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Fanfiction: Opposites

Fandom: Stargate SG1
Series: Aftershocks
TAG to Episode: S6 Allegiance
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Sam/Jack UST. Jonas/Team friendship.  Jacob & Bra'tac friendship.  Could be considered a companion piece to Back to SG1.
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended.  Written for entertainment purposes only.

 

Opposites


Bra’tac winced as he sat down on an abandoned crate by the edge of the training ground and began to watch Teal’c put the young Jaffa warriors through their usual exercises. There was a familiarity to their moves, to the way Teal’c stepped in to instruct that soothed Bra’tac at his core. He had eschewed the fussing of the Tau’ri doctor – there were those who had been hurt in the last Ashrak attack that day who needed her attention more than he – although he had acquiesced to the petite woman’s forceful suggestion that he rest for the remainder of the day. He was not as young as he once was and his symbiote took longer to heal the remaining injuries he had sustained.

He watched as a young group of Tau’ri warriors approached the training ground and joined the Jaffa in the exercises. He was pleased with the respect they showed; the bows to their opponents, the careful listening to Teal’c. They had truly built a joint training operation at the Alpha site where warriors from both the Tau’ri and the Jaffa worked together. Bra’tac was proud of the achievement. He had considered the offer had been made primarily to ensure Teal’c’s allegiance to the Tau’ri but he could not fault the outcome whatever the reason. The Tau’ri and Jaffa were coming to terms with their differences.

He felt the tension from the past couple of days seep out of his bones and he let it drift away. Tense was not a completely accurate description for the state of affairs at the Alpha site since the unexpected arrival of the Tok’ra but it would suffice. Jya’l, a Goa’uld word, encapsulated the constant paranoia and state of fear the Alpha site had lived in better but Bra’tac was uncertain it translated. He would have to ask Teal’c, he mused. It was not the arrival of the Tok’ra that had caused such a fearful time but rather the Ashrak that had followed them to the Alpha site having sabotaged the Tok’ra base first. Yet Bra’tac could not deny the Ashrak had simply capitalised on the existing bad feeling between the Tok’ra and the Jaffa.

Perhaps, Bra’tac considered as his eyes caught on two young Tok’ra warriors who hovered by the training ring only to be coaxed inside by Teal’c, there would be a time when the Tok’ra and the Jaffa would also come to some kind of reconciliation. As though his thoughts had conjured him up, a shadow fell across Bra’tac and he looked up to see Jacob Carter, the host to the Tok’ra Selmak.

‘May we join you?’ Jacob asked politely.

We. Bra’tac inwardly acknowledged the use of the plural. He inclined his head, pulling his cloak tighter to make space on the crate.

Jacob sat down and rubbed his thigh with a sigh.

Bra’tac sent him a questioning look.

Jacob smiled ruefully. ‘Selmak healed the wound I got escaping from the Tok’ra base but I didn’t really need that trek through the forest earlier.’ He shrugged. ‘But then, after what you’ve been through, I can’t really complain.’

Bra’tac shrugged. ‘I was fortunate the Ashrak believed I was dead.’

‘I’m guessing you helped him make that conclusion.’ Jacob murmured with a wry smile.

‘It is an old trick.’ Bra’tac demurred. ‘The young are sometimes foolish enough to fall for it.’

Jacob pointed towards the training ring. ‘Back when I was young I would have joined them.’

‘And now we are older, we are wise enough to simply sit and watch, hmmm?’ Bra’tac responded with quiet humour.

Jacob’s smile appeared again and he nodded. ‘It’s good they’re working off the adrenaline from earlier. Maybe it’ll make for a more peaceful evening.’ He sighed. ‘Between the attack on the Tok’ra base and the Ashrak, there’s been enough excitement around here for a while.’

‘Indeed.’ Bra’tac murmured.

The two men sat in silence for a long while.

Jacob cleared his throat eventually. ‘I hear you’re planning a meeting of all the rebel Jaffa?’

‘Not all.’ Bra’tac countered, bristling inwardly at the implied criticism in the tone of the other man’s voice. ‘But some.’

‘Is that wise?’ Jacob abandoned subtlety for bluntness. Bra’tac much preferred it.

‘Is this about the eggs?’ Bra’tac asked.

‘Eggs?’ Jacob’s eyebrows shot up.

Bra’tac restrained the smile. ‘O’Neill spoke of eggs and baskets.’

Comprehension dawned on Jacob’s face. ‘He did, did he?’ He gave a small nod. ‘He has a point.’

‘We are not eggs.’ Bra’tac said firmly. ‘And we must meet as a people if the rebellion is to move forward.’

‘I guess I understand that.’ Jacob sighed. ‘You’re becoming a sizeable pain in the ass for the Goa’uld.’

‘But one with limited effectiveness.’ Bra’tac acknowledged. ‘This is why we must meet. There must be a cohesive strategy if we are to progress and make a significant impact.’ He shifted, tucking his cloak closer. ‘And what of the Tok’ra?’

‘Anubis has done some damage.’ Jacob said. ‘More than we like to admit.’ He grimaced. ‘Our numbers have been severely depleted since we lost Revanna.’

‘Then it is more important than ever that we work together.’ Bra’tac replied.

‘As you said, we’re stronger united.’ Jacob said. He gestured towards the training ring. ‘Maybe in time the Tok’ra and the Jaffa will gain the same understanding of each other as you’ve achieved here with those of us from Earth.’

‘I am hopeful,’ Bra’tac allowed, ‘but there is history, is there not, between the Tok’ra and the Jaffa where there is none with the Tau’ri.’ His eyes slid from the training ring to meet Jacob’s.

Jacob nodded slowly. ‘Selmak explained as much to me.’ His head dipped and when he raised it again, Bra’tac saw the flash in his eyes that indicated the symbiote had taken control.

‘The Tau’ri do not comprehend the centuries of Goa’uld rule.’ Selmak said. ‘They have lived so long with freedom that they know of nothing else.’

‘And they do not know of the history between the Tok’ra and the Jaffa.’ Bra’tac added.

‘They do not.’ Selmak agreed. ‘They do not understand how many Tok’ra have fallen at the hand of the Jaffa.’

‘Nor the way the Tok’ra have always treated the Jaffa as vermin under their feet.’ Bra’tac replied with equal force.

Selmak gave a nod. ‘That is true. For years we have been as guilty as the Goa’uld in seeing the Jaffa only as a weapon the Goa’uld wield and not as another race enslaved along with countless human worlds.’

Bra’tac tried to hide his surprise but seeing the smile alight on Jacob’s face he realised he had not succeeded.

‘The Tok’ra are not perfect.’ Selmak admitted. ‘And we must admit our part in what has gone before.’ Jacob’s head tilted. ‘We could have long ago tried to find a way to free the Jaffa of reliance on the symbiotes. We could have been working together instead of remaining so insular.’

‘And we could have made a stand against being slaves, against our False Gods before.’ Bra’tac replied evenly. ‘We could have sought out the Tok’ra, asked for your help.’ He allowed a small sigh to escape his lips. ‘We allowed ourselves to be used by the Goa’uld.’

‘Teal’c made a stand.’ Selmak pointed out gently.

‘He trusted O’Neill.’ Bra’tac followed Selmak’s gaze out to where Teal’c continued to instruct the young warriors. ‘I confess I am uncertain that I would have done the same if I had been First Prime.’

‘Teal’c took a great risk and without him and the Tau’ri I am uncertain anything would have changed.’ Selmak said quietly. ‘The Tau’ri have spurred both of us separately into action and have forged alliances with each of us that we can no longer ignore. They force us to deal with each other.’

Bra’tac nodded slowly. ‘On this we agree.’

‘And perhaps that is the first step forward to an understanding between us.’ Selmak said.

Bra’tac inclined his head.

Jacob made a sound and shook his head. The host had resumed control, Bra’tac surmised.

‘You must be very proud of Teal’c.’ Jacob said softly.

Bra’tac’s face brightened. ‘He is a great warrior.’

‘He almost killed Malek to avenge your death.’ Jacob commented dryly.

Bra’tac’s eyes filled with his inner amusement. ‘It was not Malek’s fault I was attacked nor that he was unable to aid me.’ He demurred. ‘He is very young.’

‘He is.’ Jacob agreed, changing position a little. ‘He redeemed himself a little helping Sam set up the generator.’

Bra’tac noticed Jacob was rubbing at his thigh where he had been wounded and wondered at that; if healing was slow, it indicated that Selmak was old and unable to heal her host as she had once done.

‘You must be proud of your daughter.’ Bra’tac had come to admire Samantha Carter greatly. He thought wistfully of his own child, killed so many years before. Had she lived, he hoped she would have shown the same fierce spirit as Jacob’s.

Jacob’s face filled with fatherly pride. ‘There are days when I wonder that such a brilliant genius is actually my daughter.’

‘She has chosen her mate well.’ Bra’tac commented as he caught sight of the woman in question approaching the training ring with Colonel O’Neill beside her.

Jacob stared at him. ‘Excuse me?’

‘Colonel O’Neill is a strong warrior.’ Bra’tac continued blithely. ‘They make a good match, no?’

‘No!’ Jacob managed to splutter. ‘They’re not...she’s not...’ He took a deep breath as he assimilated Bra’tac’s amusement to his reaction. ‘They’re not together. There are rules forbidding a relationship between a commanding officer and an officer under his command. Any hint of impropriety could ruin her reputation.’

‘Ah.’ Bra’tac was chagrined. ‘I did not realise.’ He looked toward the couple. They seemed well-suited to him. More, he believed they cared for one another deeply. Rules could not prevent a heart from loving whom it wished. He thought it was a pity.

‘I guess I can understand why you might have thought,’ Jacob gestured vaguely into the air, ‘that. They are close.’

And underneath that statement Bra’tac heard the worry of a father with perfect clarity.

‘O’Neill is an honourable man.’ Bra’tac said firmly. He could not see O’Neill allowing harm to come to the Major’s reputation given his evident protection of her in all other regards.

‘Yes, he is.’ Jacob murmured as Jack began to make his way across to them leaving Sam with their Jaffa team-mate. ‘He’s done well these last couple of days. He’s a good leader. Natural.’ He sighed heavily. ‘Just don’t tell him I said so.’

‘Don’t tell who what?’ Jack asked as he came to a halt beside him.

Bra’tac exchanged a conspiratorial look with Jacob. He turned back to O’Neill. ‘You have news?’

‘Yes.’ Jack waved back toward the Stargate. ‘We dialled Earth. The doc’s headed back with the worst of the injured. Hammond sends his regards to you both.’ He took a breath. ‘Colonel Riley will be deployed in the morning to assume command here and SG1 will make tracks as soon as he’s debriefed.’

It was a shame, Bra’tac thought. Rya’c would be disappointed to have missed his father.

Jack gestured at them. ‘I was hoping you would both sit in on the debriefing.’

‘Whatever you need, Jack.’ Jacob agreed readily.

Bra’tac inclined his head in agreement.

‘Great.’ Jack looked at the training ring where the young warriors continued to practice their moves with each other. ‘I know we have a detente going here but I figure Riley’s going to need your help to keep it.’

‘He will have it.’ Bra’tac promised.

‘I take it Jonas isn’t rejoining you?’ Jacob asked, referring to the new member of the SG1 team.

‘No point.’ Jack said shortly. ‘We’ll be home tomorrow.’

Jacob looked toward Sam and stood up. ‘Well, I think if you gentlemen will excuse me I’m going to have dinner with my daughter.’

‘And I have paperwork after today’s little escapade.’ Jack made a face.

Jacob patted his arm in sympathy and the two men walked away with respectful nods of goodbye toward Bra’tac.

Bra’tac breathed in deeply, filling his lungs with air and the scents of the camp; the undertone of sweat, of humanity mixed with the earthy richness of the soil and damp leaves of the nearby forest.

He glanced back at the training ring and almost started as he saw everyone dispersing into the fading light. Teal’c walked across to him and sat down beside him.

The two of them sat in quiet contemplation for a long while.

‘I believed you had died.’ Teal’c said quietly.

Bra’tac placed a hand on his shoulder, understanding without any further words the emotions Teal’c could not express; the bond between them transcended that of mentor and protégé. He looked upon Teal’c as the son he had never had. ‘Not this day, Teal’c; not this day.’

And he was glad of it; glad to be alive; to be sat with Teal’c, and with the fight against the Goa’uld still giving his life purpose. They looked toward the setting sun and silently watched as it set in the distance.

o-O-o

Jack winced as he read the report on the damage caused by the day’s activities to the Alpha site’s buildings and equipment. It may have seemed like a good idea at the time opening up with the big gun but in hindsight it had been a bad idea – and as his eyes widened at another section of wall that would need repair he had to conclude it had been a really bad idea. He rubbed a hand through his hair. What had he been thinking? It wasn’t as though shooting the crap out of the clearing in the faint hope of actually hitting the invisible assassin had ever had a chance of working. The Ashrak had probably just dropped to the ground with everyone else when Jack had started firing.

He sighed deeply and signed off on the report. He threw it on a stack and finally tossed his pen down. He rolled his head, trying to ease the muscles in his neck and back. His eyes burned as he raised them from the brightly lit desk and into the darkness that had descended over the rest of the room. He glanced at his watch and grimaced. It was midnight. Still, he felt a sense of satisfaction as he looked at the neat stack of completed reports and the empty in-tray. Everything was cleared and ready to hand over to Riley the next day. As much as Jack hated paperwork he wasn’t prepared to dump it on the next guy.

His stomach rumbled, reminding Jack that he had skipped dinner and only eaten a sandwich that some young eager Airman had retrieved from the mess. He eased his way out of the chair and swallowed the groan that sprang up at the way his knees protested. He did a couple of stretches and his eyes flickered to the inter-connecting door to the private quarters of the base commander.

The quarters had been reassigned to Carter for the duration of SG1’s stay given the actual quarters designated for female officers and enlisted personnel were being used for storage in the absence of any females being assigned to the Alpha site. Originally Jack had designated the quarters to all of SG1 but with Jonas quickly recalled to another assignment and Teal’c spending time with the Jaffa, it hadn’t been appropriate for him and Carter to share the room just the two of them. He had let her have the room to herself, arranging to sleep in his office. Jack grimaced as he glanced at his own bed set up in the corner.

As it had turned out, with Janet Fraiser and a couple of nurses arriving to oversee a medical clinic for the rebel Jaffa and unexpectedly staying on when the Tok’ra had arrived with wounded, Carter had ended up with company. His eyes moved back to the inter-connecting door and the lack of light shining beneath it. Carter must have hit the sack already, Jack mused. She would be alone in the room since Fraiser had gone back to the SGC.

His stomach growled again. Food, Jack determined. He’d grab another sandwich before taking a shower and heading to bed. He stretched again and picked up his jacket, shrugging into it as he left the office. The main clearing was flood-lit by the artificial lights strategically placed around the area. He detoured to the DHD to check on the gate guard.

He smiled at the sight of Matthew Grogan holding his position with a professionalism that made Jack feel proud of the young officer. Grogan had come a long way from the brash Lieutenant that had gone through training.

‘Grogan.’ Jack greeted him gruffly anyway; after all, he had a reputation to maintain.

‘Sir.’ Grogan replied smartly.

‘Anything to report, Captain?’ Jack asked, even as he made his own perusal of the empty clearing.

‘Not a thing, sir.’ Grogan confirmed.

‘No scuffles between the Tok’ra and Jaffa? No fisticuffs?’ Jack checked. It had been an emotional day and despite Bra’tac’s great speech, Jack felt there was a long way to go before either camp fully accepted the other.

Grogan’s lips twitched. ‘No, sir.’

‘Let’s hope it stays that way.’ Jack commented. He nodded at Grogan. ‘Stay sharp, Captain.’

‘Will do, Colonel.’

Jack walked over to the mess and after a full minute of reassuring the night cook that he didn’t want a three course meal in the middle of the night, managed to secure a jumbo sandwich, chips and a soda. He wolfed everything down in the privacy of the kitchen, ignoring the cook who hovered ever hopeful that Jack would change his mind and order an elaborate dinner.

His hunger satisfied, Jack headed for the locker room and showers. He grimaced as he stripped and dumped his uniform in the laundry trolley. If there was one thing he regretted about letting Carter have sole occupancy of the base commander’s private quarters, it was the en suite shower room. He shivered as he padded over cold concrete and into the tiled shower area. Seconds later he stood under a warm dribble of water and mentally made a note to tell Riley the shower pressure needed some attention. It was too miserable a shower for Jack to linger. He made quick work of cleaning his hair and body before wrapping a towel around his waist and hurrying back to the locker room to change into a clean BDU.

The cool air of the night brushed over him as he stepped back out and Jack grimaced at the lingering dampness in his hair. He shoved his cap on quickly, tugging it down as he hunched against the brisk breeze. He had a brief thought about checking on the perimeter patrols before he shook it away. His tiredness had settled around him like a blanket. It had been a long day and he needed his bed. He made his way back to the office and changed into sleepwear.

The room plunged into darkness as he snapped the light off. Jack sighed as he turned onto his back and stared up at the ceiling his mind suddenly racing with everything that had happened that day.

Thank God for Bra’tac, Jack mused. The Jaffa had defied the odds and saved them all. Jack scowled, his mind returning to the few hours they had believed Bra’tac was dead. He had understood Teal’c’s anger at Malek – hell, he’d shared it. He was fond of Bra’tac. They’d been through a lot together and he respected the elder Jaffa’s wisdom. Maybe he’d been slightly unprofessional in allowing Teal’c to half-strangulate Malek but damn it, the Tok’ra had left Bra’tac for dead.

Just like Kanan had left him.

Jack glared blindly into the dark. He didn’t want to admit that his own experience may have influenced his behaviour but he couldn’t exactly deny it either. He had made a half-hearted attempt to stop Teal’c when Jacob had asked him but it had only been Carter’s look with its silent ‘sir’ that had made him really make an effort – and he wasn’t looking at the reasons for that too carefully.

He rubbed a hand over his face. He knew he hadn’t handled the situation diplomatically and blaming all the Tok’ra for what had happened to him probably wasn’t rational. For crying out loud, if Carter could get past what had happened to her with Jolinar, he figured he probably should have the balls to get past what had happened to him with Kanan. Hell, he had even chosen to host the symbiote and he had been the one to agree to being left alone on the Tok’ra base.

He sighed. He’d only done that because he had felt Kanan was sincere in the notion of leaving him when another host was found. And perhaps, Jack mused for the first time since it had all happened, Kanan would have kept his word if everything hadn’t gone to hell with the symbiote’s attempted rescue of Shallen from Ba’al. But Kanan had been wrong using him and Jack was never going to think otherwise.

In the end it really didn’t matter what he felt about the Tok’ra, Jack thought tiredly. Bra’tac had been right: they all needed to work together if they were going to defeat the Goa’uld. Which meant he was going to have to find a way to deal with the Tok’ra as an ally; to be diplomatic.

Jack pulled a face and turned over in the bed, pulling the blanket around him. Until the Malek thing he believed he’d done a fair job of it. He had managed to keep all the Tok’ra and Jaffa from killing each other – with a little help from Jacob and Bra’tac. Hell, diplomacy just wasn’t his strong point at the best of times. That’s what he had...

He stopped the thought abruptly before finishing it with a sigh; that’s what he had Daniel for. Only he didn’t have Daniel. Not anymore. He guessed he was going to have to step up and get used to taking a more diplomatic role. Jonas was a good kid – good with people – but he couldn’t represent Earth given he wasn’t actually from Earth.

Actually, he was surprised because he had kind of, in a small way, missed having Jonas around for the past few days while the Kelownan had been on a mission with SG2 discovering naquadria artefacts. It was just that he didn’t like having the team separated, Jack considered firmly. That was it. And it was good Jonas had been on Earth; he wasn’t exactly battle-seasoned enough for fighting Goa’uld assassins. Besides, they’d be back together as SG1 the next morning as soon as Jack handed over the Alpha site to Riley. He wriggled, trying to get comfortable and closed his eyes.

A thin cry sounded through the room.

Jack’s eyes flew open. He was out of his bed and at the connecting door before he could think about his actions. Standing so close to the thin wood he could clearly hear Carter sobbing. He didn’t hesitate; he grabbed the key from the peg by the door and opened it.

The room was filled with empty cots; only Carter’s was occupied at the far side. Jack navigated his way through the others, grateful for his shins that he had good night vision and could make out the shape of the obstacles. Carter was huddled into her bed, blankets almost fully covering her shaking body. He crouched down by Carter’s side and wet his lips.

‘Carter!’ He whispered loudly.

She gave another sob and he figured she was too deep in sleep to hear him. He reached out and shook her shoulder slightly. She moved so fast, Jack barely had time to duck as she punched out. She caught his shoulder and sent him sprawling.

‘Jesus! Carter!’ Jack said out loud. ‘It’s me.’

Sam scrambled out of the bed, swiping at her tears. ‘Sir, I’m so sorry. I, uh...’

‘My fault.’ Jack admitted as he took the hand she offered and was hauled to his feet. He rubbed his shoulder. ‘Nice left hook by the way.’

Sam bit down on her lip as though attempting to prevent herself from smiling.

Jack could see the faint glimmer of moisture under her eyes; was unaware how his own eyes became shadowed with concern in response. ‘You OK?’

‘Nightmare.’ Sam explained succinctly.

‘Figured.’ Jack replied.

They looked at each other for a long moment in shared understanding. Their first night at the Alpha site it had been her who had woken him from a bad dream. They made a right pair, he thought with some amusement.

‘I think today just brought back everything with Jolinar.’ Sam murmured. ‘The Ashrak and then the stuff with the za’tarc machines...’

It took only a heartbeat for the tension to shift from warm camaraderie to something else; something more dangerous. Emotions filled the space between them and Jack was suddenly aware of how close they stood to each other; how undressed he was and how undressed she was, and how the moment was going to go all to hell if he didn’t make a quick exit.

He took a step back. ‘I’ll, uh...’ he jerked his thumb toward the door. He spun around before Carter could reply. He was at the door when she called over to him. He paused and turned around. She still stood by her bed, arms tightly folded over her chest.

‘Thanks.’ Sam said simply.

Jack nodded briskly. ‘Any time, Carter.’ He stepped back into the office and closed the door, locking it again before turning around. He froze as he caught sight of someone else in the darkness. ‘Teal’c.’ Jack took in the Jaffa’s stern expression and raised eyebrow. He hastily pointed at the door. ‘This isn’t what it looks like.’

The Jaffa said nothing; he continued to look at Jack evenly.

‘She cried out.’ Jack said defensively. ‘I was just checking she was OK.’

Teal’c finally shifted. ‘Is Major Carter injured?’

‘Nightmare.’ Jack explained, waving a hand as he walked back to his bed. ‘The whole thing with the Ashrak.’ He gave a sigh as he settled under the blanket again. ‘I thought you’d be with Bra’tac.’

‘He is deep in kel no reem to complete his healing.’ Teal’c placed a mat on the floor and arranged a few candles around it.

‘Sorry we’re heading back before you got a chance to see Rya’c.’ Jack murmured as Teal’c settled himself between the lighted candles with surprising grace to sit cross-legged on the mat. He knew the Jaffa had been looking forward to spending some precious time with his son only to be thwarted as Rya’c remained at the Jaffa camp apparently hooked up with some girl.

‘He must learn that frivolous activities must be sacrificed if he is to become a warrior.’

It was Jack’s turn to raise an eyebrow. ‘Come on, Teal’c. He’s a young man; he’s just having some fun. Isn’t that what we’re fighting for?’

‘He can plant his crazy seeds once we have won our fight against the Goa’uld and our freedom.’ Teal’c said firmly.

‘Sow his wild oats.’ Jack corrected. ‘And didn’t you do the same when you were his age?’

Teal’c glowered at him. ‘My actions are irrelevant, O’Neill.’

Jack opened his mouth to argue, remembered he was trying to be more diplomatic and shut it again. They’d made progress on understanding each other’s cultures but there were times the Jaffa way of doing things just made Jack crazy. If Charlie had been alive, Jack sure as hell hoped he would have been a typical teenager, free from the worry of fighting a war they might never win. He let the grief roll through him with a reluctant acceptance.

‘By the way,’ he said deliberately changing the subject, ‘I’ve asked Bra’tac and Jacob to sit on the debriefing tomorrow.’

‘A wise decision.’ Teal’c murmured. ‘Unlike your decision to check on Major Carter wearing very little clothing. I am certain Jacob Carter would not have been as restrained in waiting for your explanation.’

Jack snorted. ‘Let’s not go there, Teal’c.’ He didn’t really want to think about how his sneaking back into the office with only his boxers on would have looked to Carter’s father.

Teal’c smiled. ‘Indeed.’

Jack looked at him suspiciously. ‘You’re not telling him either, Teal’c.’

The Jaffa raised an eyebrow.

Jack sighed. ‘Oh you so would not.’ He was fairly certain Teal’c wouldn’t want to hurt Carter by riling her father into a heart attack.

Teal’c looked back at him with a hint of a smirk lighting his dark features.

‘Funny, T.’ Jack muttered as he turned over and closed his eyes, the faint hint of lavender from the candles soothing him into sleep. ‘Very funny.’

o-O-o

The private room in the psychiatric wing of the Academy hospital was bright, sunny and painted a soothing aquamarine colour. It had a large window which looked out at one of the hospital’s private courtyards which was a riot of colour. Jonas was barely aware of either the room or the spectacular view as he focused on the chess board in front of him. He was also barely aware of his opponent; his old mentor Doctor Kieran was regarding Jonas with a lucid concern that Jonas would not have believed possible a month before when the professor had first been admitted for treatment.

Jonas moved his bishop and sat back, continuing to stare at the board as though it held all the answers to the questions worrying at him.

Kieran sat back in his wheelchair and clasped his hands over his stomach. ‘What’s on your mind, Jonas?’

Jonas looked up startled at the question. He was surprised to see Doctor Kieran looking back at him with nothing clouding his eyes except worry. He gave a small grimace. ‘I’m sorry. I guess I’ve been more distracted than I thought I was.’

‘It’s OK, Jonas.’ Kieran said smiling. ‘I know you have a lot going on in your life right now.’ He smoothed the lapel of his fuzzy maroon dressing gown. ‘Why don’t you talk to me about it?’

Jonas shook his head. ‘No, really...’

‘Jonas.’

The sharp tone brought back memories of sitting in a stuffy lecture room; of tutorials with his professor. Jonas automatically sat up straighter in response.

‘Something is clearly bothering you.’ Kieran noted. ‘Now, I know I’m not completely well but I am better. Let me help you.’

Jonas regarded Kieran thoughtfully. Despite the damage that the naquadria exposure had done to the professor’s brain, the treatment was working. Drugs kept the paranoia and hallucinations contained; behavioural therapy had helped improve his memory and cognitive abilities. If he ignored the setting Jonas could almost believe he was sitting in Doctor Kieran’s old office, simply confiding in his mentor as he had often done on Kelowna.

‘I’m supposed to be here for you.’ Jonas said slowly.

Kieran shrugged his shoulders. ‘Well, I want to help you.’ His eyes twinkled unexpectedly. ‘It would certainly help me feel less useless.’

Jonas felt a twinge of guilt. ‘I’m not sure where to begin.’ His admission signalled his acquiescence.

‘The beginning is usually a good place.’ Kieran remarked dryly. He regarded Jonas with fondness.

Jonas gave a half-hearted chuckle and sat forward, almost perching at the end of his chair, elbows on knees with his hands clasped to allow him to rest his chin on top of them. ‘You know I’m part of a team called SG1.’

‘I remember that much.’ Kieran replied.

‘Well, I haven’t been part of that team for very long.’ Jonas confessed. ‘Since the start of the year here.’

‘That would be...’ Kieran struggled to do the math. Earth designations of time and calendar confused him.

‘About five months.’ Jonas supplied. ‘Although given the amount of time Colonel O’Neill was out because of his time with the Tok’ra and his recovery afterwards, really in actual time we’ve probably only spent a month, maybe a month and a half together as an actual team.’

‘And that bothers you.’ Kieran surmised correctly.

Jonas sighed, gathering his thoughts. ‘It’s not so much that I mind that we haven’t had the chance to be together a lot as a team, I mean, the Colonel couldn’t help what happened, but it’s...’ he wrestled with the word he wanted to describe his feelings, ‘frustrating.’ He concluded, grimacing.

‘I can imagine.’ Kieran’s head tilted to the side. ‘But that’s not the only thing frustrating you.’

‘No,’ Jonas admitted ruefully. He pressed his lips together, his fingers tapping against each other restlessly before he slumped back in his chair. ‘Every time I think it’s going well, that I’m getting somewhere, settling in...something happens.’

‘And what happened this time?’ Kieran asked bluntly.

‘SG1 were assigned to the Alpha site. The Colonel in charge there had a personal emergency and was recalled to Earth. Colonel O’Neill was sent to take command temporarily so we all went with him.’

‘And by all you mean you and your other team-mates?’

‘Major Carter and Teal’c.’ Jonas confirmed. ‘Anyway, we’d only been there for a few hours when I got recalled.’

‘Why?’ Kieran asked.

Jonas rubbed his thumb over his denim clad knee. ‘SG2 found some evidence of naquadria on another planet.’ His face brightened. ‘Actually, we found some great artefacts. It suggests that the Goa’uld who was experimenting with naquadria on Kelowna actually began his experiments on this whole other planet and...’

‘Jonas.’ Kieran chided him softly.

Jonas flushed. ‘Sorry.’ He gave a half-smile. The professor had always known how to get him to focus.

‘You joined this other team for a different assignment.’ Kieran checked.

‘Yes.’ Jonas nodded. ‘I was supposed to rejoin SG1 once I returned but...’

‘But?’ prompted Kieran impatiently as Jonas paused.

‘There was some trouble at the Alpha site.’ Jonas explained. ‘Anubis attacked one of the Tok’ra bases and they evacuated to the Alpha site. Only there was a Goa’uld assassin called an Ashrak that sneaked in with them wearing an invisibility cloak.’

‘Fascinating.’ Kieran murmured. He gestured for Jonas to continue.

‘When they realised someone was attempting to sabotage the Alpha site too, Colonel O’Neill banned travel to and from the planet.’

‘Sensible.’ Kieran said.

Jonas pulled a face. ‘He wouldn’t allow me to rejoin them.’

‘And?’ Kieran pressed him again.

‘And I was upset about it. There was no danger to the Alpha site from an incoming wormhole from Earth and I could have helped!’ Jonas said passionately, waving a hand toward his old mentor.

‘Perhaps he was just being cautious...’

‘He would have let Doctor Jackson rejoin them.’ The words tumbled out before Jonas could stop them and he dropped his gaze at the sudden sympathetic understanding on Kieran’s face.

Kieran sighed. ‘I’m not sure that’s true but let’s suppose that it is; why would he have let Doctor Jackson return when he wouldn’t let you?’

Jonas squirmed, feeling far too much like a student who had failed to do his homework. ‘The two of them served together for a long time.’

‘They knew each other well,’ Kieran expanded, ‘perhaps had an understanding of how each would react in a tense and dangerous situation?’

Jonas nodded but he sighed. ‘That’s not the point.’

‘Isn’t it?’ Kieran remarked. ‘Colonel O’Neill struck me as a particularly skilled military leader. You yourself have remarked at the lack of time you’ve actually spent as a team together. In his place would you have agreed to you rejoining the team?’

Jonas lurched to his feet and stalked to the window. He pushed his hands into his pockets and stared out at the picturesque garden. His mind whirled with Doctor Kieran’s observations but he wasn’t sure he wanted to let go of his own disgruntlement over the decision.

‘Jonas.’

‘No.’ Jonas admitted reluctantly. ‘If I was Colonel O’Neill I wouldn’t have let me near the Alpha site either.’

‘You should be pleased, Jonas.’ Kieran remarked.

‘Pleased?’ Jonas turned around in surprise. ‘I should be pleased that he didn’t let me rejoin them?’

‘Yes,’ Kieran insisted, ‘because it means he sees you and not just a replacement for Doctor Jackson. He’s clearly making judgements based on his knowledge of your experience.’

‘Great.’ Jonas grumbled. ‘So I should be happy he sees me as incompetent?’

‘As inexperienced.’ Kieran corrected sharply. ‘And yes; in your place, I would be happy that my team leader was making decisions in my best interest rather than to just make me happy.’

The admonishment stuck squarely home and Jonas felt the heat rise in his cheeks. ‘I never thought about it like that.’

Kieran harrumphed in agreement.

Jonas grimaced. In hindsight, Colonel O’Neill’s action had probably been about protecting him and others. If Jonas had gone to the Alpha site, if he had been responsible for getting in the way because of his inexperience and that led to himself or others being hurt...

He sighed and returned to his seat. ‘I just,’ he began awkwardly, ‘I just feel like I have to live up to Doctor Jackson. Be like him, you know. And every time, I feel like I’m getting somewhere, something happens to make me realise I’m not him.’

‘Perhaps that’s your problem.’ Kieran noted.

‘I don’t understand.’ Jonas said.

‘All this trying to be someone you’re not.’ Kieran pointed out. ‘You’re trying to be Doctor Jackson when maybe you should be trying to simply be you.’ He smiled at Jonas. ‘The last time I looked, there was nothing wrong with being Jonas Quinn.’

Jonas gave a sad smile. ‘I haven’t liked myself much lately.’

‘You mean because of the incident with Doctor Jackson.’ Kieran shifted almost imperceptibly in his wheelchair, as though trying to get more comfortable.

‘Partly. I went along with the cover-up,’ Jonas said, ‘I allowed Doctor Jackson’s name to be smeared when he had done nothing but save our people but more than that,’ he sighed, ‘it’s the bomb. I helped to create it and now our people will have used it to kill thousands.’

‘You made a mistake; we all did.’ Kieran said solemnly. ‘But we have to forgive ourselves, Jonas. We couldn’t have known what was going to happen.’

‘Maybe you’re right, Professor.’ Jonas wet his lips. ‘I’m just not sure how I do that.’

‘Neither am I.’ Kieran admitted. He rubbed at his forehead wearily.

‘I’m sorry.’ Jonas said again. ‘You’re tired. I should leave you to get some rest.’

Kieran nodded as Jonas got to his feet. ‘I hope I’ve helped you, Jonas.’

‘You have.’ Jonas said softly. It had felt like old days, Jonas considered with sadness. ‘I’ll try and drop by next week.’

‘You can tell me all about the planet you found with the naquadria.’ Kieran suggested. ‘It sounds fascinating.’

Jonas grinned tightly, and happily made the promise even though he knew it would probably be a miracle if the professor remembered anything; there were plenty bad days where Kieran reverted to his illness mixed in with the good. He said his goodbyes and made his way to Janet Fraiser’s office.

He waited in the reception area outside for the doctor. She had provided the transport to the hospital and had promised she would provide him with a ride back to the base. His head was filled with the conversation with Doctor Kieran.

His mind drifted back to the moment where the Colonel had denied him the opportunity to rejoin the team. He had been so completely disappointed. He hadn’t really wanted to leave SG1 at the Alpha site in the first place but he understood that his assignment to SG2 was a kind of compliment – his expertise was needed. Still, he’d been eager to return to his team-mates and to be denied...

Jonas grimaced. His emotions had been all over the place. He’d questioned whether the Colonel wanted him on the team, if he’d done something to offend him when he’d just started feeling like maybe he was beginning to gain the Colonel’s respect. He’d never considered that the Colonel’s decision had been based on wanting to protect him. He dragged a hand through his short hair and looked up at the ceiling. His old professor had made some good observations, Jonas mused. The Colonel had been treating Jonas as Jonas; as a new, fairly inexperienced member of the team, one who wasn’t used to tactical situations and whose skills were more intellectual in nature. As the Colonel should, Jonas thought with some chagrin. It had been Jonas who had been trying to be something he wasn’t; trying to make himself into Doctor Jackson’s replacement instead of being himself. The hard truth was that he wanted to be Doctor Jackson; he admired the other man; his heroism, his intellect and achievements, his easy friendships with the rest of SG1. And in comparison, Jonas felt he didn’t measure up.

He shifted uncomfortable with the insight. It wasn’t a competition, Jonas mused darkly even if he had been treating it as such. He was a good person even if he had made some monumental mistakes. But he had tried to make up for them and he could continue to do so. Perhaps it was time he stopped trying to be Daniel Jackson and instead settled for being himself.

A sound by the open doorway had him looking up and he smiled as Janet Fraiser entered, her white coat fluttering behind her as she strode into the outer office.

‘Give me a minute, Jonas.’ Janet called out as she hurried into her inner sanctum.

Less than twenty minutes later, Jonas sat in the passenger seat of her car as they made their way to base.

‘How was your visit with Doctor Kieran?’ Janet asked almost as soon as they turned onto the main road.

Jonas tore his gaze away from the scenery and looked over at her. ‘Good.’ He smiled. ‘It was like I was talking to the old Doctor Kieran again.’

‘Just don’t expect him to always be that way.’ Janet cautioned. ‘He’s sustained a lot of brain damage.’

Jonas bit back the retort that he already knew that. The doctor probably just didn’t want him to be hurt when Doctor Kieran didn’t recognise him or started asking how the rebellion was going again. He folded his arms over his chest. ‘It sounds like it got rough on the Alpha site.’

Janet smiled at his open curiosity and nodded. ‘It was certainly tense.’ She raised a hand briefly from the steering wheel. ‘There’s obviously some history between the Tok’ra and Jaffa that we don’t really know about.’

‘Kind of makes sense there would be.’ Jonas commented. He noticed her inquisitive look. ‘Oh, I just meant that the two have spent years fighting on opposite sides of the battle. It’s a big ask to think that all that natural enmity, of thinking about each other as the enemy would just disappear overnight.’

‘You’re right.’ Janet agreed. ‘It was pretty clear they have some serious issues to work through.’ She sighed heavily. ‘I have to admit between that tension and the whole business with the Ashrak, I’m glad to be home.’

‘And I was wishing I was there.’ Jonas joked.

‘Well, that’s only natural.’ Janet said. ‘You want to be with your team.’

‘Yeah,’ Jonas agreed quietly, ‘although I’m beginning to see why Colonel O’Neill didn’t agree to it.’

Janet nodded. ‘I don’t think he wanted to risk anyone else.’

Her statement unknowingly confirmed his conversation with Doctor Kieran and Jonas allowed the last of his disappointment to drift away.

‘You must be looking forward to them returning today.’ Janet commented.

‘I am.’ Jonas said. ‘It seems like every time we manage to get some time as a team, something happens.’

Janet flashed him a smile. ‘Welcome to the chaos of the SGC.’ She said dryly.

The journey seemed to take no time and Jonas slipped into the locker room to change into a BDU. He checked the time and made his way through the corridors to the control room. He arrived in time to see the alarm initiate at the incoming wormhole.

‘Receiving IDC.’ Walter Harriman intoned as General Hammond joined them. ‘It’s SG1.’

‘Open the iris.’ Hammond ordered.

Jonas was already flying down the staircase and he was at the ramp when the General came to stand beside him. Jonas gave him a pleased nod and bounced slightly on the balls of his feet impatiently.

The rest of SG1 stepped through the wormhole and onto the ramp with a confidence that spoke of years of gate travel. The event horizon evaporated behind them as the iris snicked back into place.

The Colonel gave Jonas a brief look of acknowledgement, as though he was confirming Jonas was in one piece and safe, before his attention landed on the General. Jonas received a wide smile from Sam and an inclined head from Teal’c. He silently breathed a sigh of relief.

‘General.’ Jack greeted his CO with cheerful cockiness. ‘I am pleased to report that the Alpha site is now in the hands of Colonel Riley.’

Hammond smiled. ‘And the situation there?’

‘The Tok’ra and the Jaffa haven’t killed each other yet today, sir,’ the Colonel ignored the look Teal’c shot at him and the way Sam lowered her gaze to prevent her amusement from showing, ‘so I’m going to go with stable.’ He sneaked a sideways glance at Teal’c who regarded him with a dark look.

Hammond’s lips twitched. ‘That’s good news. I’m not certain we could afford another incident like the one yesterday.’

‘Yes, about that, sir.’ Jack began. ‘If I could explain about the repair bill...’

‘Don’t worry about it, Colonel,’ Hammond said drawled with a glint in his eye, ‘I fully intend to take it out of your salary.’

Jonas unsuccessfully tried to hide his smile at the Colonel’s bemused and crestfallen expression and he saw Sam struggling to do the same.

‘Carry on, SG1.’ Hammond murmured and left the team alone at the bottom of the ramp.

Jack regarded Jonas with a guarded look. ‘So SG2 brought you back in one piece.’

‘Yes, sir.’ Jonas replied cheerfully.

‘Good.’ Jack nodded once and stepped off the ramp, leading the way out. Sam gave Jonas a pat on the arm as she followed their team leader. Jonas fell into step beside Teal’c.

‘Did you find anything of interest on P36231, Jonas Quinn?’ Teal’c asked.

‘We found some artefacts and it’s possible there may be some naquadria.’ Jonas reported. ‘They’re sending a specialist team to take a look. I’m just happy to be back with you guys.’

Teal’c handed his Staff weapon over to the waiting Sergeant. ‘You were missed.’

‘I was?’ Jonas blurted the words out.

Teal’c raised an eyebrow as though surprised Jonas questioned it. ‘Indeed.’

Jonas stared at his departing back open-mouthed.

The Colonel poked his head back around the corner. ‘Jonas; are you coming or what?’ He disappeared again before Jonas could reply.

Jonas grinned and went to join his team.

fin.

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