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The pain woke him up, like a shot in the night, and his eyes flew open, but he couldn't focus on anything. He squinted, and made out white walls, white ceiling; smelled starch, iodine, and the sweet meaty-coppery tang of blood, never entirely scrubbed out. Hospital. His blood must have been half morphine because he was flying, soaring high and free, but also not minding in the least something was holding him down to the ground. Two somethings. His head was angled to the right, so he saw her first, and he said "Might wanna le'go of that before your boyfriend walks in, Marge."


She saw Daniel immediately squeeze Jack's hand, much too tightly: the skin went white, but Jack didn't flinch. She widened her eyes, the old trick to keep tears from falling, and smiled first across at Daniel, then down at Jack. "Oh, he's been here a while." Jack's hand was slack in hers, his skin waxy and cool: bad signs. His pulse was slow and faint, as if all the blood they'd pumped back into him still wasn't enough. Her nails showed very red against the starched stiff sheets. "You've been shot. It was very close. But you're all right now."


Daniel let the two of them banter, old pros batting a ball back and forth. His throat had rusted shut sometime last night, so he didn't try to join in, but he knew it was all right, they could hear what was behind his silence. Jack muttered about them maybe giving him a hand later -- Peggy laughed, and Daniel felt his mouth curve painfully up on its own. He hitched his chair closer to Jack's bed and reached over without looking for Peggy's other hand, so Jack could see how it still was, all three of them joined together.