~Counting to Ten~

 

Somewhere, Daniel thought, there must be a list of the top ten stupidest ways to die. Somewhere. There's was a list for almost everything else: the top ten places to go on vacation, the top ten best places to live, the top ten restaurants, the top ten best-selling books. He gave a little laugh, then winced as pain shot through his ribs. Damn!

Well, that would have to go on the list. He could hear the voice in his head, Jack's voice. Jack would do the eulogy again, like when he'd died on Nem's planet. Maybe Jack would get up, and with brutal honesty he'd say, "Daniel Jackson, linguist, archaeologist, scholar, and holder of multiple PhD's idiotically laughed himself to death. Really, folks, he died laughing." Badum-ching. That's number one of ten. Maybe the drums and cymbals were a little much, though. He gave a snort. Ouch! That hurt. Damn! Jack's sense of humor was rubbing off on him.

Hmmm...what else would be on the list? Death by boredom? Death by paper cut? He might suggest those to Jack who always complained that he was going to die of boredom listening to Daniel's presentations. He was probably at home right now, relaxing and dying of boredom. But not dying of a paper cut. Unless he was reading Sports Illustrated. Or Opera Digest. Did they make an Opera Digest? An amazing mix of contradictions his friend, Jack O'Neill. Someone who liked opera and fishing, hockey and astronomy. Someone who was never bored except at meetings. But since they were all enjoying downtime, Jack wouldn't be at a meeting, he'd be home. Jack never even read his reports so he was safe from that at least.

Yep, both good candidates for the stupidest way to die. Not that Daniel was in danger of either one right at the moment.

He shifted carefully trying to inch to his left, hoping to free enough of his chest to allow a deep breath--or a shallow breath for that matter. The movement caused a further cascade of books to come tumbling down on his head and dug the corner of the bookshelf even more deeply into his chest. He was pinned to the ground in his own home. How on earth had he managed to drop a bookshelf on himself? Damn! What a stupid thing to do. Don't parents teach little kids not to climb on bookcases? Maybe his parents hadn't been around long enough to teach him that lesson, or maybe he'd forgotten. Either way, he'd climbed on the bookshelf and now he was being crushed underneath it. Who would have imagined that the solid wood bookcases lining his apartment weren't secured to the wall?

He remembered hearing somewhere that most accidents happen in the home. He'd never given it much thought, really, not with the kind of job he did. Statistically, he was much more likely to get hurt at work, if only because he was always at work and never at home--well, not never, but rarely. Like today. He was home today, the one day he was going to spend reading and relaxing, the one day he was going to spend on his own, without the team, by himself, in his own apartment. At his specific and forceful request. So that he could have some uninterrupted personal time. One day when no one was coming by. No one.

Damn! He'd told Jack, Sam, and Teal'c that he wanted to be alone. They'd been living in one another's pockets for a month now with mission after mission keeping them constantly on the move. They were friends and family to Daniel in a way no one else had ever been--and Daniel loved them deeply--but every once in awhile, he needed to be by himself. He'd politely but firmly told them so. There hadn't been much argument from any of them. Sam planned to go visit some friends in Denver for a few days, Teal'c was going to go see Ry'ac for a few of days, and Jack had made it perfectly clear that he was going to park himself in front of the TV to watch hockey and only get up when he needed another beer.

It was about time somebody listened to him, Daniel thought. He'd asked to be alone, and here he was. Alone.

Damn!

Of course he was alone. He'd probably be alone until Monday because no one would be around until he didn't show up for work. They'd call first and eventually, when no one answered, someone might come to check on him. Maybe. Eventually.

Daniel clenched and unclenched his fists. Even that small movement made him ache. He felt his breathing speed up, short sharp breaths that didn't seem to be pulling any air into his lungs. He couldn't panic, wouldn't panic, even alone. He just needed to hang in there--for two or three days.

He tried to distract himself. What was he thinking before? Oh, yeah, the ten stupidest ways to die. Where was he? Death by laughter. Possible but not likely. Death by boredom. Nope. Death by paper cut. Well, not here or now, but maybe when he got back to his office. If he got back to his office. How about death by chocolate? Was that number three? No four. Now there's a good way to die. A piece of chocolate cake would go down well right about now. A nice, thick slice covered in a thick chocolate frosting, shoveled in by the forkful. Wasn't there a cake named <i>Death by Chocolate</i>? He licked his lips, feeling them chapped and sore. His mouth was dry but he could feel the little breaths of air brushing past his lips, little gusts forced from a throat, tight and sore. Damn!

Think of something else. Death by chocolate. That would be good. How about death by caffeine? Could you die from too much caffeine? Jack said so all the time that Daniel was going to kill himself drinking cup after cup of coffee. That coffee was not a food group. That coffee probably ran through his veins instead of blood. When they did the autopsy, would they drain coffee from his body before they embalmed him, or blood? His laugh was more of a giggle now, from lack of oxygen maybe, but the movement made him gasp--which made the pain worse. The world grayed a little as he dug his fists into the floor, forcing himself to keep his breathing shallow. Small, shallow. Four--no five. Damn! He couldn't even count to ten.

He needed some coffee right now. A big cup of coffee. Because he was thirsty. It was bad enough that he couldn't breathe but to die thirsty when he knew there was full pot of coffee on the counter only a few feet away, that would be an irony. Of course, people died of thirst all the time. It might not rank up there as one of the stupidest ways to die, but to die of thirst for lack of a cup of coffee, surely that made the list. On Abydos he'd seen people die of thirst. The desert stretched for miles, and if a wanderer strayed from the path, he was sure to die. They kept their skins filled with water even when they were in the pyramid. A freak storm could cut them off from water for days. He didn't have his water skin with him today. Shau're had told him time and time again to take the water skin. And he'd forgotten. Now he was so thirsty. Damn! Did that count as one or two? Five and six? He should know and he didn't. What good did all these books do him if he didn't know what number he was on? What good were his books now?

His books. His own books were going to kill him. Somehow he'd thought that his love of knowledge would kill him in some dusty old tomb. He'd forget to eat and sleep in his insatiable thirst for knowledge, and they'd find his body bent over some translation. He'd thought maybe his love of knowledge would kill him when he became oblivious to approaching danger because he was so engrossed in an artifact that he didn't hear the Jaffa coming. He'd never thought the books themselves would kill him. What kind of death was that? Jack swore Daniel's brain was so stuffed with useless knowledge that was no room for common sense. Maybe he was right. Not much common sense trying to climb up a bookcase. Could you die from a lack of common sense? A case crammed full of books crowded with knowledge, now lying all over him. The weight of knowledge killed him. He was overburdened with the wealth of knowledge at his disposal, and it had choked him with its might. He could see Jack standing at the podium saying that: "Daniel died a weighty death." Damn! What number was he at? Funny though, all of them funny. Sort of. Damn! Damn!

"Seven, eight?" he gasped. "I've lost count."

"What?"

Jack?

"I've lost count."

"Hold on, Daniel. I'll have this off in just a second. Hold on, okay?" There was a squeeze on his shoulder.

"I need a cup of coffee."

"Coffee? Damn it, Daniel! What the hell did you do to yourself?"

"Needed a book," he whispered, "couldn't reach."

"But you did it anyway. What kind of an idiot does that? You never heard of a ladder?" The bookshelf rocked on each sentence; it moved and Daniel hissed as the weight crushed his chest. He sucked in his breath and held it as Jack gave the case one more firm shove and toppled it beside him, releasing him. Damn! He inhaled, greedily drinking the air, laughing even as the pain of each breath cut through him.

"Shit! Take it easy, Daniel. I think you busted a couple of ribs. I'm calling an ambulance. Stay still."

"I… I'm counting to ten." He was giddy with the joy of being able to feel each wonderful, painful breath.

"Ten? You found ten what?" Jack turned away from Daniel to give an address. Jack didn't hear him.

"I'm...going to," the wheeze told him he'd done more than break a rib, "going to...find ten." The world went black.

~::~

The sound of someone counting woke him up.

"Just one! Give me one good reason I shouldn't kick his ass when he wakes up."

That was Jack.

"One good reason!" the yelling continued. "What kind of an idiot tries to pull a book off the top shelf of a rickety old bookcase without using a ladder?"

"Jack?"

"I should kill him myself! It would be easier--and quicker." The location of the voice kept changing.

"Jack?"

"Damn! If I hadn't gone over there, he could have been dead by morning. He's got a damn hole in his lung."

"Jack?"

"Daniel?"

"Need a drink." The pain in his chest was no more than a twinge, but his throat was dry and sore. He felt the straw at his lips and drank gratefully. It tasted so good. "Not coffee," he said.

"Coffee? When I get you home, okay? Then you can have coffee. Do you need anything else?"

"Cake. Chocolate cake. Maybe a book."

"Doc? What the hell did you give him?"

The voice had moved away again.

He gave a snort and then pulled his hands to hold his chest as the laughter bubbled out in spite of the pain. Ouch! Damn! He really shouldn't laugh but he couldn't help it. He'd thought he was going to die because of a ridiculous accident in his own home, crushed by the knowledge that gave him life, caffeine deprived and longing for chocolate cake. Instead he was lying in a hospital bed listening to Jack yell at him for being stupid. And threatening to kill him. Oh, God, it hurt!

"Hey, buddy, relax. We're right here." The hand on his shoulder massaged away the pain. "What's the matter, Daniel?"

"Nothing, Jack," he whispered. "Just counting to ten."

~::~

 

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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.