Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

By Lyn


SUMMARY: On the trek back to the gate, Jack and Daniel converse... sorta.

Missing Scene for One False Step

Thanks to Annie for the beta.


How many klicks from the gate are we now?

"About another three, I figure," Jack says.

Did I say that out loud? I think about it for a fraction of a second before thinking causes my head to explode and then I'm on my knees in the dirt, retching violently. A hand strokes my back comfortingly but it feels like sandpaper scraping over a wound and I flinch away, only to lose my balance totally and I just barely have the presence of mind to twist away from the mess I've made, rolling sideways to collapse on my back, squinting into the sun.

"Hey, you okay?" Jack's face floats into view, a kind of worried expression scrunching his eyes and wrinkling his forehead.

"Peachy," I manage to husk out.

Jack nods. "That good, huh?"

"I feel like shit," I say honestly. I hold up a hand and he takes the hint and hauls me into a sitting position, which causes my stomach to roll with renewed nausea and my head threatens to split in two. I look up and give him an aggrieved glare. "How come you don't feel as bad as I do?"

Jack almost preens. "Just my natural good looks and superior fitness compensating, I guess."

"You're faking it," I mutter.

"Moi? Can I help it if I've been trained for this type of thing? This is a cake walk compared to some of the situations I've been in."

I feel like throwing up again. "Help me up," I order.

He looks uncertain. "You sure? I mean, you're looking a little green around the gills, Daniel."

"Really? Thanks for that gem of information." I abandon asking for his help, roll to my side and then haul myself, first onto my knees, then to my feet in an inelegant stagger. Jack grabs at my arm and anchors me to his side.

"You sure you're up for this?" he asks and I have to admit he really does sound concerned for me and I feel like an asshole for being so ungrateful. I'm acting like a spoiled kid.

"Yes, you are," he agrees, "but that's understandable. You feel like crap."

I cast a weary glance up at him. He actually looks as bad as I do but he's soldiering on. I think I hate him.

"No, you don't," he says equably. "It's the bug… or whatever… messing with your head."

"Yes, I do," I say forcibly. "I really do, right at this moment, hate you." I stagger forward a couple of steps then come to an abrupt stop. "Wait a minute! How can you hear what I'm thinking?"

"Because you're saying it out loud?" He sounds a little hesitant.

"Am not," I fire back.

"Are too." His jaw juts out defiantly.

"Am not!"

"Are… Do you know what I'm thinking?" he asks, looking positively worried.

I paste what I hope is a triumphant grin on my face. "Yep."

"Okay." He strides up and stands in front of me, holding his hands to his temples. "Tell me what I'm thinking now!"

Damn! I wish I hadn't said that.

"Too late!" he crows. "Come on, waiting here."

"You think I'm a pain in the ass when I'm sick, and you wish it was Teal'c you were heading back to the gate with because he'd be stoic and shut the fuck up." Okay, probably not reaching too far from the truth here.

He looks positively pole-axed. "Shit!" he says feelingly. He looks suddenly pale and I feel uncharitably smug. "What the hell is happening here?"

I ignore him and start staggering forward toward our salvation. Surely we must be close to the gate by now. I take a look behind me. Jack is kneeling in the dirt, puking. I muster what little strength I have left and head back to him. Placing my hand on his back, I'm not surprised when he flinches. Been there, have the t-shirt. I suddenly realize I'm feeling a little better. Little, being the operative word here. "Jack?"

He looks up at me, wipes his chin with the back of his hand and rolls his eyes. "I feel like crap," he croaks. "Happy now?"

"No," I reply and I mean it. In fact, I feel like a heel. "You think we can make it the rest of the way? Or we could radio Teal'c and ask him to come get us."

"We can make it. I'm actually feeling better. You?"

I think about it. "Same," I say.

He looks into the distance for a moment then staggers to his feet. We wrap our arms around each other. He gives me one of his patented, no problem Jack grins, though I have to admit it's a little wobbly around the edges. "I'm fine," he says. "I may look like shit but I'm fine."

"Me too." And surprisingly, I am. I still feel like crap but I can see the end in sight, and I'm feeling better with every step toward home. "I couldn't really read your thoughts," I admit finally as the gate comes into sight.

He looks surprised at that. "I thought… I mean… I was sure you were speaking to me. What's that about, ya think?"

I can't stop having a little payback from the mythology argument we had back in the village, though I have to admit to myself there's a whole lot of research in my future. Then again, maybe it's just a comrade in arms thing, brothers in arms bonding. Nah, probably not. Not going to let him off that easy though. I let go of his arm and hobble forward to dial up the DHD. "Well, you know, the villagers can't talk at all. I'm thinking they have an empathic connection with each other. It's pretty fascinating actually." I stare at him thoughtfully as the event horizon whooshes into being. "We should run some tests on you, Jack. Maybe you're more in touch with your inner prehistoric man than you realized." Feeling suddenly energized, I run toward the gate with Jack in hot pursuit.