We're Off To See The Wizard
Summary: I had his weird-assed dream. This is the result. I hate my brain. Many thanks to Eos for the beta.
Teal'c is afraid. I never thought I'd live to see the day, but Teal'c is definitely afraid. We're in the commissary, having a coffee; Daniel's next to him, emotionless, staring into space.
"Look, buddy, if you want to ask the Doc out, you should just go for it. Life's too short. Grab the bull by the horns. Carpe diem. No time like the present."
Daniel's not reacting. He usually tells me to shut up at this point. Let's spice it up.
"A stitch in time saves nine."
A slight 'huh?' look from both of them.
"Too many cooks spoil the broth."
Teal'c's definitely looking confused. Daniel's eyebrow is twitching.
"Red sky at night..."
Daniel's kicked me under the table while growling, "If you say 'there's no place like home' I'm going to smack you, O'Neill."
Ah ha. A reaction.
"I was wondering how long it would take to wake you up. You okay, Daniel?"
"I'm fine. Fine, just fine."
Ye-ah. Ri-ght. Not. However, the look on his face tells me to drop it. He's been like this ever since that Goa'uld summit. He's shut himself off emotionally and it's like he's lost his heart. Without his heart, Daniel isn't the same. It's his passion and compassion that are his driving forces. Now? Now he's just going through the motions.
I'd say something but Carter has just breezed in.
"I am so stupid at times," she says as she sits, head in hands.
"Carter? What's wrong?"
"Oh, I was trying to figure out where I was going wrong with..."
Yadda, yadda. I'm trying to look interested but all this talk of neutrinos - not nintendos, I'm not that stupid - and quarks and so on is confusing the crap out of me.
"...so you see? If I'd just taken the square root instead of squaring it, I'd have got it right! I'm just too stupid to live sometimes."
"Don't worry about it, Carter, at least you've figured it out now. Anyway," I say, standing up. "You guys had better get ready. We ship out in fifteen minutes."
Yet another boring mission, but it's for Daniel. There's a neat-looking planet, a ruin in the distance that he wanted to look at, so we're going. It's a treat for him. Hammond's as worried about him as I am, so we're indulging him. It's only fair. We've turned him into a heartless murderer - in his view - so from time to time, he can try to turn me into an archaeologist. He's already turned me into a linguist. And yeah, so I'm a bit more interested in other cultures now too, but I draw the line at anthropology. That sort of thing leads to trouble.
"Are we all ready to go, kids?" I ask. They all nod.
There was a time that all of them would have replied with 'Yes, Dad,' - even Teal'c would have - but now, the humour has gone. Teal'c was jumpy in the pre-mission medical, Sam was still trying to figure stuff out in her head and Daniel was somewhere else. Physically, he was being checked over, but mentally I have no idea where he was.
I wish I could get things back the way they were.
Hey ho, wormhole time.
Okay, that I didn't expect. I've stepped through to a different-looking world. There's a yellow path, woodland to either side, and that ruin is suddenly a sparkling castle.
"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore," I say.
"Tonto, not Toto."
Slowly, very, very slowly, I turn around and look. No Teal'c. No Carter. No Daniel. Just a honking great Navajo. Or Apache. Heck, I really should learn more about the people in my own fucking country. I'm sure that Daniel would be able to tell from the costume, because he's there, in the traditional get-up. Or is that the Hollywood version? I have no idea. He's big though.
"Tonto?" I squeak.
"Do you want to make something of it?" he asks.
"No, no, not at all. Just knew of someone with the same name once. It suits ya."
"Do I look stupid?"
"So why say it? For that is what it means."
"It blows goats," he agrees, then he points to the path. "You should go that way."
"You wish to find your friends?"
"Yes, of course I do."
So I walk, Tonto at my side. He's looking at my hair.
"What's wrong with my hair?"
"Nothing. I am just fighting the urge to shout 'Hi Ho'."
I'm starting to think I'll be better off doing this alone.
Okay, what's a Nox doing here?
"Hello? Who are you? Are you a Goa'uld?"
"Um, no, I'm Colonel Jack O'Neill of the Tauri. Are you a Nox?"
"No, I'm a fairy."
Coming to think of it, a guy in a dress...
"Why did you think I was a Goa'uld?"
"Because you killed the Wicked Snake of the East."
He points back towards the gate - we've only gotten a couple of yards from it - and I see what he means. Smoking boots. Eew.
"Ah. I hope that's a good thing."
"It's going to be nigh on impossible to bring her back to life," the fairy sighs. "I usually need a body to work with."
"I didn't do it on purpose, ya know."
"Maybe so, but undoubtedly you will have upset her sister, the Wicked Snake of the West."
"Something like that. Are you going to The Sapphire City?"
"The Sapphire City?"
"That's what I said."
"I, er, guess so. I mean, I have to find my friends."
"Then you'll need to go there. Take your sidekick and walk through the forest. Do not go into the Evening Wood."
"Which is that?"
"That one." He points to one side of the path.
"Why, what's in there?"
"Nasty stuff. Trust me."
"What about the other one? What's that called?"
"I take it you get stiff in that one?"
"Never mind. I'll stick to the path."
"That would be advisable."
All of a sudden there's a whooshing noise. I'm guessing that this is the Wicked Snake of the West appearing.
"You killed my sister!"
"Mr. President? What are you doing here?" And her sister? I thought he said sister? Gender irrelevant or interchangeable? I have no fucking idea. Do I care? Um, that would be a big honking 'no'.
"YOU! You killed my sister."
"Hey, it was an accident. Not my fault that she was in front of the backwash and that all is left of her is her FEET."
I'm not sorry, by the way, this is a snake we're talking about.
"Anyway, who was your sister?"
I knew that beard was a fake. "Hardly a great loss then, is it?"
The fairy's looking twitchy. He's raising a staff. "Before you go..."
What's that? The smoking boots are rising, undoing, the smoking feet are falling out. That's just GROSS. Now what? WHAT?
"NO WAY! Get those things off me."
"They will help you in your quest."
"I. Don't. Care. These boots had smoking feet in them. They had Jerry Falwell's smoking feet in them."
"Do not take them off. They are powerful magic."
"So did the Wicked Snake of the East. Without these boots, the Wicked Snake of the West cannot be all powerful."
"He's doing a pretty good job of it without them."
"But without the backing of these, funding will become tight."
"It's not the only thing. I take a twelve. These are an eleven at best."
"I will strike you down!" shouts the Wicked Snake.
"Oh, go away," the fairy shouts back. "This is Oz, you have no power here!"
"Just ask John Howard! And I'll be back. I'll get you my pretty," he says, looking at me, yelling as he flies off on his magic... rodeo bull?... "and your little god too."
God? At least one thing has been answered. Oz. So, I'm either down under and all those stories about that strange place are true, I'm dreaming, or the universe has just done a giant back flip. I'm hoping it's a dream, the first one is unlikely as I haven't seen any strange looking animals...
*hop, hop, hop, "G'day", hop, hop, hop*
...nah. The last one is possible. Definitely possible. So, whatever it is, I'm going to have to go through with this.
"Saddle up, Tonto, I think it's time to go see the Wizard."
We said goodbye to the fairy, I promised to keep the boots on. Sheesh. We're off. Down the yellow, it's not brick, it's more sandy, but the Yellow Sandy Road doesn't really have the same ring to it, does it? On and on we go, my sidekick is silent, but he does seem to like it when I pat him. This is too weird for words. Ah. A crossroads. Now, if I remember rightly, there should be a scarecrow right about here...
"I am Scarecrow."
"Ye-ah, right. Which way should I go?"
"That way would be nice."
"Tonto, stop barking. She's not going to hurt you. Why should I go that way?"
"I don't know," she sighs. "I'm too stupid to live. You could go that way, of course," she says, pointing in both directions at the same time.
"Why are you stupid?" I ask, not really wanting to know the answer.
"Because I don't have a brain."
"How come you're talking?" Ah - got you.
"I have a mouth."
Crap. "But you need a brain to talk."
"Have you listened to sports commentators?"
She's got a point.
"So, why does a scarecrow want a brain?"
"Well then I could become the foremost astrophysicist that has ever been known, couldn't I?"
Ask a stupid question... if she starts to sing though, I'm going home right now. However, just knowing what's expected, I get her off the pole she's stuck on and ask.
"Which way is the Sapphire City?"
"Why do you want to go there?"
"To see the Wizard, natch."
"So I can go home."
"Is this Wizard clever?"
"I suppose so."
"Would he give me brains?"
"Can I come too?"
"Yeah, why not?"
For the record, that's one of the few conversations I've had with Carter in which I haven't been confused. I'm kinda liking this version of her.
So, we pick a path and go. I see an orchard to one side and I am so not going there. I've seen this film, right? I know they get the apples in the end but I want out of here and that will hold us up. In fact, the more I can cut out, the better.
If I remember rightly, the next thing I should see is...
Right on time. The Tin Man. Daniel? He's saying something but I can't understand him. Like that's news. I get closer, put my head near his and hear..."lube."
Lube? Hell, that conjures up images I cannot deal with at the moment. Oh, I remember. Yeah, a can of WD-40 is to one side. I spray his face, his joints and so on, narrowly avoiding the axe he's holding as it crashes down next to me. Damn, nearly had my head off with that.
Let's think; Tin Man, Tin Man. Cowardly Lion, stupid Scarecrow... ah yes.
"Don't tell me, you want a heart," I tell him after we introduce ourselves.
"No," he whispers. "I had one once. It was broken. I don't want another one."
"Sure ya do," I pat him on the back and then rub my hand where it hurts. "Everyone wants a heart."
"Will ya come with us to the Sapphire City anyway?"
He shrugs in a creaky Tin Man way, and says, "Sure. Why not? It's not as if anything I do matters anymore."
His shoulders are dropped and he starts down the road.
"Hey, wait up," I tell him. I give his joints another squirt of lube. "There ya go, you won't creak so much now."
He looks at me in confusion.
"Why did you do that?"
"Because you're hurting," I tell him. "I don't want you to hurt. I care."
"Because you're my friend."
"You don't know me."
"I know you well enough. C'mon, this'll be fun. Down the road, I've got an appointment to keep."
"Got to see a lion about a spine."
He shrugs again, doesn't creak this time, and off we go.
The Wicked Snake has turned up again, just like the film. Threats to Carter and Daniel though are like water off a duck's back.
"I'll cut your funding!" he cackles.
"You already have!" Daniel yells back.
"It will get worse."
"How could it?" Sam screams. "You've already sicked Kinsey on us, it can't get worse."
The Wicked Snake disappears in a puff of smoke.
Now the path's going through the Evening Wood - the one we were told not to go through. But we need to stick to the path or we'll get lost. It's getting dark. And creepy. Come on, O'Neill, you're the leader here.
And on cue...
"Put 'em up, put em up!"
"Hey Teal'c, er, Lion. How's it hanging?"
Sam and Daniel are either side of me, ready to do battle. Tonto is barking again. To be frank, I want to cut to the chase here, so, "Lion, I know you're a cowardly lion, so instead of me smacking you one and you crying, cause frankly, that sort of thing doesn't suit you, how about you just come with us to see the Wizard?"
"I am not a coward," he insists. "I am just... cautious. I do not like to upset the status quo."
"Great band, them," Tonto says. Ya know, he's changing. Physically. He's paler and shorter. Something weird's going on. He's morphing into... Ferretti? Okay, today is definitely rating a 10 on the weird-shit-o-meter.
Forget it, you know what? I don't care. I just want OUT of here.
"Maybe so, but come with us anyway, will you? I could do with some back-up."
He looks around nervously.
"Will she be there?"
"Um, so far, so good. But the way this is going..." I mutter that last bit to myself. "Come on, I want to move out."
Off we all go, making our way out of the forest and finally, we see it. The Sapphire City. Wasn't that supposed to be the Emerald City? There's only one blue thing I'm interested in and they're not so blue anymore. More grey these days. When the sparkle went out of Daniel's life, the colour went from his eyes too. I'm going to try to get that back. I have to get that back.
There's something supposed to happen before we get to the city. I can't remember what it was. Some field of something. Flowers? Yeah. That's it. The poppies where Dorothy fell asleep. So how come it looks like we're going through a junk yard? It looks like stuff from the SGC, laid out, wires sparking, looking tired and uncared for. That's strange. OW! That hurts. The sparks are jumping out at us. Lion is clinging to me, as is Tonto. Or rather that's Teal'c and Lou and I for one am about to freak. Carter's run out of the yard, yelling that she's going to catch fire. I've got a hold of the guys, keeping them out of reach of the sparks, I can't go after her.
"Daniel, um, Tin Man, go after her, make sure she's safe, will you?"
"Because she might get hurt. She could catch fire if you don't."
He looks at me, stares into my eyes, then says, "I will."
He runs after her. I see him catching her in his arms and carrying her quickly to safety.
"WE NEED HELP!" I yell.
I see Carter and Daniel yelling at the sky too. Maybe they're calling for help as well.
Okay, now I didn't expect to see that. It's raining cash. It's also raining Siler clones. They're scrambling around, throwing the money at the stuff, pouring oil on them, replacing the old wires that are bound up with insulating tape with new ones. It's safe. We can get out of here.
We meet up with the others, Carter's pleased to see us and she hugs us all. Daniel's looking at me as if he's expecting something. He is. He's expecting me to not be pleased to see him.
"C'mere," I tell him, putting my hands out to him. He steps a little closer to me. I can't let him get away, so I grab him and pull him close. "Thanks for helping out," I tell him. "It means a lot to me."
"Scarecrow helped," he said.
"Uh huh, without you, she'd be dead. I'm sure that your yelling for help made a difference too. You saved our lives. I'll never forget that."
"You will," he sighs. Then his face is less tin and more Daniel. "You always do."
"Promise," I tell him. "Not this time. Not this time."
He doesn't believe me, I know, but I'm going to work on it.
Okay, this wasn't in the film. It looks like something out of Sesame Street. A row of statues, only they're numbers. From zero to nine. Zero's made of glass, one's made of wood. Each one is different. There's a little man, looking remarkably like The Count.
"What's this?" I ask. So he tells me.
"This is where it all counts," he says, following it up with the *mwahahaha* and the thunder and lightning. He's telling me what they stand for. "Zero is nothing. See-through. One is wood. Strong in itself but needing care." He goes on right to the end. Nine. A grey metal.
"What's that?" I ask.
He shrugs and says, "A nine iron, of course."
We're at the door to the City. We knock (I'm not doing the 'bell doesn't work' routine. I want this over. Like yesterday.)
"What do you want?" the doorman says.
"We've come to see the Wizard," I tell him.
"Nobody sees the Wizard."
"Yeah? Well, tell him that the guy with the boots forced on him by the Witch of the North - or the Fairy of the Wood or whatever the heck passes for your local good guy - is waiting to see him."
"Oh, well, that's a horse of a different colour," he says as he opens the door and lets us in. A lime-green horse walks past. I hate my brain.
Do we have time to do the cab and massage thing? My feet are killing me. If I just take these boots off for a minute... nah, I can't. We have to get going. Messy or not, we've got to get to the Wizard.
Oh shit. George just can't take the hint can he? Here he comes, flying rodeo bull and all, scaring the crap out of the locals.
"Surrender Dorothy or die!"
"Who's Dorothy?" some locals ask. I shrug.
"Dunno. I'm Jack. Nobody called Dorothy here."
The Wicked Snake looks at us in fury and promptly confuses himself to death. That'll do me. Now, where's that Wizard?
"Halt! You cannot go in there."
"We want to see the Wizard."
"Nobody sees the great Oz."
"Tough. We're not nobody. I'm Jack."
"Oh, okay then."
Well, that was easy. It is a dream I guess. We go in, Teal'c looks like he's about to sing, so I glare at him and he stops. We get towards the throne room and the guard tells us that the Wizard isn't in.
"Whatd'ya mean, isn't in!"
"You did not have an appointment. Come back another day."
"No way! I want to go home. I have to get Tonto back too. Not to mention my friends here. Scarecrow wants a brain, Lion wants courage and Tin Man," I look at Daniel, "doesn't want a heart, but I want him to have it back because he's not the same without it."
"Sorry. Not today. Go home."
The door shuts on us. I'm tired, fed up and hungry enough to eat an MRE. I must be desperate.
I sit on the step.
"What are we going to do?"
Carter looks at me and pouts a little, then she looks at Daniel's axe.
"Give me that," she says. Daniel shrugs and hands it over. She's smashing the lock. That's my girl, think your way around this.
The guard comes out, Tonto barks and Lion roars. Damn, that was impressive. The guard's legged it.
In we go, the throne has smoke belching from under it. Puh-lease. It wasn't that impressive in the film.
"I am Oz, the great and powerful," comes the disembodied - and somewhat familiar - voice.
"Yadda," I tell him. "I'm Jack, this is Scarecrow, Lion, Tin Man and Tonto."
"What do you want?"
"I want to go home with my dog, er, sidekick (is that more PC? I have no idea. Seeing as it's my mind, it's hurting no one). Scarecrow wants a brain, Lion wants courage and ..."
This time my voice fails me.
Daniel steps up. "I want nothing," he says. "Please, give my friends what they want."
"Why should I do that, Tin Man?" The disembodied voice is gentle now.
"Because it would be the nice thing to do. You're supposed to be good, aren't you? You're supposed to care. Show it."
Ya know? I'm getting kinda fed up with this. I could let it play out, do the get lost thing, yadda, yadda, but I'm not going to. I want to go home. Fuck it. I pull the curtain back and see... Crocodile Dundee? That's it. I'm going to order up a full frontal lobotomy when I wake up. Or put a full bottle in front of me. That'll probably hurt less. Till morning.
"Look," I tell Carter, "you figured out how to get us in here," I wave at the door. "You're smart, okay? You," I point at Teal'c, "you came out of your home, walked by my side and roared when I needed you to. You're brave. And you," I look at Daniel, "you put other people first. Always. Never looking out for yourself, always caring. Whether you want one or not, you've got a heart. And I, for one, am very grateful."
I put my hand on Lou's shoulder, click my heels together and say...
"Hmm. There's no place like home."
"Jack? Wake up will you? Please Jack, you're scaring me."
I open my eyes and stare into the most beautiful blue eyes I've ever seen. My head hurts. This is good, I might get away with this.
"Jack? What are you doinmmfflll?"
He can't carry on complaining as my tongue is in his mouth. He's trying to pull back, but I have to let him know how much I love and appreciate him. He's not so close-minded that he's going to smack me one for doing this and I've run out of words to tell him how I feel. He'll get the message, he's smart, my Daniel.
We break away and he's staring at me in shock. Not horror, that's good, just surprise.
"Hey, Scare... um, Carter. What happened?"
"You exited the wormhole, tripped over this pair of boots that were there and knocked yourself out. We were going to move you but we wanted to make sure you hadn't hurt yourself anywhere else first."
"Boots? Were there feet in them?"
"No, Sir, they were just boots."
"Thank Christ for that. How long have I been out?" I'm still staring into Daniel's eyes. He's still in shock.
"About five minutes O'Neill."
"Thanks Teal'c. Do me a favour, help me up, will ya? Won't do me any good to be lion, um, lying around here all day."
His big hand appears and I grab it, feeling Daniel's arm slide around my shoulder as they lift me up.
"Jack?" he says quietly. "What was, er, that about?"
"You've got a heart, Daniel. A good one. One that I appreciate and promise never to take for granted ever again."
"Let's go home, Daniel. You and I need to talk."
I look at the other two and they're smiling. They know how shut off Daniel has been. They'll understand and protect us. Carter will use her brains and Teal'c his brawn if necessary.
Carter's dialled up and we go back.
"SG-1? What's wrong?" Hammond calls as we step through.
"The Colonel got knocked out," Carter yells back. She looks at me and grins. "Bad exit. He's only just woken up. We need to get him to the Infirmary."
"You do that. Colonel?"
"I'm okay. Got a mother of a headache, but I'm not seeing double."
Yet. If my chat with Daniel later doesn't work, that full bottle in front of me will soon become an empty one.
Ferretti and his team are waiting to go out. Guess they were lined up before we dialled in.
"Hey Tonto," I call out. "How's it going?"
No, I'm never going to explain that to him either. Just one of life's mysteries, my friend. He's putting it down to the knock on my head.
As we approach the Infirmary, I pull Teal'c to one side. "Do it, Teal'c. You're a brave man. You can ask her."
He just nods.
I'm getting out of here. The others had a cursory check, Frasier said that I could go home if I had company. I looked at Daniel and he nodded. As I got dressed, I saw Teal'c talking to her in the corner of the room. She was smiling. Now he's smiling. Sweet.
Carter's popped in to see me. Seems she had a brainwave about something or other. Sweeter.
And sweetest of all? Daniel's eyes are blue.