Spoilers: "The Fifth Race"
By: Blackbird Song
Category: Gen, mostly teamy goodness (Though if you look very close, it could be read as pre-slash, if you really, really want...)
Prompt: "-not needing to talk, but needing to find something to do with one's hands. (please dear God, someone write me Teal'c!)"
He sat, silent, watching O’Neill sit, also silent. O’Neill had not spoken for hours, the device having at last rendered him mute. General Hammond had ordered that O’Neill was not to be left alone. DanielJackson had been discharging that duty for too long, and it had taken the quiet menace of a former enemy to dislodge the archaeologist from O’Neill’s side.
He’d taken his seat with some satisfaction. It would be gratifying to spend time with his Commander without having to worry about making small talk or engaging in useless movement. He had become attached to these Tau’ri, but he found it hard to understand the way they wasted their own energy. He had long looked forward to spending some meditative time with O’Neill. He’d seen his Colonel in battle, but had yet to see him in the equally rigorous discipline of silence. One could only truly know one’s companions if one saw them in silence.
Teal’c suppressed a sigh. It was not natural to watch O’Neill sit so still. He should be pacing or gesticulating or pushing the eyewear up DanielJackson’s nose or tying—what was it called...‘flies?’—that peculiar and unappetizing bait that O’Neill purported to use when attempting to catch fish. He shook his head. Surely whatever fish his Commander would wish to capture would be far more interested in O’Neill’s fingers as they moved with such dexterity tying those intricate shapes than in the objects, themselves.
Teal’c fought the urge to fidget. Despite a refreshing Kel-No-Reem, he wanted very much to move. He frowned, inwardly. This is not normal. He thought back to the many times O’Neill had told his team to calm down. It was never particularly effective on DanielJackson, he mused, with a wry almost-smile. Nor did it work on O’Neill, himself; at least, never for too long. O’Neill was only calm when he was in the most serious trouble. I find myself wishing that O’Neill would calm up, he thought, as he gazed at his commanding officer. Against the Colonel’s stillness, his own quietude now seemed out of balance.
O’Neill stared off in front of himself, his face a mask of purpose thwarted and not understood. Teal’c reeled with the urge to ease O’Neill’s discomfort. Speech would be useless; the Colonel had long since been unable to comprehend anyone but DanielJackson. Even if there were something useful to say, he had no true desire to break the silence. He found himself bending his fingers into improbable positions and forced himself to stop.
His thoughts were interrupted when O’Neill moved suddenly, his neck arching at an odd angle and cracking. Without further thought, Teal’c was behind his Commander, kneading at tense shoulders. His efforts were rewarded by a groan, universally recognized as a sign of physical satisfaction, and a slight relaxation of the muscles under his hands. He dug his thumbs in a little harder, only to find a deep tension that he dared not probe. He started to withdraw, and O’Neill groaned again, a different sound. Teal’c resumed his contact, massaging as deeply as the Colonel’s changed state would allow.
He recalled Master Bra’tac training his charges to look after each other in this way when they were young. It came to confuse them as they grew older; surely, their symbiotes would take care of such physical needs, but Bra’tac had insisted that they continue the practice. ”You must know each other’s bodies as well as you do your own,” was the curt explanation he’d offered. They had come to accept that it must be a matter of greater service to the gods: the Goa’uld prized those who’d been trained by Bra’tac.
As he worked O’Neill’s shoulders and neck, he thought back to how much his Master had appreciated his touch, how this attention had bonded them together, though the old hawk would never admit it except in sparse grunts. He smiled at the memory, and felt O’Neill’s neck relax a little. He loved O’Neill. Where Bra’tac was mentor and father, O’Neill was commander and friend; the Commander he’d hoped and wished that Apophis would be, but never was.
He glanced down at the Colonel, to see eyes closed in the closest thing to respite that O’Neill had experienced since the device had gripped him. “Live, O’Neill,” he murmured. Pale eyes opened, and Teal’c thought that he saw thanks buried within.
He’d been debriefed, first by Hammond, in the military sense, and then by Fraiser, in the literal. After poking, prodding and probing, he was at last allowed to leave the infirmary, and was given four days off. He rubbed at the back of his neck and groaned, then: “Carter!”
“My place. Nineteen hundred.”
“Just be there,” he whined.
Carter grinned. “Yes, sir.”
“How’s that—” He waved his hand vaguely at her face.
“You know, that...burn you got when you and Teal’c were, you know, trying to rescue me. Long distance...”
“Oh... It’s fine, sir.”
“Well, that’s...good.” He reached out to squeeze her shoulder, but pulled back as she winced in anticipation. “Right. Later.”
He went on to Daniel’s office and poked his head round the door. “Daniel?”
“Watcha doing, tonight?”
“Going over the tapes we made while you were, ah, under the influence.”
“They’ll be there when we get back. How ’bout coming to my place, instead?”
“I know you wanna—what?”
“I’ll come over tonight. It’ll be a nice break.”
“Really? After spending all that time with me, you’d...you know...still want to...?”
“I didn’t say I’d move in with you, Jack.”
“Jack...why don’t you just...go on home?”
“I kinda thought...” Jack toed at the floor.
“Want some company?”
“Yup,” muttered Jack.
“Well, then, have a seat! I just have to finish my notes on—”
“Daniel,” he wheedled.
Daniel sighed. “All right, I’ll help you pick up the food!”
“Yeah!” Jack grinned at Daniel and slung an arm around his shoulders, all but dragging him from the SGC.
“I think that DanielJackson needs to be rescued,” murmured Teal’c.
“I think you may be right,” said Sam, shifting on the couch to try to relieve her stiff shoulder without worrying the sunburn, “although, it’s kind of interesting to see the shoe on the other foot, isn’t it?” She winced as the fabric on the couch rubbed her burn, and curled her legs under herself in frustration.
Teal’c threw her a puzzled look. “I did not notice that O’Neill was wearing DanielJackson’s footwear...”
“It’s an expression, Teal’c. It’s just that Daniel’s usually the one doing the talking.”
Sam sighed, looking back at Daniel and the Colonel. “Too bad he couldn’t have told us about the rest of that stuff the Ancient device put in his head,” she whispered. She felt Teal’c’s eyes boring into her, and mustered up a grin. “Besides, I bet Daniel’d prefer that to the current subject.”
“On the contrary, Captain Carter. I am sure that DanielJackson finds O’Neill’s treatise on this family to be a most interesting anthropological study. It is his ears about which I am concerned. And mine.”
Sam stuffed down a giggle as Daniel winced at the Colonel’s twenty-seventh imitation of Marge Simpson and Teal’c groaned with his eyes. “Looks like things will be pretty much back to normal, soon,” she whispered, with a conspiratorial wink. “Wanna help me extract Daniel?”
“I don’t see why you won’t let me have the remote,” complained Jack from the chair to which his team had exiled him.
Daniel sighed, deeply. “Because we’ve already seen six episodes of “The Simpsons” and highlights from the last five hockey games.”
“Yeah, well... All you had to do was say something...”
“We couldn’t get a word in edgeways, Jack!” Daniel immediately regretted letting that out of his mouth when he saw the hurt pass over Jack’s face.
“I thought you missed it when I couldn’t talk. You said you did...”
Daniel sighed again, reaching up to try to ease a kink in the back of his neck. He hadn’t realized how tense he could get just by pretending not to be in aural distress while being bombarded by simultaneous, out-of-phase Marge Simpsons from the TV and his team leader. “I – we – I did, Jack. It’s just...”
“There were too many blue-haired women talking in the room, O’Neill,” growled Teal’c.
“Exactly!” Daniel smiled gratefully at Teal’c, who gave him a gracious nod in return.
“Then why didn’t you say something?”
Daniel joined in the group sigh and rubbed harder at his neck. He felt Sam shifting behind him and craned his neck to see her trying to ease her shoulder. He winced as a pain shot through his neck and up to his eye. He also caught sight of Teal’c stretching out his arms with a less than satisfied expression on his face.
“Marge got to you that much?”
Daniel’s assent joined Teal’c’s grimace and Sam’s grunt.
“Right. Everybody up!”
“Jack, I’m comfortable here!”
“Oh, yeah, right!” scoffed Jack.
“I can’t drive, yet—”
“Nobody’s driving anywhere,” said Jack, his edge gentled.
Daniel started as he felt Jack’s hand hook under his elbow. “Jack, I—”
“I mean it: everybody up. C’mon...”
They all stood, glaring at Jack and rubbing various points of tension.
“Good! Now stand in a circle...”
“Just do it, Daniel!”
Daniel watched Teal’c take a cleansing breath, and Sam bring all her military discipline to bear, and they all made eye contact as they acceded to Jack’s command and stood facing into the circle.
Sam and Teal’c obeyed instantly; Daniel, sandwiched between Sam on his left and Jack on his right, gave the latter a pointed glare and shuffled into place.
Before Daniel’s eyes could roll all the way back into his head, he felt pointy fingers digging into his shoulders, exactly where he needed it most. “Ohh! God, Sam, yes! Right there...”
Jack’s command/complaint jolted him out of his reverie. “Sorry, Jack,” he muttered, and set to kneading his friend’s shoulders. He felt the muscles move and work and relax under his hands as Jack paid careful attention to Teal’c’s sizable deltoids. More than that, he thought he could feel a deeper, incalculable tension start to melt away under his fingers; a deep sigh expressed not through lungs and voice, but skin and sinew and soul. He moved closer to Jack, feeling the circle draw tighter as he did, and felt something of that sigh reverberating through the others. “Welcome home, Jack,” he murmured near his friend’s ear.
“It’s good to be back,” replied Jack, in like tone, “from wherever it is that I...was.” He leaned back a little into Daniel’s touch for a moment, then pulled himself together. “Switch!”
“You truly can remember nothing, O’Neill?” asked Teal’c, as he dutifully turned to rub his Commander’s back and shoulders.
“No-ot a thing,” managed Jack.
Daniel would have been thrown further into Sam by the force of Jack’s reaction to Teal’c, had it not been for the restraining arm Jack threw around his chest.
“My apologies, O’Neill,” and “Sorry, Daniel,” mingled with Sam’s pained groan.
“Really? Not anything?”
“Nothing. Zip. Zero. Nada.”
Daniel tried hard not to show his disappointment. “Oh.”
“I’m sorry, Daniel,” murmured Jack, very close to Daniel’s ear.
Daniel leaned back into Jack’s hands, a bit. “Don’t worry, Jack. It’s not really that important.”
“Of course it is,” said Jack, quietly.
“Yeah, perhaps it is. But it certainly didn’t feel that way in the gate room, when you came back.”
“Aww, Danny! You really did miss m—OW! Jesus, T, you weren’t that rough before!”
“When was I not this firm?
“Back when you were babysitting me. You know, when I couldn’t talk?”
Daniel’s annoyance at the use of the forbidden pet name evaporated in an instant. “I thought you couldn’t remember anything,” he said, and realized that the others had spoken in unison with him.
“Well, none of that Ancient mumbo-jumbo,” said Jack, and Daniel could feel the tension pouring through his friend’s fingers.
“What do you remember, sir?” Sam looked across at Jack.
Sam hissed and flinched from Daniel’s clenching hands.
Daniel bit back the snide comment he’d been preparing earlier as he caught a glimpse of Teal’c capturing Jack’s shoulders in his massive hands, cradling them.
“Tell us, O’Neill,” said Teal’c, quietly.
“Feelings,” murmured Jack, at last.
“What sort of feelings, sir?”
“Oh, you know... Anger, fear, resentment, love, stupid, gratitude, helplessness... All those things we’re never supposed to talk about in the military.”
“Hey.” Jack stroked his hand fondly up Daniel’s neck and ruffled his hair. “If it hadn’t been for you, all of you, I’d never’ve come through this.”
Daniel felt his hands clench once more on Sam's shoulders as he flushed at Jack's words.
“All in a day’s work, sir,” smiled Sam, as she gave Teal’c’s shoulders one last squeeze and stepped out from under Daniel’s hands, wincing.
Daniel turned around to face Jack, who didn’t let go of his shoulders. “You know, if you ever need—”
Jack smiled and cupped Daniel’s cheek. “I know.” He ruffled Daniel’s hair again before letting him go.
Teal’c worked the remaining tension from Jack’s shoulders as Sam reseated herself stiffly on the couch, and then released him.
“Thanks, T,” said Jack. “For before, as well.”
Daniel’s heart gave an odd, pleasant sort of thump, and he could see the emotion pulling at Sam’s features.
Teal’c gave Jack a slight bow, a smile working the muscles just under his skin. “I merely needed something to occupy my hands.”