Should’ve

By: Lyn

EMAIL: townsend297@ozemail.com.au

AUTHOR'S WEBSITE: http://www.brothersinarms.tvheaven.com

DISCLAIMER: Not mine. No money paid. No copyright infringement intended.

RATING: G

CATEGORY: Epilogue for Legacy.

SPOILERS: Legacy.

Thanks to Annie for the beta.

I should’ve touched him. Should’ve held him while he sobbed through the pain and fear. Instead, I held back, flinched when he launched himself at us in desperation, looked away, embarrassed for him when he broke down and cried.

When I got the call from Mackenzie to say there'd been a change in Daniel's condition, I didn't know what to think, terrified after seeing Teal'c lying in the infirmary fighting for his life, that Daniel was doing the same thing on the other side of town, alone.

Walking into Daniel's room, I still held back. He looked disheveled and frantic. Unable to stand still, he paced back and forth, his hands, normally eloquently illustrating every word, jabbed and flittered hesitantly, underlining his fear that I would not believe he was cured, and would turn away and desert him again.

It was his eyes that convinced me. The first time we'd come, I'd seen nothing but fear and confusion in the red-rimmed depths. Now they were clear, desperation still vivid, but his gaze also held relief that his nightmare was over. That look caused a lump of sorrow to lodge in my throat when I thought how truly frightening it must have been to see and hear the things he did and have no one to console or reassure him. Some friend, some buddy I turned out to be.

Doctor Mackenzie didn't seem totally convinced of Daniel's apparent full recovery. He gabbled on about needing to do further tests, and I saw Daniel go suddenly pale. Hurriedly I told Mackenzie Daniel was needed at the base and time was of the essence if we were to help Teal'c, and if anyone stood in our way, we'd go through them.

Daniel grinned at that and I felt him sag against me in relief. His hand shook as he signed the release papers and he kept casting furtive glances at the behemoth orderly who stood behind him as though he expected to be snatched back and thrown into that God-awful padded cell again.

"Daniel?"

Heading for the exit as though the hounds of hell were after him, he paused and looked back at me. I waved a hand at his white hospital pajamas and bare feet, raising an eyebrow in question.

He looked down, a faint flush coloring his cheeks then stared longingly at the door to freedom. I held up a hand, indicating he should wait and picked up his clothes and overnight bag from the desk. "You can change in the car." The grateful smile he gave me lit up the room.

It's never easy getting dressed in the front seat of a car that's traveling at top speed, up a winding mountain road, but Daniel's trembling hands and myopic eyes were as much a hindrance as the bumps and twists of the road. Finally I pulled over onto the shoulder and turned to him. "Humor me, all right?"

I reached out and buttoned his shirt properly then tied his shoelaces, all the while painfully aware that his self-conscious gaze was firmly fixed on a point above my head. Reaching into my pocket I pulled out his glasses and handed them to him. "Daniel, it wasn't your fault. You couldn't help what happened to you," I began.

He looked at me then. "I didn't want you… any of you to see me like that. Sitting there in a padded room, bawling like a baby, jumping at shadows."

"We didn't know," I said, trying to apologize for my lack of support, knowing I couldn't explain what I didn't understand myself.

He nodded as though he'd sensed my meaning and shifted around until he faced the front, then snapped the seatbelt over his chest. "We need to hurry."

I have to admit I wasn't nearly as confident about Daniel's return to health as I let on. After the terrifying sensation of having Machello's little buggers burrow their way under my skin, I had a new and profoundly personal understanding of just what Daniel had to endure in the two days he was in the asylum. Not something I wanted to repeat - ever.

Once we were assured that Teal'c was recovering, the fatigue that Daniel had been fighting finally caught up with him. Carter headed out with Hammond to give him a full report on what had occurred and Daniel was ordered to take the rest of the day off. Seeing the weariness etched on his face, I offered to drive him home. To my surprise, he agreed. On his way out of the infirmary, Daniel stumbled a little, sagging against me when I reached out a hand and caught him. He was as white as a sheet, his skin hot and dry, and I could feel his heart pounding in his chest as though he'd just run a marathon.

"I'm okay," he said, pushing away just a little from me. "Still coming down off the drugs Mackenzie had me on."

Fraiser frowned at his comment and sternly indicated the bed next to Teal'c, as surprised as I was when Daniel shook his head and edged toward the door. "I just need some sleep," he said, his gaze darting toward me with a silent plea for intervention.

"Just let the doc take a quick look at you," I suggested, reaching out a hand and anchoring it to his elbow, drawing him closer. "You know how she is," I joked, trying to lighten the situation, "Can't miss a chance to poke someone."

He started to refuse again, then dropped his head to his chest and nodded. When he looked up, his face was closed, stoic. Shaking off my support, he walked to the bed and sat down.

He didn't speak the entire time the doc was checking him out, but Fraiser's face bore the same look of shock that mine did when she convinced him to take off his shirt and we saw the bruises. Dark, purpling blotches covered both shoulder blades with matching marks like bracelets about both his wrists. But the most ominous one was on his stomach, just below his ribs.

"I… uh… was a little aggressive, apparently," he finally said in a whisper that sounded like an apology.

"Sons of bitches," I growled. "There's no excuse for this, Daniel. Why the hell didn't you say something?"

He glared at me but I saw an unshed tear glisten in one eye before he reached up and brushed it away angrily with the heel of a hand. "You were a little preoccupied at the time," he replied shakily. "You were convinced I was nuts anyway, so…"

The accusation was like a physical blow and I flinched. "Sorry," I whispered. I straightened and glared at Fraiser and she had the grace to look ashamed. I knew she shared my guilt. "There was no reason for them to beat the shit out of you."

Fraiser came to my rescue when I couldn't think of anything more to say. She patted Daniel gently on the shoulder and handed him his shirt. "I think we're done here. I suspect your symptoms are caused by overmedication, Doctor Jackson-"

"They overdosed him as well?" I took a step closer to the bed, vowing to find Mackenzie in a deserted, darkened corridor sometime soon and-

"Not an overdose as such." Fraiser interrupted my dark musing. "More than likely, when Doctor Jackson's symptoms became worse, Doctor Mackenzie increased the dosage and frequency of the sedation. It's a common method of treatment."

"Seemed like every time I opened my eyes, they were holding me down and jabbing me again," Daniel whispered, one hand absently rubbing the bruises on the other wrist. He looked up at me suddenly. "You came, didn't you? I didn't imagine that, did I?"

"We were there," I affirmed. 'And we walked away and left you there,' I added silently. I turned my attention to the doc. "He'll be all right?"

"He needs some rest. I'd like to keep him here overnight-"

"No!" Daniel and I said together.

"Let him come home with me," I suggested. "This is the last place he needs to be."

Fraiser nodded. "All right. If you feel worse though," she ordered, looking sternly at Daniel, "I want you straight back here."

Daniel gave her a relieved smile. "Thanks."

"I'm going to give you a mild dose of Haldol to take orally for a couple of days," Fraiser continued. "It's not usually necessary to wean a patient off Haloperidol after such a short time on the drug, but with the overmedication, and I think there might have been some increased sedative interaction from the promethazine you take for your allergies-"

"No."

Fraiser looked at Daniel with some surprise. "Doctor Jackson-"

"I said no!" Daniel slid off the bed and stood, wavering a little but when I stepped forward with an arm held out, he gave me a look that warned me to back off. "I haven't been allowed much independence in the past few days. I need to have some control over what's happening to me. I'll be fine. I just need to get the drugs out of my system."

"It could be quite unpleasant," Fraiser warned.

Daniel snorted. "That's something I'm accustomed to." His eyes held a silent apology of his words.

"Let's get out of here then," I suggested. "You need to pick anything up from your place?"

He shook his head. "I have a change of clothes and bathroom stuff in my locker. We can pick it up on the way out."

~o0o~

He went straight into the spare bedroom the moment we arrived at my place but I knew he wasn't sleeping. I wandered around the living room, halfheartedly tidying up, but all my attention was on the man in my spare room. Needing an excuse to check on him, I fixed a light meal of soup and sandwiches, unsure whether the drugs in his system were causing him any nausea. I knocked softly at the door and waited, but there was no reply, no invitation to enter. More than a little concerned, I turned the door handle and opened the door, then stood in the doorway, unsure of my welcome.

My assumption had been correct - Daniel wasn't asleep, nor was he lying on the bed. He sat on a chair by the window, gazing out at the just darkening sky, but he was far from relaxed. In spite of his rather tall, gangly figure, he was folded in on himself, his knees under his chin and his arms looped around his calves.

"Daniel?" I didn't want to startle him but he jumped a little at my voice. I took a couple of steps into the room, then a few more until I was standing beside him. "I thought you might be hungry… I heated some soup, made a couple of ham and cheese sandwiches - I could grill them, if you want."

I clenched my hands into fists at my sides. I hated this - this sudden forced politeness, as though I was talking to a stranger.

Daniel looked over his shoulder at me. He gave a soft sigh. "I told Janet I didn't want any more drugs, that I just needed to sleep." He lowered his legs and stood, running a hand through his short hair. "I can't sleep. Rather, I think I'm afraid to sleep. Scared of what I might dream."

"You've got reason." I forced out what I needed to say past the lump in my throat. I needed to get this weight off my chest, off my mind, I needed us to go back to where we were three days ago - friends, team mates, buddies. "Daniel, I'm sorry. For not believing you when you told us about the Linvris, for letting them take you to that place… for leaving you there alone."

Daniel shrugged the apology off and I wanted to grab him, shake him until he gave me the absolution I needed. "You didn't know," he said.

"I should have stayed with you," I said. "Like I did at the base. I told you before I'd never leave you behind and I let you down."

He turned to face me, a gentle smile upturning his mouth. "It wasn't something any of us expected. It was so… out there, so bizarre, but… I forgive you, Jack. You did the wrong thing, you're sorry and I forgive you."

I frowned, unsure if he was just offering platitudes to get rid of me. "You're not just saying that to shut me up?"

He shook his head, throwing his hands up in exasperation. "I'm saying it because you need to hear it, and so do I, and because you need to know we're okay."

"Are we? Okay?" I could see he was going to deck me if I didn't shut up and I took a step back, just in case. He might be a scientist but he's developed a pretty good right hook over the past year or so.

"I'm starving here, Jack." Reaching out, Daniel forcibly turned me to face the door then slung an arm over my shoulders. "We're okay, Jack, we're okay."

END

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