Title: Next Stop
Author Website: http://gategremlyn.livejournal.com
Category: Friendship. Humor. Hurt/Comfort. (Jack/Daniel pre-slash if you put your glasses on)
Rating: PG-13 (for a couple of bad words)
Date: 08 June 2011
Daniel yawned and stretched. And yawned again. He covered his mouth with his hand hoping no one had noticed him dozing in the chair at the end of the table. He didn't normally sit at the end of the table, but today it was the chair closest to the door, and he wanted to be out that door as soon as the debriefing was over.
“Do you have anything to add, Doctor Jackson?” General Hammond asked.
“Sir?” Daniel coughed. hoping that it hid yet another yawn. Had he missed something? He hadn't been paying attention, not something he was proud of, but he didn't think he'd missed anything crucial.
“Are you in agreement with Major Carter's assessment of the situation?”
Daniel felt himself relax. Of course he was in agreement with Sam. The two of them worked in tandem, a well-oiled machine. “Yes, sir, I agree.”
“If you're sure, son. The mission must have been exhausting, especially for you. Your contributions to the treaty negotiations were extremely valuable--”
Daniel cut off the praise. “Thank you, sir.” Not that he didn't appreciate it, but he'd appreciate sleep more. The couch in his office was calling him: “Daniel, come to me.” God, he was fantasizing about a couch. He needed a life; he needed three or four days down time.
He needed sleep.
“Thanks, Daniel. I really appreciate it. I mean I didn't think you'd be willing to so soon after--”
Even though he didn't know what he'd agreed to, Sam's grin made it worthwhile.
Hammond held up a hand. “Yes, major, I think we understand. If that's all, you're dismissed. Good luck, Major Carter. That's quite a job you have ahead of you. SG-1, as soon as you've finished Major Carter's project, you're on down time until Tuesday. Dismissed and job well done.”
After he left Daniel got up to go, grateful that at last the day was over and he could collapse on his couch for a long, long sleep. He was too tired to even think of driving home.
“Where do you think you're going, Daniel?”
Daniel jumped. Jack? He'd forgotten Jack was in the room. Yep, he really needed some sleep. “I'm going to my office,” he said with a wave in the direction of the beckoning door. “The meeting's over and we're--”
“We're what, Daniel? We're on down time? Is that what you were going to say? Because we were on down time until you--” he poked Daniel in the chest, “-- volunteered us to help Carter with her project.”
“I, too, was most anxious to kel-no-reem.” Teal'c's voice held more that a little censure.
Daniel rubbed his breastbone. “I did what?”
“Sir, Teal'c, I know we just got back from a mission, but this won't take more than a couple of hours and then I'll have the data storage room I need to....”
Daniel let her voice wash over him as he gazed longingly at the door. Maybe Sam would have something for them that simply required a warm body. A sleeping warm body. Could he move his couch into her office while she had her wicked way with him?
“...and I knew Daniel would understand.” She smiled at him again.
He smiled back, studiously avoiding looking at Jack and Teal'c. He felt guilty that he didn't have a clue about what was going on. “Sure,” he said weakly.
“Guys, you have no idea what this means to me. I would have had to wait more than a week...”
She was off again and Daniel wasn't listening. They went through the door, Sam walking backwards, talking all the while. Daniel allowed himself to be herded along. He ignored the voice droning on in front of him.
Wait, what kind of a person did that make him that he would ignore Sam that way? She was his friend, his teammate, his comrade, his sister. At the moment, she was his proverbial thorn in the flesh. He continued sleepwalking, or sleep-leaning as he grabbed a 30 second nap in the elevator. When the elevator disgorged them on level 21, he stumbled down the hall to Sam's office. Did her office have a couch? A comfortable chair? An open piece of floor?
He came back to awareness when Jack shoved something in his stomach.
“Don't 'hey' me, Daniel. You're the one that volunteered us to move Carter's office. Take that box and put it in the elevator.”
More than an hour later, he leaned against the elevator wall, cursing his own stupidity. What had possessed him to agree to moving Sam's office up two floors? “I'll have so much more room for data storage and experimentation,” she'd bubbled. Data storage. Right. Boxes and boxes of books: that was the “data storage.” Daniel had nothing against books, per se. Some of his best friends were books, but hundreds of them? All packed in boxes which he was now hauling through the building.
This was the last load. At Jack's suggestion, his vehement suggestion, they'd stuffed the elevator for this load, packed it floor to ceiling so they wouldn't have to make another trip. Because the elevator was so full, there was room for only one person. Uh oh. Daniel jumped at the chance to ride while Sam, Jack, and Teal'c took the stairs. He sat on a box and pulled up his feet.
“Meet you there.” He waved to the disgruntled threesome as the doors closed.
He pushed the “up” button and sighed, waiting for the jolt that told him the elevator was moving. He got it and then a stronger jolt a few seconds later as the elevator lurched and ground to a halt. The movement threw him forward and smashed his cheek against the buttons. The smaller boxes from the top of the pile tumbled off the stack slamming into the elevator doors. One of them hit him in the shoulder as he tried to duck out of the way. Then the lights flickered and went out, leaving only the glow of the emergency lights. He swore at the pain in his arm. And swore again at his never-ending bad luck. Oh, yes, he'd waved everyone else away only to be trapped in an eight foot cube by a power outage. He cradled his sore arm. God, he was never going to get out of the SGC. He was never going to get out of the damn elevator.
The phone rang and he picked it up, not surprised to have Siler on the other end. “Yes, sergeant, I'm fine. How long do you think--” He rolled his eyes in despair. “No, sergeant, I'm not going anywhere. Yeah, I know you will.” Siler would have it fixed as soon as possible. An hour, tops. Hadn't he heard Sam say that a few hours ago?
The dim emergency lighting cast eerie shadows in the cramped space. Daniel wondered what he was gong to do for an hour, “tops.” He looked at the boxes of books. Maybe he could read. No. Just no. He'd taken a couple of basic classes in chemistry and physics in college but not enough that he would be able to understand anything Sam would have in her library. He was too tired and it was too dark to read anyway.
He looked around again. The space was small but he should be able to make it. The little niche he found himself in wouldn't be as comfortable as the couch in his office, but as tired as he was, it wouldn't be that much more uncomfortable either. He adjusted his body as best he could so that his sore arm was on the outside. Then he leaned his head against a box which had “Wormhole Physics for Dummies” scrawled across it in Jack's handwriting, and slept.
What on earth was that bellow?
“Dammit, Daniel, answer me.”
Where was he? He didn't remember wandering into a cave. Their last mission had taken them to a pre-industrial society, but one with above ground structures, structures with windows. Even though while the meetings had been endless, they hadn't met in the dark.
“I can't see him, Carter. I need to get on top of the--”
“No, sir, you can't do that. If what Sergeant Siler says is true, the elevator won't hold your weight.”
Elevator? Oh, yeah. Now he remembered: moving, boxes, elevator, jolt.
“Daniel, if you don't answer me right now--”
“I hear you, Jack,” he finally called, his voice rough with sleep. He cleared his throat. “I hear you. You're bellowing loud enough to be heard by the entire base.”
“Bellowing? I've been bellowing for the past five minutes. Why didn't you answer me before?”
“Oh.” Despite the gruffness, Daniel heard the worry in Jack's voice. “Sorry.”
“Did you pass out, Daniel?” Jack asked. His voice coming from below made Daniel a little queasy. It was still dark in the elevator and he was having trouble orienting himself. The elevator floor had tilted and most of the boxes were jammed against the door. Why was Jack's voice coming from below? Daniel realized he was on a hard cardboard seat and that Jack's voice came from a tiny crack in near the bottom of the elevator itself. It looked like he was stuck between floors, the bottom of the elevator just breaching the line of the elevator door. They must have jimmied the door open enough for Jack to be able to yell at him.
“I want Fraiser down here now. I think he's--”
“I'm fine,” Daniel yelled. “I just....” Embarrassed, he paused: “I fell asleep.”
The silence from below told him maybe he'd said the wrong thing.
“I've been 'bellowing'...” Daniel could practically see the air quotes “...for the last five minutes and you've been asleep? Oh, Siler called, by the way, to see how you were. I guess you didn't answer the phone either.”
“I was very asleep,” Daniel defended.
“Sir, I hate to interrupt, but we need to get Daniel out of there now.”
“Of course we do, Carter.” Jack sighed. “How do you suggest we do that?”
“He's going to have to wiggle through the opening.”
“Um... no,” Daniel said. No way would he fit through that little crack. He was tired, not malnourished. He could hear Sergeant Siler in the background telling someone that they had freight elevators for a reason, but that still didn't make the letterbox slit any bigger.
“I won't fit, Jack. Slot 'A' will not go in to tab 'B'.”
“Should we be letting Carter hear this? It might be a little risque for her.”
“Beg pardon, sir?”
“Never mind, Carter. Daniel can explain it later.”
“I certainly hope not,” she muttered.
“So if we can't get him out this way 'cause tab A is too big for slot B, now what?”
“Well, sir, he's going to have to climb out the top. Then he should be able to simply walk through the opening the next floor up.”
“'Simply,' Sam?” Daniel looked at the emergency hatch above him.
She ignored him. “Pull the boxes until you can climb up them like steps. But carefully. The elevator is overloaded; that's why it stopped.”
“Overloaded?” Daniel cleared his throat, hoping his voice wouldn't crack again. “Overloaded? As in holding too much weight?”
“That's what overloaded usually means,” Jack said.
“So how long do I have before I go crashing to the basement?”
“Basement? Oh, like the bottom of the shaft? Well, Carter thinks you should be fine because it did make an emergency stop, but Siler's not so sure.”
“Jack, how long?” Daniel demanded. When he didn't get an immediate answer, he started pulling the boxes around—carefully. “Never mind, I don't want to know.”
“Easy, Daniel,” Sam called. “I know you're in a hurry, but if you jar the elevator....” She left the threat hanging.
“Don't jar the elevator,” Daniel muttered. “Right.”
Fifteen minutes later, Daniel wiped the sweat from his hands and looked at a makeshift stairway leading to the emergency opening. His shoulder ached where the box hit it, and the pain ran all the way down his arm to his hand. “Jack, where's Teal'c?”
“In the basement,” Jack said.
“We don't really have a basement, do we?” Daniel asked as he climbed up the stacked boxes. The pile wasn't very stable. Between the poor light,the cramped space, and the muscles that just didn't want to work, staking the boxes had been a challenge; climbing them was worse. “I mean we are 28 floors underground. A basement is probably redundant.”
“Yeah, maybe,” Jack said.
“So why is Teal'c in the basement?”
“He figured he wanted to be around when you got there, you know, like a welcoming committee.”
“When I get there?” Daniel paused in his trek to the top.
“Keep going, Daniel,” Jack urged.
“How do you know I'm not going?” Daniel asked, making his feet move again. The thought of plummeting down however many floors was something he was trying not to think of, not that he didn't appreciate Teal'c waiting for him and all.
“Because I know you,” Jack said. “Just keep moving. Teal'c's at the bottom of the shaft checking the equipment. He says that except for one snapped cable, everything looks good. So get a move on before we ruin Teal'c's chipper mood. Are you moving?”
Daniel grunted. “No, Jack, I'm waiting for you to bring me coffee and a doughnut. Yes, of course I'm moving.”
“Good. I'm going up a floor to meet Sparky. I'll see you there.”
“Doctor Jackson?” As Daniel reached the top of the stack of boxes, Siler's voice came from above--like the call of the angel of death, Daniel thought. “Doctor Jackson, the elevator doors are open. When you exit the top of the elevator, you're going to have to climb the ladder to the next floor.”
“Ladder? Why is there a ladder in an elevator shaft?”
“It's used for maintenance, sir.”
“Obviously, not recently,” Daniel muttered as he jimmied the escape hatch on top of the elevator. Because he couldn't get a good angle and because his right arm had no strength in it, it took him a few minutes to finally maneuver the hatch out of the way. Sweat soaked his body making his hands slick. He took a deep breath and blew it out carefully before he braced himself on the sides of the opening and pushed his way through. His arm throbbed from the exertion. A sharp pain lanced through his shoulder and back.
“As you exit the top,” Siler called, “you'll see the ladder on the front side of the shaft, the same side as the elevator doors.”
“The front side? You mean the side that's already tilted down about six inches?”
“Yes, sir, that side. You'll need to be very careful because your weight could unbalance it even further.”
“Right.” He sat on the edge looking around.
“Daniel, are you ready?” Jack's silhouette appeared at the open door above him, back-lit by the hallway lighting.
“No,” he answered truthfully.
“Fine. I'll tell Teal'c you'll meet him in the basement.”
Using his left hand to help him up, Daniel stood. He swayed on the sloping roof and extended his arms for balance. A quick look at the elevator shaft above him had him swallowing hard. “We don't have a basement,” he reminded Jack. He added under his breath, “And if we do, I really don't want to see it.” He stared at the ladder a few feet away. He didn't look at the elevator roof, nor on the elevator shaft. He didn't think of the long and desperate ride he would have if the elevator broke lose and fell down the shaft. “ Focus,” he told himself.
As he went to take a step, the elevator shuddered and lurched with a screech of metal on metal. Thrown forward, Daniel scrambled to grab the ladder. His right arm went numb and his fingers slipped on the rung. The elevator dropped about a foot and lodged again against the wall. Daniel clung to the ladder with his white-knuckled left hand and closed his eyes.
“Daniel! Daniel, are you okay? Siler, what the hell happened?”
His heart pounded and he felt the blood rushing in his head. He also felt a beam of light cross his face, but he couldn't open his eyes. The dust swirling around him made him cough.
“Daniel? Don't tell me you're asleep again, or I'll come down there and kick your ass.”
Despite the seriousness of the situation, Daniel snorted. “I think it's safe to say I'm now wide awake, Jack, wide awake.” And about to die of adrenalin poisoning, he thought, but it had to be easier than plunging seven floors to his death... actually, eight floors if there really was a basement. He took a deep breath and opened his eyes, squinting against the dust. “Shine the flashlight on the ladder for me, okay? So that I know where I'm going.”
“Do you need me to come down there?”
“No. There's not really room for more than one person. Stay put, I'm on my way up.” He couldn't look down at the elevator which was about to plunge to its doom in the non-basement. “Tell Teal'c to get out of the way down there, just in case,” Daniel called as he moved shaking arms and legs, well... arm and legs.
“He's on his way up here,” Jack said. “I told you that you and Carter own too damn many books. If we'd moved my office, it would have taken us three boxes and fifteen minutes.”
Daniel focused on putting one hand on the rung and then pulling; one foot and then another on the rungs of the ladder. He leaned into the ladder for the moment he had to remove his hand and pressed his knees against the side bar hoping it would steady him. “Do you have an office?” He was surprised at how steady his voice sounded.
“Carter, do I have an office?”
“You're bellowing again.”
Sam's nervous laugh echoed in the elevator shaft. “We couldn't move the colonel's office, Daniel, because nobody knows where it is. But yes, he's supposed to have an office.”
“I'll help you find it, colonel,” Siler said. “I'm sure we have a map of the building around here somewhere... and a compass.”
It wasn't that far from the top of the elevator to the open door, 20 feet maybe, but for Daniel it felt like a mile. Each time he lifted his hand away from the ladder to grasp the next rung, he thought he was going to fall. He shut out everything else and made it a rhythm: lift and grab, lift and grab. Each time the square of light got a little closer.
“What did you-- Shit!” The beam of the flashlight stuttered.
“Jack, what's wrong?” Daniel grabbed the rung and held on. Was a cable about to break and hit him?
“What the hell did you do to your arm?”
“You yelled at me to ask me that? I thought I was about to plunge to my death.”
“You still might. Why didn't you tell me you hurt your arm?”
“I hurt my shoulder,” Daniel said. “A couple of boxes fell when the elevator broke. And I didn't tell you because there wasn't anything you could do about it.”
“I could have had a safety harness here... or a rescue team. I could have come down there to help you. Carter, get Fraiser--”
“Already on it, sir. She's on her way.”
“I too am here, O'Neill.” Teal'c's head appeared in the doorway. “Are you injured, Daniel Jackson? Do you require my assistance?”
“Thanks, Teal'c, but no. There's only room for one on this ladder. I might need a hand getting through the door, though.” A few more rungs and he'd be there. He lifted his hand and grabbed, lift and grab. Surely he would have the impressions from the rungs in his palm when he was done. A few more feet and he was at the opening.
“Go two more rungs, please,” Teal'c said.
“Two more? Why?” He was there beside the open doorway.
“I will stand beneath you and hand you to O'Neill, but I must have a space on the ladder to do so.”
“Hand me to Jack? I'm not an order of fries or something, you know.”
Sam's “Be careful, Daniel,” overlapped Jack's “Just listen to the man and do it.”
“Two more rungs.” Daniel sighed. “Okay, I can do that. No problem.” Tired and aching, his hand slick with sweat and burning, Daniel found the motion: lift and grab, lift and grab. Each time it surprised him that he didn't lose his grip and fall. Teal'c stepped out of the doorway and onto the ladder. Daniel pressed his face against the cool metal and tried to stop the shaking in his limbs. Teal'c's hands bracketed his ribcage.
“As you lean into the doorway, step in. I will take hold of your belt and swing you through.”
“It is new, is it not? It will be sufficient to hold your weight for a few seconds.”
Daniel didn't know if Teal'c was joking. Still, he didn't have any other choice but to do as he was told.
“I will not allow you to fall, Daniel Jackson.”
“I know you won't, Teal'c.”
“I've got you, Daniel.” Jack gave him a crooked smile. “Just lean this way and let us do the rest.”
He leaned in; Teal'c grabbed his belt and swung him toward the light; Jack grabbed the injured arm, and Daniel screamed and fell.
“You are the luckiest person I know.”
Daniel struggled against the stickiness in his mouth until he felt a straw at his lips. He sipped the cold water gratefully. “Lucky?”
Jack had his civilian clothes on. He sat, leaning his elbows on the bed. “That's what I said: lucky.”
Daniel was too tired to dispute the claim, although the fact that he was in the infirmary gave him a pretty good counter-argument. His right arm was bound to his chest and his left hand stung. His legs and back ached. He held up his hand to see the red marks on it and flexed his fingers. It hurt but it wasn't too bad. He rolled his shoulder gently trying to gauge the pain there. “Ow!”
“Yeah, I wouldn't do that if I were you. Fraiser says you pinched a nerve.” Jack hit the call button.
Daniel hissed, “You call this lucky?”
“Hey, you're not at the bottom of an elevator shaft. I'd say that's lucky. And you had us around to rescue you; I'd say that's luckier still.”
The nurse who appeared had a needle in her hand. “This will help you with the pain, Doctor Jackson.” She injected the contents into the IV bag and left.
“Thank you,” he said through gritted teeth.
Jack leaned back in the chair and propped his feet against the edge of the bed.
As Daniel waited for the pain to ease, he asked, “Are Sam and Teal'c okay?”
“Yep. Sam's unpacking her boxes, and Teal'c is doing his kel-no-reem thing.”
“Unpacking? How did she get her stuff out of the elevator? Did the elevator fall to the basement?”
“No basement,” Jack and Daniel said together. The pain eased and Daniel laughed. “Do we actually have a basement?”
“No, I had Teal'c check while he was down there. Carter's only unpacking the stuff we took in the first two loads. Siler's still working on getting the elevator fixed so she can get the rest of it. When we leave, we'll have to take the freight elevator up to 11.”
“Why didn't Sam use the freight elevator?”
“The question you and I and Siler would like to know.”
“Shouldn't Sam be getting some sleep? We had kind of a... kind of a long day.” Daniel blinked as the medication kicked in. He could use some more sleep too.
Jack chuckled. “She did, about eight-hours worth. She's been in to see you a few times, but you've been pretty out of it. Teal'c's been by, too.”
“How long have I been--”
“I... I slept for fourteen hours?”
“Well, I think you were unconscious for the first few, but yeah, it's been fourteen hours since you fell into my arms.”
“I did what?”
“You fell into my arms. It was very romantic, really. Except for the screaming part. I don't usually make people scream until later.”
Jack wasn't entirely in focus but he seemed to be smirking. “What?”
“And very public,” Sam said as she came in the door. “Janet, me, Teal'c, Siler, a couple of medics, some SF's. Yep, the whole world saw you sprawled on top of Colonel O'Neill.” She dropped a paper bag on the bedside table. “Hi, Daniel. You look better. When you're up to it, I brought you some chocolate walnut cookies.”
“But I never... Really, Jack and I are just...”
“Tab A into slot B, Carter.”
“So you said, sir.”
“I am not familiar with this tab A and slot B, O'Neill. Please explain.”
“Ah, Teal'c, ol' buddy, it's about time you showed up.”
“Daniel Jackson, it is good to see you finally awake.”
“Thank you, Teal'c...” the words slurred “...but really Jack and I are just....”
“There is no need to explain. Such things should remain private between the parties involved. I would, however, enjoy one of your cookies.”
The pull of the medication kept Daniel from speaking. He raised his hand only to have Jack take it and put it back on the covers with a pat. “Don't worry, Daniel. Our secret's safe with them. But if you ever give away my downtime again, I'm going to do more than romance you; I'm going to kick your butt all the way down the hall.”
“Carter, if Daniel hadn't agreed to this asinine plan—which he did because he slept through the briefing--we would have left you to the maintenance team--gladly. They get paid for that kind of stuff, and they could have helped you move.”
“Next week they could have helped me move,” Sam muttered.
“And so help me, Daniel,” Jack's hand rested over his, “tell me the next time you're injured, okay?”
Daniel nodded. As his eyes closed, he heard Jack say, “Pass me one of those cookies, Carter.”
“Tab A and slot B, O'Neill?”
“It's directions, Teal'c, things that go together,” Jack said.
Two things that fit together perfectly, Daniel thought; two or three or four.
“Maybe we should let Daniel explain it, colonel, once he's awake.”
“Ah,” Teal'c said. “Then we will wait.”
“Yep, Teal'c, we wait. Cookie, Carter?”
Daniel smiled, and slept.