Basic Training

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Pre-Slash, Drama, Smarm
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  1 - February 22 - March 4, 1997
Spoilers:  None
Size:  41kb, short story
Written:  May 23-25,27,29-30, June 6-8,13-18, July 4, September 3, 2010
Summary:  Shaggy haired Daniel Jackson attends a ramped up boot camp as he undergoes basic training, enabling him to be a permanent part of SG-1.  It's not exactly a piece of cake for the archaeologist.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
2) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Ali, Irina, Classic, Tammy, Navi!

Basic Training
by Orrymain

“He's right here, General,” Jack responded over the phone.  He cleared his throat and turned around.  With a nervous smile, he tilted the phone towards the archaeologist and announced, “Daniel, it's for you.”

Oddly suspicious that something was going on, Daniel walked slowly to where Jack was waiting and took possession of the telephone.  His insides were churning as he had an idea of what was coming.  It had been on the table almost from the day SG-1 was formed.

~There has to be a way out of this.~  As he listened to General Hammond's commanding voice on the other end of the line, he realized he had no choice.  “Yes, Sir.”

With a reluctant sigh, Daniel hung up the phone, taking a deep breath as he turned back to face the colonel.

“It's for the good of the team, Daniel.”

“Of course it is.”  Daniel's tone indicated that he wasn't buying the need for this special assignment.  “I have to go pack,” he added coldly.  He walked to the stairs and took one step up before he closed his eyes in sad realization.  Turning back towards the living room, he bemoaned, “I don't own anything to pack.”

~He's not happy about this,~ the amused military chuckled.  “You only need to take your toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant ...”

“Yes, I wouldn't want to stink up the barracks,” the younger man retorted dryly as he walked swiftly across the floor until he reached the glass door that looked out over the large backyard.

Wrapping his arms around himself, Daniel's agitation and uncertainty of the situation vibrated distinctly like a porcupine shaking its quills.

“Daniel, SG-1 is a first contact team.  We're the front line,” Jack averred.  “Hammond wants to make sure we don't ...”

“... trip over a rock?”

“Daniel ...”

“Jack, this isn't necessary.”

“Hey, it could be worse,” Jack replied, trying to sound upbeat.  “Regular basic is six-and-a-half weeks.  Plus, you're getting an accelerated course, without the strategy and classroom work.”

“That part I could handle,” Daniel groused, unconsciously pushing up his glasses.

“You have to go,” Jack asserted strongly.

“Fine.”

Reluctantly, Daniel acquiesced to Hammond's orders that he attend a specialized basic training course.  The ten day session would be high on the physical aspects, enough to assure that every person going off-world was fit and knew the essentials.

Jack followed his friends up the stairs to the small guest room the archaeologist had been staying in ever since his return from Abydos.  Inwardly, he felt this was an important task for Daniel to complete.  He'd already seen to it that the scientist had learned some of the basics, but things were heating up.  It was becoming clearer by the day that the Stargate Program was the front line of the planet's exploration.  Every person who stepped through the Gate had to be prepared for anything, just like a member of the Special Forces was or, for that matter, any military elite soldier was.

Stuffing a few personal hygiene items into a bag, Daniel reached for a book on ancient mythology to take with him.

“Uh, Danny ...”

“Daniel ...” the archaeologist corrected sternly.  His grip on the book in his hand was a little more than necessary, turning his knuckles white.  ~This is a ... a really wacky dream.~

“Yeah, whatever,” Jack sighed unhappily.  “You can't take that.”

“Excuse me?”

“They'll confiscate anything you bring that isn't on the approved list.  You can take the Bible or a religious book, but that's it.”

“Oh, tha...that's just great,” Daniel replied sarcastically, throwing the book back onto his bed hard enough that it bounced.  Zipping up his duffel in record speed, the archaeologist stated,  “I'm ready.”

The younger man brushed by the older, their arms touching.  Jack let out a growl before turning around and following the displeased scientist downstairs and towards the door.

“Daniel ...”

“Jack, I don't need a babysitter.”

That's the last thing Jack heard before the door slammed.  An Air Force car had been dispatched to pick up the archaeologist and apparently, Daniel wanted to wait for it alone.

====

“Uh, what's this?” Daniel questioned as he stood by his military cot inside the barracks.

Glancing over for a second at one of his instructor peers, Chief Military Training Instructor Sergeant Arnold Troutman sneered as he responded sarcastically, “And they told me you were some kind of genius.  Figure it out.  Change into your uniform and report to me outside at 17:32 hours.”

“Thirty-two?”

Entering Daniel's personal space, the T.I. shouted in question, “Are you deaf, Civilian?”

“Not yet, but I might be before I'm freed from this place.”

“Give me ten,” the man demanded.

“Uh, I don't have ten dollars.  I don't even have one dollar,” Daniel replied naively.

“Ten *push-ups*!”

“Oh.  Well ...”

“*Now*!”

Daniel rolled his eyes, but he sensed he had little choice in this matter.  The truth was that he hadn't done a push-up in years.

~Hope I remember how.~  Saying hello to the cold floor of the barracks he'd been assigned to, Daniel attempted to do the assigned push-ups.  As he crashed down, he looked up at the displeased sergeant and asked, “How about four?  I think that's my limit.”

“Sissy,” the T.I. sneered.  “We'll fix that.  17:32 hours.”

The archaeologist sighed as he heard the loud thumps of the sergeant's boots moving away from him.  Once the door banged shut, he sat up, transitioning to an Indian style position.

~How'd I get myself into this?~  Closing his eyes, Daniel remembered.  ~Sha're.  I need to find you, and the only way I can do that is to be on SG-1, and the only way General Hammond will let me be on SG-1 permanently is to pass this course of physical insanity.  How am I going to do that?~

====

That night, Daniel heard the familiar murmur.  He was being laughed at and ridiculed, this time by Marine recruits who were assigned to the same barracks.  He'd been a miserable flop during the first couple of hours of initiation to basic training.  It wasn't that he was adverse to learning, but he wondered how anyone ever understood the instructions, considering how loudly they were given.

~Enunciation would help.  So would standing back a few feet.  It's hard to think about what that ... instructor is saying when spit lands in your face from his yelling.~

The archaeologist just prayed that the murmuring would stop and the other men would go to sleep.  That's what he needed to do.  If he were going to survive the next several days, he definitely needed rest.

====

“Can't you pull your chin up ... Girlie?” the T.I. called out mockingly as Daniel attempted a pull up.

“Actually ... no,” Daniel responded as he fell to the hard ground below him.  Looking up, he saw the unhappy taskmaster glaring down at him.  “Is that really necessary?”

“Maybe we should buy you a dress.”

“No, thank you,” Daniel replied as he stood up and dusted off his rear end.

“Again!” the T.I. demanded as he glared at the scientist.

“I'd really rather not.”

“I said, again!”

~Sha're.  I have to do this for you.~  Daniel sighed and made another attempt.  He had to be on SG-1.  ~I have to save you.  I promised.~

====

Later that afternoon, the recruits were being introduced to the obstacle course, also known as the confidence course.

~Okay, I can do this.  We had this in school,~ Daniel thought about his days in the New York City school system which had occurred after the death of his parents.  Then he closed his eyes as a horrid memory erupted in his mind.  ~I never did make it across; never had a chance with those bullies poking me with sticks all the time.~

“Jackson, you're holding up the line.  Move it, move it, move it!” Troutman shouted.

Opening his eyes, Daniel began crossing the equipment, his hands grasping the metal bars as he moved from rung to rung.

Pacing the length of the bars, Troutman barked, “Each cadet must touch each of the bars.  Failure to do so means failure to pass the course.”

As if the words had stuck him in the abdomen as the sticks of the bullies had when he was a child, Daniel's hands slipped from the bars, and he landed down on his knees.

The other cadets sneered, but most were too busy focusing on their own attempts to do much more than that.  Still, for the archaeologist, it felt like he was a child again, alone and even frightened.

“Back to the beginning, Jackson!  You'll stay out here all night if necessary, now move!”

====

With the sound of thunder, or at least, that's how Troutman's voice sounded to him, Daniel roused.  He wasn't happy about the sunrise wake-up call.  After all, Daniel wasn't a morning person.  Worse, he'd learned the night before that coffee was off limits during the remainder of basic training.  He'd had his last cup of coffee for at least a week.

~Torture: that's what this is.~

Reluctantly, the archaeologist forced himself out of bed, doing his best to ignore the other men who had cots in the barracks.  He prepared his cot to the best of his ability, though making a bed to military standard wasn't really his thing.  He tried, though, and when he was finished, he headed off to the latrine.  The stares as he walked should have been a sign to him that something was amiss.

When Daniel returned to his bed, he was horrified.  Not even dressed yet, he heard Troutman's call to attention and the ensuing sound of military feet taking the appropriate stance.

“Jackson!” an unhappy Troutman called out as he approached.  “Well, have a little accident?”

Daniel just stared.  The smell of the urine on his bed was not only unpleasant but unsightly.

“We'll see if we can get you some diapers tonight,” Troutman mocked.  “*Clean this up -- now!*”

The archaeologist didn't hear anything else, not the jeers, the cackles, or the “P.U.s” that followed.  His mind was back to a time before the Stargate.

~What's so wrong with me that people I don't know do things like this?~

====

“Jackson, you're next,” the barber called out.

Daniel had barely survived the nightmare of the morning.  After cleaning his cot and obtaining new bedding, he'd endured a quiet stint in the mess hall for breakfast.  No one had sat with him, not that he'd wanted any of the Marines and cadets to taunt him up close, but he had felt their laughing eyes on him and had heard their sick teases that had been spoken under their breaths.  With the opening hours of this new day having been a disaster already, he was in no mood to have his locks threatened by a barber's hacksaw.

“Ah, no, I don't think so,” Daniel refused.  He'd been waiting in this bland room for the past thirty minutes, wondering how he was going to get out of this.  Now it was time to put his plan into motion.  There was just one problem.  He didn't have a plan.  “Look, I'm just here ...”

“Shut your mouth, recruit, and get in that chair,” the T.I. barked, having just entered the room.

“I'm not a recruit.”

“Then get your butt out of here and go cry on your mommy's shoulder.”

~Gawd, how'd I get myself into this?~ Daniel asked himself for the fiftieth time in the last twenty-four hours.  “My hair has no impact on my ability to pass ...”

With a nod to two assistants, Daniel was literally picked up and placed in the vacant chair, his arms held back to keep him from bolting.

“Take care of pretty boy here,” the T.I. instructed the barber, who picked up his scissors.

Daniel struggled, but couldn't break free, his slim physique being no match for the tall, body builder type men in uniform who were keeping him in place.

“Let me go!” Daniel ordered, though all he received in response were laughs and sneers.

“Maybe you should do that,” a voice from the doorway suggested.

The newcomer was dressed in Air Force blues.  He wore a common blue windbreaker type of jacket, wings visible on its shoulder straps, which was drawn close only at the bottom, meaning that the man's white dress shirt was visible.  The top of the shirt wasn't buttoned all the way, the top two buttons undone, a definite indication that this was a more casual visit.

Instantly, Daniel was released, and the men in the room all stood up and came to attention.

Daniel looked over and swallowed hard as he took a calming breath.  He closed his eyes in relief as he continued to steady himself from what had been about to happen.

“Sir, all recruits are required to have their hair cut to regulation specs,” the T.I. called out.

Jack nodded as he walked forward.  He gave a glance to Daniel, taking in a mental assessment of his team member's current condition.

“This man isn't military, Sergeant.  Why don't we give him some slack,” Jack suggested, his query an order more than it was a question.

“Sir, regulations state ...”

“Sergeant, doesn't it say 'colonel' somewhere on my uniform?” Jack quizzed curtly.  “If it doesn't, it should.  Forget the haircut.  Are we clear on that?”

“Yes,” the T.I. groaned.

“Excuse me?” Jack responded expectantly.

“Yes, Sir, Colonel, Sir,” the man snapped.

~Better,~ Jack thought with an inward grin.  “Daniel, let's talk while these ... gentlemen continue with their duties.”

Daniel stood and began to follow his commanding officer out the door, but he couldn't help but feel the glares aimed in his direction.  His hair might be safe, but he wasn't so sure that he was.

====

As he looked back at the building they'd just departed from, a relieved Daniel was appreciative of Jack's efforts on his behalf.

“Uh, thanks.”

“For what?” Jack inquired casually as the two men continued to walk towards the barracks.

“That,” Daniel responded, pointing back at the barber's area.

“The T.I. was right; it's regulation.”

“I'm not military,” Daniel put forth in reply once again.

“Yeah, I sorta had a feeling about that,” the colonel chortled.

“Why are you here?”

“Hammond needed some papers delivered.”

“To a training facility?” the younger man quizzed skeptically.

“Daniel, the man is a general.  I don't question his orders.”

“No, I ... I don't suppose you do,” Daniel sighed regretfully.  ~But you should.  We've been through this before.~

The two walked swiftly to their destination, Jack returning a few salutes along the way.  Finally, he opened the door to the barracks where Daniel and other Air Force cadets were assigned.  He walked right over to a cot where a duffel bag sat on a mattress.

Opening the bag, Jack pulled out a book, turned, and quickly tossed it to Daniel.

Surprised, the archaeologist just barely kept the tome from dropping to the floor.

“I thought you might like that, but I'd advise against letting anyone seeing you read it.”

Daniel stared at Jack for a minute before looking to see what the book was.  He smiled slightly as he opened it and began to skim through it.

“How'd you know to bring this?”

Jack shrugged as he answered, “Of all the books in your office, it had the most scribbles and cartoons in it.  It looked very ... you.”

“Me?”

“You,” Jack confirmed.

“Oh,” Daniel expressed a tad playfully.  “They aren't scribbles or ... cartoons.  They're hieroglyphs.”

“Look like scribbles to me,” Jack responded as he glanced around the all too familiar surroundings of Air Force life.  ~Feels like a lifetime ago.~

“Thanks,” Daniel stated, placing the book down on his cot.  “Reading the Bible is okay, but ...”

As Daniel had been talking, Jack was reaching into his bag for another object, which he removed and handed to the archaeologist.

“Use this.”

“A book cover?”

“Danny, if you ...”

“Daniel,” the archaeologist corrected, something he'd done numerous times with the nickname-loving colonel.

“The rules ...”

“You're breaking,” Daniel interrupted with a bit of a smug smile.

“Don't get caught,” the colonel warned.

~Wouldn't matter to me, but they'd figure out who gave me the book,~ Daniel thought silently.  He quickly put his Egyptian hardback into the sleeves of the plastic book cover and then started to place the book in the duffel bag he'd been given upon arrival.  “I won't.”

“So, you acing the course?”

“Sure.”

“Really?”

“What do you think?” Daniel challenged.

The colonel winced and questioned, “That bad?”

“I'm an archaeologist, Jack, not a ... a ... a ...”

“Marine?”

“Yeah, not that.”

“That's why I'm here,” Jack announced as he reached up and scratched the side of his chin for a second.

“It is?”

“We have work to do,” the colonel stated resolutely.

“You're staying?” Daniel asked curiously.  ~I really hope you are.~

“Right there,” Jack answered as he pointed at the cot that was next to the scientist's.

“Oh, well, uh ... won't they,” Daniel pointed at the other cots that represented the cadets going through basic training, “be curious about having a ... colonel in the barracks?”

“Daniel, if you're going to worry about what they think ...”

“No, no ... I was just ... curious,” Daniel interrupted.  ~If you can get me through this nightmare, that would be ... good.~

“I can't interfere with the regular training,” Jack advised.  “But what I can do is coach and provide extra drills.”

“Extra drills?”

“Daniel, Hammond wants you to make it through this course, but if you don't, he'll pull you off the team and glue your butt to that chair in your office.”  Jack paused for a second, seeing the look of consternation on his friend's face.  “Look, I can only stay a few days.  Do you want my help or not?”

“Do I get to sleep?”

“Don't count on it.”

“Great.”  Daniel plopped down onto his cot and looked over at the duffel bag that contained the tome Jack had brought him.  “Why'd you bring that if I'm not even going to have a minute to look at it?”

With a smirk, the colonel responded, “You know what they say?”

Daniel nodded and then he and Jack spoke in unison, “It's the thought that counts.”
 
====

That night, Daniel closed his eyes.  He hadn't really planned on sleeping much.  He was too afraid of what the Marines and other cadets had planned for him.  The nighttime was always the worst for people like Daniel.  There was something about the cover of darkness that made evildoers feel safe.

Unexpectedly, though, Daniel quickly fell into the land of Nod, his heavy eyelids sliding shut and remaining closed.  He was tired.  Still, that hadn't prevented him from staying half awake in the past.  In fact, doing so had often saved him from the pranks of unkind others.

~Jack's here.~

It was a thought that had barely registered at the surface of the archaeologist's mind, but it was deep within him, in a part of his core where he somehow knew that he had nothing to be afraid of with Jack O'Neill around.

Sure enough, from the next cot over, the colonel had perfect timing.

As three Marines neared, Jack opened his eyes and challenged, “I thought this was lights out.”

Stunned, the men scurried back to their cots.  Jack waited a moment before getting up.  He checked on Daniel and smiled.  His weary friend was deep into sleep, confident Jack would protect him.

Walking forward, Jack spoke in a commanding but hushed tone of intimidation as he warned, “I know of latrines just dying to be scrubbed by zeroes like you guys. Stay focused on passing the course and away from Daniel Jackson and his bunk, or I'll *personally* introduce your faces to those latrines.”

After that, Jack paid a visit to the closest latrine and then returned to his cot.  He shook his head at the soundness with which Daniel was sleeping.  Then he silently slid back onto his cot and went to sleep.

====

“Five more!” Jack ordered.  “Touch your knees with your elbows or it's wasted,” he added.

Daniel grunted as he struggled to do his thirtieth sit-up.

“Close up your feet, Jackson!”

The younger man rolled his eyes.  He knew his feet needed to be close together or no further apart than twelve inches.

“Feet!”

“Alright!” Daniel snapped, becoming more than aggravated by the situation.

“Three more.”

“You do them!” the archaeologist exclaimed as he fell back to a supine position on the grass.

“Daniel, the initial fitness test requires thirty-eight sit-ups.  You did twenty.  When you go through the final test, you have to do fifty.”

“I resign,” Daniel groaned in defeat, his chest heaving for air.  “I can't do it.”

“You have to do it,” Jack urged evenly.  “Sha're's counting on you.”

The statement drew the colonel a sharp stare, but the comment had been exactly what the younger man needed to draw more strength.

“You can do this,” Jack asserted confidently.  “Five more.”

“A minute ago you said three more.”

“Now I'm saying six.  Let's go.”

“You're freakin' power hungry, O'Neill.”

“Touch your knees,” Jack reminded pointedly.

====

From the far side of the track, standing by himself and barely noticeable to anyone else around, Jack clicked his stopwatch and sighed.  He didn't like the number he was seeing.

--

“Eighteen minutes, three seconds,” the T.I. spat as if the number were venom.  “You're a washout, Jackson.”

Daniel was bent over, trying to catch his breath after completing a one-and-a-half-mile run.  He was happy he finished, but his pace was several minutes over the required time.

“He'll wash out, Sarge,” a cadet jeered.

“What do you expect from a boy princess,” another added.

“Enough chatter.  Go again,” the T.I. ordered to the stout soldiers.  “Jackson, you're a miserable failure.  What are you doing here?”

“Well, at th...the moment, I'd say I was ... dying,” Daniel gasped, still hunched over while blinking back spots.

“Get up and run it again.”

“I don't think so.”

The training instructor walked over to Daniel, who was still hunched over, and kicked him with his knee.  Daniel fell back to the ground and transitioned to a position where he was propped up on his elbows.

“Follow orders, Jackson, and run it again, or I'll pick you up and carry you like the baby you are.  Now *move*!”

“How many times do I have to remind you that I'm not military?” Daniel challenged.

Actually moving so close as to bump his chest against Daniel's, the tall, strong, and bulked up Troutman looked down on the archaeologist and countered, “I don't make requests, Jackson, and I don't answer questions.  You're going to run this course again one way or the other.  *Move!*”

~I hate the military,~ Daniel groaned inwardly as he gathered a new physical wind to run the course yet again.

====

“Daniel, you're not helping yourself by antagonizing Troutman,” Jack advised his friend as he knelt down next to the exhausted scientist, who had just finished the course for a third time.

Daniel looked at Jack and sputtered several unfamiliar words and phrases.

“Okay, I hear you,” the colonel replied, not needing the translations to know Daniel had just uttered several foreign expletives.  “Now you hear this.  It's the best piece of advice you can get when you're at basic:  keep your mouth shut, your eyes forward, your ears attentive, and your brain in gear.  That's how you survive, military or not.”

“Jack?”

“Yes?”

“Stuff it,” Daniel spat, rolling over a bit to stand up and head for the showers.

“Don't say I didn't try to warn you,” Jack called out as the civilian stormed away.

Daniel never looked back.  He simply acknowledged the remark with a slight wave of his left hand.

====

“This is a waste of time,” Daniel complained as he sat opposite Jack inside the mess hall for lunch the next afternoon.

“Look, I know it's tough, but it's not a waste a time.”

“I'm an archaeologist, not ... Arnold Schwarzenegger.”

“You know what's at stake,” the colonel reminded in a hushed tone.

Daniel let out a frustrated sigh and stood up, saying, “I'm going for seconds.”

“Dan...”  Before Jack could object or warn his young friend, the scientist had gone too far away.  ~If I say anything now, it'll make it worse.~

Jack's military experience let him see what Daniel couldn't.  Near the food counter was a table, and it was full of training instructors just waiting for their cadets to walk by for seconds.  It was a long tradition and meant one thing -- trouble.

~This isn't going to be pretty.~

====

“You could have warned me,” Daniel complained to the colonel several minutes later as they walked to the barracks.

“I tried.”

“Not hard enough.”

“Well, now you know.”

“Yeah, now I know,” the younger man sighed.  He'd had no idea that going for seconds would end up with him becoming a spectacle and having to do fifteen push-ups.  It was a bit of sabotage set up by the training instructors who regularly sat at the table near the buffet line.  Unknowning recruits wanting more helpings would be stopped and put through all kinds of antics at the whim of the instructors present.  This is what had happened to Daniel.  ~I hate the military.~

====

“You've got to pick it up,” Jack advised strongly as he stared at the time on the stopwatch.  “I don't get it.  I know you're faster than this.”

“Yeah, when I'm being chased by a Goa'uld,” Daniel responded sharply while bent over with his hands straddling his knees.

“Use your imagination then,” Jack suggested.  “Let's hit the range.”

“I tried to tell you yesterday that it's not necessary to ...”

“Daniel, I know you have an aversion to guns, but you'd better get over it quick. I want to give you some tips.”

“Whatever,” Daniel droned, his patience long gone and not in the mood to argue.

~Mister Attitude.  I'm trying to help him, for crying out loud,~ the colonel groaned as the two headed for the shooting range.

====

“Don't I get to ... sleep?” Daniel asked with a yawn some twenty-four hours later.

Daniel had gone through another taxing day of drills.  There had been more lesson time with weaponry, as well a brief course on military protocol.  He'd spent more time on the track and endless time tripping over his shoes as he attempted to zig the zag of the obstacle course.  He was also having a hard time climbing the wall.  Actually, he was having a difficult time with every element of the supposedly fun set of obstacles.

“Later, after we get through the course a couple of times,” Jack answered.

“You're out of your mind.”

“Tell me something new,” Jack mocked.  “You need to get through the course, Daniel.  Start with the cargo net.”

Yawning again, Daniel did as instructed, grunting and hating every difficult step up the net he made.

“There you go,” the colonel urged.  “It's just a matter of coordination, balance, and strength.  You're a scientist.  Break it down in your mind.”

====

“Pugil sticks?” Daniel questioned Jack curiously.

“In a few years, these will be part of basic.”

“Uh ... they aren't now?”

“Not yet, but they should be,” Jack answered.

“Jack, if this isn't something I'm going to be graded on, why are working out with these ... sticks?”

“Because one day the skill you gain here by using them could save your life and that of your team.”

“That's regurgitated out of a manual.”

“Sue me.  Give it your best shot,” Jack challenged as he took the attack position.

====

“You did tell me to give it my best shot,” Daniel reminded smugly a bit later.

“In my abdomen, Daniel, not my ...”

“Sorry,” Daniel proclaimed innocently.

“Sure, you are,” the skeptical colonel responded.  ~I think we're starting to make progress.~

====

“Heads down!” Troutman barked.  “Don't stop.  The enemy is just over that crest.  If you don't get there first, you're dead.”  The instructor was walking casually, weaving in and out of the men in his group.  Like Daniel, they were in full combat gear, their rifles in their hands as they crawled on the ground towards their destination.  “Get your butt down, Jackson.”

“He's looking for action,” one Marine snickered, “if you know what I mean.”

“Marine, back to the start.”

“Sir?” the confused man called out.

Troutman repeated, “To the start.  Move!”

Still confused, the Marine stood and began to head back to the starting point, which was about a mile away.  He wasn't paying attention, upset at the order.

~Well, if we're back in elementary school ...~ Daniel thought.  He watched as the Marine turned his head towards the T.I.  At the right moment, he mischievously moved his left foot outward just a few inches.  That was all it took.  “Oops.  So sorry,” he whispered as he suddenly felt a spurt of energy and moved forward several feet before the frustrated Marine had even been able to stand up.

====

“Gawd, how does anyone survive this?” Daniel questioned when the men were finally released to hit the showers.

“Determination,” Jack answered.  He glanced over at the younger man and put forth, “And no one has more determination than you, Daniel.  You're part of SG-1. That's not gonna change because of this.”

Daniel felt a swell of emotion run through him.  It was the look of conviction on Jack's face and the strength of his tone.  Both had combined to make a strong statement of belief, and the archaeologist needed that right now.

“Jack, that Marine, uh, the one Troutman sent back to the beginning of the training run ...”

“You got him good,” Jack chuckled.

“Me?”

“You, Mister Not-So-Innocent.”  After looking around, for no other reason than it was routine for the Special Ops colonel, Jack questioned, “What about him?”

“Why'd he get sent back?  I mean, Troutman's heard that before and ...”

“He wasn't protecting you, Daniel.  Look, that run with the pack was grueling.  If a man has time to play games, something's wrong.  I'm betting his load was light, and Troutman knew it.”

“Oh,” Daniel acknowledged thoughtfully.

“Troutman didn't object to the comment, but he's a good T.I.  No one is going to get one over on him.  That Marine is in for a tough remainder of the course.  You watch.”

“I'm too tired and too hungry.”

“Shower first, then we eat.”

====

“Troutman,” Jack called out, motioning with a jerk of his head for the man to join him behind the attack wall.

“Colonel.”

“I'm reporting back to my command tonight,” Jack advised.  “But I'll be keeping tabs.”

“I don't understand,” the T.I stated, crossing his arms over his chest.

Jack looked around before clarifying, “Daniel Jackson.”

Troutman sighed, “He's not military, Sir.”

“No, he's not, and that's not why he's here.”

“Why exactly is he here, Colonel?”

Jack tapped his wings, a reminder that he didn't need to explain anything to the sergeant.

“You just see to it that nothing ... unpleasant happens to him over the next few days.”

“Sir, to be clear ...”

“He passes or he doesn't, Sergeant, but otherwise, he'd better walk out of here the same way he walked in, long hair and all.”

Troutman coughed, a nervous acknowledgement of a covert plan to give Daniel a military haircut whether or not he wanted one.  Apparently, the plan wasn't as secret as he thought.

“If he doesn't, you won't be pulling that little cafeteria prank anymore; at least, not in the comfort of the United States of America.  Do you get my drift, Sergeant?”  Jack questioned sternly, taking a step into Troutman's personal space.

“Yes, Colonel.”

“Protect him, or you'll need protection from me.”  Leaving the sergeant with one last menacing look, Jack tapped the soldier on the upper arm and sarcastically praised, “Good man.”

====

“What's this?” Daniel questioned about the package Jack had just given him.

“Something to help your attitude, but I wouldn't open it when anyone else is around, and when you're done, I'd toss the evidence, or,” Jack smirked, “plant it on one of those Marines.”

Daniel simply stared at the other man.  The package was secured in a box, so he had no clue of the contents.

“Remember my advice, Daniel.  You can do this.  Just ... you know.”

“Shut up?”

“You said it.”  Jack picked up his duffel bag and smiled.  “See you at home.”

“Yeah, back at the Springs,” Daniel affirmed, still staring at the box in his hands.

With a nod, Jack headed for the barracks' door.

“Jack?”

“Yeah?”

“Did you, uh, get those papers delivered?”

“Papers?”

“You know, the ones that General Hammond wanted you to deliver here?” Daniel questioned smugly.

“Those were my orders,” Jack returned.

Daniel watched Jack leave, shaking his head since he didn't really believe Jack's claim about why he'd come to Lackland.  Sitting down on his cot, Daniel studied the box he'd been given.  He knew he had about ten minutes alone, so now was a good time to check out the secret.

~Yes!~

Quickly, the archaeologist made sure no one was approaching the barracks.  Then, he closed his eyes, opened the very small, two-cup capacity thermos, and tasted the magic of Starbuck's coffee.  It was a heavenly reprieve from his nightmare.

====

Daniel stood nervously at the start line for the timed run.  The last few days at basic training had been odd compared with the first few.  He was still getting a lot of disapproving looks, but no one had approached him, and if he wanted seconds in the cafeteria, he got them without having to do extra sit-ups or push-ups, which was a relief.

The archaeologist had already finished the weapons portion of his accelerated basic training.  He knew more than he wanted to about an M-9 Beretta, and he could break down an M-16, something he found more mundane than spending hours excavating for ancient relics.

The sit-ups and push-ups tests had already been given.  He was certain he'd failed to make the minimum qualifying numbers to pass a normal basic training, but being this was a special situation, he wasn't totally sure what number Hammond would deem acceptable.  That said, a lot of emphasis had been placed on the mile-and-a-half run.  He knew he had to put everything he had into it.

On this last morning of his nightmare, the gun exploded into the air.  Hoping his adrenaline would explode just as mightily, Daniel began to run as fast as he could.  In his mind, he imagined the Goa'uld chasing him.  When that image faded, he thought of his beautiful wife, seeing her a quarter of a track in front of him, and urged himself to run as fast as he could to reach her.  When Sha're's images vanished, he drew on one final strength -- visualization.  He simply saw himself running like a deer until he crossed the finish line, where he collapsed to the ground and prayed he'd done enough.

Over to the right, Troutman pressed the button.  His assistant waited for the call of the time.

“Sergeant?”

Troutman sighed, clearing his stopwatch, and announced, “One second to spare.”

“Sergeant?” the assistant questioned doubtfully.

“You heard me -- 11:56.  Mark it.  Next to the line,” Troutman ordered, shaking his head in disbelief.

====

“Daniel, you don't look worse for the wear,” Jack observed as he shut the front door late that afternoon.

“I thought you didn't like clichés?” the archaeologist questioned as he dropped his duffel bag on the floor of the entranceway.

“There's an exception to every rule,” the colonel smirked.

“Right,” Daniel droned.  “Coffee.  I want coffee, lots and lots of coffee,” he stated as he headed to the kitchen.  “Thanks, by the way.  That gift of yours kept me from dying.”

“Glad to have kept you breathing,” Jack chuckled.  “How'd you do?”

“You tell me,” the younger man countered.

“What?”

“Jack, I don't know why you care so much.  I really don't, but I also know that things changed after you were there.  I'm guessing you know how I did better than I do.”

With a cock of his head, Jack conceded, “Hammond called.”

“Right,” Daniel sighed again as he began to brew his first premium cup of coffee in days, which for him was an eternity.

“You passed.”

Daniel stopped what he was doing, but didn't move or respond for several seconds.  Then he turned to face his friend.

Jack walked forward to within a couple of feet of the archaeologist.

“Danny ...”

“Daniel.”

“I thought we were past that.”

“What did General Hammond say?” Daniel countered.

“He needed to know you could tough it out.  It was never about the numbers,” Jack revealed.

“We've been off-world.  You already know what I can do.”

“I do, but I'm not Hammond,” Jack pointed out.  “He needed numbers for the Pentagon.  He won't tell you that, just in case you decide to snoop.”

“Snoop?  I don't ... snoop.”  Daniel shook his head in amazement and inquired, “Why not just tell me what he was doing?”

“The measure of a man.”

“Jack, stop with the clichés,” the archaeologist sighed in exasperation.

The older man laughed and then expounded, “Cliché or not, Daniel, that's what it was about.  Look, Hammond has to know that every man he sends through the Gate can cut it.  Sure, he knows what I've told him, but so far, we've been together.  He needed you in a different environment, with other people, and he needed the numbers.”

“Just how ... accurate are the numbers?”

“As far as I know, they're honest.  Look, if you think I pulled favors or something, I didn't.  The test was the test, and either you were going to pass it on your own, or you weren't.  I didn't interfere with that.”

“So, you're saying I legitimately passed the final fitness test like any other military goon?”

Jack chortled, “No.  I'm saying that whatever the numbers were, they were good enough for an accelerated program.  Daniel, it takes six-and-a-half weeks for a cadet to go from the initial exam to the final, and most of those guys have worked up their stamina even before setting foot on the base.  No one expected you to meet the standard final in ten days.”

“You could have told me.”

“Hammond's orders.  Like I said, the meas...”

“...ure of a man,” Daniel completed with his friend, nodding and letting out a sigh.

“You did good, Danny, and *don't* correct me.”

“I wasn't going to,” Daniel mused lightly, though guardedly.  “For what's it worth, thanks for your help.”

“You're welcome.”  Jack grinned.  He just had to ask.  “Ya gotta tell me.”

“Tell you what?”

“The thermos: what did you do with it?”

Daniel didn't smile all that often, but as he stood in front of his friend, he actually grinned.  The answer was in his shining eyes.  The thermos had been given an appropriate home.

“Good job,” Jack praised as he turned around and began to leave the kitchen.

“Jack?”

“Hmm?”

“Why'd you really show up in Texas?” Daniel queried.

“A friend needed my help.  I didn't want him to get scalped.”

“Oh,” Daniel responded.  “Uh, thanks for that, too.”

“Besides, I wanted to make sure you were weapons trained beyond what I'd already showed you.  In our line of work, that's essential.”

“Jack, about that ...”

“And now you are,” Jack interrupted enthusiastically.  “Welcome to SG-1.”

Daniel nodded, smiling briefly at Jack, who left the kitchen.  He had learned some things about the weapons, but not quite as much as his friend had thought.  Still, somehow, Jack never allowed him to explain.  That was just as well.  Daniel didn't want to think about it anyway.

The archaeologist was just glad the last ten days were history.  Now maybe he could focus on his work and on finding his wife.

“Daniel!” Jack called out.

~My coffee is almost done,~ the archaeologist whined internally.  Never the less, he entered the living room and was stunned to find himself under attack by a pugil stick.  “Jack!”

“Show me what you've learned,” Jack dared, tossing the other man another pugil stick.

“Didn't you learn the first time?”

“This time I'm prepared,” Jack replied, smiling as he looked down his front at the protective gear.

“Uh, Jack ...”

“You're so mine,” the colonel promised, eager for a bit of groin revenge.

“Oh, gawd!”

With that, Jack and Daniel negotiated their way to the backyard and began an intensive round of pugil stick fighting, even as a light snow began to fall.  It was a strange combination of play and serious training that left both laughing and sweating.  It was another first and another beginning for two men who were more teammates than anything else, but whose future was full of possibilities that neither could imagine or comprehend as they dueled on this March day.

~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~
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