Word Count: 4,082
Warnings: Very mild violence, mild profanity.
Summary: Mission gone bad, rescue gone weird
Author Comments: Prompter asked for something and I tried to give it to her. Unbeta’d, so apologies for any obvious spelling errors or general stupidness.
Cameron Mitchell woke up face down in cold mud. He took a choking breath before he realized he had in fact just inhaled a mouthful of dirt, and jerked up spitting and gagging.
“Good morning,” came a dry voice from his left. Cam turned his head to see Daniel Jackson seated a few feet away. Concern belying the greeting was etched on his face. He made no effort to move towards Cam, and he was smeared head to toe in dirt.
“Hrmph,” Cam said back, continuing to spit. He pawed at his face and came away with fingers full of slimy, grit-filled grime that looked every bit as disgusting as it tasted. “What the hell happened?” he managed, his voice sounding thick and hoarse to his own ears.
Jackson didn’t answer immediately. “Are you okay?”
Cam did a quick self-assessment. His BDU’s were cool and damp against his skin and one glance down confirmed that he and Jackson had both been wallowing in the mud. It was a good sign, he guessed, that the grit in his teeth was bothering him more at the moment than anything else. He realized his head was throbbing dimly, and it matched a general all-over soreness. Cautiously, he moved each limb. His arms were stiff and his legs were doing that vaguely tingly thing that had started after the Antarctica crash. It meant they were going to hurt like a son of a bitch once he was up and his circulation increased. He didn’t tell Jackson that.
“In one piece,” he reported.
“You hit your head,” Jackson said.
“Feels like I hit everything,” Cameron said. He ran a hand through his hair and found a goose egg behind his left ear.
Jackson shifted in place on the ground, like he was going to rise and move towards Cameron. Instead, he stayed put, leaning against a young tree trunk. “You probably have a concussion. What do you remember?”
Cam was getting annoyed by having this conversation at a distance. He planted his palms flat on the ground and with some difficulty struggled upwards. His legs produced a symphony of arthritic-sounding cracks as he stood, but once his feet were planted he only swayed once. He took a step towards Jackson and concentrated on not stumbling.
“I remember coming through the Gate to warn the natives about the Ori,” he said. “I remember them getting real cranky and taking our guns away.” Jackson nodded. “Prison cell,” Cam went on, “Vala took her shirt off to distract a guard and Sam and Teal’c blew something up.” Now, Cameron was right next to Jackson, who remained lying against his tree. “What I’d miss?”
“I think Sam misjudged the strength of the explosives,” Jackson said. “Or the strength of the prison.” He pointed over Cameron’s shoulder.
Cam turned around. It was dim, but he could see that he and Jackson were at the bottom of a sloping hill, and directly above them by only a couple dozen meters was the smoking remains of a collapsed, burned structure. He blinked. “Oh.”
Jackson tilted his head and made a concurring noise.
“Is there a reason we’re lounging around here waiting for those fellows to find us and lock us up again?” Cam asked, trying to make light. He had a vague, smoky recollection of running down a very noisy, very hot hallway that had cumulated in a sudden, terrifying absence of ground beneath his feet and then blackness. “Or are we hoping that’s their only prison?” He offered a hand down to Jackson, intending to pull him up.
Jackson didn’t take the hand. “We were sticking around,” he said, “because you were unconscious and moving you seemed like a bad idea if you had a spinal injury. And Sam couldn’t carry me.”
“Sam was here?” Cam said immediately. Then he processed Jackson’s last statement and looked down sharply. Other than a readymade costume of Swamp Thing, he didn’t look injured.
Jackson cautiously moved his left leg, which was lying flat while his right leg was bent at the knee. Cameron’s gaze followed. He realized Jackson’s left boot was off, sitting besides his muddy green sock. The foot of the sock was fine, but as Cameron’s eyes traveled upwards he quickly realized Jackson’s ankle was enormously swollen. “Shit,” he said.
“Yeah,” Jackson said, tightly. “Sam escaped with us,” he went on. “I think our guards went after Teal’c, and I’m pretty sure Vala still had her shirt off.” He shrugged.
“Sam was okay?” Cameron tried to focus on the positive.
“Banged up, but yeah. She took off for the Gate.”
“You should have gone with her,” Cameron said.
“I would have slowed her down.” Jackson said. “She’ll bring the Cavalry.”
Cam didn’t disagree, but he knew that leaving him unconscious and Jackson crippled was not a decision Sam would have enjoyed making. He looked again at Jackson’s ankle. It really was massively swollen.
Slowly, Cam hunkered down next to Jackson. His legs cracked again, audibly, and this time he was close enough that Jackson could hear.
“No sign of Teal’c or Vala?” Cam asked.
Jackson shook his head.
“No sign of angry aliens mad at us for blowing up their prison?”
“I’m kind of hoping it’s because they’re busy chasing Teal’c and Vala,” said Jackson.
Cam looked back at the smoldering rubble. It was a good setting for a depressing alien prison; the lone structure on a barren hill top surrounded by thick forest. It occurred to him that they didn’t know where the building was in relation to the Stargate, and that Sam was running blind. Shit.
He redirected his gaze back to the injured foot.
“What are you thinking?” asked Jackson.
“We need to be ready to move,” Cam said. “It’s only a matter of time til the Winnipeg come looking for us.”
“Winepago,” Jackson corrected. Then, “Sam thought the Gate was to the East.”
He looked at Cameron blankly after that. It was the face Jackson made when he’d just suggested something preposterous and expected Cam to go along with it. The best way to deal with it, Cam had learned, was to ignore that it’d been said at all. Arguing with Jackson was a losing game and Cam was too sore to play.
“Right,” he said, letting the “I’m not leaving you here so don’t bother bringing it up again” remain unspoken. Cam dropped fully to his knees beside Jackson’s foot.
“I wish I had my pack,” he said. “We need to wrap this.”
He was genuinely surprised that Jackson didn’t argue or start resisting. “I would sell my soul from some Vicodin,” Jackson said, and he sounded resigned. “Actually, I would sell the secret of Ascension for codeine.”
“I got a t-shirt,” Cam said, stripping off his jacket.
To his credit, Jackson didn’t scream while Cam wrapped strips of shredded t-shirt tightly around his ankle. He did gasp several times, grind his teeth noisily, and turn a perverse shade of grey that seriously worried Cam. He considered sitting back down under the tree, counting on their mud bath as camouflage, and maybe playing a game of 20 Questions til Sam came to their rescue with backup.
Then, Cam spotted movement on the side of the hill next to the prison. “Shit,” he said
“What?” asked Jackson, through clenched teeth.
“We have company,” Cam said, tilting his head towards the figures gathering on the slope.
“I lost my glasses,” Jackson told him. He followed Cam’s gaze and squinted, but didn’t react.
“In that case, everything’s fine,” Cam said. “We’re just going to get you up and move out of the open purely for fun.”
“I can’t put any weight on my foot,” Jackson said, seriously.
“You won’t have to.” Cam extended both arms and held out his hands, palms up. “Grab my elbows,” he instructed.
Jackson obeyed, his hands grimy and cold even through Cam’s jacket. In turn, Cam gripped Jackson by the biceps. “On three. One, two, three.”
The hands on Cam’s arms tightened sharply as Jackson tried to rise off the ground. Pain lanced through Cam’s torso unexpectedly and he bent forward completely involuntarily. Jackson only came an inch off the ground and he immediately dropped back down.
“Again,” Cam said, deciding to ignore that there was the possibility that his body were so bruised from the recent abuse that lifting Jackson let alone supporting him for any length of time was going to be a lot harder than he had thought it would be. Jackson humored him and said nothing, either. “One, two, three.”
This time it worked; Cam braced himself against the way the muscles in his abs twinged and Jackson came shakily off the ground. He grabbed Cameron’s shoulder with one hand and with the other held the trunk of tree he’d been resting against.
“Okay,” Cam said, “We’re going to do this like a three-legged race.” He glanced back up at the hill. In the darkness, he could see the figures poking around the rubble, bobbing visibly in the blackness with glowing flashlights. It was only a matter of time until they peered down the slope. “Pretty much literally a three-legged race.”
He moved Jackson’s left arm across his shoulders, aligning his body so the bad leg was on the inside next to Cam’s legs.
Jackson shot him a look, grimaced, and finally removed his hand from the tree trunk. “No,” he said. “This is going to suck.”
And it did suck. More for Jackson, probably. The man was uncharacteristically quiet; the only sound his rough breathing. They found a rhythm where Cam could walk at a very slow rate and Jackson could lean on him and hop on his right foot. Supporting 185 pounds of archaeologist every other stride made Cam’s back begin to ache. He looked over at Jackson’s taut face and the sweat dripping off his temples from the effort and decided he’d complain about it after they were back at the SGC and Jackson was healed up and stuffing his face with cookies. It would be funny, then.
They weren’t going very fast, but Cam immediately felt safer once they were under the cover of the forest. Well, at least until they both realized just how dark it was when the branches blocked out the stars. Maybe 45 minutes after they started moving, it became so dark it was hard to see. The second time Cam tripped over a root and nearly sent them both flying, Jackson stopped dead.
He didn’t say anything, which was out of character enough for Cam to say it for him.
“Let’s take a break.”
Cam maneuvered Jackson towards a cluster of trees. He tried to helpfully lower him to the ground, against the trunks. But it was dark and he couldn’t see, and if he was honest, there wasn’t a single part of his body that wasn’t screaming in pain. Once Jackson was settled on the ground, Cam basically collapsed beside him, shoulder to shoulder.
Daniel exhaled loudly and adjusted his body so the injured foot was out in front of him. “Don’t take this the wrong way,” he murmured, “but I wish you were Sam or Vala.”
“Likewise,” Cameron retorted. “I could carry you a hell of a lot further.”
“They could use the Gou’ald healing device on my foot,” Jackson said.
“You have one?” Cam asked. The damn Winepago had stripped him of everything but his clothes.
“No,” Jackson said, after a moment.
“Hey,” Cam said, leaning into Jackson so his lips were almost against the man’s cheek. “At least your virtue is safe with me.”
This, at least, got a dull chuckle out of Jackson. “I’m not sure I could fight Vala off in this condition,” he admitted.
Cam laughed and pulled back. He leaned back against the tree trunks and took deep breaths. Jackson was silent besides him and he was pretty sure the man might already be asleep. As the warmth from the exertion of dragging Jackson around began to fade, Cameron became more conscious of the cool temperature of the ground. Well, at least it was dry.
“Shit,” he said. “It’s getting colder.”
“Mmm,” Jackson murmured.
“I’ll take first watch,” Cameron said, dryly, when Jackson didn’t say anything else or even open his eyes.
“You have a concussion; not supposed to sleep,” Jackson mumbled.
Cam wasn’t sure how long he lasted. He would have liked to bet 2 hours, but without a watch there was no way of knowing. Exhaustion overcame him and it was seriously cold, now.
His teeth chattering, he woke Jackson.
Jackson didn’t resist as Cameron maneuvered him closer, adjusting their bodies so they were touching and nearly curled around each other.
“Liar,” Jackson tried to joke. “Virtue my ass.” Cam could feel just how cold he was, though, and didn’t bother reacting. “Don’t tell Vala,” he said. “I told her no cuddling allowed on missions.”
“Hell no,” Cam said. “We’re not going to tell anyone about it, Jackson. And for the record, it’s Strategic Body Heat Preservation, not cuddling.”
Jackson laughed, pulling his face away from Cam’s but simultaneously turning his body towards him. “The Air Force teach you that?”
“Actually, it was Sam.”
“Sam?” Cam couldn’t see Jackson’s face but he could guess the expression.
“Yep, Sam. And it’s not what you’re thinking, Jackson. It was actually a lot like this: cold and completely professional.”
“I think I’ll ask her.”
“You go right ahead.”
Cam waited until he could feel the tension seeping out of Jackson, fatigue making him drop deeper into Cam. Then, “I’m gonna tell Vala how badly you wanted her here.”
Jackson jerked awake. He understood the terms immediately. “I won’t mention it to Sam,” he said, sounding sleepy.
In the morning, or at least whenever the sky turned from black back to light grey, Cameron was woken by a low, feminine wolf whistle. He jerked awake, remembered they were stranded in the middle of the woods on a hostile planet, and tried to scramble to his feet as fast as possible. He was tangled up with Jackson, though, who’d somehow ended up practically draped over him. His efforts to stand didn’t dislodge the archaeologist at all, though, until he accidentally kicked him in the injured ankle. Jackson cried out and twisted away, allowing Cameron to stumble to his feet.
It was then that he realized the source of the sound, and saw Sam Carter standing before them, her hands out and gesturing for him to calm down.
“Hey, Sam,” Jackson said, from the ground. He was holding his ankle.
“Hallelujah,” Cameron said, more honestly. Relief filled him, until he took a second to look at her.
She looked exactly like him and Jackson; caked in dried mud and conspicuously lacking her gun. She hadn’t made it to the Gate after all.
He stared at her.
“The Winnebago have surrounded the Gate,” Sam said.
“Winepago,” Jackson said from the ground.
“Shit,” Cameron said.
“You two are alright?” Sam asked, approaching closer.
“Jackson drools, otherwise yeah.”
Sam rolled her eyes. “Daniel?”
Jackson showed no signs of wanting to sit up. He slowly began to uncurl himself. “Tired, cold, sore, thirsty, hungry, pissed off,” he said, listing off a self-assessment.
“How’s your ankle?” Sam walked up and knelt down by Jackson’s foot.
“What did you wrap it with?”
Sam’s eyes slid sideways towards Cam and she gave a sly smile. He returned it. Things weren’t any better now that Sam was here; in fact they were worse since the SGC didn’t know they were in distress. But he liked having Sam on his wing, and Cam was instantly calmer.
He raised a finger pointedly. “But I did not lose my pants.”
Jackson was too cranky too appreciate the humor.
“What’s the plan, guys?”
“We should probably keep moving,” Cam said, seriously. “They probably found our trail, once it gets light we’ll be a lot easier to find.”
“Great,” said Jackson, looking down at his ankle. “Maybe I can hang out here.”
“No,” Cameron said, and Sam shook her head.
“We could bury me under some leaves or something,” Jackson muttered.
“You see anything we could eat while you were walking around?” Cameron asked Sam. “Or drink?”
“There’s a stream about 2 miles that way,” Sam said, pointing. “I found some berries, but they kind of made my finger tips, um, burn, so I don’t think we can eat them.”
The hike to the stream took about half an hour. Transporting Jackson was a bit easier with two people. The sun was rising in the sky, and the temperature warmed. There was no sign of their pursuers for the time being. The lowest creek bank was ensconced in a row of trees, giving them a good place to take shelter and lie low.
Cam drank deep from the water – it tasted vaguely musty but was otherwise surprisingly clean. He hadn’t realized how dehydrated he and Jackson had gotten.
“Mmm,” he said, sitting back from the bank. “Delicious.”
Jackson was trying to wash his arms and face in the water, causing clouds of mud to appear in circles across the surface.
“I wonder if there are any fish,” Cam continued. ”I’m starving.”
Jackson nodded in agreement. When he glanced at Sam, she shook her head. “I’m okay. I ate that black gruel in jail.”
“You ate that?” Cam made a face.
“Maybe when they catch us they’ll give us more,” Daniel said.
“I promised Vala I’d make her Momma’s spaghetti,” Cam said, abruptly. “She’s only had the cafeteria crap and she doesn’t understand how good it can be.”
Sam smiled. “I loved that. What’s the secret ingredient again?”
“Cinnamon,” Cam said. He splashed his fingers in the cool stream. “That’s what I’m going to eat when we get back to base. Momma’s spaghetti.”
“Can I have some?” Sam asked. “I’ll bring beer.”
“Sure,” Cameron said. “Spaghetti for all. You in Jackson?”
“I have 5 pounds of Sumatran coffee sitting on my desk,” Jackson said, clearly not really paying attention. He had a little smile on his face.
“I think that’s his favorite food,” Cameron said sideways to Sam.
She nodded. “I’m pretty sure it’s among the top 5 reasons he got kicked out of being an Ascended being. He gets so cranky.”
“Surly,” Cam agreed.
It was this conversation that the Winepago interrupted. Jackson was facing the water and both Mitchell and Sam were looking at him. No one saw the scouting party sneaking ever closer, until an arrow whipped through the air and slammed into the tree directly behind Mitchell.
They offered no resistance. Cameron briefly considered jumping in the water and going downstream, but it was cold and totally not arrow-proof. Sighing, he raised his arms over his head and folded his fingers behind his head. Jackson and Sam followed suit.
Shortly, they were each wearing a nice set of stiff, twine handcuffs and being barked at for escaping. Sam and Cameron were marched up the bank, retracing their steps. Over his shoulder, Cam saw Jackson being maneuvered on to a litter and carried behind them.
The hike back to prison took no time at all. In part because every time they slowed down, one of the Winepago would put a very pointy spear tip against Cam’s back.
“Our Goddess will be most pleased with us,” the guard hissed at him. “And she will kill you.”
“Oh?” said Cameron. To Sam, he whispered: “Sound snakey?”
Sam nodded. She didn’t say anything else, but Cameron saw her spine go rigid with tension.
The Goddess wanted to meet them in the smoking remains of the prison, oddly enough. A large assembly of Winepago civilians were gathered, on their knees before a throne on a platform. Cam tried to peer up, but his guard shoved him to his knees and knocked him in the head until he lowered his chin to his chest. Sam did the same, without getting hit. Jackson was allowed to sit with his legs outstretched on the litter, but he too got smacked for trying to look up.
“Goddess,” called the guard. “We have returned your slaves.”
The hollow, supernatural voice of a Goa’uld in a female host answered him. “You will be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams,” she said. “And they will be punished severely for their disobedience. Their impudence. Their naughtiness.”
Cameron heard the hum of a hand device and couldn’t help but grimace. At the same time, Jackson elbowed him in the side. Cameron glanced at him and the man winked. Cam didn’t get it. Jackson made eyes at him, clearly trying to communicate something.
“What?” asked Cam. The guard standing above him kicked him in the side. “Owww.”
Jackson winced and shut up.
“Bring them to my chambers,” the Goa’uld voice ordered. “My first prime will discipline them.”
Multiple hands reached out and grabbed SG-1, swarming around the front of the platform and blocking any view of the snake that was speaking.
“Shit,” Cam said, to no one in particular as they were dragged along. He heard Jackson yelping, apparently evicted from the stretcher. He wished the archaeologist was in one piece – it was about to get worse and getting out of here was suddenly of the utmost importance.
The goa’uld’s chambers turned out to be a dark office covered in debris at the base of the damaged prison. At the doorway, large, strong hands reached out and hauled each member of SG-1 through the door frame, slamming the door shut in the faces of the Winepago guards.
Cameron crashed to the floor, unable to avoid breaking a table with his fall. He turned around just in time to catch Jackson as he too was pushed inside.
“Get behind me,” he ordered.
Jackson didn’t move. “I think everything’s going to be okay,” he said, pointing towards something behind Cam.
“Colonel Carter,” came a deep, familiar voice. “Are you alright?”
Cam jerked around, totally shocked to hear and then see none other than Teal’c, looming in the doorway and helping Sam to her feet.
“Teal’c?” He nearly stuttered. “Wow, is it good to see you.”
Teal’c inclined his head. “You as well, Colonel Mitchell, Daniel Jackson.
“What happened?” asked Sam, beating Cam to it. Teal’c was wearing a long robe in golden fabric, and other than a small, scabbed cut on his cheek he looked absolutely fine.
“More importantly, who’s the goa’uld bitch?” asked Cameron, looking around the room nervously.
“Who are you calling a bitch?” The goa’uld voice came angrily from the far corner.
Cam went to grab the broken table leg he smashed on his way to the floor, and the only thing that stopped him was Jackson laughing. Weakly, and sounding kind of pissed off, but laughing nonetheless.
The figure in the corner moved, and Vala sauntered into the light. She was wearing Teal’c’s outfit, plus two tiaras and a hand device that she waved reproachfully at him.
“What?” Cam said, dropping the table leg. “Holy shit.”
“Say ‘thank you’,” Vala prompted, still using that damned voice.
“What happened?” Sam repeated. “I thought you were captured.”
“We were,” Teal’c confirmed. “Briefly.”
“Briefly?” asked Daniel.
“Well, I told the King that we were nice people, and that didn’t work.” Vala shook her head, strolling towards Daniel. “And then I told him we weren’t nice people and he should cower in fear, and that also didn’t work. And then he got all knifey, and my first prime” – she inclined her head towards Teal’c – “had to kill him. Once the others saw that, they started calling me Goddess, as they should.” She was talking normally now, kneeling next to Jackson and stroking his neck. He didn’t even bother shrugging her off.
“I told them you were my slaves and I wanted you back, unharmed.” She resumed the evil voice. “And that then I would leave this planet and not take them all as hosts.”
“We should leave as soon as possible,” Teal’c said. “They fear her, but they know and hate the goa’uld. It is not safe to maintain this ruse much longer.”
Cam struggled to his feet, then Vala helped him pull Daniel up as well. “Let’s get the hell out of here,” he agreed.
Jackson took a wobbling step and nearly fell over, almost taking Cam with him.
“Teal’c,” Cameron said.
“Allow me,” Teal’c replied. “I believe you call this ‘fireman’s hold’, Daniel Jackson?’
Jackson grunted. “Just let me hop through the ‘Gate on my own, okay?” He then allowed himself to be hoisted easily over Teal’c’s shoulder. Cam lined up behind them and Sam moved behind him. Vala brought up the rear, looking every bit as if she and Teal’c were cornering their three slaves.
“No one has said ‘thank you’ yet,” she said. “This displeases me,” she added in goa’uld voice.
“That voice gives me the willies,” Cam said.
“It gave me two tiaras,” Vala answered, utterly cheerful.