TITLE: Simple Realizations
CATEGORY: Angst, H/C, Drama
SEASON/SEQUEL: End of 3rd
CONTENT WARNINGS: Character POVs, mention of violence, a few swear words.
SUMMARY: During a rescue, the team realizes facts they already knew.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Stargate SG-1. Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I have written this story for entertainment purposes only. No money has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. This story may not be posted elsewhere without the consent of the author.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: A friend asked me to try my hand at a POV story and to give Daniel a quality/ability that no one would really associate with him. This is the story that grew out of a plot bunny. I hope you like it. And a warm thank you to Lems for betaing this Danny-whumper.
Epiphany: a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into reality or the essential meaning of something, often initiated by some simple, commonplace occurrence---Lycos Dictionary.
There is a moment of revelation when we see those certain inner qualities that we so often take for granted. These qualities shine during the moments of quiet reflection when events force us to see these qualities for what they are--rare and unique virtues hidden within character---A. Nony. Mous.
Don't remember falling asleep. No, not asleep. Unconscious.
Couldn't take anymore.
That First Prime kept asking me questions. It didn't take him long to realize I wasn't going to answer him. First he just slapped me. Then he started punching me. Then he started kicking me.
Then he got creative.
He started using a....what's it called? Too tired. Hurts too much. Can't remember its name. It's like a cattle prod. The First Prime shoves it in your back, you scream, and your eyes and mouth light up like a spotlight. That First Prime enjoyed using that thingamajig. Great. Just listen to me. I'm so far gone that I've got Jack O'Neill's vocabulary running around my head.
That thingamajig hurt like hell.
That went on for a long time. I remember that I was screaming from the pain until my voice was gone. I remember hearing that advice during a lecture at the base. If you get caught, scream yourself hoarse. If you can't talk, then you can't tell the bad guys anything. I think I would have made the instructor proud. The First Prime kept shoving that thing at me. Finally, I couldn't even scream anymore. I know I've got marks, bruises and burns over my back and arms from that thing. What was it called? When I get my voice back, I'll have to ask Teal'c what it is the next time I see him.
If I ever see him again.
My wrists hurt. Well, genius, why shouldn't they hurt? Those manacles hanging from the ceiling are the only things keeping your butt off the floor and keeping you vertical. Never mind that your wrists are rubbed raw. Never mind that your shoulders feel like they're going to pull right out of their sockets. Never mind you're so exhausted and weak that you can't even stand on your own. All you can do is hang here with your wrists strapped in manacles and wait for the next round of questioning.
My voice is still gone. I couldn't answer any questions if my life depended on it.
Well, duh. Your life does depend on it.
They were going to record my question and answer session for all the Goa'uld to see. The First Prime seemed a little surprised when I didn't break. Surprised myself. I've heard stories from some of the other team members at the SGC, those that have been taken prisoner and questioned. Some talked, some didn't. Yesterday, I wouldn't have taken any bets on my chances of keeping quiet. Today, I'd win the whole pot. I've had my share of bad experiences over the last four years. Which one of us hasn't? There's a benefit to bad experiences. You get tough, or you get out. I guess I really have grown that second-skin Jack's always talking about. Thick skin to go with a thick head. Nope, I never broke.
This First Prime needs to take a refresher course in intimidation. He's not even in the top ten on the Most-Able-To-Threaten-People list. He should have met some of my foster parents. They knew how to intimidate. Even with all the torture devices at his convenience...no, don't want to think about that. I'll probably get up close and personal with a few more answer-gathering gadgets when he comes back.
I wish I had my glasses. Right, I can't even keep my head up. What good would my glasses do me? It's just that everything's a big blur. I don't like not being able to see what's coming--I've been blindsided far too many times in my life. I know there's not much to see, just gold walls and torches and all those gadgets lined up on a table over there. On second thought, maybe I really don't want my glasses after all. Maybe it's better if I don't see what's over there. Maybe I'll just hang here with my head down and try to go back to sleep. I don't know how to force myself into unconsciousness.
I wish I were at home.
I wish I were at anyone's home.
I'm so scared.
I don't want to die.
He's in here somewhere. I know it. I saw those sons of bitches drag Daniel into this building while we were fighting that whole damned troop. Daniel was fighting every step of the way, but he didn't have much of a chance against four Jaffa. Damn Goa'ulds.
We got sold out by the villagers we came to help liberate. They turned Danny over to the Goa'ulds in exchange for hostages they were never going to get back. You'd think people would realize that Goa'ulds don't negotiate unless it's a System Lord kind of a thing. They get what they want, no matter what. They'll promise you the moon, stars and planets if you can get them something they can't take by force, but then they'll screw you over big time. The "mayor" of the town just couldn't understand why the hostages had been killed when he was willing to cooperate with the snakeheads. I'd say he just got a crash course in Goa'uld battle tactics. Too bad he died before the lesson did him any good. Too bad the town fell before they realized exactly what the mayor had done.
Where the hell are you, Daniel?
I've got Teal'c on point. Maybe the local snakeheads won't shoot first and ask questions later if the first thing they see is that tattoo on the top of his head. They'll think Teal'c is just a member of the band. Carter and I are bringing up the rear.
So far, there's no sign of Daniel.
The hallways go on forever in this place. We've backtracked ourselves several times already. I guess the only good thing we have going for us is that our footsteps don't echo very loudly. Maybe we can avoid some shooting since no one will hear us coming.
I'm trying not to think about it, but I know what the Goa'uld do to prisoners. I know what's been happening to Daniel over the last couple of hours it's taken for us to get this far. I know just how strong Daniel is, but he's still only human. We may have time before it's too late. He's got to be alive. I don't want him to have to pull another one of those nine lives of his out of storage. I don't want to have to use that sarcophagus I saw in that room at the end of the hallway, but I will if that's the only thing we've got to keep him alive and healthy. We'll just have to deal with any withdrawal symptoms later.
I'm not thinking about zat guns.
I'm not thinking about staff weapons.
I'm not thinking about ribbon devices.
I'm not thinking about torture devices.
I'm not thinking of Daniel torn and twisted, broken and bloody, left to die in some dark corner of this hellhole.
All I'm thinking about is finding Daniel alive. We'll deal with everything else.
Besides, I know he won't die on me. I still owe him 50 bucks from last night's poker game. I still haven't figured out how he managed to draw a full house. I know he's not too good at cards, he's told me more than once, but every now and then he has been known to win my entire paycheck. I'm tossing it up to dumb luck. Lucky at cards, unlucky in love. Maybe. Daniel would never say he had been unlucky in love. He had been fortunate enough to marry Sha'uri. Whenever I saw the way she looked at him, boy, did I know he was one lucky man. It's all those other women he's met along the way that have thrown him for a loop. He's been unlucky with them. I think I'm the one that's unlucky with cards. Lately, he's managed to leave the card table with me owing him money. Funny thing is that he never asks me for what I owe him, and I don't remind him. After all, he earns more than I do.
Oh, hell. More Jaffa. So much for not shooting first.
I was almost asleep.
All that shooting outside woke me up. Doesn't anyone realize that sleep means no pain? Guess not.
I can hear people coming toward me. I can't lift my head to see who it is. I'm really not ready for another round of questions. I know I can't talk, but I don't think that's going to matter to these people.
Someone's here, trying to lift me up a little. They're taking the weight off my wrists. I never knew that I could hurt this much and still be alive.
Two explosions later, and my arms are falling down, but I don't. There's someone here helping me to the floor. That someone is keeping me upright. He's being careful--it's Jack. Oh, no, if Jack's being careful, I must be hurt worse than I thought. I may be in a little bit of trouble here. Two other hands are on my face, gently forcing my head up, moving down to my neck to check my pulse. As long as I don't have to do it, they can move me all they want.
They came for me.
I'm looking into two blue eyes. It's Sam. She looks scared. I can't really understand what she's saying. My hearing's not working either. All the sounds keep cutting in and out. I can't really feel anything other than the pain in my shoulders, my wrists, every part of my body. There's blood on the floor. Where did that come from?
I try to say something, but then I remember my voice is gone. I screamed myself hoarse so I couldn't tell the bad guys anything. Now, I can't tell the good guys anything. So much for strategy. She seems worried that 'I'm not responding.' It's not like I'm not trying. Every movement just takes too much effort.
I almost saw something move. Teal'c? Oh, I was going to ask him what the thingamajig was. Guess I'll ask him later. It's getting dark in here now.
He's a mess, but he's alive.
He's hurt so badly, I don't know where to start. I know the Jaffa are coming, so we don't have the time for me to check him out thoroughly. I keep saying his name, trying to get him to answer, but he won't. No, he can't. He's hurt too badly. His eyes won't focus. He has a low-grade fever. I can't even describe the rest.
The Colonel is propping him up. Jack's so angry, his hands are trembling. That'll pass. I know him. He'll let the anger pass through him for now. He'll put the anger aside to help Daniel. Even though we have him here with us and he's safe for the moment, it's the sight of Daniel's beaten body hanging by his arms that we're all seeing in our minds. Those bastards had a field day torturing him. We have to deal with the 'here and now,' not the 'what was.' Daniel needs us to get him out of here now.
I can see Teal'c picking up a healing device from the table, but we don't have the time for me to use it to heal Daniel. I tell him to bring it along.
I can use it later.
Daniel Jackson is alive. We will keep him alive no matter what the personal cost. I have vowed to be his protector although I have never allowed my young friend to know my purpose. He would assure me that I do not owe him a debt because of Sha'uri.
I do not agree.
While Major Carter examines our friend, I can easily see what has happened in this room. I purposely disregard many of the devices on the table, but I cannot ignore the small vials encased in a small metal box. I know what these are and how they are used. They are drugs used to disorient a prisoner and increase his ability to feel pain. Only one of the vials has been used. Daniel Jackson will be in great pain for some hours.
I have retrieved the healing device for Major Carter. I have also taken the recording. Colonel O'Neill will need to know if Daniel Jackson was forced to tell any of the information he knows. Information gleaned under torture is an effective but dishonorable battle tactic. I know that this particular tactic will have failed. Daniel Jackson would not surrender any information under any circumstances.
I have never before been more certain of a fact than I am now.
Daniel Jackson has a great ability to "talk a lot without saying very much" and to "keep his yap shut so tight wild horses couldn't drag anything out of him." I did not understand these contradictory statements when O'Neill said them. Again, I was confused by the Tau'ri affectation of expressing their thoughts in nonsensical sentences. Major Carter explained that Daniel Jackson is a teacher and loves to share knowledge with others. Sharing knowledge is as much a part of Daniel Jackson's character as breathing is to life. At times, Daniel Jackson will be explaining a concept, and will forget that his audience is not on the same intellectual level as himself. He will say a great deal that will have no meaning to anyone, but by the end of his lecture, everyone will have learned more of the concept than they had thought possible. He is well versed in ancient cultures and alien civilizations and will discuss those topics of conversation with great zeal, but his enthusiasm for speaking has never intruded into his personal life. He has never been an individual to talk about his own past. Many times, O'Neill has tried to get Daniel Jackson to speak of times from his childhood, but he avoids answering with great skill.
He will have used these abilities to avoid answering the First Prime's questions. He would have refused to answer for as long as he was able to do so. If he spoke at all, which I know he did not, he would have "talked a lot without saying very much."
O'Neill has regained control of his emotions. He has learned great patience for one who has spent many years in the military. I have noticed the interaction between him and Daniel Jackson many times. I do not understand their behavior, but Major Carter has explained to me that some friendships grow stronger when the participants "drive each other crazy." I had never before seen such a friendship until I met these two Tau'ri. Daniel Jackson never follows O'Neill's orders, and O'Neill "pesters Daniel to distraction." They expect this behavior from each other and have sought out conditions and circumstances that will allow them to exhibit this behavior. I find this strange but entertaining.
On Chulak, a man such as Daniel Jackson would not be allowed in battle or danger but revered and protected for his knowledge. He would be a teacher. No commanding officer would allow him to be in any situation which could lead to his death. Yet, O'Neill has fought to keep our friend on SG-1 because of the fact that he is not a soldier. Soldiers may win a war, but wise individuals like Daniel Jackson will be the ones necessary to sustain the peace. Daniel Jackson rarely listens to orders that go against the teachings of his own heart. For that reason, he is more valuable than any soldier.
He has very little strength left to aid in his rescue. That will not matter. We will not allow any further harm to come to him.
Daniel's almost unconscious. Damn, what a mess. Besides being one massive bruise, he's got burns on every exposed part of his body. Some of his wounds are bleeding, but Carter doesn't think the blood loss is serious. We just have to get him out of here, and we have to do it pretty damn fast.
We've emptied the hallways for the moment, but it won't take long for the other snakeheads to show up shooting. They've got a nasty knack of knowing when someone comes calling. We just can't carry Daniel and be alert for an attack. I need him to be able to move a little bit.
I have to hold his head up. His breathing doesn't sound too good. I give him a little shake, but that doesn't do any good. I don't want to slap him awake, but if that's the only way....
Damn, that was hard. It wasn't a hard slap, didn't even make a loud noise. But Daniel's hurt so badly, I don't want to hurt him anymore.
It seemed to wake him up a little.
I don't know if he understands a thing I'm saying to him about getting out of here. His eyes are lifeless. That's the one thing about Danny. His eyes really are the windows to his soul. When he's happy, his eyes are lit up like Fourth of July fireworks. When things are bad, you don't want to look in those eyes. It breaks your heart. Right now, his eyes aren't even staring. They're just looking out without really seeing.
We've got to get him out of here. Now.
I can't tell them it hurts to move. I've got no voice, no energy, no strength left. I can't even ask them to leave me here, to escape themselves. I think I heard the First Prime say something about his Pharaoh coming in to question me. It wouldn't be a good thing for all four of us to get caught. They could get out of here faster without me.
Right. Jack won't leave me behind. He almost didn't back on Klorel's ship. I had to force him to. I don't ever want to see that look on his face again. He doesn't like to leave his people behind. He won't, not if he can help it.
Why is it so hard to think? Why is it so hot?
I can feel Jack looping my arm over his neck and hoisting me up. He's saying something about a sarcophagus. No, I don't want to do that, but I can't tell him. Here I am, a linguist, and I can't even utter a simple 'no.' I can't go through that again. I almost didn't survive the first time. Fraiser would argue the point, but she really has no idea how bad sarcophagus withdrawal really is. If anyone else ever has to go through it, I'm going to tell her to hook them up with a heart monitor and EEG. That should give her a pretty good idea just how bad a person gets. I just hope I'm not the one she ever gets to experiment on.
We're walking. Well, to be correct, Jack's walking, I'm barely moving. My feet aren't cooperating. I've got to try. I can't let them get caught because of me.
They came for me.
They've risked their lives for me.
It's scary when I think of it sometimes. I've spent so much of my life alone with no one really giving a damn about me. Then there was Sha'uri, Skaara, Kasuf, all my relatives on Abydos. They care about me, love me in a way I had not known since my parents died. I was so young when I lost them, I don't remember what it was like to have a family. I learned very quickly. All of a sudden, I had these relatives and a home, and I reveled in that knowledge. Jack mentioned that I came into my own while I was on Abydos. He was right. I found myself, my little niche in the world and was content for the first time in my life.
Then I lost it.
I still have my family on Abydos, but without Sha'uri, I've lost one of the links that chained my heart to my adopted planet. I still jump at every chance to go home. General Hammond knows how much I miss it and arranges for SG-1 to go there every time it shows up on the mission board. I think I have to go there every now and then to remember who I am, not who I've forced myself to become. There, I can remember what it's like to be a part of something bigger than myself.
Then, I realized that I'm also a part of a bigger something. I'm a part of SG-1. These three people are as much a family to me as Kasuf and Skaara will always be. There's another niche I can call home. All four of our lives are so connected; we're lost when one is missing. Leaving one behind is like asking the others to rip out their hearts. Without all four, there is no team. There is no family. The life would be gone, and for that reason, Jack wouldn't leave me behind. They won't leave me to die just to save themselves.
I won't let them down either.
Daniel's trying so hard to walk. He doesn't have any strength left. We can all see this. The Colonel's taking most of Daniel's weight, but he's struggling. I don't think Daniel's really with us. He's walking on automatic pilot, giving it his best shot. Even half out of his mind with pain and exhaustion, he's still trudging along by the Colonel's side.
Just the way it should be.
I've never seen two men who are such polar opposites be such good friends. I know Daniel's worked himself into an exhausted heap saving our backsides time and time again, but there's a part of me that's always wondered what would happen to Daniel if something happened to us. He's lost so much in his life. He keeps losing everything that means the most to him. After Sha'uri died, he closed up and wouldn't let any of us near him. He locked himself in his apartment for a few days after the funeral. When he came back, he didn't talk to us. He went into his office, closed the door and wouldn't let any visitors in. He emerged for missions and meetings, but he wasn't reconnecting with the life around him as easily as I would have wished for him. It was a difficult time for him. It was around the time Linea/Kira returned that we finally found out that there was more bothering Daniel than just the loss of his wife.
Daniel had been worried about telling us the secret he had brought with him from P8X-872. He could understand the Colonel being skeptical. He could understand my scientific reservations. He could understand Teal'c not affirming the possibility of such a thing happening because he would never have heard of it before. He could even handle US not believing HIM, just like we had so many times before and been proven wrong. No, Daniel was afraid that we would laugh at the idea of a message being sent to him by Sha'uri through a ribbon device at the same time Amaunet was trying to kill him. We would laugh at his outrageous story just as the academics had laughed at his theories years before. We would dismiss the notion as the grief that had three years to build up finally exploded in him. With so much at stake, he was worried that our patented don't-believe-it-because-we've-never-seen-it attitude we sometimes take with his theories added to the laughing Daniel-you're-clutching-at-straws theory would keep him from keeping the most important promise he had ever made. He had to find his wife's son, no matter what the cost to him.
The Colonel had not given up trying to pry the information from Daniel. He kept going back repeatedly despite the fact that Daniel had thrown up that emotional brick wall he built when he was eight years old. It took a while, but Daniel finally told him what had happened in that tent on P8X-872. The Colonel was skeptical, I had my reservations, and Teal'c couldn't say that such an event could occur. Daniel knew that would happen. He had been expecting it. What he hadn't expected was the Colonel leaving Daniel's office, going straight to the General and requesting that all teams be on the lookout for the planet Kheb.
We didn't laugh.
Four years. We've been together four years. We know how to really get on each other's nerves, we know how to help each other through the hard times. We've gotten lots of practice helping Daniel. Life has a habit of dumping all its trash on him. He needed to be believed. It didn't matter whether or not Sha'uri sent Daniel a message. It was the possibility that she might have and that there might be a child out there that could help us defeat the Goa'uld that he needed us to believe. He needed us to take his word on face value, on faith alone. We understood that. We did that for him despite skepticism, reservations and inconclusiveness. He knew that we were accepting the possibility if not the probability, but that was enough. The Colonel stood beside Daniel that entire time, supporting him in his quest to find Kheb.
Daniel came back to us. Not right away, but he came back. We were there, trying to be the best friends we could, but it was the Colonel who helped him the most. He understood what it was like to lose the most important thing in your life. Their friendship has been forged from shared experiences, mutual respect and the recognition that one was the missing part of the other.
They're two sides of the same coin.
Now, watching the Colonel almost carrying Daniel through the hallways in this temple, I know that if the positions were reversed, Daniel would be almost carrying the Colonel through these hallways. When one hurts, the other bleeds. It's not like their friendship is unique. If any one of us is in trouble, the other three come running. It's just that there is a special friendship between these two. The competition isn't there. The two of them are so different that they operate in different arenas. Their areas of expertise don't conflict. Their friendship can be based on equality, not on the basis of same job, same background or same goals.
Why haven't I ever seen that before?
Daniel's like that with all of us. He and I are both scientists but in different fields. He and Teal'c are literally and figuratively from two different worlds. There's nothing for us to compete over. We can all shine heroic in our own chosen fields. There's no jealousy. And Daniel is the one who brings us all together by sharing that unique quality with the rest of us.
We can't lose him.
He is the glue that holds SG-1 together.
Damn. There's another squadron of Jaffa.
They're between the sarcophagus and us.
I cannot fail Daniel Jackson. I was the one nearest to him when the Jaffa captured him. I did not protect him as I should. O'Neill repeatedly tells me that it is not my assigned task to protect any one member of our team. We are all responsible for each other.
He is wrong.
We have all played integral parts in bringing Daniel Jackson to this point. General Hammond threatened to send a bomb to Abydos after Apophis and I went to Earth looking for hosts for his queen. Colonel O'Neill was forced to reveal that Daniel Jackson was still alive and living on Abydos with his wife. He also sent the message that convinced the Abydonians it was safe to remove the barricade from the Stargate. I am the one whose actions ripped Daniel Jackson from his home and forced him to return to Earth. I kidnapped his wife and chose her as host for Amaunet. He has said he forgives me, yet I cannot forgive myself. My final action against him stole Sha'uri from him. I killed Amaunet. Again he forgave me.
On Chulak, our customs are very specific in matters such as these. I killed Sha'uri. Daniel Jackson has the right to execute me and my family as retribution. He knows this, but I also know that he would not seek such vengeance on us. He is not one to ask for revenge, even against those who have hurt him. I suffer through my own self-imposed penance without seeking respite. Although my actions are justified by Chulakian standards, they are no longer acceptable to me. My choices continue to haunt my kel-noreem. I will spend the remainder of my life seeking forgiveness from the man who has already forgiven me, but whose actions prove he is a better man that I can hope to become.
In the room where we found Daniel Jackson, I offered to carry him from the place, but O'Neill motioned me away. I understand this. O'Neill feels responsible for his team, his 'kids' as he calls us. He knows that what has happened to Daniel Jackson is not his fault, but he will shoulder the burden nonetheless. Just as he willingly shoulders our friend who even now is not truly aware of what is happening to him.
He has been harmed greatly. The sarcophagus would heal him, but the Jaffa block our path. We cannot engage in a battle with our friend so grievously injured. We would have no mobility, and our options to fight effectively would be limited. O'Neill has motioned us back the way we came. We must leave the temple and rely on the healing device I took from the table.
I will help Daniel Jackson escape. My indebtedness to him will never be paid in my lifetime. I will see to it that he has a lifetime in which I may make amends for all my actions that have caused him such pain.
We're going back? Don't know why. Don't really care. I'm too tired to care. Everything hurts too bad to care. I just want to lie down and sleep. Jack will get us out of here.
My feet keep fumbling. I keep trying to lift them so I can walk, but they won't work. That's okay. I can't see anything either. Everything's a big blur. Sam's on point right now. Blond blur. Right. We turned around. That's why she's in front. That means Teal'c's bringing up the rear. We're heading for the entrance. It's so bright out there--the sunset. The setting sun is shining directly into the entrance. I try to shield my eyes, but my arms won't go up very far.
My hearing's still not working right. Jack's saying something about breaking left when we get out of the temple. I guess there's still some Jaffa running around out there. Why do I have the feeling that escaping this planet is going to be a long shot?
I really just want to sit down for a minute. Can't.
Can't think anymore.
Damn. Danny's out. He tried so hard to stay awake. I could see what the effort was costing him, but I couldn't do much to help him. We have got to get OUT of here. All of our lives depend on it. From what I know, we'll be safest going left. That's away from the temple and the Jaffa, but it's also away from the Stargate. I've got to let Carter work on Daniel. That healing device should heal him up in double quick time, but we've got to be in a safe place.
Out the door, break left, and make as good a time as we can through the woods. If we can make it to the stream, that'll be good.
I motion Teal'c to get on the other side of Daniel. We can practically lift him off the ground if we try, but we're jostling him too much. I can feel the heat coming through what's left of his t-shirt. His fever is worse. Bastards. Teal'c said he saw the drugs that the interrogators used on him to get him to talk. Really strong stuff. I know Danny. He didn't tell them a damn thing. I still don't know what they questioned him about, but we'll find out later. Teal'c stole the recording of the 'interview.' I don't think I'm going to like what they did to him.
We've just cleared the temple. The Colonel called it right. There was nothing to the left. The stream is a good mile away. That's okay. I think Daniel will make it that far.
I'm on point. Teal'c and the Colonel are carrying Daniel between them. I can hear Daniel's breathing from where I am. Every step must be like a sword cutting through him. I'm actually glad that Daniel's unconscious. I don't think I could bear seeing the pain in his eyes.
He's been hurt before. I've seen it, we all have. The worst had to have been for the Colonel when we were on Klorel's ship. Daniel isn't military. It isn't his job to stay behind and die for the good of the others. That's our job, but he did it. For a long time, the Colonel wouldn't talk about it. Neither would Daniel. I didn't know what went on in that hallway for weeks after we returned. I had gone to the Colonel's office to drop off some paperwork, and I found him sitting there examining a staff weapon. He was admiring the craftsmanship. He started talking about the destructive power it was capable of. Even how efficient it was at blowing off half of a person's chest.
That's when he told me.
He had been forced to leave Daniel in a hallway where Jaffa could come running down at any moment. He had left Daniel lying there with a gaping wound in his chest, dying slowly. Daniel had promised to watch our backs. He would have, right down to his last breath. He would have stayed there and fired on anyone who was trying to stop our escape to the other ship. That's our Daniel, giving his life if he had to in order to protect the rest of us.
That was a very military thing for a non-military man to do, Daniel.
We have reached the stream. Colonel O'Neill has ordered me to secure the area. I believe that he "needs a moment." Several years ago, I learned that the Tau'ri will also use idiomatic phrases to hide their true feelings and intent. Daniel Jackson has explained many of these phrases, and they can be quite confusing. O'Neill enjoys using them, and I have learned the meanings and dual meanings of most of them. In this case, O'Neill needs a moment to settle Daniel Jackson, convince himself that our friend is still alive, and regain control of his anger. He needs to feel that he is making as much of a contribution to Daniel Jackson's escape as is possible for a commanding officer to do under such circumstances.
I, too, feel anger at this situation. I do not need a moment to understand this. I swear that someday I will find this First Prime, and he will die slowly.
Okay, I've wadded up my jacket and bundled it under Daniel's head. He's still unconscious and won't answer me when I call his name. That's all I can do right now. Sam's the one that has to help him with the healing device.
I feel so damned useless! I survived four months in an Iraqi prison; I could have survived this. It should have been me that was taken. I should have been the one that they questioned. That so-called mayor made sure that Daniel was separated from the rest of us during the fight so we couldn't get to him in time. He purposely set up the one person on my team ----
Damn it, O'Neill. You're not thinking like a soldier, are you?
I know why they took Danny. Every Goa'uld out there knows that Daniel's a scientist. They know he couldn't be a soldier. They think he's the weak link. They think he'll be the one to crack first.
Boy, did they get a surprise.
I'd never tell him this, but he's the strongest of us all. He's got this inbred sense of honor and courage I've never seen before. I thought I was tough. I'm a sniveling little wimp compared to him. Yeah, I can shoot a gun, blow up a building, know a few dozen ways to kill a person, but what's that compared to finding ways of solving a problem without shooting a gun, blowing up a building, or killing a person? That's Daniel. I've seen him in a battle. He can kill with the same efficiency I can if he has to. He has. But his first move is to find the alternatives. That's his way, not mine. I could never do what he does. I've got a bad habit of wanting to shoot first and ask questions later. I wish I could say that my way has gotten us out of more messes, but I'd be kidding myself. His way works miracles.
He's got this quiet strength I just don't understand but thank whatever gods that do exist that he has it. When he was a child, he was all alone. He had no one to depend on or care about him. He knows how to be alone, and he knows how to do it very well. That's been the most difficult thing for him to unlearn. He's still learning how to be a part of something, how to not be alone. Now he has us, and we care about him. He doesn't know how to deal with that sometimes. You can see the disbelief in his eyes. Since he's been with the Abydonians and us, he's learned that he is worth caring about, and he can almost believe it. He doesn't have to hide behind that quiet strength all the time.
This strength of his was what kept him alive while those Goa'ulds tortured him. It's what will get him through what comes after. He's just not going to have to do it alone.
Carter's going to heal him as much as she can with the healing device. She said that there's something wrong with it, but she thinks she can get it working.
I've got to watch that recording.
The Colonel's going over to where Teal'c is standing guard. They're right in front of me, less than ten feet away, so I can see the recording as well. I know it's not going to be pleasant. The Colonel doesn't know everything about my service record. Some of the missions I've been on are every bit as classified as his missions in Covert Ops. I've seen things even he wouldn't believe. I just agree with the Colonel. I don't want to have to see what they did to Daniel.
The healing device isn't working well. It keeps switching off. I can't keep it working continually, but if I can just get it working....
There. It's weak, but it's functioning, sort of. It's going to take a while, but I'm going to have Daniel healed. We'll have to carry him out. Jolinar's memories tell me that an unblended human who is cured by a healing device will sleep for several days while the effects continue. I don't know if we can let him sleep. We have to get home.
Holy Hannah! The recording. It's worse than I thought.
I thought I could handle this. I will handle this. I will watch this because Daniel will need me to be there to help him once he's back on his feet.
I just didn't know it'd be this damn hard.
The recording is two hours long. The whole time, that First Prime is questioning Daniel. Hell, it's not questioning. It's torture for the sake of it. And the bastard's enjoying it! I'm going to kill him if it's the last thing I ever do.
But the questions. Teal'c and Carter are hearing the same thing I am. The Jaffa is asking Daniel the same questions over and over again between pain-inflicting sessions, and he's not answering him. He's not saying one word. It takes a while before Daniel even screams. I don't think I could have lasted as long as he did.
Where is the Shol'va? How do we destroy the barricade that shields the Tau'ri Chappa'ai? What are the codes that will give us safe passage? Who is your leader? What is O'Neill's weakness? Where are the Tok'ra bases? Who are your allies? Where is the one known as Carter? What are the memories she possesses from Jolinar of Malkshur?
There were more questions, but I started tuning them out. It was the look in Daniel's eyes that I couldn't ignore. I can read those eyes as well as I can a book. I know he was willing to die before telling the Goa'ulds one damn thing. He would have.
Like I said, he's the strongest one of us.
I have seen such interrogations before. I have seen stronger men be destroyed by such methods. It is the coward's way.
This First Prime has no honor. I will take great pleasure in killing him.
Daniel Jackson is showing great strength. Such bravery shown in such dire situations would be praised on Chulak and among other Jaffa.
He will have to show his strength once more before we reach the safety of Earth. Major Carter has just informed us that the healing device has failed. Daniel Jackson is better, but not healed. We must reach the SGC soon. Once there, Major Carter can complete the healing with the device she has stored in her laboratory.
Now, we must awaken Daniel Jackson and return to the Stargate before dawn. The darkness will help cover our escape.
Am I awake?
It's dark. Cold. I'm lying on a rock. I know it's there because it's digging into my back. I can hear talking. Quiet whispers. I'm too sleepy to make out the words.
I'm not hurting as much, but I still hurt. I can feel every muscle I've got. Funny, I didn't know I had that many. What's that?
Someone's shaking me and calling my name.
If I could just muster the energy....okay, got my eyes open. Yep. Jack looks worried. It's not the same look he had when he saw me on Klorel's ship, but it's close. He's seen something he didn't want to see. I just hope it isn't me.
I think it is.
We have to go. We have to reach the Stargate while it's still dark. Maybe we can stay away from the Jaffa, but we're going to have to go through them to get to the Stargate. I'm so tired, but I'll do whatever I can to help. I won't be the reason they can't escape.
Jack's not telling me everything. I can tell. I'm probably the only person in the world that can tell when he's bluffing. He's good at it. Under normal circumstances, he enjoys it. His eyes get that "Who, me?" look when he's bluffing, whether at cards or when he's not telling the whole truth. I'd never tell him that, though. If I did, I might stop beating him at poker. He always believed me when I told him I was terrible at cards. Does he really think that all the times I've won was because of dumb luck? When I was in college, I used to earn grocery money by playing cards. And pool. And the horses. And football games. I'd never let Jack know that I got pretty good at gambling--I just never really liked it very much. It was merely a way to keep myself from living on the streets and a way to conduct a character study and get paid at the same time. One of my foster fathers was a habitual gambler who had an unusually good run of luck at the tables. I learned a lot from him, like how to read your opponent. I definitely can't tell Jack about that.
I have to be able to run a bluff on him myself, don't I?
I'm about to pull the biggest bluff of my life. I've got to convince them and myself that I'm not as bad off as I know I am.
Who's he kidding?
I know that look. He'll force himself to do whatever he has to do. I've seen it before. We all have. As long as he can keep his mind occupied on other things, he can push himself far beyond normal human limits. He's done it several times to save us, to find that one answer that will allow us to escape. This time, he has to do it for himself.
I pull his arm over my neck again and help him up. He's able to move his feet, but he's not standing on his own. He's giving it his all. That's Daniel. He would never do any less.
Teal'c's taking point, Carter's bringing up the rear. Daniel's trying to walk beside me, but I'm taking most of his weight. He's breathing easier, and his fever's gone. We're two miles away from the Stargate. I think we'll make it.
"Danny? How are you holding up?"
"I'm okay. We'll make it, Jack."
See? You can't argue with that kind of optimism.
The Jaffa have scattered their numbers in an effort to search for us. We have met little resistance, and what has been present has been quickly eliminated. There will be many guarding the Stargate.
Daniel Jackson is better. He is more alert and able to move, but he is far from well. He is still in great pain.
He has not complained.
There have been those that had begged for mercy and even death before the questioning had reached the stage Daniel Jackson had suffered through. They were physically stronger than my friend but could not withstand the pain. I have seen many weaker prisoners die only because their bodies had failed them. Their spirit was intact at the time of their death. There is a quality to an individual that determines their character. My experience with people other than Jaffa and Goa'uld had been limited until I met the Tau'ri. Their strength lies in their convictions--Daniel Jackson most of all. His stubbornness to hold tightly to his beliefs of equality, fairness and faithfulness has won the Tau'ri many allies. It is a rare quality indeed.
Would it be that I were as strong as he.
We're almost there. I can see the Stargate through the trees, but I can also see about a dozen Jaffa. We're not getting out of here without a fight.
We duck down behind some thick brush before anyone sees us. Daniel's almost asleep on his feet. I don't know how much longer we can keep him awake. By all rights, he should be passed out in a dead faint so the healing process can continue no matter how limited it will be. He's forcing himself to stay awake--with an occasional shake from Colonel O'Neill. Every now and then, I can hear the Colonel call Daniel's name in an effort to rouse him.
The Colonel looks at Teal'c and me. We know how hard it's going to be to get to the Stargate. Daniel's moving, but not really under his own power. We've got to clear off the Jaffa, dial home and get him through the Stargate. This is not going to be an easy task to accomplish given how tired he is. Tired, hurt, in pain-- oh, Daniel. You are the one person this shouldn't have happened to.
Now what's Daniel doing?
Whoa there, big guy.
Daniel's actually pulling away from me to get a look at the Stargate. I know he can't see it. He doesn't have his glasses. That doesn't matter. He's gathering his strength. I think he's got enough for one last sprint, and getting to the Stargate is going to be it. We've got to do this in one take. Daniel will manage.
Carter mentioned something about the effects of the healing device continuing even after you've turned it off. I think she's right. Daniel's looking better. He just still looks like crap. I know what he wants. He wants to lie down and go to sleep. That's another little side effect of the device.
If we can just get back in one piece, I'll put a guard on him so he can sleep for the next week. Maybe I'll have Teal'c guard him. No one at the SGC is stupid enough to go through a Jaffa to bother Daniel.
The First Prime is nowhere around. I guess I'll have to wait for another chance to kill him. Still don't know which Goa'uld he runs interference for. With our luck, we'll run into him again.
Okay, campers. Here we go.
I feel...better. Not great, but better. The pain's not so bad anymore, but I can still tell where every one of my muscles is located. The fever's gone. I'm thankful for that. I'm thinking a lot clearer than I was. I really wish I weren't.
We're going to rush the Stargate. Take the enemy by surprise.
I can do this. It's not going to be an easy run, but if we can make it to the Stargate, we're home free.
Sure. Easy. Kill the Jaffa without getting killed and dial out in the middle of a firefight. It's not like we've never done that before.
It's just that usually we're all fighting the Jaffa. None of us is injured and almost needing to be carried. This time, it's a little different. I've got to do this. I've got to run no matter how tired I am or how much it hurts. I won't let my friends be killed because of me.
But I am better, so why are we in such a hurry to get home?
Right. I remember what Sam said before we left the stream. The healing device was broken. Any positive effects I'm feeling right now may only be temporary. I might feel better but not actually be better. That's why she's so scared. She's worried that I'm hurt worse than anyone knows. I've got to admit that I'm a little worried about that myself.
They're not worried for themselves. They're worried about me. Little, lone, insignificant me. I used to think that it was that military attitude about protecting your team, but it isn't. It's Jack and Sam and Teal'c and me all worried about each other because we're friends. That whole military aspect doesn't figure in with us. Who would have figured?
I know the other SGC members have tried to understand how four completely different people with absolutely nothing in common could be so close. I think they're thinking about it the wrong way. We are four completely different people, but we do have things in common. Maybe these things are invisible to outsiders. People who have been assigned to SG-1 temporarily can't believe how well we work together, how well established each one of us is in the group. A lot of times, Jack doesn't have to bark out orders. We all know what we have to do.
I'll make this run. I've got enough strength for that. I won't let them down.
We're ready. It was a bit of a quiet argument, but we finally agreed that Teal'c and I would draw the Jaffa fire. The Colonel will make for the DHD. Daniel will stay undercover until the wormhole is open and whoever is nearest will help him to the gate.
Well, I thought we had agreed.
Daniel's not going to agree with this plan. Dammit, Daniel, now's not the time to get noble on us. We're trying to save you.
He's right. The plan isn't going to work. We'd be doing exactly what the Goa'uld would expect us to do.
He's got a better idea.
It just might work.
Daniel Jackson's plan has merit. He says he will attend to his part of the escape. I know he will do this. I also know that he disagreed with O'Neill's plan because of the great risk to us. He will not allow us to put ourselves in added danger.
The unexpected is an unknown concept to Jaffa. In Goa'uld society, every event is ordered and has a purpose. There are no such things as surprises. The Tau'ri seem to thrive on the unknown in both their quests and actions.
Daniel Jackson is right. His plan will be unexpected.
It might succeed.
For crying out loud! Just when you thought everything's good to go, Danny has to throw a monkey wrench into the works. Doesn't he ever know when to stop and let us do the work?
No, O'Neill. He doesn't. That's what makes him Daniel.
The really irritating part is that his idea is better than mine. The only problem is that it's suicidal! It could cost Daniel his life. But, no, he doesn't see it that way. I know what he's thinking. He's thinking he's the weak link. He's thinking to save us and never mind him. Get this, buddy boy; we're here saving your backside because you're so weak you're almost ready to fall on it.
When are you ever going to learn, O'Neill? Those arguments don't work with him!
I hate it when his ideas are better than mine.
I really hate the fact because I know it's going to work.
Jack's finally agreed, but I know his heart's not in it.
To tell you the truth, my heart's not in it either, but what choice do we have?
The least amount of time we're exposed to enemy fire is the only way we're going to stay alive. Three guns against a dozen Jaffa sounds only marginally better than two guns against a dozen Jaffa. If they can draw them and their fire away from the Stargate, I can run for the DHD and dial Earth. They won't be expecting me to be able to do anything. If they even notice me at all once the shooting starts, it might astound them long enough for the others to get the advantage over them. Hey, it's a long shot, but I've actually won some pretty big bets on those. Not that I'd ever mention that to Jack. He's still upset that I've picked the winner of the last three hockey games we went to.
Even if I don't make it out alive, I will get the gate open for them.
Daniel Jackson is determined. He has moved away from us and is now in position to charge towards the DHD. We will distract the Jaffa, force them away from the Stargate in order for our friend to have an unimpeded path. I fear for us but for him most of all. He is still very weak and is moving clumsily. We have observed that he is still in great pain. This task will be a difficult one for him.
He will succeed.
Many times I have watched Daniel Jackson do what was deemed impossible. I have never understood his tenacity to disprove someone's belief that a task cannot be accomplished. Once, he told me that you could do just about anything you want to, you only have to find a way to do it. He is quite proficient at finding obscure methods to achieve his goals. He will do this again.
Here we go. Me, Teal'c and Carter have been laying down a strong cover fire and have pushed the Jaffa back from the Stargate. Danny's making his way over to the DHD, and I can tell from here how bad he's hurting. I think the positive effects from the healing device are wearing off. He's definitely going to spend a week doing nothing more than exercising his thumb on the television's remote control. If he moves one inch beyond that, I'll have his butt back in the infirmary and him sedated to the gills. There is no way he's going to talk me into springing him from Fraiser's care this time.
Right. He'll give me that lost puppy dog look of his and beg me to talk Fraiser into letting him go. He'll promise her the moon if he has to. He'll swear he won't do any physical activity, nothing more than pulling books off of a bookshelf.
We've been there so many times in the past we don't even need a script anymore. Every word and action is well rehearsed to perfection. Fraiser doesn't stand a chance. Neither do I.
He's at the DHD, and he's dialing.
That's our boy.
One of the Jaffa is trying to "dissuade" Daniel, but Teal'c managed to snag him with his staff weapon. All in all, I'd say we're doing pretty damn good given we started out with the odds being 12 to 3. Maybe these guys need to get reinforcements?
Don't jinx it, O'Neill. You'd be happy if there were none. Don't wish more trouble on yourself.
Shit! They're targeting Daniel! None of them have a clear shot of him, but we've got clear shots of them. Daniel's using the DHD to shield himself from the Jaffa fire. Good boy. Now, if we can just buy him a few more seconds....
The wormhole just opened. Daniel's too tired. He used up everything running to the DHD. His legs just collapsed under him, and he's sitting up against the base of the DHD. Luckily, he's not in anyone's direct line of fire. We're going to have to run for it and shoot what we can.
Without even giving the order, my kids know what to do. We all go at a dead run, shooting at everything left that's shooting at us. Carter reaches the wormhole first, turns and starts covering the retreat. I grab Daniel and have to almost physically haul him up. Teal'c's bringing up the rear, shooting his staff weapon for all it's worth. We all go through the wormhole at almost the same time.
Damn. It worked. Danny gets the gold star.
That was not what I would ever call a happy debriefing. My first team comes running back through the gate, Doctor Jackson looking like death ran over him, and the others too relieved to do much more than yell for the medics.
I got the story in the waiting area of the infirmary. Major Carter had gone to her laboratory the minute her feet stepped off the ramp and met up with the rest of SG-1 in the infirmary with our healing device in her hands. She and Doctor Fraiser went to work on Doctor Jackson immediately. That meant I got to hear a rather colorful and lively explanation of what happened on the planet from Colonel O'Neill. Teal'c didn't say a word except to agree when Colonel O'Neill stopped to take a breath.
I must say that despite the fact Doctor Jackson can be the most singularly annoying, determined, brave, brilliant person I've ever had under my command and that I thank the Powers-That-Be that I have him under my command, if he were in the military he'd have more commendations for bravery under fire than any five officers I've ever met. I saw the recording. My lunch almost didn't stay where I had put it. How that young man ever withstood what was done to him....I don't know if I could have held out.
Colonel O'Neill, Major Carter and Teal'c did not watch it again. I didn't ask them to. That's not something I'd ever want to see twice.
That was two days ago.
Doctor Jackson has been asleep that entire time under the watchful eyes of Doctor Fraiser and SG-1. There has been much discussion between the Major and the Doctor about the possible side effects of healing devices. Doctor Jackson has shown a rather animated reluctance to ever seeing a sarcophagus again. I believe he has instructed Colonel O'Neill to shoot him if he is ever forced into one for any reason. If the healing device has the same addictive qualities as the sarcophagus, I don't believe the young man will be overjoyed at being the victim of the device.
I was very proud of Doctor Jackson and the strength he showed in overcoming the sarcophagus. Everyone realizes that he was not to blame for the addiction. Its effects were unknown, and that princess, Shyla, was the one who swore she would help SG-1 if Doctor Jackson would undergo the sarcophagus one more time. She used Doctor Jackson's need to protect his team to force him into the sarcophagus even though she knew what would happen. What I had not known for some time and what Doctor Jackson only found out after he had suffered through the withdrawals was that the sarcophagus had malfunctioned. One "treatment" was actually two because the machine would cycle twice before completing. We realized that Doctor Jackson was already addicted the first time he climbed from the machine.
Perhaps the healing device is different. We have tried to contact the Tok'ra but they haven't answered us yet. I don't want that young man to suffer one minute more due to this mission, and I will do what I can to see that doesn't happen. Major Carter has tried to remember more about healing devices by resurrecting Jolinar's memories, but she has had little success. What she has remembered so far indicates that the healing device will not do any harm.
I hope she's right.
I've been asleep for four days. I feel fine, but Janet's not letting me go unless I promise not to lift anything heavier than the remote for the television. I have been "informed" by a certain Colonel who shall remain nameless that I would be allowed out of the infirmary provided I camp out on his couch for the next three days so he can make sure that I don't lift anything heavier than the remote.
I hate it when they double-team me like that.
I don't mind having to recuperate over at Jack's--Sam and Teal'c are usually there the whole time and I'm never bored--but I think he does things just to drive me up the walls. He watches every sports game on television even though he knows that is not my favorite thing to do. Well, that's not exactly true. I'll watch sports even if I don't enjoy them. Jack's been known to watch my favorite television shows, and I know he doesn't enjoy them either. When I caught that alien virus SG-8 brought back with them a few months ago, Jack brought me about eight videos he had taped from the Discovery Channel about the pyramids and ancient Egyptian gods and pharaohs. He even sat and watched them with me, actually asking questions about some of the rulers the narrators were talking about, commenting on the inaccuracies--it's easy for him to point out the inconsistencies these days. He's met so many of the people the narrator was talking about. I made it up to him by bringing him tapes of the hockey games he missed when he caught the same virus one week later. Janet was about to evict both of us from the infirmary when we started yelling at one of the referees just as she had threatened us when we started getting a little loud discussing some of the rather juvenile and uninformed archaeological theories presented on the documentaries. It's not that I dislike hockey, I'd just rather watch anything else--and that drives Jack up the wall.
Hey, it's what we do. That's the way our friendship works. Thank goodness Teal'c and Sam are always on my side. Jack has gotten to watch more documentaries in the last few years than he probably has the rest of his life combined--and even Colonel Jack O'Neill isn't crazy enough to argue with a Jaffa when he says he wants to watch the Discovery Channel.
Sam. I would never wish any of my friends to be a host, but this is probably the only time I've ever been grateful for Jolinar. I've been hurt before, but that was the kind of pain I wouldn't want to ever go through again. Once we got back to the SGC, I was out of it. I barely remember being taken to the infirmary or Sam using her working healing device on me. I just know that when I woke up this morning, I wasn't hurting anymore. I can thank Jolinar's memories and Sam's abilities for that. I was fine, and the pain was gone.
I wish I could say the same for the memories.
That's another reason why Jack wants to keep an eye on me. He's been through this sort of thing before. He's worried about nightmares, flashbacks, the usual posttraumatic stress syndrome symptoms. He knows as well as I do that stress can take a while to affect someone. I know the drill. From the very beginning, the Pentagon had made sure that we all attended the seminars held on base covering everything from alien weapons to how to withstand questioning. I've gone to those before. We all have. That's part of life at the SGC. The problem is that a lot of those seminars are virtually useless. No one can teach you what you need to have inside in order to survive. That's something you learn on your own through experience and perseverance. Learning how to survive torture through experience isn't my first choice of on-the-job training, but I've been through enough to cope with most of the worst things that have happened. I've learned to live with it.
There is one person who won't live with it, though. If Jack ever sees that First Prime, he's going to rip him a new heart. What scares me the most is that I hope to be there when Jack does find this guy. I want to watch him get vivisected.
Better yet, Teal'c can use the thingamajig on the First Prime. You know, take his time and do the job right. I don't think the First Prime being dead would bother me at all. Anyone who hurts for the sake of hurting isn't a valuable or intelligent member of any species. Society wouldn't miss him. I finally asked Teal'c what the thingamajig was this morning. Loosely translated, it's a pain stick. I'd say it's aptly named.
There's Jack. He's my ride out of here because Janet said no driving for the next three days. They really are trying to keep me from doing anything! I won't get too bored. Jack and Sam had a bet as to when I'd wake up. Jack said three days, Sam said four. Sam won. That means we watch the special on Mayan pyramids she taped for me yesterday. Jack's already muttering that since it's his house, he was going to decide what we watch, and no one is going to force him to watch a show on really big rocks.
I wonder if he remembers he still owes me $50?
This is my first attempt at a first person POV story. E-mail me and let me know what you thought of it, but please be kind. I love feedback!
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