Priceless

 

I admit there have been times when I wished Daniel would just shut the hell up.  Put a sock in it so I can enjoy the silence.  Well, he’s quiet now, and I can’t stand the freaking silence.  I know we’re losing air here and talking is the last thing we should be doing, but if Daniel and I are going to die in this God-forsaken hole, I do not want his laboured breathing to be the last thing I hear.

“Penny for your thoughts,” I say, wincing at the hoarseness of my voice.

The ensuing silence surrounds me, and I wonder with a sinking feeling whether Daniel’s passed out.

“Sex…drugs…and rock and roll,” he replies softly.

Okay, that’s not what I expected.

“Daniel?”

“Jack?”

“Did you just say sex, drugs, and rock and roll?”

“Well,” he replies after a pause, “if I didn’t we have company.”

I hear humour in his voice, and I don’t know why, but I feel my eyes sting.  Crap, I know why.  Daniel’s too damn young to die.  Hell, so am I.

“Jack?”

Damn.  Now I’ve worried him.  As if he doesn’t have enough to worry about.  I’ve got to pull myself together for the both of us.

“Just thinking,” I say casually.  “So, tell me, why are you thinking about sex, drugs, and rock and roll?”

“The sixties,” Daniel replies tiredly.  “What was it like?”

What was it like?  No one’s asked me that before.

“I grew up in Minnesota, Daniel.”

“Ah, so you missed it, too.”

“Pretty much,” I smile.  “But hey, rock and roll is here to stay,” I sing-song, “And drugs?  You’ve got your coffee.”

“And you’ve got beer,” Daniel adds.

“Can’t forget the beer,” I agree.

He falls silent and I listen to his breathing.  He said he cracked a rib or two, but I’m thinking one must be broken and poking where it shouldn’t be poking.  Even with this stale, depleting air, he shouldn’t sound that bad.

“Jack?”

“Yeah?”

“What about sex?”

“Sex?”

“Sex.”

“It’s over-rated,” I say.

“No, no it’s not,” Daniel sighs.

I laugh, but I have to agree.  “You’re right, as usual.  Sex is definitely not over-rated.  From what I can remember,” I add dolefully.

Daniel snorts softly.  I really wish I could see him, but it’s pitch black in here.  If you ever want to experience total darkness just get yourself trapped in a cave-in.  Well, if I can’t see him, I can damn well touch him.

“Watch yourself, I’m coming over,” I warn.  The last thing I want to do is to inadvertently kick or step on him.

“Jack, I don’t think I’m up to it.”

“Up to what?”  I ask as I crawl towards his voice.

“Sex.  I don’t think I’d be very good right now.”

Another zinger.  I stop mid-crawl, too stunned to move or to speak.

“Gotcha,” he snickers.

“Damn it, Daniel.  My brain is oxygen-starved here.  You’re confusing the hell out of me.”

“I know, but it’s fun.”

I shake my head and continue my crawl. 

“Where are—oh, sorry,” I mumble as I smack him in the head.

“You sure you can’t see, Jack?” he asks with a hint of annoyance.

I chuckle and settle in beside him, drawing my knees up.  Our shoulders touch and he scoots a little closer so our arms are also touching.  I feel the damn tears again and swallow hard.  I can also hear his breathing a lot better and it isn’t good.

“How are the ribs?” I ask.

“Need barbecue sauce,” he replies.

Okay, he doesn’t want to talk about his injuries.  I can relate to that.

“Hard to find a good chef in a cave-in,” I say.

“Décor sucks, too,” Daniel offers.

“Yeah, but the company’s great,” I murmur and nudge his shoulder.

“And the conversation’s stimulating,” he adds, nudging me back.

There’s a suspicious thickness in his voice, and I feel a powerful surge of affection for him.  Hell, call it what it is: love.  I love him.  Even if I live to be a thousand I’d never have another friend like Daniel.

We sit in silence, but not for long.

“Jack, did you ever wish you were a hippie?”

I know he can’t see me, but I look at him sideways.

“You mean like Michael and that whole 1969 business?”

“Yeah.”

“What’s with this fixation on the sixties?”

“I don’t know,” he shrugs.  “They say your life flashes before you when you’re about to…well…”

His voice trails off, and I have to say it; I can’t help myself.

“Have sex?”

I get more than the desired response.  He bursts out laughing and then gasps.  I feel him hunch over, clutching his ribs.

“Crap, I’m sorry,” I apologize as I reach out to rub his back.

“God, I’m not,” he gasps.  “If we can still laugh there’s still hope, right?”

“Damn straight,” I reply, grasping his shoulder and pulling him towards me.

“Foreplay?” he asks breathlessly as he lays his head on my shoulder.

“How the hell do I know?  It’s been so long,” I grumble, resting my head on his.

He chuckles again and my head bounces a little.  I smile and squeeze his shoulder.

“Anyway, to answer your question about being a hippie: I think it was a very unique time and very special to a lot of people.  So, yeah, I wish I had been a hippie.  For awhile anyway,” I reply.

“But not in Minnesota,” Daniel says.

“Definitely not in Minnesota,” I agree.  “What about you?”

“I think I’d have made a good hippie,” Daniel says thoughtfully.

“Hell, I thought you were one when I first met you,” I tease.

“Jack, long hair does not a hippie make.  Nor a dweeb.”

“You caught me on a bad day,” I explain.

He snorts and says, “I’ve caught you on a lot of bad days.”

I don’t know what to say to that, and I really don’t want to think about it too much.  I know I’ve come down hard on Daniel and a lot of those times have been unwarranted.  Instead, I think of Daniel as a hippie: a love child with the headband, beads, John Lennon glasses, sandals, living in a commune, the whole nine yards.  Easy to imagine.  Then I picture him at peace rallies: waving placards, speaking to the masses, and getting the shit kicked out of him by some neo-Nazi bastard.  Crap.  I don’t need that image in my mind.  I’ve seen far too many scenes like that in reality.

“You’d have made a great hippie,” I mumble.

“You would’ve hated me,” he replies without hesitation.

Okay, that hurt.  Truth often does.

“I wouldn’t have understood you,” I concede, “but if I was thrown into a room with you there’s a better chance I’d come out wearing beads than you would sporting a buzz cut.”

He’s silent for a moment, but I know he’s thinking a mile a minute.  I’m still resting my head on his, but I sense he wants to sit up.  I lift my head and help him up, but I keep my arm loosely around his shoulders.  I know the movement hurt his ribs, and I wince in sympathy, but I don’t say anything.  He eases back against my arm, and I hope he finds it as comfortable as I do.

“Do I influence you that much, Jack?” he asks softly.

“Yeah, Daniel, you do.  God knows how you do it, but you do.”

“One of life’s little mysteries, I guess,” he offers.

“I guess.”

I listen to his breathing for a few minutes before he speaks.

“I’ve changed a lot,” he says quietly.

“You’ve seen a lot, Daniel.  It can’t help but change you.  But don’t think for one second that’s a bad thing.  What this crazy universe needs is more Daniel Jacksons.”

“You’d never be able to handle it, Jack,” he teases.

“You’re probably right.  Look at the effect just one of you has had on me.”

He doesn’t say anything and I frown in the darkness.

“You get what I’m trying to say, don’t you?”

“I get it, Jack,” he sighs, patting my knee lightly.

“Good.”  God, he sounds so tired, and I’m having trouble myself staying focussed.  “Sex, drugs, and rock and roll,” I murmur. 

I feel his head move on my arm and I know he’s looking at me again.  I silently curse the darkness.  Daniel expresses so much in his face and eyes.  I wish I could see them one more time.

“Was it worth it?” he asks.

“Christ, Daniel, of course it was worth it.  I know we’ve both gone through our personal hells, and this is not the way I’d choose to end it, but—”

“Um, actually, Jack,” he interrupts me, “I was talking about my thoughts, and whether they were worth a penny.”

“Oh.”  Damn.  I just admitted we’re going to die here.  Way to boost morale, O’Neill.

“Shit, Daniel.  They’re priceless.”  Okay, call me maudlin and a big suck, but right now just having Daniel talk is the best catharsis I can think of.

“You are oxygen-deprived,” Daniel says, laughing gently. 

I chuckle and he sighs deeply and leans into me, his head lolling on my shoulder.  I automatically wrap my other arm around him and hold him tight.  If it hurts him he’s not complaining.

“I’m so tired, Jack,” he murmurs.

“I know, Danny.  So am I.”

 My heart’s breaking, but contrary to what I said earlier, this is not a bad way to die.  We’re going to go to sleep, and if there’s an after-life, we’ll face it together.  Just me and Daniel.  I find a hell of a lot of comfort in that thought, as selfish as it is.  I should be thinking about Carter and Teal’c.  They’re going to be devastated.  So are Doc and George.  Oh great, now I’m going to die with a guilty conscience.

“Penny,” a voice whispers from the vicinity of my chest.

Way to go, Danny.  Save me from my own morbid thoughts.  Well, I can’t tell him what I was really thinking so…

“I’m thinking if you don’t move that hand of yours they’re gonna find me with a raging hard-on.”

Damn, he’s giggling.  Sweet, and I mean it.  Oh, oh.  If his hand keeps jiggling like that I just may get a woody.

“Sorry,” he chuckles as he shifts his hand and grasps weakly at my shirt.

“’s’okay.  That’s the most attention it’s had in years,” I mumble.

“Was it good for you?” he asks, still chuckling.

“Daniel, the line is: ‘Was it good for you, too.’”

“Oh, yeah.  I forgot.”  He snorts again, and as macabre as it is, I really have to thank the oxygen-deprivation thing.  I haven’t seen Daniel so relaxed and uninhibited since…well, never.

“Well?”  I prod, giving him a little shake.

“Jack, I didn’t even know my hand was there,” he says, chuckling again.

“Haven’t heard that line before,” I grumble.

He pats my chest gently like he’s placating me.

“We should leave a message…for Sam and Teal’c,” he says, all humour gone and his tone serious.

I’d thought the same thing, but what do you say?  I don’t want things to get all serious now.

“You mean like, ‘so long, and thanks for all the fish’?” I suggest.

“Not exactly original, but kind of poignant in a Jack O’Neill sort of way,” Daniel muses.

“It is?” I ask.

“It shows a sense of humour.  I think that would help them,” he explains quietly.

He’s right, of course.  I know, God forbid, if I found Carter and Teal’c dead, a note like that would probably bring a smile to my face.  Not right away, but eventually.  And if they died in each other’s arms, well, that would help, too.  One thing for sure, if we do die here they’re gonna find me and Daniel in each other’s arms because I’m not letting him go.

“Do you have a pen and paper?” I ask.

“Jack,” he chastises.

“Sorry, what was I thinking?” I smile.  “I suppose you can write legibly in total darkness?”

“You suppose right, although it may be a little shaky,” he admits.  “Help me up?”

He gasps and stifles a groan as I shift him upwards.  I feel him tense and I know he’s trying to get a grip on the pain.  We’re both bruised and cut, but he definitely got the short end of the stick.  What a surprise.

“I’ll write the note,” I offer.  “Hammond will be able to decipher it if no one else can.  Where’s the stuff?”

I hear and feel him fumbling in his pockets and soon a notebook and pen are in my lap.

“Use the last page,” Daniel orders.

“How do I know which is the last page?  I can’t even tell which way is up, for crying out loud,” I grouse lightly.

He sighs, a little over dramatically, I think, and takes the book away.  Soon it’s back in my lap.  Suddenly this is getting all too real again, and I don’t like it.  Not at all.

“I’ll write the note, Daniel, but that doesn’t mean I’m giving up hope,” I insist.

“Neither am I, Jack,” he assures me softly.

“Okay, as long as we’re on the same page.  No pun intended,” I add.  “So, we’re going with the fish thing?”

“Yeah.”

I hear the smile in his voice, and I smile, too.  I write the note quickly and sign my name.  Before I can ask him, Daniel says,

“I’ll sign my name.”

I place the journal in his lap.

“Okay, give me your hand.”

I grasp his hand and guide it to where I think is the appropriate spot on the page.  I place the pen in his fingers and listen to him sign his name.  I remove the book from his lap and lay it carefully beside me.  Then, without thinking, I reach for his hand and our fingers entwine together.  I squeeze tight.  He sighs and lays his head on my shoulder.  I swallow the hard lump in my throat and lay my cheek on his head.  There are worse ways to die.  Much worse.  I close my eyes.  I’ll rest.  Just for a little while.

I feel like I’m suffocating.  Something is covering my face, and I try to bat it away.  Damn, I must’ve fallen asleep.  I feel Daniel’s hand move away from mine.  No, being forced away.

“No!” I cry, my voice muffled and hoarse.  “Daniel!”

Hands clamp down on me.

“No!”  I yell and struggle with the unseen hands.

“Colonel, you have to stay still.  It’s me, Dr. Fraiser.  Daniel’s fine.  He needs oxygen and so do you.  Please, Colonel, just relax.”

Fraiser? 

“Doc?”  I rasp.

“Yes, sir.  Sam and Teal’c are here, too.  We’re taking you and Daniel home.”

My brain suddenly registers that there’s light.  I’ve got the mother of all headaches and the light isn’t helping, but I need to see Daniel.

“Daniel.”

“Here, sir,” Carter says as she places warm hands on my face and gently turns my head.

Teal’c’s holding a mask over Daniel’s face.  Ah crap, Daniel looks worse than I thought.  He’s breathing though.  His chest gently expands as he breathes in clean, pure oxygen, and I feel my eyes burn.

“His ribs,” I whisper.

“I will be gentle, O’Neill,” Teal’c’s voice rumbles resolutely.

“SG-3 is on the way with equipment to carry you out, sir,” Carter says.

I nod weakly, my eyes fixed on Daniel.  I don’t know if he senses me watching, or if he can hear me, but his head slowly turns, and I see those vivid blue eyes I never thought I’d see again.  He smiles and reaches for me.  I grasp his hand greedily.  We survived.  I smile reassuringly and tighten my grasp.  His smile widens and then it falters as his eyes shift upwards over my shoulder.  I turn to see Carter staring at the notebook, tears on her face.  The sight verifies how close Daniel and I came to dying.

“It was supposed to make you laugh,” I croak.

She looks at me incredulously, but there’s a faint smile there.

“It was Daniel’s idea,” I add.

“Jack,” Daniel protests weakly.

I chuckle at his indignation.  “Okay, team effort,” I correct.

“What does it say, Major Carter?” Teal’c asks.

“So long, and thanks for all the fish,” Carter says, and this time she is smiling.

“I do not understand,” Teal’c responds.

I shrug and say, “Well, it was either that or—”

“Sex, drugs, and rock and roll,” Daniel says.

I laugh, Carter and Doc look bemused, and Teal’c raises an eyebrow.

“Dr. Fraiser, I believe O’Neill and Daniel Jackson are both delirious,” Teal’c states.

“We’re fine, Teal’c,” I assure him.  “We’re just fine.  Right, Daniel?”

Daniel smiles at me and squeezes my hand which is still grasping his.  I smile and squeeze back.  Hell, we’re more than fine.  We may be bruised, battered, and escaped death by the skin of our teeth, but we did it, and we did it together.  I call that priceless.

 

The end

 

 

 

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Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. This is a parody for entertainment purposes only. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. This story may not be posted anywhere without the consent of the author.