PR765 32 is a world that I would prefer not to visit again. The Tau’ri are an inquisitive race. Their enquiring eagerness to investigate the gamut of newly discovered Stargates is unsurpassed in my experience, and DanielJackson surely is the most inquisitive of his species. A fact for which he has paid. He is also stubborn; it would be easier if he would allow me to carry him.
He looks up at me, as I brace him against my hip and support him with an arm around his shoulders.
“You should help Jack,” he protests.
“Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow.” O’Neill is very vocal. The fact that he is whining tells me that it is not serious.
We had come to this world which had been ravaged by war and was subsequently, sterile. A single temple that had been abandoned for many centuries was the only building in close proximity to the Stargate. We had, of course, entered. Only one pillar in the centre of the room bore symbols that promised answers to the young linguist. DanielJackson had been as enthusiastic as ever. With badly concealed anticipation, he had darted across the stone paved floor to the pillar. O’Neill had dogged his heels. So when the trapdoor beneath their feet triggered, they plummeted into the pit below. DanielJackson landed on Colonel O’Neill.
Captain Samantha Carter had been most impressed with the Colonel’s words, saying that they had turned the air blue. I saw no evidence of this.
Luckily, the pit was relatively shallow. But Colonel O’Neill’s ribs are most likely cracked as is Daniel Jackson’s ankle.
“We’re almost there,” Captain Carter calls out encouragingly.
A pain filled grunt and Daniel Jackson folds beneath me.
“Daniel!” O’Neill yanks himself away from Captain Carter and stumbles to our side.
“It’s all right.” DanielJackson’s expression belies his words; he is as white as the milk that he puts in his gadfuui coffee.
“I will carry you,” I state, implacable. Before the injured O’Neill can help and harm himself further, I scoop DanielJackson up in my arms and stand.
“Aw, no,” he protests, as his arms automatically grip my neck. “I can walk.”
“Yeah, right,” O’Neill says sardonically.
Tau’ri pride is so very strange. It is no disgrace to require aid from one’s comrades-in-arms. DanielJackson is more sensible than most; he settles and tightens his grip around my neck, else his squirming sets me off balance.
“Aren’t I too heavy? I mean, wouldn’t it be easier to help me along?”
“You are not heavy. I am
“Oh, does the…uhm… symbiote strengthen you?”
“The larval Goa’uld confers immunity to
disease and healing.” I was First Prime to Apophis --
I have carried loads longer and further in his service. As a free
He keeps very still, determined to be no further burden. “You know, this really isn’t necessary. If you found me a stick or something?”
He has the grace to look embarrassed as he views the devastated landscape.
The scholar subsides into silence, a rare event. We make good time with Colonel O’Neill’s dry humour propelling us along.
At the DHD, Samantha Carter enters the co-ordinates, and as one, we enter the shimmering wormhole.
“Incoming travellers: SG-1.”
The alert sets the watchers at rest. Over the speaker comes the command, “Medical team to the embarkation room.”
“Please!” DanielJackson hisses. He wriggles, insistent on being set upon his feet. With the team, he submitted to being carried. In the presence of the others he demands to stand. Knowing that the scholar is at times unsure of his position in the facility, and of the military staff that man it, I gently lower him. He balances precariously on one foot, gripping my sleeve with both hands.
We are overrun by white-garbed sadists: Colonel O’Neill’s designation for the medical team. Protesting loudly the colonel is laid upon a gurney and propelled from the room. Carter hides a wide smile behind her hand as she trots after him.
DanielJackson, seeming reluctant, releases my sleeve and drapes his arms over the shoulders of two nurses. I stand watching for a moment as he hobbles from the room, centering myself. If the pit had been several meters deeper, DanielJackson and Colonel O’Neill would be lost to us. I will need to meditate to regain my equanimity.
But for now, I shall see how my comrades fare.
“Oh, for crying out loud, they’re cracked ribs – I don’t need to stay overnight for observation.”
“And where did you get your medical degree, Colonel O’Neill?” Dr. Fraiser asks pithily.
“The School of Hard Knocks,” he counters.
The doctor taps the x-ray of Colonel O’Neill’s ribs hanging on a light box beside the bed. “Three cracked ribs. But you’ve got a little fluid on your lung.” Her finger trails over a cloudy patch on the picture. “You’re staying overnight so I can assess you. The last thing you need is pneumonia. You’d do yourself the world of good if you gave up smoking.”
O’Neill sags backward, planting his head on his pillow and sighs at the ceiling.
“It’s all your fault, Danny.”
DanielJackson sitting on the other bed in the treatment room, looks down at his hands, clasped together on his lap. “Sorry, Jack,” he intones miserably.
“Colonel O’Neill, it was an accident,” I utter.
“I know that.” He thumps the mattress, frustrated. Then, mercurially, he changes tack. “How’s the ankle, Danny.”
“It’s fine,” the young doctor responds automatically.
“It’s broken,” Dr. Fraiser interrupts. She thrusts another x-ray onto the light box. I can see a long crack running along one of the smaller bones. “Luckily, it’s not displaced; it’s a good thing you didn’t try and walk on it – or you’d be looking at surgery. You’ve also got a nice sprain.”
Indeed, there is a rainbow of colours running up and down the length of his ankle. They had to cut the boot away from his foot.
“So does he get to stay the night?” O’Neill questions cheerfully.
“No. Not if someone goes home with him.”
The scholar lifts his head, his brow furrowed. “I don’t…”
“No.” The doctor waves her finger under his nose. “You keep off of that foot or else. You’ll need some help.”
I try to interpret Colonel O’Neill’s expression. Strangely, it vacillates between glee and dismay. He realises that I am watching him. He cocks his head to the side, imparting a message. I fail to understand it.
“But…I haven’t got…” DanielJackson says weakly. “Jack…would… normally…”
I finally understand, and I speak, “I will take care of DanielJackson.”
O’Neill scowls at me, but beneath his façade he is smiling “So I’m gonna be all on my own?”
“What about Jack?” DanielJackson protests.
“Ben & Jerry’s for the walking wounded.” A veritable whirlwind, Captain Carter enters the infirmary. She holds two buckets of…Ben & Jerry’s… I do not understand.
“Yes!” O’Neill holds out his arms, his hands grasping. “Gimme. Daniel can’t have any ‘cos he can’t walk.”
“Yeah? I thought that it was just a sprain.”
“No, it’s broke.” DanielJackson pouts; his expression not unlike that of a young child.
“Oh, no, Daniel. And colonel, are you?”
“Oh, I’m fine. I’ll be out of here in no time…”
“If you behave yourself,” Dr. Fraiser says crisply. She gestures to a nurse to help DanielJackson from his gurney and into a wheelchair.
“What’s happening to Daniel?” Samantha Carter demands.
“We’re just going to fit him with a cast.”
“Ugh.” O’Neill grins. “Casts. First the padding will start to itch, then it’ll get damp, and then it will start to smell.”
DanielJackson looks absolutely horrified as he is rolled out of sight.
“You know,” he calls out, “until I joined SG-1 the worst that happened to me was a black eye.”
“What about Ra? He killed you!” O’Neill yells
“Colonel!” Captain Carter looks appalled.
O’Neill is unrepentant. “It was pre-SG-1.”
“Okay, before I met you!” DanielJackson’s voice is heard clearly from the other treatment room.
O’Neill shrugs, he grabs one of Captain Carter’s Ben & Jerry’s. I lean forwards, intrigued. There is a spoon glued in a transparent folder on the side of the cardboard tube. O’Neill opens the container and simply smiles. “Ah, Chunky Monkey – yum.”
“It is ice cream.” I have tried this substance in the canteen – it is bland and slimy. I would not eat something called ‘Chunky Monkey’; it does not engender confidence in the product.
The Tau’ri are so very strange.
“Look!” Ensconced in his wheelchair, DanielJackson is propelled from the treatment room by a nurse who shares my stature. He points at his ankle, gleefully.
“Aw, no, that’s not fair,” O’Neill protests.
“It’s much better than a plaster of paris cast. It won’t smell.”
His ankle is wrapped in layers of gauze, but rather than the white solid that I had seen a member of another SG team wear when he had broken a limb, DanielJackson has a black brace of fabric and buckles.
“I wanted to write on his cast.”
“Sorry,” Dr. Fraiser says indifferently. “His ankle’s swelling too much.”
She takes over from her nurse and pushes DanielJackson’s wheelchair in my direction. “Here’s your charge. Sam can entertain Colonel O’Neill.” She withdraws a bottle of tablets from her jacket pocket and hands them to me. “Painkillers. He should take two every six hours. They’re also anti-inflammatory. No more than eight in twenty four hours. When you get home, ice his ankle. He’s to keep off of that ankle until the weekend. I’ll drop by with some crutches on Saturday.”
I ponder the instructions, then nod gravely.
I will do my duty.
“Sorry, Teal’c, but that’s not what the good doctor meant,” DanielJackson gamely withholds a smile.
I stand holding the bucket of ice and water that I have chipped out of his ice-making machine.
“And what do you believe she meant?”
“Well, ice in a plastic bag or something, I guess.”
“That is not efficient.”
I kneel at his side. He is propped up on his couch, and his foot is elevated on a cushion.
“What are you going to do?”
He views me with a great deal of trepidation as I deftly resituate him so he sits normally on the couch, feet on the floor. I scrutinise the buckles on his brace for a moment, then remove it and the wrap from around his swollen ankle.
“I don’t think you’re supposed to do that,” he says nervously.
“The bone will remain stable, if you do not stand. We need to reduce the swelling.” He goes quite pale when I lower his foot into the icy water.
I cannot translate his words. Or more accurately, I will not translate his words. They are very rude… but not directed at me.
His expression is pinched, highlighting his blue eyes and the dark patches beneath them. The scholar has been working too many late nights at the mountain facility. This time should be used efficiently to allow him to recoup his strength.
I tuck a cushion under his knee, allowing his damaged foot to dangle in the bucket of water. He needs food and sleep in that order. I will assess the invalid’s supplies.
“I will return.”
“Why does that sound like a threat?” he mutters.
I gauge his kitchen area. There is no food in the cooling device. There is mouldy bread in a wooden box. A wealth of food in cans fills the cupboards, and there is a multitude of packaged goods.
There is plenty of coffee
But no fresh food.
So be it: I will – as Samantha Carter would say – go shopping.
The scholar insisted. I would have undertaken this chore myself, but he was determined to join me. Luckily, the airman who drove us to the apartment left the wheelchair.
I push him along the sidewalk as he comments
on everything. Apparently we are in an area on the edge of little
“Dr. Daniel! What happened?” An old wrinkly Tau’ri scuttles out of a doorway. Apophis
culls the old and weak slaves in his domain. The larval Goa’uld confers long
life amongst the
“I fell at work, Mrs Del Vecchio.”
“And who is this?” she demands, squinting at me. “Why’s he wearing that silly hat?”
“This is Teal’c…”
“What sort of name is that?” Her eyes are like little black beads of jet. I suspect that they miss nothing. The deep, wrinkly crevices around her eyes only serve to give her the appearance of Anubis. Her claw-like hands grip the bulbous head of her cane as it taps angrily on the pavement.
“It is the name that my parents gave me.”
“Good answer,” she declaims, her finger pokes my chest. “Uhm, you’re firm.”
I admit, I have to struggle to answer that one. “I work out.”
DanielJackson leans back in his wheelchair and catches my eye, his lips are pursed as he vainly attempts to hold back his laughter.
“Teal’c. Teal’c. Teal’c,” she tries the name on her tongue. “You looking after my Daniel? He doesn’t look after himself. Bright boy, but thick as two short planks. You meet people like that. Intelligent but not wise. I’m allowed to be an insomniac; I’m ninety-two. There I’ll be at three in the morning getting a cup of warm milk… and maybe a little amaretto – but don’t tell my husband – and his lights are on. I can see him--” she points at the scholar’s apartment window, “--working away. When he should be asleep. And he’s always bruised. What does he do at work? He’s always hurting himself. Look at him, he’s a little peaky.”
Her fingers dart out and pinch DanielJackson’s cheek.
The scholar winces-a-smile.
“DanielJackson is in my care. We are purchasing food as there is none in his apartment.”
“You’re not from around here are you, son?” she says astutely.
“You are correct; I am not.”
“I wish my boys were as well spoken. But Michael Angelo’s almost sixty and he’s so set in his ways. Although my littlest great-great-grandchild’s a sweetie. Food, eh? Come, come, come…” She beetles into the shop from which she emerged, beckoning.
“She sells food, DanielJackson?”
“This is Little Italy, Teal’c. Prepare to be amazed.”
I have with Colonel O’Neill shopped in the giant market in which there is no bartering and all the food is within plastic packages and tastes as such. The aisles in this shop are haphazard. A wealth of smells greet my senses. There are herbs and aromatics wafting on the air. Cured meats and cheeses lie in a refrigerated cabinet, their colours enticing. Vegetables are stocked in boxes and cooling compartments on the floor.
“This is an inside market. This appears to be real food.”
“How does it work on Chulak?” DanielJackson asks curiously. “Surely you mass produce food?”
I pick up a perfect apple and roll it over my fingers.
“The food is grown by the farmers and given to the False Gods as tithe. There are worlds devoted to the production of food. The excess – that the Goa’uld do not require – is sold by the farmers in markets.”
“Ah feudal. I guess I knew that already.” He leans over to the side in his wheelchair and plucks a sheaf of bananas from a crate. “Cuts out the middle man which will increase efficiency. What about mass production?”
“I do not understand the question.”
“Using genetically modified species and pesticides with herbicides to increase production?”
“The Goa’uld insist on food that contains no poisons. You deliberately poison your food?” I ask horrified. Is that why all the food in the command centre tastes so bland and vile?
“It’s not poisoning. Well, not really. If we didn’t use pesticides, there wouldn’t be enough food to feed the hungry. It’s to increase production. Sometimes there’s too much food, but then we have problems getting the food to the hungry. I guess that doesn’t make sense. The supply can outweigh the demand, but in some places the demand outweighs the supply. There are a lot of economics involved.” He pauses for a moment. “How do the Goa’uld manage food?”
“Populations are kept small. Those in excess of the food supply… starve.”
“I knew I hated the Goa’uld,” the scholar
says with cold, calm anger. Abruptly he looks at me with a piercing gaze. I
feel as if the archaeologist is reading my very soul. “I’ve spent a lot of time
in different countries--” the fact that he visits other planets is left unsaid,
“--When I was on
I wait patiently for him to make his point.
“What do you miss, Teal’c?”
“I do not understand the question,” I say
flatly. I stare at him; the point is moot. I am a warrior and
Colonel O’Neill has obtained me credentials, the equivalent of the brand upon my forehead. He informed me that I was now a member of society, but he would not tell me what society. The card with the metal strip is a card of credit. I use it instead of barter. On Chulak, as First Prime of Apophis, I ate as a member of his household. Money was not an object.
The mistress squints at my golden card, she raises an eyebrow. “Son, have you ever bought food before?”
No, my treasured Dray’ac placed fare upon my table when I did not serve at the False God’s side.
“Bachelors,” she says with succinct vehemence. “I know Daniel can cook, can you?”
“I can – which is why I require flour and yeast.”
“I sell bread,” she says dryly, her claw like hand points at a cornucopia of brown and white bread, some touched with dark dots and others glistening with a hard shiny coating. There is an array of sizes from small balls to long sticks.
“I would prefer bread that is robust.” I crane my head to the side and study this birdlike woman. There is the reflection of sage humour in her voice and eyes. She is filled with the humour that comes with experience. The humour of age watching youth struggle with the obvious. She is enjoying herself at our expense, but she is not cruel.
“Why aren’t such nice boys like you married?”
“I am married,” I intone. “As is DanielJackson.”
That overturns her line of thought. She considered us to be children, even though in some cultures children can marry. And I am – emphatically – not a child. DanielJackson, however, displays many of the characteristics of a child. He is innocent and naïve, intrigued by the new, enthusiastic about the unknown. But then he displays the perspicacity of an old soul, somehow untrammelled by the experiences of his lives.
DanielJackson’s expression is shuttered. I caused the pain that I see behind his patently false façade. I took his beloved. I chose his love for Apophis. I hurt him; I hurt this innocent.
“Married,” she repeats softly. She is insightful. The less astute would believe that the scholar’s sudden paleness is due to his injuries. “How about I get my grandson to put together a box of all the things that you’d need for a week plus a few extras?” Her effort to change the subject is deliberate, her offer courteous and appreciated.
“That will be acceptable.” I hand her the card of credit.
The scholar remained silent during the trip back to his apartment. My words were unwise. He smiled up at me tiredly as I resituated him back on the couch with his injured ankle raised on a bed of cushions. I have apologised for my actions in Apophis’ name with respect to Sha’re, and DanielJackson has insisted that he forgives me. I believe him, but that does not mean that it does not hurt.
Consulting the kitchen clock, I determine that it is time for DanielJackson’s second dose of painkillers. Perhaps the wounds of his heart will pain him less if the wounds of his being are numbed? I gave my word to Dr. Fraiser that I would take care of the scholar.
I cross to his side, holding two of the analgesic tablets and a glass of water.
“Hey, Teal’c.” He blinks up at me tiredly. His face screws up as he sees the painkillers. But he does not protest, taking the tablets. The damage must – indeed – pain him.
“Should I take them on an empty stomach?” Before I can protest, he has gulped them down, followed by a mouthful of water.
He winces and shuffles down on the couch. “You know, you don’t have to stay here, Teal’c.”
“Dr. Fraiser deliberately did not give you crutches to ensure that you rest your body and to prevent further damage to your ankle – you require assistance.”
He looks at me over his glasses, his hair drooping in his eyes. “Will you pass over the phone? I’d like to call SGC to check on Jack.”
DanielJackson has succumbed to the painkillers and the rich broth that Mistress Del Vecchio supplied for our meal. He attempted to write in his journal, but his head began to nod, then the stylus fell from his lax hand and the book to the floor. Then with a delicate sigh, he slipped into sleep.
I gently lift the pillows from behind his back, allowing him to lie flat upon the couch. I carefully remove his glasses. His brow furrows, but he does not wake. I know that he is deeply asleep when he tucks his hands tight against his chest, folding them together. He always sleeps in this manner on missions. I stand for a moment, contemplating my next step. He would be more comfortable in his bed, but I would not be able to move him without waking him.
I decide to leave him on the couch, but retrieve his thick quilt from his bedroom. I tuck the comforter around his body, ensuring that his foot remains free. I doubt that he will sleep for very long; as soon as he attempts to turn over, his damaged foot will awaken him or he will fall from the narrow couch. With this thought in mind, I position a hard-backed chair beside his temporary bed, effectively hemming him in.
I stand once again contemplating my charge. All is as it can be. I pick up the journal and set it aside within the scholar’s easy reach along with his glasses. I will occupy myself productively while DanielJackson sleeps. I will gauge the supplies that Mistress Del Vecchio delivered and prepare a nourishing repast for the evening meal.
A light tapping interrupts my preparation. As I cross to the hall towards the entrance door, I note that the knocking had not disturbed my charge.
Captain Carter stands at the threshold.
“He sleeps.” I hold my finger to my lips
She nods and tiptoes theatrically into the scholar’s home. Her expression is soft as she peers into the main room to observe the sleeping DanielJackson.
“Aw, doesn’t he look cute,” she whispers.
I deign not to respond to that comment. “How fares Colonel O’Neill?”
“Bellyaching something chronic. He is not a happy camper.” She grins. “I thought I’d drop by and see how Daniel’s doing.”
“He is doing fine.”
“I see that.” Her smile is luminous.
I nod respectfully, acknowledging that she considers me adept at caring for our wayward scholar. She tiptoes across the Persian carpet, practically holding her breath, wending her way in-between the clutter of the scholar’s existence. She stands head held to the side, quiet, as she studies DanielJackson. He is still fast asleep; his breathing deep and even. His long hair falls across his brow, shifting as he breathes. He is sleeping peacefully.
Smiling, Captain Carter creeps to my side. “Probably best not to disturb him.”
I nod. “I require your assistance in the kitchen.”
She blinks at me. “Why?”
“I do not understand some of the instructions on the book of recipes; I require guidance.”
“Mhh.” She ponders for a heartbeat. “I’m not really very good in the kitchen.”
“Perhaps then, together we can determine what is needed.”
I stride towards the kitchen, knowing that she follows.
“I suppose it can’t be that complicated,” she mutters, fearfully.
“What are you making?” Captain Carter views my preparations with horror.
I have placed all the ingredients on the counter in preparation for cooking. The cookbook with the instructions sits in a position of honour on the centre of the kitchen table.
“Twice-baked Roquefort Soufflés.”
I have seen less fear on her face when encountering Goa’uld Deathgliders.
“Why?” she asks, tentatively.
“I have ingredients suitable for making this dish.”
“Er,” she lifts and smells the cheese. “I’ve never made a soufflé. I’ve heard that they are really difficult. They flop or something if you don’t get it right.”
She paws through the ingredients that I have laid out. “You’ve got cheese and eggs and milk. Why don’t you make an omelette? It’s a lot easier.”
“I wish to make something with taste.”
“Well, if you make it with Roquefort, I think it’s going to taste pretty good.” She opens the cupboards and peers inside. “Whoa; you have been shopping!”
“It was necessary; the cupboards were bare.”
“And the poor little doggy had none?” She shakes her head before I can ask what she means. “It’s a child’s nursery rhyme, Teal’c. It doesn’t matter.”
I dismiss her words. The Tau’ri are so very fond of talking in metaphor and simile, I have learned to try to not take them so literally. Albeit at times it is difficult and confusing to do so as the thread of my native tongue had no room for poetry and imagery only cause and effect. I will learn their language. I dismiss my thoughts as I have other, more immediate, concerns. “So be it: the first course will be an omelette.”
“And the second course?” Her face is filled with trepidation.
I gesture to the bench beside the cooker, where I have laid the ingredients for the second course. “The place from which we purchased the food was of Italian origin, I plan to prepare food of that culture.”
“And you’re making?” She holds up a ripe tomato.
I consult my cookery book. “Meatballs with Spaghetti and Fresh Tomato Sauce.”
She chews her bottom lip. “From scratch?”
“From scratch?” I ask, perplexed.
“Making it from the basic ingredients?”
“Of course.” I hold up the mortadella.
She shoots a furtive glance at the clock upon the kitchen wall. It is .
“Are you planning on making dessert?”
“Yes.” I point to the apples, cinnamon and sugar beside the fridge. “Spiced Apple Muffin Cake with Pecan Streusel Topping.”
“Oh…” There is something close to humour on her face, she begins to roll up the sleeves of her shirt. “I suppose we better get started then.”
A clatter disrupts our work. I abandon the chopping board and make haste to the main room. DanielJackson is sprawled across the floor, lying amidst a toppled pile of books. He is tangled in his quilt.
“Are you injured?” I rush to his side and crouch down.
“No, no, no,” he sounds disgusted as he rolls onto his side. “I just took a tumble.”
Carter joins us. Together we lift and manoeuvre him to back to his nest on the couch.
“Ack, I’m okay. I thought I could hobble to the bathroom. Oh, hi Sam.” He winces and clasps his calf. “Why couldn’t Janet let me have a stick or something?”
“To prevent you doing just this,” I observe. “You are confined to the couch; to rest your ankle and your body.”
His face twists. “And how do I get to the bathroom, hmm?”
“With my assistance.” Before moving him I assess his ankle. It is still badly swollen. After he has relieved himself, I will need to determine if he has damaged his ankle further. But first the bathroom.
Knowing that he will object to being carried, I ensure that he does not fall as he hops across his main room to the bathroom. We shuffle our way around his piles of books and artefacts strewn haphazardly on stools and upon the floor. The amount of clutter he has amassed in a few short weeks of inhabiting the apartment is phenomenal. I fail to understand how he can work in this chaos. Yet it does not detract from his studies.
At the doorway he looks at me warily. “I can manage.”
His cheeks colour as he glances at Captain Carter.
I hold back a sigh; even my son Ry’ac is not this perverse. “Leave the door ajar.”
He nods once, his head tucked down and hops into the bathroom.
Captain Carter bites her bottom lip, quelling a smile. “Hmm.” She points to the kitchen. “I’ll go and check on the tomato sauce.”
She dashes away, knowing that I will wait upon DanielJackson emerging from the bathroom. Then I will confine him to the couch. Perhaps a book or two will keep him still and content? Somehow, I doubt it. I will need to finish preparing the evening meal. If DanielJackson insists on hopping around his apartment I will have to clear the floor and fold away the Persian rug, else he fall and break his neck.
DanielJackson is sulking. I informed him in no uncertain words that if he left the couch again I would tie him to it. Several times over the past hour he has limped into the kitchen to see what we are doing. The Tau’ri’s curiosity is insatiable. His ankle has swollen further. He is at this moment sitting with his foot immersed in icy water. I did, however, give him the remote for the television device; perhaps it will be sufficiently mindless to put him to sleep.
“He’s had his foot in the water for twenty minutes,” Captain Carter notes. She is putting the final touches on the muffin cake.
I nod, conceding her point. I retrieve a towel and stride into the main room. DanielJackson has not moved an inch. He gazes up at me truculently, then a sheepish smile graces his face.
“My foot’s really cold, Teal’c.”
“It is necessary.”
Wincing, he slowly withdraws his foot from the bucket. The bruising is now more severe, colours dark and broody run along the side of his foot and up the outside of his ankle. He bites his lip as I gently take his foot onto my lap and pat it dry. It obviously pains him as the colour drains from his face.
He closes his eyes and takes in a shuddering breath. “Almost finished, Teal’c?” he asks lightly. The gritting of his teeth belies his effort to sound unconcerned and in control.
“Yes.” I slowly wrap his ankle in gauze, supporting the broken foot.
He breathes a sigh of relief as I lay his braced foot on a pillow. There are a few beads of perspiration on his forehead. Obviously holding back another sigh, he leans back on his pillows. He brings his palm up, presses it against his forehead, and states, “I don’t want to do that again, Teal’c.”
“Perhaps it will be necessary to ice your foot once more before you retire for the evening.”
“What if I promise to stay off it?” he bleats.
“That may keep the swelling down.”
“You win, Teal’c.” He droops. “I’ll stay on the couch. Promise.”
“That was not punishment.” I stand as I fold the towel. “If you had remained still you would not have injured your ankle further. If the swelling does not go down, I will ice your foot again. I merely state that if you remain still and rest, it is more likely that you will recover more quickly.”
That is perhaps the longest statement I have made to the scholar.
“Yes, Teal’c, you win.”
“This is not a battle,” I reiterate.
He crosses his arms and leans back on his pillows. His expression puts me in mind of my son Ry’ac when given chores.
I am a warrior. I have been trained in the Art of War since I left my mother’s breast. My father was also a First Prime as was my Grandfather and Grandfather’s sire. The scholar is not a warrior. That he cannot take orders is a source of much consternation and perplexity. All instructions have to couched in example, illustration and reason. He does not accept the orders of those more experienced. It is very frustrating.
But it is his very nature that makes him valuable. That the Tau’ri nurture creativity and independent thought is beyond belief. It is amazing. I cannot keep up with the speed at which DanielJackson thinks. To see this… excellence… in one that has not been slated for a host is unique. But, I am aware, that with his allergies DanielJackson would have been deemed unsuitable and disposed of without due thought. The False Gods would have squandered a valuable resource.
I am so very clinical that I am disgusted with myself.
I realise that he is looking up at me with something close to consternation on his mobile face.
“I don’t mean to be difficult, Teal’c. I don’t… I don’t,” he stammers, as is his wont when emotionally upset, “but this is… is… uhm… I don’t mean to be difficult. I just don’t handle being left out – very well.”
“We are only cooking.” I deliberately firm my expression. He looks at me like a transfixed Krel’shu. “You will remain on the couch. I will send in Captain Carter to keep you abreast of developments as they occur.”
He nods frantically, the beginning of humour glimmering in his eyes. I head towards the kitchen. I pause at the entrance.
“You will remain on the couch.” I resist the temptation to hold out my finger threateningly.
There is now definite humour in his eyes. He thumps back on his mound of pillows too enthusiastically and subsequently winces. Making a deliberate effort he relaxes, picks up the remote, and begins to click aimlessly through the channels on the television.
I feel nauseated; he never stays on one long enough to track the thread of the scene let alone the program.
I return to the kitchen. I suspect that he will be quiet for half an hour at most.
“Warning: Archaeologist - Dangerous When Bored,” Captain Carter declares.
“Feed him, get a couple of these horse pills down his throat, and he’ll quiet down.” She rattles his prescribed painkillers.
A sound gathers my attention. I cock my head to the side as I listen. Is he bored already? No, I hear the sound of O’Neill’s voice. The scholar has once again called the colonel on his telephone.
If I were vindictive, I would hope that Doctor Fraiser is finding Colonel O’Neill just as troublesome.
“Oh, that was so good. If I eat another bite, I’ll burst.”
Surely not… I believe that he is exaggerating.
“Thanks, Teal’c. Thanks, Sam. You’ve outdone yourselves.” He leans back on the couch and rubs his stomach. “That was so good.”
“Teal’c did all the work.” Captain Carter pauses half way through her second helping. I am satisfied that they did indeed appreciate the food; I have never seen them eat so much while on missions. The food was, and I admit it freely, good. The larval Goa’uld within me shifts, snuggling up against the mui’te teat – it is replete. I do not communicate with the symbiote, but I am aware when it is content.
“Poor Jack.” DanielJackson appears awkward. “Here we are stuffed to our gills, and he’ll be subsisting on hospital issue jello.”
“Teal’c put some aside for the colonel. I thought I’d go back to SGC and check on an experiment and stay over. The meatballs will heat up and the cake. The omelette might be a bit strange, though.”
I take the tray from the scholar’s lap. Captain Carter bounces to her feet to assist me, bringing her own tray. DanielJackson starts to move then thinks better. He subsides with a pointed glance at his foot. I note that it is time for his next dose of analgesic.
While Captain Carter begins to wash our utensils and plates, I portion out his next dose. He accepts the painkillers without complaint, no doubt trying to prevent further application of the ice. I have already decided that further palliative measures are required; once the painkillers have taken effect and the good food has made him drowsy – we shall ice his ankle.
It is . I sought the peace of meditation, but it eluded me. Captain Carter left circa with packages of food for the ailing Colonel O’Neill. When I approached Daniel with the ice, he objected strongly. I was resolute, and he was stubborn. We would still be at an impasse if we had not negotiated a middle ground. I do believe that it is the first time I have compromised myself.
I think perhaps that I have the phraseology wrong? I will need to ask the scholar in the morning.
DanielJackson desired a shower before retiring for the night. I believed that this was unwise, given his total lack of balance. I wished to apply ice to his ankle. He stated that he would rather break his other ankle.
I assisted a blushing DanielJackson in the shower. He is a very pasty white under his clothes and the blue threads of veins are most disconcerting. I am similarly dark all over. Once he was clean enough to satisfy his demands, we returned to the couch, and I iced his ankle.
He went to bed soon after that.
I rise from my meditation and pad to DanielJackson’s sleeping room. He sleeps upon his back, his foot poking from the bottom of the quilt. His lips move as he mutters abstrusely. I catch the occasional word: Jack; Skaara and little green men. The latter I do not understand. But he dreams, and they disturb his rest. I cross the room to stop at the edge of the bed. The room is too dark for me to determine if DanielJackson’s toes have turned blue, an indicator of as Doctor Fraiser warned me of ‘complications.’ But, as I touch the toes of the scholar, I only sense warmth and life.
He mumbles. His fingers twitch. He is not curled up in a ball, his hands are not clasped against his chest; he is not sleeping easily.
It is time for more tablets. The doctor said no more than eight in twenty four hours. The scholar has only taken four.
I carry the bottle of painkillers in my fatigue pockets.
“DanielJackson, awaken. DanielJackson!”
“J’ck?” he mumbles. “No, Te’l. Wassa matter?”
“Open your mouth.”
“What? Why?” He scowls sleepily and purses his lips.
Nothing is easy with DanielJackson. He cannot take orders. If he protests, he will wake further and then it will be impossible to put him back to sleep.
“O’Neill says you must.”
“Since when’s that been a good reason?” He props himself on his elbows and blinks myopically.
“It is time for another dose of your analgesic.”
“Why didn’t you say that in the first place?” He opens his mouth, and I place the tablets upon his tongue.
Swallowing, he forces down the tablets. They evidently taste disgusting since his nose screws up. He fumbles blindly for the glass of water beside his bed. I intercept his hand and guide it to the glass. He gratefully washes away the taste.
“Why did you wake me up? I was asleep,” he asks, curious – there is no censure in his tone.
“You were not resting comfortably.”
He is waking up by degrees.
“How could you tell?”
“You were restless.” I place my hand upon his warm forehead and force his head back onto the pillow. “Go back to sleep.”
He bats idly at my hand.
“Sleep,” I intone.
“Not tired,” he says around a yawn. His eyes close, and he is already asleep.
I lift my hand from his forehead and retrieve the glass of water before it can spill. I watch for a moment. He grips the corner of the quilt, tucking it up against his chin. Ah, yes, he seeks comfort. When the analgesics begin to work, he will sleep more deeply.
I unfurl from my position on the couch opposite the television. Sesame Street is a most curious programme. I understand that it is for the education of children. There is a lot to be gleaned from the scenes. ‘Elmo’ reminds me of DanielJackson.
I enter the scholar’s sleeping chamber “You called.”
He flashes me a frankly sceptical look, yet all I asked was if he had called.
“You know, sometimes, I wonder…” His voice trails off. He gently thumps the mattress with a balled up fist. A wince runs across his mobile face.
“I tried to get out of bed, Teal’c,” he says plaintively, “but I’m all stiff.” He shifts, attempting to sit up. “Oh, man, I can’t move – I think I’m bruised from head to toe. Help me up, Teal’c.”
“Perhaps it would be more sensible to stay in bed. I am adept at massage; that will loosen seized muscles.”
He purses his lips and then hisses. “Bathroom – NOW!”
Ah. I dart forward and lever the archaeologist to his foot. Together we hop walk to the bathroom, with DanielJackson whimpering at every step.
This time he does not object to my assistance in the bathroom.
I support Daniel as he washes his hands. “Thanks, Teal’c.” He watches me through the reflection of the mirror above the bathroom sink.
“You are welcome.”
He blushes and ducks his head, then he twists on his good foot and slings a warm, pyjama clad arm over my shoulders.
“Bed,” I counter.
As we make our way to the main room, he punctuates our slow progress with comments.
“Why’s it hurting so much? I didn’t think I’d pulled any muscles.”
“You fell two metres. Colonel O’Neill is many things, but he is not soft.”
“Oh man, Jack must be feeling worse.”
He is silent as I lower him on the couch. Then he notices the active television. “Hey, what’s on?”
I am glad that my skin is sufficiently dark that any blush is hidden. “It is a children’s educational program.”
Indeed, that is no surprise.
DanielJackson waits with gritted teeth for the painkillers. I supply them with a cup of his favourite beverage.
“Once you have gained relief, I will massage your body.”
“Gee, thanks, Teal’c.”
I know that he is not sincere.
“It will increase your comfort.”
He is blushing again.
“You may,” I state serenely, “keep your cotton flannel pyjamas on.”
“That,” he says slowly, “would be nice.”
I will not shake my head in resignation. The Tau’ri stigma – is that the correct word? – cultural more with hiding their bodies is strange. Consider DanielJackson’s cotton flannel pyjamas. They are a sky blue and are covered in narrow stripes. They are also extremely large for his frame. The collar gapes around his neck. Why so large? I have noticed that many Tau’ri prefer their clothes to be baggy. Why? Why have clothes for sleeping? Why not have form-fitting clothes that do not ruck up when one twists in one’s sleep? Surely the creases are uncomfortable?
“Penny for your thoughts, Teal’c?”
“A monetary denomination… Although based on your expression a dollar would be more appropriate.
“I ponder upon something of no consequence.”
“You want to ask me?”
He shrugs at my terseness. “Well, you know if you have any questions. I… well… any questions, even if you think they’re silly, you can ask me. I won’t laugh, honest. And I don’t mind.” He peers up at me mutely, trying to impress upon me his sincerity.
“Thank you. I shall ask you when I deem the question to be of sufficient import.”
“Look, how about when I’m up on my feet we spend a day out of SGC?” DanielJackson brightens. “We can go see a ball game and get something to eat? I’ll show you a couple of the local museums. You can ask me all the questions you want.”
I incline my head, accepting his most generous offer.
“One moment, DanielJackson.”
I roll out the plush carpet that I peeled back yesterday afternoon. Perplexed, he watches my preparations through narrowed eyes. I acquire a pillow and quilt from his bedroom and lay them upon the Persian rug.
“You will lie upon the floor,” I direct.
“Excuse me?” His mouth drops open.
I bodily haul him onto the mat I have prepared. I ignore his whimpers as I begin a deep massage.
It is now , and DanielJackson is still wearing his pyjamas. Since the massage he has lain sprawled on the couch repeating, “Wow, I’m relaxed. You should go into business.”
Then he focuses on the cartoons playing incessantly on the television device. I will not even begin to consider the entertainment value of cartoons. At least the Street of Sesame was ed-u-cational.
The doorbell rings. DanielJackson does not react, lost in a lurid world of illustrated characters with the ability to fly, impossible body shapes and healing powers to rival that of the Goa’uld.
I answer. Colonel O’Neill waits impatiently and Captain Carter waits patiently.
“Are you well, O’Neill?” I enquire.
“Yeah.” The colonel pushes past me grimacing.
“Walking pneumonia,” Captain Carter mouths.
I cant my head to the side in unspoken question.
“It’s nothing,” O’Neill snaps then coughs. Holding his ribs, he shuffles into the main room. “Daniel!”
The archaeologist, who had been sprawled so comfortably on the couch, jerks upright. “Jack?”
“Why aren’t you dressed?” O’Neill sags into the armchair beside the couch. It sounds as if DanielJackson’s attire is an unpardonable sin.
“Oh, I’m working on it. It’s not as if I’m going anywhere, though. Teal’c won’t let me off the couch.” He pouts slightly. “Janet won’t give me any crutches until Saturday!”
O’Neill snorts and it turns into a cough.
“How are you?” DanielJackson asks solicitously, passing his half-filled coffee cup to his friend.
By pure dint of effort, O’Neill brings his coughing under control. He waves away the scholar’s offer of coffee.
“How’s your ankle?” the colonel directs attention away from himself, poorly.
DanielJackson takes a fleeting glance at his foot, propped so prominently on the bed of pillows. “It’s improved,” he says cagily.
“I think it wise to return to SGC and allow Dr. Fraiser to re-x-ray the limb,” I advise.
“No. No. No. No,” DanielJackson protests, “Look--” he points, “--the swelling’s gone down.”
“Spectacular bruising,” O’Neill comments.
“Wow, even your toes are bruised,” Captain Carter notes.
“Oh, hi, Sam. I didn’t see you there,” DanielJackson says cheerfully.
“The swelling has gone down.”
“See, Teal’c, Sam agrees; no second opinion is needed.”
“Hmmm.” I incline my head. “Coffee?”
“Oh, God, yes,” O’Neill gasps. “You won’t believe the crap that they gave me for breakfast.”
“Is the infirmary food as bad as I think it could be?” DanielJackson asks.
“Let’s keep it a surprise. I’m sure that you’ll find out eventually,” O’Neill says dryly.
I leave them bantering to prepare a new batch of coffee. I have taken DanielJackson’s instructions to heart: one dessert spoon per person rather than a teaspoon. Captain Carter joins me. She begins to hunt through the cupboards, no doubt in search of elusive chocolate. There is none. I can hear DanielJackson and Colonel O’Neill talking.
“Really, how’s the foot?”
“Come on, Danny. I’ve broken bones before…. Hurts like hell, doesn’t it?”
“Jack, it’s like someone stuck a red hot needle through my ankle, and they’ve wiggling it. It’s worse today.”
“The adrenaline’s worn off,” O’Neill says sagely.
“You’re relaxed. The natural endorphins have worn off. You know the body’s natural pain medicine. It always hurts worse the day after. You don’t need to function today, so your body can recoup its losses. It’s like standing down in warfare.”
“Oh?” DanielJackson changes the subject. “How’s the ribs?”
“They feel like someone’s fell on them.”
“Aw, Danny, it’s okay. It means that Dr. Fraiser found the walking pneumonia. I have to give up cigarettes, though.”
“I thought you had given them up?”
“I had the occasional medicinal one.”
“Well, yeah, it’s an addiction. Who wants to go cold turkey?”
“You said pneumonia.” DanielJackson latches onto the significant word. I suspect that it is a dangerous disease.
“Is that good or bad?”
At the query I raise my eyebrow in question to Captain Carter.
“Hey, I’m walking so it can’t be that bad.”
That is not an answer.
“How much time do you have off?” DanielJackson asks.
“A week. You’ll be off longer.”
“Are you allowed out on your own recognisance?” DanielJackson asks whimsically.
“I’m a big boy.”
“You can stay here,” DanielJackson offers.
Both of them? Here? Needing to remain quiet and unstressed?