Broken Friends

Chapter 9

When Jack had asked him to move in Daniel hadn’t quite known what to expect. Jack was his best friend, the best friend he’d ever had, but they were still very different. He had suspected living together might not prove to be as easy as it seemed. It had turned out Jack was going to go to some length to make him feel at home. He had even prepared a room for him.

“Used to be the guestroom,” Jack had said. “But it’s mostly you who’ve ever stayed there anyway so... Do you remember that?”

Daniel remembered, and even more so the more time he spent in the room. It already had an air of him that clearly separated it from the rest of Jack’s house. For instance was one whole wall occupied by a huge bookshelf, already half-filled with ancient books and books on ancient things. It wasn’t that Jack didn’t read, but he didn’t read those kinds of books.

“They’re yours,” Jack had explained in response to his questioning eyes. “I brought some of them here when you…ehm…died,” he finished with a slightly apologetic look.

“Thank you.” Daniel hadn’t known what else to say. He was moved, especially since he knew that Jack wasn’t one for sentimentality. It wasn’t like his friends had gotten rid of his stuff when he…yeah…died. They’d told him they had put most of it in storage in case he somehow would come back, but Jack bringing his books to his home said something about how much he had missed him.

Daniel had quickly made the room even more his own by getting some of his antique furniture and artifacts out of the storage. He was getting to feel at home and even if he wasn’t used to sharing a home with someone, most of the time it was nice to not be alone. On their rare nights off-base he and Jack now always hung out, getting to know each other better and in whole new ways.

They already did know each other well of course, intimately familiar with each other’s strengths and weaknesses and well-versed in what the other’s interests were. Uncountable nights off-world around the campfire and tragically equally uncountable close brushes with death will do that to people. Now however, for better or worse, they shared the life back on Earth as well, and not even the team’s movie nights could compare to that.

Jack and Daniel found their first dilemma in sharing a home on their very first night in front of the TV; the timetable clash of a hockey match and a historical documentary on National Geographic.

“Can’t you could tape the documentary?” Jack had said with an air of blatancy that infuriated Daniel, as it rimed so well with Jack’s constant disinterest and brushing away of most anything that interested him.

“Or you could tape the hockey game,” he shot back, not attempting to hide his feelings as he glared at Jack. The anger in his eyes had taken Jack aback, and for once it was Jack who attempted to be the reasonable one as he tried to explain why he needed to see the game.

“It’s live. And I have a bet on it with Siler. I need to know if I should be demanding my money or avoiding him tomorrow.”

In the end Daniel had agreed to record the documentary to watch it later, and fetched a book to read instead. Jack’s logic was valid, but Daniel had no intention of torturing himself through watching the game with him. Sports had never been a very big interest in his life.

To his own surprise half an hour later, Daniel found himself not reading his book but actually engrossed in the hockey game. Jack’s enthusiastic spectator style probably had something to do with it. Above all else it made it all but impossible for Daniel to concentrate on the book, and consequently he decided to put it down and give the game a chance.

Jack was excited to see him interested and gladly answered all of Daniel’s questions, explaining everything from rules to equipment to his personal favorite players. As with everything Daniel turned his attention to his thirst for knowledge was insatiable.

“You sure have a lot of questions for someone who’s not interested in sports,” Jack joked with his patented sardonic tone of voice, a pleased smirk playing on his lips.

“Just figured if I’m stuck watching the stuff at least I should understand it,” Daniel retorted in a matching tone.

With the watching of the hockey game having proved to be such a success, it occurred to Jack that Daniel should try another level of involvement in his interests. He brought the subject up the very next day on their drive in to Cheyenne Mountain.

“Hey, Daniel!”

Daniel pulled himself from his slumber against the car door window.

“Yes, Jack,” he yawned.

“You know me and Siler and a few others get together sometimes for a friendly game of hockey?”

“Yeah…” Where’s this going?

“Well, unless something horrible happens before Thursday, we’ve got a game planned. You should join us.”

“I don’t know…my skills are like my interest when it comes to sports.”

“Good. I’ll sign you up then,” Jack grinned.

“Wait a minute,” Daniel protested, sitting up straighter in the car seat. “I did not say I would do it.”

“You sort of did.”

“How so?” Daniel’s voice was laced with indignation.

“Well, since your skills are like your interest, and you just discovered yesterday that you actually are interested in hockey, your skills must just be hitherto undiscovered.” Jack practically beamed with self-pride and Daniel gave him a frustrated huff. As annoying and ridiculous as Jack’s argument was, it did make sense.

“Fine,” he finally acquiesced with a sigh. “I’ll give it one chance. But you better wipe that grin off your face or I’ll change my mind. And stop puffing yourself up like a proud peacock; you might just explode. Then who is going to torment me with hockey games, and distract me from important interstellar discoveries with silly military objectives?”

“You’re right!” Jack exclaimed with feigned horror, and with exaggerated care schooled his facial expression as they pulled up to the gate outside the mountain. Daniel found it hard not to laugh at the slight confusion of the guard as he was faced with an overly severe Colonel O’Neill. It’s good most people around here know him, or we might not make it through the checkpoint one of these days.

Thursday came, and for once the world hadn’t ended, so Jack and Daniel met up with the rest of the SGC hockey enthusiasts at the Cadet Ice Arena outside Colorado Springs. Jack had scared up a pair of skates for Daniel to borrow, and he even helped him lace them up. Daniel however, who had alternated all week between forgetting and denying his promise, still had one rather big hurdle to overcome before he could join the game.

“Uhm, Jack…” he began as Jack tied the last knot on his skates.

“Yeah, Danny?” It always reminded Daniel of his parents when Jack called him that – in a good way. It made him feel like they were really a family; something he valued above everything else.

“You know, I don’t think this is such a good idea.”

Jack’s head snapped up.

“No, no. No backing out. You said you’d give it a try.”

“There’s just…one small problem…” Daniel felt his cheeks heat and diverted his eyes to his knees. “I don’t actually know how to skate.”

“That’s alright. I figured that might be the case, with how much time you’ve spent in countries that don’t regularly get chilly enough for ice. So, we’ll just start out slow with the basics and you can join the game if and when you feel ready for it.”

Daniel’s heart warmed with gratitude. He knew he shouldn’t be so surprised at Jack’s care for him, but as paradigmatically altering as it was his time with the man only represented a relatively small part of Daniel’s life. The majority of his experiences were with people whose patience with him had been little to none. He constantly had to remind himself that things were different with Jack – and most of the people at the SGC in fact. The memories that confirmed this were the ones he really enjoyed regaining those first weeks back on Earth in human form; the ones that made him think it was good to remember. I’m glad I decided to come home. To think I might have missed out on knowing my friends again.

Jack interrupted his affectionate thoughts, “Alright, are you ready to get on the ice?”

Daniel nodded and grasped Jack’s offered hand. His steady grip was a welcome support as he wobbly inched his way onto the ice, greeted with encouraging hoots from the SGC-personnel already there.

Jack was a good teacher, something Daniel already knew from hours with him on the shooting range. If someone had told him eight years ago that Jack would turn him from pacifistic archeologist to gun toting adventurer he wouldn’t have believed it, and he still doubted anyone but Jack would have succeeded.

By the end of his first skating lesson ever, Daniel's wobbly legs had steadied to the point where he could make his way around the rink without Jack by his side. He felt pretty good about himself. Unfortunately there was one – kind of major – part about the whole adventure he really didn't like. Jack was right. He did enjoy skating, but now Daniel would have to admit it to Jack. I'll never hear the end of it.

Jack was just as graceful as Daniel had expected about his 'victory'. He had been quiet the entire way home in the car, just smiling smugly in Daniel’s direction whenever he could take his eyes off the road. The wretched anticipation in the pit of Daniel’s stomach had plenty of time to fester and grate at his nerves, until he finally couldn't take it any longer.

In an almost whine he burst out, “Yes, Jack, yes, it was fun.”

Jack’s grin got even wider. He threw up a victory punch in the air and said the words he'd obviously been waiting to utter:

“I told you so!”

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