Never Alone by babs
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Category: General
Genres: Missing Scene/Episode-Related, Team
Rated: All Ages
Warnings: None
Series: None
Summary: A Fire and Water episode tag

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Story Notes:
I've always loved this episode and well, my turn to write a tag for it.
Never Alone




Friendship needs no words - it is solitude delivered from the anguish of loneliness. Dag Hammarskjold


"You doing okay?" Jack's quiet question filtered into Daniel's consciousness.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine," Daniel said. He didn't dare risk taking his eyes off his feet. Not when doing so meant he was probably going to be planted face down in the hot sand. How far was the Stargate anyway? He didn't remember it being this far away when they'd first come to Nem's planet however long ago it had been.

"Let's take five," Jack called.

Daniel stopped when Jack put a hand on his arm. He clenched his jaw and finally looked at Jack. "I said I'm okay."

Jack shrugged. "You said you were fine. Now you're only okay?"

"You know what I meant." Daniel took a step away and crossed his arms over his chest. He wanted to get back to Earth, away from Nem's pain, away from such profound sorrow, away from remembering his own loss and failure to keep his wife safe.

"Daniel?" Sam came up on his other side and offered her canteen.

He smiled at her and ignored the way his hand shook when he tried to undo the cap. He thought the headache that had been his constant companion since being hooked up to Nem's machine might be due to dehydration or maybe the exhaustion of the past, however long it had been, was catching up to him. Sam put her hand over his and helped him guide the canteen to his mouth. When he finished and looked at her, he frowned. Sam had tears in her eyes despite her bright smile.

"Sam?"

"I'm glad you're okay, Daniel," she said and busied herself with putting the lid back on the canteen.

Daniel squinted and thought that maybe, just maybe, that really was the Stargate in the distance and not a mirage.

"Get along, little dogies," Jack sing-songed and motioned for them to start moving again.

"Why would you compare us to dogs, O'Neill?" Teal'c asked from Daniel's left.

"Dogies," Daniel muttered. "Not doggies." He glanced at Teal'c. "It's a long story." And one he didn't seem to have the breath for at the moment. Jack shouldn't have insisted they stop. Moving was just that much worse now.

"DanielJackson?"

No, he couldn't be hearing the sea any longer. Hadn't they walked far enough that he wouldn't hear the waves? A horrible thought occurred to Daniel. What if this wasn't real? What if he was still under the ocean in Nem's laboratory? What if it was all just his mind hallucinating his friends' presence? Daniel put a hand to his chest and felt his heart pounding. He was alive at least. Did that mean this was real? Or was it a dream?

"Ah crap." He heard someone say. Daniel tasted blood, copper and salt. But maybe...maybe it was his imagination.

"Daniel. Daniel. Daniel." His name echoed until the world went dark and still.

* * * *

"Colonel O'Neill."

Jack looked up from the paperwork he was halfway through filling out. "Doc." He nodded and then glanced at Daniel currently ensconced in one of the infirmary beds. "Quiet as a mouse."

Fraiser smiled at him. "Only because he's sleeping, I'm sure."

"What's the verdict?" Jack asked. Doc didn't look too worried, which Jack had learned was a good thing. Besides, Daniel was alive which was a damn sight better than what they'd thought a few days ago.

"Dehydrated. Exhausted." Fraiser smiled then. "He'll be fine with some rest."

"Did he tell you anything about what went on with Fishface?"

Jack hated not having all the information he needed, and Daniel hadn't been exactly forthcoming on their trek back to the Gate. He didn't know if that was good or bad.

"He said something about a machine and Omo...Omoroca?" Fraiser studied one of the monitors before she turned back to Jack. "He fell back to sleep before we could ask him anything else."

"Machine?"

"There's no evidence that it left any lasting effects." Fraiser reported. "We're keeping alert just in case." She raised a hand. "But I don't believe there is any cause for alarm."

Jack shook his head and looked down at his sleeping friend. "What were you up to, huh?" He heard Fraiser's footsteps fade away. Jack leaned forward and rested his arms on the bed-rail. "The surfer look doesn't do much for you, I gotta tell you." The salt water had caused Daniel's hair to dry in clumps and his skin appeared white in parts where some of water had evaporated. Jack reached down and squeezed Daniel's lax hand in his own and closed his eyes in gratitude at the warm, alive skin under his fingertips. He slid one finger on Daniel's wrist and smiled as the pulse beat its steady rhythm.

* * * *

Daniel opened his eyes and for a brief moment thought he was back on Nem's world until he turned his head and saw a familiar figure slouched in a chair.

He briefly wondered what time it was. It had to be the night shift because the infirmary lights were dimmed. Daniel turned onto his side and tucked one hand under his chin. Jack looked tired, even in sleep. He wondered what could have happened to put those lines on Jack's face. He didn't remember them from before this past mission.

"Doctor Jackson," one of the nurses whispered on his other side. He turned to his back and tilted his head towards her. "I'm just going to change your IV." Her fingers were cool on the back of his hand.

"Can I...um..." Daniel became much more aware of a pressing need.

She smiled at him. "Yes. Let me finish hooking you up and we'll get you out of bed in a sec."

True to her word, she had the new IV bag hanging from the pole in no time. She lowered the bed rail and Daniel sat up cautiously, letting his legs dangle while he concentrated on breathing slowly and deeply through his mouth.

A pair of boots came into his field of sight.

"Need some help?"

"I didn't mean to wake you," Daniel said before he looked up.

"You didn't. And you didn't answer the question."

Daniel pushed himself off the bed and took hold of the IV pole. "I'm not hurt," he said as he started in the direction of the bathroom.

"I know." Jack didn't touch him, didn't offer any other assistance other than his presence.

Daniel took care of business in the bathroom, and opened the door to find Jack there waiting. His bed looked very far away, almost as far as the Stargate had been on Nem's planet.

He began to shiver halfway back to the bed and Jack took his elbow and guided him back. It was Jack who pressed the call button when Daniel's hands shook too much to do it.

"Doc?" Daniel heard Jack ask Janet while he pulled a blanket closer and kept his eyes closed. He'd answered the questions she'd asked about his little stay in Nem's underwater lab with a breathlessness he found even more frightening than the machine he'd consented to use.

"Daniel, we're going to take you to radiology. I want to get a series of chest X-rays." Janet patted his shoulder and then her hand was replaced with a larger one that gripped his shoulder while he was wheeled down the hall.

"It hurts," Daniel said to no one in particular as the technicians moved him on the table. Breathing seemed to take more and more of his concentration and he couldn't get warm despite the extra blankets they gave him.

"Jack?"

He'd lost track of Jack somewhere along the hall and someone had put an oxygen mask over his face which made him think Jack couldn't hear him anyway.

"I'm here," Jack said. Daniel blinked up at him and realized Jack had been by his side the whole time.

"Didn't leave me."

Jack leaned closer, his eyebrows raised in question. Daniel brought his hand up to move the mask away so Jack could understand, but his hand was intercepted by one of the nurses.

"Just rest," Jack ordered but he smiled while he said it so it made it okay.

* * * *

Jack came into the infirmary the next evening to find Daniel sitting up in bed. A tray was pulled over Daniel's legs and Daniel was pushing a spoon around in a dish that looked as if it contained applesauce. The oxygen mask had been replaced by a nasal cannula. Fraiser must have found the good drugs to combat the pneumonia.

"I think Doc wants you to eat that," Jack pointed out as he hooked a stool with his foot and pulled it close to the bed.

Daniel shrugged his shoulders and pushed the table away. "I'm not very hungry." He looked at Jack—the evidence of illness apparent in the paleness of his skin and the two patches of red skin on his cheeks, not to mention the way his eyes didn't quite focus. But Jack had to admit, Daniel looked a hell of a lot better than he had almost twenty four hours ago.

"Carter and Teal'c want to come by to see you if you're up to it." Jack pushed the table back and waited until Daniel took up the spoon. "You up to it?"

Daniel swallowed a spoonful of applesauce. "Nem told you I was dead."

The statement came out of nowhere but with Daniel, Jack had learned, there was always a method to the madness. "Yeah," Jack replied, not wanting to remember the three days they'd thought Daniel had been lost to them forever.

"But you came back."

Jack registered the question in Daniel's statement. "Yeah." Jack drew the word out and raised one eyebrow while he looked at Daniel.

Daniel only withstood the stare a moment before turning his rapt attention back to his applesauce. "You came back." He took a deeper breath which caused him to start to cough.

Jack got to his feet, pulled back the table to give Daniel a bit more room. He placed his hand on Daniel's back, lending support while Daniel nearly doubled over. Daniel's arms were tight against his ribs and Jack winced at the slight whoop to Daniel's coughing.

One of the nurses came over, checked the monitors, and gave both Jack and Daniel a calm smile as Daniel continued to sound as if he was ready to bring up a lung. He handed Daniel a bunch of tissues, grabbed another pillow, and adjusted the bed. "I'll speak to Doctor Fraiser," he said once Daniel was leaning back against the pillows, pale and panting. "Your temperature is up a bit again."

Daniel didn't acknowledge him so Jack nodded instead. "Thanks," he told the nurse.

Daniel's shoulder trembled under his palm, and he could feel the heat of the increasing fever. "I don't leave my people behind," Jack told him. "As soon as we figured out what was going on, we came for you."

There was a tear at the corner of Daniel's closed left eye, and Jack thought of how impossibly young Daniel looked. Young, yes, but the weight of so many rested on those shoulders. Daniel shuddered. Jack almost missed Daniel's comment as he turned to pour a cup of water. "I thought I was going to die alone." The words were said so softly, Jack wasn't sure Daniel realized he'd said them aloud.

"Here." Jack wrapped Daniel's fingers around the cup, kept his own hand there to support Daniel's shaky hand as he guided the cup to his mouth.

"Thanks," Daniel murmured. "Sha're. Promise me if something..." More tears leaked from his closed eyes. Jack grabbed a few tissues and wiped the tears away. He knew, he understood.

"I promise," Jack assured him.

He heard Carter's voice speaking to one of the nurses. Jack leaned close to Daniel. "I'll be back in a minute," he said. "Here." He pressed the wadded up tissues into Daniel's hand. He pulled the privacy curtain around Daniel's bed before leaving.

"Carter. Teal'c." He nodded to both of them.

"Sir?" Carter looked alarmed as she noticed the curtain.

"Daniel's not feeling so great," he told them. "His temp is up. He's..." He seesawed his hand. "Doc is coming to check him out."

He could see the understanding dawn in both Teal'c's and Carter's eyes.

"Tell DanielJackson we will visit him tomorrow," Teal'c said.

"You'll let him know we were here?" Carter asked. She curled her hands into tight fists before releasing them and a small short breath.

Jack nodded. "Yeah." He watched them walk away, profoundly grateful for his team. Daniel, the conscience; Carter, the analyst; Teal'c, the guardian. Thank whoever was in charge of the universe that they remained intact.

Fraiser came towards him, the nurse in tow, and a determined look on her face. "Sir," she said in acknowledgment before disappearing behind the privacy curtain.

Jack rubbed a hand over his face, felt suddenly weary. He couldn't let himself dwell on the what ifs. He couldn't let Daniel dwell on them either. That way lay madness.

"Daniel's sleeping," Fraiser told him some time later, a soft smile gracing her features. "He'll be fine—we just need to give the medicine a chance to work."

Jack nodded his thanks and went back to the chair by Daniel's bed. He sat down and looked at his friend's, yes, he realized with sudden clarity, his friend's, flushed face finally relaxed in sleep.

He leaned closer, hoped that even sleeping Daniell would hear the words he spoke. "As long as I'm alive, as long as SG-1 exists, remember that you're never alone. No one is left behind." He settled back in the chair. They would get through this and anything else the universe threw at them. Jack reached out, touched his fingers to the back of Daniel's hand and closed his eyes. There was no reason he had to be alone either.
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