---

Chapter Eleven

---

Jack had pulled his stool over to Daniel's bedside before he sat back down on it. He'd decided to forgo the spinning in circles he'd done earlier, and so he sat silently at Daniel's side, leaning forward every now and then to check for signs that he was waking. He was absently fiddling with a small package, neatly wrapped in brightly-colored paper, that he held in his hands. He glanced from Daniel's face to the package, and suddenly felt very foolish.

Jack leaned forward and rubbed his forehead as he tried to remember just what he'd been thinking. He was certain that Carter and Teal'c would return with truly amazing gifts to give Daniel and he, Jack O'Neill, was about to give his best friend something incredibly stupid. He ran his hands through his hair and sighed. He would get him something incredible—later. Tomorrow. He'd stash this ridiculous idea of his away somewhere, and no one else would ever know how close he'd come to making a complete fool of himself.

Checking once more to make certain that Daniel was still sleeping, Jack quickly half-stood and opened the top drawer of the bedside table. He tucked the package away and moved some of Daniel's things around, arranging them to hide every last inch of the bright wrapping paper. He'd have to think of an excuse for having nothing to give Daniel when the others did, but he was sure he'd be able to come up with something. There was no way he was going to admit that his present was hiding in that drawer, not when he knew that Sam and Teal'c would come up with gifts that were so much better.

Jack closed the drawer and sat back down on the stool. When he turned back to Daniel, he was startled to see blue eyes staring intently at his face.

"Jack?"

"Daniel?"

"What… um… what are you doing?"

"Nothin'."

"Nothing." Daniel blinked and his eyebrows lowered. His skepticism was obvious. "You're doing 'nothing' in my drawer?"

Jack opened his mouth as his brain scrambled to come up with some excuse to give. He closed it again quickly, and then flashed a huge grin. "How are you feeling?"

"Um… like crap, actually," Daniel answered slowly. "But you already knew that." He narrowed his eyes slightly. "What were you doing in my drawer?"

"What drawer?"

"Jack …"

"What?" Jack feigned an innocent expression.

"That's my stuff. You were digging through my stuff."

"I was not," Jack answered truthfully.

"Why else would you be in my drawer?"

"I wasn't."

"You were so. I saw you."

"Wasn't."

"Were too!"

Jack shook his head. "Nope. You must have been hallucinating again. Maybe this stuff Doc's got you on is stronger than I thought …" Jack stood and looked at the IV bag, scrunching his face up as if he were studying it carefully. "Yeah, that's what I thought," he announced. "Happy juice. You're seeing things, Daniel." Satisfied with his explanation, Jack stepped away.

"I am not, Jack, I saw you… ow!"

"What?" Jack asked, suddenly concerned. "What's wrong?"

Daniel sighed and grabbed his IV line in his left hand, giving it a small tug. Jack jumped, surprised to feel something moving around his legs, and he glanced down. He had managed to get himself on the wrong side of a few feet of IV tubing, which had wrapped itself around his ankles.

Jack paled instantly, and then reddened in embarrassment. "Oh crap, Daniel, I… I'm sorry. That was stupid wasn't it? Here, let me see… are you hurt?" Jack leaned forward in an effort to inspect Daniel's IV site. He tripped over the tangled tubing and fell against the side of Daniel's bed. He had to grab the rail to keep from landing in Daniel's lap.

"Jack …"

"I just… I wasn't thinking. Let me get out of this. Are you bleeding? Did I pull it out? Crap, Daniel …" Jack spun in circles, first one way and then the other, trying to shake the stubborn tubing from his legs.

"Ow! Jack, could you just… ow!"

"Sorry… I'm sorry …" Jack bent over, pushing and pulling at the seriously tangled IV line. "Almost got it …"

"Jack, just… just sit down. Ow! Sit down!"

Jack flopped back down on the stool, hard, his face full of shame. The tubing fell away from his legs and landed on the floor. Jack gingerly lifted one foot at a time away from the line and looked back up shyly. "I'm so sorry, Daniel …"

Daniel raised his finger and waved it in Jack's direction. "Just… stay over there, all right?"

"Okay." Jack turned his head away, but looked back only seconds later. "Are you sure you're all right?"

Daniel sighed and shifted on the bed, trying to find a comfortable position. He checked his IV to make certain that it had not dislodged. Seeing no blood leaking from the site, he leaned back against his pillow. "Jack, I'm sick. I'm not dead, and I'm not gonna break, okay?"

Jack nodded. A few seconds later, he leaned forward again. "But you're sure …?"

"Jack, I'm fine."

It was Jack's turn to show his skepticism.

"Okay… I'm not fine. But I will be. I feel a lot better already."

Jack couldn't help but smile. "Doc's magic happy juice. It does the trick every time."

Daniel chuckled lightly and nodded his head. "Yeah, it does."

A companionable silence descended around them, broken a few moments later when Jack suddenly grew serious. "You remember much?"

"Um… yeah. Most of it, I think."

"Good," Jack said with a smile, remembering Janet's warnings about amnesia. "That's good."

"I've got a few fuzzy places from the cave. Something about… snow on Abydos?"

Jack's smile faded and his expression turned to one of remembered pain. "Yeah."

"Oh, yeah!" Daniel exclaimed suddenly. "I remember now. You wanted me to explain Christmas to Teal'c." He grinned across at Jack. "I don't think I did a very good job."

Jack smiled back at him. "You told him that Christmas is about sandball fights and mastadge ham, Daniel."

"Well, I was right. Sorta."

"Oh, come on. You weren't even on the same planet as Christmas!" Jack meant the light tease to be a joke. When the smile fell from Daniel's face, Jack mentally kicked himself for the second time in as many minutes. "Daniel?"

"I was on Abydos," Daniel explained softly, looking down at his hands. "They don't get much snow there, ya know. No fir trees, no ham, no Christmas lights. I thought… I thought I'd failed so miserably at explaining it to them."

"Oh, Daniel."

Jack glanced up at the door, not surprised to see Sam and Teal'c standing just inside the room. He didn't know how long they'd been there, or how much they'd heard. From the looks on their faces it was obvious they'd heard quite a lot of it. If Daniel had heard Sam's voice, he showed no sign of it. Jack acknowledged them both with a nod as they moved into the room and turned back to Daniel again.

"But you know what? I woke up that morning, and I was so… upset. I felt like… like here's this amazing part of my culture that I want to share with them so badly, and I can't do it. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't make them understand. They've got nothing to compare it to. But …" As Daniel's voice trailed off, he looked up. He looked around him, smiling at each of his friends in turn before looking back down and continuing. "They understood everything. They didn't need snow, or fancy food, or presents. They had everything they needed for a perfect Christmas." When Daniel raised his head again, there were tears in his eyes, but the smile on his face showed the joy he was feeling. "They had each other… we had each other. And that was all we really needed."

Sam sniffled as she wiped the back of her hand across her eyes. Teal'c stood with his arms behind his back, and he bowed his head slightly in Daniel's direction. Jack glanced over his shoulder at them, and then back to Daniel. He felt something building within him, a warmth spreading through him, that he hadn't felt in years. He knew he had felt it before, but it had been gone for so many years that he hadn't even noticed it was missing. As he looked around the room at the four people in the universe who meant the most to him, he realized that he never wanted to lose that feeling again.

"So… it doesn't snow on Abydos?"

Daniel laughed and wiped his eyes quickly. "No. Snow on Abydos would be kind of like… Hell freezing over."

"Captain?" called a familiar voice from the corridor. "Captain Carter, where do you want this?"

The four turned toward the door. Three of them were surprised to see Sergeant Siler walk in, dragging a two-wheel lift behind him.

Sam beamed as she walked quickly toward Siler. "Just over there," she answered, pointing to the far side of Daniel's bed. "Close enough for him to see without his glasses."

Jack craned his neck to get a look at Carter's gift, feeling another wave of foolishness as he thought of what lay hidden in the top drawer. He wanted to see what amazing thing Sam had gotten for Daniel.

His jaw hit the floor when he saw it.

Siler spared a smile for the man in the bed as he unloaded his cargo. "Dr. Jackson. Feeling better, I see."

"Um… yes," Daniel forced himself to look away from the delivery and smile at the sergeant. "Yes, much better. Thank you."

"Well, there ya go, Captain," Siler announced, settling her gift to the floor. "Merry Christmas to you all."

A hushed chorus of "Merry Christmas"es followed Sergeant Siler out the door.

Daniel stared, slack-jawed and wide-eyed at Sam's gift. He didn't look up at her until he felt her sit down on the end of his bed. "Sam …" He reached out with his left hand, but pulled himself up short, almost afraid to touch it. "Oh, Sam, I… how? I mean… why?"

Sam shrugged and smiled at him. "It was just something you mentioned once. You like it?"

"Oh, Sam… I love it!"

Daniel's hand darted out quickly, and he lightly brushed a bright green leaf with his fingertips. "I can't… I can't believe it." Standing next to Daniel's bed was a four-foot-tall palm tree. Candles were arranged in the soil around the trunk, and the tree itself had been decorated liberally with ribbons of deep red silk. "It's amazing, Sam," Daniel whispered, smiling at her in wonder. "Thank you."

"I have a gift for you as well, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c announced, stepping forward. "Sergeant Siler assures me that this will last for a great number of years."

Jack rose to his feet and leaned around the Jaffa to see how wonderful his gift would be. When Teal'c brought his hands from behind his back and placed his gift on the tray at Daniel's feet, Jack's eyes grew wide. Sam and Teal'c pushed the tray closer to Daniel so that he could see clearly what it was.

Tears welled in Daniel's eyes as the gift came into focus. A perfectly round ball of sand sat on the tray in front of him, held together by something unseen, the color that of newly wetted grains that had been pressed together tightly.

"I believe this to be a close approximation of what you recounted," Teal'c explained. "However, Sergeant Siler has informed me that throwing it at a person would be… unwise."

Daniel laughed through his tears. "Oh my God, Teal'c… it's amazing. It's really just… I don't know what to say. Thank you."

"You are welcome," Teal'c responded with a slight bow.

Daniel looked around at the group of people gathered around his bed. "Guys, I …"

"Wait," Jack interrupted. "There's still one more, Daniel."

"No, Jack… really, you don't …"

Jack pulled the drawer open again, reaching in and carefully retrieving his own gift. He hadn't understood why he'd gone to Dr. Fraiser and asked for her help. It had just seemed such a good idea at the time. His feelings of stupidity and foolishness faded into oblivion, and when he turned back around, he had a small, brightly wrapped package cradled carefully in his hands.

"I lied, Daniel."

"What?"

"I was in your drawer. I was hiding this."

"Jack, I really don't …"

"Ah!" Jack silenced the protest with a smile, and laid his gift on the tray beside Teal'c's. "This is from me."

Daniel took a deep breath and gently pulled at the wrapping until it fell away. He stared at what lay before him, smoothing the paper against the tray. When he opened his mouth to speak, no words came out. He licked his lips and swallowed heavily, taking another deep breath before looking up.

"Oh, Jack …"

"Doc Fraiser gave me your prescription," Jack said softly. "I thought… well …" Jack scratched his head absently. "You lost your other ones on the planet and I… I just thought you might like to have them, that's all."

"Jack …" Tears were rolling down Daniel's cheeks when he reached for the glasses. He sniffled as he unfolded them and raised them to his face. As he settled the new glasses into place, he looked up at Jack once more. "Jack, I …"

"Ya know, if you keep doing that, you're gonna fog 'em up."

Daniel laughed through his tears, and wiped at his cheeks quickly. "You're right," he said, sniffing again and rubbing his nose with the back of his hand. "There's nothing worse than foggy glasses." Despite his words, Daniel continued to wipe his face as his friends watched him. "God, guys …"

Jack nudged Daniel's IV line with his toe, pushing it out of his way as he stepped forward. After making certain that the tubing was a safe distance away, Jack perched himself on the bed at Daniel's hip, reaching out to remove the glasses as new tears washed across Daniel's face. "That's enough now, Daniel," Jack said with mock sternness, wiping the lenses against his shirt. "You're making Carter cry."

"Sir!" Sam tried for indignation—she fell short.

"Do our gifts not please you, Daniel Jackson?" Teal'c asked in concern. He sat down on the bed across from Carter, at Daniel's feet. "We had hoped our gifts would bring you joy. We did not wish to upset you."

"No, Teal'c… you didn't." Daniel took one more deep breath before wiping the last of his tears away. "I'm not upset. Not at all."

"Why then do you weep?"

"People… well, some people," Sam began, amending her own explanation when Jack glanced at her across his shoulder. "Some people cry when they're happy, Teal'c."

Teal'c tilted his head slightly. "Does this not cause confusion? How are we to know if tears are shed for happiness or despair?"

"It's easy, Teal'c," Jack responded as he held Daniel's glasses up to the light and checked the lenses for smudges. "If they're not smiling, they're not happy. If they look like this …" Jack gestured at Daniel. "They are." Jack took one last look through the freshly-wiped lenses and nodded to himself, satisfied that they were clean. He slid them over Daniel's ears, and then settled them on his nose. "Now, no more tears. Got it?"

"Yeah," Daniel answered with a soft smile. "No more tears."

Jack reached out and ruffled the younger man's long hair, smiling at him fondly. "Good. Because Carter was about to lose it over there."

"Colonel!"

Jack chuckled lightly and smiled over his shoulder at his second-in-command.

"Guys …" Daniel said softly. When his three friends turned toward him, he spoke again. "I didn't… I didn't have time to get you guys anything …"

"Don't worry about it, Daniel," Sam answered quickly. "We're not."

"Yeah, but I should have …"

"You did, Dannyboy," Jack said quietly. "Believe me… you did."

"No, I …"

"We have everything we require, Daniel Jackson."

"But I …"

"Daniel." Jack gripped his shoulder tightly; Sam and Teal'c each placed a hand against the leg closest to them. "We're good. Listen to Teal'c… he knows what he's talking about."

"No, but… Teal'c, I can at least explain Christmas to you now. I'm pretty sure I can do it right this time."

"There is no need, Daniel Jackson. I believe I understand it very well."

Sam smiled at Teal'c and reached out to take his hand in her own. Daniel looked back at them in confusion.

"I think you do at that, Teal'c," Jack replied with a smile. "I think we all do."

He looked from Sam, to Teal'c, to Daniel, and felt the warmth inside him again, growing stronger with every moment that passed. From the looks on the faces of those around him, Jack knew that SG-1 had been given the greatest gift of all. Just like the people of Abydos, they had each other, and that was all they would ever need.

-fin-