daniel a hot beverage to drink. Shau're thought it smelled divine, so this was the much lamented upon coffee that Daniel had missed so much in the past year. Shau're couldn't wait to taste it. Unfortunately, the smell and taste of coffee were nowhere similar. Upon sipping the hot acrid stuff, she immediately spat it out. She couldn't figure out what the two men thought was so funny, but she happily settled for more orange juice.
O'Neill made short work of finding them new lodgings in the mountain that same day. Shau're found herself at odds while Daniel was attending important meetings, so she made her way to the healer's quarters and offered her services. The healer wasn't happy with her offer, and sent Shau're on her way. She was getting quite bored. They had no need for anyone to grind flour, or gather fuel, tend the fires, or even watch children or animals. What a strange world this was.
When Daniel came to see her and informed her that he was going after Skaara and Willema, Shau're said that she wished to accompany them. Daniel was adamant, he had just lost Skaara, and he had no wish to lose her too. She acquiesced to his request, albeit reluctantly.
When the team eventually returned with a multitude of refugees, she immediately made her way to them to help them acclimatize to this world while the soldiers looked for their gate addresses. It took a few days to return them all to their homes, but the people of Daniel's world worked very hard to find their worlds and eventually sent them all through the Chaapa’ai.
- - - - - -
Daniel's fever had spiked again while Jack was attending SG1's debriefing with General Hammond. When he had returned to the infirmary with Sam and Teal'c, Janet and the nurses were working hard trying to get his fever down again. Jack felt so helpless, he couldn't even sit beside Daniel and try to comfort him. His friend was restless, tossing and turning, calling for Shau're. As she worked, Janet noted everyone sitting and watching nearby, their looks of worry were probably mirrored on her face.
Jack saw Jacob enter the infirmary and make his way towards them. He stood beside Jack and watched as Janet and her nurses worked over Daniel.
"Doctor Fraiser showed me the results of Daniel's blood test," Jacob informed Jack. "He's been infected with a virus, which unfortunately was designed to work on the Goa'uld symbiotes. We had no way of knowing what it would do to an unblended human."
"Don't tell me. We, as in the Tok'ra?" Jack asked.
Jacob nodded. "I gave Daniel a ring that contained the virus, he was to use it on the Goa'ulds, it would make them think that he was one of them. I warned him not to jab himself with it."
"Dad, you can't be thinking that this is Daniel's own fault." Sam was shocked at her father's words.
"No Sammie, I meant that I didn't know what the effects would be if he did infect himself."
"Well now we know, don't we," Jack said sarcastically.
"Isn't there anything you can do for him," Sam asked hopefully.
"With the Tok'ra spread out everywhere, there's no way to even start looking for an antidote. He's just going to have to ride this through on his own."
- - - - - -
The Jaffa named Teal'c intrigued Shau're from the moment she set eyes on him. She had heard that he was the one who had chosen her friend as host to the Goa'uld Amaunet. She wished to go speak with him, but the men guarding the Jaffa would not permit her entry. Finally appealing to Daniel, he managed to get her permission to enter the cell.
Their conversation was short, but Shau're left the cell with the belief that the man had simply done his duty, albeit unwillingly. That he had risked his life to save her husband and teammates, and for him to leave everything he knew on Chulak and return with O'Neill did not make her less angry at him for having taken her friend and her brother, but it did help her understand why.
She decided to forgive him when he prevented O'Neill's friend Kawalsky from leaving through the Chaapa’ai when a Goa'uld larva took control over him. She saw the pain in Daniel's eyes when this happened, she knew he was remembering seeing Skaara also possessed by the false gods. She was grateful she had not witnessed her brother's body in the control of the enemy.
- - - - - -
Sam had fallen asleep in the chair by Daniel's bedside, her head tucked up on the mattress by Daniel's shoulder. Her hand still clasped Daniel's, even in sleep she wanted to try and soothe him. His fever still raged, but the medications had finally kicked in, it wasn't as dangerously high as it had been for the past 36 hours. Jack sat on Daniel's other side, sipping a coffee that Janet had brought him earlier. Janet had sat with him for a while, silently keeping him company while Daniel and Sam slept.
Janet had told Jack that she hoped the worst was over now. That he was finally responding to the medication was a good sign, and that perhaps the virus had nearly run its course and Daniel would start recovering soon. It was just a matter of time.
- - - - - -
Teal'c and Daniel had spent much time teaching Shau're the language of the Goa'ulds. Daniel had also tutored her so she could perfect her English, and she was now officially one of the SGC's civilian translators. She was planning on learning more of this world's languages in order to have more scope in her work. Daniel had just found their first home on earth, and they were slowly starting to decorate it to their liking. It was taking time to understand the ways of Daniel's people, but Daniel clearly was enjoying introducing Shau're to every little aspect of his world.
She was devastated when SG1 returned from their last mission without Daniel. Jack had gone to Shau're and told her himself that Daniel was dead, and that it had been too dangerous to bring his body back home to bury. To make matters worse, that same day, Shau're had been impatiently waiting for Daniel to return; she had great news to impart. Her friend Janet had just confirmed her own suspicion, Shau're was pregnant.
She couldn't believe that Daniel was dead. Sam had insisted Shau're come stay with her, she and Jack hadn't wanted her to remain alone. Later, Shau're helped Jack out as much as she could in preparing for Daniel's wake. She didn't quite understand the custom, but she knew that Jack needed this, and it kept her busy.
When Jack, Sam and Teal'c returned to the volcanic planet to search for Daniel, they hadn't informed her of the chance that he might still be alive, they hadn't wanted to raise her hopes. When Daniel was finally returned to her, slightly damp, disheveled, exhausted and suffering from a migraine, she thought that he had never looked so handsome. When she ran to him he hugged her as if he would never let her go. He told her about the alien, Nem, who had lost his wife and hadn't known for thousands of years what had happened to her. He told her he didn't know what he'd do if anything happened to her.
She waited by his bedside while Janet ran her tests, and was relieved when nothing serious was found. Jack drove them home, and as soon as they were alone, she told him he was to be a father. The grin on his face upon hearing the news made up for all of the horrible past days.
- - - - - -
Daniel woke up slowly, somewhat confused as to where he was. Listening to the sounds, he heard the familiar noises of the infirmary. He heard someone shifting in the chair by his side. Turning his head towards the sound, he opened his eyes, expecting to see his wife sitting beside him. He was surprised to see Teal'c. A gentle smile graced Teal'c's face upon seeing that Daniel was awake. "Teal'c, where's Shau're?" he asked.
"She is not here, DanielJackson. Everyone has gone to rest, they have all been by your side for the past 48 hours." He reached over and picked up a glass of water, offering it to Daniel. At Daniel's nod, Teal'c helped Daniel raise his head slightly, allowing him to drink through the proffered straw. "Doctor Fraiser says that you are getting better now."
"Oh," he said, surprised. "What happened? I don't remember getting sick." Daniel gratefully sipped some more water, it eased his parched throat slightly. He thought that Shau're must be worried sick about him, but he really must be better if she left his side to go and get some rest.
"You took ill after returning from Ravanna. Your temperature has been very high."
Daniel had trouble keeping his eyes open. "When you see her, tell Shau're not to worry," he mumbled, sleep overtaking him in seconds.
- - - - - -
Shau're had requested that she be permitted to return to Abydos to give birth to their child. At first both Daniel and Janet were insistent that she remain on earth, but after much pleading, they finally relented. Her birth, assisted by Janet, Sam and Daniel, was very long and painful, but she had her husband and friends to help her through it. During the labor pains, she couldn't help think of the pain that her husband had gone through only a few months previously, when he had been suffering from withdrawal after being tricked by the witch Shyla into repeatedly using the sarcophagus.
She had realized that something was wrong when she had first seen him upon his return, his movements were too quick, too frantic. She had tried talking with him only to find out that one of the two reasons he had returned to earth from P3R 636 was to divorce himself from Shau're. He had also attempted to resign from the SGC, and thankfully General Hammond had denied his request, and prevented him from returning to the planet until he was well again.
Daniel had looked terrible. He had been suffering painfully and Jack hadn't wanted Shau're to witness this. She had gone in to see him regardless of Jack's request that she stay away, and seeing her husband restrained to the bed, eyes wild, uncaring whether or not she was there, it had nearly broken her heart. She had fled to their home, and only returned to the mountain when Jack informed her that the worst was over. It was only later that she learned what had happened; that Daniel had nearly killed Jack. Shau're was relieved to know that Jack had been the one who had finally been able to comfort her husband throughout his pain-wracked days. She felt that she had abandoned Daniel, by being unable to stay and help. Daniel and her friends had finally convinced her that taking care of her unborn child had been more important, and that the stresses of dealing with Daniel's addiction should have been avoided.
- - - - - -
Daniel became aware of a cool hand on his forehead, fingers gently stroking through his hair. "Shau're?" he breathed.
"Nope, just me. Sorry."
A smile twitched at the corners of Daniel's mouth. "Jack, you make a lousy nursemaid," Daniel said. "Where's Shau're?"
"She's not here, Danny." Upon hearing Daniel's sigh, Jack felt terrible for lying to his friend. He'd been delirious throughout his illness, thinking that Shau're was still alive.
"Is she at home with Jonny?" he asked, closing his eyes.
"Jonny…Jack, you must remember your own godson." Wasn't it enough that Jack had been cool towards Daniel in the past year, now was he planning on punishing Daniel's son for his father's faults?
"My godson?" Jack thought that this was way beyond weird. He picked up a glass of water sitting on the table beside the bed.
"Yes. Jonathon Melbourne Jackson. Geez, Jack, if I thought you minded so much, I'd have asked Teal'c to be the godfather. At least Sam doesn't mind." Daniel opened his eyes and looked at Jack, saw the glass of water he was holding. God, he was so thirsty.
"You know me better than that," Jack countered, watching Daniel sip the water, then close his eyes again. Every time Daniel woke up he would ask for Shau're, but this was the first time he'd mentioned a son. Jack had to speak to Janet pronto, things were getting worse. Daniel's fever had come down quite a bit, it wasn't as dangerously high as it had been for the past couple of days. Daniel was still very sick, but Janet thought he was starting to improve. This new development might just be enough to earn Daniel a padded room in the hospital again. Jack knew that Daniel wasn't sick enough to be delirious anymore.
- - - - - -
Jonny was a beautiful child, he had his father's blue eyes and his mother's dark curly hair. He was naturally inquisitive, everyone knew he'd inherited that trait from Daniel. He laughed constantly, was extremely outgoing, and absolutely adored his Uncle Jack and his godmother, Sam.
Thank goodness for his godparents, because when Daniel took ill and was taken to the special hospital, Daniel's teammates spent a lot of time with the toddler. Shau're, accompanied by her friends, visited Daniel in the hospital. She was several months pregnant with their second child, and they hadn't wanted her to go. They had been warned that Daniel might be violent.
On seeing Daniel sitting on the floor in the white room, she made to go to him. Jack pulled her back, silently reminding her that the Doctor had warned them not to make physical contact with him as it was part of his treatment. She ached to go and hold him, comfort him. He had looked so lost, like he had given up hope. Upon returning home, she cried the whole night in Sam's arms.
It was a miracle that Daniel had managed eventually to return to his senses, especially in time to save their friend Teal'c.
- - - - - -
"Doc, he's not only asking for Shau're, he's also talking about having a son. What the hell is going on?" Jack was standing by Daniel's bedside, Carter sitting in the chair by Daniel's bed. Teal’c stood by the foot of Daniel’s bed. Although Daniel himself was deeply asleep, they kept their voices low.
"I don't understand it, Colonel. It's like he's in a world of his own, making up a perfect life for himself." The other members of SG1 had also told her about Daniel's continued delusions. This was a development that she didn't like.
"Janet, do you think this could caused by the Tok'ra virus? Dad said that it's main purpose to make the Goa'uld symbiotes think that Daniel was someone else, maybe it's trying to make Daniel think Shau're is still alive."
"I don't know, Sam, I guess it could be possible."
"Did Jacob say how long the drug would have an effect?"
"No, he said that its effects on the symbiotes would eventually wear away in a few days, but there's no telling what it would do to a normal human."
"Well, we have a problem in the meantime. Oh, and apparently, we're his kid's godparents", he informed Carter.
"We, as in you and me."
"My God, I never thought he'd…but that's so…me and you? Me, godmother to his son? I never thought he'd want me to…Holy Hannah, I'm so flattered."
"Yup, you're godmother to a fiction of his imagination, so don't get carried away, Carter."
- - - - - -
Jonny's newborn sister, Clairista Samantha Jackson, was the spitting image of her mother. She had dark hair, dark eyes, and a rosebud mouth. They had named her thusly, as it was a combination of Daniel and Shau're's mothers' names. Teal'c and Janet were honoured to become her godparents. Jonny was enamored with her at first sight. He was always gentle with his little sister, and was always willing to help his mom in caring for her.
It was soon after Rista's birth that Shau're learned that her friend Willema had been killed. Daniel had come upon her and Teal'c had been forced to fire his staff weapon when she had attacked Daniel with a ribbon device. Teal'c had come by just in time to save her husband's life. Daniel had been ill for several days afterwards, suffering from migraines and dizzy spells.
After being released from the infirmary, upon entering their home, Daniel had suddenly sunk to the floor. Shau're had thought he'd become ill, but soon realized that he'd gotten to his knees to hug his son. He lay on the floor for hours, playing with his son and cuddling his newborn daughter. She realized that Daniel knew just how close he had come to dying this time, and he needed time with his children to put the horror behind him and just 'recharge'.
- - - - - -
Daniel's condition had steadily improved over the last several hours. His fever was slight, and his vitals were getting stronger. Sam was sitting by his side when he woke up. Gently stroking his cheek, she felt the stubble rasp against her hand. He smiled at the sensation, grabbing her hand to still it.
"How are you feeling?" she asked.
"Like a platoon of marines just marched through my mouth. Yech."
"I bet. You've been asleep for more than three days. You were pretty sick, Daniel."
"Three days? I thought it was just overnight. I kind of remember all of you being here when I'd wake up, though."
"Yeah, we wanted to make sure you didn't wake up alone. Can you manage to stay awake a few minutes longer? I'm just going to get Janet."
Daniel nodded, but wasn't sure he'd be able to comply. He had trouble keeping his eyes open already. Just as he was nodding off, he heard Janet's voice by his side.
"Welcome back to the world of the living, Daniel."
Opening his eyes again, he smiled at his doctor and friend. "Have you seen the kids today?" he asked.
"What?" Janet asked, confused.
"Jonny was asking for you, he was saying you and Cassie had promised to take him to the zoo."
"Well, I've been kind of busy taking care of his daddy. Seriously, Daniel, you were very sick for the past few days."
"But I'm better now?" He felt very tired and weak, but didn't feel as bad as he had the few times he had woken up.
"Not quite. Your temperature is still slightly elevated. You've been suffering from a virus, but I think it's mostly run its course by now. You'll probably be able to go home in a few days."
He nodded his understanding, wanted to ask about his wife, but sleep overtook him before he could get the words out of his mouth.
- - - - - -
The Tollans had returned her brother to her! They and the Tok'ra were responsible from removing the symbiote that had infested her husband's body these past few years, and now Skaara was finally free of K'lorel. She took the children home to Abydos and spent some time there reuniting with her brother. Daniel and Jack came to join them after a few weeks and she returned home with them. That was the last time in many weeks that she looked upon Jack kindly, after what he did to her husband not long after.
When Jack came back from 'that' mission, Shau're wasn't sure that she wanted to forgive him. Oh, she understood that he was under orders, that he couldn't say anything to his friends because his mission was "secret". But it was the words he had said to her husband, those were what she wasn't able to forgive Jack for. Daniel had been terribly hurt at first, but then his brilliant mind had figured out what had happened and even before O'Neill returned with the proof that led to the arrest of the traitors, Daniel had already forgiven O'Neill. Shau're was oh so not ready to forgive him yet.
- - - - - -
The fever had mostly run its course by the next day, leaving Daniel weak and drained. At least he was able to remain awake for more than a few minutes at a time. He woke up late in the afternoon to find Jack sitting by his bedside.
"Hey," he called out to Jack, turning onto his side to face his friend.
"Hey," Jack replied.
"Did I miss Rista's birthday party?"
Jack didn't have the slightest idea what Daniel was talking about. He figured it was time they had it out, now that Daniel wasn't so ill. "Daniel, who are you talking about?"
"God Jack, I know a one year old's birthday party isn't exactly your idea of a good time, but I thought you'd at least make an effort. Shau're's going all out for this, she wanted it to be as special as the one you made for Jonny." Daniel could remember the pony that Jack had rented for the kids' enjoyment. He smiled when he remembered his son sitting on the fat little pony, excitedly exclaiming to all, "caballito, horsie, alogaki, cavallucio, hosan, mastadge, cavalinho, poney, pferdchen!" Jack’s mouth had dropped at hearing the boy display his vast knowledge of words. He had obviously displayed a penchant for his father's talent at languages. Jonny had chattered on about that pony ride for weeks afterwards.
Jack decided it was time to tell Daniel the truth about Shau’re, he'd been going on with this delusion long enough. "Daniel, that's enough. Shau're isn't here, and you do not have children. Daniel, she's dead. She died over two years ago. She was possessed by Amaunet, and she was trying to kill you. Teal'c had to shoot her in order to stop her."
Daniel's stared at Jack, his eyes wide in shock. "Jack, what are you talking about? That was Willema. She was possessed by Amaunet." How could Jack confuse Willema with Shau're being taken as a host?
"Daniel, it was Shau're. Damnit, the fever's fried your brain." Jack leaned forward towards Daniel. "She's dead, Daniel. Shau're was the one possessed by Amaunet, not this Wilma person. Whether or not you remember her death, she IS dead." He looked at his hands, and said softly, "I'm sorry, Daniel." Glancing up at Daniel, he could see that his friend didn't believe him.
"Jack, why are you saying these things? Are you deliberately trying to hurt me?" Daniel figured that Jack had been too nice to him while he'd been sick, now that he was a bit better, he was trying to make sure that whatever friendship they might have salvaged was going to be crushed once again.
"Danny," Jack said softly. "You've been critically ill for the past few days, and the whole time you've been asking for Shau're. Which is understandable, considering the circumstances. Now that you're better, you have to accept the fact that she's not here."
"Jack, she's been here with me during my illness. I know it."
"Okaaaay, do you remember her sitting here by your side?"
"Ummmm, yeeees." He thought she had, he couldn't remember exactly when he had seen her here while he was sick because everything was such a blur, but he was positive he had seen her.
"You don't sound too sure, Danny. Listen, only Sam, Teal'c and myself have sat in this chair for the past five days. Shau're could not have been here because between the three of us, it was never left empty."
"Jack…" Daniel started.
"That's enough, Daniel. I don't want to argue, this isn't going anywhere." Jack could see that Daniel wasn't buying it. He blew out a breath with considerable force. He tried to change the subject. "Okay, look. Janet’s going to let you out the day after tomorrow if your fever doesn't come back, on the condition that someone stays with you for several days. That'll be me." Daniel was looking at Jack intently. "You have the choice of coming to my place, or me staying with you at yours."
"Jack, it's okay, Shau're will be home…" Daniel wasn't sure now whether he wanted Jack around.
"Daniel, humour me. If Shau're's there, she'll have her hands full with the kids, right, so she'll need my help with you." Daniel nodded slowly at Jack’s comment. "If I'm right and she's not at home, then you'll still be needing me there with you."
Daniel figured that he'd better humour his friend. Jack looked tired, and considering that he had stayed by Daniel's bedside for most of Daniel's illness, it was the least he could do. Most of his memories of waking up during the past few days were of seeing his teammates sitting by his side. He couldn't understand why he didn't remember Shau're sitting there, because he knew he had seen her, heard her voice just before waking. He must have been waking up just as she would leave to go rest. "Okay, I'd like to go home, Jack."
Jack nodded his agreement. "Your place it is."
- - - - - -
Shau're and the children had been visiting her father on Abydos while Daniel was working at an archeological dig offworld. He had been gone several weeks and she had been lonely, so she had taken a few days off to spend with her father. It was upon her return that she had learned that Daniel had been abducted by an Unas, but had been returned home safely. She had given General Hammond a piece of her mind for having forgotten to send someone to inform Shau're while this had been happening. It had been several months before the General had been invited to one of Shau're's famous dinners.
- - - - - -
After his talk with Jack, and after two other occasions where both Sam and Teal'c had insisted that Shau're and the kids were a figment of his imagination, Daniel had simply stopped talking about them to his friends. He kept up the pretense that all was fine, he was afraid that if he kept on upsetting his friends, they'd silently whisk him off to see Doctor Mackenzie faster than the Stargate could propel him to Abydos. He didn't want to sabotage any chance of his being released from the infirmary and not be sent home, that was where his family was waiting for him. The possibility of being ordered to see Doctor Mackenzie was motivation enough to keep quiet.
He knew that Shau're was here, he was constantly surrounded by her presence. He silently wondered what had happened to his friends to make them so delusional. So over the next two days, he slowly gained his strength and appetite back, and looked his friends in the eye and answered that he was 'fine' every time they asked how everything was. He had never thought he'd be able to lie so easily to them.
Jack knew that Daniel was lying to them, and he had mentioned this to the Doc, but she had simply said to wait things out. She was satisfied with his progress, and duly released Daniel to Jack's care. On the drive home, Daniel had fallen asleep in Jack's truck within minutes of leaving the mountain complex. Parking his truck in Daniel's apartment building's parking lot, he shook Daniel awake, helped him out of the car, and up into the elevator. Daniel tugged the edges of his jacket closed, he was feeling the cold weather more sharply than usual due to his debilitated condition.
Daniel was anxious to get home, to see Shau're, and hug his children. Having extracted his keys from his pocket, his shaking hands couldn't quite get the key to fit into the lock. Jack gently took the keys from his friend and opened the door. Daniel stepped excitedly into his apartment, and froze. He looked around in dismay. Where were all the plants and flowers, the cushions, the flowing curtains, the rugs, the toys? Everything looked very familiar, but at the same time, he knew that it should have looked differently. He felt a chill run down his back.
He jumped as Jack touched him questioningly on the shoulder. He started walking, unwilling to show Jack that something was wrong. He entered his bedroom, and looked around. It was definitely a man's room, nowhere were there signs of a woman's touch. Actually the whole apartment had the feel of a bachelor's home, decorated mostly with a variety of antiques and relics accumulated from his travels. He turned and walked into the spare room, expecting to see the children’s' twin beds, only to find a sparsely decorated room housing a double bed and simple bureau.
He thought at first that maybe his friends had come by and removed all signs that would have proven that Shau're had lived here, but the more he looked at his home, the more he realized that this was as it had always been. He could see the two apartments in his mind, almost superimposed one on top of the other. Both felt right.
He returned to the living room, saw Jack standing by the sofa, watching him carefully. Daniel felt himself start to shiver, he quickly stiffened his body to hide the tremors from Jack.
"Jack, I'm a little tired. Do you mind if I go lie down?"
"You okay?" Jack hadn't missed the look of shock on Daniel's face when he had entered his home. As he had watched his friend wander around the rooms, Jack knew he had obviously been expecting to see something else. He also knew that Daniel was deliberately hiding his reactions from him.
"Yeah, just tired. Make yourself at home", he mumbled. He walked into the bedroom, and shut the door. Kicking off his shoes, he burrowed under the covers without bothering to remove his jacket. He lay there shivering, knowing his fever had returned. After several minutes, he fell asleep.
- - - - - -
Shau're accompanied Daniel to his mentor's funeral in Chicago. There she met two of Daniel's old colleagues and friends. One had been very rude to her husband, the other had been too possessive for Shau're's liking.
When Daniel had discovered that one of the two might have been taken over by a symbiote, Shau're was ordered to remain at the SGC while Daniel, Janet and Sam followed him to Egypt. Shau're was disappointed, not only did they not trust her to help, they were going to the land where her ancestors came from. Daniel had promised to take her to Egypt one day, but he had explained to her that he wished to do so under better circumstances. She hadn't been quite mollified, but she did accede to his wishes.
Her husband returned home to her several days later, suffering from injuries again sustained by a ribbon device. At least Daniel's colleague, Steven Rayner, had survived his attack by the Goa'uld Osiris.
- - - - - -
Jack entered Daniel's bedroom a few hours later to check up on him, and sat down on the bed beside his sleeping friend. Seeing Daniel's flushed face, he reached out and felt his forehead. "Ah shit," he said quietly to himself. He walked out to the bathroom and found a thermometer.
Waking Daniel, he took his temperature, then offered him some water along with two of the pills that Janet had prescribed in case his fever returned. He frowned at seeing Daniel still bundled in his jacket under the covers. He helped Daniel remove his clothes and put on his sweats. He settled his friend in his bed again and found Daniel's cordless phone.
"Doc, he's got a fever," he informed Janet when she answered.
"It's barely 101, but I think he started feeling sick nearly as soon as he came in. He was definitely expecting to see Shau're and the kids. I think he's realized now that she's gone. I gave him a couple of those pills you prescribed." He wandered back into Daniel's bedroom as he finished speaking to Janet.
"Okay, keep an eye on his fever, if it gets any higher, bring him back in. Are you okay alone with him? Do you want me to come over tonight?"
"Naw, I'm fine. I'll keep in touch." He disconnected the phone, and looked down to see Daniel lying on his back, watching him.
"You okay?" Jack asked.
Daniel shook his head no. After a pause, he said, "I don't understand what's happening, Jack. I know I'm awake now, and I know that Shau’re isn’t here. She’s a dream, isn’t she?" He closed his eyes in response to Jack’s nod. He couldn’t believe that Jack was right. And was that concern he'd just seen in Jack’s eyes as he answered Daniel's question? In a low voice, Daniel continued. "The dreams feel more real than what I'm experiencing here and now, Jack. Sometimes I feel that at this moment, right now, this is the dream, and I'm really truly alive only when I dream of Shau're."
Jack sat down on the bed beside Daniel. "You've been dreaming of her since we came back from Ravanna?"
"I don't know, everything's so confused. God, Jack, I miss her so much." His voice was thick with emotion.
Jack reached over and grabbed Daniel by the shoulders, bringing him up against him in a hug. Daniel reached over and held onto Jack, swallowing convulsively to keep his emotions in check. Oh, he had also missed this, missed Jack's comforting presence so much.
When Daniel could speak around the lump in his throat, he said, "Jack, I think something's wrong with me."
Jack pulled back and gave Daniel a startled look.
"I think I'm starting to go mad," Daniel said against Jack’s shoulder. He squeezed Daniel lightly. "I know now that Shau're's not here, deep down inside I know you were right, that she's dead." He took a deep breath. "But every time I go to sleep, I can see her, talk with her, feel her." He pulled back slightly to look at Jack. "I feel like I'm being forced to choose between the dreams and waking. I don't know what to do."
"Daniel, there's no choice to be made. The virus that infected you caused the dreams, they're not real. You have a life here, with the SGC, not in some Tok'ra dream world." Jack remembered belatedly that for the past year or so, Daniel's life hadn't been that great, thanks to yours truly. He stroked Daniel's back with his hand, feeling the heat of his fever through Daniel's clothes.
Daniel shook his head against Jack's shoulder. "I wish the dreams would just stop, and at the same time I wish they would keep on going and I wouldn't wake up. I just wish things would be normal again. I wake up thinking she's here, and the longer I stay awake, the less real she becomes. Then I sleep again and she's there. I can't go on like this."
"Danny, Janet says that the virus has to run its course. You're much better now than you were, you just said that the dreams start to fade when you're awake. It's just going to take a little time, is all."
Daniel was quiet for a few moments, then he said softly, "I don't think I can take this much longer without going crazy. Jack, it's so hard."
Jack could feel Daniel slowly begin to relax against
him, and before he knew it, Daniel had fallen asleep in Jack's arms.
Jack carefully lowered Daniel to the bed and brought the covers up over
his friend. Daniel curled himself up into a ball with only the top of
his head showing above the covers. As Jack got up, Daniel lifted his
face slightly and whispered, "don't go." Jack sat down again beside
Daniel, and gently stroked Daniel's hair until he was sure his friend
was deeply asleep.
- - - - - -
Shau're accompanied her husband to her home world. She was happy to see her father, perplexed as to his summons. A wind had blown out of an active stargate, and had called her name. They were approaching the place where her father had seen and heard the event.
The sandstorm had started up suddenly, and they all clearly heard her named called out again. She took a step forward, Daniel keeping hold of her arm. She called out "I am Shau're. Who calls?"
A young boy stepped out of the storm, and said, "I am Shifu. I am Harcecis."
- - - - - -
A noise woke Daniel, he lay in bed trying to identify it, taking a few seconds to bring himself out of his dream world and into reality. After a moment, he heard voices, and realized the sound of his doorbell was what had woken him up. He turned onto his side, squinted at the clock. It was just past suppertime. He closed his eyes and tried to listen to the voices through the half-open bedroom door, thought he heard Teal'c's deep rumble. He heard soft footsteps approach his door, and a rustling as someone approached his bed. The mattress dipped slightly as a weight settled on it, and he felt a hand run lightly through his hair. Ahhh, Sam.
Eyes still closed, he raised a hand and gently grabbed hers, bringing their hands down and tucking both of them under his chin against his chest. He felt her hand squeeze his, and he squeezed back. He said softly, "Hey, Sam."
Sam hadn't realized that Daniel was awake until he reached for her hand. She thought then that he might have mistaken her for Shau're, until he heard him greet her. "Hi Daniel", she answered softly. "The Colonel told us you weren't feeling too well." She felt more than saw him nod. "Can I get you anything?" Felt him shake his head. She glanced up towards Teal'c and Jack, who were standing in the doorway. After a few moments, the grip on her hand slackened, and she knew he'd fallen asleep once again. She gently removed her hand from his, gave his forehead a last gentle stroke, and got up and they went into the living room.
"He's still feverish," she informed the Colonel.
"I gave him the Doc’s pills a few hours ago, they don't seem to have done much good."
"Should we not return him to the infirmary if he is ill?" Teal'c asked.
"No, Janet said as long as his fever didn't get any worse, he was okay here. If he doesn't eat in a while, though, then I think we might have to bring him back."
"Is he still dreaming about Shau're?" Sam asked.
"I think so. He was a little shocked when he walked in here this afternoon. I think that the apartment didn't quite match the one from his dreams. He's aware now that he's dreaming of her, but it's like he can't escape the dreams. It doesn't help that he can't seem to stay awake more than fifteen minutes at a time."
- - - - - -
Shifu was speaking to Daniel. "Dreams teach."
"Sometimes. In this one, I get to be with your mother once again, to have the children I never had the chance to father."
"Oma teaches the true nature of a man is decided in the battle between his conscious mind and the desires of the subconscious. Oma teaches the evil of my subconscious is too strong to resist and the only way to win is to deny it battle."
"Yeah, see the thing is, we can't deny the battle against the Goa'uld forever. The information contained within your buried memories could really help us."
"You have chosen a path that leads to me because of this?"
"You must release your burden before you can find your own way again."
- - - - - -
Daniel woke up, sweating heavily. He realized that his fever had broken. Shifu's words kept flowing through his mind. 'Dreams teach…You must release your burden before you can find your own way again.' He tried remembering his life before he'd begun dreaming of Shau're. Somehow with the fever gone, his memory was clearer. He realized that he had changed a lot in the past year. That he had become harder, less naïve. And with that change, Jack had pulled away from him, or was it he that had pulled away from Jack. His friend had now become simply an acquaintance, they only saw one another during meetings or missions. That Jack had remained with him throughout his illness baffled him, he had thought that Jack didn't care much about him anymore.
He turned onto his side, and felt himself get sleepy again. 'Dreams teach.' Had Shau're been trying to teach him this? He suddenly realized that in this last dream, he had acknowledged Shifu as Shau're's child, not Willema's. He had suddenly taken control of the dream.
He realized also that he didn't want to be this hard-core person he had become. That person had closed himself off from feeling things, had become a soldier that cared less about what he did to others. He had become similar to Jack, except that Jack had still managed to keep his caring side apart from that of the soldier. Daniel thought that he himself hadn't quite been able to separate the two, and that he was trying not to feel in order to keep the pain of his actions at bay. Feeling the pain of losing Shau're again brought the realization to him that although it hurt terribly, he would rather have the love of his family than be the soldier he thought that Jack had wanted him to be. His family, who were here in his house. He could hear their voices coming from the other room, but he was too tired to try and concentrate on the words. The sounds of their voices lulled him into a half waking, half-sleeping state. He became aware of Shau're standing by his bed, Rista in her arms, Jonny by her side.
"You're leaving, aren't you?" he asked.
She nodded. "Yes, you have made your choice. We have come to say farewell, my Daniel." She leaned over the bed and kissed him gently on the lips, then turned around and walked out of the door, leading Jonny by the hand. Daniel sat up, ready to go after them, but upon sitting up, woke himself up. He looked around, decided he didn't want to be alone anymore. He got out of bed and shuffled out of the room and joined his friends.
They silently made room for him on the sofa, and he sat down between Sam and Jack. Daniel didn't say a word to them, he just wanted to be with his other family. The effort of sitting up quickly exhausted him, and he found himself leaning heavily against Sam. She gently pushed him down, easing his head onto her lap. Jack swung Daniel's legs up and placed his stockinged feet onto his own lap. Someone, probably, Teal'c, covered him with a blanket. He felt a touch on his arm, and opening his eyes, saw Teal'c sitting on the floor, by Sam's feet. He'd placed his hand on Daniel's arm in silent comfort. Daniel lay there comfortably with his friends, well bundled up in the blanket, and he felt like he'd finally come home to his family. He felt at peace for the first time in many, many months.
Sam realized that Daniel's clothing was damp, and asked Teal'c to get the thermometer. It showed that his temperature was normal. She could tell that Daniel wasn't sleeping, but was simply dozing, content to be with them. She realized that she'd missed this, the silent comradeship between the four of them.
- - - - - -
His bladder eventually insisted that he get up, and he reluctantly left his warm cocoon and made his way to the bathroom. When he came out, Jack asked, "you hungry?" Thinking about it, he thought he could do with a bit of food. He nodded, then said, "I'd like to take a quick shower first." He felt grungy after sweating off his fever.
"You do that, I'll have something ready for you when you come out."
True to his word, as Daniel made his way unsteadily to the kitchen, Jack placed before him toast and some scrambled eggs, accompanied by a cup of weak tea. They all sat around the table, keeping him company. Daniel managed to eat most of his meal, and Jack helped him back into bed. As he lay there dozing, he heard Sam and Teal'c eventually leave, and he fell asleep as Jack was getting ready for bed.
- - - - - -
Daniel woke up the next morning to the smell of coffee. Yawning, he sat up, rubbing his eyes. Jack, hearing Daniel stirring in the bedroom, poured him a cup of coffee and entered the room. Accepting the coffee in one hand, Daniel took a sip as he reached over for his glasses. His memory had become crystal clear.
He realized he'd slept the whole night without dreaming. He soon got up and made his way into his kitchen, where Jack set to making them breakfast. Sipping his coffee, he watched Jack make blueberry pancakes.
"These are great," Daniel exclaimed, taking a bite of the pancake, dripping with syrup.
"I know, I used to make them for Charlie. I haven't made any since…you know."
Daniel put his fork down, looked at Jack, dismayed. "I'm sorry, I…"
"Hey, it's okay. I wanted to see if I still remembered how to make 'em. Eat up, they're getting cold." Jack took a bite of his own pancakes. "Yup, haven't lost the touch."
"Jack, I think she's gone." Jack looked at Daniel questioningly. "She came to say goodbye last night. The memories are starting to fade, they're not quite so vivid now. I didn't dream of her after that, I guess the virus finally left my system, it can't keep up the pretense now of being Shau're."
"Do you remember what happened? How you got infected?"
"Yeah, I think it must have been with my struggle with Sarah and Yu." At Jack’s confused expression, he said, "I’ll explain later". He finished the last bite, pushed his plate away. "Jack, this past year, I think, maybe, I chose the wrong path."
"Remember Shifu? He told me that I should choose a new path, to stop looking for him. When I saw that he didn’t need me, I looked for another reason to substantiate my remaining with SG1. So I tried to become a soldier. I guess because that’s what I thought you always wanted me to be. Not a nerdy archeologist who couldn’t even defend himself half the time." Daniel lowered his eyes. "I guess I chose wrong."
Jack saw the pain in his friend’s face. "Danny, I know we haven't been close this past year…I guess in a sense you're right. I saw you grow up lately, become what I thought you needed to be to survive with the SGC. I encouraged it, but when I saw that you didn't need me anymore, I pulled back. I guess you did too. God, how mixed up can the both of us be?"
Looking down at his hands, Daniel said, "Jack, I want to take a break from the SGC. I need to step back, get my perspectives in order again, and reset my priorities. I've turned into a soldier, an automaton, and I don't like it."
Jack pondered Daniel's words. "I think you've matured into someone who I felt didn't need me to look after him anymore. I don't know why I pulled away, because Carter and Teal'c are just as capable of taking care of themselves, and our friendships didn't change any. I think that maybe I felt that you didn't want me around you, because you had gone and done everything right, which meant I wasn't needed anymore as a protector. Isn't that what our relationship has been about all along?"
"God, Jack. I still do need you. Sure I can pull a trigger and shoot someone dead, but I still need to talk to you about the horrors of what I'd just done. This past year, not having someone to talk to, it's been so hard."
"I'm sorry, Daniel, sorry that I haven't been there for you."
"I'm sorry, too. Sorry that I didn't come to you sooner."
"So, we're okay, you and me?"
Daniel smiled, nodded.
"Did you really ask me to be godfather to your son? Even after what we've gone through lately?"
Daniel nodded, and smiled. "Yeah…only the best for my kid, right?"
Jack smiled back. "You said you wanted a change of pace. I was thinking, there's that little archeological dig that Hammond's getting set up on that paradise planet which SG13 discovered. He'll be sending someone out there in a month or two. How about I pull some strings with Hammond, get SG1 assigned there, have you head out the archeological team for a few weeks?"
"Jack, I think I'll need more than a few weeks."
"How about we start with just several weeks. If you need more time, we'll talk about it then. SG1 will either go on downtime or we'll take some vacation time, or rotate back to the planet." Jack could see the light of interest in Daniel's eyes. He realized that Daniel had been doing his job for the past year without the thrill of enjoyment he used to experience.
"We still have a couple of missions lined up in the meantime. Once you're up and about, we can finish those and pass the rest onto the other teams. Sound good?"
Daniel nodded, grinning.
- - - - - -
Jack dumped the mess of fish on top of the small plastic table sitting beside Daniel, who was crouched uncomfortably in a ditch, painstakingly brushing away dirt from the edge of an artifact. "Supper," Jack stated.
Daniel sat up to stretch his back and came face to face with the fish. "Those MREs are starting to look mighty appetizing right about now, Jack. I'm getting tired of eating fish."
"Hey, at least the fish don't taste like chicken," Jack complained, vocalizing one of Daniel's many complaints about the MREs.
Daniel laughed. Jack was glad to see his friend looking healthy and happy again. "Look, I'm going to check in with Hammond, then I'll get supper started. Let the others know, won’t you?"
"Oh, I can't wait," Daniel said sarcastically. Jack responded by smacking Daniel over the head. Daniel grimaced at the slimy fish lying near his head.
Several minutes later, Jack returned, sitting down heavily beside Daniel. Daniel looked up in concern. Jack's face was set, his eyes hard. "What happened?" Daniel asked.
"You know SG7 was supposed to go to Colona instead of us?" Daniel nodded. "They never got to go. The people on that planet just detonated a nuclear bomb. The MALP was active when it happened, the readings were off the scale."
"When did this happen?"
"A few hours ago."
It took Daniel a few seconds to figure it out. "Oh my God, Jack! We most likely would have been on Colona when it happened if I hadn't decided to…"
Jack nodded, and closed his eyes, contemplating how life's choices could change your destiny.
Author's Comments: This story is dedicated to my friend Noelia, who just recently lost her dad.
And thanks to Patricia, Helen, Lina, Moona, Noelia & Claudia, for the "horsie" translation (Spanish, Greek, Italian, Arabic, Portuguese & German), and also for putting up with my whining..."but I don't want the word for pony, I want the word for horsie".And of course, my thanks to Ynette for the screen capture.
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DISCLAIMER:The characters mentioned in this story are the property of Showtime and Gekko Film Corp. The Stargate, SG-I, the Goa'uld and all other characters who have appeared in the series STARGATE SG-1 together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MGM-UA Worldwide Television, Gekko Film Corp, Glassner/Wright Double Secret Productions and Stargate SG-I Prod. Ltd. Partnership. This fanfic is not intended as an infringement upon those rights and solely meant for entertainment. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author.