No, this story was not abandoned. It was simply misplaced for a while. *hangs head* Forgive me for being lousy with my updates?
Title: Two Letters and a Number Author: ladynero Summary: More fun and games at SGC Pairings: None Rating: R Warnings: Language Disclaimer: I don't own 'em.
If there was one thing that Zack was good at, it was lying to others to make them feel better or that a situation was under control before it went FUBAR. But that talent also made it hard for him to lie to himself, if only because he had to know the situation well enough in order to lie to others. He couldn't stop himself from nervously eying the woman in the lab coat, half-way expecting her to ambush them with needles and restraints, even though all her attention was focused on Daniel.
He tried not to fidget as the others were loaded onto the gurneys by the men that had come in with the doctor. He started when padded straps were brought out to secure the others to the makeshift beds. “Hey!”
“Standard procedure,” the orderly stated, frowning as he tried to stare him down. “As of right now, all of you are still potentially hostile until you are cleared, medically, from all foreign parasites.”
“Are all of your doctors as inconsiderate to their patients or are you special?” he drawled, glaring at the orderly as he started towards the beds, determined to unstrap them. Two of the other men stepped between the gurneys and Zack, but he pushed through them, hands reaching for the straps when there was a twitch from Sephiroth
Before Zack could say anything, Sephiroth reacted, the straps at his wrists easily snapping. Sephiroth yanked his legs back, snapping the restraints on the gurney as he rolled to his feet, tensing for a fight. Zack shock his head as he unfastened the straps around Cloud's ankles, the other orderlies starting towards Sephiroth. They'd learn the hard way why it wasn't a good idea to strap an unconscious SOLDIER down even if it was for a medical procedure.
“Welcome back, Seph,” drawled Zack, his fingers fumbling on the buckles and stiff leather. He wasn't going to admit his hands were shaking. No way, no how. Not even if seeing Cloud strapped down like this was a scene straight from his worst nightmares. He was viciously amused as two of the men were sent sprawling by almost negligent whacks from Sephiroth's hands. There were cries of alarm from around him and swearing from Jack, but Zack ignored it, determined to get those Loki cursed straps off of Cloud before he woke.
Apparently, nobody was listening because as Zack watched with a growing sense of panic, Cloud twitched. He also knew the instant Cloud realized he was tied down, when the blue eyes flew open and he started thrashing on the board while screaming in terror. Zack grunted as a fist impacted his stomach and shoved him back a few feet before he lunged for Cloud again, determined to break through his panic before Cloud ended up catatonic again.
“Spike! Cloud! Come on buddy!" he called, grabbing his head and forcing the wild eyes to look at him. His actions got the screams to stop at least, but Cloud was still twitching like someone was running a Thunder spell through him. Zack attempted to pin Cloud down while resting their foreheads together. “Easy, Spike. It me, Zack. You’re safe. Promise. No doctors. No scientists. No tubes. No tests. I’m right here and I’m not gonna leave you.”
The rustling of fabric caught his attention but he ignored it, trusting Sephiroth with his back as he continued talking to Cloud, trying to calm him down. There was a movement in olive green next to him, and Zack turned his head just a touch to find Jack standing there, a concerned look on his face. “How can I help?”
"Get the fucking straps off him and tell the fucking asshole doctors to take the fucking lab coats off," Zack said, his voice still calm and cheerful. Cloud had stopped thrashing but his breathing was still too fast, his eyes too wide. All Zack had done was manage to delay the panic attack. The cause of the attack was still present and until it was removed, then Cloud was hovering on a full blown attack.
He leaned closer to Cloud, trying to surround him with his scent as he resumed talking to the panicking blond. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Jack removing the straps still on Cloud's wrist, carefully moving around the two to get them both. Before the last strap was even gone, the blond was curling up in Zack's arms, trying to hide from everyone as he clung to the brunet. Zack wrapped his arms around him, tucking his face into his neck.
The clack of heels on concrete caused him to look up at the doctor, his eyes hard enough to make her stop and stare at him, eyes a bit wide. “You wanna take off that fucking jacket before he sees you and really panics, lady?” he drawled, a smile on his lips that didn’t reach his eyes.
She opened her mouth to say something when she suddenly closed her mouth and shrugged out of the white lab coat. A touch of tension eased from Zack’s shoulders as she did that, but he continued to keep his eye on the man who had insisted on strapping them down. Sephiroth walked over to them, casually moving until he was at Zack’s back
“They have our weapons,” Sephiroth mused, sounding as if he was discussing the latest weather report or what he wanted for lunch. It never failed to amuse him, how Sephiroth could sound so nonchalant about anything, up to and including being unarmed in a tense situation. It wasn’t like they needed the weapons, but only Jack, Sam and Teal’c knew that. Well, they had gotten the visual demonstration, and anyone they told would probably be rather skeptical at whatever report they gave about a SOLDIER’s abilities.
Jack sighed as the lady doctor walked over to the man who had strapped them down and started dressing him down for that. “Sorry, but it’s regs until you’ve been cleared by medical. Zack, you’re gonna have to leave your sword here. Your weapons and packs will be taken to the guest quarters once they’re searched for potentially deadly things.”
Zack turned his attention to Jack, eyeing him seriously. The man did look apologetic, but if it was over the actions of the orderly or the fact he had to disarm them, Zack couldn’t say. Holding Jack’s eyes, he removed the Buster from his back before driving it into the stone floor with a shriek of metal and stone. It sank half its length into the floor before stopping, and Zack looked at Jack with a challenge in his eyes. If Jack wanted to deprive him of his weapon, then he’d make sure no one else could use it until he came back for it.
“Come on, Spike. Let’s get this ridiculous ritual over with,” Zack drawled, helping Cloud off the gurney. Cloud stood on shaky legs, clinging to Zack, and he could feel the blond slowly calming down. Cloud would be twitchy for a while until he managed to relax completely. Zack knew that wouldn’t be happening until after this medical ritual was done, and they were safely away from anyone in a lab coat.
“I must confess a curiosity,” mused Sephiroth, and Zack looked at him, concerned. The last time he had heard that note in the general’s voice, it had been why some intelligence reports were missing. “What exactly are you hoping to find by examining us?”
“If you are a host to a Gou’ald symbiot,” Jack replied with a shrug as if it was the most natural answer in the world. Things started clicking in Zack’s mind as he saw where Sephiroth was going with this, and a sharp smirk spread across his face.
Sephiroth nodded before fixing Jack with a casual look. “Are you simply ignorant of what information you have gathered, or are your rituals important enough to forego the comfort of your guests?”
That got a confused blink from Jack. “Huh? What do ya mean?”
“Gou’ald are from space and either land their ship on their claimed planet or arrive via the Stargate, correct?” inquired Sephiroth, getting a slow nod from Jack. “Therefor, the only way to gain a Gou’ald parasite would be to venture into space or to open the Stargate to allow them through. Which of those do you believe Gaia has done?”
“Neither, but it’s not unheard of to have one of the snakes tucked away in stasis until someone with more curiosity than sense wakes ‘em,” Jack replied with a shrug. “It’s SOP every time someone comes back through the Gate.”
Sephiroth nodded. “Then you won’t mind demonstrating this medical procedure to us by going first, will you?”
A bit of tension slipped out of Jack’s shoulders as he grinned for the first time since they arrived. “Not at all. C’mon, General Sephiroth. Let’s get Daniel down there, and then get Janet to clear all of us.”
“I also want to examine your arm to see how badly it’s broken,” the woman announced, whirling to point a finger at Reno where he had been quietly standing next to Tseng.
Zack glanced over as Reno blinked innocently at her and wiggled the arm in question. “No need, Doc. Turks take care of their own.”
A snicker slipped out of Zack at the stunned look on her face. Doctors never learn. The fact that was proven as she glared at Reno before motioning for everyone to follow her. He glanced at Cloud to find him much more steady on his feet, and he reached up to scuff the blond spikes, getting a squawked “Zack!” for his troubles.
The Turks were annoying the doctors and things were getting back to normal. Crisis averted.
Sephiroth glanced at the two men who were struggling to move Masamune from where he had dropped her before turning to follow O’Neil. Experience had taught him that it would take at least six strong men to move the blade, and he wondered how long it would take them to figure that out. Zack had taken the easy way out and no one would be moving the Buster until one of the SOLDIERs removed it. Still, it was better to get this foolish ritual over with before reclaiming their weapons. Not that they actually needed weapons to fight, but Sephiroth felt better with his blade in his hand. And she would come to him if he needed her..
As he stepped into the hallway, he wrinkled his nose at the stench in the air, the years of practice keeping him from openly gagging on the smell. It was worse than when he had first arrived in Midgar. “Is your air recycled or pumped in from outside?”
O’Neil shrugged a shoulder. “We have open vents to the outside that can be sealed in a moment’s notice should there be a virus or something that gets in to the air.”
“Then your planet must have very poor quality of air,” mused Sephiroth as they stepped into the elevator.
“Worse than Midgar’s at least,” drawled Zack, wrinkling his nose. Cloud was clinging to him, almost desperately, but everyone seemed to be politely ignoring it. “And that was some of the most filthy air on the planet.”
Sephiroth nodded. “That was the one good thing about Wutai. Their air was quite clean and didn’t stink beyond the usual jungle smells.”
Zack hummed in agreement, glancing at the small elevator. “Are we gonna be in here long? Small places make me kinda twitchy, ya know?”
O’Neil shook his head. “Not long,” he remarked just as the doors slid open.
Wrinkling his nose as the medical smells practically slapped him across the face, Sephiroth took a hesitant step towards the door. He paused and looked back as a noise of distress came from Cloud. The blond had managed to wedge himself into the lower corner of the elevator and seemed to be trying to push his way into the metal itself, his eyes wide as he tried to escape. Zack grimaced before crouching down next to Cloud, trying to soothe him with soft words and a gentle touch.
“I do not believe that we will be leaving on this level,” Sephiroth remarked, his voice soft as he stared at the shaking blond. He doubted that there was any conceivable way for Cloud to walk off the elevator at this point. Not under his own power.
There was an explosive sigh from O’Neil before he caught the door as it started to close. He stuck his head out, and Sephiroth noticed one of the uniformed men snap to attention in the hallway. “Let Janet know that she’s going to have to bring an ultrasound to the ‘Gateroom for our guests.”
Sephiroth didn’t hear the reply as O’Neil let the doors close before they were heading back down again. Cloud seemed to be relaxing a bit, but Sephiroth could see that he was still tense. It wouldn’t take much to push him over the edge into a panic attack and that would not be good for anyone around them. There was the possibility that Sephiroth could control Cloud through the channels Hojo had put in the young man but he wanted to save that as a last resort.
By the time the elevator stopped at their original floor, Cloud was more calm and was easily lead off by Zack with O’Neil and Sephiroth following close behind. Tseng and Reno gave them a curious glance before drifting over to follow the SOLDIERs back to the ‘Gateroom. Sephiroth was amused to see that Masamune had only been shifted a few inches from where she had fallen, and three people were straining to move the Buster from its imprisonment with little success.
“Was there a disagreement to the location?” inquired Tseng, glancing up at Sephiroth.
Sephiroth hummed, tilting his head slightly. “It was more of the memories invoked by strong scents that disagreed with us.”
That got an understanding nod from Tseng, and Sephiroth was grateful that the Turk didn’t demand more information in front of their hosts. Stopping near one of the walls, Sephiroth glanced around and saw that two of the men had abandoned the Buster to head towards the First Ken where it lay in its harness in pieces. He almost smiled when one reached down to grab the smallest blade and swore at the weight, dropping it with a thunk. He turned his attention back to Cloud just as an orderly pulled a machine over and handed a wand-like instrument to the red haired female, and she flicked a switch.
He flinched hard as a high pitched whine filled the room, clapping his hands over his ears, but he had a clear view of Cloud sliding straight into the panic attack that had been building since they arrived. With a scream that could be heard even over the noise, Cloud lunged for the nearest wall and started pounding on the stone, cracking it in his determination to get away. With a snarl, Sephiroth lunged for him, trying to keep him from bringing the place down on them, and he managed to get his hands on Cloud only for the blond to scream louder and thrash in his grip.
Then Zack was there, trying to hold Cloud as well, but Sephiroth could tell the only way to restrain him would also hurt him once he started thrashing. There was only one way Sephiroth could see to restraining Cloud without seriously injuring him, and he only hoped that Cloud would forgive him for it. Mentally reaching out, he wrapped himself around Cloud's mental strings and did his best to soothe the panic. He sincerely hoped that Cloud wouldn’t fight him, not wanting to add to the young man’s panic.
Instead of the fight he was expecting, Sephiroth found Cloud mentally clinging to him. Sephiroth shifted his physical grip on him to pull him against his chest, trapping Cloud’s arms between them, and the blond hummed, pressing his forehead against Sephiroth’s chest. Minute trembles were still running through Cloud, but Sephiroth was managing to keep him calm enough. He only hoped that they didn’t get permanently tied together, because he didn’t believe Cloud would be quite as accepting of that.
Movement to one side caught his attention, and Sephiroth looked over to find the doctor standing there with a stunned look on her face as Zack hovered close to them. Sephiroth nodded to Zack, indicating that he had Cloud, and Zack turned a bright grin on the doctor. “How ‘bout you hurry with that thing, okay? Seph’s got him for now.”
Sephiroth didn’t notice her response, having turned his attention back to the fragile bond. He thought he felt his hair being moved but ignored it, focusing fully on Cloud right now. Despite everything that had happened, Cloud was still one of his men and Sephiroth refused to let anything happen to his men if he could help it.