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Fanfiction: Frozen in Action - Part II


For disclaimer and author's note see Part I.

 

Part II: Black Ice

'Excellent, you're here.'

Sam immediately rose to her feet as the President entered the Oval office. She noticed Daniel shot Teal'c a tiredly amused look as they followed her example but she was focused on her Commander in Chief. Hammond and General Maynard got to their feet in a way that looked deferential but without the speed Sam had employed; maybe it was a General thing.

'I wanted to thank you in person for all your efforts in, well, saving the world.' Hayes beamed at them, waving away her attempt to salute and crossing to his desk to pick up a folder he'd left there. 'I can't believe I just said that.'

'Thank you, Mister President,' Sam began, 'but really the credit should go to Colonel O'Neill. He risked his life to gain the knowledge that saved us.'

'And I'm sure if the Colonel were here, he'd say it was a team effort.' Hayes countered with another knowing smile.

Sam smiled tightly. 'Sir, we're eager to return to Antarctica and continue excavating the site there to find a solution to Colonel O'Neill's situation.'

'As you know,' Daniel jumped in, 'Jack's mind was being overwritten with the Ancient knowledge but given the wealth of information that the control chair must be able to access we're certain that the solution to reversing the process is there.'

'O'Neill should not be left alone and unguarded.' Teal'c added.

'We should also consider…' Sam began.

'Major.' Hayes held up the folder with a knowing look.

Sam closed her mouth, swallowing down the prepared argument she had been about to detail. She knew she, Daniel and Teal'c had automatically lined up in mission mode; she stood slightly ahead with Teal'c at her left shoulder and Daniel at her right. They made an impressive sight. She was in her service blues, Daniel and Teal'c both in suits. She had no idea how Hammond had managed to arrange the clothing – she suspected Walter Harriman had been involved or Paul Davis – but they looked good.

Hayes looked towards Hammond with sympathy. 'I think I'm beginning to understand what you've had to deal with for the last seven years, George.'

'With respect, Mister President, I firmly believe that their loyalty to each other is one of SG1's best traits,' Hammond said supportively, 'and I agree with their intent and argument if not their timing in presenting it.'

Hayes nodded briskly. He checked his watch and waved at them all to sit down with the folder he held. He perched on an antique chair and sat forward, intent. 'Believe me when I say that I appreciate the sacrifice Colonel O'Neill has made…'

'But that's just it; it doesn't have to be a sacrifice.' Daniel didn't wait for the President to finish. 'We can save Jack we just need to get back there.'

'And I'm afraid that's not going to happen.' Hayes replied firmly. 'Not any time soon.'

Sam's heart sank but she firmed her lips. 'With all due respect, Mister President, the Colonel saved the world and he placed his own life on the line to do so. We owe it to him to return and find a way to save him.'

'And we will,' Hayes promised, 'as soon as we've worked out the details with the other countries involved in the Antarctica treaty but until then stationing our personnel at the site will be seen as provocative.'

'I'm not military,' Daniel argued, leaning forward, 'I could return as part of a civilian expedition.'

'I am not from Earth.' Teal'c pointed out. 'I will accompany Doctor Jackson.'

'I'll resign…' began Sam, because the thought had run through her mind to do that when they'd been ordered off the ice to begin with.

'When I say our personnel, I don't mean military.' Hayes shot back. 'I mean all SGC personnel including yourselves.'

'Sir…'

'Major, did George tell you I served with your father?'

As a way of derailing her, it was a pretty effective one. Sam blinked at Hayes, faintly startled by the revelation. She glanced at Hammond.

'No, sir. He didn't mention it.'

'Back in 'Nam.' Hayes expanded. 'I see you have the Carter stubborn streak.'

She blushed and tried hard not to twist her hands together in her lap. 'I come by it honestly, sir.'

'That you do.' Hayes said. He checked his watch again and stood up.

Sam immediately shot up from her seat.

Hayes stuck his hands in his hands in his pockets. 'I promise you, as soon as I can arrange it, you'll all be back in Antarctica.' He paused. 'In the meantime, I have panicking Presidents and Prime Ministers ringing me up in the middle of the night because they think they're about to be abducted by aliens, and frankly, where we need you right now is back at the SGC reassuring everyone that our best team is on the front line guarding the Stargate.'

Sam knew she'd lost the argument. It stung and it made her frustrated on a level that she hadn't encountered before. It was just wrong that they'd had to leave Antarctica; wrong that they'd had to leave Jack behind frozen in stasis in the Ancient chamber; wrong that they were being pushed back to Colorado as some political sop to the world's political leaders.

Daniel shot her a knowing look and Teal'c's eyes met hers; both informing her without words that if she decided to stage a hostile takeover of the government they would have her back.

But she smiled tightly and drew on her sense of duty like it was armour. 'Yes, sir.'

'Great!' Hayes smiled broadly at them but he was already walking towards the door. 'Now, I have to get to my next meeting which, unfortunately, involves meeting a bunch of politicians rather than heroes, and you have a plane to catch at Andrews.'

The door closed behind him.

Sam released a frustrated breath and only just managed to remember that Maynard was still in the room before she said something career-ending. 'Andrews, sir?' She asked Hammond instead.

'We have a car waiting outside. You'll be returning to Petersen tonight.' Hammond confirmed. 'I'll ride with you.'

Maynard cleared his throat. He smiled. 'Despite the circumstances, I've enjoyed meeting the three of you.' He held Sam's gaze. 'I hope the next time I see you, Colonel O'Neill will be standing alongside you.'

Sam appreciated the note of support. 'Thank you, sir.' She let Hammond lead the way out of the White House and into the limousine.

The car barely started to move when she turned to Hammond with renewed focus. 'Sir…'

'Major.' Hammond cut her off as firmly as the President had. His gaze took in Daniel and Teal'c sat across from them before returning to Sam. 'The President is right. We need to smooth things over diplomatically. You need to give us time to do this right.'

'How much time?' Daniel asked pointedly.

Hammond's face twitched into a brief wince. 'As much time as it takes.'

Teal'c raised an expressive eyebrow.

'We can't leave the Colonel there indefinitely, sir.' Sam argued passionately. 'We have no idea how long the stasis cycle will last and if…'

'Major.' Hammond interrupted her briskly. 'I understand your concerns and I share them but we have a lot of scared people who need time to adjust to the truth that aliens exist, that we have been involved in a war with them for a long time, and that we almost lost the battle that revealed this state of affairs to them.' He paused. 'You need to give us time to fix this.'

Sam's lips tightened with hurt and she turned away to hide her expression. 'Yes, sir.'

Hammond sighed. 'I promise we'll be back in Antarctica before you know it, Sam.'

She looked over at him when he used her name. He rarely allowed any sign of his personal relationship with the Carter family to be expressed. She noticed he looked tired. The battle had taken its toll on him. They'd lost a lot of men and women both in the programme and out of it. She knew he took each loss personally and he would fight to make sure they didn't lose the Colonel too; she knew that.

'Yes, sir.' Her tone was gentle, compliant and understanding rather than the verbal middle finger she'd used before.

'Thank you.' Hammond said quietly.

Sam glanced over at Daniel and Teal'c. They would do as Hammond and the President wanted for the time being, and allow them space to fix the political mess that prevented SG1 from being with their missing team leader. A month, Sam determined grimly. Four weeks. That was all she was giving them. If there was no progress by then, they would have a plan to save Jack regardless of their orders. She glanced over at her team-mates.

Across the car, Daniel's lips twitched and he turned his head to hide his smile as Teal'c inclined his head in acknowledgement.

o-O-o

'Welcome back, SG1'

Teal'c frowned at Doctor Weir, running over her features and comparing her to the image in his head. 'You are different.' He looked at her suspiciously. Was this the same woman he had met before he had left in search of help for the Tau'ri?

Weir lifted a self-conscious hand to touch her short dark locks. 'The blonde wasn't really me.' She smiled self-deprecatingly.

'The new colour suits you, ma'am.' Sam said, taking her seat at the conference table.

'Um, yes,' Daniel smiled tentatively as he pushed his glasses up his nose, 'it's very you.'

Teal'c agreed; the chestnut colour suited Weir's pale, freckled skin tone much better. The new SGC leader also seemed settled in her own skin in a way she hadn't before; calmer, more commanding and assured. Perhaps losing the ex-Vice President Kinsey at her elbow had helped with that. Teal'c approved.

Weir's smile widened even as she blushed. 'Thank you.' Her hand wave encompassed them. 'It's good to have you back.'

'We're very keen to return to Antarctica, ma'am.' Sam said. 'We believe a solution to Colonel O'Neill's predicament can be found in the Ancient database that is accessed by the chair.'

'Yes, so I understand.' Weir sat forward, clasping her hands on the polished surface of the table. 'How do you propose to access the information without the Colonel?'

Teal'c sat back, content to let his team-mates explain.

'The information must be stored within the chair's design.' Sam said confidently. 'I theorise if I could have some time to study the chair I could determine a technological way to access the information without needing the chair to be activated by a controller.'

'I can read Ancient fluently.' Daniel motioned at Weir. 'So we don't need Jack to translate; I can do that myself.'

'It's just a question of accessing the information.' Sam said.

'And obviously, implementing whatever reversal process might be in the database.' Daniel added.

'What if we don't have the necessary equipment or tools to do so?' Weir asked bluntly. 'My understanding is that the Ancients were years ahead of us in terms of technological know-how. Isn't it likely that any solution might require medical technology that we don't have?'

'If it's a question of building the right tool,' Sam said, 'I can do that so long as I have specifications. It's possible the database the chair accesses will have this information.'

'And we really have no idea what's buried under the ice.' Daniel pointed out. 'It's possible that the structure of the outpost is a lot bigger than the two chambers that we occupied. There may be a medical facility there.'

'Exactly,' Sam nodded, 'the drone weapons the Colonel used originated from a different level. That in itself indicates there must be other chambers that we could discover if we excavated the site.'

Teal'c shifted to capture Weir's attention. 'There may also be other weapons that O'Neill chose not to use.'

'Yes!' Daniel nodded enthusiastically. 'And we should really look into that since it's likely that the System Lords may show up to test our defences.'

'I would have thought our beating Anubis would keep them at bay for a while.' Weir frowned at the archaeologist.

'Perhaps for a short time,' Teal'c conceded inclining his head thoughtfully, 'but they will be curious regarding the Ancient weapon and will be eager to secure it for themselves.'

'How will they find out?' Weir asked. 'We destroyed the fleet in orbit and Master Bra'tac assured me personally of his discretion when he returned through the Stargate yesterday.'

'It is highly likely that the System Lords had a scout ship in the area.' Teal'c replied. He suspected that there had been more than one. He knew Bra'tac would downplay what had happened but it was more than probable that the story of Anubis's demise by a powerful Ancient weapon at the hands of the Tau'ri was already spreading through the galaxy.

'Great.' Weir sighed. 'OK, well we'll deal with the Goa'uld if they show up but I suggest we don't say this to the rest of the world leaders.'

Teal'c exchanged a look with his team-mates.

'I wasn't aware that SG1 were expected to be part of the negotiations, ma'am.' Sam said, taking the lead.

'As the President himself said, who better to brief everyone on the Stargate programme than the people who've lived it?' Weir said crisply. 'There'll be a schedule of video conferences over the next week to bring everyone up to speed. We're hopeful once everybody has been assured, we can move on to agreeing a revised Antarctica treaty.'

It sounded to Teal'c that there was no plan for them to return to Antarctica within the month. He frowned heavily.

Sam stiffened. 'Ma'am, we need to return to Antarctica ASAP to help Colonel O'Neill.'

'Agreeing a timetable for returning to Antarctica will be one of the first items on the agenda once we get past the briefings.' Weir said soothingly. 'The Prometheus is being repaired in orbit and will keep a sensor check on the Colonel in the meantime.'

Daniel gestured at her. 'We could return to McMurdo and do the briefings there; that way we're on site as soon as we get the go ahead.'

'I'm afraid we need you here.' Weir said firmly. 'Russia, China and Great Britain all requested SG1's return to ensure that our best team is on point in case of an emergency.'

'With all due respect, Doctor Weir,' Sam said, 'SG1 is down one member and until Colonel O'Neill is back at the SGC, SG1 is still in Antarctica.'

Teal'c bowed his head in agreement.

Weir shifted forward again; her eyes intent on Sam's. 'I appreciate your position, Major, I really do. But right now, we've all been given a job to do here and we need to do it.' She looked at them each individually to press the point home. She placed her hands flat on the table. 'Major Davis will liaise with you on the briefings. That'll be all.'

As a dismissal it was a good one, Teal'c considered.

Sam hovered by the table as she got to her feet. 'Permission to send a message to the Asgard, ma'am. If we can't help the Colonel, they may be able to and…'

'Permission granted.' Weir said as she pushed back from the table and headed to the office.

Sam glanced at Teal'c and Daniel once the door was closed. 'Why don't you head to the mess, guys? I'll meet you there once I've sent this message to Thor.'

Daniel nodded. 'OK. You want us to grab you something?'

Sam shrugged. 'Just some jello.'

Teal'c frowned. She had hardly eaten since their return from Antarctica. Perhaps the chef could be persuaded to make her favourite. He followed Daniel out to the elevator.

Daniel pressed the button for the floor and sighed, pushing his hands into his pockets. 'I can't believe we left Jack.'

'I too miss his presence.' Teal'c agreed.

'We left him.' Daniel muttered again.

'We have not.' Teal'c disagreed mildly. 'Major Carter is correct. Until O'Neill is once again with us, SG1 remains in Antarctica.'

'You mean spiritually?' Daniel asked, rocking back with a tiny frown line creasing his brow.

'I do.' Teal'c concurred.

Daniel smiled suddenly. 'That's so deep.'

'I believe it is Major Carter who is deep.' Teal'c pointed out.

Daniel rubbed a hand over his head. 'Hopefully, Sam'll get hold of Thor.' He sighed and wrapped his arms around his torso. 'I can't believe we have to do these briefings.'

'Will we not be able to use the briefings to expedite our return to Antarctica?' Teal'c suggested.

'Maybe.' Daniel winced. 'I can't see the President or Weir allowing us much wriggle room to argue our case though.' His lips twisted. 'I think I preferred her when she was blonde and slightly unsure of herself.'

'I believe she is still unsure. She is merely hiding it better.' Teal'c countered.

It was strange the change in her appearance. He had not changed his own for many years since the fight he had lost with Bra'tac and the facial hair he had acquired as a result. He pressed his lips together. Perhaps he should begin to grow his head hair again. He no longer needed to wear a skull cap and if he were to receive permission to live off-base, hair would allow him to blend with the Tau'ri more easily.

He followed Daniel out into the corridor. It was certainly something to think about.

o-O-o

Daniel felt like he could sleep for a week – maybe a month. Maybe a year. He stifled his yawn and tried to focus on the world leader in front of him. Canadian or French, maybe? They were definitely speaking French. Maybe Belgian? He was ashamed to admit that he had kind of lost track.

'Merci beaucoup, Monsieur Galieo. Au revoir.' Weir signed off politely and nodded at Walter. The monitor went dark. Walter replaced the speakerphone handset and left the room.

Weir let out a long breath and sank back in her chair. She'd gone with a dark grey pant suit teamed with a red blouse which suited her new brunette style. She threw down her pen. 'Well, I think Monsieur Galieo is sympathetic.'

'Really?' Daniel removed his glasses and rubbed at his eyes. 'I got the impression that he thought the whole thing was an elaborate joke and he was humouring the crazy people.'

'I thought the whole thing was an elaborate joke at first.' Weir retorted with a smile.

'Great,' Daniel commented, 'so everyone thinks this is a joke and I get to spend my time doing this rather than spending time doing something important, like I don't know; saving my friend!' He stopped realising that he was yelling and that his fingers were clutching his pen so tightly he was in danger of breaking it in two.

Weir looked at him with an arched eyebrow.

Daniel took a deep breath and sighed. 'Sorry. Just…it's been over a week since we started these briefings, and over two weeks since we left Jack behind in Antarctica and…'

'I know it's hard,' Weir said comfortingly, 'but we are making progress.' She considered him carefully and Daniel could guess at what she was seeing; the bags under his eyes, the pallor that lurked under his fading tan. 'Why don't you take the rest of the day and get some rest? I can get Doctor Kelly to stand in.'

Daniel nodded carefully, gathered his things together and left. He could use the time to continue his search into a solution for Jack's condition. There had to be something…maybe if he tried looking into Celtic mythology…

He almost walked into somebody by the elevator and glanced up to mutter an apology only to pause in recognition.

'Major Lorne.' Daniel frowned. The last time he'd seen Lorne had been months before on P3X403 where Lorne had been stationed with SG11 overseeing the naquadah mining with the Unas. Of course, Daniel considered idly, SG11 would have been recalled with everyone else following the President's appointment of Weir and request of a three month review of their operations.

'Doctor Jackson.' Lorne smiled at him briefly. He gestured at the open elevator as though to say 'after you.'

Daniel entered the compartment, pressed the button to take him to the floor for Sam's lab, and shuffled to the side to let Lorne get to the floor buttons. 'How are you?'

'Good.' Lorne shrugged. 'Well, bored, you know? We're all on stand down but I've just met with Colonel Dixon and General Kerrigan about a TDA to the 302 programme.' His expression sobered. 'They've recovered enough planes to make up a squadron but they're short of qualified pilots after what happened in Antarctica.'

Daniel grimaced. He knew most of the pilots had been killed or wounded providing air support to SG1. 'You'd be deployed with the Prometheus?'

'Stationed at Petersen. They want to split up our defences.' Lorne said easily. 'How about you?'

'Oh, tied up in briefings trying to convince the world's political leaders that this isn't an elaborate joke.' Daniel smiled to soften the bitter words but Lorne looked at him too sympathetically anyway.

Lorne motioned at him. 'No news on when you can head back?'

'Not yet.' Daniel sighed heavily.

'You'll get there.' Lorne assured him.

His absolute confidence almost had Daniel teetering on tears. God, he was tired. He shook the feeling away and changed the subject. 'You heading home now?'

'Actually, to the hospital.' If Lorne was fazed by the change in topic he didn't show it. 'All of the injured have been transferred there from McMurdo now. A bunch of us thought we'd head over and visit with them; cheer them up with pizza and beer.' He looked suddenly nervous. 'Uh, that last part is kind of on the quiet?'

That sounded good, Daniel thought abruptly. It sounded constructive and useful. He could go and thank the guys that had helped save their lives. 'You want another volunteer?'

The elevator slid to a halt and the doors opened. Daniel caught the door and stood in the opening, preventing the elevator from leaving.

'Sure.' Lorne said. 'Do you want a ride?'

'Yeah,' Daniel smiled, 'I'm tired enough to fall asleep driving.' He gestured over his shoulder with his free hand. 'Let me just ask Teal'c and Sam. I'm pretty sure they'll want to come along too.'

Lorne nodded. 'I'll meet you up top.'

'Great.' Daniel stepped out and let go of the door. He waved at Lorne as the doors slid shut again. He hurried on to Sam's lab. The door was wide open. Teal'c sat at the central bench carefully taking readings from a device Sam had set-up. Daniel tried hard not to smirk at the soft black fuzz that covered Teal'c's scalp. For some reason, Teal'c had decided to grow his hair out. Sam sat at her computer monitor talking with McKay.

'…and you know it doesn't work like that, Blondie.' McKay said wagging a finger at her. 'It's not designed to…'

'I know what it's designed to do, McKay!' Sam retorted. 'I designed it!'

'You designed it! You!' McKay protested. 'OK, so you may have come up with the original idea but I…'

Daniel cleared his throat and Sam cast a look over her shoulder. 'Having fun?'

Sam's lips twitched and she turned back to the monitor. 'McKay, I have to put you on mute for a moment.'

'Mute?' McKay spluttered, gesticulating widely into the camera. 'No, no, no! No putting me on mute! That's just…'

Sam muted the sound and clicked something else to turn off the microphone. She turned back to Daniel. 'How did it go with the Belgian Prime Minister?'

Belgian. Daniel sighed. 'A gigantic waste of time.' He motioned toward the monitor. 'What are you doing?'

'Helping McKay with the repairs.' Sam grimaced and stretched. 'Honestly, I don't know why I can't go up to the Prometheus and work there. The repairs would go faster and it's not like I'm doing anything here.' All military personnel except for Hammond had been kept out of the briefings after the initial round.

'I ran into Lorne in the elevator.' Daniel said. 'He's going over to the hospital to say hi to the 302 pilots there. I thought I'd go along and say thank you. You two want to come?'

'Indeed.' Teal'c replied, still diligently noting the readings.

'Yeah,' Sam nodded, 'that'd be good.' She bit her lip. 'I was intending to visit with Cam anyway. You know it was him and Banks who took out that alkesh that almost got us just before we ringed down?'

Daniel knew she and the leader of the 302 squadron had been good friends at the Academy. 'How's he doing?'

'They've stabilised him.' Sam said. 'But beyond that?' She shook her head. 'He's in a medically induced coma because of the severity of his injuries. His legs are a mess from where they got pinned; they may still have to amputate. Doctor Brightman's asked me if I'd use the healing device now that he's here so…' she motioned. 'I should get that out of storage and take it with me.'

'Do you not have plans with Detective Shanahan this evening, Major Carter?' Teal'c commented, his face as impassive as ever.

Sam chewed on her lip. 'I'll cancel. Pete will understand.'

Daniel frowned. By his reckoning, Sam had blown off every date she'd set up with the detective she was supposedly seeing since they'd returned from Antarctica. He knew some of it had to do with the emotional maelstrom of dealing with Jack's absence and her unresolved feelings for him, but he wondered how long Pete would continue to wait for Sam. Probably a long time, Daniel mused; the cop showed no signs that Sam's reticence would stop his pursuit of her. Daniel shook himself slightly, and pulled his thoughts back to the present.

'Lorne's waiting up top to give us a ride.' Daniel motioned upward with one hand.

Sam thrust a hand at the monitor. 'I have to finish with McKay…'

'And I must continue taking these readings.' Teal'c's dark eyes met Daniel's.

Daniel nodded in understanding. Teal'c had taken on the role of making sure Sam looked after herself while they worked out a way to save Jack. 'I'll go ahead with Lorne.'

'You sure?' Sam asked.

'Yeah, I need to get out of here. Get some air.' Daniel admitted. He needed a bed and twelve hours of sleep without nightmares of being unable to save Jack…being unable to save Janet.

Sam slipped off her stool and hugged him. 'It's going to be OK, Daniel.'

Daniel hugged her back, caught something on the monitor that made him huff with a burst of laughter and nudged her to look.

McKay had written a sign and had it up to the camera. 'Hello!' it read, 'Important work here!'

Sam rolled her eyes. 'Do you think anyone will mind if I shoot him?'

Daniel smiled. 'I'll see you at the hospital.' He left them to it, hearing Sam greet McKay's annoyed 'finally!' with exaggerated sweetness as he exited. He changed quickly in the locker room choosing faded old jeans and a comfortable flannel shirt. He pulled on a leather jacket to keep the February chill away. He took the elevator to the surface and signed out.

Lorne waited for him by the exit for the car park. He'd opted for a similar outfit to Daniel's – the leather jacket an old fashioned bomber style affair that looked well worn. He pushed off the wall and darted a look back towards the base. 'Major Carter and Teal'c not coming with us?'

'They're coming later. Sam's busy talking McKay through some repairs and Teal'c's helping her with some other experiment.'

'Car's this way.'

Daniel followed Lorne and gratefully got in the passenger seat. Somewhere between leaving the base and the hospital, he dozed. He came to with a start as Lorne switched the engine off, the hospital looming large in front of them. Daniel blinked.

'You awake?' Lorne asked. His eyes were warm with concern.

'Yeah,' Daniel lifted his glasses and brushed the sleep out of his eyes, 'sorry. Just…haven't been sleeping much.' He wasn't sure why he'd confessed. Maybe because Lorne was so solid and normal; something that was anchoring.

Lorne nodded. 'It's got to be tough on you guys.'

Daniel wasn't stupid. He knew Lorne was giving him an opening to talk about it if he wanted to talk about it or brush it off and move on if he didn't. He was about to do the latter and stopped to really consider it. Lorne was a good guy and while he could talk to Sam and Teal'c, they were dealing with their own issues.

He cleared his throat. 'We left him behind.' The guilt of that filled every word.

'From what I understand, it wasn't your choice, Doc.' Lorne said quietly. 'And he's good, isn't he? I mean, the stasis thing is keeping him alive.'

'But that's just it,' Daniel said tiredly, 'he shouldn't have needed the stasis thing. He shouldn't have needed to have stuck his head into the repository again! I should have remembered all of it.'

'And you think you should remember how to get all that stuff out of the Colonel's head.' Lorne guessed, shifting his hands from the steering wheel as he turned more fully towards Daniel.

Daniel leaned his head back and closed his eyes. 'When we were there…it was like a half-remembered dream or déjà vu, you know? As though I'd known about the outpost and known about the power module and the stasis chamber and…' he opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling. 'I should know this too.'

'The Colonel's not going to blame you for not remembering.' Lorne murmured.

He was right. Jack was very practical about Daniel's loss of Ascended memory; he'd allowed that it would have been useful if Daniel remembered but he didn't so Jack didn't see the point of dwelling on it. It was a very healthy approach; Daniel wished he could embrace it.

'I just want to be doing something to help him.' Daniel admitted. 'Something other than sitting at the SGC and talking to politicians who wouldn't even be around if it wasn't for Jack.'

'You know we all believe if anyone's going to convince them to get us back up and running, it's you, Doc.' Lorne said.

Daniel felt the comfort of his words – that Daniel was doing something – even as he felt the weight of them. 'So no pressure then?'

Lorne smiled at him kindly.

'Thanks,' Daniel breathed out, 'I kind of needed to hear that.'

'Come on, Doc.' Lorne gestured with his head to the back seat and the stack of pizzas there – and Daniel blinked because how out of it had he been to have missed Lorne stopping to pick up the take-out? 'Let's go be delivery boys.'

Daniel followed Lorne into the hospital. He let Lorne take the lead in sweet-talking the nurses into ignoring the large boxes with their wafting scent of tomato and cheese. Daniel dutifully helped distribute the contraband before he left Lorne with someone the Major clearly knew from a previous posting. Daniel drifted down a corridor and stopped in front of a private room. He peeked through the internal window and took in the crumpled form of Cameron Mitchell.

The pilot looked small and fragile in the hospital bed, a brace covering his upper body before disappearing under blankets – the lower half of which lifted through some contraption to hang over some kind of metal protective structure around Mitchell's legs. He was hooked up to so many machines that Daniel had to count them twice to get a solid number.

'I see you found Mitchell.'

Daniel glanced over his shoulder at Lorne. 'He looks battered. I can't believe he's alive.'

'Alive and holding his own, by all accounts.' Lorne commented. 'He always did have a reputation as a stubborn son of a gun.'

'You know him?' Daniel asked, wondering why he was surprised. Lorne was a pilot, Mitchell was a pilot.

'Not really.' Lorne said with another easy smile. 'We were both posted to Iraq at the same time for a few months but different aircraft so we didn't interact much.' He gestured at Mitchell. 'But the best pilots always get something of a reputation and Mitchell is the one of the best.' He paused. 'Was one of the best, I guess with his injuries, it's likely he won't be flying anymore.'

Daniel winced. 'Sam's going to bring in the healing device. Maybe that'll help.'

Lorne's face brightened. 'I hope so.' He looked back at Mitchell. 'He was on the ice for a long time but he'd switched his lights on; that's the only reason they found him.' He shook his head thoughtfully. 'Not many people would have the wherewithal to think about doing that after a serious crash or survived the injuries he sustained. He's like you, Doc,' he said, 'not the type to give up.'

Not the type to give up, Daniel considered silently; was that really how people thought of him? Was it something he believed about himself? 'I think I'm going to sit with Mitchell until Sam gets here.'

'You want me to stay?' Lorne asked.

Daniel shook his head. 'Thanks, Major.'

'It's Evan, Doc.' Lorne corrected with a smile.

'Daniel.' Daniel rejoined.

Lorne gave him a partial salute and headed back down the corridor. Daniel watched him disappear before he entered Mitchell's room. He pulled up a high-backed mock-leather chair to the side of the bed. The ventilator provided a soft whooshing sound and the steady beep of the monitor, a strange counterpoint.

He'd rest his eyes for a moment, Daniel thought wearily; just a moment before he had to be as strong as the pilot in the bed; just as moment more before he had to be someone who didn't give up again.

Continued in Part III.

 

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