Evolution, Season 7, missing scene
Spoilers for Evolution and Meridian.

In The Eyes

He was tired. Mind-numbingly, bone-aching, leg-throbbing tired, and his sluggish brain seemed to be working hard to ignore his physical complaints and focus on the situation around him. His body, however, was proving to be achingly persuasive. His mouth felt like sandpaper, and the hunger pangs in his stomach, which he had managed to suppress a while ago, had apparently been awoken by the prospect of rescue.

And then there was the pain. His head throbbed. His leg was on fire, and his eyes felt itchy and heavy. The jungle around him looked blurred, bushes blended into grass and the trees surrounding him seemed indistinct, almost like shadows.

"What's with the guy from Evil Dead?"

Daniel barely heard the question from the stranger. Apparently, Jack knew him, and for now, that was all Daniel needed to know. He was still eyeing the dead bodies littering the floor of the jungle. He hoped they stayed dead. With his leg, he couldn't outrun seven kill- happy zombies armed with automatic weapons.

Evil Dead. A tremor snaked down his spine.

"Um..." Jack muttered, hesitant, the deep rhythm of his voice vibrating in Daniel's ear.

Jack. Here. Daniel was still trying to wrap his mind around the fact that Jack was there, right next to him. A part of him wondered if maybe it was all a falsehood. Maybe he'd been shot, pumped full of bullets, and this was all some fabrication of his dwindling conscious, a product of dying neurons and random electrical impulses. He'd died before. How many times? He tried to remember. The first time - with Ra. A shot to the chest. He'd never even known what hit him. That death had been pretty easy, and he couldn't remember any last-minute hallucinations. One moment he'd jumped, the next, nothing.

Then there was the most recent death. The one everyone kept alluding to while not actually talking about. He remembered most of it...at least, he thought so. Jonas. The experiment room. Firing his gun into the glass. He remembered pain, and vaguely, Oma, but he didn't remember the actual dying.

"Classified?"

Burke's question brought Daniel back to the present again. He blinked, tore his eyes away from the corpse that he hadn't realized he was still staring at, and glanced at Jack.

"Yeah," Jack answered tersely.

Burke seemed uncertain a moment, then burst into laughter. "You guys are into some crazy crap."

Crazy crap. That was an understatement. Daniel's eyes roamed to the a dissociated arm laying a few feet away. He swallowed -- or tried to, but he seemed to have no saliva in his mouth. His eyes dropped to the canteen on Burke's belt, then slid to the one on Jack.

Water.

God, oh God, water. Beautiful, clear, clean water. Just the thought of it was almost as bad as the torture he'd endured.

"Daniel? You with us?"

Daniel managed to lift his head -- it felt like a block of cement -- and met Jack's concerned gaze. He found himself shaking his head, though he'd meant to nod. He was supposed to nod, wasn't he? Say he was okay and he could walk and wait 'til they were somewhere safe and secure before collapsing like a useless ragdoll.

"What?" Jack prodded gently.

"Water." Again, Daniel tried to swallow, and again he couldn't. The sensation was maddening, and now that he was focused on it, it was unbearable. His free hand reached across his body toward the canteen, and an almost desperate groan rumbled from his throat.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Crap." Jack tightened his grip on Daniel as the young man sagged, releasing a low, distressed moan as he descended, with Jack's help, to the ground.

"He's crashing. Looks like we'll have to carry him." Burke looked around. "There's supposed to be another one, right?"

Jack nodded as he yanked his canteen off his belt and unscrewed the cap. "Doctor L--" Jack cut his explanation short when Daniel ripped the canteen from his grip.

"Easy," Jack warned, but Daniel ignored him and tilted his head back to guzzle the canteen's contents.

"Easy!" Jack said again, this time grabbing the canteen. It took him a few seconds of tugging before he got it out of Daniel's steel grip. "Not all of it, not so fast."

Daniel blinked at the canteen, his eyes more desperate than Jack could remember seeing them in long time.

Christ. How long had Daniel been without food and water? Jack took a deep, steadying breath and held the canteen out to Daniel, but this time the archeologist made no move to take it.

"Here." Jack gently placed the container in Daniel's hand and wrapped the young man's fingers around it. "Just take it a bit slower, okay?"

Daniel nodded carefully, a crease between his eyes. He looked confused, as though he were inwardly still processing the instructions. Then he sprang to life suddenly, his eyes going wide and his back rigid. "Doctor Lee! He's... He's..." He flung a hand out, gesturing vaguely to the west. "Over there. Somewhere."

"Alive?" Jack prodded.

Daniel nodded. "Yeah, yeah. At least, he was. He should be. He couldn't run. I hid him."

Jack frowned. Daniel reduced to simple, clipped sentences was never a good thing. It didn't surprise him, though, to hear that Daniel had turned himself into a diversion to save someone else's life. Risking his life for other people was just one of Daniel's bad habits. Last time, it had cost him too much. It had cost them all too much.

"C'mon." Daniel handed the canteen back to Jack and leaned forward in an obvious attempt to get to his feet, but he seemed to have trouble getting his good leg beneath him.

"You sure you can walk?" Jack grabbed Daniel's arm and tugged, pulling Daniel upright.

"Yes."

"Okay then." Draping Daniel's arm around his neck, Jack looked at Burke and jerked his chin west. "Let's go find Dr. Lee."

They didn't get fifteen feet before Daniel went limp.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Fortunately, they found both Dr. Lee and the camp without too much trouble. The stout Dr. Lee was obviously overjoyed at their presence and shadowed Burke the whole way to the camp. When they arrived, Jack stopped, Daniel hung between him and Burke, and took a moment to study the place. It wasn't much too look at - a few run down shacks. Boxes. Trash.

"Over here." Lee gestured to the smaller shack. "This is where they kept us." He then pointed to the larger building a few feet away. "That's where the leader stayed."

Jack nodded, moving away from the smaller shack. He needed to get Daniel horizontal, and he certainly wasn't going to do it in the place that had been the young man's prison.

"Okay, this way." He and Burke staggered toward the large shack. Walking in, he first noticed the glowing cube. That couldnt' be good, he figured. Glowing artifacts were often trouble, and he was fairly certain this little artifact was responsible for the Evil Dead guy Burke had blown to pieces.

Jack blinked against the brightness, and it took his eyes a moment to adjust to compensate for the lack of lighting in the rest of the shack, but when they did, he stiffened. "Oh, hell."

Burke whistled. "Crude, but effective."

Jack's eyes stayed fixed on the jumper cables resting next to a black generator.

Dr. Lee stumbled backward. "I, uh... gotta use the bathroom."

Jack glanced at the doctor. "There were only seven?"

"Y-Yeah," Lee stammered.

"I'll check the perimeter," Burke offered. "And I won't ask what that glowing thing is. Classified, right?"

"Yep." Jack nodded his thanks. "Before you go, do me a favor."

"Yeah?"

"Get those damn cables out of here, and tell Lee to get back in here ASAP and turn this thing off."

"Right." Burke slid Daniel's arm off his shoulder, giving Jack the full burden, and grabbed the generator and cables. He paused a moment, studying Daniel, then dropped his eyes to the cables. Finally, he shook his head and muttered, "Poor bastard," as he left the shack.

Jack shifted Daniel's weight, then moved forward.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I can't turn it off."

Jack glared at Lee. "What do you mean, you can't turn it off?"

"I-I wasn't the one that turned it off. They did. Doctor Jackson might be able to. He deciphered the instructions back at the temple."

Jack sighed and eyed the unconscious archeologist. It figured. He hated to wake the wonder boy, but the glowing thing was already affecting him. He was feeling much better than he had any right to.

He swallowed and moved to the narrow bed. Grabbing a chair, he sank to the seat and leaned forward. "Daniel."

The young man gave no response. Jack took another moment to study his friend. Daniel seemed to have more color in his cheeks, and the lines that had creased his brow had eased. Glancing back at the cube, Jack swallowed. The alien thingamagig was having an affect all right. If he hadn't seen the zombie and had prior, unpleasant experiences with the sarcophagus, he'd almost consider the affects of the glowing thing to be desirable. But he knew appearances could
be deceiving. Oh yeah, he'd learned that a long time ago, and the hard way, unfortunately.

They had to get the thing turned off, and now.

"Daniel!" Jack gently tapped Daniel's cheek. "Come on, time to wake up." When he got no response, he tapped harder.

"It's an artifiact, I swear!" Daniel's eyes sprang open, and he woke with a jerk. "I'm an archeologist," he stammered, flinching against the wall and blinking, his eyes darting around the small room.

Jack's stomach sank. He curled one hand into a fist and wished, for a moment, that he hadn't killed all the kidnappers so quickly. "It's okay," he said gently, grabbing Daniel's chin and forcing the young man to look at him.

Daniel's brow creased. "Jack?"

"Yeah, I--"

Daniel's eyes slid away from Jack, and he sucked in a breath and toppled off the bed, hitting the floor with a thunk. He scampered backward until his spine was to the wall, his eyes fixed on the artifact. "Turn it off. It's like a sarcophagus, only worse. It--"

"I know." Jack slid off the chair and knelt in front of Daniel. "Dr. Lee can't figure it out. I need you to try. Daniel?" He ducked his head to meet Daniel's eyes. "Are you with me?"

Again, Daniel blinked, his gaze bouncing back and forth between the artifact and Jack. Finally, he nodded. "Yeah. Yes." He sighed heavily and held out a hand. "Help me up."

Jack obliged, carefully guiding Daniel to the chair. Daniel swiveled in the seat, hunched over the artifact. Jack considered that too close for comfort, but he supposed getting close to the thing was a prerequisite for turning it off.

"I don't have my glasses." Daniel blinked, then squinted. "My vision's all blurry." He waved his hand, forming a vague circle in the air. "Worst than usual."

Jack took a deep breath. "Try your best. Lee..."

"Yeah, right." The doctor moved to stand next to Jackson and peered at the cube. "I can tell you what's on it, if that'll help."

Daniel tilted his head, still squinting at the cube. "I think I can make them out." He pointed to a small symbol on the top, right corner of the device. "This one is shaped like a crescent moon, right?"

"Yeah."

Daniel nodded absently, then bit his lower lip. "I'm not sure if.... Wait. This one here," he pointed to a symbol on the left corner, "it represents life. The one below it," his finger drifted to the bottom corner, and he blinked, moving his head closer, "it's healing." Shifting, he tilted to get a look at the side of the device. "The symbols on the side are... warnings, I think."

Jack shifted on the balls of his feet. "Can you figure it out? The thing's been glowing long enough, Danny."

Daniel straightened. He frowned, studied the thing a moment longer, then placed his palm flat on the top. Instantly, the glowing died.

Jack raised his eyebrows. "Nice."

Daniel pursed his lips, looking vaguely constipated. "I didn't expect that to work."

"Well it did."

"It was a guess."

Jack shrugged. "And once again, you guessed right."

Daniel tilted his head as though pondering something. "I feel better."

"I don't think that's a good thing," Jack offered. "You sure it's off?"

Daniel didn't answer immediately. After a moment, he shrugged a shoulder. "No, but it probably is. I'll have to study it some more." He inhaled and rubbed absently at his wounded leg. "I"m hungry."

"Well, I'd say you earned your meal." Jack reached into his pack near the bed and pulled out two Power Bars. He threw one to Lee and handed the other to Daniel. "When'd you eat last?"

Daniel frowned, taking the Power Bar and studying it as though it were just as rare an artifact as the cube. "I can't remember." His brow furrowed, and he looked up at Jack. "How long have I been here?"

Jack's eyes swept the small cabin, briefly pausing over the now- empty surface of the table that had, not so long ago, supported a generator and a pair of jumper cables. "Too long," he muttered. "Way too goddamned long."

Daniel was quiet for a moment, then slowly tore off the wrapping of the Power Bar and took a bite. He chewed carefully and swallowed, closing his eyes in apparent gratitude. "I want to go home," he sighed wearily.

Jack patted Daniel's leg. "Air support should be here soon. I'll treat you to a steak dinner when we're back in Colorado. Okay?"

Daniel opened his eyes, and Jack was surprised to find a hint of wetness in their blue depths.

"What?" Jack asked quietly. He knew all too well what Daniel was experiencing. He'd felt it himself too many times. It made him sick to see it in Daniel's eyes now.

Daniel swallowed, straightened, then nodded. "Did I say thank you for coming after me?"

Jack gave a smile. "You're welcome."

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The End
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