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Fanfiction: Survivors

Fandom: Stargate SG1
Series: Aftershocks
TAG to Episode: S5 The Sentinel
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Team friendship. 
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended.  Written for entertainment purposes only.

 

Survivors


The locker room was empty apart from Matthew Grogan. He sat on the bench and stared up at the three lockers in front of him; Benton, Tarkman and Winters. His team-mates. His dead team-mates. He could remember Benton’s death with a sharp clarity that had shudders running over his skin, goose-bumps appearing in their wake. The look on his CO’s face – the shock and horror, the pain and the knowledge – would stay with him for a long time. He didn’t know what had happened to the others; they had gotten separated fleeing from the Jaffa patrols. He only knew that SG3 had found their bodies.

There would be funerals and services to say goodbye to them. He wondered briefly if he was meant to clear out the lockers or whether it would fall to some nameless Sergeant with the personal belongings packed up and sent onto the families – Benton’s widow, Tarkman’s fiancée and Winter’s mother. Grogan scrunched his face up at the onset of tears, pushing his fingers into the corners of his eyes as though to dam them. What would he say to them? How could he explain how he had survived and the others had not? There was no explanation just sheer dumb luck. He had fallen asleep and the Jaffa had walked right past him.

No one expected him to officially talk with the families. General Hammond had said as much to him at the debriefing. The SGC’s Family Liasion Officer would take care of that. But he would have to make contact unofficially, offer his condolences. Grogan swiped the back of his hand under his nose. He wasn’t looking forward to it. He had no idea what he would say. What could he say?

They were dead.

It wasn’t as though he knew them that well. They hadn’t been a team for very long. Benton had been tough as a CO; contained. Tarkman had been a geek, a mix of both incredible intelligence and awkward shyness. Winters had been more like Grogan. They had clicked; interested in the same sports, both of them single and they had been around the same age. Winters had been on his way to becoming a friend as well as a team-mate. Only now that wouldn’t happen; Winters was dead and for a long time Grogan had thought he was going to end up dying too.

His mind slipped back to the planet to the feeling of utter exhaustion. The Jaffa had been hunting them and that was how he felt – like a hunted animal. Despite their brief contact with the SGC, he hadn’t been certain there would be a rescue. He had decided enough was enough; he couldn’t run any further even if he wanted to so he would fight it out. He would do what his friend James Thomas Elliot had done before him and take out as many as he could with his last act. Grogan had crawled into the shrubbery as an ambush and waited…and fallen asleep. He flushed bright red; he could feel it burn his cheeks.

It was embarrassing that sleeping more than anything he had consciously decided had saved his life. He only hoped by stuffing away his worry about the others and the memory of his CO’s death, and by helping Colonel O’Neill reach out to Marul that he had redeemed his performance. Hammond had told him that the Colonel had praised him for successfully getting him into the city and keeping a cool head once they’d been captured by the Jaffa and during their torture. Grogan’s lips twisted. The SG1 leader had taken the brunt of it purposefully. Grogan had seen how O’Neill had provoked the guards ensuring their attention remained on him. Grogan had received one jolt from the pain stick, had been chained and roughed up a little, but nothing more.

He firmed his lips. The Colonel had been held back in the infirmary while he was treated for his injuries. He had significant burns on his back and chest – Grogan had caught a glimpse before the nurse had fully pulled the curtain. Grogan’s mark was more like a mild burn; no worse than picking up the handle on a hot pan without thinking. He’d been released although he’d been placed summarily on stand down. Doctor Fraiser had talked about grief counselling and survivor guilt. Grogan just wanted to get back out there. He’d said as much to Hammond and had received one of the General’s kindly smiles and a firm ‘We’ll see how you go, son.’

What was he meant to do, Grogan wondered. Just sit and contemplate his team-mates’ deaths in the meantime? He got up as a burst of restless energy zinged through his veins. He opened his own locker, pulled off his clothes and headed for the showers. He let the water soothe his aching muscles. He vaguely heard other people come and go but he hid beneath the spray, not wanting to discuss what had happened or acknowledge anyone else. He stayed under as long as he could until his skin began to wrinkle and he lost feeling in his pruned fingers. Grogan shut the water off reluctantly. Finishing his shower meant dressing; it meant going to see the people his team-mates had loved.

Grogan wrapped a towel around his waist and rubbed his hair with another. He really didn’t want to go especially on his own but it wasn’t as though he had someone on base to go with him. Lieutenant Hailey was off-world on some long term surveillance of phenomena similar to the Northern Lights on P9Y201, Satterfield had transferred out to Area 51, Elliot was dead and there wasn’t anyone else he felt comfortable asking to go with him. He heard the murmur of voices and paused. His heart sank at the thought of dealing with other people but he steeled himself and walked out. He kept his head down and made his way to his locker without looking.

‘Grogan.’

The Colonel’s greeting froze Grogan in the midst of reaching for a pair of boxers. He looked around and saw the leader of SG1 shrugging painfully into a leather jacket, obviously wincing with the effort. Daniel Jackson hovered beside him poised as though willing to help but knowing the Colonel wouldn’t accept it. Teal’c stood by the door as though guarding it. All of them were dressed in civvies.

‘You were in there so long I was about to send in Daniel.’ The Colonel remarked, waving at him. ‘We’ll wait outside for you.’

‘Sir?’ Grogan looked at him blankly, unsure he had heard correctly.

The Colonel’s eyes were shadowed when they met Grogan’s. ‘We’ll wait outside.’

Daniel gave Grogan a sympathetic smile. He pushed his hands into the pockets of his jeans. ‘Major Green called to say they were gathering at the Winters’ family home. We thought you might like some company.’

Grogan felt his chest seize and, for one awful moment, he thought he was going to lose it, just start bawling his eyes out like a baby. He turned away and hoped they hadn’t seen the sheen of tears. ‘Thank you, sir.’ He managed eventually.

‘Hurry it up, OK.’ O’Neill said briskly. ‘Carter gets cranky if you keep her waiting.’

He heard them leave and slowly looked back over to the spot they had vacated. He wasn’t going to be alone after all. He was going to have SG1 with him. Grogan was torn between gratitude and terror. He dried off and dressed hastily, not wanting to keep the Colonel waiting. He opened the door and found them outside along with Major Carter. She shot him a small smile.

The Colonel pushed away from the wall, the Major followed him, Daniel beside her. Grogan fell into step beside Teal’c. He felt self-conscious as they garnered a few stares from some passing Airmen as they got into the elevator. They were probably wondering what the hell SG1 was doing with him, Grogan mused tiredly. He understood his own strengths and his own weaknesses. He wasn’t the smartest or the most ambitious but he was a good soldier and he was proud to serve his country just as four generations of his family had served before him. He remembered how Elliot had confided setting his sights on SG1 and how he had replied to Elliot that he had set his sights on surviving.

They reached the surface and made their way into the parking lot. Grogan felt a hand snag his jacket before he could make for his bike.

‘Sir, my bike.’ He protested.

‘We’ll take my truck.’ The Colonel insisted, pulling his keys from his jacket pocket.

‘I will drive.’ Teal’c plucked the keys from O’Neill’s hand and stared down the Colonel’s infuriated glower. ‘Doctor Fraiser was most specific that you should not operate heavy machinery at this time, O’Neill.’

The Colonel darted a look at Daniel who held up his hands.

Daniel smirked at him. ‘I think we should take a car.’

‘Of course you do.’ The Colonel sighed and slid his gaze towards Carter in what Grogan deduced, was a silent plea for back-up.

‘I agree with Daniel, sir.’ She smiled suddenly. ‘We’ll take my car.’

‘Fine.’ O’Neill muttered.

A moment later, Grogan found himself sandwiched between O’Neill and Teal’c in the back seat. The archaeologist and Carter were in the front. Nobody had argued about Carter driving. Grogan swallowed hard and tried to make himself as small and inconspicuous as he could.

The car was a new model. Grogan wondered at the baffling array of technical gadgets as Carter pulled out of the parking space. He preferred his bike. The car did handle wonderfully though; the engine was a low growl that hummed through the vehicle.

Daniel fiddled with the stereo and classical music drifted into the car. Grogan hid his smile. He would have pegged Daniel for a classical guy. His own taste ran more to the rock groups coming out of California and England. He’d played guitar in a garage band back in high school. He dimly realised that Daniel was discussing the Sentinel device with the Major as his attention drifted away from the choice of music.

‘…you have to admit that a machine that combines the metaphysical…’

‘Daniel, there’s no proof that it used any kind of metaphysical trigger.’ Carter countered. ‘You could argue that all life is ultimately energy based. It’s possible that the Sentinel was able to convert the energy of a living being, and used that as the power source to fuel the weapon.’

‘OK,’ Daniel responded, ‘but it must have had some element of…’ he seemed to struggle for a word, ‘judgement.’

‘Judgement?’ The word was heavy on scepticism and Grogan sided with the Major. It just seemed too weird to him that a machine could judge anything.

‘Yes,’ argued Daniel, ‘otherwise how would it know when it was supposed to initiate.’

‘Maybe it was scanning the surface for Goa’uld technology outside of the limits of its force-shield.’ Carter said firmly.

‘But if that was the case why didn’t it work as soon as Greaves started examining it when we got past the force-shield?’ Daniel asked passionately.

There was silence.

‘Aha!’ Daniel said gleefully. ‘See? The Sentinel must have had someway of judging when it was being touched by someone who was a willing sacrifice.’

‘I don’t know, Daniel,’ Carter said thoughtfully, ‘maybe it just needed a sustained contact. I doubt Greaves believed that he would die when he stepped up to turn the machine on.’

‘Really?’ Daniel shot back. ‘You don’t think he was sincere?’

‘Oh come on, Daniel, Greaves just wasn’t the sacrificing kind.’ The Major pointed out. ‘I’m sure he probably believed that he would survive the experience.’

‘You know what happened with Greaves and Kershaw adds weight to the idea of some kind of karmic justice.’ Daniel’s words echoed Grogan’s thoughts. ‘I mean, when you think about it, they only came to Latona to evade being executed for their crimes and yet both ended up dead putting things right.’

‘Will you two just give it a rest?’ The Colonel shifted to glare at them over the seats, almost elbowing Grogan in the ribs.

‘Come on, Jack, you have to admit,’ Daniel replied, ‘it’s a fascinating cultural concept. The Latonans have this fabulous device that keeps them safe but one person has to sacrifice themselves in order for the rest of the planet to be saved. You have to wonder how many of the Latonans actually know about it or whether it’s just the leadership and the Caretakers.’

‘Well, I don’t think we’re going to find out.’ Carter sighed heavily.

Grogan heard her frustration. When they had returned to the city and spoken with Marul’s successor, Pino, he had been clear; they were not welcome on Latona not even to render aid and help at rebuilding what the Goa’uld had destroyed. Grogan couldn’t blame them. It had been people from Earth who had placed them at risk and there had been a lot of damage done because of the delay in getting the Sentinel to work. Grogan had heard the full story of the way Greaves had killed the Caretaker of the Sentinel at the debriefing.

‘Their decision, Carter.’ O’Neill said evenly. He shifted position and Grogan figured that he couldn’t be comfortable with his injuries.

‘Sir,’ Carter glanced back and Grogan caught a hint of some kind of perfume, something flowery and feminine which contrasted sharply with her outwardly tomboyish appearance. ‘We need to stop and pick something up.’

To take with them, Grogan surmised. There seemed to be an unwritten rule about taking food to the bereaved.

O’Neill winced but nodded. ‘There’s a store two blocks up.’

She smoothly parked and O’Neill made to get out; Daniel placed a hand on his arm.

‘Why don’t you and Grogan stay in the car, Jack? We’ve got this.’

O’Neill sighed but he pulled out his wallet and tossed it at Daniel.

The remaining three members of SG1 scrambled out and Grogan found himself alone with the Colonel. He surreptitiously inched away, taking advantage of the space Teal’c had vacated.

‘Cool car.’ Grogan blurted out, desperately searching for something to say as the silence stretched.

‘Yes.’ O’Neill said absently. ‘It is.’ He looked over at Grogan. ‘You OK?’

Grogan shifted on the seat and looked away, back down the street. His eyes followed some passing vehicles unthinkingly. ‘I don’t know what I’m going to say to them all.’ He admitted.

O’Neill sighed. ‘Nobody does, Grogan.’ He frowned. ‘Well, except Daniel and that’s because he’s Daniel.’

Grogan couldn’t help but laugh at the dry remark. He looked over at the Colonel.

‘You’ve met them before.’ O’Neill stated with confidence.

Grogan nodded. ‘Major Benton held a barbeque a couple of weekends after I got assigned. Just before we shipped out to Latona.’ It had been the most relaxed he’d seen his CO. His wife, Emily Benton had been friendly and welcoming. He remembered that Julie, Tarkman’s fiancée had brought some kind of potato salad and Gina Winters had reminded him of his own late mother, warm and maternal.

‘Don’t over think it, Grogan.’ O’Neill advised, changing position again.

‘Yes, sir.’ Grogan breathed a sigh of relief as he spotted the Major exiting the store with Teal’c and Daniel.

They set back off and Grogan settled into the comfortable silence between the team-mates. Would his team ever have achieved the same easy camaraderie, Grogan mused. SG1 had such a tight bond and Grogan found it hard to believe that he would ever be close to any one the way they were with each other.

He began to tense as they turned into the right neighbourhood. Memories stirred and swam to the surface; of Benton showing him the back streets of the Latonan city.

You always explore and find the back way out. You never know when you might need it even on a friendly planet.’ Benton’s voice echoed in his head.

Tarkman’s excited voice at finding some kind of monument in some courtyard. ‘Don’t you see, this writing isn’t exactly the same as the Latonans. I think this is the source root and…’ Grogan had lost the explanation right about there.

And Winters, swapping MREs with him and debating the finer points of the football season. ‘We should get tickets and take in a game.’

You’re on.’

The car came to a halt.

Grogan shook himself free of the memories. He followed O’Neill out of the vehicle. He took a shaky breath and walked the remaining distance up to the house, O’Neill and Carter in front of him, Daniel and Teal’c beside him. The front door was open. Grogan spotted SGC personnel in the hallway as they entered – friends of his team-mates mostly, he realised.

They stepped into a reception room and Grogan recognised Emily, Julie and Gina immediately. The three women sat together on a sofa. They looked up with tear-streaked faces and Grogan froze. It felt as though his feet were glued to the floor and he couldn’t take another step forward, couldn’t break away to leave. He couldn’t breathe. He felt the room fall silent rather than heard it.

Gina got to her feet. She walked over to Grogan and without hesitation put her arms around him. Grogan felt his eyes sting with unshed tears and his chest tightened painfully as he struggled to hold them back as he returned her fierce hug.

‘Thank God one of you came home.’ Gina said, tearfully.

‘I’m so sorry.’ His voice cracked under the weight of his guilt; it should have been Winters hugging his mother not him. Grogan couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. His team-mates were gone…

o-O-o

The familiar sounds of the gate room could be heard down the corridor as SG1 walked towards it: the babble of the waiting soldiers and the monitoring technicians; the mechanical spin of the Stargate and hiss of metal against metal; the rush of air as the wormhole engaged.

Daniel adjusted his pack as they entered. His eyes widened behind his glasses; the room was more chaotic than normal. A group of ten men stood off to the side waiting as supplies trundled up the ramp.

Jack glanced at his watch and sighed. Surprisingly, with all the disturbances that could happen, it wasn’t often that the gate travel schedule was delayed or backed up. Daniel figured Jack’s huff of impatience was more to do with the reason than the delay itself. The Tok’ra Jalen along with four others had arrived under fire that morning. The good news was that they had brought parts to salvage the cargo ship SG1 had used in their mission to stop an asteroid from hitting Earth.

The bad news was bad; Jalen had reported that two more Tok’ra bases had been hit by Anubis. They had retreated to long unused locations in the hopes that Anubis wouldn’t follow them. Daniel hoped it worked. He suspected Anubis intended to hunt them to extinction. The thought was depressing and Daniel pushed it away. He had resolved after a recent incident with a robot to try and accept they were fighting a war; that there would be victories and failures, and that he needed to accept both with equanimity or go mad.

He looked up at the Stargate. He’d lost his purpose when he’d lost Sha’re, when he’d assured himself that her son was safe. He’d been drifting with nothing more than the want to make a difference and the fear he was making things worse. He squared his shoulders. It might be a war and it might be hard but he would make a difference.

‘Grogan.’

Jack’s call had Daniel turning to look as the SG1 leader approached the young Lieutenant. Grogan had returned to duty a few days before. Daniel could see the bemused looks on the other men waiting as they wondered why Grogan had been singled out by Jack.

‘So, you’re heading out to the Alpha site.’ Jack commented, jerking his head at the open wormhole.

‘Yes, sir.’ Grogan nodded. ‘I’m looking forward to learning some of the Jaffa fighting techniques.’

Teal’c’s expression filled with delighted pride.

‘Yes.’ Jack said dryly, darting a look at the Jaffa, ‘I guess someone has to.’ He smirked at Teal’c’s warning look and lifted a hand from his weapon as he turned back to Grogan. ‘Just remember how to get tossed to the floor without breaking something, Grogan.’

Grogan smiled. ‘Yes, sir.’

The young Captain in charge of the group cleared his throat; the wormhole was waiting.

Jack waved at him to continue. He nodded at Grogan.

‘Sir.’ Grogan joined the rest and marched up the ramp. He disappeared into the blue horizon.

The wormhole dissipated and Jack looked up towards the control room.

‘Dialling Kelowna now, Colonel.’ Walter Harriman confirmed over the tannoy.

Jack sighed and turned back as the gate began to spin. ‘How did we get stuck with the follow up again?’

‘We did make first contact, Jack.’ Daniel remarked.

Jack shot him a look. ‘And I ask again; how did we get stuck with the follow up?’

Daniel exchanged a long-suffering look with Sam.

‘Are you not excited about the potential discoveries the Kelownans have made, O’Neill?’ Teal’c asked.

‘Oh, you know me, Teal’c,’ Jack replied dryly, ‘I’m excited. Can’t you tell?’

Sam ducked her head to hide a smile.

‘It’s amazing they found the temple they mentioned.’ Daniel remarked, moving the subject back to their trip. ‘I’m looking forward to examining the ruins if they allow it.’

‘It sounds like they found some naquadah.’ Sam said enthusiastically. ‘I’m looking forward to seeing if they did.’

They smiled at each other happily. Their areas of expertise were very different but they shared a love of learning and exploring.

‘I might have known you two would be as happy as clams.’ Jack grumbled, but his words lacked heat and his brown eyes twinkled at the two scientists indulgently.

‘Why are clams happy, O’Neill?’ Teal’c asked bluntly.

They all turned to look at the Jaffa bemused.

‘They just are.’ Jack said firmly. His gaze gave away a faint exasperation with the Jaffa’s question.

Daniel bit down on his cheek to stop himself laughing. He saw Sam doing the same.

The wormhole blossomed out in front of them. Jack glanced back to the control room and Hammond nodded at him.

‘You have a go, SG1.’

Jack acknowledged the order with a sketchy salute. He adjusted his cap and looked around the team. Daniel acknowledged the silent order to move out without a word being spoken.

They all moved up the ramp collectively, all four in step with each other and walked confidently into the shimmering blue puddle.

fin.


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