NOTES: Daniel returns from a mission gone wrong but doesn't want to discuss it. One of the team encourages him to do so.
"You up to telling us what happened out there, son?"
It takes a moment for me to register Hammond's question. I look up, expecting to see an accusatory glare but all I see is warmth and empathy. "I'm - I'm not entirely - entirely sure, sir. We seemed to be getting along just fine, then Major Harris mentioned the mining proposition. Next thing we knew, we had weapons at our throats. We managed to take a couple of them down and started heading for the Gate. After that "
I'm shaking so hard, my bones ache. I'm unsure if it's from shock, exposure, exhaustion, or a combination of all three. "We ran ran for so long, through the rain and mud, dodging them, hearing them closing in on us, watching as one after another of the team was hit."
"Can't it wait, sir?" a familiar voice cuts in and I look over to see Jack standing in the doorway. He's lounging casually enough against the frame, but I've known him a long time; I can see the tension radiating from him, the worry in his eyes.
Please say yes, I beg silently. I don't think I want to relive it again just yet.
General Hammond nods. "Go home and gets some rest. Doctor Frasier says you need it." He shakes an admonishing finger at me and I rub at my bandaged arm, the deep ache coming to life under my touch. "Take the antibiotics she gave you and if you have any problems, get back here, understand?"
I nod and then wish I hadn't as my head threatens to fall off, and sets up a renewed pounding inside my skull. "Thank you. I'll be back first thing in the morning to give you my full report."
Hammond stares at Jack for a long moment. "Perhaps you could give Doctor Jackson a ride home?"
"Yes, sir." Jack pulls himself away from the door. "That was my plan."
On the way to my apartment, it's all I can do to stay awake. I'm grateful Jack has stayed silent, not asking me for details of the hell that occurred on the planet. I know he will, eventually. I'm just glad he's offering me this reprieve.
My arm still throbs distantly, despite the pain meds Janet administered when she examined me. I'd told her I was fine, didn't need them, willing only to admit to myself that I welcomed the pain as just punishment for leaving so many of our men behind. I rub again at the deep wound, concealed by the bandages, not aware just how roughly I'm clawing at it until a hand covers my own, stopping my movements.
"You're gonna screw up the bandage if you keep doing that," Jack admonishes, cutting a quick, sideways glance at me, "and then Frasier will be really pissed at me."
I relish the offer of light conversation and familiar sarcasm between us. "Why you?" I ask. I move my fingers but they still hover over the gash in my arm.
Jack rolls his eyes. "Because she likes picking on me. Regardless of what anyone does of their own accord, it's always my fault." He gives me a fake, solemn frown. "I don't think she likes me."
I can't help but grin at his antics but my smile is soon chased away by the concern that still lingers in his eyes. I reach out finally and squeeze his hand where it rests on the steering wheel. "I'm okay. I just need time to process this." I shift in the seat and stare out the window. "We I had no idea they'd attack. They welcomed us "
"You weren't to know."
"I should have." The silence stretches between us and I'm desperate to shore it up but I don't have the energy. "I don't want to talk about it tonight, okay?"
I've never been so glad to see my apartment as I am tonight. Opening the door, I pull off my jacket and sling it onto the sofa. "I need to take a shower." I grimace at the mud I can feel clumping up my hair, at the blood still sticking to my skin "There's beer in the refrigerator, or coffee."
Jack screws his nose up. "That micro-crap brew." He shrugs. "I'll put the coffee on."
I grin, ridiculously pleased to banter with him, to have some normality return. "Actually, you've rubbed off on me. There's a six pack of Guinness in the fridge."
Jack gives me a high five. "Now you're talking."
I head into the bathroom, longing to get out of these clothes, to wash the stench of death from me.
"You gonna be okay?" Jack asks.
No, I want to say, not for a long time, maybe never. Instead, I turn and give him a thumbs up. "Be out in a minute. Save me a beer."
The shower should have been soothing and cleansing. Instead, the rushing water over my head only serves to remind me of the storm we ran through in our rush to get back to the Gate.
Time stands still and I look down and see Sergeant Anderson, "Call me Andy, everyone does," sprawled in the mud at my feet, his chest ripped open and gushing blood, his eyes staring sightlessly at the sky.
"I thought you said they were friendly?" Harris yells at me as we weave in and out of the trees in a desperate attempt to dodge the missiles aimed at us.
"They are were," I shout back at him over the whine of the weapons. "Something went wrong. I don't know-"
Someone screams behind us in agony and I turn to offer help but Harris grabs my arm and pushes me forward. "He's dead already. Get to the Gate and dial it up before they kill us all."
The water's cold as it streams down my back and I realize I'm on my knees, shaking, tears streaming down my face. My fault! I should have recognized the warning looks when Harris mentioned the mining proposal; should have shut him up then and ordered everyone back home. Ordered Like they would have listened to me.
I can barely get back up on my feet, I'm so tired. The room does a lazy spin around me as I step out of the shower and I grab hold of the towel rail and force myself to breathe slowly. Looks like Jack's gonna get the Guinness to himself after all. Wrapping my bathrobe around me, I open the bathroom door and walk down the hall to my room. Then I backtrack to the living room and see Jack is seated on the couch, a full beer sitting on the table in front of him. He's staring into space, looking about as bad as I feel.
Concerned, I approach him. "Jack? What's wrong?"
"Nothing." He shakes himself from his almost fugue state and smiles up at me. "You ready for that beer?"
"Pain meds, probably shouldn't. I'll make coffee."
He stands then, resting his hand gently on my shoulder. "You get your PJ's on, I'll make the coffee."
I quirk an eyebrow at him. "PJ's?"
He rolls his eyes, just as I knew he would. "Sweats clothes,,, pajamas whatever. Go on, git!"
By the time I come out, there's two cups of steaming coffee on the coffee table and a soft slow jazz CD I haven't listened to in a long time playing on the stereo. The room is toasty warm, but I still have this frisson of chill inside me that no amount of warmth will banish.
Sitting beside Jack, I lift my cup and take a sip of coffee, sighing at the familiar, welcome taste. "This is good, thank you."
Jack nods. His face is solemn, no humor there now and I feel as if all the air has been sucked out of the room. "Frasier called while you were in the shower. Harris died from his wounds."
Oh god, no! I struggle to stand but Jack grabs my arm and pulls me back down.
"It wasn't your fault," he says firmly.
I shake my head. "I should have seen it coming! I warned Harris to keep his mouth shut about the mining until I had a chance to learn more. He wouldn't listen." I pull away from him. "I should have insisted."
"You really think he would have listened to a civilian?" Jack shakes his head. "I knew Harris for a long time, Daniel. No way he would have taken your advice. He was military through and through. Never liked the idea of having civilians on active duty."
I shake my head and turn away from him. "I should have done something to stop it."
Jack's hand strokes down my back and I so want to take comfort in it. "It wasn't your fault," he says again.
I want to believe him, but deep down inside, I can't.