*I sprint to the DHD and punch in an address. My remote was taken so I can't give the iris code for the SGC. I stand in front of the event horizon, staring at its watery surface and remembering how many times the team and I have stepped through here. I bid my final farewell to them, take a deep breath, and step through...*
..Into, to my surprise, SGC! I blink my eyes, trying to clear them of leftover tears and bring the room into focus. Yes, I'm back home all right...but how? I don't think I punched the address for home. And why wasn't the iris closed? Why aren't I dead? Then I hear the voice, one of the last I'd ever expect to hear...
"Hey, Daniel, what took so long?" Sam Carter asks. "We thought you were right behind us."
Maybe I am dead. Maybe this is my afterlife. Or am I dreaming? I hope not. There they all are, standing at the bottom of the ramp. Jack, grinning at me, Teal'c, looking as stoic as ever, and Sam... Suddenly, I don't think my legs will hold me. I grab the railing of the ramp.
"Whoa, Danny, you okay?" asks Jack, rushing over and helping me to sit down. "Hey, we need a medic over here!" he calls. Sam and Teal'c kneel down next to us. I grab Jack's arm, touch Sam's face. They feel real...
"You're here," I finally manage to gasp out. "Alive! But I saw you all die...tortured..."
"We are all fine, Daniel Jackson," I hear Teal'c say. Then everything fades to black.
Sometime later, I awaken in the infirmary. I lie awake for a minute, trying to remember how I got here. They must have found me later, on the world I went to after...that terrible one where everyone died. I must have dreamed about seeing everyone alive. As I look around, I notice a bandage on my arm, right where the staff weapon's energy bolt grazed it. That proves it must have been real. My friends really are dead.
Jack's voice startles me. "Hey, Danny, you feeling better?" Sam and Teal'c follow him into the room. "What's the matter? You look like you've seen a ghost," he adds, looking concerned.
"I thought I did," I stammer. "Wha...what happened on the last world? How... I saw you all die!"
My friends give each other a worried look. "Nothing bad happened," Sam finally says. "We arrived, looked around for about an hour, saw nothing but forest, and left. You yourself said it was one of the more boring planets we'd been to."
"So...so Skaara...uh...Klorel wasn't there? The Jaffa didn't torture you all and let me go free to be hunted?"
"No, nothing like that!" Jack replies. "What happened to you? You weren't even out of my sight for more than a few minutes while you figured out the symbols on the DHD. And what happened to your arm?"
Just as I am about to answer, Dr. Frasier enters the room. "All right, everybody, leave him alone for now," she says briskly. "I've got a few tests I'd like to run on Dr. Jackson."
The others reluctantly leave the room. "We'll see ya later, Daniel," Sam says.
Some time later, General Hammond enters my room in the infirmary, followed closely by Dr. Frasier.
"Dr. Jackson, Dr. Frasier says that she can find nothing wrong with you on the tests. Do you have any idea what might happen to make you have a different memory than the rest of the group?" asks the general.
"I-I have no idea, sir. I've been rather tired lately...maybe I hallucinated the whole thing...although I don't know why."
The general turns to Dr. Frasier. "Do you think he'll be able to return to duty with SG-1 anytime soon?"
"I'd like to keep him under surveillance for a few days, General," she replies. "He's got a slight burn on his right arm which I don't know how he got, and I'd like to see if his memory returns...the right way, this time."
The general nods and leaves the room.
*Jack and Sam screaming in pain from the effects of the ribbon device. Teal'c lying on the ground, the life draining out of him after his infant Goa'uld was taken away. My own voice, screaming as I struggle against the Jaffa guards, begging the smirking Klorel to make it stop...stop this...no...*
"No!" I scream, sitting up straight in my bed, soaked in a cold sweat. It was that dream again...the same one I've had every time I close my eyes. Dr. Frasier tells me that what I remember was probably some sort of hallucination, but it still feels real. Got to get a grip on myself. Tomorrow at 0900 hours I will go on my first mission back on SG-1. I look at the clock by my bed. 6:04 a.m. No point in trying to go back to sleep now...back to those dreams. I get up and splash cold water on my face. Got to remember that it was only a dream.
At 0900 hours, I stand once again in front of the rippling surface of the Stargate. The others have already gone through, moments before. I breathe a silent prayer and slowly step across the event horizon.
The trip is the same as always, like the worst roller coaster in the world, only multiplied about a hundred fold. I stumble through the other side and see the others preparing to scope out the new world, which appears to be mostly dense jungle
"Ok, Danny, you're with Teal'c this time," Jack says. "We'll meet back here at 1000 hours, okay?"
I nod and Teal'c and I start off into the jungle. We walk in silence. Teal'c's not much of a conversationalist anyway, and I don't feel like talking. Suddenly, he stops cold and puts his hand on my shoulder.
"What...?" I begin, but he raises his hand in a silencing gesture. He's obviously listening. I strain my ears. I don't hear anything... wait. "Sounds like someone crying," I whisper.
"Indeed it does," Teal'c replies. "This way," he says, leading off to his right.
The painful whimpering sound grows louder as we near a small clearing. When we enter it, I immediately see the huddled figure of a woman on the ground. Blood stains her tattered white dress. I can't see her face, her matted black hair has covered it as she lays on the ground. I tentatively walk over and kneel next to her.
"Um...hello..." I stutter. I lean down and try to help her to sit up. "What happened? Are you okay?" I brush her hair back from her face and fall back as I recognize her face. "Sha're!" I choke out, dropping her back down to the ground. Teal'c immediately points his staff weapon at her.
"Daniel Jackson, you must remember that this is not Sha're. This is Amaunet," he says.
"Dan-iel?" Sha're, Amaunet whispers. She sounds so much like my wife! I don't hear the deep undertones that indicate a Goa'uld. But yet... "Dan-iel, it is me, Sha're." she says weakly in Abydan. "I no longer have Amaunet in me." I lean closer to hear what she is saying. "I displeased Apophis...he found out that I lied to him about my son. He had Amaunet removed from me and set me loose for his Jaffa to hunt. They wounded me and left me here to die..." her voice trails off. I finally notice the largest blood stain on her side. It is slowly spreading.
"No! Sha're, stay with me, please," I beg as I gather her into my arms. "I can't lose you again!" I glance at Teal'c, who has lowered his weapon. "Teal'c, help me!"
"We must get her back to the Stargate if there is any chance of saving her," he says.
"No, Dan-iel, it is too late," Sha're whispers. "I'm dying." She reaches up to touch my face, wiping away my tears. "I'm just glad I got to see you one last time, my love." She smiles that sweet smile of hers, then closes her eyes and sighs one last time.
"No! Sha're, please don't leave me," I sob. "I've just found you."
Suddenly, I hear the blast from a staff weapon, and one of the trees on the far side of the clearing explodes into splinters. Teal'c turns and fires several shots into the jungle. I just sit, clutching the body of the one person I love more than life. I don't care what happens now...I just want to die. Vaguely, I feel Teal'c grab my arm and haul me to my feet, ignoring my protests. He drags me back toward the Stargate. As we approach, I see Sam press the center crystal on the DHD, opening the gate while Jack sends the recognition code. Energy bolts explode all around us. I collapse to the ground when Teal'c releases me, firing his staff weapon at our unseen Jaffa enemies.
"Let's go!" I hear Jack yell, then feel him and Teal'c grab my arms, pull me up and practically throw me into the watery portal.
After I stumble out the other side, I sit down hard on the ramp, tears streaming down my face. I pull my knees up to my chest, and hug them, rocking slowly back and forth. Can't think about anything else... what happened back there. My reason for living is gone. My hope... Sha're...
"Danny, what's wrong?" I hear Jack ask. I look up at him, barely seeing.
"We found Sha're," I whisper. "She's dead." I can't go on. "Teal'c, tell them."
"I recall no such occurrence," the Jaffa says.
"What?" This is too weird... I couldn't have dreamed that up, could I? "What about the Jaffa, shooting at us? We had to return early."
"Nothing like that happened," Sam says, as General Hammond and Dr. Frasier hurry toward us. "It was just another routine mission."
"What happened?" the general asks as Dr. Frasier kneels down next to me.
"Daniel Jackson seems to have different memories than us, again," Teal'c replies.
"Ok, back to the infirmary with you," the doctor announces. It's like deja vu.
*Standing in a fog, I hear crying, a horrible sobbing sound of someone in pain. I try to go toward the sound, but it comes from all around me. I can't see anything. I blindly stumble around, trying to find the source of the cry. Suddenly a figure appears, standing in the fog...it looks like Sha're! I run to her, but stop short as I see the blood on her dress, and running down her face, her deathly pale face. She opens her eyes, and there is nothing there...just blackness. "Why didn't you save me, Dan-iel?" she says, her voice as weak as autumn leaves in the wind. "I waited for you."
"I tried," I reply. "I'm so sorry!" She begins to fade back into the mist. "Sha're! Don't go!"*
"Sha're!" Once again I awaken from the same nightmare. It's been over a week since I got back, and I still have the same dreams. Dr. Frasier still can't find anything wrong with me, so I'm cleared to go back through the ‘gate tomorrow. I'm not sure if I want to. What horror will be waiting on the other side this time?
Once again I am the last through the gate. As I arrive, Jack yells out, "Danny, get down!" Staff weapon energy bolts fly all around. As I hit the ground, I notice Sam lying face-down near me. She's far too still. I creep over to her and tap her on the shoulder.
"Sam, hey, are you okay?" I ask. When she doesn't answer, I gently roll her over onto her back. Her eyes are open, staring at nothing. I look down and see a gaping, blackened hole in her chest. Suddenly nauseous, I quickly scramble backward, away from her. I look up and see Teal'c trying to dial home. Abruptly he pitches forward, falling onto the DHD. As he rolls off, I catch a glimpse of the still-smoking wound in the middle of his back. God...this can't be happening. I hear Jack yelling for me to dial home. I crawl to the DHD, stand up, and begin to press the symbols that will take me home, away from this hell. I push the large orange crystal in the center and look expectantly at the Stargate. Nothing happens. Frantically, I push the symbols again. Again, nothing.
"Jack!" I scream in panic. "It's not working! I can't dial home!" I glance at him just in time to see an energy bolt catch him full in the face. I fall to the ground, retching. This can't be real! What's happening? It's like my worst nightmares are coming true. I don't care what happens any more. I am aware that the staff weapons have stopped firing. I stand up slowly and look up at the grey sky. "Why?" I scream to whomever might be listening. "Why are you doing this? What's happening here? Stop it!!" Suddenly everything goes black. It's like someone just turned the lights out on this world. I'm not unconscious... but all I can see is darkness. A light appears behind me. I turn to see a human shape made of white fire. Slowly it splits into two, then three distinct forms.
"Who are you?" I ask.
~We are the Ishka'ro. You have done well, Daniel Jackson.~ The melodic sound of three voices fills the air.
"What do you mean? Why have you killed my friends?"
~We have not harmed the others. All you have just experienced was an illusion, provided by our holographic machines.~
"So... when I saw them die before...when I saw Sha're die...that was all a hologram? And why do the others remember me being with them?"
~We wanted to see how a human would react when his worst fears came true. So when you entered the "Stargate," as you call it, we simply redirected you here. The others went on to other worlds, accompanied by a holographic representation of you. You have stood up well under the stress of your fears, better than some other species have. We will now send you back to your world.~
"Wait...what about these memories I have? The nightmares...I'm still gonna have those!"
~You will remember nothing of your experiences once you leave here. We will give you the memories of what your hologram experienced. You will remember the last few weeks as if nothing has happened.~
"Will I remember this?"
~No. We may contact your species again, some other time. Goodbye, Daniel Jackson.~
I feel the familiar rush of a Stargate journey, and step out into the SGC.
"Sheesh...three boring worlds in a row!" Jack exclaims beside me.
"Yeah, I'd like to get something a little more exciting one of these times," Sam concurs.
"Be careful what you wish for," Teal'c states.
My three friends walk down the ramp and I follow after them, slowly. Something's nagging at the back of my mind, but I can't remember what it is. Jack stops and looks back at me.
"Something the matter, Danny?"
I smile. "Nothing. I'm just really glad to see you all here."