Summary: Jack is injured and missing. His team has to find him before it is too late
Jack hung by his fingertips to the rocks protruding from the cliff. He was standing face in, on a small ledge looking at the red clay that composed this planet's soil. The ledge had broken his fall. Actually as Jack thought about it, more was probably broken then just his fall and, if help didn't arrive soon, he would be in seriously deep shit.
He had been walking the perimeter one last time on his watch. The temple Daniel was investigating, was located on a plateau of sorts, 300 feet above the valley floor. The Stargate could be seen below and Jack had been periodically checking to make sure they were indeed alone and stayed that way
At 0500 local time, or at least what SG1 considered local time, he had been making this last perimeter check before he planned to head back and start coffee for the rest of the team. Carter needed a full day to finish her tests for Naquadah and other minerals and Daniel wanted to finish his video record of the structure to take home for further study. No weapons had been found that would help in the fight against the Goa'uld but Daniel was quite happy and satisfied in the glyphs he had discovered. The writings looked to be of the Ancients, so the archeologist felt that further study was warranted.
Walking the perimeter along the cliff, Jack made a detour around a hole. He remembered thinking that the hole hadn't been there on his last pass but then forgot about it as he approached the spot where the Stargate was visible. As he'd stepped across some brush edging the area, Jack had felt a rumble, and the ground beneath him began to shift.
Before he could even think about moving away from the edge, the ground started to dissolve, the whole edge of the plateau collapsing beneath him. SG1's CO had dived for the safety of solid ground, not quite making it.
The red clay slipped away, taking Jack with it as he grabbed for purchase to keep himself from falling to the valley floor. Miraculously, he was able to latch onto some rocks protruding from the cliff face as dirt and stones continued to rain down, pounding on his shoulders and head, making Jack afraid he night be buried alive under rubble.
Once the clay had stopped sliding, Jack had found himself on this small shelf, approximately 30 feet from the top. Standing there now, he could feel a warm wetness trickling down the side of his face and there was pain in his right shoulder, making it hard for him to hold on. Checking, he could see that the ledge was about 8 feet long but only protruded about 18 inches.
Trying his radio, all he heard was static. //Damn! Damn! Damn!// Feeling a little lightheaded and needing to sit down, he tried and found he was unable to turn around. Looking to his left, he could see that the wall of the precipice, was dotted with more stones, such as the ones he was grasping. He could also see that the ledge was wider at that end.
Jack figured he had only few choices. He could try to climb back up on his own, but he didn't think that would work since his shoulder was agonizingly painful, not to mention the fact that his head was swimming.
He could try to climb down but the same set of problems presented themselves with that scenario. Looking below, he could see a wider ledge but it was approximately 100 feet down. As his head and body seemed to do a loop, Jack broke out into a cold sweat, nausea hitting him like a truck. Grabbing on more tightly to the rocks, he leaned in closer to the dirt wall and closed his eyes. Taking deep breaths, he waited for the symptoms to pass, knowing he couldn't make it. If climbing was the answer, it would be up, not down.
He could stand here and hope he could hang on until someone came looking for him. He knew his team would begin searching eventually, but that time was still an hour or more away, since they were all sleeping. Jack saw that as an option as long as he didn't pass out or the ledge didn't give way.
Or he could try to move to the wider end and hope he had enough room to turn around. If he could just sit down, he would be able to rest while he waited for his team to find him.
The pounding in his head, along with the dizziness made his position precarious. He felt the need to close his eyes and sleep.
Knowing he would not be able to stand here much longer, making the danger of falling to his death very real, Jack decided to move to the wider portion of the ledge, hoping it would hold him. Inching his way, he could hear and feel the dirt and rocks being dislodged. The sound of them continuing the trip to the valley below was a reminder of what had almost happened, and could still happen, to him.
Suddenly Jack felt the ledge begin to change. He noticed more room for his size 11 boots to maneuver. Encouraged, he slowly continued to the end meeting up with a large boulder anchored in the side of the bluff. The space was about 3 wide at this end and, so far, solid beneath his feet.
Having more room now, Jack cautiously turned so he faced out towards the valley. With his back now to the clay wall, he slowly slid to his behind, holding on to rocks as he went.
Making it down to a seated position, he breathed a sigh of relief. His home away from home provided him with a sense of safety standing in the middle hadn't. The end of the ledge butted up against the boulder and, now that Jack was there, he could see and feel that where he was right now, was solid rock.
Suddenly there was another rumble, and the area where he had been standing, began to slide away, continuing its path to the bottom. Jack sat there stunned. Only a few more seconds, if he had waited only a few more seconds, he would be dead. His `home' had now changed from an 8 foot ledge to a small space just big enough for his backside and one leg, maybe.
He was in trouble and he knew it. His head was pounding, his shoulder was screaming at him, and from the looks of things, he may have no way to anchor himself. //Where was Thor when you needed him?//
He had lost most of his gear in the landslide. Taking inventory, Jack realized his P-90 was at the bottom of the cliff, since it hadn't been clipped to his vest. He had his knife and there were a few supplies in his pockets, but no flares. //Gonna have to talk to the General about providing flares for the teams.//
He had his water canteen, a couple of power bars, extra ammunition but no gun, his busted radio and Daniel's bandanna. He'd picked it up as he had left the tent, wanting to keep something of his lover with him. He knew it was sappy and sentimental, and he would never tell Daniel the reason he had it, but it kept his partner close when Jack was by himself, such as on his watch.
Saying a little prayer, he hoped his team would come looking for him sooner, rather then later. He knew Daniel would be frantic with worry when they discovered him missing. They'd been partners for almost a year and the newness of it all had yet to wear off . The love and passion were just as strong as day one but their relationship had changed them. He had ceased to be the taciturn Colonel and Daniel's brooding was rarity these days. They still had their disagreements and basic opposition in philosophy but now there was also laughter and loving to temper these differences.
Checking his location a little closer, he looked for a way to anchor himself, so if he fell asleep he wouldn't take a plunge. There was a stone protruding from the boulder, about an inch or two above waist level near the back of the ledge. It was rounded and because of the height, he thought he might be able to loop his belt over it, and create a tether. Hopefully, he could keep himself from falling.
As he attempted to loosen his belt, razor sharp pain in his injured shoulder telegraphed its way down his back taking his breath away. Listing to the side in reaction to the agony, he nearly lost his balance and tumbled off the ledge. Jolting back, the pain, again, washed over him. His vision began to blur and darken, but he knew he had to hold on, get himself anchored before he let himself give in to the blackness threatening. The sweat was pouring off him and he began to shiver. Taking deep breaths, he held himself rigid, hoping he could wait it out.
As the pain subsided, Jack relaxed a little. Looking down at his belt again, he carefully unbuckled it with is left hand, keeping his right shoulder as motionless as possible. With fumbling fingers and a lot of determination, he was finally able to re-buckle the belt on the last loop, allowing some give at the waistband. Slowly, he loosened the belt under his right shoulder, hoping for enough room to pull the belt up and over the rock he had found. After three tries, he breathed a sigh of relief as he finally felt the belt slip over the top of the projection.
Pushing himself back as far as he could, into the corner, Jack leaned his head back, and closed his eyes. Thinking of Daniel, he prayed he would see him again. As he relaxed, fatigue and pain took its toll and Jack passed out.
Daniel came awake with a start. Laying there for a minute, he tried to figure out what had awakened him. Listening, he couldn't hear anything unusual. All was quiet. He started to drift, when without warning, he knew what had awakened him. It was quiet, *too* quiet.
Sitting up, Daniel realized he couldn't hear any of the normal night sounds he had become used to on this planet. It was as if the world was holding its breath.
Glancing at his watch, he saw it was 0520. Coffee! He didn't smell any coffee. Jack always started it at five in the morning, very frequently drawing one or more of SG1 to the fire. It was a nice tradition of sorts, a little bit of early morning quiet conversation between friends before they started their day.
Although Sam and Teal'c knew of their relationship, Jack and Daniel never let it interfere with a mission. Their personal interactions off world were strictly professional except for an occasional kiss when changing watch at night. No one except their team and Janet knew about them. Janet only knew because as their friend and doctor, it was a secret that couldn't be kept.
Where was Jack? Puzzled, Daniel pulled on his boots and climbed out of the tent. Standing there, feeling the cool crisp air, he could see the faint glow of dawn just beginning to paint the sky. All seemed quiet.
He didn't see or hear Jack, anywhere and a renewed sense of dread washed over him. By now his friend and lover should be seated by the fire, sipping coffee, cups set up for his team, in case anyone made an early morning appearance.
"Jack?" Daniel keyed his radio, hoping for a quick response. Not hearing anything, he walked over to his teammates tent, trying a second time, already knowing something was wrong.
"Teal'c, Sam." Daniel quietly called the rest of SG1. Pulling his sidearm, the archeologist efficiently checked the clip. There hadn't been any evidence of a threat, human, Goa'uld or otherwise since they had arrived, but he knew something was not right and he wasn't taking any chances.
Teal'c emerged from the tent followed by Sam. Quickly, Daniel explained his concern, although he knew there was no need. He could see in his friends eyes, they were feeling the same fear that had hit him.
"Colonel O'Neill, come in!" "O'Neill!" Sam and Teal'c both tried their radios. Getting the same results, the three friends looked at each other for a second, each offering the others their strength and support.
"OK, he was here about an hour ago, when I got up to pee. So, he hasn't been missing long. Let's spread out and start searching. We haven't seen anything that might be dangerous since we've been here, but be careful, check in every 20." Sam grabbed her P90 and moved off towards the temple, in search of their leader. Teal'c and Daniel nodded to each other and also began their search.
Keying his radio once again, Daniel called to his partner hoping for a response. "Jack!"
"Jack, sit still. You're rocking the boat." Jack could see Daniel on the dock calling to him. He was seated in his fishing boat, fifty feet off into the lake. What was he doing out here? He usually just fished from the dock. Damn, why hadn't he noticed that the boat was leaking. The water's ice cold. Shivering, Jack called to his lover. "Daniel, help me."
"Jack, I'm gonna throw you a rope. You have to catch it. Do you understand? You have to catch it." Nodding, Jack shivered as he watched Daniel coil the rope in preparation to throw it to him.
Daniel launched the rope into the air. "Jack, catch the rope. Reach for it, Jack! Reach for the rope! Jack!"
Jack woke with a lurch. Daniel?
"Daniel?" Calling out, he realized he must have been dreaming. He was cold, so cold. Teeth chattering, he wrapped his arms around his chest, attempting to keep himself warm. The jolting from his quivering jaw and the shivering was only increasing the pain in his shoulder.
Looking around, Jack could see that he was still on the ledge, his belt still holding him in place, the sun beginning to rise. Most likely, Daniel and the rest of SG1 was looking for him by now. He needed to stay awake, listen for his friends. They would look for him along this ridge and he would have to call for them, let them know that he was here. God, he was tired, though. Just wanted to sleep.
Trying to stay awake, he pulled his water bottle from his belt. He was grateful he hadn't lost in the fall. As he began to sip, more dirt and rocks had begun to rain down on him from above. Pulling his legs in as close as possible, he tried to avoid being hit by the debris that were pummeling him. As the shower of earth slowed and then stopped, Jack relaxed a little, hoping that was the last of it.
Leaning his head back, he closed his eyes. He would just close them for a minute. Just for a minute.
"O'Neill!" Teal'c again tried his radio, in an attempt to locate his friend. When he received no answer, the Jaffa continued to track footsteps he had found around the campsite moving off in the direction of the hills.
There were so many footsteps that had been made by the team members over the last few days. Some were newer than others. Following this set of tracks, he was able to identify them as O'Neill's and they had been made recently. He would search until his friend was found.
O'Neill had made it possible for him to break away from Apophis. He had believed for a long time in Bra'tac's teachings and, from his own experiences, knew that Apophis, although powerful, was mortal. The `god' had not known about his friend Ve'lar, that Teal'c had defied his lord and let him go. It had been the final clue that Apophis was only impersonating a `god'.
He had watched for a long time, looking for a chance to break away. And the capture of the Tauri had given him that opportunity. O'Neill had accepted him from the beginning, without question. Trusting him, championing him with leaders of his people.
Now he was a trusted member of SG1 and the SGC, with the people of the Tauri supporting his cause of freedom for all Jaffa. O'Neill and the rest of SG1 had come to his aid and had helped him get his family to the safety of the Land of the Light. For that, alone, he would always be grateful.
In return, he had supported his friends when they had taken a different path to love. It was not easy to swim against the current as O'Neill and DanielJackson had chosen. Their love was a special bond so rarely seen, and he would stand by them in their decision.
O'Neill was his friend and comrade in arms. A brother in every sense of the word. SG1 would search for him and he, Teal'c, would not leave this planet without knowing his brother's fate.
Watching for any signs of his friend and staying alert to the possibility of danger, Teal'c moved off into the brush. They would find him, he was certain. He just hoped that he was alive when they did. DaneilJackson was not ready for another loss and neither was he.
Reaching for his radio, he checked in with Major Carter and DanielJackson, reporting his lack of success.
"O'Neill, why do you hesitate?" Jack stood on the side of the deep ravine. Looking down he could see a swift moving stream, twenty feet below. Teal'c stood on the other side, encouraging him in his attempt to jump to him, the Stargate a few feet beyond.
"You must jump, danger is near. Do not worry, I will not let you fall."
Jack stood there rooted to the ground unable to move, fear immobilizing him, preventing him from making the jump. Looking around, he could see a barren, war torn landscape with a band of Jaffa headed his way.
Looking back at his friend, he saw a peacefulness in Teal'c's features. Trusting the calmness he saw in warrior's eyes became easy.
"Come, O'Neill. You are in jeopardy. Jump, I will help you."
Taking a deep breath, Jack leaped the expanse, scrambling to find purchase of the other side, as he landed near the edge and began to slid. Dirt and grass gave way under his hands allowing him to slip farther over the edge. Just when he thought he would fall into the water below, he felt a jolt of pain in his back. Looking up, he saw the face of his friend as Teal'c latched on to him, pulling him to safety.
Jack awoke to a blinding pain in his right shoulder. Feeling more dirt and rock raining down on him Jack closed his eyes and tried to curl up into a ball. Looking around, he could see that the sun had risen, brightening the sky and driving away the cold of the night. It was 0650 according to his watch and he knew the search for him had to be well on its way.
Hoping the falling debris was one of his teammates, Jack began to yell.
"Daniel, Carter, Teal'c! Anyone there? I'm down here! Don't get too close to the edge. Help! Daniel?" Listening, he couldn't hear any response to his cries.
Searching his vest pockets again, Jack looked for some Tylenol, hoping he had missed it in his first search. Not finding any, he settled for a sip of water from his canteen.
Leaning his head back against the rock face, Jack closed his eyes and allowed the darkness to claim him again.
Sam had reached the temple and had gone over the area thoroughly. Not finding any evidence of her CO, she knew that if he didn't turn up soon, she would have to call in reinforcements, get a search and rescue team here.
Removing her cap and running a hand through her hair, Sam prayed Colonel O'Neill turned up soon. Her last check-in with Daniel and Teal'c had revealed that they had also been unsuccessful in their searches so far.
Heading back towards camp, Sam tried to not let her fear get the better of her. Jack O'Neill was a good commander, but more than that, he was a good friend. They had been through a lot together since their first mission to Abydos. He had supported her from the very beginning, not making an issue of the fact that she was a woman. So many commanders would have balked at having a woman as their second. But the Colonel had only taken issue with her being a scientist. And it was a running joke now on the team about his kids, the astrophysicist and the archeologist.
She tolerated it because she knew it was all done in good fun and that the team dynamics of SG1 is what made it work. They were SG1 for a reason. They had all pulled each other out of hot water, been injured, killed and mourned more times then she could count or wanted to remember. All the brushes with death and danger had made them a close team and close friends and she wouldn't want it any other way.
There had been a time when Colonel O'Neill and she had fancied themselves in love with each other, but it had been just a deep abiding friendship. And she was happy about that.
The Colonel and SG1 had supported her when Orlin had made an appearance. He had backed her decisions over the years in everything from a foothold situation to her research regarding the X302. The Colonel looked to her constantly to help with the decision making and to come up with solutions for problems.
And when she had been recently kidnapped by Adrian Conrad, the Colonel and the rest of her team had not stopped hunting for her. They had saved her from certain death, even if they had cut it a little close.
She would find Colonel O'Neill. The man was more than a friend, more than a brother. It was difficult to find a category he fit into, but she loved him as she did the rest of her team and she wouldn't stop until he was found.
Heading back to camp in a circular route, she continued her search, hoping the Colonel would show up soon and unharmed.
"Colonel, this will only work if you hold on tight." He could hear Carter's voice, tight with anxiety, behind him. As he turned his head, Carter came into view along with the two Jaffa holding her and Apophis. In his own hands, he was holding a blue cable, two inches in diameter and feeling as if it was made of rubber. He could feel a faint vibration and warmth coming from the cable.
"You have to hold on, sir." There was the sound of tears in her voice as Carter implored him to not let go of the cable in his hands.
"What is this for, Carter? What's happening?" He was confused. What was going on? What was this cable and why was he holding it? He knew, instinctively, that he must he do as his 2IC said.
"You know, sir. If you drop it Daniel will be killed, we all will."
"Carter, what are you babbling about? Daniel isn't even here." Jack was confused. Where had Apophis come from. He was supposed to be dead.
"Yes, he is, sir. He's behind that glass wall to your right." Jack swung his head to the right, sensing and seeing the room do a roll. He could now see Daniel strung up from the ceiling, spread-eagle, bruised and dripping blood from numerous injuries. The archeologist's had dropped his head to his chest and was obviously unconscious.
"Daniel?" Scared, it was as if he had been punched in the gut. His partner was dying. He could see that.
"Let him go, you scum sucking son of a bitch." Jack swung his head back to Apophis, trying to make a lunge for him realizing he was being held in place by an energy field.
In dismay, Jack watched as Apophis pressed a ruby colored jewel on his wrist device.
"Hang on, sir. Don't let go." Carter screamed at him as a blinding shock of electricity struck him, fiery pain blasted through his shoulders and down his arms. He could see his 2IC fighting the Jaffa holding her, trying to get to him.
"Hold on, Colonel. Hold on" He could hear her continue to yell at him as she fought for release. "Don't let go, don't let go."
Another bolt hit him, traveling up his arms, causing his fingers to go numb. In slow, motion, he watched in horror as the line slipped from his fingers, falling to the floor. Turning his head to his right, he could see Daniel's bloody body, as he was hit by staff weapons fire again and again, until finally, Daniel wasn't moving anymore.
"Daniel! Oh God!" As tears ran from his eyes, Jack continued to struggle against the barrier. " Daniel! Oh Daniel, forgive me."
Looking away from his partner's body, he looked back at his other teammate. "Carter! Oh my God, what is happening, Carter?" The last came out as a whisper.
"Carter!" Jack woke with a start, pain cascading down his shoulders, in particular his right one. He had listed to the side, hitting the rock face, agonizing pain waking him.
Not sure what time it was, he looked to the sky and realized he had probably only been out, about an hour or so. The sun was up and it appeared to be midmorning. It was hard for him to tell, the days of this planet being shorter then Earth's.
Looking at his watch, he could see that the numbers were beginning to blur together and he was shivering as the sweat pouring off him began to evaporate and cool. Taking his canteen, he sipped a little water. A wave of nausea washed over him and he fought to keep the water down.
As the nausea passed, he continued to sip a little at a time, eventually slaking his thirst. Clipping the canteen back to his vest, he dropped his head back and closed his eyes.
Daniel's face came to his mind and he knew he had to hold on, there was someone waiting for him. Someone who thought he was worthwhile, thought he was worth loving. He would not let go. Seeing Daniel's hands holding his, he held onto his lifeline.
Daniel headed back to camp, after being unsuccessful in his search of the ravine. He was scared. He knew something bad had happened, and his fear reached deep into his soul. Everyone in his life had died or left him. Jack had pulled him out of his shell, had befriended him, and supported his participation in SG1. He had helped him search for Sha're and had been there when Daniel had mourned her loss. He had rescued him more times then he could count and in more ways then could be acknowledged. He wasn't sure he could survive the loss of this man, the person who had shown him there were still reasons to live.
They loved each other, cared for each other; he tolerated Jack's hockey and Jack accompanied him to museums and exhibits. Despite all their differences, they had struck a balance. Not that they didn't fight, their arguments within the SGC were legendary. But no matter the dispute, they had made a pact, to not go to bed without expressing their love. They sometimes continued the argument the next day, but they always came together and acknowledged their love for each other at night. That's what made them work when it seemed like a relationship between them was impossible. That was just part of what made him love Jack O'Neill.
And that's what made him determined to find him. He was scared but he still felt in his soul that Jack was alive. If he was dead, Daniel was sure he would somehow know. He was also aware somehow that Jack was in big trouble and if he wasn't found soon, Daniel may just lose him.
Detouring towards the cliff area, to search it, Daniel refused to believe that Jack was dead. He would find him, he would.
"Dad, I'm in the treehouse." Jack could hear Charlie calling him. He had just come out of the back door looking for his son.
"Come on down, Charlie. It's time for dinner." As Jack approached the tree, he could see his son sitting on the edge of the platform, kicking his legs back and forth.
"Come on up, Dad. Please! I made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We can have a picnic and watch the stars come out."
Looking up at his son, and seeing the happiness in his face, Jack made a decision. "OK, son, let me go tell mom where we'll be."
"She knows Dad, she knows. Come on up and sit by me, I have apple juice for both of us." Charlie waved a square carton of juice at him and started to laughed.
Moving over to the ladder he had constructed for his son, Jack climbed to the treehouse that was only twelve feet off the ground. There had been some discussion with Charlie about how high the treehouse should be, with Charlie wanting it to be in the upper branches of the oak that grew their back yard. Jack had overruled his son and built it in the lower limbs. The treehouse had a guard rail and Charlie was now seated at the railing, with his arms draped over it as he watched his father climb up to his level.
Sitting next to his son, Jack reached over and gave Charlie a hug, suddenly feeling a knot of anxiety in his stomach.
"So, where are those sandwiches and juice. Feed your father, son. I'm hungry as a bear." Jack growled and raised his arms like he was an attacking bear and then grabbed his son and tickled him. Charlie dissolved into giggles as he and Jack rolled on the floor of the treehouse.
As they sat back up, Charlie passed out sandwiches and juice and sat cross-legged facing his father. Jack leaned back against the trunk of the tree, and watched his son as he began his makeshift dinner.
"Dad, I need to talk to you."
"Sure, son. What do you want to talk about?"
"Daniel?" Jack was confused. Something wasn't right. Charlie hadn't met Daniel. Charlie was dead. He had died before Daniel came into his life.
"Yeah, Dad. He's scared. He's afraid your gonna die."
"Charlie, how do you know Daniel? What are you talking about?" Jack looked at his son, seeing him as he was before the accident. It came to him as he suddenly realized what was wrong. Charlie was here.
"I know Daniel, Dad. He's looking for you, and you have to hold on."
"What are you talking about, Charlie? I'm here with you where I'm supposed to be." Jack could see Charlie shaking his head.
"No, Dad. You have to hold on for Daniel. He's looking for you. I'm just here to help you remember." As Jack sat there, he could see his son waver and start to fade away. "Hold on, Dad, just a little longer. I love you, and I will be waiting for you."
"No, Charlie, don't go. Please stay here with me. I love you, son. Please, don't go!" Trying to reach for his son and unable to move suddenly, Jack started to cry.
Charlie, still fading, raised his arms, and pointed to the stars in the night sky. "I'm right there, Dad. Just to the right of the North Star. Remember what you told me. Just hold on a little longer for Daniel. He loves you, Dad. And I love you. I'll be here when it's time for you to join me."
"Charlie, I love you. I love you, son." As Jack whispered, he heard his son again.
"I love you too, Dad. Remember to hold on for Daniel. Hold on and I will be there just to the right of the North Star anytime you need me." Charlie's voice faded away.
"Charlie!" Jack woke, still hearing his son's words, tears streaming down his face. He would hold on for Daniel, because of his love for the man but also, for Charlie.
Sam could hear the fear in Daniel's voice as if crackled over her earpiece. It wasn't time for their check-in so she hoped for good news.
"Here, Daniel. What's up?"
"I am near the cliff that overlooks the gate. It looks like there has been a slide, part of it has broken away and fallen. God, you don't think Jack...." Sam's mind had already made the leap. They had all been patrolling the cliff area on their watch as Colonel O'Neill had ordered. There hadn't been any evidence of previous rock slides or avalanches but there was a first time for everything.
"Daniel, don't get too near the edge. The ground may still be unstable. I'm on my way. We'll take a look as soon as we rig some ropes for safety. Hold on, Daniel. Be there in a few." Sam said a quick prayer. Then, "Teal'c, you copy?"
"I copy, Major Carter. I am on my way."
At first, all Daniel could do was stare at the area. It looked as if almost ten feet of rock and soil had slide away from the cliff's edge. //What if...// He tried not to think the worst but in his heart he knew that Jack had fallen. //Oh God, please. Please keep him safe. Please let us find him alive.//
"Jack! Jack!" Daniel waited a few seconds listening for his partner.
"Jack, can you hear me? It's Daniel. Jack if you can hear me, please answer. Jack?"
Listening, he heard the sound of his teammates running, getting closer. And then, something. What was that? Was that a voice.
"Jack? Is that you? Jack, call out again, if you can hear my voice." Daniel waited and then. "Daniel!" He heard his name being called. Where was it coming from?
"Jack, again. Answer me again." Silence followed. Did he imagine it? No, he had heard his partner's voice. He was here somewhere. He knew it.
Daniel? Did he hear Daniel calling him? Or was he dreaming? Jack thought he heard his partner calling for him.
"Daniel, is that you?" He had run out of water and his voice was hoarse.
Hearing Daniel calling for him again, Jack tried one more time.
"Daniel, down here." Making the mistake of trying to look up, Jack felt a sharp pain in his head and neck, causing the edges of his vision to close in. Jack fought it, but unable to stop it, he passed out.
"Sir? Colonel O'Neill? I got you. I got you." Jack thought he heard the voice of his 2IC.
"Carter?" Opening his eyes, Jack could see Carter as she pulled herself a little closer to the cliff .
"Yes sir, it's me. Sit still, let me check you out." Leaning his head back against the cliff face, Jack felt her hands on him, as she probed for injuries. As she reached his right shoulder, he couldn't stop the groan that came.
"Sorry sir. Not sure but you may have a dislocated shoulder. I'm gonna give you some morphine and then rig a harness so we can pull you up to safety." Jack felt the prick of a needle and the burn of medication in his left arm and prayed for relief.
Daniel sat with Jack, watching him closely as Teal'c set up a makeshift stretcher to transport his partner back to the SGC. Jack was pale and had been bleeding from several lacerations. Sam had stabilized his right shoulder with a sling and between them, they had managed to get dressing on all the other injuries. They would have to wait until they got him back to the SGC to find out if there was any hidden damage.
As Daniel sat there though, he could see that Jack was too pale.
"Jack? Jack? Can you hear me? Wake up, please." Daniel called to his partner, a little note of desperation in his voice.
"Daniel? Where?" Daniel felt a small wave of relief as Jack answered him.
"We pulled you back up to the plateau. Teal'c is rigging a stretcher and then, we're gonna have to lug your sorry ass back to the SGC. Doctor Fraiser is waiting for you." Daniel tried to keep a little humor in his voice to cover his fear.
Opening his eyes, Jack asked. "Dream?"
"No, not a dream, Jack." Daniel's voice was a whisper. "Not a dream." Jack nodded and closed his eyes.
As he slipped back into unconsciousness, Daniel thought he heard Jack murmur. "Thanks Charlie."
Stepping back through the gate, Daniel saw a medical team waiting for his precious cargo. Jack had not awakened again after their brief exchange. With thermal blankets, branches from local trees and rope, Teal'c had rigged a stretcher to carry Jack back to the SGC.
There had been some discussion about waiting for the search and rescue team that was enroute to their location. Having contacted them via radio at check- in time, Hammond had been informed of the accident and had dispatched help almost immediately. Dr. Frasier was then consulted and it had been decided that SG1 would start back, in an effort to meet up the S&R team, along with a paramedic, as soon as possible.
Meeting up with SG18, Jack had been carefully transferred to a regular stretcher and the medic had worked to stabilize him. IV started and fluids running, the two teams had headed back, with Daniel walking next to Jack, intent on being right there if he regained consciousness.
But Jack had remained oblivious. Looking pale, his blood pressure remained lower then normal which worried everyone. Joe Mendoza, an Air Force Lieutenant and paramedic, had insisted on the group stopping every thirty minutes so he could do a check of the Colonel's vital signs. He had started a second IV on one of those stops and had positioned a couple of blankets to raise Jack's legs.
Daniel hadn't asked why, knowing Joe was worried about shock. When they had continued the journey back to the gate, Daniel tried to keep a rein on his fear. Walking beside Jack, he had willed his partner to live.
It had taken five hours to get to the gate, much to Daniel's chagrin. Sam had been worried about the path the teams had to take to reach the gate. They'd had to traverse a set of switchbacks along the very cliff face that had collapsed from under Jack. Sam had seen several large cracks and holes in the ground up on the mesa, so there had been some fear that another avalanche could occur.
However, the switchbacks along the cliff had remained stable. As it was, it had taken the teams 20 minutes to climb over the slide area that had been the cause of Jack's accident.
Now back at the SGC, Daniel watched as Janet and her minions descended on his injured partner and he felt a small sense of relief. Jack would survive, he was a fighter and Daniel wasn't going to let him go.
Jack heard a faint beeping noise as he slowly came awake. Recognizing his surroundings by the muted sounds of machinery around him, he struggled to open his eyes. A quiet pervaded the infirmary, and having been a patient here before, he did not need to be told it was nighttime in the mountain medical center.
He also thought he heard a voice talking to him. Unsuccessful in his attempt to open his eyes, Jack tried to zero in on the voice. It seemed to be calling to him, encouraging him to come back to the pain that lay right below the surface. As he listened the voice became clearer.
"Dad? Dad! It's me, Charlie. You did good, Dad. You held on, for me, and for Daniel, just like I knew you could. You still have things to do, Dad. But, remember, I'll be here whenever you need me. Remember, remember to look to the North Star. I'll be there. I love you. Always, Dad."
As Jack listened to the small voice, he fought to get his eyes open . Finally successful, he could see the faint blur of his son next to him, holding his hand and talking. Smiling, he closed his eyes for a second, gathering strength to reach out and hug the little boy he missed so much.
"Dad, I love you. Always." Once again, Jack heard his son's voice and he opened his eyes.
//The North Star, Charlie, I remember. I love you, son.// Jack could hear the words in his head even though he couldn't seem to find the strength to speak. The smiling image of his son started to fade, only to be replaced by Daniel.
His partner's head was laying on the bed and he was whispering softly. "Jack, come back. You made it. You held on. I love you and I won't let you quit on me now." Squeezing Daniel's hand, he saw his partner open his blue eyes and lift his head.
Smiling, Daniel stood and gently stroked his face. "Welcome back, Jack. It's about time."
It had been 3 weeks since his rescue from the cliff and Jack had been home for week of that. He still was having occasional headaches, but they were improving as time progressed. Janet had said the concussion wasn't severe but that he would most likely suffer with headaches on and off for a couple of months. She had reassured him they would subside with time and had made him promise to come see her if Tylenol or his prescribed medication didn't take care of the pain.
Still making daily trips to the Academy Hospital for physical therapy, his shoulder was showing signs of returning to normal. The dislocation had been painful but the sling was becoming less and less necessary. Around the house, he had stopped wearing it, much to Daniel's chagrin. His partner was afraid he would re-injure it. But he was careful, and if his shoulder began to ache, he followed his therapist's instructions, re-applying the sling and putting an ice bag to his shoulder. He wasn't stupid and he knew the sooner he was 100%, the sooner Janet would lift his duty restrictions. SG1 was off rotation for now, and he wanted to be leading the team when they received their next assignment.
Frasier and the physiotherapist felt he would need at least 2 more weeks before he could be cleared for gate travel but she was letting him come back to work on light duty next Monday. He wished he could say he was bored but he wasn't. He was enjoying his medical leave time, if for no other reason then Daniel made a point to leave the mountain at a reasonable hour each night.
Daniel had stayed home with him the first couple of days after his release, caring for him, making sure he could handle things on his own and just generally fussing. Jack had put up with his partner's attention, knowing that Daniel was still feeling shaky. It drove him a little crazy but he knew Daniel would settle a little once he realized it wasn't all a dream.
Daniel had called earlier this evening to say that he had a late meeting and wouldn't be home until 2130. He had sounded worried about leaving Jack alone for so long but Jack had reassured him, saying he would order some Chinese and have leftovers waiting for him when he got home. Daniel had hesitated but reluctantly agreed.
Now, Jack sat on a blanket, on his rooftop deck, staring at the stars, waiting for Daniel. He knew he shouldn't have tried climbing up without help but he needed to do this. Staring at the night sky, he felt calmer, more relaxed, at home, finally. Closing his eyes he started to listen, he wasn't sure for what, but he listened.
"Jack? Jack?" Jack heard Daniel calling to him.
"Jack, I'm home. Wake up. Time for bed." He felt a soft kiss on his lips. As Daniel leaned back, Jack smiled his partner, and squeezed his hand. .
"What, no lecture?"
"Oh probably, but not right now. Most likely wouldn't do any good anyway."
Jack saw the love he felt for Daniel returned in the amused blue eyes that stared back at him.
"Here, scoot." Daniel helped him lean forward and then slid down behind him, pulling him into his arms. "Umm, feels good, Jack."
Jack sat there reveling in his partner's warmth, feeling warm kisses peppering his neck. Eventually, Daniel settled back, and the need to talk worried at Jack.
"When I was stuck on that cliff, I had a lot of dreams, or maybe nightmares would be a better word for them." Feeling Daniel stiffen slightly behind him, Jack waved his hand. "They're not important. But, what is important is that when I felt I couldn't last any longer, I saw Charlie."
Jack waited for Daniel to say something, expecting him to tell him he had been hallucinating or just dreaming. But his partner just hugged him closer.
He leaned his head back on Daniel's shoulder. "When he was small, I hated going away on assignments. I missed so much of him growing up. I needed to be with him and Sarah and it tore at me to leave them. One night, when he was about 4 yrs old, the two of us were sitting in the treehouse I'd built for him. We were laying on our backs looking at the stars through the tree limbs. No leaves, it was autumn and I was going to be missing Thanksgiving with him again." Jack could feel the burn of unshed tears in his eyes as he remembered back. Daniel stroked his arms, offering him comfort where there was none.
"He asked me why I always had to leave, and why I was always gone so long. How do you explain the concepts of duty, honor and country to a four year old? You can't. Let me tell you, you just can't." Jack again felt the anger of losing so much precious time with his son.
"So, I told him to look to the right of the North Star each night and he would be able to talk to me and I would hear him. I told him to watch for the North Star each night and as long as it was still in the sky, he would always know I loved him." Jack could feel the tears running down his face. Turning sideways in Daniel's arms gingerly, he put his arms around the man he loved. Burying his face in the crook of his partner's neck, he felt Daniel hug him, as he stroked his back, loving him, trying to calm him.
"He came to me and told me that I had to hold on for you and for him. That it wasn't time for me to join him yet. He helped me when I needed him the most. Oh God, Daniel. I couldn't save my own son, but he saved me." Jack felt his loss deeply tonight, like he hadn't in a while. Daniel pulled him closer, stroking his back, murmuring softly to him of his love.
With Daniel's help, Jack slowly regained control, feeling an overwhelming fatigue and need for sleep.
"Thank you, Daniel."
"For what, Jack? Not lecturing you about the idiocy of climbing up here with an injured shoulder?" Jack could hear the emotion in Daniel's voice. .
"No. Thank you for loving me, finding me. I held on because.....because I knew I had you to come back to. And...., and when I almost gave up, Charlie reminded me." Jack kissed the chest beneath his cheek and felt Daniel's arms hug him tighter.
"Jack, I will always find you. You're not getting away from me that easily." Looking into blue eyes, Jack saw the sincerity in Daniel's face. "It took me a long time after Sha're's death to let myself love again. A long time to find the right person, the person I wanted to spend my life with, and I won't let you go without a fight, I promise. I will always find you, never fear."
Leaning into his partner and closing his eyes, Jack heard Daniel softly say. "Thanks, Charlie."