Title: The Advantages of Mind Reading (1/2)
Rating: R for language and implied sex
Word Count: ~12,800 (in 2 parts)
Prompt: from doctorv for the Jack/Daniel Ficathon V: cyberpunk, humor, cartoons, pre-Season 9, no fluffy-wuffy
013. Tension (Little Damn Table)
Summary: An off-world mission just isn't the same if two members of the team don't wind up with nanites in their heads. . . .
Notes: Special thanks to janedavitt for the beta and to momebie for guiding me in the ways of cyberpunk and for not getting mad when I borrowed our OCs.
written for jd_ficathon
written for sg_15_fics
Recced: recced by green_grrl at stargateficrec
The Advantages of Mind Reading
Jack ducked behind one of the electronic columns, the exposed circuitry sparking towards his face as he turned away. He knew this was going to be a bad mission; he knew it. Every time SG-1 got sucked in on a "cultural exchange" everything went to hell.
"Not every time," Daniel muttered next to him.
Jack pushed Daniel down and out of the way, not realizing he'd been speaking aloud. "Every time," Jack argued. The circuitry in the exploded column sparked again, forcing them both to cover their heads. And Representative Henley had bragged about how indestructible and useful the damn things were—climate control, he'd bragged, security! The best they seemed to be doing now was providing cover. "Where's Carter?"
"With Teal'c?" Daniel leaned around the opposite side of the column, firing at their attackers.
"Specific." Jack clicked his P-90 over to single-shot and took careful aim at the guy manning the energy cannon that was making everything explode. The man's head snapped back and he dropped. "Can you raise them?" Jack flopped back against the column; the noise from the weapon's fire—a mix of pinging energy cannons and explosive low-tech rifles—was getting to him more than usual, his head pounding with every shot fired.
Daniel held up his radio, which was held together by a few wires, the plastic melted around the edges where it had been blown apart.
"Perfect." The attackers—revolutionaries, one of their hosts had screamed—had overrun the entire hall. Some kind of tear gas, and a quick attack—one of them had been a waiter? Jack shook his head. Why was it getting harder to concentrate?
"Jack?" Daniel's hands slapped Jack's cheeks, but he was having trouble focusing, having trouble sorting out the Daniel in front of him from the Daniel in his head who leaned closer to kiss him. "Now's so not the time for that." Daniel turned, and Jack followed his gaze; too many revolutionaries, no Carter or Teal'c, dead bodies, overturned tables— where was his radio?
Daniel grabbed the radio over his shoulder, leaning close. "Sam? Teal'c?" His skin was smooth under Jack's fingers, his lips all big and pouty. "We're pinned down under enemy fire. Sam? Shit."
The explosion next to them was loud and bright, sending them both diving for cover. Jack felt a burst of pain in his left leg, he heard Daniel shout, like Daniel was the one experiencing Jack's pain, and consciousness swelled before him like a wave, a strange understanding that crested with the knowledge that Jack hadn't been hurt at all.
The spike of fear cleared his vision—but it wasn't his fear, it was Daniel's—what the hell?
Daniel locked eyes with his and in that moment Jack felt the message, like an instant message window popping up in the corner of his brain: The Vinculum isn't supposed to work like this. The thought felt unbidden, the way Jack imagined Daniel normally narrated his life, but it was in Jack's head, part of his flow of thoughts and—
"Shit. Daniel." Blood dripped down Daniel's leg, a huge tear along the calf that hopefully looked worse than it actually was. Part of the column was trapping his foot, which rested at an uncomfortable angle.
Jack secured their weapons, casting an eye around the area—they would be overrun soon. "Can you move?"
Daniel pushed with his arms, trying to slip out from under the sparking column; he caught his lip between his teeth in a wince.
"Broken," they said together. "Shit."
"Stop that," Jack muttered.
"Sorry, but your thoughts are all. . . ." Daniel gestured broadly with one hand, dropping the other over this face, and Jack felt Daniel's rapid-fire thoughts, a quick stream of possible methods for freeing his leg including leverage, explosives, Teal'c, and about a half dozen other ideas that Jack didn't even have time to grasp before Daniel had ruled them out.
"Yours aren't any better." Taking one last look around, Jack pulled out a bandage. "Keep an eye out." He hastily wrapped Daniel's leg, still hoping it looked worse than it was—the blood was everywhere but that didn't mean there was a lot of it—and then surveyed the way his foot was trapped. "Daniel, can you—" Jack's question was cut short as an energy bolt passed right over his head—a warning shot.
Jack looked heavenward, cursed whatever gods had averted their eyes from watching his back, and raised his hands, slowly getting to his feet. He felt the other guns level at him before he heard the hammers pull back.
"Weapon," one of the men demanded, nodding to the ground. Jack couldn't come up with any sarcastic comments, so he placed his P-90 on the ground next to Daniel's and stepped back when the revolutionary kicked away their weapons.
"Are we secure?" The man who spoke was most likely their leader. He had a red bar over his right sleeve; some symbol of rank. None of the other revolutionaries had any sort of uniform, but this guy was wearing a black military jacket with pants that were very similar to the SGC's own green BDUs.
"No, sir. The Tekhne Guard are still fighting in the northern quadrant and Spencer's unit has been all but massacred."
"A pity," Jack said, shaking his head. "Spencer's unit. A real loss."
The man in charge glared at Jack, but when he raised his hand, he flicked one long-fingered hand at Jack and Daniel. "Restrain them—free him from the column—and fall back."
Jack rolled his eyes as one of the soldiers manhandled his wrists into zip ties. "We're from another planet; we're not part of your revolution."
"I know." The man stepped into Jack's space, examining his face closely, sending a flare through Jack's spine. His light-brown eyes flicked back and forth, his slightly up-turned nose twitching, and then Jack felt a push, an uneasy presence in his mind, a sentence popping up in the corner of this thoughts again. That's why you're valuable. If the thought hadn't been so pushy, Jack would have thought it was his own apprehension.
Daniel snarled when one of the soldiers touched his leg and Jack had to bite back a laugh. Several other men moved to heft the column, one inserting a small device that rose up as a support while they guided Daniel's foot out, gently moving the still misaligned appendage. Two of them unfolded a collapsible travois, way more compact that Jack could have dreamed, and they scooped Daniel into the thing.
"Commander, Spencer's unit is falling back. Just waiting on your final command before we move."
The commander nodded, turned away, and took up a rifle that a soldier offered him. "With me." The unit followed, pushing Jack forward so that he nearly tripped, two of them carrying Daniel behind Jack.
"Where are we going?" Jack barked. He needed to figure out how to escape, how to radio Carter and Teal'c their position. They couldn't raise them before the explosion, but maybe they'd been out of range. The radio was still silent, though if it went off now that would be bad. Nothing would screw a fast rescue more than losing both radios.
The commander didn't look back at them—didn't answer Jack's question—but flicked his fingers, and the soldiers pushing Jack along guided him up to the commander. "Do you have anything on you that can be tracked? Communication device? Some sort of global positioning?" He stopped and turned, smiling, and Jack recognized just how young he was—barely twenty-five, maybe younger. "They won't be able to track you through the Vinculum."
Jack didn't bother answering, but then the commander's eyes flicked over to Daniel.
"No communication device? For long ranges?"
"It was damaged in the fighting," Daniel snapped. Very much the right thing to say. They couldn't fix Daniel's radio, but Jack's should be fine as long as they didn't confiscate it.
The commander's eyes flicked over Daniel again, this time his brow tensing slightly. Daniel flinched, his brow also furrowing. The commander narrowed his eyes in response and then looked back to Jack.
"Communication device," he barked. His eyes moved over Jack for a moment, and then he leaned over, plucking the radio from his shoulder. Jack didn't even have time to tell him to shove it. "You hoped we wouldn't notice," the commander said. He switched the radio off before slipping it into his pocket. "No swift rescue, I'm afraid. You'll be with us for awhile."
"What do you want with us?" Jack snapped.
"I'm Commander Dawes," he said. "I'll do my best to make sure that you're comfortable." He flicked his fingers again, and the soldiers pulled Jack back, leaving his question unanswered.
Jack came to slowly, his thoughts floating along a lazy stream, and he tamped down the flow, damning up against the flood—too many numbers, people, missions, all swimming in his mind like the remnants of a complex dream. He slid his arm from his face, cracking open his eyelids, and he couldn't help the flinch—it was so bright, Jesus that fucking hurt.
"Jack, are you okay?" Daniel. The last few moments before Jack lost consciousness rushed at him—capture; prison cell; huge honking needle; bright, bright lights— "Augh, Jack, stop. Stop, God, stop thinking."
Jack shaded his eyes, allowing them to adjust until he could see Daniel lying across from him, holding one hand to his temple, half-smiling, half-grimacing.
"We're alive, we're okay, we're captured: stop thinking about the worst." Daniel sounded pained, so Jack was having trouble believing the 'okay' proclamation.
"What happened?" Jack sat up, wincing as his knees creaked. His neck was torture, stiff with fond memories of being contorted at an odd angle for several hours while Jack slept off. . . . "Sedatives?"
"Commander Dawes doesn't appreciate your humor," Daniel guessed. Wait, how did Jack know that was a guess? He walked over to Daniel's cot, peering into his face, searching his face the same way Dawes had earlier, trying to see that same thing Dawes had seen—what he'd seen in both of them. "Jack." The hand on Jack's arm focused him. "Do you always think so much?"
Daniel was smiling more than grimacing now, and now Jack felt it, the way his thoughts were more on the surface, like he was broadcasting them, or trying to make himself be heard in a crowd.
"What happened?" Jack repeated, trying not to think any more than was necessary.
"I, I think one of Dawes' men injected you with the Vinculum during the initial attack. A few of them were undercover."
"The waiters," Jack remembered.
Daniel nodded. "So, for lack of a better description, you have the internet in your brain. Like I do."
Jack rubbed his temples. He'd apparently been injected with nanites—again—which made Jack wish he'd paid attention when Representative Henley had been explaining what the Vinculum was.
"So, what, now I can Google myself?" Jack winced. "Yeah, that sounded way more inappropriate out loud."
Daniel made a face, a few risqué images—featuring Jack soloing—flitting from his brain into Jack's. "It was inappropriate in your head, too."
Jack stood up straight, turning away and surreptitiously adjusting himself. "Okay, better question: why? Isn't this supposed to be their coveted 'thing'?"
Daniel turned away, looking over at the wall like he was checking to see if anyone was listening—the walls had ears, insert evil laugh.
"Apparently Dawes's organization uses it for interrogation."
"Before you can control the Vinculum, your thoughts sort of . . . project."
Jack shook his head, feeling his thoughts rattle. "Like that instant message thing I felt with you."
"Um. . . ." Daniel was deliberately not looking at Jack now.
"Fuck. How much?"
"Surface thoughts, I think."
"The radio. Dawes asked and then just knew."
Not good, not good. There was so much Dawes could pick up even from surface thoughts—not just IDCs, military strategies, Carter and Teal'c—but ways to make them talk, where to hurt, how to hurt, who to hurt. Jack felt that instant message tingle in his mind and suddenly Daniel's thoughts were there.
We have to learn how to shut them out.
Jack rolled his eyes. "How about I start by shutting you out?"
You do that enough as is. Jack wasn't sure Daniel meant to say, or project that.
"We're screwed." Jack covered his face, taking solace in the dark for a moment, pretending his thoughts were actually his own and Daniel hadn't been IMing his brain. Why did this shit always happen to him? "What about your leg?"
There was some silver semi-cast thing around Daniel's leg and foot, like a walking cast, but it looked a lot heavier and way less mobile.
"It's in there?"
"Can you move it?"
Daniel's thigh muscles flexed, the boot twitching, but only rising an inch or so off the cot. Daniel shrugged.
So Daniel was immobile for the time being. Which was really putting the kibosh on escape plans—or at least hindering them quite a bit. It would be pretty handy for Teal'c to do his Amazing Jaffa Thing and suddenly show up, or for Carter to figure out how to track the signal from the nanites they used for the Vinculum, or—
"Jack, really, can you, like, put on the dumb colonel routine and think less?"
Jack purposely thought at Daniel—spamming him with smilies and raunchy jokes—until Daniel glared at him.
"Hammond is going to kill us. You know the one thing he asked me? To stop having our brains messed with." Jack held up his hand, stopping the interruption on the edge of Daniel's mind. "No, he didn't use those exact words, but that was the meaning."
Daniel stretched his neck, looking in need of a massage or a long soak in the tub—Jack quickly suppressed those thoughts, especially the thoughts of who would be helping him loosen those tight muscles.
"Hammond agreed to letting me have my brains 'messed with.'"
"Only after Carter confirmed that the nanites would shut off once we got home, and some accountant proved it would be cost effective, and it was determined that this exchange with the Tekhnens could lead to big honkin' space guns." Jack waved off the whole thing. "Apparently it's expensive to fix us and very suspicious regardless. Especially when more brains get messed with than just the one that was agreed upon."
"Technically their big space guns don't honk."
"Thank you so much for that distinction, Daniel."
"Jack—" Whatever Daniel was about to protest was interrupted by a sudden shout from outside their cell, a ten-hut if Jack ever heard one. The door to their cell slid to the side with a quiet woosh and Commander Dawes entered.
"Good morning, Dr. Jackson, Colonel O'Neill." Dawes nodded at each of them, and Jack glanced over to Daniel, fairly certain the question, "Morning?" was evident on his face. "Did you sleep well?"
"Perfectly," Jack responded. "Sedatives have that effect on people."
Dawes hummed and flicked his eyes over Jack's cot, the covers thrown back, and Jack couldn't help feeling like he was being chastised for shoddy housekeeping. Dawes turned and rested his hands behind his back, standing even straighter, the slimmer cut of what appeared to be his dress uniform making him appear even thinner. "And Dr. Jackson, how's your leg?" He arched one eyebrow at Daniel's thought response, a response Jack had been echoing in his own head. "Temper. The both of you."
"Either interrogate us or bring us some croissants because right now I'm thinking this is the lousiest bed and breakfast in the universe." Jack leaned back against the wall by Daniel's bed, crossing his arms over his chest, wishing desperately for a P-90 and a timely rescue.
"This isn't an interrogation." Dawes snapped his fingers and one of his subordinates brought in a chair. "I've already interrogated you."
Jack fought the desire to glance at Daniel—stay impassive and unimpressed, who cared if he'd . . . whatever, interrogated their minds or, or, uh, shit.
"You're strong—especially you, Dr. Jackson, I imagine you would be quite successful at manipulating the Vinculum." Dawes gave Daniel an appraising look that seemed to hold a bit more than just respect. "However even the strongest mind can be broken. You're from a planet called Earth and are part of an organization called Stargate Command. Your superior is a man named Hammond, and there are two other members of your team on this planet."
Daniel scoffed and Jack could practically kiss him for it. "You had spies at the assembly; you could have gotten all that from one of them."
Dawes narrowed his eyes and Jack had the feeling that he didn't like being called a liar—no matter how subtly that message was presented.
"Five, six, six, nine, four, two, zero."
Daniel's fingers twitched on the blanket, but he made no other movements as Dawes rattled off their IDC.
"What's that, Daniel? Your sister's phone number?"
Daniel snorted, relaxing, sinking deeper into the thin mattress, exactly how Jack needed him to look.
"You have any idea how many strings of numbers I have in my head? Or how many of them are completely useless to you? Get stuffed." Jack conjured up a mental image of the colloquialism and hurled it at Dawes, catching enough resistance at his intrusion to cause a flare of pain at his temples.
Dawes smirked, and Jack knew that while Dawes could freely enter Jack's mind, Jack could get stuffed himself if he tried that again.
As Dawes stood, one of the men marched in and grabbed his chair—Dawes must issue orders through the Vinculum, which meant that despite the invasiveness, the Vinculum did have strategic uses. "There are many numbers in your head, that's true." Another soldier came into the room and slapped a small black device into Dawes's hand. "But only one string of numbers corresponds to this."
The letters floated to the front of Jack's mind and Dawes spoke them. "IDC."
Dawes left shortly after showing off, and no one entered the cell for the remainder of the day. They'd been trying not to talk, not to think, but several hours of silence and trying to just stare was driving Jack more insane than time loops.
"What do you think they got out of us?"
"Everything," Jack growled.
Daniel hummed, and Jack was struck with the urge to growl again, just to say something.
"Can you help me turn?"
Daniel struggled upright. "This cot's not the most comfortable thing in the world. And as much fun as staring at the wall will be, I'd rather look at you." He tried to heft his leg, but the metal cast was too heavy for him to move into a comfortable position.
Jack fought down a flush, reminding himself that they were captured and Daniel's statement was perfectly innocent. It didn't mean anything. He turned Daniel's foot, helping him roll his body to his side, trying not to touch him too much, still uncertain of the boundaries after the other night.
Jack snorted and slumped down next to Daniel's cot. Fingers brushed the nape of his neck, and a tingle ran down his spine, spreading out to his limbs and relaxing the subtle tension in his body. Daniel's thought blossoming on the edge of his mind—Jack will get us out of this—was enough to bring back that tension.
"All we can do is wait for an opportunity."
Daniel's fingers brushed his neck again. "I know. We'll be fine until then."
Jack hunched forward, making sure it was obvious that he was stretching his back. "Yeah, we will be. Look." Jack turned his head, glancing at Daniel over his shoulder. Daniel was splayed on his side like some sort of model for metal casts and BDUs. Sometimes Jack didn't know what took him so long to want to start this thing with Daniel . . . whatever this thing was. "I'm gonna get some rack time."
"I'll keep watch."
Jack climbed on to his cot, sparing one last look at Daniel who was still watching Jack. "The door, not me."
Daniel grinned and for a moment it was like they were at home, or at least on a simpler mission than this. "You're more interesting than inanimate objects. Thought I already said that."
"Doesn't stop you from staring at walls all day."
Daniel shrugged. "I like old stuff, too."
Jack chuckled softly, strangely comfortable with Daniel saying something like that, but totally incapable of saying it himself. This was new, too new, and they were on a mission, and this wasn't the place or the time to be thinking about Daniel and puzzling out their relationship or wishing for a shower and an hour alone with him. It especially wasn't the time to be thinking about this Daniel thing with the Vinculum in their heads and their thoughts apparently projecting for anyone to know.
Their eyes met, and Daniel smiled, looking relaxed and safe, like he really was at home . . . maybe, as long as Jack was with him that's how he felt.
Jack swallowed down that fear. "Night." He pulled up the covers, trying to find a comfortable spot, and blanked his mind before falling asleep, hoping that little bit would do something to keep Dawes out. Right, because he was worried about Dawes getting in.
It was dark in the cell when Jack startled awake. There was movement on Daniel's side—probably up to take a piss. Jack rolled over, facing inward to the cell, when he remembered that Daniel could hardly move at all with that cast thing.
His eyes hadn't quite adjusted, but he could make out a dark shape hunched over Daniel's cot. There was no sound, no thrashing, so either Daniel was asleep, or gagged, or. . . .
Quiet. They'll hear you.
The message in his head wasn't from Daniel—but it wasn't that invasive push from Dawes either—it was natural, graceful, and way less annoying than any instant message to your brain should be.
The dark shape moved and Daniel nodded, mouth set in a firm line, but the meaning in his eyes was clear: it's okay. Jack sat up, all the same.
The door to their cell was open, the too white light, like from LED lights, highlighted round sections of the gray hallway beyond the threshold. Feet stretched past the door—an unconscious sentry? Jack surveyed their would-be rescuer. Shorter than Jack, slightly more stocky, hair curling up at the nape of his neck, and definitely didn't look like the kind of guy who could take out one of Dawes's rough-shod men.
All the same, he was helping Daniel sit up, swinging his leg around, and soon Daniel was standing, test lifting his leg and taking a shaky step. Jack moved to support Daniel's other side, but their rescuer pointed to the foot of Jack's bed and Jack had to reevaluate his assessment of the guy. Their tac vests were at the foot of Jack's bed—no weapons, radio, or IDC though, so the guy's stock dipped slightly. He shook it off, shrugged on his vest, feeling more normal, and took Daniel's arm over his shoulder, clutching Daniel's vest in his other hand. He patted Daniel's arm, hoping to relate the message: Told you, just waiting for an opportunity.
Together, Jack and their rescuer helped Daniel hobble down the hallway, passing unconscious guards at every turn. Jack reached for one of their rifles and the man shook his head, giving Jack the impression that the guards really were just sleeping. The man finally nodded towards a dark gap in the wall, his sunken eyes shadowed. Jack followed his nod, slipping into a hidden passageway.
This leads away from the complex, the man IMed again. We'll be far enough away soon that we can talk. I'm Gerard.
Daniel, always needing to communicate, nodded and smiled.
They followed the passageway in silence, Daniel stumbling some over the metal cast, but it seemed lighter, not nearly as heavy as it felt when Jack helped Daniel move it yesterday.
They finally emerged outside, and hovering in front of them was a sled-thing that reminded Jack a little too much of the landspeeders in Star Wars.
"Help me get him in the seat," Gerard said, his voice as soft as the messages in Jack's mind had been.
They hefted Daniel up over the side, listing left with the extra weight on his leg. Jack climbed in behind Daniel, and with a quick glance back, Gerard piloted the sled away from Dawes. It could just be that they'd walked a long way away from the main complex, but it looked rather flat and much smaller than Jack had first imagined.
"Most of it's underground," Gerard answered Jack's thoughts. "Dawes hides from the government satellites." Gerard pointed up at the sky, like they'd be able to see them. "With the Vinculum, the Tekhne Guard can connect directly to the satellites and track criminals pretty easily. Dawes takes great pains to not let his organization be tracked."
"But you knew where to find Dawes's base of operations." Daniel shifted. "You knew how to get in." Jack could see Daniel trying to rationalize this in his head.
Gerard nodded, his eyes focused on the road.
Jack leaned forward. "You're not with the government."
"Are you taking us back to the government?"
Gerard frowned. "I can't."
Daniel held up a hand to Jack, halting the next question in his growing litany of aggravation.
"Where are you taking us?"
"To my home. Just until you heal," Gerard added quickly. He turned, his eyes wide and imploring. "I won't hurt you, but Dawes was going to." He turned back to the road, his cheek twitching in a way that made Jack uncomfortable. "I'm sorry."
Jack's vision suddenly blurred, his sense of balance going totally out of whack. He grabbed on to the back of Daniel's seat, fighting down the urge to vomit—he'd pulled more Gs than most test pilots; he wasn't going to hurl just because his brain had gone wonko.
"Sorry," Gerard said again, and suddenly Jack got it.
"Bastar. . . ." Still holding on to Daniel's chair, he slumped forward and into unconsciousness.
"Jack." Hands patted his face, rousing him awkwardly. "Jack!"
He squinted, eyelids cracking open slowly, a headache settling between his eyes. "Yes, Daniel, I'm awake. You can stop playing patty-cake with my cheeks."
Daniel's brow bunched, like he was trying to figure out the cultural origins of patty-cake, which Jack guessed Daniel actually knew "Gerard made breakfast."
"Oh, did he?" Last Jack checked Gerard had knocked them unconscious and kidnapped them. Jack was doing really awesome on the whole not-getting-captured mission objective.
"He rescued us," Daniel pointed out, but from Jack's windowless room, he didn't really see the difference between getting "rescued" by Gerard and getting captured by Dawes. At least this time he still had his tac vest.
"We're getting out of here." Jack sat up, suddenly and the pinched the bridge of his nose—sudden movements were not a good idea at the moment.
"Are we?" Daniel crossed his arms, blocking the door. Jack's favorite part of any day was the moment Daniel decided to get a bug up his butt. "If you hadn't noticed, I can't move very fast, and Dawes will be looking for us."
"Will he?" Jack snapped back, using Daniel's same tone.
"We're safe here." Daniel took a step and then windmilled forward, but Jack was there before Daniel could reach for the wall. Daniel's fingers clenched Jack's forearms; their eyes met. The memory of a heated kiss sparked in Jack's mind, the way Daniel's lips felt jammed against Jack's, his hair running through Jack's fingers, the way the buttons of his shirt slipped willingly through the eyelets.
Daniel smiled awkwardly, trying to sheepishly cover his discomfort. "Still think we can get out of here?"
Jack slipped under Daniel's arm, dragging him forward the first step, trying to shake off the memory. "What's for breakfast?"
~Continued in Part 2.