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Another Day at the Office

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Note to self, Jeannie thought, throwing herself down behind a crumbled rock wall as an explosion kicked sand and smoke into the desert sky. Next time the SGC wants you to consult for them, do like the American drug ads tell you, and just say NO.

In fairness, she was pretty sure that SG-1 had not expected her to get shot at when they'd taken her offworld with them. At least she hoped not. Consulting for the SGC was a pretty cushy gig, most of the time. The problems they brought to her were interesting, and the pay scale was impressive (probably because of things like this, she thought gloomily). And with Carter out on the Hammond for weeks at a time, they were one physicist short, so when that general or colonel or whatever he was had asked her if she'd be willing to go through the gate to fix the malfunctioning thingetyjibbet on Random String of Letters and Numbers World —

Somewhere around Jeannie's knees, Vala groaned.

"Hush, don't move," Jeannie said, because that seemed like a good, proper, useful thing to say to someone who'd been shot in the stomach. Except they were going to have to move, because otherwise they were going to get shot some more. With large guns, at close range.

Where was Dr. Jackson? He'd said he'd bring help! Was this the best that the American government could do with all those taxpayer dollars? At least it's not my taxes, Jeannie thought indignantly, bending to shield Vala as an even closer explosion showered dirt over her hair and the desert-camo fatigues they'd given her to wear.

"Help me up," Vala gasped, grabbing impatiently at Jeannie's sleeve with bloody hands. "They're just bandits. Tech scavengers. I think I can negotiate."

"Isn't that what you were trying to do when they shot you?" But Vala just gritted her teeth and tried to pull herself up by clutching at the rocks. Jeannie awkwardly lent a shoulder, and tried not to fall over when Vala sagged into her.

Vala cupped her hands around her mouth, drew a shaky breath and shouted over the rock wall, "Hey, do any of you people know Dargas the Snake?"

"Who?" Jeannie whispered.

"He's a fence on —" Vala started coughing. "Never mind. Let's just say he's a good person to know, or ..." She smiled, despite her ghastly pallor. "A good ex-boyfriend to have."

A head and torso, wrapped in dust-colored fabric, appeared briefly over the top of the ridge above the ruined temple. "You a friend of his?" a voice echoed down.

"Yes!" Vala called back. "And he's gonna be pissed that you idiots shot me."

This time, another explosive round detonated just to their left; Jeannie choked as sand and smoke billowed across them.

"He's dead!" the bandit called back. "Jorral's running his operation now! Any friend of Dargas is an enemy of ours!"

"Any more bright ideas?" Jeannie whispered furiously.

"Where's my gun?" Vala patted at her uniform, as if a machinegun was hidden in a pocket.

"You dropped it when they shot you."

"Oh." She blinked. "It's all kind of a blur. Do you have a gun?"

Jeannie had completely forgotten to even check and see if the holstered pistol was still at her hip. When they'd strapped it on her at the SGC, she'd just looked at it in mild terror and then pretended it wasn't there. "Uh, yeah, I guess I do."

"Gimme."

Jeannie fumbled with the holster, and finally got the gun out and handed it over, remembering at the last minute to flip it around and hand it over butt-first.

From somewhere up on the ridge, there was a series of explosions. "Ah, that must be the rest of my team," Vala said, turning the gun over and checking what Jeannie guessed was the part with the bullets in it. Vala's blood-streaked hands were shaking.

No one had shot them yet, so whatever the rest of SG-1 was doing must be distracting them. Jeannie herself was having trouble concentrating on anything but the amount of blood on Vala. The only comparable experience she'd had personally was the time Madison had cut her hand on a shattered bowl and had to go to the emergency room and get stitches. There had been a worrisome amount of blood, but not nearly this much. "You're bleeding a lot," Jeannie pointed out, in case Vala hadn't noticed. "I mean, like, a lot. It can't be good for you. Do you have any first-aid stuff?"

"Daniel has the first-aid kit," Vala said absently. "Where is he? Did that idiot get killed again?"

Get killed AGAIN? Jeannie thought. Maybe she'd misunderstood. "I think he went to the Stargate to bring back reinforcements or, um, something. There was a lot of running and yelling at that point."

There was a lot of running and yelling on the ridge right now, actually. Jeannie couldn't see well enough to tell who was doing most of the running, though. Something big blew up, somewhere out of sight, and sent a plume of black smoke into the clear, pale sky.

"Oh, good. That was probably their ship," Vala said. "Um, maybe we better get inside the temple," she added as bits of metal and pulverized rock began to patter down. "Could I get a hand here?"

Jeannie decided not to point out that it wasn't a temple, it was an Ancient weather station. Instead, she helped Vala limp into the tumbledown remains of the building, staggering along arm-in-arm like contestants in a three-legged race. This looks so much easier in the movies, Jeannie thought, easing Vala down onto a fallen pillar. Vala had the gun clutched in both hands, resting on her knees. As soon as Jeannie let go, her head slumped forward to her chest.

"Whoa," Jeannie said. "You've gone awfully pale. Um, if you feel like you're going to faint, you should probably put your head between your knees — yes, that's it — no, wait —" Vala started crumpling, continued to go down and ended up in a heap on the floor. Jeannie's attempt to catch her missed completely.

"Not like that," Jeannie moaned, dropping to her knees.

She managed to get Vala straightened out, stretched on her back with her feet propped up on a chunk of a collapsed wall. Raising the feet was supposed to keep injured people from going into shock, right? Outside, things kept exploding and dust sifted down from the ceiling.

Vala was very limp, her face clammy and white. Stop the bleeding, Jeannie thought; that's probably important. She pressed both hands to Vala's abdomen. The blood-saturated fabric squished unpleasantly, and Jeannie swallowed hard. She wasn't exactly bad with blood or anything — you couldn't really get away with that, having a toddler — but there was an awful lot of blood ...

Something moved in the corner of her eye, and Jeannie jumped. A dark figure had appeared in the doorway, backlit by the desert sun. "Dr. Jackson?" she said, but then it stepped forward and she saw that it was another of the desert bandits. She couldn't tell if it was a man or a woman; a brown scarf covered the bandit's mouth, and the gloved hands held a weird-looking bulky pistol.

For a moment, they just stared at each other. The bandit had unexpectedly pale blue eyes. It's a person from another world, an actual human from another planet, Jeannie thought — which was stupid, really, because she'd eaten pancakes with an actual human from another planet (Ronon) and held another's baby (Teyla) and another one (Teal'c) had helped her strap on her holster just a couple of hours ago — not to mention the one bleeding to death at her feet —

Wait. The gun.

Jeannie glanced down. She could just see one of the pointy bits of the pistol (the handle? maybe?) sticking out from under Vala's hip.

"Stand up slowly," the other-planet-person said. It sounded like a man.

Jeannie abandoned all thoughts of being a hero. She didn't even know how to shoot a gun. She'd probably shoot herself by accident. "Okay," she said, unbending carefully and keeping her hands where he could see them.

"Now!" the bandit shouted, waving his gun at her.

Annoyance temporarily overtook her terror. What kind of pathetic educational systems must they have on alien planets, anyway? "You said slowly!" Jeannie protested. "Make up your mind, slow or fast?"

The bandit stared at her, and then gunfire chattered, and the bandit flinched and jerked and spun around and fell slowly to the floor.

Jeannie stood very still with her hands in the air until Mitchell and Teal'c charged through the door, both of them covered with dust. "Vala Mal Doran?" Teal'c said, as Mitchell said, "Dr. Miller, are you all right?"

"Oh, fine," Jeannie said weakly. She reached up to wipe at her face with both hands, and realized it was a bad idea only when she smelled the coppery stink of blood. Her hands were covered with it, her sleeves stained dark. "Oh," she said, and started to sit down on thin air.

Mitchell caught her and helped lower her to the floor. "Come on, you consult for the SGC. This must be small potatoes for you. Sort of thing that happens every day."

"I once watched a doctor perform brain surgery on my brother in a cave with a power drill," Jeannie informed him in a small voice.

"Yeah?" Mitchell said. "Black & Decker?"

"Uh, what?"

"The drill? Good solid brand. My daddy always swore by 'em."

"Um," Jeannie said, blinking. "It was in my brother's head. I guess I forgot to ask."

Mitchell knelt in front of her and held her cold hands between his warm ones. His eyes darted sideways to Teal'c ripping open Vala's sodden shirt. "One time I fought a dragon. Well, not a real dragon. But it was pretty awesome."

"A drill," Jeannie said. "In my brother's skull."

Mitchell laughed softly. "Okay, you win. But you need to talk to Daniel sometime. His life really takes the cake for weird."

Jeannie's head came up as her thoughts finally began to arrange themselves into less of a jumble. "The — uh, the people who were shooting at us —"

"We got the bad guys." Mitchell gave her a smile and squeezed her hands again, though she caught him darting another look in Vala's direction. "Daniel ought to be back anytime with — oh, there they are."

And suddenly the room filled up with SGC personnel, doctors virtually indistinguishable from soldiers in their military fatigues. Dr. Jackson appeared from somewhere to awkwardly pat Jeannie on the shoulder, while Vala was loaded onto a stretcher with an IV in her arm. No one seemed terribly concerned about the dead person on the doorstep. When Jeannie asked if they could please take her home, a nice medical-looking lady that she didn't know took her by the hand and led her off to the Stargate.

 

******

 

She got a very pleasant card, afterwards, from General O'Neill. It had a pretty mountain scene on it, with wildflowers. I hear you did good, it said in a loose, sprawling hand. Next time shoot first and ask questions later. P.S. Vala's going to be fine.

Jeannie pinned it to the 'fridge next to Madison's drawings of ponies. The next time they wanted her to go offworld, though, she planned to ask for a nice fat bonus check instead.