Natural Light by Otter
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Category: General
Genres: Friendship, Missing Scene/Episode-Related
Rated: Pre-Teen
Warnings: None
Series: None
Summary: Just another day in a pleasure palace at the end of the universe.

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Author's Chapter Notes:
[Warnings] Not a single one. Warning-free here, folks.
- lumen naturale - natural light -

As she ran, Sam pressed close to the corridor wall and kept her body low to the ground, just as she'd been trained. She felt naked without her P-90, without even a sidearm in her hand, and she had to grit her teeth against the twisting sensation in her gut that told her that they would inevitably be caught, that they'd suffer and suffer and suffer for it.

Behind her, Daniel was her shadow, keeping close to her back and moving just as quietly and swiftly as she did. They paused at an intersection in hallways, and Sam peered around the corner to check out the long stretches of shadowed corridor on either side, knowing that Daniel was glancing back to check their six. She could hear him breathing, and feel his body heat; his fingertips touched the small of her back, both reassurance and encouragement, prodding her forward. Her fingers gripped at the textured wall, dug into the grooves of deep-carved Goa'uld writing, and gave her a little extra propulsion when she sprinted forward through the intersection and into the next corridor.

Daniel followed close behind, and they slunk a little further down the hallway before Sam hissed, "This is it," and ducked into the nearest doorway.

Inside, the room was lavish and spacious, with more carved and painted walls, intricate grating and silky screens. Sam ignored it all, dashing toward her target: the Air Force-issue pack propped against the wall, the one carrying precious cargo like a first aid kit, a radio, and a GDO. She opened the bag, thrust a hand inside, and rooted around in search of her prize.

When her hand closed on the waterproof wrappers, she let out a triumphant "Hah!" clutched the booty in her hand, and ran back to the door, where Daniel was keeping watch.

"You got them?" he whispered.

"Oh yeah," she whispered back.

They abandoned stealth in favor of speed, and the sound of their bare feet slapping against the stone floors echoed up and down the hallways as they bolted for the nearest exit. They didn't slow their mad dash for freedom until they were outside and well clear of the complex, breathing in the ocean air while their toes dug into the sand.

Sam held up and spoils of war, inspected the printed labels, and said, "You want the chocolate mint cookies or the cheese crackers?"

Daniel grinned and waggled his eyebrows. He'd stuffed his hands into his pockets and was strolling along with the self-satisfied air of a man who'd gotten away with something. "It was your idea," Daniel said, with a shrug. "You choose."

She kept the crackers -- not because she liked them better, but because she knew how Daniel was about those chocolate mint cookies -- and tossed the other package to Daniel, who caught it with only a single near-fumble.

He ripped open the thick wrapper to expose the food inside, and said, "I *knew* Jack was hoarding those MRE desserts."

Sam grinned around a mouthful of crackers and said, "Yeah."

"You realize he's going to kill us."

Sam's grin didn't fade, and she tucked her empty wrapper into her pocket for later disposal of the incriminating evidence. "He'll have to catch us first," she said. She surveyed the terrain, looking for promising hiding places. There weren't any, just the scrubby beach, the flat horizon, and the line of tall statues standing along the shore. The sky was cloudy and grey, as always, and the lazy sea reflected back a rippling mirror image.

They stopped at the line of debris that marked the reach of the tide; there was dry sand on one side, wet sand on the other, and a low wall of seaweed, shells and pebbles separating the two. Sam hopped up onto the edge of the big carved sphinx-paw of the nearest statue, swinging her legs and letting her heels drum lightly against the stone. Daniel wandered down into the wet sand, letting the drowsy tide slowly lick at his bare feet. The ocean offered up a tiny little live clam; the creature knocked up against Daniel's toes, and was left there on the beach as the water receded. Daniel watched it tip itself up on end and slowly dig its way down into the mud, until the water rolled in again, smoothed over the sand, and washed away any trace that the clam had been there at all. He wandered back to Sam's side, hauled himself up next to her on her lion's-foot seat, and they sat for awhile and watched the water rock the sky to sleep.

After a long time, when Sam felt like her heart had possibly changed its rhythm to match the ebb and flow of the tide, Daniel sighed. He said, "I should probably get back. I have a lot of translating to do."

Sam huffed and grabbed his hand to prevent him from jumping down. "Yeah," she said, "I'll bet it's really important stuff, like yesterday when you translated the instructions on the Goa'uld equivalent of a vibrating bed."

Daniel shrugged, but there was a little grin around the corners of his mouth. "You're just annoyed because you didn't have any change to try it out." He turned his hand, breaking her hold on him, but didn't move to leave. He stared out at the water for awhile, and finally said, "It *is* nice to be outside for a change."

Sam smiled, like a lion spotting some young and vulnerable creature in the brush. "And we can stay out for hours and hours now without going into withdrawal." She prodded at him with an elbow, then hopped down to the ground, squinting back up at him. "It'll only be a few more days before we can go home," she said. "Do you really want to spend that time cooped up in an opium den, translating the Goa'uld Kama Sutra off the walls?"

Daniel heaved a huge put-upon sigh and said, "No, not really." He tapped his fingers against the worn-smooth stone of the sphinx's paw, and said, "Sooo... what d'you want to do?"

She bounced on the balls of her feet and said, "How about the pier?" He nodded his assent, but she was already sprinting away across the sand, shouting back, "Race you!" over her shoulder.

She beat him there, of course, because she'd had that cheating head start. He retaliated by picking her up, carrying her to the end of the pier, and tossing her into the cold ocean. After she'd crawled out, shivering and soaked to the bone, she had her revenge by wrapping him in a tight, dripping hug, and his howls for mercy and desperate squirming had little effect, except to tip them both off the end of the pier and into the water.

Hours later, after they'd taken dive after dive off the end of the pier, after they'd dunked each other countless times and engaged in splash-warfare and generally just behaved like children on a sugar high, they climbed out of the water and back onto the long stone pier. Their BDU pants -- which they'd cut off at the knees with their combat knives a few days ago, to make shorts -- clung wetly to their legs, and their t-shirts were a dipping lumps draped over the short pillars where long-gone sailors had once tied their boats.

Sam made a face and plunged a hand inelegantly into the front of her clinging sports bra; when she pulled her fist out, there was another of those little dull orange clams in her palm.

Daniel wagged his eyebrows and said, "Need some help there, Sam?"

She considered chucking the clam at his head, but decided that would be unfair to the clam. She pitched it back into the ocean instead, then pointed at the monument that stood next to them, at the very end of the dock, keeping watch over the sea. She said, "I bet the view's great from up there."

Daniel said, "Hmm," and squinted at the statue. It looked like the others that lined the coast: a lion's body, but instead of a head there was a hawk, with its wings stretched down as if to guard -- or cage -- the human figure that stood against its breast. It was at least a couple of stories tall, built out of solid but weathered stone, and there'd be more than enough room for both of them to lay on top of the hawk's head and soak up the meager sunlight that was struggling to break through the clouds. Daniel said, "You realize if we fall we'll definitely break something. Like our heads."

Sam rolled her eyes and said, "Wow, this is just like hanging out with my brother, except you're even more of a wuss." She gave him a wide, toothy grin, ruffled his hair vigorously with one hand, then climbed up onto the lion's back leg and began her ascent.

Daniel sighed, tried to squeeze some of the water out of his shorts, and then followed.

By the time the sun started to go down -- breaking free of the cloud cover for an hour of nice colorful sunset before it would disappear into the ocean -- they were both nearly dry, sprawled out on Horus' head with their legs hanging over his brow and their feet against his beak. Daniel was in the middle of a meandering theory about the civilization that had called the planet home, the one that had built the monuments and the pier and left no other trace of themselves in the vicinity. Sam was half-listening to him and watching a sea bird that looked like a pelican, if pelicans had sort of bat-wings and long glossy grey feathers.

Daniel was saying, "--that all of their monuments should face toward the sea; I wonder if maybe they had enemies or trading partners on another island or continent, and so erected the monuments as a declaration that they were protected by Horus, or--"

Sam interrupted to say, "Woah!" because the sea bird had dived into the ocean and come out with one of the big fish they'd seen down there, the ones that were harmless to people but about three feet long, even bigger than the bird itself. The fish was still squirming powerfully when the bird hauled it to a cluster of rocks; Sam couldn't see the fish anymore, but the bird was pecking at it, like a murder in an old movie where all that could be seen of the act itself was a knife-wielding fist drawn back to strike.

From far below, Jack's voice hollered, "Oh, Carter? Daniel?"

Sam winced and turned her attention away from the fish.

Daniel was resolutely not looking down; he remained on his back, staring up at the sky with a solemn expression. "We should make a pact," he said. "If either one of us survives, we have to give the other a proper burial."

Sam shook his hand and said, "Deal," and then she peeked over the edge of the hawk's head, saw the Colonel standing down below on the pier and staring up. "Hi, sir," she said brightly, with a little wave. "Time for dinner already?"

Jack smiled a deadly smile at her, and waved back. "Time for just *desserts*, more like," he shouted back. "Come on down, kids." He didn't tell them to be careful, but it was there in his voice.

Beside her Daniel said, "You know, we really are likely to kill ourselves trying to get down from here."

She bit her lip and reluctantly said, "Yeah. But I only just got dry."

When she turned back to look at him, he'd hauled himself to his feet and was shuffling carefully down Horus' beak, looking down at the ocean. He shrugged and said, "It's a clean drop, and we know it's deep enough." He shuffled back to the hawk's brow again, sat down and said, "Well. Ladies first."

She thumped the back of his head -- just because she could -- and then dashed down the hawk's beak, let loose a wild battle cry, and leaped out and down down down in a tight cannonball dive, splashing loudly into the orange-tinged ocean. Daniel followed with an only slightly more graceful swan dive, and when Jack went to help them both up from the little stone stairs on the side of the pier, they each grabbed an arm and hauled him into the water, too.

He made them pay for it later, when he not only stole the desserts from their MREs, but also lay claim to Sam's packet of coffee and Daniel's only dry t-shirt. Daniel pretended he'd worked for at least a few hours of the day, and Jack pretended to believe him, and Sam pretended that she wasn't sneaking sips of Daniel's coffee while he wasn't looking, and Daniel pretended not to notice.

The End
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