Okidoki, well, here's the last part. I hope you'll still review so I know what you think of the end though! ;) Thanks for reading!
Oh, and one mre thing: I've got a couple little plot bunnies that could turning into a little missing-scene-story for my story Arrows of Fire, and maybe even a full sequal, in later months...anybody interested?
"Hey," Jack said in greeting as he slipped back into Daniel's little corner of the infirmary late that afternoon. The head of the bed had been raised so he could sit up more easily and he was now, leaning back against his pillows. He felt better than he had the last time Jack had seen him–before he'd left that morning, probably to crash in his quarters on base–and he certainly hoped he looked better.
Daniel wasn't in as much pain as he had been early that morning, but still when he turned his head quickly in Jack's direction at the sound of the greeting, he grimaced at the abrupt movement of his neck. He blinked back the pain and looked up at his friend.
"Hey, Jack," he said simply.
"So…doing better?" Jack asked, standing next to him now with his hands shoved in his pockets.
"I guess," Daniel sighed. "I can move now–some. Janet thinks it'll still be another couple of days before I can get out of here, though."
"Ah. Well, don't worry; we won't let you get bored," Jack smiled.
Daniel smirked. "Uh huh." Then he fell silent and scanned the immediate vicinity. When he saw no one near except Jack, he took a breath and decided to say the things that had been weighing on his mind since the day before.
"What?" Jack asked. "You okay?"
Daniel sighed again and looked away for a moment, before turning back to Jack.
"Jack…I'm sorry," he said quietly. "I guess I shouldn't have been so hard on you about the whole extraction thing."
Jack shrugged a bit, an uncomfortable look on his face. "Well hey, I kinda deserved it. I mean, you were right about a lot of what you said. People could have been injured and all…"
"Yeah, but you were right about what I was doing–wanting to stay and take it myself instead of risking you or any of the villagers getting hurt, I mean. It was the same thing you would have been doing by taking my place. It was the same kind of situation." Daniel sighed, "I knew it, too. That's why I couldn't let you do it."
"Because you didn't want me to get hurt? Because I know I didn't want you to suffer any worse."
"Well, of course I didn't want you hurt, but there was just too much risk involved. They could have gotten angry and decided to kill you, or anything. Then where would the rest of us be? You know where this is going, don't you?"
Jack grimaced and stared at his feet. "Yesterday," he said thoughtfully, "I told you it was all right for me to be the only one at risk, but not for you. Yeah, I think I do know where this is going." He fell silent for a moment, then cleared his throat uncomfortably. "Deja vu, anyone? It was, uh, also the same kinda thing I did a few weeks ago, huh?"
That one didn't require any thought. "Uh, yeah," Daniel agreed.
"So…I guess you didn't like me doing it then any more than I wanted you to put yourself in that much danger yesterday…."
Daniel eyed him. "No, I really didn't." And as he watched Jack standing there, shifting uncomfortably on his feet searching for what to say next, he saw that Jack got it.
"You know, I'm really sorry about that…" Jack fumbled.
Daniel found himself just smiling.
Jack looked up. "What?"
Daniel shook his head. "It's okay, Jack. I know you're not good at, you know, this sort of thing. I guess I'm really not either, actually. But I'm sorry too."
Jack smiled back now. "Right. So…leave it at that?"
Daniel nodded once, still smiling a bright smile that was only slightly damped by the discomfort he was still in. How could he help it? Things were going better than they had all week.
Jack grinned back and clapped his hands together. "Okay then. Pizza and hockey at my house when you get out of here?"
"Sure–as long as we don't watch hockey the whole time…"
Jack shrugged. "Reasonable compromise."
"Good," Daniel said, pushing back down in his bed as fatigue took over again.
"Carter and Teal'c been by yet?"
"Yeah, they were here an hour or so ago. Now if you'll excuse me I think I'm going to go back to sleep," Daniel answered tiredly. He would have liked to talk to Jack for a while longer, but his still sore and exhausted body was complaining otherwise.
"All right. I'm going home, then. I'll check back in tomorrow," Jack promised.
"Okay," Daniel answered softly. His eyes had already slipped shut again.
Jack pulled his hands out of his pockets and left. Daniel had gone out like a light, so there was no reason for him to stick around any longer. He came across Fraiser on his way from the infirmary and stopped her.
"How's Daniel doing?" he asked.
She smiled. "Very well, actually, considering what he's been through in the past forty-eight hours or so. He'll be good as new in a few days, colonel. Don't worry."
Well, that was good to know. "Okay, good, but how long does he have to stay here? He said another couple of days."
Fraiser nodded. "Yes, that's right."
"Are you sure that's necessary? Because you know I can take him home if he wants to go." Daniel wasn't going to stay cooped up any longer than he had to be, if Jack had anything to say about it.
"I'd rather someone keep an eye on him for the next couple of days at least," Fraiser insisted.
Jack sighed in frustration. "Fine, so I'll take him to my house. Come on, doc…"
Fraiser eyed him for a moment or so before sighing. "I'll think about it, colonel. But either way he's not going anywhere tonight. If his condition has improved enough tomorrow afternoon and he wants to leave, we'll talk about it."
Well, it seemed that was as good as he was going to get for now, so Jack nodded in thanks and retreated. One did not mess with an adamant Doctor Janet Fraiser doing her job if they knew what was good for them.
The next day went well; Daniel seemed much better, wide awake and eager to get out of the infirmary. After much discussion with Fraiser she finally agreed to let Jack take him to his house at the end of the day, with strict instructions Jack was not to leave him alone for extended periods of time in case Daniel had a relapse or any other complication, and Jack was to call Fraiser immediately if anything happened. Even after all of that it was late before the doctor would release him.
"Ready to go?" Jack asked as he approached Daniel's bed, relieved that he was finally able to ask because it meant they would get out of here soon.
Daniel, looking just as relieved, was dressed and sitting on the edge of the bed. "More than ready," he answered, sliding off the bed and setting his feet on the floor. Once he was standing, he grimaced and shifted on his feet for a moment, testing. Seemingly satisfied, he looked up again and started toward Jack–slowly.
"Okay, let's get going then," Jack agreed, putting a hand at his friend's back just in case. Sure enough, Daniel faltered dangerously and Jack took hold of his arms for a moment to hold him up.
"Whoa there, Danny-boy. Take it easy. We're not in a hurry."
Daniel only replied by rolling his eyes, straightening again and trying unsuccessfully to hide the grimace of pain that flickered across his face.
Slowly, they made their way out into the corridor. Fraiser had offered to let them borrow one of the wheelchairs from the infirmary for Daniel to use for another day or two until his muscles recovered more, but of course Daniel wouldn't have it. So while they were tortoise crawling toward the elevator, they ran into Carter and Teal'c, who stopped to talk to them.
"We were just coming to see you," Carter said to Daniel. "We heard you were breaking out today," she grinned.
Daniel smiled back. "Yeah, I'm leaving all right. I wasn't going to stay in the infirmary any longer than I have to. Janet's great and all, but it can get really boring in there."
"Are you well, Daniel Jackson?" Teal'c asked.
Daniel gave a small shrug. "I've been better."
Carter hugged him gently, and Daniel returned it. "We're glad you're okay," she said, smiling softly at him as she let go. "Now go get some more rest. I'll bring Teal'c out to the colonel's house tomorrow, okay?"
"You do that, Carter," Jack agreed, grinning. "We'll make a team event out of it."
"Yes sir," Carter replied, giving a mock salute.
With that they parted again, and Jack continued on to the elevator with Daniel. Once inside Daniel moaned quietly and leaned heavily on the wall.
"Daniel?" Jack asked in concern.
Daniel waved him off. "I'm fine, Jack."
"Still pretty sore, huh?"
"Yeah. Had to make sure Janet would let me go, though."
The elevator fell into an uncomfortable silence until Daniel spoke up again.
"So, what are we going to do about the ruins on P2X-297?"
Jack rolled his eyes. "How did I know you were going to bring that up?" he shook his head. "Anyway, Hammond said we'd give the locals a few months to cool off and then maybe send back a different team."
Daniel nodded. "That makes sense."
"Are you okay with this?"
Jack shrugged. "You know, the whole you can't go back there thing…"
"I guess I have to be," he sighed in answer.
At the top Jack waited for Daniel before stepping out of the elevator, but Daniel stumbled as he tried to straighten again and Jack had to catch him to keep him from falling.
"Are you sure you're okay?" he asked again.
"Maybe not," Daniel grimaced.
Jack sighed and looped one of Daniel's arms around his shoulders to support him. "Come on, let's go home," he announced, carefully helping him from the elevator.
"Sorry," Daniel apologized once Jack had helped him into the vehicle.
Jack came around to the driver's side of his truck and climbed in, shutting the door behind him. "It's not your fault, Daniel," he said as he started his truck. "It's mine. You wouldn't have had to go through that at all if I hadn't been so stupid."
"Jack, it's not your fault. You couldn't have known those thorns were on that branch," Daniel protested.
Jack shrugged. "Whatever you say, Daniel."
Daniel still needed help to get from the truck into Jack's house. Jack was happy to give it to him, and as carefully as he could took Daniel into the house and sat him down on the couch. Daniel grimaced on the way in and made a soft whimpering noise in the back of his throat as he sat. Jack frowned.
"Are you okay?"
Daniel nodded and sat back carefully, leaning into the cushions. "I'm fine, Jack."
"No, you're not."
"Okay, fine, I'm not great right now, but I will be fine; you happy now?" Daniel asked, rolling his eyes.
Jack nodded. "Reasonably," he answered. Then he crossed to one of the armchairs and dropped down into it, sighing. "Home, sweet home."
"Yeah, for the next few days, anyway," Daniel commented, referring to himself.
"Fraiser said you only had to stay for a couple, actually, though you're more than welcome to stay longer, I guess."
"I know, thanks."
The two fell into another lull of silence, and it wasn't any more comfortable than it had been back in the elevator. It was probably less so. Jack was sure that neither of them had forgotten what had happened the last time they'd both sat in this room–in same seats they were sitting in now.
Sure, they had gotten past a major hurdle back in the infirmary the day before, but Jack knew that not everything was quite worked out yet. There was one point in particular hanging over his head, actually, and he knew he should get it out on the table…
Daniel was silent at the moment, so finally Jack sat forward, and dove in. "Daniel–"
They had spoken at the same time. "Sorry, you go ahead."
"No, it's okay, what were you going to say?" Daniel asked.
Jack hesitated for a moment before continuing. "Well, I know we kind of…figured out a problem yesterday and all, but there's something else you need to know."
Daniel didn't look surprised to hear that at all. "Yeah?"
"Okay, look, I understand where you're coming from on everything, and I'm sure now that you understand where I'm coming from on the issue because I think we're coming from the same place, but I just want to make sure you understand that, well, me understanding that isn't going to change where I'm coming from. Understand?"
Daniel chuckled–probably at how absurd that explanation had sounded, Jack thought. He was corrected when Daniel spoke.
"I understand, Jack," Daniel admitted. "It's what I was going to say, I guess. Neither of us wants anyone else to take all the risk of any situation themselves, but both of us are more than willing to do it ourselves–and I don't think that's going to change for either of us. It's just who we are."
"That's what I said." Though not nearly as well.
Daniel paused a moment before continuing with, "Are you okay with that?"
Jack shrugged. "As long as it doesn't cause problems. Think we can do that?"
"I think we can; I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree sometimes."
"Well, that's a little cliché, but it sounds like a plan," Jack smiled.
Daniel smiled back now, then glanced around. "So–"
Jack glanced down at his watch, a sudden thought popping into his mind. "Oh! We missed the first part of the game!" he exclaimed, popping out of his seat, more than a little relieved that conversation was over and he now had something else to jump right into.
Daniel frowned in confusion. "We what?"
"The game–the hockey game–we missed the first few minutes of it."
"You interrupted me to tell me that we missed part of a hockey game?"
"Oh come on, Daniel, you said 'So–'. You were obviously leading into asking what we were going to do now, so I'm answering you," Jack said, motioning toward the television. "What now? We watch the game now."
"Does it have to be hockey?" Daniel protested.
"Ah ah, that was the deal, remember? Compromise. We take turns," Jack reminded him, wagging a finger at him and smirking good-naturedly.
Daniel sighed. "You're right."
"Thank you." With that, Jack searched out the television remote, found it under the coffee table, and turned the TV on to the correct channel. "And…commercial. Bummer." By the time he had done that and turned around again, Daniel had his shoes off and his legs pulled up so he was lying across the couch facing the screen, with one of the extra cushions supplementing the armrest under his head. His eyelids were already drooping a bit.
"Are you tired?" Jack asked. "If you really want to sleep there's the guest room…"
"No, this is fine," he assured him. "I'm not gonna to sleep; I just need to lie down."
"Okay. I'll get the food," Jack nodded.
"Sounds good…thanks Jack," Daniel said tiredly. Then, right before his eyes, Jack's archaeologist fell asleep.
Jack shook his head and grinned, moving back into the kitchen towards the phone. Tonight he and Daniel would crash in front of the television, eating junk food and watching…well, if Daniel didn't want to watch hockey they'd probably end up watching a movie or the history channel or something.
Then he'd have to do something to make it all up to Carter and Teal'c–everything that had happened the past few weeks. He'd probably get Teal'c some new magazines and maybe take him to a hockey game, and Carter…well, he could figure that out later. And then of course all four members of SG-1 would be here tomorrow for more junk food, useless talk, television, and much-need team bonding.
Today though, only Daniel was here. Soon he would wake up, insisting that he was fine and hadn't meant to fall asleep and probably demanding to know where the food was. Yes, Jack thought, it was time to order that first round of pizzas.