This is the penultimate chapter, so it won't be long before I leave you in perfect peace.

Irrevocable Decision Part 18

(Three days later)

"Are you going to ask me how he's doing?"

The blue jello poised precariously on the end of Sam's spoon just about to be consumed was stopped mid-air. It trembled. Sam paused thoughtfully as if giving the question serious consideration, then with a determined blink of her blue eyes she nonchalantly replied, "No." Blue jello disappeared.

Taken aback, Janet sat forward in her chair, keeping her voice low. "You do know you're the only one who hasn't been to see him since he arrived here four days ago? Daniel, Teal'c, General Hammond, Siler…" Janet continued to reel off a list of SGC personnel.

Not taking her eyes off her dessert, the blonde Air Force officer chose to ignore the obvious criticism.

Janet frowned. "He's getting very irritable."

"Try working with him!"

"He's still very sick. That secondary infection was…."

"He's tough."

"Have you no…?"

Sam's head shot up, "Have you forgotten?" she demanded heatedly.

And Janet swallowed her words, realizing that she had pushed far enough and that her meddling was putting a strain on their relationship. She reached for her coffee, taking a deep swallow. "I'll say no more."

"Good."

"It's just that…."

"Janet!" The warning could be no clearer as Sam ground out her name before rising and leaving the perplexed doctor sitting alone at the commissary table.

He didn't give a damn that she hadn't visited him. It was no skin off his nose. Anyway, he was far too busy to notice something as pathetic as an absent face.

Shifting restlessly on his bed, Jack reached down and began to scratch the area at the top of his dressing. He stared disconsolately at the tray of infirmary food that the junior nurse had left on the side; she had sensibly made no vacuous comment about the patient consuming it. Otherwise, he toyed with the idea of adding some rude notations to his chart but dismissed it as beneath his intellect – just.

His eyes did a quick scan of the infirmary, but there was nothing there to meet his needs. The place was empty bar his own bed and the staff was doing an inventory which put the nurses in no mood for any of his antics. Mind you, he knew what a pain that job was so he was fairly sympathetic, and anyway, he mused, it kept them out of his hair. His eyes moved to the ceiling, to the ubiquitous grey tiles – yup, same number as last time. No change.

He ran a hand over his jaw and grimaced at the harsh feel of the stubble. He needed to shave.

Strange, he thought, that at the cabin he was quite happy to throw away his razor yet once back on home ground he-. He frowned bleakly. Hell, what was he thinking – home ground? The cabin was home, for crying out loud, not the SGC and as sure as hell, not the infirmary.

His mood swung from being slightly bored to bleak and bad tempered and unable to bear the inaction any longer he threw back the covers, checked there was no one watching, and swung his legs over the side and reached for his crutches. He decided it was time to annoy Daniel and just maybe he could cadge a coffee off of him. He was on the move before anyone knew it. Or so he thought.

"Colonel, where do you think you're going?"

Hell. Busted.

He turned carefully, favouring his injury, attempting the casual, 'I've done nothing wrong' look. He winced at the look on Dr. Fraiser's face.

"Just thought I'd take a shower."

"You know that's not on. And didn't I tell you to stay off that leg as much as possible?"

He was skewered by her glare yet still had the temerity to face her.

"Aw, c'mon, Doc. you know I-."

"I know I could ask Lieutenant Lange to give you a bed bath."

He froze; all thought of escape gone at the prospect of losing every bit of his dignity in front of the youngest officer in Janet's infirmary - she looked all of fifteen. He shuddered at the predatory look in the CMO's eyes and decided withdrawal was the only sensible course of action.

Seeing his metaphorical retreat, Janet was willing to show mercy. "I suggest you get back into bed right now, Colonel. If you're bored try reading that book I saw on your bedside."

Jack frowned. Book? What book? He couldn't remember a book. Looking over his shoulder he could just see a corner of it behind the water jug. He frowned even more. It looked like his... no, it couldn't. He shook his head perplexed. He hadn't brought it, he was dead to the world when they'd moved him from his cabin and, for sure, Janet had other things on her mind that she should choose some reading literature for him. He ran over the possible solutions to the little mystery and as he returned to his bedside and reached for the item in question, his face paled and then filled with crimson.

'Oh crap, oh crap, crap, crap!'

"Colonel, are you alright?" Seeing the extreme change in his pallor, Janet assumed that her patient was feeling the adverse effects of his unauthorized stroll and was reaching for her stethoscope and other instruments to monitor his vitals.

Ignoring her completely, Jack grabbed for the hardback, flicking through the pages and repeating the action as if searching for something of importance. Then in a fit of pique he threw the book across the floor, narrowly missing an orderly who was washing down the tiles, and swore colourfully.

"Colonel!" The tone was unmistakable but, unfortunately, said Colonel had other things on his mind.

"Who brought that damned book?" he snapped, his dark eyes flaring with unsuppressed fury.

Though bewildered by her patient's extreme attitude, Janet had no intention of allowing such behaviour. As the orderly, clearly aware of the tension crackling in the air and eager to escape, handed the book tentatively back to the Colonel, Janet intercepted it and frowned at the title.

'Now why on earth should this have caused such a fit of temper?' she wondered perplexedly. "I really don't know, Colonel, but I would have thought you'd have been pleased to have something on ice hockey. Whoever brought it certainly knew you. And I don't think throwing it across my infirmary constitutes appreciation. I have it on good authority that kids at kindergarten learn how to look after books in a civilized manner. What's your excuse, Colonel?"

"I need to get out of here."

Ugh oh. Here it was, in full bloom - the Jack O'Neill litany of excuses to be excused. Well, it hadn't worked in the past and it wasn't going to work now. Janet adopted her intractable glare, daring him to even start.

"Where the hell are my clothes?"

"Where you can't get at them."

"To hell with you!" and to Janet's disbelief he stomped determinedly past her on his crutches...

"Colonel O'Neill, get back here now!" There was no mistaking her fury and as the nursing staff on duty watched wide-eyed, Janet turned on her heel and marched to her office.

(Chapter 19 (a very long final chapter!) to follow soon)