Making It Up As We Go Along

Ambush

“Damn it, Daniel. Had to wear the jacket with the target again, didn’t you?”

Jack struggled under the weight of his barely responsive friend, each shuffling step a hard won battle.

Covering their six, Carter reflected back to him all the anxiety he’d begun stuffing into the deepest recesses of his being from the moment Daniel’s uniform had burst in flame, blood, and acrid smoke.

“It’s hardly Daniel’s fault, sir. Those Jaffa came out of nowhere. Our biggest concern now is whether Teal’c will find more at the gate.”

Grunting objectionably, Jack pushed forward. “One ambush at a time, Carter.” 

Backtrack

Teal’c’s low, urgent “O’Neill” split the stillness.

Shifting his hold on Daniel, Jack squeezed his comm. “Yeah, T. How’s it looking?”

“The Stargate is guarded. Four Jaffa bearing the mark of Cronos.”

Discouraged, Jack winced. “Ordinarily that wouldn’t be a problem, but with Daniel so much dead weight—”

“The Stargate is activating,” Teal’c cut in. A moment later, he added, “Cronos has dispatched additional Jaffa.”

Jack groaned. “To find out why the others haven’t checked in, I’d guess.”

“Indeed.”

“Which means they’re coming into the woods,” Jack deduced. “Fall back. We’ll meet you in that clearing near Daniel’s temple.”

Concentration

Carter wore an aggrieved frown. Emotion weighed down his own mouth but, necessity overpowering guilt, Jack shook Daniel from his stupor.

“Daniel,” he called sharply. He patted the pale face, the skin cool and damp beneath his fingers. “Wake up. We’ve got Jaffa headed our way.”

Daniel’s head wobbled, the strength to lift it beyond him. He leaned against Jack, hissing a curse, alien yet familiar to his friends’ ears.

“Focus, Daniel! On your feet!”

Forehead knotted in concentration, Daniel slowly pushed himself upright.

Jack smiled. “I knew your willpower was greater than that hole in your side. Let’s go.”

Desperate

“How’re you doing, Daniel?”

“Hang—” Daniel panted, “hangin’ in there.”

“O’Neill.”

Jack grabbed his comm. “Yeah, Teal’c, we’re almost to you.”

“A Jaffa patrol is in the area. I have taken shelter behind the ruined south wall of the temple.”

“Copy. We’ll be with you shortly.”

“Sir,” Carter whispered urgently, “Behind us.”

Detecting the telltale snap of branches, Jack pulled Daniel closer. “Ordinarily I wouldn’t ask you to run in your condition, but things are pretty desperate here.”

“The temple’s nearby?”

“About twelve meters.”

Daniel swallowed. “I’ll do my best.”

Picking up the pace, Jack returned, “You always do.”

Ego

A staff blast scorched the air near his ear, and Jack shoved Daniel to safety. Daniel fell with a pained cry.

Teal’c returned fire, ensuring his teammates reached cover.

“Good job, Daniel.” Jack puffed. “Carter.” Leaving his 2IC to her field doctoring, Jack crawled to Teal’c’s side.

“Tau’ri!” a rough voice called from the trees. “My Jaffa have you surrounded.”

“Yeah?” Jack returned irritably. “Well, apparently, your Jaffa couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn door. I’ve got raw recruits with better aim.”

Carter rolled her eyes. “Sir, is this really the best time for a battle of egos?”

Firefight

One of the Jaffa answered his jibe with a blast from his staff weapon.

Jack surged to his knees and squeezed off a round from his P-90. The Jaffa lit up, sparks
flying from his chain-mailed chest like a Fourth of July sparkler.

Jack slumped behind cover. “How long can we hold this position?”

“Not long, I fear,” Teal’c replied. “We are severely outnumbered.”

Another volley from the trees blew out the wall behind them. Disregarding the bits of stone raining on their heads, Jack and Teal’c returned fire.

Jack glanced behind them. “Carter, we’re gonna need Daniel mobile again.”

Genius

“Sir, we can’t! He’s still bleeding. I’m not even sure he’s conscious.”

Drifting from the pain, Daniel wanted to reassure her. He tried to lift himself but, strength gone, fell back, head lolling to the side.

Unfocused eyes centered on the chunks of rock blasted from the surrounding walls. Gaze sharpening, a distinct pattern captured his attention.

“Sam,” he gasped. “Hole… gone.”

“No, your wound—”

“Floor,” Daniel tried again. “Gone. Disss…disap…peared.”

“Floor disappeared?”

“No. Peep…ple.”

Sam glanced at the text. “People disappeared? Into the floor?”

Daniel nodded weakly.

“Genius,” Sam praised. “Sir, I think Daniel’s found a way out.”

Hideaway

“What?” Jack barked over the gunfire.

“There’s writing on the collapsed wall. Daniel says there’s a hidden passage in the floor.”

“Does he know exactly where we’ll find this hideaway?”

“Just that it’s somewhere nearby.”

“Can you keep our friends busy while we search for this secret passage?” he asked
Teal’c.

“I can.”

Jack crawled to Daniel. “What are we looking for?”

“Dig,” Daniel gasped.

“You want us to play amateur archaeologist?”

Daniel glared. “Clear dirt. Find cover… stone.”

Gesturing for Carter to begin scraping the floor, Jack joined in.

Ten minutes later, Carter sang out, “Sir, I’ve got something.”

Injury

Teal’c slid the cover stone into place above him as O’Neill and Major Carter settled
Daniel Jackson on the dirt floor.

O’Neill briefly aimed his flashlight down the narrow passage. “I hope this tunnel leads somewhere.”

“’scape route,” Daniel assured him.

“Yeah, okay,” O’Neill soothed. “Let Carter check you out.”

Teal’c stepped closer, adding his light to O’Neill’s.

Major Carter gingerly peeled back the ruined jacket.

Daniel writhed. The staff blast had penetrated his right side, burning fabric and skin. The wound was deep and, though the blood flow had ceased, his clothing was saturated.
Daniel cried out then stilled.

Junction

“Carter?”

Sam fingered Daniel’s throat. “He’s unconscious, sir.”

Relieved, Jack sighed. “Stay with him. We’re going to scout ahead.” P-90 cradled in the crook of his arm, he stood stiffly and moved down the passage.

Teal’c followed. “Daniel Jackson believes this is an escape tunnel. It appears to be similar to the burrows utilized by the inhabitants of Cartago to evade the Jaffa.”

Jack grunted, but said nothing. After several hundred meters, he stopped short. “Looks like we’ve got a junction here.” He swung his flashlight down the tunnels that adjoined theirs on either side. “Which way should we go?”

Knowledge

“I am uncertain.” Gazing down the left tunnel, Teal’c noted a peculiar pattern on the rock face.

“There is writing here, O’Neill.”

“Can you read it?”

“I cannot.”

Jack growled. “Guess that means we’ll have to roust Daniel.”

“Daniel Jackson alone has the knowledge to decipher these symbols.”

“Yeah,” Jack agreed bitterly.

Rejoining their teammates, Jack dropped to his knees. “How’s he doing?”

“He’s regained consciousness, but he’s not very lucid.”

Grimacing, Jack gently shook Daniel’s shoulder. Blue eyes opened tiredly. “Daniel, we’re gonna need that know-it-all brain of yours to get us out of here. Think you can manage?”

Labyrinth

Daniel weakly raised his arm. “Help me up.”

Jack grabbed the hand.

“Sir, you could reopen his wound,” Sam cautioned.

“Carter, this place is a labyrinth. We could wander around lost for days. There’s writing on the walls where the tunnels intersect. I’m guessing they’re a road map. And Daniel’s the only one who can read it.”

Carefully lifting Daniel between them, Teal’c and Jack moved slowly forward. Reaching the first intersection, Daniel peered tightly at the symbols illuminated by Sam’s flashlight.

“This way,” he said, angling his head to the right.

He repeated the ritual at the next intersection.

Mission Accomplished?

Daniel stumbled, the hold of his teammates the only thing keeping him from crashing to the ground.

Cradling his too-warm cheek in the palm of her hand, Sam frowned. “He needs to rest.”

“No,” Daniel rasped.

“Yes.” Elbowing Teal’c out of the way, Sam helped the colonel gently lower Daniel to the dirt floor. Kneeling beside him, she dampened a bandana and mopped his brow. “You were supposed to have fun on this mission, exploring the ruins and that temple.”

“Translat’n’s fun,” Daniel countered.

Sam chuffed a harsh laugh. “Not really the mission objective General Hammond laid out for us.”

Nag

“We’ll c’m b’ck,” Daniel insisted, hating the thought he’d never examine those ruins.

“Maybe,” Sam conceded. “But, first we have to leave.”

Daniel sighed. The air scraped over his dry throat, provoking a grating cough. Almost immediately, Sam raised her canteen to his lips.

“Carter, isn’t he supposed to be resting?”

Daniel drank greedily, nearly choking on his last mouthful. “Not S’m’s fault,” he spluttered in his friend’s defense. “I’sa cough.”

“I can hear it’s a cough, Daniel. In my experience coughing is never conducive to good rest. Now, sit there quietly, will ya?”

“Nag, nag, nag,” Daniel muttered wearily.

Ooze

“O’Neill.”

Narrowing his eyes at Daniel for good measure, Jack motioned Teal’c aside. “What’s up?”

“While you berated Daniel Jackson for disregarding his health, I endeavored to locate an exit.”

“And?”

“I discovered two perpendicular breaks in the rock, too uniform to have occurred naturally. I believe it is a door.”

“Show me.”

Taking point, Teal’c led O’Neill 300 meters down the tunnel. His flashlight revealed two lines carved in the rock, one horizontal, one vertical, intersecting at a point just above Teal’c’s head. Rust-colored moisture seeped from the slits, the rock appearing to bleed.
O’Neill grimaced. “What’s this ooze?”

Pack It Up

Touching a finger to the liquid, Teal’c brought it to his lips.

Jack stared in disbelief. “What did you just do?”

“I am endeavoring to identify this substance.”

“Never mind that. Can you open the door?”

Handing over his staff weapon, Teal’c worked his fingers into the cracks and pulled. Slowly separating the stone, he put his shoulder to the door. Light filtered in from above.
Reclaiming his staff, Teal’c hoisted himself through the opening. “The way is clear,” he reported.

Jack jogged back to where Carter tended to their injured teammate. “Pack it up. Teal’c’s found a way out.”

Quarry

“How ya doing, Daniel?”

Slumped between Jack and Sam, Daniel panted heavily. “Been be-better,” he muttered into his chest.

“Hang in there. The ‘gate’s not far. We’ll have you back to Doc Fraiser in no time.”

On point, Teal’c froze, raising a fist to halt his companions. “O’Neill,” he rumbled softly, head tilting to the side.

To his left, Jack’s trained ears detected the faint rustle of leaves. “I hear it. Jaffa?”

Teal’c nodded. “They approach from the right as well.”

“They’re hunting us, the bastards. Daniel, I need you to run just one more time. Can you do it?”

Rain

Lifting his eyes to Jack’s, Daniel nodded faintly. He flinched instinctively from the fat drop of moisture that exploded against his cheek. Hunching his shoulders, he tucked back into his jacket, turtle-like, as a blinding rain dropped from the sky.

“You have got to be kidding me,” Jack groused. “Along with everything else, we have to get soaked, too?”

“The rain will mask our movements,” Teal’c advised. “We must go now.”

“Right. Okay, Daniel.” Jack’s grip on his arm tightened. “Try and keep up.”

“Huh,” Daniel coughed. “G’t reh-dy t’eat mah dust, flyb-boy.” 

Jack grinned. “That’s the spirit. Let’s go.”

Swoon

Less than twenty meters from the ‘gate, Jack’s legs buckled as a heavy weight impacted his side.

“Daniel!” Dropping to his knees, Jack frowned at the cause of his stumble. “Now you pass out? Teal’c!” he called to the Jaffa just visible through the deluge. He motioned toward the ‘gate. “Carter, dial us out.”

“Yes, sir.” Skirting around Teal’c, who bent and effortlessly lifted Daniel’s unresponsive form, Sam darted the short distance to the dialing device.

The energy vortex burst forth. Carter leading the way, Jack and Teal’c, his precious cargo held tightly, sprinted toward the familiar portal to home.

Tag Team-mates

As Jack crossed the event horizon, Carter’s voice filled the ‘gate room.

“Medic!” she shouted.

An angel in white lab coat clipped her way up the ramp, eyes fixed on Daniel. “Colonel?”

“Staff blast. Right side. He kept going… until just before we got to the ‘gate.”

Teal’c gently deposited their unconscious friend onto the gurney that Janet’s staff rolled to the bottom of the ramp. The pass off completed, Jack mused on this ritual of tag they too often played. It took an entire team to care for Daniel––and Jack was incredibly grateful that Janet was on it.

Unfair

Having been dismissed by Hammond, Jack sat in the infirmary and glared at the curtain concealing his best friend.

This sucked. It was so unfair. In the last few months all their missions had involved meet and greets with aliens whose level of technology promised advanced weaponry. Daniel did his thing, mostly without complaint, but Jack knew the long succession of arms talks was starting to wear on him.

Now, finally, they get a mission that would allow Daniel time to play in the dirt… and the damn Jaffa spoil it for him.

Unfair was the only word for it.

Vigil

And so it begins.

Having advised Daniel's team of his condition, Janet Fraiser sighed as the colonel walked to Daniel's bedside. Pulling up the chair kept nearby for just this purpose, he settled in to await Daniel's return to consciousness.

This was the ritual when a member of his team was hurt or ill. Janet frowned. More often than seemed equitable, it was Daniel who occupied the bed.

The colonel leaned back and, stretching out his legs, crossed them at the ankles, prepared for a long night of watching.

"I'll do everything I can to shorten your vigil," Janet vowed.

Warrior’s Heart

Across the room, Sam focused on the figure in the bed. Pale and still, Daniel received fluids, blood and medication through an endless tangle of plastic tubing. The heart monitor provided the only assurance he was still with them.

"Internal bleeding," Sam echoed Janet’s grim diagnosis. "He must have felt far worse than he was letting on. Yet he never asked to rest. Never gave less than one hundred percent of his attention and energy to help us get home."

“He would readily sacrifice his life to save ours,” Teal’c remarked. “Daniel Jackson has the true heart of a warrior."

Xanadu

Daniel grimaced, and Jack instantly sat up. The grimace dimmed to a faint smile and Daniel shifted a bit. He sighed, but didn't wake.

"Hey,” Jack called to him softly. “You dreaming over there? Found yourself some tropical sandy-beached paradise with calming waves, fragrant breezes and no Goa'uld?" Settling back, he nodded approvingly. “Good. You hang out there and rest for a bit. Just… don’t stay too long, okay?”

Scrubbing a hand over his scalp, Jack rubbed tiredly at his eyes. He certainly didn't begrudge Daniel his private Xanadu, but each minute his friend remained there was torture for him.

Yammer

Pacing, Jack glared at the man occupying the bed. He roughly skimmed his fingertips over his head, grasping at the short strands. "It's not enough you turned my hair gray,” he griped. “Now you've got me tearing it out with all this waiting.” 

Stopping mid-stride, Jack sidled up to the bed. “Three days is long enough," he decreed, anxiety increasing his volume. "It's time to wake up now."

Daniel’s forehead creased, a sliver of blue showing beneath barely raised eyelids. "Well, between the constant marching and your yammering, I wasn’t getting much sleep anyway."

"Daniel?" Jack practically laughed.

"Hey, Jack."

Zen, zest and zero-tolerance

“Janet says you’re healing remarkably quickly,” Sam said.

Daniel sat up gingerly. “I think I went into some sort of deep meditative state.”

Jack snorted. “Well, now that your little Zen experiment is finished, I suppose you’ll soon be scampering over ancient ruins again, enthusiastically proclaiming how exciting it all is.”

“I, for one, am looking forward to the return of your zest in the field.”

“Thank you, Teal’c.”

“You should know, though,” Jack interjected, “that I’ve instituted a zero-tolerance policy towards your penchant for self-sacrifice.”

Daniel grinned sheepishly. “I’ll try not to violate it.”

Jack nodded. “Welcome back, Daniel.”

The End

 

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