Summary: Road trip with Clone!Jack.
Rating: pre-teen even, as long as you don’t go imitating art. I am not condoning running away, there’s not a lot of Oz’s out there.
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended. I own none of the characters and gain no money for their use.
Distribution: CrossGate, Mini!Jack, Wormhole Crossing, TtH.
Spoilers: Fragile Balance, Chosen
Jack kicked the tires of the little four-banger. The stupid piece of crap had decided to crap out on him in the middle of no where and no one knew where he was, which had been his intention at the beginning of his trip, but now . . .
He kicked the tires of the decrepit old car again. The radiator had blown. He was sure of it. Probably other stuff too, but it was enough that the car was not going to move from its new home on the side of the road without a tow. Maybe packing up his few belongings and going for a road trip without telling an Air Force officer had been a bad idea.
He had just gotten so fed up with the stupid high school politics and the insipid kids and the patronizing teachers. He just had to bail.
Hell, now he was even thinking like a teen of this generation. He was so lost in his head that he didn’t know where to send out the search party to find himself.
A beat-up old van pulled to the side of the road just ahead of Jack’s wreck pile. Jack was instantly suspicious. He looked like a runaway, he knew, even if he wasn’t one. Well, maybe he was technically a runaway. It didn’t matter. He knew that he was a fifty-something adult stuck in a young body, and that’s what was important. Jack strolled over the driver’s side. It could just be a good Samaritan, some of those still existed in the world.
And Anubis was about to take up origami, the cynical officer in his head sniped.
The kid at the steering wheel was maybe twenty-five and a punk. Yellow hair –not blond, but yellow, what had he been thinking? The green eyes assessed Jack intelligently but not craftily.
“Need a lift?” the stranger offered.
Jack made a snap decision. This guy was more than he seemed but he wouldn’t harm Jack. Jack just knew it.
“Yes, I do. Thanks. My name’s Jack.”
“Nice to meet you, let me get my junk.” Jack jogged to his wreck and grabbed his backpack. That was all he needed, years of missions had made him the ultimate light packer. He jogged back to the van and opened the passenger side door. He started analyzing the van and the attributes of the owner that he could glean from it.
That was his first impression.
There was a bag of trash between the two front seats, halfway full. There was a flat of bottled water behind the driver’s seat. A cell phone was charging via the cigarette lighter and lay on the floor. There was a grocery bag of clean, folded clothes behind Jack seat. But it was the steel, heavily re-enforced cage that filled the rest of the middle of the van that grabbed his attention.
Jack glanced at Oz who was watching him, eyes twinkling. The younger?, so he might have been technically older, man said nothing. Neither did he put the key into the ignition or lock the doors. If Jack wanted to leave, Oz would let him go. Jack could run away, but something in Oz’s posture dared him too, as if he wanted to chase. Jack knew that he could walk away safer than run.
He looked back at the cage. It was too big to have been built in a shop and then put into the van. No, that cage had been built in the van. Every bit of the cage screamed ‘reinforced!’ The thick chains and heavy-duty padlock hinted that the cage was meant for something much stronger than a human. Jack would have felt safe keeping a Jaffa locked up in that monstrosity.
Jack spotted a tranquilizer gun propped up in the corner, the darts were on the other side of the van. He saw no regular shotgun or handgun but that didn’t mean that Oz didn’t have it tucked away somewhere where a car-jacker could spy it. If Jack added the cage to the tranq’s he got someone who captured wild animals . . . for a living? It was most certainly not for sport or for bounty. If it was for sport than Oz would have some trophies hanging around and wouldn’t have bothered with the cage.
But shouldn’t he have some sort of federal park uniform or something hanging up? Oz was too young to have a free-lance reputation of capturing beasts.
So Jack had a choice: get out of the van and wait for the next person to stop, ask questions that might get him killed, or silently accept the lift. Jack considered the empty road. Oz had been the only person to drive by in the last hour, how long to the next? He couldn’t remember the last house he had passed; he’d have a long walk through a near desert to get help. He probably would survive it, but . . .
As the cliché goes, better the devil that you know, or in this case don’t . . .
Jack put on his seatbelt.
Oz, who had made no comments while Jack had been mulling over his options, put the key in the van’s ignition and started ‘er up.