Angels' Kisses

�Jack!� Daniel yelled frantically, hearing Jack�s voice calling him faintly from somewhere nearby. He took several steps forward before he saw the gaping hole before him. �Oh God, oh God,� Daniel repeated as he threw himself on his stomach, inching his way carefully alongside the opening. He realized now why Jack had suddenly disappeared from view. Daniel ignored the stinging sensations on his abdomen and ribs as his skin roughly collided with sharp pebbles.

�Jack, can you hear me?� Daniel called anxiously as he peered down the shaft. He could see that Jack had landed on a ledge about twenty feet below him, and he was lying with one arm dangling, precariously posed in danger of toppling down into the dark depths of the fissure. Daniel leaned over carefully, trying to see if there were any visible footholds. Unfortunately, the rock surface appeared to be slick.

�Daniel?� Jack�s voice sounded weak and confused. Daniel saw Jack trying to move.

�Don�t move, Jack! Stay still. Do you understand? Don�t move.� Daniel flicked his radio on and began calling for his teammates.

- - - - - -

Jack watched as Carter dipped a cloth into a container of water, squeezing it tightly to remove the excess water. She dabbed the wet fabric over Daniel�s over-heated skin, his friend�s restless movements and mutterings testament to the delirium he was experiencing. His movement was making it difficult for her to hold the cloth on Daniel�s forehead.

Carter patiently readjusted Daniel�s oxygen mask, his thrashing having pushed it askew on his face. He was lying on his side, facing them. Jack�s uninjured hand was tightly clenched in Daniel�s grasp. In Daniel�s confused mind, Jack�s hand was the rope that Daniel had lowered in an attempt to rescue Jack.

Jack had dislocated his shoulder when he�d landed on that small ledge. He remembered hearing Daniel shouting his name, panic in his voice. Jack called out, surprised at how weak his own voice was. He attempted to move and the pain in his shoulder had him gasping for breath. It wasn�t until Daniel�s voice sounded from just above him that Jack had been able to muster the energy to answer his friend once more.

Daniel moaned and called Jack�s name once more, caught up in his desperate search for Jack in his fever-ridden dreams. It was going on three days now since they�d returned to the SGC, and Daniel�s condition had grown inexorably worse.

�I�m here, Daniel. It�s all right. We�re safe now,� Jack whispered softly to his friend. Daniel tossed restlessly, his body unable to fight the poisons coursing through him. At first Daniel had responded to Jack�s voice. He�d calm down and rest quietly for a time. But for the past several hours, his fever had risen until he didn�t recognize any of his friends.

Jack sat helplessly by his side, unable to do anything but hold his hand. Carter rubbed tiredly at her face. She was pale and drawn, and was probably as exhausted as was Jack. Daniel cried out once more, his hand squeezing Jack�s regardless of the pain it must have caused him.

- - - - - -

Daniel lowered the rope and instructed Jack to loop it around his waist. The ledge looked ready to crumble and Daniel didn�t want to wait the hour it would take Sam and Teal�c to reach them without taking precautions. When he saw that Jack had gotten the rope into position, he backed up and headed for a nearby tree, ready to tie it off. He had only taken a few steps when he heard Jack cry and felt the rope begin to slide out of his hands. He managed to wrap a loop around his hands before the rope grew taut. Bracing himself, he let himself fall backwards, holding Jack�s weight with all his strength.

�Jack, are you all right?� he managed to gasp as he dug his feet in for purchase. Jack was a dead weight at the end of the rope; he couldn�t feel the slightest movement. He tried to push himself backwards, but couldn�t get enough leverage. His foot slipped and then he was almost drawn forward. Daniel concentrated on staying where he was, gritting his teeth against the pain around his hands.

�Jack!� he yelled out. Oh God, why wasn�t he answering? �Jack, please. Answer me.�

It mustn�t have been more than a few minutes later before Jack called up to say that he was all right. But to Daniel it had felt like an eternity. Relief coursed through Daniel as he heard his friend�s shaky voice.

Agony lanced up Daniel�s hands and arms as Jack tried to find footholds on the slick rock surface. He was ready to call out to Jack and beg him to stop moving, when Jack must have found something to hold onto. The pressure slackened slightly, only to jar him painfully when Jack slipped. Daniel cried out in pain, the sound mixing with the curses erupting from the shaft.

- - - - - -

�Don�t move� Jack, don�t move. Please. Jack.� Daniel�s muffled pleas were painful for Jack to listen to. Jack hadn�t realized at first that Daniel was the only thing that had kept him from plunging down the bottomless hole. The ledge had broken apart underneath him, and he had banged his head painfully against the side of the shaft when the rope had tightened painfully around his chest. He�d seen the rope burns on Daniel�s hands later when Carter and Teal�c had finally pulled him out. Daniel had simply said that he was fine, and had proceeded on applying antibiotic ointment on his injuries while his teammates had taken care of Jack�s dislocated shoulder and mild concussion.

If only they had known then. If only Daniel had said something at the time. Damn the man, why hadn�t he mentioned that he was ill.

A hand on Jack�s shoulder startled him. He looked up and saw Teal�c offering him a fresh cup of coffee. He took it carefully with his injured arm, not wanting to loosen Daniel�s hold on his other hand. Coffee. It and painkillers were the only thing that were keeping him going. Teal�c was just as tired as he and Carter were, but Junior was giving the Jaffa an unfair advantage.

He sipped the strong, bitter brew, grimacing as it burned its way down his churning stomach. Teal�c took over from Carter; gently wetting Daniel�s fevered body in the hopes of lowering his temperature. Jack sent her off to get some rest. They had waived off the nurses from the first, wanting to do as much as they could for their friend. They all hated sitting around helplessly when one of their team was incapacitated; and would often try the hands-on approach, if only to make themselves feel like they were helping.

Daniel tried to turn onto his back, his free hand grasping at his oxygen mask. Teal�c reached over and gently grasped Daniel�s wayward hand, careful of the Pulse Oximeter that was attached to Daniel�s index finger.

Daniel coughed, and Jack met Carter�s worried eyes. Daniel�s breathing had been more laboured, his cries more breathless. Fraiser had muttered something earlier about blood gases, and Jack was afraid that whatever this was, it was getting worse.

- - - - - -

Daniel pushed back with his feet, trying to shove himself away from the hole. He gained several inches before his butt got painfully stuck on some rocks. His arms were shaking already from the strain of holding all of Jack�s weight. He tried to shift his body sideways in order to pass over the immoveable rocks, and nearly overbalanced in the process. Chest heaving, Daniel managed to right himself without losing his hold on the rope.

He closed his eyes in frustration, knowing that he still had a long way to go before he could pull Jack up. Grunting, Daniel pushed mightily and got over the rock, feeling the sting of a scrape begin to burn beneath his BDUs. His back and shoulders were beginning to ache. Daniel ignored all of his discomfort and pushed again. Great, he managed to gain all of three inches. Ignoring the sweat dripping into his eyes, Daniel pushed again.

- - - - - -

Jack recalled the helplessness he�d experienced as he dangled in the shaft. He hadn�t even been able to attempt to climb up the rope due to his injured shoulder. Eventually he saw that he was being pulled up, albeit very slowly. His slightly muddled mind had impatiently berated Daniel for being so slow in rescuing him. Jack flushed at the memory of his jeers, telling Daniel to get a move on. Daniel�s tense voice had called out to him to �hold on�. Damn, Jack should have been trying to claw for footholds and handholds and attempt to relieve some of the pressure from Daniel. Instead he had just hung there uselessly.

Sure, Fraiser had diagnosed Jack with a slight concussion, but damnit, he should have tried to help. Actually, Daniel had somehow managed to pull Jack most of the way out of the shaft by the time Teal�c and Carter had arrived. He was only five feet from the opening. Another few more minutes and Daniel would probably have gotten Jack out.

He remembered Daniel�s shocked countenance when Jack had jokingly asked him, �What took you so long?� Daniel had apparently taken it to heart and before Jack could say something to him, Sam had done something to his shoulder and all thoughts of apologizing fled his mind from the agony it has caused.

A gasp from the bed brought Jack out of his reverie. Daniel�s chest appeared to be labouring, and the beeping of the heart monitor suddenly sped up. As Teal�c stretched to press the call button for aid, alarms went off from several of the machines around them. Daniel�s hand, which had maintained a tight hold on Jack�s the whole time Jack had been there, suddenly went lax. His eyes rolled up into his head as he continued to gasp for air.

Medical personnel appeared, swarming around Daniel. Jack pushed himself out of their way, watching with dread as they began intubating his friend. Jack wanted to turn away from the sight, but somehow couldn�t bring himself to. Teal�c made his way around the bed, coming to stand beside Jack.

- - - - - -

The pain in his hands began to compete with a strange burning on his upper abdomen. At first he thought it was simply the sweat dripping along a cut or scratch, but soon the pain began to grow. Daniel ignored it as he did the pain in his back, arms and hands. He could see he was making progress, inch by slow inch. He pushed back once more, and was suddenly confused when his back came into contact with something hard and unyielding.

He turned his head with difficulty, hissing as the movement strained his shoulders. It was with frustration when Daniel realized he had backed up straight into a tree. It was now blocking his way, and Daniel needed to try and move sideways in order to continue his rescue.

Taking a deep breath, he pushed off to the right. He had been feeling strangely weak, and his head was starting to pound. Daniel stopped a moment, taking the opportunity to lean against the tree and remove some of the strain from his back. His vision swam alarming and for a moment he thought he was going to pass out.

Jack�s voice calling asking why he�d stopped reminded Daniel that his friend was depending on him. Gritting his teeth, he pushed off with his feet once more.

- - - - - -

Watching Fraiser examine Daniel, Jack was reminded of their return three days ago. Fraiser had rushed to Jack�s side, his injuries being quite obvious. It was only when Daniel had curled up on the bed beside him, shivering uncontrollably, that Jack realized something was wrong.

Daniel hadn�t said a word on their long walk back to the Stargate. Both Teal�c and Carter had been hovering over Jack, and in hindsight, Jack now realized that Daniel had been uncommonly quiet. Jack had attributed it to fatigue and possibly the pain of his rope-burned hands, but in actuality Daniel had been suffering the effects from a poisonous insect�s bite or sting.

A quick examination showed that Daniel was running a high fever. By the time Jack�s injuries had been dealt with by Dr. Warner, Daniel had been settled in a bed. IV�s were providing hydration, medication and analgesics. Daniel was huddled in a ball, his freshly bandaged hands tucked against his chest.

As Jack had approached the bed, he had noted that Daniel now truly appeared to be ill. His hair had been damp and stringy, his face pale and damp with sweat. Carter sat beside him, gently dabbing his face with a cloth.

Daniel�s eyes had been closed, but he�d opened them when Jack had addressed Carter. Jack had pulled up a chair and had sat down beside Carter, reaching over and dragging one of Daniel�s hands into his, careful of the bandages and IV. Daniel had grasped Jack�s fingers, and from that moment on, he had been reluctant to let go of Jack.

- - - - - -

All that Daniel could do at the moment was to try and maintain what little ground he�d gained, and breathe. Nausea assailed him, sending waves of heat throughout his body, and cold sweat dripping out of his pores. He no longer felt his hands as they were one giant mass of hurt, and the pain in his back, shoulders and arms had merged into a red hot iron which spread up into his neck. His head was pounding, and his eyesight blurred before him. He breathed in quick gasps, unable to alleviate the pain or nausea. The tension of his feet braced against the ground before him caused the muscles in his legs to tremble, leaving him weak and unsteady.

He was tired. Why was he feeling so tired and sick? It couldn�t have been that long since he�d radioed Sam and Teal�c, could it? They were trying to contact him on a regular basis, but Daniel couldn�t free a hand to activate the radio and send a message back. All sense of time had escaped him, and he felt like he was stuck in a nightmare of pain and despair. Jack�s life was literally in Daniel�s hands; and Daniel couldn�t muster the strength to pull him to safety.

He tried to push off once more, but the attempt was too much on his body and he heaved dryly. Moaning, he froze and swallowed down the threatening bile. Breathing heavily through his mouth, he concentrated on settling his roiling stomach.

A cough from Jack�s direction brought his attention back to his friend�s predicament. �Hold on, Jack,� Daniel shouted softly as he clenched his jaw and began backing up once more.

Suddenly the soil around the edge of the hole gave way, and the ensuing movement startled Daniel, causing him to lose his grip. The rope slid through his fingers, burning his skin as he fumbled for a grip. A low moan ensued, and Daniel realized the jolt had aggravated Jack�s injuries.

�Oh god, I�m sorry Jack,� Daniel whispered to himself. �I can�t do it, I can�t get you out.� Unwilling to give up, Daniel concentrated on staying still, waiting patiently for rescue.

- - - - - -

Jack returned to Daniel�s side once Fraiser signalled her permission. The hiss of the ventilator now accompanied the myriad beeps and hums of the other machinery surrounding Daniel. Jack thought that seeing him lying there still and limp was worse than confused and restless.

When Daniel began to stir, Jack spoke quietly to him, making sure he knew that he wasn�t alone. Daniel opened his eyes, but Jack could tell that he still wasn�t cognizant of anyone around him. Daniel moved around fitfully, his fingers clenching spasmodically on the bedcovers on either side of him.

Jack closed his eyes wearily. He felt nearly as helpless now as he had when he�d been hanging painfully from a rope in a bottomless pit. His life had then been in Daniel�s hands, now Daniel�s was in God�s hands. Modern medicine could only do so much with regard to alien venom.

�I�m sorry, Daniel. I�m sorry that I can�t help you,� Jack whispered to his friend.

- - - - - -

�I�m sorry, Jack. I�m sorry I can�t help you. Please, please be all right.� Daniel repeated the litany under his breath, fighting the nausea and the increasing weakness that was spreading throughout his body.

Shouts and the sudden release of pressure around his hands had him throwing himself forward, searching frantically for the rope he�d thought had slipped through his fingers. Seeing the rope still wrapped around his hands, Daniel then thought that Jack had slipped through the loop. Daniel looked up with dread, following the line of rope to the gap in the ground. To his surprise, Jack was being helped to a sitting position not too far from Daniel; Teal�c and Sam had finally arrived.

Sam glanced over at Daniel, calling out if he was okay. He nodded as he carefully pushed himself to a sitting position, wary of his over-taxed muscles. He managed to stand up on the first try, and as he walked over to his friends, Jack looked up at him and asked, �What took you so long?�

Daniel stopped in shock. Before he could answer, he heard Jack shout in pain as his shoulder was manoeuvred back into its proper position. Daniel felt responsible for Jack�s pain. He�d taken too long; had he gotten Jack out right away, they might have been in the infirmary right now, with Jack having his shoulder taken care of with proper pain-numbing medications, not out in the field with basic first aid.

Not wanting his comrades to take their attention away from Jack, Daniel fumbled through the first aid kit and began to smear antibiotic ointment on his scrapes and rope burns. He carelessly wrapped his hands in bandages, thinking that the faster he tended his wounds, the more quickly they�d get Jack back to the infirmary.

He assured his teammates that he was fine, and waved his bandaged hands at Sam to show that there was no need for her to look him over.

Daniel got up slowly, staggering openly until he was able to lean against a tree. He glanced at his friends, thankful they hadn�t seen his missteps. With Teal�c helping Jack along, they made their slow way back to the Stargate. Daniel walked behind them, shivering as the breeze passed through his sweat-laden clothes and cooled off his fevered body. He stared at his bandaged hands. He hadn�t been able to pull Jack out of the hole. He felt like a failure. �I�m sorry, Jack,� Daniel whispered to his friend�s back.

- - - - - -

�There�s nothing more I can do for him,� Janet Fraiser announced to the people gathered around Daniel�s bedside. �Daniel hasn�t slept or rested in nearly three days. Short of sedating him further which I am loathe to try due to the unknown effects this might have with the venom, I�m at my wit�s end. He�s growing weaker. He needs to sleep let his body rest in order to fight the fever and poison.�

Carter stared at Daniel, her arms wrapped around her waist. Teal�c stood beside her, giving moral support. Jack could see the muscles bunching in Teal�c�s jaw as he held in his emotions.

�Isn�t there something else you can give him? Antibiotics? Snakebite antivenom?� Jack thought that Fraiser was giving up too easily, there had to be something else she could try.

Daniel, who was lying relatively still, became restless once more at the sound of Jack�s voice.

�It doesn�t work that way, Colonel. I�ve tried everything I could, and more.� She looked at all three of them a moment, before continuing. �Colonel, I hate to ask this of you, but I�d like you all to leave Daniel�s bedside for a few hours.�

The sounds of their combined objections caused Daniel to toss on the bed.

�That�s the reason why,� she exclaimed. �He�s reacting to your presence. Normally having loved ones around is beneficial to a patient, but in Daniel�s case, for some reason it�s causing him to become agitated. He�s fighting the sedative. I�m sorry, I should have done this sooner. I�d like you all to stay away for at least six hours. After that, it�ll be dependent on how Daniel is faring.�

Jack swallowed the retort as he thought about Fraiser�s words. Daniel had been very restless, and nothing they did seemed to be able to calm him enough to permit him to sleep. With a heavy heart, Jack agreed to the doctor�s orders.

Jack made his way to the door, his body stiff and unused to the activity. He�d been sitting in the chair by Daniel�s bed for most of those past days. Once outside Fraiser�s domain, Jack leaned weakly against the wall. He thought about trying to sleep, but knew that although he craved the rest, there was something more important that he needed to do. He raised a hand to his aching shoulder. He was lucky that Fraiser hadn�t ordered him to get some rest. Actually, if she hadn�t been so exhausted herself, she probably would have.

Teal�c caught up to Jack in the locker room. A hot shower had helped make him feel nearly human again. As Jack picked up his keys, Teal�c frowned.

�O�Neill, it would not be wise for you to drive a vehicle at the moment. Did not DoctorFraiser prohibit this action?�

Tossing the keys to Teal�c, Jack said, �You�ve just been elected my designated driver. Come on, I�ll give you directions.�

- - - - - -

Suddenly the soil around the edge of the hole gave way, and the ensuing movement startled Daniel, causing him to lose his grip. The rope slid through his fingers, burning his skin as he fumbled for a handhold. A low moan ensued, and Daniel realized the jolt had aggravated Jack�s injuries.

�Oh god, I�m sorry Jack,� Daniel whispered to himself. �I can�t do it, I can�t get you out.�

The nightmare continued in a timeless loop, Daniel fumbling for the rope, knowing that Jack was seconds away from plummeting to his death.

�Oh god, I�m sorry Jack.�

- - - - - -

Teal�c pulled up and parked before the immense cathedral. Exiting Jack�s Avalanche, he looked up, admiring the architecture. He thought that these Tau�ri had managed to build impressive things in their short lifetime.

He watched O�Neill look at the building with trepidation. Teal�c kept an eye on his commanding officer, knowing that his injuries still pained him and that he had also been weakened by lack of sleep.

O�Neill appeared to gather himself for battle as he made his way up the steps to the immense doors. Teal�c opened them for his friend, not wishing him to unduly strain his injured shoulder. O�Neill smiled his gratitude as he stepped into the large vestibule.

They walked past many stands which held candles A handful were burning, most were unlit. O�Neill stopped before them. He deposited some money in a locked box before picking up a long stick. Holding a stick to an already burning candle, he used it to light two candles.

�Just offering prayers,� Jack informed Teal�c.

Just before entering the cathedral, O�Neill stopped and turned to Teal�c.

�Take your hat off,� he whispered. Teal�c raised an eyebrow in confusion. His Tau�ri friends had always been adamant that he conceal his tattoo. Why would O�Neill wish him to now expose it to all?

�Is this wise?� Teal�c questioned.

�Teal�c, this is a church,� O�Neill answered, still whispering. �You can�t go in wearing a hat. It�s just not� proper. Taking your hat off is a sign of respect. And keep your voice down.�

O�Neill hesitated at the entryway. His face showed strong emotion, his jaw was clenched tightly.

�Are you unwell,� Teal�c asked in concern.

�I�m fine,� he answered tersely. Then he said somewhat apologetically, �It�s just that I haven�t been inside a church since my son died.�

Stepping forward, O�Neill walked briskly down the wide corridor which was enclosed by a great number of seats on either side. As they made their way towards the front of the building, Teal�c realized why his friend had been whispering. The acoustics inside this building were astonishing. The slightest scuff of a shoe, the rustling of clothes, a cough, a sniffle; the sounds would be carried for all to hear. He looked around curiously. The church appeared to be able to seat quite a number, although it was empty at the moment. Impressive.

As O�Neill shuffled into the confining space midway down the immense building, Teal�c chose to sit in the pew behind him, allowing him privacy. He watched as O�Neill, perched on the edge of the seat and lowered a narrow padded beam which was attached to the seat before him. Kneeling on the beam, O�Neill clasped his hands together and lowered his head.

Teal�c looked around, admiring the altar, stained glass windows, icons and statues. He could smell a faint aroma of incense and candlewax. When he�d finished his inspection, he noticed that O�Neill�s shoulders were slumped, his body weighing heavily on arms, which were leaning on the back of the pew before him.

- - - - - -

Damn, he knew that it would be a mistake coming here. The sounds and smells brought back so many memories, the feeling of doom and desperation almost as palpable now as it had been when he�d entered the hospital chapel to pray for Charlie�s life.

After his son�s death, Jack had turned away from the Church. Although he himself and seen and done many things in his lifetime that he had trouble accepting or dealing with, they had never affected his belief in God. But the accidental death of his son had been the turning point. How could some greater being who was supposed to love all of mankind allow a young child to be taken from his family in such a horrible fashion?

Jack leaned his forehead on his clasped hands. He so did not want to be here. He was tired, his legs were shaking, his shoulder and head throbbing. Taking a deep breath, he tried to clear his mind and began to silently recite a prayer.

Halfway through, he forgot the next phrase. He began again, and his tired mind once again went blank. He ground his forehead on the back of his hands, thinking that this was all for naught. Daniel wasn�t going to get better. He was going to die, just like Charlie.

Jack knelt there despondently, aware that someone had begun to play the organ. The music began softly, slowly swelling in volume and sweetness. Jack allowed the melody to sweep him up and carry him along. He thought of nothing else but the beautiful, haunting piece of music. A smile creased his face, and his aches and pains disappeared.

As the piece came to an end, Jack felt a light, damp touch on his cheek, and heard Charlie�s faint voice carried on the last notes. �Dad, don�t worry. Daniel will be okay. I love you, Dad!�

Jack raised his head, blinking in the dim light. He looked over at the pipe organ, and to his surprise he saw that there was nobody sitting before the instrument. He thought for a moment that he had fallen asleep and had dreamed while kneeling uncomfortably, but the last notes still rang in his ears.

Jack stiffly pushed himself up and back until he was sitting on the hard wooden pew. A hand touched his shoulder, and Teal�c�s soft voice whispered in his ear.

�Are you well, O�Neill?�

Jack turned around and saw Teal�c�s worried face. �I�m fine. Teal�c, did you see who was playing the organ?� He pointed towards the large musical instrument with his eyes.

�No one has been there, O�Neill. What is this organ?�

�It�s a musical instrument. You mean you didn�t hear the music?� Teal�c�s raised eyebrows were answer enough. Yup, Jack must have fallen asleep and dreamed of Charlie.�

�Come on, let�s get back,� Jack suggested as he forced his stiff body up.

- - - - - -

�Oh god, I�m sorry Jack,� Daniel whispered to himself. �I can�t do it, I can�t get you out.�

Daniel felt cool fingers gently touch his own, and the rope that he desperately clutched was unwound from around his hands. Soft, haunting music from a pipe organ surrounded him. He felt the touch repeated briefly on his forehead, and on his burning abdomen. As the pain began to fade, so did his anxiety over Jack. He remembered that Teal�c and Sam had pulled Jack up from that pit. Jack was safe. Daniel could rest now. He felt the hands pull him back until he was lying down. A voice which sounded vaguely familiar whispered in his ear, �Everything�s been taken care of. Jack�s fine. Go to sleep, Danny.� He felt a touch of lips on his brow, and a faint perfume tickled his nostrils, bringing back memories of his mother kissing him goodnight. He relaxed and fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.

- - - - - -

Jack had been surprised to find out that he�d been in the church for over three hours. If asked, he would swear it had been for no longer than ten minutes. As Teal�c skillfully manoeuvred Jack�s SUV up the road to the mountain, Jack figured he�d be back an hour earlier than Fraiser�s directions. Maybe he could wheedle his way into the infirmary and sit beside Daniel. He would promise to keep quiet and ensure that he didn�t disturb Daniel�s rest.

As they made their way to the infirmary, Fraiser rushed towards them.

�Thank goodness you�re back, we�ve been trying to get a hold of you,� she exclaimed as she neared them.

Jack�s heart skipped a beat as he realized that he hadn�t brought his cell phone with him when he�d left the mountain earlier that afternoon. He asked worriedly, �What happened?�

Then to his surprise, Fraiser smiled.

�His fever broke an hour ago. He�s sleeping soundly, and all his vitals are improving. It looks like he might beat this thing, Colonel.� Grinning, Jack asked, �Can I see him?�

As Fraiser opened her mouth, he added quickly, �I promise not to wake him.� She nodded, smiling at both Jack and Teal�c.

- - - - - -

The sound of a ticking clock slowly registered in the back of Daniel�s mind. He tried to ignore it, but the unrelenting sound drew him from his sleep. He became aware of hushed voices, muffled metallic clatter, hurried footsteps on linoleum. He took a breath, smelling the distinct antiseptic odour of the infirmary. With the realization of where he was, he understood that the ticking he was hearing was actually the beeping of a heart monitor. If he was in the infirmary, then his team� his friends� Oh god, Jack! Daniel tried to raise his head off the pillow, forcing his heavy eyelids open.

�Shhhh, everything�s all right. Go back to sleep.�

Hearing Jack�s voice, Daniel allowed himself to sink back onto the pillow. Unable to focus and too lazy to try, Daniel closed his eyes again. Feeling tired and sleepy but comfortable, Daniel allowed himself to relax. A hand rubbed his arm gently, and he raised his other hand to clasp it. Soft fingers squeezed his.

�Sam?� he mumbled, recognizing her touch.

�We�re all here, Daniel. Welcome back,� Daniel heard Sam say.

�Indeed, DanielJackson. We are relieved to see that you are recovering.�

Daniel smiled to himself, glad that everyone was safe. Recovering? He wondered what had happened to him, but other than feeling very lethargic, he decided that he wasn�t badly injured.

�Mm sleepy,� he announced to all.

�You�ve been sleeping for thirty six hours, Daniel,� Sam said in a low voice. �Janet said you still need to rest. Go back to sleep now before she shoos us out of here.�

Daniel wondered why he�d been asleep for so long. He had felt bandages wrapped around his hands, and his muscles were very stiff and sore. What could he have done to his hands so that they �the rope! Jack!

Daniel opened his eyes, blinking frantically and looking for his friend�s face amidst the blurs surrounding him.

�Jack,� Daniel called anxiously, hoping that the correct blur would answer him.

�I�m here, Daniel.� The sound came from his right, and Daniel turned his head towards it. He was having problems keeping his eyes open. He finally managed to focus on Jack�s smiling face when his eyes closed by themselves, blocking his sight. He forced them open again, trying to see for himself that Jack really was fine. His vision blurred, and he squeezed his eyes shut in frustration.

He felt a callused hand stroke his temple. He opened his eyes again, this time seeing Jack leaning over him. �I�m fine, Daniel. Just rest. You need to sleep and get your strength back.�

�I�m sorry, Jack, I�m sorry. I couldn�t pull you out,� Daniel said plaintively as he remembered his struggle to rescue his friend. Daniel closed his eyes and turned his head away from Jack�s touch. He tried to pull his hand away from Sam�s grip, but she steadfastly held on.

�Danny. Do you know how close you were to getting me out of that hole? Carter estimated that I was in at least 30 feet. When she and Teal�c got there, I was only five feet from the top. You pulled me up 25 feet by yourself.� The gentle touch was back, soothing and calming. Daniel turned his head back towards Jack, and Jack moved his hand to cradle the top of Daniel�s head. His fingers gently massaged his scalp.

�I tried, Jack. I really tried.� This time his eyes stayed open a little longer.

�I know you did. You were sick and� Daniel, why the hell didn�t you say anything?� Jack�s hands stopped their light kneading, tightening slightly a moment before resuming. �How many times do I have to tell you, if you�re not feeling well, you tell us!�

Daniel blushed, realizing that Jack was right. He wasn�t sure why he hadn�t said anything; mostly what he remembered was a feeling of failure, that he didn�t deserve any special treatment.

�O�Neill, you are upsetting him. Did DoctorFraiser not say that he needed to rest?�
�Yeah, you�re right, Teal�c. Daniel, this conversation is not over with.� Although Jack�s words were promising a tongue lashing later, Daniel could hear the camaraderie in his tone.

�Go to sleep, Daniel,� Sam whispered in his ear. He nodded, allowing himself to relax once more. He knew now that he hadn�t let Jack down, regardless of how he�d felt at the time. His family was safe; he could relax and sleep now. With a contented sigh, he listened to the beeping which he had first heard when he�d awoken, allowing it to lull him to sleep.

- - - - - -

Jack handed Daniel a glass of juice, taking note that Daniel appeared a lot stronger and alert this morning than he had in the past few days. Fraiser had discharged him to Jack�s care two days ago, where he had spent most of the time simply eating and sleeping. Today, Daniel had napped for a few hours on the couch, but he�d just woken up and looked more like himself. He finally had some colour in his cheeks, and his hand didn�t shake as he accepted the glass.

Daniel sat up on the couch, pulling the blankets aside to make room for Jack. He punched the pillow into a corner, leaning his elbow back against it and bringing his feet up to rest on the seat. Jack sat down at the other end of the couch, and flicked on the TV, channel surfing as a matter of habit. He sipped his own juice, foregoing beer while Daniel was in his care.

�Do you believe in angels, Jack?� Daniel asked.

Jack frowned and looked at Daniel in confusion. He shook his head slightly, showing his puzzlement.

Daniel stared down at his glass, palming it between his fingers. �When I was sick, I dreamed that my mom came to me. She told me that you were okay, and that I should go to sleep. I had been having horrible nightmares� of you falling down that hole; that I couldn�t help you; that the rope I was hanging onto would slide right out of my hands.�

Daniel took a quick sip of his drink while Jack turned the TV off.

�She felt so real, Jack. I remember her kissing me here,� he said, pointing to his forehead. �I could smell her perfume� I felt like I was a little kid again, being tucked into bed.� His words drifted off as he was obviously recalling the good memories of those few short years as a child when he�d had parents and had been loved unequivocally.

Jack reached over and put his hand on Daniel�s stocking foot which was perched on the couch beside Jack. He squeezed it slightly, getting Daniel�s attention. He cleared his throat when Daniel looked up at him, his eyes brighter than usual with bottled up emotions.

�I kinda think that you wouldn�t have survived the things you did during the past few years without a guardian angel, Danny. And it doesn�t surprise me that it�s your mom.� Daniel ducked his head, frowning slightly before turning his attention back to Jack.

�I had a little visit from Charlie myself while you were sick. He told me not to worry, that you were gonna be all right.� Jack smiled self-consciously. �I think I fell asleep in the church and dreamed it all. There was organ music playing, but nobody was sitting there playing it.�

�Jack, I heard music too. Now that you mention it, I think it was from a pipe organ. I just remember that the melody was so beautiful, so peaceful.� Daniel lifted the glass to his mouth for another sip, and stopped halfway. �Church, Jack? I though you didn�t go to church.�

�Yeah, well, I thought that maybe you needed a bit of extra help.� He quirked an eyebrow at Daniel. �Worked, didn�t it? We each got a visit from our own guardian angels.�

Daniel smiled back at Jack. �Would you take me there? To the church? I�d like to� um� maybe I�d� you know, see if I could remember�her.�

�No problem, Daniel. As soon as you feel strong enough, we�ll go there.� Jack smiled, looking forward to a return trip to the Cathedral. After all, Charlie had been there once. Maybe he�d come visit again.




Author's Comments:
This story is for devra... it was her plot bunny, and I wrote it because she asked.

And DebA, a huge thank you once again for answering all of my pesky questions.


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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.