Jmas Fan Fiction

Title: Small Drops
Date: July 14, 2000
Status: Complete
Author: Jmas
Category: drama, angst, h/c
Rating: PG
Email: jmasg1@bellsouth.net

Disclaimer: Characters are property of MGM, etc.
Spoilers: Really vague one for the movie…teeny tiny one <three words> for Shades of Grey, teenier tinier one for Enigma…blink and you'll miss it. Aren't you proud of me?<g>
Summary: Life is lived in a series of small drops….
Author's note: A giftfic for Joyce on the occasion of the list's anniversary.
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Small Drops
by Jmas
******

Small drops of tears fell and soaked into Jack's shirt…a warm but welcome wetness on his shoulder reassuring him Daniel was still alive, still hanging on…

Small drops of blood seeped ever faster through Daniel's shirt and into Jack's already crimson-stained hands…

Small drops of life slipping away too, too quietly with only an occasional sighing breath to mark the knowledge unspoken but clearly understood between them…

Jack looked out into the dark night, hoping for the hundredth time to see lights returning, his own flashlight had faded and quietly died over an hour ago. Clinging tighter as another wave of pain spasmed through the too-warm body he held in his arms, Jack could almost feel the small drops of hope skittering away into the darkness.

What the hell was taking Carter and Teal'c so long?

Jack held Daniel tighter, wishing…as he had so long ago with Charlie…to take away his pain. But all he could offer were whispered words of incoherent comfort and small drops of salt mixing freely with all the others…

Jack felt his mind shift firmly into denial as Daniel stiffened yet again with pain then sagged…limp, unconscious…

'Thank God…don't know how much longer he could have stood it…'

Silence surrounded Jack then and he had to strain to hear the slight puffs of breath coming too slowly. The quietness was too complete…too oppressive. It seemed to Jack there should be more *something* to mark their struggle…to witness the painful fading of one of the brightest lights in Jack's life…

There was nothing, not even stars to be seen in the overcast sky. There was only encompassing darkness.

Jack had begun rocking gently…how many hours ago now?…a soothing, déjà vu rhythm familiar on so many fronts his mind refused to dwell on any single one.

Small drops of memory overlying one another as they vied for recognition, validation, but Jack refused them all. Daniel needed him *here,* now…not lost in the past.

Here, now…

Jack cursed the blackness surrounding them…wishing for a fire they couldn't light for fear of discovery…wishing for the medkits, lost now back on the trail following the unexpected attack…wishing for *some* means of helping, protecting other than the nearly empty pistol lying beside his knee.

Small drops of futility sparked from his lips to fall away ineffectively into the night…

Jack could see images against the blackness in front of him: images of the glitter-flash of a metal blade at the periphery of his vision preceding a choked cry and the report of Daniel's handgun reacting a bare moment too late; images of Daniel on his knees firing the gun again and again even as his left hand pressed hard against the bloody hole in his jacket; images of his team forming up instinctively around their vulnerable comrade, surrounding Daniel in a ring of strength and protection; images of running…he and Teal'c holding Daniel tight between them, helping him keep on his feet as he pushed himself onward; images of falling in the dark, the first real cry of pain Daniel had made since first being hurt…the realization of how *much* blood soaked the jacket.

Jack shook his head to banish the pictures…they'd done what they had to…they'd gotten away…at the time that had been the most important consideration. Get away from the immediate danger, get them closer to the Stargate, get them closer to home and help for Daniel. It had been the right thing to do, but now…

Small drops of regret splintered through Jack's soul…

Daniel shifted again with a deep, choking breath…consciousness and pain returning. Jack continued his rocking, whispered more words, stroked the damp hair back in a gesture both of comfort and supplication…asking forgiveness for events beyond his control…forgiveness for that very lack of control. He knew he didn't have to ask, knew Daniel would forgive him damn near anything. Knowing didn't help, didn't alleviate the almost physical ache Jack experienced as he felt his friend slip further and further away…with only Jack's touch and necessarily quiet voice to hold on to.

Jack leaned in close over Daniel's head, absorbing the heat, sharing in the tremors, reaching out with all the strength his will could muster to ease Daniel's pain…

It wasn't enough.

The gulping breaths slowed into even, controlled puffs. Even without benefit of vision, Jack knew Daniel was awake. The effort to be quiet told Jack the younger man was aware of the danger they still faced; the hand grasping and releasing Jack's arm through the tidal ebb and flow of pain spoke of recognition. Daniel knew who held him so tightly, accepted the comfort from Jack as he would from no other person alive in the universe, drew on Jack's strength in ways both conscious and instinctive…

Small drops of caring, blossoming anew as on so many…too many… occasions in the past…

In times of need, it was always there…one basic truth amidst a world rarely possessed of such clarity. Through all the assorted hells they went through…separately or together…they could depend on this.

Daniel nodded slightly, as if confirming Jack's thoughts.

"Daniel?"

"I'm here…"

A promise asked and received…

Jack ruffled a hand through the wet hair.

"Good."

Daniel laughed, a small exhalation really, but Jack knew his meaning was understood. Daniel was hanging on, would hang on…as long as he could. The intrinsic stubbornness of the man was one of his best…and most infuriating… traits. Daniel would keep fighting, understanding as no one else could that Jack wouldn't allow him to do otherwise. As another wave of pain trembled through the already tense body in his arms, Jack held on tightly, suppressing the curse welling up from his soul.

Small drops of helplessness…mute, impotent…

How much longer?

Jack tapped the light on his watch. Five hours. In his head, Jack knew it would take Carter and Teal'c more time to find the gate in the dark, knew they had to move cautiously. In his heart though…in his heart Jack knew it time was the enemy. Time brought only pain and sickness as infection set in…time would steal Daniel slowly away…

Another two hours of darkness, then they would be exposed…vulnerable. A nearly empty gun was little protection. The rock face they were tucked up against was perfect cover in the dark, in daylight they would stand out like a painted target…

Help *had* to come soon…

"Jack?" Daniel's voice was barely audible…would have been had they not been so close.

"Yeah, Daniel?"

"How long…?"

As Daniel's words trailed off into still another wave of pain, Jack wondered if Daniel were asking how long until help arrived…or how long they'd been there. It didn't matter while Daniel quietly rode out the spasm, his breathing becoming raspier, more labored…

"Soon…they'll be here soon…" Jack swore impulsively, knowing it was an impossible promise.

Daniel nodded against Jack's chest, hands entwining themselves even tighter into Jack's vest.

Small drops of frustration…the thundering forerunner to finality.

"No."

Jack wasn't aware of speaking out loud.

"It hurts, Jack…"

Daniel's admission tore away the façade of false hope…Jack realized he should have known better than to offer it.

"Sorry. They've been gone a little over five hours. They have to have reached home by now…"

Daniel sighed. "Dark…"

"Not too dark for Teal'c…he'll make it. Carter'll watch his back. They won't let us down." A truth unshakeable…they both knew their friends would move heaven and earth to help them. The knowledge seemed to calm Daniel…Jack sighed. "They'll be back, I believe that. You just have to hang on 'til they get here…"

Another nod, weaker…

Small drops of conviction slipping off into the chill night…

Jack settled into the rock face, letting Daniel nestle more comfortably against him. So many battles in their lives, so many goals lost and won, so many dreams dead and gone leaving only an unholy enemy and the simple, solid reality of friendship.

Over time they had come to rely on that friendship in ways rarely spoken, impossible to define, yet so essentially *there* Jack knew they tended to take it in stride…a look, a word, a touch spoke volumes in the language of a kinship both subtle and deep. Small drops of understanding offered and accepted, forging a strand of pure titanium, often tested but never broken…

As different as they were emotionally and philosophically, Jack knew the loss of the friend now so quiet in his arms would leave a gaping hole in his heart and his life…a hole that could never be filled again because there could never be another like Daniel…

Daniel…as unique an individual as Jack had ever known, as unique as Jack himself was in his own right. Somehow fate had seen fit to bring them together to face one of the biggest discoveries in human history at a time when they each faced some of the worst crises of their lives. The twist in that particular fate had come as they discovered a bond amid eventual mutual purpose and the common desire to defeat the Goa'uld. There were many reasons they *shouldn't* have become friends…many reasons they should never have *worked*…

But they did.

In ways both large and small…they worked. They still had some rough edges to iron out, knew and accepted the fact…but underneath it all, despite all obstacles and appearances to the contrary, they were grounded by the unalterable surety of the other's presence. Doubt might come and go, arguments most certainly would…but the foundation was real…Jack smiled sadly at the memory…and would withstand any and all attempts to shake it loose.

Small drops of gratitude for the silent, unshakable lucidity.

Daniel stirred slightly.

"Jack?" The barest breath of sound…

"Yeah, Danny…?" The rawness of the moment disrupted all barriers…

"I want to say…"

"No!" Jack was in no way ready to hear the goodbye already apparent in Daniel's voice… "No…save your strength, just rest…"

"Jack…"

"Daniel, please…"

Jack could feel the ripples of pain coursing through Daniel's body, knew the younger man was so close…too close…

"Just a little longer, okay? Just give them a little longer…"

Daniel nodded, shifting again…seeking comfort where none could be found.

Jack pulled his friend close once again, resuming the steady rocking…the only action available to him as Daniel clung tightly, breathing shakily.

"A little longer…"

Jack let the rhythmic movement command his thinking…making him more aware of the fragility of the situation, more aware of the tenuousness with which they both held to small drops of life and hope…more aware of the enemy encroaching ever closer…

Earlier time had been running out…now, it felt as if it was trickling down to a few fine grains of sand…

Another wave crashed in…bringing Daniel nearly into Jack's lap with the rocketing spasm…

"God…Jack…"

Jack enfolded the shuddering body in his arms, wishing…hoping…knowing it was too little…too late…he couldn’t let this go on…

"It's okay, Daniel…rest if you need to…" Jack knew Daniel would understand the dual meaning, heard his voice and his heart crack on the words…knowing he was giving Daniel permission to…

But Daniel was stubbornly shaking his head… "S'okay, Jack…think I'll hang around awhile…" The voice held a strained note of amusement. "Keep you out of trouble…"

"Keep *me* out of trouble. You? Mr. 'We're peaceful explorers, let me show you my target'? "

Daniel let out a sigh containing much more than laughter. "You…Mr. "I never met an alien I didn't piss off'…"

Jack laughed out loud then, uncaring of the need for quiet…small drops of long overdue release…

Tears fell…whether from tension or the expression of Jack didn't care…Daniel was still here, still fighting…nothing else mattered.

The crackle of his radio nearly made him jump.

Teal'c's voice…more welcome than any sound in Jack's universe right now save the continued breathing of the friend he held so closely….

Help was on the way.

"You hear that, Daniel…almost here…"

"'Bout time…" Jack could hear the smile in Daniel's voice…

"Hey, who's the cynic around here?"

"You are, Jack…"

"Damn straight…don't be stealing my lines…"

"Who'd want to?"

"What? This is some of my best stuff…."

"Hmm…was afraid of that…"

Jack gently cuffed the head resting on his chest, then ruffled the damp strands gently.

"Watch it, big fella…stealing from your CO is a court martial offense…"

"Civilian…no court martial…"

"Damn, knew I should have plugged that loophole…"

"Too late…"

"It's never too late, Daniel…"

Jack felt the trembling arms squeeze tighter around him, returned the embrace with the shuddering realization of how very close he'd come to losing *this*…losing Daniel….

"No way, Daniel. Never too late."

Small drops of joy, breaking through the darkness.

*Fin*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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