Spoilers: Itty bitty nod to The Curse
Category: Action/Adventure, Humor, Challenge Response, Series?
Season: After The Curse, before Meridian
Rating: PG or less
Content Warning: One tiny naughty Jack moment
Summary: Seven days in a cabin by the lake. How could anything go wrong?
Authors Note: I was going to summarize this as, “A bored colonel is never a good thing.” Then I realized, I had used that for A Sure Bet. So, this could either be a WF challenge response OR the second in the ‘Bored Colonel’ series. Hmmm. Thanks be to Carrie for correcting my tenses, making comments that are funnier than my sad attempts at humor and most importantly, for keeping Daniel from being of the Strawberry Shortcake Born. Any remaining mistakes are all mine. Feedback is greatly appreciated. As always, this is a team story.
~~ * ~~
This really, really wasn’t his fault. No way should he be seeing the recrimination in their eyes as they each took turns throwing baleful glances his way. This was SO not his fault. Maybe the touchstone could control the weather but he, a flesh and blood man, could not. It never snowed this early in November! Well, almost never. Okay, it usually snowed this early in November, but not nearly so much. Except for that one time it dumped several feet of snow on a state full of hapless trick-or-treaters. And the blizzard in mid-October that happened a few years back. When you think about it, any imbecile should have known there’d be snow in Minnesota in November. How on God’s green earth could they blame him for it?
He may have implied that this was prime fall weather in the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes, with beautifully colored trees decorating the landscape as their leaves turned shades of vibrant orange, dusky maroon and creamy, mocha brown. He may have mentioned the total absence of mosquitoes and the crisp, invigorating air that swept in off the crystal clear, sky blue lake. He may have even said it was sweatshirt or windbreaker weather at worst, which would explain why he was the only one that had any winter gear with him. But to be fair, there was no way he could have predicted the two days of sleet followed by the two feet, and still falling, of snow.
They’d lost power to the cabin mid day two – which was two days ago now – and the furnace had gone with it. But the enormous, wood-burning fireplace kept it from being frigid in the living area and part of the kitchen if not the bedrooms. It wasn’t like they all hadn’t had to bunk down together on a floor before. Not usually while they were on downtime, but just the same, it was not a new experience. The ice-cold toilet seat might have been, which would explain the daggers Carter was flinging at him after her first trip in there. At least the stove was gas powered and they could keep the refrigerated food cold enough in the mudroom at the rear of the cabin. After his comment that it was better than Gilligan’s Island was met with stony silence, Jack made sure there was plenty of beer and wine chilled as well.
Looking around the room, he wondered if now might be a good time for another attempt at making amends with his unhappily snowbound team members. Teal’c was sitting cross-legged on the floor just in front of the fireplace’s stone hearth, presumably in a state of kel'no'reem, though his face bore a distinct look of displeasure. Of course, he kinda always looked that way, so Jack figured he’d be the easiest one to win over.
Carter had taken occupancy of his favorite overstuffed chair, back against one arm and her legs draped over the other while she sat, immersed in some science book thing. She would have appeared calm enough to the casual observer, but the face that poked out of the blanket she had cocooned herself in held crinkles around the eyes and slightly pursed mouth that signaled her CO to tread cautiously. Jack figured she was going to be a harder sell and he may have to postpone his efforts until he’d gotten a couple glasses of wine into her.
Then, of course, there was the human iceberg floating in a sea of fabric on the sofa. Daniel of the Desert Born was sitting sideways with his back against the couch arm, feet resting on the middle cushion with the bent knees, creating a lap-desk of sorts. Unlike Carter’s cocoon, Daniel was swaddled in material. The man had on two layers of clothing, three pair of socks, a pair of Jack’s gloves, an old scarf he’d found lying around the cabin and a lime green cap, complete with fuzzy ball on its point, that had also been found somewhere in the back of a closet. The ensemble was capped off with a multi-colored quilt from the guest bed set over it all like the cherry on top of a sundae. Jack was certain it was more for dramatic effect than actual comfort, but he wasn’t going to press the issue.
Not, at least, as long as the Look was present. Daniel was busily jotting notes while going over pictures that had come from one of the other SGC teams. His face had that calm, completely engrossed quality it took on whenever he was knee deep in thought. It was also the look that signaled Daniel had passed annoyed, taken a sharp right at ticked off and merged onto the superhighway of completely and totally pissed. It was the one and only look his friend could adopt while angry that actually gave Jack pause. Too bad he’d lost his copy of ‘How to Win Over an Angry Alien, Astrophysicist and Daniel in Three Simple Steps.’
Okay, maybe now wasn’t the best time to attempt a reconciliation. Of course, that left him with absolutely nothing to do for the next three days. If they were even able to get out of here and to the airport for the flight home when they were scheduled to. Panic set in as Jack realized with no idea how long the storm would last or how long it would take them to shovel out, he could be stuck here for another week or longer with the ill-tempered trio.
“Hey, anybody want some hot chocolate?”
Only Carter bothered to look in his direction before continuing to ignore him.
“With mini-marshmallows?” he added hopefully.
Well, that effort was a monumental waste of time, but he wasn’t ready to give up yet.
“How about a game of poker? Scrabble? Clue?” Nothing. Not even a subconsciously interested facial twitch. He had Charlie’s old game of Don’t Break the Ice in the cupboard but decided anything that reminded them of the temperature might not be the wisest suggestion.
“Sir, we only ate breakfast an hour ago.”
At least someone answered him.
“So, not hungry then?”
“Jack, why don’t you find something to do?”
“That’s what I’m trying to do, Daniel.”
Not good, Daniel hadn’t even given him one of his patented, ‘you’re bothering me Jack, please go away now’ looks. And we just hit the Autobahn on our way to Daniel’s very last nerve. That’s it, there was only one option left.
“Anyone up for a beer?”
“It’s ten-thirty in the morning.” The note of incredulity was in no way diminished by the ‘sir’ Carter threw in as an afterthought. Time to swim to safer shores.
“So Teal’c. What would you say to you and I grabbing a couple of shovels and seeing how bad it is out there?”
When the dark brown eyes opened and were turned his way, Jack jerked a thumb towards the front door, a spark of hope flaring.
“I would say no.”
Jack watched the Jaffa’s eyes close again, the spark dying a quick, lonely death. Fine. He was on leave and in his favorite place on the planet. He didn’t need anybody else to have a good time. Making more commotion than was necessary, Jack made a show of bundling up and heading out to the front porch, heavy snow boots clomping noisily under him. Finding himself alone outside in subzero weather while the sky spit snow out like a naquadah powered cotton candy dispenser, Jack decided this really hadn’t been one of his better plans. Going back in now would be admitting defeat. Freeze or holler uncle? Where the hell had he left the shovel anyway?
~~ * ~~
Sam heard the rumbling of her stomach at the precise moment another shiver ran through her, making her realize she was both hungry and freezing. Not just not warm, as she had been since the power went out two days ago, but really uncomfortable. Looking up from her book, she noticed the fire had died down by over half and now only put out minimal heat into the rapidly chilling room. That’s strange she thought with a frown, it hadn’t done that before.
He’d been the one to keep up with the fire, making sure fresh logs were put in regularly to keep the room at a fairly steady temperature. Come to think of it, he’d done all the kitchen duty as well, keeping meals coming to them at regular intervals. Glancing at her watch, she frowned again at the time. Five minutes after two. That was over an hour past their normal lunchtime. Sam could hear the soft snuffle of a sleeping Daniel coming from the sofa but didn’t see Teal’c anywhere. She vaguely recalled him saying he was going outside to check on their CO earlier. Sam got up and padded over to her lone teammate.
“Daniel. Daniel, wake up.” Reaching out and shaking the younger man’s shoulder, she was able to elicit a bleary-eyed gaze and semi-intelligible response.
“Huh, what? Sam? What?”
“Daniel, the colonel and Teal’c aren’t back yet.”
Daniel sat up, blinking as he looked around the room, though Sam knew without his glasses on it was most likely one giant blur.
“What time is it?”
“About two. Do you know when Teal’c went out?”
Coming fully awake in a rush, Daniel was on his feet and fumbling for his glasses. “He said he was going out to find Jack just before noon. Neither one has come back yet?”
Sam just shook her head, worry for the two men starting to build. Two hours in the freezing cold was bad enough, but the colonel had been out there about three and a half. She couldn’t believe it had taken her so long to notice his absence. All of them had been pretty much dismissing the man since the weather turned nasty, unhappy that their down time had them stuck in a refrigerated wood box. Blaming him for the storm was childish, not noticing a missing teammate, or in this case two, off or on world was inexcusable. Looking at Daniel’s worried, somewhat guilt-ridden face told her he was feeling the same way.
“Are you sure?” Daniel was grasping for straws and they both knew it.
“Daniel, I’ve been awake the whole time. I may have lost track of the time, but I would have heard them come in.” The front door was right behind where she had been sitting and the side door came into the kitchen area, clearly in her line of vision. As much as she wished there were, there was no way they had come in without her knowing.
Daniel moved over to one of the living room windows and started to scrape away frost from the inside of the glass. Sam followed suit with one of the kitchen windows to no avail. Even with the frost off, the windows were covered with snow from the outside. Sam gave up and headed to get her coat from the front closet but Daniel beat her to it.
“You should probably wait here,” Daniel said as he pulled his boots out as well.
“Sam,” he interrupted. “I have heavier clothes, boots and coat. You’ll freeze out there in minutes.”
She eyed his lightweight coat, standard SGC boots and two layers of clothing, doubting he’d last much longer. As if reading her thoughts, he added gently.
“Somebody has to build the fire back up anyway. When we get back, they’ll need the warmth.”
She knew he’d used the positive ‘when we get back’ on purpose. And she knew he was right, one of them needed to get the cabin warm again and Daniel did have the better chance of the two in battling the snow. Moving out of his way, she watched as he finished lacing up his boots. Pausing at the door, Daniel turned and caught Sam’s attention.
“I know Jack said ‘no cells’ but did you bring yours?”
“Of course,” she replied without hesitation.
The briefest hint of a smile flittered across Daniel’s face as he pulled his cell phone from his pocket and held it up.
“Call me if they come back.”
“Call me if you find them. If you aren’t back and I don’t hear from you within the hour, I’m calling General Hammond.”
With a quick nod, Daniel was out the door leaving a mini-tornado of cold air and tiny snowflakes whirling around her in his wake. You damn well better all be back within the hour and in one, unfrozen piece, Sam thought as she hurried over to throw a few more logs into the fire.
~~ * ~~
Now this was cold. Not chilly. Not nippy. Not brisk. Not any of the other, anything but cold, adjectives Jack had used to describe November in Minnesota, but really, really cold. Frigid, freezing, freakin’ cold to be exact. The rapidly falling snow that brought visibility down to about fifteen feet was a nice touch, too, though it made little difference since his glasses had not come equipped with their own little set of windshield wipers. They’d became snow-slicked and worthless all of ten seconds after he stepped outside. If Jack O’Neill wasn’t injured when Daniel found him, he would be shortly thereafter. No, Daniel would never hurt Jack; he’d let Sam do it. Or better yet, Teal’c.
Speaking of whom, Daniel stopped and cupped his hands around his mouth creating a mini-megaphone.
He waited quietly, straining to hear even a hint of a reply. Nothing but the slightly eerie cry of the wind as it made its passage over the glacial water and through the trees answered him. He’d only been out about ten minutes but it felt like he’d been trudging around the outside of the large cabin for days. It appeared someone had shoveled the front porch and a trail around to the back door, but with the wind blowing the snow every which way, he wasn’t certain. He tried to find any footprints that might tell him what direction the madman or his potential savior may have taken off in but again, the snow followed and filled them so fast he could barely discern his own steps right behind him.
Daniel reached up and pulled the fuzzy, green hat further down over his ears as he turned to make his way back to the front of the cabin. Don’t think about the cold, he told himself, think of the warm Abydos sun. Its strong, golden rays reaching down and enveloping him in a soothing embrace. Nope, still damn cold and, truthfully, some of it had crept up from the pit of his stomach as he became more and more worried about his missing companions.
Jack stomping out into the cold in reaction to his team’s earlier, admittedly bad, behavior was in character. His not having the good sense to come back in from the cold was not. Besides, if it was just a case of Jack still being sour, Teal’c would have either dragged the man bodily back into the cabin or at least come back and let Daniel and Sam know he and Jack were okay. No, something was up and he could only hope it was nothing serious.
Daniel knew the lake sat off to his right, the woods to his left. It seemed doubtful Jack would have headed toward water where the wind would find the least resistance thus giving it the strongest bite. Making his decision, he veered left in front of the cabin and tried to set a quick pace to the tree line. By the time he made it there, another ten minutes had passed and Daniel was winded from the constant struggle against the elements. He paused, resting lightly on the nearest tree before calling out to his friends again.
Wait, what was that? Daniel pushed his hat off his ear as he tried to decipher between wind, a voice and his imagination. Cupping his hands once more, he tried again.
“Jack! Teal’c! Can you hear me?”
Yes, this time he was sure. He distinctly heard the faint call of ‘Daniel Jackson’ clinging to the coattails of the gales sweeping past him. Teal’c. Daniel swiped at his glasses once more, keeping his hand up to try to shield them as he swept the landscape for signs of his Jaffa friend and their CO. Wandering further at this point seemed ill advised, so Daniel stayed put and used his voice to guide Teal’c towards him and by virtue of where he stood, the cabin. He pushed the fact Teal’c’s was the only voice he heard from his mind for the moment. There were a hundred good reasons Jack would stay silent that had nothing to do with him being injured, he told himself with more conviction than he felt. Unfortunately, his still being missing was one of those reasons.
After an impossibly long period of time, Daniel realized one the trees appeared to be moving at a steady pace continually closer to him. He figured it was a pretty safe bet the tree’s name was Teal’c.
“Daniel Jackson. You appear to be underdressed to have ventured so far from the shelter of the cabin. Is that wise?”
Daniel was having trouble seeing his own hand in front of him, but he heard the disapproval in the warrior’s tone clearly.
“Probably not. Had any luck finding Jack?”
Daniel could clearly envision the frown he knew accompanied the stark, ‘I have not.’ He pulled his wrist within inches of his face, seeing they had thirty-five minutes left until Sam called for Hammond’s help.
“Teal’c, you’ve been out here over two hours. Have you seen any sign of him at all?”
“I believe O’Neill removed snow from a small area around the cabin. Beyond that, I have seen no indication of his presence. I have traversed a great amount of this wooded area and had hoped to find O’Neill had returned in my absence. He has not?”
The last part was more statement than question, but Daniel absently shook his head anyway. That meant no one had checked by the water. There was no reason Jack should have gone there, but there was no reason he should have gone anywhere. Quickly bringing Teal’c up to speed, the two men were soon off in the direction of the lake.
~~ * ~~
This planet had obviously not been intended for human inhabitants. At least this place, Minnesota as O’Neill called it, had not. A Jaffa could withstand a temperature and climate such as this, but those of the Tau’ri were far less accustomed to extremes. Teal’c did not understand why O’Neill would choose to take time away from his warrior like duties to put his body through this type of hardship. Admittedly, he also did not understand fishing as it had been explained to him. It was highly unlikely O’Neill would have attempted to fish under the current circumstances, but it seemed they had exhausted all other avenues.
Major Carter had not called to inform Daniel Jackson of O’Neill’s return. Teal’c was quite certain the man would not have been able to leave the immediate vicinity and he had already completed a thorough search of the surrounding woods. Concern for his leader was now great, as was his wish for Daniel Jackson to allow him to search for O’Neill alone. It was not lack of faith in the younger man’s abilities, it was his desire not to put his well being in jeopardy. As they passed near the cabin’s entrance, he encouraged the linguist to join Major Carter in the safety of shelter. As was usual for the strong willed man, he simply continued walking, his face taking on a set quality. In truth, it only increased Teal’c’s esteem for his friend.
At their approach to the water’s edge, Daniel Jackson motioned that he would search to the right. Teal’c moved on to the left, his eyes scanning as much of the terrain as was possible. He took a mere handful of steps, bringing him to the water’s edge before he heard an ominous crack emanate from beneath his feet, followed swiftly by the sensation of falling. He could no more control the sharp intake of breath as the ice broke away and dropped him headlong into the indescribably cold water below than he could control gravity. Teal’c found his limbs already sluggish from the assault of liquid ice on his system as it pierced through his defenseless clothing and fought its way into his lungs.
As he bobbed wildly, fighting the slight current but unable to make his arms obey his will, Teal’c believed he heard Daniel Jackson shout out to him. He struggled to move closer to the sound, his friend’s frantic calls guiding him towards shore. For one moment, Teal’c believed he would be victorious in reaching safety as his feet found purchase on the bottom of the lake near the shoreline. As swiftly as it had been found, it had been lost as the slick lakebed flung Teal’c’s feet out from under him, pulling his head once again beneath the surface.
Just as the Jaffa attempted to make his traitorous arms work as they were supposed to, he felt something clamp onto the collar of his coat and yank him above water. He felt himself being held securely there. After a short time, he began to hear sounds coming from behind him though it took some concentration to make out what they were.
“Teal’c! Come on Teal’c, I need you to help me. I can’t do this by myself!”
Air filling his oxygen hungry body, along with Daniel Jackson’s desperate words, cleared Teal’c’s head. Looking around quickly, he realized his teammate had looped his belt around a wood post that signaled where O’Neill’s dock would stand in the warmer months. The scholar was now in the water with one hand clamped onto the belt and one on Teal’c’s coat. It appeared Daniel Jackson was able to hold them tethered to shore, but unable to pull them both out of the water unassisted. Apparently, his friend sensed he was becoming more aware of the situation as the next words were spoken in a much calmer manner.
“I’m going to try to pull you closer to shore. Are you able to grab the belt and hold yourself up?”
Coherency did not indicate coordination, but Teal’c understood if they were to make it out of the water, he would have to be of some assistance. He knew without question if the younger man could not get both of them out, both of them would stay and Teal’c would not allow that to happen. Nodding mutely as he was yet unable to speak, Teal’c prepared his mind to make his body do what it must.
The grip on his coat seemed to shift and he was vaguely aware of the feeling of motion. As he swung gently around, he was able to lift his arm to the halfway point towards the belt. He felt another tug on his collar and his goal was in reach, hand clenched securely around it.
“You got it?”
“I have,” he managed to reply.
Daniel Jackson released his grip on Teal’c cautiously, waiting a few seconds before moving his hand away. Reaching over, he helped Teal’c get his other hand situated on the loop before pulling himself along the belt to shore.
“I think it’ll be easier to help if I’m on land. Still okay?”
“I am,” Teal’c said with more confidence now that he had been able to make at least his hands work.
He watched as Daniel Jackson pulled himself out of the water using the wooden post as leverage. Quickly, he turned and pulled the belt until Teal’c could feel the ground again under his feet and the snow brushing against his fingers. Feeling a sodden gloved hand wrap around his wrist, Teal’c returned the grasp and pushed with what might his legs had left. Somehow, the Jaffa found himself lying on his back, still falling snow landing in his face and his panting teammate kneeling beside him.
Teal’c knew they needed to waste no time in getting out of the cold and tried to sit up. His friend seemed to understand and helped as best he could. Between them both, they were able to gain their feet and lean on each other for support. The few feet he knew lay between them and the cabin now seemed an eternity as they silently started the journey side by side.
~~ * ~~
The last fleeting images of the dream drifted away as Jack opened his eyes. Funny, he didn’t remember closing them. Looking at his watch, he was startled at the time. Nearly three o’clock. Damn, he’d nodded off and missed lunch. Served him right for trying to pull a fast one on his team. Shoveling snow and generally trying to amuse himself alone outside in the middle of a snowstorm had lost its luster rather quickly. By noon he had been bored, frozen, ticked off that nobody had called him back in yet and just generally not a happy camper. Not wanting to lose face, he’d quietly slipped in the back door and into the master bedroom.
No way had he been stupid enough to think he could set boot in the door without Teal’c knowing, but he had been willing to bet Carter and Daniel hadn’t heard him. Let those two worry for a while. Teal’c would set them straight by the time they would hit too worried, and they’d hunt him down. At least he could sulk for a while without freezing anything important off. Of course, it also meant he had been trapped in the bedroom with nothing to do until he’d decided they’d suffered enough or his team came looking for him. Luckily, he’d remembered the old stash of cheap paperbacks he kept below the nightstand. Jack had rummaged around until he’d found an old Louis L’Amour western he hadn’t read in forever.
Trying to warm up under the bedcovers, he must have fallen asleep. He couldn’t believe they were really so mad that they hadn’t bothered to wake him for the afternoon meal, especially since he had been doing all the cooking. As he was now officially starving, he guessed he might as well head out and face the music. Or complete silence as the case may be. Walking as quietly as he could, he peered around the doorway to scope out the lay of the land. He spotted Carter restlessly pacing back and forth by the front door.
So, maybe he had managed to get in past Teal’c’s bat-like radar, he thought with a grin. Which also meant they didn’t know he was in the cabin. Which meant more than likely they would have gone looking for him. Which would also explain why he didn’t see the other half of his team anywhere in the room. Sobering quickly at the thought of Teal’c and Daniel wandering around worried and in unfamiliar territory during a major snow storm, he moved into the open.
The blonde major had obviously been caught off guard as she spun around, wide-eyed.
“Where are Teal’c and Daniel?”
“Out looking….” Carter gestured towards the door, confirming Jack’s suspicions his team had gone out after him. “How did you get in here?”
Now embarrassed by his deception, Jack lowered his eyes, the picture of contrite. “I, ah. I came in the back door.”
“Back door? There’s a back door?”
“Well, Carter, it would seem rather silly to have a mud room way in the back if you had to drag mud through the whole house to reach it now wouldn’t it?”
Uh oh, he went to sarcasm a bit too soon. He recognized the narrowing of the blue eyes and tilt of the head that signaled a major about to retaliate. Quick, divert! Divert!
“Didn’t you guys do a sweep of the cabin before running out into the cold all willy-nilly?”
Ha, it worked. Guilt was rapidly replacing irritation as she stammered, “Ah, well. I think Teal’c did but I told Daniel you couldn’t have gotten in past me.”
The last part was said in a rush and Sam suddenly found her feet incredibly fascinating. Never one to let her mind rest long, much to Jack’s dismay, Carter’s head bobbed right back up.
“How did you get in past me? Even if you came in the back, I still should have heard you.”
Damn her anyway. Divert.
“So Teal’c must have gone out before I came in. Three hours? How long has Daniel been out there?”
“Oh, I better let him know you’re here. Hopefully, he’s met up with Teal’c.” Pulling one of the strictly forbidden cell phones from her pocket, she turned away at his raised eyebrow and quickly dialed.
They both turned at the sound of garbled ringing coming from just outside the front door. Shutting the phone off, Carter hurried to open the door for their returning teammate.
“Oh my God!” Carter exclaimed as they both lunged for the two nearly frozen men moving very slowly towards them. They immediately maneuvered Teal’c and Daniel as close to the fire as possible.
“Carter, clothes! Blankets! Now!”
He needn’t have added the now since the major was off to get the requested items before he had finished saying Carter. It didn’t take him long to figure out what happened to the shivering duo, since the few places their clothing wasn’t completely frozen were still damp. Daniel grimaced as Jack tried to pry loose one of the frozen gloves.
“Damn it, Daniel. You had to fall in the lake just to keep things exciting, right?”
“I…did…not,” the man managed to stutter out between chattering teeth.
“What, you just felt like going for a little dip?”
The rest of the man may have been ice, but there was no term other than heated for the glare Daniel was giving him.
“It was I who fell in, O’Neill.”
“You fell in.” Teal’c fell in? “You fell in?”
Realizing he was absently pulling hair off along with the ice encrusted lime hat the insulted archeologist wore, Jack mumbled an apology. Teal’c had made his way out of his coat on his own but looked at a loss as to how to proceed.
“Okay, time for plan B. Don’t move,” he warned. Like they could, he thought as he ran down the hall into the main bathroom. Luckily, the water heater was gas powered. He turned the hot water to full throttle before running back to the living room. Carter had already deposited a change of clothes for each man and an armload of blankets on the couch and was presumably off getting more. Jack moved over and started herding Daniel towards the hallway.
“Alright Daniel, you first.”
“Teal’c was in the water a lot longer.”
“Yes, but Teal’c can’t...” suddenly unsure, Jack turned back to the Jaffa. “Can you get pneumonia?”
“I can not.”
“You doing okay?”
“I am. Assist Daniel Jackson.”
Yeah, like he’d tell me if he wasn’t, Jack thought. But he did have junior on his side and Daniel’s lips were a pretty shade of blue, so decision made.
“You,” he pointed at Teal’c. “Stay close to the fire. We’ll be right back. You,” he gently turned Daniel back towards the bathroom. “In the shower. And you,” he pointed to a startled Carter as she rounded the corner, arms full of blankets. “Coffee. Hot. Quick.”
He was already pushing Daniel down the hall by the time he heard the soft ‘yes, sir’ from his 2IC.
Navigating a frozen archeologist is a lot tougher than it would seem, he decided as he tried to get Daniel and his still solid clothing into the tub/shower combo. How he and Teal’c made it all the way from the lake in this weather was mind-boggling. Well, mind-boggling to those that didn’t know these were two of the most stubborn people to walk the planet earth. Thank God, since he couldn’t imagine the guilt of having his teammates freeze to death due to his bad behavior. Seems this week of team bonding and rest was a bust any way you cut it.
After closing the shower curtain to give the man a little privacy, he figured he better clue Daniel in on his thinking.
“Daniel as you thaw, throw whatever comes off to the back of the tub.”
Jack heard a mumbled, ‘Whatever comes off? Funny Jack,’ float out with the steam. Still capable of comprehending double entendre and be irritated by it, that was a good sign, he thought as he ran out to round up as many towels as he could.
~~ * ~~
The last three days had been hell on earth. No Goa’uld had anything on SG1 when it came to torture and punishment. Not that he didn’t deserve it, he just didn’t deserve it. He was the one who bundled Daniel up in towels and blankets and set him in front of the fire. He was the one who set Teal’c up in the hot shower. He was the one who sat next to Daniel, handing clothes to the man as piece by piece was pulled under the blankets, to save him the embarrassment of having Carter be the one to hand him his delicates. He was the one to do the same for Teal’c a few minutes later. It was his idea to move the couch right up in front of the fireplace so the two could sit comfortably yet stay in the innermost circle of heat.
He was the one to cook a nice hot lunch and keep the hot coffee running in a steady stream from the kitchen. Even to Carter and she hadn’t fallen in any cold lakes lately. All of this he did without complaint. Alright, mostly without complaint. Actually, things had been going pretty well until Daniel sneezed. Jack was practically knocked out of the way so Teal’c could hand the archeologist a tissue and Carter could check his forehead for fever. You’d think no one had ever had the sniffles before. Daniel himself was civil until he figured out his only pair of glasses were more likely than not at the bottom of the lake. Unable to work or read, his mood went steadily downhill. The fact no one had thought to bring any cold medicine with them didn’t really help much either.
Jack found a bottle of children’s cough syrup in the back of the closet. Four years past its expire date but what the hell, he figured it couldn’t hurt. Forcing spoonfuls of grape flavored elixir into a mad linguist was even harder than getting it into a toddler. It did seem to keep the coughing at bay, but still the sneezing continued. For every sneeze, there were two glares and an unfocused squinting he assumed was meant to be a glare in his direction. Being the man that he was, Jack soldiered on bravely, feeling it was his duty since it was his sneak that had put them in the drink.
Honestly, he really did feel bad about the whole thing, the blizzard, the sneaking in, the fall into the lake and Daniel’s cold. Hoping to make amends, he had stayed up late and managed to procure Carter’s cell phone after everyone else was asleep. Maybe he could make this trip at least end on a high note and it looked like Mother Nature was on his side for once. Jack waved to the two men in the snowplow that had just cleared the road from his drive to the main road, picked up his treasure and headed back into the cabin.
He couldn’t keep the whistle off his lips as he crossed the threshold, smiling to his wary team as they eyed the large box in his arms.
“Good morning, sunshines. I thought you guys were going to sleep the day away.”
“It’s only eight am, Jack. What’s in the box?”
Curiosity must be getting the better of them, since no one had given him the evil eye in response to the sneeze and sniffle that quickly followed the question. Jack clapped his hands together making sure he had their full attention.
“Looks like Santa came early this year, kids.” With that, he whipped open the box, being sure to block their view in the process.
“Let’s see. This must be for one Samantha Carter.” Jack pulled the cream colored, down coat from the box and handed it over to the amused looking major along with a thick pair of gloves, ear muffs and scarf.
“Gee, my coat. However did Santa know, sir?”
“Lucky guess, Major.”
“I don’t suppose Santa remembered to grab our boots and new set of glasses for me?” Daniel’s sarcastic stance all but disappeared as Jack pulled the requested items out of the box, presenting the glasses to the archeologist as if they were the Holy Grail. “Oh, hey! Thanks, Jack.”
The best part about Daniel was, as easy as he was to piss off, he was just as easy to please and Jack was grateful he’d remembered to ask Hammond to make sure a set of specs made it in.
“Ah, this can only be T’s.” Jack handed the fur lined cowboy hat to a pleased looking Jaffa.
“It is. The Tau’ri known as Santa has chosen well.”
Jack spied the last item in the corner of the box. This one should put him over the top as far as forgiveness was concerned.
“And one last item for little Danny.” With a flourish, Jack produced the box of cold medicine to the surprised man.
“The non-drowsy formula. Thank you.”
Yes, this was going better then expected and he’d yet to show his whole hand.
“What of our flight, O’Neill? Should we not begin the removal of snow immediately in an attempt to reach the airport in the required time?”
“You worry too much, Teal’c. There’s always time for the most important meal of the day.”
He held up a hand to stop the protest he could see heading for Carter’s lips. “Ah! Ah! Eat first, then worry about the airport. Final answer.”
Seeing the good cheer begin to fade, Jack turned and walked towards the kitchen before they had time to regroup, batting the light switch on his way by. Sam was the first to get the significance.
“Lights? We have lights!”
A second later, the coin dropped for Daniel.
“Heat. We have heat!” The man wasted no time heading for the thermostat as an amused Jack watched the change fall over his team. Shooing them back into the living room, he contentedly went about making breakfast, knowing the best was yet to come.
~~ * ~~
After a fine, if he did say so himself, breakfast, Jack watched expectantly as his team readied to go outside. A dose of cold medicine had already done Daniel a world of good. He’d stopped sneezing and lost the nasal, Snuffle-upagus quality about half way through the meal. Sam and Teal’c hadn’t even protested when he’d said they all needed to go out, even the sicko, which had earned him a half-hearted scowl from said sicko. He wouldn’t keep him out there too long, but this was something he wanted his whole team to see together.
When the last of the winter gear was in place, Jack silently opened the door and walked out, knowing this time his team was with him. Once on the porch, he turned to watch his friend’s faces as they made their way out. Yep, this was what he’d been waiting for.
“Oh, wow. This is…”
“Incredible,” Daniel finished Carter’s thought.
With a sense of pride that made no sense since he had nothing to do with it, Jack took in their awestruck looks. Even Teal’c was wide eyed, mouth just slightly agape. It really was incredible, he thought as he took another look around himself. The snow had finally ended and the sun was bright up above. The sleet had coated every last thing for as far as you could see with a thick layer of ice. Sunlight bounced off it, reflecting light in all directions and colors, like thousands of little prisms hung from the branches of every tree. It felt like they had stepped onto a planet made entirely of crystal.
Along with the pristine white, sparkling snow, it truly was breathtaking. Maybe this was nature’s way of saying sorry for snowing people in for days at a time. Right now, it seemed a fair trade.
“Jack, this is….” Daniel seemed to be searching for the perfect word. His not finding it was the perfect part for Jack.
“Sir, this really is beautiful.” Carter appeared to know that didn’t quite encompass it, but needed to say something anyway.
“I have been to many worlds, O’Neill, but have never encountered anything such as this. How long with this occurrence continue?”
“All depends on the temperature. Should make it through today, maybe tomorrow. Whoever said ice storms were a bad thing?”
His team all gave him the same ‘Are you crazy?’ look.
“Well, they’re bad in the strictest sense of the word. But…”
“It’s okay Jack, we get it. It’s really too bad we have to go right away.”
“I know, I have this sudden urge to make a snow angel. I haven’t done that since I was a kid.”
“You guys mean it?” Jack tested. “I mean, really mean it?”
Getting affirmative head nods to both questions from all parties, Jack let the last surprise out of the bag.
“I spoke with the general last night. He agrees this hasn’t been much of a break and extended our down time five more days. We can head back today and each do our own thing if you like. Or we could stick around here.”
He knew which one he was hoping for, but still stared at his feet in anticipation of the answer. After a few seconds, he heard a soft splat followed by the distinct sound of material being slid over the frozen terrain. Looking up he found an Air Force officer and scientist lying in the powdery snow on her back, wildly flapping her arms up and down and swishing her legs back and forth.
Yes! They were staying! Jack was over the railing and gathering snow for the impending attack within seconds. He could hear a confused Jaffa questioning their antics.
“I do not understand the purpose of this activity.”
“Oh, Sam’s making a snow angel. See, the pattern she’s leaving looks like an angel.”
“It does not.”
“No, of course not. What was I thinking.”
Jack would have smiled at the exchange only someone on SG1 would understand, but he was too busy building up his pile of snowballs.
“Jack is making snowballs because he THINKS, he’s going to start a snowball fight. But everyone knows you don’t throw snowballs at SICK people.”
Yeahsureyoubetcha, Danny boy.
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