thothmes: SG-1 gathered in the woods - Legend "Team" (Team in Smoke)
[personal profile] thothmes
H IS FOR HELPING HANDS, by THOTHMES (PG)

Summary: Everyone needs a little help sometimes.
Word count: 3,366
Characters: Jack, Teal'c, Daniel, Sam, Thor, and offscreen, Hammond
Era: A long time ago in... Who am I kidding? Classic team, somewhere in the middle of their run.
Categories: team, offworld, gen (of course! This is a Soup!)
Author's notes: It seemed like such a good idea at the time. I immediately had a vivid scene in my head, all I needed was to flesh it out, elaborate if you will. I signed up with alacrity. This one had practically written itself. "Thhpppbbbbtttt!" said Muse. "This is offworld. I don't do offworld. And that scene? Won't work. Start over!"




Some days, SG-1 found, were just like that. Monday the M.A.L.P. had gone through without incident, and the readings had come back all fine and dandy, and fit for humans to go through. On Tuesday, the U.A.V. had gone through and sent back some lovely pictures of a small village surrounded by many ruins, and Daniel was in kid-at-Christmas mode. By the time they briefed General Hammond, got the okay for the mission, and went through the gate it was Wednesday, and Wednesday turned out to be one of those days.

They all stepped through from Earth four abreast and emerged into the stone platform of the target gate and the weak sunshine of an overcast and slightly chilly day. Before even Teal'c had a chance to identify what was happening, there was an ominous creak, and without any further warning, the giant naquadah ring that was their path home toppled over, the apex of the ring crashing down on the DHD, reducing it to mangled wreckage before they could react.

"Good aim!" said Jack, not that the others heard him. Daniel was too busy letting out a scatological curse word, Sam was fumbling to let go of her firearm in its carry harness so she could root around for her meter and take energy readings. Whether Teal'c's exclamation was also scatological, no one knew, because he was startled enough to revert to his native tongue.

The meter, once Sam located it, was really pretty unnecessary. Aside from the whole question of the crumpled DHD, the gate itself was now in several chunks, and it was pretty clear that they would not be back for dinner on Thursday.
"Do you think they planned it like that?" the Colonel asked.

"To threaten faster walkers with death from above?" muttered Daniel. The suddenness of the change in their fortunes had unnerved him somewhat and sarcasm was as good a refuge as any under those circumstances.

"I do not believe anyone planned this, O'Neill," said Teal'c. "I have never heard of such an occurrence before."

"Why would the M.A.L.P. and the U.A.V. make it through fine, and we somehow destabilize the whole gate? It doesn't make sense!"

Clearly, then, Carter was less upset by the near death experience than she was by the fact that she couldn't explain it.

The Colonel shrugged.

"This too shall pass? Maybe it was its time."

He felt no great need for an explanation. The bottom line was that this was turning out to be a sucky day, and now he had no exit strategy, nor was one likely to appear soon. What mattered was not how it happened, but that it had happened.

"Let's go find that village, kids, and hope we don't outstay our welcome."
His hand gesture towards the way they would take was, as he preferred, just a little outsized.

On the way, as the overcast turned to darker, more business-like clouds, and misting drizzle shaded over into a dreary monotony of cold rain, they debated whether all, or even most, of the DHDs were situated at just the right distance to be crushed if the gate were to fall. Daniel and Teal'c found the idea intriguing, but could not see a reason for it ("Duh! To take out the DHD and make it harder to rebuild. A safeguard in a retreat!" offered Jack, forgoing gravitas in favor of making his point more forcefully.) Sam just lamented the lack of data or the opportunity to gather it.

"Relax, Carter," said her commanding officer. "Hammond knows where we are. He'll figure something out. We just need to sit tight and wait for a rescue."
Privately he was very glad that mounting the rescue was not his job. It kind of helped that whether he knew it yet or not, Hammond's Wednesday was even worse than his own. Schadenfreude. Not that he would say that in front of Daniel. Maybe ShadyFreud?

********************

The welcome committee met them at the boundaries of the village, and it was both enthusiastic, loud, and eager to announce them. Usually it was Daniel's job to start the meeting and greeting, but he really wasn't too comfortable with dogs, and there were a lot of them, and none of them were toy breeds. Jack stepped forward instead, drew himself up to his full height, looked one of them in the eye and snapped "Ahhht!" once, with feeling. The dog he had challenged settled instantly into a relaxed pose and stopped barking, and soon the others followed suit. Daniel was never sure how he did it, but there didn't seem to be a dog in this universe or any other that didn't adore Jack O'Neill.

The dogs were followed shortly by a mixed age flock of the town's children, and between Sam's gentle smile, and Jack's juvenile mugging, they soon decided that SG-1 were a Good Thing, if somewhat bedraggled, and should be escorted home to meet the folks. Had they but known, this was an enormous stroke of good fortune, because in tales passed down from ancient days, strangers were generally malevolent, but the villagers decided that these four, could not be harbingers of death and destruction. Anyone who was that bewitching to dogs and kids could not be evil, surely?

Their luck was looking up. Jack ripped the velcro cover on his watch back to check beneath it for the time. Of course it was. Back home it was starting into Thursday.

********************

The villagers turned out to be farmers, who supplemented the grains and vegetables they grew with fruits gathered from the forest, and game for extra protein. Sam's excellent marksmanship and Jack's eye for the lay of the ground and his grasp of strategy soon made them popular with the hunting parties (once the more conservative of the men got over the fact that Sam was indeed a girl. The lure of extra meat swiftly made up for that deficiency in their eyes, and soon any grumbling stopped.

Teal'c surprised them all by turning out to be a dab hand at the weaving loom, which was a bit of a scandal, given that he was undoubtedly male. If any of the villagers doubted his masculinity, they were discouraged by his bulk, and no one gave him any trouble about his strange proclivity for women's work.

When Jack had asked him where he had learned the skill, he was brief and hardly informative.

"By observation, O'Neill. I enjoy weaving. It is soothing."

Well, okay then.

Daniel became a jack of all trades, trying first one pastime, then another, learning what he could of the material culture, even as he furthered his understanding of the larger culture. He considered it unfortunate that they were, for the time being at least, stranded, and he knew that they were all only one serious infection or local contagion from being doomed without access to modern medicine, but really he considered his time on the planet to be more fun and certainly more absorbing than any of his last five vacations.

********************
A wet and cloudy spring gave way to an unusually sunny and dry summer. With the stranger's help, the store of salted dried meat was large for the time of year, and the grain was growing well. Fruits too had been dried, and stored in the cool dark cellars, and apart from the occasional weeding day, when the whole village turned out to rid the gardens of unwanted nuisance plants, the pace of village life slowed down in deference to the heat. Still, everyone was mindful of the unending round of the seasons, so one day, with no particular leadership or organization to get things rolling, the villagers began work on building SG-1 a house.

It wouldn't do to have these helpful and profitable strangers freeze to death. Except for the big one with the gold mark, they didn't eat that much, and all told they more than made up for what they consumed.
Perhaps because everyone was so wrapped up in the project, and perhaps because no good deed can go completely unpunished, the house raising almost ended in tragedy. There was no problem at the building site, but in all the commotion and bustle, one of the children, a pudgy-fingered boy of about three years old wandered off, and nobody noticed. It was hot, and people kept telling him to move away from the heavy timbers, because if they fell on him he could be hurt. He wanted to go swim, so he did.

He might have been okay, if he had not been a curious and adventurous sort. He didn't go to the placid, tepid waters of the lake where the slope into the water was gradual, and there were flat rocks the women used in doing the laundry. That was boring. He wanted to go to the cold, glacier-fed river, where that water danced and splashed, foaming white and rushing down chutes and over falls. That looked like fun.

Everyone had taken a break for lunch when one of the preteen boys, who had been detailed to watch the vegetable gardens and make sure that animals did not eat the tender crops while everyone else was busy elsewhere came running in yelling for help. He had been bored watching the quiet and empty fields, and had slipped off to the river to fish, and he had seen the younger boy go in and down a chute, but hadn't seen him come up. The parents of the little boy stood stock still, stricken with guilt, paralyzed with fear. They had failed to watch him, and now...

The rest of the able bodied population took off running to the river. Teal'c knowing that he and Jack had the longest legs, had the presence of mind to grab the boy, and holding in his arms demanded, "You will direct me to where you saw him last."

With the help of the kid they were soon there. Teal'c went to the head of the chute and began to walk down stream, while Jack crashed down through the bracken by the edge of the water, rushing to the edge of the largest waterfall. If the little boy had gone over that edge... The pool below was deep, and the froth beneath hid a rolling circular current that the boy would not be strong enough to escape.

Teal'c hunted diligently behind O'Neill, paying particular attention to the places where there were snags, and where the water was dark and deep or where the froth hid what lay beneath, and soon he was joined by the rest of the village. They found nothing.

Sam, who had caught up with them, looked up just long enough to watch Jack launch himself from the big rock by the side of the waterfall. She called for Teal'c and Daniel, and ran off into the woods, seeking the trail she knew would take them to the pool at the foot of the waterfall.

Jack dove deep, fighting the urge to gasp as he hit the frigid water, slicing through the bubbles to the deeper water, searching frantically for the flash of yellow fabric he had seen. He hadn't been able to be sure it was cloth. Maybe it was old yellowed leaves, but he needed to know. He needed to reach it! Suddenly there was a flash of something lighter, and he reached for it, just as the rolling current snatched it back and away, frantically kicking to keep himself under, ignoring the imperatives of his lungs he waited. There! He grabbed a small chubby arm. Aiming across the current he kicked for all he was worth, dragging the limp child away from the angry swirl, making for the surface.

He reached the surface at last, long moments after the point when he thought he would lose the battle with his instincts and breathe in the freezing water, just to have something, anything to fill up his lungs. He turned the boy face up and for a while he could only pant and gasp, filling his lungs with sweet, sweet air, kicking only enough to keep them both from sinking. Then, as his team made their way down to him, he wearily made his way to the edge of the pool and climbed out.

The boy was limp. Too limp. He wasn't breathing.

"Oh, God!" said Jack, as his legs gave out, and he landed hard on a mossy rock.
His team found him there, white and shivering - from cold? from reaction? - cradling the small limp body in his arms.

"Too late!" he mumbled. "Too late! Too late! Too late!"

Daniel looked on in commiseration with swimming eyes. Teal'c moved behind Jack and placed a firm, warm hand on O'Neill's shoulder, but Carter bent down to take the child from him.

He would not let go.

"Sir," she said. "He may not be dead."

The brown eyes, the only spot of color in the pale cheeks met hers, but he did not dare to hope.

"Young children have a diving reflex that shuts their breathing down. He's cold. Children this small have survived up to half an hour submerged in cold water," she told him. "Remember your first aid, sir! Nobody's dead until they are warm and dead."

He handed her the boy, and turned away. He would not, could not watch, as Sam worked to open his airway, to breathe for him. He put his fingers in his ears.

"Luh-luh-la-luh-luh-luh-laaa" he sang, almost tunelessly, so he would not hear.

There was a cry, a wail, loud enough that he could not help but hear. He closed his eyes, as the hand on his shoulder squeezed in solidarity and comfort.

"Here, sir!" came Carter's voice, and then a wiggly, noisy armful of boy was handed over to him. Living, breathing, indignant in finding himself where he was. The last time a boy crying had made him this happy, it was Charlie, fresh from the womb and pissed as all hell about it.

He didn't say a thing. He couldn't. His smile might have been a little wobbly, but his team wasn't going to call him on it. They thought it was glorious.

********************

After this, the village felt SG-1 was one of their own, and to Daniel's great joy, this meant that they agreed that some of the oldest boys could take him up into the hills to see the temples that they had not been happy showing him before then. They assured Jack and Teal'c that there was no danger of any sort in the temples. They did not need to escort the party. The only reason Daniel had been denied was an uneasiness allowing strangers into their holiest places. Daniel was no longer a stranger. If it pleased him to see the temples, they would make it possible for him to do so.

Knowing full well his archeologist's ability to find trouble and to let his curiosity get the best of him, Jack had to fight an urge, so strong that it was bucking for premonition, to escort him, but after receiving a pointed look and an almost imperceptible head nod from Teal'c, he had reluctantly signed off on the trip, and Daniel and ten young men on the cusp of adulthood set out.

Jack knew, he knew that Daniel was trained and competent, but still, as the shadows began to lengthen, he found himself wandering in the general direction of the bottom of the slope that the last of the temples on Daniel's itinerary crested. As to the P-90 in his hands? He had been thinking of doing a little hunting at dusk. That was his story, and he was sticking to it.

Damned if ten minutes after he got to the foot of the hill, if Daniel didn't come running out of the temple at top speed, with a boil of boys behind him. It was a scene straight out of an Indiana Jones movie, Indy running for his life, with angry natives running after. Jack slipped his safety off and aimed well over the boys' heads. He would keep Daniel safe, but he hoped he could do it without harming a single boy. Beside him he heard Teal'c's staff weapon click open and charge. Clearly he was not the only one with... concerns.

Down the slope the wild chase ran, with the boys gaining on Daniel as they went. He was shouting something, and it sounded like "Go! Shoot! Go! Shoot!" but Jack realized just as his finger was reaching for the trigger that he had it wrong.

"Don't shoot! Don't shoot!" Daniel was yelling, his voice thinned by the distance. The mad race came to a stream, but instead of leaping the banks they threw themselves, en masse, into the water.

Jack saftied his weapon, Teal'c shut down his staff, and the two men strolled over to the wet pile of bodies.

Looking down, Jack said nothing, but extended a hand to his winded friend, and helped him up.

Daniel made his way to his feet, chest heaving, supporting himself with his hands on his thighs, and looking up at his team mates, explained with as little waste of breath as possible.

"Yellow jackets!" he said.

********************

Sam had been muttering and enveloping herself in a bit of a mathematical fog as the summer began to fade away into fall. This was fairly normal behavior for his second, so Jack would have been content to ignore it if it were not for the fact that it seemed to be making Teal'c pensive too. Perhaps it was time to get to the bottom of things.

He was just making his mind to go over and ask her what was with all the math, when Teal'c beat him to the punch.

"What is the problem you seek to solve?" he said, standing over where Carter was seated on the dirt floor of their house, scribbling on a scrap of birch bark.

Daniel and Jack's attempts to be subtle about listening in were an utter failure.

"Distance calculations."

She waved the piece of birch bark about as she explained.

"I know what our distance from Earth is, but I am unsure as to the exact direction. Now based on some calculations I've done after making some observations about how Earth's constellations have been shifted by our altered view point..."

They all listened to her talk through her work for a while, knowing that sometimes it was part of the process that led to further discovery, but Jack was finally fed up with trying to follow a complicated explanation without knowing what the point of the exercise was.

"So what does that get us, Carter?"

"Well, sir, I don't have any way to ensure that my figures are very close, but I am hoping I can get us a ballpark figure for how soon the Tollan, the Tok'ra, and the Asgard might be able to reach us here, and unless they have someone on a mission in this part of the galaxy than can divert for us, the Tok'ra are going to be about four years, and the Tollan a year and a half and the Asgard could be here any..."

There was a flash of light.

"- minute now," she finished from the deck of an Asgard ship.
"You are indeed mathematically proficient, Samantha Carter!" Teal'c offered.
Jack turned around 360 degrees, and in so doing, found their rescuer, his favorite Asgard of them all.

"Thor!" he exclaimed in delight.

"I regret that I could not be here sooner, O'Neill," the frail looking alien said. "I did not get your General Hammond's message until recently. I understand you need a hand getting home."

"Yeah. We do. Thanks, buddy!" said Jack.

Sam looked around at the hands in the room. Her own feminine ones, Teal'c's broad fingered ones, Daniel's long, slender ones, The Colonel's ever-restless ones, and Thor's impossibly small, impossibly frail, near-translucent ones. Strange that Thor's always seemed to be the mightiest ones of all. They pushed the stones across the ship's console, and just like that, SG-1 were going home.
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A Few Words From The Wise

Speak to him, for there is none born wise.
-The Maxims of Ptahotep

In mourning or rejoicing, be not far from me.
- an Ancient Egyptian Love Song

But your embraces
alone give life to my heart
may Amun give me what I have found
for all eternity.
-Love Songs of the New Kingdom, Song #2

To Know the Dark

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is travelled by dark feet and dark wings.
-Wendell Berry

Up in the morning's no for me,
Up in the morning early;
When a' the hills are covered wi' snaw,
I'm sure it's winter fairly.
-Robert Burns

Visit to the Hermit Ts'ui

Moss covered paths between scarlet peonies,
Pale jade mountains fill your rustic windows.
I envy you, drunk with flowers,
Butterflies swirling in your dreams.
-Ch'ien Ch'i

Mistress of high achievement, O lady Truth,
do not let my understanding stumble
across some jagged falsehood.
-Pindar

Every Gaudy colour
Is a bit of truth.
-Nathalia Crane

I counted two-and-twenty stenches,
All well defined, and several stinks.
-Samuel Coleridge