Chapter 1: Daniel
We are running. I can feel my heart pounding in my chest like a wild animal, my breath burning in my lungs, my feet are growing heavier with each step as I leap across small bushes and big rocks on the forest trail. The trees flash past as we sprint through them, branches catching at our clothes.
We were ambushed, the enemy laying in wait for us. None of us suspected a thing...no that's wrong. I think Jack knew somehow. I know he did, or we wouldn't still be alive. But he couldn't dissuade Sam and I from our search for things of value to us...to the SGC. So we came and we saw and now we're running for our lives down this narrow rocky trail.
We reach the clearing where the Stargate sits. Teal'c is in the rear with Jack, covering our sixes and protecting our asses with their firepower. Sam is to my side, I am slightly in front headed for the DHD. She's got the GDO, Jack's got the P-90 on full auto and Teal'c is blasting away with his staff weapon. And we are running as hard and fast as we can go, back to the gate, back to safety, back towards home..
Then I see him. They say that you can not hear the one that will kill you, only I do hear it. I hear the electric snap of the head, the thrum of its power cell and the explosion of its blast. This one is not behind me, he stands to the left of the Stargate. He is a young Jaffa, maybe nineteen or twenty. Just in his adulthood and needing to prove his loyalty to his god and his first prime. I see the blazing energy as it flies for Sam and I move instinctively, not even thinking.
I feel no pain as the fiery blast strikes me. I feel surprise as the force that slams me down into the path. It is too fast, too unexpected, too powerful. It hits me in the side as I push my friend to safety. My lungs feel like they explode as my breath is slammed from my abused body. I can feel the dirt and gravel scrape my face as I crash into the unforgiving ground. I taste the blood in my mouth. I can't breath, I can't move, I make no sound other than the silent groan of frustration.
Dimly, explosions sound around me as if at a distance. My vision is tunneled, blurred, my glasses gone, but I can see Sam as she picks herself up and crawls to me on hands and knees. Now, she's shaking me and calling my name but I cannot answer her. Her face is red, her hat gone, her hair wild. I see her lips move, but I cannot answer, I have no voice, I can only watch from where I lay helpless.
Then, I feel myself moved, then shifted to lie on my back. I see Jack for a moment, then again I am lifted and I feel my position change. He grunts as I am picked up and slung ungently across the hard ridge of bone that is his shoulder As I lay helpless in Jack's fireman's carry, I can feel his muscles strain to support my weight. My arms dangle loosely and my face bounces gently against his shoulder blade, I can smell his stink of fear and sweat and I know it must be for me. I can hear his great heart pounding and the air rushing in and out of his lungs. I can feel his feet hitting the ground, jostling me and hurting him as he runs determinedly towards the 'gate and our safety.
In the distance, I sense more than hear the Stargate opening. A second ticks by, as the GDO IDs us to the technicians on duty. Then he starts to run again into the biting bone deep cold of the wormhole and we are flung into its maelstrom.
There is noise echoing around me as we arrive at the SGC. Jack's hoarse breathless shouts as he exits the wormhole. Voices call out commands, weapons snap into position, and the metallic grinding sound as the great trinium iris closes. The artificial lights are bright and dazzling, making colors harsh and vivid, watching with their harsh eyes as our little drama is acted out.
Strong hands grasp and move me again and now I'm lying face up on a gurney. As I lie there helpless and helped, I see the faces of my comrades. I see Janet, her concerned professional gaze takes everything in. I hear the ripping of my shirt as the scissors cut the tough cotton of my uniform sleeve. There is a sting as a needle is pushed into my antecubital fossa and a saline drip started. My face is turned towards my team. Sam stands a few feet away, and she's crying for some reason. Teal'c is standing next to her, a hand on her arm in support. General Hammond has a hand on her shoulder, patting it. Then, abruptly, I see Jack in my limited field of vision. He's dirty, sweaty and has blood on his face and uniform. His brown eyes staring into mine. I see his mouth move but I can't hear his voice. His lips say, "Hang on Danny, hang on." But there is nothing to hang on to.
Then the table shakes and starts to move. I lay there helpless as the medics push me out of the gateroom and we go rattling down the hall. The gray ceiling passes above me. The hanging flourescent lights flash by. The noise of the gateroom fades in the distance as I feel the bumps along the corridor. More voices are shouting then suddenly I see Janet again. She's running beside me, a look of concern in her beautiful expressive eyes. I see her lips move. "Hang on Daniel, we're almost there."
I can hear the voices as I am trundled by. I catch glimpses of the faces of my co-workers and friends as their expressions change to surprise then shock. The table bumps and shakes as we enter the elevator. The chime sounds and the lift pulls us up to Level 21. I know the number. I've been here before.
The big orderly at my head talks to me, he says "Hold on Doctor J. We're almost there. Stay here with me." I want to nod, I want to answer but I can't. I can only blink my eyes.
Then the door slides open and another bump jostles me as we enter the hallway. There are more lights, more gray halls, more faces. Another bump and I am in the Operating Room. The big silver light shines down on me, the chemical smells familiar. I feel the knife against my skin as the nurses cut my shirt and tee shirt off, hear the wet sucking noise as it is pulled from my torso. Janet's tense face comes into view again briefly, then my body is shifted gently, carefully to pull the rough, bloody material from under me
Next, I feel the sheet flex and stretch as I am lifted from the gurney to the table with a strong gentle thump. The light is directly above me now but a masked face superimposes itself between me and its hot glare. "Daniel," It's Doctor Warner. "Daniel, I'm going to give you something to put you to sleep now." In my arm I feel the cold stinging sensation of the drug as its pushed through the IV into my vein. A clear plastic mask is placed on my face covering my nose and mouth. I am rolled to one side and something else is rubbed on my body. It burns. The last thing I see are Janet's brown eyes.
My first sensation is one of noise. There is a steady beeping, a click hiss, and a soft hum. I am in the clinic. Touch comes next, the crisp sheets next to my skin, the dull ache of a needle in my arm and my feet are cold. There is a hard tube in my throat forcing me to breath. But my hand is warm, clasped in the grip of another. I try to open my eyes but everything is blurry. All I can see is the vague white ceiling and the fuzzy glow of flourescent lights above me. I cannot move, I lie exhausted, spent. There are only the sounds, the lights and the hand holding my own. I sleep again.
The light is annoying, but the comforting hand is still there on mine. The annoying sounds from earlier are a backwash of white noise. But there is a voice. "Daniel, come on buddy, it's time to wake up."
I manage to crack my lids for him. "That's it, open up those baby blue eyes." I push my vision to its limit. Jack is beside me, holding my hand. He looks worried. "Danny, wakey wakey." He must see my efforts, because he turns and yells, his voice strident in the quiet of the ICU. "Doc! Doc! He's awake!"
I hear the click of Janet's shoes on the concrete floor. I feel the rubbing motion of his thumb on the top of my knuckles. My skin is sensitive to touch and the friction almost hurts me, but I don't want him to stop. Now, I have something to hold on to.
Chapter 2: Jack
A day in the life of Jack O'Neill, and it sucks big time! Violence, injury and whumping abound. Jackspeak. foul language.
Damn it, damn it to hell. I knew there something wrong. Things were too sweet, too easy, just a walk in the park. I know, I know, the MALP showed only an empty forest, the UAV didn't see anything but the city's ruins in the distance. But, as soon as we arrived the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I knew there was gonna be a problem. I knew it
Then, a little ways out, we started taking enemy fire. There they were, a group of Jaffa, all young bucks with plenty to prove to whatever stinking snakehead they serve. I turn my kids around and we haul ass like there's no tomorrow. Daniel and Carter are beating feet like nobody's business while Teal'c and I are bringing up the rear and returning fire so fast I can feel the P-90 heating up in my hands. We were less than a mile from the 'gate so we should be clear in just a few more minutes with the pace Daniel's setting even over the rough country that we're covering. Damn trees are actually helping this time as we twist and duck trying to avoid the branches whipping our faces and arms and the loose rocks are making it hard on the pursuing Jaffa in their heavy armor. They're crashing through the trees and losing ground fast. There's the clearing with the gate. We're almost home kids, almost home.
Fuck! Where did that bastard come from? He's right beside the gate and he's bringing his staff weapon to bear on Carter. Suddenly, Daniel shifts his direction of travel and shoves her down. But he takes the energy bolt on the side, right under the arm and across the front of his chest. They're both down now, and Daniel's vest is smoking and on fire. She's crawling to him, not paying any attention to the Jaffa.
Teal'c hears the blast and in one deft movement, he spins and takes the sonofabitch out like the pro he is. Then he turns around and continues to cover our backs.
I get to Daniel as fast as I can. He's completely out of it. If he's conscious at all it only just. I yell at Carter and pitch her my P- 90. She returns fire as she gets up to run to the DHD. He doesn't respond when I roll him over. Finally, I just grab him and sling him over my shoulder. I grunt and get to my feet carrying my precious burden. Fucking hell, he's heavy, but I don't care. We go together or not at all. I left him once, never again. I know I've got to be hurting him, his wound is laying right on my neck and collarbone but there's no other way and there's no more time. I feel his blood run down inside my collar. I grip his lax body with both arms; I feel his face and arms hitting on my back. I run as fast as I can. Carter hits the DHD and sends the signal to open the iris back home. We wait a forever moment, and then I carry my priceless cargo into the wormhole.
As I come out the other side, I'm yelling for all I'm worth. Still traveling at the same speed that I had entered the Stargate I'm half way down the ramp before I hear the iris close. The medics swarm over me and Danny, taking him from my arms, laying him out on the waiting gurney. Christ almighty! Is he dead? No, I know he was breathing. He's got to be breathing!
Fraiser is there and the medics start to work immediately. I turn to check on the rest of my team. Carter's crying and Teal'c is holding her up as George talks to them. He doesn't even approach me. I couldn't say anything anyway.
"He's alive, Colonel, he's alive." Bless the Doc. She knew what I needed to hear. One of the medics is taking a pair of scissors to Daniel's shirtsleeve and ripping it off for the IV. His eyes are still open and I bend down where he can see me. "Hang on, Danny, hang on." I only hope he can hear me. Then they're gone and I'm running after them like a dog after a car. We're heading for the clinic.
Doc is running alongside the gurney and they slam into the elevator. There's no room for me. I can only stand there and wait for the car to go and come back for me. I lean on the steel door and then realize that people are staring at me. They now know what I know. Daniel is hurt again...and it's my fault.
An eternity later the car finally returns to my level and the doors open. I dash inside and beat on the button that indicates floor 21. As I stand there, leaning my head against the door not hearing the chime and not counting the floors as I ascend up the shaft, I notice the bright red drops of blood that lead to a small pool on the floor of the elevator...Danny's blood and a testament to my failure as a commander.
Finally, I get to the clinic. I push through the swinging doors and run to the next set that lead into the Operating Room. Before I can push through, a nurse grabs my arm. "Colonel O'Neill, wait! You can't go in there now! They're prepping him for surgery."
I nod numbly. I can see through the small round window in the door that they are stripping him of his bloody shirt. Its thrown in the medical hazard container. It reveals a chest that more closely resembles burned hamburger than the smooth skin that was there less than an hour ago. He's still unconscious and I'm glad. The injury is gonna be hell. I can feel it myself
They count to three and heft him onto the operating table, careful of the dangling IV tubes. He flops bonelessly onto the surface. If Doc hadn't told me and I didn't know better, I'd swear he was already dead. But, I take hope in the skill and dedication of Doc Warner and Doc Fraiser. As if she hears me, Fraiser turns and looks at me and nods.
The little nurse tugs on my arm again and I take the hint and turn to go with her to the outer treatment room. Teal'c and Carter aren't there yet. I know I stink with Daniel's blood and my own sweat. The med techs do a quick exam on me and then I'm released to go clean up before facing Hammond. I run my hands through my hair and feel how sticky it is too. I need to shower and then go tell the General how I screwed up and almost lost the SGCs brightest and best. No excuse, Sir. I fucked up royally and now my best friend is paying for it. I take a deep breath and head to the showers.
There's no one in the locker room when I get there and I'm glad. I grab a bottle of shampoo, some soap and a clean towel and head for hot water.
I stand there in the pounding spray, my head ducked under the water. I can see red running down the drain, more blame for my guilt. Even with the soap it lasts a long while. So much precious blood, wasted, spilled, gone. I'm glad I'm in the shower. The tears don't show as bad.
After wasting as much time as I dare, I finally climb out realizing just how tired and sore I am. I pull on a clean set of fatigues and my boots, and scrub my hair dry. When I look into the mirror, I notice how gray I've gotten. Its scary, just a few months ago it was brown. Shit brown just like my eyes. But no more, I've been Jacksoned.
I enter the briefing room and see the other two members of my team are still there. Hammond looks from me to his notes then back again. "Colonel, I thought you'd still be in the clinic."
"No, Sir. The nurses did their worst then kicked me out," I try to grin and fail miserably. "Probably cause of the smell."
Teal'c nods in agreement. "O'Neill did indeed smell mature."
Hammond just shakes his head to that comment. "Well, the Major and Teal'c have given me enough for now. It sounds like a pretty cut and dried scenario. Both the MALP and the UAV failed to indicate any Gould presence on the planet. You walked into a bad situation, Colonel. You tried to get your team home intact...."
"...And failed miserably." I finished for him. "I screwed up and now one of my team is lying in the clinic operating room with our medical personnel trying to save his life."
The General looks at me sadly then turns to Carter and Teal'c. "I think I have everything people. You are dismissed. Thank you for your reports." Then he turns to me with a nod. "Colonel, I'd like to talk to you in private." My team gets up and nods the support I don't want or deserve. They leave us alone. General Hammond gets up and motions me to follow him into his private office. Once there he points to the chair. I sit down slumping on the leather.
"Jack," he starts out. Uh, oh, its gonna be one of those conversations. "Jack, this wasn't your fault."
I stare at him for a moment. Someone has obviously been feeding him a line of bullshit. "No, Sir. It is my fault. I led my team into a trap like a rank amateur. I...."
"Jack, come on. I know you better than that. Sooner or later even the smartest old coon gets caught. You were unlucky; Daniel was unlucky. It had to happen...."
"But always to Daniel." I reply.
"No, this time it would have been Major Carter." He looks at me frankly. "She told me that the Jaffa was aiming at her when Doctor Jackson pushed her down and took the hit for her. And we both know she'd be dead right now if he hadn't."
I sigh wearily and nod. It''s the truth after all. Daniel did it on purpose and we all know it.
"Look Jack, go check on our boy, go eat something, then get some sleep." He nods his dismissal. "You look like hell."
I get up wearily and head for the door. As I open it, I hear him clear his throat then speak softly. "Jack, it wasn't your fault."
I pause for a moment at the open space. "If you say so, Sir."
"I do say so, Jack. Now git."
Early the following morning, I'm in the clinic. I'd been run out last night by the mini medical marvel, Doc Fraiser. She had assured me that he was resting comfortably and I should be too. At my expression, she had pushed me out the door and closed it in my face. I'm a Colonel in the United States Air Force and I outrank her, but I know when to pick my battles so I turned tail and ran like the dog I am. After an imitation dinner in the chow hall and a night of tossing and turning on the couch in Daniel's office I reappear in the infirmary at 0500 hours. There I am met by a frowning male nurse; but him, I'll argue with.
So here I sit in the ICU of the clinic. Daniel is all decked out like a Christmas tree with enough tubes and wires to satisfy any medical aim known to mankind. The monitors tell me squat, except as long as they're beeping, blinking and buzzing that means my friend is alive and making them work. I take his hand in mine, strictly for his sake you understand, and I find that it's cold. He always has cold hands and feet. I know this because he's always complaining when we stay overnight on temperate planets. So I take it and gently rub it with my thumb, cupping his long fingers in my palm, careful not to make contact with the IV line embedded there in the top of his hand.
I think I feel the fingers flexing in my hand. That's always good. I look a little closer and see just the merest blue color peeking out from underneath the lids. "Daniel, come on buddy, it's time to wake up."
Sure enough, I'm right so I speak to him again. "That's it, open up those baby blue eyes." He frowns with effort and he finally looks at me then to where I am holding his hand. I say firmly. "Danny, wakey wakey." He blinks at me with an effort and I turn and start to call to the nurse at the desk when I see Fraiser coming on duty, "Doc! Doc! He's awake!"
Doctor Fraiser comes running. She looks down where I'm holding his hand and smiles. Then she pulls out the flashlight from hell and I release him so the good doctor can start her check of our friend's condition. After a moment, she nods at me. I smile back. Everything is gonna be okay. Now, I've got something to hang on to.
Chapter 3: Sam
A day in the life of Samantha Carter, whatever can happen, will happen! Gate travel is hazardous to your health. Be prepared to duck.
We are running as fast and as hard as we can. I feel my chest burning with the effort and there is a catch in my side already. We're tearing down a rugged woodland path that's littered with loose rocks and dead branches. We jump small bushes and stumble over the debris in our headlong flight to safety. Trees flash past as we sprint through them, branches catching at our hair and clothes
We were ambushed, the enemy laying in wait for us. Only the Colonel suspected, and maybe Teal'c. I know he'd said something about the woods not feeling right, but Daniel and I were so focused on our objective that we didn't see any warning signs. We were headed to some ruins that the UAV had spotted. From what he could see Daniel had determined that they might be a small city or an extensive temple complex. Either of which could hold information about whatever Goa'uld had held sway there, or even one of the Colonel's honking big space guns if we were very lucky. But before we even got to the city, the attack had begun. A small group of Jaffa had ambushed us and started firing at first sight. They looked young, from what I could see which admittedly wasn''t much. The Colonel ordered us to turn and 'run like hell' so we did. Daniel is the fastest runner of our group so he took the lead and I was doing my best to keep up with him. I could see him glance back at me occasionally; to be sure I was still there with him.
By the time we reached the Stargate's clearing he'd pulled a little ahead. I knew that he was going to hit the DHD and I was already fumbling for my GDO transmitter. The Colonel and Teal'c are bringing up the rear covering our sixes to allow us to do our part of the job. The Colonel's P-90 is chattering at full auto and I can hear Teal'c's staff weapon discharging with proficient regularity.
I'm concentrating so hard on my GDO that I never see the Jaffa standing next to the Stargate. The next thing I know, Daniel has swerved into me, knocking me roughly to the ground. I lose my grip on the transmitter and by the time I look up I see the staff weapon blast him on the chest and Daniel goes down hard a few feet from me. My little brother has saved my life at the cost of his own.
I get to my hands and knees and crawl towards him. He looks dead to me. He's lying facing me. His glasses are gone and his face is scraped from the gravel but his expression is so peaceful, like he's asleep. But I can see the side of his vest is blown away, the remaining material is smoking from the fiery blast. I get to him and touch his exposed throat to check for a pulse. There is one but it's very faint. He's unconscious and bleeding profusely. The wound wasn't cauterized this time, probably because of the angle of impact. Unthinkingly, I try to pick him up, even though I know full well that he's much too heavy for me. But I know we can't leave him.
I hear and almost feel the energy blast from Teal'c's staff go over our heads. He's taken out the Jaffa that shot Daniel. We now have a clear field of travel to the Stargate.
The Colonel reaches us and pulls me to my feet, handing off his P-90 to me. The barrel is so hot that it burns my hands but I take it and start to return fire immediately. Teal'c is still between us and the rest of the squad. I take advantage of his cover fire and run to the DHD then hit all seven symbols to take us home. When the wormhole is established, I punch in the code on the GDO and stand there waiting for the required time to pass. I know Master Sergeant Davis will be quick but we don't want to jump too soon.
I see the Colonel has gotten Daniel on his shoulder in a Fireman's carry. I can tell the load is heavy but there's no way Teal'c or I can help him, or if he'd even let us. He shouts for me to go on. I start forward but let him pass me up as I again return fire, allowing time for Teal'c who''s been covering us the whole time to get to the Stargate with us. We enter the energy flux of the Stargate right after the Colonel had gone through with his precious burden.
As we exit the other side, I order the Iris closed. The Colonel is already down the ramp yelling maniacally for the Medics. I see Janet and her Trauma Team come running through the hall blast doors pulling a hospital gurney along with them. Two Medics and Janet go to the Colonel and Daniel, carefully taking my injured friend from our leader. They lay him on the gurney and start treatment immediately. They cut Daniel's uniform shirt open and start the IV. Janet does a down and dirty exam on him then says something to the Colonel who hasn't moved from Daniel's side.
I finally get a good look at my CO. Colonel O'Neill looks to be in shock, not surprisingly. He's covered in Daniel's blood from his head to his waist and I know for a fact that none of it is his. It's all Daniel's and its all my fault. My friend took the blast that was meant for me. It would have killed me, with my lesser body mass. He has saved my life possibly at the cost of his own.
I see Major General Hammond making his way towards us through the activity of the room. He looks at the Colonel, then comes directly to us. "Major Carter, are you and Teal'c all right?" I manage to get out the proper response as he looks at me closely. "Can you tell me what happened?"
I try to answer him but Teal'c speaks up for me. He knows how upset I am. "We were approaching the city's ruins but were attacked by a group of Jaffa. As we attempted to return to the Stargate, we encountered a lone sentry who had been posted by the base. He was attempting to kill Major Carter when Danieljackson interceded and was struck down instead. I removed the Jaffa but I was too late to prevent his injury. Colonel O'Neill retrieved our comrade and we were able to return immediately afterwards."
"It was my fault, General. If I had seen the Jaffa, this could have been avoided. Daniel saved my life by knocking me out of the line of fire." My voice cracks betraying my emotions.
The General looks at both of us, pursing his lips, and then finally shaking his head. "Report to my office as soon as you get cleared. We need to figure out why this happened." We look over towards Janet and the Colonel but all we see is them accompanying Daniel out the doors on their way to the Infirmary.
Teal'c and I head to the Medical Section. We get a quick exam from the nurses in the outer area and are released to make our official debriefing to the General.
Teal'c and I sit in our usual places. He looks very somber even for him. General Hammond arrives through the connecting door from his office. He nods his permission for us to remain at ease. The Colonel is conspicuously absent. We know he's still in the clinic waiting for word on Daniel's condition.
The General sat down in his normal place at the head of the briefing table. "I just got off the phone with the infirmary, Doctor Jackson is still in surgery but is holding his own. Luckily the blast apparently was not a direct hit but from an angle. It didn't penetrate too deeply. He has a very good chance," The older man sighed deeply, "thank God." He looks up at us. "Now, lets figure out how this happened."
After about twenty minutes into the meeting, Colonel O'Neill joins us. He's cleaned up and is looking exhausted and suspiciously red eyed. He slides into the chair across the table from us.
Hammond looks from O'Neill to his notes and back again. "Colonel, I thought you'd still be in the clinic."
He looks a little embarrassed, like a small boy caught in an act of defiance. "No, Sir. The nurses did their worst then kicked me out," He tries to smile and fails utterly. "Probably cause of the smell. Then I hit the showers before coming here."
Hammond just nods his head. "Well, the Major and Teal'c have given me enough information for now. It sounds like a pretty cut and dried scenario. Both the MALP and the UAV failed to indicate any Gould presence on the planet. You walked into a bad situation, Colonel. You tried to get your team home intact...."
"...And failed miserably." Colonel O'Neill finishes for him. "I screwed up and now one of my team is lying in the clinic operating room with our medical personnel trying to save his life."
The General looks at him sadly then turns to Teal'c and myself. "I think I have everything I need, people. You are dismissed. Thank you for your reports." Then he turns to O'Neill with a nod. "Colonel, I'd like to talk to you in private."
We get up from the table and I try to make eye contact with the Colonel. He nods his thanks for our support, making a shooing motion with his fingers. We leave them alone and Teal'c pulls the door shut behind us. We can only speculate what is being said.
I turn to my friend. "You don't think that General Hammond will hold him responsible for Daniel's injury do you?" I ask.
"I have found General Hammond to be most wise in his dealings with O'Neill. I do not foresee any problems."
"It wasn't his fault."
"Indeed not." My friend intones. "It was my fault."
I stop and stare at him. "How do you get that? It was my fault."
"No, you were merely the intended target. I am the one who failed in defending your efforts to activate the Stargate. I did not see the Jaffa who fired at you. Therefore it is my guilt, not yours."
"The Colonel thinks it's his fault."
"Then he is wrong also. It was I who failed to provide proper covering of your sixes."
"But I'm the one Daniel saved......."
"Agreed, due to my inability to protect you."
I look at him in frustration; he eyes me with severe stoicism. I sigh, "Okay, but it's not the Colonel's fault. He tried to get us home safely. He did nothing wrong. It's not your fault either, you were keeping the others back."
My friend nods, "O'Neill is correct that he bears the final responsibility. He was in command. It was not his fault, but he did not succeed in returning his team safely because I have again failed in my duty to protect my teammate. I understand his feelings, as will General Hammond.
Both of us need to eat something, but by mutual need we make the decision to clean up first. I head to the women's showers and stand under the pounding, hot water. I just feel numb, like this day was a horrible nightmare that I want desperately to be over; or better yet, to have never had it happen.
Just four hours ago, we were all together in the Gateroom. Daniel was in a rare happy mood, one of the first since his wife's death some months ago. He and the Colonel were joking about Wizard of Oz references , a yellow brick road and whether or not this town could be the home of Munchkins. Teal'c had joined in with references to the Emerald City. I even thought that I had heard the Colonel whistle 'We're off to see the Wizard' as we stepped into the wormhole.
When we had emerged on the other side, the landscape was a beautiful verdant forest complete with birds singing in the trees. It had been a fine happy perfect day until my friend had tried to die for me. I wanted to scream and cry and hit my head on the shower wall, but I couldn't. I could only stand in the steam and hot water and sob like a six year old girl.
After a little while, I pull my self together as best as I can and climb out of the shower and to get dressed. Teal'c was waiting for me in the hallway. We went to the cafeteria and had a silent dinner together. Everyone must have known what happened. No one came near us.
After we ate, we went by the infirmary to check on Daniel. He was out of surgery and resting well. Janet had gone home and Doctor Warner had the night shift. He allowed us a quick visit to our unconscious teammate. Daniel looked like he was asleep. He was swathed in bandages from the shoulders down and his face and hands were scraped from impacting the ground but he looked beautiful and peaceful. Checking the monitors I could tell that he was stable with normal EEG and EKG. His BP was still low but he was receiving whole blood so that would pick up. I touched his hand, it was cool but he was alive. That was enough for now.
Warner finally shooed us out. He said that Janet had banished the Colonel earlier and told him to get some sleep. He was recommending the same for us. We could come back in the morning.
Early the following morning, I see Janet in the hall. She's on her way to the clinic. We ride down in the elevator together. There's a small stain of dried blood on the floor. I looked at it for a long moment.
Janet put her hand on my arm and says soothingly. "I called in this morning, Sam. Bill said Daniel slept through the night and is resting comfortably. He's going to be fine."
I nod numbly.
She pats me on my shoulder in comfort. "Why don't you come with me and I'll make you a cup of really bad infirmary coffee and you can see for yourself." She smiles, "The Colonel is probably there all ready."
"Okay, you talked me into it." I try to smile back at her.
As we enter the Infirmary, we start to pass the ICU were Daniel is being closely monitored by both machines and personnel. Sure enough, there's Colonel O'Neill sitting by his friend's bedside. He's leaning in close, holding Daniel's hand and talking softly to him.
As he hears our footsteps, the Colonel turns and looks at Janet. "Doc! Doc! He's awake!"
Janet immediately runs to the bedside and the Colonel steps back, releasing Daniel's hand from where he'd been holding it. She begins to check Daniel's vitals. She's smiling broadly. Evidently the Colonel is right and Daniel is regaining consciousness. Janet looks over at me and nods her head. Everything is going to be all right. Now, that's something to hold on to.
Chapter 4: Teal'c
A day in the life of Teal'c, who in spite of self recrimination, always tries his best. Gate travel is hazardous to your health. Always listen to your Team Leader and your General.
My companions are fleeing towards the Stargate. I follow closely behind them, returning fire with my staff weapon covering their escape. O'Neill is also trailing firing his P-90 automatic weapon. We are traveling down an uneven wooded trail comprised of hard ground and loose shale. Forest debris and small vegetation impedes our progress and cause slowing of our speed during our return to the clearing we had only recently left.
A small group of young Jaffa had been concealed by the undergrowth and had caught us unawares. O'Neill had made an earlier comment as we had arrived about things not feeling correct. I must learn to heed his intuitiveness. He is almost always correct.
Our two scholar teammates had come here specifically to study the ancient ruins that the UAV had sighted, and they were distracted by thoughts of possible discoveries. Danieljackson had identified the location as a possible site of some importance and Majorcarter also had expressed an interest in exploring them for alien technology. But we had never reached their goal.
When we sighted the attacking force, O'Neill had shouted instructions for us to retreat with haste and our two younger teammates had taken the forefront dashing down the trail at full speed. Upon arrival at the Stargate, Danieljackson would dial Earth and Majorcarter would activate the GDO device to identify us to Stargate Command and open the iris for our imminent arrival.
Just as our younger members reached the open space I hear the noise of a staff weapon discharging and the sound of two bodies impacting the ground. Next, Majorcarter is calling out to our youngest team member. I knew then that something grave had befallen my young friend. I turn and see Majorcarter crouching protectively over Danieljackson. He has been struck down by a lone guard stationed at a position at the Stargate. Again, I had failed in my sworn oath to protect him from harm. Aiming my own staff at the chalot, I fire over them, succeeding in killing him immediately. I was then able to turn my attention to protecting O'Neill as he goes to our injured companion. Majorcarter, now in possession of O'Neill's weapon, also returned fire. She then insured the Stargate was open and ready to receive our wounded.
It does not seem fair that the fates have seen fit to harm this peaceful scholar again.. I see that he is obviously wounded severely as O'Neill slings him over his shoulder. I am unable to assist him with his burden but I double my efforts to protect them. I know he will not leave our injured man behind. O'Neill orders us through the Stargate. We allow him to proceed us, then Majorcarter and I also enter the wormhole.
As we arrive at the SGC, Majorcarter orders Walterdavis to close the protective iris. The Colonel is at the foot of the ramp calling loudly for the Medical Team. I see Doctorfraiser and her corps of Emergency Technicians surround O'Neill and Daneiljackson. Within moments they have my young friend on a wheeled table and are beginning the treatment of his wounds.
I see Generalhammond approaching Majorcarter and myself. O'Neill is focusing on soothing his friend and the Hammond bypasses the fevered activity to come to where Majorcarter and I are standing. The Medical personnel are placing an IV into our injured comrades arm. I see that he is in poor condition, and has not regained consciousness. O'Neill appears not to see the General as the Commanding Office comes to us for answers.
Majorcarter is also highly agitated. Generalhammond asks what has happened to cause this injury. She is unable to answer our leader's questions so I do so for her as succinctly as possible. "We were approaching the city but were attacked by a group of Jaffa. As we attempted to reach the Stargate, we encountered a lone sentry who had been posted there. He was attempting to kill Majorcarter when Danieljackson interceded and was struck down instead. . I killed the Jaffa but I was too late to prevent his injury. O'Neill retrieved our comrade and we were able to return through the Stargate immediately afterwards."
Majorcarter then speaks up. "It was my fault, General. If I had seen the Jaffa, this could have been avoided. Daniel saved my life by knocking me out of the line of fire."
Hammondoftexas is a great leader and is also very fond of Danieljackson. He understands the closeness of our team and determines that we need time to absorb what has occurred but he must question us more completely. He says "Report to my office as soon as you get cleared and cleaned up. We need to figure out why this happened."
I realize that Doctorfraiser and her team have taken Danieljackson to the Emergency Operating Room in the Infirmary for treatment. I do not see O'Neill. I assume that he has accompanied our companion to lend him security and moral support. He cannot leave his friend at this time. Danieljackson will need all of our assistance soon, but now it is O'Neill's place to be by his side.
When we arrive at the Infirmary, we are given our post mission exam. There is no sign of O'Neill, Doctorfraiser or any of the Emergency Nursing staff. I ask and am told that O'Neill has been sent to the locker room to clean himself of his friend's lifeblood. I will seek him out after we have made our official report to the General. O'Neill also will need support this day, if he will allow it to be given.
I think back upon our experiences of this morning. Our team was in a happy mood before this tragedy occurred. There was much light- hearted teasing and banter in the gateroom. Our two scholars were excited about exploring this new planet in search for Intel and possibly weapons for the Taur'i's battle against the Goa'uld.
The terrain on the planet was pleasing. It was comprised of an old growth forests, pleasant temperature and good fresh air. It appeared that the mission would be as O'Neill would say, a piece of cake. But when we arrived on the planet, our leader had become uneasy. I should have realized that his 'bad feeling' was indicative of something evil to come upon us. Invariably, our Commander's sixth sense is correct.
Our medical procedures completed without incident, Majorcarter and I go to the briefing room where we seat ourselves at the conference table in our usual places. Generalhammond soon appears, O'Neill does not.
Hammond speaks as he sits down in his place at the head of the table. "I just got off the phone with the infirmary, Doctor Jackson is still in surgery but is holding his own. Luckily the blast apparently was not a direct hit but from an angle. It didn't penetrate too deeply. He has a very good chance," He sighs deeply, "thank God." He looks up at us. "Now, lets figure out how this happened."
We begin our briefing explaining in detail what had transpired. How there had been no sign of occupation, no warning of any hostile forces upon the planet. We discuss more thorough flyovers with the UAVs and more time to be allotted for the MALP to determine hidden dangers to our teams before they leave the safety of the SGC.
After a period of time, O'Neill enters the room. He is now clean and is wearing a new uniform but he is obviously exhausted and still emotionally distraught. He seats himself in his usual chair at the table with us.
Hammond eyes him critically, then comments. "Colonel, I thought you'd still be in the clinic."
"No, Sir. The nurses did their worst then kicked me out," He grimaces. "Probably cause of the smell. Then I hit the showers before coming here."
Hammond nods his head. "Well, the Major and Teal'c have given me enough information for now. It sounds like a pretty cut and dried scenario. Both the MALP and the UAV failed to indicate any Gould presence on the planet. You walked into a bad situation, Colonel. You tried to get your team home intact...."
"...And failed miserably." Colonel O'Neill interrupts him. "I screwed up and now one of my team is lying in the clinic operating room with our medical personnel trying to save his life."
The General looks at him sadly then turns to Majorcarter and myself. "I think I have everything I need, people. You are dismissed. Thank you for your reports." Then he turns to O'Neill with a nod. "Colonel, I'd like to talk to you in private."
We get up from the table and I see Majorcarter look at him in an offer of support . O'Neill nods, accepting our loyalty. He then makes a motion with his hands. I can see that he still has blood residue under his fingernails. I am concerned for his mental well- being. He and Danieljackson are close companions. We leave them alone and I pull the door shut behind us. We can only guess at the conversation that will occur behind us.
Majorcarter turns to me in concern. "You don't think that General Hammond will hold him responsible for Daniel's injury do you?" I ask.
"I have found General Hammond to be most wise in his dealings with O'Neill. I do not foresee any problems." I reply.
"It wasn't his fault." She states firmly.
I nod then admit my failure to her. "Indeed not. It was my fault."
She looks at me in surprise. "How do you get that? It was my fault."
"No, you were merely the intended target." I point out to her. "I am the one who failed in my responsibility to defend your efforts to activate the Stargate." I try to keep my emotions in check as I confess my culpability. "I did not see the Jaffa who fired at you. Therefore it is my guilt, not yours."
She frowns at me. "The Colonel thinks it's his fault."
"Then he is wrong also. It was I who failed to provide proper covering of your sixes."
"But I'm the one Daniel saved......."
"Agreed, due to my inability to protect you both."
She looks at me in frustration; I try to maintain my own emotional equilibrium. I am unused to failure and today I have failed miserably.
"No," She says firmly, "It's not the Colonel's fault. He tried to get us home safely. He did nothing wrong. It's not your fault either, you were keeping the others back."
I nod. I do understand my commander's feelings of responsibility, though I do not agree with him in his acceptance of the guilt . He was in charge of the expedition. "O'Neill is correct that he bears the final accountability. He was in command at the time; but, it was not his fault that he did not succeed in returning his team safely because I have again failed in my duty to protect my teammate. I understand his feelings, as will General Hammond."
Majorcarter only looks at me and shakes her head. "Look, Teal'c. It's been a rotten day. We're both tired and upset. Why don't we hit the showers and then get something to eat?"
I agree to her plan. While I feel no need for sustenance I would like to cleanse myself of the smell of defeat and the dirt of my shortcomings. After our meal then we can go and inquire about the condition of our young comrade.
I await Majorcarter's emergence from the woman's cleansing facility. Some of our fellow warriors ask about Danieljackson's condition. I reply to the best of my ability. Majorferretti is very concerned. He has been an acquaintance of our team for many years. Nyan, a co- worker of Danieljackson also seeks me out. Word of our comrades injury has spread fast and he is a well beloved member of the organization.
Soon, Majorcarter joins me. I can see that she has been crying in the shower. Her eyes betray her. But, like the great warrior that she is, she puts on a brave face and we proceed to the dining facility.
After we have eaten, we travel together to the Medical Clinic. Doctorfraiser has left for the evening as it is now quite late. Doctorwarner assures us that Danieljackson had done well during his surgery and is resting comfortably. I believe that it is because of the faith and trust our young friend has in the skill of our physicians. They have saved our lives on numerous occasions. He allows us a quick visit to our wounded friend's bedside, but as told, the young man sleeps soundly and does not wake to our presence. He appears battered but not in any discomfort.
The doctor manages to convince my team mate that it is in her best interest for her to return to her home and rest this night. He assures her that our companion is no longer in danger and that she should go home and sleep in as we are now on stand down until further notice. We part company at the elevator as she goes to the surface level and I travel to my quarters on level 25 in a downward journey.
As I enter the elevator, I realize that I am in the very car that had transported Danieljackson to the infirmary from the Gateroom. There is a small stain on the floor. I am certain it is the result of his blood pooling beneath him on his way to surgery.
I reach my room and light my candles for my nightly meditation. I will have to perform a long intense kenoreem this evening. I am still distraught and my symbiote is agitated. It does not approve of my days activities. I wish once again that I may be freed from its evil influence.
That night, after my kelnoreem, I am still somewhat unsettled by the days experience. I decide that I should take some exercise and begin walk the hallways of the SGC. I have done this for some time now and I no longer incite any attention when I partake of this particular activity. I am accepted by my fellow warriors here. It is a comforting feeling for me.
As I travel the hallway of the 18th floor I notice the door to Danieljackson's office is slightly ajar and a dim light shines from within. When I investigate I discover O'Neill sleeping on the ancient couch our young coworker has adopted as his own place of rest during his many overnight work secessions. O'Neill does not appear overly comfortable, his length being slightly more than that of his impromptu bed, but he is asleep. It is probably something of a comfort to him being there, so close spiritually, to his friend.
I think that there would not be many people in the clinic and that perhaps Danieljackson might suffer from bad dreams in an unfamiliar place. This is often the case on missions where he feels insecure. I determine that perhaps I may help him in this way, so I take myself to the Intensive Care Unit where he is being housed.
Arriving at the location, I find that my young friend is indeed alone. I manage to make entry to his room unseen and then I settle myself in a darkened corner. While I know that no more harm can come to him here, it none the less is a comforting feeling for me that I can be here sitting vigil with my comrade. I settle myself and find that I am able to reach a much more acceptable level of relaxation than I had in my own quarters.
I remain thus for a few hours, but realize that when the duty day begins, I will be discovered. I do not want to explain myself or my insecurities to the medical staff so I once again leave the area by stealth. I am content that Danieljackson has not suffered any disturbance in his sleep patterns. He will grow strong again. He is a great warrior.
I now go to the dining facility on level 22. I will return to check on his condition at a later time.
Several hours later, I returned to Danieljackson's office. It is now empty. I assume that O'Neill has awakened and is either having breakfast or at the medical facility. I believe it to be the latter so I go there also.
I see Majorcarter and Doctorfraiser as they arrive at the Clinic. I follow them. As I enter the Infirmary, I see the two women start to pass the ICU where I sat the night before with Danieljackson. Our young team mate is not alone this morning. O'Neill is sitting by his friend's bedside much as I myself had done previously. He is leaning close, holding the younger man's hand and speaking to him in a low voice.
O'Neill must hear the footsteps, of Doctorfraiser. He turns and calls to her. "Doc! Doc! He's awake!"
Doctorfraiser immediately runs to the bedside and O'Neill steps back, allowing the doctor full access to her patient. She begins to check Danieljackson's physical readings. She is smiling broadly. Evidently O'Neill is correct and Danieljackson is conscious. I approach Majorcarter and stand beside her as Doctorfraiser looks towards us and happily nods her head. We know now that everything is going to be all right. This good news is indeed. It is something for us all to hold on to.