Coming HomeNote: This was a challenge fic for our dear Ann-Marie
He's coming home.
The words have been playing in my head for the past three hours, ever since we got word of Daniel's whereabouts.
Daniel's coming home.
Those three words bring a bounce to my step which I haven't felt for close to a month. We're all a little over-cheery, actually.
He's coming home.
Carter's smiling and actually laughing as she talks with our guide. I smile indulgently when she glances my way.
Daniel's coming home.
Teal'c's walking silently next to me, but his lips are curled slightly upwards, and his eyes are crinkled in the corners. Oh yeah. He's as ecstatic as I am. I'm just hiding it better.
The town's fairly small; reminds me of an old Western movie as we saunter down the muddy street, which upon closer examination, and smell, contains more than just plain mud.
We're led to a building that seems to be a mixture of saloon, diner and coffee house. It's packed, with the full-bodied aroma of hard-working bodies combined with food and exotic spices. Our guide motions us to take a seat, orders something and walks off. I'm hoping he's gone in search of Daniel.
"Do you see him?" Carter asks anxiously, her gaze jumping over the dozens of people enjoying the offerings of this establishment.
"No." I've been scanning the faces and none of them are familiar. Then again, I realize there's a door leading into yet another room at the far end of this one. Daniel could be in there. I squint, trying to see past the door, wishing I had X-ray vision.
One of the waiters brings over a tray containing five steaming cups. It smells minty, chocolatey and coffee-like, all at once. My mouth waters and I raise the mug to take a sip when Teal'c grabs my arm.
Teal'c's gazing off behind me and I hurriedly put my cup down and turn to look.
"Daniel," Carter breathes as she hurriedly stands. Teal'c and I follow suit, and watch in horror as the man we'd left on a planet hundreds of light years from here, just under a month ago, hobbles slowly towards us.
He looks awful. He's pale and there are dark circles under his eyes. Even wearing the heavy native clothing, I can see that he's lost weight. His hair is oily and stringy and it's obvious he hasn't seen a bath or shower in a few days. Or weeks, I amend as he gets close enough that I can actually smell him.
The worst part, though, is the way he's walking. Hunched over, one arm protectively hugging his side, the other catching the backs of chairs as he slowly wends his way through the crowded room. Two guys follow him, with our guide trailing behind.
"Hey, guys. Thought I'd never make it here." Daniel smiles and despite his exhaustion and obvious pain and illness, his eyes light up as he takes us all in.
"Daniel, you're hurt?" Carter hurries to pull out an empty chair and I uselessly grab his arm to help support him as he almost falls into the chair.
"Got a piece of shrapnel in my side when the Goa'uld attacked."
P3N 993. A large village; possible allies; and an archaeologist who'd stayed behind in order to assist a few local scientists identify some ancient ruins and help them learn all about their history. Add to that mix a spy from some other planet with a grudge who'd warned the Goa'uld that SG-1 had been playing in their territory. Long story short; the Goa'uld attacked, Daniel led an evacuation through the Stargate, and that was the last he'd been seen or heard from.
"Wound got infected; I was out for a few weeks, apparently. Not that I remember much until maybe eight or nine days ago." His words are breathy, and I can't help wonder how he's going to make the two-hour trek to the Stargate. I'm already contemplating sending out for a medical team to come get him as he waves to the two men who'd accompanied him.
"This is Zavan and Beryn. They saved my life on..." Daniel frowns and shakes his head. "They pulled me through the Stargate, got me to a village and found medical help. We've been travelling for the past two days, making our way here from the other village."
Daniel eyes the cups on the table and I nod. He picks one up and his hand shakes as he brings it up to his mouth. His eyes close and he inhales deeply. "Sam, I would pay you a fortune if you can find out what they use to make this stuff."
Carter laughs and grabs her own cup. "I'll see what I can do before we leave."
Daniel takes another sip and his eyes roam over Carter, then Teal'c.
"Jack." I realize I'm staring, and I force myself to smile when I see Daniel's focused his gaze on me. "Zavan and Beryn... I told them the SGC would help them rebuild. Would you talk to Hammond and ask him�"
"No. There's no�" Daniel's expression changes immediately, and the illness he's holding at bay is apparent for just a moment as I spy the vulnerability behind the mask he's put on for us. Hurriedly I try to explain. "Hammond's already got some of our people out there helping. Food, medicine, doctors. It'll take them a while to rebuild the town but we've given them a head start."
He closes his eyes, wavering slightly in the chair. "Thank you."
"You have our utmost gratitude," Beryn states. "We have not had contact with our home world since the attack. There are others who have taken refuge on this world as well. Tomorrow we will go and find them and give them the good news."
"You should rest." Zavan puts a hand on Daniel's shoulder, but his gaze is on me. "We have rooms upstairs; if you'd like, I could procure more for you all?"
I shake my head. "Daniel, do I have to call Fraiser and get a team out here to evac you?"
"What?" His eyes fly open and he looks at me, aghast. "No. I can walk. Are we leaving now?" He leans forward, preparing to stand.
Teal'c places a hand on his chest, holding him in place. "There is no immediate need to leave this place. If you are rested, would you be able to walk to the Stargate without assistance?"
"The truth, DanielJackson."
"How far is it?"
"Approximately ninety-minutes from this location." Daniel stares at Teal'c, then lowers his gaze to the table. "I don't know."
"Are there any horse and buggies we can hire?" The memory of all that shit mixed with mud means large animals around. Large, hay-eating animals, from what I can figure.
"Um... yeah, I think so."
I look at our guide, who nods. "I will arrange it." He's out of here in a flash.
Carter places her fingers on Daniel's forearm. "Do you have anything upstairs you need to get before we leave?"
"I shall retrieve it." Zavan hurries out of the room and I watch as he goes towards a set of stairs I hadn't noticed before.
"What about your bill? Anything we need to pay?"
Beryn shook his head. "We purchased the rooms with a few trinkets. Daniel owes us nothing. In truth, we owe him for saving my people and you, for helping rebuild. I don't know how we can repay you."
"You saved Daniel's life. I think that's payment enough."
Our guide sticks his head through the door and waves, and I'm relieved because this conversation was getting sappy enough as it was. Right now, my mind's on getting Daniel's ass back to Fraiser. So, no bills to pay, we got a ride and all we need now is Zavan with Daniel's belongings.
And speak of the devil. Looks like we're good to go. Well, just as soon a Zavan stuffs the large bag of what I think are coffee beans that he's currently purchasing from one of the waiters, into Daniel's pack.
Daniel's coming home.
This is almost embarrassing. Not that lying on a small, open cart is bad enough, but I started off sitting up, leaning against Teal'c and now I'm flat on my back with my head and shoulders on Sam's lap. Jack's watching me like a hawk, and it's making me uncomfortable. Between him and Sam patting my face every five minutes, checking to see if my fever's gone up or not, they're making me a little antsy.
"How much longer?" I ask, trying not to make it sound like a whine. Truth be told, as much as I want Janet to pump me full of painkillers, I'm enjoying the attention. For a while I thought I'd never get back on my feet. Just a few hours' walk from the Stargate and so far away - it took us two days to make the short trek between villages. Travelling this way is so much easier.
"Another few minutes," Jack says.
Despite the bumping and rattling of the cart, I suddenly feel like I could sleep. I actually begin to drift, and start awake when the cart stops moving.
Getting out of the cart is painful, awkward and especially embarrassing when my knees suddenly give out. Teal'c catches me before I land with what would most probably be a hard jolt. His arm squeezes my side, forcing a pained gasp from me and I hang onto his shoulder as the world suddenly dims.
"I'm fine." The words sound weird to my ears, maybe that's because there's a wind blowing between them, in my head. I manage to get my feet working, and smile at the concerned faces of my friends.
"You sure?" Jack's right there, in my face, and I nod. I hurt horribly, I feel like I'm going to puke and my vision is swimming. But, I will be fine.
I'm going home.
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.