“A lot of that will probably be mine.”
The words reverberated in his head over and over and even though he tried his best to focus on his work, they wouldn’t leave. The cup of coffee that consistently lay near his elbow was untouched and the automatic safety logout had long ago switched off his computer. Still, he sat and stared and thought the words. He’d been like this with only moments of interaction with others since Hathor had gone through the gate. He hadn’t remembered at first but then the bits and pieces came back and each new memory was like a fresh stab of guilt repeating along with the mantra.
“Daniel?” came Carter’s voice from behind him.
He jumped slightly and half turned in his seat to force a smile at her.
“Hi,” he said.
She walked closer and perched on the edge of the table next to him.
“What are you working on?” she asked.
“Oh,” he said, turning to the long ignored notebook in front of him. “I was just looking for the symbols we found on the tomb on our last mission.”
“Clearly not,” he said, gesturing to the blank screen in front of him.
She hesitated and then spoke.
“Are you all right?”
“Um,” he said, shifting uncomfortably.
“I know Hathor threw you for a bit of a loop,” she hastened to say.
“Yeah,” he agreed without elaboration.
“When I found you…earlier,” she said, pausing as if trying to say things a certain way, “you weren’t really there, it was like you were…in shock.”
He honestly hadn’t remembered that till now. He vaguely recalled being frozen with some kind of emotion after Hathor had- He remembered Sam coming in and trying to speak to him, but he hadn’t been able to acknowledge her presence under the influence of Hathor. It was like she had commanded him to stop functioning until she came for him again.
“Probably,” he said, almost flushed with embarrassment now, but still just barely able to concentrate, his guilty words condemning him over and over in his mind.
“Okay,” she said, clearly not wanting to push. “I’m glad you’re all right. If you want to talk, you know where I am.”
She got up and began to walk away. He stared after her blankly for a moment.
“I feel like I betrayed her,” he said, the words leaving his dry throat almost involuntarily.
It wasn’t until he said it that he truly understood it himself. He’d betrayed Sha’re. A lot of emotions had been swirling around numbly inside of him and only now did they coalesce into that dominant feeling.
“Daniel, you weren’t in control,” Carter said, coming back and leaning against the table again. “What Hathor did was against your will.”
“Intellectually, I know that,” he said, taking off his glasses and pinching the bridge of his nose. Now that he’d started this conversation, he wasn’t sure he wanted to continue it. “But I am a married man and I just…slept with the enemy.”
“That may be true,” said Carter carefully. “But you weren’t yourself. It might not erase the action, but hopefully it can erase some of the guilt. You’re not the only one who did something they aren’t proud of today.”
“Yet I let her in. I’m the stupid chosen one,” he mumbled.
“It’s funny how it’s harder to forgive something in ourselves sometimes,” Carter said, a half smile curving her mouth.
“Right,” he agreed, getting where she was going with that. “Because Sha’re is walking around the universe out there, completely out of control, and I can’t blame her for anything that happened or is happening or what he’s…doing to her.” He swallowed hard, forcing himself to think of something else. “It isn’t her fault. Apophis is to blame and the Goa’uld inside of her.”
“But you’re sitting here flogging yourself for the same thing,” Carter commented, no condemnation in her tone.
“Humans are fascinating and contradictory,” he said, trying to smile.
“Human,” said Carter. “You’re human and that means you get to feel things like this. The Goa’uld don’t have that ability. I think you need to remember that, try to hold on to your feelings, even when they don’t make sense.”
“I guess I’ll try,” he said.
He felt somewhat better just having said it out loud, but it still stirred up all the emotions he’d been feeling since Sha’re was taken and that he’d been trying to keep under control, trying not to feel because he’d go insane.
“But you miss her,” she said.
What a fine time Sam had picked to be so observant.
“Like hell,” he said, taking a deep breath. “I just want to close my eyes and open them again and she’ll be there. But she won’t be unless I find her and I haven’t found her. I’ve barely had time to look for her.” He got more agitated as he spoke, finally voicing what had been bothering him even before Hathor showed up. “I know the Stargate project is bigger than my marriage, but nothing is bigger than that to me. Instead of spending every second trying to get to her, all I do is sit here and go on missions to worlds where she’s not there and isn’t even likely to be! What if I never find her? What if,” he took a ragged breath, “what if she thinks I abandoned her?”
“If she knows you even half as well as I do,” Carter said immediately and firmly, “she won’t think that.”
“Even after I just tried to make more of the vile creatures that took her over?” he said dully.
“Well, I’m fairly certain she doesn’t know about that,” Carter said, teasing.
Daniel let out a barking laugh.
“Right, no, you’re right.”
“Sorry,” said Carter.
“No, I’m borrowing trouble, my mother used to tell me that,” he said, wanting to avoid that painful memory now as well. “I’m angry though. Angry I was used that way. I was the, the progenitor of the things I hate. A really horrible irony.”
“It’s not fair. They’re not fair,” she agreed.
“No, but the worst thing was,” he said in a low voice, “that I wanted it. When Hathor was…influencing me, I wanted nothing more than for those parasites to grow and prosper. I wanted nothing more than what she wanted. That feeling sickens me now, but at the time when my children, for lack of a better term, died, I felt such remorse.”
“It’s okay,” Carter said, putting her hand on his arm. “You can feel whatever you need to feel.”
“Well, right now I’m angry and ashamed and frustrated.”
“I just need to find her,” he whispered, deflated. “I’m tired of the bigger picture. I just want my wife back.”
“I’ll help you find her,” she said.
Daniel looked at her and her face was nothing but sympathetic and sincere.
“Thanks, Sam,” he said. “I know. And, uh, I’m sorry about everything we put you through today.”
“All in a day’s work around here,” she said, laughing.
“No kidding,” he said, running his fingers through his hair.
There was a comfortable silence between them for a moment and Daniel calmed himself somewhat.
“Sometimes I forget what you’ve lost,” she said, “so don’t be afraid to remind me every now and then.”
She squeezed his arm and straightened up.
“I just might take you up on that,” he said, watching her leave.
He let out a ragged breath and turned back to his screen. He was glad she’d come over. It wasn’t perfect now, but it was better. The words had stopped resounding in his head anyway. Wallowing in self-pity and mostly misplaced guilt wasn’t going to get Sha’re back. This latest wound was one he’d add to the many he’d acquired since joining SG1, but his one goal, his sole purpose always was and needed to be, finding his wife and figuring out a way to save her.
Anything else was just a side note.