Freedom

 

“Oh God.”
“Teal'c?”
“Daniel Jackson will be fine.”
Jack and Sam moved further into the tent observing their friend, a look of deep concern on their faces.  Daniel was laying on the floor a single tear running silently down his too pale cheek.  He looked so small and vulnerable, the scene rendered Jack speechless.  Teal'c was kneeling on the floor at Daniel’s feet, making the archaeologist seem even smaller.  Jack doubted Daniel even realised they were there.  His eyes were open and staring intently at the lifeless features of the woman lying beside him.
Jack was finding it increasingly difficult to understand the scene before him.  He noticed the red mark making its self known on Daniel’s forehead, ‘a ribbon device?  Aw for cryin’ out loud Danny, what the hell happened?’, he wondered. 

They remained in silence for a while longer, unsure of their next move.  Jack could see Carter out of the corner of his eye.  She was shifting from one foot to the other, obviously fighting the urge to reach out and comfort Daniel.  He had to admit he was doing the same.  It looked as if Carter was about to lose the inner battle as she opened her mouth to speak when out of nowhere a sob erupted from Daniel.

“Jack?” 

His voice was shaky and strained, but Jack read the message loud and clear.  He was at Daniel’s side in a flash, helping him to sit up.  Daniel immediately wrapped both arms around Jack and buried his face into his shoulder.  Jack reciprocated in kind pulling Daniel closer to him.

“I’m here Daniel, it's okay.”  Jack was a little taken aback by the force with which Daniel was holding onto him.  Daniel’s usual M.O. in painful situations was to close himself off from the rest of the world, just file the bad stuff away in the farthest corner of his mind where only nightmares dared to reach.  Granted this situation was far from the usual, still the sudden dependence seemed out of character somehow.  Glancing at the fallen body of his friend’s wife, he studied the staff blast burn on her chest.  It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what must have happened.  Teal’c and Daniel were the only ones in the tent when he arrived and Teal’c was the only one with a staff weapon.  Suddenly Jack felt minute tremors begin to run through Daniel’s body, he was cold and possibly going into shock. 

“Hey, shhh it’s okay” Jack soothed again as he held Daniel closer for warmth.

Daniel held onto Jack for dear life, not wanting to let go - ever.  To say he was a little unsettled about what had just occurred would be an understatement.  He was frightened if he let go the whole scene would change again, he so hoped this was real, it had to be.  Daniel could feel the tears coming, and knew he wasn't going to be able to stop them.  Jack was saying something, he couldn’t really make out the words, but Daniel heard the concern in his tone.  He tried to make sense in his mind what had just happened but found his brain felt all fogged over, he couldn’t think straight.  He lost all the will to fight it and just slumped even further against Jack.

Sam didn’t know where to look.  She felt she was deeply invading Daniel’s privacy by watching his breakdown in the Colonel’s arms.  Teal’c was the opposite, his focus never drifted from their friend. 

Knowing he was, in retrospect, partially to blame for the current situation was weighing heavily on Teal'c's mind.  He had no doubt that he had done the right thing, Daniel would most certainly have died if he’d not acted, but Teal'c still regretted the outcome and the pain that his decision was causing.

‘God what a mess’ Jack sighed to himself.  He pulled back slightly so he could get a good look at Daniel.  Tear tracks marked his cheeks and his eyes were squeezed tightly shut.

“Think you can make it to the gate?”

Daniel immediately dropped his head low, indicating to Jack that he was embarrassed for losing it so badly in front of his friends.

‘Unbelievable, for cryin’ out loud!  It’s not like I’ve never seen him cry before.’  Then Jack remembered the other two witnesses in the tent.  Yes Jack had seen Daniel cry before and had always been there for Daniel to cry on.  However, to his recollection, he’d never had to do it with an audience.  Jack suddenly understood Daniel’s unease and was again reminded how peculiar his behaviour was.  There was definitely something else going on with Daniel and Jack was damn sure once they were back home, with his friend tucked nicely into an infirmary bed, he was going to find out what it was.  Jack pushed that thought to the back of his mind for now.  He needed to focus and get his team back to the SGC safe and sound.

“Daniel?”  Jack questioned again since he’d got no immediate reply the first time.

“Yeah, I can.”  Daniel’s voice was hushed, barely audible.  If it wasn’t for the mute nod that accompanied it Jack might have asked him to repeat it.

“Good boy” Jack squeezed Daniel's arms still in his grasp.  He turned to face Carter.

“Carter.  Go gather the other teams together, make sure the area’s secure and everyone gates back.  We’ll be following.”

“Yes sir.”  Sam’s voice was solemn.  She was every bit as upset as her younger teammate.  Glancing in Daniel’s direction, again opening her mouth to speak, but nothing came out.  Instead she offered an apologetic smile and exited the tent.

Jack then moved his focus onto Teal’c, all the while keeping a strong hold on Daniel.  Their Jaffa friend looked as if in shock.  Jack hoped Teal’c could pull himself together enough to make his way back to the Stargate.  No way could he cope with him and Daniel.

“Teal'c?”  Jack said as he tilted his head towards Shau’re’s prone body.  Teal'c immediately recoiled and Jack wondered what he’d said wrong.  However Teal’c quickly regained his equilibrium and bowed his head in acknowledgement.  Standing gracefully he moved over to Shau're and bent at the knees to lift her.  Before doing so he threw a glance in Daniel’s direction, as if asking permission.  Jack followed the gaze and discovered Daniel was staring intently back at Teal’c.  For a few seconds there was nothing, and then Daniel slowly lowered his head and raised it again.  At his approval Teal’c lifted Shau're into his arms and proceeded to exit the tent.  Jack watched him leave then turned swiftly back to Daniel, who surprisingly enough was looking right at him no longer avoiding eye contact. 

Daniel looked deeply into Jack’s brown eyes, he so desperately wanted to vocalise the fear he felt slowly consuming him.  As far as he could tell what he thought he’d experienced over the past few days hadn’t been real at all, only minutes had past apparently.  He couldn’t get his head around it, he was so confused.  Shau’re had spoken to him, he was sure she had.  ‘She wants me to find the boy’ the words echoed in his mind.  He felt tears begin to prick at the back of his eyes again, distressed with his helplessness and the pain flaring up in his temple.

Jack couldn’t make out the expression on Daniel’s face.  If he had to describe it he’d say it was a toss up between being absolutely petrified and oddly relieved at the same time.  He brought up his right hand and brushed a stray tear away from Daniel’s cheek. 

Daniel automatically brought up his arm and wiped his face on his sleeve, ridding himself of all traces of wetness.

Letting out a long sigh Jack took it as a sign Daniel was ready to head back to the gate.  Positioning himself on his knees Jack assisted Daniel to stand.  He was shaky on his feet to start with, but seemed okay enough to walk.  Jack kept one arm around Daniel’s back, the other held onto his forearm as Jack slowly guided him back towards the ‘gate.

They walked most of the way in silence.  Daniel stumbling alone through the rough ground and fallen Jaffa without a hint of remorse, or even recognition of what had happened here today.

“Jack?”

“Yeah Daniel?”  Jack kept his tone hushed, he had a feeling Daniel wanted to tell him something.

“I think I need to tell you something…”

Jack felt his lip quirk a little.

“…It may sound strange but I need you to listen okay?” Daniel pleaded. He hoped to god he was doing the right thing.  What if it was all his imagination, what if…? ‘Christ sakes Daniel.’ Jack’s voice vibrated in his head mockingly. ‘Just tell him’ Daniel mentally chided himself.

“Daniel what is it?”  Jack stopped and turned Daniel to face him.

Daniel's mind began to wander again. His head felt like it was full of cotton wool.  What had gotten into him?  He couldn’t just blurt out everything that had just happened to him.  For one he had no idea where to start and two, he’d just come off sounding like he needed to return to Mackenzie's white room.  ‘I need to have a clear head, I...OW!’  Pain flared behind Daniel’s eyes.

Jack was becoming increasingly concerned with Daniel’s behaviour, if he was right and that was a ribbon burn, then it’s possible Daniel could have some kind of head injury.  The sooner they got back to the SGC the better, whatever it was Daniel needed to tell him would have to wait. Jack was about to nudge Daniel forward again when the young man just fell into him, his eyes rolling to the back of his head.

“Daniel!” Jack shouted, catching the failing body in his arms.  Jack looked down from the hill on which they were standing, he could see Carter standing by the open event horizon.  In one swift movement Jack bent and repositioned his left arm under Daniel’s knees, hoisting him up to rest against his chest.  Jack began to make his way to the Stargate, Daniel unconscious in his arms.

“Sir! What happen?”  Sam came running the moment she saw the Colonel and his burden.

“He passed out Major, we need to get him back ASAP!”  Jack met Carter at the DHD.  All three entered the wormhole together.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Janet, he’s waking up!”

“Hey Daniel, I need you to look at me okay?”

‘Janet?  Where the hell am I?’ Daniel scanned the room despite what he’d just been told.

“Daniel, just do as the Doc says.”

“Jack?”

“Yeah I’m here Daniel, just listen to Janet for a minute will ya?” 

Daniel did as asked.  ‘Infirmary!  I’m in the infirmary, why? Err…Arh!’

Janet shone the pen light in his eyes.  “Can you tell me your name?”

“Daniel Jackson”  ‘haven’t I already done this?’  He was getting a strange sense of deja-vu.

“And your date of birth?”

“July 8th” ‘oh I’ve definitely done this’.  Then like a bolt of lightening it all came back to him.  Rescuing the Abydonians, Amaunet, getting ribboned, Shau're talking to him, Teal’c firing his staff…’oh god she’s dead’.  The impact of those memories hit him like the preverbal ton of bricks.  He remembered waking up like this before all right, only that wasn’t real was it?  None of it was.  He remembered the tent, Jack holding him, him crying and the terrible pain in his head.  Wait, he wasn’t remembering the pain - he could feel it, it was still there.

“Daniel?  Do you remember what happened?”  That was Sam.  Daniel scanned the room again, this time noticing the people surrounding his bed.  Jack, Sam, Teal’c, even The General was hovering nearby.  Daniel felt a flush rise in his cheeks, touched at the concern showing on their faces.

“I…I think so.  Shau're?”  It was a shot in the dark, he was fairly sure he already knew the answer but needed to ask anyway.
“She’s dead Daniel.  Sorry.”  Jack answered, just as he had done before.
“Ah huh.”  Daniel whispered faintly.  He didn’t feel like saying much more.  His eyelids felt heavy so he closed them and drifted back into oblivion.

-----------------------------------------------------------
“Hey Daniel.” 
“Jack.”
Daniel blinked several times, adjusting to the low lighting.
“What time is it?”  He tried to sit up but Jack pushed him back onto the bed.
“It’s late.”  Jack said crypticly.  Daniel had been in and out of consciousness all day.

“Why are you still here?”  Daniel knew, even before he said it, it was a stupid question.  That assumption was confirmed by the ‘well duh’ glare Jack was giving him.
“Do you need anything?”  ‘Jeez kid you look like hell’.

“Water.” ‘I’m glad he’s here I don’t want be alone’.
Jack lent over him to reach the cup of ice chips left by the nurses.

“Feeling better?”

Daniel just stared at Jack; he didn’t want to answer, he was afraid Jack wouldn’t believe his wild story.  Jack got the message loud and clear.
“You're going to be okay Daniel” Jack spoke purposely.

Daniel knew Jack wasn’t just talking about his physical injuries.  ‘I hope your right’

“Go back to sleep, I'll wait.”  Jack squeezed his hand to let him know it was safe to sleep, to dream.  Jack would look after him.  “We’ll talk more when you’re feeling better.”

Daniel nodded his understanding before closing his eyes and, again, entering a drug induced sleep.  His final thought was of Shau're and his hope that she’d finally reclaimed her freedom.

Fin.

 

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Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. This is a parody for entertainment purposes only. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. This story may not be posted anywhere without the consent of the author.