EXPLORERS

BY Annie

EMAIL: Annie

"Are you cold, DanielJackson?" Teal'c asked.

Daniel rubbed his hands up and down his arms and nodded. "A little. It's not as warm as home. I don't remember it being this cold last time we were here."

"You were bigger then," Teal'c observed as he opened Daniel's pack. "Perhaps your larger surface area allowed you to maintain your body warmth better."

"I guess." Daniel looked around at their surroundings.

They had set up camp close to the tombs of P5C171. He'd been here before several years ago but as the planet was of no real interest to the SGC, it had been a quick in and out visit. It was uninhabited and appeared to have been for millennia. There were no signs that the Goa'uld had been interested in it either. But the ruins had intricate carvings on their walls and he remembered how much he'd ached to study them. He hadn't had the chance then. An abandoned planet with no signs of technology that could be useful in the fight against their enemy had meant that after a quick look-see, they'd gated home. Jack had known, though, how much Daniel had wanted to stay and investigate and that was why he'd chosen this planet for Daniel's first away mission as a downsized archeologist. It was safe and secure and those incredible etchings were still here.

"What is this?"

Daniel turned at the question and felt a blush go almost to his toes as Teal'c held up a soft brown object. He scampered across to grab it from the big man's hands. "It’s Lumpy," he said quietly, his hands unconsciously smoothing the fabric as he held it.

"What is a Lumpy?" Teal'c asked.

"Um, when I have bad dreams, Jack gives me Lumpy to hold and it helps." Daniel pulled the toy higher into his arms and looked up at Teal'c.

"I see. What sort of creature is this?"

"He's a camel." Daniel held Lumpy out at arms' length so Teal'c could see him clearly. "It's kind've stupid, I know, but I was having lots of nightmares for a while after we came back from Vegas, and Jack found him in a toy store and Jack was getting really tired of sitting up with me and then he found that if he just sat with me for a little while and left Lumpy with me, I'd go back to sleep." Daniel finished with a gasping intake of breath. Lumpy had been a secret between him and Jack. He'd never thought Jack would pack Lumpy for an away mission, for crying out loud. Teal'c had to be laughing big-time on the inside right now.

"Then clearly Lumpy is an important member of our team, DanielJackson. Anyone who can ensure a team member's rest is a vital part of it."

Daniel squinted up against the fading light to see if Teal'c was teasing him but the Jaffa's face was serious. "Really?" he asked.

"Indeed. I wish that I had had such a companion when I was a child and suffering nightmares. My son, Ryac, used to sleep with one of his mother's skirts rolled beneath his cheek as a guard against disturbed sleep. Lumpy appears much more serviceable than that."

Daniel looked down at his stuffed friend and nodded. "I guess he is kinda cool. For a toy."

"Come, we will eat and sleep, then in the morning you can examine the carvings inside the temple ruins," Teal'c said.

~oOo~

Daniel sighed happily as he snuggled inside his sleeping bag. He was warm and happily full of food. He'd been expecting MRE's and had been pleasantly surprised to find his and Jack's favorite meal of burritos carefully wrapped in foil that Teal'c had heated in the hot embers of the fire. He smiled to himself as he thought about Jack making the burritos secretly and then smuggling them into his pack, along with Lumpy. It was nice of Jack to go to that much trouble. He wondered what Jack was doing right now, wondered if he was missing Daniel as much as Daniel was missing him… He bit down hard on his lip as a hard lump rose into his throat at the thought and sniffed to quell the hint of tears that welled into his eyes.

"Are you all right, Daniel?" Teal'c's voice was warm and concerned.

"Fine," Daniel said, hating the fact that his voice sounded husky and small.

A shadow loomed over him and then a soft bundle was shoved down inside his sleeping bag.

Daniel squirmed around until he had Lumpy in just the right position for keeping away nightmares, resting half under his body, with the camel's head resting in the curve of Daniel's neck. "Thanks, Teal'c," he murmured.

"I trust you and Lumpy will sleep well, Daniel," Teal'c rumbled back at him as he returned to his own sleeping bag. "We have much work to do tomorrow. Goodnight, my friend."

"Goodnight, Teal'c."

~oOo~

Daniel looked around at the impenetrable darkness and shivered.

"Are you all right, DanielJackson?" Teal'c's voice sounded tired and Daniel rushed to reassure him.

"Yeah, I'm okay. It's just… it's kinda dark in here, isn't it?" He felt his face heat at how child-like the words sounded, quavering and uncertain.

"It is," Teal'c said calmly, "except if you look above. Come, lie down next to me."

Daniel moved cautiously, trying not to jostle his sore arm and felt his way down till he was reclining against Teal'c's large form.

"Look up, Daniel."

Daniel did as he was told and there it was - a hole in the floor through which they'd fallen. Small enough from where they were some ten feet below it, but big enough to let the moonlight of the planet shine through. He kept his eyes fixed on it, willed the light to fill the small cavern they'd fallen into. He looked around and the shadows deepened into night again and he quickly flicked his eyes back to the small circle of light and moved closer to the body of his friend.

Teal'c's chest was shuddering ever so slightly beneath his head.

"Teal'c, are you okay?" Daniel asked. He reached out a hand and shakily snagged his backpack closer, wondering if there was anything in it that he could use to help them until SG:3 got back with the means to pull them out.

"My symbiote is beginning to heal my injuries, Daniel," Teal'c said softly, though his voice still echoed with pain.

"You’re shaking," Daniel observed. His delving hand felt something soft and smooth inside the pack. He pulled it free, grunting a little as the movement jarred his other arm.

Rolling a little to his side, he rested his sore arm across Teal'c's chest while the other pulled Lumpy up and onto his own body. He slid his fingers up and down the soft fur, taking comfort in the familiar rhythm.

"Since I was a small child, I have disliked being in confined spaces," Teal'c said.

"Claustrophobia," Daniel replied. "I didn't think you were scared of anything."

"Fears are simply our body's way of keeping us from harm. It is up to us whether we give into them or whether we overcome them," Teal'c replied, the rumbling of his voice creating a reassuring vibration beneath Daniel's ear.

Daniel tore his eyes away from the safe circle of light and looked around at the blackness. He pulled in a ragged breath as the darkness settled over his face, suffocating him and darted his eyes back up again. The light seemed to allow him to breathe again and he felt his fingers loosen a little around Lumpy's neck.

"Jack's never going to let me go offworld again," he murmured finally, once he was sure he had his breathing under control and that his voice wasn't shaking.

"There was no way anyone could have known that the floor of the tomb was so unstable," Teal'c said softly. "Even the MALP did not pick up the caverns beneath."

"I think that's because they're lined with lead," Daniel replied. "They were meant for the bodies of the rulers. The tombs on the surface were for the commoners. If I'd been able to check the inscriptions out the first time we were here, I would have known-"

"But you were not permitted to," Teal'c interrupted. "Therefore, this is not your fault. It is simply an accident. SG:3 will return soon with help and we will be rescued."

Daniel felt Teal'c's arm tighten a little around his shoulders. He swallowed hard and made a decision. "I'm not scared anymore," he said. He lifted Lumpy up and pushed him into the crook of Teal'c's other arm. "You hang onto Lumpy. He's pretty good at making you not afraid of stuff."

He could hear the smile in Teal'c's voice when he spoke again. "Thank you, Daniel. I am grateful."

Daniel smiled back and kept his eyes on the light above. He felt the smile stretch into a full grin despite the pain in his arm as a familiar face blocked out the light.

"Well, I hope you two have finished lounging around down there. You know I missed the best episode of The Simpsons yet, to come here and haul you back home."

Daniel nodded and wiped his suddenly damp eyes with the cuff of his sleeve. "Nice to see you too, Jack," he called. "We'd really like to go home now."

"Consider it done." Jack's face disappeared then and Daniel looked around at the darkness and found it really wasn't so frightening after all.

~oOo~

"How’s the arm?"

Daniel fingered the white strapping around his wrist and shrugged. "It’s a bit sore but not too bad. Poor Teal’c got the worst of it. A broken leg and cracked ribs."

"Yeah, well, if you hadn’t landed on top of him, you’d have ended up with a lot worse than a bump on the head and a sprained wrist," Jack observed, patting Daniel's shoulder.

"Probably better me landing on him than the other way round, right now, huh?" Daniel asked, grinning up at Jack.

"Yep, you’d’ve been flatter than a pancake if the big guy had landed on you."

"Jack, you’re not gonna stop me going off world because of a stupid accident, are you?" Daniel stopped walking and looked up into Jack’s eyes, hoping he was getting the hang of the "little-kid-begging" look by now.

Jack crouched in front of him. "You can quit with the eyes, kid. No, I’m not going to stop you going off world. The next time though, I’m making sure I’m available to go with you, that’s all. If I’m not available, you don’t go. Capiche?"

"But it wasn’t Teal’c’s fault. He took really good care of me. He even understood when I needed to sleep with Lumpy-"

"Whoa!" Jack’s hand covered Daniel’s mouth gently but firmly. "Listen to me. I’m not blaming Teal’c. You’re as safe with him as with me, hell, probably safer most of the time. But the court made you *my* responsibility and it’s not fair of me to expect Teal’c to take that over for me, no matter how willing he is to do it." Jack lifted his hand away. "Let’s go see how he’s doing."

Daniel nodded and led the way into the infirmary.

Teal’c was asleep, still only partially recovered from the anesthetic they’d put him under to set his leg. He’d wanted to allow his symbiote to do the healing but backed down when Dr. Fraiser told him that it could take days whereas she could do it in an hour.

Daniel crept quietly over to the bed and placed his hand on Teal’c’s. "Thanks for looking after me, Teal’c." He lifted himself up on his toes so his lips were close to Teal’c’s ear. "I won’t tell anybody your secret, Teal’c."

Jack leaned over him and placed something in the crook of Teal’c’s other arm then moved a few steps back and pulled something from his pocket.

"What are you doing?" Daniel whispered, his voice a mixture of horrified amusement as he saw Lumpy nestled in Teal’c’s arm, the camel’s head resting on the Jaffa’s shoulder.

"Taking a photo for posterity," Jack whispered back. "Looks kinda cute, doesn’t he?" He clicked the shutter just as Teal’c’s eyes opened.

"O’Neill." Teal’c’s voice was low and menacing as he looked down at the toy nestled against him.

"Oops! Just remembered somewhere we have to be. Good to see you’re gonna be okay, big guy, and thanks for watching out for Daniel."

Daniel laughed as Jack bent and scooped him up under one arm then spun and headed out of the infirmary at a run.

Teal’c’s voice bellowed from behind them. "The Jaffa are very familiar with the concept of revenge, O’Neill."

"Ya gotta catch me first!" Jack grinned down at Daniel and tousled his hair. "Let’s go home and watch The Simpsons. Turns out Carter taped it for us."

Daniel groaned.

The End.

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