Content Level: Suitable for all audiences
Content Warnings: None.
Season: Season 1
Summary: Jack is building his team's skills and confidence.
Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. This story may not be posted elsewhere without author's consent. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Copyright © 2006 Maggie Eaton
Archive: My site, ATST.
Note: September 2, 2006. Response to As the Stargate Turns group Challenge 40 "How could I know?" and/or the word 'landing'. I hope you enjoy the story
Jack moved silently through the dense undergrowth, his weapon at the ready, hands resting gently on the trigger and every nerve-ending alert. His eyes moved constantly as he searched for the target. He'd been lying on his belly for the past few minutes waiting patiently for any sound or movement but when it looked as if that was a remote possibility, he had risen from his sheltered spot and moved forward in search of his prey.
Off to his right Teal'c was hidden and watching silently. He lifted one hand and saw the slightest of movement as he followed Jack's lead and rose to his feet. He smiled slightly at Teal'c's expertise as he watched. If Jack hadn't known he was there, he'd never have seen him. The forest was fairly quiet around them and the sun created a speckled landscape as a gentle breeze filtered through the tall trees effectively covering the sound of their quiet movements.
Suddenly Jack heard the sound of a small branch breaking and ducked low into the cover of the brush. Teal'c moved just as quickly and by the time Jack turned to look he had completely disappeared.
Another sound close by caused him to squint his eyes and stare into the brush searching for anything that looked human. He crouched and waited.
The next sound he heard was a thunderous crashing through the brush. Jack almost expected a large animal to appear and raised his weapon in response. The soft sound of cursing and more stumbling convinced him he was wrong.
Jack pointed in the direction of the disturbance and lifted his fingers in a "v" pointing to his eyes then he pressed lightly against the trigger and waited for the prey to come within range.
A few moments later the enemy broke free of the underbrush with another smattering of curses and after passing within a few steps of Jack, stopped to appraise his situation. That was all Jack needed. In less than a heartbeat he stood behind the man with his weapon pressed against his spine as Teal'c rose slowly in front of them.
"Bang, bang. You're dead."
The colonel's voice showed little emotion as he spoke the words aloud and waited for his prey's reaction.
"Dammit!" A soft curse of disappointment escaped as he felt the weapon pressing into his back. "Ok, you got me . . . again."
"Daniel, you sound like a bear charging through the forest! What have I told you?"
Daniel released a long sigh. "That if I'm quiet, I may not have to kill anyone but if I'm not . . ."
"If you're not . . . you're dead, Daniel and so are we!" He pointed to himself and Teal'c who was standing a few yards away, weapon now relaxed in his hands. "Did you even see us this time?"
Daniel looked at the ground and shook his head slowly.
"For crying out loud, Daniel! You know we're out here waiting for you! How can you not see us?"
"Jack, you guys are a lot better at this than I am! I know that! But I really am trying."
Jack's eyes turned cold as he stared into the puppy dog face of his friend.
"Well, try harder, Daniel! I'm not dragging your sorry carcass home in a body bag, so you're doing this until you get it right! Now do it again!"
"Perhaps a short break would be wise, O'Neill?"
"Yeah, maybe Daniel can ask Apophis for a break next time we run into him! I'm sure he'll be happy to oblige!"
Daniel rolled his eyes and then turned to Teal'c as Jack stomped off into the overgrown forest. A few seconds later, Daniel turned and moved off in the opposite direction as Teal'c fell in behind O'Neill.
Several minutes later the thrashing and stomping had died out as the men moved away from each other. The forest came to life in the silence, whispering softly to them as they moved. Daniel paid no attention. He was tired and frustrated. Intellectually, he knew that Jack was trying to help him, even save his life but at the moment it seemed more like torture. He knew without a doubt he'd never even approach Jack's level of expertise but he also knew he was a liability to the team. They were always watching him, taking care of him and somehow he had to be able to stand alone. Daniel stopped and raised his eyes to the dense canopy above him, letting the tiredness roll over him as he stood motionless. He wanted to go home. There were artifacts waiting for him to unlock their secrets, ancient languages begging for translation – he wanted out of here. Enough was enough.
He started moving again and when he reached the marked starting point of their game, he didn't stop. Instead, he kept moving forward as quietly as possible toward the clearing with a new determination and a new idea forming in his mind.
When he reached the edge of the meadow, he walked a short way around its perimeter, putting more distance between himself and his "enemies". Then he stopped and listened for any sound that they were following. Once he was satisfied that they were far away he stepped out into the meadow and opened his cell phone, quickly dialing a number.
"Daniel? Why are you whispering?"
"Because Jack's hunting me."
"What?" The surprise was evident in her voice as she whispered back, unconsciously matching Daniel's tone.
"Oh! Ok. So why are you calling?"
"I'm sick of this, Sam. I need to get out of here but I need your help."
"Daniel, the colonel won't be happy if I help you. Besides what can I do? I'm at home."
"I know! Just listen ok . . ."
Fifteen minutes later the soft sound of bird song sifted through the gentle breeze, accenting the forest. Daniel had melted into the underbrush, safely hidden by the lush greenery with no intention of moving and one thumb poised above the device in his hand.
Sam had given him a pep talk along with a few pointers and now, with a fully formed plan, he was waiting.
He was no longer the prey, he was the predator.
Thirty minutes later he was still waiting and watching. He felt rooted to the spot and his legs were cramping but he refused to give in. He could not be captured again; he had to win this time.
The silence was unnerving as Daniel's eyes scanned the forest, every muscle tensed and screaming at the unfamiliar sensation. Only his thumb moved as he waited for Jack or Teal'c to appear and he silently summoned all of his knowledge and strength in anticipation of a single moment of opportunity.
Suddenly, the hairs on his neck stiffened and his eyes searched anxiously. He didn't see him; didn't hear him. Still, somehow he knew Jack was close, very close. But where the hell was he?
Daniel held his breath and studied the underbrush, looking for anything unnatural, anything human. And then he saw it. Part of Jack's boot was barely visible beneath the ground cover and Daniel studied the line, searching for his accomplice.
His eyes moved to the left and stopped. Something. Ah, yes. Teal'c. He was so close to a huge tree that he blended into its shape but he was definitely there.
Daniel knew that both of them could stay motionless for hours if necessary, the only question now was how long to wait. He tried to put himself in Jack's mind. If the wait was too short, he'd be caught again; too long and Jack's instincts would continue to key up, making him an impossible target. So with the slightest of movements, Daniel pressed his thumb against the device in his hand and waited.
Fifteen minutes passed and then another ten before he saw what he was looking for. In the distance a small flash of light, centered almost perfectly between Jack and Teal'c's positions. Daniel took a deep breath and then a tentative step, his foot landing silently on the forest floor as he advanced slowly on Jack.
Jack stopped and he froze. He was obviously on edge, surprised that he hadn't yet captured his prey as Daniel watched and waited.
When Jack moved, Daniel moved, shadowing him while drawing slowly closer. When Jack stopped so did he, taking the opportunity to check on Teal'c. Suddenly Jack turned a full 90 degrees, his back to Teal'c, and Daniel glanced back, pressing the button once more.
When Jack started to move away again, Daniel searched the forest and finally caught a fleeting glimpse of light, closer than he'd believed possible; a mere sparkle against the dark forest before it disappeared completely. He smiled.
A quick, sharp thud to the distant right pulled Jack's body in that direction as he suddenly felt very vulnerable and spun quickly in a defensive pose. Teal'c also heard the sound and was straining all his senses as he stood, still almost completely hidden, waiting for Jack's signal or some movement from the forest.
A moment later his entire body stiffened at the feel of a weapon pressing into his strong back and Sam stepped in front of him smiling, weapon drawn and fingers to her lips, instructing him to be silent. Slowly, he nodded and surrendered his weapon as Sam shook her head, wondering how they had managed to get it out of the mountain. Once in her hand, she realized it was a replica training weapon and pressed her lips together to suppress a giggle. Then she motioned Teal'c to move behind the tree as she waited for Daniel to make his move.
Twenty yards away Jack was still listening intently, trying earnestly to pick up any sound or movement that would reveal Daniel's location. He was almost smiling, proud that his young friend was finally playing the game to his full potential. He was still pondering those thoughts when Daniel stepped out behind him. With cat-like movements he was within reach of his prey in seconds and paused to enjoy the taste of his approaching victory.
Jack's head was moving ever so slightly, surveying the brush when Daniel spoke.
Jack spun around quickly, totally surprised.
Daniel was a few steps away, pointing a gun directly at him and looking almost comical with relief.
"Very good, Daniel, but you forgot about Teal'c."
"Yeah. He could blast you with that staff weapon from his position."
"Maybe his position isn't where you think it is, Jack."
"What? What do you mean?" Jack looked over Daniel's shoulder, searching for his rather large friend and refusing to believe that Daniel had taken Teal'c down, as he shouted into the quiet. "Teal'c? Teal'c!"
"Drop the weapon, Jack."
"What? Come on, Daniel, you got me."
"Drop it, Jack. Now!"
"Ok, ok!" Jack leaned forward and laid the weapon on the ground at his feet.
"Kick it away."
"You're getting a little carried away here, don't ya think?"
"No, I don't."
Jack pursed his lips together and shrugged then kicked the weapon towards Daniel. When it bumped into Daniel's boot, he kicked it again; making sure it was well out of Jack's reach.
"Now, down on the ground on your stomach and spread your arms and legs."
"Daniel, I will not."
"Do it or I'll shoot you."
"You're the enemy, Jack. Now get down."
Jack stared into cold blue eyes and wondered what he had unleashed but he finally complied and now lay sprawled on the forest floor. Daniel let out a long sigh and took a step back while still holding the weapon trained on Jack.
Jack's head popped up off the ground in surprise.
"Whaaaat? Who are you talking to? Teal'c I swear if you took pity on him . . ."
"I did not, O'Neill." The Jaffa's booming voice filled the air and Jack strained to see what was happening from his prone position.
"So, what do you think? Should we cuff them or just tie them up and leave them here for a while?" Daniel's voice was now filled with light amusement as he stared down at Jack on the ground.
"Daniel, I am so gonna kick your ass!"
"Spoiled sport, Sir?"
Jack could hear the smile in her voice, even from his low position and grimaced as he began to move. Slowly, he pushed against the ground and stood to his feet schooling his features into stern displeasure.
"This is cheating, Captain."
"Oh? It looks pretty fair to me, Sir."
"What are you doing here, Carter and how did you find us? Better yet, how did Daniel find you?"
Sam chuckled and looked back at him, her vibrant eyes bright with laughter.
"You overlooked one thing, Sir. Daniel's specialty is communication. He called me on his cell phone. After that it was simply a matter of triangulating the signal and ….here I am."
Jack looked from one to the other, frowning at their obvious enjoyment.
"Ok. Well, that wasn't exactly the reason for the exercise."
"No? What was the reason, Sir?"
Jack threw his hands into the air in frustration.
"Carter! I was trying to teach him to move, to be….stealthy. Cheating was not the objective."
"Right. Who'd I learn that from? And I was stealthy, Jack. After all I still have my gun and you … don't. Can I go home now?"
Carter chuckled and Teal'c lifted his chin along with his eyebrows as they waited for Jack's answer.
"Yes, Daniel. For cryin' out loud, go!"
A very relieved Daniel Jackson turned without further ado and began making his way out of the forest. Teal'c followed close behind him, commenting on his initiative and final victory. They continued to laugh and talk as they moved away from a somewhat pensive colonel.
Jack picked up his gun and then smiled slightly at Carter, motioning her to follow the others out of the forest as he fell in step beside her.
"So, Carter. Thanks for the help."
"You're welcome, Sir."
"Took longer than I thought."
"I was beginning to think you'd shot him." She chuckled softly.
"Nah. Strangle maybe but shoot, never." He laughed as she chuckled again. "Did I tell you I'm glad you're on our side, Carter? Nice work. I never knew you were there."
"Are you sure, Sir, because I thought for a second…"
He stopped and turned to look at her, warm eyes smiling and lips turned up slightly as he stared into her eyes.
"Sam, are you saying that I would lie to you?"
She looked him up and down, smile growing broader as she studied him closely and finally settling her eyes once more on his.
"Oh, yes, Sir!"
"But not about anything really important…or unless it was really important"
"Don't confuse me, Sam. And we're not on duty, you know. You can call me Jack."
"Right. Thank you, Sir."
Jack shook his head and pressed a hand against her back pushing her gently forward to follow Daniel and Teal'c.
"You're welcome, Carter."
"How did you know, Sir?"
"How could I know he'd ask for your help? Well, I didn't really but I hoped he would."
"Even though you considered it cheating?"
"Hell, yes! There are times when nothing is cheating. You do what you have to do to survive and if that feels like cheating, well, you just have to get past it and do it anyway. I know he'd do it for any of us, I just wanted to make sure he'd do it for himself, too."
"So are you satisfied with the team now, Sir?"
"We're getting there, Carter. We're definitely getting there."
A sudden shout broke into the peaceful surroundings. "Jack? Will you guys hurry up?"
"All right, Daniel! We're coming!" Then he turned to Sam. "Oy!"
She chuckled and walked a bit faster to soothe their anxious teammate, taking note of Jack's hand sliding subtly up her back.
"He'll never be military but hopefully he'll get better. He's still a bull in the china shop but he did improve once he'd recruited your help."
"And that's good?"
"Oh, yeah. Relying on your team is always good, Carter. Daniel's still learning that. Just don't take your eye off him yet."
"No, of course not, Sir. So, does that mean that Teal'c is watching me?"
Jack stopped again, mindful of her need to be independent and strong, thinking carefully before he spoke.
"Absolutely, Carter and me too, I hope. I need all of you watching me and each other. That's what being a team is all about."
"So, Sam…just how long were you out there?"
"Does it matter?"
Jack chuckled softly as they continued to walk.
"No, I guess not, just as long as you don't change sides…or teams."
"No chance of that, Sir."
"Glad to hear it, Carter. What do you say we get some food? I'm starving."
They were smiling as they walked towards Daniel and Teal'c, looking forward to spending a relaxing evening together and reveling in the bond of camaraderie that was settling comfortably around them. It had been a good day - the first of many yet to come.