He closes his eyes so he can hear better.
It's an old game he played as a child when bored or desperate or lonely. Close your eyes and listen with your whole body. It's amazing what you hear, feel, see, learn.
So he lies back on the ground, head resting not-quite-comfortably on his pack, and closes his eyes to hear. He notices the whisper of his skin shivering all the way down to his toes, imagines bones rattling against each other, clattering into muscle and vein and tissue. The night here is cold; even being in a tent would make little difference. The fire is crackling; he can sense its glowing orange-red light plowing into his skin as it determinedly attempts to warm him, turn ice rock back into callused flesh.
He allows his body to sink into the ground, listens to dead leaves and dirt shifting position uneasily beneath him to accommodate body and BDUs. The wind suddenly speaks up, turning from a hushed murmur soothing the trees to sleep into a swift, grating protest as he becomes one with its planet. It doesn't trust him; none of the planet trusts these four intruders. He remains still, apologizing and mentally holding up his hands to show he means no harm. The wind subsides with one last gentle grumble, giving his face a cold caress of forgiveness before departing back to its trees.
There's Sam's voice, feather light in deference to the night. Her eyes are sea blue but her voice is sun yellow, much warmer than the fire, and her laugh is the colour of the sky in summer without clouds. He tunes out the content of her words, focusing only on the rise and fall of her voice like the lapping of waves on a beach. Her words are rounded, full, layers to be carefully dug away and studied like sedimentary deposits. There's a constant little spark to her voice, a chiming, like an impish fairy delighting simply in living in between the notes of her voice. It noticeably picks up when she's making a discovery, so that her voice positively dances.
She's answered by Teal'c, full and strong but also gentled by the night. A rich voice, as dark and chocolaty as his skin, if not more so. There's not so much push and pull in his voice as in Sam's; it's the steady tick of a clock that suddenly resolves itself to the listener in the silence; it's the steady march of a single pair of booted feet. No longer an army, just the individualized procession of a man who's sure of his path, no matter how solitary it might turn out to be. The sound of Teal'c's eyebrow raising always tickles at the back of his throat, the pit of his stomach, and it's always hard to resist the urge to return the gesture, a duel of thin raised lines of hair. Eyebrow on stun, Mr Spock...
Their voices lapse after a minute, but he can still hear the contented purr of Sam's laptop, can hear the silvery white light that happily shines forth so Sam can see her equations or notes or planetary logs. It's the happiest computer he's ever heard; it seems to love Sam's physics problems almost as much as she does. Most computers are bland, aloof, either slightly stupid or slightly contemptuous, depending on for whom the computer usually works (Jack's adds sarcasm to its disdain, which is only to be expected). He's not sure how his own computer sounds on base or at home, now that he considers it in his state of deep and drowsy relaxation. Dusty, probably. Muttering to itself in a crotchety old man's grumble as it slowly and methodically searches its metaphorical library bookshelves of files for the information he impatiently wants now.
There's a crack and a snap, followed by more jagged streaks of ugly sound as the earth protests the booted feet that kick against the patterns it was making with the dirt and leaves and grasses and roots. Jack's come back from his patrol. Otherwise he would have heard cold metal picked up, the sound of Teal'c's staff weapon slightly deeper and heavier than Sam's semi-automatic, would have heard breathing pick up and sharp voices hissing to each other, the staccato sound of a drum march, a discreet thrum or buzzing of increased energy bouncing between his two companions. Besides, he knows the sound of Jack's footsteps, recognizes the restless waves of energy that roll off the colonel, translated to him as the unending sounds of a lake at night in the spring, wind and insects and toads and the whisper of moonlight. He'd gone to Jack's cabin once and recognized Jack O'Neil in the sounds there. And he can hear the knees creaking.
Jack reports to Sam and Teal'c, another one who keeps his voice low out of respect to the night. The earth is still grumbling at his intrusion, though, scattering leaves grumpily. He attempts to apologize for Jack, digging gentle hands into the dirt under his body, but the earth is not as forgiving as the wind. Jack is all blues and greys, patches of darkness interspersed with lighter shades. A rough softness, a growling purr; his voice, like him, is a contradiction. He should be another marcher, another foot soldier, like Teal'c, but instead his voice is a crashing sea, up and down, down and up. Sometimes he wonders if Jack knows how effective his voice is as a tool, as a weapon, slapping people in the face with it, enfolding them in a bear hug with it. He's been teaching Jack to hear, to listen. And he's learnt a wealth from listening to Jack. Especially to Jack's supposed silences.
A game he played as a child. He listened to the Great Pyramids and heard the ghosts of gods and laborers (how little he knew then...); he listened to the rattle and the rise and fall of languages, languages that dripped like a drizzle, languages that splattered like a downpour, languages that had the elegant simplicity and calm of a steady rain. He heard his parents' screams at the New York museum in black and deeper black. He heard the sound of flesh connecting with flesh as red streaked on black in stark relief, the sounds of his own grunts as the other kids beat him up as little marbles of clear glass falling out of his mouth, the determined silence of his attackers as a death knell. Despair to him has always held that same quality of indifferent silence. It was a game he played, to stretch his imagination, to distance himself from the pain. It was a good game, is a good game, one he no longer plays often.
A heavy blanket scratches hollowly against his leg, against his inner ear, like proverbial nails down the blackboard, as it is thrown onto him. He is startled, gasping and pulling back further into the ground, which whispers to him soothing nonsense words that it's alright (at least the earth likes him, even if it can't abide Jack). He reluctantly opens his eyes, ending the game, to see Jack staring down at him, his very stance sending out a definite order to get closer to the fire, tuck in under the blanket, and to damned well stay warm 'cos Jack doesn't need a sick team member on his hands.
He offers Jack a wry half-smile, hoping the chattering of his teeth isn't as loud to everyone else as it is inside his mouth (the echoing cavern has fantastic acoustics), and Jack smiles back, reaching down and giving him a hand up. Jack's hand is rough against his, but it's a companiable sound it makes as skin rubs against skin, the roughness and hospitality of a cliché Irish peasant. He slips upright (smoothly; staggering would only disturb the poor earth more and it's had enough interruption from them tonight) and joins his team members at the fire. Sam smiles, and it's the sound of a comforting lullaby; Teal'c nods to him, and it's the sound of a candle shining calmly through the darkness; Jack sprawls down on the ground next to him, and it's the sound of the door being firmly closed on the monster in the closet. He smiles and lies down again, tucking the blanket around him. He closes his eyes and falls asleep to the sounds of comfort and peace and safety.