Midnight Scavengers

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Pre-Slash, Humor, Drama, Smarm
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  1 - June 12-13, 1998
Spoilers:  None
Size:  50kb
Written:  August 27-28,30-31, September 2-4, 2006
Summary:  SGC personnel get together for a fun competition.  Who will be the victor?
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) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my past fic(s), “Waiting”
3) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Linda, Claudia, Robert, QuinGem!

Midnight Scavengers
by Orrymain

“Jack, I don't think I'm going to go,” Daniel stated as he stood at the door of his apartment, his hand on the knob.

“Don't be ridiculous, Daniel,” Jack responded, barging his way inside his best friend's apartment and entering the living room.  “You have to come, or we'll have odd numbers.”

Daniel rolled his eyes, sighing as he closed the door and followed the older man.

“This will be great fun,” Jack opined, turning around to face the archaeologist.

Arms folded across his chest, Daniel replied, “I'm not so sure what makes stealing so fun.”

“We're not exactly stealing, Danny, we're scavenging.  It's a hunt,” Jack refuted. “Everything gets returned.”

“A hunt,” Daniel echoed, his head nodding a couple of times.

“Come on; it'll be fun,” Jack urged with a confident grin.

“And illegal,” Daniel argued.

“Daniel, just for tonight, do us a favor and put aside all that logic and common sense, and just let go,” Jack implored.  “Haven't you *ever* gone on a scavenger hunt before?”

The archaeologist shook his head, bowing it slightly in a combination of regret and sorrow over his past.  Of course, this reaction only added to Jack's determination to get the younger man involved in the scavenger hunt.

“Well, time to make up for paying more attention to books than the finer things in life,” Jack said.

“The finer things -- stealing?” Daniel asked, his eyebrows raised.

“Not stealing ...”

“Scavenging,” both men said at the same time.

With a shrug, Daniel gave in, not being able to admit, even to himself, that going along with his best friend's craziness was preferable to spending the evening alone.  He grabbed his windbreaker since it was promising to be a late night, and followed Jack out the door of the apartment.

~I think I've lost my mind,~ the archaeologist silently lamented.  ~Gawd, I hope it's not too embarrassing.~

====

“Hey, Jack, Doc!  You two gonna compete?” Major Lou Ferretti asked, seeing the two men enter the body shop.

“Apparently,” Daniel answered dryly, his arms folded as he looked around to see who else was present.

Several SGC personnel were gathered for some downtime fun.  The scavenger hunt had been arranged by Sergeant Siler, who had hand-picked the participants and set up the parameters of the game.  The gathering spot was a body shop owned by Siler's brother, but which wasn't currently operating, meaning they had the room and privacy to store the unusual items that would be scavenged.

“Gather round,” Siler called out.  Once everyone was present, he continued, “The rules of the game are simple.  Everyone will be given the same list of ten items and a disposable camera.  You can purchase up to five items on the list, but there is a three-dollar spending cap per item.”

“Three dollars?” Sam chuckled.  “You can't buy much for that these days.”

“That's the challenge, Carter,” Jack smirked.  “Or is that computer brain of yours missing its 'bargaining chip?”

“I'll want to see the receipts, so you'd better stick to the limit,” Siler added, already seeing the sly looks on the competitors' faces.  “Cameras must be turned in at the end of the hunt, and the film will be developed in between the two phases of the adventure.”

“Adventure,” Daniel mumbled a bit sarcastically, then coughed and lowered his head when a few of the players turned his direction.  ~I don't want to go to jail.~

“Once you acquire an item, you can bring it back here to be logged in, or keep going and bring everything back at one time,” the sergeant explained.  “We're going in teams of two, and it's been suggested we do a King-Riggs.”

“No contest,” Lou snarked, glancing over at Kylie Jenks, one of the female technicians he had long had an ongoing banter with over the capabilities of men versus women.

“You're gonna lose, Ferretti,” Jenks responded.

“Ten bucks says you're wrong,” Lou challenged.

“Make it twenty, and you've got a bet,” the female sergeant offered.

“Deal.”

“King-Riggs?” Lan Su, one of the younger nurses at the SGC asked.

“It's a reference to a tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in 1973,” Doctor Janet Fraiser explained to her nurse.  “Battle of the sexes.”

“Oh,” Lan expressed as the comment began to make sense.  “Men versus women,” she stated, looking around at the men present.  “Should be a snap, Doctor Fraiser.”

“Hey!” Doctor Skeet Warner exclaimed, objecting to the comment.  “You may be young and beautiful, Lan, but we men are stronger and wiser.”

“Twenty bucks, Doctor Warner, says you're a legend in your own mind,” Lan offered with a tempting smirk.

Warner coughed, but seeing the stares of his fellow men promising backing if he needed it, he nodded in agreement.

“Choose your teams,” Siler requested, adding, “then sign in with me.”

“Siler can track the side bets,” Jack suggested to the approval of the players.

“This is insane,” Daniel quietly commented.

“Yeah, ain't it great?” Jack asked.  “Of course, it's you and me, right?”

Daniel gave Jack an incredulous look as he responded, “You think I'd do this with anyone else?”  As the colonel began to smile, feeling pretty good about the comment, the archaeologist added, “Someone has to take the fall when we get caught.”

“Wise guy,” Jack mumbled, leading Daniel over to where Siler was so they could officially be teamed together.

====

“Scavengers, the game begins when the clock strikes six.  You have until 0400 ...” Siler began.

“Gawd, no sleep,” Daniel muttered, his comment spoken louder than he anticipated.

“You never sleep, anyway, Daniel,” Sam teased.

Daniel bobbed his head several times, having to admit that his hours tended to be a little unusual.

As the laughter subsided, Siler finished, “First one back with everything on the list wins round one.  Five minutes,” he advised, looking up at the clock.

Everyone took a copy of the hunt items and began to review it.  Groans and grunts were heard, along with some snickers.

“Jack, we can't do this.  It's ... it's ... illegal, not to mention ... well ... gawd, embarrassing,” Daniel stuttered.

“Yes, we can.  It's a game.  Besides, we won't get caught,” Jack reassured.

“I can't believe I'm going along with this,” Daniel remarked.

“Dannyboy,” Jack said, putting his arm around his friend's shoulder, “you've only just begun to live.”

“I'm doomed,” Daniel mused in reply, getting a chuckle in response.

“Okay, Richard, lighten up!” Jack barked.

“Richard, as in Simmons?” the archaeologist questioned, cocking his head.

“No, Richard, as in Lewis,” Jack responded, referring to the psychotic-acting comedian whose famous tag line was, “I'm doomed!”

“Lewis, as in Lewis and Clark?” Daniel questioned, in honest and utter confusion.

“Oh, forget it!” Jack exclaimed.  “Let's just go.”

====

The teams were off and running.  A total of twenty players, divided into ten teams of two, were all eager to win the contest.  Along with Jack and Daniel, the other male teams consisted of Teal'c and Sergeant Walter Davis, Lieutenant Graham Simmons and Skeet Warner, Captain Henry Boyd and Lou Ferretti, and Airman Lucas Picard and Lieutenant Dack Conner.  On the female side of the table, the five teams were Sam and Janet, Kylie Jenks and Sergeant Laurie Fitzmore, Major Kim Newman and Lan Su, Airman Judy Fargo and Captain Joanne Sims, and Master Sergeant Ramona James and Airman Susan Herns, who was another of Janet's nurses.

“Jack, this list ... it's ... it's ...”

“Daniel, let that inner child out,” Jack urged.

Staring at the older man, Daniel blinked twice before responding, “Jack, even if I were a child, I wouldn't be allowed to do this stuff.”

“That's precisely the point,” Jack argued as he headed for the edge of the city.

“And, uh, what point is that?” Daniel challenged.

“To blow off some steam as only adults behaving like children can,” Jack answered.  He glanced over at the younger man for a moment, then added, “Danny, what we do is dangerous.  No one can talk about it, not you, me, or Kylie Jenks.  All we have are each other, and, sometimes, we need to let go.  It's been a tough year, adjusting to the Goa'uld's presence, fighting the Pentagon for funding, training greenhorns who don't know a ...”  He paused, sighing, feeling the responsibilities and pressures of being the second-in-command of the facility that was protecting an unsuspecting Earth population from Goa'uld invasion.  “All of our exploration is now focused on defeating the snakeheads.  We need this.  *You* need this.”  ~I need this,~ he inwardly admitted.

Daniel smiled at his friend, realizing how right he was.  He was so caught up in the war with the Goa'uld and the adduction of his wife, Sha're, that sometimes, he couldn't even admit that he had emotions.

“What?” Jack asked.

“That's very profound, Jack,” the archaeologist stated.

“I can be profound,” Jack replied.  Then he shrugged and added, “When I want to be.”

Daniel looked out the window of the truck, smiling inside and out.  That comment had been the closest Jack O'Neill had come to openly admitting that he played the role of the 'dumb colonel', something Daniel detested, though he did understand its tactical advantages.  Somehow, his friend's statement had made their current activity a bit easier to participate in.

“Okay, how about here?” Jack asked, stopping his Ford truck alongside the road on the outskirts of town at a place suggested by the scientist upon first leaving the body shop.

Nodding, Daniel replied, “Yeah, this shouldn't take long.”

The two got out of the truck, though Jack hung back, leaning against the door.  He had decided to get this item out of the way, believing it to be the easiest of the entire list.  After all, he had the master of rocks on his team.

Not two minutes later, Daniel returned to the vehicle, holding the item in his hand, and announced, “One gneiss metamorphic rock.  See how the mineral grains in ...”

“Yeah, that's great, Danny,” Jack said, patting the archaeologist on the back and then moving to the truck.

~He'll never change,~ Daniel thought, getting into the truck and putting the gneiss rock into a bag for safekeeping.  He pulled out the list of ten items and checked off the box next to the rock as he stated, “Item four -- check.”

“We're on our way,” Jack happily responded, making a U-turn and heading for the next easiest item to get.  “I'm hungry.  You?”

Daniel laughed, saying, “We just had steaks for dinner.”

“Well, we need a little dessert,” the colonel commented.

====

“For crying out loud, I don't want a dalmatian,” Jack argued from the driver's seat.

“Sorry, but that's all we have tonight,” the drive-through clerk responded.

“I want something from Mulan.  Come on, now, I'm sure you must have some in stock or in the back,” Jack refuted.

Daniel looked behind the truck.  There were four vehicles waiting to pick up their food.

“Jack ...”

“Mister, we don't have ...” the clerk maintained.

“I know you do,” Jack interrupted.

“Jack ...” Daniel began again.

“Just turn around, and get me something from Mulan,” the colonel insisted.

“Jack ...”

“Daniel, I'll handle this,” Jack barked without even looking at his friend.

Shaking his head, Daniel got out of the truck and walked to the entrance.  Jack was so involved in his argument with the woman at the drive-through that Daniel's absence didn't even register with him.

“Get the manager,” Jack ordered after the woman again denied his request for the needed toy.  As he waited, he looked through the windows of the building and cocked his head, seeing Daniel smiling at one of the younger females at the inside counter.  He turned to his side, just to make sure he hadn't gone crazy, verifying the archaeologist had gotten out of the truck. ~What's he up to?~

Daniel smiled to the clerk, cocked his head to the right, and looked bashfully away for a moment.  He pointed to the drive-through window and shrugged; then he leaned forward and whispered something in the girl's ear.

~WHAT IS HE DOING?~ Jack silently bristled, just as the manager arrived at the window and began to explain that they couldn't get a specific toy simply because Jack wanted it.

The manager didn't realize it, but he was getting off easy.  What no one in the universe knew, outside of Daniel, was that Jack was in love with his archaeologist.  Sometimes, even though there was no romantic relationship between them, the older man found himself, for lack of another word, jealous. It was a nasty feeling that went down to his gut.  Yet, he couldn't help it.

“Sir, I need to ask you to move on,” the manager requested.

“Yeah, right, whatever,” Jack snapped, moving forward.  As he rounded the corner of the drive-through, he saw his best friend sprinting towards the truck.  He stopped, staring as Daniel got in and held out the item they'd been after.  “Where are the fries?”

“Jack, we only needed the toy, not the actual meal,” Daniel replied, putting the Yao and Ling characters from the Disney movie, “Mulan” into the bag.  He got out the scavenger hunt list and checked the box.  “Item nine -- McDonald's Happy Meal toy from Mulan -- check.”

As he stared at Daniel, Jack heard the honking of the Toyota vehicle behind him.

“Hold your horses,” the military man shouted as he looked over his shoulder.  “What'd you have to do to get it?” he asked as he exited the parking lot.

“Nothing,” Daniel answered.  “I just asked her for it.”

“Sure, you did,” the still-somewhat-jealous Jack sniped.

“I could take it back,” Daniel offered.

“No, Daniel, we're going to win this thing,” Jack stated.  ~Even if it kills me.~

====

As the friends headed for the drug store, Daniel perused the list and was lost in thought.

“Danny, what are you thinking about?” Jack inquired.

“Number seven,” Daniel answered.

“Which is?”

“A canary, complete with cage, food, and drink.  Jack, you can't buy a canary for three dollars, and, even if you could, the pet stores are closed by now,” the archaeologist commented as he stared at the clock on the dash of the Ford vehicle.

“Use your imagination, Daniel,” Jack suggested.

“Jack, the canary has to be living.  You can't get a coloring book and color a bird yellow,” Daniel pointed out.

“We can't?” Jack responded, looking over at Daniel for a split second.  “Crap.”

“Jack!”

“It was just a thought,” Jack replied.

“So ...”

“So ... what?” the colonel asked.

“So, how are we going to get a live canary with its home?” Daniel inquired.

“Plan B,” Jack answered.

“Plan B?” Daniel echoed.  “What, uh, is Plan B?”

“It's the one after 'A',” Jack answered, pulling into the drug store.  “Let's get this over with.”

“Gawd,” Daniel sighed as he clicked open his seatbelt.  ~Not looking forward to this one.~  He smiled, calling out, “Jack, wait.  We don't both have ...”

“Yes, Daniel, we do.  We're a team, remember?” Jack reminded, waiting impatiently until the archaeologist began to walk with him.

====

“Jack, just grab one,” Daniel suggested, his arms tightly crossed in front of him and his head ducked.

“We don't want just any old one,” Jack responded.  “Remember, we have to turn this in.”

Just then a good-looking man about Jack's height and with Daniel's dimply smile walked by.  He had overheard the conversation.  He eyed both Jack and Daniel up and down.

“Just ... pick ... one,” Daniel insisted, his voice low but forceful.

“We don't want a cheap one,” Jack replied.

“Try this one,” the man suggested, winking at Daniel after he picked up a single-unit package of his favorite brand.  “It's the best.  *Trust* me,” he said, handing the package to Jack.  He reached into his pocket, pulled out two cards, and handed one to both Jack and Daniel.  “And, uh, if you're into threesomes, or want to play on the side, give me a call.”

Daniel's mouth opened, and Jack just glared as the man picked up a multi-pack of the same brand and went to the counter to pay for his purchase.

“Let's go,” Daniel said, turning and walking quickly down the aisle.

Jack stared at the card, then grunted as he ripped it in two, tossing the pieces onto the shelf next to other packages.  As he arrived at the counter, the man who had given them the card was just walking out, though he turned back and smiled invitingly at the two men.

“Can I help you?” the clerk asked, adding, “Or are you just standing there hoping for a pick up?  What you do off this property is your business, but loitering scares away the customers.”

“What?” Daniel answered.  “Oh, uh, I'm with him,” he explained, seeing Jack walk up and stand beside him.  ~Gawd, what did I just say?~

Jack glared at Daniel as he put the package on the counter and asked, “How much?”

“Just one?” the clerk questioned.

“One's plenty,” Jack answered.

The clerk stared for a moment at Jack.  Then he looked over at Daniel and smiled, nodding as he did so.

“What's so funny?” Jack asked as he handed over three dollars to pay for the item.

“Nothing, Mac, absolutely nothing,” the clerk answered as he handed over the change.  “Have a good night.  I hope it's a *long* one,” he cackled.

“Oh, for crying out loud,” Jack whined as he followed Daniel out of the drug store. “I'm never buying another condom in my life.”

“You wouldn't have to with me, Honey,” a female said, winking as she walked by with an exaggerated wiggle.  “I'll have your love child.”

Daniel stared at the woman, wondering why her comment bothered him.  He didn't have a chance to think about it much since Jack tugged on his arm, wanting to move on to the next task.

Once again in the truck, Daniel updated their list, announcing, “Item three -- condom -- check.”

“Now for the real fun,” Jack intoned as he pulled out of the parking space that had been on the street.

“That was fun?” Daniel challenged.

“A real riot,” Jack answered, shaking his head and wanting to put the memory of the condom purchase behind him.  Thinking about the card that the man had given to both himself and his best friend, he just had to ask, “Daniel, what did you do with the ...”

Before Jack could finish his question, Daniel handed him the card.  Happily, with a smile on his face, he ripped it up and threw it into the trash bag he kept in his truck.

Both men felt an odd sense of comfort from Jack's simple action of throwing the card away.

“Well, we're making good time,” Daniel remarked.

“Those were the easy things,” Jack responded.  “The real challenges are ahead of us.”

“Number six is all yours, Jack.”

Jack laughed, saying, “We'll see.”

“You *won't* see anything, not of mine, anyway,” Daniel replied.

As he drove, Jack simply laughed, inwardly planning their next move.

====

On another side of town, Sam and Janet entered a drug store.

“I haven't taken one of these in years,” Janet sighed, picking up the pregnancy test.

“I haven't had a reason to,” Sam lamented.  She continued walking down the aisle until she came to the condoms.  “Here they are, Janet.”

Janet joined her friend, finding the lowest priced one on the shelf and commenting, “I haven't had a reason to buy one of these in a long time, either.”

Sam added, “I'm not sure I remember what they look like.”

Chuckling, the two went to the counter to pay for their purchase.

====

“Jack, this is insane!” Daniel protested.

“Daniel, just lay there, and be quiet,” Jack instructed, pulling the sheet up over the younger man's body.

“But ...”

“Evening,” Jack greeted, nodding politely at a passing nurse.

The two men had quietly walked into one of Colorado Springs' very busy and very public hospitals.  Using his Special Ops skills, primarily observation and breaking and entering, Jack determined where extra medical uniforms were kept.  He donned some hospital blues, as well as a long, white jacket and then copped an unused gurney, gently shoving Daniel onto it.

“Jack ...”

“Shhh!” Jack warned, smiling at yet another nurse as he rolled the gurney by her. Continuing to keep an eye on everyone around him, he covertly checked various hospital rooms, finally finding an empty one.  He wheeled the gurney into it, then began his quest to find the desired object while ordering Daniel to keep in place.  “Here we go!” he proudly exclaimed, taking the next item on the list.  “Just ... put it ... there,” Jack instructed with a smile as he placed the item over his friend's mid-section and covered it up with the thick white sheet.

“You're sick, O'Neill,” Daniel commented.

“I've been called worse,” Jack stated as he began to wheel Daniel out.

Before Jack had reached the door, it flung open, and two orderlies appeared, wheeling in an unconscious patient.

Daniel's head snapped back, while Jack just smiled and said, “They're both empty.”  He nodded over at the empty beds.  “This one is on the way out.”

As the orderlies stared, Jack wheeled a moaning and groaning Daniel out of the room.

“Good, Danny.  Keep that up.  Great faking it,” Jack commented.

“Who's faking it?” Daniel asked in exasperation.  In a very low, deep, but strong voice, he added, “Get that off my ... off the ... just get it off!”

Jack hurried his pace, getting the two men as close to the stairs as possible.  He wasn't sure why Daniel was so anguished.

“Jaaaaack!”

“Okay, now!” Jack called out, believing enough people were around to block their maneuver.

“Gawwwwd!” Daniel exclaimed.

“Crap!  Sorry, Danny,” Jack apologized, having realized that the item had been shoved against his friend in such a way that it 'caught' his most sensitive private part, and with the advent of the arrival of the orderlies, the younger man hadn't been able to 'adjust' anything to relieve the pressure.

“*You're* sorry?” Daniel asked incredulously, holding the item in his hand and waving it at the older man.

“*Don't* do that,” Jack ordered in a hushed tone, looking around.  “Let's get out of here,” he suggested urgently, disappearing into the stairwell.

“Can't be quick enough for me,” Daniel agreed, getting off the gurney and hiding the bedpan in his windbreaker.  ~Number five almost killed me.  Jack is definitely doing number eight.~

====

“I'm gonna get fired, and you're gonna get court-martialed,” Daniel insisted as Jack got the tools he needed out of the compartment in the back of the truck.

“Nah, just a reprimand,” Jack teased.

“Isn't there some place a bit more ... remote?” Daniel asked.  “Someone's going to see us.”

“Not if you don't keep talking, they won't,” Jack admonished.  “Keep an eye out.”

Daniel nervously watched as Jack removed the 'Oak Ave' street sign.  Hearing a noise, he jumped, but was relieved when the car backing out of the driveway went the opposite way.

Finally, Jack returned, hurriedly getting inside the truck and hiding the sign in their canvas bag.

“Move it, Jack,” Daniel urged, wanting to get out of the area quickly.

“That takes care of number one, and they'll never miss it,” Jack opined, turning down the perpendicular-running West Oak Avenue.

“Right,” Daniel responded dryly, wondering how many more laws they were going to break before the scavenger hunt was over.  ~That one foster father told me I'd come to a bad end and wind up in jail.  Never gave it a minute's thought, until now,~ he wailed inwardly.

====

Jack hung up the phone at the same time Daniel returned from the restaurant bathroom.  They were taking just a few minutes to have a cup of coffee before continuing their nighttime escapade.

“Who were you talking to?” Daniel asked.

“A friend of mine,” Jack responded as he picked up his mug of coffee.  He glanced at his watch and stated, “We need to get a move on.”

“We've only been here five minutes,” Daniel protested.

“And we don't want those five minutes to cost us.  Besides, we need to make a stop before ten-thirty,” Jack noted.

“A stop?”

“You'll see,” Jack teased.

“That's what worries me,” Daniel replied and then sipped his coffee.

“Ah, Danny, since we're here ...”

“No, Jack, unless you're ready,” the archaeologist smirked.

“But, Danny ...”

“Jack, number eight is all yours,” Daniel maintained.  “Leave a good tip,” he said as he got up to head out for the truck.

~A good tip?  The bill is only ... geez, coffee has gone up,~ Jack thought as he examined the bill for the two cups of coffee.

====

“Who lives here?” Daniel inquired as he closed the passenger door of the well-kept truck.

“A friend of mine.  His name is ...”

Just then the front door opened and a man about Jack's age called out, “Hey, Jack.  When are we gonna play poker again?”

“I'm game when you are,” Jack answered jovially as he and Daniel approached the porch and walked the three steps up to be at door level.  “Andy, this is my friend, Daniel Jackson.  Danny, this is Sheriff ...”

“Not yet, Jack, and let's not jump the gun,” Andy cautioned, extending out his hand to Daniel and saying simply, “Hi, Daniel.  My name is Andy.  Do you play poker?”

“Uh, well ...”

“Of course, he does,” Jack spoke.  “Andy, I hate to rush things, but ...”

“Not a problem.  Be back in one second,” Andy said, turning and going inside his house.

“The *sheriff*?” Daniel asked incredulously with widened eyes.

“He will be, come the next election,” Jack responded brightly.

“Jack, are you out of your mind?” the archaeologist inquired.

“No,” Jack refuted, looking all around and up and down his body.  “I'm all here.  I don't see my mind, so I assume it's still inside my body.”

“Good.  We have enough items to find yet without looking for something that small in the dark,” Daniel retorted.

Jack was about to make a wisecrack about Daniel's mind being too heavy and stuffed full of useless information to drag along, when he realized Daniel was being snarky, so, instead, he just grinned and replied, “All right, Daniel.”

“You *are* insane,” Daniel said just as Andy returned.

“This is Sue.  Take good care of her, Jack, or Melinda will never forgive me,” Andy spoke about his wife.

“Thanks, Andy.  We'll have Sue back by tomorrow night at the latest,” Jack intoned gratefully as he held the bird cage in which was a yellow canary named Sue, as well as food and drink for the creature.

“Anytime,” Andy replied as he waved good-bye to his visitors.

“We need to drop Sue off at the body shop,” Daniel stated as he watched Jack put the bird in the truck.

“Why?  We'll just leave the windows open when we stop,” Jack commented.

“Jack, we're not messing around with the life of a bird.  A small draft can cause a bird to get a cold and die.  We take it back, or you go on by yourself,” Daniel sternly announced.

“Okay, we'll check in our stuff and see how the others are doing,” Jack groaned, giving in to his friend.  ~Stubborn geek.~

“I heard that,” Daniel spoke.

“Heard what?”

“What you said,” Daniel answered.

“I didn't say anything,” Jack responded.

“You did, too,” Daniel insisted.

“Did not,” Jack maintained.

“Did, too.”

“Not,” Jack stated.

“Too.”

“Not!”

“You *did*, too, Jack, because I heard you say it,” Daniel spoke.

“Say what?” Jack asked agitatedly.

“That I'm a stubborn geek,” Daniel finally repeated.

Jack paused, then looked into his friend's eyes and asked, “Daniel, you are a geek, yes?”

“Maybe,” Daniel answered hesitantly.

“And you have to admit that sometimes you can be a little ... stubborn, yes?”

“Maybe,” Daniel sighed.

“So what's the problem?” Jack inquired.

“Nothing.  Let's go,” Daniel said, waving one hand in front of him.

As Jack snickered, the two prepared to check in at the body shop, hoping to discover they were in the lead.

====

“Mmmm,” Siler said, nodding.

“What?” Jack asked.

“You got the canary,” the sergeant responded dryly.

“No one else has, have they?” Jack inquired, leaning in to the man running the scavenger hunt.

“Just one,” Siler responded, pointing over to the area where Kylie and Laurie had left their accumulated treasures just fifteen minutes ago.

Walking towards the area, the colonel inquired, “How'd they get a canary?”

Not waiting for Siler to respond, Daniel answered, “It must be Laurie's.  She has three of them.”  He examined the bird closely and added, “This must be Spider.”

“How would you know?” Jack lightly snapped.

“She told me Spider had a little black mark on his wing,” the archaeologist explained.  “See,” he pointed, “a little black mark.”

“How long have you been talking to Laurie?” Jack's jealousy asked.  “No, don't answer that.  We have a game to win.”

Daniel chuckled, knowing Jack's propensity to snoop, and inwardly thought, ~For someone who minds his own business, he sure does ask a lot of questions.~

====

“Okay, Danny ...”

“No, Jack.  I told you -- this one is all yours,” Daniel negated, taking the disposable camera from his friend and smiling.

“But, Danny ...”

“Uh, there's no traffic, so now would be a good time,” the younger man opined.

Jack grunted, but walked in front of the restaurant sign.  It was so late that only a few patrons were inside and, fortunately, not sitting near the windows of the outdoor sign.  As quickly as he could, he shed his clothing until all he was wearing were briefs.  He looked over for a moment and cringed, seeing two females, giggling in his direction.

~Aw, crap,~ Jack thought.  “Daniel, snap the picture ...”

Daniel snapped the photo before Jack could finish his sentence; then he laughed, “Well, I guess that will answer the question for the ladies.”

“What question?” Jack asked as he quickly put his clothes back on.

“Boxers or briefs!”

====

“How could I have missed number six?” Daniel sighed.

Jack laughed, “Because you were fixated on number eight.”

“Jack, you could ...”

“I did number eight; this one is all yours, Dannyboy,” the older man laughed as he stopped the truck.

“I misread it,” Daniel mumbled.

“What did you think it said?” Jack queried, looking at his embarrassed friend.

“I thought it said 'strike',” Daniel admitted.

“Strike at a park?” Jack laughed.  “Mmm, maybe I should report this.”

“What?” Daniel asked in confusion.

“The SGC's leading linguist misread a simple word, in English yet!” Jack jested, unable to hide his amusement at the situation.

“Jack, this isn't funny,” Daniel commented.  “I am *not* doing this.”

“Camera's ready!”

“You are going to pay for this, O'Neill,” Daniel threatened as he got out of the truck.  “Remember, you can't take the picture until I'm ...”

“I know, Daniel ...” Jack stated.

“Gawd, this is insane,” the archaeologist spoke as he took off his shirt.  “I'm insane, participating in some ritualistic nonsense that doesn't mean anything or do anything or support anything good in our culture.  Grown up people running around, stealing street signs, borrowing canaries from sheriffs, and displaying their wares in front of restaurants ...”

“And parks,” Jack snorted.

“And parks,” Daniel acknowledged as he unbuckled his belt.  “We're a sick culture, and I'm sick for going along with this.  It's juvenile, has no merit, and could get me arrested.  I am out of my freakin' mind for going along with this freakin' scavenger hunt in the freakin' middle of the night ...”

“You'd prefer daytime?” Jack questioned, unable to hold in his laughter.

Holding his shirt, Daniel glared, turned around, and walked several yards away where he finished removing the remainder of his clothing.  He ducked behind a bush.

“Are you ready?” Daniel shouted.

“Go for it!” Jack asked, snapping the photo a few seconds later when Daniel streaked across the park in nothing but his birthday suit.  Jack could hear Daniel's grumbling even as the younger man returned to where he had left his clothes.  ~It's a good thing this didn't have to be close up.  It'll all be a blur, or I wouldn't let anyone see this.  If I did, I'd have to kill them.~

“Did you get the picture?” Daniel questioned as he approached, his shirt buttoned all the way to the top and his windbreaker fastened as well.

Jack laughed, “In all your glory, Danny.”

“What's next?” the younger man inquired, not wanting to think about what he had just done.  ~I hereby disavow any knowledge of this event.  It never happened.  It was just one of Jack's hallucinations.  After the scavenger hunt is over, I will never, ever admit I streaked through Acacia Park.~

====

“Jack, if we get caught, we'll really be in trouble,” Daniel whispered as the two lurked around the Pike's Peak International Raceway.

The newly opened track was the home of that week's Busch Series stock car race, which was considered the 'minor league' to the NASCAR Cup Series.  The race wasn't until Sunday, and part of the notes said that the item taken had to be returned by daybreak to avoid a penalty.

“I think it's more like to avoid being thrown in jail,” Daniel whispered again.

“Danny, if you keep talking, we might get caught,” Jack softly admonished.  “I don't see anyone.”

“It's two in the morning,” Daniel spoke.

“Follow me,” Jack ordered, slinking in and around the area as if they were on a mission.  Of course, they were on a mission, one that would take some finesse and require their best sleuthing skills.  “How about this one?”

“Dale Earnhardt, Jr.?” Daniel asked, shrugging at the name he saw written on a paper inside the garage area.  “Who is that?”

“You don't know?”  Jack shook his head, wanting to give more information, but knowing they didn't have time.  “Just help me with this, will ya?”

Quickly and as quietly as possible, they removed the hood of the number three car.

“Jack, this won't fit in the truck,” Daniel noted.  “Someone will see it.”

Jack looked around and grabbed a canvas.  Holding it up, he smiled.

“That'll work,” Daniel agreed.

Soon, with the car hood in the back of the truck, covered by a canvas, the two hurried to the body shop.  They needed to dispose of that item before they went after their final object on the list.  It was labeled, 'Number Ten -- With a Bullet' with a note below it that said, 'Take your careers into your hands'.

“Number Ten -- With a Bullet?” Daniel mumbled.

Jack laughed, “It means we're taking our lives into our hands.  Watch out for enemy fire.  That Siler is pretty crafty.”

“Yeah, he's *not* playing the game,” Daniel stated dryly.

“Like I said -- crafty,” the older man mused.  “He knows no one will turn on him if we do get caught.”

“Right,” Daniel sighed.  ~This is insane.~

====

“Airman,” Jack greeted cordially as he and Daniel signed into the Mountain.

Jack and Daniel headed quickly for their destination, changing elevators on Level 11 and going even deeper into the core of the Cheyenne Mountain Complex.

“What if he's here?” Daniel asked as they briskly walked through the corridors.

“He won't be,” Jack responded.

“What if he is?” the archaeologist countered.

“He's not,” the colonel optimistically answered.

“He might be,” Daniel claimed as they rounded a corner, his heart pounding harder than it had been all night.

“He won't be.”

“But what if he is?”

“Then we say 'hello' and go to Plan B,” Jack answered.

“Plan B is what?” Daniel inquired.

“I'll know when and if we get there,” Jack responded as they turned the final corner leading to their destination.

“That's a good plan?” the younger man asked.

“Do you have a better one?” Jack pointedly challenged as he stopped to look at Daniel for a moment.

“Uh, no,” Daniel wryly admitted.

“That's what I thought,” Jack replied.  He smiled at a technician who passed by, then glanced through the window of the office in question.  “Told ya he wouldn't be here.”

“Hurry,” Daniel urged.

“Crap, the door's locked,” Jack spoke.

“His door isn't normally locked, is it?” Daniel asked.

“I'm guessing it was Carter,” Jack opined.

“Teal'c,” Daniel guessed.

“The Big Guy?”  Jack looked at Daniel, considering the idea.  Then he nodded and agreed, “Yeah, Teal'c.”  Reaching into his pocket for his special tools, he added, “Sly dog.”

“Jack, will you hurry up?” Daniel asked, nervously looking around.

“And will you stop looking so nervous?”

“I always look nervous,” the archaeologist argued.

Jack paused to consider the response and then agreed, “There's that.”

Seconds later, the two members of SG-1 were inside General Hammond's office.

“Take the picture first,” Jack urged, getting into place.

This tenth item had two parts to it, the object that had to be scavenged and photos of the team members, each individually sitting at the major general's desk with their feet up on his desk.

“You look good there, Jack,” Daniel stated as he took the picture.  “Maybe you'll be a general one day.”

“Yeah, when Pluto isn't a planet anymore,” Jack chuckled, getting up and taking the camera from Daniel.  “You're turn.”

After Daniel's photo was taken, the two looked around.

“Someone's already taken his nameplate,” Daniel observed.

“And his stationary,” Jack lamented as his eyes scanned the room.  He sighed, regretting not having come to the SGC sooner.  They needed something of Hammond's.  It had to be either monogrammed with his initials, personalized with his name, or something that was a personal memento, kept in his office.  “Danny, we're running out of time.”

“We can't take that, Jack,” Daniel noted about the official document on the wall.  “It'll be too hard to conceal through the security gate.”

“You're right,” Jack replied, turning and trying to think of something appropriate. He moved back to the desk and whined, “The drawers are locked.”

“Well ...” Daniel coaxed, cocking his head.

Jack nodded, picking the lock.  He smiled, holding up the general's favorite pen.

“I'm going to be fired, and you're going to be court-martialed, all over a pen,” Daniel bemoaned as they covertly exited the office, locking it behind them.

“It's just a pen, and it has his initials on it,” Jack sighed.

“Jack, the President gave him that pen,” Daniel reminded.

“Crap!” Jack said in response.  Nevertheless, he wasn't turning back, not when they were so close to winning.  ~Should have invited Hammond to play.~

====

“Not so fast, or we'll get stopped for speeding,” Daniel commented as Jack sped down the street, going ten miles over the speed limit.  “Besides, we don't want to hurt anyone by causing an accident.  It's only a game, Jack.”

“Yeah, you're right,” the older man sighed as he reduced his speed to the legal limit.  “Thanks for reminding me,” he said, glancing over at his friend and nodding appreciatively.

Five minutes later, Jack and Daniel darted inside the body shop and proudly turned over their final item to Sergeant Siler, who recorded it and instructed them to place it in their designated area.  They then turned their attention to the clock on the wall.

“It's 0400,” Jack announced.  “Who's not here?” he asked, skimming the shop to see who was missing.

“Hmmm,” Daniel commented.  “I don't see Kim or Lan.”

“Picard and Conner aren't here, either,” Jack added.

Swearing in Italian, Lou Ferretti entered, Henry Boyd right behind him.

“We're late,” Lou griped as he walked past Jack to Siler.

“Life is tough,” Jack quipped.  He whispered to Daniel, “We've got this in the bag.”

Taking note of all the returns were Teal'c, Walter Davis, Graham Simmons, Skeet Warner, Sam, Janet, Kylie, Laurie, Judy Fargo, and Joanne Sims.

“Jack, I don't see Ramona and Susan,” Daniel observed.

“We passed them at the park,” Lou remarked.  “That Ramona is one good streaker!”

~It didn't happen.  Nope, didn't happen.  I deny everything,~ Daniel thought, choosing to tune out of the conversation.

====

Ten minutes later, Siler called out the results.

“Three teams are still out, and one got here after time expired, so we have six teams still in the running.  Remember, there's a final round to go, so these results are temporary.  The last part of the hunt is the return of certain items.  All street signs must be replaced, the Busch car hoods returned, though they don't have to be affixed to the vehicles, the canaries, if borrowed, must be returned to their homes or new permanent homes found, and General Hammond's items have to be returned to his office.  Penalities will be imposed for any or all of these that are not accomplished.  I'll be verifying the returns personally throughout the day and having the film developed.  The winner will be announced at the party tonight at midnight,” Siler stated.

“So, who's winning?” Sam asked, beaming since she believed that she and Janet were ahead of everyone else.

“The current leaders are Kylie and Laurie,” Siler answered.  “Okay, return time begins now.”

“Let's move it,” Walter Davis ordered.  Seeing Teal'c's glare, he looked up at the tall alien and stuttered, “I just meant we should move as quickly as possible.”

“Indeed,” Teal'c replied.

====

“What are you two doing?” the policeman asked, shining the light in Jack's face as he finished affixing the 'Oak Ave' sign.

“Uh, fixing the sign, Sir,” Jack answered, jumping off the stool he was standing on.

“Fixing it?” the policeman asked incredulously.

“Yes, Sir.  Tell the man, Daniel,” Jack instructed.

“Tell him?” Daniel echoed, staring at his friend.  Seeing Jack's glare and raised eyebrows, he turned to the policeman and smiled, saying, “Well, Sir, we, uh, the sign was off the post, and, uh, we, uh, wanted to put it back up.”  He pointed to the sign, saying, “As you can see, it's back up.”

“Let's see some identification,” the officer requested.

“Surely,” Jack agreed, confidently presenting his military ID in the belief that would give him validity.

The policeman looked over at Daniel, studied his ID, and inquired, “Where do you work?”

“Uh, for the government.”

“I didn't ask you *who* you worked for,” the officer replied, adding, “I asked you *where* you work?”

“He works with me,” Jack stated.

The officer stared at Jack, totally not buying it, and intoned, “Gentlemen, I saw you take that sign from your vehicle to the post.  I'm taking you in.  Assume the position.”

Daniel simply closed his eyes and stated, “I told you we'd get caught.”

====

“Got two more, Sarge,” the officer stated in an amused tone.

“Crap!” Daniel muttered in reaction, noticing that the holding area was full of SGC personnel.

“You, too, Jack?” Henry Boyd commented.  “You're my mentor.  I'm so disappointed.”

“Cut the bull, Hank, or I'll never recommend you for a promotion,” Jack groaned as he and Daniel entered the large cell, which contained almost everyone from the six teams that had completed the first part of the scavenger hunt.  “Carter, how'd you get copped?” he inquired.

“Tony Stewart's crew chief caught us returning the hood,” Sam answered.

“What about women's wiles?” Boyd asked with a wink.

“Carter and wiles?” Jack questioned as he made a face, finding himself punched in the abdomen by his archaeologist.  “What?”

Just then, the police sergeant on duty walked in, whistling.  He smiled at the group, his expression coy and smirking.

“What?” Jack asked.

“There's someone who'd like to see all of you,” the sergeant stated, looking to his right.

“Gawd, it's ...”

“General Hammond,” Daniel, Jack, and several others stated, all snapping to at the general's presence.

“Would someone care to explain to me why several members of my staff are in the hoosgow?” Hammond demanded.  Silence met his query.  “Colonel O'Neill, I want to see you in my office in one hour.”

With a final glare, the major general turned and left the police station.

“Boy, are we gonna get it,” Daniel stated, his arms folded across his chest.

“Don't remind me,” Jack replied as the sergeant, laughing robustly, opened the door and motioned for everyone to leave.  “You like your work, don't you?” the colonel asked.

“I do this morning,” the sergeant responded, continuing to laugh.

====

“Colonel, where is my nameplate?” Hammond asked.

“Well, Sir, I don't know ... for sure,” Jack answered, not certain which of his cohorts had absconded with it.

“And my letterhead?”

“Uh ...”

“My memo pads?”

“Memo pads?  You have memo pads?” Jack asked, still standing at attention.

“Colonel,” Hammond barked commandingly, approaching his second-in-command and standing right in front of his face.  “I want *everything* returned to my office within the next ten minutes, or it won't be pretty around here for longer than you can imagine.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Get out of here,” Hammond ordered.

“Getting,” Jack replied, backing away.

“NOW!” the general barked.

====

Fifteen minutes later, Hammond reviewed the items now sitting on his desk and shook his head.

“My coffee mug, Jack?”

Jack just shrugged as he faced straight ahead.

“Details, Colonel,” Hammond demanded as he sat down in his leather chair.

“General, I could say a lot of things, but I respect you too much to ...”

“Lie?” Hammond prompted.

“Finagle the truth,” Jack countered.

“I'm listening,” Hammond stated.

“Sir, we were just blowing off some steam,” Jack admitted.

“How?” Hammond questioned, his eyes unwavering as he stared at Jack.

Jack sighed, “A scavenger hunt, General.”

“Names, Colonel,” Hammond demanded, though he had a partial list already since he knew exactly who had been arrested.

“Jack O'Neill,” Jack stated formally.

“And ...” Hammond prompted.

“I don't recall, Sir,” the colonel answered, his arms hanging straight along his sides as he stood up straight.

“No, I suppose you don't,” Hammond conceded.  “Dismissed.”

“Dismissed?” Jack questioned.

“Make sure everything that was taken as part of this ... hunt gets returned, Colonel, and next time, don't get caught,” Hammond intoned forcefully.

“Yes, Sir; I mean, no, Sir,” Jack acknowledged, heading to the door as quickly as he could.

“Jack?” Hammond called out.

“Sir?”

“Who won?”

Jack cocked his head, answering, “I don't know yet, but I'll let you know.”

Smiling, Jack walked out of Hammond's office, eager to head to the body shop where the others had agreed to meet.

As for General Hammond, he smiled, once again observing the items on his desk.  He knew full well that the personnel had been involved in a scavenger hunt.  The signs were too obvious.  After all, the police had reported that one team had been caught trying to return a canary stolen from a pet store while another had been caught at the racetrack.  He added that to the street sign 'return' and the items now assembled in front of him.  He shook his head.

“Rank amateurs.  I never got caught,” the bald man chuckled, recalling several of his own successful scavenger hunt wins in his past.  ~Amateurs,~ he thought again as he returned his presidential pen to its normal resting place.

====

“The official winners of the scavenger hunt are ...” Siler paused, smiling at the group in front of him.

“Get on with it, Siler,” Lou called out, curious who had won.

“Teal'c and Walter!”

“WHAT?” Jack questioned in disbelief.  ~We've been robbed!~

Siler shrugged, explaining, “They were the only two who didn't get arrested.”

Jack stared at Teal'c, who raised his head about an inch and moved forward to collect the prize, as did Walter.

After the gripes and mock jeers, everyone congratulated the winners and enjoyed some spirits.

“Jackkkkkk, where arrrrz da, uh, pic...pic...pictures?” Daniel inquired, his speech a bit slurred from the alcoholic beverages he'd consumed in the last two hours in an effort to forget the entire scavenger hunt.

“What pictures, Dannyboy?” Jack asked with a sloppy smile on his face.

“You know,” Daniel whispered.

“I know nuuhthiiinng,” Jack answered, imitating Sergeant Schultz from 'Hogan's Heroes' and taking another sip of his vodka, with his pinky extended.

“Me, either, neither, no, either.  Is it either or neither?” Daniel asked.

Jack smiled, enjoying his friend's current state of light intoxication.

“I don't know, either,” Daniel replied, leaning his head back to finish up his bottle.  “WOW!”

Jack laughed at his friend's tipsy behavior.  It was rare to see Daniel so loose as he was now.

“Jackkkk!  Pic...tures, whe're they?” the archaeologist asked.

Jack just smiled, saying, “Where they'll always be safe.”

“Jack ...”

“Danny, have I ever told you about the Great Scavenger Hunt of 1975?” Jack inquired, putting his arm around Daniel's shoulder and beginning to spin a yarn that would spin his friend's head even more than the liquor he'd consumed since the party began.

As the scavengers enjoyed their fun, midnight gave way to the rising sun.  Soon, the SGC personnel would be returning to the more serious world of exploring new worlds and fighting the Goa'uld, but, for now, they were happily enjoying the joys of camaraderie of their friendships and the joy of a simple thing like a scavenger hunt.

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