Missing Scene for The First Ones.
"Come on, let me get those off of you." Still somewhat shaky from the confrontation, Jack took a breath and let his weapon hang from his shoulder as he gently lifted Daniel's bound wrists.
That Unas had gotten far too close to ripping Daniel apart for Jack's comfort. It was amazing how confidently Daniel had stood in between one giant Unas and three deadly weapons...until the Unas had made its move. Jack's heart had skipped a beat as Daniel had coward, seemingly preparing for the blow, and Jack had opened fire, trying not to hit Daniel in the process.
Looking at the bindings, Jack winced. The rope had torn the flesh, and he frowned in sympathy. "Ouch. Looks painful."
Daniel tore his gaze away from the cave entrance into which his new Unas friend had vanished and looked down at his raw wrists. "Actually, they're kind of numb."
"Oh." Jack worked at the knot. "It's probably going to hurt like a bitch when I," he grunted as he pulled, releasing the knot, "get this out."
"Anything's better than..." Daniel snapped his mouth shut and closed his eyes, leaning forward, his hands on his thighs. "Ow. Ow. Ow. Okay, Ow." He hissed, then grew silent, remaining hunched over for a few more seconds before finally taking a deep breath and straightening. "Thanks, Jack." A note of sarcasm touched his voice.
Jack grinned. "Anytime, Danny." He grabbed Daniel's shoulder affectionately and urged him forward. "Time to go home."
Daniel nodded, suddenly looking very, very tired. He let his shoulders slouch forward and gave into a deep sigh.
Carter stepped up to him, grinning, and patted his arm. "It's good to see you."
"Indeed," Teal'c bowed. "I am glad to find you relatively uninjured, Daniel Jackson."
Daniel managed a smile, though, to Jack, it looked strained and tired, and, he couldn't be sure, but he thought Daniel's eyes looked a little red, as though he were fighting sudden tears.
"Thanks, guys." Daniel rubbed the back of his neck, confirming Jack's suspicions that Daniel was fighting physical and emotional exhaustion. "I gotta say, I'm really not looking forward to the hike back. You know, with all the traveling we do, you think the government could spring for some kind of small, clean air vehicle. Something with wheels, and seats, and..."
Jack rolled his eyes and patted Daniel's arm. "When we get back home, you can write a nice memo all about it. Come on."
"Right." Looking heavenward, Daniel held his small smile a moment longer, then followed Jack out of the cave.
Jack stopped at the mouth of the cave, taking a deep breath of the cool night air. He wanted to get some distance between his team and the Unas' bed-and-breakfast, especially since any one of them could very well end up being breakfast if young Chaka couldn't hold his own. Unfortunately, it was pitch black outside, and, frankly, he was exhausted.
He glanced back at Daniel, who stood seemingly in a daze, his wide eyes blinking at the terrain around him.
Yep, Jack thought, a walking zombie.
Daniel likely hadn't gotten any sleep since his capture, and who knew how much sleep he'd managed before then. Knowing Daniel, he'd been too engrossed in his work to bother with the trivialities of a full night's sleep.
"Okay, kids, how 'bout we go half a mile or so, find ourselves a nice cozy spot, and turn in for the night? I'll take first watch."
Carter and Teal'c hovered next to Daniel on either side of him, but Daniel seemed oblivious to their unusual proximity. Jack suppressed a smile. They looked kind of cute huddled protectively together, even Teal'c, though Jack would never voice that particular sentiment.
"Sounds good, sir." Sam glanced at Daniel. "We could use the rest, and I can take the time to give Daniel a once-over, bandage his wrists."
Daniel turned his head to look at her, then brought his hands up and stared at his wrists. "Oh. Right. Thanks." He took a breath and tilted his head back, then rocked it side to side. "I am tired." Straightening, he looked at Jack and grinned. "I think I made record time on the hike here. There's nothing like being dragged by an Unas for motivation."
"Riiight." Jack just stared at Daniel. "So, Danny," he stepped forward, reached out, and waved Daniel toward him. "Anything I should know about?"
"Huh?" Daniel stared wide-eyed at him. "Such as?"
"Sprained body parts? Broken bones? Bruises? Concussions? Loss of consciousness. Spilled blood..." He stressed the last word, eyeing the cut on Daniel's cheek as he thought back to the blood he'd found on the cave walls.
"Oh." Daniel yawned, raised his hands, and rubbed at his eyes. "Chaka, uh, knocked me out when he attacked me, but I don't think I was out for very long. After that, he didn't do much other than drag me around." He held out his wrists for emphasis.
"I see." Jack reached out and brushed his fingers gently over Daniel's wounded cheek. "And this?"
"Oh." Daniel blinked and raised his hand to feel the cut. "I think it was a ritualistic gesture."
"A ritual?" Jack raised his eyebrows questioningly, his tone one of infinite patience.
"Yeah, uh," Daniel waved his hands dismissively in the air. "He scratched me and used the blood to write on the cave walls. I think he was marking me for death."
Jack's eyebrows rose higher. "Oh, is that all?" His stomach twisted, and he took a deep breath.
Jack narrowed his eyes and took a serious look at Daniel. It was amazing how nonchalantly Daniel had mentioned that little tidbit about being marked for death, as though he were reciting something he'd read out of a textbook. It never ceased to amaze Jack how Daniel could distance himself from personal torments. Sometimes, he thought, it just wasn't healthy.
Then again, with all the crap Daniel had been through in his life, distancing himself was very likely the only thing that kept him putting one foot in front of another. Who was he to argue with success?
"Okay." Jack clapped his hands together, "let's make some tracks, then set up camp."
Half an hour later, they came to a clear patch of level ground. It was the perfect spot to make camp. Jack suppressed a yawn as he turned to the group. "Carter, you might as well get to work on Daniel's wrists and give him a once-over. Teal'c take guard. I'll get a fire going."
Teal'c nodded an acknowledgment and turned, his staff weapon held at ready as he made his way to the periphery of the campsite.
Carter placed her hand on Daniel's arm and steered him to the tree. "Sit down." She gave him a small, reassuring smile, "I'll take care of your wrists."
With a small groan, Daniel lowered himself to the ground and leaned against the tree. "My feet are killing me." He reached forward and pulled off his right boot, laying it next to him and wiggling his sock-clad toes. Then, he removed his left boot. "Sorry. I know they don't smell like roses, but this feels so much better."
Sam smiled as she looked at his damp socks. "Well, they're pretty soaked. I guess you worked up quite a sweat. You should probably take them off and put them next to the fire once the Colonel gets one started."
"I'm working on it, Carter!" Jack groused loudly from the center of the camp, knelt over an assortment of leaves, stones, and sticks.
Daniel leaned his head back against the tree. "Actually, both socks are still a little damp from my dip in the water. Chaka didn't exactly give me time to dry out."
A sudden quiet descended over the camp, and Daniel raised his head to see his three teammates suddenly still and staring at him. Even Teal'c had temporarily abandoned his watch at the periphery of the camp to move closer, his dark eyes leveled on Daniel.
Jack rose slowly to his feet, bringing his P-90 gun with him. "You were in the water, Daniel?"
"Uh, yeah. It's infested with Goa'uld. I'm guessing you guys figured that out since none of you are hosts..." His eyes narrowed. "I hope."
Jack swallowed, looking sick. "Uh, well... We had a few casualties." He looked at Carter, his eyes suddenly cold, then back at Daniel. "Turns out Carter can't sense these Goa'ulds, so if someone were a host, we wouldn't know it until their eyes glowed."
"Uh, yeah," Daniel raised a finger. "The fossils Rothman and I were studying lacked Naquada, so that's probably why Sam can't sense them." His brow furrowed. "What casualties?"
Jacks eyes flickered with something akin to shame. "I'll tell you later. Right now, we kind of have a problem, though."
"Oh?" Daniel furrowed his brow and looked at Sam, who quickly averted her gaze. "Oh." Sudden realization hit Daniel, and he looked back at Jack. "I'm not a Goa'uld."
"Glad to hear it." Jack moved close to Daniel and knelt in front of him as he swung his weapon over his shoulder, out of Daniel's immediate reach. "Of course..."
"You can't take my word for it," Daniel sighed.
"You mind if I take a look?"
"Be my guest." Daniel leaned forward, and Jack slid around to peer at the back of his neck.
Jack hovered a moment too long, then pulled back, his face solemn. "You've got a cut or scratch or something back there, just at the base of your hairline."
Daniel's jaw dropped open. "I...Jack, I hit the back of my head when Chaka first attacked me."
Jack sighed heavily and scrubbed a hand over his face. "Daniel..."
"I get it, Jack." With a resigned slouch of his shoulders, Daniel held up his hands. "Go ahead."
"Sir, let me bandage them first."
Jack nodded. "Okay, but first, Danny, I gotta search you." He waved. "I guess it would be too cliché if I said, 'assume the position.'"
Daniel looked heavenward and slowly rose to his feet, then turned around and placed his hands high on the tree. Teal'c moved away, resuming his watch.
Jack gave Daniel a quick but thorough pat down. Daniel flinched when Jack's hands roamed over his ribs, and Jack felt a twinge in his chest. Damnit! He hated this! He'd already lost too many men on this trip, and now that they had Daniel back, they couldn't relax and tend to his wounds with the care Daniel deserved. No, of course not. Nothing ever went easily. Instead of reassuring Daniel, they'd have to bind him and treat him like a hostile. It made Jack physically ill, but there was no way -- no goddamn way -- he'd take the chance of having to pump Daniel full of holes like...
Not now! Jack swallowed the sudden bile in his throat. That poor bastard, Rothman. Sure, he was annoying, but really, he wasn't all that bad. He had run to exhaustion to get back and tell them about Daniel, and he had insisted on coming along. Whatever else Jack could say about Rothman, the man was a loyal friend. He didn't deserve to die like that. And Daniel... Shit. How the hell was Jack going to break the news to Daniel?
Sorry, Danny, but I fucked up and didn't think to bring a damn Zat gun, so now someone else you cared about is dead.
Taking a few large steps away, he grabbed his P-90 and held it on Daniel. "Okay, Carter. Make it quick."
Nodding, Carter shot Daniel an apologetic look, then put her hand on his shoulder and guided him back to the ground. Daniel slid down, his legs almost crumpling beneath him, and dutifully held out his wrists, his face expressionless except for the tiny lines around his eyes that signaled either pain or exhaustion, or perhaps, a whole lot of both.
Rummaging through her pack, Carter took out the first aid kit and removed the antiseptic. As she sprayed it on, Daniel winced but remained silent, his head tilted back against the tree trunk.
Retrieving the ace bandage, she quickly wrapped his wrists. After putting the supplies away, Carter looked up at Jack.
Swallowing quickly, Jack jerked his chin toward her pack. "Double up on the restraints... Just in case." He didn't need to say any more than that. Rothman had snapped his bindings easily. "On second thought, triple up."
Carter nodded solemnly and withdrew three plastic cuffs from her pack. Taking a deep breath, she hesitated a moment, looking at Daniel as though asking permission. He seemed oblivious to her, though, his eyelids hanging half-mast and his gaze focused somewhere in the distance. His arms rested close together on his lap, the bandages still exposed.
"Sorry, Daniel," Carter whispered as she fastened the first cuff.
Daniel blinked and raised his head, offering a small, tired smile. "It's okay, Sam."
"Does that hurt?"
He shook his head.
Quickly, she fastened the other two, then closed her pack and rose to her feet.
"Good job, Carter," Jack praised gently.
She gave a weak smile and grabbed one of the canteens from the pack. Unscrewing the cap, she held it up to Daniel. Wordlessly, he raised his bound hands and took a tentative sip, which quickly turned into greedy gulps.
"Ah-ah," Jack warned,. "Carter..."
"Easy, Daniel." Sam gently pulled the canteen away from him. "If you get sick, the water's not going to do you a whole lot of good."
A flicker of anger darkened Daniel's face, and he leveled hard, blue eyes on Sam. "You know, I've had a crappy day. It started out with me being knocked senseless by an Unas, then tied up, dragged through the wilderness, chased, hunted, almost turned into a Goauld, and spending the entire time wondering how the Unas prepare their food. Do they cut off the heads and drain the blood from the body? Cook it alive over an open flame? Or, perhaps, just start digging in while it's fresh?"
Jesus! Jack's grip tightened on his gun, his stomach churning. Hell, if they'd been even a few minutes later...
"So," Daniel continued, seemingly oblivious to the horror he was invoking in his friends, "although I'm really, really grateful for the rescue, right now, I swear, if you don't give me the canteen, Sam..." His voice trailed off as he swallowed his next words and dropped his gaze to the ground. He closed his eyes and muttered, "Sorry, sorry." The anger drained from his voice, and he seemed to slouch bonelessly against the tree. "I guess it's just all beginning to catch up with me."
"It's okay," Sam reassured him softly.
Daniel opened his eyes and looked up at her.
With a gentle smile, Sam held the canteen back up. "Here. I'm sorry. Just try to drink it slowly, okay?"
Giving her a shaky smile in return, he nodded and took the canteen. "Okay." Raising the canteen to his lips, he took several careful sips, then handed the canteen back to Sam.
"Okay, Daniel." Jack knelt in front of the young man, his P90 still at ready. "Why don't you let Carter take a look at those ribs?"
Daniel shook his head. "They're fine."
"Uh-huh." Jack shot Daniel a disbelieving look.
"Just a little bruised, but I've been going all day," Daniel continued. "Nothing's broken, I promise, Jack."
"Yes. Now." Daniel leaned forward. "Do you mind if I go to the little boy's room and then hit the sack? I'm really, really tired."
A ghost of a smile played on Jack's lips. "Okay."
Daniel leaned forward even more as he attempted to rise to his feet without the use of his hands, but Carter grabbed his arm and pulled him up. He shot her a shy smile, then looked at Jack, a hint of color heating his cheeks. "Uh..."
"I got this one, Carter." Jack said.
Sam gave a relieved smile and backed away. "Yes, sir."
"Okay, Danny, go on." Gesturing with the P-90, Jack motioned to an area at the edge of the camp near a small cluster of young trees.
Jack followed Daniel, but kept a discrete distance as the young man conducted his business. At first, Daniel had a somewhat difficult time getting his zipper unfastened with his wrists bound together, and Jack had almost gotten up the courage to offer assistance when he heard the tell-tale scrape of the metal teeth, followed quickly by the soft sound of water hitting the ground.
After a few seconds, Daniel released a happy sigh and zipped back up, turning to Jack and offering a smile that looked far too tired. "I've been holding that for a while."
"I'll bet." Jack gestured toward the encampment. "Come on. I'll tuck you in to a sleeping bag, and you can crash for the night."
Daniel nodded but didn't move. His eyes held Jack's. "Who were the casualties, Jack?"
Damn. Jack swallowed hard. "Major Hawkins and Doctor Rothman." He used the archeologist's title deliberately to show respect. It wasn't much, but it was the only thing he could offer Rothman now.
Daniel blinked, his expression flat. "Rothman?"
"Yeah." Jack briefly lowered his eyes, then looked back up at Daniel. "Goa'ulds got to both of them. Rothman attacked us. I, uh... I had no choice. I opened fire."
Daniel's gaze fell to the barrel of the large weapon in Jack's hands, and, when he looked back up, something like a mixture of fear and sadness clouded his eyes.
Jack felt a sudden shame rise inside of him, filling his chest until he could barely breathe. He knew what Daniel was thinking. He could read it in Daniel's face. Yes, Danny. Yes, I'll shoot you, too, if I have to. He resisted the urge to close his eyes. If Daniel had been infected with a Goa'uld, he could easily use such an opportunity to get the weapon away from Jack.
But, God, the thought of pulling the trigger... Of watching Daniel's body jerk with each impact like Rothman's had... Of seeing the look of surprise in those clear blue eyes as his knees buckled.
He hated himself for being willing to kill one of his best friends, even to protect the team.
No! Jack almost cursed it aloud. It wouldn't come to that. No fucking way. Daniel wasn't a Goa'uld. Hell, a Goa'uld wouldn't have let itself be dragged across the wilderness by an Unas... Although, Jack reluctantly admitted to himself, Unas were pretty damn strong. Even a young one would be more than a match for a host with superhuman strength.
"Jack." Daniel's low, calm voice pulled Jack from his thoughts.
"It's okay." A soft smile lifted Daniel's lips, and he looked at Jack as though he could read his mind. "I'm not a Goa'uld, you won't have to shoot me, and, I, uh," his smile faded, replaced by a distant sadness, "I understand about Rothman. I'm sure he did, too."
"He ran all the way back to the gate, you know." The words bubbled out of Jack. "He was panting so hard he could barely speak, and when we were ready to begin the search, he insisted on coming with us to find you."
Daniel winced, and Jack silently cursed his stupidity. Way to kick a guy when he's down, Jack scolded himself. First, tell him that his friend is dead, then make him feel like he's responsible.
Daniel turned away slowly. "Thanks for telling me, Jack." His voice was sincere. "Well, uh, I guess I'd better turn in now."
Daniel hesitated, his back to Jack.
"It wasn't your fault."
"Two lives for one, Jack? The math says it all."
"If it were Rothman," Jack began quickly, before Daniel could walk away, "you'd have insisted on searching for him."
Daniel gave a slow nod. "Yes."
"Knowing the risks?"
Daniel glanced over his shoulder at Jack. "Yes, and I see where you're going with this, and, no, I wouldn't have wanted Rothman to blame himself if something had happened to me."
"Both Hawkins and Rothman knew the risks."
"I understand the military logic, Jack." Daniel took a deep breath, then turned away again.
"We don't even know when Hawkins was infected since he never made it back to the SGC. He was very likely infected when we found him. He'd been acting kind of...uh...funny."
"But Rothman made it back?"
"Yeah." Jack rubbed a hand over his face. "Yes, Daniel. He had to get the standard MRI. He was clear, but that still doesn't make it your fault."
"If he'd stayed at the SGC, he'd be alive right now."
"Yeah, he would," Jack straightened. "That makes it my fault, I know. I let him come along. I should've stopped him, but I know what it's like to have a friend missing and want to find him. I let my emotions influence my judgment, and he's dead. I'm sorry, Daniel. I wish to God I could go back and change it, but I can't."
Daniel turned to Jack. "Don't, Jack." He shook his head. "It's not your fault. You let Rothman make his own decision. I get it. It's not about you or me, anyway. He's dead, and we can't do anything to change that."
"No, we can't," Jack whispered.
"You know what I'm really feeling guilty about, though?" He asked the question almost shyly, his head slightly bowed and his eyes wide.
"What?" Jack asked gently.
"I'm glad you guys came after me, even knowing the risks. Even though Rothman and Hawkins are dead."
"You're glad to be alive, Daniel. It's human."
"I know that, too."
Jack nodded, letting the silence linger a few seconds, then he gestured to the now-raging campfire. "Come on. Let's get you tucked in."
Daniel squirmed in the snug confines of the sleeping bag. Jack had, indeed, tucked him in, going so far as to yank the string at the head of the bag to make it almost impossible for Daniel to work himself out...if he was so inclined. Since his wrists were still bound, and the bag fit him tightly, he couldn't raise his arms. He was effectively immobilized, and, although he understood the need for the security, he still felt trapped, almost claustrophobic, even though his head was out of the bag and a wide, starry sky stretched above him.
He stopped squirming, barely aware of the soft crunch of Sam's footsteps as she scouted the perimeter. She had taken third watch. It was almost dawn, and despite his exhaustion, Daniel hadn't gotten a wink of sleep.
Every time he got close to sleep, he'd end up shifting to get more comfortable and realize he couldn't move, and in the moment it took his eyes to spring open and his heart to start pounding, he'd remember that he was no longer Chaka's prisoner. He didn't have to worry about being anybody's dinner. He was safe among friends.
But, ironically, he was still a prisoner.
He tried not to dwell on that fact. It was just a technicality until they made it to the SGC and Fraiser could give him a Goa'uld-clean bill of health. Then he could shower and sleep for a week...or maybe he'd sleep for a week and then shower. After all, once he was asleep, he wouldn't be able to smell himself, and he was too damn tired to care if anyone else did.
He closed his eyes and made another attempt at sleep, counting backward in Egyptian in his head. He started at 100 and had made it to fifty when he heard a faint rustling behind him. He suppressed a smile. This would make the third time that Sam had checked up on him.
Turning around, he gave into the smile and opened his eyes...
And froze. His heart kicked in to overdrive, and bright, hot panic made the sleeping back feel like a sauna as he broke out into an instant sweat.
The Goa'uld snaked toward him, slithering on the ground.
Move! Daniel kicked inside the sleeping back, trying to free himself, trying to move, but he remained trapped. He thought he heard Sam shout something, but the words whizzed past him in a blur. A cry erupted from him as he jack-knifed into a sitting position and bucked backward.
The Goa'uld launched itself at him, squealing, and a flash of light and heat scorched past Daniel's right ear, impacting the Goa'uld in mid-air. The creature gave a final, enraged squeal, then flopped onto his lap, charred and smoking from the staff blast.
Daniel panicked, practically convulsing as he bucked the symbiote's corpse off of him and scrambled backward as fast as he could, trying desperately to free his arms. He needed out. He needed to get out of the damn sleeping bag. NOW!
Hands were on his shoulders, stopping his retreat.
"Daniel! Stop it! Take it easy!"
Daniel stopped his struggles, panting hard, and looked into Jack's anxious, brown eyes.
God, he was shaking.
"Take it easy," Jack said more gently. "You're okay."
Okay? Daniel almost laughed, but realized any laughter would come out sounding as hysterical as he felt. But he wasn't okay. He wasn't anywhere near okay. In their attempt to protect both him and themselves, his friends had managed to make him a sitting duck.
"You okay?" Jack asked, easing open the sleeping bag's zipper.
Daniel didn't trust himself to answer. He just listened to the scraping of the zipper and tried not to give into the urge to leap out of the bag as it opened.
"There." Jack unfolded the bag and let it drop away from Daniel. "Are you okay?" He asked again, more deliberately.
Daniel looked at him pointedly. "No." Shooting to his feet, he had the almost uncontrollable urge to cross his arms. It was a habitual gesture, one he knew he did in times of stress, but the damn restraints made that impossible.
"Carter!" Jack turned to her, suddenly angry.
She stiffened and walked up to him. "Yes, sir. I'm sorry, sir. I didn't hear anything until Daniel moved."
"It's not her fault." Daniel's voice almost shook with the restraint it took him not to shout. He looked at Teal'c and inhaled a deep breath. "Nice shot. Thank you."
The Jaffa bowed slightly in response, then looked to O'Neil. "I shall parole. I believe I heard other noises."
"Go, Teal'c." Jack waved him away. "Why the hell did that thing get this far?" Jack asked, but his question didn't seem directed to anyone in particular. "I thought those things were confined to the area around the water?"
"Actually," Daniel swallowed, trying to wet his dry
throat and calm his trembling, "uh, Chaka was wearing a large necklace. I thought it
was ornamental at first, but I suspect it's actually a form of protection against the
Goa'uld. And the fact that the Unas live deep inside the caves might also be another way
of avoiding the symbiotes. Although the
Goa'ulds live in the water, they may be more amphibious, probably venturing out when they sense potential hosts. If the Goa'ulds were only restricted to the area around the still water, they'd be easy enough to avoid, and the Unas wouldn't have to go to such lengths to protect themselves. Based on this planet's climate and vegetation, there's got to be running streams that would provide suitable drinking water. They wouldn't have to go anywhere near the still waters."
Jack just looked at him for a few moments, then asked, "You decide to tell us this now?"
Daniel pushed down a swell of irritation. "I just thought about it." He raised his wrists. "You think you can untie me now? A Goa'uld wouldn't try to infest an already-infested host."
"Unless," Jack countered, "these Goa'ulds can't sense one another, just like Carter can't sense them. And, besides," he looked down at Daniel's bandaged wrists, "it's for your... Damnit!"
Daniel flinched as Jack rushed toward him. He wasn't sure what he expected, but was surprised when the anger melted from Jack's face as he gently grabbed Daniel's hands and lifted them.
"You started your wrists bleeding again." Jack placed a hand on Daniel's arm. "Let's get you fixed up."
"What?" Daniel looked down at his wrists and, sure enough, dark red blotches soiled the bandages. With that realization came pain, and he winced, suddenly aware of the hot throbbing and random stabs of pain in the skin beneath the bandages.
"I'm sorry, Daniel," Sam stepped forward. "I should've been paying closer attention. I'll, uh... take care of your wrists again."
Daniel shook his head. Damn, he was too tired for this. "It's okay, Sam. I barely heard it until it was almost on top of me, and it's not like it'd be easy to spot in the dark."
"It's not your fault, Carter." Jack ran a hand through his hair. "I'm sorry I snapped at you. Probably the only one of us who would've stood a chance of spotting that thing is Teal'c."
As if summoned, the Jaffa appeared from the mirky darkness at the edge of camp. "I have found nothing that would pose a threat. I believe we are safe for the moment."
"Thank you, Teal'c." Jack steered Daniel toward Sam. "Okay, Carter, work your magic."
Sunrise came before Sam even finished wrapping Daniel's wrists. Once Daniel was secured in the last two plastic cuffs in the team's possession, they began the trek toward the gate.
Daniel trudged after Jack. Teal'c took up the rear, and Sam walked a short distance to the side. The sun had made it high in the sky by the time Jack announced that they'd reached the halfway mark.
Great. Just another half day's walk. Daniel forced his aching feet to keep moving and blinked at Jack's slightly blurry figure in front of him. His vision seemed much more out of focus than usual. Where were his glasses, anyway?
His head pounded, and he found it increasingly difficult to keep his legs moving. Each step sent a stab of pain into his heels, and he was sure he was on the verge of having blisters. His back wasn't doing too well, either. He must have done something to it yesterday, maybe when he fell or during one of the times when Chaka yanked him forward. Whatever he'd done, it was just now starting to really make itself known.
Exhaustion dragged at him. He wished he'd managed to sleep last night. He felt ready to drop. Honestly, he didn't know if he'd be able to make it back to the gate on his own steam.
He managed to keep up the pace for a few more minutes before he felt himself swaying. His right foot hit something, sending him stumbling forward into Jack.
"Daniel." Jack swung around even as he scurried backward, his weapon held at ready. "What the hell....?"
Daniel dropped to his knees. Sam was at his side in an instant.
"Daniel? What's wrong?"
Jack relaxed his posture, eyeing Teal'c, who stood solemnly in the rear, his staff weapon at ready. With a sigh, Jack knelt in front of Sam and Daniel.
Daniel shook his head. "I'm sorry. I need to rest."
"Okay," Jack agreed, his voice soft. "We'll take a lunch break. Carter, get Daniel to a shaded area. How much water do we have left?"
"Half of a canteen, sir."
"Great. Just great." Jack took off his hat and wiped his brow. "Well, give him half of what's left. We're going to have to make it the rest of the way on a quarter of a canteen. No way am I risking going anywhere near water on this planet. If worse comes to worst, we'll radio Coburn at the gate and tell him we need an assist."
Daniel nodded, trying to get to his feet, but he didn't seem to be moving. Whatever muscles were holding him up gave out, and his side hit the ground. Thankfully, he felt himself spiraling toward blessed sleep.
Someone was shaking him.
No. Go 'way.
More shaking. An angry voice.
The Unas yanking him. Move! But he couldn't go any further. The Unas would just have to kill him.
Hot breath on his face.
His brain clawed its way toward consciousness, aware that he was about to become a meal. He groaned and forced his eyelids open, blinking up at the blurry figure above him. Were his legs moving? The figure moved with him, shaking him.
"Damnit, Daniel!" Jack gave the archeologist another shake. "Wake up!"
"Sir," Carter said, placing her palm on Daniel's forehead. "He's suffering from exhaustion, both physical and heat-induced. We really need to get water into him and get him into the shade."
"Right. Daniel!" Jack barked the name, angry. Come on, don't do this, kid. "Wake up, damnit. That's an order!"
Daniel seemed to be coming around. He groaned, his brow furrowing, and opened his eyes.
"That's it." Jack gave Daniel another shake. "Come on."
Fear twisted Daniel's face, and he kicked out weakly, trying to scamper back as he batted at Jack.
"Oh, no you don't." Jack moved forward and gave Daniel's cheek a few firm slaps. "Come on. Wake up."
With a cry, Daniel turned his face away and swung an arm at Jack.
"Damnit!" Jack ducked, then moved forward again. "Okay, that does it." He had to get Daniel into shade now. He darted forward, almost tackling Daniel to get him into a fireman's carry when a large roar to his right sent him into full battle mode.
Dropping Daniel, Jack dived into a roll, coming up with his P-90. To his left, he saw Teal'c with his staff weapon. Carter hovered near Daniel, her weapon aimed at the Unas running toward them, its arms held out threateningly.
Shit! It was coming right for him. Jack scurried back, brought up his gun, and...
Daniel stumbled into his line of fire.
"Damnit!" Jack pulled up his gun at the last minute, almost too late. "Daniel!"
"Hell of a time to wake up, Danny."
The Unas came to a stop, glaring at Jack, a low, steady growl rumbling from its throat.
Daniel dropped to his rear, sitting between Jack and the Unas. He squinted at Jack, his face lined with pain and fatigue. "He must have been following us. He's just trying to protect me." His voice sounded infinitely weary. "I think."
Turning his face to Chaka, Daniel tried to use his hands, but his bound wrists hampered him. Frustration creased his brow. He shook his head and gestured to Jack. "No Kheka. No Kheka. It's okay."
Chaka took a step back, his face a mask of confusion. He looked to Teal'c, then Sam, then Jack and, finally, back to Daniel, asking a silent question.
Daniel nodded, giving a small smile. "It's okay."
Chaka still didn't look convinced. He moved toward Daniel, and Jack tensed, aiming his weapon on the Unas.
"Don't, Jack," Daniel warned, but Jack held his crouched stance.
Chaka knelt slowly in front of Daniel, reached out, and grabbed his bound wrists. He studied the restraints with eyes that were filled with something that looked vaguely like disapproval.
"It's okay," Daniel said again, gently. He shook his head. "No Kheka. Friends. They're my friends."
With a growl, the Unas snapped the plastic restraints. Daniel winced, but then his arms fell free to his sides.
"Great." Jack lowered his weapon. "There go our last two."
"I'm not a Goa'uld, Jack," Daniel shot over his shoulder, swaying a little.
Chaka growled something unintelligible just as Daniel's eyes rolled upward and he crumpled forward into the Unas' arms.
Jack turned the page of that morning's paper. He leaned back in his chair, his feet propped on the edge of Daniel's mattress.
It had been a hellish three days. They'd gotten back to the gate just before sunset, after Daniel collapsed and Chaka seemed appeased enough to let Teal'c carry Daniel back to the gate. The Unas had tracked them the entire way, though, keeping mostly out of sight, but not hiding himself like he had before.
And, thank God, once they'd gotten back to the SGC, Fraiser had promptly tended to Daniel, given him an MRI, and declared him Goa'uld-free. Daniel had been sleeping since then, going on his fourteenth straight hour.
A small groan escaped Daniel.
Jack put the paper down and leaned forward, waiting. Daniel's brow furrowed, and he moaned again, rolling onto his side, his hands coming up to clutch the pillow. His wrists sported a fresh set of bandages. The creases vanished from his forehead, and a look of happy contentment settled on his face as he quieted and seemed to settle back into a deep sleep.
Jack gave into a small smile, leaned back into his chair, and resumed his morning reading.