Title: There's No Place like Home
Genre: Gen, humor, friendship/team. Icon Tag
Summary: They FINALLY get Daniel back.
Disclaimer: I don't own them. Just got them out to play with.
"We're continuing to monitor countless radio signals coming from the planet. One of them could be from Daniel. If we can find a way to contact…"
Sighing, Jack rest his head on fisted hands on his desk. He never should have let him go in the first place. Why did he anyway?
Because Daniel can take care of himself, that's why. The annoying, logical side of his brain loudly announced.
Still…it was what kept them looking, hoping after so long and against so many odds.
And it was why they were going to find Daniel alive.
That…and because Daniel knew Jack would never forgive himself if he came back dead.
Jack ran down into the gateroom and reaching the ramp, let out a huge breath he hadn't even known he was holding. Daniel was okay. They were bringing him home. Bouncing his fists anxiously against his thighs, he wondered why it suddenly took so long to walk through a little puddle.
"Jack," Daniel greeted, finally walking through the event horizon with Teal'c and Carter flanking him very closely. They all looked tired, but extraordinarily relieved to be home and together again.
"So," Jack asked his archaeologist casually, rocking back on his heels and putting his hands in his pockets as they stepped off the ramp, "you just stoppin' by to do some laundry ooor..." he trailed off raising his eyebrows.
Daniel's lips twitched upwards. "Well, and to raid the fridge of course."
Jack returned a crooked grin and nodded, "Of course," as he stepped forward and wrapped his friend in a bear hug. "Archaeologist sandwich," he announced and then Carter was hugging Daniel from behind and a collective "oomph" was heard as Teal'c wrapped all three of them up in his arms.
"Uh, guys?" came a muffle. "Uh, as cozy as this is…people are staring."
Nobody budged. In fact, Daniel swore they tightened their hold. "And," he added with a wheeze, "I can't breathe."
That got them moving-if reluctantly at best.
"So, Daniel," Jack kept his hands on his friend's shoulders. "Squirrelly. Need we look it up in the dictionary, oh skilled linguist of mine?"
Daniel ducked his head and when he looked back up there was regret in his eyes. "Jack, I tried. I…"
"What's this?" Jack cut him off, tilting the younger man's chin to get a better look. Carter and Teal'c crowded back in to see what he was pointing at.
"Uh…" Crap. "Cut myself shaving?" Daniel offered weakly. Really, they knew he had been caught up in the middle of a war. How could they expect him not to get hurt?
"Uh-huh," Jack muttered distractedly. "Did you cut yourself shaving here too?" he asked, running his finger along a new nasty scar on Daniel's nose.
"Infirmary." Jack took his friend by the elbow and pulled him along, barely slowing down enough for Daniel to hand off his weapon.
Daniel didn't see a point in arguing. It was standard operating procedure anyway. Still, he had a feeling that due to Jack's insistent hovering, not to mention, "Sides Seat Doctoring"—his time under the doctor's scope was going to be nothing less than doubled.
And he could forget about going back to his own place tonight. He knew without a doubt that he would be hauled off to Jack's to be clucked over like a lost baby chick until he was warm, full, clean and unconscious.
Aahh…there was no place like home.
Crowding into the elevator, Jack's hand still lightly gripped Daniel's right elbow, Sam's arm had wrapped possessively around his left bicep and Teal'c stood immediately in front of him—taking point. They were acting as if he was a helium balloon that could float away or be popped at any moment. And it felt good. He felt safe for the first time in a long time.
"You didn't happen to die while you were there, did you, Daniel?" Jack asked casually, catching the younger man off guard and not expecting the response he got.
"Uh, no…not that I'm aware of," was his absent reply. D'oh! Daniel would have smacked himself in the head if his arms weren't literally tethered down.
That immediately had three sets of eyes on him—for even Teal'c had turned around to add his worried gaze.
Daniel raised his eyebrows and puckered his lips nervously at the scrutiny. "But…I…I would say probably not. No…uh-uh," he stammered, getting the feeling that the more he tried to convince them, the less convinced they actually were. Jack's eyes had narrowed dangerously, Sam's begged him to tell her it wasn't true and Teal'c's jaw clenched as he placed his hands behind his back and straightened.
It was going to be a long night.
Daniel smiled cheekily.
Yup. No place like home.
"Think he missed us?" Jack teased.
Sam giggled and lightly rubbed their friend's lower back. "Maybe that second beer wasn't such a good idea after all," she jibed gently.
Daniel had fallen asleep not even half way through the movie and had slowly migrated into his current pose—which was on his stomach with his head on Jack's lap, his legs over Sam's knees and an arm curled around Teal'c's shoulder—who was sitting on the floor with his back against the couch.
"I hope no one has to pee," Jack quipped and then slowly, hesitantly laid a hand in the middle of Daniel's back above Sam's.
Thump, thump, thump was the rhythm he was greeted with and each beat helped ease a little more of the pain and fear from the last six weeks.
But it didn't undo the guilt. Or the feeling that if Jack just hadn't let him go in the first place, none of it ever would have happened. He was supposed to protect him, for cryin' out loud. But instead, he let him go. Again. And though six weeks wasn't nearly as long as a year, the pain was no different. Uncertainty was weird that way.
Shaking his head sadly, before he even realized it the words were whispered past his lips. "He can't keep doing this."
A heavy silence was his response as all of their thoughts synchronized.
Sam somberly watched her thumb as she feathered it across the fabric over Daniel's back. "You remember," she started softly, "you remember that one week after we got him back from Vis Ban…"
Jack's reply was raspy, "Yeah." And a deep throaty grumble came from Teal'c.
"We could not touch DanielJackson for an entire week while he suffered flashbacks from his radiation sickness. His skin was extremely sensitive." The Jaffa's jaw clenched. "It was most difficult watching him relive such pain."
Almost as difficult as watching him slowly die from it.
Jack's hand continued to absorb the warmth from between his friend's shoulder blades. He cocked an incredulous eyebrow. "You know, I never thought it would be so hard not to touch Daniel."
Sam laughed softly, but it was the truth. Whether it was just a pat on the shoulder, or a light hand to guide him into a room, or even a playful nudge—apparently touching Daniel came to them as naturally as breathing.
It probably started the first time they thought they had lost him. The first physical reassurance was bitter sweet. And every one that followed—an indulgence born from necessity.
Daniel stirred and Jack moved his hand to run it through their friend's hair. The younger man settled before Jack even realized what he was doing. The corner of the colonel's mouth quirked and Sam and Teal'c smiled. Teal'c hadn't even needed to see what had calmed him. He knew. They had all been using the same simple gesture for years. And it worked like a charm every time.
"Do you think he knows?" Carter wondered aloud.
"What? That we can put him—a grown man to sleep, with a wave of our great and powerful sandman wielding fingers?"
Sam chortled. "Yes, I guess so, sir."
Jack canted his head to the side thoughtfully.
"I believe it is irrelevant," Teal'c answered. He paused long enough that both of his teammates raised their eyebrows questioningly. "He is no match against our great and powerful sandman wielding fingers," he finally finished matter-of-factly.
"You heard the man, Carter."
Smiling, "Yes, sir," she conceded.
The next twenty minutes passed in companionable silence—all of their thoughts on the man currently weaved throughout their bodies—and long ago through their hearts. It felt so good to have him back. To be able to touch him again. To be able to feel him. Nobody wanted to move. No one wanted the moment to end.
"Hold it, soldier."