Title: Where Roads Meet|
Fandom: Stargate SG-1
Rating: PG-13, language
Summary: Lives change where roads meet..
Spoilers: Foothold, Pretense, Devil You Know, Forever in a Day, Enigma, Secrets, Children of the Gods, Stargate the movie, Enemy Within, likely more..
Category: Drama, angst, smarm, h/c.the usual.
Date: January 21, 2000
Archive: Stargate Fan, Heliopolis, Belle, Place of Our Legacy
Disclaimer: Characters are property of MGM, etc.
Author's note: Our lives are often affected by things we never realize were there all along.
So the journey begins...
Chapter 23: Dr. Daniel Jackson
Well, it's not like I didn't suspect something like this.
I knew after the first few weeks these weren't like any kind of headaches I've ever had in my life. It wasn't long after everything with Amaunet so Janet was inclined to think it was nothing more than stress, too much caffeine and a return to my evidently predictable patterns for dealing with it. After a while, I just got used to the pain.until Netu when everything started getting worse...nausea bad enough to kill my appetite, spells of blinding pain no amount of Tylenol would faze, vision distortions. I was worried enough to let Janet run her tests before I left...that should have made her more suspicious than anything else. But I was just as determined to do this.
And now my friends are trapped here, Heru'ur's going to be back any time now, and they're all looking at me like I'm going to.
Yeah, like that.
Like Jack's looking at me as he runs into the cave.
I try to smile at him and wave him over to me. Teal'c and Ferretti back off none too subtly, for which I'm grateful. This is going to be hard enough...I don't want an audience.
Jack puts on his best gung-ho smile. "Welcome back. I was starting to get a little worried there."
I nod at that and take a long look at him. The way his brow creases and the tight lines around his mouth tell me he's worried. The dark shadows in his eyes tell me I've got him scared...I hate that.
"Don't." It's almost a whisper, but Jack's voice never needed volume or a lot of words to make itself understood...I guess he's reading a few things in my face as well. He leans closer, keeping his voice soft. "Don't, Daniel. We'll handle it. Just like always."
I almost laugh at that, would if I had the energy to spare. It's just so much like Jack to think sheer stubborn will can make a difference here. Who knows? He may be right. And between us...well, that's a lot of stubborn.
Okay, I can go along with that.
Jack smiles again, broader this time. We haven't said a dozen words, but then...when have we ever needed to? The promise has been given and accepted. I won't give up, he won't let me.
Now we just have to figure out a way to get us all home.
"Carter's working on it, Daniel."
Just those words, but the meaning is clear...Sam is every bit as stubborn as we are, she won't give up either.
I nod my head again. I'm getting tired, but I really don't want to sleep anymore.
"How about some dinner?" Jack asks.
Just the thought sends a wave of sickness straight into my stomach and I shake my head. I reach out a hand asking for help to sit up. Jack looks over at Ferretti, hovering just out of earshot. Ferretti shrugs his shoulder...I think he's wondering when he became the resident medic.
"Jack." I'm asking a lot here, they're afraid and I understand that, but I won't just lie here helplessly and play the patient patient.
They all trade a look that quite clearly says they aren't happy about, but 'hey, what can we do with him when he's like that?' I almost laugh at them...it's good they know me so well.
Jack sighs hugely, reaching out a hand.
Yes, it's a very good thing.
Chapter 24: Captain Janet Fraiser, M.D.
This has to work.
Sam says it will,, but I can hear the echoes of self-doubt in her voice. The naquada reactor is nowhere near its intended date of completion, but the tests look good. Actual field performance is an entirely different thing. What neither of us is saying.we don't have to, our thoughts scream it.is that Daniel may not have time for her and the techs to be any more sure than what they are. Sam Carter's "pretty sure" is as good as most people's "positive".in my considered opinion.
The last communication with Ferretti sounded promising.hopeful. Daniel is awake, aware and the pain doesn't seem as bad . of course regular doses of demerol tend to do that. Ferretti mentioned a fever, that's actually a good thing. A fever equals infection and that's something we can deal with. I just hope it isn't some secondary thing he's picked up on that planet. No, no negatives. I want to stay as guardedly positive as I can be about Daniel' s condition. I try to share that attitude with the general and the others as often as possible.
The general is really tearing himself up over this. I know I argued with him in the first place over sending Daniel off this way.but I have to admit the test results just weren't proof enough not to. Of course, I didn't have all the tests.and I've got my own opinions about that, too. A certain doctoral doctor and I are going to have a long and undoubtedly heated discussion about that once I get him back on his feet. He knew. Maybe not exactly what, but he's too damn smart not to have guessed something close to the truth. And I have no doubt he wasn't exactly forthcoming when it came to symptoms. I can't blame his silence on some macho military thing so I guess I'll chalk it up to pure male stubbornness.heaven knows he's got a healthy dose of that.
I wish the general would allow me or one of my staff to go through, but I understand his reasoning on the subject. They're sitting on a powderkeg over there and Heru'ur could show up anytime to strike the match. Major Ferretti is more than capable and he's had plenty of field experience. I know he can be trusted to do everything right, but it's hard not to want to be there. Daniel is my patient.sadly one of my more regular ones.and I can't help feeling my place is there.
I'm operating, figuratively speaking, in the dark here and that's not an acceptable condition for me. Daniel needs to be here. He needs tests, steady monitoring, and too many other things he just can't get in a cave halfway across the galaxy.
Beyond preparations to receive Daniel, things have been rather slow around the infirmary. I've been trying to keep Kasuf occupied while Sam's busy with the reactor. Kasuf really is a dear man.and so terribly concerned about his "boys".
I've noticed a definite kinship building between the general and Kasuf. It's no too strange a friendship when you consider they're both leaders of their respective 'tribes'. After all, a tribe is an extended family banded together for a common purpose and that's us in a nutshell.
And right now every ounce of energy possessed by this tribe is concentrated on bringing its missing members home.
Chapter 25: Heru'ur of the Goa'uld
They will die.
The shol'va and his companions have earned my complete and utmost wrath. I will not rest until their blood runs freely through my hands and stains the steps of my temple. They will be mine or the planet will burn around them, they shall not live to breathe another day.
We are less than three winwet from the planet. They have neither the intelligence nor the ingenuity to have escaped the planet without the dialing mechanism. They cannot have escaped. My former Jaffa.those who failed me on the planet.remarked on the rather foolish actions of the Abydonian, the shol'va and another Tau'ri warrior. Forsaking their means of escape to aid Jackson and O'Neill..
How weak they are.
The Jaffa were under the impression Jackson was ill or injured. That is good. An injured man will slow them, make them that much easier to corner.and give me a very effective weapon against them.
They will suffer for as long as it pleases me.for as long as it takes to find the child.and then they will die.
Three winwet and I will remove these far too persistent thorns from my mikta.
Chapter 26: Major Louis Ferretti
They send the naquada reactor through in two hours.
Carter's on the radio now giving us a full set of instructions on how to operate the thing. Daniel's taking notes as fast as she can talk.and that's pretty damn fast.
I see his eyes squint occasionally as if he's having trouble focusing, but otherwise it doesn't seem to be hurting him. I think it does him more good to be helping out the cause this way. I can see the others checking him out and reaching the same conclusion.
Actually he's seemed a lot better since his little heart to heart with the colonel. It didn't look to me like they were saying much, but it must've been pretty important stuff to get both of them looking so.bull-headed. It seems to me like a corner's been turned that I didn't even know needed turning.
I guess the colonel and Daniel did.
That's what counts.
Teal'c and Skaara are packing things up, just the essentials and the stuff we don't want to leave lying around on a primitive planet. They're taking it all to the MALP that brought it here.
I'm not taking out Daniel's IV until the last possible moment though. I gave him a dose of demerol two hours ago, it'll be cutting it close for him but he doesn't want anymore until we're back home.or not. I'm keeping a hypo handy just in case we cut it too close for him.
The colonel isn't budging from Daniel's side, reading the notes as he writes them, committing the procedure to memory. Occasionally I'll see his eyes slide to Daniel's face.still too pale, perspiration coursing a trail from hairline to sideburns. If it weren't for those tell-tale signs of the illness still at war inside Daniel this might be just another joint mission.a badly screwed one, but still.
Daniel's so intent on getting everything down he doesn't seem to notice our concern. It's almost as if none of us can keep our eyes off him for very long. I don't know if we're looking for some sign of things getting better . or signs they're getting worse. Maybe we're just letting the sight of him sitting there doing such a normal, everyday thing reassure us that there's a very big factor at work here called hope.
Yow, Ferretti.maybe you've been spending too much time around the kid. Some of that Indo-pseudo-whatever philosophy rubbing off..
I laugh quietly at the thought, remembering us back on Abydos the first time. He seemed like such a clueless dweeb. Boy, was I wrong. When push came to shove Daniel stood up to Ra, his Jaffa and, by God, even that totally dark-side version of Colonel O'Neill.something none of the rest of us had the desire or the suicidal guts to do.
I remember Daniel sitting there on that dusty floor after we'd escaped from Ra. Shivering from the desert cold, coughing his lungs out from the blowing sand, shaggy hair all over the place, he fixed those clear blue eyes on the colonel. For a minute I thought the colonel was going to practice his famous fire-breathing act on the guy, but Daniel didn't even have to raise his voice.direct words delivered with that mule-headed tenacity that won't let go of a bone once he's latched on to it.
Thankfully a few things have changed since then. Daniel's learned a little about choosing his bones since then. Hell, the colonel's not breathed any noticeable fire for quite awhile now.
Teal'c and Skaara head out with the last load. The colonel glances up, letting me know he's noticed. I look at Daniel, just finishing up his rewrite of Carter's instructions then back at the colonel. Something passes between us then . an acknowledgement, a promise ... that says we're going to do our dead-level damnedest to make sure everything turns out right for Daniel.
And for us.
Same thing really.
I reach for my pack and almost laugh again as I realize that almost-conversation I noticed between the colonel and Daniel probably 'said' a lot more than I could ever fathom. Sometimes you really don't need the words.
You just need understanding.
Chapter 27: Teal'c of SG1, formerly of Chulak
I have faith in Major Carter's solution, I know she has given all of her energy to finding the means of returning us home. Her work with the naquada reactor has consumed most, if not all of her on-planet hours. She and Daniel Jackson are much alike in their ability to focus their intelligence and physical resources on a problem, pursuing it unerringly until success is met...or those physical resources simply refuse to be pushed further.
I must admit I am quite anxious to return to the SGC for Daniel Jackson's sake. I can see the lines of stress on his face, the way his eyes flinch involuntarily at every noise, the way his mouth tightens when he stumbles in the path. Major Ferretti tried to offer pain medication, but Daniel Jackson refused...an action that clearly disturbed the major, but I saw him place the hypodermic purposefully in Daniel Jackson's pocket with quiet words which brought a smile to Daniel Jackson's face.
Skaara waits for us in hiding near the Stargate, close enough to observe without being observed. I felt it wise to have someone watching our only means of escape, but also felt the necessity to guard my other friends. Skaara agreed without comment, a small smile expressing understanding of my torn desires. He called me "Danyer's Jaffa" with all the seriousness and depth of the remarkable young man he still is. I am thankful for his sake and that of his family that he has adjusted so well to the changes he has survived.
Daniel Jackson's Jaffa.
Perhaps. Perhaps not. Daniel Jackson would greatly dislike the connotations of that statement, but I do not doubt he would realize a certain element of truth in it also. My life is as sworn to his protection as it ever was to Apophis...much more so in fact because it is a service I choose freely and with a commitment I never felt for my former master. Daniel Jackson is not my master...he would be extremely angered at the very thought, but in many ways he does rule my actions...and my loyalty. Very little could change that. I would not wish it to.
O'Neill, Major Carter, General Hammond and Master Bra'tac reside in my circle of protection and loyalty. Yet there is place far deeper within me that only Daniel Jackson may reside. The things that have passed between us have earned him a place in my heart surpassed only by the feelings for my son. It is an extremely apt analogy, but still does not encompass the totality of the truth...
Daniel Jackson's life and spirit must not be allowed to end here.
I become aware of O'Neill watching me from his place beside Daniel Jackson. The resolute fire in his eyes tells me he knows my thoughts...and agrees wholeheartedly. Daniel Jackson will be fine. We will make sure of it.
We approach Skaara's hiding place and move to sit beside him amongst the trees. Daniel Jackson accepts water from O'Neill, nodding gratitude before laying his head on his knees. O'Neill rubs a soothing hand over Daniel Jackson's back as he glances at his watch. I mirror the gesture without thinking.
We must succeed.
There is no other option.
Chapter 28: Skaara of Abydos
The reactor has arrived.
O'Neill and Teal'c are connecting the many lengths of cable to the Chaapa'ai - Stargate - as Major Ferretti reads from Daniel's notes. I sit quietly beside Daniel, he seems to be asleep, but I think it is simply a matter of conserving strength.
I keep a keen watch around us. The place where Heru'ur transported to his ship is just a small distance up the hill. It is reasonable to expect he will return in the same fashion. My body is tense as I look for any disturbance that might warn of the demon's return. The more time that passes, the more my concern grows. Heru'ur will not rest until he exacts revenge on us. I know this with the certainty of three years of exposure to the pervasive evilness of Goa'uld thinking. Just as my own demon sought every bit of information that might bring him closer to revenge against those who demeaned him in the eyes of his father, then destroyed Apophis before he could prove himself worthy again. Klorel would have eventually plotted against Apophis, but there was much he had yet to prove to the one who gave him life.
Heru'ur will return.
We must not be here when he does.
O'Neill keeps looking in our direction, his mind is clearly on Daniel. I reach to touch Daniel's forehead. He is very hot. He stirs, but does not raise his head. I try to convey my concern to O'Neill without words. O'Neill nods once, his mouth set in a grim line, then turns back to his task with determination.
They are almost ready. O'Neill reaches down to turn on the device, I can see the furtive glance in our direction and the small hesitation in his hand before he pushes the button. There is a spark of power from Major Carter's box, but nothing more for many long moments.
Slowly, almost with a deliberate pause, the hum of energy builds. Teal'c reaches for the first chevron of Earth's address, shifting and locking it into place. The lock holds...and glows.
Daniel finally raises his head at the sound,, eyes barely focused. O'Neill moves to us and bends to sit beside him so I may go to help Teal'c. I am small enough to climb easily on the larger man's shoulders and adjust the higher symbols. I hear O'Neill speak to Daniel in soothing tones, promising we will soon be home.
With a last glance toward the hillside, I speak a small prayer, to whoever might be listening, that he is right.
Chapter 29: Heru'ur of the Goa'uld
I think perhaps I may let some of them live.
Klorel would likely favor an alliance--however short-lived once I gain access to his resources...in exchange for the host who escaped him. Rather a puny specimen, but pretty in its way.
I could certainly find many uses for Daniel Jackson...he is handsome enough to serve as a host, perhaps for my own next form...I grow rather weary of this one. It is certainly a possibility worthy of consideration. An appealing body and from all reports a mind full of knowledge of the Tau'ri. He would make a pleasing change as I wait for the child to grow to a suitable stage. Unlike Apophis and Ra, I prefer a variety of hosts.
The shol'va, of course, must die...there is no question of that.
And then there is O'Neill.
I'll want to keep him around for a time, kill him at leisure. Wipe the insolence from his face as often as I may. Let him watch me dominate his friend then kill him again in that form.
I do think that shall suit my pleasure quite nicely.
We have arrived.
I signal my Jaffa to gather at the transport rings. I check my personal shield once more...I shall not be left vulnerable again. When the Jaffa are in position, I press the activator on my wrist feeling the distinct surge of anticipation.
My revenge shall be sweet indeed.
Chapter 30: General George Hammond
Major Carter estimates they should have the reactor attached and activated by now. Manual dialing is a slow process, but SG1 has done it more than once. I have faith in my men, they'll get the job done.
The atmosphere here in the control room is thick with tension. Kasuf and Dr. Fraiser stand near the stairwell. I know Dr. Fraiser's team is prepped and on standby, she'll be down those stairs the moment the gate's inner ring moves. I just hope Dr. Jackson...Daniel...is holding on. The last report sounded good...well, not so bad anyway.
Kasuf is a good man, a good father to both his "boys". I can't help but smile when he calls Daniel that. How many times have I fallen into that same mode of address when it comes to our young civilian? Daniel Jackson is "our" boy just as much as he is Kasuf's. A fact we both seem to recognize. We take our responsibilities seriously...neither technology nor cultural separation make a damn bit of difference when it comes down to family.
Major Carter is alternately fidgeting at her computer station and chewing on her nails. I'd tell her to stop, but I know it helps her get through this terrible waiting. This is going to work...I believe that. Deep down I think she does too, but she's got her usual case of "what-ifs" and there isn't much I could say to help. We've been there and done this way too many times. It's a wonder she's got any fingernails left.
I've noticed a definite tension throughout the base since Kasuf came through with two-thirds of SG2. The grapevine I'm not really supposed to know exists has been in full operation and the facts of the situation are pretty well known all over the mountain. Personnel who have no real business or duty in this section ate finding reasons to stick close to the corridors from the gateroom to the infirmary. I could order them all back to their own areas, but I know they're just as worried as the rest of us...wanting to help, powerless to do more than wait.
If shared thoughts and energy hold any power in this universe then the SGC is lit up like a mega-watt Christmas tree and pouring out amps of goodwill for our missing men...
As the minutes click by, I'm starting to get a little...hell, make that a lot...worried. Carter's tapping her fingers lightly on the computer monitor...it's almost like she's willing the glyphs to spin and lock into their slots. I notice Harriman's little wince of irritation. He prefers a more ordered procedure in the control room...but I know he understands the major's nervousness, I've seen his toes tapping when he thinks no one notices.
I feel like I ought to say something encouraging, but somehow I can't bear to shatter this utter stillness. To break the spell of concentration and hope that's settled over us. I finally move to go top off my now-cold coffee...
The click-whine of a gate sequence initiating reaches my ears, the sound we've all been waiting for with every passing minute.
There are no teams off-world.
Barring an surprise visit from the Tok'ra or...heaven forbid...an attack from still another pissed-off Goa'uld...our boys are coming home.
Chapter 31: Dr. Daniel Jackson
The reactor works.
I knew Sam could do it.
Guess I owe her a nice dinner at that Moroccan place she likes so much. If I can...
Don't go there, Daniel. No negative thinking on that front, you made a promise. It's hard not to be negative when your brain is doing pressure exercises on your skull. Jack always did say I had too much stuff in my head...
God, now I know I'm sick. I'm doing Jack-jokes.
Jack's giving me that "no shit, things will be okay" look...the one he uses when he feels like things are going just a little too well. He's waiting for the cloud to fall over this silver lining. I think we all are. It's already been longer than I expected, Heru'ur should have been back by now. He's not going to just let this go...It's a genetic thing with the Goa'uld I think. Hurt for hurt, pain for pain...
Don't think I want to go there either...
Five chevrons locked. Skaara's balancing like an acrobat on Teal'c shoulders to reach the sixth one. I'd laugh at the image if I didn't know it was going to hurt. I'm trying my best to stay calm here, I promised Jack I wouldn't give up. I won't.
It just hurts so damn much.
My hand brushes across the hypodermic Ferretti put in my pocket. It's tempting. Jack notices and gives me that other look, the one that speaks of sympathy, empathy...the desire to take the pain away. Jack's got that mile-wide protective streak...he can't stand to see any of us hurting. He really does see us as his family, as well as friends. Jack really should have had another chance at being a father...he'd be a great one. A lot of times he's hardly more than a big kid himself.
The big kid gives me a smile as we hear the last chevron locks and the wormhole springs to life with the sound that's become so thrillingly familiar. Jack stands and reaches down to help me up.
"C'mon, Danny...We're going home."
It takes a few seconds for me to find my feet...and a few more seconds to suppress a laugh at the inanity of that thought. Jack steadies me without a word, putting an arm around me and guiding me toward the gate. Teal'c and Ferreti are guiding the MALP back through. Skaara is focused on the hilltop, I know he's as worried as I am that...
Skaara's eyes grow wide suddenly.
I don't even have to look to know the cause.
Jack curses beside me and tries to pick up our pace. I'm trying, but I don't think...
A staff blast between us and the gate affirms my fears.
We aren't going to make it.
Chapter 32: Colonel Jack O'Neill
This whole situation has sucked from the beginning...now it's just plain ridiculous. I knew things were going too well. Five lousy minutes...two even...and we'd've been long gone. But nooo, Big H. has got the same screwed up timing as the rest of the Goa'uld.
Teal'c and the others are trying to give us cover, but they're way too exposed there. The DHD is barely big enough for one person to squeeze behind, much less three.
Daniel is doing his best. Like he'd do any less. I can feel his muscles trembling under my arm, but he's giving it all he's got.
This feels too damn familiar.
I hate that feeling.
As we get closer, the others start backing toward the gate.
I don't want them coming after us again. We just got lucky last time because we hurt the mean old Goa'uld...now he's mean and pissed. Teal'c's blasting away, Skaara's found the zat gun again and Ferretti just used up a clip on his M15. Damn good support, damn good guys. If they can just keep those Jaffa too rattled to shoot straight, we may have a chance here.
I don't even try to look up the hill. The staff blasts tell me all I need to know about how close they're getting. Doesn't seem to be as many blasts as there were a few minutes ago. A few points for the home team.
Less than ten yards now.
I give Teal'c a nod, he understands and pushes Skaara through bodily. Ferretti looks over his shoulder and keeps shooting.
I yell at Ferretti to go. He looks like he's about to argue but starts backing toward the gate, firing every step of the way.
We're at the steps.
Ferretti disappears into the wormhole.
Teal'c won't go, I'm not even going to try. He's shooting that staff so fast I can barely count a second between the shots.
Chapter 33: Major Samantha Carter
I knew it would work.
'Right, Sammy, tell yourself another one.'
My father's voice is as plain as if he were standing right beside me.
I wish he were.
I can't remember ever feeling quite so helpless...well, maybe there have been a few other times...
No negatives, Sam.
Daniel always tells me that when we're in the midst of some puzzle that's got us stumped and I'm ready to give it up.
My classically trained scientific brain didn't have a clue as to what Daniel meant the first time he said it. I couldn't figure out why I shouldn't be negative when faced with a seemingly impossible task that every theory I'd come to recognize as immutable fact failed to explain it. But then I watched him. The incredibly intuitive brain working seemingly tirelessly through one night and into another, seeing things I'd overlooked, countering my negatives with...if not exactly positives then alternative perspectives. Perspectives which, if not entirely correct as a whole, bought about enough of a change in my thinking to lead us to another path...another way of viewing the problem and eventually to an answer.
I love those 'Doctor Jackson sessions', as I call them. The times when Daniel can and does bring to the forefront that impressively-educated, and decidedly unorthodox, intelligence. His hands and voice race one another in their haste to express themselves as quickly as his brain.
Sometimes I'll just sit back and simply enjoy the show. The ever more frenetic pacing, the hands...so expressive in their own right, the eyes that seem to focus on things just outside of my ability to perceive.
It's quite a sight to behold...
I remember the first time Colonel O'Neill walked in during one such session. The look that came over the colonel's face was priceless. It was pretty obvious to me that, while the colonel had previous been aware of that Daniel was "way smarter" than most, it was probably the first time he'd actually been privy to the process proving it. The rapid-fire self-dialog expounding on obscure fact...I mean nobody really is supposed to know this much stuff without a mountain of reference books. Daniel in full 'Doctor Jackson' mode is a scholar's dream...or nightmare depending on the topic in question. The colonel just stood there staring, his open-mouthed expression shifting from mild amusement to deep confusion to just plain disbelief. Over time I've seen that disbelief shift to respect...a further foundation for the unique friendship the two of them share.
The sixth chevron has locked before I pull myself out of my thoughts to monitor the final glyph locking in. I'm chewing on my thumbnail again as we wait for the iris code.
I knew we'd done good work with the reactor, but that knowledge did little to ease my fears that something...anything...could go wrong. When the inner ring started to spin I was able to release the breath I'd been holding since Ferretti pushed my backside into the wormhole...literally.
That man had better watch his own backside. He's definitely on my shit list for the foreseeable future. I'm not seriously angry with him...much...and if this works I'll be glad he did it, but it just a matter of principle with me...
My place was with my team.
The MALP comes through but nobody's breathing yet.
A huge cheer goes up when Skaara nearly flies out of the wormhole.
And there's Major Ferretti...coming out backwards, gun still raised.
Long moments pass...
Where is SG1?
Chapter 34: Heru'ur of the Goa'uld
This cannot be!
They are escaping.
I will not allow it.
A force of nine Jaffa against three Tau'ri...and six of mine have fallen. My Jaffa masters will pay dearly for this ineptitude.
How is this possible?
The shol'va is very good, I will grant him that...he would have to be to serve as first prime to one as hated as Apophis. The humans...are obviously more fortunate than skilled.
O'Neill and Jackson should have been left behind...yet the others do not yield until the shol'va forces them through the chaap'ai. No there is only the shol'va to guard their approach. I urge my Jaffa forward, this is our chance.
Protected within my personal shield, I advance quickly. Another Jaffa beside me falls...incompetent fool. One manages to scorch O'Neill's shoulder as he reaches the final step with his burden. The shol'va kills that Jaffa also. No matter. I am close enough now. With all the anger of the previous defeats I have suffered at the hands of these humans I reach out a hand to gather Daniel Jackson to me.
They are mine now, they will not leave him...
I have seen that.
O'Neill climbs to his feet and the shol'va approaches slowly, weapon at the ready even now. I nod to my last remaining Jaffa and he takes the weapon. They both watch me with a wariness and anger that almost makes my previous defeat palatable. I have found their point of vulnerability, I hold him apart from them and they hate me for it.
Jackson is clearly weak and ill. He can barely remain standing in my grasp, I am unsure he even realizes he is within my grasp. Irrelevant. I will take him to my sarcophagus and have him for a host. My plans will come to pass as I use this one to kill O'Neill and the shol'va, then delve into his knowledge and take his entire planet. The first world...the world that dared to rebel against my father...shall be mine.
O'Neill is shouting at me. He thinks his words will sway me? I have no desire to listen to his posturings. He is defeated, he has only to accept it. The shol'va knows, he whispers words of his new reality to the human. O'Neill nods and acquiesces as my Jaffa forces them both to their knees. The chaap'ai flickers behind them...it will close soon.
Jackson raises his head at the sound, but seems barely able to comprehend what he sees. I loosen my grip to force him to his knees as well, but feel a sudden stabbing in my neck.
He has injected me with something.
He did not pick his target randomly, my essence is quickly being affected by some drug.
Jackson pushes me away and stumbles toward the others. The were obviously prepared for Jackson's attack on me, the shol'va advances on my Jaffa with impressive speed and snaps his neck with little effort. I try to raise my own weapon, but find my strength failing me quickly.
The two humans stagger together through the fluctuating chaap'ai as the shol'va retrieves his weapon and follows them. The last thing I see before my vision fails me is the energy of the staff weapon exploding against the device attached to the chaap'ai.
Then I see nothing at all.
Chapter 35: Major Louis Ferretti
C'mon, guys...this is taking too long.
Skaara stands beside me; he feels it too.
The wormhole is destabilizing...a few more minutes and it'll be gone. They were nearly on the dais when I last saw them...Teal'c had them covered. What could've happened?
Well, duh, Ferretti...Heru'ur is what happened...
Somehow, someway, old baldy has done something to slow them down, but he was a good twenty yards off when I last saw him. How fast can snakes run anyway?
I look up toward the observation window. They're all up there, locked in some sort of frozen concentration on the Stargate like it holds the answers to all the mysteries of the universe. In a way I guess it does...our little piece of it anyway. Carter manages to break out of the spell, meeting my eyes with questions I don't need words to understand. I can only give her a helpless shrug. They should've been here by now. I would never have left them if I hadn't believed that. Carter nods, she understands that.
Not that it helps...
The tech starts counting down the seconds until the gate shuts down.
Ten damn seconds.
The event horizon flickers once. Twice.
I look at Skaara again, his eyes are bright as hope starts to die.
Dammit, we were so close.
I put a hand on his shoulder, thinking to get him away from here when a thud hits the ramp behind me. We turn around together to see the colonel and Daniel stumble to their knees a few feet out of the gate. Another flicker of the wormhole and Teal'c is there, staff in hand and a look of almost smugness on his face.
We all just stand there.
The colonel is sitting there on his knees, blood seeping down one shoulder from a staff wound while Daniel leans heavily on the other. The colonel just hangs onto him, finally looking up to see all of us staring at them.
The colonel grins and nudges Daniel who raises his head slowly, smiling.
"Think we could get a hand here guys?" The colonel's voice is soft, almost conversational. "We're just a little..."
As the colonel's voice trails off, Daniel fills in, "...tired. Actually we're very, very..."
Daniel slumps a little further against the colonel, who finishes the thought with, "...very tired."
These guys ought to take this show on the road.
The familiar interchange seems to pull us all out of the spell that's held us motionless for so long. Hammond starts yelling for medics and the well-oiled machine that is the SGC swings into action.
Fraiser is there beside Daniel...I never even saw her come in. The corpsmen are loading Daniel onto a gurney over his protests, Fraiser stops him cold with a bantam-weight finality I've never been able to argue with. Daniel tries but he's out before they even hit the corridor.
Teal'c has got the colonel to his feet so I go help just to have something useful to do.
As we head toward the infirmary I just have to ask, "So, guys, anything interesting happen on the way to the gate?"
Chapter 36: Kasuf of Abydos
My sons have returned to me.
Skaara has washed and changed. He sits now in the shelter of my arms much as he did when he was a child. He has been very strong protecting Daniel, now always have been...and ever shall be. he needs to feel protected.. I am glad to serve as his guardian now, as I
For a moment time falls away and we are back on Abydos, holding one another against the terror Ra always brought with him. I would draw both my children close to me as the walls seemed to shake with Ra's anger. Against such fear I had only my presence with which to comfort them, as their presence comforted me. As long as we were together, I would tell them, nothing else had power over us. Not even vengeful gods.
How wrong I was in that assumption...
Now my son rests in my embrace once again as we wait to discover Daniel's fate. Carter sits beside Teal'c across from us, the large man's reassuring presence is almost strong enough to encompass us all. Ferretti is here with Hammond.
O'Neill walks...I know it is his way when concerned for one he cares for.
I have watched this tribe gather itself, working tirelessly to bring its lost brothers home. It is a good tribe; Hammond is a good leader. He feels deeply, cares much. I think he considers Daniel as much a friend as O'Neill does. I have seen the lines of guilt around his eyes, he feels responsible for this. He need not. I have told him, and will tell him again, that no one may stop Daniel when he truly does not wish to be stopped.
It is a difficult lesson to learn, but I very quickly learned this about my new son. Daniel is like the vernala.the creature that hunts in the deserts, stalking its prey tirelessly for many days and nights until the unfortunate animal is collapses from exhaustion. Daniel pursues his own goals in much the same manner.
We have waited many hours now. Janet has not come to tell us anything, whether this is a good thing, I do not know. O'Neill should rest, his arm is obviously giving him much pain, but he will not sit. He is completely focused on a place none of us may intrude, a place where he gives his strength to Daniel...refuses to accept any other outcome than that Daniel be well. They are all focused so. I have seen this tribe do this before when they worked so hard to bring them all home...I see it now as they sit here together in silence, concentrating their strength on their friend...their brother...beyond the closed doors.
I pull my youngest son closer to me, feeling a measure of hope that the love of these good people will perform the miracle that makes my other son well.
Chapter 37: General George Hammond
All we can do is wait.
After too damn many years in the military, I know a lot about waiting...but I still hate doing it.
We'd all been working toward the goal of bringing our men home for so long...it's still a little hard to accept that we've done it. The silence in the gate room as we all just stared down at Colonel O'Neill and Daniel thundered in my ears. It took us time to register that the furious battle to get them back was over...the storm had passed. Then it hit me...as I'm sure it did so many others...we'd only weathered the first wave.
Now the second front is upon us...and we have to stand fast against it.
Dr. Fraiser finally came out to give us an update on Daniel. It is an abscess, but it's too big and pressing on some pretty vital parts of his brain. They're going to drain it, dose him up with the latest antibiotics and hope for the best. Dr. Fraiser told us the next twelve hours will tell the tale.
Daniel has been asleep since Dr. Fraiser broke up the floor show on the ramp, but she's going to let us in to see him one at a time. I'm trying not to think about why she's doing it...and I for one am not going to use my time to say any goodbyes. Too often in the past we've all given up on Daniel Jackson. No more. We aren't going to let him give up...I can see that determination on every face in this room. We'll hold on...and help him to do the same.
SG1 is doing that silent communication thing again. Fleeting looks, bare hand movements...promises made in silence, sworn on the blood and tears they've shared over three years together as a team. A team in the fullest, richest, most enduring sense of the word. They'll stand together with Daniel, regardless of the outcome...
And, God forbid, if the worst should happen they'll stand with Daniel every moment until the last...and beyond.
I've been watching Kasuf as he sits there holding his son. The man has an amazing capacity for caring...it pours off him in waves. Compassion, concern, strength. His entire body, so still as he embraces Skaara, seems to embrace us all. I'm glad he's here...that he's been here all along. I consider it the highest honor Kasuf calls us his friends, calls Daniel his son.
Son. I always dropped that time-honored term for any man younger than me like a cadet drops the word "sir." But it's more than that now. Just like Kasuf considers his tribe to be his children, the members of the SGC are mine to worry over, to care about, to put back in line when they mess up.
I guess this old Texan can learn a few new tricks.
As Teal'c goes in to visit Daniel, I reach out a hand to Kasuf's shoulder, lending support where I know it is needed and will never be asked for. His eyes smile at me...so wise. He understands what I'm feeling.
We'll see this one through together...one father to another
Chapter 38: Teal'c of SG1, formerly of Chulak
Daniel Jackson looks far too young lying there.
He has always looked so to me, but when he is awake his eyes are so full of wisdom one forgets. I would wish to see his eyes, to see the small smile that would at once lend comfort and reassure. Even should he be dying...even then he would first be concerned for us. His heart is true, has always been so. I cannot think of my life in this place without thinking of Daniel Jackson.
From the moment I felt a tap on my leg and saw the symbol sketched into the dirt by the sad-eyed young man who stood up to Apophis only to be struck down, to the moment Daniel Jackson forgave my grievous transgression against him, to the moment I was forced to kill his beloved...Daniel Jackson has been 'open' to me. He has taught me much of this world, as well as many others. He has taken the time to show me the goodness in the Tau'ri when it appeared to me there was very little. By his example, Daniel Jackson has shown me a path other than that of the warrior. I am not prepared to allow him to falter. I believe there is much yet for him to achieve on that path.
Strange that our divergent lives would come together in this place and time. I had nearly given up hope that my life would change from what it had become as First Prime of Apophis. If it had not been for the strength and determination I witnessed in O'Neill and his group...so much would have been different.
O'Neill, Daniel Jackson...they would have died that day. The Tau'ri would have remained just as much a mystery as they had always been among the Jaffa. I would have continued as I had always done until the day I died in service to the false gods...or killed myself when it all became too difficult to live with any longer. My son would have followed my footsteps down the same road of self-hate and helplessness...
My life would have ended that day though my body lived on.
On a moment's notice, for reasons I have never totally discovered, I made a choice. I have never regretted taking that new path, but I know this road I travel will become much less without Daniel Jackson to share the journey.
I raise a hand to his forehead, willing him to understand the many things I cannot speak.
I smile as my fingers brush back his damp hair realizing he already knows.
Chapter 39: Captain Janet Fraiser, MD
Waiting has never been my strong suit...
As a physician, it's hard enough to wait for test results that hold a person's fate in the balance. As a friend of the patient, it's nearly impossible.
That specialized knowledge I worked so hard to gain gives me a vantage point no one else could possibly share. I know the prognosis, I know the odds, I know all too well what could go wrong, all that could go wrong...
I'm not going to think about those things now...not with the rest of the SGC out there putting every ounce of their energy into positive thoughts. I have to keep believing that...once again...Daniel will defeat the odds.
I've seen him do that so many times, each time making me wonder whether this will be it. The time when he doesn't pull some miracle out of his floppy hat, the time when we finally lose the wonderful spark he brings to our lives, the time I actually have to face the rest of his team with the words I never want to have to say...
I won't say them...not even in the privacy of my own mind.
Daniel can't die.
I reach for another cold compress. He's still so hot. I wish he were awake, I need to see him awake, but the sedatives we gave him to perform the drainage procedure will keep him out for awhile. When he's awake, those eyes provide a comfort all their own. A comfort born of endurance, of survival, of a strength of 'self' and an expansiveness of heart I've rarely had occasion to know in another person. I've come to rely on that comfort...
I thought I'd lost it once after the fiasco with Machello's machines. It was touch and go for a while there, I wondered if Daniel would ever be able to forgive me for my part in that. I should have fought harder to keep him here with us. I shouldn't have let MacKenzie strong-arm me into taking his diagnosis on face value. After all, damn it, I've seen stranger things than that in my time with the SGC...I should at least have suspected something else. But I didn't...and no excuse in the world will ever make up for it.
But he let me off the hook...
It took some time, but he let it go...and worked really hard to get me to do the same.
The whole thing put a strain on Cassandra and I think in the end that was what did it. He couldn't bear to see Cassie hurt by our differences.
That was nothing compared to the hurt she'll feel if he...
Don't think that way, Janet. Cassie is not going to lose her 'Uncle Daniel'...
I won't let her.
Chapter 40: Major Louis Ferretti
I think the colonel's about to crash...
It's hard enough holding everything together after a mission like we just went through. Your brain keeps telling you it's over but your body's still on this major high that keeps all your senses on full alert. On top of it all this time we have the added tension of not knowing what's going on with Daniel...
The colonel's been pacing the floor non-stop ever since the medics tied his arm up. Maybe it's adrenaline still working on him...or maybe just the fact of not wanting to stand still and think about what might happen...
No. That's not how the colonel operates. He doesn't deal with problems by avoiding them. He looks them in the eye and meets them with a conviction I've often envied...at least now he does. Before Abydos it would have been an empty darkness in his eyes, making them glow like embers from hell's own pit...the look that made you want to pull the ragged edges of your soul around what was left of your heart and pray he wasn't aiming that look at you...
I remember the look a lot of people mistakenly referred to as the 'O'Neill cold-ass bastard glare'. Kowalski and I talked about it once, pretty much agreeing there was nothing cold at all about Jack O'Neill...
That look was fire...promising retribution in ways only seen in imagination...or nightmare...
There's still a lot of fire in the colonel's eyes, but now it's more like a fire tempered by feelings he wouldn't let in before. Feelings that didn't exactly die with his son, but definitely got lost for awhile...
Whoa, Ferretti, that's pretty deep even for you...
It's true though.
The colonel O'Neill from four years ago and the one pacing the floor of this room projecting every ounce of spare energy he's got through those doors and into Daniel's room are as far apart as Earth and Abydos...in every way. This Colonel O'Neill is one hell of a guy...and a damn fine friend.
I think the man lying in that room had a hell of a lot to do with that change, more than any of us...even the colonel...ever realized. Daniel doesn't even seem to notice the way people take to him, try to be 'more' around him...he'd laugh at me for even thinking something like that.
Maybe it's just because he's become such a breath of reality among us. Not to say we've forgotten how to be 'human' in that broad metaphysical sense, but without a doubt a lot of us...especially those who've seen combat...tend to misplace that particular trait...and tend to treasure it whenever we do see it.
I just wish...
No. Daniel doesn't need wishes tonight. Instead I try to remember the prayer Mama taught me as soon as I was big enough to realize there was more to the world than just Mama and Daddy and the farm that was my world up until then.
I just hope the Good Shepherd is inclined to let us keep our particular treasure around for awhile...
Chapter 41: Major Samantha Carter
I hate seeing him so still.
Daniel's never still...
I want him to wake up now and be okay. I want him to smile the 'gee, guys, were you really worried about me' smile that never seems able to accept that anyone could possibly spare the time to be worried about him. Daniel's got a hundred different little smiles, almost all of them tainted by a ghost of self-deprecation...a simple lack of understanding of his own worth. Those little smiles alternately cause my heart to break for his sake or to work all the harder to chase those ghosts away.
Goodness knows Daniel's got more than his share of ghosts...
I hate watching his head turn away when emotions get too near the barriers he raised around himself when his parents died, barriers that grew stronger with every subsequent loss. Little by little he's been letting us behind those barriers, but there's still a hint of...something. Something that wants to let go, but is still just too damn reticent to let it happen. Something we've all subconsciously responded to and worked hard to dispel...
Three years ago I went to Abydos expecting to meet the incredible mind that had deciphered the Stargate in a fraction of the time the rest of us had spent scratching our heads over it. Up until that point I think that was all I expected to meet...I'd never stopped to consider the person beneath the intellect...and I distinctly remember feeling a rather superior disgust at the thought of such an obviously brilliant man wasting it all on a primitive planet light-years from Earth.
Then I met him.
Now admittedly I was a little clueless myself at the time. I'd always been so wrapped up in my theories and studies...not to mention proving myself to the Armed Forces good ole boy network...to have much of a social life (not counting Jonas, of course, and I'd really rather not count him at all). But after watching Daniel with his wife and his chosen family, I suddenly understood it all...and quickly discovered the amazing heart that came part and parcel with the package known as Daniel Jackson.
Those first weeks back on Earth put Daniel through a form of hell I had no reference for until my father was captured by Sokar. I only had to survive a few days of the startlingly painful uncertainty Daniel had to cope with for three years.
I don't know how he did it...
The enthusiasm remains only slightly dampened, the wonder barely muted, the openness only mildly tempered by a hard-won caution...the wit has definitely grown an edge but that's as much in response to the colonel's influence as anything else.
Daniel...our conscience, our voice, our friend.
No longer as innocent as he once was...if he ever truly was...facing life with agelessly wise eyes and an openness to all the wonders of the universe made all the more miraculous for the things he's had to survive. We need that wonder, that reminder to look at all sides of the equation...
I brush a hand through the scruff of bangs across his forehead thinking it possibly seems a little cooler than it had been when I first came in...
C'mon, Daniel, keep fighting and come back to us.
Chapter 42: Colonel Jack O'Neill
I need you to wake up here, Daniel...
Doc's almost ready to shoot me full of the same stuff she gave you and dump me in the next bed. Hell, it's just a staff burn. We both know we can keep going with one of these...not much fun, but with enough of a reason...
Don't care one bit for this reason, Danny...
Doc says even if---after tonight-- you'll have to stay on antibiotics for a month or so, but you could go back to work in a couple of weeks. We'll find us a couple of nice safe, deserted temples and let you dig to your heart's content. Hell, I'll even grab one of those little trowel things and help...for a while, at least...
I think I'd give every cent of my retirement to see your eyes light up over some incomprehensible marks on the wall. Hell, just to see your eyes open in something other than pain or fever...or fear.
You're good at hiding it, you know. The fear. But I've learned how to read those eyes and I know just how scared you really were back there when Heru'ur grabbed you, scared for us as much as yourself. I can't believe you did that, buddy. You are definitely going to be tops on his hit list for a while...you know how those guys like to hold on to grudges. Don't worry about it, though, we'll be around to back you up...just like always. Just like you're always around to back us up.
It's what we do, right?
It's what we've worked so hard to learn to do...and dammit you are not backing out on us, you hear me? We're finally getting to the point where we're getting this teamwork thing...this friendship thing...down pat and I'll be damned in a dozen hells before I let you go now.
It is just not happening.
C'mon, Daniel, give me a little sign here. You know how much I despise waiting around for you to get to stuff in your own good time...it's a flaw on my part and I'm honestly working on it, but I need something to hang on to here. I don't know how much longer I can keep holding on here without you to back me up. We have to fight this together...kinda hard to do with you off in Doc's drug induced o-zone. She says you need it and I guess she's right, but...
I sound pretty stupid here, don't I? But you're used to that by now. You know what I'm trying to say anyway, you've gotten pretty good at deciphering O'Neill-speak...Guess that's why you're the linguist, huh?
I'm just trying to say, I need you, my friend...and you are my friend, you know that, right? The best kind of friend...You don't give in to me and my moods, and somehow you don't make me feel like a total ass when you do it...that's a hell of a gift all by itself. You stand by me through a lot of shit, a lot of which I tend to dish out personally...but you see under all of it and try to find me. You don't try to change me, except by damn fine example...and I do appreciate the fact you realize that tactic wouldn't work real well with me. Lot of work, aren't I?
I think I'm learning just how much work goes into being a friend...not that I'm complaining, you understand. Just realizing there's more to friendship than beer and pizza and a game on t.v. It takes time and commitment and sometimes just a simple willingness to be around, even when you're complaining you don't need a babysitter. I'm not your babysitter, Daniel...although you do look damn awful young lying there like that...I'm just your friend...first, last and always. Some things are definitely worth the effort.
C'mon, Danny, we've still got work to do 'out there'...
I'm not saying we can't do it without you...but it'd sure be a hell of a lot less fun. You know Teal'c doesn't understand my sense of humor, Carter...well...I think they removed her funny bone at the Pentagon. At least you give me the eyebrow-wince thing...and, admit it, I've seen you smile now and again. Really, I know you do.
Just like you are right now...
Chapter 43: Dr. Daniel Jackson
I feel like I've been floating for a very long time...
A peek upwards confirms I'm in the infirmary...why am I not surprised...?
The abscess, Janet said something about draining it...
Yeah, I remember that part...
I remember her voice as she put me out, and other voices...after...
People talking to me. Not letting me go too far...
It felt good, anchoring...
He's sitting over there mumbling to himself, something about his sense of humor...
What sense of humor, Jack?
He looks pretty rough, I'm surprised Janet's letting him hang around...
I guess she might have had more reason to let him stay...
That's a creepy thought.
Jack's still over there mumbling, but I can't seem to find the energy to let him know he's got an audience.
Hey, big guy, over here. Archaeologist? Bed?
He looks up finally and I smile at him...sort of. It feels like I'm smiling anyway...
Jack's voice sounds raw...like he's been too quiet for too long. That's never good where Jack's concerned. I try to force some sound out of my own throat, but it just comes out as a breath with a "J" at the beginning...
Jack smiles anyway, reaching a glass and straw to my lips.
"A little dry there?" Jack's eyes are looking deeper than just the surface, like he's trying to fathom something even he isn't sure of.
I nod thanks to him for the water, and try again. "Okay?"
I'm not sure if I'm asking if he's okay, I'm okay...or just things in general, but he seems to understand.
"I'm better now," he smiles. "You?" His hand touches my forehead. "Actually you feel cooler...I should get Doc..."
He starts to get up, but I reach up to grab his arm before he can get out of range.
"What's wrong, Daniel?" His eyes are on me again.
I shake my head, trying to put a lot of things into words my brain isn't quite ready to process. I can feel moisture in my eyes, emotions threatening to spill over when my words can't...
Jack sighs, a deep cleansing sound and his hand touches my cheek with a brief tap. "It's okay, Daniel. I hear you..."
Chapter 44: Skaara of Abydos
Daniel is going to recover.
Dr. Fraiser sounds almost joyful as she comes out of the room to tell us. She is a very small woman, and is likely well practiced in the ways of Daniel's friends...as soon as she says this, she moves quickly out of the doorway.
It is impossible not to want to go to Daniel...to see for ourselves that he is returned to us.
He is lying there in the small bed, looking paler than I ever recall seeing him and his eyes are shadowed, but no longer reflect pain. He is smiling a little, but has no strength to do more than raise a hand in greeting.
Father is watching Daniel's friends, a smile in his eyes at their apprehensive silence, finally stepping forward to gently embrace Daniel.
"I am happy to see you well, good son." Father's voice is soft, as befits a sickroom, but infinitely expressive.
Daniel returns the embrace weakly, his hand lingering a moment, speaking much with his eyes. Father smiles, tears threatening, and steps away.
The others follow Father's example, stepping to Daniel's side for a few whispered words and a moment's touch to reassure themselves of his continued presence. Major Carter kisses Daniel's forehead lightly, leaning down to whisper something about his smile. Teal'c, massive in his presence most of the time, gently touches Daniel's hand, not speaking...yet something is shared. Ferretti smiles broadly, eyes gleaming, but cannot seem to find sufficient words. General Hammond speaks quietly of family...and a long talk they must have later.
Finally it is my turn, I have no words for the fear I have felt for Daniel through all of this...no words could express it all. My thoughts turn to my life since being taken from Abydos, my feelings of aloneness and hopelessness. There is only one thing I feel compelled to say to Daniel at this moment.
"I love you, my brother."
Daniel's blinks at me, eyes filling quickly as I move to embrace him firmly. His arms grasp me weakly and his eyes move to O'Neill, a silent request evident even to me. As I move to step away, O'Neill moves beside me, one long arm bringing me close sheltering me in a strength I have not felt in myself for a very long time.
When I look again, Daniel is asleep.
Dr. Fraiser herds us from the room with the force of her flashing eyes...she has a very strong personality for one so small. As we move into the room we have waited in so long, I watch O'Neill and his team gather together in the corner. Without speaking, they lean into one another, O'Neill's arm going around Teal'c's shoulder, Teal'c's hands touching Major Carter's arm. It seems to me they are communing in some way known only to them...reaffirming their friend is alive, is still a vital part of what they...together...have become. Daniel has found a home here. A good home with good people and a purpose he cares for greatly.
When he is well I will return to my home. I cannot return to my former life, I have learned too much of the immensity of evil that lies beyond the suns of Abydos. I cannot rest while they destroy so many lives. Somehow, I will find a means to help fight them...and then I, my father, my brother and his tribe shall indeed be free.