Note of Interest: At the beginning of the Season 3 episode "Nemesis", Daniel was recovering from surgery after getting acute appendicitis. What some fans do not know is that the reason that was in the episode is that it really did happen. Michael Shanks actually got appendicitis and had to have surgery to remove the organ. Because of his illness and the surgery, he couldn't be in the episode. It was decided that giving Daniel the very illness that the actor who played him got would be the perfect way to write him out of the episode. I am not certain of this, but I believe that the appendectomy scar we saw in Small Victories many have been the real one.
George stared fiercely at the Stargate through the briefing room window. Fear was a tight knot in his belly. He'd felt fear many times in the past, fear for a friend, fear for the welfare of someone under his command, but this fear, this horrible, sick feeling that made his chest tight and his gut clench, this he hadn't felt in a long time, not since the doctor told him that his beloved Margaret had cancer. Months later, he'd had to watch his wife die. What if he had to do the same with Daniel?
'Please, dear God,' he prayed. 'Please don't let my son die.'
At that moment, the gate began dialing. As George rushed down to the control room, the announcement of an off-world activation came over the speakers.
"It's SG-1, sir," Harriman said once the wormhole had connected.
"Open the iris," the general commanded as he hurried for the staircase. He was in the gate room when the off-world travelers came through. George's eyes instantly went to the litter carrying his son. Daniel lay unmoving, his face very pale.
"Janet?" he inquired, hurrying to Daniel's side.
"It's pretty bad, sir," the doctor said. "I'm almost certain we're dealing with a ruptured appendix and peritonitis. I don't think we should wait for the lab tests. We need to get him into surgery right away. Is Doctor Warner ready?"
"Yes, they're all ready in the O.R."
With George and the rest of SG-1 following, Daniel was rushed to the infirmary, being taken straight to the O.R. as Janet shot out orders to her nurses for a whole bunch of drugs with long names, only one of which, penicillin, was recognized by the four non-medical witnesses.
And then the waiting began. Jack, Sam and Teal'c were no strangers to waiting for word on Daniel, but, this time, there was a fourth person waiting with them. The general spent a lot of the time slowly pacing, clearly lost in thought.
At one point he came to a sudden halt.
"I need to call Kate and Vee," he said, then walked away. He found the nearest phone and dialed the number of his eldest daughter.
"Kate, it's Dad."
"Dad, what's wrong?" she asked, instantly having recognized from his voice that something bad had happened.
"It's your brother, Katie. He's very sick. The doctors think that his appendix has ruptured."
Kate began to cry. "Oh, no. Is it really bad?"
"I'm afraid it is, sweetheart. Because of where he was, it took a very long time to get him back here. By the time we got him to the infirmary, he was very, very sick. He's in surgery now."
"Daddy, I want to be there."
"Oh, honey, you can't. You can't come down to this part of the base."
"Why not?" Kate angrily demanded to know. "What the hell could be so top secret about the infirmary?"
"It isn't the infirmary itself, honey. It's the lower levels of the base as a whole."
"Then I'll keep my eyes shut! I'll-I'll-I'll cover my ears! I'll do whatever you want me to! Please, Dad. Please."
Hammond closed his eyes. Dear God. How could he tell her no?
"All right, Katie. You can come," he said instead. "I'll have to make a few arrangements. Someone will be waiting for you at the front gate."
"Thank you," Kate whispered. "I'll be there as soon as I can."
George's next call was to his other daughter.
"Oh my God," Veronica gasped. "Daddy, a burst appendix can kill people."
"I know, sweetheart, but Daniel is getting the best care possible. He's in surgery as we speak, and we have some of the best doctors in the country right here on base."
"I'm coming over there, Daddy, and I don't want you telling me that I can't. I don't give a damn if it's all top secret."
"Your sister is probably already on the way, honey. There will be a car waiting for you at the main gate."
After getting off the phone with Veronica, General Hammond made arrangements for someone to meet his daughters at the gate and escort them straight to the infirmary. He then went to the control room and told Sergeant Harriman that, if there were any off-world activations, he was not to announce them verbally, though he was to go ahead and set off the usual alarm. Lastly, he got on the P.A. system and made the announcement that there would be two visitors on the base who did not have security clearance, that those visitors were going directly to the infirmary, and that everyone in the infirmary and on the rest of that floor were to refrain from talking about anything of a classified nature, including all references to missions and the Stargate. Any objects of alien origin were to be removed from view. He also passed on the information that, for the time being, gate activations would not be verbally announced.
Once that was all done, George went back to the infirmary. The three members of SG-1 looked at him when he got there.
"You're letting Kate and Vee come?" Jack asked.
"I couldn't say no, Jack, not after Kate begged me." George looked at Teal'c. "Teal'c, I need to ask that you cover your emblem."
"That will not be an inconvenience, General Hammond," the Jaffa responded. He left to go get a cap.
"Sir, Daniel is going to be all right," Jack said. "He might not look like it on the outside, but he's tough. He'd have been dead long before now, if he wasn't."
"I know he's strong, Jack. He's one of the strongest men I've met. But I've seen this before. A young man I was on a mission with in Nam developed appendicitis. He was in so much pain that we had to gag him to muffle his screams. And then the pain stopped, at least for a while. We watched him get sicker and sicker as we tried to get back to our unit. He was still alive when we got him to the doctor, but he died an hour later. They couldn't save him."
Sam was really scared, too, but she felt like she had to say something to ease the base commander's fear.
"Sir, that was a long time ago," she said. "We've come so far in medicine since then."
The general nodded, saying nothing.
Daniel was still in surgery when Kate and Veronica got to the base, the two women having arrived almost at the same time. They were taken straight to where their father and Daniel's teammates waited.
George pulled them both into his arms.
"Any word yet?" Kate asked her father.
"No. He's still in surgery." George led them over to the others. "Kate, Veronica, you already know Jack. This is Samantha Carter and Teal'c. They both work here and are very good friends of Daniel's."
Everyone said hello, then they all took seats, Kate and Veronica sitting on either side of their father, all holding hands tightly.
It seemed like a very long time before Janet appeared, causing everybody to rise to their feet.
"How is he?" George asked.
"Doctor Warner succeeded in removing Daniel's appendix. He also did a lavage to wash out the microorganisms infecting the peritoneum. We've put Daniel on massive antibiotic therapy to deal with the bacterial infection. As long as there are no serious complications, Daniel should be all right, but I have to stress that there are no guarantees. The long delay in treatment made this situation a lot worse than it should have been. I can't tell you how much I wish that Daniel had come to me when he first started feeling sick."
"Oh no," Veronica gasped. "He had a stomachache Saturday night. I noticed that he seemed to be hurting and asked him about it. I should have said something to Dad."
"You couldn't have known it was serious, honey," George said. "This isn't your fault. You can rest assured, however, that I will be having a stern talk with your brother."
Jack almost smiled. Ah, Daniel was going to be finding out how pissed a father could get when his child does something really stupid. The colonel wondered if he could arrange for a ringside seat for the show.
"Daniel's in Post-Op," Janet said. "He's still very weak and sick and will be put in the ICU so that he can be monitored closely."
"Can we see him?" Kate asked.
The doctor nodded. "Once he's settled in the ICU. Someone will let you know when you can see him. Now, if you will excuse me, I'm going to get back to him."
Knowing that they'd be far more comfortable, George took his daughters to one of the VIP rooms, telling them that he'd come get them when Daniel was ready for visitors.
SG-1 got their own post-mission check-ups, and Jack's abused hands were treated. Then they took care of the debriefing.
"Thank you for getting my son to the gate as quickly as you did," the general said. "I've carried a litter myself more than once, so I know that it's not easy." He looked at Jack. "How are the hands?"
"They sting a bit, but I've felt worse."
Sam spoke up. "Sir, I know that what Daniel did was foolish, but I also know that he's been pretty stressed out by all the stuff going on. Even before he found out about the whole thing with his mom and you, he was upset about his grandfather. He said that he understood why Nick chose to stay with those aliens, but I think that, deep down inside, it hurt him. I think he felt like Nick was rejecting and abandoning him all over again."
"With good reason," Jack muttered, still ticked off that Nick had picked a bunch of giant aliens over his own grandson.
"I know Daniel's been suffering some indigestion over the last few days, so it's understandable that he'd think the stomachache was just more of the same."
George nodded. "Thank you, Major. I will take that into consideration."
An airman came in and told them that Doctor Fraiser had called to say that Daniel was in the ICU and could have visitors. Jack, Sam and Teal'c went straight to the infirmary, George stopping to get Kate and Veronica.
When the general entered the ICU, he was tentatively considering giving Daniel a gentle dressing down, sort of a precursor to the far sterner lecture the archeologist would be getting once he was stronger. That thought went right out of George's head once he saw his son lying on the bed, looking so pale and fragile. He looked like someone on the edge of death, and the fear George had mostly conquered rose back to the fore. Seeing the looks on the faces of his daughters, he knew that they were scared, too.
Sam was standing beside Daniel, his lax hand in hers, a distressed expression on her face. Teal'c was frowning, and Jack's face was totally expressionless, which meant that he was clamping down on his emotions with an iron fist.
As Daniel's family approached, his teammates stepped aside for them. Kate took the place Sam had been, grasping the same hand she had held. Veronica stood beside her. George went to the other side of the bed. He laid a hand on Daniel's head.
"Daniel? It's Dad." When he got no reply, he looked at Janet, who'd come into the room.
"He might be drifting in and out of consciousness for a while, sir," she said. "He's only been awake for brief moments so far."
"He looks horrible, Janet," Sam said, speaking aloud what they were all thinking. "Is he really going to be all right?"
"We're still battling the infection, Sam. It'll take a while for it to completely clear up, even with all the medications we have him on. Fortunately, the infection didn't spread into his blood, so it'll be easier to combat. He's also still very weak. I'm afraid he's going to have to accept being in the infirmary for a while."
"Then he is going to get though this, right?" Jack asked.
"The odds are in his favor, sir, but, like I said before, I can't guarantee it. With peritonitis, sometimes, for some reason, the patient simply does not recover, even if all the proper treatment is given. But Daniel's young, strong, and otherwise heathy, so he should be fine."
Everyone's gaze returned to the man lying on the bed. The three members of SG-1 watched as their C.O. began stroking Daniel's hair, a sad, worried look on his face. This was a George Hammond that none of them had seen before. At that moment, he wasn't a general in the United States Air Force. He wasn't the commander of the most secret base on Planet Earth. He was a father at the bedside of the son he'd come very close to losing.
Just then, Daniel moved slightly under his father's touch. He gave a soft, low moan.
"Daniel?" George said again. This time, he was rewarded with the opening of his son's eyes. He smiled down at Daniel. "Hey there."
"Dad?" Daniel whispered.
"Yes. You're going to be all right, Daniel. You're in the infirmary."
"You gave us a really bad scare, Big Brother," Kate said, trying very hard not to cry.
Daniel's eyes closed, and he sighed. "Really screwed up this time, didn't I."
"Yes, you did," George replied, "but we'll talk about that later. Right now, you just need to rest and regain your strength. You're still pretty sick."
With another sigh, Daniel slipped back into sleep.
"We should let him rest," Janet said. "I'll let you know when he wakes up more fully."
Kate and Veronica each placed a kiss on their brother's forehead, then everyone left the room.
"I'll have someone escort you back to your cars," George said to his daughters. "There's no sense in you staying here."
"Can we come back later?" Veronica asked.
"I'll make arrangements for you to visit in a couple of days. By then, Daniel should be a lot stronger."
"Give him our love, okay?" Kate said.
George smiled at her. "I will, honey."
"And wait at least a day before you rip him a new one," Veronica said with a smile.
Jack made his way to the far corner of the ICU to the only occupant in the room. Daniel was still pale, but he looked a darn sight better than he had after surgery. According to Janet, the infection was well on its way to being cleared up, and the archeologist was now out of the danger zone. He had been doing a lot of sleeping, apparently making up for all the sleep he hadn't been getting over the last few days, and this was the first time Jack had visited that Daniel looked like he could carry on a fully lucid conversation for more than fifteen minutes.
"So, I hear that you're gonna live," the colonel remarked.
"If Dad doesn't kill me."
"Well, if he does, he has a good reason. Out of all the stupid things you've done since I met you, this one goes all the way to the top of the list." Jack paused. "No, I take that back. Breaking cover to save Princess you-know-who from taking a flying leap still takes first place. And then there was deciding that you were going to stay on that planet with the universal language thingie. That's another one of my favorites. Oh, and let's not forget standing between my gun and the Destroyer of Worlds and deliberately putting yourself in the position to be killed with poison gas. You know, compared to those stellar moments of brilliance, I'm not quite sure where this one falls."
Daniel sighed wearily. "Jack, I've already been raked over the coals by Janet, and Sam and Teal'c have talked to me about it, too. I got the point. I should have told Janet I was sick, and I shouldn't have gone on the mission when I still wasn't feeling well. It won't happen again. I've already sworn that to all three of them."
"And if you know what's good for you, you won't break that promise. Oh, wait. That's right. You apparently don't know what's good for you."
Daniel sighed again, shaking his head slightly. He wasn't surprised that Jack was ticked off. He'd fully expected this.
"How are your hands?" he asked, looking at the bandages.
"Fine. Arms are a bit sore, though. You're no lightweight, you know."
Daniel met his eyes. "Thanks for carrying me out. I know that it wasn't easy."
Jack nodded. "Next time you collapse on a mission, just try to do it a bit closer to the gate, okay?"
Daniel smiled slightly. "I'll do my best."
There was a moment of silence between the two men, both of them thinking about the fact that, if things had gone differently, there would never have been another trip through the gate for Daniel.
"Well, while you're recovering, I am going to be sitting by a lovely lake in Minnesota, catching bass," the colonel said.
"Yep. Since you're going to be out of commission for a while, the rest of us get to take some leave. Teal'c said something about going to visit Rya'c. I don't know what Carter's going to do."
"Oh. Well, have fun."
"I intend to."
Just then, General Hammond entered the room.
"Colonel," he greeted.
"General." Jack looked at Daniel with a little smirk. "I'll say some nice words at your funeral, if you don't survive." That got him a glare and a sarcastic, "Thanks, Jack," from the archeologist.
The colonel departed, leaving Daniel alone with his father.
"How are you feeling, Son?" George asked.
"Better." Daniel paused. "Dad, I'm sorry about what I did. I know it was stupid, I know I should have reported to the infirmary when I got sick, and I know I shouldn't have gone on that mission. Both Janet and Jack have yelled at me, and Teal'c has given me his patented Jaffa scowl and told me that what I did was not wise. Sam didn't yell or scowl. She just told me I shouldn't have done it in a way that made me feel like I was a six-year-old being gently chastised by his mother, which I have to say was way worse than the yelling and Teal'c's scowl. I've definitely gotten the message."
George sat in the chair beside Daniel's bed. "Yes, I figured that your teammates and Doctor Fraiser would have already told you how they feel about it. I'm here to tell you something else." He looked into Daniel's eyes. "When Major Carter came through the gate and told me that you had collapsed from what she believed was appendicitis, I was terrified in a way I haven't been since Margaret was diagnosed with cancer."
The admission made Daniel's gaze drop, tightness beginning to form in his chest.
George continued. "All during the hours that followed, that fear kept growing. I kept wondering what I'd do if we lost you, how I would tell your sisters that you were dead . . . how I could keep watching SG-1 leave and come back through the Stargate, knowing that you would never again be with them."
Tears began to sting Daniel's eyes, his throat aching.
"While you were in surgery, I had to call your sisters and tell them what happened. Kate begged me to let her come here, Daniel. She begged. I couldn't say no."
Daniel closed his eyes tightly, a tear breaking free to slip down his cheek.
George laid his hand on Daniel's arm. "I love you, Son," George said in an emotion-filled voice. "We all love you, not just your family but also your teammates and your other friends. Now, I know you had no idea that your illness was serious, that you thought it was just part of the emotional upheavals you've been suffering, but whenever you are in a situation that affects your health or welfare, I want you to remember that you're not alone, Daniel. You're no longer that child who had no one to love you, no one who would grieve for the rest of their lives if they lost you."
Daniel's tears were now sliding down his face freely, his breath catching in his throat. George stood and gently pulled his son into his arms. Ignoring the pain of the movement, Daniel held on.
When George finally let Daniel go, he noticed the wince of pain.
"Do you need some more pain medication?" he asked.
Daniel wiped the wetness from his face. "No, I'm all right. Janet says that it's going to be sore for quite a while. I'm not going to be getting out of here any time soon." Daniel made a little sound that was almost a laugh. "You know, it's funny. After everything we've been through these past few years, all the ways I've almost died – have died on occasion – it's my appendix that lays me out. Ironic, isn't it."
George smiled. "Yes, it is." He got to his feet. "Well, I'll let you get some more rest. Is there anything I can get for you?"
"Actually, my laptop would be great. At least then I could get some work done while I'm lying here." Daniel noticed the stern look on his father's face. "Okay, no work. How about some of my books and my journal?"
George gave him a nod. "I'll see to it." He turned to go, but Daniel's voice stopped him.
Daniel gazed into his eyes for a long moment. "I love you, too," he murmured.
George smiled, feeling the prickle of tears. He gave Daniel a little nod that held a lot of meaning, then turned and left.
Daniel walked across the grass, heading to a place he hadn't been to in a very long time. The SGC had just made it through a crisis that had threatened Earth again, not once but twice, this time by the Replicators, the mechanical enemies of the Asgard. In the process of saving the planet, Daniel came very close to losing all of his teammates once and then Jack and Teal'c a second time. The archeologist was still haunted by the order he'd had to give to torpedo the submarine upon which his two male teammates had been trapped.
At last, Daniel came to a stop, as did the man beside him. Daniel looked at his father.
"Would you like a moment alone with them?" George asked. Getting a nod, he walked away several yards.
Daniel looked down at the two gravestones.
"Hey, Mom, Dad. I, um . . . know that I haven't been here for quite a while. I've been busy doing some pretty important work. You'd be amazed by all the things I've seen and done. I hope that you'd be proud of what I've accomplished. Um . . . Nick and I had sort of a reconciliation. He told me that . . . that he was proud of me. That meant a lot. He even let me call him Grandpa." Daniel's gaze went to his mother's headstone. "Mom, I found my biological father. I know you'd be happy about that. I'm a part of his family now. I have two sisters, and nieces, and a bunch of other relatives that I have yet to meet. It feels so good to be part of a family again." Tears stung his eyes. "I still miss you both. I know that I always will. I wish you were still here so that I could share all the incredible things I've learned with you." Daniel smiled slightly. "But for the first time in a long time, I really am happy, and I know that I'm going to be okay." He drew in a deep breath. "I love you, Mom and Dad."
Turning away, Daniel went to his father's side. "Do you want to, um. . . ."
George nodded. "I'll be just a moment."
The general went to the graves and knelt beside the one holding the mother of his son.
"Hello, Claire. It's George. I wish I could look in your eyes and tell you about the joy I feel every day in the knowledge that I have found the son you and I created that night. He is the best son any man could have and the finest person anyone could be. I know how proud you must be of him. He is a precious gift, not only to me and my family, but also to the world. Without him, Earth would now be a very dark place. He's saved us all."
George laid his hand on the gravestone. "I swear to you that I will look after Daniel the best that I am able. I also swear that he will never be alone. He will always have family, and he will always be loved."
The general got to his feet. "Goodbye, Claire. May God keep you in the palm of his hand."
George joined his son, who was looking back at the graves.
"For most of my life, I've felt like . . . like I was alone," the archeologist said quietly, "that I had to keep myself from needing people, from getting so close to someone that it would hurt too much to say goodbye, because I thought that anyone who came into my life would eventually leave. After losing Sha're and everything I'd found with the Abydonians, I was more certain of that than ever. But I realize now that I was wrong. Yes, I could still lose people that I love, but I do know now that I'm not alone, not anymore. I have people who love me, and, for one of the only times in my life, I really feel like I belong."
George pulled his son into a warm, tender embrace. "You do belong, Daniel. You belong with us, both your blood family and the family you have at the SGC."
Saying a final silent farewell to his parents, Daniel turned with his father and headed away across the graveyard, knowing that, no matter what the future might bring, he'd never again be alone.