AUTHOR'S WEBSITE: http://brothersinarms.tvheaven.com
DISCLAIMER: The characters of Stargate SG-1 belong to others with a whole lot more money than I have. No intention of infringing on copyright.
RATING: PG (Some mild language)
SPOILERS: Evolution, small ones for Abyss, Changeling, Full Circle and The Serpent's Lair.
AUTHORS NOTES: Thanks to Annie as always for the beta.
For Becky-Anne for her generosity in sharing Stargate, Season 7 with me.
*Women that put out like broken candy machines?* Jack shook his head. In some ways, Burke hadn't really changed at all. "I'll see what I can do," he promised.
Jack turned toward Bill Lee and saw the rotund professor was trying to hold up Daniel, who was slumped against him, his face suddenly white, his eyes closed. "Crap," Jack muttered.
He and Burke hurried to the other men's side, both taking an arm and supporting the unconscious archeologist between them. Lee took a step back, clutching Telchak's device to his chest. "There's a cot inside this hut," he said. He took a step into the doorway; his eyes darting around nervously then he looked back at Jack. "I'll, um, wait out here for Air Rescue."
Jack nodded and together he and Burke half-carried Daniel into the hut. "You've been working out, Danny-boy. You weigh more than you used to," Jack grunted as his always-unreliable knees protested the strain. He shrugged at Burke's questioning look. "We do this every now and then. He has a habit of getting into scrapes."
Depositing Daniel on the cot, Jack looked him over as well as he could in the dim light. Daniel's face was streaked with sweat, dirt and blood, several bruises beginning to show along his cheekbones, darkening the already present abrasions and his lower lip was swollen; a streak of dried blood trailing from the corner of his mouth.
Burke was rummaging around in the corners and finally straightened with a whoop of success. He turned back to Jack, holding aloft a lantern and a first aid kit.
"Great, thanks," Jack said. "You want to see if you can get me a bowl of water?"
"Sure thing," Burke agreed. "Then I'll keep an eye on the Prof out here, make sure he doesn't accidentally turn that thing back on, he's shaking so much." He grinned, popped his gum and left.
Jack lit the lantern and hefted it, looking around the squalid hut. It smelled unpleasantly of sweat and urine, vomit and decayed food. An empty jug sat on a table in front of the chair, a bowl of fruit now black with ants next to it. The smells and the rest of the hut's contents clued him in to Professor Lee's reticence to enter. It was obvious this was where the two men had been interrogated.
A chair sat in the center of the room, lengths of rope dangled from it that were smeared with blood. Jack cursed when he saw the battery set up on a small table. Turning, he strode back to Daniel and carefully lifted his shirt. Small, reddened patches were apparent on Daniel's chest and upper stomach. The burns weren't serious, but Jack knew from personal experience how much that particular torture would have hurt and he swallowed back the bile that burned his throat.
"Water," Burke announced, coming back in with a dented metal bowl. He stood over Daniel and shook his head as he gazed at the profusion of bruises and abrasions that peppered Daniel's body. "They really did a number on him, huh?"
"Yeah," Jack agreed. He reached for the rag floating in the water and wrung it out, then began to stroke it over Daniel's torso, removing the grime, enabling him to check for injuries more carefully. "Look, Burke, you want to take a look at Professor Lee? I'm guessing he was worked over too. Make sure he's all right."
"Sure thing. I just heard from Air Rescue. They've landed about a mile away. They're gonna have to walk in."
"Thanks." Jack gave Burke a quick smile and returned to his task. He understood now the sheer terror he'd seen on Daniel's face when he'd first approached him, the confusion in his eyes as he'd struggled to recognize Jack and his dazed, "What are you doing here?" remark. For the first time, Jack was glad that his sarcastic, "Saving your sorry ass," in reply to Daniel's question, had not passed his lips.
It was obvious that their captivity and torture, then their flight through the jungle, with Daniel supporting and protecting the less fit Lee, and Daniel's realization that there was probably no rescue coming this time, had taken more of a toll on the archeologist than he'd been prepared to admit.
He was relieved that he could not detect any injuries more serious than deep bruising, a possible fractured rib or two, and of course, the burns. He was not prepared to relax until he had Daniel back at the mountain, where Fraiser could check him out more thoroughly. Jack set about turning Daniel carefully onto his side, so he had access to both the archeologist's back and the bullet wound in his thigh.
Daniel stirred as Jack rolled him, muttering something unintelligible. "Shh," Jack soothed. "You're safe."
Carefully he wiped the cloth over Daniel's back, scowling when the water cleared away the dirt and blood, revealing more bruises and abrasions, and wished, not for the first time, that he could go back and shoot the bastards who had inflicted this callous damage all over again.
Daniel settled again though Jack could not be sure whether his voice or the archeologist's sheer exhaustion was the reason. He hoped it was the former. In the latter months of Daniel's ascension, Daniel had managed at some time or another to comfort each of his teammates in their hours of need and it felt good to return the favor.
Taking advantage of Daniel's return to oblivion, Jack quickly removed the bandana from the bullet wound, soaking it with water where it stuck to the drying blood. Squinting in the less than adequate light, Jack was relieved to see the bleeding had stopped and the wound looked clean, though it would be painful for several days to come.
Voices outside disturbed his actions but recognizing Burke's voice above all the others, Jack continued his ministrations. Once the wound was rebound to his satisfaction, he went to the doorway and ushered the Air Rescue team inside.
He kept back while Daniel's injuries were assessed and the still unconscious man was loaded onto a stretcher, but when the aircrew went to lift Daniel, Jack moved back over, grasping the front end. The officer in charge looked quizzically at him and Burke stepped forward. "It's his teammate," he explained.
That seemed to be enough explanation and Jack nodded at Burke, offering his own olive branch to the man who'd helped him get Daniel back. "You want to get the other end?"
Burke grinned, popped his gum and hoisted the back end on one side. Neither man was surprised when Bill Lee stepped forward, Telchak's device now concealed and crated away from curious eyes and prying hands, and took the front handle opposite Jack. The three nodded to an airman who stepped into place and together the men carried their comrade out of the hut and into the jungle, headed toward the rescue plane.
Daniel didn't regain consciousness until they'd been in the air for some twenty minutes. Burke and Lee had succumbed to their exhaustion and bedded down as best they could in the cramped confines of the plane. Jack had almost drifted off at Daniel's side when a quiet moan brought him awake.
Leaning forward, he smiled as Daniel's eyes fluttered open, gazing blearily around at his surroundings. "Had enough beauty sleep finally," Jack quipped.
Daniel's gaze snapped over to him, the tension in his body relaxing as he recognized his friend. "What are you doing here?' he rasped hoarsely.
"You already asked me that," Jack reminded him. He reached for a bottle of water, uncapped it then carefully easing Daniel upright, encouraged him to take few sips.
"You didn't answer me," Daniel replied, a little louder now, a small smile upturning his cracked lips.
Jack sighed and scrubbed a hand through his hair, needing to get this right the first time. "I'm here because you're here, and you were in trouble. Just like you did for me in Baal's prison, like you did for Teal'c when he and Bra'tac were dying."
Daniel looked away quickly at Jack's reply but not before Jack saw unshed tears form in his eyes. The colonel leaned forward, suddenly concerned. "You in pain?"
Daniel shook his head but then his gaze swiveled back to Jack. "I did nothing for you," he whispered, "or for Teal'c. My memories of while I was ascended may not be coming back as quickly or as clearly as my memories before that time, but that much I do remember. I had the opportunity, the power to help you both and I did nothing. Just like on Erebus. I had the chance to help those poor people and I did nothing."
"You felt you had no choice. You helped as much as you thought you could."
Daniel struggled to sit up and Jack instantly put out a hand to stop him, then seeing the determined look in the other man's eyes, sighed and placed a hand under his elbow to support him. Daniel tried to hide a wince as he shifted slightly and tried to get comfortable. "Oma pulled the wool over my eyes," Daniel replied bitterly. "Convinced me that I was some all-powerful being and then forbade me to use that power for the good of my friends. You could have died."
"You *would* have died if she hadn't given you that chance," Jack said forcefully. "And then when she saw that your talents were of greater use to us than to her, she gave you back to us," he raised a finger when Daniel seemed about to protest, "because you did what you knew was right. You acted and helped us, and the Abydonians."
"As I recall you had to do some pretty hard talking to get me to help my wife's people; my people who I'd sworn to protect."
Jack shrugged. "When you saw what had to be done, you crossed that fine line you'd been talking about."
"And then I went right back to getting myself into trouble, needing you to come rescue me."
Jack raised an eyebrow. "Well, that's something I've kinda got used to doing." He reached out and patted Daniel's arm. "If it wasn't for you, I doubt Bill Lee would still be alive. He told us how you protected him so that you'd take the lion's share of the interrogation, how you hid him when he couldn't go on."
"Still off, we hope."
Daniel smiled, that shy, delighted smile that Jack first remembered seeing when they'd arrived back from Apophis' ship, thinking Daniel was dead, believing they'd left him to die alone, then seeing him in the flesh, alive and whole. He reached out and ruffled Daniel's hair. "Space monkey," he chided. He pushed on Daniel's shoulder, encouraging him to lay down. "Get some sleep. We're going home."