THE FIFTH RACE
During the check-up and the tests, Jack worded the debriefing in his head, mostly to get it straight and to head off any ideas about endless questioning from Daniel later. He knew the man was chomping at the bit to hear everything, and he knew he’d get a dozen questions from him, at the very least. But Jack was tired. His brain hurt. At least, that’s what it felt like. To everyone else, it’d be a migraine. Light, all light, was too bright, all sound was too loud. He put up with it the best he could, but that CAT scan had been too much and he’d put an end to it only six seconds in.
“Give me a few days, Doc, huh?”
She’d then killed his head with her penlight but had mercifully flicked it across the middle of his face instead of into his eyes. He might have swung at her otherwise.
“Light and sound?” she asked. He nodded. She pulled out a script pad and wrote him a prescription for the pain. “It’s not a narcotic. It’s designed for migraines.” She held it longer than needed when he tried to take it. “No alcohol.”
He nodded with a wan smile. “I just wanna sleep, Doc.”
“Mandatory medical downtime, 3 days.”
“Thank you,” he said with a relieved, heavy sigh. He grimaced when got off the CAT table and saw his team waiting. “Crap. I have to give my report.”
“I’ll call the General, tell him about your downtime, and I’ll have him dim the lights.”
Jack’s brows raised. “You mean we’ve been having briefings for two years in bright light when we didn’t have to?”
The corner of her mouth turned up slightly. “After Daniel’s problem with the sarcophagus, as well as a couple of other head injuries from other teams, I asked that dim switches be installed in most areas of the base.”
“Well, whatever the reason, bless you for that.”
He headed off questions from his teammates as he left the exam room. “Not today. Let’s get the debriefing over with and then I’m heading home.” He waved the script. “Doc’s orders.”
Carter’s voice sounded shrill. “Yes, sir, I imagine—”
“Carter, dial it down,” Jack said, making a turning gesture.
“Migraine?” Daniel asked, giving him a sympathetic grimace.
“Yep,” Jack croaked. “I do not feel like talking.” He grimaced suddenly as a particularly nasty twinge made him grab the wall for balance. “Too many words,” he added in a whisper.
Needless to say, the debriefing was by necessity, short.
. . .
Daniel was eager to hear about what had happened. He wanted to know a billion things. What did the Asgard home look like? Did they resemble Thor? Did they sound like him or were their voices different in the same way humans were different? Were they all the same height, et cetera? He wanted to know everything. It just wasn’t going to happen today. Or tomorrow. Or maybe not until Jack typed up the report.
After delivering the medication, Daniel had gone straight to the kitchen to fix up a meal for Jack to eat without needing to use the oven or microwave. He left a note on the kitchen counter, then put everything in the fridge—and after a second’s thought, disabled the fridge light.
Two days later …
Daniel woke to the buzzing of his phone. It was rather loud when he set it on his nightstand without anything underneath. Fortunately, it wasn’t plugged in, so when he grabbed it, he didn’t get it yanked back or carelessly unplug it by force.
“Mmph?” he said into the phone.
“Hey,” Jack said.
Daniel made a rude snorting sound. “Talking to you in my sleep,” he said in a slushy mumble. “Why are you calling me at Oh God thirty?”
“How do you know it’s Oh God thirty?” Jack asked.
“Because it’s dark. Go back to sleep.” Daniel hung up and was back asleep. The phone buzzed in his hand. “What?” he asked, only slightly more awake.
“Come over and finish sleeping.”
Daniel groaned. “Go back to sleep. I’ll be there whenever.” He hung up. The phone buzzed again and Daniel groaned louder. He sat up and stared at his phone, not answering. “Goddammit,” he groused and put on sweats, slippers, and a hoodie and got into his car. When he arrived at Jack’s, he found the door unlocked, went in, locked it, and made his way to Jack’s bedroom. He threw his phone at him, not very hard, and slipped off his hoodie, his slippers, and sweats, and crawled into bed. “Now leave me alone and go back to sleep.”
Jack grinned and put his arms around him. Now he could go back to sleep. “I’ll tell you everything at breakfast,” he said.
“Ow,” Jack said, the complaint involuntary. He eased himself onto his bed and, inch by inch, scooted back to the sit-up pillow Daniel had gotten for him. Despite being in the infirmary for a week, he still hurt. Everywhere. He had taken the brunt of the explosion’s shockwave from the back, head to tailbone. Between those two points, everything had been bruised. It was, he figured, like hitting the water after jumping off a bridge except it had been done very, very slowly. Not a hard drop, but a drop all the same. He’d seen his skin in the mirror. He was an all-over indigo blue.
“What?” Daniel asked, appearing with a food tray that held soup, orange juice, and pills.
“The usual,” Jack said.
Daniel set the tray on the dresser and grabbed the juice and pills. “Here.”
Jack took the pills. A painkiller, an antibiotic, and two steroids. “Shit.”
Daniel gave him a sympathetic nod. “I know. It’ll hurt—”
Jack grimaced as he swallowed the rest of the juice. His diaphragm hurt. He didn’t understand how the hell his diaphragm hurt. “No, that’s not what ‘shit’ was for.”
“What then?” Daniel asked, fussing with the bed covers.
“Stop that,” Jack said and tossed a roll of socks at him. He’d been doing laundry before this latest mission and hadn’t cleaned off the bed entirely. “It’s about the time it’ll take to heal.” He gestured between them. “Do you realize it’s abstinence time?”
Daniel sat down at the foot of the bed and grimaced. “Yeah. But healing is more important.”
“Sure, but c’mon. When it gets to the point where you’re just sore everywhere but no longer in danger of making it worse just by exertion, that’s when we’re gonna be tempted.”
Daniel sighed. “What’re you getting at?”
“We make a pact. No monkey business until I’m completely healed.”
Daniel’s mouth curved up at one corner. “Think you can stick to that?”
“Which is why we make a pact,” Jack said, a serious frown line forming. “I’m horrible about following medical orders.” Daniel grinned. “You’re not. So I need you to say ‘no’ when the time comes.” Jack made a face. “No pun intended.”
Daniel raised a hand and began. “I solemnly swear that I will refrain from getting up to no good.” He then crossed two fingers of the upraised hand. “I promise.”
Jack eyed him. “Daniel.”
With a heaving, put-upon sigh, Daniel uncrossed his fingers and repeated the spiel. “I promise,” he finished.
“Great,” Jack said sourly. “Now, grab my phone. I need to call Hammond and ask him if Teal’c can come by to be my babysitter. You need to go away.”
Daniel’s mouth dropped open as he stared at Jack, but after a moment’s thought, he snapped it shut and handed Jack his phone. “This is gonna be hard.” He paused. “Uh, no pun intended.”
“There’s gonna be a lot of ‘no pun intended’ innuendo for the next sex …” He grimaced and swore. “Six to eight weeks.”
Daniel nodded, then backed out of the room, made a face, and said, “Shit.”
“Exactly!” Jack shouted.