We have to talk...

As I made my way to the infirmary, I couldn't help but wonder what kind of reception I'd get from Daniel. I hadn't seen hide nor hair of him since I'd shot that android of his. He hadn't been very happy with me, and we parted on fairly unfriendly terms. I'd been meaning to go and look him up, and talk to him, really talk to him, but the sweep of the base had occupied all of my time. My teams finished their work barely an hour ago.

I'd been shocked when I discovered that Daniel had been injured, he'd given me no indication that the android had harmed him again. Of course, I had been too busy saving Daniel's life and Daniel had been too busy telling me off. Carter had just informed me that Daniel was still in the infirmary, so that's where I was headed. She also mentioned that he wanted nothing to do with me…I knew that I had my work cut out for me.

As I entered Janet's domain, I hesitated by the door, looking around for my friend. I didn't know how badly hurt he was; Janet had been too busy to speak to me when I had called earlier. The nurse who answered had mentioned that his injuries weren't life threatening. I was relieved to see him sitting up in one of the beds, an open book on his lap. As I watched, I could see that he wasn't reading, but was staring off into space. Before I could gather my courage and approach him, I heard Janet's melodious voice quietly address me from behind.

As I turned towards Janet, she indicated with a motion of her head that she wanted to speak to me privately. She glanced quickly towards Daniel, and then hurried to her office. I followed her after indulging in a final look at Daniel myself.

"Colonel, I'm glad you finally came to see Daniel." I realized that she wasn't being sarcastic, she knew how busy I'd been the past 36 hours.

"General Hammond just placed us all on downtime, I thought I'd…." I broke off, and ran a hand over my face. God, I was tired. "Shit Janet, I didn't even know she had hurt him again! How is he?"

"Physically, apart from a badly sprained and bruised wrist, and extensive bruising on his back, he's fine. He's very stiff and in quite a bit of pain. The problem is that he's not eating, not sleeping, and he won't take anything for the pain. Colonel, Daniel is both mentally and physically exhausted." Fraiser's expressive brown eyes looked into mine compassionately as she continued. "I know that you don't want to hear this, but I believe Daniel is also depressed. I was hoping you would talk to him, get him to open up."

I realized that the bruising must be a result from when he'd gotten thrown halfway across the room yesterday, with a bookcase breaking his fall. But the sprained wrist? When and how did that happen? And the depression…well, that wasn't too hard to figure out.

"Well, doc, considering that he's kinda mad at me at the moment, I don't know how much help I can be. But I'll give it a try." A thought suddenly came to me. "Are you going to let him leave the base?"

"Not in this condition," she said, shaking her head. "Unless…"

"Unless I take him home and make sure he takes his meds, eats, drinks and sleeps? Yeah, I know the routine. But I can't promise he'll want to go with me." I turned and left Janet's office, hoping I could pull this off. As I approached Daniel, I could hear Janet's footsteps behind me.

I stopped at Daniel's bedside and looked down at my friend. He had his head turned away from me, and he was staring off into space. His left wrist was tightly bandaged and was held carefully against his chest in a sling. I could see the tension in his body. Janet said that his back was bruised, he had to be hurting just lying there on the bed.

"Hey," I said. I leaned my hip against the side of Daniel's bed, my fingers nervously tapping on the mattress. Daniel studiously ignored me, keeping his head averted. "General Hammond gave us some downtime. I was wondering if you were planning on spending the next several days in this bed?"

"Go away, Jack."

Ignoring Daniel, I continued. "So the way I see it, you have two choices. One, you take your medication, and I get you some food. Which you will eat, by the way. Then you come home and stay with me until Janet says you're well enough to be on your own." I saw Daniel's jaw clench slightly in reaction to my words. "Or two, you stay here and have fun with Janet's nurses."

Daniel finally turned his head and looked up at me. I could see the cold look in Daniel's bloodshot eyes as they stared into mine. I sighed softly. It was my own fault that Daniel was looking at me that way. I thought that he would eventually forgive me, but we still had to talk, and get things out into the open.

"So, what's it gonna be?" I urged. Janet handed me a small container and a glass of water. I peered into the container, looking at the pills. I recognized the painkillers; I'd had to take those often enough. I guessed that the other was a muscle relaxant.

I placed both the pills and the water on the bedside table beside Daniel's uninjured arm, and waited. Daniel looked down at the pills, and I watched him struggle with his decision. For a moment, I thought that Daniel would actually choose to remain in the infirmary. Then he reached over with a trembling hand, picked up the medication, and washed everything down with a gulp of water.

I felt Janet squeeze my arm in triumph before she walked over to help Daniel get off the bed. I could see by his awkward movements how stiff and sore Daniel was, he was having a hard time moving. I would have gone to help them, but I didn't think that Daniel would suffer my touch at the moment. With the aid of a nurse, Janet finally got him up, dressed, and walking, albeit very stiffly. As Daniel preceded me out of the infirmary, Janet unobtrusively handed me a small bag. Peering inside, I saw more of the pills, along with written instructions. I pocketed the package and escorted Daniel to the commissary.

- - - - - -

I placed a tray containing our breakfast before Daniel, and watched as he obviously tried to force the food down. Our meal was eaten in total silence. I quickly finished my own meal, and kept quiet when Daniel finally put his fork down, his meal barely touched. At least he had made an attempt to eat, which was a start. I figured that if Daniel was as tired as he looked, he was probably feeling more nauseous than hungry.

"Ready to go?" I inquired. Without answering, Daniel pushed his chair back and stood up carefully, clearly trying not to jar his back, shoulders and wrist. Even with the medication Janet had given Daniel, I figured it would be a few more days before Daniel could move with ease.

We made our way out of the mountain, and up to the parking area. Once I unlocked the passenger door of my vehicle, I reached over to give Daniel a hand. Daniel winced as he obviously abused sore muscles in an attempt to pull away from me. I stood back and watched as my friend struggled to get settled into his seat. Once Daniel was inside, I shut the door and walked over to the driver's side. Starting the motor, I looked over at him.

"Daniel, we have to talk." I pursed my lips as I saw Daniel turn his head away. "Not now, we're both not ready," I said, trying to placate him. Oh, how I hated getting the silent treatment from Daniel. Inhaling deeply, I began what promised to be a long drive down the mountain.

Several minutes into the drive, I noticed that Daniel was trying very hard not to nod off. The medication he'd taken, on top of his exhaustion, was obviously making him very sleepy. I figured that Daniel was feeling too vulnerable, alone with me, to allow himself to fall asleep. I placed a CD in the player, and soft, soothing music soon filled the truck. I smiled to myself when two minutes later, Daniel was finally lulled into a light sleep.

- - - - - -

I parked the truck, turned the motor off, and hoped that Daniel would wake up on his own. I decided to wait a minute or two, but Daniel stubbornly slept on. Sighing, I reached a hand and gently squeezed Daniel's shoulder. No reaction. I squeezed a bit harder, not wanting to shake him and risk hurting his back. As Daniel stirred slightly, I said, "Come on, Danny. Wake up, we're home." Daniel turned his head to look at me sleepily, and the start of a smile appeared on his face when his eyes met mine. Before I could react, he woke up completely, and the smile quickly faded and turned into a scowl.

"Let's go," I told him. I felt unbelievingly hurt to see the trust in Daniel's eyes quickly change to anger and disappointment. As Daniel turned his head and looked around, his eyes widened in surprise.

"I thought we were going to your place," he said.

"Yeah, well, I thought you'd sleep better in your own bed." I was rewarded with a quick glance, this time filled with less animosity.

"Thank you," Daniel said in a small voice. I felt slightly guilty at hearing Daniel thank me. Actually, I had an ulterior motive in bringing Daniel to his home rather than my own. I figured that if we stayed at Daniel's place, then there was no chance of him running out on me if things got heated.

I was out of the vehicle and opening the passenger door before Daniel had even managed to get his seatbelt unbuckled. He had stiffened up during the ride home, and this time he reluctantly accepted my help in climbing out of the truck.

I kept my hands to myself, not offering to help guide Daniel into the building. I could tell by Daniel's demeanor that he still wanted nothing to do with me. As we approached the door to Daniel's apartment, I pulled out my own key and unlocked it, saving him from the need to move unnecessarily.

I reluctantly put a hand out to stop Daniel as he started for the living room. Again, Daniel pulled back from my touch, a hiss of pain escaping from him as the sudden movement strained sore muscles. "Sorry," I mumbled, "but Janet did say that you need to get some rest. And you'll sleep better lying down in your bed rather than sitting up on the couch."

With a glare, Daniel turned around and made his way to the bedroom. I followed him inside, and watched with sympathy as Daniel struggled to shrug out of his jacket one handed. Unable to stand seeing Daniel in pain, I walked up to him and grabbed a hold of the material, intending to help him undress.

"Don't," he said, as he took a step backwards.

"Look, it'll go much faster and probably be a hell of a lot less painful if you just let me help you."

"I don't need your help, haven't you done enough already?" Damn, but I didn't want to get into this right now, but I could tell that Daniel was itching for a fight.

"Daniel, don’t start. Not now. I'm too tired to argue with you, and with the meds you've got inside you, you're probably going to say something that you'll regret later."

"What? Afraid to hear the truth for a change?" He'd finally managed to get his jacket off. He stood there holding it in his hand, glaring at me.

"Danny, please. I do want to talk about what happened. But later, when we've both rested." As Daniel looked away from me, he swayed slightly. I approached him slowly and took the jacket from his hand. "Let's get you into bed, okay?" Daniel still didn't meet my eyes, but I felt some of the tension leave his body. I took it to mean that Daniel tacitly agreed to let me help him get ready for bed.

I finally managed to get Daniel undressed and into bed with as little discomfort as I could manage. I stood there silently, watching as Daniel drifted off into unwanted slumber. I waited another couple of minutes, making sure that he was truly asleep. Then I walked out into the living room and settled myself for a long-overdue nap.

- - - - - -

When I woke up, I was surprised to find that it was dark outside. Checking my watch, I discovered that I had been asleep for nearly nine hours. I turned on some lights as I made my way to the bathroom. Once finished, I decided to check on Daniel. To my relief, I found him sleeping soundly. After checking Daniel's refrigerator and finding nothing edible, I decided to order in a meal.

Remembering that Janet had given me Daniel's medication, I checked her instructions and realized that Daniel was overdue for his next dose. Thinking that Daniel probably needed more food inside of him, I decided to rouse him before the food arrived. I walked into the bedroom armed with the pills and water, and gently woke my friend up.

When Daniel tried to move, I realized that his muscles had stiffened up again. I helped him sit up before offering him the medication. I was glad that he was accepting my help, but I knew that the reason was because he was in too much pain to try and fight me off.

"You know, maybe a hot bath would help," I suggested, and was rewarded by a glare. Sighing heavily, I replied, "Fine, don't take a bath. I'm just trying to help here." I was starting to get mighty tired of Daniel's looks and attitude.

"Okay," I heard Daniel say softly.

"You want that bath?" Daniel nodded, his face averted.

Smiling suddenly, I said, "I'll be right back." As I was finishing adjusting the temperature of the bath water, I looked up to see Daniel standing in the doorway. I helped him undress and eased him into the tub, placing a folded towel beneath his head and another under his bandaged arm. I'd gotten a glimpse of the bruises running down his back and shoulders. My own body shivered slightly in empathy.

"Twenty minutes, all right? Supper should be here by then." Daniel opened his eyes in surprise. "Yeah, I ordered some Thai, that okay with you?" Daniel nodded slightly, eyes closing again. "I'll leave you in peace, then."

I put some water on for tea, set the table, and then sat down in front of the TV, waiting for supper. When the doorbell rang, I paid the deliveryman and placed the food on the table. When I went to check on Daniel, I found him dozing in the tub. I helped him out, got him back into his sweats, and steered him into the kitchen. I was pleased to see Daniel eat with a bit more appetite than he had earlier this morning.

After the meal, as we sat sipping our tea, I saw that Daniel was starting to get sleepy again. Without a word, I got up and cleared off the table. As I finished, I saw that Daniel was watching me. I couldn't quite figure out if the look he was giving me was the one that said, "Jack what the hell are you doing here" or the one that said "Jack I wish you'd get the hell out of here". So I answered the only way I could. "What?"

Daniel shook his head, and said, "I just can't figure out why you're doing this."

"Doing what? Helping out a friend?"

"Is that what I am to you? A friend? Does a friend constantly ignore another friend? Threaten to shove them against a wall? Shoot…" Daniel looked away, fighting his emotions.

I swallowed as I heard Daniel's voice break. I continued Daniel's unfinished sentence. "Shoot an android dead right before a friend's eyes?" I saw Daniel look at me for a moment, then look away again. "Yeah," I continued, "a friend will do that when he thinks his best friend is in danger."

"I had everything under control, Jack. Reese was shutting down the replicators. Another two minutes, and…"

"Daniel, you didn't have another two minutes. Carter and Hammond initiated the self-destruct, and all I knew was that you were in trouble." At Daniel's shocked countenance, I nodded. "It was that bad. The replicators were beginning to act on their own, we had to stop the android."

"I did it again, didn't I?" Daniel said with a self-depreciating laugh.

"What?"

"Thought I could talk my way out of trouble." He pushed back from the table in annoyance, grimacing at the pain the sudden movement caused. As he rose awkwardly, he said, "I don't know why the hell you keep me around. I'm not military, I never seem to do the right thing. Hell, you admitted it yourself. You try to resist shoving me through a wall when you don't like what I say."

He spun on his heels and quickly walked away from the table.

"Daniel!" Damnit, I muttered to myself as I ran after my friend. "Daniel, wait!" I reached the younger man as he was entering his bedroom. I stopped him with a gentle touch on his arm. "Daniel, I didn't mean it when I said that. You know I didn't mean it. I was joking." At Daniel's hurt look, I said, "Allright, I admit it wasn't one of my best lines, but you know me. You know I wouldn't deliberately hurt you."

Daniel swayed slightly, and I caught his arm to steady him. "Daniel, I was afraid for you, afraid that the replicators or the android had hurt you, or worse. I didn't know what was going on in the embarkation room. When I finally broke in, all I could think of was neutralizing her. I'm sorry. If we had had a few more minutes, it might have gone down differently. But we didn't."

"Jack, by killing Reese, you may have destroyed our only hope in fighting the replicators," Daniel said softly.

"I know. But if the base had blown, she'd be just as dead. At least you're alive." I could feel Daniel trembling slightly. "Come on, sit down, before you fall down." I urged him onto the bed, realizing that although he had gotten some rest, he was still extremely tired.

I sat down beside Daniel. He sat limply beside me, his injured hand cradled against his chest. "Danny, what happened to your wrist?" I saw Daniel smile in chagrin as he said, "Oh, I got Reese to trust me, and then fumbled trying to get her 'battery' out. She was a little…upset."

"Damnit, Daniel, she could have killed you!"

"Yeah. Actually, for a minute I thought she was going to. But it just shows how badly she wanted to trust someone. To have a friend." Daniel hung his head, and said, "Jack, I had her convinced, she was shutting down the replicators." I felt Daniel lean in slightly against me. I carefully put my arm around his shoulders, pulling him closer in a gentle hug.

"I know, Danny. You did good, you know that? I wish I could have given you those few extra minutes. I just couldn't take the chance." I wondered briefly if I had actually fired too fast, had chosen the life of his android friend over the chance of securing an end to the replicators. Replaying the scene over again in my mind, I decided that no, I had done the right thing. I felt Daniel relax even more against me. Oops, better get the man into bed before he fell asleep in my arms.

"Danny, bed, okay?" I felt Daniel nod his head, but he didn't move from where he was. Raising a hand and putting it to Daniel's nape, I squeezed gently for a moment, then pushed him away from me. "Bed," I ordered. As Daniel slid under the blankets, he looked at me and said, "I'm sorry for what I said, Jack."

"Which was?"

"Oh…calling you a son of a bitch."

"Well, maybe I deserved it at the time." I frowned after a moment. "Hey, what about calling me stupid?"

"No, that I meant," he smiled jokingly. I got up as I saw Daniel's eyes finally close in sleep. As I shut the door and walked back into the living room, I smiled to myself. My best friend was back.

FINIS!

 

Author's Comments:

Devra: Thank you for the Alpha/Beta! Wonderful work.
Ynette: Again, thanks for letting me pick your brain once again.

 

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DISCLAIMER:The characters mentioned in this story are the property of Showtime and Gekko Film Corp. The Stargate, SG-I, the Goa'uld and all other characters who have appeared in the series STARGATE SG-1 together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MGM-UA Worldwide Television, Gekko Film Corp, Glassner/Wright Double Secret Productions and Stargate SG-I Prod. Ltd. Partnership. This fanfic is not intended as an infringement upon those rights and solely meant for entertainment. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author.