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The Safety of Home
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"Ah, damn." 

"What?" Jack looked up from the onion string appetizer to look at Daniel. 

"I left my wallet in the car." Daniel rose from his chair and held out his hand. "It's in my jacket pocket on your back seat. Keys, please. Or do you want to pay for my dinner?"

Jack withdrew his keys and tossed them to Daniel, flashing a smile. "Go get your wallet."

Daniel took the keys eagerly. "I thought that's what you'd say. Be back in a bit." He turned and hurried out of the restaurant, emerging into the pleasant spring night. Jack hadn't been able to find a parking spot in the restaurant's lot, so he'd have to walk a couple of blocks. 

A few minutes later, he got to Jack's Cherokee and opened the door, grabbing his jacket off the back seat and feeling the pocket. Yep, his wallet was there. Locking and closing the door, he began a brisk walk back to the restaurant.

He was only a few feet away from the restaurant's main entrance when he passed an alley. Three large figures emerged from the darkness, and he found himself surrounded. 

"Ah, hello." Daniel went still, eyeing the two men in front of him and resisting the temptation to turn to glance at the one behind him. He could hear the rear man breathing, though. He was close. Way too close.

"Hello." The man to his right said. He looked to be in his early twenties, possibly Mexican, with dark hair and dark eyes. 

"Give us your wallet and you can walk away," the man to the left said. Unlike his companion, he was fair-skinned, with light hair and hazel eyes. His neck, though, was about as thick as Daniel's thigh.

"Okay, not a problem." Daniel reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out his wallet. It wasn't worth risking his life for a few credit cards. "Help yourself."

"Thanks." Blondie grabbed the wallet and the jacket, immediately opening the leather and rifling through the contents. "You got no cash here, man. Credit cards are pretty useless. We let you walk, you'll just call them in as stolen. No good to us."

"You got something else?" the darker man asked, withdrawing a gun. "Better make it good."

"Hey, come on." Daniel's hands came up automatically. "I wasn't expecting to be mugged. Had you made an appointment, I could've arrived prepared."

That earned him a fist in the gut. His breath exploded from him as he folded forward and crumpled to the cold cement. 

Their hands were all over him, searching his pockets, taking off his shoes, even ripping the buttons off his shirt as they tore the front open and searched for any hidden valuables. One of them grabbed his wrist and removed his watch. He tried to stay as still as he could while gasping for breath, still reeling from the unexpected blow to his midsection.

"Nothing!" One of them growled angrily. 

Hands grabbed his rumpled shirt and pulled him to a sitting position. A dark angry face glared at him. "You got nothing! So we're gonna make sure you don't go calling your credit card company within the next hour. Got it?"

Daniel got his breathing under marginal control and replied in a voice much calmer than he felt. "I don't suppose I could just give you my word--"

The fist hit him square in the jaw, snapping his head back painfully. A kick to his stomach robbed him of the ability to breathe, and then a vicious blow to his back sent him spiraling into a pain-induced panic. 

A sound tore from his throat, and he kicked, his foot contacting with something solid. He saw dark figures above him, and just started punching and kicking with everything he had, ignoring the pain in his back and neck and stomach as he fought for his life.

Suddenly, the attack stopped, and Daniel heard footsteps retreating quickly. He laid there a moment, his cheek pressed against the gritty blacktop, breathing heavily. He clenched his eyes against the pain. He wasn't sure how much time passed, but only silence surrounded him. He was sure the men were gone, and they wouldn't be coming back.

With a sharp gasp, he moved, getting his hands beneath him. God, his ribs hurt! Had they busted a few? 

He had to get help. He couldn't just lay there wheezing. Teal'c and Jack would HAVE to eventually come looking for him, though. Maybe he COULD just lay there...

NO. Help. Jack, Teal'c, and Sam were only a few feet away. He could make it.

~~~~~

Teal'c tilted his head and leveled a studious look at Jack. "Has not Daniel Jackson been absent too long?"

Jack glanced at his watch. "Yeah. Wonder what's keeping him."

Sudden gasps and sharp voices snapped Jack's head up. There was some kind of commotion coming from the front of the restaurant. He was just about to get to his feet when he saw a figure push through a small crowd of waiters and waitresses. 

"Daniel!"

Jack shot to his feet. Daniel staggered toward him, blood dripping down the right side of his face, his shirt hanging open, revealing a thin, torn undershirt. His eyes were glazed, and they settled on Jack for an instant, sparking briefly with recognition before they rolled upward.

Jack lunged as Daniel crumpled, catching him just in time to prevent further injury. Gently, he laid him on the floor and looked up at the crowd around him. "Call an ambulance, damnit!"

~~~~~~

"I know this planet is far from perfect, but damnit! He gets enough shit on the job. He should be safe here." Jack scrubbed a hand over his face, fidgeting in the hard chair.

"I know, sir." Sam sat next to Daniel's hospital bed, her chin resting tiredly on the edge of the mattress. 

They had been there all night. Jack had called Hammond, who had called the hospital, who let the SGC team stay past visiting hours on the pretext of national security concerns. As soon as Daniel was well enough to be transported without risk, he'd be transferred to the SGC infirmary.

"Indeed." Teal'c maintained his stoic vigil by the door. "Would it not be prudent to remain armed when venturing onto the surface of your world?"

Jack threw Teal'c a tired look. "I sometimes wonder..."

A groan pulled his attention away from Teal'c. Jack rose from his chair and moved to the bed, "Daniel?"

Daniel's brow furrowed, and his eyelids slid open a crack. "Huh?" His voice was barely a whisper. "J'ck?"

"Yeah. You're in the county hospital. Looks like you got mugged."

"Oh." His eyelids fell closed again. "Figures."

An amused smile touched Jack's lips. "Yeah, I guess it does." He placed a hand on Daniel's arm. "But don't worry, Teal'c's volunteered to be your bodyguard anytime we go out on the town from now on."

The only repsonse he got from Daniel was a light snoring.

~~~~~

The end. :-) Feedback appreciated

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