"Daniel.... C'mon Danny.... Time to wake up...."
The gentle, insistent voice slipped into Daniel's mind, mingling with the sweetness of his dream and adding a third dimension - sound - to the images of sunlight and rolling blue ocean, white sand and palm trees - and Jack. That was the best part: alone on a tropical island paradise, with Jack O'Neill. What more could he ask?
But all too soon, caring fingers against his cheek pit-patted the last of the dream away, calling him back to the present, the touch fleeting, turning to a featherlight caress before quitting him altogether as he opened his eyes.
"Welcome back. I was starting to get worried."
A hand eased beneath him, helping him to sit up. A cup was held to his lips and he swallowed thirstily at the tepid, brackish water.
"Where are we?" he asked, resting his weight against the solid support of the colonel's shoulder and feeling it lift in a shrug.
"Some kind of prison cell. There's natural light coming in, so I figure we're above ground, other than that..." He sighed, despair underlying his words. "We were already here when I came round. Sun's moved a bit since then. How are the eyes?"
"Sore, but at least I can see." Well, as much as he could without his glasses. He patted his pockets, found them empty, groaned as he recalled them being knocked from his face in the blast. Jack had been nagging him for months to get a cord for them, but he had tried it once and felt like a dusty old school master, so had abandoned it, prepared - until now - to take the chance. Next time he'd listen. If there was a next time.
There wasn't much to see here: the cell was maybe eight feet by six, a door at one end, a slit high in the opposite wall providing light and ventilation. The walls themselves were pale, bare stone, smooth as glass, the floor of the same material. Furniture consisted of a narrow stone block covered with a straw mattress that had seen better days and a small box-like construction wedged into a corner, on which stood a stone bowl. What appeared to be a small hand pump for raising water was set in the wall above.
"See we got the presidential suite again," he quipped bitterly. "You're such a cheap date, Jack."
"I'll make it up to you next time."
"I'll hold you to that..." He found a tiny smile, the one that Jack alone could bring out in such dire moments, but it couldn't last, not today. "Where are the others?"
"Search me," Jack's voice gave away his concern. "Tried yelling, but nobody's home. No sign of any guards, either."
Interesting. "You're the expert here - is that good or bad?"
"You tell me. For all I know they've locked us in here and thrown away the key."
Shifting back against the wall, the two men fell into a tense silence as each considered their plight. On the positive side, they were sheltered, had a place to sleep and water - although, having tasted it, Daniel was dubious as to it's quality - and at the very least people had stopped shooting at them! On the down side, they had no food, were separated from their friends and, from the look of it, had little possibility of escaping. They were trapped and, barring the arrival of the cavalry, they would most likely die here. Great!
Get a hold of yourself, Jackson, his subconscious berated him, sounding unnervingly like Jack. You got all those degrees, it's about time you put them to work instead of sitting here whining. Okay, so maybe his subconscious did have a point.
He hunched forward, rubbing his hands over his face, wary of the cuts and grazes that stung as he touched them. He could do this. What was it Jack always said about survival training?- work out what you have, then establish what else you need - so, what did they have? Start with the cell itself... smooth walls... machine cut to get a really tight fit between the blocks?... and polished... could be marble - but who lines a prison cell with marble? More likely something like granite, ground down and polished to stop any tools from getting a purchase on the surface - not that they could make any tools from the little that was available. And even if they could, the window, itself set an impossible ten feet above them, showed that the walls were at least two feet thick, the door likewise, hinged on the outside and with no access to the lock from within. He'd seen tombs in Egypt that, in their day, would have been easier to crack than this place.
"Forget it," Jack said softly.
Without turning, Daniel looked over his shoulder, meeting the bleakness of brown eyes. "What?"
"I've been working on it since I woke up. The only way we're getting out of here is if someone opens the door."
It sounded impossible, but "You're giving up?"
"No, I'm being realistic. You see any tools around here, Daniel? This isn't a movie, we're not going to dig our way out with a spoon and a few bed springs."
"The water pump -" he suggested, knowing it was futile. They could dismantle the water pump, but that would mean giving up their water supply and anyway, the few small pieces of metal would be worn away before they even got through the surface of the stone. "It was just an idea..." he murmured. Jack's hand closed over his shoulder, understanding in the gentle touch.
"It's okay. If it's any consolation, I thought about the pump too." He gave a little snort of ironic laughter and tipped his head back against the stone. "I don't even think Sam could get us out of this one."
"Not from this side of the door anyway," Daniel agreed, trying his best to lighten the mood.
The sun was slanting fully into the room now, raising the temperature to an uncomfortable degree. Daniel peeled off his coat, un-tucked his t-shirt from his pants. The heat had made him sweat, which in turn had started the many cuts on his legs and body itching and he rubbed absently at them, setting them bleeding again.
"Hey, quit that," Jack ordered, swatting his hands away. "You don't want to start an infection."
"I'm okay..." he protested, hoping Jack wasn't about to start fussing over him. But the colonel was already tugging at the tattered top, insisting Daniel let him take a look, and in the end it was easier to give in and let him have his way, rather than try to fight his determination.
Most of the injuries were superficial, except for one deeper gash across his ribs. He didn't think it was bad enough to need stitches, even though Jacks poking and prodding drove the breath from his lungs in a sharp hiss.
"Sorry... I'm no Doc Fraiser, but I don't think it's infected. Needs cleaning though..." and before Daniel could stop him, he was pumping water into the bowl and digging into his pockets for a handkerchief. Yet Jack was amazingly gentle as he set to work, cleaning first the gash on his ribs, then the remaining scrapes and nicks. His touch was so soothing that Daniel leaned back on his elbows and closed his eyes, briefly blotting out the reality surrounding them and drifting back to that sunlit beach of his dream.
"Feel better?" Jack asked, seemingly from a distance. He smiled and grunted assent. "Okay, let's take a look at the rest of you."
"The rest?" Daniel's eyes shot open.
"There's blood on your pants. I need to take a look at your legs..."
He sat up quickly, reaching for his shirt. "It's okay, Jack, I'm fine. They're just scratches..."
This time Jack managed to laugh. "Fer cryin' out loud, Danny! I've already seen everything you've got."
"When?" Daniel's voice rose to a startled squeak.
"Back on base. In the showers..."
"You mean - you looked?"
"Of course!" Another grin. "You telling me you didn't?"
Looked, desired, fantasised - none of which he was about to admit to his best friend and team leader. Blushing from his roots to his toes at the memory of all those stolen glances, a sigh of theatrical proportions exploding from his lips, he pushed himself to his feet and unfastened his pants, letting them fall to the floor.
"Ouch!" Jack muttered, wincing as his gaze trailed down the muscles thighs, charting the many injuries there and even Daniel was shocked to see how widespread the damage was. "Bet that smarts," the older man observed and the moment the words left his lips, Daniel became aware of the tiny stinging sensations all over his body.
"I'll live," he responded ruefully, feeling suddenly warmed inside when Jack smiled up at him, right into his eyes, and said softly "I hope so."
While Daniel stood beside the stone bed, Jack knelt on the floor, working quickly but with the same tenderness as before, until all the cuts had been cleaned and dried. With luck, they would cause him no more problem than a child's grazed knee.
By the time Jack had finished his ministrations the heat in the tiny chamber had become unbearable, the air thick and suffocating. He stripped off his own tops and pumped more water into the bowl, splashing it over his face and chest in a vain attempt to bring some relief.
"Sleep," Daniel advised. Jack looked at him, arching an eyebrow.
"Oh.... Yeah... Good idea..." It was better than a good idea. Daniel was having a hard time keeping his eyes open and, from the looks of him, Jack was having a similar problem. Sleep now, conserve their energy, and maybe then they woke they would find this had all been a very bad dream.
Crawling into the darkest corner, away from the shaft of sunlight that seemed to bounce from the gleaming walls, they settled down and closed their eyes. A bad dream, that's all it was. Just a really, really bad dream.......
Go to Part 3