As Jack O’Neill made his way across the parking lot to his SUV he couldn’t help but notice his young friend kicking angrily at his tire, cursing under his breath as he bent down and attempted to turn the tire iron on the locking nut.
“Hey, Daniel. What’s up?”
“I have a flat isn’t it obvious!” snarled the young archeologist as he snapped himself upright and faced his CO. His body language and stance told the colonel to back off, but in typical Jack style, he ignored the warning signs and continued on.
“Maybe I can help with that?”
“I don’t want your help with this or anything else for that matter, haven’t you figured that out yet, Jack?”
The colonel pulled himself to a stop and looked dejectedly at his young friend. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Forget it, just leave me alone!”
“No, Daniel, tell me what you meant?”
“Let it go, Jack I’m not in the mood tonight.”
“You’re never in the mood lately, Daniel.”
“Well I wonder why that might be, maybe it has something to do with that whole friendship thing.” snapped the young archeologist bitterly.
“I don’t know how many times I have to tell you that I never meant what I said, it was all just a ploy for Maybourne?”
“So you keep telling me.”
“Aw come on, Daniel. You can’t tell me you thought I really meant.”
The young archeologist moved swiftly towards his CO as he verbally attacked him. “I don’t give a damn what you say, Jack. I know you meant it. Deep down you did, you had to; there is no way you’d use our friendship against me like that, NOT if you truly valued it.”
“Daniel I had no choice, I had to convince, Maybourne our friendship was over, I couldn’t let you become a pawn he could use against me. Don’t you get it? I never thought for a second you’d believe the bullshit I was dishing out, I thought you’d see right through it and get with the program. God damn it, Daniel I thought you knew me better than that!”
“So did I, but now I don’t think I ever knew you at all. When I think of all the times I looked up to you, when all I wanted was your approval, what the hell was I thinking?”
“Don’t interrupt me, Jack!” screamed the archeologist as he squared up to his CO with nothing but hate in his eyes.
“Daniel, please. Listen to me,” pleaded the soldier.
“No, Jack I’ve listened to you for far too long. I’ve just about had enough of you and your so called friendship, just leave me the fuck alone and get the hell out of my life!”
The colonel grabbed hold of his friend by the scruff of his jacket and pulled him so close, their faces almost touched. “I will NOT get the hell out of your life, we’re gonna sort this mess out once and for all and you’re gonna damn well believe me when I say I never meant it.”
The young archeologist snorted at his words. “Yeah right, that’ll be the day!”
Jack could feel the anger building up inside him and tightened his grip on his friends’ jacket. “What the hell do I have to do, to prove to you I never meant it? Tell me what you want me to do, Daniel!”
“I want you to leave me ALONE!” screamed the archeologist.
The soldier looked into his young friends eyes and saw nothing but hate and contempt in them. He needed to think, to get some distance between them before he lashed out and said or did something he’d regret, reluctantly he let his buddy go and walked away.
Daniel smiled to himself as he watched Jack walk away, smug in the knowledge he’d won; but as he turned to go back towards his car, Jack called out to him.
The young archeologist rolled his eyes and sighed. “What?”
“We need to fix this, we need to get back to where we were. I don’t want to lose our friendship.”
Daniel spun on his heel and marched up to his CO as he told him coldly. “You have got to be kidding me! Aren’t you listening to a word I’m saying? Its over, done, fineto! Our friendship ended weeks ago, not that I even believe we ever had one anymore, I think what you said in your house is how you really felt about me, about us, all along!”
Jack opened his mouth to protest but Daniel pointed at the solider and warned. “I swear to god Jack if you open your mouth I’ll never speak to you again!”
The older man swallowed hard as he allowed his friends’ words to sink deep into his mind, he never noticed the young archeologist leave him alone and return to his car, he was trapped in his thoughts; it was only when he heard soft cussing that Jack was brought back to reality, only to find his friend once again struggling with the tire iron. The soldier argued with himself on whether he should or shouldn’t interfere; when he finally made his mind up, he purposefully strode towards his buddy to give him a hand.
“Daniel, let me get that for ya.” he offered as he neared his friend.
Angered, the young archeologist jumped up and yanked his arm back violently, the tire iron smashed into the side of the colonel’s head as it was precariously flung around in the air by the young archeologist. Daniel was so focused on anger, that he never noticed his friend stagger back from the impact or saw the trickle of blood that ran down his face from the fresh wound on his head. He didn’t even notice Jack pull his hand up to his temple and close his eyes shut to drown out the intense pain that was shooting through his head, all Daniel saw was his CO not wanting to take no for answer.
“I said, back the hell off, Jack. I don’t need or want your help, have you got that!”
Stunned from the blow, the soldier shook his head and immediately regretted it. The action sent fresh bolts of pain shooting through his skull as he swallowed back the bile building up in his throat. “Yeah. I got that, Daniel.”
“Good!” replied the young archeologist as he turned his back on his friend and bent down to continue undoing the nuts on his wheel.
Jack felt the ground coming up at him as he watched his friend, he knew the knock had hit him hard, but he hadn’t realized just how much until he attempted to walk back to his car, each movement sent bolts of pain through his skull and he found himself leaning on nearby vehicles for support.
When Daniel heard the snap of the tire iron as he successfully undid the first nut on the hub he was elated and felt the need to rub Jacks face in it. As he turned around, he saw his friend clumsily making his way back towards the SGC.
“Jack, are you ok?” he asked nervously as he took in his friends’ appearance. Worry replaced anger and he found himself compelled to make sure his buddy was ok. As Daniel dropped the tire iron he noticed something glisten on the edge of the pipe as the light hit it, instinctively he bent down and picked it up, as he held the iron towards the light and the beam passed over the red smear, Daniel realized that it was blood and started to put one and one together, he looked up in time to watch his friend crumble to the floor.
“Oh god, Jack!”
The young archeologist was on his feet in a flash and by his friends side within seconds, the wound on Jack’s head was the first thing Daniel saw as he gently turned his buddy over. The soldier groaned at the movement and scrunched his eyes shut tight to drown out the pain. Tears sprang into Daniels eyes as he watched his friend, the realization of what he’d done finally hitting home. “Jack, Jack can you hear me?”
The soldier lifted his arm slowly towards his head. “Careful, Jack.”
“I’m here, its ok I’ve got you.”
The soldier opened his eyes woozily and looked pleadingly at his friend. “I swear to god, Daniel. I never meant what I said, ya gotta believe me.”
“Nevermind that now, Jack. We need to get you to, Janet.” said Daniel as he dismissed his buddy’s words and frantically looked around for an SF. The young man never saw the disappointment or rejection in his friends’ eyes, but he felt him squirm beneath him and looked down worriedly. Jack attempted a small smile, but it was cut short as he wrenched over and threw up. The pain filled groan tore at the young archeologists heart as he watched his buddy clutch at his head in obvious pain.
“Its going to be ok, Jack. There’s a security sweep due any minute, Janet will be here soon.”
“Ok.” whispered the soldier as he closed his eyes and leant back into Daniel’s body.
The security team arrived within a few minutes, although to the young archeologist it seemed like hours. He immediately instructed one of the SF’s to radio for Janet and before long the doc arrived with her medical kit and a gurney in tow.
“What happened?” asked Janet as Daniel gently lowered the colonel down to the ground and stepped back to allow her room to assess her patient.
“I hit him.”
Janet looked up at him wide-eyed. “You did what?”
Daniel lowered his head and spoke again, more softly this time. “I said I hit him, with a tire iron.”
“It was an accident.” Janet immediately returned her attention back to her patient when she heard his voice. “Colonel?” The soldier took a deep breath then slowly opened his eyes and looked at the doc. “I said it was an accident. I bent down to help him and he caught me with the tire iron, gave me quite a knock too.”
“So I see.” said the doc as she prodded at the wound.
“Aarrggghhhh! Take it easy will ya doc.”
Janet looked down at her charge and smiled sweetly at him. “Well colonel I don’t think you’ll need stitches but you definitely have the pleasure of spending the night in the infirmary. Jenkins bring that gurney over here and colonel I don’t want to hear, I’m ok I can walk there under my own steam, I’m giving you a direct order to allow us to take you there on the gurney, is that clear?”
“Oh man.” groaned O’Neill as he rolled his eyes and reluctantly allowed a couple of SF’s to move him onto the gurney.
As Janet packed her bag away, Daniel approached her and whispered. “He’s going to be ok isn’t he, Janet?”
She turned to her young friend and smiled. “The colonel? Of course he is Daniel, he’s had harder knocks that than before, he’ll be back to his annoying self in no time, knowing our luck, tomorrow.”
“Yeah.” said Daniel as he smiled half-heartedly.
Janet touched his arm gently. “I don’t know what happened here tonight, Daniel but you have to know this,” the doctor paused momentarily as she looked to the colonel for effect. “He doesn’t hold what happened against you, so stop punishing yourself.”
The young archeologist smiled weakly at her. “I wish it was that easy.”
“No its not, Janet. I said some nasty things to him tonight and then to finish it off, I almost kill him.”
“Don’t you think you’re being a bit over dramatic, Daniel?”
“Not really, he’s obviously got a concussion, I could have really hurt him, Janet. God I didn’t even realize I’d hit him at first I was that riled up.”
“But you did notice, Daniel.”
“Look, what’s done is done, you can’t change that all you can do now is move on.”
“But how can we move on when so much has happened?”
Janet looked at Daniel and then nodded towards their injured friend lying on the gurney. “I don’t know what he said to you in his house, Daniel but I know whatever it was really hurt you, but trust me when I tell you this, he never meant to hurt you, he regrets what he did but he had no choice, he was acting under orders, if he could turn back the clock and do things differently, he would. Daniel you have to believe in him, you have to trust that he cares about you and values your friendship. The Jack O’Neill we know now is here because of you, when he first met you he was a man who’d taken on a one way mission hoping he’d never come back from it and then he met some bright eyed archeologist who showed him the light and gave him a reason to live. He came back a different a person, a man who believed in life again, you’re the one who helped him do that, Daniel, nobody else, just you! And do you think it stopped there, oh no, your friendship has grown from strength the strength ever since. Do you really think the colonel would have allowed you into his heart if he didn’t care about you, you’re his best friend, Daniel when are you going to start believing that?”
Daniel let a slip of a smile pass across his face and slowly drew his tongue over his lips as he watched Jenkins wheel Jack away on the gurney. “Thanks, Janet. I needed that.”
The doc smiled at her friend. “I’m sure he’d like to hear it too. Why don’t you follow us down to the infirmary and we’ll give you some time alone once I’ve checked him out?”
“You think he’s up for that?”
“He’s got a concussion. I’d like to keep him awake as much as possible. Alternatively I could let him sleep and keep waking him every couple of hours and shine that pen light of mine in his eyes, you know how much he loves it when I do that.” grinned the doc.
“Ok I get your point.”
“Thanks, Daniel you’re saving me a lot of earache!”
Daniel and Janet talked warmly to each other as they made their way back to the infirmary, the archeologist couldn’t help but smile when he heard Jack griping at the nurses the minute he hit the sickbay. Janet didn’t find it quite as amusing and sighed deeply as she pointed for to him to take a seat as she went to sort out the chaos that one Colonel ‘Jonathon’ Jack O’Neill was causing.
As Daniel sat and waited for Janet to do her stuff, he couldn’t help but let his mind drift over the last few weeks. He realized now how tough he’d been on his friend, how he’d taken any opportunity he could to be difficult, to make his friends life hard and each time Jack had offered an olive branch, Daniel had ceremoniously slapped it back in his face. The young man sighed as the realization of just how awkward he’d been hit him. General Hammond, Teal’c, Sam and Janet had all tried to make him see sense, but he’d been so wrapped up in self-pity he hadn’t seen what was right in front of him, his friend.
“Daniel?” said Janet softly.
“Yeah?” replied the archeologist as he turned towards his friend.
“You can go through now.”
“He’s ok, right?”
The doctor held up a small manila folder and smiled reassuringly. “I ran all the usual tests and took a CT scan; everything seems to be ok, he’s in no danger, Daniel. Obviously I want to monitor him over the next few hours as a precaution and if anything changes, I’ll run the tests again, but he should be fine, he just needs to rest.”
“That’s good news,” said the archeologist as he got up and made his way towards her. “I guess I should go see him now then huh?”
“Sounds like a good idea to me, Daniel.”
“Thanks, Janet. Thanks for everything.”
“That’s what friends are for.”
The young archeologist couldn’t help but smile as he brushed past his friend, but it quickly faded when he saw his injured buddy laid out on the infirmary bed. He looked pale and agitated, his arms rested awkwardly on top of the sheets, a bandage just above his right eye covered the wound the archeologist had inflicted on him. It was his fault Jack was here. The young man felt sick just thinking about it. As he dragged a chair along the floor towards the bed, Jack opened his eyes and smiled.
“Daniel? I thought you’d gone.”
“I wanted to make sure you were ok first.”
“Didn’t Janet give you the run down?”
“Well yeah, but I wanted to see for myself, you know, make sure.”
“You did?” asked a somewhat surprised colonel.
Daniel noticed the astonishment in his friends voice and plunked himself down on his seat as he positioned it next to the bed, then said a little taken aback. “Of course I did, why wouldn’t I?”
“I just figured hearing it from Janet would have been enough for you that’s all.”
“Oh I get it. I’m so pissed with you that I don’t care anymore, is that it?”
The older man looked angrily at his friend and snapped out. “I never said that, don’t put words in my mouth, Daniel.”
“But that’s what you meant isn’t it, Jack?”
“Look, I’m not good with this touchy feely crap, you know that! And I’m not feeling so great right now so lets just drop this and talk about it some other time, ok?”
“But isn’t now the perfect time, Jack. You can’t run away.”
“I haven’t been running away, Daniel!” growled the soldier. “I’ve been the one trying to patch things up for the last few weeks, trying to make it up to you after I said that stupid remark about foundations, I’m running out of ideas, Daniel I don’t know what else to do. You’re the one putting the brick walls up, running away every time I come near you, I’m not the one giving up on our friendship, Daniel, you are!” ranted Jack.
“Well I’m not running now, so lets talk,” replied the archeologist as calmly as he could, fully aware that he’d been guilty of all the things his friend had just accused him of.
Jack let out a deep sigh and closed his eyes. He didn’t want to ‘talk’ right now, but it seemed, Daniel did and he couldn’t really afford to turn the opportunity away. Reluctantly he opened his eyes and looked at his friend. The young archeologist smiled weakly at him. “I’m sorry I hit you, Jack.”
“Its ok. I know it was an accident.”
“It was but that doesn’t change the fact that I hurt you. Why didn’t you tell me, Jack? Why did you just walk away?
The soldier licked his lips nervously. “Jack?”
“I could have told you I was dying and you still wouldn’t have heard me, you were too focused on anger. I didn’t see the point.”
Daniel closed his eyes and swallowed hard. “I’m sorry, Jack.”
“It’s ok, Daniel.”
The young archeologist opened his eyes and looked over at his friend. “I don’t want to lose our friendship either, but I can’t just forget what happened.”
“Then let me explain why I said it, Daniel.”
“You’ve already told me a million times, Jack.”
“But you weren’t ready to listen then, you are now.”
Daniel let out a deep sigh. “Fine, go on then, convince me you never meant what you said.”
Jack sank back into the pillows and gathered his thoughts, then turned his attention back to his friend. “General Hammond gave me the heads up that Maybourne was monitoring me. I did a quick recon and found numerous bugs around the house, on the phone, in the garden; they even put a tracking device on my SUV! I couldn’t make a move without them knowing about it and I couldn’t risk blowing my cover so I did the next best thing; I played along. A couple of days later I received a manila envelope through the mail full of transcripts of private conversations I’d had both on the phone and in the house, plus a bunch of pictures of you, Sam and Teal’c on your latest mission. There was a post-it-note stuck to one of the pictures that simply said, “We’re watching you, ALL of you”.” The soldier paused momentarily and looked deep into his friends’ eyes. “I’m not stupid, Daniel, I know a threat when I see one. I wasn’t about to put you or anyone else in the firing line so I had no choice but to push you away, it was my only option. I never thought for a second any of you would fall for my act, I thought you’d see right through it, but none of you did. I went on a dangerous mission knowing there was every chance I might not come back and I let my friends believe I hated them, that I’d never really wanted them in my life. A part of me died the day I stepped through that gate, Daniel. I thought I’d lost my team.” Jack paused once again as he relived the painful memory. “You never even came to say goodbye, do have any idea how that made me feel?”
“I was there you just never saw me,” informed Daniel in a small voice as his friends words sank deep into his mind. He’d never considered recent events from Jack’s perspective before and now, he wish he had.
“What do you mean, you were there?” asked Jack.
“I couldn’t let you go without saying goodbye, but when I got to the SGC, I, I just couldn’t face you; so I watched you leave from the control room.”
“I never saw you.”
“That was the point.”
A small smile swept across the soldiers face as he shifted on the bed for a more comfortable position, but it quickly disappeared as the movement reminded him of his current state, his head pounded and the room started to slowly spin around him. He gripped hold of the sheets with both hands as he closed his eyes and attempted to regain control of his body.
“Jack are you ok?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. Just give me a minute.”
Once the colonel regained his composure, he opened his eyes and saw a pained expression on his friends face. “What’s the matter?”
“I really hurt you didn’t I and I don’t just mean tonight?”
“Yeah, you did.” admitted the soldier.
“I’m sorry, Jack.”
“Me too, Daniel. I’m sorry I didn’t think of something else to say to you that day, but when you turned up on my doorstep, I had to think fast, I couldn’t let Maybourne think there was anything left between us, so I used the first thing that came to mind, your insecurity.”
Daniel couldn’t help but let out a soft mocking laugh. “Good choice, Jack.”
“I know.” added Jack shamed-faced. “I should never have used your past against you like that. You’ve taken a lot of crap over the years; Daniel and I just added a load more to it. If I could turn back time and do things differently I would, but I can’t. Nothing will ever change what I said that day, but please believe me when I say I never meant it. I only said it because…..”
“I know why you said it, Jack.”
“I’m not like them, Daniel.”
“I didn’t say those things to hurt you, I wanted to protect you, to keep you safe. I screwed up, Daniel. Please don’t throw our friendship away over one error of judgment, give me another chance, I won’t let you down again.”
The young archeologist lowered his head and swallowed hard as a mixture of raw emotion swept through his body, he felt joy, shame, understanding; but most of all love and respect for the man beside him. He never thought he’d live to see the day when someone would fight so hard to keep his friendship. He’d been part of SG-1 and knew the team was important to, Jack, to all of them and he’d learnt the true value of their friendships over the years, but this was so much more in Daniel’s eyes, he’d hurt his friend and instead of turning his back on him, he was asking for a chance to put things right between them. This was new territory for the archeologist; normally he’d feel the need to run, to get away, too afraid to believe in himself, too afraid to take a chance on someone else incase he got hurt, but not today, not with Jack. He felt his friend touch his arm and opened his eyes.
The soldier looked at him nervously. “Daniel?”
“We’re gonna get through this, right?”
A smile broke out on Daniel’s face and he felt tears prick at the back of his eyes as he realized just how much their friendship meant to him, meant to Jack. They were best friends and nothing was ever going to change that.
“Yeah, I think so.”
Jack let out a deep sigh of relief and sank back down into the pillows. “Thank god for that!”
“No, thank you, Daniel.”
“I mean, thanks for not giving up on us, even when I did.”
“You didn’t give up, Daniel. You just needed time.”
“You sound confident about that.”
“That’s because I was, but when you told me to get the fuck out of your life earlier on you threw me a curve ball, I started to doubt myself and thought maybe it was too late after all.”
Daniel looked sheepishly at his friend. “I’ve been such a jerk, Jack.”
“We’ve both made mistakes, Daniel.”
“Just tell me one thing.”
“We’re ok, right? I mean, this friendship, its solid isn’t it?”
Daniel looked deep into his friends’ eyes and smiled. “Yeah, Jack, it’s solid.”
The solider closed his eyes and let out a long sigh then opened them and smiled at his friend. “That’s all I needed to hear.”
~ FIN ~