Extra Mile

Note: This story first appeared in Yum@'s Fragments zine



"It's only fifty miles out of McMurdo."

That was what Sgt. Davis had said, when he'd discovered the latitude and longitude of the seismic activity that coincided with the Stargate's supposed malfunction. So why was it taking the rescue teams so long to find Jack and Sam?

Daniel leaned his elbows on his knees and rested his throbbing head in his hands. The three Tylenol he'd managed to swallow in the plane's small toilet weren't doing his constant headache any good. If anything, his headache was worse.

He understood it took time to organize a search party and the rugged Antarctic area was difficult to traverse, even in the best of times. He was thankful this mishap had at least occurred during the short period of time travel to McMurdo Station was possible.

It had been days since he and Teal'c had come through the wormhole at �too great a velocity', were he to quote Teal'c. From the moment he'd woken up in the infirmary, his headache had never left him. He'd tried the pills Janet had given him, but they had made his brain too muddled, preventing him from thinking clearly.

So he'd lied to her and said his head was better, his vision wasn't blurred, his appetite was back, and he wasn't dizzy.

Bullshit.

But he'd had to do it in order to keep searching for his friends. And he had. Found them, that is. Or so he hoped.

Hammond and Fraiser were sitting a few seats away, talking quietly. Teal'c was meditating in the seat across the aisle from him. They'd been travelling for nearly twenty four hours. All of them were nervously anticipating finding their missing teammates. If their return to Earth had been anything similar to Daniel and Teal'c's, they would most likely be in serious need of medical help.

The plane was descending rapidly now, and Daniel sat up, holding back a groan as the motion accentuated his headache and nausea. He was exhausted; he'd hardly slept. Between his headache and the nagging worry about his friends, catnaps had been the only rest he'd gotten over the past days.

"Are you not well, DanielJackson?"

"I'm fine, just tired," Daniel lied, glancing over at his friend. He smiled, hoping to alleviate the worry evident in the dark eyes.

As he buckled his seatbelt, an airman rushed to General Hammond and spoke quietly with him. Daniel closed his eyes and gripped the ends of the armrests, willing his stomach to settle. He heard the man's footsteps as he brushed past Daniel to take his own seat, then the general's voice called out.

"Doctor Jackson, Teal'c, the rescue team have found them."

Daniel forced his eyes open and raised his head, waiting expectantly for more news. The general was leaning out of his seat, body turned towards them, a huge grin lighting his face.

"They're alive."

�Oh God, thank you, God', Daniel breathed to himself.

"We'll be transferring to a helicopter the moment we land, gentlemen. We should be with the rescue party in a very short time."

The relief Daniel felt was almost physical, his breath coming in quick gasps as his pulse beat loudly in his temples.

He didn't remember the actual landing itself, only the searing glare of the sun on the snow which drove agonizing pain into his head. He staggered to the waiting helicopter and grimly held his nausea at bay as the sweeping panorama below him lurched sickeningly as they flew over miles of glaciers and snow.

Daniel was aware of Teal'c's scrutiny throughout the choppy flight, but he ignored his friend and pretended to look out the window. They arrived before he knew it, the helicopter descending and actually landing on a strip of flat land which to Daniel's unpracticed eye, didn't look big enough to land on.

The search party's Arctic Cats had been parked nearby, and Daniel could see the hole in the ice where several of the team were chopping away, making it bigger. They climbed up the slippery slope, Daniel extremely grateful for the thick down-filled jacket he'd been given. The frigid air helped ease his nausea, but the activity set his head pounding even more. Adrenaline gave him the strength to make it up the slippery slope, and with his heart beating wildly, he was lowered into its icy depths.

He could see two blanket-covered forms lying in stretchers at the bottom of the cavern. Daniel pushed his discomfort back, his only thoughts now were on his friends. He slipped when his feet touched the ground, rescued at the last moment from tumbling in an undignified heap by helping hands. Stammering his thanks, he quickly made his way to the nearest stretcher.

Jack's pale unmoving form frightened Daniel. He knelt beside Janet, who was examining him. He could see the splint on Jack's leg, and when Janet raised Jack's shirt, Daniel knew that the massive bruising on his abdomen indicated internal injuries. She spoke quietly to the waiting men while ropes were attached to Jack's stretcher, readying him to be lifted out.

Daniel made to go to Sam, but she was already being moved. He couldn't see how badly hurt she was. But as her stretcher was lifted, Daniel saw her stir.

"Sam! Sam! Come on," he cried from where he stood, not wanting to get in the way of the rescue but willing her to wake up.

Sam opened her eyes, looking around blearily.

"She's gonna be okay," Daniel said in relief. "You're gonna be okay," he repeated to Sam when she looked at him.

She tried telling them about Jack's condition, her voice weak and frail.

Daniel heard the wonder in her voice when she next said, "General, you came through the Stargate for us," and Daniel knew then she had never figured out they were on Earth. God, all she'd needed to do was dial another �gate address, to one of their allies, and they'd have been able to travel through the �gate and gotten help.

He watched her progress out of the cavern, becoming dizzy as her stretcher was lifted higher and higher. He swayed, and felt Teal'c's hand on his shoulder, steadying him.

Their friends had been saved, but had they been found in time? Jack had looked bad, and it suddenly hit upon Daniel that Sam and Jack had been stuck in this icy tomb for days. Days! He shivered, suddenly wanting to escape this place.

General Hammond was advising the rescue party that another team would be arriving shortly to take control of the Stargate. Daniel moved closer to the ropes, hoping to be the next person out. Unfortunately, he had to wait his turn as the general and a few others were hauled up first.

The sound of the helicopter suddenly echoed loudly down the drafty tunnel while Daniel was halfway up. Once outside, Daniel squinted against the painful glare, seeing the dark speck fading into the too-bright sky. He looked around and realized that his means of transportation had left without him.

Which meant he had to travel fifty miles in the Arctic Cats. For a moment he felt bereft, abandoned. He couldn't do this. He could barely put one step in front of the other, the light hurting his head so much.

He wanted to simply sit down and give into his disappointment. To let go of all the pain, anxiety and worry he'd experienced over the past days. But then his exhausted brain finally realized that with the helicopter carrying the two stretchers, there simply wasn't enough room inside it for him and Teal'c.

"Come," Teal'c said softly beside him. "They are ready to depart."

Daniel realized the rescue party was waiting for him and Teal'c to join them. He made his slow, careful way down the slippery slope, each step jarring his over-sensitive brain inside his skull. He took his place behind one of the men on the skidoo, his already numb hands reaching around to grasp him by the waist.

The Cat's motor hurt his head, and as they took off, Daniel closed his eyes and buried his face into the driver's coat. This way he could protect his face against the frigid air and hide his eyes from the agonizing light.

The trip back was a nightmare, between nausea, headache, bone-numbing cold and exhaustion. Whenever Daniel opened his eyes, all he could see was the rush of gleaming white snow. The movement made him dizzy, and it was all he could do to hold on and pray he didn't fall off.

They eventually slowed and came to a stop, the sudden stillness of the motors almost deafening in the silence of the still air. Cautiously, Daniel lifted his head and saw they had stopped in front of a building. His vision was blurry, but he could make out that they were parked on a street in a small town.

"Hospital," the man before him said as he twisted around to look at Daniel. "This is where your friends are."

Daniel realized he was still clutching the man tightly and embarrassed, let go. He swung his legs over the seat and stood. His feet and legs were numb and his muscles tired and close to cramping. He staggered, and Teal'c was there to steady him.

"Thank you," Daniel managed to say through his pain. The man waved, and the noise of the motors sent spikes of agony lancing through Daniel's head once more. He turned towards the front door of the hospital, anxious to escape the light and noise and cold.

The sudden wave of heat inside the hospital had him shivering. His eyes and nose were running and removing his glove, he wiped the moisture away with thick, unfeeling fingers. Teal'c had his hand on Daniel's arm, and he relied on his friend to steer him, unable to see through his fogged-up glasses.

"Sit," the soft voice said near his ear. Daniel realized there were several chairs in front of him and gratefully he sat down in one. He stuffed his hands beneath his armpits, shivers continue to wrack his body.

"Teal'c, Doctor Jackson. Are you all right?"

Someone, he guessed Teal'c, removed his glasses from his face. Daniel squinted up at General Hammond, and very carefully, so as not to cause more pain, nodded.

"Just cold," he said.

"I wouldn't doubt it. It took you three hours to get back." Hammond bent closer, his face going in and out of focus. "Doctor Jackson, are you sure you're all right? Should I get a doctor?"

"No, I'm fine." His teeth began to chatter, and he clamped his jaw tightly. "Really," he added stiffly.

"Is there any news of ColonelO'Neill and CaptainCarter?" Teal'c asked.

"The captain is fine. She was treated for hypothermia, and got away with scrapes and bruises from her ordeal. The colonel, however, is still in surgery. I'm still waiting for news on his condition."

"Can we see Sam?" The memory of her waking in the cavern had buoyed Daniel, knowing that she was still alive. But he needed to see her again to reconfirm he hadn't been too late.

"Maybe later," Hammond said. "She's sleeping now." He patted Daniel's shoulder.

"I'll see if I can scrounge something hot for you to drink from the cafeteria, son," Hammond said as he straightened. Daniel wanted to call him back, embarrassed this man was catering to him. But General Hammond quickly left the small waiting room before Daniel could voice his objection.

God, he was so tired, so cold. He closed his eyes, turning his face to the wall and wishing he could just sleep.

He must have dozed off because suddenly the aroma of chicken soup surrounded him. Hands positioned his own around a warm plastic cup and urged him to drink. The hot, salty beverage felt good as he swallowed, sending tendrils of heat coursing through him. He sniffled loudly as the steam thawed his sinuses, and tissues were waved beneath his face so he could blow his nose.

He only managed about a third of the cup before nausea hit him. He tried to put the cup down, but the general seemed adamant for him to drink more. He was saved from having to admit his distress by the sound of Janet's footsteps. They all stood to greet her news.

Still dressed in surgical scrubs, she spoke to the general while her gaze constantly returned to Daniel. He realized he was still wearing his heavy parka, whereas everyone else in the room had shed theirs. He was still cold and didn't want to give up the warmth the jacket provided but relented by unzipping it. Teal'c handed him his glasses, and Daniel put them on. They didn't help much except make him more aware of his blurred sight.

"The colonel is going to be just fine. He'd lost quite a bit of blood from his internal injury, but actually the hypothermia slowed his system just enough to keep him alive until we got to him. He's a very lucky man. In the long run, it's his broken leg that's going to keep him sidelined the longest. He'll need physical therapy, of course. But he should be as good as new in a few months."

"Can we see him, DoctorFraiser?" Teal'c asked.

"When he's out of recovery," she said with a nod, "and only for a minute. Now how about you three go and get some rest. Daniel, you look like you could use a bit of sleep."

Realizing he was leaning against Teal'c, Daniel made an effort to straighten up. "Not yet, Janet. I want to see Jack and Sam first."

"As do I," Teal'c said.

"I'll see about getting quarters for all four of us," Hammond said as he picked up his jacket from a nearby chair.

"Very well. I'll let you know when you can see the colonel. You can both look in on Sam now, if you want. Just don't wake her," she cautioned. "I'll have a nurse escort you to her room."

Daniel was almost afraid to enter the small, private room. The curtains were drawn, filtering out the constant sunlight, leaving the room pleasantly dim. For the first time in many hours, the harsh glare didn't cause his eyes to tear.

Sam was lying on her side, knees curled up to her chest, as if she were trying to stay warm. Teal'c walked up to the bed, while all Daniel could do was lean back against the wall and take in her breathing, living form. For a while, on the trip back to the Station, Daniel had begun to think he'd dreamed that Sam had woken up. But seeing her here, sleeping, alive, one large tight knot in his chest slowly loosened, leaving him weak with relief. Now all he needed was to unloosen the other knot, and he needed to see Jack for that to happen.

They both stood and quietly watched her sleep fifteen minutes, needing to satisfy themselves that she was really okay. Finally, Teal'c turned to leave, and Daniel reluctantly pushed off the wall. As he reached the door, though, he heard Sam's sleepy voice.

"Hey."

Daniel turned, and saw her looking at them.

"I'm sorry we have woken you, CaptainCarter."

"No, you didn't, I was just, I� how's the colonel?" she asked as her eyes widened in recollection of their ordeal.

"DoctorFraiser has assured us O'Neill will be fine."

"Have you seen him? Did you talk to him?" Sam raised herself on her elbows, glancing from both Daniel to Teal'c.

"No," Daniel said. "He's still in recovery."

"God, I was so sure we wouldn't� that we'd� I couldn't get the �gate to work," she said in a rush. "It was so cold, and I knew the colonel was hurt bad." Her voice wavered, and her eyes pooled with unshed tears. "There was nothing I could do, and when I climbed out of the cavern� we were stuck on an ice planet."

Daniel quickly moved from the door to the bed, the room swaying alarmingly. He ended up falling more than sitting on the bed but still managed to reach out and take her into his arms. He held her close to him, both wanting to give comfort and finding he needed her support to stay upright while the room blurred in and out of focus. She threw her arms around him, burrowing her face against his throat.

"You were on Earth all the time, Sam," Daniel said, his voice sounding thick in his ears. "We discovered a second Stargate. That was why yours wasn't working. You kept getting a �busy signal' whenever you tried to dial out."

Daniel felt her stiffen at his words. Nevertheless, he continued.

"We're at McMurdo Station in Antarctica."

"Earth?" she said incredulously, pulling away slightly to face Daniel. Daniel stared at her, unable to make her face out clearly. But the scrapes and bruises on her cheek stood out as deep shadows against her pale skin.

"That is correct," Teal'c answered. "At first DanielJackson believed you and O'Neill to have been sent to an alternate Stargate between P4A-771 and Earth."

"That's what I thought," Sam said, looking at Teal'c.

"But our searches on these worlds proved fruitless. That was when DanielJackson discovered evidence of a second Stargate in a remote area of your world."

"We were on Earth all this time?" She turned to look at Daniel. "All I had to do was dial any other address other than Earth, and the Stargate would have worked. Damnit," she said, pulling away from Daniel. "How could I have been so stupid!"

"Sam, you didn't know that," Daniel said, wincing at the loudness of her voice. "But your attempts to dial out made our �gate malfunction, which was how I got the idea that maybe there was a second Stargate on Earth. If you hadn't tried to dial out, Sam, we would never have known."

"An ice planet. I saw snow and ice and immediately I assumed we were on another planet. I should have tried other Stargate addresses. How could I have been� I could have caused the colonel's death by my own stupidity."

"No, Sam, listen to me," Daniel said as he captured her hands in his. "I was so sure you were on a planet between Earth and the one where we'd �gated from. It was only when I was proven wrong that I began to grasp at straws. You couldn't have known. You can't blame yourself."

Sam looked at their clasped hands a moment before she squeezed them. She pulled one hand away and raised it to Daniel's face, fingers hovering close to his throbbing forehead.

"You look tired. And it seems you didn't come out of this unscathed yourself."

Daniel smiled. "Well, my head kind of broke my fall when I landed on the ramp."

"You're both all right?"

Daniel nodded, unable to say the words that would prove him a liar once again.

"You're sure?"

"Just tired. I'll get some sleep as soon as I've seen Jack." Sam continued to stare at Daniel, making him nervous. "I promise. You better go back to sleep. We weren't supposed to wake you up," he finished in a whisper.

"All right," she said as she pulled her other hand from his grasp. She lay down, pulling the covers up to her chin. "Teal'c, make sure he gets some sleep."

"I shall," Teal'c replied as Daniel stood up. As he turned for one last look before leaving her room, he saw that she was almost asleep.

They returned to the waiting room, taking the same seats as before. No position was comfortable, the pain in his head escalating slowly. The sun continued to shine through the windows, even though his watch said it was 22:00 hours.

Daniel sat hunched in misery, unable to gauge time. He could have been sitting there for five hours or five minutes. Time seemed distorted, and he couldn't remember at what time they'd arrived.

All the adrenaline that had sustained him during the search for his friends had left him, leaving him feeling sick, weak and slightly disoriented. He knew part of it was due to lack of sleep and proper food, but he suspected a good portion of it amounted to what must be worsening symptoms of his concussion. He knew he should speak to Janet about them, but he couldn't, not yet. He needed to know that Jack was really all right before he allowed himself to succumb to his exhaustion.

He suddenly found himself walking down a hallway behind Janet and Teal'c with no recollection of how or why they'd left the waiting room. He felt like he'd just woken up in a strange place, on his feet, walking.

Janet stopped before a closed door and held it open. Following Teal'c inside, Daniel brushed by her and entered. Jack was lying on a bed in a darkened room. His friend was pale, tubes and wires seemed to be coming out from everywhere beneath the blankets covering his still form. But he was breathing. Jack was alive.

"Jack?" he said softly as he nervously approached the bed. He tentatively touched the back of Jack's hand, feeling the heat of Jack's skin beneath his still chilled fingers.

Drowsy brown eyes opened to look at him, and Daniel smiled. That final knot loosened, easing pain in his chest and up into his shoulders and neck.

"Hey." Jack's voice sounded weak and tired.

"You're going to be okay," Daniel said, curling his fingers around Jack's palm.

"Carter managed to dial� �gate?" His eyes closed, and he opened them again slowly.

"Nnno, no, w�we found you," he stammered. "You're in Antarctica. We discovered a second Stargate on Earth," Daniel said, his words suddenly speeding up and coming out in a rush. "When Sam tried to dial the Stargate, well, I mean the one that you and Sam came through when ours overloaded, it was like you were getting a busy signal and couldn't dial out. Our Stargate, well, the one in Cheyenne mountain, I mean, sort of shook, and the chevrons lit up. At first we thought it was a�"

"Daniel."

"Malfunction, but then after we realized that seismic activity in�"

"Daniel."

"Antarctica�" Daniel's words slowed to a stop when he realized Jack wasn't listening to him. He flushed in embarrassment. Jack wouldn't want to hear these things right now. He was barely awake. He always hated to hear the scientific aspects of the Stargate, even when he was a hundred percent. What was wrong with him, why was he babbling like this?

"Carter? She okay?"

Daniel dropped his head, and pain flooded through him at the movement. Before he could pull himself together, Teal'c answered Jack's question.

"CaptainCarter is fine. She is currently resting."

"Ahh, good," Jack replied, closing his eyes.

"Okay, that's long enough," Janet said softly from behind Daniel. He released Jack's hand and was surprised when Jack's fingers gripped his own. He looked from their clasped hands to Jack's face. His friend was looking at him with worry.

"You okay?" The whispered, concerned question caused Daniel's throat to close up with emotion. He shook his head.

"No, but I will be," he answered thickly.

"Get some sleep� look like shit."

Daniel blinked hard, the moisture suddenly pooling in his eyes threatening to spill. The culmination of the past days was quickly overwhelming him, and seeing Jack awake was the final straw. Relieved beyond belief, and unable to speak due to his threatening tears, he simply nodded. Jack let him go and he stood. Wrapping his arms around his torso, trying to curb the storm of emotions coursing through him, he turned and left the room, the doorway seeming to stretch and sway as he walked through it.

The hallway was blurred, in constant motion, and he lost his balance. It wasn't until he landed hard on his right hip that he realized he wasn't standing anymore. His head exploded in pain, and he brought his hands up to his temples, trying to squeeze the agony away.

He could hear small animalistic grunts interspersed with loud, urgent-sounding voices. There were hands on him now, pulling his arms down away from his head. His eyelids were pulled open and a light flashed into each, and he yelled from the pain it caused.

He couldn't catch his breath, and was disoriented when his legs and shoulders were grasped and lifted. After a moment, he opened his eyes and saw the ceiling moving. Light fixtures and tiles seemed to whiz by, doors and strange faces flashed in his peripheral vision. Dizzy, nauseated, he squeezed his eyes shut.

There was more jostling, and he moaned as the pain in his head escalated. He curled up on his side, panting through his agony.

Gradually, so slowly he was hardly aware of it, the pain began to recede. The harsh lights no longer seared the back of his eyelids. He was lying on something soft and was covered with warm blankets. A hand gently kneaded his neck and shoulders, loosening muscles that had become board stiff through tension-wrought days.

He sighed and relaxed, on the verge of sleep. Until a hand touched his cheek and a soft voice called his name.

"Daniel."

He cracked open his eyes reluctantly, partly afraid of the hurtful glare of lights and the overwhelming need to sleep. He saw a white blur floating before him, and he blinked, trying to bring it into focus. He failed.

"Can you tell me how you're feeling?"

He couldn't make out her face, but he did recognize Janet's voice. He licked his lips, his mouth dry.

"Tired," he managed to say.

"How's your headache? Any better?"

He nodded, then winced as his head erupted in pain.

"Daniel, I need you to tell me how long you've had this pain and what other symptoms you're experiencing. Are you dizzy, nauseous, blurred vision?"

Her words jumbled into his brain, and he fought to make sense of them.

"Yes," he finally answered.

"Which, Daniel? All three?"

"Yes," he repeated, almost too tired to answer.

"When did your headache start?"

His body felt like it was floating, only the pounding of his head and the hand that continued to stroke his neck keeping him partly grounded.

"He requires sleep, DoctorFraiser." The voice was soft, familiar.

"I know, Teal'c, but I also need to know if Daniel's collapse is due to his exhaustion aggravating his concussion, or if it's something more serious." He felt a light tap to his cheek. "Daniel, stay with me for a bit longer."

"When� woke up," he managed to say, not being able to open his eyes again and not recalling when he'd closed them.

"When you woke up this morning, or when you woke up from your concussion?"

"Con� conc�" He wavered a moment between sleep and waking, then a light in the depths of his mind dimmed, and he flew down a dark tunnel into the realm of sleep.

- - - - - -

Daniel woke up in small increments. He was first aware of the continuous throbbing in his head, but he'd lived with that for the past days, and it was familiar. He knew he was warm and comfortable, but the mattress beneath him was too small to be his own, the pillows and blankets didn't smell like his, or Jack's. So he wasn't home, and he wasn't in Jack's spare bedroom, or even on base. There were sounds nearby, each occasional voice or footstep slowly dragging him farther and farther from the depths of sleep.

It was the insistent ache of an over-full bladder that finally forced him to open his eyes and look for relief. He found himself lying on a hospital bed in a small, dim room. He sat up shakily, the movement making his need more pressing while causing his headache to grow. He sat there and carefully massaged his forehead around the healing cut. A door in the corner was ajar, and through it he saw a sink. Bathroom.

As he pushed the blankets aside, he noticed an IV attached to his hand. Surprised, he followed the snaking tube to the clear plastic container affixed to his bed. He knew he had to either unhook it somehow and bring it with him, or remove the needle in his hand. Before he could do either, the door to his bedroom opened.

"Daniel," Sam said with a bright smile. She entered the room, Teal'c following right behind her. Daniel squinted as the bright lights in the hallway hurt his eyes and head, and she quickly closed the door behind them.

Sam had a sytrofoam cup of coffee; Daniel could smell it from where he sat. Teal'c was holding a bottle of juice.

"We just stepped out for a moment. I'm glad that you're awake." She came over to him and sat on the bed beside him while Teal'c put his juice on a nearby table.

"I will advise the doctor you are awake." Teal'c walked to the door and paused, looking at Daniel with a smile before opening it and leaving.

"How are you feeling?"

"Better, I think," Daniel said. He did feel better. The agonizing pain had receded to a manageable pounding, and his mind felt much clearer. He was still tired, though, and felt weak and shaky. And he still needed to pee.

"Where are we?" He knew he was in a hospital. That much was obvious but where and why?

"McMurdo Station in Antarctica. Don't you remember?"

"No, not really. I�" The days spent searching for his missing friends suddenly came crashing back.

"Jack?" Daniel asked worriedly, wondering if he'd really seen his friend after his surgery, or if it had been a dream.

"He's fine, I saw him twenty minute ago."

The rush of adrenaline and his increased pulse set his head pounding, and he carefully eased back until he was leaning against the wall. The memory of hours of agonizing headaches had him rubbing his temples again, trying to get the throbbing to tone down a bit while fearing the pain would escalate into a migraine once more. After a moment, he lowered his hand, realizing he still needed to relieve himself. He pushed off from the wall and sat up again.

"Do you think I could�"

His words were interrupted by the arrival of Teal'c with a man wearing a lab coat. The stranger smiled at Daniel as he approached.

"Doctor Jackson? I'm Doctor Brody. I see you've finally woken up. Now if you'd be so kind as to lie back on the bed, I'd like to examine you."

"Um, could I first just go�" Daniel waved his hand towards the small room beckoning to him. The action caused him to nearly lose his balance and needed to quickly put his hand back down and hold onto the mattress.

Doctor Brody smiled, and going to a table behind the door, said, "I can help you with that little problem. But I don't think you're quite ready to get up yet."

The doctor returned with a plastic urinal, and after handing it to Daniel, he pulled the privacy curtains closed behind him, hiding his view of his friends.

Daniel stared at the container, blushing. "If you don't mind, I'd really rather�"

"After sleeping for eighteen hours, I'd think your bladder is pretty uncomfortable right now, Doctor Jackson. I know it's a little disconcerting, but it's better if you stay in bed for the moment."

Daniel slid the container under the blankets and with a quick glance at the doctor, managed to position himself so he could aim his stream into the urinal. As badly as he needed to go, it took him nearly a minute to overcome the odd position, feeling like he was actually peeing in bed. The relief, though, when he finally got going was nearly enough to bring tears to his eyes.

When he finished, the doctor took the brimming container and put it aside. Daniel lay back and patiently allowed himself to be examined, answering questions when asked. When the doctor flashed the penlight into his eyes, though, it felt like he'd stabbed him straight into his brain. He gasped, but forced his eyes open, not wanting to necessitate the man to repeat the action.

When Doctor Brody finished his examination and pulled the curtains back, Daniel's headache was steadily worsening. Each sound seemed magnified, and even with the dim illumination in the room, there seemed to be a halo around objects. Sam's hair was glowing, and Daniel blinked, trying to force the image away.

"Try to get some more rest, Doctor Jackson," Doctor Brody advised as he finished writing in Daniel's chart. "You're blood pressure is still a bit higher than I'd like, and we've been giving you some steroids to reduce the swelling in your brain. But until that clears up, you're apt to continue feeling tired and weak for a few more days, not to mention those headaches. You managed quite a number on yourself."

Daniel placed an arm over his eyes, wishing the pounding would stop.

"I'll have a nurse bring some medication for your headache. And perhaps if you can manage to eat something a little later, we can get rid of this," he said, tapping the IV leading into his hand. He heard the doctor leave the room and felt the bed tilt as Sam sat beside him.

"Daniel?" she said softly. "You okay?"

"Headache," he muttered. He was amazed at how fast his body had deteriorated. When he'd woken up, he hadn't been in this much pain. But those twin flashes of light into his eyes had roused the angry savage running rampant inside his head with a spear.

"Is there anything I can do? Can I get you anything?"

"Water?" he asked, his mouth feeling thick and pasty.

"Sure." The bed dipped, and he heard water running in the bathroom a moment later. "Here," Sam said as she sat down once more. With a grimace, Daniel lowered his arm and raised his head, accepting the water and drinking half of the cool liquid before lying down. Sam took the glass from him and then held a cloth before his face. "Maybe this will help," she said as the placed a wet, folded washcloth over his eyes and forehead.

He lay there for a few minutes until he heard the door open and the soft squeaking sounds of rubber-soled shoes.

"Doctor Brody prescribed these for you, Doctor Jackson," an unfamiliar voice said. Daniel raised a hand and lifted a corner of the washcloth, seeing a nurse holding a small paper container. He raised himself on his elbow and accepted the pill, swallowing it down with the rest of the water, which Teal'c handed to him. "You'll feel its effects in about thirty minutes. Just try to lie back and relax, okay?" She smiled at him and left, and Daniel lay back against the pillow. Sam readjusted the washcloth, and Daniel tried to do as the nurse had suggested.

"Sam, do you know when we're getting out of here?" Daniel finally asked, trying to distract himself from his discomfort.

"Well, the colonel and I are being transported out tomorrow," she answered hesitantly. When she didn't go on, Daniel turned his head towards her and removed the wet cloth.

"What?" He felt butterflies in his stomach at the way she was gnawing on her lower lip, making the water he'd swallowed begin to churn sickeningly in his stomach.

"They're not sure about moving you yet," she finally said. "Janet said from the manner in which you collapsed, they thought you might have had a brain hemorrhage. They couldn't wake you for the first twelve hours, and then later when you did open your eyes, you wouldn't respond to anybody."

"I don't remember waking up until now," Daniel said.

"There's a storm system moving in," Sam said as she took the cloth from Daniel's hand and walked to the bathroom with it. "If we don't leave tomorrow, we're going to be stuck here for at least a week,' she said over the running water.

Daniel felt irrational panic at the thought of being left alone at the remotest base on the planet. He had to see Janet and tell her he was fine. He wanted to be on that plane tomorrow with his friends, not stuck in this frigid wasteland while feeling this lousy. He sat up with a groan.

"I need to speak to Janet," he said, pushing the covers away and sliding his legs over the side. He noticed that someone had removed his clothes while he'd slept and replaced them with an open back hospital gown. Goosebumps covered his bare skin when his feet touched the cold floor.

Teal'c moved forward and laid a hand on Daniel's shoulder, holding him in place.

"Do not fear," his friend said softly. "If such occurs, you will not be left here alone."

Sam rushed from the bathroom and sat down beside him. She quickly wrapped her arms around him, her hands wet and cold.

"Shhh, don't worry," Sam told him as she placed her cold hand against the back of his nape, pushing his face into her shoulder. He relaxed into her hold as she held him tightly. He held onto her, the feel and smell of his friend in his arms reaffirming that she was safe and well.

"I'm so sorry you had to go through this for us, Daniel," Sam said against his hair. "But I'm really glad you found us."

"Me too," he mumbled. "Are you really okay?" He could feel the heat of Sam's body through the thin gown, and his exposed back was quickly growing cold.

"A little shaky, but I'll be fine in a day or two. Have I thanked you yet for saving us?"

"This is my thanks, Sam. Knowing you're alive. God, I'm so glad you're all right," he said as he squeezed her tightly. He shivered, and he pulled away from her. He needed to lie back down. Teal'c pulled the blankets up to his chin, and Sam placed the cloth over his eyes once more. She continued to sit beside him, gently brushing the hair from the side of his head that hadn't been injured.

She took her hand away, and he heard the unmistakeable squeak of a plastic lid being removed from a coffee cup. The smell of coffee invaded his nostrils, making him a little nauseated. Her hand came back to rest in his hair, and he relished her touch. Teal'c's chair creaked as he shifted. These were tiny sounds and sensations, not enough to disturb but just enough to help him feel secure, enough to allow him to let go and permit the medication do its work.

He drifted between waking and sleeping, the occasional reminders that his friends were with him both bringing him out of his slight doze and continuing to reassure him. After a while he became aware of whispered voices in the room, realizing in his drugged condition they had been talking for some time. He recognized Janet's voice along with Sam and Teal'c's, and he turned onto his side to face them.

Janet broke off with Sam when he moved, and she came towards him.

"Hello, Daniel. I'm sorry if we woke you up."

She sat down where Sam had been sitting earlier. "How's your headache?"

"Still there," he admitted. The pill had taken some of the edge of the headache away, but the pain still had him in its grip.

"Try to sleep," she advised as she placed the back of her fingers against his cheek.

"I don't have a fever," he said grumpily.

"No, you don't," she answered with a smile.

He realized suddenly that all his friends except for General Hammond were here in his room with him. Who was with Jack?

"Can I see Jack?" He made to sit up, but Janet placed a hand on his chest.

"Later, Daniel. He's been given a pain killer, and he's sleeping soundly. And I don't think you're up to walking around just yet." She reached over and picked up a blood pressure cuff, winding it around his bicep.

"I won't wake him, I just want to see him."

"Later, when you're feeling stronger," she said in her no nonsense voice as she began pumping. Daniel glanced over at his friends. They were watching him worriedly. "Daniel, Colonel O'Neill is going to be fine. Sam, Teal'c, and General Hammond have been taking turns sitting with the both of you. The colonel is sleeping soundly; he doesn't need anyone with him at the moment. We were all very worried about you, you know."

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to worry anyone."

She didn't answer right away as she placed the end of her stethoscope to the cuff and listened.

"I know that," she replied as she straightened. "But you acted a little irresponsibly by not telling me how sick you were. You do know that you wouldn't have been permitted to come if we'd known� then again, that's probably why you didn't say anything, isn't it?"

She removed the cuff, folding it and returning it to the table, then placed her hand on his wrist.

"I had to, Janet," Daniel whispered, not regretting what he'd done since it meant his friends were alive.

Janet didn't reply as she sat there quietly counting. Patting his hand, she smiled at him and got up to make notations in his chart. She returned to stand beside the bed. �Try to get some sleep, okay?

"Will I be going home with you tomorrow?" he asked in a hopeful voice.

"I think so, Daniel. At least now we know why you collapsed. You were suffering from exhaustion and low blood sugar, which exacerbated the side effects of your concussion. But if you ever pull a stunt like that," she said, her face showing her exasperation for a moment, before softening again. "Just go to sleep. When you wake up, we'll try to see if you're up to eating something, okay?"

"Okay," he answered, shifting slightly in the bed, feeling the effects of the medication begin to worm its way through his system. Sleep beckoned, and he closed his eyes.

- - - - - -

Jack's eyes lit up when Daniel peeked his head around the partly-open door. The head of Jack's bed was raised so he was partly sitting up. He had color back in his face, which was a huge improvement over the pale, waxy look he'd had when Daniel had first seen him over a day ago. Daniel entered the room and quickly shut the door behind him.

"You're looking a lot better," Daniel said as he made his way to the chair beside the bed. His increasingly unsteady legs demanded he take his weight off of them. Just getting dressed had been a chore, but he'd managed it without any of the nurses being the wiser. Ignoring the slight waves of vertigo and nausea from his recently ingested meal, Daniel smiled at Jack.

"You're looking like crap," Jack replied as he stared at Daniel intently.

"Well, I still feel like crap, but it's a huge improvement over the way I felt when I first got here," Daniel said honestly. He did feel better, not great, but better.

"Yeah, heard you'd created a little excitement," Jack said. "You really had Fraiser worried there for a while."

"She told you?"

"No, it was what she wasn't saying. I kept asking where you were, I knew you'd been here earlier, I was sure I hadn't dreamed you. I remember you'd looked awful� you still don't look that much better, you know."

"I feel better. Really," Daniel insisted at Jack's sceptical look. "How are you feeling?"

"Good. Nice and warm. Docs here are keeping me supplied with happy juice. Hey, do me a favor?"

"What?"

"Could you scratch my foot? I can't reach, and it's been driving me crazy."

Daniel got up and flipped the blankets over, exposing Jack's casted leg. He played his fingers over the warm skin, and as he reached the arch of Jack's foot, his friend murmured �yeah, right there'. Daniel rubbed the spot for several moments, smiling at the look of relief on his friend's face.

"Thanks," Jack said, smothering a yawn.

"Welcome," Daniel replied as he sat back down. "Um, where are Sam and Teal'c?" Daniel hadn't seen either of his friends since he'd woken up an hour ago. He'd asked to see Jack, but the nurse had told him in no uncertain terms that he wasn't to get out of bed. He knew Jack wasn't up to visiting Daniel, so if Mohammed couldn't come to the mountain�

"Off at the airfield helping the general get ready for our trip home. I'll be glad to get off this Popsicle stand," Jack said as a gust of wind rattled the windows.

"Me too," Daniel said, recalling the nightmarish trip through the cold frigid land.

When Jack closed his eyes, Daniel stood up, thinking he should let Jack rest. In any case, Daniel was more than ready to lie down once again. He hoped he could make it back to his room without anyone noticing he had left it.

"Daniel," Jack said when Daniel had taken three steps away from the bed. He turned around, seeing Jack watch him with heavily-lidded eyes. "Thank you."

"For what?"

"Finding us. Figuring out what happened. For going that extra mile." His eyes closed and he opened them again slowly. Daniel knew Jack would be asleep in a few moments. "Was so cold, was sure� gonna die. Hoped� Carter made it out."

"Thank you, Jack."

"F'r what?" He closed his eyes and didn't open them again.

"For hanging on, not letting go," Daniel said softly.

Jack's lip curled slightly into a smile, and his breathing evened out as he slept.

Daniel stood watching his friend for a few minutes before quietly walking to the door. He stepped out into the hallway and leaned his shoulder against the wall, fighting the returning vertigo and disorientation, not to mention the headache which was growing in leaps and bounds.

"Ahem."

Daniel looked up and saw Janet's wavering figure standing before him, arms crossed, a frown on her face.

"Hi Janet," Daniel said meekly. "I, um, just went to see Jack."

"So I see. And didn't I tell you I'd let you know when you could get out of bed?"

Daniel didn't answer. He was cold, and his head was pounding, and all he wanted to do was crawl back into his bed. He pushed off of the wall and began shuffling towards his room on legs that felt like wet noodles. Janet put a steadying hand on his arm and silently escorted him back. He toed his boots off and curled up beneath the blankets fully dressed, and accepted whatever medication she handed to him. He fell asleep even before the pills kicked in.

Too soon, someone was shaking him awake, and he forced his eyes open, blinking up at Janet's smiling face.

"Sorry, Daniel," she apologized for waking him. "Can you scoot over onto here?" she asked. Daniel looked over and saw a gurney positioned beside his bed. He wondered why they wanted more tests when all he wanted to do was sleep. His head felt like it was stuffed with cotton, but at least the cotton had stifled the drumbeat being played on his brain.

"We've moved the colonel," she began as he reluctantly shifted onto the gurney. His heart began to speed up in fright at her words.

"Jack?" he asked, grabbing her hand. "What happened? Is he okay?"

"No, no, he's fine, Daniel. I'm sorry, I should have told you sooner. We're flying out now, and we need to get to the airfield. The colonel's already in the ambulance, and we'll be leaving as soon as both of you are settled."

"I don't need an ambulance, Janet. I'm fine," he said sleepily as he curled up on his side, suddenly too tired to try and move back onto his bed. Thick blankets were piled on top of him, and he gratefully tucked his face into their scratchy warmth.

He felt the gurney move, and he kept his eyes closed as the walls blurred by. They finally came to a stop, and Janet spoke near his ear.

"I'm going to put this over your eyes," she said. Daniel felt a heavy cloth on his face. "Just to keep the sunlight out, okay?" Daniel raised a hand and fingered something that felt like a towel. He thrust his hand back under the blankets, letting Janet adjust everything to her satisfaction before giving the order to move out.

The frigid air took his breath away. He breathed through the layers of blankets, feeling the gurney slide roughly over snow and ice. He could hear the squeak, squeak of his companions' boots as they moved around him.

The gurney shifted and rocked, and then a clang told him that the door to the ambulance had closed. The cloth was removed from his face, and he carefully opened his eyes. He saw Jack lying on a gurney right beside him, Janet sitting between them.

Seeing him looking at Jack, Janet said, "We've got him sedated to make the trip a little easier on him." Daniel nodded, and closed his eyes as the ambulance began moving. He could hear Janet and the accompanying nurse moving around in the large vehicle, talking softly together. A warm hand touched his face, then his throat. Opening his eyes was too much trouble, and he wondered if he was getting sick again. He drifted, vaguely aware later of being jostled as he was pushed along the gurney once more.

- - - - - -

Blurry brown eyes were staring at him. Daniel blinked sleepily, feeling like he'd done this already. Slowly the brown eyes coalesced into the face of his friend. Jack this time, not Teal'c.

"Jack?"

"Welcome back to the world of the living, Daniel."

"Sam and Teal'c?"

"Up front, sleeping." Jack pointed down the aisle, and Daniel lifted his head. He saw he was on a bed, inside a plane. The drone of powerful motors filled his ears. From his vantage point, he could see strands of Sam's hair flowing past the arm of the seat where she'd curled up. Daniel could just make out General Hammond's and Teal'c's bald heads peeking over the top of their chairs.

"How long?"

"That you were out? Long enough for doc to give you one of those �cause you missed lunch." Surprised, Daniel noted the IV in his hand when Jack pointed to it.

Daniel stretched, tight muscles in his back and neck finally loosening after days of accumulated stress and pain. His head was clearer, with just an ache over the right side of his forehead, where he'd initially hit the ramp in the Gateroom. He felt better at this moment than he'd had for days. He glanced over at Jack and saw his friend had his eyes closed.

Warm, comfortable, and feeling secure knowing his team was safe and close by, Daniel watched over his friends as they slept. That extra mile had been long and hard, difficult to traverse. But in the end, it had brought his family home. Safe and sound.

 

FINIS!


Author's Comments: Many thanks to Yum@, who trusted me enough to add this story in her wonderful zine, Fragments.

 

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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.