Title: Night Tongue
Summary: A nightmare Jack has offworld awakens two members of his team.
Disclaimer: I own nothing to do with Stargate but my rabid fan behavior. Alas.
Samantha Carter's sleep was so light, it took precious little to rouse her. Off-world she willed herself to be ever vigilant and alert.
It took her only a second to identify what had awakened her. Noises, a voice, soft and muffled and coming from so close by that the person need only speak in a whisper to disturb her slumber.
Sam rolled over in her sleeping bag to seek the source of the voice. She was surprised when she realized it wasn't Daniel. Daniel had nightmares sometimes, ones that woke him abruptly in the night; they weren't all that unusual for the archaeologist. She used to ask him about his dreams, thinking it would make him feel better to talk about them, but years had taught her better. While Daniel Jackson was a posterchild for open lines of communication almost all the time, his dreamscape was a land of silence. She respected his wishes and let him be, even when it seemed to go against the grain of logic and friendship.
Sam learned soon enough that she wasn't even the person best suited to comfort Daniel after one of his bad dreams. Amazingly enough, Colonel O'Neill was, and to do that he DID precious little. After being jarred awake Daniel would lay quietly a moment to orient himself, calm his breathing, then with silent purpose the young man would leave his sleeping bag and go find Jack. If Jack was on watch Daniel would sit down next to him. If Jack was asleep Daniel would do the same thing, sit down next to Jack. That's all he would do. Whether Jack was awake or not, Daniel would sit just as wordlessly next to the colonel. She couldn't fathom what Jack's mere presence accomplished, but it relaxed the linguist every time. She couldn't argue with results.
Once upon a time, Sam thought Jack was oblivious to the security Daniel drew from him. Until, that is, one night Daniel woke from a nightmare, got up, and went in search of Jack. The colonel that night had been sleeping between Sam at his front and their packs at his back, effectively sandwiched.
Daniel had hesitated at the colonel's encased predicament, clearly torn. He was not about to inconvenience anyone with himself in that manner Daniel had by making an issue of what he sought. He'd looked lost for what to do, though.
Jack was just as soundly sleeping as always when Daniel came to sit next to him when the older man wasn't awake, or at least he looked just as asleep as he always looked. Instead, Sam had covertly watched Jack prop himself up on his elbow from a seemingly deep sleep, shove the packs out of the way, then settle back on his side. Daniel had gone to the spot cleared for him, sat down beside Jack, and Sam had tried not to draw attention to the fact she was awake and had seen the whole thing.
She'd seen that scene play out quite a few times off-world. She thought, upon waking, that this would be another enactment of that old ritual.
Until she realized this wasn't Daniel's voice.
Colonel O'Neill was lying in his sleeping bag. Normally he slept like the dead, a motionless statue that sprang to life at the smallest noise but didn't toss and turn during sleep. There was no gray area with the colonel, at least not on a mission; he was either still as death or on his feet.
Not tonight. Jack was shifting restlessly inside his bag, the firelight filtering through the canvas of the tent walls etching his harried features in deep shadows. He muttered under his breath, unintelligible sounds.
Sam froze a moment, unsure whether she should get up and try to wake the colonel. Men like him one must approach with great care, especially when agitated. Colonel O'Neill was special ops trained; Sam had witnessed the misfortune of more than one of Janet's nurses who'd been tasked with trying to sedate a disoriented Jack O'Neill and suffered his latent skills. The man was far more dangerous than he looked most of the time.
Sam's hesitation was long enough for another in the tent to awaken to the colonel's plight.
Daniel's head poked up from his sleeping bag, his eyes glittering in the firelight like some nocturnal primate. Daniel blinked in Jack's direction. He, too, was surprised that Jack was in distress.
"La... la... qif... la..." Jack muttered in his sleep.
Daniel rubbed at his eyes, blinked once more at Jack in bewilderment, then frowned. The frown made him look much more like Daniel as opposed to a caught-out bush-baby.
Daniel shuffled out of his sleeping bag and went over to Jack.
Sam tensed and almost rose to warn him. Daniel wouldn't consider things like Jack's reflexive martial training.
Heedless to the danger, Daniel touched Jack's shoulder. "Jack?" he whispered.
Sam released a sigh when Jack merely stiffened at the touch and didn't jump up and lay Daniel flat on his back.
"Qif... la..." Jack curled away from Daniel's touch without waking.
Daniel leaned closer. "Jack, wake up."
Jack's brow furrowed. "La... la arif aye shae."
Sam blinked in confusion. She had assumed that Jack was mumbling gibberish, but that bit sounded more like actual language, though what language she couldn't guess. To her knowledge, the colonel didn't speak any foreign languages. Her eyes discretely went to Daniel.
Daniel's lips were pursed as he studied his friend with a worried scowl. The linguist bent his head and spoke. "Matha la ta'arif?"
"Aye shae... la.. qif..."
Sam watched with a morbid fascination quickly displacing confusion.
Daniel touched Jack's shoulder again, this time only for the sake of being in contact with him, and whispered gently, "Anta ma'a asdequaka. Tashou."
Sam's eyes widened. She recognized it now. Arabic. The colonel was speaking Arabic, and she knew of only one place where he might have picked up the middle eastern tongue. She suddenly had a very good idea what his nightmare was about, and it made her stomach roll queasily.
"Lisna araqui, lista fi al-araq. Toshou, sadequi, leka holm faqat."
Jack went still. Sam strained to see in the dark. Eventually, she could make out the glint of light reflecting off the colonel's eyes as he looked up from his nightmare. He blinked up at the nearby form, Daniel's crouching presence, and with one confused blink asked in a thin voice, "Amrequi?"
"Na'am, ana sadeqka, tatathaker? Nahnu fi ahkar alam ma'a Sam wa Teal'c."
A ten-second silence stretched. "Daniel?"
"Yeah, Jack. You okay?"
Jack didn't answer the question, instead brought up his hands to rub his face. Daniel, still at Jack's side, settled himself more comfortably beside the colonel's sleeping bag and commented gently, "Must have been a bad one."
Jack grunted and dropped his hands on to his chest. His gaze locked on the canvas overhead and stayed there.
Daniel folded his legs and Sam recognized the posture of vigil. Daniel was digging in for the night, not to be moved from his spot for at least two hours. Usually Daniel did this for himself, tonight he did it for Jack.
Jack said nothing to Daniel, merely closed his eyes and tried to get back to sleep.
Sam huddled down further in her sleeping back as she watched Daniel sit protectively next to Jack. The late-night incident plagued her thoughts and it was a long time before she could return to sleep herself.
When she did, Daniel was still sitting placidly at Jack's side.