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Fanfiction: Healing Trilogy - Part I

Fandom: Stargate SG1
Series: Aftershocks
TAG to Episode: S5 Revelations
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Daniel/Team friendship.  Sam/Jack UST. Teal'c/Jonas friendship. 
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended.  Written for entertainment purposes only.

 

Healing Trilogy

Part I: Pick Yourself Up


The walk to the General’s office was daunting. It reminded Jonas Quinn of the one and only time he’d made the walk to the Senior Professor’s office in his final year of school. He had been an exceptional student; two years ahead of his peers. The senior boys had talked him into participating in a prank on the Science Professor. They had needed his understanding of how to make a smelly bomb. It had exploded and stunk out an entire floor of the old building. Jonas had owned up but all he could really remember was the way his heart had pounded as he’d walked up the stairs and along the formal corridors to the Senior Professor’s room to hear what would become of him.

The parallel wasn’t lost on Jonas as he made his way with the same bitter taste of fear in his mouth and sweat on his palms. The walls might not have been panelled with beautiful old wood and adorned with the portraits of past Professors and students; the corridor may not have the once plush carpet that bore the tread of many others who had made the same walk, and the destination might be on a different planet, but Jonas knew his future hung just as much in the balance as it had done that miserable day on the planet of his birth, Kelowna.

Even the events that preceded each walk bore a remarkable similarity, Jonas mused miserably. He had, after all, been part of the science team responsible for building a naquadria bomb designed in theory to protect Kelowna from its neighbours. An experiment had gone wrong and killed four scientists. It had only been the quick thinking of Doctor Jackson that had saved the rest of the city and ensured that the accident was contained. The archaeologist had suffered for his heroism; he had almost died due to the tremendous radiation exposure before finally Ascending.

Jonas found the concept of Ascension fascinating. Just the idea of a human being relinquishing their physical form and becoming pure energy; transcending to another level of being…it boggled the mind, or at least it boggled his mind. There seemed to be an ongoing debate in the SGC whether Daniel had cheated death by Ascending but as Jonas had overheard one Airman declare bluntly, either way Daniel was gone.

He felt responsible for that.

The guilt had grown in the hours and days after the accident on Kelowna especially when his fellow scientists had claimed Daniel had sabotaged the experiment. Colonel O’Neill had been rightly furious at the falsehood when he had spoken with Jonas. Jonas doubted whether he would have continued to keep quiet even if the Colonel hadn’t intervened. He liked to think he would have spoken up regardless. In truth, his conscience had already been clamouring to confess. And so he had; he had confessed all to his government only for them to revel in the idea of how much destruction the bomb could inflict. It had been an uncomfortable wake-up call. Jonas had run to Earth with as much of the naquadria as he could gather in a wave of disappointment and righteousness only to realise he could never go back.

In many ways he had nothing to go back to – no family. His father had died when he was young, and his mother had died a few years before in a transportation accident. He had no brothers and sisters; no cousins. His work had consumed much of his time and energy. He had dated sporadically but there hadn’t been a serious relationship since his childhood sweetheart had gently ended it, pointing out that he spent more time with his studies and research than he did with her. There were only a few friends and his old mentor that he truly regretted leaving behind.

Jonas shook off the self-pity. His loss was minor compared to Daniel’s, he told himself briskly, or the loss of Daniel to those who grieved for him – the rest of the team called SG1. In the time since Daniel had gone, only Teal’c had approached Jonas with any semblance of friendship. Major Samantha Carter had kept her distance beyond some initial meetings to discuss the naquadria, as had the Colonel. He couldn’t deny that he had been relieved when he had heard that SG1 had taken a mission. They were back though and Jonas knew he would have to find a way to live with the guilt that surged up every time he caught a glimpse of them. Maybe he had redeemed himself a little by clearing Daniel’s name and bringing them the naquadria. Maybe he could do more if he worked hard to help Earth fight the Goa’uld; maybe if he helped ensure the naquadria could do more than blow things up…but it all was dependent on the meeting that was about to take place.

He swallowed hard against the lump that gathered in his throat as he reached the General’s door. He took a moment to push a hand through his hair making sure the long strands were swept back neatly. He knocked sharply and opened at the call to enter.

General Hammond stood behind his desk. He radiated authority despite his somewhat homely appearance with the stout body and round face. He was signing forms briskly - to give to the waiting Sergeant, Jonas surmised. He recognised him as Siler; Teal’c had introduced them. Jonas hovered uncertainly in the doorway. Hammond looked up and waved him forward. Jonas complied, shutting the door softly behind him.

The General picked up the forms and handed them to the Sergeant. ‘Here you go, Sergeant.’

‘Thank you, sir.’ Siler took the forms and turned to leave.

‘Oh, and Siler?’ Hammond called out as Siler reached the second doorway to the office – one that led to the main briefing room that overlooked the Stargate.

Siler stopped immediately, whirling back around to face his commanding officer. ‘Sir?’

‘You may want to take a look at the ventilation system. There was some kind of breeze in the corridor outside the elevator earlier.’ Hammond said briskly.

‘Sir.’ Siler acknowledged the suggestion as the order it really was and left, closing the door behind him.

Jonas stood awkwardly in front of the desk. ‘General. Sergeant Harriman said you wanted to see me.’

‘Take a seat, son.’ Hammond sat down himself as though to underscore the need for Jonas to do the same.

Jonas reached for the small leather chair and eased down into its comfortable cushions.

‘I’ve discussed your request for sanctuary with my superiors and others here at the SGC.’ Hammond said, immediately getting to the point of the meeting.

Jonas nodded, unable to speak; his heart hammered in his chest loudly.

Hammond clasped his hands on top of his desk and leaned forward. His cool blue eyes met Jonas’s. ‘Are you certain this is what you want?’

He wet his lips and folded his own hands across his stomach. ‘As I explained, General, I can’t go back to Kelowna.’

‘There are other options.’ Hammond said mildly. ‘We have allies and there are other planets.’ He paused. ‘There is some concern that your presence here will upset people given recent events concerning Doctor Jackson, and there may even be those who blame you.’

He’d known it already but hearing it from the General so bluntly made it feel abruptly real. Jonas nodded, nervously. ‘I realise that.’

Hammond looked at him for a long moment and Jonas tried hard not to squirm under the intense stare. The General finally dropped his gaze and picked up a report. He opened it and glanced at the contents.

‘Doctor Fraiser notes that your test results were impressive.’ Hammond commented. ‘Both physical and mental agility scored very highly.’

‘I’ve always been a fast learner.’ Jonas sat forward eagerly. ‘I can learn languages easily; I understand most scientific principles. I know I have some catch-up to do given the advancements and the technology you have but if you give me the chance I know I can contribute…’ his voice trailed away as the General raised a hand.

‘That’s not in question.’ Hammond said mildly. He closed the report. ‘What is it that you want to achieve by staying?’

There was a kindness in the blue gaze that prompted Jonas into honesty. ‘I’m responsible for what happened to Doctor Jackson. I should have been the one to go into the lab and stop the explosion.’ He paused searching for the words. ‘I know I can’t go back and make that right but if I can help here in any way to make a difference than I will feel like I’ve done something.’

Hammond sat back in his chair. ‘So you’re looking for redemption?’

Jonas flushed. ‘I hadn’t thought about it in those terms.’ He admitted. ‘But, yes, I guess that’s part of it.’

‘And the other part?’ Hammond questioned gently.

‘I know this may seem strange given how I came to be here, but…’ Jonas waved in the direction of the Stargate, ‘I want to protect my planet from these Goa’uld. If I can help you fight them, help you make use of the naquadria, maybe one day I can help protect my own people.’ He leaned forward again. ‘Please, General. I need to do this.’

‘I don’t doubt that, son.’ Hammond sighed. He pursed his lips as he considered Jonas’s words. ‘My superiors are inclined to give you sanctuary.’

Jonas felt his heart leap in hope but he banked it down.

‘They’ve left the final decision with me.’ Hammond continued. He stood up and walked around to the internal window in his office, staring out of it sightlessly. ‘I have to consider the overall running of this base and how your presence may affect others.’

Just as his heart had leaped in hope a moment before; Jonas felt it seize then in fearful dread at the General’s words.

‘I have to tell you, Mister Quinn, that my initial thoughts were to decline your request.’

Jonas’s mouth went dry but his mind latched onto the words frantically. ‘Your initial thoughts?’

‘Teal’c came to see me earlier.’ Hammond spoke as though Jonas hadn’t said a word. ‘He reminded me that I had a similar call to make five years ago regarding his being here.’ He gave a huff of laughter. ‘I assigned him to SG1.’ He turned back to Jonas. ‘So I am agreeing to your request for sanctuary.’

Jonas’s eyes went wide with disbelief and gratitude. ‘Thank you.’

‘Don’t thank me yet.’ Hammond said crisply, returning to his seat. ‘There will be a probationary period. If I feel during that time that your presence is disruptive to the base, I’ll revoke this decision.’

‘I understand.’ Jonas said quickly.

Hammond looked at Jonas seriously. ‘You’ll join the base archaeology and social science department. You’ll report to Doctor Kerry. You’ve made a request for Doctor Jackson’s office to remain intact and to study his work?’

‘If it’s possible, I believe once I’ve learned his work, I can assume some of Doctor Jackson’s duties in translating and cataloguing.’

‘I’ll discuss it with Colonel O’Neill.’ Hammond frowned as though anticipating the meeting.

Jonas nodded his assent swiftly and decided he might as well ask for everything he wanted. ‘I’d also very much like to join a SG team, General.’

‘One step at a time.’ Hammond said clearly, his face lighting up with a quiet humour. ‘We’ll see how you go. If there are no problems and you perform well during your probationary period, I see no reason why you can’t attend training and have your name go forward for selection along with others when vacancies arise.’ He picked up a folder and stood up. ‘This provides you with your cover story and identification papers should you need them. I’m afraid you’re restricted to the base for the present time; quarters will be assigned to you. You’ll report to Doctor Kerry first thing tomorrow morning at oh-eight-hundred.’

Jonas got to his feet and took the folder. ‘Thank you, General.’

‘Welcome to the SGC, son.’ Hammond gave a sharp nod.

He returned it, understanding it was a dismissal. Jonas left the office almost numb with relief. He stood outside the office in the corridor for a long moment. He had been given a chance. Anticipation and excitement, guilt and fear rose up inside him and kept him from moving forward.

A wash of air rushed over him and broke the spell. Jonas shoved his hair hurriedly back into position. He guessed Siler hadn’t had time to see to the ventilation system. He breathed out slowly and began to walk toward the elevator. He had been given a chance to redeem himself; to help his planet; he wouldn’t waste it.

o-O-o

The surviving members of SG1 had ended up back at the Colonel’s house. There had been a brief discussion on where to eat in the elevator as they had made their way to the surface of the mountain, and they had realised none of them felt like dining in public. Everything was too raw.

Sam pondered whether the Colonel’s house was any better as she pulled up behind his truck. She glanced in the mirror and saw the reassuring lights of the base car Teal’c had borrowed behind her. At least she wasn’t alone with the Colonel. She bit her lip as she switched her ignition off and made to get out of the car.

There was tension between her and the Colonel. A lot of tension. And unfortunately it wasn’t the kind that had plagued their relationship before. That had been rooted in knowing there was an impossible love and attraction between them given their military ranks and working relationship; something they’d had to put away in order to continue serving together to perform their mission. The latest tension was all anger and hurt; hard and bitter.

They’d managed to work around it on the mission or more accurately, they’d buried it just as they’d buried their other feelings. They’d focused on the mission and getting it done. In many ways, the Colonel had been right about taking the assignment, Sam mused. If they hadn’t, the Asgard might never have retrieved Thor and the Goa’uld would have discovered the lab with its important research so essential to the Asgard’s future. It had been good that SG1 – or what remained of it – had been there to help yet it didn’t change the hard lump of anger in Sam’s stomach at the Colonel’s insistence on taking the mission despite the recent loss of Daniel.

She knew the roots of her anger were in Daniel’s death – Ascension – whatever it was, and tangled more by her CO’s way of dealing with it. She didn’t doubt the Colonel’s pain. Daniel had been his friend before SG1 had existed. Regardless of his military bravado and macho front, she knew he missed him and mourned him. The problem was that he was acting like it didn’t matter, shutting her out, and that hurt.

On one level, she understood it. He wasn’t the type of man to discuss his feelings and share his pain. He preferred dealing with things on his own and she could relate to that. If it had been anyone but Daniel, Sam wouldn’t have thought twice about giving him the space he needed so badly. But it was Daniel and she needed the Colonel - Jack, Sam admitted to herself silently. She needed to lean on him, to grieve for Daniel with him. And that was all screwed up because she wasn’t meant to need her CO to comfort her over the loss of a team-mate, wasn’t meant to want him to confide his pain and to comfort him so she could feel less alone. Her needs were all upside down because she continued to love him. She had to get past it; accept he wasn’t going to turn to her and accept she couldn’t turn to him.

Her eyes lowered as though to hide that truth from him. She followed the Colonel silently into his house. He gestured for them to make their way into the den without saying a word and Sam made her way over to a comfortable chair. She felt awkward and out of place. She wasn’t entirely certain the Colonel wanted her there. She had run into him and Teal’c at the elevator. She had been with the General and she figured Jack had issued the invitation because it had been expected.

He had made it clear before the mission that he didn’t want to talk about Daniel with her. He had shut down every attempt by her to talk and he had barely spoken with her unless she had initiated the conversation. He was angry at her.

The thought brought a rush of pain and guilt. She had been unable to save Daniel. If she had been able to use the Goa’uld healing device as well as her father she would have been able to save him. But her skills were poor and she had only made it worse. Moreover, she and the Colonel had clashed over the naquadria and dealing with the Kelownans when they had been determined to accuse Daniel of sabotage. The Colonel hadn’t wanted to give any ground while Daniel’s name was being smeared; she wanted the element because she knew it was too important to let go. She wasn’t sure the Colonel would ever forgive her for that.

Maybe he had wanted to exclude her from the dinner for other reasons, Sam mused; maybe he had just wanted an evening with Teal’c. He and the Jaffa had a deep friendship and both of them had similar coping strategies. Teal’c may not have shut her out in the same way as the Colonel but their conversation on their way to the Asgard lab had revealed that the Jaffa was struggling to understand how Sam felt. It reminded her far too much of when her mother had died, how her father and her brother hadn’t understood how she felt either and ultimately, how they’d left her to deal with her grief alone. The irony of Daniel’s loss was that he was the one person who would have understood, who would have reached out to her and comforted her.

As she watched Jack and Teal’c see to the drinks, she felt more and more like a third wheel. Maybe if she wasn’t with them it would have given them both an opportunity to talk about Daniel. Her chest tightened at the idea. She had accepted the invite because she had needed to be with them despite everything, but maybe she should offer to leave and…

‘Pizza OK with everyone?’ Jack’s brusque voice broke through Sam’s thoughts as he handed her a beer.

Teal’c nodded from his position on the sofa.

Jack’s gaze bounced to her and Sam nodded quickly. She would just stay to eat, Sam decided. As soon as she was done, she would make her excuses and leave. She relaxed a little with her plan firmly in place.

‘Pizza it is then.’ Jack declared and picked up the phone. ‘Three pizzas with everything?’

‘Don’t forget Daniel doesn’t like…’ Sam stopped abruptly. She felt the warm blush flood her face; felt the pain arrow through her at her unthinking words. She was blind to their understanding faces as she got to her feet. ‘Sorry. I, uh…sorry.’ She strode out before either Teal’c or Jack could stop her.

The cold air hit as soon as she got past the front door and she couldn’t stop the tears. They tumbled down her cheeks and she swiped at them furiously as she fumbled for her car key. She barely had her fingers around the plastic fob when she dropped it. She crouched down, made what she considered a half-assed attempt to find it and, when she failed, covered her face with her hands as she sobbed.

A minute, Sam thought miserably. She would look for the key in a minute and leave, go home where she could go to pieces in private. Alone like always.

o-O-o

For a heartbeat, Jack stared at the door which Carter had closed behind her a moment before. He glanced back at Teal’c helplessly who looked back at him equally bemused. Where the hell was Daniel when he was needed, Jack thought morosely. It had always been Daniel who had been there for Carter in the past when she needed a shoulder to cry on; Jack knew that. She might talk with Jack about her professional concerns, discuss stuff with Teal’c when she needed a neutral sounding board, but Daniel had been the shoulder. Her relationship with the archaeologist wasn’t complicated by the military boundaries and the past emotional crap that Carter and he shared around their once mutual feeling feelings, nor did Carter worry about losing face as a warrior with Daniel as she did with Teal’c.

Jack pushed a hand through his short grey hair. ‘Damn it.’

Of course the problem was Daniel wasn’t there to comfort Carter. She was left with him and Teal’c, and Jack figured neither of them was handling it – her – right. Teal’c could be excused to some extent. Despite his many years with the Tau’ri, there was still a wide cultural gap that the Jaffa had to overcome. So Teal’c had an excuse for not knowing what to say; what to do.

Which left him, Jack mused darkly. And he had no idea what the hell to say to her. Not to mention he didn’t feel he had any right to comfort her. To Carter, he was just her CO; nothing more, nothing less. She may have moved on but he hadn’t. He knew he had hesitated to offer any comfort in case it revealed too much of his own feelings for her but he also couldn’t deny it suited him. He preferred to deal with his pain and misery about losing Daniel alone.

He figured Carter was angry at him about that. He could see the fury swimming in her eyes every time she looked at him. And not only that. He figured she was angry that he had been the one to let Daniel Ascend, to stand aside and let him leave them. Jack figured she was never going to forgive him for that. He wasn’t sure he was going to forgive himself yet certain he’d had no real choice in the decision. But in some ways he couldn’t help think it had been the right decision for Daniel given the younger man’s questioning of whether his place was at the SGC. At least, he was safe from the war with the Goa’uld.

Unlike the rest of SG1.

The mission to save the Asgard had been a mistake, Jack mused. Oh, it had been successful in that they’d saved the Asgard scientist and pulled Thor’s butt out of the fire too but it had been too soon. Carter had almost paid for that with her life. The sight of her holographic image collapsing as she’d taken a zat hit flitted through his mind and sent a shiver down his spine. She had been captured; tortured. That had been his fault. He had just been so desperate to get away from the mountain with its corridors fogged with loss; so determined to prove that they could do it without Daniel.

Teal’c moved so silently Jack started when the Jaffa appeared at his elbow. Teal’c plucked the phone out of Jack’s unsteady grasp. ‘You need to speak with Major Carter, O’Neill.’

Jack opened his mouth to argue and closed it again at the Jaffa’s resolute expression. There was no arguing with Teal’c when he got that look. And if he was being honest, Jack knew he didn’t want to argue about it. Maybe he had only been waiting for Teal’c or someone to insist that he go to her, Jack realised with a touch of embarrassment. He took a deep breath and walked outside.

He didn’t see her for a long moment in the patch of light from the house that illuminated the drive. His heart lifted at the sight of her car before sinking abruptly at the thought of her walking home in the cold and dark. He took a step and spotted movement.

Carter was crouched by her car door; her head in her hands. He could tell from the way her shoulders shook that she was crying. His gut clenched into knot and he hovered uncertain whether he should approach her or not. His jaw firmed as she gave a weary hiccup on another sob and he took another step toward her.

‘Carter.’

Sam stood up abruptly, whirling away from him. Jack could tell she was desperately trying to clear up the evidence of her crying jag; desperately trying to pretend she was fine.

‘Sir.’ The tears were embedded in the single word.

Jack sighed silently as he moved to stand behind her. He reached out a hand and took hold of her shoulder. She flinched at his touch and he dropped his hand as though it had been burned. She didn’t want him to touch her: fine. ‘Come inside.’ He tried and failed to keep the exasperation out of his voice.

‘I need to go home.’ Sam said, sniffling.

‘You need to come inside.’ Jack contradicted brusquely.

He could see her spine snap straight; her body going rigid. He felt a rush of frustration at his own ineptness; anger stirring. He was crap at this stuff, Jack thought angrily; what did she expect?

‘Thank you, sir, but I’d rather go home.’ Sam said stiffly.

‘Well, too bad, Carter.’ Jack bit out. ‘You’re going to come inside, have a beer and eat pizza.’

She spun to face at him and he caught a glimpse of annoyance as it rippled over her delicate features. ‘With all due respect, sir, we’re off duty; you can’t order me to do anything.’

He plastered a smile on his face and shoved his hands in his pockets. He’d been spoiling for a fight for days so if she wanted one, he was more than willing. ‘If I think it’s vital to team cohesion, you bet your ass I can.’

Sam shot him a look of furious disbelief. She bent down and picked something up from the ground. Her car key, Jack realised. On an impulse, he stepped forward and grabbed it out of her hand before she could use it to make her get away. Her lips parted on a huff of surprise.

‘What are you doing?’ Sam demanded. ‘Give it back.’

‘Give it back, sir.’ Jack corrected; more to needle her than anything. She gaped at him. ‘Oh, for crying out loud, just get inside, Carter.’ He snapped.

‘Go to hell.’ Sam snarled back.

He didn’t know who was more shocked at her response as his eyebrows shot up and he watched the mortification wash across her face. Carter just wasn’t the insubordinate type unless the safety of Earth or someone she cared about was at stake. She went pale as a ghost before she whirled away, striding down his driveway with a singular purpose. Evidently, deprived of her car, she intended walking.

Jack closed his eyes as the anger drained out of him abruptly. He couldn’t have handled it worse if he tried, he considered with bleak humour, and if he didn’t fix it and fast, he had a terrible feeling it wouldn’t just be Daniel who left SG1. He let out a long breath and opening his eyes, started out after her. ‘Carter.’

She ignored him and kept on walking, putting distance between them.

‘Carter.’ He caught her up and grabbed her arm to pull her to a stop. ‘Stop, damn it.’

Sam halted but she refused to look at him.

Jack sighed heavily. ‘Look, just…come inside.’ He wet his lips and ignored the cold that seeped through his clothes. ‘Please.’

‘Why?’ Sam blurted out without looking at him. ‘You don’t want me here.’

Jack felt as though she had slapped him. She thought he didn’t want her around? Well, he hadn’t done anything to make her think any differently, had he, Jack mused tiredly. Since Daniel had Ascended he had avoided her deliberately and he knew she had known it. He’d just needed space to come to terms with what had happened but…it had hurt her, he realised seeing her gaze drop to the road.

‘Please.’ Her choked voice interrupted his thoughts. ‘Sir, I can’t…’ she swallowed the sob but he heard it.

It tore down the last of his defences. He sighed heavily as he shoved a hand through his hair before he reached for her.

‘C’mere.’

Jack pulled Carter gently toward him and when she didn’t protest, wrapped his arms around her. He felt her shaking with cold and tears as she burrowed into him, and he tightened his hold. His own grief rose up inside; brought tears to sting the back of his eyes and choke his breath. He craved her; the safe, solid reality of her. He buried his face in her neck, breathing in her scent while one of his hands clasped the back of her head tightly. He felt her arms grip him hard. He didn’t know how long they stood holding onto each other as though each was the other’s life raft. He only knew when her tears abated and she shifted in his arms.

‘I’m so mad at him for leaving.’

It was no more than a whisper but Jack heard it and knew it was true for both of them. They’d been hitting out at each other because the person they were really angry with wasn’t around to take the punches.

He eased back to examine her damp face but didn’t let go of her. He reached into a pocket and pulled out a tissue. He always carried one and refused to consider that it was usually for Daniel and his allergies. He handed her the tissue so she could blow her nose. He took a step away from her.

‘I’m sorry, Carter.’ Jack said bluntly. ‘I was out of line.’ He handed her the car key.

She nodded. ‘I’m sorry too for…’ she gestured at him in lieu of finishing her sentence.

He could see her blush even in the dim light. ‘I probably deserved it.’

‘Probably, sir?’

Her retort was edged with humour and Jack gave her points for trying to lighten things.

The sound of a motorbike had the two of them hurriedly shifting back to the relative safety of the cars. The pizza delivery boy stopped and stared at them with obvious bemusement.

‘Uh, pizza?’

Jack waved him over and took hold of the three large boxes. Teal’c must have gone ahead and ordered. His wallet was in the house, Jack realised. ‘Carter, can you, uh?’

She pulled out her wallet from a pocket and paid the teenager who looked at her frowning before darting Jack a suspicious look.

‘Are you OK, miss?’ The teenager asked with more guts than Jack had credited him with.

‘I’m fine.’ Sam smiled, and reassured that she was fine, the teenager left.

Jack raised the pizzas. ‘We should get these inside before Teal’c gets cranky.’

Sam nodded and went to walk past him into the house.

Jack touched her arm gently as she reached for the door. ‘Carter.’

She turned to look at him quizzically.

‘About before, I, uh…’ he wondered how he told her he wanted her there and wanted to be there for her if she needed someone; how he could say it without giving away everything else he felt.

Sam smiled sadly. ‘It’s OK, sir.’ She walked away before he could stop her and he was left wondering what she thought he was going to say.

She was grieving and so was he, Jack reminded himself ruthlessly. They both needed to adjust to life without Daniel. But he could be there for her as a friend while they did, Jack determined, firmly ignoring the small voice inside that told him he needed her too.

o-O-o

Teal’c watched with satisfaction as his two team-mates fought playfully over the last slice of pizza. The tension that had between them since Daniel Jackson had departed was gone and Teal’c was thankful for that. Major Carter had been devastated by the loss of their friend and neither he nor O’Neill seemed able to provide her with the words she needed to hear. His discussion with her on the cargo ship came back to him and he winced inwardly at how badly he had misjudged his replies to her. She hadn’t wanted a warrior’s stoic adhesion to duty; she had wanted someone to acknowledge they felt the same pain. In the end, only his quiet admission that he too would have preferred Daniel Jackson to come back to them seemed to satisfy her.

He knew their team leader had not even attempted to understand the Major’s grief before their mission. Partly, Teal’c considered, because O’Neill himself had been consumed by the loss, and partly, because he believed O’Neill feared that to open up and share would be too revealing to the Major. Both had been hurting; both had needed the other and both were too stubborn to simply say what needed to be said. He had heard their raised voices after he had pushed O’Neill to tend to her and had wondered whether to intervene. His team-mates often debated and they often disagreed, but they rarely ever yelled at each other as they had done earlier that evening. The yelling had been necessary, Teal’c mused. Both had been filled with anger and that was now dissipated. It left the way clear for their healing to begin – both individually and as a team.

Teal’c continued to let them debate who should have the pizza slice for another moment before he simply picked it up and took a bite. The argument stopped immediately as both of them stared at him.

‘Well, I guess that settles that.’ Jack remarked dryly. He turned to the woman beside him. ‘Ice cream, Carter?’

She smiled tremulously back at him and nodded her agreement. Teal’c considered that she would have accepted regardless of her own desires simply to keep O’Neill happy. His theory was confirmed a few minutes later when Sam accepted the bowl and stirred the ice cream listlessly. Jack handed Teal’c a bowl and he eagerly scooped up the cold confectionary, letting it melt on his tongue. He watched as Sam took a meagre taste of hers and set it aside. He would finish it, Teal’c determined, after he had consumed his own bowl.

Jack sat down with a third bowl and cleared his throat. ‘Hammond wants us to have a memorial.’ His eyes remained on his ice cream.

Teal’c’s gaze went straight to Sam. He saw her freeze momentarily before her fingers began to worry at the edge of her shirt.

‘He suggested it a couple of days ago and I…I told him we’d think about it.’ Jack continued.

The Colonel had not informed them though. Teal’c surmised that until that evening it had probably been O’Neill’s intention to have refused the memorial without discussion.

‘So,’ Jack said brightly, ‘what do you guys think?’

‘It seems so…final.’ Sam said eventually. She clasped her fingers together over her knees.

‘That’s what I thought.’ Jack agreed. It prompted her into looking at him and they shared a small, sad smile of understanding. Jack dropped his gaze again and pushed his ice cream around the bowl. ‘Hammond thinks we need to do something to improve morale around the base.’

It was a valid point, Teal’c thought without surprise. He lived on the base and he was only too aware how quiet the corridors had been since Daniel Jackson had left them. Everyone seemed unsure what to say; whether to say anything. It was oppressive and stifling. Perhaps that was why he had been only too willing to accede to O’Neill’s decision to take the mission helping the Asgard, and perhaps why O’Neill himself had taken the opportunity to leave. From the look on Major Carter’s face she was also coming to the same realisation.

A fragment of a conversation drifted back to Teal’c. He had been talking with Jonas Quinn about those he had left on Kelowna; of his own experience in leaving Chulak.

I would have liked to have said goodbye.’ Jonas said, his eyes shining with regret. ‘The way I did it…my friends are going to think, well, I don’t know what they’re going to think. I just wish I’d had a chance to have a farewell party and explain it all to them.’

‘A farewell party.’ Teal’c repeated the phrase out loud, capturing his team-mates’ attention.

‘A what?’ Jack questioned.

‘If Daniel Jackson had simply left on a long assignment would there not have been a gathering to wish him well, O’Neill?’ Teal’c warmed to his idea.

‘Like a Bon Voyage party.’ Sam nodded. ‘That’s true.’

Jack grimaced. ‘Really?’

Sam hesitated for a moment before she spoke again. ‘If you think about it, sir, it could work. I mean, we don’t know for certain that Daniel is actually,’ she stumbled over the word, ‘you know…’

‘Dead?’ Jack supplied caustically.

‘He could come back.’ Sam concluded. Her blue eyes shone with poorly concealed hope.

Teal’c exchanged a look with his team leader; he knew O’Neill believed that Daniel was gone for good as did he.

‘OK.’ Jack agreed, licking his spoon. ‘A farewell party but without the guest of honour.’ He pulled a face. ‘I’ll talk to Hammond.’ He sighed. ‘There’s also the question of SG1.’

‘What about SG1?’ Sam asked bluntly.

Teal’c saw his own concern mirrored in her eyes. They had assumed the team would continue regardless. Teal’c believed both his remaining team-mates needed it to continue for constancy in the wake of their loss.

Jack set his bowl aside, nudging the spoon into the centre. ‘Hammond wants me to assign a fourth member.’

Teal’c raised an eyebrow.

‘I guess that makes sense.’ Sam said mildly. ‘All the SG teams have four members.’

‘Hammond’s going to pull together candidates.’ Jack looked at both of them sharply. ‘I want your input. We’re all going to have to work with whoever comes on board.’

‘Yes, sir.’ Sam responded automatically.

Teal’c inclined his head and reached for her ice cream. He began eating as Jack acknowledged their agreement with a nod.

‘There’s, uh, also the matter of Daniel’s stuff.’ Jack said. ‘I’m the…uh, executor.’ He pressed his lips together. ‘There are things he wanted you both to have, and…’ he stopped as though unable to continue.

Sam’s eyes were filled with tears.

Teal’c paused and lowered his spoon. ‘Perhaps it would be wise to place his things into storage until such time as we are ready to assume guardianship of his gifts to us.’

‘That would work.’ Sam agreed quickly. She shot him a grateful look.

‘Yeah.’ Jack sighed and leaned back. ‘And that just leaves telling Kasuf and Skaara.’

‘What of Nicholas Ballard?’ Teal’c asked, remembering Daniel’s grandfather.

‘Hammond sent SG3 while we were away.’ Jack said. ‘I called Catherine and his foster family when Daniel…’ he raised a hand to the ceiling, ‘so that just leaves the folks on Abydos.’

‘When do we leave?’ Sam asked as though there was no question that they were all going.

‘I was thinking tomorrow.’ Jack replied. ‘Hammond agreed.’

Teal’c nodded. Abydos was always an uncomfortable reminder of who he had once been and the crimes he had wrought against Daniel Jackson. As the First Prime of Apophis he had been responsible for invading Abydos and taking Sha’re, Daniel’s wife, and Skaara to be hosts. He had never understood how Daniel had forgiven him or how Skaara had done the same. It did not matter that Abydos caused him discomfort, Teal’c reminded himself briskly; he would go because he owed it to Daniel Jackson.

The discussion over; they all acquiesced to a movie. Half-way through The Wizard of Oz, his team-mates fell asleep. The Major rested her head against O’Neill’s shoulder, and his in turn came to rest atop hers. Teal’c watched over them. He knew their healing had only just begun; there would be a long road ahead of them.

o-O-o

Daniel watched the suns rising over Abydos. The tower in which he sat had been one of Sha’re’s favourite places. He could smell the heavy perfume of the desert flowers; the undertone of human sweat and grime; the musty odour of the animals that lived around the encampment. It was all so familiar and comforting to him.

Oma had left the evening before and he was alone for the first time as an Ascended being. He could feel everything around him; could see with his eyes closed; breathe without taking a breath. His new form was a wonder to him. He remained most of the time in his old human shape – it was also familiar and comforting – but he’d learned in the past few days how to hide himself from others and how to use some of his new powers. It was such a rush. Knowledge hovered at his fingertips; power filled his every pore.

He frowned. Did he have pores? He shook the question away. He had to admit that he loved everything about his new form. And as soon as Oma had left, he’d tested his powers. He’d returned to the SGC briefly. He’d spotted Jack, Sam and Teal’c, and sent a rush of air through the system. He figured Jack would appreciate the gesture, just an ‘I’m OK’ thing. He’d stayed with the SGC for a while viewing the comings and goings of the SG teams from afar. He’d stayed long enough to see Jonas Quinn receive sanctuary, and he’d brushed by him too – a gesture of good luck.

He had no ill will towards the Kelownan. Maybe if he’d hadn’t been dealing with the knowledge he was going to die, he might have been irked in the immediate aftermath about the whole sabotaging the experiment lie, but he knew that had not been Jonas’s doing. Jonas had gone for medical help when Tomas had turned up with the guards and shouted his false accusations. In the end, Jonas had cleared his name and the naquadria he had given Earth would open up new advancements – Sam had been right about that and Daniel knew that for certain now in a way he hadn’t before. So, he wished Jonas well and hoped Earth would be a sanctuary for him.

Daniel had finally left the SGC and looked back in on his team again. They’d been at Jack’s. Teal’c had been guarding the other two while they slept. They had all looked sad; worn – even Teal’c. He had suddenly felt the pull of their emotions; heavy guilt that he wanted to lift, the remnants of deep anger that he wanted to soothe and a sharp, bitter grief at losing him that had sent him reeling.

How had he not known how much they cared about him? Especially when he felt that way about them? It had stirred up a lot of guilt and doubt inside him. He hadn’t appreciated what he’d had; he’d taken them for granted and, in that singular moment, he had realised that they had lost him but he had lost them too.

Daniel had returned to Abydos and spent the night mourning. He had lost the three best friends he’d ever had his whole life and more, SG1 was his family. He had lost his family and it had been his choice. He had been the one to walk away and leave them behind. That thought sent another wave of guilt through him.

He’d left them behind.

Broken the number one rule they lived by.

He wasn’t sure Jack would ever forgive him; he wasn’t sure he deserved to be forgiven. He’d made his choice for purely selfish reasons.

Because he was tired of fighting.

Because he wanted to do more; be more.

He hadn’t even considered them in his decision. He’d given their words of love and compassion to him at his sickbed no more than a cursory thought. And he’d hurt them terribly; Daniel could feel each sliver of pain he’d caused; each wound he’d inflicted.

He had missed them fiercely through the long Abydonian night – enough that he had seriously considered returning to them. He didn’t know if it was fortunate or not that his first set of lessons hadn’t included making himself mortal again.

In the end though, Daniel knew he couldn’t go back. There was something within him that knew he’d made the right decision; that knew he needed to do this wherever it took him and no matter what he had lost, he had to continue, had to see it through. It was important. The sense of right filled him with peace and washed away his grief as the bright sunlight washed over the golden sand.

The Stargate was spinning. He could feel the vibration through the atmosphere; tingles running down his spine – or where his spine used to be. He tensed and focused; seeing through to the pyramid. He knew as soon as the first ripple signalled their arrival; it was SG1.

Teal’c appeared first. He studied the pyramid carefully, assessing whether there was danger. Jack stepped through a moment later. He also paused on top of the steps, getting his bearings. Sam was last. She looked pale in the desert BDUs. He felt rather than saw Jack’s rush of concern and love for her as he checked she’d made it through OK.

It staggered Daniel for a moment. How could someone love that much and hide it away? He watched as Jack turned away a moment before Sam turned toward him, and there was another rush of love and worry; this time from Sam to Jack. He had thought the two had moved on but he had been wrong. They had simply buried their feelings, he realised. He sighed and wondered whether the two of them would ever get their act together. He watched as they moved out into the desert sun; Jack putting on his sunglasses, Sam smearing herself with extra lotion and Teal’c guarding them both like a hawk. Something he’d seen so many times before and never thought about.

What were they doing on Abydos, Daniel wondered. He got his answer as they finally arrived at the encampment.

‘O’Neill.’ Skaara rushed up to greet them. ‘You have come for a visit?’ His dark eyes darted around the threesome. ‘Daniel is not with you?’ His Abydonian lilt turned Daniel to Dan-yel.

Jack shook his head. ‘Is your father around? We have some news.’

Skaara nodded, sobering in the face of Jack’s grave expression. ‘This way.’

They’d come to inform Kasuf and Skaara, Daniel realised; to tell what remained of his other family, the one he had shared with Sha’re, that he was dead. He couldn’t watch it. He pulled his senses inward until all he could see was the sand and all he could hear was the breeze that whispered through the tower.

‘They love you very much.’

Daniel’s head swivelled to the voice, and a smile crept over his face. ‘Shifu.’

‘Father.’ Shifu smiled happily back at him. ‘It is good to see you again.’

‘It’s good to see you.’ Daniel hugged him.

‘Oma thought you might want some company while you become accustomed to your new life.’ Shifu informed him as they settled again.

Daniel nodded. ‘Thank you. I’d like that.’

Shifu regarded him seriously. ‘You are questioning your decision.’

‘Yes. No.’ Daniel sighed. ‘I just miss the people I left behind.’ He pointed towards Kasuf’s home. ‘They’re telling the Abydonians that I’ve died, Ascended.’ A wave of his hand punctuated each word and gave away his internal turmoil.

‘And you feel their pain.’

‘Yes.’ Daniel sighed. ‘And know I caused it.’ He smiled sadly. ‘I didn’t have to do this.’

Shifu tilted his head. ‘I believe the opposite to be true. This was necessary for you to continue your journey.’

Daniel looked at him. ‘Maybe you’re right.’

‘Just as I wanted to stay with you but my journey had to continue on this path.’ Shifu said softly.

‘I guess that’s why we’re asked to give up our burdens.’ Daniel quipped, trying to lighten the moment.

‘Oma can return you.’ Shifu’s expression gave away his own desire to have Daniel remain.

‘I’ve made my choice.’ Daniel replied firmly. ‘I don’t know why but I think I have to do this.’

‘Then may we travel together for a while, Father?’

‘I’d like that.’ Daniel said. He smiled. ‘I think your mother would have liked that too. This was one of her favourite places.’

Shifu raised his face eager for the story and Daniel began to tell him. He felt his connection to the others dimming until they were once again a faint echo. But even as he allowed the feelings to fade, he knew he could never let them go completely; he loved them too much and somehow he knew it was something he was going to have to find a way to keep from Oma.

Continued in Part II.


 

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