Sentry

Author: Lady D
WC:  ~4,130 (Total) ; Part I – 1,089, Part II – 416, Part III – 1,957, and Part IV – 671
Challenge/Summary: C#60, Snakes loose in the SGC. 
Spoilers:  This could actually be considered a tag for Out of Mind and Into the Fire
Rating: PG
Category: Slash (Established relationship), H/C
Disclaimer: Theirs… still, but they better stay ever vigilant because one distraction, one look the other way and SNATCH! Mine all mine!
Authors note:  Warning – I use terms of endearment. ;)  AND in this story – Jack and Daniel’s friends know about and accept their relationship.

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Sentry

Part I

The quick tug on the sheets woke him instantly, leaving him exposed to the cold, except his back was burning up.  Something was wrong with this picture.

He rolled over. 

It wasn’t him.  It was Daniel, burning with fever and in the throes of a serious nightmare.  They’d both been in this situation before, and Jack knew what Daniel needed right now.  Placing a soothing palm lightly on his lover’s forehead, he spoke softly to him to wake him.  Words of comfort... safety… love. 

Daniel shifted restlessly away from his touch.  “She let it go, Jack.  S’coming up the ramp!  Don’let it touch you.  Run!  Run!  Trappd.  No, Jck, I-I can’t let this happn.  Can’t loose you.  Ja-aaaaack,  NO!” 

“Danny, come on, wake up.  You’re with me here… in our bed.”  Jack rubbed Daniel’s shoulders and arms, noting the sweat covering them and the sheets below.  He gently cupped Daniel’s cheeks, caressing them.  “Daniel, you’re safe.  Come back.”

“No, no.  She chose you.  Her pet chose you.  She can’t have you.  He’s mine, dammit!  Keep away from him!”

Despite the situation, Jack couldn’t help but smile at Daniel being defiant and possessive even while asleep. 

Deciding a more direct approach was needed, he reached over and pulled Daniel up, wrapping him in his arms, rocking him awake.  “It’s okay, Danny, she’s not here.  I killed her.  She was pretty frigid anyway, but now… she’s an ice-queen.  Not a threat to me or you anymore.  She can’t hurt anyone again.” 

Daniel struggled in his arms, so he embraced him harder.

“Snake, loose!  S’looking for you, Jck… I can’t move.  I can’t save you.  I-I…”

“Shhhhh, Danny.  I know.  You were watching silently as that thing was put in me, but I knew you were screaming inside.  You didn’t agree with what I was doing even though you knew why I was doing it.  And you could only watch it happen… angry and scared.” 

Jack leaned over to place his lips lightly upon Daniel’s ear and whispered, “Here’s a secret, Danny… so was I.  I did it to save you.  She wanted you, but I would never let her touch you again.  She couldn’t have you, Danny, because you’re mine.  You’re mine and I kept that bitch away from you by giving her me.”

Daniel shook his head. 

“Its okay, Danny, I’m not snaked.  I’m here with you right now and she’s gone forever.  Feel my arms around you?  Trust me.  Wake up for me, now.”

Daniel sucked in a breath and moaned, “Jck?”  He leaned his head back drowsily, letting it fall against Jack’s shoulder, blinking as his eyes tried to focus.  “Jaaaaack.”

“That’s it.”  Jack smiled down at him.  “Welcome back.”

Daniel’s stared blurrily up at him and then his eyes popped open.  His arms became animated as he yanked his legs in, wincing, and scanned the room frantically.  “Snake!  Jack, s’coming for you!” 

Jack reached out and grabbed Daniel flailing arms, pulling them back in to hold him close.  Daniel quickly sucked in a breath.  “No, not here, Daniel.  Just you and me here.  Just you and me safe on earth in my house… my room… my arms.”  Jack held Daniel tightly against him until the struggling slowed and then stopped.  Daniel dropped back against Jack’s chest, heaving, exhausted.  Jack looked down and was met by two of the most beautiful orbs of cerulean blue he’d ever seen, lit by moonlight streaming through the window.  They also appeared a bit dazed, yet nevertheless mesmerizing.   As hard as it was to pull his eyes away from Daniel’s, Jack let his gaze drift down to his lover’s parted lips to try to make out the words being spoken, slurred with fever.

“D-dream?”  Daniel gripped Jack’s arms in return then released then with a whimper. 

Jack nodded. “Yep.” 

“Jack, s’was bad.  Really bad.  I was… you were… and She was there… and there was—”

Jack smiled compassionately and ran a hand through his lover’s sweat-dampened hair soothingly to stop his rambling.  “It’s alright.  You can tell me later.  Betcha didn’t know you’re running a high fever?” 

“Huh?  F’ver?”

“Uh huh, so right now, let say we get you out of these soaked clothes, rinse you off, and get you some medicine?”

Daniel dropped his head forward and groaned, taking in his condition, slapping a hand against his chest, running it across his skin feeling the heat, coming away with sweat on his palm.  Then he let his head fall backward into Jack’s arms again with a long sigh and nodded, sleepily, “’K.”

Jack patted Daniel’s arm, “Good boy.”  Then kissed his lover’s fevered brow.

He helped Daniel rinse off and changed the sheets.  Once he’d guided a near-sleeping Daniel, who winced with every step he hazarded, back to bed, he took his temperature again.  It wasn’t good.  Daniel had already dropped off and was snoring as he picked up the phone to make a call.

“Hey Doc, sorry to wake you—no, it’s Daniel.   I think he’s in need of a bit of TLC and better drugs from our favorite person.  High fever.  104, now almost 105.  He also seems to be in pain.  I couldn’t tell why, he didn’t know either, but he seems to have some body aches.  I thought it was just from sleeping hard but he still had them after a shower.  He fell straight back to sleep again afterward.  Right, thanks Janet, see you in thirty.”

After he hung up the phone, Jack kneeled down next to the bed.  Daniel had dropped face down into his pillow, and since then turned to hang much of his body and head off the bed.  He was also in serious danger of drooling.  Jack immediately handled the perilous situation by gently pushing Daniel’s lower lip up with his finger then readjusting his legs into the bed.

Daniel stirred slightly, slurred a “Thks, Jack… love yo-” as he rolled over with a groan to dominate the rest of the bed, his tone body aglow in moonlight. 

Jack smiled again at the absolute trust Daniel had in him and he in Daniel.  Falling even deeper in love with the most damn-gorgeous, caring, and complex man he’d ever met, and feeling more than fortunate to have found someone like Daniel live the rest of his life with. 

Jack remained sentry, running his hands through his lover’s hair to fend off anymore nightmares, while he waited for the cavalry to arrive in the form of one determined and far too compassionate doctor.

Part II

“Hey Daniel, it’s Janet.  Can you stay awake for me, hun?  I just need to ask you a few questions.”

“Huh?  Jck?”

“No, sweetie, it’s Janet.”

“J-Jan— so c-c-c-cold.”

“Here’s another blanket.  The Colonel says you’ve got a good fever going there.  I’d like to check that too.”

“Head hurs.”

“A headache?  Okay Daniel, open your mouth for me and let me check you out, okay?”

“Ow.”

“Did I do something, Daniel?”

“No.”  Daniel yawned to try to wake himself but really he just felt exhausted.  “Neck aches…n’head.  M’so cold.  Feel weird, can’t move.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“In his nightmare, he said he couldn’t move, as well, Doc,” Jack added as he sat next to Daniel in the bed, gently massaging Daniel’s arm, while Janet checked his temperature.

“Can’t move arms and legs… ache.  Feel heavy, Jan-et.”

“Okay, keep this in your mouth for me, sweetie.  That’s it.”  Janet smiled and patted his shoulder after placing the thermometer under Daniel’s tongue.  “Now let me just check the rest of you out.  I’ll try to do this quick so we can get the blankets back on you.  Are you feeling nauseous?  Does your stomach hurt?”

Daniel shook his head and then winced as the neck movement caused pain. 

Janet shined her penlight in Daniel’s eyes. 

“Augh, eyes!”  Daniel jerked his head away. “Ow!”

“Sorry, Daniel.”  She patted his arm.  Her penlight test indicated that Daniel’s eyes were blood shot.  His temperature was 104.7˚F, a high fever.  She reviewed the symptoms she’d listed so far and came up with a couple of possibilities.  Janet ran her hands through her patient’s hair to feel his scalp but could feel no abnormal bumps.  With the other symptoms he’d mentioned, the signs were all there.  Even though she didn’t find the one symptom that would confirm her diagnosis - that could come later - she couldn’t take the chance that it was only the flu; the consequences could be fatal otherwise.

“Colonel, can I speak with you for a minute?”

“Sure.”

“Daniel, hun, we’ll be right back.  Try not to fall asleep.”

“You heard the Doc, no sleeping.  Daniel?  Hey, nod if you’re still awake.” 

Daniel looked over at Jack and Janet with sleep-filled eyes and bobbed his head, wincing again.

“That’s good, babe.  Keep it up, we’ll be right back.”   Jack grimaced inwardly at the pain just a head nod caused Daniel.   The look on Janet’s face told him it was more serious than just the flu.

Part III

“Okay Doc, what’s up?”

“Daniel’s symptoms could be all related to influenza or something else entirely.  Colonel.  How do you feel?”

“Me?  Fine.  No really.  I am fine.  Hey?  What’re you doing?”

“Checking for something.  Please bend your head over, it would make this easier.”  Janet inspected the Colonel’s scalp but felt nothing out of the ordinary.  No bumps.

Jack leaned back up, “Okay, out with it, Janet!  What are you thinking?”

“Well, Daniel doesn’t have a rash anywhere, but that could show up later.  How long has he had a fever?”

“According to him, he was feeling chilled two days ago but ignored it.  Typical.”  Jack rolled his eyes.  “After he told me he was fine, I made him take his temperature and it was around 100˚F.  When I checked it earlier today it had jumped to around 103˚F, and I called you when it got worse.”

“And we’ve had warm weather for over a month now.”  It all fit.  “Daniel, you still awake over there?”  A very sleepy response was received.  “Good.  I need to check something.”   Janet walked back into the bedroom and leaned down next to him.  “I need you to hold out your arms for me. 

Daniel tried to comply but his arms, which he’d been able to move brief hours early, were now barely cooperating.  An aching pain filled them arms and he just couldn’t find the strength to lift them.  He looked back at Janet, concerned flashed in his eyes.

“Try harder, Daniel.”

Daniel tried again, but his lethargic body just wouldn’t obey him.  He compromised and pushed one arm across the sheets, instead of raising it.

“A little more, sweetie.  That’s good there.  Did that hurt?”

Daniel nodded slightly, exhausted by that simple move and wanting nothing more than to close his eyes and let the fevered haze lull him back to sleep.  He fought to stay awake.  “Feels heavy an nu-numb, but aches also.  Does it make sense?   Also thirsty.”

“Yes, I think I understand and I’ll get you some water after this.  Now, this is my penlight I’m going to place it in your palm.  I want you to curl your fingers around it and hold it.”

Daniel tried to close his hand into fist around the pen but his muscles wouldn’t respond.   He gasped. “Oh my God, I can’t!  I can’t.  My fingers won’t move.  Janet?  What’s wrong with me?  I can’t close my hand into a fist and, and—”

“It’s okay.  Calm down, Daniel.  Right now, I’ll get some blood work, but it takes a while to run the tests I need, so let’s go ahead and start the treatment.  Let’s prop your head up with these pillows.  Here’s some water.  I’ll hold it and you just sip.  Better?

“Uh huh.”

 “Good.” 

“Colonel, Daniel, this is what I think it is.  Daniel, I believe you may have RMSF - Rocky Mounted Spotted Fever.” 

“What?”  Jack and Daniel exclaimed. 

“Where would he get that from?”  Jack asked, scanning the exposed parts of Daniel’s body outside of the mound of blankets.  “Doesn’t that involve a rash from a tick bite?  I don’t see a rash.  You sure it’s not just a bad flu?”

“Colonel,” Janet replied irritated, “the fever and headache usually don’t start until a few days after the tick bite and the rash can show up anytime up to ten days after that.  Because of that, RMSF is commonly misdiagnosed as the flu.”

“Janet, what’is it ‘xactly?”  Daniel asked, trying for all the world to stay awake to hear the explanation.

“RMSF is a bacteria transmitted through a tick.  For this region, it’s less common to see cases of it than the southeastern US, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t just as susceptible.  Around here it would probably be from a wood tick, and Colonel, it’s not called “Rocky Mountain” Spotted Fever for nothing.  If not treated promptly, it can result in severe medical problems, including kidney failure and death.  But if it is RMSF, we’ve caught it early, which is a very good thing for Daniel.”

Janet counted off the symptoms Daniel had described and those she’d observed. “Fatigue, high fever, muscular aches, loss of muscle control, red eyes, severe headache…  Daniel has all the symptoms for RMSF, except the rash, which as I said usually becomes observable after a few days.” 

“But Janet, he’s been either at the base or here for the past two weeks of downtime.  I know you would’ve caught something like this before we left on our last mission, which was a quick there and back.

“It’s quite likely it would have been caught in the post-mission check-up, so I would say he came across it after you returned.  And where, you ask?  The base is under a mountain, Colonel, and your backyard does have a wooded area.  Either of these are the right habitat.  Warm seasons and wooded areas are generally where you’d come across a wood tick.  Daniel, hun, let’s get some antibiotics in you.  I’m afraid Doxycycline is the one I’m going to prescribe, it’s a form of tetracycline.  Unfortunately, that can cause a throat irritation from use, so you’ll have to take Chloristat to coat your throat first to take the pills.  Normally, I would take you back to the base for this, but—“

Janet saw the concern in Jack’s eyes and knew he would probably be the best thing for Daniel in this case.  “…since we caught it early, Colonel,” she looked pointedly at him to make sure he had his attention, “I believe it’s possible that Daniel could get just as much care here.  Do you agree?”

Jack eyes widened and he nodded vigorously. 

“Good, just the answer I needed.  Daniel, I’ll need to go back to the base to get your medicine, so you may as well sleep, but first you should eat something.”

“M’not hungry.  Thirsty though.” 

“It’s to be expected.   Diminished appetite is one symptom of this disease.” 

While Janet provided the explanation, Jack spurred into action and was at Daniel’s side in an instant, mimicking how Janet had provided water before, except he came prepared with a straw.  Once Daniel got his fill, he smiled a thanks to Jack, his eyes already drooping again.

“Unh uh, Daniel,” admonished Janet, “you eat first, then you sleep.  Colonel, how about some soup?”

“Doesn’t soup sound good, Daniel?”  Janet asked.

Daniel frowned, shaking his head only as much as he could bear.

“Waaaarm soup?”  Janet coaxed.

Daniel thought it over some more and then tried and failed to shrug.  Somehow, Janet was still able to interpret that as a “sure.”  Daniel tried to pull the blanket up to cover an exposed shoulder.  When his arms wouldn’t comply, he began getting agitated.  Janet, mind-reading, care-giver extraordinaire was already there to assist him.

“Thanks, Janet,” said Daniel, trying to stay awake despite the aches and drowsiness he was feeling. “This is all kinda scary.  Is it going to get worse?”

“Once you start the doxycycline, it will take a little while for it to build up in your system and to fight the toxin, but I suspect if the disease did get worse, like the rash showed up, you wouldn’t feel much different.  You’ll probably sleep through most of this week.  Now, don’t look at me like that.  You wouldn’t have any strength, let alone be ABLE to grip a pen, to do any work!  And really, you will only feel like wanting to sleep, Daniel.”

Janet kept him awake until Jack came back carrying a tray with soup and a pack of crackers.  He placed them on Daniel’s lap making sure the trays legs were in place and then left to speak with Janet about what he’d need to do to help Daniel out.

It wasn’t long before a pitiful whine came from the bedroom.  Both of them looked back in at the patient in bed, who was getting frustrated at trying and not succeeding at picking up the spoon.  The pack of crackers was on the floor, unopened.

“Daniel?”  Jack asked as he sat back down on the bed.  He nodded to Janet.  She understood and went to get a cup of coffee.  She still had a bit more of the night to get through before she could rest again.

Daniel’s red-rimmed eyes were filled with tears.  “Jack, I dropped the crackers.  I’m sorry.  I couldn’t open them and they dropped out of my hand.  I can’t even open a pack of crackers, Jack!  And the spoon, I-I—”

“It’s okaaay, babe.  I’ll get the crackers open.  I’ll hold the spoon for you,” Jack replied calmly, as he gently placed one of his hands over Daniel’s, and then reached down to grab the pack of crackers with the other.

“I feel so useless and tired.”  Daniel tried again to help Jack, to raise his other arm, but for all his effort he only accomplished to push it over to loosely hold a tray leg, as he could barely make a fist.  He sighed irritably.  “This is so damn frustrating.”  Not having control of all of his body was frightening.  Instinctively, he tried to raise his hand to his face, but then exasperatedly realized that was impossible too.  “I-I can’t even wipe these damn tears away.”  

Jack’s hand was there, against his cheek, gently wiping the tears away.  Then Jack’s lips were softly pressing against his, warm against his lips despite the fever rushing through him.  “It’s okay,” said Jack.  He’d spoken barely above a whisper, so close to his ear.  “You won’t go through this alone.  I’ll be here for you.  You know that.”

Daniel hadn’t realized he’d closed his eyes, but when the warmth was gone, he’d opened them to find Jack had leaned back up and was now focused on opening the plastic-sealed pack of crackers.  He missed the warmth.  Daniel then realized he felt chilled all over, his fever must be getting worse.  Then a shiver coursed through his body confirming this opinion.  He shimmied deeper into the mound of blankets over him…slowly, so he didn’t aggravate the aches he was already experiencing. 

Once he felt a little warmer he speculated in what Jack had said - that he’d be there and that he’d endure all of this with him.  He did know that, but still it had felt so good to hear it and maybe Jack knew that too – that he’d needed to hear it. 

Daniel tilted his head up in very slow increments, trying not to groan at the agonizing pain each small movement caused him.  He met Jack’s eyes. “I’m sorry to put you through this, Jack.”

“This?  This is nothing.  We’ll get through this together.”  Jack kissed Daniel’s cheek. “Love ya, babe.  Here’s a cracker.”  He popped one in Daniel’s mouth and then whispered into his lover’s ear, “I have problems opening those cracker packs, too.  I think we got lucky they’re not scattered in pieces all over the floor right now.” 

Daniel smiled, and then chuckled.

Jack smiled back.  Wanting to squeeze Daniel’s hand but, after what Janet had said, that it might hurt, instead picked it up gently and kissed it.  “Be right back to help you with the soup.  I’ll just see Janet out.  Okay?”

Daniel made an effort to nodded and then sniffled.  “Love you too.  ‘Fraid this isn’t one of my stronger moments, I guess.  It’s just that I just hate feeling so, so pathetic… so dependent.”  Daniel looked intently at his lover, his eyes brimming with sincerity.  “Thank-you, Jack.”

“Fer what?”

“Oh, for just being here… being you.” 

Jack ruffled Daniel’s hair fondly and gently, taking consideration of his lover’s headache and neck pain.  “Be right back.”

Part IV

Jack met Janet in the kitchen.   “So, there’s a tick somewhere that caused this?”

“Yes, but I checked you and him and didn’t find one.  The truth is the tick bite could have happened up to ten days ago.  The tick could be long gone by now, but just to be safe I want you to make sure that its not here.  Though it’s thought that once you have had it you aren’t likely to get it as severe again, their really is no immunity to RMSF… you can get it again.”

“Right, Doc, I’ll do a thorough inspection and cleaning of the house and vehicles.  I’ll also have my house and yard, and the base in the areas Daniel’s frequented in the past two weeks fumigated. Anything else?”

“Make sure he takes the medication that I’ll bring back with me as prescribed.  If all goes well, and barring any complications, he’ll be out of commission for about two weeks.  If you see the rash begin, call me immediately and keep me informed of its progress.  Let me know when the fever subsides, and if he gets worse, he comes back to base, no discussion!  I’ll get the blood work back as soon as possible, which should confirm my diagnosis.” 

Even though Jack was listening to Janet his focus was really on Daniel in the bedroom.  He’d need to be extra vigilant while Daniel dealt with this thing.  He’d need to be there to help him with just about everything right now and, knowing Daniel, there was going to be a lot of complaining and frustration to come, but he’d take it if it meant Daniel was recovering.

Janet, noticing where the Colonel’s attention had wandered to, patted his arm. “Take care of him, Jack.”

“I will.  Thanks, Janet.”

“Ja-aaaack, soup’s gettin cold an’ m... falln… sleep.”

Janet and Jack shared a smile.  “I’ll see myself out… you, go take care of Grumpy.”

~~~

“Yeah, Doc.  You were right.  The rash started down at his ankles and knee caps.   I’ve seen it on his wrists as well.”

“Uh huh, so the blood work confirmed it.”

“No, the fever’s still there, but it has decreased.  He’s pretty much been out of it for the past three days.  This thing has really done a number on him.  He’s just exhausted”

“Yeah… it is a good thing he was diagnosed early.  Thanks for that, Janet.  We really appreciate what you did.  It could have been really bad if we’d waited until the rash showed up, he could have been in rough shape by then.”  

“Oh, he hates it!  Makes him nauseous, but he says with out the Chloristat the doxy-whatist… huh?  Yeah, that stuff.  Anyway, he says it hurts his throat if he doesn’t take it first.  He’s pretty miserable.” 

“Nooo, but I don’t give him a choice, he eats or I don’t let him watch the History Channel or read Smithsonian articles to him.” 

“His eyes look a LOT better, but he likes me to read the articles to him.  He, ah, says it puts him right to sleep.” 

“Yeah, I’m sure it was a joke too.”

“True… guess if he is up to making jokes, he must be feeling better.”

“Okay, yeah sure, next time he lifts an eye lid, I’ll let him know you’re stopping by today.  Actually, now might be about that time.  I need to wake the dead and stuff a sandwich in there anyway.  Se ya later, Doc.”

Jack hung up the phone and on cue the sounds of frustration got louder from his bedroom.  Jack rolled his eyes, knowing Daniel was trying to get his attention without actually calling for him.  He threw a couple of burritos in the microwave then grabbed the ice water and headed for the bedroom, and back to the man he had pledged, in secrecy, to live his life with for better or for worse.  Jack thanked Janet’s quick thinking and the stars above that in this case it wasn’t for worse.

 

END

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