Jackfic Fiction Archive Story

 

The Journal

by Frizzelly


Doctor MacKenzie has given us this journal to record our thoughts and feelings about the Errinious mission, since no one is willing to talk about it.  The rules are that you can write as much or as little as you want, about whatever you want, but you can’t lie.  Oh, and everyone is entitled and encouraged to read what everyone else has written.

 

It’s a common enough diagnostic tool. Psychologists often use it to gain an understanding of events that patients are incapable of discussing with them directly.  I’ve even used it myself when I did my psych training as an intern.

 

I’ve never had it used on me before though.

 

I had to volunteer to go first to show my faith in the medical profession.  Wouldn’t look very good would it, if the doctor in the group refused to participate in the therapy?  Not surprisingly, it’s much harder when you’re the one on the metaphorical couch, though. 

 

There is no question in my mind that we have to do this.  At the moment, there isn’t an SG1 at all and won’t be if we don’t fix things.  And everybody from General Hammond to Peggy in the commissary knows damn well that what affects SG1 affects the whole SGC.

 

So we need to fix things.  To do that, we need to talk about what happened.  Which brings me back to the journal – and me.

 

Jack can’t talk right now.  Teal’c never talks much.  Sam is trying too hard to be the good air force officer, feeling the weight of being 2IC with Jack being………………..

 

Well.  Not quite ready to go there yet.

 

Daniel, well poor Daniel is like a ticking time bomb now.  He’s been keeping everything in, holding so tight to his control that he is in danger of bursting at the seams.  And he’s so afraid of adding to the pain and misery of this whole nightmare that he won’t, can’t let go.

 

So, for the third time, here we are with you Janet ol’ girl.  Time to stop dancing around the issue and actually talk don’t you think.

 

Errinious.

 

A beautiful planet with friendly, peace loving locals, tropical temperatures and trees with a little blue, cherry shaped fruit that just might be the biggest thing in medicine since penicillin.

 

SG4 brought them back and I sent them for the usual routine tests.  About a month later, the lab boys rang up in absolute delirium.  Seemed the little blue fruit had all the makings of being a cure for cancer – all cancer, no matter how far advanced.  Killed off the cancerous cells in rats like water dissolving a sugar cube.  Twenty four hours – no sign of cancer!

 

Needless to say this was big.  We needed to perform tests, we needed more samples, we needed to negotiate access to supply.

 

I wanted to go to the planet myself.   Hammond told me in no uncertain terms my place was here on base.

 

Normally, I’d agree with that.  But this was just too important.  Someone with a medical background needed to go to Errinious and I was the most experienced person with the requisite clearances.

 

It took a long time, but finally Hammond conceded and I found myself getting ready to go off world.  I’ve done it a few times before but always when there was some kind of medical emergency.  I’ve always been focused on the symptoms reported to me, what drugs I needed to take, what treatments I’d try first.  Usually I grabbed my medical supplies and left the rest of the stuff to others.

 

This time there was none of that pressure and I realized I didn’t have a clue what to take with me.

 

I was standing, glancing around my office waiting for inspiration to strike when Sam came in.  I told her if it wasn’t a medical emergency she’d need to see Dr Warner because I was already running late for a mission.

 

“I know,” she said, “the Colonel sent me to look for you.”

 

“The Colonel?”  I was a bit slow on the uptake but eventually it dawned.  “You mean SG1 is going on this mission?”

 

“Yep and you’re now… three minutes late and the Colonel hates to be kept waiting.”

 

As she spoke, Sam was repacking my field pack, fitting an astounding amount of stuff into an amazingly compact bundle.

 

I couldn’t get over the fact that I was going off world with SG1.  I had assumed the General would have given the job of being my escort to one of the newer teams – it was after all a milk run.

 

Then I groaned.  O’Neill hated milk runs.  He hated scientists.  And he hated to be kept waiting.

 

Boy, wasn’t I just going to be his favorite person!

 

Sam led me to the Gate room at a full run.  To my surprise, O’Neill didn’t say a word, just turned to the General and offered him the trademark flick that constituted an O’Neill salute before leading his team – and me – up the ramp.  At the top he gestured them ahead while he stopped and waited for me.  “Glad you could join us, Doc,” he said, before waving me through.

 

I glared at him but bit my tongue.  After all, he was my commanding officer this time out, not my patient.  The grin he flashed me in return showed me he recognized that and intended to make the most of it.  I had a sudden sinking feeling this wasn’t going to be a fun mission after all.

 

And, as if that isn’t an understatement.  Nothing in my worst nightmares could have led me to imagine a mission like this one.

 

Come on Jack, you have to live.  More than just your life depends on this one.  SG1 need you.  StarGate Command needs you.  And I really, really need you to be ok.  So, take your time if you need to, but don’t you dare leave us.

 

Samantha Carter

 

I’ve uh read Janet’s entry.  I understand that’s ok.  That we can read what others have written before us.

 

I can kind of see Janet’s point.  This is easier than talking about what happened. I can’t … won’t do that.  But it’s still hard.

 

I’m writing this sitting next to the Colonel’s bedside.  He's still unconscious.  Critical condition Janet says.  What a word…critical. 

 

He has so many tubes and wires attached to him.  And he is so very pale.  Whiter almost than the sheets he is lying on.  This is the worst I’ve seen him injured in the four years I’ve been his second in command.  Worse even than Antarctica.  And I was as much help to him this time as I was then…

 

Ah, screw it. 

 

Look, all I wanted to record here is that the Colonel didn’t draw the short straw in getting this rescue mission.  He insisted on it as soon as he heard Dr Fraiser was going off world.

 

General Hammond wanted to assign it to the new guys – SG14 – but the Colonel insisted.  Told the General it had taken him four years to “train ol’ Doc Fraiser” and he didn’t want to have to break in a new doc if SG14 lost her; which everyone who reads this will know is O’Neill-ese for caring and affection.  Not many people get that close to the Colonel, Janet – I just thought you should know.

 

Janet Fraiser

 

The journal has sat on the desk for a day and a half now and on one has written in it except for that brief piece by Sam.

 

The Colonel requested the mission, huh?  That’s ….. nice.  And believe me Sam, I’m only too conscious of what an honor it is to be admitted into the select circle of people O’Neill calls friend.

 

Those first few nights we spent on Errinious were among the most enjoyable of my adult life.

 

The orchards containing the cancer killing berry (so named by Colonel O'Neill, of course) – called Chaar by the locals – were about a day’s walk from the StarGate.  O’Neill set a swift pace and we had set up camp on the outskirts of the farms before night fell.

 

We decided to let the farmers know we were there in the morning, so we sat back, lit a fire and relaxed.

 

Daniel and Sam were discussing the MALP readings while O’Neill threw together what the team gleefully told me was called an “MRE stew”.  Teal’c stood silent sentinel on the perimeter of the camp.

 

The stew was ….. interesting.  Not really much better than a stand alone MRE but not worse either.

 

I was watching the interaction between the members of SG1.  They had everything down to a very comfortable routine.

 

At some stage, Sam and Daniel’s conversation had shifted to wormhole physics and I'd understood less than one word in ten.  I stood and went looking for Colonel O’Neill, intending to get a feel for how he saw the next few days panning out.  Instead, I'd found myself lurking unseen behind a tree, watching as O’Neill tried to show Teal’c how to do a slap shot using a tree branch as a hockey stick and a big flat rock as a puck.

 

The two of them looked like they were having a lot of fun.  O’Neill’s face was animated and he flung his hands around a lot as he instructed Teal’c.  Teal’c was a study in concentration but when he finally connected with a rock and sent it skimming about 100 feet into the darkness he turned to O’Neill with the first real smile I have ever seen on his face and said, “I believe I’ve found the sweet spot now, O’Neill.”

 

O’Neill chuckled out loud and patted the big man on the shoulder.  “Oh yeah,” he said.

 

This mission was to be one of epiphanies for me and just then the first hit me.  O’Neill and Teal’c were friends.  Not just team mates, not just colleagues thrown together by fate, not even just warriors with a common cause but actual hang-out-in-front-of-the-tv, discuss-their-personal-lives friends.  I wonder how many people Teal’c has been able to call friend in his long, eventful lifetime.

 

If Jack should……………. No!  Dammit.  I won’t even write that possibility, won’t think it.  He’ll be fine. 

 

Think I’ll go check on him.

 

Daniel Jackson

 

If Jack should die?  Is that what you were going to write, Janet?  If after all the goddamned torture and the nightmare trip back to the Gate, he should just decide it’s too damned hard to fight and just give up?

 

That’s what you’re not writing, not thinking about?  Well, half your luck because it’s all I think about every second of every fucking day.

 

As for this journal, what do you want to hear?  That it’s all my fault?  That I'm responsible for putting Jack in that infirmary?  That I'm responsible for him hovering on the edge of death?  That I should never have gotten us into the situation?  That I should have found a way to stop it?  Ok.  I admit it.  Am I cured now?  Hallelujah – it’s a goddamned miracle.

 

The Journal

by Frizzelly

 

Part 2 of 13 – see Part 0 for warnings etc.

 

Samantha Carter

 

Daniel none of this was your fault.  Whatever happens you need to believe that.

 

Janet Fraiser

 

Dear, dear Daniel, Sam’s right you know.  This wasn’t your fault.

 

You were tortured every bit as much as the Colonel was and you’ve got it worse now because we’re all focused on him instead of you.

 

Your friendship with Jack didn’t hit me as an epiphany, like Jack’s with Teal’c.  You were friends with Jack O’Neill long before I came on base.  Your friendship with him has been one of the few constants in the ever-shifting world that is the SGC.  That’s not to say it isn’t still a source of constant wonder to me.  That two men so very, very different should have become so close.

 

You no doubt think that both having lost family tragically; having lived through the first trip through the StarGate together has formed the basis of your friendship.  But shared loss is no basis for a lasting friendship.  What you two have is something much more remarkable.  Underneath the two very different surfaces, I think you are two souls that speak to each other.  That sounds kind of corny and I won’t write any more about it, but hold onto it in the days and weeks ahead, Daniel, as you and Jack heal together.

 

Samantha Carter

 

OK, I can’t stand sitting and staring at the terrible, still form in the infirmary bed any more.  I can’t stand listening to every beep of the heart monitor, watching every spike on the EEG, hoping for some sign of consciousness, some sign the Colonel is still in there, still fighting.  Besides MacKenzie’s been on my back.  I’ll give this journal thing a try.

 

The second and third days on the planet passed peacefully enough.  Even once we’d established that the Errinians were perfectly friendly and willing to discuss terms with us, the Colonel insisted on escorting the doctor each day to her meeting with Farm Owner Menscher, the lead farmer of the Errinian, a courtly old gentleman with exquisite manners and a ready smile.  God forbid we should ever accuse the Colonel of being protective, even if the man is like a mother hen.

 

Daniel went along too, to negotiate terms and learn more about the Errinians.  Teal’c and I roamed the area round our campsite colleting as much data as we could on the planet.  It was nice.  Long, pleasant, warm days.  Just the kind of routine mission that drives the Colonel mad.

 

Things fell apart on our fourth day.   I had last watch but well before dawn Janet had joined me.  She said she was still so thrilled with being on another planet that she couldn’t sleep. And Errinious had a magnificent sunrise, the sky filled with all shades of lilac, blue and green, the light diffraction through the atmosphere slightly different to that on Earth.

 

Soon Teal’c was awake and the Colonel, always an early riser, had put on the coffee.  Only Daniel slumbered on.

 

The Colonel had a wicked gleam in his eye and I wondered what poor Daniel was in for.

 

When I saw the Colonel head to the stream with a bucket I realized ruefully that  he had settled for an old, tried but true method.  Holding the bucket, he approached poor Daniel.

 

“Rise and shine, Danny,” he said.  I’ll give him that much, he always gives Daniel a chance to get up on his own.  But then again, since he knows how Daniel will respond it’s probably no concession.

 

“Mmm…….. away,”  muttered Daniel.

 

Jack now raised the bucket above the sleepy archeologist.

 

“Sam, he wouldn’t!”  Janet whispered next to me.

 

“Oh yes he would,” I replied.

 

“Frequently,”  Teal’c added.

 

“Doctor Jackson, as an anthropologist-type person, you would probably know how the Indiba tribe on P4T-616 teach young warriors not to sleep on the job, wouldn’t you?”  Jack asked matter-of-factly.

 

He began to tilt the bucket of icy water.  Daniel obviously did know the Indiba method for he started to scramble up.  “What? No, Jack.  You….”  The rest was lost in the deluge that landed on his head and ran into his mouth, leaving Daniel gasping and spitting and looking a lot like a recently landed fish.

 

When he could finally speak, Daniel was furious.  “Dammit Jack, why can’t you act your age and wake me up like a normal person?”

 

“Because normal people don’t have the reflexes of a three toed sloth, Danny-boy.  Besides, I did call you once.”

 

“Well I hope you got your thrills, Jack.”

 

“Daniel, like I said, it’s a survival skill.  What if I’d been a Jaffa?”

 

“Jack, I sincerely doubt a Jaffa would sneak up and pour a bucket of water on my head.  That sort of schoolboy humor is reserved strictly for air force Colonels who have never grown up.”  And with that Daniel crawled into his tent signaling the conversation was over.

 

Unrepentant, the Colonel shrugged and strolled over to the fire and poured a cup of coffee for himself and one for Daniel.

 

Janet was staring at him as if he had grown another head.   Teal’c had that tolerant look he gets when the Colonel’s at his worst – kind of like, your conduct is unbecoming a warrior but it would be undignified of me even to mention it.

 

Before long Daniel was out of his tent and drawn to the coffee in Jack’s hand like a bee to honey.

 

“Thanks,” he said, taking it and inhaling the rich aroma before swallowing about half the mug in one go.

 

“No problem,” the Colonel replied nonchalantly.  It was as if the dunking incident had never happened.

 

“How do you know about the Indiba anyway?”  Daniel asked,

 

“I read SG9’s report,” the Colonel said, poking his tongue out at Daniel’s incredulous stare.  Like I said, a normal morning for SG1.  Boys will be boys.

 

It was just before Janet, Daniel and the Colonel were due to set off for another meeting with Farm Owner Menscher that things started to go wrong.

 

Teal’c heard it first and tensed, grabbing his staff weapon.  I turned to ask him what was wrong but by then I’d heard it too.

 

A death glider.

 

“Sir?”  I began, but the Colonel overrode me.

 

“Into cover everyone, quick.”

 

Damn!  Severe flashback then.  I could hear it all over again – our desperate scramble into the tree cover, the silent wait, hoping they wouldn’t notice our campsite, the Colonel’s curse when they did, turning to fly over it twice.

 

We laid perfectly still until the death glider left, presumably to return to whatever Goa’uld mothership had chosen this time and place to set down.

 

Of all the damned, bad, rotten, stinking, stupid … typical SG1 luck.

 

Anyway, we waited till the death glider disappeared.

 

Then we booked.

 

And we ran and ran and ran and made it safely back to the Gate – tired but happy and we all lived happily ever after.

 

Teal’c

 

I do not understand this Tauri custom of recording thoughts and feelings.  But Dr MacKenzie and Dr Fraiser say it will help SG1, so for that reason I will try.

 

I do understand Major Carter’s wish that things had not occurred in the way that they did.  And yet, look over the events of the last week as I may, I cannot find a place where we could have done anything differently.  From the time that the death glider appeared until O'Neill collapsed in front of the Stargate, we did the best and only tings that we could. 

 

You are right Doctor Fraiser, when you say O’Neill is my friend.  But he is also much more than that.

 

Since I have joined the Tauri, I find I can enter Kel-no-reem without fear of the visions awaiting me there.  I no longer have a constant bellyache from the things I have had to do that day.

 

In four years as my commanding officer, O’Neill has never asked me to do anything that has bothered my conscience.  He saved my soul.  I am grateful for his friendship but for giving me back my soul, for helping me begin to redeem myself, for my salvation, he has my undying loyalty and gratitude.  To meditate without waking in a cold sweat, to feel entitled to smile and enjoy life, I wonder if he knows what a gift that is.

 

He knows.

 

Sometimes a smell or a sound or a place trigger recollections for him and I see the horror and disgust on his face.  Like me, he has little liking for some of the things done by his younger self.

 

He is restless now.  Dr Fraiser says he as a fever.  She says it is to be expected but there is fear in her eyes.

 

Janet Fraiser

 

What a night.

 

You were right Teal’c that I was more worried than I let on.  With the Colonel’s wounds untreated as they were for far too long, infection was almost guaranteed.

 

The Colonel’s temperature spiked rapidly and he got very restless and aggressive.  Restraints were out of the question.  Jack was never actually truly conscious but the thought of him waking up to find himself tied down was unthinkable.  Teal’c and I sat with him, keeping him still, cooling his face, talking to him.  Eventually, Sam and Daniel found their way to his side, as they always do and took his hands in theirs.

 

It was a long, long, night but the fever finally broke an hour or two ago.  I’ve sent the rest of SG1 off to bed.  Disturbingly, they went without speaking or looking at each other, all eyes down despondent.  I’ll go myself just as soon as I’m happy the Colonel’s temperature won’t soar again.

 

Meanwhile, guess I can write some more about what happened on the planet.

 

I was musing as we breakfasted on that fourth day that Daniel was a better man than me.  No way, if I’d had a bucket of icy cold water poured on my head, would I be ready to forgive and forget ten minutes later.

 

Sam and Teal’c, however, were acting like this was something that happened fairly frequently.  So I bit my tongue and prepared to label it in my head as a “boy thing” or actually a “Jack thing” and joined with the rest of them in pretending it hadn’t happened.

 

In fact, the only person not ignoring the whole thing was Jack, who was insufferably pleased with himself.

 

There was no sense of impending danger, no weird vibe, nothing to suggest things were about to go so badly wrong.

 

I didn’t even notice Teal’c or Sam tense up.  One minute I was reaching for my pack, the next Jack was telling us all to get into cover.

 

When I didn’t move fast enough he put a hand on my back and shoved me in the right direction.

 

Only when I was lying on my belly behind a small ridge where the clearing ended and the forest began did I understand why we were hiding.

 

A death glider.  Which meant Jaffa. Which meant Goa’uld.

 

Shit.

 

When the glider spotted our camp, Jack swore savagely.  When it finally disappeared from view he said,  “Our one chance is to try and beat them to the Gate.  If they don’t have a heavy force there we might be able to get through.  Stay in the cover of the trees and move quietly.  Teal’c, watch our six.”

 

And then we were off.   My heart was pounding so hard I could barely hear anything around me.  I found myself starting at every sound, breath rasping out in short pants.

 

Around me SG1 were calmly professional.  Daniel eased up next to me and put a hand on my shoulder.  “Relax,” he whispered, “Jack’s very, very good at his job.”

 

I smiled - well, it probably looked more like I was baring my teeth at him - grateful for his thoughtful gesture more than the words.

 

It took us about five hours to get to the Gate.  God, Sam, I wish things had turned out like you said.  We ran for the Gate. We made it home safe and sound.  But we didn’t.  Instead, the Gate was being guarded by a couple of units of heavily armed, highly alert Jaffa.  Once again, Jack demonstrated his mastery of creative cursing before we melted back into the bush.

 

I’ll stop there.  It’s awfully close to bed time and I've already got enough nightmares without reliving the events through this journal as my final thought for the day.

 

The Journal

by Frizzelly

 

Part 3 of 13 – see Part 0 for warnings etc.

 

 

Daniel Jackson

 

Two broken fingers, a broken wrist, a dislocated shoulder, two cracked ribs and a fractured cheekbone.  A stab wound to the upper right shoulder, a cut that needed 15 stitches from scalp line to left eyebrow.  A moderate concussion.  Severe lacerations to both wrists.  And whatever the hell it is that the pain stick does to you apart from leaving you in quivering agony.

 

Samantha Carter

 

I’ve been Jack O’Neill’s second in command for four years now.  In terms of soldiering, he’s taught me everything I know.

 

I came to him as green as could be.  I cringe when I remember how cocky I was, my arrogant words at our first meeting - “I clocked over 100 hours in enemy air space.”   What I didn’t know then was that while I was flying overhead the Colonel was getting up close and personal with the enemy in the worst possible way and if there’s anything I’ve learnt over the past 4 years it’s that meeting the enemy head on, on their territory, takes a very special kind of courage. 

 

The Colonel has it in spades.  So does Teal’c.  Together they’ve taught Daniel and me.

 

When we saw that the Gate had been surrounded, the Colonel gave the signal to retreat and we pulled back into the bush.

 

Once safely out of earshot of the Jaffa, we gathered together for a hasty conference.  “Way I see it, our only option is to hide out in the forest somewhere and hope they lose interest,” Jack said.

 

“Why would they?”  Daniel asked.

 

“Well, why not?  I mean, they’ve no reason to know who that campsite belonged to, do they?  Presumably they’ll do whatever dark side stuff they’ve come here to do and then book it back to the mothership.  Right?”

 

“I do not think we can sit and wait O’Neill.  A Goa’uld would not normally bring a Ha’tak to a planet unless he had an intention of remaining for some time,” Teal’c disagreed.

 

“OK, we’ll wait until we’re overdue and Hammond sends a MALP to check on us.  Use the distraction to take out the Goa’uld at the Gate.”

 

“Sir, that’s four days away,”  I said. 

 

“I do not believe we can avoid the Goa’uld for so long,” Teal’c intoned.  “They are aware someone is present.”

 

“Colonel, what about Farm Owner Menscher and his people?  They have no way of defending themselves against a Goa’uld and they have been very kind to us,”  Janet put her two cents worth in.

 

“I know that Doc, but we’re a little outnumbered here.”

 

“Jack, if Janet’s berry really does hold the key to curing cancer and who knows what other medical advances we have a duty to try and get some samples home.  If the Goa’uld are setting up here we mightn’t get another chance.”

 

Seriously frustrated, the Colonel turned from constantly searching the forest with his eyes to focus on Daniel.  “Daniel, you were looking at the same Stargate as me, weren't you?  The one surrounded by great honking squads of Jaffa.”

 

I spoke.  “Sir, Daniel’s right.  If some Goa’uld is about to set up camp here, this might be our only chance to get some of those berries home.  They’ve seen our campsite.  They’re not just going to sit around and wait for us.”

 

I saw the mulish look come over the Colonel’s face.  He’s never been one to need or respect subordinates who kowtow to his every whim, but all the same he hates it when we all tell him he has to do something he really doesn’t want to do.  And he especially hates situations that put his team in danger.

 

I remember getting up one morning on one of our first missions and trying to sneak off to take care of business.  It can really suck being the only female on the team sometimes.  Anyway, I was a couple of hundred yards from our campsite when I was grabbed from behind.  Someone had a tight grip around my waist and one hand over my mouth. 

 

I kicked out and wriggled, struggling in vain to get free and only realized it was my CO when he hissed in my ear, “Where the hell do you think you’re going?”

 

I was already convinced he had a chip on his shoulder about me being female and I was furious that I hadn’t even heard him come up behind me, so my response wasn’t exactly out of the air force training manual.  “With all due respect, sir,” I said in a tone indicating clearly that that meant none, “it’s none of your damn business.”

 

He let go of my waist and spun me around and I saw for the first time that he was furious.  “Everything that happens to this team is my business, Captain.  You want to leave he campsite, you tell the person on watch.  Every single time.  Is that clear?”

 

He’s only ever pulled the full military colonel mode on me a few times over the years and this was the first.  It’s terrifying enough when you watch it from the outside – it’s thoroughly and completely intimidating when you’re the subject.

 

“Yes sir,” I said, looking him in the eye to let him know I meant it.

 

He held my eye for a long moment, before finally relaxing, obviously satisfied with what he saw.  With a sharp nod he released me from attention, then, irrepressibly O’Neill again, said, “Watch out for poison ivy, Carter.  You wouldn’t want Teal’c to have to rub you down with chamomile lotion.”

 

I know this journal isn’t meant to be about reminiscing, that we’re supposed to talk about what happened on the planet, but it’s hard.

 

Really, really hard.

 

Janet Fraiser

 

Back on shift and the Colonel’s temperature is still down.  A good sign at last.

 

Daniel’s sitting with him, a study in dejection.  I feel like I should do more for him but he’s taken to disappearing whenever anyone else is around.  There’s only one person who can help shift him out of the guilt and anger he’s wallowing in anyway.  Hurry up and wake up, Jack.

 

I see Sam’s written some more.  I remember that morning well.  There we were in the forest cut off from the Gate by a squad or more of Jaffa, the Goa’uld alerted to our presence and Daniel, Sam and I arguing that we really, really needed to get some Chaar berries back to Earth and suddenly I was struck by a second epiphany.

 

Jack took his cap off and scrubbed his gloved hand through his short grey hair.  He chewed on his lower lip as he stared into the distance, obviously sorting through our limited options.

 

And I suddenly realized, this man had the weight of the world on his shoulders.  Literally.

 

Oh, intellectually, I’ve always known Jack has a high stress job.  Travelling to other planets, tripping across all kinds of surprises, often of the not very good for your health variety, engaged in active duty.  Commander of the elite SG1 and second in command of the SGC.  I treat him (as far as he will let me) for all the expected symptoms – headache, sleeplessness, bellyaches, flashbacks, occasional mood swings.

 

But standing in that forest watching as he decided what our next move would be – how to get the team and a possibly revolutionary cure back home, how to protect our colleagues back on Earth, I realized that this man made decisions every day that affected whole planets.  Whatever Sam, Daniel and Teal’c ultimately advised or argued for, Jack made the final decision.  I knew them all well enough to realize they would abide by that decision, whatever it was.

 

And I knew Jack well enough to realize he would never forgive himself if he got it wrong.

 

A crushing responsibility.  An awesome power in the wrong hands.  A terrible burden to place on one man.

 

When Jack gets over his injuries I’m going to start reading between the lines in mission reports.  “We decided to make a run for the Gate,” sounds so innocuous when all the members of SG1 are alive and healthy in front of you.  If this mission has taught me anything, it’s that no decision made by a commander of an SG unit is ever innocuous.

 

So.

 

We decided to make a run for the Gate. 

 

Complete with a stack of Chaar berries.  It wasn’t that simple of course.  First we needed to get some Chaar berries.  And there was that pesky squad of Jaffa to consider.

 

Jack, Sam and Teal’c planned for ages.

 

Finally, it was decided that Sam, Daniel and I would wait near the Gate while Jack and Teal’c headed over to Farm Owner Menscher’s and retrieved some berries.  While Jack and Teal’c were gone, we would set some traps for the Jaffa.    Then we would try to lead them into the forest and hopefully, into our lethal traps.  While confusion reigned, Daniel would dial.  The others would cover him.  Then it would be home for all of us.

 

Easy.

 

Yeah, right.

 

Teal’c

 

From the second I had heard the death glider approach I had known we were in a life and death situation.  O’Neill knew it too.  We had had to make the run for the Gate – it would have been foolhardy not to, but even with his brand of blind optimism O’Neill hadn’t really expected to find it unguarded.

 

So we found ourselves trapped on an alien planet, cut off from our only escape route by an enemy more numerous than us, who knew we were out there.  It is almost impossible to imagine a worse tactical situation.  Outnumbered, outgunned, cut off and without the element of surprise.

 

What do the Tauri do?   Daniel Jackson, Samantha Carter and Doctor Fraiser argue for us to get their miracle cure home to the people of Earth.   None of them gave a thought to their own safety and they were all experienced enough to recognize the situation for what it was.

 

Such self sacrifice is a gift.  It is what will allow the Tauri to prevail over the Goa’uld.  The Goa’uld will never have an answer for such people.  They are humanity’s greatest hope.

 

Daniel Jackson, I wish you were not suffering as you are now.  But I also know that your compassion, your empathy make you what you are, is your strength even as it is your weakness.

 

I know you will not forgive yourself until O'Neill himself wakes up and tells you it was not your fault, but, in the meantime, consider this.

 

Jack O’Neill listened to you and Janet Fraiser and Samantha Carter and agreed with your plan because, if it worked, it offered the best possible outcome.  And also because, in reality, no plan was going to make any difference.  Our capture or deaths was only a matter of time.  Our campsite had been seen.  Our run to the Gate would be tracked.  Our supplies were limited.  O’Neill knew all of that.

 

I know, because I saw it in his eyes.  Even if I hadn’t, I would still know it.  O’Neill may like to play the fool but he is a consummate tactician.  He would never delude himself about the situation.

 

When we headed to Farm Owner Menscher’s, O’Neill was already preparing himself for a worst case scenario.  If you had not alerted the Jaffa, something else would have.

 

This way, perhaps the natives of Errinious will remember your actions and learn about courage and self sacrifice.  Perhaps one day they will be able to rise and throw off the Goa’uld.

 

Janet Fraiser

 

Before I joined the SCG, I had only ever fired a gun on a rifle range as part of my air force training.  Then came Hathor.  All the women of the base carried weapons that day.  And fired them.  When I shot at Hathor and her Jaffa I was trying to save the SGC and I shot to kill.  Luckily, in the end I did not have to kill anyone.

 

Before he headed off, Colonel O'Neill handed me his sidearm. 

 

I guess it’s kind of cowardly, I respect Jack O’Neill and all the SGC teams and I know the Goa’uld would wipe us from the planet if we didn’t fight them with everything we have, but I don’t want to kill with my own hands.  I have spent my whole life a healer, I don’t know if I could go on if the same hands I use to heal had also taken a life.

 

How can I condone what the SGC teams do and yet not be prepared to do it myself?  Hypocritical? Perhaps.

 

So we’ve established that I’m a coward and a hypocrite.  What a breakthrough.  This journal is doing wonders for my self esteem.

 

Anyway, what I was going to say was that when Jack O’Neill unholstered his sidearm and handed it to me, I was suddenly struck with the reality of our situation for the first time.

 

Teal’c, you give me too much credit when you say I argued for getting home with the Chaar berries without regard for my own life.  The fact is it had not occurred to me that we wouldn’t make it home.  After all, it’s an unwritten rule that SG1 always make it home.

 

Not always with a spring in their step and a song on their lips, but definitely home.

 

Something in the matter of fact way Jack handed me his gun, without quite meeting my eyes made me realize he didn’t share my blind optimism this time.

 

I’d been scared before when we were running through the woods, but now I was suddenly and coldly terrified.

 

By the time I shook myself free of the paralysis that had grabbed me, Teal’c and Jack had disappeared.

 

Sam set up some claymores and left a few other nasty surprises in the area and then we settled down to wait.  I’ve read in books by soldiers how soldiering consists of 99% boredom and 1% sheer unadulterated terror.  Now I’ve experienced it.  You wouldn’t think hiding in the forest from a squad of Jaffa, who would be just as happy to kill you as to look at you, that you would notice your eye getting itchy or your sock scrunched up in your boot annoying hell out of you so your toes try and straighten it about 20 times a minute, but you do.  Then, suddenly, there was a rustling off to our left, from exactly the opposite direction Jack and Teal’c had headed and I instantly forgot all about my itchy eye and scrunched up sock as my heart tried to pound its way out of my chest.

 

Sam gestured urgently and we all shrank further back into the bushes.  And just in time too.  Six more Jaffa headed into the clearing around the Stargate leading two young women – Farm Owner Menscher’s daughters.  Then came Farm Owner Menscher himself, held tight between two more Jaffa.  Then maybe 20 or so villagers, trailing along behind.  And bringing up the rear, a figure with glowing eyes and yet four more Jaffa.  This was the first time I had ever seen a Goa’uld in the flesh except for Hathor, who was dangerous but in an entirely different way.  The creature terrified me.

 

Beside me, Daniel virtually spat.  “Heru’ur!” 

 

I had heard the name of course, read about him in SG1’s reports.  This is the Goa’uld who had tried to kill the Harsesis child on Abydos, who had attacked the innocents on Cimmeria.  He was an imposing figure.  Tall, regal with a haughty countenance.  Dressed like an Egyptian pharaoh displaying his vanity in a thin line of facial hair running either side of his mouth.

 

The procession moved about 20 meters down the track to the center of the clearing where the DHD stood.  There, at the Goa’uld’s order, they halted.

 

The Goa’uld raised his voice and proclaimed, “Tauri, I know you are out there.  Give yourselves up or these slaves will be killed.”  The woods fell silent.

 

Daniel and I cast matching beseeching looks at Sam, who shook her head, but she looked uncertain and her hands shifted on her weapon.

 

Boy, reliving this is so hard.  Daniel is calling me.  Gotta go.

 

Thank God.

 

Daniel Jackson

 

Another rough night for Jack.  His temperature spiked again and he was restless and obviously in pain.  He made these kind of whimpering noises.  God, it was awful to listen to.  Janet says he’s too deeply unconscious to be aware of any pain but it sure didn’t sound that way to me.

 

I finally picked up this journal and read what everyone has been writing to distract myself from Jack’s suffering.

 

He seems to be sleeping a little easier now and I guess it’s my turn to record what happened.  Everyone keeps saying that this wasn’t my fault and I appreciate the gesture, even though it’s not true.

 

See, this wasn’t the first time I’ve screwed up a mission and almost gotten everyone killed.  It’s pretty obvious how the story goes, I’m sure.  Poor, stupid Daniel stands up heroically to save Farm Owner Menscher and his daughters.  And instead, gets caught and brings the whole team down with him.

 

Ho hum.  Like that’s a new scenario.

 

The thing is, I recognized Heru’ur the second he stepped into the clearing.  All Goa’uld are bad, but he’s particularly ruthless.  So when the staff weapons charged, I couldn’t stand it anymore. 

 

The foolish thing is that I thought I was saving their lives.

 

Anyway, to cut the hyperbole – I stood up and surrendered, Sam and Janet were captured in short order and with Heru’ur’s Jaffa pointing staff weapons at our heads, Jack and Teal’c were captured not long after that.

 

Jack was livid, although he limited himself to one coldly furious glare in my direction.  He is far too professional a soldier to ever let Heru’ur see any sign of dissension in the team.  He didn’t need to punish me though – the discharge of the staff weapons and the stench of smoking flesh as the Jaffa killed Farm Owner Menscher and his daughters drove home the lesson quite nicely, thank you very much.

 

Familiar?

 

Sounds a lot like Shyla on ‘636 doesn’t it?  Daniel risks everything to save the princess only to find it’s his friends who suffer.  That time everything finally worked out ok – I only nearly got my team killed working in a goddamned naquadah mine.

 

This time I might have managed to finish the job.

 

Oh damn this to fucking hell anyway.

 

Daniel Jackson (continued)

 

OK.  Throwing the pen across the infirmary didn’t help and sitting here staring at Jack is driving me crazy.  He is quieter now, but still desperately pale and shockingly still – as he only ever is when he’s very ill.

 

After ‘636 I spent ages thinking Jack was pissed off at me for getting addicted to the sarcophagus.  And I was ready to accept his anger because I had nightmares of seeing him exhausted and on his knees in chains before me, or of me pointing a gun at his head, and I told myself (and I still think it’s true) that Jack would never have gotten himself into that situation – that I was a liability to the team.

 

So I figured it was my weakness that had pissed him off.

 

When he’s angry, Jack’s even more controlled than usual, you’d have more luck trying to pry open the jaws of a giant clam with a toothpick than getting Jack to talk when he’s like that.

 

If I hadn’t turned up at his house one night when he’d been up close and personal with his buddy Jack Daniels, I might never have learned that he didn’t really blame me for getting addicted to the sarcophagus.  What he was really pissed about was my rescue of the princess in the first place.

 

We got into a huge fight.  See, while I felt guilty as hell for not being able to rescue my friends, there was no question in my mind but that I had to try to save Shyla.  I couldn’t believe Jack expected me to sit back and watch her die.

 

We yelled and screamed and generally acted like idiots until he told me he had no place on his team for bleeding heart liberals and I told him fine, I didn’t want to be part of a team led by a cold hearted murderer.

 

He got really still then and for a second I thought he would hit me. 

 

I think maybe he thought so too, because he told me in a very quiet voice that it might be best if I left.

 

I agreed.

 

Most of the time Jack is this comforting presence in my life.  I like having him around.  He’s like a pesky older brother, dragging me over for hockey games, peering over my shoulder, fiddling with my stuff, forcing me to rest and always, always looking out for my welfare.  But just occasionally I am uncomfortably reminded that Jack is Special Forces trained and very, very dangerous.

 

That was one of those occasions.

 

We avoided each other for a couple of days, making SG1 uncomfortable as hell until he finally called me to his office.

 

That in itself was unusual.  Jack pretty much avoids his office and if he wants me he usually wanders down to mine.

 

This time he sent an airman for me.  Jack-speak for serious stuff.

 

When I got to his office he said, “Daniel, I want to apologize for the other night.  I was out of line.”  When I opened my mouth to speak he held up his hand.  “Let me finish, please.”

 

It was the please that shook me.  Jack almost never says please.

 

He scrubbed a hand through his hair – a sure sign of Jack in thinking mode, then spoke very carefully.  “I know that you are not a soldier, Daniel, and I value that.  I really do.  Your perspective is essential to what the Stargate program is all about and believe it or not it is important to me.”

 

My mouth must have dropped open at that stage because Jack allowed himself a little grin, before becoming serious again.

 

“You may not be a soldier, Daniel, but we are at war.  I’ll try to protect you and bring you home, that’s my job, but I can’t make everything rosy.  People die in wars you know, not just soldiers, civilians too.  Kids, innocents.  I don’t like it, Danny, any more than you do, but I accept it.  You need to be able to accept it too or else you should get out.”

 

This time I did speak.  “Jack, what do you want from me?  I’ll fight the Goa’uld, ok, but I can’t stand back and let innocent people die, not if I have a chance to save them.”

 

“I’m not asking you to Daniel, but the critical thing here is IF you can save them.  We, you, can’t save them all.  I won’t let you throw your life away.  I won’t let you throw away the life of anyone on my team.

 

“Now, I’ve been doing some thinking over the last few days.  Maybe the Shyla thing could have gone down better.  Maybe we could have hauled her off the cliff and still gotten away.  Hell, I don’t know.  All I know is it was just one SNAFU after another. 

 

“Where we can save people, we will, Daniel, but what I’m saying here is that there will come a time when innocent lives are going to be lost because you are NOT in a position to save them.  A day may come where you have to stand back and watch while people die.  I wish I could promise you it wouldn’t.  But I can’t do that.  And if that day comes, Danny, I need to know you can handle it.”

 

This was a Jack I had rarely seen. Compassionate.  Insightful.  Conciliatory.  And very, very serious.  He was dealing with harsh but possible realities.  After our extreme words of earlier in the week, it seemed like he was offering a position we could agree upon; that he'd found enough common ground to allow SG1 to go on.  And I never have been able to refuse Jack when he gets all reasonable on me – it happens rarely enough.

 

I was so relieved, I quickly replied, “It’s ok, Jack.  I know that I can’t save the world.  I don’t like it but I can live with it.”

 

How flip those words seem to me now, two years after ‘636 and I’ve done exactly the same thing again.

 

Only this time I didn’t manage to somehow muddle through.  This time I got my team captured by a Goa’uld and Farm Owner Menscher and his daughters still ended up dead.

 

I understand now what you wanted from me that day, Jack – you wanted me to put the team and the Earth first, even ahead of the lives of innocents.  I told you I would, I could.

 

I lied.

 

After everything we’ve been through, even knowing you might…

 

Even now, I’m not sure I could have stayed hidden while Heru’ur methodically executed innocents.

 

I just wish I’d told you that two years ago.  You could have kicked me off the team and then this whole nightmare wouldn’t have happened.

 

Samantha Carter

 

Daniel’s fast asleep in the chair beside Jack’s bed.  Even in sleep he hasn’t let go his grip on Jack’s hand.

 

I am amazed once again at these unlikely of friends.  I think Teal’c is right, Daniel, and we would have been captured regardless of anything you did.  There was no way we could have hidden from all those Jaffa for four days until General Hammond started looking for us.

 

I also think you are wrong.  Jack O’Neill can be a scary guy, but he’s changed a lot these last few years.  No one ever probably told you this but when we thought we’d lost you on Nem’s planet, the Colonel described you in his “eulogy” as the team’s conscience.  You acted the right way Daniel. 

I'm the one who screwed up.  I should have made the decision not left it up to you.  If the Colonel had been there he would have held you down and lived with the consequences of your anger.

 

I froze on Errinious, Daniel.  When Heru’ur made his demand I didn’t know what to do.  Part of me knew I should order you to stay put.  The other part of me was horrified at the thought of giving that order.  I was still trying to decide what the hell to do when you stood up.  Some air force officer, huh?   

 

All you did was be true to yourself.   We all wish this last mission hadn’t happened, Daniel, but none of us would want to be in SG1 without you and none of us, least of all the Colonel, would want you to be other than true to yourself.  While I hesitated, you acted.  You want to apologize to the Colonel?  Stand in line.  I’m his second in command and once again I failed to do a goddamned thing. 

 

The Journal

by Frizzelly

 

Part 4 of 13 – see Part 0 for warnings etc.

 

 

Teal’c

 

O’Neill and I collected the Chaar berries and headed back to the rendezvous point, arriving just in time to witness Daniel Jackson’s attempt to save the farmers.  Heru’ur gathered Major Carter, Doctor Fraiser and Daniel Jackson together and called for our surrender.

 

Unlike Daniel Jackson, neither O’Neill nor I doubted for a second that he would kill our friends.  O’Neill looked around desperately, trying to come up with some plan of action.  It did not take him long to reach the conclusion that we had no options.  O’Neill cursed, “I’ll kill him.  I swear to God, Teal’c, no one could blame me.  I’ll kill him.”  Then he jammed his cap down hard on his head and sighed.  “Oh, who the hell am I kidding?  Let’s get this over with.”

 

We stood up, hands in the air and waited while Heru’ur’s Jaffa came to secure us.  We stood in that clearing as the Jaffa mowed down Farm Owner Menscher and his daughters.  Daniel Jackson’s horror made even O’Neill flinch.  We watched as Daniel Jackson desperately tried to go to the farmers’ aid but was easily held.  In the awful silence after the slaughter, O’Neill and I were dragged past the smoking corpses to face Heru’ur.

 

It wasn’t until we were all lined up in front of him that Heru’ur seemed to realize who it was that he had captured.  Perhaps all Tauri look the same to him.

 

Slowly, a look of cruel delight came over his face.  “Shol’va,” he said, then turned to Daniel Jackson, “and the one who took the Harsesis.”

 

Next, he stepped over to where O’Neill was being held by two Jaffa.  “We would know your name,” he said.

 

“Colonel Jack O’Neill,” O’Neill replied, “and you are?”

 

“Perhaps this will remind you,” Heru’ur said, drawing an object from the belt at his waist.

 

I closed my eyes, suddenly aware that this was going to be even worse than I had imagined.  In Heru’ur’s hand was an air force issue bowie knife, last seen by us on Abydos, impaling Heru’ur’s hand.  In yet another example of quick tactical thinking, O’Neill had thrown it at the system lord when he and Major Carter had stepped through the Gate and into the middle of the squabble for the Harsesis child.  The knife had penetrated the Goa’uld’s personal shield and speared Heru’ur’s hand, preventing him from using the hand device and ultimately forcing his retreat from Abydos.

 

The look on Heru’ur’s face as he drew the knife, the very fact that he kept it on him, was frightening.  The Goa’uld are not known for their ability to forgive and forget.

 

If O’Neill was cognizant of approaching mortality, however, his face did not show it.  “Oh yeah,” he said, “you’re the guy with the poorly designed personal force shield.  How’s that working out for you, by the way?”

 

Heru’ur let out a wordless bellow of rage and raised his arm, the hand device already beginning to glow.  I relaxed and then surged forward, determined to go down with my commander, but a third Jaffa leapt in and assisted the two already holding me and I could not break free.  One either side, I could see Doctor Fraiser, Daniel Jackson and Samantha Carter making similarly futile efforts.

 

The Goa’uld directed the hand device at O’Neill and the Colonel flung his head back in agony, before his features assumed the blank look characteristic of those whose brains are being attacked by the device.

 

Everyone on SG1 has been a victim of these devices at one time or another.  The agony is unbelievable.  It feels as if someone has gotten inside your head and is pounding directly at your brain with their fists.

 

Heru’ur kept up the device until I was sure O’Neill must be dead.  He didn't stop until blood ran from O'Neill's nose over his mouth and down his chin.  When he finally lowered his hand O’Neill collapsed limply between the two Jaffa supporting him.

 

“Does he live?”  Heru’ur asked the question on all of our minds.

 

I held my breath while one of the Jaffa roughly jerked up O’Neill’s head and felt for a pulse at his throat.

 

“He does, my lord.”

 

I heard sighs of relief from both sides of me and I shared the relief, even though I knew it was not over yet.

 

Not, as O’Neill would say, by a long shot.

 

Samantha Carter

 

The agony of the hand device.  I remember it well.  Hathor held it on me when I went back to try to find the Colonel after she had implanted him with a Goa’uld. Luckily, the memory that goes with that – that of the Colonel’s defeat of Hathor and the unbelievable relief of him being Goa’uld free – is more than happy enough to outweigh memories of my brain being pummeled from the inside.

 

The Colonel is still lying here in front of me, absolutely still.  Janet’s machines are doing their mysterious work and every 15 minutes or so a nurse comes in, fusses around, makes a notation or two on the Colonel’s chart and then leaves.  The Colonel’s hand in mine is limp and unresponsive.  It’d be nice if you could wake up about now, Colonel, and give me an equally happy memory to balance all the bad ones floating in my brain at the moment.

 

I haven’t slept through the night since we got back from Errinious, 11 days now.  I keep having nightmares about our capture, about my helplessness, about what they did to you.

 

In some of my nightmares you are screaming at me, telling me this is all my fault, telling me in excruciating detail every single thing I did wrong on this most disastrous of missions.  And it is a long, long list.

 

But I don’t mind, because you see, those are the good nightmares.  At least in those you are alive.

 

Janet Fraiser

 

Poor Cassie.  I can’t remember the last time we had dinner and a night at home together.  It must have been the night before this disastrous mission started.  She understands of course, Jack’s like a father to her, but it’s still not fair. 

 

It’s just that, whenever I get up the nerve to leave the mountain, I get this lump of fear that starts in my gut, grows and swells and by the time I’m out of the elevator and heading to my car it’s lodged in my throat and I can’t breathe properly.  Every single time, I’m struck with the absolute certainty that if I leave the base Jack will die while I’m gone.  It’s crazy superstition, I know, and I tell myself that, tell myself that Joe Warner is a perfectly competent doctor, perhaps better than me in this instance where I am so deeply and personally involved. 

 

That logic, however, doesn’t make the lump go away and as I unlock the door to my car my hands start to sweat and dread manifests itself in the form of a pounding headache. 

 

Sometimes, I give up then and rush back down to the infirmary.  Other times I force myself to start the car and drive off the base and twice now I’ve actually made it all the way home before the terror wins out and I find myself dashing back to the Colonel’s bedside, relaxing only when my hand rests on his arm, when I see the reassuring rise and fall of his chest as he draws in life-giving oxygen.

 

C’mon, Jack.  You've gotten this far.  Wake up.  Please.

 

The Goa’uld, Heru'ur, had us taken to his Ha'tak vessel.  It was a four hour walk through forested woods, a lot like eastern California, lots of big tall trees but far enough apart that the slightly greenish light of the planet soaked through.  We traipsed along in fearful silence and the whole time, Jack, slung over the back of one of the Jaffa, never stirred.

 

At the end of four hours we emerged into a clearing to the surreal sight of Heru’ur’s pyramid shaped Ha'tak vessel towering out of the trees, the technology out of place and full of menace.  We were led deep into the ship, to what appeared to be a cargo bay and left alone.  I hurried over to check on Jack who remained unresponsive, still deeply unconscious.  I made him as comfortable as possible in the circumstances (Heru'ur's guards had taken all our gear, including my medical kit) and then sat back to watch as Sam and Teal’c prowled the room, looking for a way out.

 

It took a long time before they conceded the obvious – the room was a square box roughly 30 feet by 30 feet and although it was golden and covered in hieroglyphs it was still undeniably a prison – there was no way out.  Finally, they came and slumped next to Daniel and I on the floor.

 

No one said very much, there didn’t seem much to say.

 

I was starting to feel extremely anxious about Jack and heaved a great sigh of relief when, some six and a half hours after Heru’ur’s attack, a low groan signaled his return to consciousness.

 

I put a hand on his shoulder to prevent him from rising, but, typically, he ignored me and pulled himself into a sitting position.

 

“God,” he groaned, with his hands clasped to his head as if they alone were holding it together, “what hit me?”

 

“A high energy beam of agitated, ionized particles,” said Teal’c matter-of-factly.

 

We all turned to stare at him and even Jack lifted his hands enough to glare out from under them.

 

“Uh ….. a hand device, sir,” said Carter.  “Do you remember, Heru’ur….”

 

“Oh yeah,” Jack cut her off.  “It’s all coming back now.  Where are we?”

 

“In his Ha'tak, about 15 miles from the Gate.  He brought us roughly due west.”

 

O’Neill had drawn his knees up and rested his elbows on them, his head buried in his hands.  His voice was muffled when he said, “How long was I out?”

 

This time I answered.  “About six and a half hours.  How do you feel?”

 

He lifted his head finally, squinting against the light.  “About the same as I did the morning after we won the All American Junior Hockey tournament and the All American Cheerleaders took us out to celebrate.  Is everyone okay?”

 

There were affirmatives all around, except Daniel, who I suddenly realized hadn’t spoken a word since we were captured.  Even suffering, as he obviously was, Jack didn’t fail to notice his team mate’s reticence.

 

“Daniel?”

 

“What?”

 

“Are you okay?”

 

“I’m fine, Jack.  I………. this is all my fault, again.”

 

Jack gave Daniel a long, considering look.  His eyes had gone flat, as they do when he doesn’t want people to know what he’s thinking or feeling.  “Let’s get out of here first, then we can talk about who’s to blame,” was all he finally said.

 

Daniel flinched like he’d been struck.

 

“We can assume Heru’ur has reduced the number of guards at the Gate now that he has captured us,” Teal’c offered, to break the silence.

 

“Right, so if we can get out of this ship, it should just be a straight run to the Gate,”  Jack replied, ever the optimist.  With a groan, he climbed to his feet and stood, swaying, his eyes tightly closed and hands clenched into fists.

 

“Colonel…”

 

“I’m fine, Doc,” he said, cutting me off.  I opened my mouth to point out that he obviously wasn’t fine, but he had that look on his face that I’ve come to learn means that I might as well save my breath because he’s going to ignore whatever I say.

 

Silently, we all watched while he prowled the room, making the same meticulous, fruitless search Sam and Teal’c had made earlier.  Finally he turned back to us, “No way out, huh?”

 

“No, sir,” said Sam, quietly.

 

With a sigh he slid down the wall and pulled his knees up close.  His face was pale and it was obvious to me he was sporting a world class headache.  After a moment his eyes started to slide closed.

 

“Colonel!”

 

“Huh, what?”  My voice must have been harsher than intended for he jerked awake.

 

“Sorry, sir.  It’s probably not a good idea for you to go to sleep just yet.  You’ve been unconscious for some time.”

 

He gave me that same pursed up, narrow eyed look he always gives me when he doesn’t like my medical advice.  As always, despite the situation, I had to resist the urge to poke out my tongue.

 

At that moment the door slid open to reveal Heru’ur, flanked by a dozen Jaffa.

 

Everyone, including Jack, had climbed to their feet at the first sound of movement but the odds were overwhelming and I saw Teal’c relax even before Jack waved his hand in classic “stand down” sign language.

 

Heru’ur stepped forward.  I confirmed my earlier impression.  He was an imposing presence, as tall as Jack, with regal features and a tanned fit body, shown to full advantage in a revealing, if somewhat pretentious, Egyptian pharaoh outfit.  Even without the telltale glow though, his eyes would have betrayed the regal image.  They were hard and cruel and, at that moment, filled with a terrifying anticipation.

 

Jack, however, was quick to establish that Heru'ur wasn’t the only alpha male in the room.

 

“Well, about time.  I gotta tell you, Heru’ur, the service around here leaves something to be desired.”

 

“Silence,”  Heru’ur ordered, surveying each of us in turn.  I had to repress a shiver when he looked at me.

 

“Kneel before your God.”  The arrogance in the voice was stunning.  The words were obviously some kind of signal, for the Horus guards moved, pushing us all into a line and forcing us to our knees.  Jack resisted and received a blow to the back of his knees with a staff weapon for his troubles.  Suddenly, the source of the mysterious bruising I’d seen in the infirmary after several SG1 missions was explained.  I need to talk to him about that.  As if he hasn’t abused his knees enough for any one lifetime as it is.

 

“You know as well as we do you’re not a God.”  Daniel spoke and his voice revealed a loathing of which I had not realized he was capable.

 

Heru’ur turned to him, fingers tracing the thin line of hair that ran down either side of his mouth, and smiled.  “Did not your own wife receive a God into her bed?”

 

“My wife was raped by Apophis!”

 

“Daniel …”  Jack’s voice was low but carried a clear warning.

 

Heru’ur tossed him an annoyed glance before turning back to Daniel.

 

“Apophis has been heard to say she pleases him better and more often than any he has known.”  It was breathtakingly cruel and Daniel leapt to his feet with a roar of rage.  Before he had taken half a step he was clubbed on the head with a staff weapon and dropped at my feet stunned.

 

Jack, Teal’c and Sam had risen as one and been easily restrained.  I ignored them all for a moment to check on Daniel.  A bump had already started to come up on his head, and even as I checked him he began to stir.

 

“You are weak, Tauri,” Heru’ur said contemptuously.  “You ally yourself with these weaklings, Shol’va?”

 

“I do,” replied Teal’c calmly.  His voice was its usual reassuring baritone.

 

“Then you shall watch them die.  When they are dead I will once more offer you a chance to join me.”

 

“I will not join you.”

 

“Then you shall also die and I shall enjoy your death.”

 

He then turned his glowing eyes on Sam and I.  “Females,” he said.  “Perhaps one of you shall make a queen for me to rival Amounet.”  He reached out and ran a hand through Sam’s hair.  It was a deliberately provocative gesture.  I felt myself shiver and was shamefully glad that he hadn’t laid his hands on me.  I expected Jack and Teal’c to go ballistic but they knelt silently, Teal’c as inscrutable as always, Jack wearing his thousand yard stare.

 

Sam twisted her head to look up into Heru’ur’s eyes, her glare searing.  “What makes you think you could handle me?”

 

It was foolhardy, risky and so very, very brave.  You go girl! I wanted to shout and out of the corner of my eye I saw a hint of a smirk on Jack’s face.

 

You shouldn’t be so hard on yourself, Sam.  Colonel O’Neill won’t blame you for anything that happened on this hell of a mission.  He’s proud of you.  He might not ever show you or admit it, but don’t tell me the way he puffs out his chest and wears that shit eating grin of his all around the base every time you come up with a last minute miracle isn’t worth a thousand words.

 

Teal’c

 

I am unaccustomed to this feeling of helplessness.  We have been back from Errinious for many days now and still O’Neill does not stir.  I am used to seeing him as a proud warrior and his illness disturbs me. 

 

Sickbay is very quiet.  Nurse Dimitris sits in the far corner and checks O'Neill every fifteen minutes.  She always gives me a reassuring smile as she approaches.  Doctor Fraiser is also around, but the presence of the medical staff cannot displace the awful stillness of my friend, lying so helpless before me.  I cannot help but feel he is far away from us tonight, and, though I would do anything to spare him further suffering, I urge him to fight, fight with every piece of his tenacious, stubborn, warrior soul to come back to us. 

 

Disturbed more than I care to admit by the silence, I take up Doctor MacKenzie's journal once again and once more I am struck by how little opportunity we had to influence the situation on Errinious.  We fought and fought but from the moment we first spotted the death glider events conspired to make us powerless – choiceless, as O’Neill would say.

 

After Samantha Carter’s act of admirable defiance, Heru’ur had us moved from our cargo bay prison to a smaller room, deeper within the Ha'tak.  It was a room that was chillingly familiar to me.  Lined with gray metal in a grid pattern rather than the usual gold and glyphs, lit only by a single flaring torch, this was the interrogation centre of a Ha'tak.  Two long chains ending in manacles hung from the ceiling in the centre of the room. 

 

I have stood in this exact room on Apophis’ mothership and watched as he performed unspeakable tortures.

 

I felt physically sick as Heru’ur’s Jaffa shoved us into the room and left.  I wondered who would be first and prayed it would be myself.  As soon as the door slid closed behind the Jaffa I headed for O’Neill, but I could tell by the look in his eyes he knew exactly what this awful room was for.

 

He was still pale from his earlier encounter with Heru’ur’s hand device, but, after meeting my eyes, he dry washed his face, let his hands drop to his sides, straightened his shoulders and sucked in his chest.  By the time he spoke, he was once again every inch the commanding presence we have come to rely on.

 

Even I find myself doing it.  I have served a creature I believed was a God, possessed of amazing recuperative powers and incredible strength, but Apophis was never able to inspire the feelings in me that O’Neill, even tired, bloody, dirty and bedraggled does.

 

I remember one of our more recent missions – running from a tribe of natives on P4C 231 who chose not to believe O’Neill when he assured them that I no longer served the Goa’uld.  They were a tall, long limbed race with skin almost as dark as mine, whom Daniel Jackson said were probably related to an earth tribe called the Zulu.  They were all smiles until someone noticed the gold tattoo on my forehead.  Things then turned nasty in a hurry.

 

They decided the world would be a better place without me and attacked with spears, darts and primitive percussion weapons.  Daniel Jackson understood enough of their language to give us the two second warning that saved our lives.  He had barely said, “Jack, look out, I think …” and O’Neill had dragged Daniel Jackson and himself into cover.  Samantha Carter and I dived behind a tree. 

 

“Dammit Teal’c one of these days someone’s gonna love ya,”  O’Neill cursed before coming up with one of what he calls his ‘quick and dirty’ plans.  He and I would head off into the woods to try and lose our pursuers, while Major Carter and Daniel Jackson would make their way back to the vicinity of the Gate.  O’Neill hoped that as it was I that appeared to anger them, the majority would follow us.  The plan was that Daniel Jackson and Major Carter would clear the area around the Gate and stand by to dial out.  O’Neill and I would join them once we’d put sufficient distance between us and the hostiles.

 

A sound tactical plan.

 

Unfortunately, it became clear fairly early on that the natives’ woodcraft was better than mine or O’Neill’s.  It was impossible to lose them.

 

For hours O’Neill and I used every trick at our collective disposal and still the natives closed on us.  We ran and hid and ran again for 5 frustrating hours.

 

Finally, panting, exhausted and slightly desperate we came across a fairly sizeable stream.  We dropped to our knees to drink our fill, our canteens having long been exhausted.  Then, instead of doing what every instinct and all my training told me to do, O’Neill forded straight across and kept running.

 

“O’Neill,” I called, dropping my hands to my knees and speaking in between sucking in great gasps of air, “should we not travel along the stream, lay a false trail and try to exit somewhere the natives cannot detect?”

 

“You’d think so wouldn’t ya?”  O’Neill looked terrible.  He was also heaving in great pants of oxygen, trying to catch his breath.  His face glistened with sweat and dirt. He had discarded his jacket and his shirt clung to his body, drenched in sweat.

 

Here and there, blood streaked across his face and arms where we had run and hidden amongst the sharp branches of the local flora.  He was a superbly fit soldier but we’d been running for three hours straight now, and before that our last hiding place had only sheltered us about 10 minutes before we'd heard the sounds of our seemingly unshakeable pursuers.  Regrettably, they seemed to be enjoying the chase far more than we were.  For 10 blissful minutes we had hidden amongst a pile of boulders.  Barely long enough to let the shaking in our exhausted legs die down to an occasional tremble.  Then we were forced out of hiding and into the open again. 

 

We had tried covering our trail, laying a false trail, staying still, reversing direction, trying to come around behind the natives.  Everything I had learned under Master Bra’tac, we tried.  Now we had come to our first waterway.  My instincts told me to head upstream, look for ground that would not hold our prints.  Try to lose, or at least delay, our hunters.  O’Neill wanted to squander the opportunity.  It was not like him.

 

I wondered if perhaps he was delirious.  “O’Neill, I do not understand.”

 

“Everything you’ve ever learned tells you to take the stream and try to lose the trackers doesn’t it?”

 

“It does.”

 

“Yeah.  Me too.”  He raised his eyes to meet mine and they glistened with intelligence and his usual stubborn determination.  “C’mon Teal’c, these guys are better than either of us.  Chances are we’ll find a place that our training tells us is a good place to leave the stream they’ll spot it too.”

 

“Perhaps, but we must take the chance must we not?  There is a chance they will not find us or at least will be slowed down or forced to split up.”

 

“Not good enough, Teal’c.  Time to think outside the box.  Look, if you were tracking us and you saw our tracks going straight across this river and off into the distance what would you conclude?”

 

“That you had laid a false trail.”

 

O’Neill nodded.  “Because nobody in their right mind would do that, right?  Because, like you say, we have to take the chance on the stream don’t we?”

 

“You suggest we go straight across, regardless?”

 

“Yep.  Double bluff ‘em.”

 

“They are very close behind, O’Neill.  If they do not fall for your “bluff” we will be captured in short order.  If we follow the river we would slow them down.  Force them to examine every possible exit point.”

 

“Until they catch up again and we can’t run any further?  It’s a delaying tactic, Teal’c.  No more.  This is a chance to lose them for good.  It will work, I know it.  Trust me.”

 

And I did.  Against all logic and training.  And not for the first time.  O’Neill was wearing what Daniel Jackson calls his I’m-a-Colonel-and-the-world-can-damn-well-adjust-to-my-plans face and suddenly I knew the natives would disregard the obvious signs, would never believe we had surrendered an obvious tactical advantage.  They would head upriver and we would lose them.

 

They did and we did.  We ran for about half an hour more before it became clear they weren’t following us, then slowed to a jog.  We arrived back at the Gate exhausted, filthy, sweaty and jubilant.

 

O’Neill’s mission report recorded the event: “The natives proved hostile.  I sent Major Carter and Doctor Jackson ahead to secure the Gate.  Teal’c and I drew them away then doubled back to the Gate.

 

The Journal

by Frizzelly

 

Part 5 of 13 – see Part 0 for warnings etc.

 

 

Daniel Jackson

 

When I woke up from Heru’ur’s little love tap we were in a completely different room.  I had never seen anything like it on a Ha'tak vessel before – it was nothing more than a cage, conspicuously missing the usual hieroglyphs and coloured a uniform dull gray instead of the ubiquitous gold.  Two long chains hung from the roof, ending in steel manacles.  It was dark, lit by flickering torchlight.  The sense of menace was palpable. 

 

I turned to tell Jack I had a bad feeling about this and was just in time to catch a pretty intense look being exchanged between him and Teal’c.

 

Then he sensed me watching and was instantly the impassive, in control Air Force Colonel I’ve never learned to read.  I spoke anyway.  “Jack, I’ve got a bad feeling about this place.”

 

“Yeah.”  Jack gathered us in with a glance, took a deep breath and said, “Look, you guys know that no matter what happens we can’t tell him anything about Earth or the Harsesis child.”

 

The words were spoken to the room in general but as the resident civilian they felt like they were addressed to me.  And I resented them.  “We know that, Jack.  You can’t think….”

 

“Just listen up okay, Danny.”

 

That stopped me.  Jack doesn’t call me Danny very often and when he does it’s usually because I’m in a state where I need the comfort more than I resent being treated like a kid.  So I shut up and he rubbed a hand across his face again and pinched his fingers to the bridge of his nose, Jack-speak for a moderate to severe headache. 

 

I knew how he felt.  The top of my skull was thumping like someone had set up an orchestra and decided to practice the closing seconds of the 1812 overture in a never ending loop.

 

When Jack finally spoke he was uncharacteristically hesitant.  “Look…. Heru’ur kind of has the upper hand here and …. well, we’ve all managed to piss him off in our way.  This …. that is, things might get nasty soon.”

 

“Things might get nasty?”  I rolled my eyes.

 

“OK, dammit.  Heru’ur’s going to torture one or more of us.  Plain enough for you Daniel?”

 

I did an impression of a goldfish, opening and closing my mouth a few times, blinking my eyes.  OK, hadn’t seen that coming actually.

 

Jack took a breath, sighed.  “I don’t have time to teach you everything I know about techniques and tricks of the trade.  Not sure I really want you all to know that anyway.  Just try to remember, as long as they don’t do anything permanent you’ll get past it.  Just focus on our friends back home, who Heru’ur would be only too pleased to turn into hosts.”

 

“And if they do do something permanent?” Janet asked, with an uncharacteristic quaver in her voice.

 

“Heru’ur wants Earth and the Harsesis child.  As long as we deny him that, he can’t afford to get permanent,” Jack spoke with absolute confidence but his eyes had gone dark and unfocused.  “And by that time death usually looks pretty good anyway,” he muttered as he turned away.  I was sure no one was meant to hear the rider and as I didn’t want to think about what Jack might have gone through to reach such a terrible conclusion, I pretended not to have heard.

 

I’ve watched you lying here for the past 12 days, Jack, waiting, PRAYING for you to wake up.  The thought that maybe you’ve been through this before, it’s unbearable.  But strangely it also gives me hope, because if you survived it once, you can do it again.  Don’t let this be something permanent, Jack.  Don’t let the Goa’uld take another of my loved ones.

 

Samantha Carter

 

Colonel O’Neill’s words silenced us all.  He’s dropped hints about his past before from time to time, including that one to Daniel on Hadante that he’d been in prison before, but nothing to suggest he’d been tortured.  There was a look in his eye though as he spoke that suggested he was talking from personal experience and not some black ops training manual. 

 

Daniel is right.  What we watched was … indescribable.  To think that the Colonel has been through this before and survived, there are no words for that. 

 

Heru’ur didn’t allow us very long to get used to the idea.  He returned with his escort of Jaffa almost as soon as the Colonel finished speaking.

 

The Jaffa carried manacles and soon all of us except Colonel O’Neill had our wrists chained together.  We were forced to sit and then the chains were fastened to the walls  Teal’c resisted briefly and suffered a blow to his pouch from a staff weapon.  He is not one to struggle pointlessly and I wonder if he knew, even then, just how horrible it was going to get.

 

Two of the larger Jaffa stepped forward and grabbed the Colonel, one by each arm.  Two took up positions by the door.  The rest trooped back out of the room, the jangling metal tread of their steps echoing in the hall.

 

The scene was set. 

 

The Colonel, held between the two Jaffa, looked totally at ease.  I have no idea how he did it.  I felt physically ill.  “Man, you’re not still pissed about the shield thing are you?" he said.  "I mean, you’re not the only one who suffered there.  I parted with a perfectly good knife.”

 

Heru’ur was unmoved by the taunt.  His hand moved to his belt and this time he drew out a GDO device.   “Tell me how to open the cover to the Tauri Stargate,” the grating voice of the Goa’uld demanded.

 

“Earth?  All the planets in the galaxy and you want to go to Earth.  I mean, I guess I can see why, having met us you’re thinking it’s gotta be pretty cool, right?”  Jack shook his head sorrowfully.  “I’ll let you in on a little secret, ‘Ur.  Can I call you ‘Ur?  Anyway, not everyone on Earth is like us, if you know what I mean.”

 

Heru’ur’s eyes flashed and he took a step closer to the Colonel.  “Tell me what numbers to enter into this device to open the Earth Stargate.”

 

“Look buddy, you’re not hearing m…..”

 

The Colonel was cut off mid word when Heru’ur’s fist drove into his abdomen.  The blow winded him and he slumped between the two guards, coughing and trying desperately to catch his breath.

 

“The Earth Stargate.”

 

“Uh … no,”  Jack gasped out.

 

Heru’ur struck again, a hard blow with his right fist into Jack’s ribcage.  The Colonel was supported rather than restrained by the two Jaffa now, his head hanging low as he fought to get the pain and his breathing under control.

 

“Tell me how to open the Earth StarGate,”  Heru’ur was implacable.

 

But he’d never met the stubborn pig headedness that is Colonel O’Neill on a good day.  He didn’t even raise his head as he replied, “Bite me.”

 

Quick as a snake, Heru’ur struck again, hard and fast into the Colonel’s ribcage.  The Colonel moaned.

 

It was too much for Daniel.  “Stop it, godammit!  He’s not going to tell you anything.  He’ll never tell you anything.”

 

Heru’ur paused, eyeing the Colonel, who was still doubled over trying to suck  oxygen back into his lungs and Daniel, wild eyed, desperate and straining against his chains.

 

It was typical Daniel, compassionate, caring, unable to stand by and watch anyone suffer and it was completely the wrong thing to do, militarily speaking.

 

At Daniel’s words, the Colonel pulled himself up a bit, managed to get his legs under him.  “Don’t worry about it, Danny, ‘Ur and I are just getting to know each other,” he grated out.

 

It’s amazing how, when you work with someone in a job like ours, you learn to understand so much from little nuances of their body language.  SG1 is now at the stage where we can have whole conversations with just a glance. 

 

Even so, the look the Colonel shot Daniel then was complicated – gratitude that Daniel cared, a little of the pride we all feel when Daniel does one of his selflessly noble things, a little bit of anger that he was being disobeyed again and some resignation as well.  He must have known Daniel was just as incapable of standing by quietly and watching him tortured as he was of hiding while the Goa’uld killed Farm Owner Menscher and his daughters.

 

Heru’ur watched the interaction between the two with interest before turning to Daniel.  “What of you?  Will you tell us what the code is for this device?”

 

“No.”

 

“Not even to save your friend?”

 

Poor Daniel, he hadn’t seen it coming.  I could see the words strike him as hard as any physical blow.  He looked desperately at me, Janet and Teal’c as if we could help. 

 

And once again, I did what I do best of all – stood there and did nothing.  I am so sick of seeing my CO, my friends, injured, captured, tortured while I stand by pathetically and do nothing.

 

God, I’m sorry Colonel, Daniel, you deserve so much better.

 

Daniel Jackson

 

A quiet night last night, the thirteenth since our return.  No fever, but no sign of Jack waking up either.

 

Damn you anyway, Jack O’Neill, with your black ops training, your secret past and your fucking hard ass Colonel attitude.  Sam tells me that the medals on your uniform are largely for acts of individual heroism.  She says the first one is generally awarded only to Generals and Admirals.  It is awarded only on the recommendation of the Secretary of State for an act of heroism involving voluntary risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.  You didn’t even get one of those when we saved Earth, Jack, so what the hell did you do to get it?  What other hell did you let the US Air Force put you through while you pretended it didn’t touch you, was all just in a day’s work?

 

And did you push it down inside afterwards, refuse to talk about it, pretend it didn’t happen?

 

Jesus, I swear I don’t know you at all sometimes, Jack.  I’m sorry this happened, sorry for what you’ve been through and I’m sorry I behaved “unmilitarily” Sam, but you guys explain to me how it is you stand by and watch someone torture your best friend in front of you and don’t say a damn word.

 

Or better yet, don’t, because I don’t ever want to be able to do that.

 

Samantha Carter

 

Damn you too, Daniel.  You think I wanted to watch that?  It’s my job to get us out of situations when the Colonel is incapacitated and I sat there chained to a wall and watched!

 

But explain to me how what you did helped anyone?  You think it made it more bearable for Jack to watch Heru’ur screw with your head while he messed with Jack’s body?  Two for the price of one?

 

Why don’t you save your self righteous attitude for when it helps instead of makes things worse.

 

Janet Fraiser

 

Oh dear.  I came in this afternoon, after finally spending a night and day with poor Cassie – she misses you by the way, Jack – anyway, I came in only to find sickbay deserted.

 

The medical staff was there of course, but no sign of SG1.

 

Then I read the journal.  These are all very natural responses – anger, fear, guilt, pain.  We’ve all been wounded and a wounded animal lashes out, that’s instinct.

 

If you want my two cent’s worth, it was horrific watching what Heru’ur did to Jack and not being able to respond, not being able to treat his injuries, not being able to stop the pain.  Seeing someone in pain and doing nothing goes against absolutely everything I was trained to do. 

 

I shiver every time I think of that Goa’uld.  What kind of creature voluntarily causes that kind of agony to any living being?  What kind of monster enjoys it? 

 

I’m desperately tired.  I no sooner close my eyes than I’m screaming myself awake from nightmares which are all the more horrific because they actually happened. The smallest little setbacks have me shaking with rage.  I found myself yelling at Cass this morning because she spilled a little bit of cereal.  Luckily, she loves Jack and she’s being very understanding.

 

Still, if there is a positive to be found in all this anger it’s that I have my patient to myself for a while.  We need to talk Jack, about you hurrying up and waking up.

 

Daniel Jackson

 

I came in to the infirmary looking for Sam, to apologize, but she seems to have made herself scarce.  Janet was there though, holding Jack’s hand in one of hers, running the other lightly through his hair, talking softly to him all the while.

 

Ah Jack, do you have any idea how many people care for you?  Janet was right you know, I was angry, guilty, I didn’t mean what I wrote before.  I am proud to call you friend, proud to know someone as dedicated, loyal and brave as you.

 

I’ll never say that to your face because I know it  would embarrass you, but people like Sam, Teal’c, Janet and General Hammond don’t give their friendship to just anyone, so that alone should tell you all you need to know.

 

God, I wish so much I could change what happened on Errinious.  It plays in my head like an endless loop and I keep looking for something I could have done differently, maybe if I’d been flippant I could have focused his anger on me, but I’ve obviously never given you enough credit for your humor-under-duress routine because absolutely nothing came to mind.  Maybe I could have grabbed for a staff weapon, turned it on the guards and freed us all, but you know me, at best I would probably have shot myself, at worst got one of you killed. 

 

So, on with the nightmare story right?  Torture as therapy.

 

Sam’s right, I never saw it coming until Heru’ur said, “not even to save your friend?”  Bastard.  Then, then I saw it all in one horrific freeze framed second.  I got a huge lump in my throat and couldn’t speak.  Mutely, I shook my head.

 

Heru’ur gestured and one of the two Horus guards by the door came and released the chain between my manacles and the wall.  The guard dragged me over, still handcuffed, to stand in front of Jack, beside Heru’ur.

 

“I will give you two chances, Tauri.  If either one of you answers my question, I will set you free.”

 

He stepped forward and … dammit I can’t do this…

 

There once was a Colonel named Jack

Kinda casual and pretty laid back

His major was Sam

They met and …bam!

Boy, did they sizzle in the sack.

 

Siler taught me that.  I wonder who’d be more embarrassed to know that that was the winner of the SG1 limerick competition, Jack or Sam?  Of course, there is also a Jack and Janet version, a Jack and Airman Perez version, a Jack and Nurse Diego and, scarily enough, even Jack and well, me.

 

Oh hell, I’m gonna have to do this aren’t I?

 

Heru’ur took Jack’s hand and grabbed his little finger.  “Well?”

 

Still unable to speak, I again shook my head.

 

“Colonel?”  The Goa’uld was enjoying himself.  The bastard didn’t want Jack to capitulate, not yet.

 

Jack of course was happy to oblige.  “Go to hell,” he said, the last word ending with a gasp of pain as Heru’ur bent the digit all the way back until it broke.  There was the most awful noise, like a dry twig snapping … God, I’m going to be sick…

 

Daniel Jackson (continued)

 

Erghhh, I’ve thrown up more in the last fortnight than my entire life.  I wonder if I’ll ever sleep again without hearing that god-awful noise and the worse ones that followed.

 

Christ.

 

I closed my eyes at the last minute, which didn’t help, should have closed my ears as well.  When I opened them, Jack had slumped to his knees again, his face ghostly white.  His little finger pointed out to the side at a grotesque angle.

 

Heru’ur didn’t even pause, just grabbed Jack’s hand again and grasped the second finger.

 

“God, don’t do this,” I said.

 

“Tell me the code to open the Earth Stargate.”

 

“Jack?”  I don’t know what I was asking for; a way out, forgiveness, whatever, it wasn’t going to be forthcoming.  Jack looked up at me and mustered a grin.  “He’s a snakehead, Danny.  Don’t tell him squat.”

 

Heru’ur smiled.  Damn him.  Then jerked and that awful sound came again.

 

This time though, Jack reacted with completely unexpected violence.  He pushed up, getting his feet under him, surprising the guards who held him and jerked his head back slamming it violently up into the nose of the guard nearest him who dropped instantly.  He swung and grabbed the fallen guard’s staff weapon and swung it hard at the other guard holding him smashing it across the Jaffa’s face.

 

Sam, Teal’c and Janet were on their feet tugging at their chains but unable to sever them.  Like an idiot, I stood and gaped.  In my defence, I swear the whole thing took less than 5 seconds.  I have never seen anything like it.

 

I noticed the guard by the door start to move and opened my mouth to warn Jack, but it was Heru’ur who was the real threat.  With a roar of rage and the enhanced strength of the Goa’uld, he drew Jack’s knife from his belt and thrust.  The knife plunged deep into the flesh below Jack’s right shoulder.

 

It stopped Jack in his tracks.  The staff weapon clattered to the floor, dropped from a suddenly nerveless hand.  Heru’ur used his momentum to topple Jack over onto his back, all the while forcing the knife deeper into his shoulder.  He stopped only when he was kneeling on Jack’s chest, one hand continuing to hold the knife inside Jack’s body.  With the other he gestured to the guard by the door, who was, somewhat belatedly, aiming his staff weapon at Jack.  “Check them,” he gestured at the two Jaffa Jack had taken down.  No longer complacent, his voice shook with rage.

 

The Jaffa knelt by his colleague whom Jack had slammed with his head.  “This one is dead, Lord.” 

 

Unbelievable.  Jack once told me you could kill a man by breaking his nose and driving the fragments up into his brain.  I’d never expected to receive a live demonstration.

 

The Horus guard spared a second to glare at Jack before checking his other comrade.  “This one lives.”

 

Heru’ur turned his attention to Jack who had his eyes tightly shut and had bitten down on his lip so hard it was bleeding.  “You will pay for this,” the Goa’uld promised.

 

“Screw you, snakehead,” Jack said, then groaned as Heru’ur leant on the knife blade. 

 

With a vindictive twist, Heru’ur drew the weapon out and climbed to his feet.  “Bring them,” he ordered gesturing to the fallen Jaffa and at last the guard who was squeezing my biceps in a vice-like grip let go, grabbed hold of an edge of the dead Jaffa’s uniform and followed the others out of the room.

 

“Oh, god that hurts,” Jack drew his knees up to his chest, eyes still tightly closed.

 

All of a sudden my legs went from under me and I felt myself hit the floor.

 

“Daniel!”

 

 

“Daniel, c’mon snap out of it.”

 

 

“Daniel Jackson.”

 

 

Eventually the voices of my team mates began to make sense to me again.  I’d heard them all along, I guess, but they had been random sounds, without meaning.  The whole world had kind of grayed out for a while.

 

Now it snapped back into focus and I could hear Sam and Janet calling me.  It was very disorienting.  I put a hand to my face and for some reason my cheeks were wet.  Puzzled, I looked up at the ceiling but it wasn’t raining, which actually made a perverse sort of sense since we were inside.  I pondered for a moment where else the water might have come from.

 

“Daniel, honey, please, Jack needs your help.”  That was Janet, sounding kind of desperate.  And what was that about Jack?

 

Oh god, Jack!

 

I scrambled to my hands and knees and there was Jack, lying in front of me in a spreading pool of blood.

 

My hands flapped over him uselessly for a few seconds and then I turned to Janet, looking for instruction.

 

“You need to stop the bleeding, Daniel.”  I must have looked at her dumbly because she switched to that soft tone she uses in sickbay when I wake up and I’m not sure how I’ve gotten there.

 

“Daniel, Jack’s going to be fine, we just need to put some pressure on the wound and stop the bleeding, ok?  Take off your jacket and pad it up, you can use that.”

 

The tone worked to snap me out of my stupor and at last I moved.  I tried to gently pull Jack’s own jacket out of the way to see where all the blood was coming from and he flinched.

 

I looked down to see pain clouded brown eyes watching me.

 

“Hey,” I said.

 

“Hey.”  Jack sounded as terrible as he looked.

 

“I … uh, I need to stop the bleeding.  It’s probably going to hurt.”

 

“Yeah.  Figured.”

 

I pulled his jacket away from the wound, trying to ignore his stifled exclamations of pain.  Then I shrugged off my jacket and used it to push down on the bleeding knife wound.  Jack clenched his fists and banged his head up and down on the floor a couple of times before his whole body went limp and he passed out.

 

Thank God.

 

I touched his sweaty face, felt the reassuring thud of the pulse at his neck and held my jacket in place as it turned dark with his blood until at last, after a seeming eternity, the bleeding stopped.

 

I looked up to see Janet, Sam and Teal’c watching us with desperate intensity.  Teal’c was wrestling with the manacles around his wrists the whole time; like a wolf caught in a trap I was sure he would gnaw off his arm to get free if he could.

 

“Daniel,” Janet was back to her gentle voice again.  “I need you to set Jack’s fingers.”

 

“Wha…. What?  I, Janet… no, I can’t do that.”

 

“The pain will be unbearable unless we realign them, Daniel.”

 

“Hey, c’mon,” said Sam trying to be encouraging, although the wobble in her voice gave her away, “it’s just a couple of fingers.  I did a whole leg.”

 

I don’t want to talk about what happened next.  I took Jack’s swollen, misshapen fingers and as Janet directed me I moved them around until they popped back into place.  Then I wrapped them together with my bandanna.  Thankfully, Jack didn’t stir the whole time.

 

The world had started to gray out again by the time I was finished and I decided to take a break from things for a while.

 

The next time the world phased back into focus, I was being watched by three pairs of brown eyes and one pair of blue.

 

“Sleeping beauty awakes,” came the gravelly voice belonging to the closest pair of brown eyes, the ones dulled by pain.

 

“Jack!”

 

“Daniel, how are you?”  Janet called.

 

“Fine.”  Actually, I was kind of embarrassed.

 

“Hey Danny,” Jack read me clear as day, same as he always does.  “You did good.”  His look told me he meant more than dealing with his injuries.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, so I changed the subject.

 

“How are you feeling?”

 

“Just peachy, thank you.  Help me up.”  He offered me his good hand.

 

“Colonel, don’t you even think of getting up.”  Uh oh, Doctor Fraiser’s Voice of Doom.

 

I hesitated in the act of reaching for Jack, but he gestured towards Janet with a grin.  “Chained to the wall huh, Doc?  What is it they say? Every cloud, silver lining and all that.”  Without my help he hauled himself into a sitting position and scuttled back on his buttocks until he was leaning against the wall between Carter and Teal’c.  By a strange coincidence that put him well out of Janet’s reach.

 

He reached out to Teal’c’s raw wrists and gently restrained him.  “Take it easy for a while, big fella.”

 

Then he turned to Sam, a question on his face.

 

“Bad day, sir?”

 

He managed a grin at that.  “Oh yeah, Carter, bad day,” he murmured, laid his head back against the wall and fell asleep.

 

Samantha Carter

 

Jack took me as much by surprise with his attack on the Horus guard as he did Heru’ur.  God, I wish we’d escaped then – a couple of dislocated fingers and a stab wound.  Not pretty, but not in the top ten of O’Neill injuries, even if you only count since he joined SG1.

 

It’s been 14 days now, two weeks since we staggered back through the Gate, staff weapon blasts following us through, Jack slung over Teal’c’s shoulders.

 

I finally confronted Janet.  Tell me what it means, I demanded of her.  It can’t be good that he’s been unconscious so long.  But it was the doctor not my friend who answered, giving me platitudes about there always being hope and not giving up.  Jack’s strong, she said.  Give him a chance.

 

Strong!  My god.  What he went through at the hands of Heru’ur is beyond expressing.  This journal, we can write the words, but they can’t describe what it was like.  The helplessness, fear, anger, hatred, the awful pride and terrible pity I felt for my CO. 

 

He slept for a couple of hours before Heru’ur returned, the Goa’uld having found his composure in that time.

 

I shook the Colonel awake at the first sounds from outside our cell.  He appeared slightly confused, but got to his feet quickly enough when Heru’ur and four Horus guards entered the room.

 

At a gesture from Heru’ur, two Jaffa took up positions by the door while the other two grabbed the Colonel and dragged him to the manacles in the center of the room.  The Colonel gave a small involuntary yelp of pain when they roughly jerked his shoulder but was otherwise silent.

 

Heru’ur ignored him, heading instead for Daniel.  “I have two questions.  Answer either of them and I will free you.  Where is the Harsesis child?  Tell me the code to open the Tauri Stargate.”

 

“Free us now and we will let you live,” Daniel replied. 

 

Without even turning to look at the Colonel, chained behind him in the center of the room, Heru’ur gestured at one of the guards.

 

The Jaffa drew a two pronged metal stick, a lot like a tyre wrench from his side and touched it to the Colonel’s chest.

 

The Colonel screamed.  A light spat from his open mouth and out of his eyes. 

 

Teal’c has told us since that the device is known, appropriately enough, as a pain stick.  He doesn’t know the physics behind it and neither do I, though my guess is it is some kind of variation on the zat – sustained stimulation of the nervous system through electricity, the electricity the body simply cannot handle being converted to light.

 

Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but for once I’m with the Colonel.  I don’t know how it works and I don’t want to know.  All I know is Jack didn’t even scream like that when I set his broken leg in Antarctica.

 

Daniel tried to maintain a stoic demeanor, tried, belatedly, to maintain an uncaring façade, although the sweat leaking down his face, the way his Adam’s apple jumped up and down and the pounding of his fists against his thigh spoke the anguish he didn’t allow to show on his face.

 

The torture continued. 

 

I felt my fatigues sticking to me as sweat gushed from every pore of my body.  Beside me, Janet looked like she was deciding whether to throw up or pass out.

 

Finally, when Jack’s voice had given out and he was reduced to harsh grunting pants and still the torture continued, Daniel snapped.

 

“Stop it, dammit.  Stop.”

 

Heru’ur raised a hand and the guard stepped back.  The Colonel slumped, held up only by the manacles around his wrists.

 

“Well?”

 

“Look,” Daniel was panting himself, “we can’t give you the information, don’t you understand?”

 

Heru’ur smiled.  I swear I have never seen anything so evil in my life. 

 

He turned from Daniel to the Colonel, who was slumped, held up only by the manacles around his wrists.  He took the Colonel’s chin in his hand and forced his head up till he was staring directly into the Colonel’s eyes.

 

“It appears your team mate is unmoved by your pain,” he gloated.  “Tell me the code to open the Earth Stargate and the pain will cease.”

 

I hadn’t even been sure Jack was conscious, but ever so slowly he opened his eyes to meet the glowing orbs of his torturer.  Then, with deliberate defiance, he spat directly into Heru’ur’s face.

 

It’s not the first time the Colonel has demonstrated an ability to do the one thing most guaranteed to piss off whoever he’s dealing with – whether it’s General Hammond, an alien species or an enemy.  A gift, he calls it.

 

Heru’ur was enraged.  He swung his right hand, with the added weight of the hand device, directly into Jack’s face.  The Colonel slumped, without a sound.  I couldn’t hold back a howl of outrage.  Teal’c was beside himself, tearing at his chains like a wild animal.  It looked like the blow had broken the Colonel’s neck.  Janet tells me it cracked his cheekbone.  Another fracture for the Jack O’Neill broken-bones-r-us collection.

 

Heru’ur stood for a moment, breathing heavily, then turned with deliberate calm back to Daniel.

 

“The Earth Stargate.  The Harsesis.”

 

Daniel shook his head. 

 

“Bring him around,” Heru’ur ordered with a gesture at the Colonel, ignoring Daniel’s cry of protest.

 

With water, slaps and kicks the guards did as they were ordered.  Eventually, Jack gave a groan to signal his return to consciousness.  One of the Jaffa grasped him by the hair and jerked his head up.  Beside me, Teal’c growled.

 

Jack’s breathing was harsh, his eyes glazed.  There was no indication he had any idea where he was.

 

“Tell me,” Heru’ur ordered Daniel.

 

It was obvious that Daniel was torn.  He wanted to end the torture but Heru’ur was asking for two things that – for Earth’s sake – we could not afford to give him.

 

“No.  And if you touch him, I’ll kill you.”

 

Again, Heru’ur merely smiled.

 

And raised his arm.

 

Again, the Jaffa touched the Colonel with the pain stick.

 

Again, the Colonel screamed and screamed.

 

Just like he does every night in my dreams.  Oh screw this for a joke – who the hell said this was therapeutic.

 

The Journal

by Frizzelly

 

Part 6 of 13 – see Part 0 for warnings etc.

 

 

Daniel Jackson

 

When I came to the infirmary this afternoon, Sam was crying, not dramatically or hysterically, she just sat holding Jack’s hand and let the tears run down her face.

 

Coward that I am, I left before she saw me.  What comfort can I give her?  It was all my fault that we got into this mess in the first place and I stood there silently while Jack tried to free us.

 

I can’t even reassure her that he’s going to be alright because I’m not sure if I believe it myself.

 

Sam doesn’t cry very often.  I’ve only seen tears from her a couple of times in all the time I’ve known her.  Once when Jolinar died, the day we rescued Jack from Edora and after we’d said goodbye to Merrin.  Pretty momentous occasions all of them.  Jack said she also cried at my .. ah…. funeral, when they thought I’d died in fire on Nem’s planet.

 

Considering I spent the night after most missions for the first year and a half close to tears – missing Shau’re, feeling incompetent and like an outcast, hating the US Air Force – in my view Sam’s done amazingly well.  I’d probably still be howling my eyes out if Jack hadn’t reached out and offered to help me fit in.  I thought he was trying to make me a soldier, but circumstances did that, Jack just made me his friend.

 

Anyway, even Teal’c has shed a few tears over the years, usually tears of regret over his past.  His Cor'ai is what I remember the most, the first time I saw in Teal’c what Jack must have seen on that first day on Chulac when he begged for his help.

 

Not Colonel Jonathon O’Neill, USAF, though.  Not a tear from him, of course.  Screaming nightmares, sleeplessness, bad temper, lashing out at those around him, disappearing off into the mountains for days at a time, the occasional night on his roof with his telescope and only Jack Daniels for company, all of those but no tears, no siree.  Jack O’Neill has a million strategies for avoiding his emotions.

 

Sam’s tears when Merrin left were mostly for Jack.  Even George Hammond looked a little misty eyed when the Colonel said goodbye to Reetou Charlie. 

 

I don’t know if the tears I shed today when I fled from Sam were for Jack, her or myself.

 

When I went back to the infirmary an hour later Sam was her normal self and if my eyes were red and my nose runny, Sam chose not to mention it.

 

I sat down and took a close look at Jack.  He’d been getting scruffy but the nurses had shaved him and he was once again smooth cheeked.  Doctor Fraiser’s pain medication was obviously working, for the pain lines near his mouth and eyes had disappeared.

 

He was far too pale and far too still.  There was a bandage on his shoulder and a line of neat stitches over his left eye.  The bruising around his fractured cheekbone was a riot of blacks and blues.  His torso was bare except for a pressure bandage holding his cracked ribs in place.  His fingers were strapped.  All kinds of machines that I’ve never bothered to be able to identify did their work around him.

 

He looked ill and … old.  When he’s awake there’s always something of the child about Jack.  I don’t know what it is.  Maybe the way he picks up objects and fiddles with them, his unique blend of humor and sarcasm, the smile that he finds in even the worst situations, or maybe his lithe fitness (the man moves like a panther).  It could be the way he insists on playing dumb, or maybe the ability he has to absolutely infuriate me with a word.  Whatever it is, it’s missing now.  Unconscious, in that bed, he just looks like a soldier approaching the wrong side of middle aged who has seen too many battles.

 

We’ve done that to him … mostly me, but the rest of SG1 and the whole SCG too.  People don’t realize just how seriously he takes his responsibility to keep us and the SGC safe.  No man should have to be responsible for a whole planet, but Jack is.  He has an enormous capacity for guilt.  He’d never forgive himself if he screwed up.

 

It’s what scares me the most about him, what scared me on Abydos the very first time.  There have been times I’ve been lying in the infirmary or bleeding on some alien planet when only the fact that I KNOW how Jack would react if I died have kept me fighting.

 

I wish he would wake up.  Wish it so hard it hurts.  He must know he is as important to us as we are to him, right?

 

Wrong.  The man has no idea.  He has the lowest sense of self worth of anyone I know, macho male posturing notwithstanding.  But tell you what Jack, wake up and we’ll let you know once and for all.  Promise.

 

When Heru’ur signaled his Jaffa to hit Jack with the pain stick again, I leapt for him.  I wanted to see what smashing a host’s nose and driving it into his brain did to a Goa’uld.

 

Obviously, there’s some trick to the move that I don’t know because all I did was give Heru’ur a bloody nose, following which he aimed the hand device at me and flung me the full length of the room.

 

I don’t know how long it was until I regained consciousness.  It was pitch black.  I spent a moment trying to decide where I was.  The first thing I heard was Janet’s voice.

 

“Daniel.  Daniel, open your eyes if you can hear me.”

 

Open my eyes?

 

Oh.  That would explain the blackness.

 

Still, easy order for Janet to give.  Much harder to achieve in practice.  I fought and finally managed to force them open, staring blearily at Janet, Sam and Teal’c chained to a wall before it all came flooding back to me.

 

“Jack!”

 

I tried to get to my feet, was struck by dizziness and instead fell to my knees.

 

“Easy, Daniel.  Just take it easy.  You took a heavy blow.”  That was Janet again.  Unlike Jack, I listen to her.

 

Well, usually.

 

I laid still until the dizziness faded away and then climbed cautiously to my feet.  I ached all over, I was thirsty and my head pounded.  I wondered how long we had been in this cell; a day and a half at least, was my guess.  It felt like a lifetime.

 

I turned and there was Jack, unconscious, held up only by the manacles around his torn and bloody wrists.

 

“Daniel, you need to help him.”  Right, Janet, sure and how ‘bout some magic beans to wish us the hell out of here while you're at it.

 

Blood ran from his shoulder, from his cheek where the blow from the hand device had split the skin and from his wrists.  I was thankful he was unconscious, I can only imagine the pain from hanging suspended like that.

 

Help Jack.  Right.  Okay.  Where the hell did I start?

 

I didn’t get a chance.

 

Heru’ur (complete with posse) came strolling back into the room, arrogance personified.  Obviously, he had been watching our cell from somewhere.

 

“The codes to the Earth Stargate,” he demanded without preamble.

 

I shook my head, but mostly I was trying to deny the situation rather than him.  There had to be something I could do to prevent Jack from suffering more.

 

Heru’ur gestured to his Jaffa, the same one or a different one, I didn’t even know.  The Jaffa slammed his metal clad fist into Jack’s injured shoulder.

 

Sam, Janet and Teal’c all roared.  A red mist flowed over my eyes.  Bastard, I’ll kill you, kill you!!  I struggled in the grip of the creep who held me.  He continued to hold me with insulting ease.

 

Jack came awake with a howl of pain, pulling his feet under him and staring around the room, obviously trying to orient himself.

 

His eyes swung past me, past Sam, Teal’c and Janet and settled on Heru’ur.

 

When he spoke his voice was hoarse with pain, but defiant.  “Well if it isn’t the king of the snakeheads.”

 

“O’Neill,” said Heru’ur, moving close into Jack’s space.  “You look tired.  Perhaps you would like to swap places with Dr Jackson for a while.”  As he spoke, he laid his hand on Jack’s injured shoulder, the one that the Jaffa’s blow had reopened.  Curiously, he watched as Jack’s blood flowed onto his hand.

 

“Whatever you like old boy, this is your party after all.  Giving up on me are you?”

 

Apparently unconcerned, Jack watched as Heru’ur's eyes flashed.  No slouch at psychology our Jack.  Heru'ur produced Jack’s knife once again.  He laid the flat side against the white of Jack’s neck and almost caressingly drew it back and across.

 

The sense of horror in the room was overwhelming.  I didn’t look at Sam, Teal’c and Janet, couldn’t take my eyes off what could well be my best friend’s last seconds, but I could feel their rage, terror and helplessness like a physical force.

 

“Tell me the codes to access the Tauri Stargate.”

 

A slight widening of the eyes was the only sign Jack gave that he was aware of approaching mortality.  His voice was as unconcerned as if he were sitting on his deck at home, talking fishing.

 

“’Ur, much as I’d like to invite you round to my place for a barbecue, maybe a little street hockey, my government would have me killed if I gave you those codes.  I can’t help you, buddy.”

 

“You are a warrior, O’Neill.  Tell me, have you ever cut a man’s throat?”  Heru’ur kept up the pressure on Jack’s throat as he spoke.

 

“Uh, I could answer that, but then I’d have to kill you,” Jack said, then brightened.  “Hey, there’s an idea…”

 

But Heru’ur obviously felt he had the upper hand now.  Jack’s taunts failed to get a rise out of him.  Instead, he casually lifted the knife away from Jack’s throat and examined it.  “I see why you like this weapon.  It is primitive but effective.  Tell me,” he sheathed the knife and took the pain stick from his Jaffa, “what do you think of my invention?”

 

He tapped it against Jack’s chest for emphasis, eyes glowing with satisfaction when Jack arched his body away from the pain.

 

He didn’t wait for a reply.  “It has proven very popular among the Goa’uld.”  Again, a little tap.

 

“No accounting for snake taste I always say,” Jack managed to gasp out.

 

Heru’ur held it against him longer this time, seemingly annoyed at Jack’s resistance.

 

“Goddd,” the moan was dragged from Jack.

 

“The code for the Earth Stargate?”

 

Jack was too busy trying to keep his feet under him and his weight off his arms to answer.

 

Heru’ur turned to Sam, Teal’c and Janet for the first time in the long, long time we had been his prisoners.  “Any of you?”

 

Silence.

 

Until he touched the pain stick to Jack again.  And held it there.

 

Jack’s screams went on for a long time.

 

Janet Fraiser

 

Sam is angry at me because she thinks I’m hiding behind my medical façade.  She doesn’t understand that that façade is all that’s standing between me and a breakdown right now.

 

Jack doesn’t need a sympathetic but traumatized friend, he needs a doctor.  When he wakes up, then I’ll go off and quietly have hysterics.

 

I became a doctor because I can’t stand seeing things hurt.  People have all kinds of reasons, mine was that simple.

 

Seeing someone, anyone, in pain is unbearable to me, it makes me physically ill.  Watching what Heru’ur did to Jack and to Daniel literally sickened me.

 

I have never in my life felt so helpless.  Every time I close my eyes I see Jack writhing under the pain stick, hear him screaming, see Daniel’s look of desperation, see how much pain Jack was in and this RAGE, this uncontrollable anger rises up in me.  It terrifies me that I can feel that much anger, that much hate.  So you’ll forgive me, Sam, if Dr Fraiser sticks around for a while because right now, honey, Janet is holding on to sanity with her fingertips.

 

I’m sitting at Jack’s bedside.  There’s not much I can do for him at the moment, other than keep a close watch on his vitals.  He is surrounded by the latest in medical devices for monitoring and maintaining the human condition.  Tubes, drips, sensors, you name it. 

 

Still, I can’t resist taking his pulse the old fashioned way or laying my hand on his head to feel his temperature.  It's the only way I have of letting him know I am there.  It’s obscene to ask you to fight more, Jack, after all you’ve been through but it’s all up to you again, I’m afraid.  Fight, Colonel.  We’re waiting for you.

 

So, this journal.  We’re all exposing plenty of feelings now, so I guess it’s serving it’s purpose.  I can’t help thinking we’d all be a lot better off though, if Jack just woke up.

 

When Heru’ur finally tired of his latest attack, Jack was left hanging from wrists slick with blood  As soon as Heru’ur strode from the room, Jaffa in tow, Daniel was over there, trying to take the weight off Jack’s arms, wrapping his own arms around Jack’s waist and lifting.

 

“Janet,” he begged me, “what do I do?”

 

I froze.  Get us out of here?  Make the last endless, eternal hours never have happened?  Tell me it's all been a dream?  I wanted to scream at him. Wake up Daniel, we have no control over this situation.  We’re just useless spectators!  There is nothing we can do!

 

“Janet!”  Daniel’s own voice teetered on the edge of panic.  With an enormous effort I pulled myself together. 

 

“Same again, Daniel.  We need to stop the bleeding first, then try and take some weight off those wrists.  Can you check his shoulder?”

 

Daniel gently let Jack down, wincing when the chains once again took his weight, although Jack himself never stirred.

 

I was right.  The shoulder wound was bleeding again and Daniel used his shirt to put pressure on the wound.

 

It took a long for the bleeding to stop and by the time it did, Jack was conscious again.  Somehow, I don’t what stubborn strength it took, he managed to get his feet under him.

 

“Jack?”  Daniel’s voice was shaky.  He hadn’t been through anything like this before.  None of us except, God help me, possibly the Colonel, were remotely prepared for this scenario.

 

Blearily, Jack shook his head and raised it to take in each of us.

 

“O’Neill?” Jack’s eyes focused on Teal’c, recognizing he was the one who had spoken, but showing no signs of knowing who he was.

 

“O’Neill, you must convince him to free you.”

 

Jack continued to stare blankly, before finally muttering, “Teal’c?”

 

“Yes.  O’Neill you must convince Heru’ur to release you.”

 

Jack nodded, but I wasn’t sure he had understood.  His reactions were sluggish and his thinking obviously impaired.

 

Daniel reached out and touched his face, carefully avoiding the right side where Heru’ur’s heavy blow had landed.

 

Ever so slowly, Jack refocused his attention from Teal’c to Daniel.  “Daniel?”

 

“Hey, Jack.”  Daniel sounded like he might cry.  He has always hurt for others more than he ever hurts for himself.  And Daniel has never been able to stand seeing Jack injured.

 

“Thirsty.”

 

“I know.  I’m sorry, there’s no water.”

 

“Hurts.”

 

“God, I know, Jack.  I’m sorry.”

 

Daniel’s distress finally seemed to focus Jack and he really looked at Daniel for the first time.  “You ‘k?”

 

“Me?  I’m fine, Jack.  I don’t … I’m sorry, I don’t know how to make him stop hurting you.”

 

Jack didn't respond to that, just lifted his eyes and surveyed the rest of us.

 

"'k?" he whispered.

 

"Yessir," Sam and I said in pretty much the same tone.  Shock, horror, disbelief that this could be happening.

 

Teal'c, however, had his own agenda.  "O'Neill, stop this.  Convince Heru'ur to release you."  Jack stared at him, concentrating hard, but it wasn't clear whether he knew what Teal'c was talking about.

 

Just then there came the grinding noise that signaled the opening of the door and Jack pulled himself up a little straighter.  I saw a welter of looks cross his face – pain, fear, dread, hurt, anger – before he found his soldier face.

 

Daniel was more open.  He gave a cry of pure distress.  “Oh, God, Jack.  I don’t, I can’t…”

 

Jack did the most amazing thing then.  He gave a soft smile.  Not of amusement, just quiet affection.  “Hang in there, Danny,” he warned as Heru’ur came striding back in to the room.

 

The Goa’uld wasted no time.  “The code to the Tauri StarGate.”

 

Daniel flinched and looked desperately at all of us.

 

Jack just shook his head, no.

 

I closed my eyes, ashamed but unable to watch any more.

 

And jerked them open when I heard a sound I had never heard before from Jack.  “Please, no,” he said and there was the faintest hint of surrender in it.

 

Heru’ur heard it too, for he smiled and ordered the Jaffa approaching Jack with the pain stick to hold off.  “The Tauri Stargate?”

 

“No.”  Jack’s answer was the same but it sounded hesitant now.  Oh, no, no, no, no.  I did not want to watch this proud man break.

 

Heru’ur nodded to the guard and he placed the pain stick against Jack’s chest.  The Goa’uld’s eyes glowed with satisfaction as he watched the Colonel writhe.

 

At last it stopped and Jack again hung by his torn wrists.  He scrambled to his feet to the sound of Heru’ur’s grating voice.

 

“The Stargate?”  Daniel was forgotten now, held between two Jaffa as Heru’ur focused on the sudden weakness he sensed in Jack.

 

“Please, I can’t,” Jack panted.  “Anything else.”

 

I felt sick to my stomach as I watched Jack weaken.  I had thought nothing could be worse than watching him tortured hour after hour.  But somehow, terribly, this was.  Could this be real?  Could Jack O’Neill be about to break?

 

And even if it meant the end of the torture, could we allow it?  Sam and Teal’c were silent beside me as I struggled with the most terrible decision I had ever contemplated.  For the first time ever my air force oath conflicted with my medical oath and I heard myself give a moan of distress. 

 

I straightened, needing to call out to Jack, to tell him to be strong, but I had seen what he had been through these last long hours and I knew I did not have the right to demand more suffering from him.  But how could I not?  Wouldn’t I sacrifice Jack O’Neill, myself, everyone in the damn Ha'tak if meant saving Earth?  It was my responsibility, my duty.  I was a doctor first, yes, but I was also a major and I had sworn the same oath of duty and sacrifice as every other officer in the air force.  The same oath as Jack.

 

I opened my mouth – to say what even I didn’t know.  Then that thought really hit me.  The same oath as Jack.

 

I’d seen the medals Jack wore.  I’d seen his medical file.  Mostly, I knew the man he was.

 

That man was and is incapable of betraying his oath.  His oath supports him, it defines him.  He would die, even like this, in agony, rather than betray it.  Sam, Teal’c and Daniel knew that.  It was why they hadn’t moved.

 

God, the man amazes me.  I looked at Jack with new eyes and wondered how it was he had the presence of mind and the strength to play this dangerous game.  Heru’ur had been hooked and, like a fish on the end of his line, Jack was reeling him in.

 

Heru’ur approached Jack now and drew out the bowie knife again.  “The Tauri Stargate.”

 

Jack shuddered and closed his eyes.

 

Heru’ur touched the point of the knife to the existing stab wound.

 

Jack flinched.

 

Expressionlessly, Heru’ur applied pressure, slowly sinking the knife into the flesh.

 

“God. Stop. Stop!”  I don’t want to think how little of the agony in Jack’s voice was feigned.

 

Heru’ur stopped but left the knife in the wound.

 

In the sudden silence I could hear Daniel chanting, “no more, no more, no more,” under his breath and I sympathized with him entirely.

 

“The Earth Stargate.”

 

Tell him.  Whatever you’re going to do, do it, I wanted to scream.

 

Again, Jack shook his head.

 

Heru’ur leant on the knife and it slid into Jack’s shoulder up to the hilt.

 

“ARGGGHHHH.”  No doubt the agony this time was real.  “All right. Please.  Please,” Jack begged.  Sweat ran down his face and he heaved in air like he had run a marathon.  His face was ghastly – grey with pain, fatigue and blood loss.

 

Heru’ur drew out the knife and replaced it in his belt and pulled forth the GDO.  “Well?”

 

“You have to …. God,” Jack’s knees buckled and he was once again hanging by his wrists.  “Arghhhh.”

 

“Speak!”

 

“The button … arrggh damn… press the activation button,” Jack panted the words out through pain filled curses.

 

Heru’ur was not impressed.  His eyes flashed as he examined the GDO and could not locate the button his captive spoke of.

 

Beside me, Teal’c had tensed and I felt Sam gathering her legs beneath her.

 

“Which button, human?”

 

Jack scrambled but his legs were apparently unable to support him.  “Oh, man … on the casing… the button,” his voice was ragged from the screaming he had done earlier.  He was every inch the broken victim.  He looked on the verge of passing out.

 

“Bring him here,” Heru’ur ordered and one of the Jaffa let go of Daniel to release Jack.

 

The anticipation in the room was mounting, as around me Sam and Teal’c tensed, but Heru’ur, seeing his goal in sight, was focused only on Jack.

 

The Jaffa unclasped the manacles and Jack slumped to his knees on the ground.  His arms hung bloodied and useless at his side.

 

The Jaffa gave him a moment but when Jack made no effort to rise he tried to haul him up by the arm.  When this just resulted in Jack hanging awkwardly in his grip, he reached both hands down and took the Colonel under the arms.

 

This was what Jack was waiting for and in a mirror of the move he had used earlier, he surged up slamming his head into the guard’s face. 

 

Even before the Jaffa had hit the floor Jack was moving.  He kicked the guard’s zat towards Teal’c and threw himself at Heru’ur.

 

Daniel was wrestling with the Jaffa who held him, tangling his hands up with the Horus guard to prevent him getting a shot off.

 

Teal’c was stretched as far as he could reach, his own wrists bleeding and raw from struggling with the chains holding him, grasping for the zat.

 

Jack slammed into Heru’ur, his momentum carrying them both to the ground.  They rolled over and over, before the Goa’uld gathered his strength and flung Jack backwards across the cell.  Jack slammed into the wall and landed hard.  He didn’t get up.

 

There was a yell from outside and the door opened to admit half a dozen Jaffa who had obviously overheard the disturbance.  They milled just inside the entrance way, hesitating to fire into the melee.  Their hesitation was fatal.  With a roar and a last desperate stretch Teal’c managed to snare the zat and fired into the doorway, concentrating on keeping the numbers of Jaffa in the room down.

 

Heru’ur came to his feet with a roar of his own and eyes only for Jack.  I screamed, “Colonel, look out!” 

 

Sam’s action was more practical.  She threw herself full length on the floor, tangling her legs with those of the system lord.  Heru’ur went sprawling.

 

Jack managed to get to his knees and with a grunt of agony raised his arms up and clubbed them down on Heru’ur’s head.  The Goa’uld staggered backwards, stunned, and as Jack scrambled out of the way two shots from Teal’c’s zat dropped him. 

 

Teal’c threw himself sideways on the floor as far as his chains would allow, aiming for a third and undeniably final shot at the system lord but one of his Jaffa leapt into the line of fire, and as Teal’c took him down, the surviving Jaffa hauled Heru’ur’s body out of the room and away.

 

After the whirlwind of activity of the last few minutes the sudden silence was unnerving.

 

Forcing himself to his knees once more, Jack looked around.  When his eyes fixed on Daniel, standing over the unconscious form of his Jaffa guard, he managed a ghostly smile.  “Way to go, Danny,” he whispered and then passed out.

 

The Journal

by Frizzelly

 

Part 7 of 13 – see Part 0 for warnings etc.

 

 

Samantha Carter

 

He’s awake!

 

Last night about 2300, the Colonel started to show some signs of awareness, fidgeting, tossing his head.

 

Janet said it was an encouraging sign and sure enough, half an hour ago he opened his eyes.  He recognized us, before falling back asleep.

 

He’s not out of the woods yet but this is a great sign!

 

Teal’c

 

Today, 16 days after we escaped, O’Neill finally stayed awake long enough to talk to us.

 

He is very weak, but getting better.  For the first time since we were captured, I saw Samantha Carter smile and some of the simmering fury Daniel Jackson has been carrying around seemed to dissipate.

 

Daniel Jackson and Samantha Carter crowded in when O’Neill opened his eyes and I saw him check them over, as he does whenever they have been out of his sight for any length of time.

 

Then his eyes resumed their wandering around the infirmary.  They settled on Dr Fraiser, pausing this time to give her the same scrutiny, before moving on again.  Next, they settled on me, behind the others at the back of the room.

 

In a voice hoarse from disuse, O’Neill asked, “Teal’c, you okay, buddy?”

 

“I am fine, O’Neill.”  I stepped forward to prove it and he subjected me to the same scrutiny as he had the others.

 

Satisfied, he let his eyes slide closed.

 

“Colonel O’Neill, how are you feeling?” Dr Fraiser asked, fighting her way past Samantha Carter and Daniel Jackson to see for herself.  But O’Neill was already asleep.

 

Daniel Jackson

 

I’ve just been reading over the preceding entries.  Even Teal’c sounded jubilant.

 

That was 3 days ago.  Jack came out of his coma and it felt like everything would be alright again.  I even relaxed enough to sleep for six hours straight without waking screaming. 

 

When I did wake it was to the wonderful sounds of grumpy Jack.  “For crying out loud, Daniel, go find your own bed” were his exact words, but they sounded as sweet as poetry to me.

 

“Hey Jack, how you feeling?”

 

I drank in the sight of him, needing something to replace the visions in my mind’s eye of the bloody figure hanging in chains in Heru’ur’s Ha'tak, or the too still form that has been lying here in the infirmary the last two weeks.

 

I only realized I was staring when Jack said,  “What?  Do I have food in my teeth or something?”  I couldn’t help myself.  I laughed.  Normally, I do my best not to laugh at Jack’s jokes.  He finds himself altogether too amusing as it is.  But this was a feeling of pure, sweet relief.

 

He watched me for a moment with a kind of tolerant amusement, then pushed the sheet down the bed, away from his body.

 

Relief quickly turned to alarm.  “Jack what are you doing?”

 

Still with the same gentle amusement Jack said, “Relax, Daniel, I’m not going anywhere.  It’s just hot in here.”

 

Far from relaxing, I felt the alarm turn into a tingle of fear.  The infirmary was its usual steady 70 degrees.  It’s always been a little too cool for a kid who grew up in Egypt; it certainly wasn’t hot.

 

“Jack, it’s not hot.  You must have a temperature.  Let me call Janet.”

 

“No.  Absolutely not.”  Jack made a futile grab for me and ended up twisting several of the lines running out of his body.

 

He was cursing like a … well, like a trooper when Janet arrived and I saw her bite her lip to keep from laughing.

 

“Colonel, just lie still and let me sort this out, sir,” she ordered.  (I’ve noticed that in the infirmary rank means nothing to Janet.  She bosses everyone, from General Hammond down.)

 

Jack took it in his usual ill tempered way.  “Ah for crying out loud Doc, what the hell is all this stuff anyway?  Have you been using me as a damned practice dummy for your sadistic, vampiric, bloodsucking nurses?”

 

“No one’s ever suggested you’re a PRACTICE dummy, sir,” she said straight faced, as she sorted out the lines and reset the various alarms that Jack’s antics had set off.

 

Jack turned the full strength of his Colonel-Glare on her, which I have to say comes pretty close to the Janet-Death-Glare for effectiveness, but Janet was unmoved. 

 

All banter left her as she gently laid her hand on his forehead.  “Feels like you’re running a bit of a temperature.  How do you feel?”

 

“I feel fine.”  Jack growled his standard answer, fingers playing with the material of the blanket, his eyes avoiding hers.

 

Janet knew the signs as well as I did.  “Sir, I need to know how you feel.  You’ve been very sick.  We want to keep you awake and with us now.”

 

Jack harrumphed, but brought his eyes up to meet hers.  He hates not being at his best, hates any admission of weakness. “I feel like shit, okay.  I’m hot, my back aches, my legs ache, my chest aches and the New York Symphony Orchestra percussion section have taken up residence in my head.”

 

“Jack…” I felt obliged to protest on Janet’s behalf but the doctor is one of the few people in the world Jack O’Neill has always been completely unable to intimidate.

 

Janet stood at his side taking his temperature, his pulse, his BP, calmly starting over when Jack lost patience and shoved her instruments away.

 

“Daniel you don’t have to sit through this,” Jack began.

 

“Yes I do.”

 

“Don’t.”

 

“Do,” I insisted, not prepared to let him out of my sight.

 

“Don’t.  Why don’t you go check on Kawalsky.”

 

I felt ice trickle down my spine, a terrible shiver of dread.  Desperately, I glanced across at Janet only to see that her hands had stilled on the blood pressure pump.

 

Jack caught my reaction.  “What?  What is it?”

 

“Uh… Jack…. Kawalsky isn’t here.”

 

Suddenly, I was being regarded as if I were a bizarre and slightly dangerous escapee from a mental institution.  It’s a look I’ve gotten very used to over the years.  “Well of course he isn’t Danny, since by my reckoning he’s been dead for going on two years now.”

 

“But you just told me to go get him!”

 

“Uh-uh.  No way.  Did not.”

 

“Did too.”

 

“Did not.”

 

“Jack, you did too.”

 

“Gentlemen, please!”  Jack jumped like he’d forgotten Janet was there, then turned and gave her a glare as if everything was her fault.

 

“Why don’t you stop sticking things in me and on me and go check the heating, solve the real problem,” he growled, pushing her away once more.

 

“You have a fever , Colonel, and your lungs sound congested.  Lean forward for me please.”  Politeness in the face of obstreperous rudeness.  The lady is a saint.

 

Grumbling, Jack leant forward while Janet placed the stethoscope on his back.

 

“Breathe deeply for me, Colonel,” she instructed.  Moved the stethoscope.  “Again.”  She frowned in annoyance when there was no response.  “Colonel?”

This time a trace of worry crept into her voice.  “Jack?”  She gently touched his shoulder.

 

“Daniel, help me lay him back down.”  We laid Jack back in the bed. 

 

He was unconscious.

 

 

END OF PART ONE.

 

The Journal – Part Two

 

by Frizzelly

 

Part 8 of 13.  See part 0 for warnings etc.

 

Daniel Jackson

 

La La La La La La La La La La La La La La La La La La La La La La La La La La La La La La La La…………………….

 

Samantha Carter

 

Oh very mature, Doctor Jackson! 

 

It’s been 36 hours now since we were released from detention and we’ve been allowed in to see the Colonel again at last.  Dr MacKenzie has been selling this whole Journal thing to the General.  He wanted to make it a condition of seeing the Colonel that we write an entry.  The General, bless him, has not been prepared to go that far, but has "strongly encouraged" us to make use of the journal whenever we visit the Colonel.

 

I have to say that I don’t think “la, la, la” was what he had in mind.

 

Daniel Jackson

 

Well, you wouldn’t would you Major Yes-Sir-No-Sir-I-Obey-Your-Every-Command-Sir-Goody-Two-Shoes Carter!  God, do you ever loosen up?

 

Samantha Carter

 

You know what Daniel…………………….

 

Samantha Carter (cont.)

 

Jack just had a really bad attack.  He started coughing and the coughing aggravated the broken ribs and the cheek fracture and then he was wheezing and panting and he couldn’t get enough oxygen.  God, Daniel, he was in so much pain.

 

Janet’s pushed me out of ICU and I don’t know what’s going on and I’m so scared.  Daniel, what if………?

 

Colonel, please don’t do this.  Oh please, please, don’t let this happen.

 

Daniel, sitting here, so scared, I realize how stupid the rant I was about to go on was.  I’m sorry.  Really sorry.

 

Daniel Jackson

 

Sam is asleep with her head in my lap.  We’ve been waiting outside the infirmary for about 4 hours now for news on Jack.  I think it’s the first time Sam has slept in days.

 

I finally told her I was sorry for being such an ass and she apologized to me and we’re talking again.  Maybe that allowed her to relax enough to grab a nap or maybe she just couldn’t hold off the exhaustion by force of will any more.

 

Teal’c is still sitting in the corner saying nothing but radiating quiet concern.

 

Things all came to a head shortly after Jack collapsed.  He had a fever, Janet said and the beginnings of an infection.  She also thought he might have developed pneumonia.

 

I snapped at her, demanding to know what the hell kind of doctor she was not to have noticed any of this.  I asked her why the hell she didn't just go home for all the good she'd done Jack here and on Errinious.  Sam walked in just in time to witness my display and told me I was out of order and should back off.

 

I was terrified and guilty and, like Janet says, I lashed out.  “Who the hell are you to be giving orders, Sam, huh?”

 

“I’m in command until Colonel O’Neill recovers, Daniel, and…”

 

I didn’t even let her finish, “Oh so you have some orders at last do you?”  It was vicious and uncalled for, not to mention unjustified and I saw Sam’s eyes widen in surprised hurt.  I want to make it clear that I was using Sam's own feelings against her.  Using the journal against her; wonder what MacKenzie would say about that.  Personally, I think Sam always goes above and beyond in doing what needs to be done, exactly when it needs to be done.  The fact that we all so often did nothing on Errinious was because there wasn't a damn thing any of us could do.  What was it you said, Teal'c, choiceless?

 

Janet knew I didn't mean what I said and was quick to leap to Sam's defence.  “Daniel, you don’t mean that.”

 

But there was no stopping me at that stage.  All the guilt and rage I’d been feeling since we ran into Heru’ur on that damned planet, since I watched him murder four innocent farmers who didn't even know what a Goa'uld was, since I stood and allowed my best friend to be tortured, was demanding expression.  I was so sick of feeling responsible.  I didn’t want to hear Jack’s screams in my ears any more, even when I was awake. 

 

I guess I just wanted Sam and Janet to hurt like I was.

 

So I let fly.  “Why don’t you keep your attention on your patient, DOCTOR, before you miss another life threatening condition.”

 

Janet jerked like I’d struck her, but you don’t often walk away unscathed from an attack on Janet Fraiser, as Jack would be only too able to attest.  She drew herself up to what was somehow an intimidating 5 foot 4 inches and spat in my face.  “Get out of my infirmary.  Now!”

 

Sam reached out and grabbed my arm.  “Come on Daniel, let’s go.”

 

Still furious I shrugged her off and, not satisfied with that, I turned and pushed her.

 

God, I still can’t believe I did that - if you’d asked me a few weeks ago if I’d been capable of shoving someone, anyone, in the whole SGC in anger, let alone Sam, I would have thought you were mad.

 

Sam obviously thought the same because, although the push wasn’t hard, it caught her completely off balance and she fell back against the chair beside Jack’s bed.  She flailed out trying to keep her balance and brought Jack’s IV pole crashing down.  There was a shattering crash and then the floor was covered in Sam, glass, IV fluids and replacement blood or whatever the red stuff was they were still pumping into Jack.

 

I stood locked in place, unable to believe what I’d done and as Janet came tearing around the bed to check on Jack, who lay unconscious in the middle of all this, she shoved me aside and I slipped in the mess on the floor.

 

It would have been comic, I’m sure, if it wasn’t so absolutely appalling.  I toppled over and landed sprawled on top of Sam.

 

She shoved me hard and drew back her fist and, what is it they say about twenty impossible thing before breakfast, I think she really would have hit me if a massive roar hadn’t sounded around the infirmary.  Even as I watched her hand balling up into a fist, saw her eyes go flat and cold, I realized that in my total self absorption over the past few weeks I had completely underestimated the rage Sam was carrying around as a result of this disastrous little mission.

 

“Would somebody please tell me what the HELL is going on here?”  You’ve got to give it to Hammond.  He really knows how to get the attention of the room.

 

Sam unclenched her fist and we scrambled to our feet.

 

“Major?” The General turned to Sam and I felt the blood begin to boil again watching the old military dance. 

 

“Why are you asking her?” I demanded, wincing at how petulant I sounded.

 

“Dammit Daniel…”

 

“No, Sam, I’m serious, I…”

 

“That’s it!”  I’d never seen Janet really lose her temper before and I sure as hell don’t want to see it again.  “Get them both out of here!  Lock them up, send them home, court martial them, I don’t care, just get them out!”

 

The General took one bewildered look at the disaster that was the infirmary, met the blazing eyes of his CMO and gestured to a couple of SF’s.  “Escort Dr Jackson and Major Carter to the holding cells.”

 

So that’s where we sat for six long hours.  Sam ignored me and although remorse was eating away at my insides, it didn’t quite manage to overpower the petulant child who was sick to hell of feeling guilty and sure as hell wasn’t about to accept something else to feel guilty for.

 

At the end of that time, Hammond came in to see us and his glare was enough to make even me come to attention. 

 

“I’m going to speak and you will listen, without interruption.”  His blue eyes stared first into mine and then into Sam’s. 

 

“I have never in my life witnessed behaviour like I saw today.  I know you are under enormous stress and I know you are worried about Colonel O’Neill.  That is the only reason you are not both out of the SGC right now.

 

“You will not ever strike a fellow member of this command.”

 

Sam must have opened her mouth or blinked or something because Hammond shot a furious glare at her.  “You may not have actually struck Dr Jackson, Major, but I think we both know that is more due to timing than restraint.

 

“Did either of you even think about what could have happened if a piece of glass had hit Colonel O’Neill, if you had knocked him out of his bed in his condition?”

 

“General, I..”

 

“Be silent, Dr Jackson, it was a rhetorical question.  I think it’s quite clear that neither of you were thinking at all.  I don’t even want to think what Colonel O’Neill will have to say to the two of you when he awakens.”  I almost smiled then, even through my utter mortification.  When, not if.  God bless you General for your absolute faith that the Colonel will awaken.

 

“I’ve spoken to Dr MacKenzie and to Dr Fraiser and here is what is going to happen.  You will both return to your quarters.  You are confined there for 24 hours.  After that you may return to your duties.  I have convinced Dr Fraiser not to ban you from the infirmary, although it was a close run thing for a while there.  Dr MacKenzie is convinced the journal continues to be a valid therapeutic tool so I would ask you to continue writing in it, however, I will not make that an order.  I do strongly encourage you to make use of the journal while visiting the infirmary – and believe me, you would do well to stay on my good side at the moment.

 

“Finally, there will never be another display like this morning’s again.  You will behave like grown adults.  Major Carter I expect you to act with decorum and restraint appropriate to your rank as an officer in the United States Air Force.  Dr Jackson, you have certain liberties as a civilian.  They do NOT extend to physical or verbal abuse.”

 

The General turned to leave and I realized I was sweating and had been holding my breath.  God, if these were the lectures Jack was getting every time he defied the General he was a braver man than me.

 

“General, sir…”  Sam’s voice was very small.

 

“Major?”

 

“Colonel O’Neill?”

 

“Is unconscious and in a critical condition.  I’m not keeping you out of the infirmary for the next 24 hours as punishment, Major.  The Colonel has pneumonia and a bad infection.  The doctor is keeping him isolated while she tries to treat it.”

 

So that was it.  It all sounds so childish and petty now.  I’ll apologize in person, Janet, but if you read this first please know how sorry I am.  You’ve saved all of our lives more times than I can count and I know you are doing everything you can for Jack.  There’s no one I, or he, would rather have looking after him.

 

It’s not an excuse, it’s just I’m scared, you know?

 

Janet Fraiser

 

Me too, Daniel.  Me too.

 

And apology accepted by the way.  This journal is meant to help us express our feelings rather than keeping them all locked up.  I guess we’ve done that now, huh?  I’m doing everything I can for Jack, Daniel.  If I thought there was anyone who could do more I would call them in in a heartbeat.

 

All those years in med school, as an intern, a resident and still we’re dancing in the dark so much of the time. 

 

Aspiration pneumonia is common in emergency medicine, brought on by the shallow breathing and horizontal position of an unconscious patient - exacerbated in this case by the cold and damp from lying all those hours on the floor in the cave on the planet.

 

Fighting the pneumonia weakens the body that little bit more and the antibiotics that were managing to keep the infection at bay suddenly aren’t enough any more and infection bites.

 

Suddenly, it’s fever, sweats, spreading infection and pneumonia and not a damn thing you can do about any of it except dose the patient with a cocktail of drugs and hope like hell he’s got the strength to fight the fight one more time.

 

I lashed out at you Daniel, when I should have seen that you were just hurting and scared.  I’m too close this time.  It’s bad whenever Jack is hurt, whenever any of you are, but this time, having seen what Jack went through just to make it to the infirmary - it’s so desperately personal.  I can’t let him down. 

 

He’s quiet now, finally getting some rest from the coughing fits that aggravate his injuries and leave him so exhausted.  His skin has a fever flush on it and I’ll just stay close by with this cool cloth, doing what I can to ease his suffering. 

 

Maybe writing in this journal is therapeutic after all.  It blocks out the flashbacks for a little while at least.  You’re not alone in hearing the echoes of those terrible screams, Daniel.

 

As the Jaffa retreated in a protective circle around their fallen God - and how do they reconcile that by the way?  Fallen = fallible.  God = infallible.  Fallen God - hmm?  Although, I guess the whole rising out of the sarcophagus thing is pretty impressive.  Anyway, as they retreated, I rushed to help Jack who had started to come around almost immediately. 

 

He let me get close to him which made me think his injuries were even worse than I had feared, but then I looked into his bleary, unfocused gaze and realized that he probably didn’t have a clue where he was or who I was.  Given the blow to the head, his earlier encounter with the hand device, the fact that I had lost count of the number of times he had lost consciousness in the horrific hours since we had been captured and the pain he had to be feeling it wasn’t surprising.

 

I hesitated for a moment, not sure where to start.  Cheekbone to make sure there wasn’t a fracture pressing on the brain or that could cause permanent damage to his vision?  Shoulder to make sure there was no bleeding?  Abdomen to check for busted ribs or internal bleeding?  Head?  Knees?  Check Daniel’s job on his fractured fingers?

 

I decided to start with the standard checks for concussion and work from there.  The dazed and out of focus look in Jack’s eyes wasn’t a good sign.  I found myself wishing for my penlight.

 

I grabbed Jack’s wandering head and forced him to look at me.  “Look here please, sir.”

 

“O’Neill, we must move.  Once Heru’ur revives we will be pursued.”

 

Jack looked around me, obviously trying to make his eyes focus on Teal’c.  There was a half second pause as I worried about his mental function and then he shook his head and shoved my hand out of the way.  “Let’s go.  Carter, check the door.  Teal’c, give me a hand?”

 

There was a discernible rise in the energy levels in the room as Jack found his command voice, albeit a somewhat husky version.

 

“Colonel, you can’t go anywhere in this condition,” I said, still on my knees in front of him.

 

He ignored me, reaching past my face for Teal’c’s hand.  Effortlessly, Teal’c pulled him to his feet.

 

I felt a brief surge of serves-you-right satisfaction as he swayed and would have fallen if not for Teal’c’s support.  Then I looked at the determination that shone through, obvious even past the pain lined, ashen face and I thought of all this man had endured in the endless hours we had been here and shame washed through me.

 

I climbed to my feet, ignoring the groan of not-so-young knees that hadn’t liked their long sojourn on the hard cell floor.  God, if my knees were aching I could only imagine what the Colonel must be going through.  “Jack, please…”  I tried my we’re-friends-as-well-as-doctor-and-patient voice, but he wasn’t having any of it.

 

“Major,” a not so subtle reminder that I was soldier as well as doctor this time out, “we don’t have a whole lotta choice here.  If we don’t make it to the Gate before Heru’ur revives and sends his Jaffa, this little discussion is going to be academic.  Now, let’s move.  Carter, take point.  Teal’c watch our six.  Doc, Daniel, you’re with me.”

 

There was a brief scramble as Carter and Teal’c gathered weapons from the fallen Jaffa.  Shortly everyone held zats and Teal’c carried a staff weapon as well.  Then we were off.  We darted and skulked our way through myriads of golden passageways, tightly hugging the walls and slipping into empty rooms to avoid being seen.  I have no idea how Sam knew the way, but she didn’t falter.

 

My heart was once again trying to escape through my breastbone.  This kind of fear and stress was unacceptable, unsustainable.  I found myself thinking that if I survived this mission I was going to be taking a hell of a different view of post-mission physicals.  That is, after I made an appointment to see my hairdresser - I was pretty sure I must have turned entirely gray in the last few hours.

 

I was drawn out of my reverie by a stifled moan from beside me.  The Colonel was leaning heavily on Daniel.  He was obviously finding keeping up to be hard work.  As I looked across at him he turned his head and levelled me with a hard ass macho Colonel glare that just dared me to open my mouth.  I was chagrined to realize it was as effective on me as on the rawest new recruit.  I had my mouth shut and eyes forward before realizing I had made any kind of conscious decision.

 

Unbelievably, we made it through the Ha'tak without bumping into any Jaffa.  Daniel told me they weren’t great at acting without orders and when Heru’ur revived they’d be after us in force.

 

The very last obstacle was the two Jaffa guarding the exit, or actually the entrance, to the vessel.  Sam took them out matter-of-factly, barely even pausing, like it was something she did every day, which I realized with a shock, she more or less did.  We’re friends Sam and I.  Women in a man’s world.  Yes, yes, I know feminist  claptrap.  Sam’s been lucky serving with the General and SG1, not a sexist bone in their combined bodies.  But let’s face it, the armed forces generally still have a long way to go before equality is the status quo.  Anyway, I know Sam’s brilliant, I know she knows more about the Stargate than anyone alive.  She’s pretty much single handedly saved the planet with her ideas a couple of times now.  I know Jack, Daniel and Teal’c respect the hell out of her, but I guess I kind of forgot that she’s also a damn fine front line soldier too.  After four years with Jack O’Neill that shouldn’t surprise me, I just never think of her like that.  Yet another adjustment required to my thinking.  See what I mean about this journal not being good for my ego?

 

Anyway, with the guards out of the way we were out of the Ha'tak, into the woods and on our way to the Gate. 

 

The nightmare, however, was not over.  Jack was all but out on his feet.  His breathing had degenerated into harsh sobs that tore at my heart.  I saw Daniel flinching at the awful sound too.  The Colonel’s eyes were closed more often than not and when they were open they were fixed on some spot far in the distance.

 

He had one arm over Daniel’s shoulder and one over Teal’c’s and the only reason he wasn’t hollering his agony out into the forest was because he was biting down on his bottom lip hard enough to draw blood.

 

I was staggering along slightly ahead of them, casting glances backwards in between trying to avoid tripping over the vines and deadwood lining the forest floor.  On one glance my eye caught a flash of bright red on the Colonel’s hand and as I watched it dripped to the forest floor.  It was the proverbial final straw.

 

“Stop!”

 

My voice was strident, stress and fear making it come out louder and angrier than I had intended.  Sam, Teal’c and Daniel jarred to a halt and stared at me in shock. 

 

In the sudden silence the only sound was Jack’s strained breathing.

 

We were about two miles from Heru’ur’s Ha'tak, in a fairly thickly wooded area.  The trees towered over us, creating a dim twilight world.

 

Making an effort to lower my voice, I addressed Sam.  “I need to check on the Colonel.”

 

“Janet, we need to keep going…”

 

“No.  Sam, I need two minutes.  The Colonel is bleeding again, look at him he needs to catch his breath…”

 

“Doctor Fraiser, there is no time,” said Teal’c.

 

“Look at him.”  I pointed at Jack who had slumped against a tree, his arms clutched tight to his waist, his eyes clenched shut, sweat beaded on his face and his teeth gnawing at his bottom lip in an obvious attempt to silence his pain.  “If you don’t let me do what I can for him now he’s not going to make it to the Gate.”

 

There was a moment as the three members of SG1 took in the condition of their CO.  Then Sam gave a brief nod.  “Two minutes.  Teal’c keep an eye out for pursuit.”

 

“No.”  The voice was low and weak, a shadow of its usual self.  “I’m fine.  Let’s keep going.”

 

Carter knelt down next to Jack and gently touched his cheek.  “Let Janet have a look at you, Sir.”

 

“We need to keep moving.”

 

“Two minutes, sir, then we’ll move again.”

 

“Insubordination, Major?” he growled and she smiled softly.

 

“Yessir.”  The affection was genuine.  She climbed to her feet and saw me watching.  “Two minutes, Janet.  Daniel, stay with them.  I’m going to scout ahead.”

 

I knelt down to get my first good look at my patient.

 

Brown eyes met mine and while the pain in them made me flinch, at least they were focused and had lost the bleary, dazed look of earlier.  He was still sufficiently out of things to have me concerned though.  Daniel and I helped him slide down to the ground with his back against a tree.  His eyes slid closed, but he jerked them open when I gently grasped him under the chin.

 

“Follow my finger, sir.”  With a somewhat wobbly start, he did.

 

As I held up three fingers he said,  “Three.  Jack O’Neill.  Chicago.  2000.”  Smartass.  Like it was my fault he’d been concussed so often he knew the tests off by heart.  Still, the responses were a very good sign.

 

“Anyone would think you’d been through this before, Colonel.”

 

With his eyes still on mine, I reached out and gently touched his cheekbone.  The bruising hadn’t really come out yet but it was red and hot to the touch.  He flinched away as if my gentle touch had been a right hook from Teal’c. 

 

“Ow, dammit!  20 billion bloody light years from the infirmary and you still find ways to torture me.”

 

Torture.  Great word, Colonel.  Thanks for bringing that up after what we’ve all been forced to live through today.  Thanks for the comparison.  Insensitive bastard.

 

He noticed my reaction, of course, even as injured as he was, and wearily lifted his right hand in what I chose to take as an apologetic wave.

 

“How’s your vision, sir?”

 

“It’s fine.  Peachy.”  His eyes wandered away from mine as he answered.  Jack O’Neill can lie with the best of them if he has to, but his heart wasn’t in it this time and the evasion was obvious.

 

“Colonel, this is important.  I have no instruments here and I don’t have time for our usual game of outguess the macho colonel.  I need you to tell me the truth.”

 

“It’s a little blurry,” he finally muttered, “kind of foggy at the edges.”

 

OK.  That explained the wobbly response to the concussion "follow my finger" test.  With relief, I finally ruled out any serious brain damage.  “I think you have a moderate concussion and a fractured cheekbone, sir.  There’s a bit of swelling.  It should get better once we get back to the SGC and your eyesight should come back at the same time.”

 

I wanted to look at his shoulder next.  I needed to stop the bleeding or he’d be dead long before we got to the Gate.

 

“Daniel, take off your shirt and tear it into strips for me.  I want to use it for bandages.”  As expected, O’Neill glanced over at his team mate.  Taking advantage of his distraction I pulled his shirt away from the bloody wound.

 

“OWWW!”  His howl echoed around the forest, bouncing back off the trees.  He cursed me through gritted teeth.  “What the HELL was that?”

 

“Sorry, sir.  There was no easy way to do that.”

 

I set about doing what I could for his shoulder, ignoring muttered threats of reports, demotions and reassignments to Greenland.  Using Daniel’s rough and ready bandages I wrapped the shoulder and then strapped it to his body, using it to immobilize his arm and provide some support to badly bruised, but thankfully not broken, ribs.

 

He was shaking by this time, as pale as I had ever seen him and sweating from the pain.  His bravado had temporarily deserted him and he looked fragile and ill.

 

I rested my palm against his cheek, waiting it out, hating the pain I was unavoidably causing him.  Finally, he somehow wrestled the pain back under some semblance of control and nodded at me to continue.

 

The worst, thank God, was over.  I took a quick look at his broken fingers.  They were swollen and ugly – thick sausages, bearing no resemblance to his normal long, thin, expressive digits.  Daniel’s bandanna was still in place and I decided it would do more harm than good messing with it at this stage.

 

I heard a rustle from the trees and deduced Sam was coming back.  I used my fingers to brush the sweaty hair away from Jack’s face.  “You’re doing fine, sir.  Just hang in there.”

 

He nodded, forced his eyes open, stared at me for a long moment before lifting his glance to stare over my head.  I turned and Sam and Teal’c were back.

 

“Sir?”   Carter looked between O’Neill and I.

 

“Let’s go,” he ordered, letting Teal’c haul him to his feet and we were off again.

 

The Journal

by Frizzelly

 

Part 9 of 13 – see Part 0 for warnings etc.

 

 

Daniel Jackson

 

I’m holding Jack’s hand and it’s like holding on to a radiator.  He’s absolutely burning up.

 

I’m kind of angry at you now, Jack.  You want to blame me for getting us into this whole mess with Heru’ur and everything that followed - that’s fine.  I’ve already said I’ll accept that.  But the whole single-handed hero thing on the way back to the Gate - that’s all yours.  I’ve looked at the regs you know and nowhere does it say you have to throw your life away like that, dammit.

 

When Janet finished her quick patch up job on Jack, we were back to our flight towards the Gate.  I had Jack’s good arm around my shoulder, my arm around his waist, trying, futilely, not to hurt his ribs.

 

“Danny,” his voice was hoarse, speaking was obviously painful for him, and I shivered as I remembered the terrible, terrible sound of him screaming.  “Danny, when we get back, run a check of Fraiser against escaped Nazi war criminals, okay.  You’ll find a match, I guarantee it.”

 

I let out a snort of laughter, not least because although Janet was pretending not to listen, the outraged glare she shot at Jack’s back caused her to trip over a fallen branch.

 

The humor fled a second later when I heard Jack’s involuntary groan as the path dropped off and his full weight came down on his weak knee and jarred up through his body.  I could feel him shuddering with the pain.

 

“Jack, God, I’m sorry, I…”

 

“Sssshh. Stop.  Nothing to be sorry for, Daniel.  Let’s just get the hell off this planet.”

 

We resumed the trek in silence.  It became a nightmare of feeling Jack’s body tremble beneath my hands, hearing his harsh breathing and the occasional moan he couldn’t suppress.

 

I walked along in a haze of rage and grief, watching as the forest blurred behind a sheen of tears.  Angrily, I blinked them away.  How the hell had it come to this?  We’d come to this planet to find a cure for cancer and instead I’d gotten to watch the Goa’uld murder innocent farmers and torture my best friend, while I could have stopped it but didn’t.

 

We’d covered about another five miles, with only a mile or so left to the Gate when the pursuit began in earnest.  The sound of the horn Heru’ur’s Jaffa used to call to each other when they were on the hunt echoed through the forest.  We’d come to know the sound well on Cimmeria.  Grimly, Sam upped the pace as much as Jack's condition would allow.  Somehow, God only knows what reserves he drew on, Jack kept up.

 

We were so close to the Gate I could almost taste the coffee in the commissary when two death gliders screamed overhead, then two more and two more again.  No one spoke.  It was clear we now had to reckon on the Gate being heavily protected.

 

As we forged on another  dozen death gliders screamed over our heads, heading for the Gate.  Sam was the first to accept the terrible reality.  “Wait!  This isn’t working.  We have to find somewhere to hide.”

 

“Sam, Jack needs an infirmary.”  Janet’s protest was immediate.

 

I know!  But if we blunder towards the Gate like this we’re going to end up as the meat in a Jaffa sandwich.  There must be 50 Jaffa at the Gate by now and God knows how many in the woods behind us.”

 

“The caves we explored on the second day,” Teal’c said from behind me.

 

“That’s it.  We’ll hole up there and reassess at nightfall.”  She cast a glance at Jack who had been unusually quiet throughout the impromptu strategy session.  His head hung low and I was supporting almost his entire body weight.

 

“Sir, we need to go a little further, can you make it?”

 

He dragged his head up then, eyes sunken deep in an ashen face and rasped out,  “Right with you, Major.”

 

Sam looked doubtful and Janet snorted but there was no option.  “Cover our tracks, Teal’c,” Sam ordered, and once again we were off.

 

Samantha Carter

 

God, I never want to have to live through anything like that again.  If it wasn’t bad enough to have to watch what Heru’ur did to the Colonel - and it was, oh, it was - I then had to drag him half a dozen miles through the forest, away from the Gate.

 

We finally made it to the small cave system Teal’c and I had explored on our second day on the planet while Jack, Janet and Daniel were off talking to the Farm Owners.  We’d dismissed the caves as worthless, containing as they did no useful minerals, no naquadah, nothing of archaeological significance.  If they ended up saving our lives, I’d write them up in my report as more valuable than King Solomon’s mine.

 

Just inside the entrance, Daniel helped the Colonel to the ground, while I went to look for a secure hiding place.  By the time I got back he had passed out.

 

Ugh.  Janet keeps coming in with food, trying to make me eat.  At least I guess it means she’s forgiven me for my little scene with Daniel.  I am sorry for that Janet.

 

It’s just …. you know, this isn’t the first time I’ve sat at the Colonel’s bedside praying he’ll wake up.  You think that would make it better or easier or something, wouldn’t you?  Knowing what to expect, knowing you’ve gotten through it before.  It doesn’t though.  In fact, each time it’s worse.  You don’t dare to ask the question - what if this is the time?  What if this time all our luck has run out?  What if this time we left it that little bit too late, pushed the envelope that little bit too far?  And of course, even while you’re refusing to ask those questions they’re hammering away at your brain, pecking away at your resolve, leaving you frayed and fragile and absolutely, soul-numbingly terrified. Because, Janet, what if this is THAT time?

 

Each time we survive one of these close calls - and there have been far, far too many lately - we become even closer as a team.  And the closer we get, the more unbelievable, unsurvivable, it becomes to contemplate losing one of us.  If there was ever a time SG1 could have survived the loss of the Colonel that time is long gone.

 

An object lesson I guess in why the military never lets a team stay together too long.  In a job as dangerous as ours, it's unfortunately only to be expected that you will lose people.  SG1 though, has never fit into any mold, no reason to think it would here.  Daniel and Teal’c are not air force, not really the type of guys that, each for their own reasons, you rotate around.  As a soldier, I could be moved anywhere, but I serve as much time as a scientist as I do a soldier in the SGC.  And as for Jack, he kind of inherited us by default.  I’ve lost count of the number of times we’d all be dead if not for his instincts and training.

 

We’re not a logical fit but somehow we work.  Despite a few… interesting … moments early on.

 

My first encounter with the Colonel is apparently legendary; I still get invitations to arm wrestle!  Daniel and Teal’c, of course, had plenty of reasons not to like each other.  The weird thing not many people realize is that even Daniel and I had our own adjustments to make.

 

One day, early in the life of the whole Stargate Program, we had a day of combat exercises.  The Colonel paired us off, Daniel and I against he and Teal’c.  I was so pissed off.  The Stargate program was a dream come true for me and I desperately wanted to show my worth.  So what happens?  Pair the little woman with the geek.  I figured this was just an example of my new chauvinistic anti-intellectual CO taking an opportunity to humiliate me and show me exactly how unwelcome I was.

 

Daniel and I lost every single exercise - no surprise.  He was hopeless back then.  In one notable exercise he put his gun on top of the wall while he clambered over and then left it there.

 

In another, we were playing a special ops version of hide and seek.  Daniel and I were meant to be covert.  We were waiting to ambush the Colonel and Teal’c.  I had hidden us deep in some bushes and we peered through the foliage as the Colonel entered the kill zone.

 

“Daniel?” Jack called. 

 

And the idiot answered!

 

By the end of the day I was covered in red paint, having been a “kill” a record breaking 25 times.  I was sweaty, tired and filled with a seething rage.

 

Jack was fiddling with his gear as Daniel and I prepared to leave.

 

“Uh, Sam, sorry about…”  Daniel gestured in a way that I took was meant to relate to the whole humiliating day.

 

I pretended to be busy stowing my gear and didn’t answer.  I couldn’t see him, but could picture the bewildered confusion in his eyes.  After a moment he left.

 

“Captain.”  For a moment I thought of ignoring the Colonel too, but he didn’t allow me the luxury.  He came and sat on the bench beside my locker, making it impossible to ignore him. 

 

“I never thought I’d say this, Captain, but I’m disappointed.”

 

That stung.  I’d been the best at everything I did since school and now this misogynist, old school, outdated hardass was going to stack the odds against me, match me up with a civilian bloody archaeologist and then tell me he was disappointed in me.  Screw that.

 

“Not exactly an even contest, sir.”

 

He raised an eyebrow.  “Contest?  Is that what you think this was?”

 

Huh?  I looked at him but his face was carefully expressionless. 

 

“Wasn’t it?”

 

“What did I say when we did our briefing, Captain?”

 

“That it was a…”  oh.  “A, uh, team building day, sir.”

 

“What did you teach Daniel today, Captain?  What did you learn of his strengths and weaknesses?  How do you think you can help him fit into a military team?”

 

I was red with shame.  Apart from being furious that he’d lost each exercise, I realized I hadn’t paid much attention to Daniel at all, had barely spoken to him.  He was so much my equal in the science department that I hadn’t thought how bewildering what we had done today would be to a civilian.  I hadn’t even explained the exercises to him, had just dragged him along and given him orders which I expected him to understand and obey as any subordinate would.

 

The Colonel was watching me closely.  He must have seen my mortification for he softened his tone considerably.  “You’re my second in command, Captain.  It’s your job to look out for Daniel whenever I can’t.  We’ve neither of us worked with a civilian in a field unit before.  You need to think how he’s going to react to situations we encounter and compensate for that.  I won’t have a civilian on the team unless it becomes second nature to protect him - whatever the damage to your pride.”

 

I looked at O’Neill and, for the first time in our short acquaintance, saw a man I could be proud to serve under, to learn from, someone with a lot to teach me about being an air force officer.

 

“I understand, sir.  Thank you for the lesson.”

 

He gave me a truly wicked grin.  “Hey, Teal’c and I had a blast.”

 

So you see, maybe even as far back as then, losing the Colonel was impossible.  Now, God help me, now I can’t even think it.

 

He looks so ill.  Feverish and in pain and…I can’t do this.

 

Teal’c

 

I remember that day well.  O’Neill and I were measuring each other up.  Judging each other’s skills, seeing how much of what we did was similar and how much was completely alien.  I was very pleased to see his skills were at least equal to my own.

 

O’Neill was careful, testing how far he could order me as a subordinate, feeling out whether I was prepared to accept his command.

 

Command is easy - I have trained my whole life to obey.  What came as a surprise, maybe to both of us, was friendship.

 

It is my turn to sit with O’Neill now.  He is feverish and keeps pushing away the blankets.  He is muttering but the words do not make any sense.  For almost three weeks now, we and the whole of the SGC have held our breath waiting for him to recover.

 

I talk to O’Neill, but my voice does not soothe him, he is lost in pain and delirium.

 

I smooth the blankets, but he kicks them off again.

 

Finally, I gently move aside tubes and wires, lay my hand upon his arm and try to project calm and peace, a place without pain.  Eventually, my presence communicates itself, or perhaps it is just exhaustion, but his struggles slow, cease and he falls back into a peaceful sleep.

 

Janet Fraiser

 

A small miracle occurred today.  I arrived at the mountain and, as usual, I hurried in to check on Jack, only this time, to my surprise, I found all three SG1 team mates gathered around his bed.

 

It is the first time since we got back from the planet, barring brief moments of crisis, that  they’ve all faced each other.  Every other day when one of them has arrived to visit Jack the person who was already there has gotten up and left, without making eye contact, without speaking.  This return to the natural order makes me glad.  Maybe we can get past this, maybe this is survivable.

 

They look terrible, gritty eyed and sleep deprived but I don’t have the heart to send them away, not on this day of breakthroughs.  Instead, I retreat to my office.  I don’t know if it's this journal or just a little time and perspective that’s wrought the change but we’ve come so far, it only seems right to finish the story.  And who knows, like a fairy tale, Jack may awaken just as we finish the last page.

 

So.

 

We moved into the cave system.  Sam found a cave way back with a concealed entrance that would hopefully not be spotted in a Jaffa search.  The opening was narrow and hidden behind an enormous stalagmite.

 

I almost wept with relief when I heard the steady drip of water in the cave.  During our run through the forest I'd managed to forget my raging thirst, but at that regular plink, plink it came rushing back with a vengeance. 

We all crowded around and drank our fill, bugs and bacteria be damned.  It's not like we could do anything about them anyway.

 

I was desperate to get some water into Jack, but he didn’t stir.  Our futile run for the Gate had used up all his reserves.  I soaked my coat sleeve in the pool at the back of the cave and sat by Jack.  Gently, I wrung the sleeve out, letting the drops fall into his mouth.  As I'd hoped, he swallowed automatically.  I got as much into him as I could.  It was nowhere near enough, but it was a start.

 

The others watched me in gloomy silence.  We'd escaped yet even I, the nominal non-combatant, knew the situation was desperate.  We had no supplies, no food, no medicine, no sleeping bags, tents or blankets.  All we had was the knife and GDO Heru’ur had been brandishing, one staff weapon and a zat each. 

 

We bundled Jack up as much as we could in our jackets, futilely trying to keep him warm.  Finally, I had Daniel take him in his arms to try to keep away the chill from the damp floor.

 

The afternoon and evening passed in an agony of fear and discomfort.  Without our jackets we were all cold and we didn’t dare start a fire.  For a while we had dim light, fed down into the cave through the same tiny crack the water was following.  However, as the day faded into evening even that small amount of light disappeared and we found ourselves sitting in the pitch dark.  So impenetrable was the darkness that even after an hour I still could not make out my hand in front of my face.

 

Distantly, we could hear the horns of Heru’ur’s Jaffa and several times they came into the cave system.  Then we would all sit and hold our breath.  I don’t know about the others, but I found myself hugging my knees and rocking back and forth, terrified of being discovered and dragged back to the Ha'tak, to that awful room. 

 

Sam and Teal’c split the watches between them.  I checked on Jack once an hour, relying on touch to check his pulse, respirations and to make sure none of his wounds were bleeding.  He woke up long enough to drink some water but was in and out and I fretted about concussion and the debilitating effects of shock, blood loss, pain and cold.

 

Once or twice I nodded off but the visions of the innocent farmers being blasted down, of Daniel’s desperate face and of Jack’s screams sent me lurching awake with a gasp.

 

The third or fourth time this happened, I decided to hell with sleep and pulled myself up against the cave wall.  The dark was disorienting and I found my eyes straining desperately seeking some glimmer of light.  In this surreal world Jack’s voice was startling.

 

“Daniel?”

 

“Hey, Jack,” I heard Daniel respond in that gentle voice he seems to save just for injured Jack.

 

“Where?”

 

“We’ve holed up in some caves to wait for night.”

 

“Thought I’d gone blind.”

 

A soft huff of laughter.  “No.  How do you feel?”

 

I thought about getting up to check on Jack, but somehow the darkness gave their conversation an air of intimacy and I did not want to intrude.  Silly, I know, since Sam and Teal’c were surely listening as well. 

 

“Peachy,” said Jack, and I didn’t need a light to see the dismissive shake of his head.

 

“Right.”

 

“Carter and Teal’c waiting for nightfall to check on the Gate?”

 

“Yep.”

 

There was silence then for a long time.  Somewhere far back in the cave I could hear dripping water but of the four other people I knew shared the cave with me there wasn’t the slightest hint.

 

It seemed like a very long time before Jack’s voice broke the silence.  “Danny, I never wanted you to have to go through any of that stuff.”

 

“God, Jack, I… I don’t know what to say.  I’m sorry.  I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t know how to make him stop!”

 

“He wasn’t going to stop, Danny, no matter what you did.  He enjoyed it too much.”

 

Daniel made a soft sound that could have been disgust or agreement or both.  “Are you going to be okay, he hurt you pretty bad?”

 

“I'm fine.”  Jack’s answer was the dismissive response Daniel must have surely expected, but there was something off in his tone.  I found myself tilting my head and cursing the darkness.  I would have given anything to be able to see the Colonel just then.  So much of what Jack O’Neill says is non-verbal.

 

“Jack?”

 

“Daniel, I'm fine.”

 

You have to give Daniel an "A" for effort.  The boy never gives up.  “You hinted earlier maybe you’ve been through something like this before.  I, just … if there’s anything I can do … if you want to talk…”

 

Daniel’s voice trailed away, swallowed up in the blackness.  I think he knew how futile his offer was, how unlikely it was Jack would respond.

 

Sure enough, the Colonel’s voice came a moment later, a husky whisper.  “Let’s just try to get some sleep, huh?”

 

Samantha Carter

 

The Colonel has started to have periods of consciousness.  He’s pretty out of it most of the time and is still dangerously ill.  Janet has cautioned us not to get our hopes up but after watching him pretty much unmoving for best part of three weeks it’s hard not to be excited by this tiny development. 

 

He opened exhausted brown eyes and looked at me this afternoon.  Just that, just seeing that proof of life, sent my heart soaring.

 

Janet Fraiser

 

Jack's conscious, as Sam says, but fading in and out.  I've warned SG1 not to get excited.  I don’t want to kill good news or be the one to point out that yes the glass might be half full but it is definitely half empty as well, it's just … I'm not sure what's going on here.

 

The medical signs are all wrong.  If this really is a recovery Jack's temperature should be coming down, his lungs should be clearing up, the infection should be diminishing, he should be more alert.  Only it's not and he's not.  His results are all over the place. 

 

First his temperature comes down but his white cell count is off.  Then his pulse and respirations start to look better but the fever soars.  Then the fever will drop again for no discernible reason but Jack will lapse into a state of deep unconsciousness, responding only to painful stimuli.

 

I'm stumped.  I've consulted with Bill Warner, of course, but he has no more idea what's going on than I do.  We've run all kinds of tests.  Logic tells us it must be an alien organism but so far nothing has shown up.

 

We've just run another series of exhaustive tests.  In the meantime all we can do is watch and wait.

 

And write in this damn journal of course.  Now I can add impotency to my other shortcomings!

 

So, stuck in the cave in the dark.

 

Jack didn't say anything else and for a long time there was silence.  I began to wonder if it was possible to freeze to death without anyone noticing, wondered if perhaps Sam, Daniel and Teal'c had already died and I alone was alive and shivering, waiting for my turn.  From there, I started to imagine the Jaffa eventually finding five frozen bodies, huddled in the dark – the ignoble end of the most infamous of the Tauri.

 

Who knows where my morbid musings would have gone from there if they hadn't been interrupted by a hoarse whisper from Sam.  "Colonel?"

 

"I think he's sleeping, Sam," Daniel's response was also a whisper.

 

"Okay.  Teal'c it's the middle of the night outside now.  Let's you and I head to the Gate and see what the situation is."

 

"Sam, Heru'ur has hundreds of men.  We KILLED him, he's never going to give up looking for us."  Daniel kept his voice low in deference to the man sleeping in his arms but it was no less adamant for all that.

 

"Daniel, I know, dammit!  What choice do we have?  We can't afford to wait here, Jack's too ill and General Hammond won't check on us for at least 30 more hours.

 

"Teal'c, let's go." 

 

I heard Teal'c stand somewhere off to my left.

 

Sam spoke again.  "Stay here and keep the noise down.  if we're not back in five hours…" her voice trailed off.  In silence, Daniel and I listened to the sounds of Sam and Teal'c fumbling their way to the cave entrance.

 

Daniel Jackson

 

Have I mentioned that all I seem to do these days is wait around?  Waiting in that damn cave for Sam and Teal'c.  This interminable wait at Jack's bedside.

 

He's tossing and turning with fever now.  I think I prefer it to the terrible stillness of a few days ago but I'm not sure Jack would.  He has terrible nightmares when he's feverish.  I know he wouldn't want us to invade his privacy by writing them down here but they are terrible to watch.

 

I have him to myself again for a while.  Sam's been called to the control room, Teal'c's getting in some much needed Kel-no-reem, seeing Jack like this affects him more than he's prepared to let on, and Janet's got pre-mission checks for SG7.

 

Janet left a bowl of cool water beside Jack's bed.  Every few minutes I place it on his forehead and he moves blindly towards me, seeking the coolness.

 

It's so quiet in the infirmary at the moment.  Distantly, I can hear the sound of Janet and SG7, closer is the soft beep of the heart monitor, the hiss of oxygen into the mask covering Jack's face and that's it.  No smart remarks, no clunks, clatters and taps as objects are lifted, fiddled with, discarded, no sardonic laugh, no reassuring baritone.

 

The enormity of what's at stake hits me again.  I can't do this without you Jack.  I really, really can't.

 

I dip the cloth again, wipe the damp, grey hair away from his forehead, swallow the enormous lump in my throat.

 

Jack survived over 20 years as a soldier before he met me, not unscathed it is true, but he hadn't been zatted, frozen, poisoned or snaked.  He keeps his past so secret it's difficult to know what he has been through, but cryptic hints notwithstanding, I doubt he has ever been tortured while his supposed best friend stood around and did nothing.

 

"I'm sorry."  I finally say the words out loud.  "God Jack, I'm so, so sorry."  That's all.  I can't seem to get any more words out, so I clutch his hand in mine instead and beg every God I've ever heard of to spare this brave, heroic man who would never, ever presume to think he deserved such mercy for himself.

 

The Journal

by Frizzelly

 

Part 10 of 13 – see Part 0 for warnings etc.

 

 

Janet Fraiser

 

Daniel is with Jack now.  I want to go over there so badly.  Every thought, every move I make lately leads me to Jack's bedside.  I don't need Dr MacKenzie's diagnosis to tell me that that is not normal or healthy behaviour.  Not that I care, actually.  The cure is pretty obvious – Jack wakes up and tells me to back off and leave him alone.  This one time I resist the urge to go over.  Daniel deserves this time alone with the Colonel.

 

So let me turn again to the Journal.

 

Sam and Teal'c came back about five and a half hours after they'd left, just as light had begun to filter back into the cave.  Daniel and I were almost out of our minds with worry.  The wait had been interminable, getting worse with each passing minute and Jack had not stirred the entire time, not even when Daniel gently laid him on the floor and got up to stretch his muscles and relieve himself, not when I examined him and not when Daniel slid back to the ground and pulled Jack back into his arms.

 

Only the slightest noise alerted us to our returning team mates.  I barely had time to stiffen before the silhouette of Teal'c loomed out of the weak morning gloom.  Sam was right behind him and they both looked unharmed.

 

"Sam, Teal'c are you alright?"

 

"We are fine, Daniel Jackson,"  Teal'c replied and Sam just nodded.

 

They each drank thirstily from the pool at the back of the cave before joining us again.

 

"Well?" I asked, as soon as they were seated.  Jack's non-responsiveness was bothering me and my complete lack of supplies was driving me nuts.  I need to get back to the SGC and soon.

 

"Heru'ur's Jaffa have surrounded the Stargate in great numbers,"  Teal'c reported matter-of-factly.

 

"And?"

 

He tilted his head, quizzically.  "And they continue to patrol the forest."

 

"Sam," I turned to her, trying not to sound as absolutely desperate as I undoubtedly was.  "We have to get the Colonel back to the SGC."

 

"I know, Janet.  We'll head out again shortly.  Teal'c and I think we can distract enough Jaffa from the Gate to allow you and Daniel to take out the rest and dial home."

 

I stared at her, aghast.  That was the plan?  But what about…  the list of what abouts was so long that I paused for a moment to decide which to start with.  What about the "great numbers" of Jaffa surrounding the Stargate?  What about the Jaffa patrolling the forest?  What about being outnumbered and outgunned and doing exactly what our enemy expects?  What about the fact that one of our team mates is unconscious, severely curtailing our "stealth" capabilities?  What about how Sam and Teal'c get back to the Gate after their distraction? 

 

The list was endless.  Hysteria bubbled just below the surface.  "Sam," I said, paused, swallowed, tried again.  "Sam…"

 

Before I managed any more than that there was another sound.

 

"No."

 

For a moment we all froze, unsure where the low voice had come from.

 

Then Sam looked down, and, following suit, I saw that Jack was awake.  He looked ghastly, but he was awake.

 

"Sir?"

 

"Stand down, Major."

 

"I can't do that, Colonel."

 

"Carter, what you are planning is suicide."

 

"We have no choice, sir."

 

"Sure we do.  Wait.  Hammond will call in what?  Two days?  Less?  We'll use the time to get ready, use the distraction."

 

"No, sir.  Even if we could hide out for another two days you don't have that long, Colonel and you know it."

 

"I'll be fine."

 

"With respect, sir, bullshit."

 

Jack blinked.  Grinned a little.  He pushed against the ground trying to get into a sitting position.

 

"Dammit.  Shit.  Oww."

 

"Jack.  Stop.  Stop.  Let me help you."  Daniel sitting behind Jack, grasped him under the arms and pulled him upright so he was sitting between Daniel's legs, back leaning against Daniel's chest.  Jack looked disgusted with the position but was too weak to do anything about it.

 

He took a moment to catch his breath then, looking up at Carter, patted the ground beside him.

 

Sam sank down next to him, legs crossed.

 

Daniel was unusually silent, sensing perhaps as I did, that this was properly a private conversation between Jack and Sam.

 

"Carter, you need to think of the whole team here."

 

"I am!"

 

"No.  You're not.  The plan you proposed is suicide for you and Teal'c and probably for Daniel and the Doc as well."

 

"It's our only choice."

 

"The odds are impossible.  How many Jaffa do you think he has stationed around the Gate?  50? 100? With cannon? Death gliders?"

 

"Approximately 70 Jaffa and two death gliders, O'Neill," Teal'c replied.

 

Jack looked at Teal'c assessingly, to see if he was joking.  Obviously deciding he wasn't, Jack groused, "dammit how long have I been out?"

 

"About eight hours, sir," I replied and Jack swung his head my way, eyes wide with surprise, before shaking his head.  "Whatever.  Look, Carter, SG1's good but even we can't take 70 Jaffa."

 

"We have no choice but to try, Colonel."

 

"Yes we do."

 

"No, sir.  I will NOT sit here and watch you die."

 

"Yes you will."

 

"Don't try to tell me you'll be fi… what?"  Flabbergasted, Sam floundered to a stop.

 

"Carter, you have to think about the good of the whole team.  You want to get me back to the infirmary and for once I appreciate that, I really do.  But you can't sacrifice everyone for that end.  You're also responsible for Daniel, the Doc, Teal'c and yourself.  Stand down, Major, that's an order."

 

Sam glared at Jack.  Tried one last tactic.  "You're not fit to command right now, Colonel."

 

Oooh.  That earned a searing glare from Jack.  The kind that cause junior officers to spontaneously combust.  "And if you're prepared to sacrifice the whole team to get me back through the Gate, then neither are you, Major!"

 

Sam looked like she'd been slapped.  I'm not sure where things would have gone if we hadn't heard a sudden clink of metal on metal.

 

We froze, not moving, barely breathing.  After a moment, Teal'c moved silently to his feet, hauled Jack up with him and leant the Colonel against the wall nearest the cave opening so the light would not illuminate them unless the Jaffa came all the way into the cavern.  He placed his body between Jack and the entrance.

 

Sam gestured Daniel and I with her to the opposite side of the opening where we copied Teal'c's position.

 

I couldn't see anything with Sam and Daniel between me and the cave opening but once again my heart was thumping in terror and the sour taste of adrenalin flooded my mouth.

 

For a moment the light in the cave got even brighter and I heard the clatter of metal clad feet and a mutter of conversation.  I could see Daniel clutching his zat, fingers clenching and unclenching around the trigger.  I could only see Sam's back but she was rigid and poised, her muscles tense beneath her black t-shirt.

 

We stood frozen for long enough for my thighs to cramp – ten minutes, thirty minutes, an eternity? The tramping of feet got louder and we heard more words spoken in Goa'uld before both the light and the voices receded into the distance.

 

It was another minute or two before Teal'c's voice, hushed, called to me.  "Doctor Fraiser, I require your assistance."

 

That unlocked my cramped thighs and I was across the cave and at Jack's side before I'd made any conscious decision to move.

 

Jack was leaning heavily against the wall, supported by Teal'c's arm across his chest.  As I got there Teal'c lifted his hand to show me a bloody palm. 

 

"I regret that in lifting the Colonel I have reopened his wound," Teal'c said.  He looked horrified.

 

"Better than the alternative, big guy,"  Jack murmured.  I was glad to see he was still conscious, if barely.

 

"Sit down, Colonel," I ordered.  I could have saved my breath.  He'd have been on his ass already if not for Teal'c's grip.

 

Together Teal'c and I helped Jack in what was really a controlled slide to the floor.  I bent down to examine him, disturbed when he didn't resist me. 

 

Teal'c was right, the shoulder wound had begun to bleed again – blood the Colonel could not afford to lose.  His vitals were equally disturbing.  A quick examination revealed sluggish reflexes, rapid pulse, clammy skin.  He eyes when they met mine were tight with pain.

 

I wanted to be able to do something, cursed the damn Goa'uld who, in taking our gear, had removed everything that would have let me help Jack, right down to the last Tylenol.

 

I did what I could to stop the bleeding, feeling as cruel as Heru'ur when I felt him involuntarily shuddering away from my touch.

 

I finished the little I could do then stayed crouched in front of him, my hand on his arm, as he struggled to regain his composure.  "That's it, sir.  Try to relax."

 

He snorted, gave me a patented O'Neill are-you-out-of-your-cotton-picking-mind look, but didn't respond.  Instead, he looked past me to where Sam and Teal'c were conferring towards the back of the cave.

 

His voice was whisper thin.  If there had been any other sound in the cave it would have been lost.  "Major, Teal'c, over here.  You too, Daniel.  Stay there, Doc," he added, when I started to pull away.  Obediently, we gathered around him in a circle on the damp floor.

 

"Okay, let's brainstorm this.  We need to overcome 70 Jaffa.  How do we do that?"

 

"We do not have enough numbers or sufficient ammunition to successfully launch an attack," Teal'c said, glancing apologetically at Sam as he did so.

 

"We need a distraction," Sam said.

 

"Right.  The obvious distraction is General Hammond dialling up but he isn't due to call in and we can't contact him without getting to the Gate … which, if we could do, we wouldn't need to … contact him that is," Daniel trailed off.

 

"Well said, Daniel," Jack muttered.  "So, another distraction then."

 

"The Jaffa are likely to have been warned to expect subterfuge, O'Neill.  They will know our only way off the planet is through the Stargate.  They will be alert for anything aimed at drawing them away."

 

"Not our only way off the planet," Daniel said suddenly.

 

"What do you mean?" Sam and I spoke together.

 

"Well Heru'ur has a ship, right?"

 

Sam collapsed visibly.  "Heru'ur's Ha'tak is the only place on the planet more heavily guarded than the Stargate.  We have a grand total of 5 zats, a staff weapon and a knife."  She shuddered on the last word and I sympathised.  Even then, I knew the visions of what Heru'ur had done to Jack would not be easily banished.

 

"Hey," said Daniel defensively, "I'm just trying to cover all the options."

 

"Yeah, well, taking the Ha'tak is not one of them."  The pressure was obviously getting to Sam.

 

There was silence for a moment and I shifted on the cold cave floor, trying to relieve the numbness in my butt, trying to be the one who came up with the brilliant solution that got us all home safely.  The thing was, I couldn't seem to think beyond a gnawing sense of urgency, desperation to get out of here, desperation to get Jack home before the inevitable infection really set in.  I would be fighting a losing battle from then on and it was unlikely to be a long one.

 

As if hearing me, Jack let out a hacking cough, clutching at his ribs.

 

"What about death gliders?" Daniel didn't sound like he thought this was really a solution.

 

Sam agreed.  "We can't escape in death gliders.  They don't have the range to get us to the nearest planet with a Stargate and, even if they did, it would take too long.  Besides, Heru'ur would send others after us and shoot us down."

 

We all sat in gloomy silence after that.

 

"I regret that I cannot think of any distraction that is likely to draw sufficient guards away from the Stargate," Teal'c finally said.

 

Silence again.  This time it was Jack who broke it, with a fit of heavy coughing.  He bent at the waist, one hand clutching his head, one wrapped around his ribs, as if he couldn't decide which hurt more.  I put my hand on his back, trying to give him some support.  The coughing fit ended and Jack sucked in a harsh, sobbing breath.  "Shit.  God dammit."

 

We were all silent, reduced once again to helpless spectators of Jack's suffering.  Surreptitiously, I wiped at my eyes.

 

"I think my earlier plan is the best option, sir.  I know it's not perfect…"  Sam trailed off, waiting for Jack to renew his earlier protests. 

 

He didn't even seem to hear her.  He was staring at the far wall of the cave.  "Death gliders," he said, giving the words great significance.

 

"Jack?"  When there was no response Daniel waved his hand in front of O'Neill's face.  "Jack!"

 

"Hmm? Oh, sorry, Daniel."  Jack snapped his gaze back to the present, carefully shifted his body so he was facing Teal'c.  "You said there were gliders at the Stargate?"

 

"We can't escape in death gliders, Colonel,"  Sam repeated, speaking kindly as though to a simple child.

 

"So you already pointed out, Carter.  No escape except through the Stargate.  No viable distraction.  What does that leave?"

 

"Attack," said Teal'c, "except we are heavily outnumbered and outgunned.

 

"Not if we add two death gliders to our arsenal we're not!"  Sam had suddenly seen where the Colonel was leading us, and, typically, had jumped ahead.

 

Jack beamed at her like a proud father … or well, actually, like a proud commander.

 

"What about the 70 Jaffa?  Aren't they still a problem?  The death gliders are at the Gate you said."

 

"Right, Daniel.  But their attention will be on us trying for the Gate.  We can even mount a fake attempt to charge the Gate.  If we do it right, they'll be so busy countering that, they won't notice the gliders are gone until it's too late."

 

I was still confused.  "I thought we decided the gliders wouldn’t help us."

 

"It is true they will not help us escape, Doctor Fraiser.  However, they will assist us in removing 70 Horus guards standing between us and the Stargate."

 

Ohh. 

 

So it went on.  An awesome session.  I watched as SG1 took the Colonel's idea and ran with it, turning it into a fully thought out battle plan.

 

Back then I was really only listening with half my attention.  I was uncomfortable, worried about the thought of battle, horrified by the reality of that many casualties even if they weren't ours, worried about how the Colonel would hold up. 

 

Looking back now, though, I realize how amazing that little tactics session was.  We were hiding out in a cave, exhausted, traumatised and afraid.  None of us had eaten for over two days, we'd had barely any sleep.  The Colonel had been systematically tortured.  Yet SG1 set all of that to one side as they hammered out their plan, examining every weakness, coming at it from every angle.  How amazing that seems to me now.  No wonder SG1 are the flagship team, no wonder they have survived so long, against such ridiculous odds.  The synchronicity and chemistry were beyond anything I have ever seen.

 

The Journal

by Frizzelly

 

Part 11 of 13 – see Part 0 for warnings etc.

 

 

Samantha Carter

 

I had a long overdue conversation with Daniel today. 

 

When I finished my briefing with the General, I dropped in to see how things were with the Colonel. 

 

He was still feverish, tossing and turning and calling out to people, some of whom I knew were dead, others I'd never heard of.

 

Daniel was soothing him, wiping his forehead with a cool cloth, talking in a calm, soothing voice, his "Jack" voice.

 

When he saw me he looked up, distraught.  "He won't wake up, Sam.  He's having the most awful nightmares, he keeps asking for…"

 

"Charlie," I say and Daniel nods.

 

"C'mon Daniel, you know the Colonel.  He's held on this long, he'll be fine."  I say the words to be comforting, not because I really mean them and I think Daniel knows that.

 

He looks terrible.  His BDU's are rumpled, his eyes bloodshot and he needs a shave.  "Here let me take over for a while – why don't you go and have a shower, grab a few hours sleep."

 

Daniel was shaking his head even before I'd finished and I knew from long experience I wouldn't be able to talk Daniel into anything when he was in that mood.  Anyone who thinks Daniel is weak or a pushover hasn't known him very long.  He can be as stubborn and intransigent as… well, actually, I can't think of anything that stubborn and intransigent, except maybe the Colonel on a bad day.

 

"Carter?  Daniel?"  Shocked, we'd looked down at the tired brown eyes, blearily looking back at us.

 

"Colonel!"

 

"Jack!"

 

"You're awake!"

 

"How are you?"

 

Our voices ran over each other, we were so excited.

 

"'k?"  It was barely a whisper.  As ever, though, Daniel understood.

 

"We're fine," he said, adding quickly, "Teal'c and Janet too."

 

The Colonel's eyes were bright with fever and he moved his head stiffly, scanning the infirmary.  I assumed he was looking for Janet and Teal'c.  The lights were low, in simulation of night and beyond the next few beds the bay faded into darkness.

 

He turned back to Daniel, brow creased with discomfort and confusion.  "Daniel where's Sara?  And Charlie?"

 

I expected Daniel to freeze, like I did, but he just leant forward and rubbed the cloth gently over Jack's forehead again.  "Sssh, Jack.  It's okay.  They're not here, remember?  Just get try to get some sleep, hmm?"

 

He kept up the soothing action and meaningless words until Jack drifted off again, then looked up at me.  The desperate weariness I saw on his face had me reaching across to hug him.

 

"He's been like this all day.  Janet still doesn't know any more.  God," he muttered into my shoulder.  The pulled back and his voice hardened.  "If I could get my hands on that bastard, Heru'ur."

 

"I know."

 

"Sam, about the last few weeks.  I've been," a huff of laughter, entirely without amusement, "a bastard of the highest order."

 

"Daniel, it's been a hellish time.  Forget it."

 

He gave a hollow little laugh.  "Not much chance of that.  Look, I've been trying to deny the fact, even to myself, that this is all my fault.  I did nothing Sam, nothing.  And now look at Jack…"

 

He did just that, while I took a moment to stare at his devastated face.  In a moment he had himself back under control.

 

"Sorry.  The fact is that's my problem and I've been taking it out on you and, well, I know it doesn't help but I'm sorry."

 

"Daniel.  Daniel?  Look at me.  Please don't keep blaming yourself for what happened with Heru'ur.  It wasn't your fault.  I'm sure Jack would tell you the same, will tell you the same just as soon as he's finished complaining about the infirmary food."  My attempt at levity fell flat.  Not surprising, my heart wasn't really in it.

 

Daniel didn't even bother to answer.  He looked down at the Colonel, who for that moment at least, was sleeping peacefully.  When he looked up a minute later he had a grin on his face.  "How much do you want to bet his first coherent words will be 'Doc, when can I get out of here?'"

 

I smiled back at him.  "No bet, Daniel.  I'm not wasting my money on a sure thing."

 

Teal'c

 

There was a great deal of excitement in the cave once the details of our plan had been hammered out – more excitement than was warranted in the circumstances.  True we had a plan where before we had had none, the obstacles, however, remained formidable.  We were outnumbered, tired and weak.  We had had nothing but water for two days.  We had all been brutalised, even if O'Neill had had by far the worst of it.  If Colonel O'Neill even made it to the Gate on his own two feet, I would be shocked.  I certainly did not expect him to take any part in the actual battle. 

 

I did not voice these thoughts, however.  After four years in the service of the SGC, I have come to believe that O'Neill might in fact be able to make things happen just by insisting loudly enough and often enough.  In any case, it was the most hope we had had since the death glider had first flown over our campsite several long days ago and I had been with the Tauri long enough to know no one would thank me for killing that hope, even with realism.

 

Having settled on a plan, there was no point delaying.  Further delay would only make us weaker.  We had no medicine, no food, no equipment beyond the few weapons we had seized when fleeing Heru'ur's attack.  For O'Neill every minute counted.  We would have to move through the forest during the day and make our attack as night fell.

 

As we stood to make our way out of the caves, all eyes turned to O'Neill.  Stubborn to the end, he insisted on getting to his feet himself.  It was painful to watch and yet I am proud to have done so.  I have seen Apophis, injured, scream for his Jaffa, insistent on being carried from the field.  O'Neill stood in silence.  He could not have hidden the pain, even if he wished.  It showed in every tiny movement.  With the painful slowness of the very old, who hurt even to their bones, he hauled himself up.  His legs shook with the effort of holding him.  He braced his left arm to the wall for support, clutched his right arm tightly to his ribs, bit his bottom lip between his teeth and bowed his head. 

 

Doctor Fraiser made a move to go to him, but I stopped her with a touch to her arm. 

 

For a long minute O'Neill stood that way, the only sound his ragged breathing.  Then, with what effort I can only imagine, he shoved the pain down, locked his knees and raised his head.  "Let's go," he rasped.

 

Daniel Jackson

 

Here I am at Jack's bedside again.  Janet is expecting the results from the latest round of tests any minute now.  I hope she's found something because Jack's not doing so good.  I feel like a traitor saying that, but I can no longer deny that he's wasting away before my eyes.  He's restless, tossing and turning, coughing, occasionally muttering yet never truly conscious.  I think the fever burning through his body is so high that he can't lay still.  I think…Janet tells me it's not so… but I think, even unconscious, he is in pain. 

 

Just like on the planet, only there he was conscious (barely) and in pain. 

 

I got my first good look at him in nearly 20 hours when we moved out of the caves and into the forest.  The sky was overcast, lowering black clouds scudding across the sky, as wind whipped the tops of the trees all around us.  It looked like it was going to rain a lot and soon, and for the middle of the day the light was dim.  After the gloomy blackness of the caves though, it stabbed into my retinas like a searchlight.  When my eyes stopped watering, I looked up and gave an audible gasp.  Jack's skin was grey, leached of all colour, except the skin around his right cheekbone which sported a deep crimson bruise.  He didn't look up at my gasp, just stood, head bowed, breathing deeply.  It was obvious that just standing was a monumental effort.  He looked as if a single step would be an impossibility. 

 

The first part of our plan was risky in itself.  We needed to find enough weapons to allow us to make the distraction.  That meant finding an isolated couple of Jaffa and taking them out without being discovered.  Jack was aware enough of his limitations to leave this to Sam and Teal'c, while we started the long and painful march to the Gate.

 

He couldn't pretend to be happy about it, though.  He must have looked at his watch fifty times in the twenty minutes they were gone.  Finally, they rematerialised out of the forest, loaded down with staff weapons and zats.  One of each for myself, Daniel and the Colonel.  Teal'c took a few minutes to remind Daniel, and teach me, how to fire the staff weapon. 

 

Jack took the opportunity to catch his breath.  In all too short a time we were ready to set off again.

 

"Teal'c take point.  I’ll watch our six.  Daniel, you and Janet stick with Jack."  Sam made an effort to make her voice sound matter-of-fact.  It might have worked with strangers but SG1 knew her too well.

 

Teal'c set off and Jack, took a deep breath, squared his shoulders and took a step. 

 

Then another. 

 

And another. 

 

He made six miles.

 

About half way, the heavens opened and the rain poured down on us, the wind whipping along so that it struck us at about a 45 degree angle.  It was both a blessing and a curse.  On the one hand it was cold and miserable and the last thing Jack needed, on the other it concealed us from the Jaffa and at least the wind was blowing from behind, pushing us forward rather than slowing us down.

 

We soldiered on in mute, miserable silence.  Soldiered on?  Huh, never thought about those words before.  Carrying on in the face of adversity, pushing forward when you would much rather be anywhere else, even collapsed on the sodden forest floor, putting one foot in front of the other long past the point where common sense would have you laid out in a bed being pumped full of some very heavy drugs.  Soldiering on.  Webster's Dictionary should just insert a picture of Jack and have done.  A thousand words and more in that picture.  Come to think of it the same shot could go under "Stubborn",  "Dogged", "Relentless", "Implacable."  Well, you get the picture…

 

Six miles.  Then Janet couldn't stand the ragged breathing, the steps that had become more of a stagger than a walk, the agony written in hunched shoulders and clenched fists and demanded we just stop, just bloody well stop, for five minutes.

 

Jack sagged to the ground like all the bones had suddenly been sucked out of his body.  The rest of us weren't that much better.  My stomach was growling, demanding food. 

 

For a while there was only the sound of ragged breathing, rain dripping off leaves and into the undergrowth and the wind whistling through the tops of the trees. 

 

Jack's voice when it came was flat, expressionless, as if every emotion had been stripped from him, as if he had been pared down to his essence.  It was as physically and emotionally miserable as I have ever seen him.  "How close are we?"

 

"We are approximately one mile from the Gate, O'Neill.  We are at the very edge of the Chaar fields."

 

"How long until sunset?"

 

"No more than one hour."

 

"Right.  T, you and Carter head off.  In precisely..." Jack groaned as he lifted his arm to look at his watch, "90 minutes we'll kick off the distraction.  We'll give you ten minutes to get the gliders then we'll pull back.  You can assume there will be no friendlies in the fire zone as of that time."

 

Teal'c and Sam both nodded, acknowledging the order.  Sam even climbed to her feet, purely on instinct at having been given an order.  They both looked dubious though.  For some reason they seemed doubtful that Jack was up to providing a distraction, presumably it had something to do with the fact that he could barely walk and when you added breathing to walking you had pretty much hit Jack O'Neill's current physical limits.  Of course, that was overlooking his crack back up team of a civilian archaeologist and a medical doctor!

 

It was Teal'c who first mustered the courage to speak his doubts.  "Perhaps we should reconsider our plan, O'Neill.  We could take just one death glider.  Major Carter could provide the distraction."  Even Teal'c didn't dare add the rest… and you can sit this one out.

 

"No.  We need them both and you know it.  If we can't provide continuous bombardment the Jaffa are going to scatter and come back when you land the damn thing.  Not to mention the fact that the last thing we need is the Jaffa to get that other glider into the air and turn this into a dogfight.  We've had this out already.  Let's not go screwing it up at this stage.  We'll handle the damn distraction.  Go."

 

More nods and this time they did go, melting soundlessly into the trees in that way that I can't emulate no matter how I try.  They didn't look any happier but they went.

 

Oh and speaking of comings and goings here comes Janet with Jack's test results…

 

Daniel Jackson (continued)

 

God, I just looked down and realized I still have the journal in my hands, clenched to my chest even after everything that's happened in the last hour… 

 

Hmmm…

 

Hey MacKenzie… fuck you and your journal!! 

 

Fuck.

 

Fuck.

 

Fuck.

 

Do you hear me you … ah screw this, dammit, dammit.

 

Janet Fraiser

 

Daniel tossed this journal across the infirmary as he charged out.  I've just spent half an hour putting it all back together.  Not because I give a damn about the stupid thing, it's just, I really needed to do something with my hands.

 

Well, hasn't this been a tortuous little ride to nowhere.  My conclusions, purely scientific mind you, are that this whole journal thing is a crock.  Feel better?  Come to terms with my feelings?  Express what I can't say out loud?  Allow the team to rebuild relationships in a non-confrontational, emotionally relaxed manner?

 

Sure.  Hey guys, listen up.  SG1 went on this mission because I, Janet Fraiser, insisted.  O'Neill got tortured.  I couldn't do a damn thing to help him because I didn't have my medical kit with me.  I did assist in the Colonel torturing himself further to get us back to the Gate, though.  Now I'm back and I'm safe.  Not a scratch.  Can’t say the same for Jack.  I've got medicine now though, so I can do the doctor thing, right?  Well, no.  Got the medicine, but not the knowledge to treat this one.  So today I got to tell SG1 that Jack's going to die, probably in the next day or so.  Still, I've written it all down in the Journal so it'll be okay, right? Emotionally relaxed enough for ya?

 

I'm with Daniel.  Fuck you MacKenzie.

 

Samantha Carter

 

I feel…numb.

 

Janet got the latest test results back on the Colonel.  They finally showed something this time, but not what we expected and hoped for.  The Colonel has an infection.  It's not native to Earth, it's not responding to any known Earth treatment protocols.  It is spreading and it is aggressive.  All tests indicate a "negative outcome." 

 

That's what Janet told us.  Then she finally lost control of that professional facade she's been clinging on to so tightly and burst into tears.  I think that was the most horrifying moment of all.  That made it … I don't know, real, I guess.

 

So now, I'm at the Colonel's bedside, only this time it's meant to be to say goodbye.  I don't know how to do that.  It wasn't supposed to happen like this.  When you fight as hard as Jack has you deserve a happy ending.  We shouldn't lose him like this.  Janet says he probably won't ever regain consciousness.  He won't ever get to hear how much I respect him, how honoured and privileged…

 

No.  This can't be.  The Colonel just looks asleep, that's all.  Pale, sure, and banged up but not…not dying.

 

How can it be that the last time he ever saw me I was doubting his ability to do his job, when he has never, ever failed in the whole time I have known him.  How can it be that the last words he ever said to me were, "We'll handle the damn distraction.  Go."

 

How do you say goodbye to someone when they've become so close to you that it would be easier to tear off your own arm than to let them go?

 

I can't do this.  I just can't.

 

The Journal

by Frizzelly

 

Part 12 of 13 – see Part 0 for warnings etc.

 

 

Janet Fraiser

 

The Colonel is on full life support now.  Only two days since those awful test results.  Exactly three weeks since we got back from Errinious.  His downturn has been as rapid and absolute as the test results predicted.  I sat with Jack all night last night, said my goodbyes, apologised for my failure.  I held his hand, allowed myself to run my fingers through his hair and wondered how any God could allow a life as brave and noble and vital as Jack O'Neill's to end like this. 

 

By morning I had worked up the courage to speak to General Hammond and SG1 about discontinuing life support. 

 

It went about as well as I had expected.

 

Teal'c turned and left the room, without a word.  His gaze, normally so reassuring and warm, was as disdainful and contemptuous as I am sure it would have been had Apophis or Cronus or any of the other murdering tyrants he has come across in his life stood before him.

 

Daniel swore he would never, never consent to "killing Jack", quote unquote.

 

Sam just looked at me from huge blue eyes overflowing with tears. 

 

The room had become a little blurry for me by then too.  How could any of them think this was something I wanted?

 

General Hammond, bless him was the voice of reason and compassion.  He said we weren't quite ready to let the Colonel go just yet and to give it a few more days.  He said he would speak to Daniel and Teal'c.

 

When he left, Sam came and asked me to finish the Journal.  "I just want to know what happened after Teal'c and I left.  Finish the story, Janet, please."

 

So I will.  For Sam.

 

And for me.  Because, you see, while I'm writing this story I don't have to think about going out into that ward and disconnecting those machines.  I don't have to think about walking up to General Hammond's office and resigning.  I don't have to think about warning my successor to make sure Teal'c isn't sent on a mission until we can be sure he won't find a convenient staff blast to jump in front of, to watch Daniel because I don't think he's the suicidal type but who knows what a man who's just lost everything will do, to make sure Sam doesn't throw her career away out of feelings of grief and misplaced guilt.  And, most importantly, while I write this journal, Jack lives, and I don’t have to go home and tell the little girl I love more than life itself that I let her hero die.

 

So on with the story. 

 

After Sam and Teal'c disappeared into the forest, Daniel and I looked expectantly at the Colonel. 

 

"Tactics 101 kids.  We make a lot of noise as far as possible from Carter and Teal'c's position and then, when a suitable level of chaos has been created, we make like those tree guys on the Xfiles and disappear."

 

"How Jack?  You're not exactly mobile you know?"

 

"No need to be, Danny.  The US military has learnt the hard way how hard it is to take out snipers in a jungle.  We'll spread out, co-ordinate our fire.  You and Doc can do all the moving, I'll be the anchor."  We both looked at him doubtfully, damned sure it wasn't going to be that easy.

 

He pulled himself to his feet using a low hanging branch and then shook his head, spraying water in all directions like a dog.  "Damned rain.  OK, I figure we've got 20 minutes before we need to move.  Don't want to be in position too early.  What do you say we go grab us some berries?"

 

I looked at Daniel and he looked at me.  I was pretty sure he saw the same stupefied look on my face that I could see on his. 

 

"Colonel, are you alright?"  I stretched out a hand to check if he was feverish.

 

He batted me away.  "Ah!  You'll get your chance when we get back to the infirmary, Doc.  Look, we came to this tree infested, rain drenched God forsaken ball of mud to get some miracle berries, right?  Well, here we are in the orchards.  Let's grab some."

 

"Jack, you need to take it easy."

 

"And I will, Daniel, when we get back to the SGC.  Now, the way I see it, someone thinks these berries might be a cure for cancer.  I'm pretty damned sure Hammond's not going to let us come back here, so this is our chance.  Let's take something out of this screwed up mission from hell."

 

So we went berry picking.  Jack insisted on coming.  And picking berries – when he wasn't doubled over coughing and clutching his ribs, that is.   We filled our jackets and BDU pockets.  Daniel took off his undershirt and made it into a kind of holdall and we filled that too.  Jack would have done the same but this time my glare had the intended effect and he let his hands drop to his sides.

 

Jack kept an eye on his watch the whole time.  "Right, let's go," he said after exactly 20 minutes.  He still looked ghastly and a couple of times when he thought I wasn't looking I had seen him swaying, but adrenalin had kicked in and I hoped it would carry him home to my infirmary.

 

We slogged the final mile to the Gate.  Jack was sweating and heaving air into his lungs by that stage.  He had also developed a very marked limp.

 

Darkness had fallen and with the continued pounding of the rain, visibility was reduced to a few feet.  Great conditions for our distraction, or so Jack said.  The Jaffa had torches burning in a ring around the Gate, which Jack said would only serve to make the darkness of the forest that much more impenetrable.

 

Jack found a small rise about 30 yards from the clearing around the Gate that he wanted to make his position.  He pointed out a tree 150 yards north that was to be my position and another about 200 yards south that was to be Daniel's. 

 

His voice was hoarse, so drained of volume as to be barely be there.  "Okay.  Watch me for the signal.  Don't fire until I say so.  Stay within my line of sight at all times.  If you are spotted or if the Jaffa close in on your position pull back diagonally the way I showed you."  As he lifted his arm to demonstrate, I could see his shoulder wound had started to bleed again, running all the way down his arm and dripping onto his hand, the zat and then the jungle floor.

 

"Jack,"  Daniel reached for him before I could, but the Colonel shoved his hand away.

 

"Not now, Daniel."  A bit more volume there.  There was no arguing with that tone.  "Let's just do this."

 

As we started to walk away, he called us back with a short whistle.  "Hey, be careful."

 

I hurried off towards my tree, my nervousness increasing with every step I took away from the Colonel.  Amazing how reassuring he was even in his current condition.  The whole time we'd walked through the forest, picked the berries, moved into position, I'd not felt a twinge of fear, comfortable in Jack's presence, concentrating on following him, sucked in by the aura of overwhelming competence he emitted seemingly without trying.

 

It suddenly occurred to me that the whole berry thing had probably been a distraction as well, to stop Daniel and I worrying about the forthcoming battle, keeping the troops occupied and feeling useful.  It had worked too.  I had spent the time surreptitiously watching Jack, while distractedly picking berries, certain he would keel over face first any second.  No part of my mind had been dwelling on just how unprepared I was to participate in a real live fire action.  What a performance.  Bravo, Jack.  

 

I suddenly realized I'd done something I swore I never would.  I'd been suckered by the Jack O'Neill "dumb and dumber" routine.  I've watched before as he coaxed, cajoled or infuriated results out of Sam and Daniel with carefully blank looks, deliberately mispronounced words or plain wilful misunderstanding.  Teal'c, I knew was never fooled, and I flattered myself that I hadn't been either.  Yet for the last 90 minutes I'd been led around by the nose, worrying about Jack's condition, gritting my teeth at what seemed a stupidly naïve "what could possibly go wrong" attitude, picking berries for crying out loud, in short doing anything but panicking over whether I was going to die in the next half hour.  God only knows what the charade cost him – the pain involved in just keeping moving, the effort he must have expended in appearing effortless.  So, once again, bravo, Jack, you brave, foolish man.

 

By the time I had travelled the whole 150 yards to my tree I was a bundle of nerves.  I didn't have to kill anyone.  I was grateful that Jack hadn't asked that of me.  Just make a lot of noise, confuse the Jaffa as to where we coming from, make this seem like a desperate attempt to get to the Gate, distract attention from the Death Gliders.  That's all.

 

I fiddled with the unfamiliar grip of the staff weapon, twisted as Teal'c had shown me until it gave that crackle hiss to indicate it was ready to fire and pointed it towards the Gate. 

 

I looked over to Jack waiting for the ready signal.  He glanced back, indicated in sign language that I needed to get further behind the tree, watched until he was happy with my position, then met my eyes and nodded.  On his other side he did the same with Daniel.  He picked up a handful of dirt and rubbed it over his face and hair.  Instantly the pale blur that I had been focussing on, all but disappeared.  Instant camouflage.  Quickly I bent down and did the same.

 

When I looked back up at Jack, he was lying behind the log he had chosen for cover, head resting on his fists which were clenched around the staff weapon.  Had he been a statue he would have been the most expressive portrayal of mute misery ever carved.  He lay like that long enough that I began to be worried. 

 

Just as I was thinking of going to check on him, he lifted his head and swung the staff weapon around so it was pointing at the group of Jaffa closest to us.  I saw a green glow as he checked his watch.  He raised his fist, clenched, above his head, still focussed on his watch.  He held it there for ten seconds, twenty, then let it drop and just like that I was in hell.

 

Firing a staff weapon is a terrifying experience.  You can feel the power building up in the rod under your hands and then with a sizzle-spit it discharges, the kick-back deceptively mild, not that much more powerful than a Beretta, but a second later that tree or rock or, god forbid, person, that you are firing at is blasted apart in a fiery explosion.

 

Terrifying.  Even worse is what happens when someone fires a staff weapon at you.  I had never been in battle before.  I'd been in danger at the SGC and even before that, but never had anyone fired at me in anger before, fired a weapon with the express intention of killing Janet Edith Fraiser, son of Dot and Paul, sister of Liza and James.  I never want to go there again.

 

I'd love to tell you what Jack and Daniel were doing, Sam, I'm sure it was pretty damned impressive.  The thing is, as soon as that first staff weapon blast tore into the forest, not even close to me, about sixty yards away, and I realized, my God, the Jaffa were firing BACK, my world narrowed into a tiny sphere about a metre wide that consisted of me firing the staff weapon blindly then flinching back behind my tree, ducking flying bark and rocks.  The only time I noticed Jack was when three Jaffa seemed to have figured out where my firing was coming from and made a charge on my position.

 

So far aiming hadn't been part of my strategy, just firing blindly towards the Gate.  I probably would have shot those Jaffa though without too much time spent considering the Hippocratic Oath, except that I didn't have a clue how to make the staff weapon hit a running, weaving man who, once he stepped beyond the fire light illuminating the Gate, was little more than a dark shadow.

 

My life didn't flash before my eyes.  I didn't think of anything profound to say as my last words, no "the rest is silence" from Jan Fraiser.  I would have gone out in a kind of cosmic "wha?" if Jack hadn't risen up onto his knees and taken out the three Jaffa with three coldly clinical blasts of his staff weapon.  I was still staring at the smoking hole in the back of the Jaffa nearest me, unsure how I was supposed to feel about the sight, when Jack yelled, "Back in position, now, Major!!"

 

With a start, I jerked my head up and realised the battle raged on.  The Colonel had dangerously exposed himself by coming to my aid.  I pulled back behind my tree.  Surely it must have been ten minutes by now?  The Jaffa kept coming at us, spreading out now so they came from our flanks.  Away from the firelight they were no longer easy targets.  I was going to die.  They would surely overwhelm us at any moment.

 

"Fall back.  Daniel, Doc, fall back!"  Jack's shout reached me over the explosions of staff weapons.  We had planned for this, a tactical retreat; the Colonel had even selected my next position behind another big tree.  Suddenly, though, leaving my tree and being exposed to all that fire didn't seem like a great idea.  It was only 60 yards away but lit by flashes from the staff weapons and with all those Jaffa aiming at my back it looked as vast an open space as Central Park.  Impossible.  I couldn't move.

 

"Major Fraiser move your ass, now!"  Jack's roar was all Air Force Colonel.  Hoarse, loud and compelling.  It must be the voice he uses on recruits.  Despite the fact he'd never heard used it on me before, I was up and running without conscious thought, more afraid of disobeying that command than of being gunned down by Jaffa.

 

Flinching in expectation of a fiery blast to my back with every step, I charged to my new tree.  To my right I saw Daniel also pulling back to his assigned position.  We now faced the Jaffa in a "V" shape with Jack the point and Daniel and I the two tails.  I turned my back on Daniel staring out into the bush.  My job, as Jack had explained it, was to protect the flanks, to stop precisely what the Jaffa had just now regrouped enough to do – come at us from the sides as well as the front.  We expected to withdraw and be the hell away from the fire zone before they had time to circle all the way around and come at us from the back.

 

I wriggled into as secure a position as I could behind my tree, wiped the wet mass that was my hair out of my eyes, hefted the staff weapon and stared out into the rain swept darkness.

 

Behind me and to my left I could hear the steady sound of Jack's staff weapon.  I didn't want to think what the trek and now this fight had done to his non-existent reserves.  Towards the end of our walk he had been coughing almost constantly, covering his mouth with his sleeve to try to keep the noise down.  When he thought no one was looking his eyes had been dark with abject misery.

 

Let this plan work.  Ten more minutes and we just might be out of this. 

 

There!  Was that movement??  I peered into the night.  Yes.  Two shapes.  I fired my staff weapon and a tree exploded into roaring flames.  In the light, I could see the two Jaffa retreating.

 

I started to lower my staff weapon only to realise, too late, that there were more Horus Guards coming at me.  Four of them.  I swung the staff weapon back up and fired at the pair to my right.  I knew I didn't have time to fire at the remaining pair and scrunched up my shoulders and lifted my forearm as if that would somehow repel the shot I knew was coming.

 

There was a flash and the tree next to me exploded sending shards of bark into my arms and face.  I was still alive!  I didn’t expect it to last long.  Wide eyed I waited for the next shot and once again saw my attackers gunned down in two precision shots from my left – the Colonel. 

 

I turned to him and STARED.  How could he possibly have known what was going on behind his right shoulder.  The man must have eyes in the back of his head.  That was the second time he had saved my life in less than ten minutes.  What do you say to that?

 

I may never know.  Just as I was about to mouth a totally inadequate "thank you",  a harsh metallic oh too familiar voice roared, "O'Neill!"

 

We both turned and there stood Nightmare.  Heru'ur.  Alive, revived, pissed and holding Daniel in a stranglehold.

 

"Lower your weapons."

 

I looked to the Colonel for instruction.  I wanted him to tell me it was going to be okay.  I wanted to know we couldn't have come that far, struggled that long, walked that hellish walk to the Gate, fought that hard, for it to end that way. 

 

Daniel must have been thinking the same because he wriggled in Heru'ur's grip enough to get out a strangled, "Don't do it, Jack."

 

Heru'ur tightened his grip and Daniel went back to trying to suck in a wheezing breath.  The Goa'uld looked unmarked and healthy.  His eyes flashed as he repeated his command to drop our weapons.

 

Jack really didn't want to do it, but even I could see our situation sucked.  He took another look at Daniel, whose face had gone alarmingly red, then nodded at me.  We lowered our staff weapons and stood defenceless before Heru'ur.  I'd like to say defenceless but proud, but the fact is my knees were shaking and the Colonel looked like death. 

 

Heru'ur tossed Daniel offhandedly to one of his Jaffa.  "Find the Shol'va and the other woman."  Half a dozen Jaffa disappeared back towards the Stargate.  One stepped forward and grabbed me by the upper arms.  I didn't struggle.  I couldn't see the point.

 

Heru'ur  turned to Jack.  The Colonel was held tightly between two Jaffa.  For a moment, looking at him, it was as if I had never seen him before.  You know how that happens sometimes, a face, almost as familiar to you as your own, suddenly through some shift in your perception becomes strange and unfamiliar and you look beyond the whole, beyond the "Jack" and see again the angles and planes that make it up.

 

That's what happened to me then.  Instead of "the Colonel" instant recognition, no analysis, I suddenly saw a middle aged man with grey hair, short back and sides, a little longer on the top, the grey seeming almost black in the rain.  Underneath the hair, a well defined and well proportioned face, high cheekbones, straight nose, firm chin covered with a bristly shadow now as the Colonel had not shaved for a couple of days.  It was unquestionably a handsome face, even the thin white scar bisecting the left eyebrow didn't change that, if anything it improved the face.  It was after all a lived in face.  The bruising on his cheekbone had come out, leaving a dark circle under his right eye and a smudge across the jaw line on the right side of his face.  There were other signs too for a doctor – a scattering of pain lines around the eyes, a jaw so tightly clenched the muscles must be screaming, a pallor beyond pale and leaning towards translucent, faint beads of sweat clinging to his forehead.  Dominating the face though, and almost overwhelming the rest, were dark eyes, virtually black in the flickering firelight.  They stared at Heru'ur with a steely determination.  A handsome face, yes, and a strong face and definitely not the face of a man on the edge of collapse.

 

"So, Tauri, you were trying to leave this planet?"

 

"What can I say, 'Ur, the accommodations sucked."

 

"Do you see now how futile it is to attempt to flee your God?  You strike us down and we rise again even stronger."

 

The Colonel's voice wasn't harsh or angry or indignant, just unutterably weary with the whole situation.  He wasn't trying to impress or convince anyone, simply telling it like it was and it was all the more powerful for that.  "We both know you're no God.  You're just an evil parasite who jumped into some poor innocent schlob's body and took over.  Without him, you'd just be a slimy little worm that I'd crush under my boot without even thinking about it." 

 

It certainly affected Heru'ur.  He surged forward with a wordless bellow, slamming a fist into the side of the Colonel's head.  Clearly stunned, the Colonel dropped, dangling in the grasp of the two Jaffa.

 

"Get him up," the would-be God ordered, and not content with the one blow, he lashed out with his foot landing viscious kicks to the Colonel's gut, once, twice, three times.  Jack was hunched over between his captors now, desperately trying to breathe.  The violence broke my paralysis and I strained against the metal clad behemoth who had hold of me.  Unimpressed, he didn't even move. 

 

Daniel was a little more successful, tugging free of one of the guards holding him before an open-handed slap across the head, momentarily stunned him back into passivity.

 

Without even giving the Colonel a chance to catch his breath, Heru'ur gestured to the Jaffa holding Jack to let him go.  The Colonel dropped to his knees and Heru'ur leaned in and grabbed a handful of hair and yanked the Colonel up to face him.  "Tell me the code for the Tauri Stargate."

 

His voice still hoarse from his earlier mistreatment, Jack ground out, "I killed you once, snake.  I'll keep killing you until you learn to stay dead."

 

Heru'ur grabbed a staff weapon from a guard behind him and swung it at Jack like a baseball bat.  It had the full force of the Goa'uld's rage behind it and if it had hit Jack in the head, as intended, it would have killed him instantly.

 

Luckily, all things being relative, the Colonel managed to get his right arm up to block the blow.  There was that awful sound that Daniel has described all too vividly already in this journal, as Jack's wrist snapped.

 

He gave a howl, toppling back to the ground from the force of the blow.  With an imperious wave of his hand, Heru'ur gestured to the Horus guards to get Jack back onto his feet. 

 

They did so in a business like manner, ignoring his harsh grunts of agony and occasional pain filled curses.  I know Teal'c used to be a Jaffa and he has said he did some pretty distasteful things in the service of Apophis, but I can't believe, whatever he may have done, that it was ever as meaningless to him, as the treatment of Jack was to those Horus Guards.  To them he was no more than an object, deserving of not even the slightest consideration.  There was no guilt in their treatment of him because he wasn't a real person the harming of whom could touch their consciences.

 

Heru'ur looked at Jack's wrist, dangling at an obscene angle from his body.  His glance moved up, past the shoulder wound, bleeding again, to where the Colonel was biting his bottom lip to keep silent. 

 

His eyes did that flashy thing as he spoke again,  "Tell me the code for the Tauri Stargate."

 

Jack didn't speak, didn't even look up, just shook his head in silent defiance.

 

I wanted to scream.  This couldn't be happening.  I couldn't watch this again.  I couldn't listen to the noises as they tortured a man I admired and respected, couldn't hear the sickening grunts as he fought not to cry out against the pain being inflicted on his helpless body. I couldn't stand by and let them torture the Colonel again – ignoring the fact that it would kill him, watching and listening to it would also drive me insane.  I began to struggle like a madwoman, shaking and screaming and pushing and clawing, desperate to be away from this. 

 

I twisted and turned, wishing desperately that I weighed an extra 50 kilos, had an extra two feet of height, anything to dislodge the vice like grip around my upper arms.  Normally, I'm content with my so-called petite dimensions but right then I would have given anything to be the female version of Hulk Hogan.  My guard grunted, widened his stance to keep his balance and when that didn't stop my berserk struggles, shook me so hard my teeth rattled.

 

"Hey!"  Daniel lunged against his captors and Jack managed to get his feet under him in response to my distress.  My heroes.

 

Next moment we were all thrown to the ground, captives, guards and Goa'uld, as a huge explosion rocked the clearing around the Gate.  Yes!!  Sam and Teal'c.  More massive blasts rocked the ground.  "Go. Go. Go."  Jack yelled, taking advantage of the consternation of Heru'ur and his Goa'uld.  He scrambled frantically, trying to get to his feet without using his shoulder, wrist, broken fingers or ribs.  Daniel was up already and grabbed Jack by his uninjured wrist and hauled him to his feet.  By that time I was up as well and we dashed into the forest.

 

Daniel had point but Jack stopped him with a touch to the shoulder.  "Don't let them get between us and the Gate or this will have all been for nothing."

 

Daniel nodded, adjusted his course slightly and we were off again.  We didn’t really want to go too far, we just needed for Sam and Teal'c's attack to finish so we could dash to the DHD.  Even so, our progress was too slow.  Jack was done in.  Even his extraordinary stubbornness and force of will couldn't overcome a body that had suffered so much abuse.  Daniel dropped back and got an arm around his waist, trying to control the wild stagger that was the best Jack could manage.  He hung in Daniel's grip, coughing and apologising, ordering us to leave him

 

As if.

 

Close by, we could still hear the sounds as Sam and Teal'c bombarded the clearing around the Gate and flashes of explosions gave the forest around us a nightmare strobe effect.

 

It was in one such light that I saw three or four dark shapes closing in on us from behind.  They saw they had been spotted and accelerated towards us.

 

I only had time to get out a "Colonel, look…." before they were upon us. 

 

Jack slowed down to come between me and our attackers and Daniel stopped dead, determined they wouldn't get to Jack.  It was all very noble and brave and a lot like Custer's last stand.  Three saturated, half starved, exhausted humans with no weapons; Jack barely standing and Daniel beginning to show the effects of having been belted around the head one too many times in the last couple of days and, of course, a four foot nothing non-combatant.  On the other side, three Horus guards (the smallest of whom was built like a Texas farm boy) and one majorly annoyed Goa'uld.

 

The Journal

by Frizzelly

 

Part 13 of 13 – see Part 0 for warnings etc.

 

 

 

Janet Fraiser (continued)

 

We attacked of course.  We're talking Jack O'Neill here.  Jack is usually as prepared to make a tactical retreat as the next guy, but a tactical retreat was out of the question in this case.  Here, the alternative was surrender and Daniel and I had known Jack long enough to know that the thought wouldn't even cross his mind.  With barely a glance at each other we attacked. 

 

And for a little while we matched them.  I think our desperation stunned them. 

 

Daniel took down a Jaffa with a store of pent up rage that even then was terrifying. 

 

Jack wrestled another to the ground and held him there long enough for me to belt him over the head with a rock. (I know, I know, hippocratic oath. All I can say is I had a nice store of pent up rage of my own by then.)

 

The third Horus Guard threw himself at Daniel who met the attack with a silent savagery, completely at odds with his usual mild mannered demeanour.

 

Which left the Colonel and I facing Heru'ur.  Jack ignored little things like being on the edge of collapse, abused knees, perforated shoulder and broken bones to make a desperate full stretch dive for the fallen guard's zat.  I leapt for Heru'ur trying to slow him down enough that Jack would have time to shoot.  It was like grabbing a mountain.  He gave a little wriggle-shrug that sent me flying a good four feet into a tree trunk. 

 

It slowed him a fraction of a second, long enough for the Colonel to reach the zat, but before he could turn and aim, Heru'ur had grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and tossed Jack and zat across the clearing. 

 

The Colonel landed on his back, winded, and didn't move. 

 

What happened next all got very confused, Sam.  It happened in a fraction of the time it will take to tell it.  Heru'ur smiled and with a grin moved in to finish his attack.  I stood to try and help.  Across the clearing Daniel slammed his attacker to the ground with one final punch and turned to see what the situation was.

 

One thing was obvious and it hit me as hard as the Jaffa had.  We were too far away to get to Jack before Heru'ur did.

 

With the sound of cracking branches and a smattering of words in Goa'uld half a dozen Horus guards came charging into the clearing.

 

They skidded to a halt with almost comical surprise, shocked at the tableau in front of them.

 

Daniel and I exchanged a quick, helpless glance, an acknowledgement that we couldn't defeat six more healthy warriors, before our gazes were drawn back to the showdown between the Colonel and Heru'ur.

 

The Goa'uld had completely lost all composure.  He was wild eyed and incoherent with rage as he advanced on the Colonel.  It was a fight Jack could not possibly win, but he had known that going in.  At first he seemed too stunned to even be aware of the danger approaching.  Then he seemed to focus on the threat, dragging himself into a sitting position while reaching out with his hands, desperately patting the ground around him, trying to locate the zat that had jerked free of his grasp when he crashed to the forest floor.

 

Several of the Jaffa began to advance at this threat to their Lord.  They were closer than Daniel and I and were closing in with menace, until Heru'ur stopped them.  His eyes flashed and he raised a hand.  "Wait," he commanded, without shifting his glance from Jack, sprawled in front of him.

 

Obediently, the Jaffa froze.

 

Heru'ur's attack when it came was as rapid as that of a cobra striking.  Even so, Jack was quicker.  As the Goa'uld reached for him, Jack lifted his legs and kicked hard into the Goa'uld's chest. 

 

The kick came with a cost and Jack hollered with the pain.  Heru'ur staggered, but came back before Jack could get his feet under him. 

 

"Enough, Tauri."  Heru'ur lifted a booted foot and placed it square in the centre of Jack's chest and with all his Goa'uld strength pushed down.

 

Jack moaned.  I wanted to do the same.  I could only imagine the pain of that foot on cracked ribs, on a body pushed and abused well past breaking point.

 

The Goa'uld grinned down at Jack, eyes permanently glowing now, his enjoyment at the life slowly being crushed beneath his foot apparent to everyone.

 

"You have made your choice Tauri.  I am sure your companions will be more forthcoming with information after your death."

 

"Don't bet on it," Jack coughed out, his face red and contorted from the agony Heru'ur was inflicting.

 

His defiance enraged Heru'ur and he pushed down even harder, smiling when Jack cried out.

 

"Any last words, human?" he asked.

 

"Think … I'll save them … for another day," said Jack and shot Heru'ur in the chest with the zat.

 

I don’t know when or how he found it, Sam.  Obviously, while my attention was focussed on watching the life being crushed out of his body, he was still strategizing, planning and fighting.  God knows how, the amount of pain he was clearly in.  Then again this is Jack, I should have known he wouldn't know how to just give in.

 

Heru'ur fell back, writhing under the electric blue bolts.  Jack clawed his way to his knees, stared at the fallen Goa'uld and then raised the zat again. 

 

This reanimated the Jaffa and they started forward as a body to defend their God. 

 

"No!  Jack…"  Daniel yelled.  His voice contained all the aching horror at the injustice of our situation that I was feeling.  We'd won dammit.  Jack had won.  It should be over now.

 

Jack jerked around at the warning, saw the advancing Jaffa and turned back to Heru'ur.  He knew he was going to die, I realised, he just wanted to take his torturer with him.

 

He steadied the zat and shot the Goa'uld a second time.  He was lining up for a third shot when the first of the Jaffa reached him and slammed his staff weapon into the side of the Colonel's head.

 

That's it. 

 

You know the rest.  Jack was unconscious before he hit the ground.  He hasn't really been conscious since.

 

You and Teal'c came into the clearing just in time to see the blow and Teal'c drove off the Jaffa who were still standing like the fiery hand of vengeance itself.  Every line of his body promised retribution to anyone who came within range of his weapon.

 

Then, he lifted Jack into his arms with aching tenderness and carried him back to the Gate and home.

 

It should be a great story.  If this was Hollywood, Jack would have shot Heru'ur a third time, disintegrating him, the villagers would have been freed from Goa'uld tyranny, Jack would have recovered, with nothing more than a sexy bruise or two to show for the adventure.  We would go back to the planet, make nice with the natives and a line across the screen would tell audiences how two years later we discovered that the Chaar berries were actually a universal panacea, a cure for all ills.

 

If only.  As we all know, it didn't work out that way.

 

Jack didn't get a third shot in.  The Jaffa will have taken Heru'ur to a sarcophagus again and he will rise to terrorise Errinious and who knows how many other planets,  to murder and torture more innocents.  The Errinians will continue to be enslaved, the unluckiest of them will be implanted with Goa'uld symbiotes.

 

Jack hasn't gotten better and though he defeated Heru'ur, twice, with the odds vastly against him each time, I can't help feeling Heru'ur has been the real winner.  He has managed to take out the second-in-command of the Tauri and in doing so has destroyed SG1 and dealt the SGC a crippling blow from which it may never truly recover. 

 

And as for the Chaar berries, the raison d'etre for this sorry tale, they may well be a cure for everything including cancer, but the likelihood of being able to develop any kind of synthetic equivalent from the couple of squished pocketfuls that were all we eventually brought home with us … ohmigod!!!

 

Daniel Jackson

 

Ohmigod indeed. 

 

This is the final entry in this journal.  It comes exactly four days after Janet's final and most important epiphany.  The one that was pure genius and all hers.

 

The Chaar berries we brought home, that yes, Janet, I think you were right, we picked purely as a distraction, have saved Jack's life.

 

Irony.  Beautiful irony.

 

Struck by her epiphany, Janet threw the journal on her desk and bolted to Sam's lab.  They say if they'd had a stop watch it might have beaten a few olympic records.

 

She and Sam ran test after test before coming to the conclusion that it might work and what the hell, there really wasn't anything to lose if it didn’t'.

 

She combined something from the berries with an antibiotic, hoping it would lower the fever, stop the terrible damage it was doing to Jack's body.

 

It did; his temperature came down two degrees in the first couple of hours and kept falling steadily after that.

 

It did even more.  It cleared up the infection, it killed off the pneumonia (or whatever you do to pneumonia to get rid of it – I keep telling people I'm not that kind of doctor).  Within a day his breathing eased as his lungs cleared.

 

Things have just kept better from there.

 

Jack's still desperately weak, he's going to need a lot of TLC and he'll have (like we all do) quite a few issues to work through after that mission.

 

I feel europhic.  The change has been so sudden and so spectacular.  We all want to talk to Jack, to try to absolve some of the guilt for being the ones who watched while he suffered.  That will bother him too, that we saw him tortured, he hates to be emotionally exposed like that.

 

I'm going to have to talk about the whole surrendering to the Jaffa thing and, of course, one of these days he's going to see a report about me hitting Sam! – or, hmmm, maybe not.  If I put it in his in-tray there's a pretty good chance he'll never find it.

 

He'll never see this journal though.  This final glorious entry needs to be finished and then it goes into secure storage with my other journals.  We don't need it now and I don't see why our feelings should be out there as a public record for shrinks like MacKenzie to pore over with their academic logic and their book-based analysis.  They don't have a clue what it is like to watch your best friend dying in front of you and be able to do nothing, to hear his screams while watching helplessly, to watch as he draws on reserve after reserve of strength, saving your life after he should have been collapsed in a heap at your feet.  MacKenzie and his type may theorise about it, but they will never understand the grief and anger and hatred and fear that permeate these pages.

 

No, this journal gets locked away for good.  Or, maybe on cold night, I will overcome my revulsion at destroying the written word and use it to light a nice warm fire and invite Jack around for a glass of wine as we watch the flames and revel in how wonderful it is just to be alive.

 

But all of that is for another day.  Right now, the good news, the brilliant, the absolutely perfect news is that SG1 is going to be okay, because Jack is going to be okay.

 

How do I know?

 

He's been waking up on and off for over 24 hours now.  He's been dazed and still in quite a bit of pain.  He hasn't been lasting more than a couple of minutes at a time and each time he wakes we've had to go over the same old same old.  Hi Jack…you're in the infirmary…we're okay…yes we're all okay…Heru'ur remember?…Yep I'm sure.  We're all okay.

 

Then he usually nods in a kind of vague way and drifts off.  And we do it all again the next time he wakes.

 

Just five minutes ago, though, that all changed.  Janet was doing her hourly medical check when Jack shifted in the bed , opened his eyes and rasped up at us, "Hey, Daniel, Doc, when can I get out of here?"

 

THE END.