"Get out of here!"
"Damnit, Daniel. Go!"
"I'm not gonna leave you."
Jack squeezed his eyelids tightly closed, trying very hard not to scream as hands pressed hard on his ribs. The sound of gunfire and the blast of staff weapons drummed through the air, and Jack could feel the chaos of combat in the vibrations of the cold ground beneath his back.
Sucking in a breath that caused fire to erupt in his side and shoot all the way to his chest, he opened his eyes and looked down at Daniel's hands, red and slick with blood as they held a dark, wet thing over Jack's wound. The item was so soiled, Jack couldn't tell whether it was a shirt, towel, or something else. Then his gaze slid a few feet away to his P90 lying motionless on the sand.
"Go, please," Jack whispered, his strength oozing out of him with the tide of his blood. He closed his eyes and let his head fall back to the ground, but instead of the hard impact he vaguely expected, his skull sank into something warm and soft.
Oh, yeah. his pack. He remembered Daniel sliding it beneath his head moments after he'd taken the hit and gone down.
"No, Jack," Daniel whispered softly, and as the gunfire and explosions continued, a few seemed suddenly louder, and the ground almost rocked.
Jack felt the heat of Daniel's body over his. Warm breath on his cheek. He forced his eyes open and saw Daniel over him, shielding him from the barrage. Daniel held his body inches above Jack's, his arms pressing against the ground, holding himself up, which was a good thing, Jack realized vacantly, because he was pretty sure if Daniel had fallen on top of him, he'd have screamed until his lungs burst.
"Listen to me," Jack forced the words out, his chest tight, pain twisting and throbbing in his side. "Get the hell out of here, Daniel. Now. Go. You're a sitting duck."
"I know, and there's no place I can drag you for cover." Daniel held his protective position, his warm breath tickling Jack's ear. "But I'm not leaving you."
"You stupid son of a bitch." Jack stifled a groan as the pain flared in his side.
They'd been ambushed about a quarter of a mile from the Stargate, on a world that seemed flat and barren. No trees. Very few bushes. Mostly flat, hard sand. The team had split up. Ground and air surveillance had shown the place empty. Devoid of life. But the UAV had picked up a few potential sources of naquada from various directions. Carter and Teal'c went one way, Jack and Daniel the other. It was supposed to be a milk run. A walk in the park. Cake.
When the fuck would he learn? God, he hoped Teal'c and Carter were okay.
They'd come out of the ground shooting, carrying a collection of weapons, from bows and arrows to staffs, zats, and earth-like firearms. They didn't ask any questions. Never made any demands. They'd just started shooting. He'd ordered Daniel to retreat even as he bellowed into his radio for Teal'c and Carter to high-tail it back to the gate. Only his age was catching up with him, and he wasn't quite as fast or agile as he used to be.
He took a hit, went down, yelled at Daniel to continue when doing anything else looked like suicide, but of course, the stubborn kid couldn't so much as take a lunch order without questioning the merits of mustard versus mayonnaise.
"Shut up, Jack. Save your...." Daniel's words ended in a grunt, and the heat from the archeologist's body suddenly vanished.
Daniel's scream prodded Jack's eyes open, and he squinted against the unforgiving alien sun to see Daniel held between two very large, bare-chested men. One of them held a wide blade to Daniel's throat, just beneath his jaw, forcing the archeologist's head up.
Softly, Daniel started speaking. The words weren't English, so Jack had no idea what the kid was saying. He wasn't even sure if the words were all from the same language. It sounded like Daniel was cycling through his mental linguistical library, probably saying "We're peaceful explorers" in as many languages as he could get out before the guy decided to just slit his throat.
One of the languages must have clicked, because all of a sudden the two men were joined by three more, and they were all chattering amongst themselves, sounding angry, casting glares down at Jack. One of them came up and kicked him in the side, and Jack howled, his world going bright and hot for what seemed like a lifetime, until his lungs screamed and he once again heard Daniel's voice, yelling.... crying?
*Oh, Jesus, just leave him alone,* he pleaded silently. This was not the day some two-bit natives were going to take down Daniel Jackson, the man with more lives than a litter of cats combined.
When the pain ebbed to something less than intolerable agony, Jack opened his eyes again and saw Daniel on his knees, the blade still pressed beneath his jaw. One of the mongoloid rejects had a fist full of Daniel's hair and looked ready to to do the deed.
"Wait!" Jack bellowed, or tried to, but it came out more like a gasp. "Just...wait."
Surprisingly, the mongoloid with the knife looked at Jack. His eyes narrowed, and with a growl, he hurtled Daniel on top of Jack. The impact sent Jack into a brutal, fiery hell of agony, and the next thing he knew, there was gunfire and screaming, and a sick, wet grunt.
"Oh, God, Jack..." Daniel muttered, but his voice sounded wrong.
Clawing his way out of oblivion's tempting embrace, Jack opened his eyes. The sky above was a clear blue. It was quiet, except for ragged breathing to his right. He turned his head and saw Daniel's face, eyelids sqeezed shut. Behind him lay the bodies of the natives, nothing more than pieces of red, mangled flesh.
Jack's eyes snapped back to Daniel, curled slightly, the P-90 clutched in his hands, pinned beneath him. A pool of blood soiled the sand, growing wider, and a dark, sinking feeling twisted in Jack's gut. He rolled to his side, stifling a cry as the pain flared, and looked around.
All dead. Five men, all dead. Dark, vacant eyes seemed to stare at him and Daniel, almost accusing.
Had that been all there was? Five men? Just five pissant natives with a shoot-first-ask-questions-later attitude?
"Daniel?" Jack took a breath, pushing past the pain, and reached out to the young man. "Are you hit?"
"You...could say that." Daniel stayed with his cheek pressed to the sand, his eyes closed. Then, slowly, he turned, rolling on to his back, and it was then that Jack saw the knife handle protruding from Daniel's gut, just to the right of where his belly button had to be.
Daniel gave a brittle laugh that truncated to a gasp. "It was all just a misunderstanding." He sobbed the words. "A stupid misunderstanding." He shook his head. "They wouldn't listen."
Jack gritted his teeth and crawled forward. The world spun, and he thought he would pass out. He almost did, the blackness dancing at the edges of his vision, but he forced himself to hang on.
They were close to the stargate. They could see even see it. Couldn't be more than a few hundred yards away.
He brought his hand up to the radio on his shoulder and pressed the button. "Sam. Teal'c." He took a breath, his chest tight. "Come in."
"Sir? We're at the gate. What's your position?"
"Dial home. You go, Carter. Teal'c, guard the gate. Send reinforcements...medics. We're a few hundred yards, uh... West."
"Understood, sir." Her voice caught, or was that just his imagination. "Hang on."
*Right.* Jack released the button and crawled the few inches toward Daniel. With a grunt, he pushed himself into a sitting position, agony screaming through his side, but he tried his best to ignore it.
He studied the knife. It was buried to the handle. Damn. Fuck. Shit. Oh, God. It had been a big knife...if it was the one the native was holding to Daniel's throat. A really big knife. Too big. How much flesh had it sliced through before coming to rest?
Daniel's eyes opened, narrowed with pain and swirling with wetness like crystal, blue pools. "Jack?" he gasped. "You're up."
"Yeah, so it seems." Jack kept an arm close to his injured side. The blood loss was making him light-headed. Hopefully, it wouldn't take the medics more than five minutes to find them, if they booked it. "Help's on the way."
"Right." Daniel closed his eyes again, his arms limp at his sides. "You'll be okay, I think." He lips drifted into a tiny smile that faded as quickly as it came.
"Hey, you will, too." Jack looked again at the knife. He didn't dare remove it.
Daniel rocked his head, tears slipping from beneath his eyelids to fall straight down the sides of his face. "I tried to reason with them....to explain. They wouldn't listen. I had to.... God."
"Hey, you did good. I'm impressed." Jack lowered himself to his injured side, letting gravity pull his body on to his arm, against his wound, to help stem the flow of blood. He slid his free hand to Daniel and wrapped his fingers around the young man's arm. "You saved my life, okay? Pulled my butt outta the fire. You did what you had to do, and now you're gonna hang on," he gave Daniel's arm a squeeze, "because help is on its way, and that's a goddamn order, got it?"
Daniel gave another faint smile and opened his eyes to look at Jack. The tears had stopped, and now the blue eyes were peaceful and calm. "You know...I'm not very good at following orders." He took a breath. "Find...Sha're for me....Tell...." Slowly, his eyelids drifted closed.
*No.* Jack slid forward, releasing Daniel's arm to clutch at the archeologist's jacket. "No, you don't! Daniel!" He gave the smallest shake he dared. "Look at me. Now, damnit! Look at me."
Daniel's head rocked gently as Jack shook him, but he didn't respond.
"No, please, God..." Jack gave into a sob as he lifted shaking fingers to the side of Daniel's neck.
Yes! There was still a pulse. It was faint, but the kid's heart was still beating. Still fighting.
He dropped his head to Daniel's shoulder. The course jacket warmed his face, and he whispered a soft plea. "Stay with me."
Then, miraculously, he heard voices.
He looked up to see Fraiser charging toward them, a team of fatigue-clad medics and soldiers behind her, carrying various equipment. Giving in to a smile, Jack closed his eyes and listened to the faint beating of Daniel's heart as oblivion finally won the battle and claimed him.