Four weeks later...
Daniel sighed and plopped down onto the bench, taking off his glasses as he did so and rubbing his face wearily. He hadn't slept a wink the night before. He couldn't believe how nervous he was.
Without standing up, he leaned forward and opened his locker. It was the first time he'd used it since the day he'd contracted the mind fever, which he thought was rather ironic. He'd forgotten he'd stored up so much junk in there. He made a mental note to clean it out when he got back.
When he got back. That was exactly why he was nervous, he realized. Here he was, about to go back to the planet where this whole mess had started, and part of him was afraid that the same thing would happen all over again. He knew it was ridiculous - the mind fever had been eradicated weeks ago. They were only going back now to help those poor people who had survived the last outbreak by giving them the chemical that had miraculously cured Daniel one month earlier. There was really no danger.
So why was he still so nervous about it?
As he pondered this question, he started to shed his civilian clothes and don his off-world attire. It felt strange to be wearing these clothes again, but at the same time, it felt good. As he took off his shirt, he felt the healing pendant fall against his chest, and it made him smile. Sam had recently related to him the whole conversation she'd had with Mika, and he was looking forward to seeing him again. He couldn't wait to see the look on the man's face when he arrived healthy and whole. That was the main reason he had insisted on going along with the rest of SG-1 on their mission of mercy.
Once he was dressed, he looked down at his left hand and winced. He knew they technically weren't supposed to wear any kind of jewellery, including wedding bands, on off-world missions, but he really didn't want to take it off. His marriage to Janet was still brand new - they had only just celebrated their one-week anniversary - and part of him was afraid that if he took the ring off, he would suddenly awaken and find it was all just a dream.
Besides that, he needed Janet's strength if he was going to make it through this trip. She had originally been scheduled to come along with them, but she hadn't been feeling well the last few days. Dr. Carmichael was going to join them instead.
Daniel shrugged. "What the hell," he muttered. "It's not like we're heading off into the thick of battle or anything."
He tucked his pendant underneath his shirt, stuck his left hand into his pocket just in case, and made his way to the gateroom.
Jack, Sam, Teal'c, and Carmichael were already waiting at the base of the ramp when he arrived, and he smiled nonchalantly at them as they turned to look at him. "Hey, guys," he said. "We going?"
"Just waiting for you," Jack said. He looked over at the control room window and made a gesture indicating that the dialling sequence could begin. As the gate started to spin, he stepped closer to Daniel. "You sure you're okay with this?" he asked.
Daniel nodded. "I'm fine, Jack."
"Cause you know you don't have to go back there, right?"
"Especially on your first mission after... you know."
"You can just sit this one out if you want and..."
Jack gave him an odd look. "What?"
Daniel paused for a moment to make sure Jack was listening, and when he spoke his words were crisp and clear. "Can it."
Jack narrowed his eyes at him in the way Daniel was becoming all too familiar with. People still didn't seem to trust that he was over the whole gonna-blow-at-any-second thing, and he didn't blame them one bit. He actually found that it was fun to play with their heads every once in a while.
He patted Jack's shoulder and gave him a saucy smile. "And I mean that in the nicest possible way," he said.
Jack rolled his eyes and shook his head. Daniel knew how glad he was to have him back on the team, though, so he just grinned triumphantly. It was nice to get one over on Jack sometimes.
As soon as the wormhole was established, the five of them stepped through the gate and immediately found themselves surrounded by a dozen or more hopeful faces. Daniel recognized Brom right away as he stepped out from the pack.
The older man stared open mouthed at Daniel for a long moment before he spoke. "Daniel Jackson," he said, reaching out to touch Daniel's face in wonder. "You... you are well!"
Daniel smiled. "Yes, I am," he said. "And we can help the other survivors become well again, too."
"Your people told us they would continue to look for ways to help us, but... I did not believe they would succeed," Brom said, lowering his head in shame. "Forgive me."
"There's nothing to forgive," Jack said. "Just take us to the people who need our help. They'll be better in no time."
"Yes, yes, of course," Brom said hurriedly. "This way."
As he led them towards the hospital, Daniel looked around at the scenery he remembered all too well. He recognized the exact spot where the little girl had fallen ill - the place where he had contracted the disease that had almost taken his life. He was so lost in thought that he didn't even notice the man who had fallen in step beside him until he felt a hand on his arm.
He turned and stopped dead in his tracks when he found himself face to face with Mika. "Mika," he said, smiling kindly at the man. "It's good to see you again."
Mika's face lit up. "It is good to see you, as well," he said. "And to see you healthy and strong again... it is truly a miracle."
Daniel fished the pendant out from under his shirt to show that he was wearing it. "I guess your gift did the trick," he said. "You have no idea how much it meant to me to have this while I was going through such a terrible time."
Mika's face flushed and he looked down at his feet. "It was just a small token to repay you for what you and your people did for us," he said humbly.
"Well, it was very much appreciated," Daniel said. "How is your wife?"
Mika looked grave then, and answered, "She has been most unwell. It has been hard to see such a strong woman reduced to such a state."
Daniel laid his hand on Mika's arm. "I can imagine," he said, feeling overwhelming empathy for them both. "But I promise you, we will do whatever we can to help her. This drug we've brought for you, combined with what Major Carter can do with her healing device... well, you've seen what it did for me. We can do the same for her."
Mika's eyes glistened with tears as he met Daniel's gaze gratefully. "Then I will be forever in your debt."
Daniel shook his head. "No. Then we'll be even." He reached around to the back of his neck to unclasp the necklace, and then he took Mika's hand and pressed it into his palm, closing his fist securely around it. "Now that I don't need this anymore," he said, "it should go to someone else who does."
Mika opened his hand and looked at it. "My wife," he said.
"Yes," Daniel agreed. "Give it to her with my blessing."
Mika looked up at him again with a pleading look in his eyes. "Would you give it to her? Please?"
Daniel smiled and started walking again towards the hospital. "Of course," he said. "Let's go do that now."
The rest of the day was exhausting but very rewarding. Mika's wife was the first to receive the treatment, and once the initial pain and blackout had passed, everyone could see immediately that it had made a big difference. Mika sobbed in relief, and Daniel couldn't help but join him.
All day long, Daniel was on an emotional roller coaster, swinging from overwhelming pain at seeing what these people had been going through over the last two months to overwhelming joy over the improvements he saw in them after they were given the drug. He longed to share it all with Janet, and found himself counting the minutes until he could return home to her and tell her all about it.
Finally, the last victim had been treated, and there was really no reason for them to stay. Sam was to come back every day for the next week to work on them with the healing device, as they were sure that it wouldn't take as long to heal them now that their bodies were free of the chemical interferent, but other than that, their work there was done. Daniel felt a sense of satisfaction as he stepped through the gate and heard General Hammond's pleasant voice welcoming them home.
Daniel couldn't get out of the SGC fast enough.
It was late, and he was exhausted, but he didn't want to spend any more time away from Janet than was absolutely necessary. The drive home seemed to take forever, but finally he pulled into the familiar driveway, practically jumped out of the car, and jogged up the porch steps.
He tried not to make a sound as he entered the house, as he didn't want to disturb Janet's sleep if she'd been feeling unwell again. Leroy came running through from the kitchen to greet him, so Daniel took a moment to squat down and bury his face in the dog's ruff and give him lots of fuss. Leroy seemed satisfied with that, and trotted off happily once Daniel stood up and headed for the stairs.
He entered the bedroom as quiet as a mouse, quickly got undressed, and climbed into bed. Janet was fast asleep, turned on her side facing him, so he just lay there looking at her for a minute. She looked so peaceful and content, smiling that little half-smile that always made him wonder what she was thinking. He couldn't resist - he stroked her cheek with the backs of his fingers and leaned forward to brush his lips against hers.
Janet stirred and sighed as she started to wake up.
"Honey, I'm home," Daniel said quietly into her ear.
Janet opened her eyes and smiled at him. "Hi," she said.
Daniel smiled and kissed her again. "Hi."
She yawned and stretched and took one of his hands in one of hers in an almost unconscious action. "I thought you'd be staying at the base tonight," she said.
"Well, I was going to," Daniel said, "but then I thought I'd just come home to my wife instead."
Janet touched his face and looked up at him lovingly for a moment. "How was it?" she asked. "Were you okay with being there?"
Daniel nodded thoughtfully. "It was a little strange at first, but... it felt good to help those people. They've had it even worse these past months than I did."
Daniel snuggled up closer to her, wrapping his arms around her and pressing her head against his chest. "God, I missed you," he said with a sigh. "Seeing those people... it made me realize how awful I was to you. I'm so sorry, Janet."
Janet gripped the front of his t-shirt in her fists. "It wasn't your fault, Daniel, and it's all over now."
"Yes, it is," Daniel was all too glad to agree. "I love you."
"I love you, too."
After a few moments of comfortable silence, Janet shifted position a little and said, "Daniel?"
"I found out some good news today."
Janet pulled back from him and smiled up into his face.
Daniel waited for her to answer, but when she didn't, he was puzzled. "What?"
She just raised her eyebrows and kept on smiling.
Suddenly, lightning seemed to strike Daniel's brain, and he understood. "You... you mean you're..."
Janet beamed at him and nodded, even though he couldn't seem to finish his sentence.
Daniel laughed joyfully. "We're gonna have a baby?!"
Daniel wanted to say something - anything - but it was useless to try. He was completely and utterly speechless.
Once he felt like he'd gaped at her long enough, Daniel let out a whoop and started planting noisy kisses on her stomach.
Janet's peals of laughter were without a doubt the most wonderful sounds he had ever heard. Despite everything they had been through, they had somehow managed to come out of it happier than they had ever been in their entire lives, and it never ceased to amaze him.
'Yes,' Daniel thought as he covered his wife in kisses, 'life is good.'
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13