THE DEVIL YOU KNOW
Sitting up in the infirmary bed, legs over the side, Daniel watched Jack sleep in the next bed. He lay on his side, facing him, face muscles twitching as he dreamed, and he wore a frown that could be associated with the pain he was in—the I.V. drip held only a mild painkiller. Jack didn’t want the heavy stuff because it brought him “whacky dreams.”
Daniel had opted for the semi-heavy ones, dreams be damned. They’d racked up the points in the ongoing—however ill-advised and disapproved of—Base Injury Pool, which Jack had nicknamed the Bi-plane Pool simply because Bi sounded too sexual to him. The man had mystifying issues. But the injuries weren’t, and they added up.
Severe muscle and nerve damage to Jack’s right quadriceps. Electrolyte imbalance because of that crap called Blood of Sokar. Severe dehydration thanks to the heat and lack of water, never mind all the residual sulfur in the prison’s cave compound. Mild concussions. Multiple contusions. And Major League PTSD.
All except Teal’c, who handled PTSD by denying its existence. Daniel knew that sooner or later, Teal’c would implode. Stoicism was a walking nightmare of delayed stress. Whatever set Teal’c off, it would likely involve family since that was the only subject that made him break rules—well, that and revenge. For now, though, he was a rock. Daniel envied him even the temporary sanity of stoicism.
He kept watching Jack. Every fiber in his being wanted to touch him, lay next to him, and feel his arms around him or wrap his own around that solid, wiry body. He thought of having Jack inside him. He couldn’t decide if that should be a slow, languorous movement or a hard, deep pounding of general abandonment. Daniel decided he wanted both because both were escapist-inducing. Just forget everything else and indulge in each other.
Unbidden, certain mental pictures came to him he didn’t want there. Apophis’ face. Apophis’ eyes. The cruel twist of his mouth. Daniel felt the hands of the Jaffa as if they were there in the infirmary with him. Every bit as real was the phantom feeling of tepid red liquid being forced into his mouth and down his throat. It had the faint taste of licorice. He had liked licorice. Anise. Not anymore. Anger rose within him, hating the fact of having something he liked permanently soured because of that psycho. But it wasn’t just that. It was his outlook, his mind, his feelings. They’d been invaded and twisted. Major League PTSD.
All of it would take a while to get over. If Hammond didn’t give them a lot of downtime for this, Daniel might just make the case that something would implode with the General’s favorite team. They needed to decompress. Badly. Sam would need time with her dad, who lay on his own bed across the ward. But thanks to Selmak, Jacob was recovering better. The man was sitting up in bed reading while Sam lay asleep in the bed beside him. Daniel wondered what he was reading and envied him for being able to concentrate. Perhaps that was the symbiote’s influence. Jacob’s reading made Daniel want his phone or a book from his office so he could do the same. There was nothing better to do until Janet cleared them to go home. But his phone was in his locker. Pointless to take it offworld.
Teal’c sat on the floor, eyes closed in kel-no-reem. He was by the cabinet with all the blankets because it was warm there, thanks to the heating unit behind the cabinet. Thinking about that made Daniel cold and he pulled the blanket up over his shoulders. It wasn’t enough. He shivered. Why were all infirmaries cold?
Daniel’s stomach growled, and he followed it up with one from his throat. Even Jell-O sounded good, which made him think of Sam. And Martouf. Now there was a match, in Daniel’s opinion. Jolinar may have been the one in love with Martouf/Lantash, but they seemed to fit. On the other hand, he knew Sam wouldn’t go there because she wasn’t sure who had the feelings. She’d told him in confidence that she couldn’t be with anyone because of that. It sucked. And wasn’t that a big kick in the privates. Daniel lay back down and pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes. His thoughts were all over the place.
“Daniel Jackson,” came Teal’c’s voice from the floor. The tone was quiet, but Teal’c had a voice that carried anyway. Deep, well-modulated. It put him at ease most of the time.
“Hey, Teal’c,” he said in the same soft tone, keeping his eyes closed.
“You cannot sleep?”
Teal’c got up and moved to stand between the two beds, hands clasped behind him. Daniel’s stomach growled again as he opened his eyes to look at the man and Teal’c gave a small smile. “You appear to be hungry.”
“You appear to state the obvious,” Daniel said, returning the smile. “Why aren’t you in your quarters practicing your Kel-no-reem there?”
“My place is here.” Because that’s where his friends were.
“Right,” Daniel said and pushed himself back up to sit, again swinging his legs over the side of the bed. He then slid to his feet. “I’m gonna head to the mess hall.”
“You are to remain here,” Teal’c said, though there was something of a questioning note to the statement.
“Yeah, well, I don’t see anyone bringing us something to eat.”
“I will get it for you,” Teal’c offered. “What would you prefer to eat?” Daniel grew dizzy and Teal’c put out an arm to stabilize him. “You need to lay down, Daniel Jackson.”
“Dammit.” Out of contrariness, Daniel sat back down instead. He wracked his brain for the topic they were discussing before he’d grown dizzy. His stomach reminded him. “To answer your food question, and given the time of night, Jell-O. Any kind. Unless they have cookies. And coffee.”
“You are not to have coffee,” Teal’c said. “I heard Doctor Fraiser mention it to one of the nurses.”
Daniel frowned. “Which means, presumably, that we were going to be fed and she was placing a restriction.” He looked around and said sarcastically, “I don’t see any food trays.”
“Perhaps they believe you are all asleep,” Teal’c surmised.
“Yeah, well, someone’s not doing their job,” Daniel said testily, and at Teal’c’s raised brow and because he realized what he’d said, along with the tone, he winced. “Sorry. That was uncalled for.”
“I believe you are suffering from post-traum—”
“Yeah, I know. PTSD. Good reason to get us home and out of their hair.” Teal’c frowned. “It’s an expression. It means—”
“Out from underfoot,” Jack mumbled.
Daniel gave him a wan smile Jack didn’t see because his eyes were closed. “Hey you.”
Jack made a growling noise.
“How are you feeling, O’Neill?” Teal’c asked.
“Hungry, now that Daniel’s been talking about food.”
“I will get you something,” Teal’c said, then turned slightly, paused, then continued his way out of the ward. He had a half-smile on his face.
“You made him happy,” Daniel said, the smile growing wider for a second before deflating. He just didn’t feel like it. Small ones were tolerable, but he really wanted to get up and rant while pacing. Except he had no energy. And his head hurt. Fucking Apophis.
“Whazzat?” Jack mumbled.
“Why aren’t you asleep?” Jack asked, cracking an eye open.
“I can’t,” Daniel said, not looking at him.
Jack’s eyes opened a little more as his brain began firing up. “Ah,” he said, knowing what the problem was. Daniel was angry and it was growing. He couldn’t blame him one bit. “Wanna hit the gym later?”
“No,” Daniel said. “I want to go home and … be active there.”
Jack gave a small grin too. “Ah,” he said, with a touch more emphasis.
“Ah,” Daniel parodied, with another tiny smile. Then it abruptly vanished. “You okay?”
“No,” Jack drawled. “Aside from the obvious, I’m starving. I say we order pizza.”
That brought a quick, wide smile from Daniel. “Yeah, uh, that sounds … actually, that sounds perfect. Except I don’t have my phone.”
“Mess Hall’s closed. Fraiser can just order us a couple. With Coke.”
“She’s restricting coffee. Probably the caffeine. I don’t think we’re allowed Coke either.”
“Figures,” Jack said grumpily. He pulled his blanket up around his ears. “It’s cold. Why the hell is this place always cold?”
“Was just wondering about that,” Daniel admitted, pulling his own blanket back up around his shoulders.
“Ski machine in the walls?”
“No,” Daniel said, trying not to smile.
Daniel fully grinned. Jack could do that. “Possibly.”
Then Jack said, his voice dull, but there was a hint of spice in there. “I want to kill a certain person.”
“Yeah,” Daniel agreed. It was so wrong. They were quiet, then Daniel offered, “Maybe he’s dead. Moon was blowing up.”
“They had that transport thing. And that guy’s got Bad Penny-itis.”
“Point,” Daniel groaned. “So, maybe we’ll get the chance.”
Jack seemed to study him. Daniel looked at the floor until Jack took Daniel’s original view. “Here’s hoping he’s saved us the bother.”
Daniel sighed, then fell onto his side, bringing his legs up on the bed, but his stomach made him sit back up. “Pizza. I’m gonna find Janet.”
He didn’t need to. She came in with a few clipboards.
“Janet, I’m starving.”
“And I’m freezing,” Jack complained. “Why’s this place always cold? And hospitals for that matter.”
“Yeah,” Daniel joined in.
“Because bacteria breeds in warm environments,” Janet said, looking at them with a frown. She decided they were mentally fatigued. They should’ve answered that question for themselves. “You can go home and eat, sleep. Repeat, as necessary. Lots of liquids. You’re dehydrated. No alcohol. Not for two weeks, at least.”
Jack groaned but didn’t argue. “Fair enough. And thank you. How long do we get?”
“A week,” she said.
“Wow?” Daniel said and definitely did not look at Jack.
“Nice,” Jack said, reluctant to move.
A nurse came up with a jug of orange Gatorade and two cups. Down the ward, another nurse was doing the same thing. “Here,” Janet said, handing the men a single pill each.
“What is it?” Daniel asked.
“Vitamin B-12,” Janet replied. “Wait half an hour before driving home. Then stay there. Drink a lot of Gatorade. Order it, too. Don’t go to the store. Go straight home.”
The men downed the tablets and Jack sat up, pushing the blanket off. He visibly shivered. “Please tell me you told Hammond? I’m not up for a debriefing.”
“He’s been informed. You’ll give your report in writing and over The Wire.”
The Wire was the SGC’s encrypted form of Skype.
“Okay. Thanks, Doc.”
“Yep,” she said, and went over to give Sam the same drill.
“A week,” Daniel said, finally meeting Jack’s eyes. “Eat and sleep.”
“And no …” Jack said and waved a hand between them.
They both sighed. Then Daniel asked Jack a question that had been bugging him for the last two days.
“Jack, do you really believe you’re going to hell?”
Jack frowned at him. “Where’d you get that?”
“You said it before we left for Netu.”
“You said, ‘I’m gonna end up there sooner or later. Might as well check out the place.’”
Jack went through his memories and vaguely recalled making the statement. Except it wasn’t a statement. It was a quip. Sarcasm.
“You’re obviously under too much strain or something,” Jack said, studying him, concerned. “I was joking, Daniel.”
Daniel frowned and tried not to feel annoyed. “I know you. I know your joking voice. That wasn’t it. You were serious.”
Jack sighed and wanted to put a stop to this entire line of thought. But Daniel was a dog with a bone sometimes. He formed an answer in his head, started to speak, but didn’t like the answer, so he tried again to frame it another way. It wasn’t working to his satisfaction. He glowered at Daniel instead.
“I’m a lapsed Catholic, if that’s what they call not having believed in that stuff for over twenty-odd years.” Daniel said nothing. Jack grew more annoyed.
They’d purposely avoided the religion discussion because things like that are explosive and end friendships, never mind relationships.
Jack got to his feet and made a face when his back twinged. He turned and called out to Janet, “Doc, we need some muscle relaxers or something.”
“Order Tiger Balm with the Gatorade,” she said, taking a few steps toward them so she didn’t have to shout. “Daniel, why don’t you stay with him. You can massage it in. Trust me, the stuff’s magical on its own.”
Daniel’s and Jack’s brows had gone up at her innocent suggestion. Unless it wasn’t innocent and she knew something she wasn’t ever going to say out loud. And was giving them cover. By accident, of course.
Daniel gave Jack a sly smile. “She’s right. It’s magical.” He groaned as he got to his feet. “You do me, I’ll do you. How’s that sound?”
Their eyes met for a few seconds too long. Daniel’s brows went up even more when Jack smiled mischievously.
“Not. One. Word,” Jack said.
Daniel held up his hands. “I wouldn’t dream.”
Jack gave a derisive snort. “Let’s go home.”