Jackfic Archive Story

 

Painful Truths General Jack Year Three - Part Ten

by Flatkatsi

Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).


The nursing home was bright, pleasant and friendly, with an extensive garden dotted with benches in shady spots under the large trees. We were greeted by the director with a welcoming smile and an offer to bring refreshments while we visited.

Maybe I should put my name down on the waiting list with an eye to the future.

I left the others in the communal area and made my way through the winding corridors to Marsden's room. I knocked on the door and entered, to find him sitting by the window, looking out at the residents who braved the chilly air to walk in the grounds.

I schooled my tone, pushing down the fury that rose as I thought of what this man had been a party to.

"Keith."

He turned then, spinning the chair on its wheels with the ease of long practice. "Jack. They told me you'd called, but I wasn't expecting you so soon."

"We made good time."

He nodded, his sightless eyes staring at me from his ravaged face. "I know you're not here to just shoot the breeze, Jack, not after all these years."

Even knowing he couldn't see the gesture, I shook my head. "No, I'm not."

"Then sit down and get to it."

His words were tense and it was obvious he took no more pleasure in the visit than I did.

I sat as he requested. As angry as I was with the man, I wasn't prepared to stand over him.

"I want to know what happened when I was injured at Ellsworth."

"That's a long time ago, Jack. Why bring it up again now?"

I decided to stop beating around the bush. I wanted the truth.

"I didn't remember anything about it until recently. I still don't know everything, but one thing I do remember is you - standing, watching, and doing nothing, and I want to know why. What did Ramsey have over you to make you do that? Or were you a party to it as well? Did you get me as a reward after he'd finished?"

His hand thumped on the chair arm, hard enough for the sound to carry to where I sat. "How can you think that? I was your team leader, and I thought I was your friend. How could you possibly think I'd do that?"

"But you don't deny you knew what Ramsey was doing and did nothing to stop it."

He didn't reply immediately and I wondered at the guilt that must be keeping him silent. He turned the chair back to the window, the whirl of the electric motor seeming out of place in the quiet room, and I realised my first impression was wrong. He hadn't been watching the activity outside when I first entered. Maybe it was the touch of the breeze on his face that he craved, or he was listening to the soft whisper of other voices coming to him from the garden, and with a shock I also realised I had no idea how or when he had been so badly injured. I looked at him more closely, seeing the empty trouser leg and the missing arm. Whatever it had been, he was lucky to have survived.

Compassion rose for the wreck of a man I saw before me and I waited patiently, allowing him the time he clearly needed.

It was several minutes before he spoke.

"You said you don't remember? Nothing?"

"I didn't remember being at Ellsworth at all. I've had flashes of the accident and the hospital but that's it."

"The accident. . ." His face took on a pensive look. "We thought we'd lost you. The avalanche came out of nowhere. The rest of the group managed to get clear, but you were at the front of the line. You were swept down the mountain, but I was too busy trying to get out of the way myself to see where you'd ended up. We couldn't find you at first, and when we did it looked like we were too late. You weren't breathing. It seemed to take forever for us to get you breathing again - tag teaming the CPR." He shuddered. "I can still hear the crack your ribs made when I pushed down. They had taken a battering already and I finished the job."

"You got me back."

"Yes - didn't think we were going to, but finally, you took a couple of breaths. We were miles from the base and out of radio contact - a nice refinement on the ordinary training exercise that Ramsey insisted on. He said we needed to experience what it was like to be in hostile territory with no lifeline to pull us out. You were blue with the cold and wet through. We stripped you down and I shared a sleeping bag with you while the others did what they could to protect us from the storm that blew in."

He paused for a moment as if seeing it again in his mind's eye. "That day certainly pushed our survival skills to the limit. We had the bare minimum of supplies and equipment and weren't prepared for an emergency situation. I think that was the point. Ramsey always was a cold hearted bastard. I could never prove it, but I think he sent us into that area knowing it was unstable. Just another one of his nasty little tests."

More came clear as he spoke. The feeling of naked flesh and mouths - just as I thought when I had read the incident report - all explained. But I knew it didn't end there.

"We finally got you back. You hadn't regained consciousness at all and I was beginning to wonder if you ever would - you'd been under the snow for a long time, maybe too long. But the base hospital was well equipped for exactly your sort of injuries so we were told there was a good chance you'd pull through. We were kept pretty busy over the next few days. The colonel sent us back out again - said we hadn't completed the exercise successfully. When we got back the first thing I did was go check on you."

He paused again, finally turning back from the window, to move himself over to the small table at the side of the bed. He poured himself a glass of water from the jug on the tray. I didn't offer to help. It didn't look as if he needed any, his actions showing the skill of long practice.

"They wouldn't let me in at first, but I insisted. You hadn't regained consciousness and everyone was worried you never would. The guys and I sat with you whenever we could - whenever we were allowed, which wasn't often. It was eight or nine days after the accident when. . ."

This time the pause was long enough to make me feel it wouldn't end. "When what?"

"You didn't remember this at all."

"No."

He nodded as if something had been explained. "I did wonder why. . ."

Once again he paused, but this time he continued after just a few seconds. "It was late. I wasn't able to sleep and decided to go sit with you a while. Visitors weren't allowed in the infirmary at night, so I snuck in. It turned out I shouldn't have bothered sneaking - there was no sign of anyone on duty, except the radio at the nurses' station was on. One of those stupid songs everyone was humming at the time was playing and I remember thinking it was up far too loud. It seemed a little odd but I just assumed the night nurse had gone for a break and forgotten to turn it off. You were in a small side ward and there was no one else in the infirmary at all, you were the only patient. I got as far as the door to your room before I realised there was anything wrong. I don't know why it took that long - maybe because of the music or maybe because I used to think of hospitals as places where you got looked after, safe places."

He took another sip of water.

"It was dark - just the dim light from the corridor. There was someone with you, up on the bed with you. At first I thought it was the nurse checking your bandages or something. To be honest I don't know what I thought. Then I heard the noises. . ." He stopped again, swallowing. "I don't remember running over, I just found myself there beside the bed without consciously moving. I pulled him off and turned you over. You were awake, staring up at me, but you didn't say anything, I don't think you were really conscious at all. I pulled the blankets over you and that was when he grabbed me. It wasn't until then that I even realised it was Colonel Ramsey. I didn't get a chance to defend myself - the whole thing had only taken a minute of so and I was stunned by what I'd seen. I think he punched me. Next thing I knew I was waking up in the holding cell. No one came near me for two days except to bring me food. I couldn't get anyone to listen. I didn't know what was going on." He shook his head at the memory.

"I have to tell you, Jack, I was pretty desperate. It seemed that Ramsey had the place sewn up tight. I thought I'd end up beaten to death in some back alley somewhere." He shook his head again, his fist thumping on the arm of the chair again. "For a long time I thought it would have been better if I had died."

His despair overwhelmed my own and the anger completely drained from me. "What happened?"

"I was taken from the cell in the middle of the night, blindfolded and driven miles from the base. They told me Colonel Ramsey sent his regards and laughed as they drove away. I got the blindfold off and found myself in a field. I thought I was on the right track by following the marks of the truck tires. I moved slowly, making sure I stuck to the middle of the ruts."

His voice got softer as he was lost in the memory.

"Then clouds covered the moon. It was too dark to see my hand in front of my face. I knew I wandered off the track, but I just thought Ramsey wanted me to get lost. . . I wish it had been that simple. It was a mine field. He'd had me dumped in the middle of a fucking mine field. As soon as I wandered off the safe track I was gone. There was an almighty bang and that was the last I knew for months."

"Oh, god - Keith."

He continued as if I hadn't spoken.

"They said I was lucky to survive. I didn't think so. Just about every bone in my face was smashed and even when I did wake up I couldn't speak. Then I just wanted to die. I have to admit, Jack, but the last thing I wanted to think about was you. You got mixed up in my mind with the colonel. Even though Ramsey gave the order to dump me out there in the mine field, I'm sorry to say I blamed you for much of what happened. There wasn't any point trying to tell anyone the truth, Ramsey had covered his tracks much too well. I had been on a solo exercise and had got lost. It was my fault, or so it was explained to me. Everyone was very sympathetic. I got moved from one VA hospital to another until I ended up here." He turned his head as if looking around at the room. "It's okay. In fact, it's more than okay - it's home. I'm used to it now."

"You didn't tell anyone?"

"No. About a year after it happened I got a visit from three very threatening men. They explained the facts of life to me in words of one syllable. I never heard from you again - it was as if you'd fallen off the face of the Earth. I even thought Ramsey might have gotten rid of you too, plus there was a touch of guilt there too - that I hadn't been able to protect you. You were just a kid." His closed fist hit the chair again, his actions showing much more of his true feelings than his words did. "I didn't have any family left and my only friends were people I served with. One thing led to another and gradually the visitors stopped coming, especially after Desert Storm. It was a high risk profession we had, Jack."

There was nothing left to deny. Marsden's words had stripped any pretence from my memories and left nothing but stark truth. The puzzle was finally together, with all the pieces in place, but it wasn't completed - it needed to be put in its box.

I stood and moved to Marsden's side, bending down to speak quietly. "Ramsey's going to pay, Keith. I promise - for what he did to me, but especially for what he did to you."

"How? What can you do? I've kept track of him. He has more power now than he ever did. If you go up against him he'll kill you, or worse - he'll do to you what he did to me."

"Don't worry about me, Keith."

He didn't listen, his voice getting more agitated. "Don't use what happened to me as an excuse, Jack. I don't want your death on my conscience. If you need to seek revenge after all these years for yourself, I can understand that, but don't bring me into it."

I thought about all the pain Ramsey had had a hand in over the years, from my parachute mishap in Iran, to Janet Frasier's death. I wasn't doing this just for Keith. I was ridding the planet of a parasite that should have been eliminated years ago.

I took my leave of Marsden, a plan already forming in my head.

**********

I told my friends what I had discovered, leaving nothing out. I needed their cooperation for my plan to work. Even Teal'c was shocked by my description of Marsden's injuries and I saw the same need for revenge growing in their eyes that I knew was already fiercely burning in mine - especially after I confirmed my worst fears were true, and that my nightmares were, if anything, mild in comparison to reality.

Then I explained my plan to them. The risks were high, but the end result had a symmetry that was elegant in its maliciousness. Carter and Daniel looked slightly sick when I described it, but Teal'c just nodded and smiled grimly.

They say revenge is a dish best eaten cold, but I prefer it warm and stinking of my enemy's blood. I want to stick the knife in and hear him scream for mercy - screams I hadn't been able to utter when he raped me in the dark so many years before. I would make him suffer and I would have vengeance.

TBC


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