Jackfic Archive Story

 

Graduation - Part 12 of 'An Education'

by Gumnut

Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).


"Damnit, Janet, will you just leave it!"

Janet threw her hands up in exasperation. She stood on his front doorstep, watching him attempting to turn himself around after answering the door. A door his nurse was supposed to be answering and yet said medical professional was nowhere to be seen. "Colonel, why don't you let anyone help you?" He could barely walk, his hands trembling on the walking frame as if they would give any moment under the strain of holding him up. He ignored her and determinedly turned away, making his way, ever so slowly back to the lounge from whence, no doubt, he had just come.

Janet waited a few extra moments at the door for Cassie to catch up, her arms full potted plant. Their visit was a combination of general medical check up and social call. Of the three of them, the colonel was suffering through the longest recuperation. She herself, despite the occasional twinge, had mostly recovered, and though still on light duty, was managing well.

Cassie had been the least affected...physically at least. She no longer needed the sling and the swelling was finally going down. And the goa'uld....her body had rejected it. It had been unable to make a stable connection, so it had fled. Good fortune and luck in the depth of what seemed to be neither.

Sam, Daniel and Teal'c, the general, hell, the majority of the SGC staff had been there for the three of them. A word here, a gesture there, all appreciated. The colonel, of course, hid behind gruffness and humour. She had talked to him, there had been a great deal that needed to be said. But he had said very little.

He had been....difficult.

She worried about him. But she found him very hard to face. She looked at him and she saw the blood, the injury, the pain she had caused him. She heard him screaming in her dreams. He called to her in her sleep, both pleading and determined.

His eyes. Always his eyes.

She sighed.

Cassie joined her at the door, and Janet refocussed on the task at hand. She confirmed quietly the discussion they'd had on the way over. Her daughter frowned a moment, but didn't say anything, slipping into the house quietly.

"Uncle Jack?"

He had paused at the edge of the two steps and was attempting to negotiate them. Both legs were encased in supporting splints and very weak. The fact he was able to walk at all was a miracle of modern medicine and it was going to be a long time before the colonel saw active duty again.

"Uncle Jack? Let me help you."

Hah, refuse her, you stubborn ass. The thought stung her the moment she thought it, but it was true. He was a stubborn ass.

Thank god.

"I'm fine, Cassie." One foot edged down onto the first step.

"No, you're not, and you need help." She caught the man's arm.

"Cassie, please..." His weaker left foot caught on the step and he overbalanced, unable to compensate.

Janet was there immediately, catching his other arm before he could fall. He swore, immediately angered and embarrassed, but she hung on to him. Cassie kept to his other side. Janet nudged the walker out of the way and the two of them slowly walked him over to the couch. He muttered something under his breath as they helped him sit, but didn't say anything else.

Janet sat on the couch beside him and Cassie ran back to the hallway to shut the door and grab her load of gifts.

"You okay?"

O'Neill didn't look at her, the blank screen of the TV suddenly fascinating.

"Colonel?"

"Oh, for crying out loud, Janet, I'm fine."

She pressed her lips together. "Really?"

"What do you want me to say? Do you want a sob story where I cry on your shoulder about all the bad things done to me?"

"It would be a start."

"Forget it."

"I just want to help."

"You've done enough."

She froze, a cold chill settling in her stomach. His expression changed immediately from one of defence to one of mortification. "Janet, I'm sorry."

She stood up, straightening her pants. "No, it's fine, sir. You said so yourself."

The expression on his face was just like the one he'd had when she'd hit him with the...

Oh, god, who were they trying to fool?

Cassie bounced back into the room. "Uncle Jack, Sam said you'd..." She drifted off as she encountered the expressions on their faces. "What's wrong?" When neither of them answered, she dropped the welcome home potted plant on the table and moved to her mother's side, catching her hand. "Mom?"

The colonel answered before Janet could open her mouth. "It's nothing, Cassie. Don't worry." He wasn't looking at the girl and the words were very quiet.

Cassie frowned and reached out to touch his shoulder. He flinched away as if she'd held a hot poker to his skin. He looked up at the two of them and, for a moment, Janet got a glimpse behind the facade.

And the pain there brought tears to her eyes.

His expression shuttered almost immediately, but it was too late, she had seen. A tear ran down her cheek. "I'm so sorry."

"Janet-"

"Mom?"

She looked down at Cassie, then back at Jack. The man was frowning at her, that same determination in his eyes.

Damn dogged determination.

"Mom, it wasn't your fault." Cassie was pulling on her arm and the next moment, she found herself back on the couch next to the colonel. Her daughter wormed her way under an arm and hugged her close.

"Knowing it is not your fault and facing the facts of the situation are two different things." She drew in a ragged breath, forcing herself to better control. She wiped a hand across her eyes and cheek. Soggy. "I'm sorry, Colonel."

This time it was he who reached out a hand and she who flinched. She looked up. His expression was controlled as always, but his eyes held a knowledge, almost a confidence. "Not your fault."

"But if I had taken more precaution-"

"Then it would have snaked someone else. Dare I say we were lucky it encountered you? I know of no one else with the strength to do what you did."

"I gave it you!"

"You came to me for help. It was my stupid fault I didn't recognise the signs." He looked away again.

"I tried-"

"You succeeded. The snake is dead, we survived, end of story."

She was speechless for a moment, remembering all the blood, the screams, the pain she had caused. Cassie squeezed her a little tighter.

What she had almost lost.

There had been many, many tears over the past months. Anguish and healing. But still she could not understand how he had done it. Somehow, he had managed to give her the strength when she needed it. He had given her everything, even when he had nothing left to give. How he had managed to do what he had while literally bleeding to death, she had no idea.

There was determination in his eyes even now.

She stared at him. "How do you do it?"

"Do what?"

"Keep fighting."

He didn't answer her immediately, his gaze drifting to his hands once again before he looked up and caught her eyes.

He shrugged. "It's what I do."

******

THE END.


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