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Fanfiction: Healing Trilogy - Part III

For disclaimers and author's note see Part I.

 

Part III: Start All Over Again


The knock on the door wasn’t a welcome interruption. Jack wondered briefly if he could ignore it before it sounded again. He sent one despairing look toward the television where the screen flickered with the game playing and got to his feet, muting the sound and throwing the remote on the sofa.

The third knock landed on the door just before Jack yanked it open, fully prepared to yell at whoever was on the other side. The words froze in his throat at the sight of Catherine Langford.

The former leader of the Stargate programme smiled back at him. She was dressed smartly in a thick black wool jacket, black pants and sturdy shoes. A scarf was wound tightly around her neck and her hands encased in gloves. Jack noticed absently a black limo complete with driver parked in his drive.

‘Aren’t you going to invite me in?’ Catherine asked tartly as he continued to gape at her.

‘Sorry.’ Jack opened the door wider and ushered her inside to the warmth reluctantly. He liked Catherine enormously but he knew her visit probably had something to do with Daniel and he didn’t want to talk about him, about it. But he politely helped divest her of her outdoors clothing anyway, flinching inwardly when he caught sight of the Eye of Ra pendant hanging around her neck, startling bright against the black sweater she wore. He accepted her hug and gestured towards the living area.

He hurried in and swept up the remnants of take-away from the previous night; the clutter of a plate and mug from his lunch. ‘I, uh, wasn’t expecting company.’

‘Don’t bother on my account.’ Catherine said graciously, as she sat on an easy chair.

With his arms full of debris, Jack didn’t know how best to respond but he smiled weakly. ‘Drink?’

‘Scotch, if you have it.’

He was momentarily taken aback given he had already begun mentally dredging his memory for where he had stored some tea. ‘Scotch. Right.’ He moved into the kitchen and dumped the remains before he headed back to the den and poured Catherine a scotch.

‘You’re not joining me?’ Catherine asked.

Jack sat on the sofa and picked up his half-empty bottle of beer, showing it to her briefly.

She gestured at the game that continued to play on the screen. ‘Who’s winning?’

‘I don’t think you came to ask me about sport.’ Jack said bluntly, taking a gulp of his drink.

Catherine lifted the heavy crystal tumbler. ‘You’re right.’ Her bright eyes dimmed as she looked away from him. ‘I’m sorry I missed the farewell party for Daniel.’ She shook her head. ‘It’s just with Ernest being gone and then the news about Daniel…it was too soon.’

He softened imperceptibly. Catherine had lost the love of her life, Ernest Littlefield, only a few months before Daniel’s death. ‘He would have understood.’

‘Yes.’ Catherine smiled sadly. ‘Daniel is one of the most compassionate men I know.’

Jack registered the tense she used with a grimace. ‘So you think he’s still around?’

‘I hope so.’ Catherine took a sip of her drink and wrapped both hands around the glass as she rested it on her lap. ‘I prefer to think that maybe he’s simply away on a long journey than he’s dead, don’t you?’

Jack nodded slowly.

‘Of course the reality is that either way Daniel’s gone.’ Catherine continued.

He stared at his bottle. ‘Yeah.’

‘Is it strange that I wasn’t surprised?’ Catherine asked. She got up and walked across to his mantelpiece where she picked up an old photo of SG1. ‘You know I envied you and Daniel that first time, walking through the Stargate into the unknown.’

Jack remained silent. The trip had been a suicide mission for him not an act of courage but of cowardice.

‘When Daniel told me about SG1, I was even more envious.’ Catherine admitted. ‘All the adventures that you would have together; all the wonders that you would see.’ She took another sip of her drink. ‘Of course, the problem is that it’s not all exploration.’

‘No.’ Jack agreed.

Catherine smiled down at the picture of a young, idealistic Daniel. ‘And when Daniel realised that after Sha’re’s death, it was hard for him to feel that he belonged in the programme.’

‘He told you that?’ Jack asked surprised.

‘No.’ Catherine shook her head. ‘I just know him.’ She moved back to her seat, keeping hold of the picture. ‘Exploration drives Daniel; just as it did Ernest. They were so alike. I knew Daniel would never turn down the opportunity to explore such a unique culture as these Ascended beings. He was fascinated by them.’ She smiled. ‘He told me that.’

‘Well, let’s hope Daniel’s not stranded on some rock somewhere.’ Jack quipped.

Catherine shot him a look, equal parts admonishment and amusement. ‘And, of course, you let him go to protect him.’

A dull flush filled his cheeks. Was he so apparent? He shifted uncomfortable under her intent gaze. ‘It was what he wanted.’

Catherine simply continued to look at him.

Jack sighed heavily. Catherine had a way of making him feel like he was ten years old and being interrogated by his grandmother. He believed the two women would have been firm friends if his grandmother had still been alive. ‘OK, so maybe I think this way, he’s safer out of it.’

‘You’re a good friend to him.’ Catherine said, placing the photo on the table and took another gulp of her drink.

He shrugged away the praise; he didn’t deserve it. He was only too aware of the pain his decision to help Daniel make his escape had caused on the rest of the team.

‘How are Teal’c and Samantha?’ Catherine asked as though she had read his mind.

‘Teal’c’s good.’ Jack raised his bottle. ‘Ascension is some big deal for the Jaffa so he misses Daniel but he thinks it’s a good thing.’

‘And Samantha?’ Catherine prompted when Jack remained silent.

‘She just misses Daniel.’ Jack said simply. He and Carter had been doing better since their blow-up after the mission to help the Asgard and he was thankful that the tension between them was gone, but he was aware that she continued to grieve. He rubbed a thumb over the bottle label.

‘They were good friends.’ Catherine said. ‘And even understanding all the reasons why he left, it’s hard to understand truly why someone you love chooses to leave you.’ She made a face. ‘You can’t help but question your value to them. If I was more attractive or intelligent, a better lover or, in Samantha’s case, a better friend, would he have stayed? Because ultimately, it feels as though when the choice was you or the something else whatever it is; they chose something else. So you couldn’t have been that important to them.’

Jack frowned. He hadn’t considered that angle. It had never occurred to him that Carter would be questioning her own worth in regards to Daniel’s decision; it should have though. She tended to big on blaming herself.

Catherine smiled at him. ‘Samantha has a way of worrying a problem.’

He was certain Carter had analysed to death. He sighed. ‘Damn.’

Catherine drank a healthy measure of her scotch. ‘You’re keeping SG1 together?’

His head snapped to her at the question. ‘Yes.’

‘You and General Hammond didn’t consider disbanding?’ Catherine asked gently. She gestured at him. ‘Some would have expected it; a chance to refresh the team, for you all to move on.’

Jack drained his bottle and set it down. ‘Hammond and I discussed it.’ He admitted. It had been brief and to the point. Hammond had seen two options; either add another member or disband. Jack had given the disbanding a moment’s serious consideration but he figured there had been too many losses that year without adding SG1 to the mix. Fundamentally, he figured they needed the constancy of the team even without Daniel.

‘Have you found someone to replace Daniel?’ Catherine asked.

Jack looked at her. ‘You want the position?’

He surprised her into a genuine laugh. ‘I only wish I was many years younger because I would take you up on that.’

‘Believe me, you’d be a hell of a lot better than the last guy.’ Jack said, thinking back to the last mission. SG1’s newest recruit had been a Lieutenant George Addison.

Catherine’s face filled with lively curiosity. ‘What happened?’

‘We were in the middle of a situation with some Jaffa; in between managing to miss every bad guy, he managed to shoot Teal’c.’ The words were coated with disgust.

Her lips twitched. ‘Is Teal’c...?’

‘He’s fine.’ Jack hastened to assure her. ‘Flesh wound. Junior took care of it.’ He shook his head. ‘I can’t have someone in the team I can’t rely on to back us up in a fight.’

‘Daniel is a hard act to follow.’ Catherine soothed, finishing her drink.

It was the truth but Jack was determined to ignore it. ‘I just want someone who’ll stand up.’ Jack mused out loud. ‘It’s not my fault if no-one’s managed to do that yet.’ He sounded too defensive, he realised a heartbeat later; probably because he’d spent the better part of an hour making that same argument to his CO.

Catherine placed her glass on the table by the picture. ‘You’ve just lost a friend; it’s understandable that you’re not ready to find someone to take his place even just on a professional level.’

‘I’m not sure General Hammond’s going to be patient for too much longer.’ Jack said dryly.

‘I think you’ll find he’ll be as patient for as long as you need him to be.’ Catherine corrected. She stood up. ‘I should get going if I’m going to make my flight.’

‘Thanks for coming.’ Jack was surprised to find he meant it. He helped her back into her jacket, scarf and gloves. He hugged her goodbye and wondered at the childish urge to ask her to stay for longer; to comfort him.

‘Stay in touch.’ Catherine said in his ear, patting his back.

He eased away from her. ‘I will.’ He promised as he opened the door for her. ‘And if you change your mind about joining SG1…’

Catherine was smiling as she waved him farewell. He watched her limo drive away and slowly closed the door. Jack wandered back down to the living room. He frowned at the muted television and picked up the remote to switch it off completely.

The picture Catherine had picked up beckoned to him and he lifted it to take another look. It was SG1 just after they had formed. Daniel’s youthful shy smile beamed out at him. Jack replaced the photo on the mantelpiece. His gaze landed on the chess set he’d set aside after Daniel’s Ascension. He hadn’t played since. He took it over to the coffee table and set it up before heading into the kitchen eschewing the beer for coffee. He sat back down and began to play.

o-O-o

‘Is it true he fainted right on the ramp?’ Jonas picked up the banana and looked at it again with relish. He’d just discovered them and had decided they were the best thing ever.

Teal’c raised an eyebrow as he regarded the Kelownan across the commissary table. ‘Captain Matheson has a fear of travelling through the wormhole.’

‘The idea could be daunting.’ Nyan agreed. He scooped up more of the mashed potatoes he had drowned in gravy. ‘I am not certain that I would have attempted it that first time if it had not been for the shooting.’ His departure from Bedrosia had been abrupt given he had been helping SG1 escape at the time.

‘I find it fascinating.’ Jonas commented, gesturing with the banana. ‘Your body gets disintegrated as you step into the event horizon and reintegrated as you step out. But for the moment you’re in the wormhole, you don’t exist.’

‘That is truly a disturbing thought.’ Teal’c murmured.

‘And no doubt why the Captain panicked and fainted.’ Nyan mopped up the last of the gravy with some bread and sat back satisfied. He looked over at Jonas with bright curiosity. ‘You really want to join an off world team?’

‘Sure.’ Jonas had been training hard with Teal’c every chance he got. He’d also managed to gather as much information as he could about the nature of wormhole travel and the various aliens that Earth had encountered. He was especially fascinated by the Goa’uld. The more he learned, the better prepared he would be to help his planet, Jonas thought. He swallowed a lump of banana and looked over at Nyan. ‘You’ve never thought of doing it yourself?’

‘No.’ Nyan shook his head. ‘I have no wish to go off world. I went on a dig in Egypt last Summer that Daniel organised for me. That was adventure enough.’

‘You miss being part of a dig?’ Jonas inquired. Nyan was very much a new friend and Jonas was enjoying getting to know him better. Given Nyan’s friendship with Daniel, Jonas was touched that the Bedrosian had gone out of his way to be friends with him. And it helped with the loneliness he felt a lot of the time.

‘At times.’ Nyan nodded. ‘I spent most of my adult life on Bedrosia on digs. I enjoy the dirt and the discovery of every small clue.’ He smiled apologetically. ‘Which reminds me that I must get back to work. Doctor Kerry is waiting on my analysis of the fossils found on P6R398.’

Teal’c and Jonas murmured their farewells as Nyan departed.

‘So how many have tried out for SG1 now?’ Jonas asked, turning back to Teal’c. ‘Five?’

‘Six.’ Teal’c confirmed. His impassive face briefly reflected regret and sadness before smoothing. ‘It is most difficult.’

Jonas nodded, unsure whether to say anything else. It was evident to Jonas and the rest of the SGC that SG1 still grieved for the loss of their former team-mate and that made finding someone to take Daniel’s place much harder. It was his fault that they needed to replace Daniel, he reminded himself. He couldn’t deny though that with every failure, the small secret hope that he could join SG1 flickered a little brighter. It had been born as he had read of their adventures through Daniel’s journals. Jonas hungered to join the team that Daniel described.

It was a foolish hope, Jonas reminded himself. Even if Teal’c accepted his presence at the SGC, neither the Colonel nor Sam had attempted to seek him out. Not that they weren’t civil if he ran into one of them in the corridors; Sam always acknowledged him, at least.

Teal’c placed his knife and fork carefully in the centre of his empty plate. Jonas had a healthy appetite but he had never seen anyone eat as much as Teal’c.

‘I was thinking of hitting the gym.’ Jonas said.

‘Your physical condition has changed most impressively.’ Teal’c commented.

‘Thanks to you.’ Jonas picked up a second banana. ‘The programme you created for me is great.’

‘You have applied yourself to it.’ Teal’c returned. ‘The achievement is yours, Jonas Quinn.’

Jonas shrugged, throwing the banana from one hand to another. ‘You want to join me?’ He asked again.

Teal’c’s dark eyes flitted to the clock and back. ‘I must decline. I leave for the Alpha site in thirty minutes.’

‘Another time then.’ Jonas was aware the Alpha site was in the midst of establishing a new initiative and housed a number of the rebel Jaffa Teal’c led. Both Teal’c and Colonel O’Neill spent time there between missions. ‘I’ll see you when you’re back.’

Teal’c inclined his head and Jonas stepped away from the table. He stowed his dinner tray and headed for the locker room to change. He opened his locker and stared at the new slip of paper. He picked it up and read it.

Haven’t you got the message yet? You’re not wanted.

The urge to cry surprised him but he blinked back the tears and took a deep breath. He was just feeling lonely and they were just notes; just words. If he cried he’d be giving the bullies exactly what they wanted. Jonas crumpled the paper in his hand. He pushed it back into the locker and continued to change.

He made his way to the gym. It was empty and he wasn’t sure whether to be relieved or depressed to find himself alone. He began his exercises. He tried not to think of the balled up piece of paper and focused on his routine. He was done when a group of Airmen barrelled into the room.

Jonas looked over at them briefly. Finkleman, Gregory and Locke; part of the security detail. There was a moment to envy the camaraderie between the three men before he finished the last set of repetitions. He climbed off the weights machine and picked up his towel from the floor. He wiped his face off.

Shower, Jonas thought longingly as he began to walk across to the door. He needed a shower. Then, maybe he’d go back to Daniel’s office and read through another journal before he called it a night.

A shoulder slammed into him with enough force to drive him to the ground. Jonas landed on his rump on a landing mat, and looked up startled as he tried to catch his breath.

‘You should look where you’re going.’ Finkleman sneered, his dark eyes gloating with pride.

‘Sorry.’ The apology was automatic even though Jonas knew he hadn’t walked into the other man. Still, he didn’t want any trouble. He held up a hand in a placating gesture. Finkleman backed off. Jonas got to his feet, suddenly all too aware that the three men were ranged around him and he was alone in the gym. He took a step toward the door.

Locke hit him from the side, sending him sprawling to the mat. ‘Oops. Look at that. You’ve done it again.’

Jonas rubbed his ribs gingerly as he righted himself for a second time. It looked as though he’d found the authors of his notes. ‘Can’t we talk about this, guys?’ He took in their grim faces. There was an eagerness to hurt in their eyes. For a long moment, Jonas assimilated the fact that he was going to take a beating – a bad one.

Gregory took a step toward him and stopped abruptly as the gym door opened and Sam poked her head through.

‘Have any of you seen Colonel O’Neill?’ She asked.

They all shook their heads mutely.

She frowned suddenly as her eyes swept over their positions and a suspicious look entered her eyes. ‘Everything OK here?’

‘Yes, ma’am.’ Locke answered with an easy smile. ‘We were just sparring.’

‘Isn’t that right, Quinn?’ Gregory prompted with a glower.

‘Sparring.’ He confirmed with a brisk nod.

Sam nodded slowly but her gaze searched Jonas’s expression for a long moment. ‘Actually, Jonas, if you have a couple of minutes, I could do with asking you some questions about the naquadria.’

‘Sure.’ Jonas wasn’t about to turn down the escape hatch that she’d opened up for him. ‘We were just about done here.’ He picked up his abandoned towel and bounded for the door. Sam walked with him to the locker room, asking him various questions about the naquadria. He suspected that she already knew the answers; that they’d already spoken about it before but he babbled back to her happily.

They stopped outside the locker room door. Jonas looked at it warily; he couldn’t help the darting look back down the corridor towards the gym. He’d grab a change of clothes and wash-up in his room, Jonas decided. Stay out of the way of the three men as much as he could and avoid being alone for the near future. He felt a touch on his arm and he turned with surprise to Sam. He’d forgotten that she was there.

‘Is everything OK, Jonas?’ Sam asked bluntly.

There was a compassionate glint in her blue eyes and Jonas got the impression that it was the first time since he had arrived at the SGC that she had looked at him and seen him, not Daniel or more disturbingly, the naquadria. He almost blurted everything out; how lonely and homesick he was, the notes and the attack. It was as though the words trembled on his lips ready to spill over. But if he confessed, Jonas mused, he risked losing his place at the SGC. He gave an overly bright smile.

‘I’m fine.’ He said and seeing the disbelief in her expression continued hastily. ‘Really. Fine.’

‘Jonas,’ Sam seemed to hesitate over her words but she continued gamely, ‘you know if something’s wrong you can tell me,’ a thought occurred to her brightening her expression, ‘or Teal’c.’

‘Like I said I’m fine.’ Jonas insisted.

She held his gaze for a long moment and looked as though she was about to say something else when SG3 clattered into the corridor. They all absently acknowledged Sam and Jonas as they streamed into the locker room.

‘I’d, uh, better get in there.’ Jonas said hurriedly.

Sam waved at the door. ‘Go ahead. I’ll see you later.’

He didn’t wait for her to leave. He entered the locker room and swiftly showered, taking advantage of SG3’s presence. He was done and out before any of his tormentors appeared. He headed for his office, closed the door and carefully placed the crumpled paper on top of the others.

Jonas sat down on a stool and finally let himself crumble. He leaned back, and covered his face with his hands. What had he done in coming to Earth, Jonas thought miserably?

He missed Kelowna terribly; missed the bland food of his childhood; missed his favourite books; missed his tiny apartment and the smell of the gagaria blossoms that hung outside his windows. He rubbed his damp eyes tiredly. He had nothing on Earth. No home; no place that was truly his. The office was even Daniel’s.

Enough, thought Jonas sternly as he physically shook himself as though to shake sense into his body. He had made the right decision. He had cleared Daniel’s name and he had given the naquadria to people who could do more with it than simply make bombs. It had been the right thing to do. He could handle a little bullying. He picked up the book he was studying and tried to focus on the words; tried to ignore the fear that hovered within him.

o-O-o

The wormhole winked out behind them and the iris slid back over the open Stargate. Teal’c carefully placed Doctor Jenny Lerrick onto the waiting gurney and stepped back as Janet ordered the medics to get her to the infirmary.

Hammond watched with a resigned expression. He turned back to the Colonel stood at the bottom of the ramp with an amused smile. ‘Do I want to know how Doctor Lerrick came to be zatted?’

‘Probably not.’ Jack agreed cheerfully. His brown eyes slid to Teal’c who stiffened.

‘I regret to inform you that I will not work with Doctor Lerrick again, General Hammond.’

Hammond looked to the remaining member of SG1 for an explanation.

‘Doctor Lerrick imbibed some of the Jaffa brew when we arrived at the Alpha site to join Teal’c, sir.’ Sam said. Her own gaze drifted towards the Jaffa, and warmed with amusement. ‘She seemed to have an unusual reaction.’

‘She tried to seduce Teal’c.’ Jack added gleefully.

Teal’c remained stoically silent.

Sam’s expression was only a tad more sympathetic. ‘Unfortunately, she wouldn’t take no for an answer and became, uh…’

‘Aggressive.’ Jack jumped in as Sam hesitated. ‘Teal’c zatted her in self-defence.’ He patted his pocket. ‘We got it all on tape.’

Hammond’s lips twitched but his face otherwise maintained a serious demeanour and held out his hand. ‘I should take custody of that, Colonel.’

Teal’c allowed his shoulders to relax as the SG1 leader unwillingly gave up the video evidence. He trusted General Hammond not to share it with others for amusement.

‘Debriefing in an hour.’ The General nodded and walked out with the tape.

SG1 handed over their weapons and walked out of the gate room together.

‘It’s a shame about Doctor Lerrick.’ Sam sighed as she pushed the call button for the elevator. ‘I thought she was a real possibility.’

‘I don’t know why we have to have a fourth member anyway.’ Jack complained. ‘We’re OK just the three of us.’

Teal’c remained silent. He understood O’Neill’s position. They were all finding it difficult to accept someone else into the team, especially someone who assumed their missing team-mate’s place. Yet Teal’c also believed that SG1 needed a fourth for balance; someone to provide a different viewpoint.

They needed time, Teal’c mused, as they entered the elevator; time to adjust to accept Daniel Jackson’s departure from their lives and time to accept that they needed to let someone else in. He entered the infirmary alongside his team-mates and took his place beside one of the beds for their post-mission check-up.

‘Teal’c,’ Sam shifted to lean against the other side of his bed as Janet began her examination of Jack, ‘can you come by my lab after the debriefing? I need to talk to you about something.’

‘I am at your disposal, Major Carter.’ Teal’c said solemnly. He was pleased when she gave a quick smile. He had rarely seen her smile in the last few months. Perhaps the incident with Doctor Lerrick had been worthwhile if for no other reason than it had made her laugh. She missed Daniel Jackson terribly. He hoped he and O’Neill had become better at understanding her grief and giving her support, and wondered whether she would agree. Perhaps, Teal’c considered, they had all become better at supporting each other.

He waited patiently through the examination, checked on Doctor Lerrick – he had intended her no permanent harm – and made his way to the showers. He made it back to the briefing room for the debriefing where he suffered through O’Neill’s continued amusement. He was relieved when it was over and the three of them were released, more so when O’Neill departed to write his report and Teal’c fell into step beside Major Carter as they made their way to her lab.

Sam looked at him sympathetically. ‘I’m sure Doctor Lerrick will be mortified when she wakes up, Teal’c.’ She grimaced. ‘I know I was after the whole Neanderthal thing with the Colonel.’

‘It will be awkward.’ Teal’c commented.

Sam pulled a face in agreement. ‘Oh yeah.’ She patted his shoulder. ‘At least she didn’t shoot you like Addison.’

Teal’c rather thought he would have preferred to have been shot.

They entered her lab and Sam gestured for him to take a seat. She remained standing and leaned over the bench.

‘I wanted to talk to you,’ Sam began.

Teal’c was surprised to see nerves gleam briefly in her eyes. He inclined his head.

‘About Jonas.’ She rushed the words out as though she was a child taking bitter medicine.

Teal’c could not stop the slight frown that deepened the lines around his wide mouth. He had noticed that he had been the only member of SG1 to befriend the Kelownan. Perhaps his friendship with Jonas Quinn was difficult for his team-mate. But if Major Carter wished him to end his friendship he could not. Although, Teal’c told himself briskly, it would be best if he did not anticipate her remarks. He sat up straighter. ‘I am listening, Major Carter.’

She bit her lip. ‘A couple of days ago, just after you left for the Alpha site, I was looking for the Colonel and I stopped by the gym.’ She clasped her hands together and stood back from the bench. ‘Jonas was there with three of the security detail; Finkleman, Gregory and Locke.’

‘They work the night shift.’ Teal’c murmured, wondering where she was going with the story.

‘Yes.’ Sam grimaced. ‘I kind of got the impression that they were ganging up on Jonas.’

Teal’c’s eyebrow shot up.

She waved her hand hurriedly at him. ‘They said they were sparring and Jonas confirmed it so I don’t have any proof that they were causing trouble, but,’ she sighed, ‘it just seemed…off.’

‘I see.’ Teal’c glowered.

‘I asked Jonas for some information on the naquadria to get him out of the gym,’ Sam continued, more confident with the worst of her news delivered, ‘but he wouldn’t talk to me when I asked him if something was wrong.’ She reddened. ‘Not surprising, I know. I mean, I haven’t exactly welcomed him.’

Teal’c softened as grief entered her eyes again. ‘It is understandable that you wish to keep your distance. He reminds you of what you have lost.’

Sam shrugged. ‘This isn’t about me.’ She said, dismissing her own feelings. ‘It’s just…whatever the circumstances that brought him here, he doesn’t deserve to be bullied.’

It was so like her, Teal’c mused. She had always had a soft, compassionate heart that hated any injustice especially one inflicted on someone who she believed needed defending. He remembered that she had often defended his presence at the SGC during the early days of the Stargate programme. ‘Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Major Carter.’

Sam nodded. ‘Teal’c.’ She stopped him when he made to leave. ‘Before you do your thing, maybe you should talk with Jonas.’

Teal’c inclined his head. He was about to walk out when Jack strode in and shut the door behind him.

‘O’Neill,’ Teal’c said, ‘I was about to depart.’

‘Give me a minute.’ Jack asked. He looked serious and Teal’c saw the Major straighten automatically.

‘What’s wrong, sir?’ She inched closer to him.

Jack raised his hand and waved a slim piece of note paper at her. ‘I was walking by Daniel’s office…’ he stopped abruptly and his eyes flickered away with chagrin at his revelation. Teal’c empathised. He had often found himself walking to the office without thought; his feet merely taking him there as they followed the familiar route. His friendship with Jonas allowed him to make the journey without any other reason being apparent.

‘Why is not important,’ Jack declared, trying to cover himself, ‘but I saw Jerry Finkleman coming out of the office, acting like he was school girl playing a prank. So, I went in.’

‘Is Jonas OK?’ Sam immediately asked.

Jack’s eyes shot to her. ‘He wasn’t there. But this was on the desk.’ He handed her the note. ‘I was hoping you would have an explanation.’

Sam read it and her mouth fell open. She handed it to Teal’c silently.

Your bitch Carter won’t save you next time.

‘I was actually just telling Teal’c, sir.’ Sam ran through the events at the gym again succinctly. ‘I didn’t report it because I didn’t have any proof, sir.’

‘Well, you showing up and spoiling their fun at the gym explains that note.’ Jack tapped the note Teal’c had placed on the bench.

Teal’c scowled. ‘I will talk with Jeremy Finkleman.’

‘No offence, Teal’c, but your talk is likely to end up with you spending time in solitary confinement.’ Jack retorted. He shuffled awkwardly and gave a heavy sigh. ‘I’ll handle this.’

Teal’c raised an eyebrow. The Colonel had been even less welcoming of Jonas Quinn than the Major.

‘Don’t give me the eyebrow, Teal’c.’ Jack sighed. ‘Finkleman’s crossed a line with this.’ He picked up the note. ‘When Hammond sees it, Jerry and his friends will be gone before the end of the day.’

Teal’c nodded slowly. The Tau’ri had their own rules and while he was a member of SG1 he would abide by them. He would have preferred to punish them personally but he trusted O’Neill would follow through on his word.

Jack motioned at Sam. ‘You’d better come with me and tell the story to Hammond yourself.’

‘Yes, sir.’ Sam agreed readily.

‘You,’ Jack pointed at Teal’c, ‘find Jonas and take him off somewhere out of the way for a couple of hours.’

He knew O’Neill had given him the assignment to keep him away from Finkleman and the others while the official wheels were put in motion but he acquiesced. He went in search of Jonas and found him in the mess with Nyan. He gathered some food and joined them.

‘Hey, we heard about Doctor Lerrick.’ Jonas commented as he bit greedily into an apple.

‘Is it true that she attacked you?’ Nyan asked.

‘She was not herself.’ Teal’c said diplomatically.

‘I take it she’s off SG1.’ Jonas grinned. ‘That’s seven now.’

‘Indeed.’ Teal’c agreed.

‘I heard Colonel O’Neill got the incident on tape.’ Nyan said with a teasing smile. ‘Perhaps it should be the subject of our next movie night.’

‘General Hammond has possession of the tape.’ Teal’c said suddenly even more grateful to General Hammond for his discretion.

‘What movie should we go for?’ Nyan asked, changing the subject much to Teal’c’s relief.

His mood lightened. ‘Jonas Quinn has yet to watch Star Wars.’

‘Star Wars it is.’ Nyan agreed. He was as much a fan as Teal’c and happy to rewatch the films endlessly.

‘Star Wars?’ Jonas questioned. His face was alive with curiosity.

‘It is a story of good versus evil situated in a space environment.’ Teal’c said enthusiastically. ‘You will enjoy it.’

Jonas nodded. ‘OK. I’m in.’

Nyan grinned at Teal’c. They were always pleased at the opportunity to convert another fan. They talked for a while filling in Jonas on the history of Star Wars before Nyan departed.

Teal’c set his drink down and regarded Jonas thoughtfully. ‘Have you practised your defensive training recently, Jonas Quinn?’

Jonas shook his head. ‘No.’

His honest answer gave away that his sparring session with Finkleman and the others had not been the truth. ‘I will be happy to assist you if you wish to practice.’ Teal’c said mildly. ‘It is important to keep your skills fresh if you wish to one day become a member of a team.’

‘You’re right.’ Jonas gave an apologetic smile. ‘But not today. I have to get back to work. SG8 brought in this unusual translation and Doctor Kerry wants me to take a look at it.’

‘Tomorrow then?’ Teal’c asked as they both got to their feet and made their way out of the mess.

‘Sure.’ Jonas smiled.

Teal’c kept silent and followed his friend into the elevator. Jonas threw him a curious look when Teal’c got out at the same level.

‘Uh, Teal’c, are you following me?’ Jonas asked with a laugh as they made their way down the corridor.

‘Indeed I am.’ Teal’c confirmed.

The truth halted Jonas in his tracks. ‘Why?’

‘I am to keep you occupied while Airmen Finkleman, Gregory and Locke are arrested and escorted from the SGC.’ Teal’c did not see the point in lying.

Jonas stared at him in shock.

Teal’c regarded him for a long moment. ‘Should we not continue this discussion in the office, Jonas Quinn?’

‘Uh, right.’ Jonas whirled around and headed for the privacy of Daniel’s office. The door was barely shut when he spoke again. ‘How did you know?’

Teal’c clasped his hands behind his back. ‘Why did not tell me, my friend?’

Jonas slumped onto a stool. ‘I didn’t want to bother anyone or make trouble.’

‘You were afraid you would lose your place here.’ Teal’c surmised.

‘I’m an alien here, Teal’c.’ Jonas sighed. ‘Why would anyone believe me over them?’

‘Because they are cowards.’ Briefly, Teal’c allowed some of his anger toward them to show on his face before he regained control and smoothed his expression.

Jonas folded his arms over his chest. ‘Are they really going to be gone?’

He looked Jonas directly in the eye. ‘Yes.’ Teal’c knew O’Neill would keep his word.

Teal’c saw the sheen of tears that the young man could not quite hide. His heart stirred with sympathy. The Kelownan had left his planet behind; betrayed his people and had few friends on Earth. Teal’c understood exactly how lonely Jonas Quinn felt because he had felt the same. Only it had been different for him, Teal’c thought. Apart from his additional years of experience, of life, he’d had SG1. That was probably what drove Jonas Quinn’s desire to join a SG team; to gain that camaraderie and friendship; to erase the loneliness. Teal’c was not unaware that Jonas Quinn wanted to be part of SG1 for that reason but he also knew it was unlikely O’Neill would ever agree. He reached forward and clasped Jonas’s forearm warmly.

‘You are not alone, Jonas Quinn.’ Teal’c promised and was rewarded as Jonas smiled widely back at him.

o-O-o

Saying goodbye to Abydos was hard. Daniel looked out at the golden sands and wondered at the emotion that filled him. The lessons were over. He had control of his form and of his powers. Oma had told him he learned quickly. He had found the lesson of non-interference hard. The incident with Major Roberts had only been the start of that particular lesson – and he had understood when Oma intervened. To sit in judgement was the act of a God and if he put himself in that place, pretended that he knew best, he was no better than the Goa’uld.

The second part of the lesson had been harder; Har’li, a woman the same age as Sha’re had been bitten by a tavka spider. Sha’re had warned Daniel about them. They were small and poisonous although rarely fatal. Har’li had reacted severely to the poison…

Daniel watched as she suffered; her dusky skin sheening with fever, her dark eyes wide and frightened. She reminded him too much of Sha’re, he mused, but he knew he would have felt the same for anyone. The knowledge and ability to save her was within his grasp yet as he wavered Oma had appeared by his side again.

You care for her.’ Oma said gently.

Daniel’s lips tightened. ‘She’s suffering.’

And you could save her.’ Oma sighed. ‘We have had this discussion, Daniel.’

Is saving one life so bad?’ Daniel asked.

Oma frowned. ‘And what of the next life which is threatened by a fall or an illness? Will you save them all?’

Daniel looked away from Har’li. ‘I could try.’

You cannot save everybody, Daniel.’ Oma touched his arm and he felt the age of her power flow through him, around him. ‘And it is not the way nature works. Death is a necessity; a renewal. It restores energy to the universe; fuels the creation of something new. Without death, the universe itself would cease to exist.’ She paused. ‘It is why I choose to Ascend only a few.’

And why the Others believe you shouldn’t.’ Daniel completed. ‘If I saved her they would know, wouldn’t they?’

They would punish you.’ Oma said.

Something flickered in her eyes and Daniel frowned. ‘And you.’ He realised with a heartfelt sigh. He let out a slow breath. ‘When do I meet these Others anyway?’

They will come to you when they are ready.’ Oma grimaced. ‘I helped you, Daniel, which means there are some who will never recognise you.’

Daniel shrugged and looked at Har’li again. ‘So I can’t do anything?’

Oma smiled. ‘Perhaps there is something.’ She swept a hand across the room and a stack of herbs collapsed. The elderly woman tending to Har’li muttered under her breath and began to clear up the mess. She stopped suddenly as her wizened and deformed hands held one herb and a startled look appeared in her eyes. She called for her grandson and within minutes a poultice was placed on Har’li’s ankle where the spider bite swelled black and seeping.

So you cheated.’ Daniel commented, folding his arms around his body.

I walked a line.’ Oma countered. ‘Har’li will live because she was saved by her own kind.’

And your nudge?’ Daniel remarked.

Will be tolerated.’ She admitted. ‘But it cannot be done for all and it cannot be done all the time. You will be watched by the Others.’

Daniel nodded in understanding. He watched as Har’li’s colour improved as her breathing evened out. She would live.

He had learned his lesson well. He could save one life occasionally by smoke and mirrors but he could never use his ability to save millions. Daniel pondered that for a long moment.

He had left the SGC to Ascend partly to escape, partly to explore and learn as an Ascended being, but partly because he had believed that he could do more if he was no longer there. He wasn’t certain the latter was true anymore and he wasn’t sure how he felt about that. He only knew that he had to see what he’d done through; there was something important for him to learn, he just had to discover what. Whatever happened, his initial lessons were over and it was time to leave Abydos.

‘You will miss this place.’ Shifu said quietly, appearing by his side silently.

‘Yes.’ Daniel didn’t bother to deny it.

Shifu gathered his robes and looked curiously at Daniel. ‘May I ask you something, Father?’

Daniel nodded without thinking.

‘Why did you unbury the Stargate if not to leave?’ Shifu asked.

The innocent question sent a rush of pain and guilt through him. ‘To explore but I always intended to come back.’

‘Your life here was not enough.’ Shifu said sagely.

‘No, I guess not.’ Daniel made a face. ‘I wanted it to be. I wanted it to be because the love I shared with your mother should have been enough.’

‘I didn’t mean to make you unhappy.’ Shifu slid his small hand into Daniel’s.

‘Not unhappy.’ Daniel murmured. He looked around. ‘I once thought this was everything I wanted even as I made choices that showed the complete opposite. I can see that now.’

‘Yet it remains special to you.’

‘Abydos will always be special to me.’ Daniel agreed.

‘Because of Mother.’

‘We loved each other very much.’ Daniel felt the truth of that for the first time in a long while. ‘But not only because of her.’ He continued. ‘Because of Skaara and Good Father; everyone here.’ He looked East toward the pyramid, beyond to the caves. ‘Because this was my first alien planet and that experience means something to me.’

‘This will be my home now.’ Shifu informed him.

Daniel turned to him surprised. ‘You’re not coming with me?’

‘It is your journey.’ Shifu breathed in deeply. ‘My own is at an end; Abydos will be to me as Kheb is to Oma.’

Shifu had found his destination, Daniel realised. ‘And I have still to find my mine.’

Shifu smiled. ‘Where will you go?’

Daniel wrinkled his nose. ‘I don’t know.’ But he knew he needed to make one small diversion before he began his journey in earnest. He said goodbye to Shifu and left him on the sands where Daniel had once danced with Sha’re. He travelled back to Earth with a single thought and made his way to the SGC.

It seemed the same. The same personnel buzzed the corridors; the same smell permeated the air; familiar sounds and sights of people coming and going through the Stargate as the programme continued its work to protect Earth.

Hammond was in his office talking with Colonel Chekov; the two seemed animated. No doubt the agreement to share technology was under discussion again. He watched as Hammond made diplomatic noises before ushering the Colonel out and making his way to the control room. Daniel observed the encouraging nod the General gave a new lab technician and the praise he offered to Sergeant Harriman. He wore the mantle of a leader with an easy authority but underneath, Daniel saw a good man with a generous heart and spirit.

Daniel left the General and made his way through the corridors to the infirmary. Janet strode confidently into her office with a nurse, reviewing a patient’s treatment. He knew she was fierce as a physician; as protective of her charges as a tigress with her cubs. She had tried so hard to save him. As soon as the door shut, Janet picked up the phone and called Cassie to check on the results of a test. Her face lit up as she began to praise her. His attention turned to the photo of her daughter and he felt a pang. He missed Cassie; missed her badly.

He let himself out of the office and made his way to his own. It was such a familiar path, one he must have walked every day he had been at the SGC. Jonas sat on a stool by the central bench. He was absently eating grapes as he read one of Daniel’s journals, the weather channel on in the background. Jonas hadn’t changed much about the room, Daniel mused, unsure whether to be grateful. He gave one final look around, saying goodbye, but there was one more goodbye to make.

His three former team-mates were in the commissary. Daniel kept himself hidden from their sight but sat in the fourth chair beside Teal’c, opposite Jack. He watched the three of them with a heavy heart. Sam spooned up blue Jello and tried to hide a smile at one of Jack’s sly remarks. Teal’c’s eyebrow rose in comforting familiarity as he made inroads to the huge slice of pie in front of him. Jack waved his fork in the air and gestured at the other two.

They were discussing a failed mission with the latest candidate to join them, a Doctor Williams. Apparently the scientist had failed to make an impact when he had incorrectly translated a language and gotten them trapped in a cell for an hour until Sam had worked out how to undo it. They didn’t really want a fourth, Daniel realised, but they were complying with Hammond’s order. It comforted Daniel that they missed him. His ego was too healthy for him not to acknowledge it.

He missed them too.

Every day.

It was a yearning he was learning to live with but the presence of them, the sight and sound of them, pulled at him. For a brief moment, the urge to reveal himself, to simply say ‘hi, here I am’ was almost overwhelming. But he resisted. It would be too cruel.

He could feel their grief had lessened; acceptance taking its place. They missed him and felt his loss but they continued to live without him; they had to, he had given them no other choice. To reveal himself would bring them a moment’s happiness and another wave of renewed pain when he left again.

No. It was better that he remained hidden. Besides, Daniel mused, maybe popping into a lower plane to say hi and have cake constituted interfering; he wasn’t sure. The three beside him moved from the subject of candidates to their plans for New Year’s Eve.

A New Year, Daniel thought. In a few days, it would be a New Year and SG1 would travel through the gate with somebody else as their fourth team-mate. They would continue their journey without him. He should leave, continue his own journey.

Daniel remained sat at the table unable to move.

His journey could wait while he stayed one more moment with SG1.

fin.


 

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