Title: "Vital Statistics"

Rating: PG

Category: Daniel/Janet friendship or UST. I suppose this is angst. A drabble that got out of hand.

Spoilers: "Meridian." Set season 7, I guess.

Summary: Daniel has lost count.


***


He has actually lost count.

This -- this is bad, Daniel thinks. It's normal to forget some things -- how many times you've been on an airplane, how many fish you're supposed to have in the fishtank, how old General Hammond's granddaughter will turn next weekend.

But Daniel's lying in the infirmary, heart monitor beeping reassuringly, feet still tingling from the long minutes of stalled blood flow earlier that day, and he can't remember how many times he has died.

And that's not normal. And it's making him feel sick -- in a different way than he should feel after being brought back from the dead for the fourth or fifth or sixth time now. It's screwed up. His life is screwed up.

For God's sake, he cheats death so often now that the last time he came back to life, even Sam forgot to send him a card. He feels empty and scared, like maybe he isn't the same Daniel anymore as he was when he joined the SGC -- not because of how he's grown, but because he's incomplete.

He can't even remember how many times...

The heart monitor translates his distress into an increase in mechanical beeps, and Janet Fraiser turns away from the x-rays up on the far wall to approach him. (His ribs are cracked, the x-rays say, but right now that feels like the least of his problems.)

"Daniel?" She's next to him, but her worried voice sounds like it's coming from a long way off.

"I can't remember-" and for a moment he thinks he shouldn't say anything, that he's being ridiculous, and then he remembers that this isn't like goldfish or plane flights or the age of a coworker's grandchild. This is important. This is wrong. This is him. "How many times have I... died here?"

'Almost.' He should have said 'almost.' He's still here, according to the heart monitor, even though there are moments when he thinks that everything after Kelowna has been nothing but an insane hallucination at the moment of his death.

Janet's hand on his wrist breaks through his train of thought. She doesn't even look down at his chart for the answer. "Six."

Daniel grips her fingers with his (still tingling, a little). She feels real. So does he.

His chest hurts, his feet tingle, and he feels alive.

"How did you know?" he asks. It might be her job to keep him alive at any given moment, but even he forgot the number.

She squeezes his hand. Her eyes close for a moment and a pained concern in her features makes her look older. "I know, Daniel." The moment is over when she takes a breath. "You need to rest. I'll be back to check on you in a few minutes."

He doesn't want to let go of her hand, doesn't want to fall asleep, but within a minute he finds himself doing both. Janet checks his IV -- fluids, sedative, painkiller -- before she goes, and Daniel keeps her in sight as long as he can.

It's not normal. But somehow, knowing someone is keeping track for him makes it better.

He's alive, and Daniel decides that he'll be okay.

*end*


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