Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fiction based on Showtime's Stargate SG-1. No infringements on the copyrights held by Showtime, MGM, Trilogy, or any other PTB is intended. I don't claim the characters, concept, or setting, but the story is mine and you can't have it. You can, however, read it and send me feedback, if you want.
Ratings/Notes/Warnings: Rated PG or so. I'm having a dry spell, so this isn't my best effort. Also, if you're wanting/expecting a plot, you'll be disappointed. This is about smarm and h/c. That's all. You have been warned.
Special thanks to Momoftoad, who caught some medical mistakes and corrected them. Hope I got them right this time!
Daniel stood just outside the infirmary, leaning back against the wall and staring blankly into space, his attention divided between the sounds coming from inside and his own intense sense of fear. The voices in the infirmary were cool and professional, but there was an undercurrent of panic and frustration to them that wasn't exactly reassuring, although it was one to which he could definitely relate. It had been hours since SG-1 had returned from a seemingly deserted, singularly unspectacular planet. They'd been joking about the quiet trip and discussing their plans for the evening as they left the embarkation room when Jack had suddenly collapsed in mid-sentence.
Teal'c had caught him as he fell, but Sam's rapid exam, and Dr. Frasier's more thorough one a few minutes later, hadn't shown any reason why the colonel had passed out. The doctor was still searching hours later, as Jack's temperature and blood pressure skyrocketed and Daniel's fear grew. The best Frasier had been able to guess had been that Jack might be reacting to an alien virus, but she couldn't explain why Daniel and Sam hadn't been affected.
Now, Sam was in the lab, working frantically with the lab techs to find an answer to Jack's illness, and Teal'c was watching her. The Jaffa couldn't offer much input in the lab, but he had a strong dislike for the infirmary, probably due to the amount of time he'd spent there when he first arrived on earth and the doctor had been determined to find a way to remove his infant Goa'uld, and now rarely spent any time there unless he had no choice.
Daniel was the one left with the job of waiting at the infirmary for information on Jack--not that he minded, except for the reason he was waiting. Jack had helped him, protected him, even sat with him when he'd been hurt or sick. The least he could do was wait around while the doctor found a cure. He'd much rather be waiting around in front of the TV, sharing a few beers with Jack while the colonel tried to explain--again--the intricacies of hockey rules or some other esoteric topic, though.
"Daniel?" Dr. Frasier had come out into the hall while Daniel was lost in his thoughts. She brushed a lock of hair out of her face wearily and slumped against the wall next to him. "He's stabilized again. I can't figure out why his blood pressure and temperature keep shooting up--it's like his body is trying to fight off whatever made him collapse, but it's only doing it in spurts. Antibiotics aren't working, nothing we've tried on his fever has worked, he's still unconscious, and I don't have the slightest clue what's causing any of this."
Daniel winced at the frustration in her voice. He reached over and patted her shoulder, saying softly, "You'll figure it out, and Jack's strong. He'll be okay."
"Seems like that's my line." The doctor smiled tiredly. "If you want to see him for a while . . ."
Daniel didn't wait for her to finish the sentence. Somehow, being able to see Jack made it easier to believe that the older man would get better. There was so much strength in the older man's face, even sick and unconscious. Daniel needed the reminder of that strength to bolster his faith.
Finding a chair in the corner of the room, Daniel sat down beside the hospital bed. He studied Jack carefully, noting the abnormal pallor and how, even after a few hours, Jack's face already looked sunken and older than it should. Daniel scrubbed an hand over his face and back through his hair, almost dislodging his glasses in the process. Jack would be fine, he believed that with all the energy and determination he possessed, because he had no intention of losing anyone else right now. Not so soon after Sha're and Skaara and the family he'd found on Abydos.
Daniel shifted uncomfortably, not liking the direction his thoughts kept wandering in. He tried to avoid thoughts of his missing wife--unless he was alone and it was the middle of the darkest part of the night and no one was around to interrupt his pain. Sha're was a private agony, not one that he generally trotted out during the course of the day. During the day, he could distract himself with the newest discovery or crisis and ignore the emptiness her loss had left him.
The problem was, his best source of distraction was currently furnishing his own source of worry. Jack had a knack for popping off with a joke or wry observation just when Daniel had sunk into self-pity, or for having a sleepless night and wandering the halls when Daniel didn't dare sleep because of the nightmares. Daniel couldn't count the number of times when Jack had "happened" upon him during the course of a bad night and had invited him into the colonel's room or one of the break rooms for coffee and a talk, or the late movie, or anything that meant Daniel wasn't alone with his thoughts. Maybe it was because Jack knew what it was to lose family and feel responsible for the loss, or maybe it was just that Jack had spent so much time pulling Daniel's physical butt out of the fire that he felt obligated to pull his mental butt out as well, Daniel didn't know. He was sure, however, that he'd gotten awfully used to Jack's all-but-sarcastic commentary on the world, and wouldn't mind hearing one of those observations right about now.
Jack moaned and shifted, one hand pushing restlessly at the covers. Daniel sat up straighter, his eyes glued to the older man's face, but Jack didn't open his eyes. His mouth had tightened, the faint laugh-lines deepening with pain as his brows drew together.
"Jack?" Daniel asked softly. The younger man put a hand hesitantly on the edge of the bed, wanting to quiet the restless hand, but not quite daring. "Can you hear me? It, uh, it might not be a bad idea for you to wake up sometime soon. You know how these military types are, cleaning out your apartment before you're dead. If you're not in their face all the time, they tend to forget you exist."
Jack didn't respond--not that Daniel really expected him to sit up and start talking, but he had hoped there'd be some reaction, something that would tell him that his friend had heard and knew he wasn't alone. Daniel sighed and slumped back, leaving his hand on the bed next to Jack's. It felt so wrong, to have Jack be the helpless one--Jack, who had held the team together through whatever challenges faced them, who had faith that Daniel was alive when all logic said he couldn't be, who had stood up for Teal'c and trusted Sam and said they were a family . . .
Jack moaned again, his hand clutching at the blanket as his body twisted in pain. Daniel sat up straighter, grabbing the older man's hand recklessly, wanting to give him something more substantial to cling to. Jack wouldn't exactly appreciate the "touchy-feely" gesture, but Daniel needed to feel like he was doing something, and Jack did relax for a second before beginning to writhe again.
So what if I'm losing the circulation in my hand? God, Jack, does it hurt that bad? Ever so carefully, Daniel rested his free hand on Jack's forehead, wincing at the heat but leaving his hand there. He had a vague memory of someone--his foster mother, maybe--comforting him that way during a childhood illness, and hoped that Jack felt some of the same security he'd experienced. "I know you'd hate me ruining your 'tough guy' image, and you don't really need anyone taking care of you, but let's just say it makes me feel better, okay? No, easy, it's okay, just be still." He let his voice soften, hiding the fear he felt as Jack moaned again and tossed feverishly against his hand. "Dr. Frasier!"
He didn't know where she'd been, but she was almost immediately beside him, checking Jack's vitals.
"Damn, he's spiking again. What the hell is this?" Frasier adjusted a dial on the IV and then grabbed a needle from the cart near the bed. "No, don't let go of him, he's calmer now than he's been all night. He needs the reassurance right now. I can work around you."
Daniel moved out of her way and shifted his hands to Jack's shoulders, holding him down as gently as he could. Jack's hand clutched air, then dropped down to gouge into the blankets again.
"Easy, Jack, the doc's got you, I'm still here, just take it easy . . ." Daniel wasn't completely aware of what he was saying, but it must have been okay, because Frasier shot him an approving glance as she stuck the needle into the older man's arm. Jack quieted again, slumping back against the pillow bonelessly.
"There, maybe that'll help." Frasier sighed, reaching over to test Jack's cheek with the back of her hand. "These sudden spikes in temperature are dangerous. He could end up having seizures or falling into a coma."
Daniel closed his eyes, as if that simple act could block the doctor's words. He was not going to lose another person he cared about. Jack would get better. Sam was working on that right now, and when Sam wanted to accomplish something, it got accomplished.
As if reading his mind, Frasier asked, "Will you stay with him? I'm going to go check on Captain Carter and see if she's found anything." She paused until Daniel opened his eyes again and nodded. "We've been trying to keep his temperature down by sponging down his face and chest. There's a bowl and a cloth beside the bed. If you need me, just use the intercom."
When she was gone, Daniel gently pulled his hand out of Jack's now limp grasp and, locating the bowl, dipped the washcloth in the water and wiped it across Jack's forehead and down his cheekbone to his chin. Jack moaned again, turning toward the source of relief. Daniel brushed the cloth across the older man's dry lips, then folded it and laid it on his forehead.
"It's okay, Jack. Try to rest, all right? You'll feel better soon." The anthropologist sighed. He hoped he sounded more confident than he felt. He didn't want Jack to get the idea that he'd given up. He hadn't, he wouldn't, but he was scared. The colonel had gone from healthy and strong to wasted away in a matter of hours. If Sam and Frasier didn't find a cure soon, Daniel wasn't sure there'd be anything left to save. Daniel slipped his hand into Jack's again. "Just hang on, my friend. I'm not giving up on you, so you can't give up either, you hear? I'm not letting go, and neither are you."
He bit his bottom lip to stop any more words from pouring out. He'd already said much more than he intended too. Not more than he meant, though. He focused on their hands--Jack's squarer and darker than his, the skin rougher and scarred across the knuckles; his own smaller, but with longer fingers that tightened around Jack's palm almost of their own accord. If only that touch meant something, could somehow give the older man some of his strength, or at least convey his faith that Jack would, somehow, survive this experience. . .
Suddenly, Jack's grip tightened. Daniel's eyes flew to Jack's, seeing the dazed brown eyes blink at him tiredly.
"Danny? What . . ." he rasped, his gaze confused and a little lost.
"It's okay, Jack. You're just a little sick, but you're going to be better soon." He made his voice soft and soothing. Jack would hate the tone under normal circumstances--the man couldn't stand anything that hinted at coddling. Now, though, a few of the lines eased from around his eyes, and his shoulders relaxed slightly. His hold on Daniel's hand, however, didn't change.
"Feel . . . crap."
Daniel snorted. "I'm not surprised. You'll be okay soon, though." He reached over to get the cloth, dipped it in the water again, and patted Jack's forehead. The colonel closed his eyes, sighing with pleasure.
"Everything's . . . weird," Jack gasped. "Colors . . . things . . . moving . . ."
"Shh, that's just the fever. Don't worry about it, it'll pass soon."
"No. It's not . . . " Jack shifted restlessly, his breath coming harder as he fought to sit up. "Something's wrong." Suddenly he went rigid, his eyes widening and darting around desperately. "Where's Charlie?"
Daniel froze for a second, thinking frantically of calling for Dr. Frasier or anyone who was better equipped to handle this than he was, but Jack was holding on to his hand as if it were a lifeline, Jack was staring at him as if he had all the answers, and Daniel couldn't stand to let him down. If only there were a good answer . . . He placed his free hand gently on Jack's chest, pressing him back onto the bed, and said gently, "Charlie isn't here right now, Jack. We're on a military base, remember? No kids allowed."
Jack frowned. "Yeah . . . no kids. Don't want . . . kids . . . with guns . . . here . . ."
Daniel swallowed hard. When he could talk again, he said huskily, "That's right, so you can rest, okay?"
"'Kay," Jack wheezed. "Daniel? Call . . . wife? Tell her . . . watch out for . . . Charlie . . ."
"Okay," Daniel whispered, watching with relief as Jack's eyes drifted shut again. God, he'd really screwed that up, hadn't he? Practically telling the man his son was still alive--Jack had put most of those demons to rest recently, it seemed, but this might bring it all back to the forefront. Daniel knew what it felt like to have hope snatched from his grasp time and again. He could only pray that Jack had no memory of this conversation to make him believe, even for a second, that his memories of Charlie's death were false.
With a sigh, Daniel sat down again, not letting go of Jack's hand. He hoped Frasier came back with good news soon. The last time he'd felt this helpless was when he had to stand by and watch the Goa'uld tear Sha're away from him.
"Jack? Listen to me, okay?" he said softly, his eyes focused right around his friend's chin. "We can't--Sam and Teal'c and I--we can't do this without you, you know? You're kinda what makes us work. You can't just leave us, okay?"
There was no answer. Daniel settled back into the chair to wait.
He didn't know how long he'd been asleep or what woke him. He was just aware of sitting up abruptly with the certainty that something was wrong. About the time he realized his hand was cold, he saw Jack sitting up, tugging weakly at one of the monitors attached to his chest.
"Jack? What's going on?" Daniel asked gently.
Jack looked at him with glazed eyes. It took him a minute to register any recognition. "Danny. Gotta . . . find Charlie . . . not . . . safe . . ."
Daniel winced at the hoarse gasps coming from his friend, but kept his voice calm and steady as he answered, "Charlie's not here, Jack, remember? This is a military base. No children here." He reached out to catch Jack's arm, tugging gently. "Why don't you lie down?"
"Charlie . . ." Jack insisted stubbornly, shaking off Daniel's hand and sliding out of the bed, holding on to the mattress for support. "Gotta . . . get him . . . safe . . ."
"Jack . . ." Daniel started around the bed toward him.
Jack turned on him, his face twisting in anger, shaking as he clutched at the bed. "Gotta . . . help . . . my son . . ."
Daniel swallowed back the thickness in his throat and whispered, "Charlie's okay, Jack. Everything's taken care of. Let's lie down now, all right?"
"No . . ." Jack's strength suddenly gave out. Daniel grabbed for him, but the best he could do was control the older man's fall. Daniel knelt down beside him, supporting him with an arm around his shoulders. Jack looked up at Daniel with pain-filled eyes, clinging to the anthropologist's arm with a grip that belied his weakened state. "I'm . . . too late?"
Daniel closed his eyes for a second, unable to meet that gaze. Jack must have read his answer in the silence, because he let his head fall against Daniel's shoulder, and his gasps sounded perilously close to sobs.
"Charlie . . ."
Daniel tightened his grip, shifting slightly so that Jack could be more comfortable. After a time, he said gently, "Jack? What do you say we get you back in bed? Lie down for a while?"
Jack didn't answer, but he didn't fight when Daniel pulled him to his feet and half-lifted him into the bed. Daniel straightened out the tangled IV and monitor lines and pulled the covers up around his friend, and then settled back into the chair. Jack seemed to be drifting in and out of awareness, but when Daniel slipped his hand into the older man's again, his grip never weakened. Daniel took up the cloth once more and began to wipe away the heat and, though he'd never mention it, a few tears.
Time stopped. There was nothing left in the world but Daniel, Jack, and Jack's silent struggle against whatever was attacking him. Daniel spoke from time to time, simple conversation that Jack didn't answer, but that Daniel hoped was a comfort anyway. When Frasier came back, it seemed to Daniel for a second that she was intruding. The brilliant smile on her face was a welcome sight, though.
"We found it!" She immediately grabbed the IV lines and started preparing them to be reinserted. "The virus seems to be geared to blood types. When Captain Carter tried a transfusion of another blood type, the virus started dying immediately. Jack has a different blood type than the rest of you, he's AB positive, so he's the only one affected. Damn good thing, too. If he were any other blood type, we'd have a much harder time curing him."
"So all Jack needs is a transfusion?"
"That's what it looks like. Of course, that's not without its risks. There's the problem of the antibodies building up," Frasier almost sounded as if she was talking to herself as she laid out the things she needed to start the transfusion. "But that's something we have a way of dealing with. This . . . virus . . . or whatever it is, we have no other cure for."
Daniel refocused on Jack, figuring that Frasier didn't need another patient, and he'd be on the floor if he watched what she was doing. After a time, Frasier said cheerfully, "There we go. With luck, we'll see an improvement soon."
Frasier sighed. "I don't know. Soon, I hope." She paused, looking at Daniel critically. "Why don't you go get some sleep? You look exhausted."
Daniel looked down at the hand still clutching his. "No, I'll stay."
Frasier patted him on the shoulder. "All right. Captain Carter and Teal'c said they'd be in when they were done straightening the lab and reporting to the general. I'm going to go write this up. If you need me, just call, okay?"
Daniel nodded absently, his attention focused on his friend. Jack looked better already, his color better and the heat that had been emanating from his body reduced almost to normal. As Daniel watched, Jack's eyes fluttered open, blinking dazedly at his surroundings. They focused finally on Daniel, and a faint smile curved the corners of the older man's lips. Then his eyes drifted shut again, and he relaxed, sliding off into true sleep at last.