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.

SPOILERS: Lifeboat

SYNPOSIS: Salvage -- Something saved from destruction and put to further use.

NOTES: Thanks to DebA for her medical know-how, and to Joag, Babs, Devra, and Darcy for the review and suggestions.

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Salvage

By Sunrise

Chapter 1

Security clearance be damned. One of these days she was calling Guinness.

Janet listened to the heart monitor's soft, rhythmic beeps, mesmerized by the EEG's gentle oscillation and Daniel's pale, peaceful face. He'd been asleep more than ten hours, not even twitching when her nurses monitored his blood pressure, pulse, and respiration. She suspected his exhaustion stemmed as much from an overtaxed mind as the painkiller she'd administered for his headache.

How many death or near-death experiences could one man survive? She'd heard the Colonel tell Sam that Daniel should have "Timex" tattooed on his forehead--"takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'." His low, tight voice and stiff posture told more eloquently than words how deeply Daniel's latest brush with disaster had affected him.

Daniel's return was a precious gift. Losing him again was unthinkable.

After checking each of the monitors one last time, Janet drew the curtain and headed for her office. And ran into an impenetrable wall of hovering teammates.

Inwardly touched by their devotion, she folded her arms and gave them her best dictatorial glare. "I thought I told you three to get some food and some sleep--in that order."

O'Neill held up both hands. "Hey, we did the commissary tour--I had the meatloaf, Carter got her Jell-O fix, and Teal'c... What was that you were eating, T?"

"A delicacy Daniel Jackson calls 'PBJ.' It was most satisfactory."

"There, ya see? Tastes good and good for you. Who could ask for more? Now, if you don't mind, we're just going to take a quick peek, see if Daniel--"

"Is sleeping. Like you should be."

The Colonel knitted his brows together. "As his commanding officer, I'm--"

"Subject to MY authority in matters pertaining to Daniel's health, sir. Now I want the three of you go home and get a good night's rest."

"But--"

"That's an order, Colonel."

Janet thought she heard him mutter something like "pint-sized powermonger" before Sam quickly drowned him out.

"We understand, Janet. We'll come back in the morning. Won't we, sir?"

She and Teal'c left without further argument, talking quietly as they headed down the corridor. The Colonel took exactly five steps before pivoting on his heel. Janet bit back a rebuke when she read the worry etched in the lines around his eyes and mouth.

O'Neill shoved his hands in his pockets, rocking back on his heels. "Level with me, Doc. Is Daniel really going to be all right?"

She blew out a breath, too tired to temper her exasperation. "Colonel, I *told*, you--"

"I know, I know. I just...I need to hear it again."

The wisp of uncertainty in his tone, so contrary to his typical air of cocky self-assurance, melted her resolve. Janet smiled.

"He's fine. The EEG is textbook, and he was perfectly lucid--right up until he fell asleep." She sighed and extended her arm towards the bed. "Three minutes. And don't wake him."

He held up two fingers. "On my honor as a Boy Scout."

Janet chuckled. "Colonel O'Neill, I can picture you as many things, but a Boy Scout is not one of them." Still shaking her head, she continued on toward her office.

Jack ducked around the curtain and stopped, staring at his friend. Daniel's chest rose and fell with slow, even breaths, but a tiny line between his brows gave the impression he was still thinking, even in sleep. Jack prowled around the bed, examining equipment and readouts that meant nothing to him, yet felt oddly reassuring. After untangling a snagged I.V. line and fiddling with the blood pressure cuff, he smoothed the rumpled blanket and tucked it more securely around Daniel's body.

Daniel sucked in a sharp breath and the little line deepened to a frown. He shifted his legs beneath the covers and turned his head in Jack's direction. Jack froze like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar. If Fraiser got the idea he'd wakened Daniel, his next physical might be his last.

Daniel licked his lips, eyelids fluttering open. "Jack?"

Darting a useless glance over his shoulder, Jack patted his friend's shoulder. "Shhh. Right here, Daniel. Go back to sleep."

In typical fashion, Daniel ignored his order. "Timizzit?"

"Time for all good little archeologists to be tucked into bed with visions of mummies dancing in their heads."

Daniel wrinkled his nose. "Have you ever seen a mummy, Jack? Not exactly the stuff of dreams."

"The point is that you should be sleeping." Jack tried to peer around the curtain. Had he heard footsteps?

Daniel squinted at him. "If you wanted me to sleep, why did you wake me up?"

"Shhh!" Jack drew his finger across his throat. "I did NOT wake you up."

Daniel raised his eyebrows and the corners of his mouth turned up. "Scared of Janet, huh?"

"All sane men are afraid of Fraiser, Daniel. You don't piss off the mechanic that handles the equipment, if you get my drift."

Daniel chuckled, then winced, eyes squeezing shut.

"You all right?"

He nodded, rubbing the flesh above his brow. "Yeah. I just have a...a..." He trailed off, frowning and tapped his head. "It still hurts."

"Fraiser says the headache is temporary. You just need a little more time."

"AND sleep."

Jack jumped, whirling to face the pint-sized powermonger herself. Who happened to be shooting daggers at him with her eyes, hands braced on hips and toe tapping against the linoleum.

Determined to go on the offensive, Jack shook his finger. "Ah, ah! I did NOT wake him."

She rolled her eyes and opened her mouth, but Daniel's soft voice cut off the reprimand before she could utter it.

"He's right, Janet. I woke up because I was thirsty. Could I have a drink of water?"

Janet shifted her attention to Daniel, her gaze softening with unmistakable affection. "Of course you can."

She walked over to the sink and filled a paper cup with water. Jack mouthed "thank you," quickly assuming a neutral expression when Fraiser returned.

"As you can see, sir, Daniel is doing just fine," she said, handing Daniel the cup. "Now would you please get some sleep before you keel over? The last thing I need is another member of SG-1 in my infirmary."

"On my way." Jack tipped a mock salute and ambled toward the door.

"Jack?"

"Yo?" He turned around, amused that Janet now focused her death glare on Daniel.

Who promptly used the pleading, puppy dog look that had undermined Jack's resolve on more than one occasion. "There's something I have to tell Jack, Janet. Please. It will only take a minute, and then I promise I'll send him home."

"One minute." She looked at Daniel, then Jack, skepticism dripping from the words.

Jack pressed his hand over his heart. "Sixty seconds and I am so outta here."

Fraiser sighed. "I give up. One of you is bad enough; now you're double-teaming me. Just keep it brief. I've got to drop off some paperwork for the General. When I come back..."

"Thanks, Janet." Daniel caught her sleeve as she turned to go. "For everything. Even though I did my best to shield myself from those people, some of their thoughts, their consciousness seeped through. Enough to sense not all of them were...agreeable. I think maybe this was as difficult for you as it was for me."

"Oh, I don't know. Keenan was pretty cute." She smiled. "I'm just glad you're back, Daniel. We all are."

When she left, Jack raised both eyebrows. "So what was important enough to brave Fraiser's wrath?"

Daniel cleared his throat and gave him a lopsided smile. "Nothing much, just... Jack, I...um...my memories of the last forty-eight hours are pretty scrambled but... Well, the few times I did surface, I sensed you were there. Especially toward the end. I just wanted to say... That is, I needed you to know--"

"Daniel."

"Hmm?"

"It's okay. I know."

"You do?"

"Yeah."

"Oh." Daniel plucked at the sheet, stifling a yawn.

Jack patted a blanket-covered foot. "Get some sleep. I'll see you in the morning."

"Night, Jack."

He opened his mouth to answer; saw Daniel had already begun sliding toward sleep. Exhaustion, no longer short-circuited by worry, hit him like a punch to the gut. Not bothering to smother his own jaw-cracking yawn, Jack left his friend to sweet, mummy-less dreams and headed for home.

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"I'm serious, Daniel. I want you taking it easy for the next few days. No skipping meals and a minimum of eight hours sleep per night. If I find you holed up in your office, obsessing over some translation..."

Daniel pulled the tee shirt over his head and jammed his arms through the sleeves. "I do NOT obsess!" He glared at the two people standing beside his bed.

Janet lifted one eyebrow, arms folded. Jack smirked and nodded.

"I do?"

"Daniel, I've walked in on you when you're...focused. A tel'tac could land next to you and you wouldn't notice."

"That is such an exaggeration."

"Is not."

"Is."

"Is not."

"Gentlemen." Janet silenced them both, holding up a prescription bottle. "Daniel, I know your head is still bothering you. You can take one of these every four to six hours, up to six in a twenty-four hour period. Understand?"

Daniel started to nod; frowned instead. "How do you know?"

"Excuse me?"

"How do you know my head still hurts? I said I was fine."

Janet's lips curved and she shook her head. "Colonel?"

Jack shrugged. "Your face gets squinty."

"My face gets...squinty?"

"Like this." He scrunched up his eyes and nose.

Daniel turned to Janet. "Really?"

"Really. So do us both a favor--take the medicine, don't suffer in silence."

Daniel reached for his shoes. "Fine. Can I get out of here now?"

Janet looked at Jack. "You're driving him home?"

"It's what I live for."

"Then I'll see you back here in two days, Daniel. We'll run a final MRI and if everything still looks good I'll clear you for duty." She smiled. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have sick people to take care of."

"Thanks, Janet."

Jack picked up an otoscope, flicked on the light and began using it to examine the back of his own hand. "So, Daniel. What'll you feel like doing when we get to your place?"

Daniel slid the sneaker on his foot and paused, brow furrowed. "Doing? I thought you'd drop me off and head back to the..." He stopped, disconcerted when he couldn't find the right word. In his mind he clearly visualized a road disappearing into a towering hill of earth and rock, but his mouth couldn't articulate that picture.

"The mountain?" Jack shook his head. "Guess you didn't hear. Hammond gave the whole team 48 hours leave. You bought us all a vacation, Dannyboy."

Daniel snorted softly. "You're welcome."

He fumbled with the laces--around, over, under. Or was that over, under, around? Daniel wrapped and tugged with increasingly unsteady fingers, breath speeding up to rapid pants for air. He blinked, black spots dancing at the edges of his vision, a rushing sound in his ears.

Jack's face appeared, eyebrows knitted, mouth moving. One large hand cupped the back of his neck. The warmth and pressure grounded him and gradually the dance of Jack's lips and tongue resolved into words.

"...slow it down. That's it, deep breaths. Nice and slow."

A nurse hovered, pointing urgently toward him. Jack waved her off, voice switching to an authoritative bark. "I said we're fine here. Go get Fraiser. NOW."

"J...Jack?" Daniel shivered, staring down at his hands, still clutching the laces.

"Right here, Daniel." The gentle, soothing tone was back. Jack scrutinized his face as if looking for the answer to a particularly baffling puzzle. "You want to tell me what the hell that was about?"

"Jack, I c-can't...I duh...duh...don't remember." He choked out the confession in a thready whisper.

Jack gritted his teeth but kept his voice calm and even. "Don't remember *what*?"

Daniel licked his lips, his mouth desert dry. "My shoes. Jack, I...I don't remember how to t-tie my shoes."

Continued in Chapter 2