Genre: gen, h/c, angst
Summary: Lost, hurt and alone--Daniel struggles to remember, struggles to stay alive.
He could do this.
Lying on his stomach, Daniel dug his battered fingers into the mud to steady his resolve—to hold onto something, even if it couldn’t hold back. He could do this. He would do this––and hopefully this time he wouldn’t end up vomiting all over himself.
Inch by inch, he slowly opened his eyes––panting through the daggers piercing his skull as daylight met them. His stomach rebelled, but this time he managed to keep whatever remaining contents down.
Breathless with pain and dizzy with uncertainty, he kept as still as possible. As still as he could get while shaking so badly, anyway.
God, it hurt.
“Jack?” Ineffectively blinking away the double vision, Daniel took in his blurred surroundings from his position along a river’s bank. “Guys?” he called weakly.
But nobody answered.
Exhaustion and shock overcoming him, his eyes closed against his will. He tried to remember what had happened before darkness claimed him, but no clarity came…and all alone, he passed out, bleeding into the rain.
// 1800 hours, Daniel,” Jack said, reaching over and grabbing a random book to flip through.
“I heard you the first ten times, Jack.”
“Yes, well, usually you ignore me the first nine, so…”
Daniel plucked the book he’d been looking for out of this friend’s hands. He was reading it upside down anyway. “Jack, SG-3 and I will be back with plenty of time to spare,” he assured.
Picking something else up to fiddle with, Jack replied, “Daniel, it’s the day before Christmas eve. Doth that mean nothing to you?”
“Yes,” the archaeologist answered distractedly. “It does. It means if we don’t get the priceless artifacts from PX8-339 within the next twenty-four hours, we never will because the rising flood waters will have washed them away for good.”
Daniel rolled his eyes. Jack put down…whatever the heck he had found to play with. “Daniel, even Carter is taking the week off. Carter!”
“Good for her,” he replied sincerely, still busying himself with packing.
“You know…” the older man leaned in against the desk. “The fact that pigs are flying and you still have your nose stuck down here, has me a tad concerned.”
“Yes, well, the fact that you’re seeing flying pigs, has me a tad bit concerned,” Daniel mocked back, not even looking up from his task.
Puffing out his cheeks, Jack slowly let the air slip from between his lips, deflating as he leaned back in his seat. It was time for Plan G. Yup. ‘G.’ They’d been at this for awhile. “Teal’c’s dying.”
His friend froze and looked up at this. He wasn’t buying it and, to be honest, Jack couldn’t do that to him.
“Okay, fine…but you’ll be killing his Christmas spirit if you go.”
“Jack, I’ll be home tomorrow morning. I’m not going to miss anything,” he argued. “Teal’c won’t even be back from visiting Rya’c until late tonight.”
Jack looked mournful. “Yes, there is that.”
Finally finished packing his gear, Daniel stood before him, backpack in hand. “Why is it so import––”
“Daniel Jackson to the embarkation room.”
Ignoring the announcement, Daniel studied his friend, suddenly torn about going. He raised an uncertain eyebrow. “Jack?”
Jack sighed. The kid looked ridiculously young when indecisive. “Go.” He stood, smiling gently and making the decision for him. “But if you’re late, you’re on elf duty at the charity ball.”
Daniel smiled back. “But then what would you be?” he asked cheekily as they walked down the hall side by side.
“Chafe free, my friend. Chafe free.” //
The pain stole his breath, and the cold made it near impossible to get back. Trembling, Daniel clawed at the ground, seeking leverage the mud wouldn’t give.
He didn’t know where he was. He didn’t know what had happened. And he didn’t know if he was in danger or not, so he was trying to reach a place out of the open to hole up until he could figure it out.
All he knew was that he was definitely hurt, he was definitely cold, and he was definitely alone. He was also apparently off-world...unless the three moons in the sky were a result of his head injury.
Soaked to the bone and frozen to the core, not an inch of Daniel felt spared. His pants were torn––as were his legs, his head felt as if it were going to fall off—he sort of hoped it would, his side was a ball of fire that not even the torrential rains falling on him could put out, and the hiding place he spotted might as well have been on another planet.
And worse still…he had no idea where his team was.
“The UAV is running the grid, General.” Carter stepped up beside Hammond. “Though to be honest,” she added solemnly, looking down at her clasped fingers, “I’m not sure for how much longer.”
“Storm getting worse?”
Shoulders straight, arms clasped behind his back, looking down on the ‘gate—on the man this hurt most, General Hammond’s stance suggested confidence, calmness. “Any signs of them?” But anyone that knew him saw the worry, the helplessness raging.
Her hesitancy told him what he already knew deep down––what he’d see in her eyes if he looked.
“No, sir,” she admitted softly. “And if the weather doesn’t break soon, the ‘gate will be under water within hours.”
It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
It was the morning before Christmas, for cryin’ out loud. He was supposed to be stuffing the turkey, stealing cookies when Carter wasn’t looking and watching classics with Teal’c…and ultimately enjoying the fact that this year was going to be different than last.
This year, they had Daniel. This year, they had him back.
Standing before the ‘gate, Jack anxiously checked his watch again as he waited to hear the magic words from Hammond. He didn’t care if they’d be going in blind. SG-3 was supposed to be back four hours ago. They were running out of time.
And that meant so was Daniel.
Every drop exploded against his flesh like tiny bombs of ice water. His cover did little to protect him from the near arctic rain and Daniel had long ago lost the strength to move. The second his feet had cleared the tree line, his body collapsed. Already on his stomach, he didn’t even have the energy to curl into himself, to try and preserve body heat—not that his damaged ribs would permit him to anyway.
Lying there miserable, in pain and shaking uncontrollably, Daniel tried again to remember what had happened. And again, he drew a blank—unable to recall anything before waking up alongside the river.
Well, at least this time he knew who he was, he thought with a wry smile. Jack would appreciate that one.
“Jack,” he breathed longingly for his friend.
Where was his team?
Where was his home?
“Incoming wormhole! SG-3’s IDC!”
Standing clear of the ‘gate, excitement raced through Jack. “Come on, Daniel. Come on, buddy.”
Teal’c and Carter ran to his side, eager to see, eager to hope. Anxious to watch their friend walk down that ramp. Anxious to know he was okay.
He didn’t walk down that ramp, though.
But the rest of SG-3 did.
“Where’s Daniel?” Jack stepped forward, searching their faces.
Soaked, breathless and trembling, the remaining members of the expedition collapsed onto the ramp.
“Major, where the hell is my team member?” Jack demanded.
Still trying to catch his breath, Major Murphy raised his head despairingly. “Dead, sir,” he whispered with tears and regret in his eyes. “Daniel is dead.”
The rain was finally slowing, but Daniel still shook. Though he couldn’t see it, he could feel it—the only warmth his body held flowing out of him. Shakily feeling along his rib cage, his frozen fingers found the main source from which the blood came. The gash was easily the width and length of three fingers, and guessing by the slick feel of it—didn’t plan on clotting any time soon. Breathless, Daniel laid his hand over the wound––for he lacked even the strength to apply pressure.
What a pickle he was in. No pack, no vest—so no medical supplies. And even the spare sterile gauze he kept in his BDU pants was gone.
He ached for his team. For home. Not just to ease the unbearable feeling of loneliness, but to know they were alright. It was the only way to know if he would be alright.
Were they lying unconscious somewhere in the rain, bleeding like he was? Did they know what had happened? He had to find them. He had to know. He had to make sure they were okay.
If only he had his radio.
If only he could move.
“It’s not true.”
“Daniel’s not dead, sir.”
“Jack…” Hammond’s eyes filled with sympathy and grief of his own. “You heard Murphy just as well as I did, son,” he said gently. “Dr. Jacks…Daniel was directly in the path when the dam broke.”
“I don’t care what he said, sir. He’s not dead,” Jack said with the utmost conviction. Turning his back on him, he looked down on the ‘gate—on the one thing separating him from his friend. “I’d know it,” he added softly.
“The colonel’s right, sir,” Carter spoke, entering the briefing room. “I don’t know how I know…but Daniel’s alive.”
“I, too, share in this belief.”
The General was at a loss. He wanted to believe them, but he feared they were just kidding themselves—unable to accept the truth, especially when they had just gotten the young man back.
Still, if anyone would know, it was the people standing before him. “Go,” he ordered hoarsely. “Find our boy and bring him home.”
Light rain falling on his lashes, Daniel opened his eyes. He must have passed out after packing his wound with mud to slow the bleeding. Vision clearing, his heart leapt in his chest. Cracked, blue lips parted, “Jack,” he nearly sobbed with relief.
“You promised, Daniel,” the man said, crouching down before him.
Daniel’s mind was whirling. “Jack?” he panted, confused, not having the energy to do more than just lay there
“Get up, Daniel,” his friend ordered. “We’re waiting for you.”
“Where?” he asked, lethargically looking around for the rest of his team.
“Home, Daniel,” Jack answered softly, face saddening. “Home.”
And then he was gone.
“Jack?” Daniel whimpered, frantically trying to look through the thick forest before him. But he was gone. And bleeding into the rain, Daniel was once again alone.
They hit the ground running and headed straight downstream.
They didn’t fear what they would find—only that they wouldn’t get him back in time—before the stargate got washed away, before Daniel’s body gave out.
When they did finally find him, though—an hour from the ‘gate and thankfully on the same side, they stopped in their tracks…as did their hearts.
It looked as if they were too late, after all.
They had almost passed him by. They would have if he wasn’t in the open like he was. Covered in mud from head to toe, he blended into the background. The blood… the blood had given him away.
“Christ, Daniel.” Jack ran to his friend, a lump in his throat as he dropped to his knees. He hesitated, though, before reaching for him.
“Is he…?” Carter’s choked words had him moving again.
“No,” he said steadily before he really knew for sure. Then placing a hand over his friend’s shoulder and supporting his neck, he gently rolled the limp form onto his back.
His clothes were ripped to shreds and Jack could feel him literally vibrating beneath his fingertips. “He’s alive,” he breathed, and the remaining two members immediately knelt beside them.
Reaching out, Jack palmed the cold, marred cheek. But before he could utter reassurances to the unconscious man and himself, Daniel opened his eyes.
Jack didn’t know whether to smile or cry. He ended up settling somewhere in between both. “Hey,” he rasped warmly.
Dazed blue met concerned brown. “‘Am I late?” Daniel whispered faintly, his eyes already closing again.
Meanwhile, Teal’c had taken off his jacket and laid it over their friend. “Of what does he speak?”
Eyes still on the younger man, Jack just shook his head, lightly rubbing his thumb against Daniel’s cheek. The Christmas party couldn’t have been further from his mind. “Carter?” He got straight to business, the corner of his mouth turning up sadly when, even unconscious, Daniel leaned into his warmth.
“He’s in shock and borderline hypothermic, sir,” she announced, trying to remain detached as she delivered the facts. “He’s lost a lot of blood from a wound in his side…” Pausing a moment with a sterile pad in her hand, Carter leaned in for a closer look. With both amazement and pride in her voice she continued, “It looks like he used mud to slow the bleeding, sir. It’s a crude method, but…it probably saved his life.”
“That’s my boy,” Jack whispered, continuing his strokes. “Can we move him?”
Placing the pad over the wound in case it started bleeding again, “We don’t have a choice, sir,” Carter replied. Then taking a thermal blanket from her pack, she laid it over their friend. “There’s no time to make a stretcher,” she admitted softly. Not if they wanted to reach the ‘gate in time. Not if they wanted to get Daniel back in time.
Without another word, the large man moved to pick up their injured friend.
“Easy,” Jack winced in sympathy when a listless Daniel moaned. He wished, not for the first time, that Fraiser, or someone, could have been spared to accompany them. As it was, the rest of SG-3 had them pretty swamped.
When Daniel weakly curled into Teal’c, the Jaffa tucked the younger man’s head under his chin and held him a little tighter than he probably had to—mindful of his injuries. “You are safe, DanielJackson,” he whispered, taking a moment to be thankful before he had to place him over his shoulder to stand.
“Home?” Daniel breathed.
Jack looked at his teammates. Kneeling on some random planet light years from earth, the wind roared in his ears and the rain was literally threatening their existence, but they were together again. All of them. And he knew what his friend was really asking. Home wasn’t a place—not for the man currently curled up in their Jaffa’s arms. “Yeah, Daniel,” he laid a hand on the quaking shoulder. “You’re home.”
“Good.” Daniel relaxed further into Teal’c. While he was dragging his way from the bushes—looking for, what apparently was Hallucination-Jack, it had all come back to him—where he was, what had happened and the conversation he had had with Jack before he left. “Teal’c’s Christmas spirit?”
The Jaffa raised a quizzical eyebrow.
Jack ignored the hundred-and-something-year-old-man and smiled crookedly. “I’d be more concerned about fitting into those tights, Dannyboy.”