When Jack came to pick Daniel up the archaeologist was still a big ray of sunshine, unbridled by the restriction of the stiff corset-like back brace around his torso. The only thing that could even begin to dampen his spirit was the fact that he was forced to rely on Jack to push him around in his wheelchair.
“You can start wheeling yourself when you’ve recovered a bit more,” Janet admonished him when he for the tenth time attempted to assume control over the vehicle. She shot a smile in Jack’s direction as they left, that said the only thing measuring up to how much she pitied him was the relief of having her most annoying patient out of the infirmary again. Daniel would be coming in for regular check-ups of course, but it was always good to see him on his way after another of his far-too-often visits to her medical realm.
As Jack steered his friend down the hall, Daniel made another grab for the wheels and Janet couldn’t help but chuckle at the pair of them when Jack swatted away his hands like a scolding parent. Taking care of Daniel was a handful, whoever’s lot it fell on, and she was just happy it wasn’t on hers for now.
Spotting Sam down the hall also saying goodbye to the two men as they headed home, Janet recalled the riddle of them living together. Maybe Sam knows something. Janet had taken up the matter with Daniel but as she had feared he’d been almost as cagy about the subject as the colonel.
“Jack asked me to move in,” was all he’d volunteered before clamming up and refusing to answer any more questions. In the end he had even resorted to using her own arguments against her and claimed he was too tired to talk and needed to rest. She’d given up then since she couldn’t very well tell him not to rest when he actually wanted to.
“Sam!” she shouted and waved for her friend to come.
“Hi, Janet,” Sam said when she reached the doctor. “I see Daniel’s well enough to go home. Or did you just get sick of him and decided to let Jack handle him for a while?”
They both laughed. Even if Sam’s question was in most part a joke it did hold a measure of truth. Sam knew as well as Janet what a hassle an ill Daniel could be. Sharing the good-hearted laugh on their mutual friend’s expense they headed for the commissary for a bite to eat and a chance to catch up on some base-gossip.
Dinner served for the day was meatloaf and they both grabbed themselves a generous helping, Sam finishing off her tray with a cup of blue Jell-O.
“You know that stuff isn’t good for you right?” Janet asked, unable to contain the doctor part of her. Sam just grinned and scoped a large chunk of Jell-O into her mouth, chewing as she followed Janet who was navigating her way to an available table in the farthest corner of the room. Having sat down Janet opened with the latest rumors of on-base romance, a nurse she’d heard was interested in one of the janitors. Being as the two of them were almost the only higher ranking women on the base they often relied on each other to share the girly pastime of tittle-tattle. The privates just didn’t feel comfortable talking with them in that way. After some light talk Janet brought up the question actually on her mind.
“Sam, when I spoke to Jack about Daniel’s care, he told me that Daniel was already staying at his place, before all this. Do you know anything about that? Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but they both seem so secretive about it.”
Sam wasn’t surprised to receive this particular question, which stemmed from the same caring place as Sam’s curiosity. Much to her own chagrin however, Sam was unable to give a very satisfying answer.
“I don’t know much. Apparently Jack asked him to move in, but I have no idea why they’ve been lying about it. It’s not like it’s the first time Daniel has stayed there.”
“No,” Janet agreed, “he usually does when he can’t be on his own or doesn’t have a place due to his habit of appearing dead.”
“I know, but this time there’s definitely something else going on. They really didn’t want anyone to know. I and Teal'c only found out through an accident.”
“Yeah. On PQX-830, we were having supper and Daniel happened to blurt it out. The colonel was real pissed about it too.”
Sam scooped the last of her Jell-O in her mouth, and she and Janet continued talking as they rose to put away their trays and headed out of the commissary.
“So they didn’t explain it to you?” Janet asked discouraged.
“No, the colonel shut down the conversation. He really didn’t want us to know.”
“Yeah, I got that impression. Daniel refused to talk about it too.”
“I figured he would.” Sam nodded in match with Janet’s disappointed voice.
“So what is it all about? What’s the big secret?”
“I have no idea, Janet.”
Arriving outside the infirmary the two women gave up their fruitless speculations and parted ways to return to their respective work.
When they pulled up to the house in Jack’s truck Daniel was surprised to see the three low steps up to the front door built over with a wooden ramp. Jack helped him out of the car and began wheeling him up to the entrance.
“Did you build that?”
Jack dismissed his awed question with a non-consequential, “Yup” as he swept open the door and against Janet’s explicit directions allowed Daniel to guide himself in. Closing the door Jack bounced around him and into the living room where he picked up something from the sofa table.
“I taped you something,” he said, practically gleaming as he held up a silvery DVD for Daniel to see.
“Jack, I don’t want to see a hockey game from almost a week ago.”
The colonel shook his head fiercely.
“No, no. I taped that documentary on the Incas that there was a commercial about before we left for sandbox central. I did promise you that you’d have first dibs on the TV control when we got back so you could watch it, but then you ended up still in the infirmary that night so I figured I’d tape it for you.”
Jack knew that Daniel loved archaeological documentaries. He’d known it even before Daniel moved in but living together, with all the arguments over hockey game versus documentary, had made it even more evident. Most people who had met Daniel would guess correctly that Discovery Channel and National Geographic were his top picks on the TV, but Jack knew something most people didn’t; exactly why he loved them so much.
It wasn’t that he actually watched the documentaries like a normal person would, attentively and eager to learn. Finding a documentary that could teach Daniel anything was a near impossible task somewhere around the level of holding off an army of Jaffa one-handedly. Considering that finding one that even got the facts right according to Daniel was an almost equally unattainable goal, a fairer description of Daniel’s way to watch a documentary would be to liken it to a strict teacher grading his students’ inadequate papers. He constantly commented and corrected the narrative, as if marking every flawed conclusion and misrepresented fact with a red pen. If the TV-program had indeed been a paper, it would have been covered in corrections jotted in unintelligible red scribbles. Particularly since Daniel’s handwriting was a completely incomprehensible mess of every single language he knew written down so fast that the pen could hardly keep up with his train of thought.
“It’s worse than a doctor’s,” Jack had commented on it as late as last week, receiving a cheeky, “I am a doctor, Jack,” in reply.
Yeah, the man could sure be real snide when he wanted to. It got him in trouble with the brass sometimes, and on missions it could bug the living daylights out of Jack, but when it came to watching archaeological documentaries with him – it was hilarious.
Daniel smiled at his friend’s excited documentary offering. He nodded to Jack.
“Can we watch it now?” he asked, not attempting to hide the small kid shining through.
Jack matched his nod and smile, waving him into the living room while turning to put the DVD in the machine. Daniel rolled into the room, down another newly built ramp, and attempted to scoot himself over to the sofa. Almost falling over he was glad to feel Jack’s supporting hands under his arms and gently lifting him into the soft seat, even if he was a bit embarrassed to need to be lifted like a child.
The intro for the documentary put off his mellow thoughts and he focused his attention on the TV. To majestic music the camera panned slowly over a series of overgrown stone buildings set atop a high mountain top. Daniel recognized them as ruined Inca cities from South America.
“At least they got the right images,” he commented to Jack, his voice intermingling with the opening voiceover.
“The Inca’s last standing structures, left behind for the archeologists of today to explore, are the majestic temples of sites like Machu Picchu and Cusco…”
“Not temples – cities” Daniel stage-whispered to Jack, who smirked in response.
The documentary went on, with Daniel ripping the so called archaeological findings into pieces at every turn, and Jack simply laughing along with the hilarity of his comments. After the Inca documentary had ended, Jack zapped around the channels until they found another documentary, this one about Egypt. Oh, this is really gonna be good, Jack thought as he put the controller down and got ready to hear the Daniel-moderated version.
He let Daniel continue with one documentary after another until he was falling asleep in the sofa. Turning the TV off he nudged the archaeologist awake enough to transfer him to the wheelchair and drove him into his room. Getting a sleepy Daniel changed into his pajamas was a bit of a struggle, where parent techniques Jack had thought long forgotten suddenly came into welcome use. Finally he had gotten his friend safely tucked in though and headed for his own bed.