When Daniel returned to the infirmary Sam was awake, sitting up in her bed and eating a cup of her favorite blue Jell-O. The nurses had told her she needed to rest, but only their assurances that Janet would be back with Daniel soon had kept her where she was. When her friend was wheeled in on his bed she immediately saw the change in his demeanor. His tense shoulders had visibly relaxed, and that sparkle in his eyes was back. When he met her scrutinizing gaze his face lit up with a smile that was once again as genuine and bright as she was accustomed to.
“Way to go Sam,” he proclaimed as Janet and the nurse positioned his bed back beside hers. “Janet says you most likely managed to heal all the nerve damage and that you fixed the vertebrae back into position.”
“I didn’t manage to heal them though,” she responded with an apologetic demi smile. Daniel wasn’t disheartened but continued excitedly.
“But now that it’s in position it can heal on its own. Right, Janet? And I’ll be fine, I will walk again!”
Janet placed a hand on his arm, attempting to bring him back to Earth.
“It does look good, Daniel. You should regain some of your movement soon and with hard work in physical therapy you might be able to walk again. I won’t make any guaranties, but I am hopeful.”
“Bah, doctor-speak!” Daniel’s outburst sounded so much like Jack that Sam couldn’t suppress a reflexive glance towards the infirmary room door. Jack wasn’t there. Turning back to Daniel she decided to ask the thing she had wondered ever since she entered the infirmary earlier.
“Daniel, where is Jack?”
She regretted the words as soon as they passed her lips, because her question put out the light in Daniel’s face again – even if not so wholly as before the healing session.
“I don’t know,” he answered with a sullen tone.
“Hasn’t he been to visit you? It’s usually impossible to tear him from your side when you’re laid up in here.”
“He did, but we…we had a…well, actually I…I yelled at him.”
“It was the first night when we got home. I was tired and…well, I told him to go away. Guess he did as I asked for once.” The last words were low and bitter, and he ducked his head down to hide the tears welling up in his eyes. Never thought I’d be upset that he listened to me.
“That’s weird. It’s not like him to hold a grudge like that. Not against friends at least.” Sam’s poor attempt at a joke fell flat, so she just continued, “When he came to see me this morning I just assumed he had torn himself away from your side to come ask me to use the healing device.”
Daniel’s head whipped up, and his voice echoed of astonishment. “Jack asked you to do it?”
He hardly knew what to do with the bomb shell information that the healing device had been Jack’s idea. In his depressed mind he had assumed that Jack had actually just gone home to watch his hockey game and forgot about him. The bitterness over his situation had brought the slumbering abandonment issues up from the depths of his soul where he had at long last managed to banish them. With their malicious insinuations they had convinced him that Jack had finally done what everyone always did and discarded him when he finally proved to give more trouble than gain. In the darkest recesses of his mind he hadn’t expected to ever see Jack again. He definitely hadn’t expected him to be convincing Sam to try and use the Goa’uld healing device on him.
“Yes,” Sam answered his astounded question with obviousness in her own voice. “He came blazing into my lab early this morning like his pants were on fire and practically begged me to try using the healing device. I had thought of it, but dismissed it because of what happened last time. When he had convinced me to do it anyway he rushed off again. Where did he go, if he didn’t go here?”
“Well, wouldn’t you want to know?” The sardonic comment came from the door, making two geeky heads snap round to it. This time Jack was there, and he strolled into the infirmary with a rather pleased look on his face.
“Hi there, Danny.” His voice was warm and friendly, as if their spat three days ago had never even happened.
“Hi.” Daniel echoed. “Jack, I’m sorry…”
“Asch, forget it.” Jack waved his apology away and plopped down in an available chair between Daniel’s and Sam’s beds.”I’m just glad to see you’re feeling better.” He turned to Sam with his eyebrows pointedly lifted.” Did you…?”
“Yes, Jack,” Daniel answered before Sam had a chance, bringing the colonel’s head around to him instead.
“She fixed the nerves and the bones should heal on their own, so Janet is ‘hopeful’.” Daniel made air quotation marks to the last word, efficiently communicating his feelings about their dear doctor’s hesitation to say he was going to be fine.
“So, when do you think she’ll be letting you out of here?”
“I don’t know, she hasn’t said yet, but she did say I still need some kind of back brace so I guess it won’t be until that is fixed. And I suppose I’ll need a wheelchair too, at least to start with.”
Jack nodded. Then he bounced out of his chair and set off toward Dr. Fraiser’s office.
“Knock, knock!” he called in through the open door.
“Come in, Colonel O’Neill. What can I do for you?” Janet put down her pen and smiled at him.
“I just wanted to check on your prognosis for Daniel. You know; when I can take him home and what I need to know to help him with his recovery.”
Janet smiled even wider at the fatherly intonations in his questions.
“Health-wise I could release him today but there are some practical aspects to arrange. With injuries like his we need a back brace to keep the spine stabilized in order for it to heal correctly, and we planned to mold and fit that for Daniel tomorrow. I’ve also sent for a wheelchair that should arrive in the next few days. Should I assume he’ll be staying with you for a while or is he going directly to his own place?”
Janet asked even though she assumed she knew the answer. Daniel almost always ended up staying with Jack for at least a few nights when he got more severely hurt. Jack fidgeted for a moment and when he answered the response took her a bit by surprise.
“Ah, well…actually he already lives at my house. And I’ve been there and fixed a few ramps to help with the getting around. I just need to know if there is anything else that needs to be done?”
Janet was stumped. She didn’t know which part was most unexpected, that Daniel had moved in with Jack or that Jack already had started making adaptations to the house to accommodate his new needs. The way he took care of Daniel wasn’t unexpected, it wasn’t exactly the first time he had opened his home for the archaeologist. He never made a big deal out of it either. But the fact that they’d kept it a secret this time told Janet there was something more going on. She wanted to ask Jack about it, but the way he had reluctantly ground out the admission made her think it wasn’t something he wasn’t particularly keen on discussing. Maybe another time. Or I could talk to Daniel. He is at least a bit more of the sharing type than the colonel. She tore herself back to reply to Jack’s question.
“He’ll need a lot of help in the beginning. The back brace will stabilize his back so he can move around, but it’ll also constrict his agility. He’ll still need a lot of rest in a good bed and space to do the physical exercises the therapist will give him. He’ll be meeting with her as well sometime in the next few days.”
“Alright, I think his bed is pretty good; big and comfy.” Janet nodded her approval, and he continued, “I have a gym, so exercises won’t be a problem.”
“In that case I suppose I’d say…you can bring him home the day after tomorrow.”
Jack nodded and turned to return to Daniel, but just as he was about to leave Janet called him back.
“Colonel, I know Daniel is very excited right now about his back being better, but he’s still a long way from fine. I said I am hopeful about his prognosis, but I can’t guarantee he’ll get full functionality back in his legs. You need to be prepared to be there for him when he realizes how much work he’s got in front of him, and that it might not even yield the results he is hoping for.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Jack ripped off the affirmation with his usual derisive tone, but he understood the importance of Janet’s words. When Daniel had faced the idea of not walking again, only three days ago, it hadn’t been pretty. Realizing he wasn’t going to be quite as ‘fine’ as he thought might result in a similar scenario; with him trying to push Jack away again. Good thing I’m not that easy to get rid of then.