Rough Landing

 

Pain. It was physical, flowing throughout his body. Pain. It was the knowledge that something wonderful was gone, missing from his soul. It was an emptiness in the center of his being, replaced by agony and sorrow. A stirring symphony, which once played softly in the background, suddenly cut off and replaced by screeches and atonal sounds. The memory of muted shades of beautiful colours, replaced by harsh, painful light. Freedom to move, to drift on subtle air currents; suddenly shackled by heavy limbs, unresponsive to his will.

Physical pain, something alien touching his too sensitive skin. Discordant sounds assailed his ears, sending agony into his brain. Desire to escape, to float out of its grasp. Only to find oneself chained to the flexion of muscles, creaking of bones. Sinews, ligaments, tendons, skin…all working together; but not quite obeying his commands. Movement, flight, escape. Motion besetting his vision, causing waves of nausea to course throughout his body.

He attempted to return to the paradise that he had once known, fighting the physical restraints on his spirit. Discomfort invaded his efforts, dimly aware that breathing had become difficult. Something coursing down his face; tickling sensitive skin. Concentration, lifting a limb, touching wet skin. His brain finally registering movement, his vision focusing on his hand.

- - - - - -

Jack had been sitting beside the unconscious form of his best friend for the past two hours. He had been found lying naked in the hot dessert, set slightly apart from the battlefield. Skaara and Jack had carried him to Kasuf's home, where they had taken shelter before the mother of all sandstorms had hit.

They had defeated Anubis, and had saved Abydos. Again. Daniel had played a huge part in the victory, although why he was back in corporeal form was something Jack didn't understand. He figured that it was possible, due to Orlin's visit to Carter a year ago. But why would Daniel have chosen to return, when he had twice made it clear that being all glowy was what he had wanted?

Daniel stirred slightly, and Jack leaned over and called his name. He was elated to finally see Daniel open his eyes. He watched as Daniel looked around, trying to get his bearings.

"Well, look who decided to join the living," Jack quipped. He reached over and grasped Daniel's shoulder in greeting, and was shocked to see Daniel's reaction. His friend clumsily rolled away from him, nearly falling off the bed. He rose to his knees, still tangled up in the sheets, sidling away from Jack. His eyes darted everywhere, and Jack could tell that he was terrified. His breath came in harsh pants, and he was having trouble staying upright. He swayed and fell against a piece of furniture, remaining there while Jack yelled for Carter.

As his teammate rushed into the room, Jack put an arm out to stop Carter before she startled Daniel. Jack watched as tears ran down Daniel's face. As he went to wipe the tears away, Daniel's attention suddenly focused on his hand held before his face. He seemed to be fascinated by it, and Jack took the opportunity to quietly approach his friend and speak his name.

"Daniel?" Blue eyes looked up at him, focused on his face a moment, but Jack could tell that there was no recognition.

"Sir, what happened," Carter asked quietly, still keeping her distance.

"Carter, you tell me. You're the one with experience of people coming back from the glow. Did Orlin react like this?"

Jack saw Daniel relax slightly when he saw that nobody was touching him. His eyes flitted from Jack to Carter, not exactly focused, but following their speech.

"No, sir. Orlin was already corporeal when I got home. Maybe this is simply a period of adjustment?"

"Or maybe he's just had a rough landing, coming down from…wherever." Jack said thoughtfully. "Maybe Daniel was forced back, so the transition is a little harder."

Jack took a step towards Daniel, and suddenly the man threw himself at Jack, tripping in the sheets as he tried to escape. Gutteral sounds escaped his lips and he kicked and scratched, trying to avoid Jack. His movements were slow and weak, and it looked to Jack that Daniel couldn't quite control his muscles. He quickly pinned Daniel down, while Carter stood blocking the doorway. Once Daniel stopped struggling, Jack loosened his grip and moved away. Daniel managed to get up onto his knees, leaning against the side of the bed.

Jack pursed his lips as he watched Daniel. The man was just about ready to fall flat on his face, the hours he'd spent out in the sun had dehydrated him and they hadn't been able to force any liquids into him while he lay unconscious. Jack took the pitcher of water that Kasuf had provided and poured some into a thick earthenware type mug. He made his way very slowly towards his friend, who watched him warily. Jack knelt beside Daniel, offering the water to him. Danny batted the container away, and as water splashed his hand, Jack saw his attention waver to the liquid dripping from it.

Daniel brought his hand to his mouth, licking the water. Jack approached with the water again, slowly bringing it to his friend's lips. As he tipped the mug, water poured over Daniel's mouth and chin. His tongue flitted out, and suddenly he grabbed the mug and drained the bit of water remaining in it. Jack refilled it, and held it out again. Daniel tried to gulp it down, but Jack pulled it away.

"Slowly, you have to drink it slowly, Daniel."

He held the mug to his own mouth, mimicking taking a sip. He held it back out, and Daniel obediently took a sip. Then another. Then made another grab for the mug, and had gulped down all the water before Jack could pull it away.

Seconds later, the water all came back up. Jack leaned over to help Daniel, but he pulled away. A keening sound escaped from Daniel as he held his arms around his abdomen. He curled up on his side, ignoring Jack and his other teammates.

Jack sat beside Daniel, and tentatively stroked a hand through his hair. The wailing stopped, but he lay there trembling as Jack tried to comfort him. Carter made her way forward, kneeling beside her two companions. Daniel jumped as she touched fingers to his neck, taking his pulse. His eyes were squeezed shut, his breath coming quickly. Jack thought that his skin felt hot, but he thought it was from the slight sunburn he'd received. He'd been lucky that the sands had covered him quickly, protecting him from the glare of Abydos' two suns.

- - - - - -

Survival. Somehow he instinctively knew that he needed water. The brute before him kept taunting him with it, but he was smarter. He played along, and seeing his chance, grabbed for the water. His hands had responded sluggishly, but responded nevertheless in grasping the container of water. The barbarian withdrew what little water was left, but Daniel rejoiced inwardly, knowing that he had won that battle. Seconds later, nausea seized him and his stomach rebelled, rejecting the water he had forced into it.

He lay on the floor confused, and a sound assaulted his ears, further adding to his misery. Something stroking his hair startled him, and when the noise ceased, he realized then that it had been coming from him. He waited to see what the beast would do next, he thought that it was certainly the cause of his current misery. A cool touch on his throat, a hand on his forehead.

More water offered, waiting by his lips. He raised his head, tentatively seeking its moisture. Meager drops permitted down his throat, but over time, his stomach filled. Cool wetness spread over his face. He moved away from the sensation, but it followed him until exhaustion and fever pulled him into darkness.

- - - - - -

Jack had offered Daniel more water, and this time his friend understood that he was to drink it slowly. He then soaked a cloth in water, and passed it over Daniel's hot, sweat covered face. He tried to hide his face but Jack was persistent. Jack then watched as Daniel's eyes drooped shut, his breathing beginning to slow into a more regular pattern.

He definitely had a fever, and Jack hoped that it wouldn't rise too high because they were cut off from the Stargate due to the sandstorm. Kasuf had told him that storms like this often lasted 24 hours or more. Carter handed Jack some Tylenol, and he took a chance and roused Daniel. He popped the pills into his mouth, quickly pouring water behind the pills, forcing Daniel to swallow. He stepped back before Daniel could react more than to try and push Jack away.

Daniel lay there, watching both he and Carter warily. He fought sleep for a few more minutes, but his fatigue and fever overwhelmed him, and he drifted off to sleep.

Jack sat back on his heels, and with Carter's help, placed his friend back up onto the bed's mattress. He slowly untangled the sheets from around Daniel's legs, carefully lifting them without waking him. He straightened the loose pants and shirt that Daniel was wearing, clothing happily provided by Skaara.

He returned to his vigil, praying that the storm would stop more quickly than expected. He didn't think he could get Daniel home in this state without Teal'c's help. And Teal'c was stuck Earthside until the storm abated. Jack had ordered him to go report to General Hammond while Carter and himself remained on Abydos, supervising the cleanup and searching for Anubis' remains, if there even was anything left.

Daniel slept restlessly, his body reacting even in sleep to sounds coming from outside. Jack could hear occasional bangs as the wind blew objects around the city. Something crashed loudly outside, and waking in a panic, Daniel almost fell out of the bed. He landed in Jack's arms, and began to struggle as Jack's arms tightened to keep him off the floor.

- - - - - -

From nothing, came sound. The noise assailed his ears, pounded throughout his head, causing his body to react before thought. He found himself held securely, and not knowing why, the sensation frightened him, and he struggled to escape. He was pushed back firmly onto a soft covering, and held down until he stopped struggling. He found himself pulling his body into itself, his knees nearly touching his chin. He became aware of movement, it was a slight jerky, nearly rhythmic movement. He tried to concentrate on it, and realized that it was his body, vibrating without his conscious thought. As his sluggish brain tried to figure out what was happening, his jaw also began the movement, his teeth clinking together, making a strange, chattering sound.

Something heavy was placed over his body, and after a few minutes, his body's movement diminished slightly. Warmth began to flow around his limbs, and he realized that the sensation that he had been feeling was cold. A cool sensation once again touched his face, and he opened his eyes, curious to see what it was. He saw a hand, and continued on to see the face it belonged to. Concerned brown eyes were looking down at him, and as he stared, he realized that the eyes were familiar. The mouth in the face moved, simultaneously producing noise. Somewhere deep inside he knew that he should understand the sounds, should be able to respond to them. He shut his eyes, trying to remember. A word came to mind…he repeated it several times in his head. Rolling his tongue around the word, he finally tried to say it out loud.

"Jack?"

- - - - - -

Jack watched as Daniel began shivering violently. He'd placed blankets around his curled up body, tucking them in to try and hold the heat. He placed his hand on Daniel's forehead, testing for fever, waiting for the medicine to bring it down. This time Daniel didn't jump at the touch, but he did open his eyes to look at Jack. The intense fear was gone from his regard, replaced by what Jack thought was curiosity.

"Daniel, can you hear me?" he asked his friend. He hadn't expected Daniel to respond, but to his surprise, after a moment, he heard Daniel say his name.

Smiling, Jack kept his hand on Daniel, maintaining the contact, moving it up so that it was stroking his hair.

"Yeah, that's me. Jack. You remember me now?"

He saw Daniel look around the room slowly, taking things in. His gaze would always return to Jack, before moving onto something else. After a few minutes, Daniel removed a hand from under the blankets, tentatively touching Jack's arm.

"Danny?"

Daniel's eyes widened at the nickname. The hand on his arm tightened its hold. Jack brought his hand down to caress Daniel's cheek, before moving onto his nape as he bent down and carefully lifted Daniel up into a hug. Daniel's arms came around Jack, and he squeezed back. He whispered Jack's name again against his ear.

"You're home, Danny. You're back."

FINIS!

 

Author's Comments:
Thanks to devra, for all the early morning, late evening emails, encouragement and feedback.
This story was inspired by someone on a Stargate list who said she'd like to see a "feral" Daniel return in Season 7.

 

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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.