Part Four of the Nightmares Shared series.
I've been wanting to write another LD fic for ages but have had too many other zine commitments on my plate. Now there's a light at the end of the tunnel, I thought, why not?
Thanks to Annie as always.
Daniel was bored. Mind-numbingly, out of his skull bored. Sighing, he riffled one last time through the pages of the book he'd told Jack he just had to have from the bookstore and set it aside. He stared at the TV, playing the DVD documentary on pyramids he'd told Jack he just had to rent from the video store on the way back from the mountain, pulled a face and turned it off.
Rolling onto his side and almost falling off the edge of the sofa, he stared at Jack, who sat slumped in an armchair beside him, his bad knee encased in a splint and resting on a pillow atop the coffee table, eyes closed, snoring softly, and drooling.
Daniel sat up and pushed himself off the couch. He walked over to stand in front of Jack. "Jack?"
A little louder: "Jack?"
A solid prod with his finger to Jack's chest, and in a voice that could have been heard in the next county: "Jack!"
"What!" Jack shot up in his chair, almost surging to his feet. He winced and grabbed at his knee. "Geez! Warn a guy, will ya! What's wrong? House burn down? Thieves steal the good china?"
Daniel rolled his eyes. "No "
Jack stared at him. "Then what?"
"Read your book."
Watch your DVD."
"I did. It's boring and I'm bored. Bored shit-"
"Daniel, watch your language. Little boys shouldn't swear."
"I'm not a little boy."
"Neither am I. I'm thirty-five years old."
Jack made a show of looking him up and down.
"Inside," Daniel protested.
"Still," Jack reasoned, "words like that don't sound right coming out of a five year old mouth, even if it's attached to a thirty-five year old brain."
"Fine, but I'm still bored."
Jack looked around the room, but apparently getting no inspiration, sighed and scrubbed a hand through his hair. "Rain's stopped. Why don't you go outside and play for a while? Just don't go near the lake or too far from the house. Just play in the backyard, okay?"
Daniel opened his mouth to protest that he wasn't really a kid, that he didn't want to go out and play, that he'd rather be at the mountain, working on a translation or checking out a new planet, but he saw the exhaustion in Jack's eyes and the fine lines of pain framing them. It was his fault, after all. If he hadn't dropped Lumpy at the camping ground, Jack wouldn't have fallen down the hill and he wouldn't be laid up at home with his knee in a splint. "Okay," he said instead. "I'll be good," he promised when Jack opened his mouth.
He was still bored. Daniel sat on the edge of the little dock, almost, but not quite defying Jack's order that he not go near the lake. He tossed a stone at the water, watching as it hit the surface with a small plop and sunk immediately, silently bemoaning the fact that he couldn't even remember how to skim pebbles.
He looked around at the greeting. A small boy, a little older than him, was standing in the yard, holding onto the handlebars of a shiny red bike. A small dog danced around his ankles, yipping excitedly. "Quiet, Boo," the boy admonished.
Daniel raised an eyebrow. "Your dog's name is Boo?"
The boy shrugged. "My dad said he just looked like a Boo when we got him. I'm Marcus, what's your name?"
"Hey, Daniel. My mom and dad and I are staying in a cabin just up the road a little way." He smiled and patted the handlebars of his bike. "Dad let me bring my new bike. See " He turned it slightly to the side and Daniel saw it had an equally shiny red wagon attached to the back. "Sometimes, Boo rides in there, but today, we're gonna build a fort so I need the trailer to carry wood and stuff. Wanna help?"
Daniel considered the proposition. He was bored and Marcus looked like a friendly kid, with a ready smile and freckles dotting his nose. But he wasn't supposed to go away from the house and Jack was sleeping. He sighed and shook his head. "No, but thanks. I've got stuff to do here."
"Like what?" Marcus asked.
Daniel really didn't want to have to tell Marcus about how Jack had fallen down the hill because of him so he just shrugged. "Stuff. I need to collect some artifacts." After a moment, he added, when Marcus didn't seem the slightest bit impressed, "I'm an archeologist." He looked over at the garage and gestured to the roof where Jack's telescope sat. "After that, I'm going to do a star map."
Marcus just shrugged back. "Well, I'm a soldier and me and Boo are gonna build a fort. See ya."
"Bye." Daniel watched them leave. The bike with its nifty little wagon attached to the back was pretty cool, and building a fort would be sort of fun. They could have pretended they were defending it against the Goa'uld
Standing, he dusted off the seat of his pants and walked over to the garage. Well, he could still do stuff he liked to do and not disobey Jack's orders, couldn't he? Grabbing hold of the sides of the ladder, he carefully climbed up to the roof.
Well, it had seemed like a good idea, but it wasn't dark enough yet for any stars to be out and judging by the dark clouds threatening, there weren't going to be any visible tonight anyway. It was starting to get seriously cold and then a fat raindrop splashed against Daniel's glasses. Frustrated, he pulled them off and used the hem of his sweater to dry them.
"Crap!" he muttered. Standing, he looked down and froze. Below him, the ground seemed miles away and his eyesight suddenly blurred. Plopping down onto his butt, he grabbed hold of the base of the telescope and hung on for dear life. "Jack!" he wailed, tears streaming down his cheeks and mixing with the rain that now began to fall heavily. "Jack! Help!"
It seemed forever before he finally heard a welcome voice. "Daniel? Where the hell are you?"
"Up here," Daniel screamed. "I can't get down!"
Daniel leaned carefully forward to peer over the edge of the roof then shrank back as dizziness assailed him. "I'm stuck!"
"No, you're not," Jack said, sounding perfectly calm. "All you need to do is get over to the ladder and climb back down. I'm right here below you. I won't let you fall."
Daniel shook his head vehemently. "No! I'll fall!"
"I won't let you," Jack replied. There was a moment of silence, then Jack said, "I'll come up and get you."
"You can't. Your knee -"
"My knee's fine," Jack broke in. "Just stay right where you are and - Ow! Shit! Goddammit!"
"Jack?" Daniel called fearfully. "Are you okay?"
"Fine. Just fine," Jack said but Daniel could tell he wasn't. His voice was tight and shaky.
"I can get down," Daniel said though his chest felt tight and it was hard to breathe. "You just wait there - and catch me if I fall."
"Thanks You sure?"
Daniel shook his head. "I'm sure." Slowly, he unclenched his cold hands from the base of the telescope and carefully inched his way to the edge of the roof on his butt. Reaching out, he grabbed the sides of the ladder, then turned onto his tummy. With his eyes clenched tightly shut, his heart pounding in his chest, he dangled one foot over the side and felt for the first rung.
It was slow going. Every step down felt like a mile, the rain plastered his hair to his head and dribbled beneath the collar of his sweater and Daniel was shaking with cold and fear by the time he felt a strong pair of hands grasp him and lift him from the ladder.
Sobbing in relief, he wrapped his arms tightly around Jack's neck. "'m sorry."
"It's okay," Jack whispered into his ear. He was cradled against Jack's chest and he could hear Jack's heart pounding, feel the trembling of Jack's arms. "Let's go get warm."
Daniel poked at the marshmallow floating in his hot chocolate, watching it bob around in his cup. He took a sip and sighed, feeling it warm him up on the inside. He was toasty warm on the outside now, having been bathed and then dressed in warm pajamas. Now, he sat next to Jack on the sofa, a fluffy blanket wrapped around both of them, while they watched the rain pour down outside.
"I made a new friend today," Daniel said, setting his mug carefully on the coffee table and snuggling up against Jack. "His name's Marcus and he's got a bike with a wagon on the back and " He yawned. " and a dog called Boo. He was going to be a soldier and build a fort."
"Sounds cool," Jack said. He sounded sleepy too, Daniel thought.
"I was grumpy so I said I didn't want to play but I thought, tomorrow, if it's not raining, maybe he could come over. We wouldn't go far away - you could sit on the porch and watch us."
"Sounds like a plan," Jack replied. He was quiet for a long while and Daniel thought perhaps he'd gone to sleep, then he said, "Maybe we could go to the toy store in the morning, find you a bike."
"With a wagon?"
He felt Jack shrug. "Sure, why not." Another pause. "No dogs though, especially dogs named Boo."
Daniel giggled. "No dogs. But you'd really get me a bike even after I disobeyed you today and made you hurt your leg again?"
Jack's arm wrapped around his shoulders and squeezed gently. Jack's lips pressed against the top of his damp hair. "Not your fault, Daniel, we're both still trying to figure this kid thing out. Besides, every kid needs a bike, right?"
Daniel nodded, his eyes already drooping closed. "Right, Jack."