Category: H/C, Angst
Warnings: Spoilers for ‘The Shroud’
Rating: PG

Author’s Notes – Spoilers for season 10 through The Shroud

 

            He struggles to the bed, his eyes barely open. Falling, dropping onto as if it is a haven, he curls in on himself and tries to release a breath. He forgets how to breathe. It is misery to inhale and exhale, every moment searing and excruciating to his lung tissue. He never made it to his apartment, never made it to his own bed. After his disembarkment from the Odyssey and report at the briefing, Daniel slipped away from his friends and found comfort, cold as it was, in his quarters on base.

            Shirtless, he shivers as he lies on top of the comforter. His muscles rebel against his will and refuse to work. He wants to pull the blanket up over his shoulders, his aching back but he cannot. There is little strength left, little of Daniel Jackson to pull together from the rags of his soul. He longs to close his eyes forever, forget the needs of so many billions of lives in the universe. His soul cries to him to just surrender to the need, yet he does not.

            The ache turns from a low dull throb to a growing pounding infecting every aspect of who he is. He wonders if Merlin affected him so profoundly that he will never truly recover. But he has to, he has no other choice. The armies of the Ori, with or without their gods to guide them, are a plague upon this galaxy. His own efforts to defeat the Ori have caused a surge of their armies to swarm across the stars. He mourns his victory.

            It was a victory but so much is lost because of it. He wonders as his shoulders quake if the IOA will still want to terminate his life. For the first time in a long time, he would welcome it. It is too much, this life this pain. He is alone.

            He thinks of his friends. Can he still call them that? The test of friendship was a difficult one for them, he remember sitting clamped to that chair in the interrogation room of the Odyssey and their doubts. He recalls trying to convince them, yet seeing that lingering uncertainty in each of their eyes. The shroud that covered his face concealed their friendship as well. In his most desperate hour, even Vala had whispered her fears and left him.

            He sinks back into the blankets of the bed, opening his eyes to the black ceiling above him. The lights are low but he has not turned them off. Somehow he fears the darkness tonight. His shoulders shake with the echo of pain ratcheting through his bones. His body is reacting to the weeks of having Merlin downloaded into his brain as well as being traumatized by the transformation into a Prior. He should call someone to help him.

            The pain jars through his brain in piercing bullets and he cringes against the blasts. He doesn’t remember ever feeling this way when he’d been overcome with other mind invasions. Tears leak from his eyes as he fights the oncoming storm of pain. Fighting the pain, he claws at the blankets and pulls them over him into a cocoon to wrap his body.

            Something trickles from his nostril and he wipes it away. He knows without seeing it that his nose is now bleeding. He stretches out an arm to pull some tissues from the box on the table beside the bed, but he knocks over the lamp and it crashes to the floor. Remarkably, the light bulb does not break and it stays lit to throw strange shadows against the walls of the room. Daniel clutches the tissues to his nose and as his blood drains from him a weakness overwhelms him. His hands fall away, loose and unresponsive at his sides. He feels the stream of blood pour down his face but he has no ability to stop it, only stares blankly at the shadows on the ceiling.

            “Daniel?”

            He hadn’t heard her come in; he cannot answer her now as she stands by the door. His body remains a shell to him and his soul imprisoned within its cage.

            “I just wanted you to know, address that little discussion we had when you were all Priorized,” she says and he hears her walk farther into the room.

            He strains to turn his head to her, to shift his gaze to her but the spearing pain shrieks through his head and tears mix with the blood staining his face. He feels a weight sink onto the bed next to him as she sits down.

            “I would have come up with a plan, eventually, you know that don’t you?” Vala turns to him. “Don’t you?”

            Maybe it is the strange toss of light from the overturned lamp on the floor or possibly her self absorbed attitude but it takes long minutes before Vala realizes he lies unmoving on the bed, even longer for her to recognize his state.

            “You know it wasn’t a very attractive look for you Daniel,” Vala says. “Don’t get me wrong or anything, it wouldn’t have come between us if you’d stayed that way as long as you – you know-- gone to one of those nip tuck doctors of yours-.” Her voice starts to fade, starts to dissipate as she leans over him. “Daniel?” Daniel?” She scrambles to his side and cups his face with her hands. “You’re bleeding. What’s happened?”

            Her hands leave him and a cold wind whispers across his blood streaked face. He tries to lift his head, to call her back but nothing works. His body is stone. He hears her talking, calling to a guard outside the room, ordering in her Vala tone. Her hands are back, holding his and she says, “Just stay calm, they’re coming. No reason for you to get upset at all Daniel. They’re coming.”

            A moan issues from his slightly parted lips as he attempts to reassure her. Her hand touches his cheek and he is reminded that her daughter touched him like this, caressed his scarred face. A tremor racks his body as he remembers all he has endured. He closes his eyes and lets darkness envelop him.

II.

            “TBI or traumatic brain injury,” Doctor Lam says. Her arms cross over her chest, she nothing but professional and Vala doesn’t know if she likes her. “I’d say we’re looking at moderate to severe. We’ll have to wait until he wakes up so I can test his reaction to stimuli and other indicators.”

            Does she have to be so cold? Vala wonders and glances at General Landry. He has a way of holding his expression as if he’s just put a fork full of food in his mouth and was interrupted so hasn’t finished chewing. He’s doing it now, holding off like he is waiting for the all clear.

            “Is there a reason this all happened so late in the game?” Jack says. He’s in normal clothes now, what they call jeans on this fair planet. She likes the way he looks in them; she likes his practicality.

            The doctor shrugs her shoulders and replies, “We’re looking at an alien consciousness being downloaded into Doctor Jackson’s brain and on top of that he suffered injury when being transformed into a Prior. There’s no precedent for what’s happened or what we’re treating right now. I can tell you he’s resting comfortably and all his vitals are within normal range now.”

            “And the?” Vala points to her nose. “You know all that blood.”

            Doctor Lam shakes her head. “Doesn’t seem to be related to the TBI.  Possibly an after effect of the Merlin induced re-transformation into Daniel Jackson. But it has stopped and that part of his MRI came out clean.”

            “Can we see him?” Sam asks. She and Cam have been pacing about the hallway outside the infirmary for the last hour. Teal’c on the other hand remained frozen in the corner – it kind of gave her the creeps.

            “Sure, but don’t disturb him. Remember if he does wake up it’s likely he’ll be extra sensitive to sound, light and he might not be able to respond.”

            The others start away but she dawdles behind with Jack. He calls the doctor back and she spins on her heel and says, “General?”

            Vala always forgets he is a General.

            “This TGIF that Daniel has – is it gonna cause permanent damage?” Jack asks.

            Her eyes soften a degree and Vala decides she might like the doctor after all. Who couldn’t soften under that gaze? Especially when it’s about her Daniel?

            “All TBIs have the potential to cause permanent damage. My bet though is that Merlin did something to make sure Daniel didn’t suffer any permanent damage.” She adds, “Hopefully.”

            That last response both warms Vala to the rigid doctor and strikes a new fear within her. What if she’s lost her Daniel permanently? When she lost him to Adria her mind wouldn’t let her sleep, she thought she might go mad. But now, she might lose him because of his sacrifice.

            The doctor is walking away as she stands there, paralyzed by the implications. Jack leans over to her and says, “Welcome to my world.”

            “Excuse me?”

            “Daniel’s main talent is seeing how many times he can die or otherwise cause pain and suffering about his well being to his friends.” Jack pulls her along. He is the only one of the SGC who is eternally touching. Oh she likes him, yes she does. “He’ll get through it.”

            “How can you be sure?”

            He laughs as they enter the infirmary. “You really haven’t been around long have you?”

III.
Voices disturb his rest. There is an inability permeating his bones, his soul – an inability to respond. He does not open his eyes, just the light streaming against his closed lids stabs into his head. He lies quiet and still as he listens.

            “Doctor Jackson is directly responsible for the admission of several more Ori ships into this galaxy through the super gate. The IOA-.”

            “Can you ever shut up Woolsey?” Jack asks. “And if you really want to place direct blame, it was me that ordered the super gate shut down not Daniel.”

            “And it was, the whole of SG1 who implemented Daniel Jackson plan,” Teal’c adds.

            “Jackson just added a little spice to the plan,” Mitchell says.

            “That’s true, Weasel man.”

            Something in him breaks as he hears Vala call Woolsey a weasel and the IOA’s representative’s stuttering reply.  The hard shell he built up during his incarceration with Adria crumbles and he starts to smile, to laugh.

            “Daniel?”

            He can no longer contain it and a fountain of laughter erupts out of him. Neither Sam’s calls nor Vala’s continued pleas stop him.

            “Has Daniel Jackson suffered irreparable damage?” Teal’c says as Sam bends over him trying to calm him. He still does not open his eyes but tears stream down, coating his cheeks.

            “Hey you want to tell the rest of us the joke, because what we’ve been seeing here isn’t all that funny,” Jack says.

            At that Daniel sputters to a stop and gulps for breath as Doctor Lam checks his vitals. He finally greets the world and it seems like the entire SGC has come out to play vigil around him. Landry and Woolsey are off to the side while both Vala and Sam hover close to the bed. Jack has his arms crossed over his chest as if he is mimicking Daniel’s self hug and Mitchell hangs near Teal’c at the far end of the bed.

            Lam flashes her pen light in his eyes and he bats it away.

            “That hurts,” he says and blinks his eyes.

            “That’s because you’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury but have surprisingly come out of it without much to report.” Lam turns to the Generals. “A half hour ago, I thought he might be headed toward a coma, but he’s perfectly fine now except for some residual effects of the injury like light sensitivity.”

            “How?” asks Landry.

            She shrugs her shoulders. “Beats me. This whole downloading people’s consciousness and transforming into Priors is new to me, I’ve no idea how it all works.”

            Jack jumps off the bed next to his and says, “Daniel?”

            “Don’t look at me,” he says. “It’s the first time I’ve been a Prior.”

            “And hopefully the last Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c says and bows when he nods.

            “How’re you feeling?” Lam steps in and checks his breathing.

            “I’m fine.” She gives him a face and he adds, “A little zoned out like I’ve been asleep for too long or had a migraine.”

            She nods and pockets her stethoscope. “How were you feeling before?”

            He considers telling her – considers confessing he felt abandon and that he just succumbed to the pain welling deep inside of him because of it. Instead he says, “Cold, headache, like I was getting the flu.”

            “That all gone?”

            He says, “More or less.”

            “More or less?”

            “Definitely less, just the foggy brain now.”

            Lam writes in her chart as she regards him. She’s taken the cap of the pen off with her teeth and she speaks with it clenched still there. “I want to keep you for twenty four hours for observation, then I’ll release you.” She caps the pen and shoves it into her breast pocket. “I’ll only agree to release you if you stay on base for two days.”

            “Two days? I haven’t been home in weeks,” Daniel says.

            “Don’t worry Sunshine, I fed your fish,” Mitchell says.

            “I helped,” Vala adds with a smile.

            He’s about to attack Mitchell for letting Vala into his house without strict supervision when Jack interrupts and says, “Can he go home if someone stays with him for a few days?”

            Lam shifts and purses her lips, then gives in. “Sure.”

            “I volunteer.” Vala practically leaps onto the bed with him.

            “Just calm down Dorothy, Toto is coming with me,” Jack says, frowns then corrects, “Actually I’m going with Toto. You get what I mean.”

            “Actually this planet has the strangest speaking patterns.” Vala looks to Teal’c for assistance.

            “General O’Neill will accompany Daniel Jackson home, most probably because he will be staying in the city for some time and does not wish to stay at a hotel but instead wishes to stay with Daniel Jackson and irritate him.”

            “That’s my man, always telling it like it is,” Jack says.

            Woolsey walks up to his bedside and says, “I’m sorry but Doctor Jackson isn’t going anywhere. He’s under arrest for stealing the Odyssey and a number of other crimes not to mention assault on a civilian representative of this government.”

            “I didn’t assault you Woolsey,” Daniel says at the same time Jack pipes in and adds, “Just because you pissed yourself don’t blame it on Daniel.”

            “I’m sorry General Landry.” Woolsey’s face turns beat red. “But this is uncalled for, Doctor Jackson will remain in my custody until the IOA decides his fate.”

            “I do not think that would be wise,” Teal’c leans over the man, his face a menace.

            “Hold on, hold on,” Landry waves Teal’c aside and says, “SG1 was on that mission. They completed the mission that the IOA approved. If Doctor Jackson hadn’t borrowed the Odyssey, then Adria would have Merlin’s weapon and would have used it in this galaxy to destroy the Ancients.” Nodding his head, the General says as he ushers Woolsey out of the infirmary. “I think the IOA should be advised against their current actions, don’t you.”

            Woolsey peers over his shoulder as Landry keeps him moving toward the exit. It is Teal’c’s glare that stops the man from saying another word and instead he turns to Landry as they disappear out of the infirmary.

            Only past and present members of SG1 are left around Daniel’s bed as the doctor excuses herself to get some of his prescriptions filled.

            “So you gonna tell us the real deal?” Mitchell asks and he frowns at Daniel.

            “Real deal?” He realizes just talking erodes his senses causes bolts of pain to streak through his temples.

            “Yeah, come clean Daniel,” Jack says as he scowls at him.

            He relaxes into the bed and the feel of the cool linen against him soothes the pain. “There isn’t any real deal. Merlin protected me, as much as he could. The transformation into a Prior didn’t hurt but-.”
“See now it’s the but that worries me,” Jack notes.

            “I’m more worried about the-,” Mitchell pauses and does air quotes to complete his thought, “Merlin protected me ‘as much as he could’. What exactly does that mean?”

            “Yes, what does that mean Daniel?” Vala says and he recognizes the guilt in her features as if there is any way at all that she could stop her wayward daughter.

            He shakes his head. It isn’t important that they know what he endured, the time he spent with Adria. He doesn’t want to think on it.

            “You and women don’t mix well Daniel,” Jack says.

            “Hey!” Vala replies.

            Daniel holds up his hand as he closes his eyes and says, “Please can I just sleep?”

            Sam steps in and tightens her grip around his hand. “No problem, we’ll be back to check on you.”

            Without opening his eyes he points to Jack and says, “Take him with you.”

            “Hey!”

            Another gesture to indicate Vala and he adds, “Take her too.”

            “That’s definitely not nice Daniel.”

            He’s left in his silent space. The walls of darkness build around him and he opens his eyes. There are tears there as he thinks about the time he was imprisoned. He will never admit to them what happened in those viled hours on the Ori ship. He does not even want to face those memories himself. He half wishes that the loss of Merlin would have meant the loss of that part of his recollections. Yet every detail, every pain still endures, still holds him. Woolsey does not have to arrest him, he is a prisoner of his memories.

            As he lies there in the dark and closes his eyes, he feels a hand clasp his shoulder, he knows this touch. He wonders how Jack slipped in without making a noise. Another footstep falls and he feels Vala take up her seat on the other side of the bed. Then a shuffling arises in the darkness and he hears the whispers of Sam, Mitchell and Teal’c.

            They say not a word to him, but in their silent acceptance he is set free.

THE END.

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