They put Daniel straight in the infirmary, which seemed pointless because he was clearly perfectly fine. But at the same time, he had been dead. That made it tricky.
Jack sauntered down there after he had finally finished writing out damage reports. He suspected he had been kept away on purpose – he had a lot less patience than Daniel when it came to unnecessary medical exams. Or what he saw as unnecessary. But he was certain that they weren’t going to find any injuries at all unless they cut open the man’s head, and thus far the doctors had always stopped just short of doing that.
Sure enough, when he eventually got down to the infirmary there were clearly no medical tests going on. Daniel was sitting cross-legged in scrubs on top of a bed playing cards with Sam, who was sitting likewise at the other end. Teal’c stood behind her.
“Carter, they’re cheating,” Jack said.
“I know, Sir,” Carter responded, still checking her hand. “I’m winning anyway, though, so I thought I’d humour them.”
“Hey, Jack,” Daniel said, with quite a lot of casualness.
“Hey Daniel. Thought you were dead.”
“Odd. So did I.”
There was a very heavy pause.
The jokey approach wasn’t working as well as he’d hoped. Jack sat down on the next bed. “So where is everyone? This party’s a bit empty.”
“Teal’c went round and gave them all a Look until they cleared out,” Daniel said.
Sam and Daniel continued playing, the cards making very loud noises as they tapped against each other. The room seemed to swirl with all the words that everyone was not saying.
Tap, tap¸ went the cards.
It was late; well past midnight. “It’s late,” Jack said.
“Nothing to get up for,” Daniel said. “I’m being put on medical leave. Two weeks.”
“All of us are,” Sam said. “It’s an unofficial Thank You For Saving The Galaxy present.”
“Does it come with a card?” Jack asked, as he was expected to, and watched his team smile for a moment. He tried to think about two weeks with nothing to do but try and stave off thoughts of what might have been, and also of what had been, which was nearly as bad. “How long have you been playing cards?”
“A while,” Daniel said.
“Who’s winning now?”
A noise as all three of them spoke together. Carter from Teal’c, Sam from Daniel, Me from Sam. It hadn’t required any thought. Card games lasted a while and then Sam won them. That was how the universe was supposed to work, after all. Just like he was supposed to make inappropriate jokes and Teal’c was supposed to stand guard and Daniel was supposed to blink owlishly behind his glasses and prove that death wasn’t real and didn’t matter…
Tap, tap, tap.
“So what are you going to do with your medical leave?” he asked Daniel.
Daniel paused between placing cards. “I hadn’t really…thought…about it yet.”
“Carter and I have plans,” Jack said.
“We do?” Sam asked.
“We’re going fishing. You two should come.”
“We are?” Sam asked, again.
“Yup. You agreed to it, remember?”
“I am sure I heard you agree,” Teal’c said.
“Ah yes. So silly of me to have forgotten.”
“I don’t have any fishing equipment,” Daniel protested.
Jack knew a token protest when he heard one. He made enough of them himself. “Don’t worry, I’ve got plenty. The fish in my pond won’t know what hit them.”
“Alright,” said Daniel. Quickly. Jack knew his idea was right. “But only if you bring some food that isn’t beer.”
“And we’re leaving right now,” Jack added.
“No, I’m supposed to stay here overnight.”
“But no one’s here to stop you,” Jack pointed out. “If we leave now we’ll get to the cabin by the time the sun comes up.”
He looked at them. “That sounds like an excellent idea,” Teal’c said unexpectedly.
“What sort of fish are we going to catch?” Daniel asked, as he got dressed.
“You’ll be surprised,” Jack said. He was always surprised himself at what he caught on fishing trips. His breath, primarily. Time. And there would be a chance to catch some of the words which were still a deep undercurrent everywhere they turned.
They would catch each other. They would be okay.