A Message of Friendship
"Well, Colonel," Fraiser reported, her eyes glued to the file in her hand. "The tests say you're fine."
Partially pushing off the examining table he was sitting on, Jack eagerly inquired, "Then I can go?"
"Yes," the physician reluctantly agreed. "But I want you to stay on the base for the next few days. There's no apparent damage to your shoulder; however, I'd like to keep a close eye on you. There's no telling what those organisms did to your body."
Though disappointed he couldn't go home and sleep in his own bed, Jack wasn't going to press his luck. After spending the day pinned to a wall by the "arm" of an alien artifact, he had expected to be poked and prodded by overly enthusiastic physicians for the rest of the week. At least he didn't have to stay in the infirmary. In his experience sleep and the infirmary were not compatible, and the one thing he wanted - craved - was a little time to himself. Understandably, everyone was anxious about his welfare. While he appreciated their concern, he was tired of the constant interrogations regarding his health. He needed to put some distance between himself and the fear that had been his constant companion during those long hours hanging from the wall.
Sliding off the bed, he decided to make a hasty retreat before Janet changed her mind and chose to run more tests. He had ordered Daniel, Carter, and Teal'c to go home soon after being delivered into Fraiser's capable hands. Their presence was unnecessary, and even Teal'c was practically falling asleep on his feet.
"Don't forget, Colonel," Fraiser called after him, "we have an appointment at 0900."
Pausing at the door, Jack shook his head. "Don't you ever sleep?"
"Not since you were reinstated and brought Dr. Jackson back through the Stargate."
"After that first mission against Ra, you'd think I would've known better."
"Go get some sleep," Fraiser smiled, waving him out. "Around here you never know when you'll get another chance."
A smile on lips that hours before had been quivering in pain, Jack slipped out the door - and tripped. Only his highly trained reflexes saved him from a nasty fall. "What the hell?" he angrily swore.
Glancing down to discover what had almost put him back in the infirmary, he was surprised, though he knew he shouldn't be, to see Daniel. Sitting on the floor, his legs pulled close to his chest, the younger man had fallen asleep. His head was tilted to the side resting awkwardly against the wall. Dark blond locks lay atop glasses bent crookedly across his nose.
At first Jack felt anger and disappointment. He had given Daniel an order and the archeologist had chosen to ignore it - as usual. His feelings quickly altered when he sheepishly admitted if their roles had been reversed, he wouldn't have left either. His friend's concern was even more striking when he realized Daniel hadn't slept for almost forty-eight hours before the latest crisis began. And, though he hadn't seen much of the scientist while trapped on his perch, Jack knew without even asking that Daniel hadn't stopped looking for answers from the moment the metal rod entered Jack's shoulder until this involuntary surrender outside the infirmary.
Bending, Jack put a hand on the younger man's shoulder and gently shook it. "Wake up, Daniel. I think we can find you a more comfortable bed."
When Daniel failed to respond, Jack shook a little harder.
"W-w-what?" Daniel came awake suddenly. An arm swung out almost smacking Jack in the face.
"Whoa," Jack protested, ducking. "I'm one of the good guys."
Squinting against the glare of bright lights, Daniel yawned. "I don't see a white hat."
"It's at the cleaners." Reaching over to help Daniel to his feet, Jack suggested, "Why don't we find a bed?"
As he clumsily rose, Daniel demanded, "What did Janet say? Are you all right?"
"I'm fine." When Daniel lurched unsteadily, Jack gripped his arm to pull him upright. "Better than you are at the moment."
"At least I can stand on my own two feet."
"No," Daniel impatiently pressed, "I mean did Dr. Fraiser really say you were fine?"
"In those very words," Jack soothed. Turning Daniel to lead him to a dormitory room and bed, Jack was surprised when his friend pulled back.
"Maybe I'd better talk to Janet first?"
"Do you think I'd lie?"
"To keep from spending a night in the infirmary, yes."
"Well, I'm not lying," Jack indignantly growled, backing away.
His support gone, Daniel teetered. He quickly put a hand on the wall to balance himself.
Though he was still smarting from his friend's lack of faith, Jack put his arm around Daniel's waist. "Let's find you a bed before you fall and end up in the infirmary yourself."
Not another word was spoken as they slowly walked down the corridor to the elevator. Jack tapped his foot impatiently as he waited for their transportation to arrive. How did Daniel do it? Every time Jack thought they were finally on the same wavelength, the younger man would do or say something to mess things up. Jack was hurt. Not by the accusation, there was a certain amount of truth in it. What really stung was after all this time and all they had been through together, Daniel couldn't tell when Jack was lying. It was a clear indication the archeologist didn't know him as well as he thought. Which, in his book, showed a lack of caring Jack hadn't expected.
Reaching the dormitory wing, Jack searched for an unoccupied room. Finding one near the end of the hall, he opened the door. Turning on the light, he dragged Daniel over to the bunk and sat him on it. Turning to leave, he halted in his tracks when Daniel broke the uneasy silence.
"I thought you were dead."
Though that portion of the crisis was hazy, Jack remembered he'd appeared dead when the aliens used him to communicate their needs. "I didn't die," he corrected, "I just became an eight hundred number."
"It's not funny."
"I know," Jack repented. Reliving all the times he had thought Daniel was dead, he fervently repeated, "Believe me, I know."
"I haven't felt so lost since Sha're was taken."
Kneeling, Jack put his hand on a trembling knee. "I'm not dead, Daniel."
"I know." Unshed tears glistened in the bright blue eyes.
"I didn't want to face it. I almost ran away."
Since it was Daniel who came up with the solution to their problem, Jack hoarsely whispered, "I'm glad you didn't."
"I would've killed you."
"And yourself and everyone else on the planet."
"I didn't think of that."
All Jack's disappointment disappeared. In his own way Daniel cared. Like everything else he did it wasn't in a manner that was clearly defined or understood. But it was there. It was real.
Moving his hand to Daniel's shoulder, Jack gently pushed him down until his head was lying on the pillow. "Go to sleep, Daniel."
To Jack's amazement, Daniel quietly complied. As heavy lids settled over sleep dazed eyes, Jack lifted limp legs and laid them on the bed. Unlacing the boots, he carefully slid them off and placed them under the bunk. Grabbing a blanket, he spread it across the still form. His hands shaking slightly, he gripped Daniel's glasses and slowly eased them off. Laying them on the bedside table, he crossed to the door. Flicking the light switch, he plunged the room into darkness. In its comforting anonymity, he whispered, "Good night, my friend."