Daniel shifted, squinting upward blearily. His glasses were gone - where - ah. Jack. Daniel shifted once more, trying to get comfortable, before he realized that the banking motion of the plane was what had awoken him in the first place. They were preparing to land in Denver.
Daniel had fallen asleep not long after they'd taken off from Tel Aviv, waking briefly and sporadically several times only to drop back into sleep. His head was aching, as was his shoulder. The joint was sore from the workout of the day before, and letting him know it. His head had been a continual ache ever since he'd cracked it against the ground, but the changes in altitude had aggravated the pain.
Daniel groggily forced his eyes to stay open, feeling disoriented. Between the length of the flight and the change in time zone, he had no idea how much time had passed, or what time of day he was going to be entering when he stepped out of the plane.
Sam was dozing beside him - and slightly on him - and Daniel was careful not to dislodge her when he slowly straightened. Teal'c was absorbed in kel'no'reem, while Jack was frowning at a newspaper crossword.
"To throw out a window?" he muttered to himself. "Why throw out a window? Did it break?"
"Defenistrate," Daniel muttered, rubbing his eyes.
"Say what?" Jack asked, looking over at him. He reached across and handed Daniel his glasses.
"To throw something out a window. Defenistrate," Daniel repeated.
Jack rolled his eyes. "Do you even have to try?" he asked, waving the crossword in the air. Daniel smiled tiredly, without answering.
A man came out of the cockpit, and said, "We're preparing to land. Get strapped in."
"The military version of, 'Please rebuckle your seatbelts, and make sure your seat-backs and tray-tables are in their upright and lock position'," Jack sing-songed as soon as the man turned back to the front of the plane.
"Faster than commercial flight, though," was Sam's sleep-blurred contribution. "What time is it?"
"It'll be midmorning in Denver. We should be on base in time for lunch," Jack retorted happily. He was in an unquenchably lively mood - Daniel was home!
The archaeologist in question looked at him grumpily, obviously not sharing his glee.
"As of now, the debriefing is set for 1400," Jack continued. Daniel yawned. "Try not to fall asleep on Hammond," he finished, a large grin wreathing his face. To Sam and Teal'c, he looked lighter and happier than they'd seen him in a long time. To Daniel, he just looked repulsively chipper. Daniel hated that word - chipper. It screamed perky blonde teenage cheerleader; and also, somehow, gave him the impression of a squirrel. However, at the moment it was the only accurate description. Daniel longed for coffee - maybe after having some, the world would start to make more sense.
He yawned again, covering his mouth politely.
The landing was smooth, the airstrip they disembarked on deserted. "My car, I drive," said Jack peremptorily as they approached the truck. As Sam and Daniel were too tired to put up more than a token protest, and mutter vague fears for life, limb and wellbeing, Jack slid behind the wheel while Teal'c sat shotgun. The two scientists piled in the backseat, and were soon sleeping again.
Jack couldn't help his eyes lingering on Daniel in the rearview mirror. Sam was leaning all over him, and murmured in her sleep whenever he shifted - unwilling to let him go anywhere without her. Teal'c too kept taking frequent glances into the back of the truck. The hour-plus ride into Colorado Springs took longer than it should have, Jack wanting the comfortable feeling of unity to last as long as possible.
By the time they reached the base, Jack had to force himself to wake his kids. Both of them were overworked, and it was a safe bet from his deep unconsciousness that Daniel's stressful habits hadn't changed, even if his address had.
"Coffee," Jack murmured tantalizingly.
Daniel straighted. "Where?" It was the first intelligible word out of his mouth since Teal'c had been gently and forcefully trying to wake him.
"Commissary," Sam promised.
Together, they managed to lead the snappish, not-quite-awake linguist past the sign-in and into the base. Once in the commissary with a cup of caffeine cradled in front of him, Daniel seemed to perk up, and actually notice the many people who were stopping by to say hello.
"Hey, Dr. Jackson!"
Daniel half-turned. "Feretti!"
"We ain't due to ship out for another few hours, and when we were in the infirmary we heard the rumor that you were back. Turns out it wasn't a rumor after all!"
Daniel smiled. "It's good to see you too."
Feretti grinned. "I just wanted to see if I could find you before Frasier tightened the medical noose. I gotta go, but the rest of SG-2 will be swingin' by to say aloha before we 'gate outta here."
Happy goodbyes, secure in the knowledge that they would meet again soon, were exchanged - and this was only the first. In the following two hours, SG-1 lounged in the commissary, smugly showing Daniel off, though he didn't realize it. It seemed like sooner or later everyone showed up to welcome the linguist back; jarheads, clerks in supply, SF's and grunts. All merriment halted with the separate arrivals of two formidable presences - Hammond and Dr. Frasier put in short appearances at the impromptu gathering.
SG-1, spearheaded by Sam, started making farewell noises half an hour before the debriefing. Quite frankly, Daniel was looking overwhelmed and they knew he would want some time to pull himself together before recounting the past few days to the general.
They made their way back to Daniel's office, which hadn't been touched courtesy of SG-1's fierce protectiveness of the area. Anyone who might have considered even dusting while SG-1 was offworld knew that they wouldn't last an hour past the flagship team's return.
Daniel knew he hadn't done a very good job of hiding his surprise on seeing the office untouched. While he had dreaded seeing the room converted into something else, it also raised an uncomfortable question. Did SG-1 want him back?
Asked and answered, Daniel thought wryly. He was back, and he would bet his life savings that Jack knew both how difficult it had been to walk away the first time, and how much harder it would be to leave twice.
But Daniel had no idea what he wanted, at this point. The SGC was greater than anything he'd ever experienced in his life, with the exception of his marriage. Nothing came close to going through the gate, and touching history. But – that had not been a part of the Stargate program for a long time. And he also had doubts about the rest of SG-1.
At the moment, though, the rest of SG-1 was looking at him, barely able to conceal the grins on their faces. Daniel let a slightly suspicious expression cross his face. "Trying to tell me something?" he asked, a tiny smile curving his lips.
Jack stepped forward, and the seriousness on his features took Daniel by surprise. "We want you to come back to the SGC, and SG-1," he said.
As the shock of this pronouncement hit him, Daniel felt vaguely better about having the goals of his former teammates out in the open. His face reflected the gravity of the situation, smile fading away.
He was quiet for so long, his face uncharacteristically expressionless, that the other members of SG-1 caught themselves exchanging worried glances.
Sam's gentle voice broke through his reverie, and the archaeologist blinked.
"It's almost time for the briefing," he croaked after a moment, glancing at his watch.
"Sure," Jack forced, his light tone strained. It was clear to him now that things were much more complicated than he had let himself believe.
- - - - - - -
Yea, I'm back. Just a little tidbit for you. More next post, maybe? ï Life is equalizing, but I make no promises. Reviews, however, always inspire me to find more time . . . . (coughHINTcough)