|Friendship:||Gen stories about the friendship between Col. Jack O'Neill and Dr. Daniel Jackson, with a team focus.|
|Season/Spoilers:||Season 4. No particular spoilers.|
|Synopsis:||A little road trip and a pair of jammies.|
|Warnings:||None, nada, zilch.|
JimJam: (n) A "Murphy" situation, in which anything which can go wrong, will. (according to Bri's Grandma MacPhail ;^)
Jack O'Neill risked a quick glance at the man in the passenger seat.
Yep. Still closed.
"Don't talk...Drive...Keep your eyes on the road...Slow down!" The breathy words came in a rush.
"Daniel... You haven't opened your eyes in the last 90 minutes-how would you know if I need to slow down?" Jack kept his attention tightly focused on the slick roadway. The sheets of rain created his own private Anvil Chorus, pounding atonally against the jeep's windshield.
"I've ridden with you before-I don't have to look. Slow down!"
"You want to get back to the B and B tonight? Or do you want to crawl in with the tweetie birds in the morning?"
"I choose to get there. Undented. Undrowned. I've given up on untraumatized."
Jack smirked. Of course, the other man really did have a point. The heavy rains had turned the old country road into a shallow river, and the ditches to either side looked deep enough to develop tides. Driving conditions had been deteriorating steadily since they'd left the Nature Center. But he was still firmly in control of the vehicle. As his stuffy archaeologist buddy would realize if he'd actually been paying attention, rather than gradually working himself into a panic attack.
"You know, Daniel, this is a very good experience for you. Loosen you up a bit."
"If I admit that I'm loosened up, will you slow down?"
"Nope. You'd be fibbing."
Daniel made one of those unrepeatable little noises, and lowered his head-eyes still closed-into his hands. "At least I made it to 35."
Laughing, Jack relented and let him stew in his funk. The remnant smile lingered on his lips as he drove. Hazardous as conditions were, it was kind of nice being closed up in their little island of arid warmth.
A flash of brown on four legs startled him out of his contemplative moment. Yelping, he twisted the steering wheel desperately to the left, trying to avoid the hurtling body. Inevitably, the vehicle skidded, hydroplaning and swinging in a 180 degree arc, across the road, over the edge, and into the prospective ocean of the ditch.
It had happened so fast that Daniel hadn't even had time to yell. As the jeep settled, shaking and rolling slightly from the force of the water running through the ditch, he just sat in shock, mouth agape, eyes wide. Slowly, he swiveled his head around to lock eyes with Jack.
Guiltily, Jack met his accusing stare. "Umm... You OK?"
"Am I OK?"
"Yeah-you know... Did you bump your head? Whap your knees? Swallow your tongue?"
"Am I O...K...? Maybe you should consider just how OK you can expect to be when we've finished discussing the subject of driving 150 miles per hour on a narrow country road in the middle of the second coming of Noah!"
"Daniel, I was not speeding! There was this animal..."
"Right. So what do we do now, Colonel? I presume that, number one, the engine is stalled, and number two, should the engine actually be willing to start we are stuck in this stupid ditch, out in the middle of nowhere, without even a decent coat between us."
"Easy, big guy. Gotta watch that blood pressure."
Jack tried to see through the streaming water obscuring the world outside the jeep's rapidly cooling haven. They couldn't stay here-it was going to get pretty cold, and out in these boonies, there was essentially no chance that anyone would come along to help them out.
"All right. Seems to me I remember seeing a light back off the road a mile or so back. Looks like we hike."
"I didn't see any light." Damn, but that sulk was developed to perfection.
"Daniel, you've had your eyes closed virtually since we left the highway. Of course you didn't see any light. Unless you want to stay here and freeze your fingers and toes off, we walk." He unlatched the door and pushed it open, climbing up onto the surface of the road.
After another moment of stubborn pouting, Daniel gave in, opening his own door and stepping awkwardly over the edge of the ditch into the fallow field that stretched alongside the road.
The two men moved to the rear of the vehicle, Jack inspecting his car for damage, Daniel assessing the alternatives for crossing to Jack's side of the ditch. Jack was crouched, trying to see under the body of the car, when a shout, a loud splash and a wave of extraneous water startled him into plopping down onto his rear on the wet blacktop.
Daniel had tried to jump the ditch. Unfortunately, the soaked earth along the edge of the road had collapsed under the impact of his shoe. Jack manfully choked down the almost irresistible urge to burst into laughter at the site of his bedraggled friend, sitting up to his chest in dirty, rapidly flowing water, face adorned with smears of mud and a look of complete outrage.
It took most of his considerable courage to meet those flashing blue eyes.
"Uh... Y... you should have waited for me..."
He'd swear it was a growl. Or maybe just the grinding of Daniel's teeth. This was going to be a very long night.
Jack had suffered a lot of abuse in his life, but he didn't think he'd ever felt as miserable as this. Every stitch of his clothing was saturated with water; his boots squished and overflowed at every step. He was cold, cold, cold.
Of course, Daniel was even more unhappy. He'd started this trek soaked to the skin. He hadn't said a word in the last half hour. Not a good sign from the normally mouthy archaeologist.
But the goal was in sight. He hadn't imagined it. There was a bright place off to the side. As they dragged themselves up the spur road, the brightness resolved itself into a large, old fashioned farmhouse. The light came from a pair of windows to the right of the most blessed icon Jack had ever seen-a door. To inside. Which was where he really, really wanted to be.
Hauling their weary bodies up the broad steps to the covered porch, they leaned, exhausted, against the side of the house. Finally, Jack pushed himself erect and knocked on the door.
He knocked again, with more authority.
Another wait. Finally, the door cracked, just enough to show the ugly end of a shotgun.
"What d'you want!" The voice was scratchy, of indeterminate gender. And distinctly not friendly.
"We put our car in the ditch a mile or so down the road. We're soaked, we're wiped out. We just really need someplace to stay until we can get someone to help us."
"How do I know you're tellin' the truth? You could be anyone."
Jack was way too miserable to be sensible. "Do we look like we're lying? If we were here to steal the silver, would we drag our soaked carcasses up to the front door and knock, f'r cryin' out loud?"
The door inched toward closing. "I don't like th' look of you. You got shifty eyes."
As Jack sputtered in outrage, Daniel finally bestirred himself. Insinuating himself between Jack and the end of that gun, he coaxed gently, "Please. We're pretty much finished-so tired; so cold. Please just let us come in and warm up a bit."
Jack looked at the back of Daniel's head, and he knew-knew-that the poor soul behind the door was getting the full treatment. The Daniel Jackson Sadder-Than-a-Kid-With-a-Dead-Puppy Eyes, Special Edition. And he also knew without a single doubt that it would work.
The crack in the door widened, and a light went on behind the door. Jack looked up into eyes at least five inches above his own. He felt Daniel take an involuntary step backward.
"Wh...wha..." Vintage Daniel eloquence.
"You promise you're not some kinda crooks or murderers or such?" Her gaze-for it was, indeed, a woman-was fixed on Daniel's face.
"Uh... I have to tell you, ma'am... right now I don't think I could murder chocolate pudding, let alone a whole person. Please, please... can't we come in for a bit? Call for someone to help us?"
She backed up and lowered the weapon, pulling the door open. "C'mon in, honey. Can't call no one-phone's dead. But I guess I can find a bit of food for the pair of you, and there's a spare bed if you don't mind sharing."
Jack felt his jaw drop. Damn, that boy was deadly.
Her name was Heather. An oddly wispy name for a woman who had to be at least six and a half feet tall, and just about as wide. Heather Robinson.
And she was currently chattering away in her deep, rusty voice, bustling her formidable body around a big, old fashioned kitchen, rustling up the 'bit of food' she'd promised Daniel. He and Daniel sat at the big wooden table, finally warm, wearing nothing but a couple of old blankets, and gazing in increasingly stunned silence as the mountain of food on the table grew.
They'd already had her life story as she traded the blankets for their soaked clothes, then started to cook every edible object she could find. Widow; grown sons; living on a comfortable pension, etc. And, reading between the lines, lonely. Having decided that they weren't going to murder her, she'd apparently adopted them.
Under her urging, they ate. And ate. Then ate some more. And the mountain on the table didn't seem to have lost any of its bulk as a result.
"C'mon, Shifty. Have another hunk of that chicken."
Shifty. Daniel was 'Honey.' he was Shifty.
"Thanks, Heather." His stomach sent him a little cramp of protest. "But I really don't think I can stuff another bite in."
She was palpably disappointed. "Honey, what about you?" She stroked the top of Daniel's head. Notch up another one-deadly. "I've got this apple pie here just needin' a boy to eat a bit of it."
Daniel's dazed face turned slightly green. "Umm. M...maybe later, OK? I may just explode if I try now."
"Well, I'll just save all this, then. You boys might want a snack in the night."
Jack wasn't surprised by the wave of relief that swept through him. He'd half expected her to hand feed them like some sort of orphaned baby birds. Come to think of it, he felt a bit like a baby bird when she loomed over him.
Heather busily began storing food away, still chattering. Jack and Daniel watched her in silence, then turned to stare at each other.
"How'd we miss it?" Daniel whispered blankly.
"Th... the white rabbit."
Jack chuckled. This whole thing did have a sort of surreal feel to it.
"Who knows what she's got in the pen in the back yard?"
"Don' have none of Robby's things here no more, but my youngest visited last month; left a bit of stuff behind. You'll have to make do-your stuff won't be dry enough to wear for a while. And those boots...! Don't know if they'll ever recover."
Obediently, still wrapped in their scratchy togas, they followed her through the door of the spare room. It looked reassuringly normal, if a bit rustic.
Heather pulled a pile of cloth off the shelf in the closet, then tossed it on the quilt covered bed.
"You can probably wear these." She chuckled roughly. "Both of you..."
With a last pat on Daniel's head, she finally left them alone.
Daniel dropped limply down to sit on the bed. Then pulled his legs up and flopped back against the mattress.
"Wow. She's kind of... of..." He stalled, looking for an adequate descriptive expression.
"...a force of nature-like a hurricane!" Jack supplied, grinning wryly. "I don't think I've ever eaten that much at one sitting. Why the hell do you suppose she keeps all that food around? Surely she doesn't eat enough to use all that?"
Daniel chuckled. "I think there's something strange about that refrigerator-kind of like Mary Poppins's carpetbag. It's bottomless."
Jack was shaking out the pajamas Heather had provided. Oh, boy. For a moment, he looked at his prizes, then at his friend.
"You know that old saw, 'Like father, like son?"
"Who woulda thought it worked for mothers as well." He held up a pair of draw-string pajama bottoms that would have wrapped around his body at least three times."
A choke of laughter escaped Daniel. "Whoa! They grow them sizeable around here!"
"Uh, Daniel?" Jack repeated.
"Yes, Jack," Daniel said patiently.
"I hate to tell you this, but there's only one pair of pajamas."
"One pair? What are we supposed to do with one pair?"
"Well, I figure we've got a couple of options here. One of us could sleep in the raw..."
"Not a chance! I'm not sure whether it would be worse to be the one with or the one without!"
"Or we could split them. One of us take the top, one the bottom."
Daniel regarded him suspiciously. "Oh? And just which would get what?"
"I get the bottoms."
Jack ticked off his points on his fingers.
"I'm the colonel..."
"I'm a civilian; you can take your birds and stuff them!"
"I'm taller-the top would cover you better than it would me..."
"And finally, I'm bigger, tougher, meaner and sneakier. And my dear Dr. Jackson, in the final analysis, that's what runs the world." He grinned at the incoherent archaeologist.
"Take it or leave it, Danny boy. It's the pajama top or nature's own." He grabbed the bottoms and backed away from the bed.
Daniel sat up and looked at him. Eyes like hard blue daggers; mouth displaying that natural pout.
After a long moment, he got to his feet, wrapping himself tightly in the questionable dignity of his blanket, grabbed the pajama top and stalked across the hall to the bathroom.
Grinning in triumph, Jack quickly shucked his blanket and hauled the bottoms over his legs. Thank god for drawstring waists! At least they'd stay up, even if the heavy gathering around his middle did make him look a bit like he was wearing harem pants.
"C'mon. We've got to get some sleep. Get your butt out here and go to bed."
The bathroom door cracked. "Turn off the light."
"What, and have you fall over every obstacle between the bathroom and the bed? Come on, clutz. Move it."
A pause. Then the bathroom door slowly opened, and Daniel stepped out and crossed the hall to their room.
Jack knew he shouldn't do it. Knew he'd pay. There'd be briefings that lasted 12 hours; detailed presentations accompanied by 117 obscure slides; microscopic examinations of ruins, requiring exhaustive (and time consuming) videotaping and pages and pages of notes.
He'd pay. But he'd reached his limit. He could feel his cheeks begin to bulge; twisted his tightly closed mouth to the side to try to stifle it-but it was no use. He burst into roaring, uncontrollable laughter.
Daniel was swamped by the incredible garment. The hem reached all the way to mid-calf. The neck was so wide that it slid off one shoulder and hung halfway down his bicep. And the sleeves hung at least ten inches beyond the ends of his long-fingered hands.
And his face. It flamed red. The pout had graduated all the way to pure, outraged mutiny. His formidable brows scrunched together, beetling over eyes slitted in fury.
He looked like a naughty, sulky little boy wearing his father's shirt.
Daniel glared at him as he rolled on the bed, howling in mirth.
"Yuk it up, Colonel Abdul. You. Are. Going. To. Pay. For. This."
Jack fought to bring his voice to heel. "I know, I know. C... can't help it. Oh, god, Daniel. Whose cookie jar did you raid?"
"I feel like I'm wearing a potato sack. And don't mention food!"
Still periodically jerking with stray laughs, Jack rolled off the bed and swept the covers back.
"C'mon. Now we really need to get some sleep. Oversleep tomorrow and we may never get the jeep straightened out. And somehow, I don't think you're going to be eager to spend another night here."
Daniel maintained his furious, dignified stance for another moment, then relented and crawled beneath the sheets. "Jeez. Cheerful thought!" his tone was spectacularly grumpy. After a moment of silence, he voiced a thought that was already zipping around Jack's head. "What do you suppose we're going to have to eat tomorrow morning in order to escape from here?"
"Oh, god. How many chickens do you suppose she's got? How many eggs can you eat?"
Daniel made a gagging noise. "Urgh!"
After another moment of silence, Daniel whispered darkly, "Jack, if you ever tell anyone about this, I will make the rest of your life a misery. You have no idea the kinds of things you can learn from studying ancient cultures."
Jack erupted again into little bouts of laughter. "Oh, god, Daniel. The temptation is incredible, but painful as it is, I swear. I'll be good. But I expect a very nice Christmas present for it."
Another helpless chuckle. "Go to sleep, Daniel. If you're lucky, you'll wake up and discover that this was all a strange nightmare."
"Grrr." Then a tiny chuckle. "Haven't worn a nighty since I was about 2. 'Night, Jack."
One final laugh. "G'night, Dan-boy."