Alar sat down, a small confident smile gracing his pinched features. Surely, his heart-wrenching personal account of their war with the enemy would satisfy even the impudent Dr. Daniel Jackson.
`Any more questions, Daniel?' Colonel Jack O'Neill asked sarcastically.
Daniel Jackson didn't blink an eye.
`Yes, uh, I'd like to know more about your enemy,' he asked simply.
Jack's fists and jaw clenched. For fuck's sake, Daniel! Leave it the hell alone!
Alar turned exasperated eyes to O'Neill.
`Is this part of your bargaining process, Colonel?'
The unspoken words, `Can you not control your own people?' were not missed by anyone seated at the conference table.
Jack, bristling under Daniel's stubbornness and Alar's implied accusation, ground out the words, `Not normally.'
Daniel, well aware of Jack's anger, consciously avoided the icy, dark gaze directed his way. I'm sorry, Jack, but this is getting way out of hand, and I don't know why you can't see it.
`What more can we promise than everything we have?' Alar appealed.
`Why don't you just answer the question?' Daniel pressed quietly.
Alar looked away in disgust. `Colonel O'Neill, do we have an agreement?'
`We do,' Jack said tightly.
The vehemence in Jack's voice pierced Daniel and plunged the room into silence. Major Samantha Carter looked away, embarrassed for Daniel. Teal'c's eyebrow cocked upwards in surprise and concern. Even the Eurondans looked uncomfortable. Only Jack and Alar looked triumphant.
`Is that clear enough?' Jack added, effectively squashing any further protests from Daniel
Daniel held Jack's gaze momentarily, but the infuriation and anger in his friend's eyes shattered his soul and his confidence. He ducked his head in resignation.
Jack's fists slowly unclenched as his anger dissipated. His moment of victory did not taste sweet. Jesus, Daniel. Why couldn't you just drop it, for crying out loud?.
"Carter, go back to the SGC. Tell General Hammond we have a deal."
Sam looked reluctantly at Daniel's bent head and said, "Yes, sir." She left immediately, relieved to escape the oppressive air of the council room.
The room soon dispersed, Alar eager to show his new allies more of his facility.
Teal'c critically eyed Jack and Daniel. Neither man was looking at the other.
Jack wearily rubbed his hand across his face. Not only had he publicly humiliated Daniel and made an ass out of himself, but he now had Teal'c with a Jaffa-sized bone to pick. You did not screw around with Daniel Jackson without raising the hackles of Teal'c.
Crap, this is not a good day.
"Colonel O'Neill, I have something I think you'll be pleased to see," Alar informed pleasantly from the doorway.
"Yeah, I'm coming."
Jack slid his chair back, eliciting no response from the resident archaeologist. Jack stared at the bowed head, feeling slightly nauseous. Later. We can fix this later.
"Teal'c, come with me," he said as he followed Alar.
Teal'c nodded and stood up. He hesitated, his loyalties at war. He, too did not have a good feeling about Alar. The man was concealing something.
"Go, Teal'c," Daniel said, waving his hand. "I'll catch up in a few minutes."
Teal'c bowed slightly and left the room.
Daniel slouched in his chair, his head back. He was relieved to be alone. He shook his head and laughed ruefully.
"Just like old times, Dr. Jackson. Almost forgot what it felt like. Public humiliation. Oh yeah...just like old times."
A high-pitched squeal pulled Daniel from his self-absorbed musings. He stood up quickly, alert for any further sound. When it came, it was deafening. The room exploded around him.
"What the hell was that?" Jack asked, bracing himself against the wall.
"Our defenses have been breached!" Alar shouted over the chaos. "Colonel, we must have more heavy water!" he demanded.
"Any idea what got hit?" Jack asked, pointedly ignoring Alar.
Alar hurried to the monitors checking the reports as they came in.
"It was only the council chamber," he said in relief.
"Only? Five minutes ago and we'd all..." Jack's face blanched and he snatched his radio. "Daniel! Daniel, can you hear me?"
Static taunted his ears.
"O'Neill, Daniel Jackson was still seated when I departed the chamber," Teal'c informed grimly.
"Damnit," Jack growled and started to run towards the council chamber, Teal'c on his heels.
"Carter, where are you?"
"I'm just about to dial out, sir. What was that explosion?"
"The council room. Get over there now. We think Daniel is still there."
"I'm on my way."
Vivid images of Daniel buried under rubble crowded Jack's mind. Not again. Damnit, Daniel, tell me you're not there.
"Daniel!" he yelled, as he ran through the corridors. "Dr. Jackson, have you seen him?" he snapped at a small cluster of frightened Eurondans. They shook their heads and Jack's blood froze. No, no, he's okay. He's fine. Damnit, if I hadn't turned on him like that he'd be here beside me.
Jack's gut clenched and his heart hammered in his chest. He stared at the smoking debris in front of him. Half of the chamber was obliterated, the other half inaccessible.
"Daniel!" he called desperately.
"No one could have survived that blast," Alar said dismissively, coming up behind him and breathing hard. "Colonel, we must have more heavy water. We don't have time -"
Jack whirled, his eyes blazing.
"If he's in there, we'll find him, and your people are going to help."
Alar easily saw the barely contained rage. "Yes, yes, very well," he acquiesced, all the while thinking, We're all better off without him.
"We should begin our search over there," Teal'c said, his calm words belying his fear for his friend.
SG-1 threw their energy into the task of finding their friend. It was slow and dangerous work. Teal'c did most of the heavy work, while Jack and Sam did what they could. The few Eurondans Alar did spare were more of a hindrance than help. Their attention was understandably elsewhere.
"Daniel! Danny, can you hear me?" Jack called, hopefully and wearily. Jack didn't know how many times they called, but just hearing Daniel's name was a small comfort in itself. He was in there somewhere. He would have turned up by now if he weren't. Pissed though he may be with Jack, the older man knew that Daniel would never mislead him into thinking he was injured. They would find him.
Daniel's world slowly unravelled, a world of noise and a thick, choking smell. His head was ringing and he really needed to cough, but he couldn't seem to muster the energy to do so. God, why am I so tired? Think, Daniel, think. He forced his sluggish mind into action and really wasn't happy with the results. He had finally pushed one too many of Jack's buttons.
Great. Jack's really, really pissed. God, he didn't hit me, did he? No, no, don't be stupid. He may tell you to shut up in front of everyone, but he would never hit you. Even if he wanted to, he wouldn't. Would he? Well, if he tried, Teal'c would stop him. I think. Damn, I can't think straight. I hate this. Open your damn eyes, Jackson!
Blinking rapidly, Daniel weakly wiped his stinging eyes with a largely uncooperative hand. The clumsy movement caused him to cough thickly. He choked and tried to roll over, but was only partially successful. The pressure in his lungs alleviated and he fell back, exhausted. He lay quietly, his laboured breathing loud in his ears. Okay, this isn't good. Other noises insinuated into his thoughts; banging, scraping, and voices. Voices? Jack?
"Jack?" he rasped, barely hearing his own voice.
"He is not here, O'Neill."
Jack sat down, his bruised, bleeding hands hanging limply over his knees.
Sam sat down, equally exhausted, her face streaked with sweat and dirt. "That's good, Colonel," she said. "That means if he was still in the council chamber then he must be through there," she said gesturing to the imposing wall of debris blocking their path.
Jack gave a rueful laugh, hope and fear warring for control.
The sound of distant explosions spurred Jack to his feet. They didn't have time to rest. Daniel didn't have time.
Jack looked at Teal'c and saw Alar approaching, looking none too pleased.
"Colonel O'Neill, there is no time for this," Alar claimed, exasperated with Jack's single-minded purpose. "You are trying to save one man. I am trying to save our entire civilization. Surely, one man is not-"
"Teal'c," Jack said simply, the mere cadence of Alar's voice grating on his already frayed nerves.
Teal'c immediately planted his imposing bulk inches from the elder's face.
"Daniel Jackson is a vital member of our team. No one, or no thing, will prevent us from finding our friend," he informed.
"Have it your way, Colonel," Alar said, unnerved and repulsed by the mere presence of the Jaffa, "but I cannot spare any more of my people."
Jack's jaw clenched, but he made no response. He needed to focus one hundred percent on Daniel.
"Sir, we're going to need some water and..."
"Rest," Jack sighed. "I know, Carter. Everyone take fifteen." Damnit, Daniel. If you wanted to get back at me couldn't you have just shot me instead?
Jack paced in front of the rubble, looking for a strategic and safe place to start.
"Daniel!" he yelled, listening in vain for a response. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply.
"There's got to be another way in there. The ceiling, the floor, somewhere. Carter, find Alar and get the schematics for this place. If he doesn't cooperate, shoot him."
"Yes sir," she replied.
"Daniel! Danny, answer me, damn it!"
"Jack," Daniel croaked again as a dry, hacking cough assailed him. "Damn it," he muttered, sitting up gingerly.
The room spun wildly. He squeezed his eyes shut and leaned back on his elbows waiting for the nausea to pass. Cautiously, he opened his eyes and took in the devastation around him.
Okay, not getting out of here any time soon.
He tried to move, but his legs were trapped. He didn't really hurt...much. He closed his eyes and lay back with a hollow chuckle. Can't blame me for this one, Jack. He heard a groaning overhead, and his eyes snapped open. A large, jagged beam of metal swayed ominously several feet above him.
"Oh, shit," he whispered.
Sam had succeeded in her quest, and they devised their strategy while quickly eating their rations. Jack fingered his radio one more time.
"Daniel, can you hear me? Come in, Daniel." Come on, Danny. Tell me to shut the fuck up.
Daniel realized he was holding his breath and it was getting damned uncomfortable. Turning his head to the side, he exhaled slowly, afraid even the slightest vibration would bring the beam loose and terminate his existence in a painful, messy way.
Wait a minute! My radio! Please, don't let me have forgotten my radio.
He glanced down at his shoulder. Thank God. His fingers groped carefully for the radio. He jerked when it crackled to life.
"Daniel, can you hear me? Come in, Daniel."
Jesus, Jack. He clenched his eyes shut, expecting to be impaled any second. He cracked one eye open. It was still dangling and he was still trapped, but he wasn't alone. Jack was here.
Jack rubbed his stiff neck and said, "Okay, let's get started. If the ventilation ducts are a dead-end we'll-"
"Jack?" a faint voice sounded from his shoulder.
Jack clutched his radio. "Daniel?" he called urgently.
Sam and Teal'c clustered around their CO, hope shining in their eyes. All three broke into wide, relieved smiles when a tired "Hey," came across the airwaves.
Jack's throat constricted and he pinched the bridge of his nose. "Hey, Daniel," he said softly. "Where are you? Are you in the council chamber?"
"What's left of it," came the weary reply.
"Are you hurt?"
"Um, a bit, maybe. Not much. I don't think. Cracked my head. Don't know about my legs."
Jack shook his head at the confusing information.
"We think we have a way to get to you, Daniel. Can you help us?"
"I can't move, Jack."
Jack's heart clenched at the defeated tone.
"Daniel, what do you mean?" he asked calmly. "Are you trapped?"
"My-my legs. They're stuck. But, I think that's the least of my problems," he sighed over the increasing static.
Jack glanced sharply at his teammates.
"Daniel, I don't understand," he asked carefully.
"Oh, sorry. There's, um...a nasty-looking hunk of metal dangling about twenty feet above me. God, Jack, it looks like a sneeze could bring it down."
"Damn it," Jack whispered harshly.
"Sir, the ventilation duct," Sam prompted urgently.
"I know, Carter," he said irritated. "Daniel, can you see any ventilation openings?"
Static crackled in his ear.
There was no response.
"Daniel!" he called loudly.
"It's okay," Jack said gently. Crap, Danny. You have nothing to apologize for. "I thought maybe you passed out."
"No. It's just...hard to see. I think I sprained my neck or something."`
"Take your time, Daniel," Sam yelled, unable to remain silent any longer.
"Sam? Teal'c? You guys okay?"
"We are fine, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c assured.
"Good. Good. That's good to hear," Daniel said quietly and with an effort.
"Stay with me, Daniel," Jack encouraged, unnerved by his friend's fading voice.
"Right. The, uh, ducts."
"Can you see any openings?"
"I think...I think there's one behind me, but I'm not sure. It could be something else. A cupboard or...something."
"Okay, that's good, Daniel. You're doing fine. Now, can you tell me where you are in relation to where you were seated earlier?"
"Let's see, um, I'm pretty sure I'm where Alar was seated."
Jack looked questioningly at Sam who was consulting the blueprints. She looked up and smiled.
"Sir, there's an access grid right behind his location."
"Daniel, we know where you are," Jack informed. "I'm coming in to get you."
"Not going anywhere. Oh, shit," Daniel cursed, as another explosion shuddered through the walls.
"Daniel! Daniel!" Jack called, his mind showing him things he didn't want to see.
"Still here," came the ragged, breathless response.
"Daniel, it's going to be okay. We'll get you out. Trust me." Crap, how can you even say that? You did this. If you hadn't treated him like shit.
"You got, it," he assured, clicking off his radio.
"Sir, I'll go," Sam said. "The ducts get a little narrow and-"
"No," Jack said bluntly. "Teal'c, I'll need you to give me a boost. Carter, keep Daniel company," he ordered.
"Yes, sir," she complied, knowing when not to press her CO. She watched them leave, banished the fear from her mind, and radioed Daniel.
"Son of a bitch," Jack growled, hitting his head for the umpteenth time.
"Goddamn thing must have been designed by Munchkins," he muttered. He tried his radio, but only received static. He hoped Carter and Teal'c were keeping Daniel's spirits up.
"The colonel will have you out of there in no time, Daniel," Sam assured, glancing at Teal'c for support.
Daniel stared at the ceiling. Well, that's good because `no time' is just about all I've got left.
Sam bit her lip, waiting for Daniel's voice. When she did, she didn't know what to say.
"He's scared, Sam," Daniel said softly. "Don't...don't let him blame himself."
"Daniel," she said brokenly.
"Promise me, Sam," he insisted.
"Daniel, you're going to be -"
"Please, Sam. Promise me. Teal'c too."
"You have my word, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said solemnly.
"Mine too, Daniel, but you're going to be okay," Sam reiterated.
Another explosion rocked the facility, and Daniel instinctively covered his head with his arms and held his breath.
"Daniel, are you all right?" Sam asked anxiously.
"Yeah, I, uh, think. It...it swayed a little," he said quietly. "Wait. I-I hear something. I think it's Jack!" he said excitedly.
"That's great, Daniel. The colonel should be coming up right behind you."
Jack stopped briefly to wipe more sweat and grit out of his eyes. The air was hot, stale, oppressive, and definitely not ventilating. The blood was rushing in his ears and his head was pounding. Even with his flashlight, he still managed to crack his head on unseen obstructions. He felt the shaft vibrate as another explosion breached the Eurondan defense. Cursing, he resumed his torturous crawl. Not only did he need to get Daniel, but he also had to get Carter and Teal'c back to the SGC before the whole damn place went up.
Jack felt a subtle change in the enclosed space. It was cooler and he thought it might even be getting lighter. He held his breath and listened. Maybe it was wishful thinking, but he thought he could hear Daniel.
"Daniel!" His voice sounded loud and hollow to his ears. He strained to hear a response, but all he heard was his own heartbeat and harsh breathing.
"I'm coming, Daniel. Hang on, buddy."
"Yes, I hear him, Sam! He sounds...he sounds far away, but that's just the ducts, right?"`
Sam's heart tugged at Daniel's desperate plea for assurance.
"That's exactly right, Daniel. The colonel could be five feet away and it could sound like five hundred."
Teal'c's eyebrow rose sceptically and she held up her hand in a `don't say a word,' gesture.
Jack finally reached his goal. He twisted sideways, peering anxiously through the grate. The room was a shambles. Where the hell is...crap. Jack shivered in spite of the stifling heat when he saw the deadly danger Daniel was facing.
"Jack? Jack, are you here?" Daniel asked, straining his neck to see behind him.
"Yeah, Danny. I'm here," Jack said, slumping against the shaft, taking a few seconds to enjoy the closeness of his friend's voice.
Daniel lay back with relief. Jack was here. He could relax now.
"Daniel, is the colonel there?" Sam's voice crackled.
"He's here, Sam. Well, he's still in the duct, but he's here."
Daniel twisted his neck. "Jack?"
"Are you, um, coming down?"
"Don't suppose you've got a ladder?"
"Didn't think so," Jack sighed. "Okay, this is going to be noisy," he warned as he began unbolting the panel. "It's coming down!"
Daniel flinched as the panel grid clattered to the floor. It sounded close, very close. He looked fearfully upwards. The beam didn't move.
"Jack?" he asked worriedly.
"It's okay. It's, uh, just...a bit of a drop."
After a lot of twisting and squirming, Jack managed to get his feet out into the open air. Wriggling backwards, muscles straining, he hung from the shaft.
"Stand back," he warned Daniel.
Daniel snickered softly and waited for his friend.
Jack estimated a fifteen-foot drop. Closing his eyes, and sending a silent apology to his knees, he let go.
"Ouch! Shit, that hurt," he grunted as he impacted with the floor.
Both men looked up at the taunting beam. It still didn't move.
Jack scrambled over to Daniel.
"Daniel?" he said anxiously, his hands gently stroking the young man's head, checking for injuries and reassuring himself that he was well and truly alive.
"I'm okay, Jack," Daniel said, reaching up and clutching the older man's arm. The solid feel of his friend's flesh brought tears of relief to his eyes.
Jack firmly clasped his hand over Daniel's, feeling his own eyes start to sting.
"Daniel? Daniel, what's happening?" Sam's worried voice crackled over the radio.
"Carter, it's me," Jack said, still holding on to Daniel. "We're okay. Once I get Daniel out of this mess, I want you and Teal'c to blow a hole in this room. There's no way we can get back up to the ducts."
"I know just the spot, Colonel. We'll be ready."
Jack clicked off his radio and looked down at his teammate.
"Okay, Daniel. Let's get you the hell out of here."
He quickly assessed his friend's predicament. Daniel's legs were pinned from mid-thigh down. He didn't want to think of the bruising or possible crushed bones that could be under there as he prodded around the trapped limbs.
Daniel flinched, causing Jack to look up sharply.
"Did that hurt?"
"Just a bit, but that's okay," Daniel smiled shakily. "That means they're still attached."
"You'll be fine," Jack assured, patting Daniel's chest lightly.
Another explosion rocked the room, and Jack instinctively hunched over the younger man, shielding him with his body.
"Jack, damn it," Daniel gasped, pushing the older man off. "What the hell are you doing? You can't save me from that. God, you'll die too," he said angrily.
"Well, then you can chew me out in the afterlife because there's no way in hell I'm going to sit here and watch you be crushed to death. No goddamn way, Daniel," Jack said just as angrily.
Daniel did his best to glare defiantly. Sighing, he laid back, one arm over his eyes.
"God, and you call me stubborn," he murmured.
Jack smiled, confident he had won this round. However, his smile faded when he saw the tears slowly track down the dust-streaked face.
"We're getting out of here, Daniel," he promised solemnly. "Both of us."
Daniel nodded, too tired to argue, and so wanting to believe.
Jack glanced up at the beam and shuddered. Crap, what's holding that up?
He shook off his foreboding, gave Daniel's arm an encouraging squeeze, and resumed his efforts to extricate his teammate.
After clearing away an abundance of small debris, he reached for a large piece of wood and pulled experimentally. A sharp cry aborted his attempt.
"Daniel?" he called anxiously, scurrying back to the trapped man.
Daniel was sitting up, pale and breathing rapidly.
Jack placed his arm around his back, offering support.
Daniel leaned back gratefully, getting his breathing under control.
"Shit, Danny, I'm sorry," Jack said, gently rubbing Daniel's arm.
"'s'okay. I think-I think something cut me, but I'm fine."
Jack looked down at the trapped legs, expecting blood to pool out any second.
Jack knew that tone. He kept his eyes averted.
Jack sighed, closed his eyes briefly before looking at his friend. Intense, blue eyes captured his attention.
"This isn't your fault."
Jack looked away, unable and unwilling to accept absolution.
"Jack," he said, grasping the hand still on his arm. "We're just...we're just having a crappy day."
Jack couldn't stop himself. He looked incredulously at his injured friend. The clear, blue eyes had a definite twinkle. Shaking his head, he pulled Daniel in tight to his chest.
"I wish I could have this whole crappy day over again, Daniel. I'm sorry. I'm sorry about everything. I knew Alar was too good to be true, but I didn't want to see it, and I sure as hell didn't want you pointing it out to me."
"Jack, as comfortable as this is," Daniel's muffled voice said diplomatically, "but would you please shut up and get me the hell out of here."
Jack chuckled and leaned back.
"Then will you forgive me?"
"Then I'll forgive you."
"Okay, let's get this show on the road."
Jack returned to his task, dutifully avoiding the object of his earlier attempt. After removing several obstacles, he hit pay dirt.
"Daniel, can you help me?"
"I'll do what I can," he said, sitting up carefully.
"Okay, when I prop this up I need you to shove this board under here. As hard as you can. Think you can do that?"
"Just tell me when," Daniel said, grasping the board, testing his strength.
Jack smiled his approval and admiration. "Ready?"
Jack began to lean on the makeshift lever. An ominous creaking drew his attention upwards. The damn beam was shifting. Desperate, brown eyes locked onto steady, blue ones.
"Jesus, Daniel," Jack whispered, his muscles tensed to spring to his friend's aid.
"Stay where you are, Jack."
The beam held.
"Let's go, Jack," Daniel encouraged softly, the imminent peril hanging over his head clearly getting on his nerves.
Swallowing his fear, Jack leaned quickly and heavily on his end of the lever. The pile pinning Daniel inched slightly upwards.
"Now!" Jack yelled and Daniel rammed his piece into the small opening.
"Okay," Daniel grunted. "You can let go now, Jack."
Jack carefully lowered the pile, muscles trembling with the exertion not to drop it.
"It's holding," Daniel exclaimed. He began to scuttle backwards, his movements stiff and sluggish.
Strong arms clasped around his chest and pulled. His leg scraped painfully against something as he was yanked free, but he wasn't going to complain.
Distant explosions became louder, and the room shook violently.
Jack curled over Daniel protectively, wincing at the screech of metal tearing from metal.
Daniel drew his legs up tight, burrowing into his human shelter.
The ensuing crash sent shivers through their bodies and they clung to each other.
Acknowledging that he was still breathing, Jack cautiously looked up. His blood chilled at the sight of twisted metal impaled in the floor where Daniel had been lying mere seconds ago. He felt Daniel stir and stiffen in his arms.
"Oh, God. I thought that only happened in the movies," Daniel whispered.
"With you, Daniel," Jack said hoarsely, giving him an affectionate squeeze, "anything can happen."
"Colonel, is everything all right?" Sam's anxious voice sounded in his left ear.
"Yeah, Carter. We're fine, and we're ready to get the hell out of here. Where do you want us?"
Sam gave detailed instructions, causing Jack to roll his eyes, but he quickly hustled Daniel to his feet.
Daniel swayed a little and his leg was bleeding.
"You okay?" Jack asked.
"It's just a scratch."
"I've heard that one before," Jack grumbled. "Carter can do a quick patch-it job then it's through the `gate for all of us. We're getting the hell off this planet."
"What about Alar?"
Jack looked into the troubled, blue eyes. He smiled grimly and said, "He started this war without us; he can damn well finish it without us."
Jack saw the regret and acceptance in his friend's eyes. Daniel knew that turning their backs on the Eurondans was tantamount to a death sentence, but this was not their battle. He knew that from the beginning.
"You can't save everyone, Daniel." Although you sure as hell keep trying.
"Maybe this way, they'll be forced to compromise," Daniel suggested hopefully.
"You may be right," Jack encouraged. "You've been right about everything else."
Daniel smiled, accepting Jack's apologetic compliment.
"Ready?" Jack asked, draping his arm around the younger man's shoulders.
"Okay, Carter," Jack informed, ducking down and sheltering his friend. "Blow it!"
|Genres:||Alternate Universe, Angst, Friendship, Hurt/Comfort, Missing Scene/Episode-Related|
|Summary:||Jack's reprimand leads to dire consequences for Daniel.|
Author's Chapter Notes:
This is a missing scene for The Other Side. Oh, and it's AU because I needed to 'fix-it'.