Quarantine

Dust motes fill the air as I pull the heavy curtain aside to peer out the small window, searching for a bit of the sun's heat. I ignore the headache that intensifies as I squint in the late afternoon sunlight. Scrunching my nose, I rub the side of my finger against it, trying to dispel the need to sneeze.

The air is hot and heavy in our enforced prison, the windows and door tightly closed and locked from the outside to keep us, and our germs, inside. I can't blame our keepers, though; I'd be scared too.

Hell, I'm already scared.

I just hope this was caught in time. For their sakes. Now, if only we could get word to the SGC, before it's too late for Sam. Or for me, I think as I fight back a shiver. I wrap my arms around my waist, trying to warm myself up despite the oppressive heat and the puddle of sunshine that surrounds me.

Fatigue and mild headache are the first symptoms of the disease.

Check.Started during the night.

Chills and fever come next. Sore muscles and all-over body ache, sure signs of fever.

Check.

Nausea, dizziness and loss of appetite. Well, the heat and airlessness of the room could be accounting for those, so it's still debatable whether I've progressed that far. But I'm sure it won't be long. Poor Sam could barely stand; she was so dizzy when we walked into this village. And now she has the next symptom: a nice itchy rash on her chest and abdomen, and her fever's starting to spike.

I turn around to make sure Teal'c has everything in hand as Sam begins to vomit again. I wince as I hear her dry heaving; she can't keep anything down, even water, and in this heat�

The sickness is a normal occurrence on this world, sort of like the common cold, except it hits hard and it hits fast. It comes around each year at harvesting time � normally it's just an inconvenience, treated easily with a mix of herbs. Except, this year, the main ingredient has been mostly destroyed due to some kind of bug infestation. Even their reserves are gone so they're in short supply.

Very short supply.

It's already too late for me, and will be soon for Jack, I'm afraid. Teal'c has junior, he's most likely immune to this.

Despite the oppressive heat, I lean against the glass, allowing the sunshine to warm my body.

There's nothing to see outside, really. There's a small yard, a few bushes, something that looks like a cross between a chicken and a vulture pecking away at the cracked soil.

I hear the floor creak as Jack walks up behind me. I close the curtain and lean against the wall, the plaster feels cool against my back. My eyes are no longer accustomed to the gloom of the room, a necessity to try and keep it as cool as possible. Not that it's working as I see the matching rings of sweat beneath Jack's armpits. Mine, on the other hand, seemed to have dried out thanks to the furnace that my body is slowly becoming.

"Any signs of life out there?" Jack asks as he twitches the curtain aside. I shut my eyes against the glare, the transition from light to dark, and back to light making my head ache even more.

"No. Any sane person would be inside, out of the sun."

"Here." Jack hands me a battered tin cup, full of water. It tastes awful, the water's chock full of minerals, but at least it's wet and cold. I scrunch my nose at the offending smell and take a few sips. I notice that my hand is shaking and I quickly put the cup down, hoping Jack hasn't noticed. I glance at him, but he's looking at Sam.

It's my fault we're in this mess. Well, not my fault that Sam's really sick and I'm already halfway there, but that I didn't realize the people here were trying to quarantine us when we approached them. Their dialect is different than the other village we'd been to, where Sam got infected trying to help the sick children. I thought, when we got here, they were trying to help Sam, herding us into this small house. It all happened so fast, I should have questioned them, should have insisted�

If only we hadn't used up all our medical supplies at the other place. Antibiotics were useless, of course. But the Tylenol helped control the fevers and the antihistamines helped with the rash. But we honestly never expected� we didn't think we'd catch it.Big, strong, invincible Tau'ri. Ha. Stupid Earthlings, more like.

I try to repress another shiver and look longingly at the small bed in the corner that I've called my own. Our prison is a one room house with two bunk beds, a table in the center with three chairs, a sink with a hand pump and a wood stove, and a small alcove cordoned off with a curtain, behind which is a tub and working toilet.

Desperately thirsty, I look at the water and wish it didn't taste so bad. When Jack moves away from the window, I pick up the cup and gulp the water down, holding my breath but still tasting the minerals in it.

I walk over to the sink and put down the cup, then use the pump till the water is flowing quickly. Cupping my hands together under the stream, I splash the cold liquid over my face. I alternate pumping and splashing a few times, feeling the waterrun down my throat and neck, soaking the cotton of my tee shirt.

It feels good for a few moments, until my body responds to the chill by more shivers. I should tell Jack and Teal'c that I've finally come down with Telsha's Ague, which is what the people here call it, Telsha being the name of the plant that's used to cure it.The one that's in short supply. I wonder if the first person to develop the cure was called Telsha, or was it the person who discovered the healing power of the herb? I guess it's not important at this point.

Instead, I tense, holding the shivers at bay. I don't want my teammates to see me like this, they need to concentrate on Sam. Her fever must be spiking because Jack's pumping more water into the tub. We've had to bathe her twice already today to bring the fever down. I keep my back to them, not wanting to see the worry in their faces.

It's been a long two days, me and Jack waiting nervously for the first symptoms to show up.Wondering whether the headaches were heat related or part of the illness. Guessing whether we were tired because we'd been up night and day taking turns sitting with Sam, or whether we were in the first stages of the Ague.

We should have booked for home when we'd first seen the illness, gone into quarantine at the SGC with all its medical trappings, instead of traveling half a day to this second country village. But because the UAV had discovered the nearby remains of a pyramid similar the Kukulcan one in Mexico, we headed on here. It had been our goal in the first place, the main part of our mission, although the inhabitants are clearly not of Mayan descent.

I hear Sam's protests as Teal'c lowers her into the tub. It breaks my heart, knowing there's nothing we can give her to make her more comfortable. We can't even break out of here, don't think we haven't tried. The doors are too solid, the windows, although they look like glass, are unbreakable. Maybe Teal'c's staff weapon would be powerful enough to get us out, but he, like me, trusted the villagers and had put it aside to help Sam into the house.

I fill my cup up again and make my shaky way to the table and pull out a chair. It feels good to sit, although now I�m hearing a strange ringing sound in my ears. I can hear Jack and Teal'c talking to Sam, soothing her. I wonder how long it'll be before I'm the one sitting in that small tub.Or Jack?

With my teammates momentarily out of sight, I allow my body to relax, and I shiver so strongly that the water I try to bring to my mouth spills over my hand and onto the table. Holding on to the cup with both hands, I drink greedily and put the empty cup back down. I wipe the spill from the wooden tabletop, wishing I could make all our problems disappear just as easily.

I want to lie down so badly, my head feels too heavy for my neck and my stomach is beginning to churn. Instead, I lean forward and put my arms on the table and rest my head on them. The position causes the blood to pound more heavily in my skull, but I ignore it. Instead, I listen to the sound of water as it's poured over Sam's body. That tub is too small to lie comfortably in, so we have to use another cup to wet the upper body down.

I close my eyes against the growing nausea, and my friends' voices become background noise. It's not till I hear footsteps that I realize they're putting Sam back to bed. I straighten up in my chair, and as the room slowly tilts I know I can't hide my illness much longer.

I need to go look at Sam, to make sure she's still okay. I push my chair back and stand, when the next thing I know, I've hit my hip and shoulder painfully against something hard. I reach out with my hand, looking for something to hold onto. My hand strikes against a wooden stick, and I realize it's a table leg. I grab onto it, but I don't understand why the table is on its side.

I hear Jack's voice calling my name and then someone's holding onto my shoulder. I feel a touch against my cheek, the sensation wonderfully cool.

"Shit, Daniel. You're burning up." I feel myself pulled into a seated position, and the room tilts again. I swallow hard against the building nausea.

"You should have informed us you were ill." Teal'c's voice, laced with worry, still holds a hint of reprimand.

I'm hauled to my feet and I see I'm being steered towards the bed. But I know I won't make it so I lunge to my left, knowing the sink is in that direction.

"Daniel," Jack says as I stumble against the porcelain basin. I want to answer, but I'm too busy heaving. My legs are shaking as I lean against the sink, and now sweat pours down my body. Someone's holding me up, and I'm grateful for the support. The pump's going, cleaning my mess as I continue to add to it. Something cold is placed on the back of my neck and I jerk in shock,then relax as it soothes the pounding in my skull. I gag a few times as I begin to dry heave, then stand, legs locked and spread out, and hope that's the end of it.

"Come on," Jack says, his voice strangely gentle when my stomach has decided it's had enough. He puts an arm around me and guides me towards the bed. I'm glad for his support as the walls and floor keep moving. I make to climb into the top bunk where I've been sleeping, but he stops me. Someone's pulled the light blanket aside on the lower bunk, probably Teal'c. I sit heavily while Jack bends to untie my bootlaces. I feel the footwear being slipped off, the socks following seconds later.

"Here, take your pants off." I fumble at the buttons and then stand up. I stagger and Teal'c holds me steady while I step out of them. My tee shirt follows, and clad only in my boxers, I shiver in the hot air, feeling goose bumps run up and down my arms and legs.

Jack covers me with the blanket once I've lain down, and I huddle beneath its warmth. He sits beside me on the bed, and I see the worry in his eyes.

"How long?"

I've kept this from him too long, and I know he'll be mad when he hears.

"Since the middle of the night," I say. "The headache started then, the aches and pains since lunchtime."

"Shit, Daniel," he swears.

"I'm sorry," I reply. I am, but admitting to my illness would only have made him worry more about his getting sick himself.

"What about you?" I can't help asking.

"O'Neill has begun suffering from the first stages of the illness," Teal'c supplies as he towers over the bed.

I look from Teal'c to Jack, surprised that Jack hadn't told me. I guess my face reflects my feelings, because Jack says, "Just started a little while ago."

Jack's sick, so I figure he's going to need his bed soon. I sit up and Jack pushes me back with a hand against my chest.

"Where d'ya think you're going?"

I point to the upper bunk. "You're going to want your bed back."

"Stay. Up, down, makes no difference. If I feel lousy enough, I'll crawl into bed with you," he teases. I blink, the small cot would be a tight squeeze, but it would make things easier for Teal'c for us to both be on one level. "Okay, never mind, I'll crawl into bed with Carter," he says with a lazy smile when I don't reply.

"We can remove the mattress and place it on the floor when we have need," Teal'c says in his no nonsense voice. And I just realized that with the three of us sick, Teal'c is going to be one busy Jaffa.

Teal'c moves away from the bed and I hear more water being pumped. He returns with a bowl and a cloth, and Jack removes my glasses and pulls the blanket aside and starts to wipe me down with the wet cloth.

It's uncomfortable, the cold cloth against my hot skin, but after a while I figure it must be helping because I stop shivering. Jack eventually puts the bowl aside and hands me some water in the same battered tin cup I'd drunk from earlier. There are only two cups in the house, one's in the bathroom, the other one's for drinking.

"You okay for now?" Jack asks. I nod, and he pulls the blanket over me. "I'm gonna lie down for a while," he tells us as he climbs into the upper bunk. I hear the frame squeak as he shifts, getting comfortable.

I'm feeling warm with the blanket on top of me, so I twitch it aside. I lie there almost naked, and feel like I'm boiling from the inside. If only we could open a window, a breeze, even a hot one, would feel so good.

I can't get comfortable so I turn onto my side. But I'm too hot now in that position so I shift to my stomach after a few minutes. My back and hips begins to ache, so I'm forced to turn around and lie on my back.

I realize after a while I haven't heard Jack move, and I wonder if he's asleep. Sam's been quiet, too, and I envy them both their ability to rest. I barely slept last night, spending part of the time with Sam, and the other worrying about her, and us.

Too soon I'm reaching for the blanket again as I begin to shiver once more. This time it's the full bed shaking, teeth rattling type, kind of embarrassing because it's something you really can't control. I feel a heavier weight on my shoulders and realize Teal'c's placed another blanket over me. I stutter my thanks as I pull the blanket up to my nose.

Right here and now I realize that my symptoms are a bit different than Sam's. She's been nauseated and dizzy along with the fever. I've been mostly headachy and feverish. I wonder if that has to do with the fact that she'd been given some fever relief from the start with the last of our supplies, and her symptoms just didn't evolve as severely at first because of that.

The shivering eventually eases off and I begin to doze. I'm in that kind of twilight where I'm aware of what's going on, sort of, and at the same time I see visions floating through my mind. I wonder if they're from fever-induced random firing of synapses, or just quick flitting dreams because I can't fall into a deep enough sleep.

I can hear Teal'c moving around a bit, the squeak of a chair, the rustle of cloth. There are faint sounds from outside and I swear I can hear the wind soughing through the trees. Jack coughs, then moves around a bit. I feel bad for him; it must be even hotter on the top bunk than it is down here.

Time loses meaning; it's just me, the heat, and my illness. I rouse after a while to the sound of Teal'c's voice beside me and the feel of his hand on my face. I drink the water he offers, and lie back and reach for the blankets that I must have kicked off at one point. I hear him talking with Jack and his body cuts off the light of the lamps that now illuminate the room. The sun must have set and I never noticed.

When he moves away, I turn to look at a nearby lamp and watch the flickering of the burning wick. I wish I could sleep, if only to escape the incessant pounding in my head and the fever wracking my body.

Feet appear from the top bunk and Jack drops heavily to the floor. He almost falls forward but at the last moment, manages to stay upright. Then he's moving quickly towards the small bathroom and I hear him throw up. After a moment, Teal'c goes to him behind the curtain.

I try to recall how overdue we are in contacting the SGC. I know we spent over a day in the first village, where the children were ill. We only had a day and a half left to explore, so did that end sometime this morning? I wish I could think clearly, but my brain's so scrambled, trying to work out the math makes me even more confused.

I keep finding myself hoping that General Hammond will send someone to look for us soon, and then I keep reminding myself that we never got a chance to warn him of the contagion. Whichever team comes searching for us is going to end up being in the same boat as we're in now. Damn this quarantine.

Jack's coming back towards the beds now, but instead of climbing back up, he drops wearily on the foot of mine. I move my feet to give him room, and he leans back against the wall. Teal'c reaches up into the bunk and brings the mattress down and places it near the wall.

"How you doing?" Jack asks me. I can't make his face out very clearly, but I'm thinking he's looking kind of pale.

"My head hurts," I admit, and somehow I find I sound like a little whining kid.

"I know how you feel," Jack says as he closes his eyes, moving his head slightly against the wall.

"How's Sam?" I ask Teal'c as he finished adjusting the blankets on Jack's mattress.

"Her fever is stable for now," Teal'c says. "But she is unable to hold any liquids."

I knew that, I'd heard her throwing up again earlier. With her high fever and this heat, I know she isn't going to last long unless we get some help here.

Jack finally moves off the bed and lies down. He curls up and pulls the blankets over his shoulders, becoming a grey lump on the floor by my feet. The angle of the beds prevents me from seeing Sam, but I think Jack's got a good view of the both of us.

I try to sleep but the shivering soon starts up again. I'm freezing and sweating at the same time, and the room takes on a misty quality. My ears are ringing, I can't seem to focus on anything and the skin on my chest has started to burn.

Teal'c's trying to get me to sit up, and I try. But my body isn't listening and I feel myself sliding sideways. There are hands holding me up and the room is moving. No, that's not right, I'm moving, although I can't seem to feel my legs or feet. Jack's there with Teal'c, I can hear his voice but I can't seem to find his face as the walls continue to spin around me.

Suddenly the breath is forced from my body as I'm enveloped in something cold. I try to move away but I'm held there by unrelenting hands. Jack's talking to me, telling me to relax. His words finally sink in and I realize I'm in the tiny bathtub, the one we'd been using to bring down Sam's fever.

I guess it's my turn now.

I'm half lying in the tub with my legs sticking out of the end. My shoulders and head are supported against Jack's chest, and Teal'c is pouring water over my torso and legs. Damn, but this would be embarrassing if I didn't feel so damn sick.

After a while the water becomes less uncomfortable and either my fever's gone down or my body temperature has heated the water up.Maybe a bit of both. I'm eased out of the tub, wrapped in a blanket and dried off, then helped back into bed. Jack's leaning against the wall and I can see him shaking. Before I can warn Teal'c, he's seen Jack's predicament and then Jack's being put to bed also.

My chest is itchy and I scratch. Teal'c catches my hand and tells me no. I look down and see that my skin is raised and blotchy.Great.

The next time I look around, the lamps are extinguished, and there's sunlight peeking from the corners of the curtains. I've been sick for twenty four hours now, and Sam for over sixty. Somehow I don't think we're gonna make it, and truth be told, I'm feeling so miserable at the moment, I just wish somebody would just shoot me and put me out of my misery.

Teal'c holds some water to my mouth and the smell makes me gag. The pain from the reflex triggers the memory of my having thrown up a few times during the night. I don't think it's so much the water that's upsetting my stomach, as the taste and smell of it.

"You must drink," Teal'c says as he takes my chin between his fingers and turns my head towards him.

"I can't," I manage to articulate as I hold my breath against the stench. He finally relents and places the cup nearby, within my reach.

I see Teal'c stiffen, and I realize there's a noise coming from outside. I try and concentrate and finally make out loud voices. Jack gets up and staggers to the window to stand beside Teal'c and they both peer out. There are people arguing off to the side, and I'm pretty sure they can't be seen from the window.

The voices quiet, and there's a scratching sound at the door. It begins to swing open and I have to look away, the glare from the sun both blinding me and causing my head to pound.

"Colonel O'Neill."

I know that voice. Over the years, its dulcet tones have been there to greet me through fever dreams and pain and anguish and misery as I fight my way from whatever the fates have thrown at me, always there to succor me with relief from pain and illness. I squint into the light, my eyes tearing. The door closes and I finally see her. The person standing before me is wearing a surgical gown and mask and she's got a bag over her shoulder that's almost as big as she is, but the stature and bearing of the newcomer are unmistakable.

Janet's here.

So I must be dreaming.

She looks at Jack and I can see her eyes above the bit of cloth tied over her mouth. Her gaze shifts and she sees me, and her eyes widen. She scans the room and sees Sam, and I can tell she doesn't know who to go to first.

"Carter's got it worse," Jack finally says, swaying slightly. Teal'c puts a hand to my friend's shoulder and as Janet moves towards Sam, Jack goes towards his bed.

I can hear the women talking softly and try to force my tired brain to figure out what's going on. I just can't envisage Janet being here, on this planet, I'm certain I'm delirious. I hear the blood pressure cuff being pumped, the tearing of the wrapper of a sterile wipe. I see Janet remove the clear container of an IV solution from her bag and I can just picture her sticking a needle into Sam's vein.

I blink and Janet's suddenly sitting on the side of my bed. Her eyes are anxious as she sticks a thermometer into my mouth. She takes my pressure and listens to my chest. She's talking to me but I'm not sure if I should answer. She's part of a dream, isn't she? I wince at the prick of a needle in the back of my hand and lift it to examine it carefully. It looks real, and it certainly feels real.

"Here, I need you to swallow these." She holds a few pills before my face. "Tylenol and Compazine," she says as I squint at them. "For your fever and nausea." She slides her other hand beneath my neck and raises my head. Obediently I take the pills and put them in my mouth, then swallow the water from the bottle she holds to my mouth.

Oh God, blessed, unflavored water!

"More, please," I gasp as she takes the bottle away. It tastes too good to be a dream, and all I know is that I can't get enough of it.

"In a little while," she says gently. "Let's just make sure you can keep it down first, okay?"

She adjusts my blanket and fiddles with the IV. "I'll be back soon." She moves towards Jack and I close my eyes, fighting the sudden recurring nausea. I guess it wasn't the smell of the water, after all.

"How?" Jack's question has me listening intently while I fight to control my stomach.

"SG-7 was sent out when you became overdue. They discovered the epidemic at the village and learned that you'd been there a few days ago. Colonel Myers immediately requested General Hammond for medical aid and they accompanied me here to look for you."

"The village?"

"My people are there trying to help them, Colonel. And the good news is that Doctor Forrester has identified the plant they need for the disease's cure. It's Skullcap, readily available and plentiful on Earth. We've sent some over and the villagers are in the process of making the curative."

"One plant's gonna make all the difference?"

My breathing begins to speed up and I just know I'm going to lose the battle with my stomach. I clutch at the blankets, willing myself to keep the water and medication down.

"No, but Skullcap is a main ingredient which they mix with several others�"

I'm panting now and struggle to turn onto my side. I begin to heave, my head feels like it's going to explode and I'm choking and gasping for breath. There are hands supporting me, holding me steady as I expel water and bile. I'm sweating and shaking, my neck and shoulders aching from the strain, my head pounding so badly I'm afraid it's going to fall off.

I can't open my eyes and I can't slow my breathing down. A small rubber-clad hand rubs my back and neck, and the touch helps to ground me, calm me.

"Okay, let's try this again," Janet says after a few minutes when my body has calmed down. "Can you turn onto your stomach?"

With her help I manage to do so, the blankets scratchy against the rash on my upper body. She pulls the blanket away from my lower body. I tense as I feel her hands on my butt, but I've been through this before and I know that although never pleasant, a suppository is the only way for Tylenol to be administered if one can't keep it down. I force myself to relax and she finishes quickly.

"I've given you some more Compazine through the IV, you should start feeling better soon," she says. She pulls the blanket up to my waist, leaving my back exposed. My chest begins to itch, and I know I won't be able to stay in this position for long. I hear her remove her latex gloves and she snaps on another pair as her footsteps move away from my bed.

A loud banging sound startles me and I jump. I force my eyes open and turn my head and see Janet at the door, banging her fist on the wood. There's a muffled voice on the other side, and she yells, "Colonel Myers. Get the windows open, it's like a damn oven in here."

There's more banging and scratching outside and after a few minutes, Teal'c forces the two windows open. Immediately I feel cooler air on my skin, the slight breeze eliciting goose bumps. It feels good because I'm really hot. I manage to turn onto my side and pass my hand over my itchy skin. Relief soon turns to pain and I leave off scratching.

Janet spends the next little while dividing her time between the three of us. The third time she sits by my side, she asks me why I'm not sleeping.

"Can't," I tell her.

"He has not slept very much since he has fallen ill," Teal'c says from behind her.

"Head hurts," I explain, my throat scratchy and dry and my tongue so thick and swollen I can barely speak. I'm so thirsty that I chance begging for some water, even though I'll probably puke it up in a few minutes. "Please," I add to my request for a drink.

Immediately my head is raised and the bottle is at my lips. I'm given small, wonderful sips of the cool liquid. Some is poured onto a soft cloth and my face and neck are wiped down. Miraculously, my stomach behaves, and I think I remember Janet saying earlier she'd given me something for the nausea.

She gets up and Teal'c takes her place on my bed, continuing to help me slowly drink the bottle's contents. She speaks softly to Teal'c and moves away.

"DoctorFraiser has given you something for your discomfort. You should sleep now."

He puts the now empty plastic bottle aside and adjusts my pillow under my head. He's right, my headache is beginning to fade. I can't keep my eyes open and I don't bother to try anymore. I can hear voices somewhere and I realize it's SG-7, who's outside guarding our little house. I relax, the pull of sleep too powerful to resist.

- - - - - -

"Daniel, can you wake up for me?"

The voice is insistent, as is the cold, wet cloth that's being passed over my forehead and cheeks. I bat the cloth away when it moves down my neck, and I hear a soft chuckle.

"That's it, now try and open your eyes." I really don't want to, but the cloth is passed over said eyes and wipes the sleep away. I blink and try to focus on Janet's face looming before me.

"I need you to drink this," she says when she sees I'm really awake. She trades the cloth for a small wooden cup and tips it towards my mouth. Obediently, I swallow the liquid. Its taste is strong and bitter despite the honey that's been added to it. The flavor is familiar, though, and I realize it's not the first time I've been urged to swallow it. I have vague memories of being woken up and made to drink the stuff over the past immeasurable while.

"Here," she says as she switches to water. Gratefully I sip at the liquid, hoping to get rid of the medicinal aftertaste that lingers in my mouth.

"How are you feeling?" She picks the cloth up again and begins to wipe my neck and shoulders, carefully keeping away from my chest. Still, the stimulation triggers the itch.

"Tired," I say as I raise my hand to scratch. Janet stops me before I can relieve the irritation. I can feel the underlying headache beneath the painkillers, and I'm so stiff and sore I know that my fever still has a good grip on me.

"You should be feeling better soon," she soothes. "Sam's fever just broke and the Colonel's doing a lot better."

She dips the cloth in a bowl of water and squeezes some of the moisture from it before passing it over my face once more. I notice then that she's not wearing any protective clothing.

"Janet." She stops her ministrations and looks at me attentively."Your clothes? You've been exposed?"

"To the sickness? No, I've been taking the herbs. They'll not only cure the disease, but prevents people from catching it." She smiles and passes the cloth along the back of my neck. It feels wonderful.

I begin to feel sleepy again and I close my eyes.

- - - - - -

I wake up, wet and uncomfortable. I feel lightheaded and weak, but the stiffness and aches are all but gone. My head isn't pounding and although I feel woozy, it doesn't feel like it's drug-induced.

I shift in bed and my legs slide together easily, lubricated by sweat. Droplets drip down my back and chest, and down my face. I wipe my nose and cheek on my pillow and pass a hand over the other side of my face.

My hand comes away soaked, and I look at it in confusion, wondering if it's raining in the house.

"Daniel?" I turn towards the voice and see Jack sitting up on the mattress looking at me. "You awake?" Seconds later, Teal'c is leaning over me, his hand on my face.

"Your fever has broken," he says with a smile. He moves away and Jack gets up and sits beside me.

"God, your bed is soaked through," Jack exclaims as he stands up quickly. I look down and see the darker color where my sweat has permeated the linen around my body. He tugs at the bottom sheet and raises it, placing a hand beneath. "Geez, that's gotta be uncomfortable. Teal'c, can we switch his mattress with mine?"

Teal'c returns with fresh water and a towel and proceeds to wash away the sweat. It's embarrassing and I wish I could do it myself, but I can barely stay awake, let alone give myself a bath. But I admit it feels good, and when he's done, he wraps me up in a dry blanket, picks me up and sits me on a chair right by my bed. Jack stands behind me and holds onto my shoulders to make sure I don't fall off, which at this point I'm so tired and shaky that without his help, I'm sure I'd slip off like a wet noodle. Teal'c removes my mattress and trades it with Jack's.

While Teal'c's making my bed, I look around and notice Sam's asleep in hers. There's a small lump curled up in the bunk above Sam's which I assume is Janet.

"Are they okay?" I ask Jack.

"Carter's doing better than you at this point," Jack says as he squeezes my arm. "Teal'c finally talked Doc into taking a nap; she was almost dead on her feet looking after us."

"DoctorFraiser spent much time worrying over you and MajorCarter," Teal'c says as he picks me up again and shifts me to my bed. I'm glad to by horizontal once more; my body couldn't take sitting in a chair for much longer.

"The bedding will dry quickly in the sun," Teal'c says as he takes the soiled mattress and linens outside. I notice the door's open, and Teal'c leaves the house without being stopped.

"We're not prisoners?" I ask Jack, who climbs onto the foot of my bed and leans against the far wall. I bring my legs to the side to make room for him.

"Not since Doc came by with the plants they needed for the cure to this disease," Jack replies. "Everyone's been dosed now, so they're not afraid of getting sick. And the guys at home are working on a vaccine, so maybe they'll be able to eradicate this sickness once and for all."

"So we're free to go?"

"Yep," Jack mumbles as he slides down the wall and curls up on my bed. "As soon as we're up to it, we can go home. But not today," he mumbles sleepily.

I realize that even though Jack's looking stronger than I am, he's also still recovering. He must have tired himself out just standing with me for those few minutes, and here I am lying on his bed while mine is outside drying. I shift a bit more, giving him more space, and close my eyes, joining him in sleep.

- - - - - -

"You mean we're going to be brought back to the Stargate in a horse and buggy?" Jack exclaims at the news. He's well enough to be up for short periods, and he's sitting at the table, eating a light lunch.

"It's not a buggy, it's a buckboard, sort of," Janet says as she urges me to take another sip of broth, her fingers pushing the cup up relentlessly towards my mouth. "It's not first class, but it'll get you there within a half a day."

"It beats walking," Sam chimes in from her bed.

"So, we're really going home tomorrow morning?" I ask, frowning. I take a sip of the tepid, salty liquid, and sit the cup back onto my lap. I'm not exactly looking forward to riding in a hard, unforgiving wagon on a bumpy, dirt track.

"At crack of dawn tomorrow, so we can try and beat the heat," Janet says.

I guess anything is better than lying here in this small house, suffering the relentless heat for who knows how much longer. Despite the open doors and windows, there is very little air circulating. Mind you, it's not as hot and stifling as it was when we first arrived, cooped up and barricaded with mounting fevers. But I long for the recycled, air-conditioned environment of the

Whoa, did I just think that? Have I become so inured to getting injured that I think of the infirmary as my home away from home? I smile to myself,then shake my head at Janet when she raises her eyebrows in response to my musings.

But I will admit to being very scared a few days ago, with Sam really sick and us waiting helplessly to see if we'd develop any symptoms. It brought home the knowledge that we take so many things for granted - our health, our technology and our medicine. Even Janet is taken for granted, expected to be waiting for us at home when we arrive in worse shape than when we left.

But she came through for us, traveling offworld, and in the middle of an epidemic no less, willing to put her life at risk to help care for us. She even forewent wearing the Hazmat suit in favor of a gown and mask because of the extreme heat of the planet.

I see her lean towards me and I quickly raise the mug and sip, the broth cooler now and stronger tasting. My stomach is full and I dislike the taste, and so I hand the cup back to her.

"I've had enough," I say as she takes it from me. I slide back down the bed, intending to rest a bit more. Sitting up still tires me, and I seem to be sleeping most of the time.

Janet helps pull the light sheet over my shoulders and I grab her hand as she stands up.

"Thank you," I say. "For everything." My words must surprise her because her eyes widen. Then she smiles, her eyes sparkling and crinkling at the corners.

She reaches over and pushes the hair off my forehead as if I were a child.

"You don't think I'd trust your health to just anybody, do you?" she jokes. "I'm keeping tabs, when I fix you up one hundred times, I win a kewpie doll."

"How about we make a deal. I'll buy you a kewpie doll and you won't need to fix me up anymore."

She sighs. "I wish it were that easy."

Yeah, me too, I think to myself. I snuggle into the pillow and close my eyes, allowing sleep to beckon me closer. At this moment, I'm more than willing to let go and allow someone else take care of the logistics in getting us home. I know I'll be afraid again soon, maybe during our next mission, maybe the one after that. But for now, I'm just content to rest with my team, and let my mind and body float, and worry about nothing.

 

FINIS!


Author's Comments:

 A simple exercise in 1st person POV, I found it strangely easy to get into Daniel's mind, but it's definitely not my favourite way of writing.

The gang, as usual, has kept me on the straight and narrow, informing me with no holds barred if our Daniel isn't quite whumped enough. Thanks, guys!

My heartsisters, who have made me laugh and smile, and who I have come to rely on so much in my writing, always hold a special place in my heart.

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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.