Kiss of LIfeby JoaG
As far prisons go, I guess you could say this one's not that bad. Well, okay, there's the problem with the air conditioning, and the fact that the walls are so hot from the blazing sun that Jack and I have to lean against our wadded jackets to keep our backs from getting seared. And maybe it could be a little bigger, so that we could actually stand from time to time instead of sitting at either end of the metal box with our legs tucked up close to our chests.
But we're both alive, so that makes a prison a helluva lot better than a coffin. Except, I guess you could say that our prison actually is an oversized, metallic coffin.
I look down and study my choices carefully, acknowledging that the heat is truly getting to me when I can't decide where to place my X. I finally make my choice in the lower left hand corner and then realize belatedly that I've left Jack two openings.
A quick glance shows that Jack is dozing, which is what I should be doing in this Goa'uld style, Easy-Bake Oven. I contemplate erasing my X and putting it elsewhere.
I pull my hand back guiltily and glare at the supposedly sleeping man. I'm sure my glower falls short of its usual intensity; the pounding headache I've been sporting for hours is making it hard for me to move any muscles in my face.
"Hey, don't blame me for winning all the games. I learned from the best." Jack reaches down and scratches an O in one corner, leaving me two choices to put my X, neither of which will block Jack's game.
I'd sigh out of frustration, but breathing is hard enough. The air's hot enough to burn our throats and lungs if we breathe too deeply. "Charlie?" I erase the game with a swipe of my hand, feeling the grit stick to my sweaty palm.
"No, my mom."
Laughter bubbles out of me despite our grim situation. I've gone head to head with Rose playing tic-tac-toe and she's beaten the pants off of me, every time. I immediately regret the laughter when I finish with a dry, lung-searing cough.
Closing my eyes, I relax my neck and my head drops onto my chest. They say time flies when you're having fun; you know, that saying is so overrated.
I crack an eye open. "What?"
The sound of my heartbeat, at times so loud it drowns out my breathing, has masked the sound of hordes of Jaffa battalions walking past. Jack's right; they've gone silent.
"What do you think they're—"
The small door beside me opens with a loud bang and before my semi-fried brain can register what's going on, hands grab me and pull me out, slamming my knee in the process on the edge of the frame. I hear Jack yelling as I struggle against the Jaffa, expending energy neither of us can afford to waste.
The rush of cooler air, and I say cooler because at this point everything's relative and anything not involving a sun-powered oven would be cool, hits me almost with the shock of air conditioning. Even as I gasp in air not tinged with the stench of urine and sweat, I realize my cramped legs can't hold me up. I guess it doesn't matter to the Jaffa because they don't seem to mind dragging me over to the large tent a few dozen feet away from our prisonette.
And halfway there, that's when I see the thousands of Jaffa filling the valley, overshadowing the Stargate. Jack and I had figured something was going on, but the hope of rescue had been at the back of our minds the whole time. Now, even if Sam and Teal'c could figure out which planet we'd been abducted to, no matter how many SG teams they brought with them, they'd be outnumbered thousands to one.
Hope is such a precious thing; because the moment it's gone, it's irreplaceable. Despair fills me and I know that Jack and I aren't getting out of this alive. We've been in that box since early yesterday and we've alternated between night and day, baking or sharing body heat.
There's a Goa'uld sitting on a throne under the canopy. Thick draperies shut out the sun and it's a few degrees cooler inside. Immediately the lack of glare and sunshine eases my headache and I struggle to control my legs. Then in true Jaffa fashion, they force me to my knees before His high and mightiness. I manage to take a few steps on my own before the thick carpeting absorbs the shock of my knees hitting the ground.
"You will translate this." The Goa'uld takes a rolled scroll from a table next to his throne and hands it to his First Prime. The Jaffa accepts the scroll and with his eyes on me the whole time, unrolls it and sticks it in front of my face. I see blurred lines and pull back, trying to focus. For a moment I can't make heads or tails of the language until I realize it's upside down. Then I notice the smear of blood on the edge of the velum.
"Just so you know..." I cough and try to clear my throat. Both Jack and I are hoarse due to the dehydration. Our tongues are swollen, our lips chapped. It's irritating, though, as I continue to talk because my voice doesn't sound like myself. "... I left my research books at home and it doesn't look like you have a library handy—"
"You have one hour, Doctor Jackson." The Goa'uld stands and leaves the tent, leaving me alone with his First Prime and a handful of Jaffa. They pull me towards a small table and I'm forced to take a seat. I hate to admit it, but sitting feels so good. There's paper, pen, and of course, the scroll. Part of my mind wonders where the writing implements came from as I contemplate my dilemma. I never expected a Goa'uld to be so low-tech.
I try to think what I should do. If I refuse to translate, they'll probably kill us outright. If I translate the scroll, they'll probably kill us outright anyways. I could try to stall, but that would probably result in me being placed back into the box with Jack. Without water, we most likely won't survive much longer.
The army of Jaffa out there is waiting for something to happen. I have a pretty strong feeling it has to do with the scroll.
"There will be water for you when you have finished."
I try to glare at the First Prime, although I'm positive I end up squinting at him instead. Obviously, he's now trying to bribe me with honey. Well, okay, water, in this case. Still, he wins. I pick up the scroll, turn it around, and try to focus on it.
It takes me a while to decipher the writing. It's Phoenician but with no references to fall back on, I have to use my memory and that's been pretty much burned to a crisp. My fingers are clumsy and my eyes keep blurring.
I finally finish and before I put the pen down, the paper I've been writing on is grabbed from me. The First Prime runs out while two of the Jaffa grab my arms and force me to my feet. I'm wobbling but walking, if you ignore the fact that my knees don't seem to lock and my feet are dragging through the sand.
The Goa'uld's standing out there in the sun, reading the paper. He stares at me for a moment, then crumples the paper in his hand and speaks softly to his First Prime. Then the Jaffa's running towards the 'gate, with four more on his heels. I watch as they dial out and disappear. As the wormhole disengages, I startle when I see the Goa'uld standing right before me.
"Give him water."
Yes, thank you God. My prayers have been answered. Now, if the Goa'uld adds a steak and baked potato along with the water, I'll have won the jackpot. I watch longingly as a Jaffa turns to a cistern and pours a bit of water into a cup.
I'd be salivating if I had enough spit to work up some drool. I watch that cup with the intensity of a cat watching a mouse as the Jaffa approaches. He holds it up to me and I see there are only a few swallows' worth in it. "What about Colonel O'Neill?"
Without a word, the Jaffa tips the cup and I see the water start to flow towards the ground. "No!" I get it. Water for me to keep me compliant, none for Jack to keep me threatened.
The Jaffa rights the cup and hands it to me. I bring it up to my mouth, shaking, afraid I'll spill even a drop. I take a sip, and a follow with a deeper swallow. I've already drunk half of what's in the cup so I tip the last of the water into my mouth and pretend to swallow.
It's hard as hell keeping water in your mouth without swallowing and not look like a chipmunk. I have trouble breathing and immediately my throat begins to ache. The Jaffa haul me back towards our prison and the pressure in my mouth is so great that I'm forced to swallow just a bit of the water to keep from choking.
They open the door and force me to my knees, and I scramble inside as fast as I can. The heat is nearly my undoing and I try not to gasp, moving instead towards Jack, who is watching me with a worried look on his face.
The door slams shut behind us and due to the limited space, I throw myself on top of Jack. I grab his head and pull him up just as I lower my mouth to his.
- - - - - -
God I was so worried when they took Daniel away. And then I heard the 'gate activate and all sorts of things went through my mind. But he's back now, and he looks fine. Okay, strike that, something's definitely wrong. I know that look on his face and... what the hell?
He's trying to kiss me. Here? Now? We're dying of heat and he wants to... Oh. Tongue. Wet tongue and... water?
It's warm. It tastes of Daniel and best of all, it's wet. I swallow. Daniel spills more water into my mouth and then lowers his forehead to mine. Sweat makes our skin slide together. He's shaking and I pull him down so that he's lying against me, body heat be damned.
I turn my head and nuzzle his neck, which is slick with sweat.
"There wasn't more water. I..."
"Shhhh." I thread a hand through Daniel's stringy hair and enjoy the moment for a few seconds longer, until the heat forces us apart. He pushes himself up and adjusts his jacket so he's sitting against the wall again. I mimic his posture, and wait while he adjusts to the killing heat.
"They wanted me to translate something." Daniel coughs and closes his eyes. "It was a code of some kind."
"Numbers, instructions... to some sort of security system. Jack, there are thousands of Jaffa out there. I think the Goa'uld—"
"I don't know. Most likely a minor System Lord. But he's planning an attack."
"And you just opened the door for him? Any chance it's someone we know?"
"I have no idea."
We doze for a while, until the Stargate activates. My heart starts beating hard; this could be it. If that snakehead got what he wanted, chances are he's finished with us and - the door opens and Daniel's pulled out a second time. A whiff of cooler air hits me just as the door's slammed shut. I'm almost envious of Daniel being out there; at this point I'd give almost anything to be in his shoes, just so I wouldn't be in mine.
I try to listen, but I can't hear much of anything. Daniel was gone for a good while the last time so I take advantage of the extra space and lay on my back, trying to stretch muscles and joints that are aching and swollen.
I hadn't planned on falling asleep but the heat's too intense and my body's weakened enough that I do, because I jerk awake when Daniel comes back inside. Guiltily I wonder if he got more water, and as he moves to lie against me, I realize that he has. He kisses me again and I cup the back of his head as I drink. But I keep him there, stopping him from pulling away when I'm done, and push my tongue into his mouth.
Okay, as far as kisses go, with our tongues so thick and swollen that they feel like some abnormal growths, mouths so dry and pasty that morning breath probably would smell like roses, you have to admit there's definitely nothing sexual about the act. But Daniel responds, his tongue strokes mine, his breath, cooler than the air in this box, mixes with mine. It's a declaration of life, a promise of the future.
I loosen my hold and Daniel pulls back and sits. His face and neck are red from the heat. His eyes are sunken and full of pain. I'm sure I look just as awful, if not worse.
"They're moving out," he says in a low voice. I realize at that moment that the tramping sounds had started up again. "Through the Stargate."
Okay, that I'd missed. I must have slept through the 'gate activation. "They're leaving?"
"So it seems. I translated a second code and—"
"Yeah. Seems like it's a revenge thing."
I guess we both wonder what they're going to do with us now that we've both served our usefulness. Morbid thoughts go through my mind and none of them make me happy. Listening to the thousands of pairs of feet walking past doesn't help the feelings of doom.
Then suddenly, there's silence. Daniel and I stare at one another, both of us straining to listen. We hear the 'gate shut down and we realize that we're alone.
Cooped up in a box.
Dying of heat.
"The sun was setting when..."
I realize that the luminosity of the metal has changed, that it's getting harder to see Daniel's face. Okay, so we've gotten a slight reprieve. We survived a night and two days in this death trap already. We can survive this night without a problem; it's tomorrow that's got me worried. Unless Mr. Snakehead comes back and through some miracle, releases us, this box will become a coffin.
It doesn't take long for the metal to release the sun's heat and absorb the evening's chill. Unfortunately, the comfort zone only lasts about thirty minutes, going from way too hot to way too cold. The sweat on our body has dried and now we're lying huddled together in the dark, wearing our jackets, our vests as pillows, with both of us shivering.
"Jack..." Daniel's voice floats near my ear.
"Yeah?" I clear my throat. It feels swollen and sore.
"There's nobody out there..."
"Yeah, I know." There might be guards but ya gotta wonder why they'd be guarding a metal box in the middle of a field.
"So, what's stopping us from getting out of here?"
I blink. There has to be a reason why we're still stuck inside a metal box. Before, we didn't try to break our way out because of all the Jaffa around us. I try to think why we haven't come up with an escape plan since the Jaffa moved on, and can't come up with anything. "Damn."
We sit up and began kicking the metal door. We're weak, and it takes us a few dozen tries, but finally the door gives and we scramble out.
There's a moon, and its light illuminates the area around us. There's nothing here, no trace other than trampled ground, to show that an army camped here. I glance towards the Stargate, and see no sign of guards.
"Let's get the hell out of here." Reluctantly, I stick my head back into our prison and grab our vests. I exit with relief and hand Daniel his, and shrug one arm into mine.
Daniel leans on the edge of the metal cell and cautiously stands. I try to follow suit but my knees and hips don't seem to want to straighten out. I slowly lean on the damned thing, trying to stretch and get my balance. Daniel doesn't look too solid on his feet, he's weaving from side to side, front to back, but at least he's not holding onto anything.
I take a practice step, walking the length of our prison while holding onto it for support. From out here, it looks smaller than it did when we were inside. I reach the end and turn, slowly weaning myself from its support as I walk back.
Without a word, we turn and start shuffling towards the DHD. We have a few close calls but we manage to stay on our feet. It doesn't count when our knees hit the ground, does it? Only points count for heads or shoulders.
So while Daniel dials home, I fiddle with our GDO and have it ready when the 'gate activates. I punch in our code, wait what seems a long time for the green light to come on, and start to shuffle towards home with Daniel by my side.
Just before we walk through the puddle, Daniel stops and puts a hand on my arm. He leans towards me and nearly loses his balance. I hold onto him, my own equilibrium is worse than his and we dance a few steps until we steady. He snorts softly, his eyes crinkling with amusement before he looks at me intently.
"I just wanted to... we'll probably be in the infirmary for a while, so I just wanted to... you know..."
"I know." I shut him up by kissing him.
Author's Comments: This fic is dedicated to two wonderful ladies: devra, and Ann-Marie. To dev, because she threw eggs at me to make sure the visual I had in my head was actually put down to paper, and Ann-Marie, who went out of her way to make sure I was cheered up. Thank you, gals, I don't know what I'd do without you's.
PS... note that there was no infirmary scene. Go me!