SUMMARY: A fill-in-the-blank
covering the space between the end of Crystal Skull and the very
beginning of Nemesis. Or the story of Daniel's appendix.
SPOILERS: Crystal Skull
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I didn't think Daniel could easily forgive and forget Nick and what happened in the past. That led to me always wondering what exactly happened before Nemesis. Thus, after staring at the computer screen the muse finally made it to paper.
And of course, a huge thank-you to
Sharon for the fantastic beta read.
DISCLAIMER: The characters mentioned in this story are the property of Showtime and Gekko Film Corp. The Stargate, SG-I, the Goa'uld and all other characters who have appeared in the series STARGATE SG-1 together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MGM-UA Worldwide Television, Gekko Film Corp, Glassner/Wright Double Secret Productions and Stargate SG-I Prod. Ltd. Partnership. This fanfic is not intended as an infringement upon those rights and solely meant for entertainment. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author.
Daniel Jackson looked up to see Jack O'Neill entering his lab, his hands in pockets. The archeologist stared down at the box in front of him. It was deja vu all over again, he realized. Only a few months before he'd been looking through a box of memories of Sha're. Now, the box before him held his grandfather's possessions. Only difference was that his grandfather wasn't dead. Just gone. Effectively the same result in Daniel's universe.
"Looking through the box the hospital sent me. Of Nick's things." His hands thumbed over the pages of an old book.
"He had 'things'?" Jack questioned, walking up to the box and peering in. Daniel opened the book, sending clouds of dust into both of their eyes. Jack waved a hand. "Wonder when the last time that was read?"
Daniel ignored the comment and continued turning the pages. It was an old archeological text, nothing special about it, but a piece of paper wedged in between two pages caught his eye. He stopped and thumbed back, removing the folded yellowed sheet. Before Daniel could stop it, a photo fell out to land at his feet. He bent to pick it up, but Jack was faster.
"Aww, well, isn't that just darling-" Jack started and Daniel glanced at the photo, yanking it out of the colonel's hand the minute he saw what it was. He couldn't help but blush.
Jack took the photo back. "I was just going to say I think you have an adorable little hinny," he teased and as he grabbed the photo.
Refraining from answering Jack's comment, Daniel asked, "How do you know that's even me, Jack?" He stared down. The photo was of a little blond haired boy, who didn't look a day over two, running naked through the sand.
"Who else has that hinny?" Daniel just glared. Jack let him gape for a minute then turned the picture over, revealing a feminine scroll of 'Daniel, age two, in Egypt.'
"Oh." He didn't realize Nick even had any photos of him. He looked down at the paper still in his hands.
"Well," Jack urged and Daniel sighed, reading a bit out loud.
" 'Dear Dad, Daniel did the darnest thing last week. After throwing a tantrum claiming that he didn't need a bath, he decided to run out in the middle of the dig completely naked. It caused quite a stir. It took almost an hour to catch him. Daniel seemed to have memorized every hiding place here he can find. We found him digging his hands in the sand, oblivious to the fact that he had absolutely nothing on.'"
If possible, Daniel blushed an even deeper shade of red.
Jack raised his eyebrows. "Bit of a handful, were you?"
The younger man shook his head. "I had completely forgotten about that. I was mad because I'd been digging and was covered in sand -- even in my hair. I was not going to take a bath." He smiled. "Mom and Dad laughed for days after I ran." A slight pause. "It was great."
The air turned a bit melancholy and Daniel turned back to the letter. His smiled quickly faded.
" 'Dad, I wish you'd come and see Daniel or let us come and see you. We have a few weeks starting next month. You've never seen him -'"
Daniel broke off and sighed. "Well, Nick strikes again." He dropped the letter into the box and shoved the container aside, moving toward his desk and the clutter of half-finished translations. Jack watched him, and put the photo down.
"I'm going to get some lunch. Meet up with Carter and Teal'c. Coming?"
Daniel sat down at his desk, his attention on the paper in front of him. "Not really hungry. I'll get something later. Tell Sam and Teal'c hi."
"Okay." Jack turned and paused. "You okay?"
Daniel looked up and smiled. "Me? I'm fine. Takes a lot more than Nick Ballard to drag down my day. I've got a lot of work to catch up on."
Jack nodded, not believing him, but allowing Daniel the space. For the time being, at least. He gave one last glance toward the archeologist, who was now leaning over a magnifying glass completely engrossed, and walked on his way.
It was hours later before Nick entered Daniel's mind again. Work was a wonderful distraction, and it helped that the archeologist always had piles of it. Jack hadn't made another appearance; perhaps he'd gone home. He'd had the solitude of his office all afternoon, and while he usually loved it, the silence sent his thoughts wandering.
After staring at the box for several minutes, Daniel sighed with resignation and finally got up. His hand dug through the various items, the oddities meaning very little to the linguist. The symbolism didn't escape him; a box full of Nick's past that brought Daniel no closer to discovering anything he didn't already know. He could count the number of times he'd seen Nick in the first eighteen years of his life on one hand. Part of his brain always went back to the eight year old who simply asked Nick to take him with him. That eight year old would always remember the negative shake of Nick's head, the movement that had condemned Daniel to a childhood and adolescence of foster homes. Of how he suppressed tears as he watched Nick walk away, leaving him alone with the social worker. And even when he shoved those thoughts away, he came back to the huge argument over his career years later.
// "Daniel, I am proud of you." //
He wished that one sentence could wash away the years past. That calling Nick "Grandpa" showed both of them that he could forget, forgive, and move on. He could forget, sure, even after Nick told him he threw away his career. The eight year old had certainly tried to move on. However, that child had a hard time allowing the adult forgive and forget. And that's what hung over his head.
That letter had just been another reminder of what Daniel had thought he'd buried in the past. Now Nick was far away. Just like he'd always been. He sighed. It hurt just thinking about all of it.
He felt a twang from the pit of his stomach. Taking off his glasses, he pinched the bridge of his nose, sensing a headache coming on. Once again he looked at the box. Picking it up, Daniel shoved it into a dark corner, and went back to work.
Samantha Carter began her week in a state of frustration. She had holed herself up in her lab lately, taking advantage of the five days of downtime SG1 earned after the mission to P7X377. Intrigued beyond belief at the radiation levels the planet could achieve, she'd been sorting through figures for hours and still had learned nothing of importance. Of course, her work wasn't without a distraction or two. The colonel had already stopped by and proceed to annoy her for over an hour before she told him she'd meet up with him, Teal'c, and Daniel for lunch. As she walked out of her office the next morning, she realized that Daniel hadn't shown. Jack simply said he'd run into him and Daniel was buried in his work, as usual.
"Have you seen Daniel lately?" Sam commented when she ran into Jack the next morning. The colonel shook his head.
"Nope. On my way to drag him out." He kept walking and Sam followed.
"Is he okay?" she asked, remembering how the archeologist had looked when she'd last seen him. She asked Daniel how he was doing and he had given her a smile, and said he was fine. It was a genuine smile, that she knew, but now as she thought once more about it, he was most likely far from okay in the long run. He'd disappeared after they debriefed, claiming he had a backlog of translations to finish.
"Why don't you ask him yourself, Major?"
They'd reached Daniel's office. She peered inside and found one light on, and Daniel bent over a task, at least five books open around him. An open aspirin bottle lay a few feet away, along with an abandoned mug of coffee and a tray from the commissary. Daniel didn't look up.
"Yes, Mom, Dad, I ate something," Daniel replied, gesturing his hand, but still not looking up.
"Yeah, son, well I didn't hear the back door slam last night. When you'd get home?" Jack fingered several items.
A hint of a smile filtered through the linguist's face, lifting Sam's spirits. He immediately moved the papers Jack was playing with out of his reach. "I climbed in through the back window," he replied, keeping up with the game. "It was past curfew."
Sam looked up at Daniel's coffee pot. "I'll bet." Her face grew serious. "You okay?"
Daniel sighed. "Why does everyone ask me that? I'm fine, Sam. Got a bit of eyestrain, but tiny text does that to you."
Jack picked up the piece Daniel was working on and scrunched his eyes. "No kidding. Which is actually why you need to come with me, Danny."
Daniel rolled his eyes at Sam. "Fishing, Jack?"
"Four more days off. Plenty of time to catch something before the world decides it needs saving again." He gestured towards Sam. "Carter here doesn't see the beauty of fishing."
Daniel suppressed a smirk. "She's not the only one, Jack."
Jack looked hurt. "What's wrong with fishing?"
This time Daniel did smirk. "Nothing. If you catch something."
"Hey! Part of the beauty is the hunt."
"The looong hunt." Sam hid her smirk at the comment. Daniel turned his chair and began to get up. Halfway there, his stomach groaned at him and he caught the look of concern from Sam and Jack. The archeologist brushed it off. "Been sitting in the same position too long." He looked at his watch and decided to change the subject. "Breakfast?" he asked, even though his stomach churned at the thought. He didn't know what was with it lately. It took a lot for him to convince the soup he ate last night (or was it early this morning?) to not make a return appearance.
Jack brightened at the thought of breakfast and Sam began talking about the work she'd done last night on the readings from P7X377 and the frustration she gained in return. They picked up Teal'c and headed for a team breakfast, something they never seemed to do often enough on base.
Before exiting his office however, Daniel stole a glance at the box wedged in the corner and rubbed his stomach. Nick was giving him indigestion.
So much for a five day downtime. Daniel sighed and looked down at the catalogue of artifacts SG-8 had weighed him down with. He'd gone to breakfast only to be paged by Hammond to attend SG-8's debriefing. Halfway through he had decided that most of the items were worthless, not that he'd say that right then and there.
He needed a bigger department. To be honest, he'd dumped a few things in Robert Rothman's lap (though the fellow archeologist was not happy with it, having projects of his own). He'd shrugged Jack off again, knowing that fishing was the only thing the colonel had on his brain as of late. Daniel told him to take Teal'c. Jack looked at Teal'c and if Daniel could read the Jaffa's face, he expected it to say 'are you crazy?' Sam promised to stop by later when she'd completed more readings on P7X377.
P7X377. For a second, the scientist in him wondered if the radiation readings were harmful to Nick. He'd come back unharmed. Janet had run every test on him (plus a few he could swear she just made up) and found nothing. So Nick was fine, despite the readings the planet continued to give.
His stomach churned. Nick. Damn it, he swore he wouldn't dwell on the man. His stomach protested at every thought of him. The box still lurked in the corner. He stole another glance at it, when he was suddenly hit by an intense feeling of nausea. He barely made it to the bathroom in time. When Daniel was done, he felt like he'd thrown up his stomach, not just the waffle and coffee he choked down in front of his team. Leaning back, he felt the pain in the middle of his stomach.
That was it. He pulled himself up, marched back to that corner of his office and picked up the box. He opened a closet, moved some things around, and shoved it into the dark. One last glance and the archeologist slammed the door shut.
No more Nick. His stomach just couldn't handle it at the moment.
" ... and the center text reads ..."
"How SG-8 loves to bring home rock after rock?"
Daniel clicked off his tape recorder. "Artifact, Jack. They're called artifacts." He looked back down at the item in front of him. "Although in this case I happen to agree with you." He shoved the 'rock' aside.
Jack looked shocked. "Did I just hear that? Did Dr. Daniel Jackson, multiple PhD's, just agree with *me*?" He grabbed Daniel's tape recorder. "Care to repeat it?"
Daniel sighed and reclaimed his tape recorder. "Yeah, well I wouldn't get used to it, Jack. It's a one time thing." He gestured to the item he'd tossed aside. "That stone is worthless. It has no cultural value."
Jack picked it up. "Ya think?" He turned it around. "What does it say?"
"Basically our equivalent of 'this side up.'" Jackson reached for his coffee mug, unhappy to find it empty.
O'Neill raised an eyebrow. "You're kidding me?"
Daniel shook his head. "Nope. Apparently there are other practical jokers in the universe." He looked up at Jack. "What happened to fishing?"
"Grounded. Apparently Fraiser thinks that Carter and I shouldn't go too far out of range for a few more days because of all that radiation. Something about prolonged side effects. To be honest, I stopped listening after she said 'no fishing.'"
"That's ... unfortunate." Daniel got up to walk over to his coffee machine. He thanked his lucky stars that being 'out-of-phrase' saved him from any effect of the radiation of P7X377. Suddenly the thought of radiation caused him to glance toward the closed closet.
His stomach spasmed out a second later.
As soon as he grimaced in pain, Jack was there, calling his name.
"I'm okay," he finally managed to mutter, shoving his hands out to push Jack away.
"For crying out loud, I know you, Danny. You could have a metal rod stuck through your head and you'd still say you were okay," Jack responded. "I think you and I should take a nice little walk down to see Doc Fraiser..."
Daniel shook his head. The pain was fading into a dull ache, like an annoying cramp in his right side. The infirmary was out of the question. He could just see it. 'Sure, Janet, I get these annoying pains in my side every time I think about Nick ... ' The very name sent another pain down his side, but he straightened up, ignoring it and the faint nausea that accompanied it.
"I'm fine, Jack," he repeated firmly. "I've been bent over those sad excuses of artifacts for basically the entire day. It's just a cramp."
Jack looked unconvinced, but seemed to back down. "Well, now that you've figured out they are worth about as much as the rocks in my own backyard, you can join me and Carter as we introduce Teal'c to some of finer points of Earth's cinema."
Daniel groaned. "The last time we tried that you and Sam got in a fight in the middle of Blockbuster."
"You took her side," Jack accused.
"Yeah and then the management proceeded to throw both of you out. I had to rent the movie. And since I didn't have the membership to Blockbuster, it took me a half an hour to fill out all those forms. Teal'c beat three kids on that new alien Playstation game and selected twenty-five movies he wanted to see in that time."
"Come on, Daniel. It was fun."
"Tell that to my credit card bill," he shot back, and slumped back in his chair, coffee in hand.
"I helped pay that," O'Neill defended.
"So you did." Daniel sipped his coffee; grateful at the least that topic had shifted from his health. 'Mental health more like it,' he thought. Placing the cup down, he realized he was tired. His stomach was still bothering him and at that moment he'd love nothing better than to get as far away as possible from Nick and anything relating to the box in the closet.
Oh, so he expected an answer. If he were at Jack's at least his mind would be off Nick. He resisted the urge to rub his stomach. Nick would not be the reason he got an ulcer. He played with the edges of his notes with his hand. "One condition, my choice."
Jack contemplated it for a second. "Nothing with subtitles," he countered back.
Daniel suppressed a smile. "My movie taste extends beyond that, Jack." He looked at his watch. "Meet you at your place when?"
"Seven. Dinner's on me."
Daniel raised his eyebrows. "You're cooking?" Jack's cooking skills, while not awful, were somewhat limited.
"Chinese. Take-out. Want the usual?"
Daniel's stomach protested at the thought of food, but he wouldn't let on. He'd find some way to choke it down, like he did with breakfast that morning. 'Where'd that get you, Daniel?' He reached again for the coffee cup.
"That's fine. See you at seven. In the meantime, cultural significance or not, I owe Hammond a report on these."
Daniel watched Jack walk out the door before he clutched his stomach, rubbing at the dull ache that refused to go away. He glanced at the closet, picked up an empty Styrofoam cup and threw it at the door. His stomach felt no better, but his frustration level dropped a little.
Daniel eased himself onto the couch. His stomach protested at the action, but he admitted the pain was no longer at the forefront of his mind since his left the office. Jack stood, the tape in hand.
"Figured that since Teal'c is exposed to so many Earth..." Daniel paused, searching for the right word, "...sayings, that he might as well learn the fine art of satire. Maybe it will even help him to understand you better."
Jack just looked at him. "Not funny. With all the questions Teal'c will ask this will take forever. For crying out loud, Daniel, I'm going to wear out my pause button."
Daniel just grinned. "All you specified was no subtitles."
Jack opened his mouth to respond, when the doorbell rang. Daniel looked toward the door. "Gotta be Sam and Teal'c."
Jack closed his mouth and walked toward the door. Daniel's grin turned into a grimace as he shifted. Explanations to Teal'c would definitely take his mind off his stomach and Nick.
It worked. For most of the night, Daniel didn't give one thought about Nick, P7X377, or the buried feelings of a lonely eight year old. Instead, he smiled and sat through the movie, he and Sam stopping to explain things to Teal'c. Jack downed three beers, wielding the remote. Daniel even managed to eat some food, though it wasn't enough to satisfy Jack or Sam he noted. Teal'c remained silent, captivated by the television.
When the credits rolled Daniel escaped to the bathroom, listening to Sam continue to answer questions Teal'c posed. He even heard Jack chiming in; that proved to him it was a good night. He was thankful for the steady stream of chatter thirty seconds later when a surprise attack of nausea hit him.
He flushed the toilet and looked in the mirror. Nick hadn't been on his mind this time. The reminder of his grandfather sent him back to toilet, but he had nothing left to throw up. He went back to the sink, hoping to make himself presentable.
The reflection frowned at him. Daniel noticed a slight flush in his face and raised his hand to his forehead. He couldn't tell if he had a fever, but the bathroom was chilly and the dull ache in his side had started to become more persistent. He chalked it up to the vomiting. Shaking his head, he splashed water on his face and headed back to the living room.
They were still deep so in conversation with Teal'c that Daniel's little 'episode' had gone unnoticed. He was grateful, and managed to slip out of Jack's place without much notice.
The minute he opened his eyes, Daniel knew he was in trouble. His stomach, which had been bothering him when he dragged himself to bed, was throbbing. He lay still, staring at the bedside clock.
It was three thirty-eight a.m. Daniel had managed to fall asleep around one, he remembered, after searching the entire house for his bottle of Pepto-Bismol. Along the way he stumbled upon the baseball-capped teddy bear that he had hidden among the odd and ends of the living room. The bear had come from his foster mother for his eighth birthday.
His stomach responded and he had cursed Nick once again for driving the final nail in the coffin. He had to be developing an ulcer. An ulcer at thirty four years old. He had downed almost half the bottle of the pink stuff, and fallen into a fitful sleep.
Now, his stomach was throbbing. The entire right side was yelling. Loudly. He shifted a fraction and it protested.
Laying his hand on top of his stomach, Daniel tried anything and everything to relieve the agony. Finally he discovered if he pushed down on the spot where it hurt the most, it hurt for a second, but then the pain was bearable. It was when he let go that it made him want to cry. That concerned him, but he was too busy thinking of how he could stay in that same position so he could sleep.
If it still hurt in the morning then he'd see Janet. He wasn't looking forward to that. He drifted off, picturing her listing the dangers of letting an ulcer get out of hand while waving a huge needle in his direction.
A sound in the distance woke him. It sounded like a far off ringing, an annoying sound he wished he could filter out and go back to sleep. It continued and Daniel blinked open his eyes to realize it what it was. His portable phone rang again and flashed its little red light as if demanding it be answered at that very second.
The archeologist sighed. He was exhausted. A quick glance at the clock revealed it to be barely seven a.m., meaning he managed three hours of sleep if he was lucky. As he reached for the phone he noticed the pain in his stomach had subsided. It wasn't gone, but it had settled back into the dull throb it once had been.
Good. No Janet.
The phone rang again and Daniel picked it up three seconds before it would have gone to the answering machine.
"Downtime's over. Hammond's got a mission for us. When can you get here?"
Damn it. "And good morning to you too, Jack," he mumbled. He just wanted to go back to sleep.
"Morning. Sorry about waking you, Daniel. I'll owe you coffee."
Daniel sighed. "The good stuff. None of that commissary crap."
"Deal. Can you be here by eight thirty? Hammond wants us to be briefed by nine."
He looked blearily at the clock again. He could do eight thirty. "Sure." A mission wasn't such a bad thing. Work was good. Work made him forget to think about the things he'd rather avoid. He sat up, only briefly rubbed his stomach and began his day.
Daniel managed to make to the mountain without too much thought to his stomach. It had been more of a nagging ache than an actual pain. But the minute he stepped into his office, his eyes went to the closet and he almost doubled over. It hurt.
The linguist sat down in his chair and pressed his hand to his side. The pain was not going away, it was only getting worse. Jeez, he didn't need this. His brain registered that maybe, just maybe, this was really serious and he should go straight to the infirmary.
But no, he was late for the briefing.
Daniel held his hand in the same position as last night, and then grabbed a few folders to hide the fact that it was there as he tried not hunch over and made his way toward the elevator and the briefing room.
He reached the doorway and congratulated himself on making it without drawing immense attention to himself. Opening his mouth he started to apologize for his tardiness when a pain three times worse than any he'd felt previously hit.
Before Daniel knew it, he found himself on the floor.
It was an easy mission, Jack noted as he glanced over the notes Hammond had given him. So easy, in fact, that he questioned why SG-1 was needed to complete it. SG-15 had gone in and discovered some writings. Same old thing, said that they thought Daniel could translate it better and faster than their team archeologist and that it might have major significance. Besides, why couldn't it just be filmed and brought back to the SGC?
Somehow Jack doubted that SG-1 was needed. He knew Carter did as well from the way she was thumbing through her own folder. She'd been in the middle of some scientific something-or-other when he found her and she wasn't happy about giving up the downtime they'd been promised. Teal'c looked unaffected, as usual. And Daniel was running late, also as usual.
Probably grabbing the five million and one things he doesn't need from his office, Jack thought as he turned the coffee cup in front of him around. Starbucks. He gotten enough for the entire team, but taken extra time and purchased Daniel's favorite. The archeologist sounded a bit off on the phone; something Jack couldn't quite put his finger on.
Footsteps grabbed the attention of everyone in the room and four sets of eyes turned toward the doorway. Daniel stood, holding a stack of folders in one hand at an unusual angle, as if he were trying to cover something up.
"Sorry, I'm ..." Daniel cut himself off when he seemed to wince in pain. Jack immediately sat up straighter.
"Daniel?" Carter's voice full of concern, and it was easy to see why. Besides the obvious look of pain, Daniel was flushed and sweating. Even Hammond looked worried.
"Dr. Jackson?" Hammond countered and Jack expected the usual "I'm fine," to come out of Daniel's mouth.
Instead, Daniel abruptly dropped his folders, scattering papers all over, before doubling over and crumpling to the floor.
It was as if everything was in slow motion. Daniel knew he was falling, and it seemed to take forever, but there was nothing he could do to stop the motion or make it go faster. It simply happened and before he knew it he was on the ground.
He distantly heard Hammond call for a
medical team. Sam was off to his right. Daniel could feel her
hand on his back, but was in too much pain to turn toward her.
Jack was in his field of vision, on his knees, calling his name.
The last time he'd seen Jack so concerned was when the colonel
had left him dying, not knowing that a
sarcophagus was close. Still, even after realizing that and in the mist of all his pain, he thought about how Jack's knees would be sorry tomorrow.
Jack was soon pushed aside to let Janet Fraiser in and Daniel knew he was in trouble. He probably had a bleeding ulcer by now.
Talking, oh she was saying something to him. And she wanted an answer back. He concentrated, trying to hear her words.
"Dr. Jackson. Daniel, you have to listen to me."
Daniel. He was really in trouble. She reserved his first name for casual conversation and serious situations. He doubted this was simply casual conversation. He must have answered her, because she continued.
"Where does it hurt?"
Hurt. Oh god, that meant she would be poking him. No. He hated that. Needles followed after poking. She repeated the question.
"Right," he managed, wanting nothing more than to curl up in a little ball and die.
Oh shit, there was the poking. Daniel felt her lift his shirt and push down. When she hit one spot, he thought he cried out, but he didn't know for sure. When she let go, he knew he cried out. He saw Sam's face above Janet's and she looked like she was going to cry herself. Orders were shouted for a gurney and he realized he was being lifted, but he knew no other world but pain. He felt movement and saw lights above, and suddenly a stab of fear shot through him, far stronger than the pain he was feeling.
Maybe he was wrong. Maybe it wasn't Nick or an ulcer after all.
Jack tagged along with the gurney, even after Fraiser had ordered everyone but essential personal out. Hammond had stopped Sam, and she held back reluctantly, finally letting the general and Teal'c lead her to the chairs Jack knew were outside.
He wasn't leaving. Fraiser looked as if she was about to object, but closed her mouth at the colonel's determined look.
"You'd better not get in my way, sir, or you'll be gone before you know it."
Jack simply nodded. There were certain times you didn't mess with Janet Fraiser and this had just been deemed one. He moved off towards the side, still within reaching distance of Daniel, but far enough away to give Fraiser and her team room to work.
Soft tones, Jack noted. Fraiser was using soft tones. Soft tones usually equaled bad things. Damn, why hadn't he forced his friend to go to the infirmary the previous afternoon, when he'd almost doubled over in front of his very eyes? Cursing himself and Daniel's own stubbornness, he glanced at his teammate, surprised he was still conscious, judging from the amount of pain he was in. Daniel's eyes darted to Jack before they settled back on Fraiser.
"I need to know exactly how you've been feeling for the past couple of days."
Jack thought he heard Daniel answer, but it was so soft he didn't hear it. Instead, he watched Jackson turn toward him and instinctively placed a hand on his friend's shoulder. Daniel immediately seemed to relax.
"Started hurting two days ago. Thought it was Nick..." His voice trailed off.
Jack was confused. Nick? What did Daniel's grandfather have to do with him being sick? P7X377? Was Daniel sick from the radiation?
"Does this have anything to do with those nintendo wave thingies from P7X377?" Jack ventured.
Janet shook her head. "He was fine when I examined him after you came back through the Stargate. In fact, no traces of any kind of radiation were in his system." She looked towards a nurse. "What's his temp?"
"One-oh-three, point six, Doctor."
Fraiser gave a sigh. "Daniel, have you been vomiting at all lately?"
"Yeah...last night...at Jack's..."
Fraiser shot Jack a look. Damn it. Daniel had gotten sick at his house. Why hadn't he noticed? The colonel was too busy defending his movie points to Teal'c, that's why. The linguist had left in the middle of the discussion, claiming he was too tired to keep up with their conversation. He mentally kicked himself again.
Fraiser was back poking at Daniel's stomach, while a nurse was poking at his arm. Jeez, Daniel wasn't getting a break anywhere in the poking department. Fraiser touched a certain place then let go and Daniel almost arched off bed. Jack helped push Daniel back down.
"...it was better this morning...then got worse again...god, make it stop hurting..."
Daniel was still surprising coherent through the entire thing. Jack had to give him credit for that. He was about to comment on that and turned to Fraiser, when he watched her pale a bit. She seemed to be putting something together in her head. She leaned in toward him.
"Daniel, this is very important. Have you ever had your appendix out?"
Daniel's appendix? Did Doc think it was Daniel's appendix? All this couldn't be because of some lousy appendix. It had to be some alien thing. Something from off-world. Not a simple case of appendicitis.
The archeologist shook his head, but seemed get dizzy from it. "...no..."
Oh shit. Fraiser began yelling instructions out like there was no tomorrow. Nurses went scurrying, IVs were set up, and more tests were ordered. Jack found himself being led from Daniel's bedside.
"Colonel, you're going to have to leave."
Jack shook his head. "I'm not leaving till you tell me what the hell is going on."
Fraiser sighed. "I'll have to do a couple of more tests to be sure, but it looks like Daniel has appendicitis."
"Appendicitis? That's not too bad, right? Just take out his appendix?" Somehow he knew that wasn't the case. He watched Fraiser avoid his eyes for a second, before regain her professional calm and meeting his gaze.
"It has most likely ruptured, Colonel, which makes it a bit more dangerous for Daniel. We'll take good care of him. Go sit with Sam. I'll come out and tell you more when I know more."
Not good. "Okay." He swallowed, his throat suddenly dry. "Hold on a sec." He walked up to Daniel and placed his hand back on his friend's shoulder.
"Hang in there, Spacemonkey," Jack said before heading for the uncomfortable chairs outside the infirmary.
Jack's tone scared Daniel as he heard the footsteps retreat. The pain remained, wrapped around him like a thick uncomfortable blanket, and for the first time he wished he'd just pass out. Why, out of all the times he hurt, was this the one time he just couldn't pass out? That's irony, he figured...
Janet was leaning over him. Talking again. He should listen. Or try at least. Try.
"...your appendix, Daniel...just one more scan...something for the pain..."
He felt a warmness in his arm, and figured someone just added something in his IV. His thoughts were confirmed as the pain backed off. It was no where near gone, but pushed back far enough that the linguist could actually understand what Janet was saying. He felt his gown being pushed up and wondered when they'd managed to get one on him. 'Maybe I did black out for a few seconds...' Something was rolled against his stomach and the pain flared up again. Suddenly the intruding instrument was gone.
"Sorry about that Daniel. No more poking, I promise."
"Okay, Daniel, I need you to sit tight."
Sit tight? Where did they think he was going?
"We're going to be taking you into surgery in a few minutes."
Surgery? Why did they need to...oh yeah, appendix. Janet had said something about his appendix. 'Guess it isn't an ulcer after all...and not Nick's fault either...only my own body trying to kill me...'
Janet disappeared from his line of vision. He closed his eyes, curled up into as much as a ball as the IVs and wires would allow him, and drifted in and out, not knowing how much time had passed before Janet returned. He heard her voice, and felt himself rolling.
Daniel opened his eyes and vaguely acknowledged the walls of one of the infirmary's operating theaters. He almost felt like laughing. Despite all his injuries, this was the first time he could actually remember being inside an OR on the base.
More movement, more pain, the distant sound of a heart monitor, beating way too fast, he thought. Another voice was speaking to him. The words were meaningless. He just wanted out. It was funny, Daniel realized. He'd spent the last two days trying to escape his thoughts of Nick. Now Nick was far from his mind and he was no better off.
He felt another warm stinging in his hand, and the pressure of something plastic on his face and was thankful for the impending darkness.
Jack tore off another page from the useless ledger in front of him, crumbled it into a little ball and threw it in the direction of the waste paper basket.
"You missed," Carter pointed out needlessly, shifting positions in the chair next to him. He, Sam, and Teal'c had been sitting in the same chairs for close to three hours. Correction, he and Sam had. Teal'c had gotten up to get coffee when General Hammond stopped again for news and suggested perhaps the rest of SG1 should go get something down in the commissary while they waited.
Neither Jack or Sam budged. Teal'c, agreeing 'nourishment' was a good idea and that they'd be no help to Daniel in they did not take care their own needs, volunteered to bring something back to them. Jack had no idea if Teal'c even remembered how he took his coffee, but after three years maybe he did. After all, Daniel did.
He crumbled another sheet of paper.
Janet had come out briefly before their long wait to inform them that Daniel did indeed have appendicitis, and that he'd be in surgery for at least a couple of hours. She half-heartedly suggested they not spend their time in the uncomfortable chairs of the infirmary waiting room, but her tone told them that she didn't believe they'd do anything else.
Another throw. Another miss.
She was right.
Appendicitis. Jack's appendix had been taken out when he was twelve. Hurt like a bitch, he remembered. He'd thrown up, told his mother, and spent three days in the hospital after the surgery. He admitted it was a bit scary, but he hadn't gone down like a ton of bricks the way Daniel had. He simply complained about his stomach when it started hurting and his mother took him to the family doctor, who in turn called the hospital, then patted his shoulder and told him he'd be fine. In the end, he'd gotten a new baseball glove from his parents for his ordeal.
Daniel would be just fine, just like he had been.
He crumbed another piece of paper.
At three hours and thirty minutes Sam knocked over her coffee cup.
"Jeez," she muttered, not at all caring that she had coffee covering her sleeve. She looked up at her commanding officer, who was still, as he had been for the last half hour, crumbling sheets of paper into little balls and tossing them in the direction of the trash can.
She specified 'in the direction' because the little crumpled balls around the can spoke of the number of times he successfully, or unsuccessfully, hit his target. She was cleaning her sleeve off when the tearing and crumbling stopped.
"It appears you have run out of paper, O'Neill," Teal'c stated.
O'Neill looked at the pad in front of him. Sam listened for one of his trademarks.
Yep, the colonel never failed to deliver. She balled up her soiled napkin and threw it toward the trash can. It made it in.
"Show-off," Jack retorted.
She gave a ghost of a smile to her CO. "I try, sir." The serious tone found its way back into the air and she glanced toward the direction of the operating suites. "It's been a while."
The three were silent for a minute, before Jack opened his mouth.
"I need more paper."
She sighed and let her head sink down. She hated waiting. An impatient child, she liked finding out things right away. Even today, she grew quickly frustrated when a solution eluded her in the lab, often not giving up until she had the answer, even if it took all night.
She heard O'Neill's footsteps returning and looked up to see him with a new pad in hand. Her eyes went to the trash can. It couldn't take much more.
Thankfully it was at that moment that Janet Fraiser graced the rest of SG1 with her presence, still dressed in surgical scrubs. She saw Colonel O'Neill focus on her and Teal'c addressed her by raising her eyebrows.
O'Neill posed the question. "Well?"
Janet's face remained unreadable. "His appendix had ruptured already and there was a lot of infection present. I cleaned out as much as possible. The next twenty-four to forty-eight hours are going to be a little rocky while the antibiotics get a chance to completely knock the infection down. But after that, and after a lot of rest," her face broke into a smile, "he should be just fine."
Sam let out the breath she'd been holding. She heard Jack's mutter of "Thank God" and saw Teal'c's appreciative nod.
"I'm not going to lie to you though. For the next couple of days he's going to very sick. It will take some time for him to fully recover. He cut it awfully close." Sam didn't care. He was going to be okay it the long run.
"He's in recovery. I'll let you all see him, on *three* conditions." Janet held her hands up as a warning. "You get a quick look, you don't wake him, and then I don't want to see any of you here for another six hours." She glared in Jack's direction, when he started to open his mouth. "And that includes you, Colonel O'Neill. Daniel will most likely not even be awake by that point."
As obedient as a flock of well-behaved school children, SG1 followed Janet. Sam found herself holding her breath again until they finally reached Daniel's bed, the very one that O'Neill had threatened to make a plaque for due to the archeologist's frequent infirmary stays.
Daniel was sleeping. He was as pale as the sheet beneath him, had IV lines, wires and such snaking in and out, yet he already looked much better than when she'd last seen him. The lines of pain that were so apparent in the briefing room were almost gone. He was still flushed, but Janet quickly explained that the infection still present accounted for the fever and as the antibiotics did their job that should disappear as well.
'Why didn't you tell us you weren't feeling well?' Sam silently thought as she grabbed his hand. She and Daniel were close; probably closer than she and her brother Mark ever were or ever would be. She saw Jack gripping Daniel's other hand and she met his gaze, their eyes speaking the same message of guilt. Teal'c stood at the foot of the bed, as if standing protector to all that might disturb Daniel. His guilt would always be of a different kind, she knew, and that gave Daniel a protector, as well as a friend, for life.
When Janet shooed them all away a few minutes later, Sam squeezed his hand and wished her friend a good night, satisfied with the knowledge he was in good hands.
The sounds surfaced first. The muted clicks and beeps, fading into a background that was otherwise eerily calm. Then came touch. The sheets beneath and above him, the sting in his right hand, the wires snaking across his chest.
Daniel thought he heard the soft tones of Julie, his favorite nurse. She was the one that always made sure he was taken care of, used a nice low voice, and had a soft touch. Jack once joked it was because the woman had a crush on him. Daniel had just laughed and commented that in fact she'd rather have Jack, for he simply reminded her of her baby brother. He'd forgotten Jack's response...
No, this was a different voice. He tried to concentrate. His mind was fuzzy, as if he was trying to find his way through an incredibly dense fog. His mouth was dry from the anesthesia, but to get water, he knew first he'd have to figure out who was talking to him, and then he had to open his eyes.
"...you've been sleeping long enough Danny-boy..."
Jack! It was Jack. One task that brought him closer to water. Now, if he could only get his eyes to cooperate, he'd be rewarded. He brushed the cobwebs aside in his mind and sent the imperative message through to his eyelids.
"There you are." Jack was blurry. Very blurry. But at least his eyes were open. He was so tired, and knew he would be fading fast, so he needed to get out what he wanted.
"J'ck?" A blink brought Jack more into focus. "...'ater?"
Jack looked confused for a minute, when he saw a nurse (there was Julie!) hand him something. "Oh." Jack took the cup and gestured it toward him. "Doc says you can't have water just yet, but Julie here says you can have some yummy ice chips. Much better than water."
Daniel begged to differ, but he'd take anything at this point. The linguist tried to get his hand to move, but it flopped on the bed, protesting and sending 'I'm tired' signals to his entire body. Not yet, he pleaded, and reluctantly let Jack spoon-feed him ice chips.
Heaven. His mouth wasn't as dry anymore. He shook his head when Jack offered more and looked at him, waiting for an explanation.
"W'at happened?" Wow, he got an entire word out coherently.
"You're gonna be fine, Daniel. You'll be minus one appendix, but take my word for it, you'll never miss it."
Daniel nodded, or at least thought he nodded. His eyes started to close again and Jack got the hint. "Go back to sleep," he urged.
Daniel, satisfied at the fact that someone cared enough to sit with him, let his eyes close. He hadn't had that feeling in a while...
The next two days Daniel drifted in and out
of consciousness. His fever had spiked after his first wake up
call from Jack. During that time, he slipped in and out of dreams
and nightmares, yet always felt some kind of presence nearby,
whether it was SG-1, Hammond, or one of several other
individuals. The times he was coherent, he thought about how he'd
never realized that so many people knew he existed, never mind
liked him enough to send flowers, flowers Janet shoved to the end
of infirmary after she claimed allergies were not
another element he wanted to deal with now.
Sam brought candy and books, Jack brought magazines, and Teal'c spent many hours standing by his bed, not speaking. That was okay, for Daniel got the message loud and clear.
By the second day, his fever was down enough for him to stay awake for longer than ten minute periods. The archeologist still felt sick, but he was steadily improving, though it didn't seem fast enough for Janet. In addition, Daniel learned that due to his sudden illness, he had inadvertently given SG-1 an overdue vacation. Jack came by, once again animated about fishing and wanting Daniel to come with him.
"Fishing. The great outdoors. It will do you good."
"Might do you good, but a cramped car ride, sticky weather, and a secluded cabin miles from medical attention is not what I have in mind for Dr. Jackson." Ah, Janet saves the day.
Although truth be told, Daniel wouldn't have minded going fishing with Jack. It really couldn't be too bad. After all, he made through that one hockey game they went to together. Even if he did get hit by a puck. Jack disappeared, somewhat disappointed. Hours later, the linguist frowned when Janet informed him that it would be about a week before she even let step foot out of the infirmary. And requests to get work from his office were denied. Fishing was looking better and better.
"No buts. One week. You're still running a fever. I'm sure I don't need to remind you about the drain still in place in your incision and you still need at least another day or two of IV antibiotics before you go to oral medication. Oral medication which I need to make sure is working. And pain management. Don't lie and tell me you're not in pain."
Jackson met her eyes and shifted. "I'm fi-fine." He managed to almost get through the word.
"Julie. It's time for Dr. Jackson's pain meds." Betrayed again. Daniel sighed and settled back, waiting for the pull of sleep that would come sooner than later when Sam walked in. He smiled.
She smiled back. "Sorry. I got scolded for bringing you chocolate last time I came." She pulled up a chair. "How're you doing?"
"Okay." He blinked. The meds were starting to kick in. "Sorry, it's the medication kicking in. You just missed Julie."
"It's okay. I won't stay long. I actually have a lot of work I want to do but haven't had the time." She paused. "I know I asked this days ago, but are you going to be okay?"
He was confused. "Sam, I'm fine. Janet says another week or two and I'll-"
Sam held her hand up, cutting him off. "Not that. I meant, before. With Nick. Colonel O'Neill said you were mumbling about him last night."
'Nick?' The person Daniel thought had started the whole thing. He didn't realize he'd been mumbling. He knew he had dreamt, but it was all fragments that he couldn't remember and for some reason was thankful for that. "I was mumbling..."
Sam gripped his hand. "Yeah, you were." She swallowed. "Daniel, you never talk about your..."
"Family, I know. You never really talk about yours either. I'd heard nothing about your father until I met him."
"TouchÃ(c)." A silence. "Neither does Colonel O'Neill. And it was a little while before we even knew Teal'c had one."
Daniel stared at the IV embedded in his hand, suddenly finding it very interesting. "Yeah, well, guess we all like avoiding that subject."
Sam leaned down to meet his eyes. "It's okay. I'm just letting you know I'm here if you need to talk. Maybe sometime we'll both talk." She gave him a small smile.
Daniel nodded. "Maybe." He changed the subject.
"So you finally getting a chance to work with that naquada reactor?"
She lit up. "I've been dying to do a detailed analysis of the decay rate of naquada within the reactor. I don't know if it will be anything like what I expect."
He nodded and blinked, her enthusiasm lulling him into a safe place. He stifled a yawn, cursing the drugs running through his bloodstream. "Sorry, Sam, I'm starting to fall asleep on you."
She smiled. "It's okay. You're supposed to. I'll come back later. Get some sleep."
He nodded and she got up to leave. He had started to drift off when he heard Sam turn and felt a hand rest in his hair. He heard some whispered words, but was too tired to make them out. Instead he simply reveled in the warmth of a friend's touch.
With that thought, he fell asleep and for once, he felt the eight year old inside of him lose sight, at least temporarily, of Nick and retreating promises.
The next day, Daniel lay back, filtering out the sounds of the infirmary. He'd finally moved completely off Janet's "serious list" and would be starting a course of oral antibiotics tomorrow. Thanks to a life full of allergies, he was used to pills, and they were much better than needles. All he needed was to be on oral pain meds and he could begin to bargain for his release. He shifted, grimaced at the pain, and knew it would be a losing battle. The archeologist looked up to see Jack walk in, dressed casually.
"Hey. How ya doin'?" Something was different about Jack. What was it?
"Good." His hair! That was it! It was not that short when he visited yesterday afternoon. Daniel raised his eyebrows. "Did you get your hair cut?"
Jack looked ready to go on the offensive about his choice. "Yeah, why?"
Daniel knew he'd thrown Jack for a loop. "No reason." He liked it, but wasn't going to let Jack know that. A second of silence passed between the two before Jack spoke.
"Can I see your scar?"
Daniel paused for a split second before answering. "No." Why did Jack need to see his scar? He lowered his hand protectively down to the blanket.
"Uh, Fraiser says it'll be about a week before you -- get out of here."
'Not if I have anything to say about it.' Still he figured that it was ironic that the injury that laid him out the longest was a simple human organ that had no known function. "You know, it's funny. After all we've been through these last...few years, it's my appendix that lays me out. But it's not going to be a week. I mean, I feel fine now." A small lie.
Jack sensed that. "Wanna go fishin'?"
He wasn't letting up, but Daniel knew Jack would still go without him and come back with enough fishing stories to bore him for a lifetime. But that was okay. Best friends listened to everything. For a second, he wondered if he should go. It was better than an infirmary bed. Maybe humor Jack.
"Actually, I wouldn't, uh-" He shifted and hit pain. "Well, maybe-" Another shift, a greater and stronger pain hit. And it was still at least an hour until his next pain shot. He admitted defeat. No way in hell was fishing happening. "No, you know, I think I will stay here for two or three - three days."
Jack gave a last look at him. "Bye," he said and walked out.
Daniel just stared, a bit surprised at the departure. But that was Jack. He smiled to himself. His friend. One of a few he'd found here. He thought back to Sam's touch the night before and the burden Nick had left with him the first time he walked out. So the eight year old couldn't completely forget what Nick did. That same sublimated eight year old now basked in the friendship that his older self had. It took a near-death experience for that child to see that he now had the comfort he was looking for. And that was enough to take another step towards forgiving Nick. After all, where would he be if Nick hadn't been Nick?
Right now, he didn't need to know.
~ The End ~