Summary: Daniel discovers that recovery goes better with friends and lovers.
A dungeon. Yeah, that's it.
It just needed the chains, a few torches, and he could see himself locked away down here forever. The dark lab certainly suited his purpose, to hide from the torture of everyone's constant worried glances, to pretty much pretend like nothing godawful ever actually happened except in the dried up ancient texts he found himself searching for answers.
Daniel tossed his pen across the table and sighed. God, how much more fucking maudlin could he get? Pushing back his hair, he sat back and reached for the coffee. Cold bitter liquid turned his stomach as he grimaced at the nasty flavor.
Glancing up, his expression didn't change much. "Sam."
"You got a minute?"
"Sure, come in." He stood up and poured himself more coffee and motioned with the pot. "Want some?"
"I know." Reaching for a clean mug, he picked the brown handmade Abydonian one he usually reserved for his friend whenever they spent time going over missions or he just listened to her talk about all her scientific theories. He handed her the drink and leaned back against his work shelf, one arm wrapped around his middle. His whole body tensed at the prospect of what she might say, what she might want him to talk about.
God, he hated talking about it.
"So, what's up?"
"Nothing really." Sam stepped closer and sat in the chair at his table as she set her mug down. "I just heard you were in today to see Janet."
"Yeah, she's throwing a party."
"I gained two whole pounds. You'd think I'd discovered the cure for cancer."
Her eyes softened, her face still sad as she spoke softly. "You're too thin, Daniel. You don't realize how it scares people."
"Yeah, you almost died. You wasted away so quickly before we could do anything. I guess we just all expected you'd bounce back a lot faster."
"Sorry." He didn't know whether to be angry or heartened, but mainly he just kept breathing. "You and the others could go ahead with the missions without me."
"We don't want to do that. Teal'c and I are working on some new databases for the planets we've already been to and I've got a new design for software to enhance the dial in program and the effectiveness of the MALP when it first arrives."
"The colonel has his own project."
Snorting, he put his mug down and crossed his arms. "Yeah, and we both know what that is."
Standing up, she stepped closer, her head tilted to meet his eyes. "Daniel, he cares what happens to you. We all do."
"I know that. It's just that I just need to be alone sometimes. I'm not used to someone being there for me, you know?"
Thumbing the side of his mouth, he shrugged. "I have to admit, I kind of like it. All those years of dealing with everything myself, it's not so bad having Jack around even though he drives me crazy when he's on his best behavior."
"Best behavior? That doesn't sound like the colonel."
"I know. Right now I think he's afraid if he does too much teasing, he's going to end up dressing me in a straight jacket and seeing me locked away somewhere."
"Is that how you see yourself?"
"Not really." He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, the bright flashes of being restrained and powerless unexpected. Turning away, he braced his arms forward on the bench and contained the deep shudder.
"What is it?"
"Okay." Sam accepted his answer and stayed quiet for a moment before she finally spoke softly. "I got your message."
"You told Teal'c to tell me you understood why I'd been avoiding you."
"Oh. Right. I forgot about that."
"I didn't. I didn't mean for it to seem like I didn't want to see you. I just wasn't sure if you wanted to see me."
Daniel met her eyes, the icy blue both solemn and sincere. "Why wouldn't I want to see you?"
"I was the one who found you,...you know, right after it happened. I'm sorry I didn't do more. I should've gotten you to the infirmary. I don't know, I should've done something."
"It was too late, Sam. You couldn't help me, so you did what you had to. You saved Jack."
"But you looked so, I don't know, lost."
"I was lost." He paused before he whispered, "I still am sometimes."
"I'm so sorry."
Nodding, he stood straighter and used both hands to scrub his face, his beard burning in his palms. "It's not your fault."
"I just wish I could've stopped it."
"Me, too. But you did something more important. You saved Jack and the base. Hell, if I were the general, you'd get a medal."
"A medal wouldn't help me feel any better about what happened to you, though."
"No, probably not."
They stood quietly together and then Daniel picked up a leather-bound volume of translations, his fingers rubbing over the worn embossed title. "I think you and the others should start going on missions without me for awhile."
"What?" Startled, Sam touched his arm gently with concern. "Why?"
"Because I don't know how long it's going to be before I'm ready to work again."
"You're already better."
Opening the book, he scanned the page but didn't see a single word, didn't focus on any of the meanings. "Am I?"
"Yeah. It just takes time, that's all."
"But the Goa'uld are still out there. We need to keep going."
"And we will, but you'll be with us. We're a team, Daniel. Don't you get that yet?"
Slapping the book closed, he met her eyes and smiled weakly, the hope in her words teasing his wounded spirit. "I think I'm starting to, yeah."
Cafeteria noises sounded in the background, the clacking of trays and muttered conversations annoying. Daniel played with the salad, chasing a stray tomato with a carrot slice as Teal'c sat quietly watching. "So, what happened to Smothers and Patterson? They weren't on guard duty when I came in this morning."
"They have been transferred."
"I believe Colonel O'Neill said they were reassigned to the Antarctic station."
"Fuck." Putting his fork down, Daniel fought the urge to toss the whole table.
Teal'c tilted his head, his expression stolid. "You are not pleased?"
"He shouldn't have done that."
His body tense, Daniel shook his head as he met dark eyes. "He was pissed about something they said about me, but sending them to the Antarctic? Jesus. He didn't have to do that. I could've handled it."
"O'Neill told the general of the conversation you related. It was the general who agreed that their behavior made them unsuitable for service here."
"I don't understand."
"You are a member of SG1. They did not respect that. Therefore, they did not deserve to remain in service at the SGC."
Puzzled, Daniel rubbed his temples, his mind reeling at the implications. "You're saying General Hammond and Jack both decided to send those men off to the middle of nowhere because they were talking about what happened to me with Hathor?"
"They were on duty. You deserve no less respect than anyone else on an SG team. The Antarctic was the lesser of two evils."
"O'Neill wanted to do far worse, I assure you."
"I'll bet." Shaking his head, Daniel sighed in reluctant surrender, uneasy at his own grim satisfaction at what happened. "He amazes me sometimes."
"Jack. I mean, he was upset, but it never really occurred to me he'd take it to the general or do anything so drastic."
"The colonel is a man of honor. On Chulak he could have challenged each man personally. In your world that option did not offer itself. He did the right thing by your laws."
"I suppose you're right. I guess I'm just so used to people like Patterson and Smothers, I just sort of ignore them. Jack, on the other hand, has to do something."
Taking a long drink of water, Teal'c's sudden quiet brought his attention back to his friend. "What?"
"You should not have to ignore disrespect."
"I'm not a soldier, Teal'c. A lot of people on base don't think I even belong here much less on the first team. I don't like confrontations if I can avoid them."
"I understand, but is it not wiser to show others your strength when such situations arise?"
"Yes. Your tolerance and ability to help others gives you power."
"I don't feel very powerful right now."
"You are injured. That will change."
"Saying something to Smothers and Patterson wouldn't have changed how they felt about me or about what happened. I didn't see the point."
"Besides, Jack may have sent them off to the polar ice cap, but I'm sure they're not the only ones who think that way. We can't banish half the military. I just have to learn to live with it."
"There are many ways to live with prejudice, DanielJackson. Ignoring it does not lessen the impact."
"It doesn't always change it, either. It's human nature to make fun of what scares us."
"This is true. It is not a noble trait."
"And to be honest, I don't have the energy right now to worry about how others are dealing with what happened. I'm having enough trouble coping with my own feelings." He picked up the fork, made a feeble effort to stab his lettuce, and then dropped it back to the plate.
"Perhaps another food choice would be more to your liking. The colonel often mentions the excellence of the pie here."
Daniel smiled at the fond memory of watching Jack attack a piece of pumpkin pie at lunch one day. "Yeah, pie's his favorite. Sometimes I think he'd rather eat that than anything good for him."
"Then you should have pie as well."
"I'm not hungry, Teal'c. But, thanks. I swear I'll eat later."
"Regaining your health is imperative. We must fight the Goa'uld as a team again."
"You and the others could go through the gate without me."
"We will not unless ordered to do so." Teal'c's voice didn't miss a beat as he added, "Your presence is essential."
"You are both friend and colleague, but it is more than that."
Daniel met his eyes and noted the dark intensity as the voice grew more emphatic. "More? How?"
"You are wise and your viewpoints give balance."
"O'Neill and I see one way. You and Captain Carter see all the others. It gives us the advantage when fighting the Goa'uld."
Nodding, he took a deep breath and shuddered. A sudden cramp of memory caught him off guard as a phantom Goa'uld pushed inside him. Gripping the edge of the table, he groaned and doubled forward. Teal'c touched his arm and spoke, but he couldn't answer. Several moments later, the pain eased, the ache still throbbing in his gut, his mind still spinning. "God."
"Are you ill again?"
Swallowing back his own fear, he looked up. "I just need to lie down for awhile."
"Come to my quarters. You can rest there." Teal'c's massive body overshadowed him, but his warm touch gentled the panic ripping the edges of his thinking. "Come. I will help you."
Not bothering to protest, Daniel allowed Teal'c to help him up and guide him down the corridor. "I'm sorry. I'm not sure what happened."
"You must rest. Once touched by a demon, one must guard against its recurring poison."
"Poison?" Daniel stopped and stared, unsure of Teal'c's meaning. "Are you saying that I might have some of that thing still inside me?"
Teal'c frowned as he cocked his head. "Its memory is enough to do damage." Before he could ask more, the larger man touched the small of his back and nudged him along. "Rest and grow strong again. You can defeat it."
Walking beside his friend, Daniel refused to voice the ever-growing fear that Hathor conquered more than his body. Instead, he remained quiet and welcomed the company of a man who had a hell of a lot more answers and energy than he did. Just walking in the larger man's shadow made his dread more dim and his heart less congested with the ache of his own losses.
"I should be dead, you know." Daniel leaned back in his chair, his head down, his arms crossed tightly around himself.
"Is that what you think you deserve, to be dead?"
"God, no." Shaking his head, Daniel looked up to meet the concerned eyes of Dr. Cowles. "I didn't mean that. I was just thinking how fragile everything is."
"Fragile in what way?"
Frowning, his brow furrowed as he tried to put into words what he'd been thinking. "The Goa'uld have the technology to regenerate life using a sarcophagus. When Ra first attacked, I was killed. It brought me back along with Sha're. It was like having a second chance again for awhile. Then Apophis showed up and took Sha're away from me. I can't help but sometimes think it might have been better if we'd stayed dead."
"Are you feeling that way now?" Cowles tapped his pen lightly on the notepad, his face serious.
"No. I was just thinking about how different my life has turned out. I never planned for anything like this to happen."
"Anything like what?"
"Like everything. Working with the SGC, trying to rescue my wife, living with Jack." He looked down at his hands before he spoke, his voice softer. "I was happy on Abydos and Apophis destroyed that. I was just starting to feel better about things, thinking life didn't have to be so grim, and then Hathor happened. It's just all so fragile."
"And how does that make you feel?"
"Scared, like every time I almost get on my feet again, something's going to be there to knock me back on my ass."
"It's okay to be frightened. After all you've been through, I'd be amazed if you weren't." Daniel didn't answer, but avoided looking up. "How are you sleeping? Any more nightmares?"
"Better and yes."
Cowles leaned forward, his eyes intensely fixed on Daniel. "Want to tell me about them?"
"Not much to tell. I'm either dreaming about what happened again or I'm dreaming of some other disaster."
Clenching his jaw, he closed his eyes and rubbed his temples. "Last night I dreamed that Hathor was doing what she did to me only it was Jack she hurt instead of me. She forced me to watch and I couldn't save him."
"And how did it make you feel?"
"I couldn't move, but I wanted to rip her apart. Except for Apophis, I don't think I've ever hated anyone so much."
"Because she made you feel powerless?"
"Uhm, I guess, that and the fact that she forced me to help her make more Goa'uld and to almost destroy Jack in the process." He bit back the word bitch and shook his head. "I just want to erase her from my memory, but I can't."
"Have you had any flashbacks since it happened?"
"Yes, invasive memories that make it seem like you're reliving what happened."
"The nightmares are bad enough."
"You didn't answer the question."
Pausing, taking a deep breath, Daniel cleared his throat. "I'm not really sure. I think I might have, yeah."
"Can you describe them?"
"I feel the pain just like before, the scratches, the bites." His breathing shortened and he fought down the sudden anger as his words escaped in a hiss. "That fucking Goa'uld pushing inside me."
Cowles nodded and sat back, his voice still calm. "It's a common reaction."
"How often does it happen?"
"Not often, just enough to keep reminding me." Using his arms braced against the chair, he pushed himself up. Pacing the room, Daniel worked to contain the growing panic. "I just want to stop thinking about it, but I can't. My concentration is shot to shit. I can't even read anymore without my mind wandering off in the wrong direction. How am I ever going to rejoin the team if I can't get myself together?"
"Rejoining the team is very important to you, isn't it?"
"Yes, why? Is it to find your wife or for some other reason?"
Daniel stopped pacing and leaned his back against the wall, his body tense, little stabbing pains jabbing at his temples. "I want to find Sha're, true, but I also want to stop the Goa'uld. They've killed and enslaved millions of people. SG1 and the other teams, we're doing everything we can to keep them away from earth."
"And I want to be with Jack." Just saying it out loud robbed him of breath for a few seconds.
"In our last meeting, you said you loved him even though you didn't want to. Why do you love the colonel?"
"That's a hard question."
"It's a hard situation." Cowles waited patiently, his eyes clear and intent.
"Yes, it is." Sighing, Daniel pushed away from the wall and sat back down, his elbows supported on the arms of the chair, his fingers laced together. "I've never had a best friend, not really. Jack's become that and more. He's shown me kindness no one else has."
"And is kindness equal to love?"
"No, but he says he loves me and I believe him."
"And are your feelings for him the same as you have for your wife?"
"No." His eyes stung as he squeezed his eyes shut, his chest aching at heavy weight of dark confession. "What I feel for Sha're is different. I loved her and wanted to have children, to live a normal life in an alien world where I was accepted. How I lived on Abydos, well, sometimes it seemed like a fairy tale, like it wasn't real. It was the closest I've ever had to family, to feeling like I actually belonged somewhere and was respected."
"And now my family is the SG1 team. I love Jack for totally different reasons."
"What reasons are those?"
"He touches me like no one else ever has."
Dr. Cowles's voice changed to a more subtle softness. "Have you become lovers?"
"Yes, but I won't talk about that." He bit his lip as he sat back, his guard up and shielding.
"Are you ashamed of it?"
"No, but it's not something I'm going to discuss with you or anyone else." He gripped the chair and shook his head. "I just can't."
"You don't have to, but if you want to talk about it, any difficulties or fears that sometimes occur after an assault, then I can listen."
"Things are fine between us."
"You think I'd lie about it?"
"I don't know. Would you?"
"What Jack and I do is nobody's business."
"Agreed. Why are you so angry?"
"Because I..." The words stalled, his mind suddenly blank, his body anxious. "I don't know."
"Can you guess?"
"I suppose because I'm afraid I'm going to lose him. He's been in the military a lot longer than he's cared for me. I guess I'm mad because if this gets out, he might have to choose."
Tilting his head, his face still relaxed but somber, Dr. Cowles kept his voice even. "Unless something directly relates to your safety, nothing you say here will be related to military authorities."
"Yeah, well, forgive me for being distrustful, but I've met people like Rayburn and Maybourne. If they want something to use against me or Jack, they can make your life pretty miserable."
A slight smile curled thin lips. "Don't underestimate me, Dr. Jackson. I can be a pretty obstinate son of a bitch myself on occasion. Plus, General Hammond and Dr. MacKenzie have assured me of their complete support in any of my decisions regarding your care. Don't worry about the security of your sessions."
Grinning weakly at the unexpected force of the words, Daniel stood up. "I don't doubt you believe that. But I'm just not ready to tell you every little detail, either."
"Then believe this. You can get better if you trust yourself and let me help you. Why don't you think about that before you come back for your session tomorrow?"
"And so you don't think I'm hiding anything, I've got sessions scheduled with Colonel O'Neill and the other members of the team."
"To talk about me?"
"To talk about whatever they need to."
Daniel didn't say another word as he headed out the door, blocking out the flood of emotions. He couldn't imagine the conversations his friends might share, their own fears, their terrors brought to life when he couldn't even juggle his own black failures.
Jack took a sip of beer as he fiddled with the stereo dial. A jazzy mix of saxophone and rhythmic bass filled the room before he turned it down to background level. "You want to tell me why you're so quiet?"
"I've just been thinking."
"Try not to hurt yourself."
"Daniel." Jack smiled and teased the bare toes as he settled down beside his friend on he sofa. Daniel rolled over on his side and pulled up his legs, letting his feet press against Jack's thighs. "Seriously, what's up?"
"Teal'c told me about Smothers and Patterson."
"Blabbermouth." The older man took a deep drink and put down his beer before he met the piercing blue eyes staring in his direction. "What?"
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"I thought you'd talk me out of it."
"I would have."
"You know it doesn't solve the problem."
"Made me feel better, though." Rubbing Daniel's feet, he brought them into his lap and massaged the soles. "The pricks deserved worse."
"Worse than the South Pole?"
Using both hands, he rolled the heel of Daniel's right foot, using his thumbs to kneed the rough flesh. "You mad?"
"No, not really."
"That surprises me."
"Me, too. Maybe I'm getting tougher in my old age."
Jack put down the one foot and picked up the other, his watch never leaving his friend's solemn face. "Wanting revenge doesn't make you tougher, just human."
"Yeah, maybe." Daniel took a deep breath and closed his eyes, his voice sleepy. "I had a good talk with Sam today."
"That feels good."
"You like that?" Jack doubled his efforts to pamper the muscles up and down Daniel's legs.
"Good. So, what did you and Carter talk about?"
"We just straightened a few things out, that's all. She feels bad about what happened."
"We all do."
"I know." Calves tensed against his palms and Daniel pulled his legs away as he sat up. He pushed his hair back as he leaned forward. "I'm just thinking that all these bad feelings we have would go away a lot faster if we got back into action."
"Yeah, we need to go through the gate."
"You mean kick some Goa'uld ass to feel better?"
"Something like that."
Jack shook his head and smiled as he touched Daniel's shoulder. He noted the slightest flinch, but kept his voice even. "First, you're not cleared for duty yet, not physically or mentally."
"Janet said I was doing better today."
"I know, but you have to be off meds and pass the physical. Add to that, you and I both know, you're not completely well yet."
Daniel chewed his thumb a moment before he sighed. "I just need something to do."
"You worked in the lab off and on all day."
"More off than on."
"That'll change." Hugging his shoulders, Jack drew him closer, the body heat between them a comfort. "Second, I don't want to run this team without you. I've talked to the general and he agrees. While you're out of commission, I'm doing SG team training. Unless there's an emergency, we've all agreed to wait until you're ready."
"Don't thank me. Just keep getting better."
Daniel looked up, his eyes misted over. "Everything's so hard."
"Yeah, I know."
Embracing him, he gripped the back of his neck and drew his face closer. "I love you, Daniel. You're not alone in this." The younger man cupped his cheek, meeting his eyes, studying his features as if he'd never seen them before. "What?"
Lips captured his, the tongue pushing in, desperate hands holding both sides of his face. He swallowed the soft moans as Daniel pushed harder against him, his mouth hot and greedy. Forcing himself away, Jack shook his head. "Whoa. Wait up. What's going on?"
"I want you."
"I get that."
"So what's the problem?"
"Nothing, but we can go slow."
"I don't feel like slow."
Once again, Daniel aimed to bring him closer, but Jack held him off. "Why all of a sudden?"
"It's not sudden." Wetting his lower lip, the younger man leaned forward and spoke in a hush. "We don't have to do anything big. Just kiss me, make me forget about everything else."
"You mean so you can forget about Hathor?"
"Shit." Jerking away, Daniel stood up, his sudden anger flushing his face even darker than desire. "If you don't want to, just fucking say so."
"I didn't say that." Jack grabbed his wrist before he could move away. "Sit back down. Let's talk about what's going on with you."
"Nothing's going on with me. Jesus. I'm taking a shower."
"Not until we figure out what just happened."
"What just happened is you blew it." Before Jack could answer, Daniel stormed away to the bathroom and slammed the door, the lock clicking into place.
Stunned, his heart pounding and his cock heavy, Jack sat back and muttered, "Way to go, O'Neill. Fucking brilliant."
Sitting on the bed, his legs crossed, Jack waited for the water to stop and for Daniel to come out of the bathroom. After a few more minutes, his friend walked in, a white towel draped over his head. "You okay?"
"Want to tell me what happened?"
"Leave it alone." Daniel straightened his glasses and sat on the edge of the bed, his back to Jack. His voice choked as he struggled with the words. "I'm sorry."
"For being so crazy. I don't want to mess this up. I thought you'd like making out."
"I love making out, you know that, but what happened just now has nothing to do with what I want. Tell me what you're really thinking."
Pulling the towel down over his face, Daniel rubbed his hair dry while he remained quiet. After a few more moments, he folded the towel while he spoke, his words low and shaky. "I'm not sure what I was thinking."
"Give it a shot."
"I guess I was thinking that being with you would help me forget about what happened. Instead of feeling her, I could think about being with you."
"Sort of a sensory substitution."
"Something like that."
Nodding, Jack scooted in behind Daniel, his legs spread, his crotch pressed against his backside. He wrapped his arms around his waist and rested his chin on his shoulder. "You realize you might not be ready for that."
"Yeah, I know. I think I can handle kissing and holding. I don't know about anything else."
"Won't know until we try." He nuzzled and suckled his lover's neck, the clean wetness of it arousing.
Sheepish, Daniel shook his head. "I'm not in the mood now. Sorry."
Jack took a deep breath and groaned as he rubbed his forehead against Daniel's back. "I'm such an ass."
"No, it's okay. I'm kind of glad you stopped it. I mean, I'm really tired. Maybe we could just try sleeping."
Disentangling himself, Jack lay back and stretched out on the quilt, patting the place beside him. "Come on then."
"You don't want a shower?"
"Later. Right now, you look like you could use a good nap."
Reluctantly, Daniel shrugged and crawled over to his arms, allowing the embrace as Jack covered them both. Lying there, his head cradled on Jack's chest, his breathing slowed and after only a short time his body relaxed into sleep. Fingers lovingly combed the dark blond hair as Jack kissed his head and whispered, "Sweet dreams, Daniel."