United

By Lyn

EMAIL: Lyn

Part Three of Life Is A Bridge Series.

Part Three because there are some eps you just can't fix, no matter how much you might like to.

Daniel stepped under the pounding hot spray of the shower and sighed deeply, contentedly. He lifted his arms above his head, wincing at the movement but stretching his stiff muscles nonetheless, twisting under the delicious warm massage of the water. He reached out for a bar of soap and began to lather his sweaty, dirty body, reveling in the sweet scent that was obliterating the stink of his perspiration and the smell of the Touched from his body. The scent and taste memory of old furs and rancid meat rose up and ambushed just as he began to relax and suddenly he was on his ass on the floor of the shower alcove with no memory of getting there. Water cascaded about his shoulders as shivers assailed him. He wrapped his arms about his trembling body as his mind flashed back to the last hours on the planet, the small snatch of time he remembered before waking up in the isolation circle, an attentive Teal'c at his side.

Daniel sported bruises and cuts not only from the Touched but from Jack's attack as well. His ribs and right hip still throbbed, having taken the brunt of the assault. Daniel was still shaken by what had happened. He had seen Jack in action before and had always been pleased to have him on his side. It was a different matter entirely when those same fighting instincts were turned on you. Never a fighter himself, Daniel had been unable to even defend himself, the raw anger and hatred on Jack's face causing him to freeze, the power of Jack's fury overwhelming.

Returning to the planet, since they appeared to be the only ones unaffected by the disease, Daniel and Teal'c had come upon the unconscious body of Melosha, the ruler's daughter shortly. The young woman was beginning to exhibit the physical symptoms of the disease and had obviously been cast out by her family. Though Teal'c was inclined to leave her where she was, Daniel had picked her up just as the attack began. The Touched came out of the darkness, and Daniel, hampered as he was by the unconscious woman, was unable to defend himself adequately. Teal'c shouted to him to fire his weapon in the air but as Daniel had lowered Melosha to the ground and fumbled for his sidearm, several of the Touched had rushed him. Their combined weight drove him down and he hit the ground hard. Something heavy smashed into the back of his skull and he literally saw stars. He fought to get back on his feet but his legs would not support his weight and he collapsed back down. Arms lifted him and he was dragged away, struggling violently. A fist crashed brutally into his jaw and blackness descended.

When he regained consciousness, he was lying by a campfire. It appeared to be early evening and the Touched were gathered about, several squabbling over raw lumps of meat. Daniel was chilled to the bone and his head and hip ached badly. His clothing was tattered and filthy and he stunk of blood and sweat. His thoughts were confused and slow and his tongue was unwieldy and thick in his mouth. Curling in on himself, ignoring the pain in his ribs at the movement, Daniel slowly turned his body away from the campfire and began to crawl toward the trees, hoping that the noise and fighting over food would distract his captors long enough for him to make his escape. It wasn't enough. Before he had managed to drag his hurting body more than a couple of feet, someone jumped on him, driving the breath from his lungs. A despairing sob was wrenched from his throat as he was hauled roughly up then thrown to the ground once more. He folded around the agony in his ribs as a foot smashed into his belly, then his chest. Rolling with the kicks, he gasped for breath and tried to stay conscious. A particularly vicious kick to his spine stole all coherent thought and he welcomed the darkness and the accompanying freedom from pain.

Waking up inside the isolation circle, he still felt drowsy from the medication and sedative that had been administered and he ached from head to toe. He limped his way slowly back to the Stargate, waving away all offers of help, grateful for Tealc's silent but close presence at his back and studiously avoiding Jack's worried glances.

As soon as they had arrived back on Earth, Daniel headed for the showers, anxious to wash the stench from his body and let the hot water soak away some of the pain from his ordeal. It had been the smell that triggered his flashback, of that he was certain. The smell of the fire as it washed from his hair, the stink of unwashed bodies and old blood, the odor of decaying raw meat. Daniel felt bile rise in his throat and leaned to the side as he heaved, groaning as the action awoke fresh pain. Once his stomach settled, he sat for a while and let the water wash over him, gathering his dazed thoughts and feeling slightly embarrassed now at his emotional breakdown. He scrubbed at his eyes, hoping they were not too red and pushed himself up against the cool tiles of the shower alcove. Sharp hot pain stabbed through his hip and he collapsed back to the floor, panting heavily and biting his lip to keep from crying out.

"Daniel? You in here?"

Jack's disembodied voice floated down to him and Daniel debated whether to remain silent. He was not at his best right now. Too late. A face appeared around the cubicle wall and peered down at him. "You all right?" Jack asked.

Daniel nodded then sighed and shook his head. "I can't get up."

"Oh." Jack nodded sagely. "Want some help?"

"Yeah. Thanks."

Jack reached out a hand and turned off the faucets before stepping into the alcove with a large towel and Daniel's blue robe. He squatted down in front of Daniel and surveyed his battered body. "Ouch," he said as he reached a finger out to stroke gently along Daniel's bruised ribs. "Okay, you ready?"

Daniel nodded and reached up to rest one hand on Jack's shoulder. Jack levered him up slowly, wincing sympathetically as Daniel hissed in pain. Slowly they made it to the bench outside, where Jack lowered Daniel down with exaggerated gentleness. Daniel leaned his head against the wall and closed his eyes. He was exhausted. The pressure of the wall reminded him of the goose egg on the back of his head and he grimaced as he reached back and rubbed at the spot.

"I think we should let Doc Frasier check you out," Jack commented as he rummaged in Daniel's bag and found boxers and a t-shirt.

Daniel shook his head. "I'm all right. Just a couple of bruises."

"More than a couple, Daniel," Jack countered. He helped Daniel balance as he stepped into his boxers and pants. Daniel could not stifle his gasp of pain as he bent his right leg, causing Jack to look sharply at him, then down at the offending limb. "Oh shit, Daniel. Did I do this?" Gentle fingers ghosted over the huge, discolored lump that covered Daniel's right hip. He didn't wait for an answer. "I did, didn't I? I can see the boot mark."

Daniel sank back onto the bench with a sigh and allowed Jack to push the black t-shirt over his head. He shivered suddenly from head to foot and smiled gratefully as a thick sweater was lowered over his chilled skin. "Thanks."

Jack sat down next to Daniel, scrubbing a hand through his cropped hair. "God, Daniel. I'm sorry. You're my friend and I beat the crap out of you."

Daniel laid a hand over Jack's. "It wasn't you. It wasn't your fault."

Jack was silent for a long moment. "I'm still sorry," he finally said.

Daniel smiled, his eyes closing once more. "Apology accepted." Neither spoke again for some time. "I'm tired, Jack."

"Me too," Jack admitted. "Been a hell of a day… or two."

"If I go to the infirmary, Doctor Frasier will keep me there and I'll never get any sleep."

"You sure it's only bruises?"

"I've got a pretty good lump on my head from a club and my ribs are a little sore."

"Real cave man stuff, huh?" Jack looked him over carefully. "All right, here's what we do."

Daniel tried to stifle a moan as Jack wrapped a strong arm about his shoulders and steered him down the corridor. He gritted his teeth and nodded as he took a painful step forward. "I'm okay," he insisted as Jack looked worriedly at him.

"Lean on me and follow my cue," Jack said.

Together the two men hobbled their way past Sam Carter and Janet Frasier who stood at the door to the infirmary. "Doctor Jackson," Janet called as they hurried past. "I need to check you out."

"Leave it till tomorrow okay, Doc? Guy's out on his feet," Jack threw over his shoulder as they hurried toward the elevator.

"But…"

"Too much happy juice. I'm taking him to my place to sleep it off."

Janet looked doubtful but finally nodded. "All right, Colonel. You bring him straight back if there are any problems. The sedative should be out of his system by now."

"Maybe he's got a slow metabolism," Jack answered. "Later."

Daniel sighed as Jack opened the passenger door of his car and helped him in, carefully lifting his injured leg and positioning it comfortably before he closed the door and hurried around to climb behind the wheel. "Thanks, Jack. Consider all dues paid."

"My place or your place?"

Daniel thought a moment. "Would you mind if I came to your place?" he asked. "I'm thinking some company wouldn't be a bad thing tonight."

Jack shook his head. "My place it is. I think I'll be having my share of nightmares tonight too. Don't think I want to be alone either."

"Thanks, Jack."

"So," Jack asked as he steered the car out of the parking lot, "how did I look?"

"What?"

Jack waved a hand in the air. "You know, as a caveman." He glanced over and Daniel could see the earnest look in his eyes.

"How did I look?" Daniel countered.

"Ugly," Jack replied. "Hairy, smelly, not your usual suave self, that's for sure."

Daniel nodded. He leaned his head back against the seat and closed his eyes. "Take me and multiply it at least twice over."

"That bad, huh?"

"That bad."

END